“A child can now be at greater risk sitting in a bedroom on a computer, than outside the school gates,” the Home Secretary has said.
Theresa May said cyber-crime was a serious problem which caused more losses than burglars stealing televisions and DVDs from homes.
The new National Crime Agency (NCA) would help tackle this and make people “feel safer”, she said.
In a key speech on police reform in central London, Mrs May outlined plans to give communities tougher protection from anti-social behaviour to put an end to the “horror stories” of victims being ignored despite making repeated complaints to the authorities about problem neighbours.
It comes after HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said last week that only a low number of crimes were recorded from anti-social behaviour cases and the identification of repeat, vulnerable and intimidated victims was “poor” at the first point of contact.
Mrs May said: “As well as growing, the threat from organised crime is also changing.
“Increasingly, the biggest criminal losses do not come from the burglar who breaks into houses to steal TVs or DVD players, but from the cyber criminal who raids bank accounts directly.
“A child can now be at greater risk sat in their bedroom on their computer than they are outside the school gates. And given the nature of the criminal threat, it is now no longer possible to keep communities safe through good local policing alone.
“Highly visible neighbourhood policing is vital, but it won’t deal with cyber crime. Arresting drug dealers is important, but it won’t stop the flow of drugs from overseas.”
She went on: “That’s why we need a powerful new crime-fighting force that works across different police forces and agencies, defending our borders, co-ordinating action on economic crime, protecting children and vulnerable people, and active in cyber space. That body will be the National Crime Agency.”