The Home Office has today backed down over plans for an e-crime unit outlined by under-secretary of state for crime, Vernon Coaker.

Coaker told the House of Lords yesterday that the Home Office will fund an e-crime unit as part of the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC).

The e-crime unit would be the UK's central point for the reporting of all e-crime. Currently, e-crime is often reported to local police forces, though the Government advises the public to first deal with their bank, if credit card fraud is involved.

The Home Office sought to downplay Coaker's plans. "No decision has been made on the formation of an e-crime unit," read a Home Office statement, released today. But it continued: "We will be considering how we take an overall approach to issues such as electronic fraud, and will be discussing these with a number of law enforcement agencies."

Those enforcement agencies, which Coaker will meet on 4 June, will include SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency), City of London Police, Metropolitan Police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Though the Home Office claims no funding has been agreed for the unit, it is thought that £15m will be made available.

Coaker's plans received a mixed welcome. Lord Erroll, one of the most influential figures on IT security in the House of Lords, said it was a step in the right direction.

"It will be the start of what we need. It will tackle the stuff SOCA can't deal with. You'll have somewhere to report e-crime," he said.

SOCA only investigates international e-crimes above a certain financial threshold.

But Lord Erroll warned: "It seems the obsession is with analysis and intelligence without having any teeth in order to discourage criminals."

The plans are rather different to an approach suggested by the Metropolitan Police last month.

The Met's head of e-crime Charlie McMurdie told delegates at the InfoSec conference in London that a business plan for a police central e-crime unit had been submitted. She said at the time she hoped for an answer within 2-3 weeks. Her plans were backed by the Association of Chief Police Officers.