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Action Fraud response to Police Foundation report on policing of fraud

We note the Police Foundation’s research on the policing response to fraud and will consider the recommendations. We agree that fraud is significantly under-reported and that more can be done to improve the response to fraud in a number of ways, whether this is in improving gaps in outcome data; improving the service for victims; or shortening times between reports being received and disseminated.

Central to this is the recently re-launched Action Fraud reporting system, which focuses on guiding victims of crime to provide the key information required to assess crimes. When reporting their crime victims can list an unlimited number of suspects as well as financial transactions associated with their crime, and registered users are able to return to their report and update it with new information as it becomes available. The report is then dynamically assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), the ‘brain’ within the Action Fraud system.

However, focusing on the number of frauds which are allocated for investigation, or which lead to a judicial outcome, will only ever give a partial picture of the work done by Action Fraud and the City of London Police in tackling fraud.

The NFIB takes a significant amount of action to disrupt the enablers of fraud, with more than 145,000 requests sent to partners in 2017/18 for the suspension of phone lines, website addresses, bank accounts and email accounts where information in reports to Action Fraud indicate they have been linked to fraud.

It is a reality, however, that challenges continue to exist in the course of fraud investigations, such as locating suspects, gathering evidence, or engaging victims, but a number of significant pieces of work are currently ongoing or in progress to answer many of the points raised in this report.

As the National lead force for fraud, the City of London Police is also working with policing nationally to refresh the national vision and strategy for policing fraud. This will be published next year and will take into consideration recommendations from this report as well as those that arise from the HMIC thematic inspection of fraud.

We have secured funding from the Police Transformation Fund to provide specialist fraud training to over 600 investigators across policing and pilot a direct-entrant programme for fraud investigation.

  • The Economic Crime Victim Care Unit (ECVCU) provides services to vulnerable victims whose crimes are not being investigated. Depending upon the level of vulnerability identified, victims receive support via telephone or in person. The service was developed in London and is being piloted in West Midlands and Greater Manchester, with more than 18,000 victims of fraud contacted since the unit’s inception.  
  • We are working with all forces and the Home Office to develop a performance framework for fraud, to be implemented for the next financial year. It will cover reported crime, outcomes, level of victim interaction, identified links with serious and organised crime and other activity.
  • We are currently developing national and regional police intelligence capabilities to make better use of intelligence, create a problem solving and proactive mindset and to better understand performance and impact.
  • Action Fraud is currently collecting data on victim service models across the country and will be creating and sharing good practice across policing. This will consider victims whose crimes are and are not investigated.
  • Our Economic Crime Academy has been working with the College of Policing and has developed an elective module for fraud within the police investigation curriculum. Trained delegates will be placed on a national register of fraud specialists.

Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police said: “Fraud is one of the most prevalent crimes in the UK and this means that it is not always possible to enforce our way out of the problem, and it is important that law enforcement not only focusses on pursuing suspects, but also works to prevent and protect people from fraud. 

“Action Fraud acts as a national, single point of contact, assessing and collating fraud reports for investigation by police forces. At a local level, it is important that fraud is viewed as a priority and resource is dedicated to fraud investigation and prevention. We work with forces to establish the latest fraud trends and how these impact the relevant force areas.”


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