image by alancleaver 2000 via Flickr Creative Commons 260x216 Anti crime plan could see Europeans turn online detectivesA new European initiative to fight online crime could see citizens not only reporting offences but also helping to gather evidence in a continent-wide ‘crowdsourcing’ effort.

The BBC reports today on European law enforcement organisation Europol‘s plan to tackle rising levels in online offences as ‘traditional’ organised crime begins to take advantage of the Internet.

Europol’s plan is to launch an “Internet crime reporting online system” which would be able to keep a continent-wide eye on a wide range of activities, from botnets, to fraud to drug dealers and people traffickers using online phone services to operate their businesses.

What’s really interesting is that the plan could eventually see citizens voluntarily hunting down examples of crime in order to help the police. While it might seem a little odd for the police to be encouraging the public to ‘do their work’, it sounds to us like a large-scale, online version of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ schemes where citizens team up keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

The European Cyber Crime Centre (let’s hope they don’t use that as its official name, it sounds like something from a 1980s sci-fi short story) could be in place as soon as 2014 if funding can be secured, although the crowdsourcing plan may not follow until later.