Europe's police forces are ill-equipped and too poorly trained to win the battle against internet crime, according to Europol chief Jeurgen Storbeck.

At a European police congress held this week in Germany, Storbeck said police forces desperately need more high-tech equipment, training and effective cross-border communication to fight cybercrime.

Storbeck called for police officers, prosecutors and judges to be trained in internet crime.

"Cyber crime is growing and Europe must keep up in order to stand a chance of stopping, or at least reducing it." said a press officer at Europol. Europol is the European arm of the International Police Agency (Interpol) established in 1992 as a result of the Maastricht treaty.

Following the highly publicised bust of the Wonderland web paedophile gang the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was established. The NHTCU, headed by a senior NCS (National Crime Squad) officer, will enable police to use the skills of computer experts to crack internet crime.

"It would be extremely beneficial to our jobs if all our officers had special IT training but the funds are just not there to do this," said an NCS spokesperson. "We hope the new crime unit will go some way to bridge the technology gap."