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CASH BOOST TO FIGHT FRAUD

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The fight against fraud was boosted today with a£2m cash ...
The fight against fraud was boosted today with a £2m cash

injection and the announcement by Home Office minister Caroline Flint

that the City of London Police will take the lead in investigating

fraudsters and complex fraud cases.

The additional investment of £2m per year - provided by the

Home Office and the Corporation of London - will support the

expansion of the City of London Police fraud squad. This will be

backed by a further £1m from the Home Office to fund the

capital costs of the expansion.

City of London Police operate within London's 'square mile' and have

built up a wealth of expertise in investigating complex fraud cases.

Their expertise and experience will now be used to uncover and

prosecute serious fraud wherever it occurs in the south east - not

just the City.

Speaking at the British Bankers' Association annual financial

crime conference, Ms Flint said: 'We are determined to clamp

down on fraud and at the same time take the profit out of crime.

Fraud costs Britain billions of pounds every year, affecting us all ???

not only financially but by damaging our reputation for good business.

'This announcement means that the specialist expertise of City of

London Police in tackling fraud will help cut crime right across the

country, supported and expanded by a £3m cash boost

this year. This is a significant increase in the resources and

expertise dedicated to fighting fraud, allowing the police to step up

and speed up investigations.

'I am delighted to be working in partnership with the Corporation of

London, the City of London Police and the Serious Fraud Office on

this important development, which represents a significant increase

in the resources dedicated to fighting fraud as well as bringing

together such expertise.'

The City of London Police will be the first force to be recognised as

a 'lead force', as outlined in the recent Green Paper on Polic ing:

Building Safer Communities Together, and will take the lead on all

fraud investigations across the south east.

The Attorney General said: 'The cost of fraud to the UK economy

has been put as high as £14bn a year - the equivalent of £230 for

every member of the population. It is not victimless, but it is indiscriminate,

hitting both rich and poor. It is often found at the heart of criminal

enterprises that can also involve drug dealing, money laundering and

people trafficking. There is also a social dimension. Between 1997 and 2002,

the number of prosecutions for benefit fraud rose from under 12,000 to nearly

27,000. Social equality demands that we now bear down on white-collar crime

as vigorously.

'This extra cash is a big step forward in our fight against fraud.

The Serious Fraud Office, responsible for the investigation of

serious and complex fraud, has already received an extra £13m

to tackle the cheats, fraudsters and money launderers who rip off the

public and divert cash from our public services. But the SFO has

never had the resources to investigate and prosecute smaller scale

fraud - meaning some criminals have been able to slip through the

net. I have said many times before that we need to raise our game in

tackling fraud. I am delighted that now, with Home Office and

Corporation of London support, the SFO and City of London police will

be able to make a real impact on the evil of fraud, which damages the

economy, corrodes business confidence and injures the public.'

NOTES

1. The Home Office minister, Caroline Flint gave the keynote address

at the British Bankers' Association annual financial crime conference

in London.

2. The Home Office and the Corporation of London have agreed to

provide £1m in revenue funding each in the first year, index linked

(to the annual increase in the Home Office provision for aggregate

police funding) for future years. The Home Offi ce will additionally

contribute up to £1m towards the initial capital costs of the

expanded fraud squad.

3. The City of London Police and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have

been working closely to increase the resources available for fraud

investigations. There are already planned increases in SFO resources

- £7m in 2004-5 and a further £5m in 2005-6.

4. The Consultation Paper of 4 November ( Policing: Building Safer Communities Together) indicates that the government is keen to

explore the possibility of developing 'lead forces' as a way of

maximising the operational effectiveness of policing in England and

Wales. City of London Police will now provide police resources for

the majority of SFO cases in the south east region. City Police will

also assist other forces by investigating complex fraud cases that

fall outside SFO criteria.

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