New research conducted by Perpetuity Research and The Police Foundation has found that the police response to victims of fraud is “inadequate”. Despite fraud comprising up to 31% of all crime, fraud seemingly isn’t being effectively prioritised by the police service.
Perpetuity Research and The Police Foundation’s analysis of crime data and interviews with national and local practitioners* found that the system for dealing with fraud is “poorly structured”, fraud prevention messages are “confusing” and victim support services “don’t cater for the specific needs of fraud victims”.
Although the police received 277,561 reports of fraud in 2017-2018, only 8,313 (ie 3%) resulted in criminal charges. This compares to 13% of reported crimes overall that end in a charge, a summons or some form of community resolution. Once a crime is reported, there can be major delays before victims know whether or not their cases will be taken up by the police. This means that vital opportunities for investigation can be lost.
Victims, and their cases, are often “passed around a fragmented network” of local and national agencies. Some police forces “offer little or no support” to their local fraud victims.
The study found that 35% of victims whose cases were being investigated by the police said the impact of the fraud upon them was either severe or significant. 78% of fraud cases involved a suspect and a victim living in different police force areas. 69% of fraud cases investigated by the police were cyber-enabled, while 43% involved first contact being made online.
In 69% of police forces, all or most fraud investigations were carried out by non-specialist officers, even though the research found that specialist investigators handle cases more effectively. Just 0.8% of the police workforce operates in specialist economic crime teams, meaning there’s a lack of dedicated resource for dealing with fraud.