In February 2017 the Fraud Advisory Panel wrote to the City of London Police about policing priorities for the investigation of fraud.
In the letter the Fraud Advisory Panel raises concerns that Home Office guidance on policing priorities for fraud cases from 2004 are still being used by some police forces in the United Kingdom, despite being out of date and since withdrawn.
The letter goes on to highlight the international growth of fraud since the guidance was issued, becoming the most prolific crime in the UK. Not only has fraud changed significantly in the intervening three years, but so has the criminal justice architecture dealing with fraud, most notably the Fraud Act 2006, City of London Police as the national lead force for fraud, Action Fraud and the NFIB, as well as CPS charging guidance for fraud offences and the Bribery Act 2010.
Yet despite these changes, The Fraud Advisory Panel found that there still seems to be an inconsistent and sometimes ineffective local law enforcement response to fraud cases. The Fraud Advisory Panel urges the Home Office to review and reissue public guidelines on policing fraud for four reasons:
- Clarity: The public needs upfront, clear and unambiguous information on both how to report fraud to law enforcement, and what will happen when they do so.
- Consistency: Inconsistent response to cases of fraud only serves to disadvantage victims and advantage perpetrators.
- Transparency: Uncertainty about whether or not cases of fraud will be investigated and the likelihood of recourse discourages victims from reporting fraud and therefore distorts statistics.
- Accountability: There is a wide disparity in the performance of local police forces in investigating fraud, which needs to be urgently addressed. This will both deter criminals and reassure the public.
The FAP believes reissued, clear guidance guidelines to local police forces on how to prioritise fraud cases is a much needed tool to tackle the UK’s most prolific crime.
David Clarke will be speaking on Radio 5 Live Investigates this Sunday, 19th March 2017 at 11am.