The Metropolitan Police is to set up an e-crime unit that will bring together all agencies that deal with crime committed online.

In a partnership between the Government, business and the police, the unit will be operational by the end of this year. If successful, it is likely to be extended to a national level.

The unit will serve a number of purposes, says Commander Sue Wilkinson of New Scotland Yard. "This will provide a centre of excellence for all agencies that deal with e-crime, where they can share best practice policy, co-ordinate major investigations, and provide a national point of contact for people wishing to report e-crime," she said.

According to Wilkinson, most e-crime goes unreported because of a lack of contact points.

"The biggest challenge is mainstreaming e-crime. It's everywhere. If every e-crime was reported our police forces would be swamped," she said.

The Metropolitan Police runs the only national point of contact for fraud and phishing reports, at www.met.police.uk/fraudalert .

Most people are unaware that they can report incidents of e-crime to local police forces, but even when they are reported they may not be dealt with properly. Local police forces do not always have the necessary resources to be able to deal with them, according to Wilkinson.

Online fraud was previously dealt with by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit , which became part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in April this year. But Soca now only deals with top-level crime. Anna Lagerkvist