Victims of fraud still receiving 'poor service' from police
Adults in Wiltshire and across the country are more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other crime, a national report released today has found.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that the effect of fraud is as detrimental today as it has ever been, but too many victims continue to receive a poor service from the police and are denied justice.
During the 12 months following the start of Covid restrictions in March 2020, Wiltshire recorded an increase of 24% in fraud offences, with 7 in 1000 people recorded as victims of fraud.
HMICFRS reviewed the police service’s progress since its last fraud inspection in 2019. It found that ten of sixteen recommendations have been implemented, with progress made on a further two and three still outstanding. One of the recommendations is no longer relevant.
Recommendations from the 2019 HMICFRS report that are yet to be implemented include:
evaluating the effectiveness of fraud protection advice given to the public by police forces;
identifying, evaluating and disseminating best practice advice on the police response to fraud; and
police forces publishing their policies for responding to and investigating fraud to make it clear to victims what they can expect when they report a fraud.
Kieran Kilgallen, Acting Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said:
“Many fraud offences are committed using online means and often lead to complex investigations involving individuals and organised crime groups from outside Wiltshire, and often outside the UK.
“That said, victims rightly expect a good service from the police and justice to be served for the offences committed against them.
“In 2019, the PCC used additional funds raised through the precept to help fund the Digital Investigations and Intelligence Unit and since that time the team has grown in response to the increasing threat that fraud and online crime presents.
“Cybercrime knows no boundaries and so it’s important that these issues are being looked at from a national perspective rather than solely at an individual force level and these recommendations will be taken forward when the new Police and Crime Commissioner is in post.”
The inspectorate found that the fundamental problem is a disparity between the amount of work fraud creates for the police and the resources allocated to it. It also said that because funding is only confirmed a year at a time, and with relatively short notice, it makes it difficult to plan and invest for the long term.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:
“You are still more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other crime, but too few fraudsters are held to account. More than two years after our last fraud inspection, I am disappointed that not enough has changed.
“We have seen some pockets of good work which should be commended, and we have been impressed by the dedication of people at all levels of the police service to improving how fraud is dealt with. But overall, too many victims of fraud still receive a poor service from the police.
“The scale of fraud has not diminished – in fact it has increased during the pandemic – and it needs to become more of a priority for police forces. The police and other agencies should come together to prevent and protect the public from fraud, more officers should be working on it, and there should be more investigations into it. All this would lead to more victims receiving the service and the justice they are entitled to.”