Time for police to choose how to tackle fraud
Most victims of fraud are not receiving the level of service they deserve, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has confirmed.
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The report, ‘Fraud: Time to Choose’, makes clear the choice that needs to be made. Leaders in government and the police service can either continue to respond to fraud in an inconsistent manner or they can act to ensure that there is a clearer strategy, less variation in service between forces and better communication with the public.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:
“In a time of competing priorities for the police service, we understand that police leaders have difficult decisions to make. But during this inspection, one officer told us that fraud does not ‘bang, bleed or shout’ and, as a result, it is not considered a priority. Nonetheless, people are more likely to be victims of fraud than any other crime.
“The current model of local investigations supported by national functions is the right one. But processes need to be much more efficient, and performance must be managed to provide the best possible service that available resources will allow. We did find examples of local investigators providing victims with excellent service, but they are hampered by the lack of government or national policing strategies for tackling fraud. This has profound implications in how forces understand roles and responsibilities, how the public is protected from fraud and how victims of fraud are treated by police forces.
“Seven of the 11 forces we inspected were unable to provide basic data on the demand fraud places on them. Despite good evidence, some cases were simply being dropped, with staff believing their function was to reduce demand. While we acknowledge the pressures on the police service, this simply cannot be acceptable.
“So we are calling on the police service to make a choice. Either continue with the current inconsistent approach, which puts members of the public at a high risk of becoming victims of crime or look at ways to improve that will start to make a difference.
“The recommendations in this report highlight the areas where police forces and other organisations need to improve. In particular, there needs to be stronger strategic leadership to tackle fraud. Without that leadership the current situation will continue, with fraudsters feeling like they can act with impunity and victims feeling confused and disillusioned. This has to change.”
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- Our inspection took place between March and July 2018. We visited 11 police forces in England and Wales, all 9 regional organised crime units, the National Crime Agency, Action Fraud, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Europol. We also interviewed staff involved in implementing the new National Economic Crime Centre. We invited the local policing body for each of the 11 police forces to give us their views. A full list of the forces that were inspected is in Annex D – Forces and regional organised crime units inspected.
- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing to promote improvements in policing that make everyone safer, and assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence.
- HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
- For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 9:00am– 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.