An inspection of the police response to fraud assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found a mixed response to tackling fraud across local, regional and national levels. Fraud is generally not seen as a priority and this must be about turning that thinking on it's head.
According to the report there is currently no national strategy to tackle fraud and other agencies have different responses to fraud. The Banking Protocol and The Joint Fraud Task Force work in partnership with banks and police forces and is a step in the right direction and the recommendations made in this report are leading to a joined up approach with the victim at the heart of improvements.
Recommendation 16's last point caught my eye.
By 30 September 2019, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Coordinator for Economic Crime should provide guidance to Action Fraud and chief constables. This is to ensure that, promptly on reporting a fraud, victims are provided with explanations of:
• the options open to victims of fraud to seek civil redress as an alternative (in cases where criminal investigations are not carried out or do not lead to convictions).
Losses can be life changing sums that can be devastating to the victim and their family. There are support agencies such as Citizens Advice and the Samaritans that can offer advice and support to families as well as the victim units referred in the report however can victims be given some kind of control after reporting the fraud? This recommendation highlights an opportunity for Action Fraud to alert victims to civil recovery redress, an option that can in some circumstance still be considered if a police force is investigating.
Civil recovery redress is not always possible and there can be costs involved that can out weigh the initial loss and with no guarantees however I am very pleased to see this kind of redress may be made known to victims as it can, in the right situation, see monies recovered.
One such form of redress can be where a scam company is forced into compulsory liquidation as victims (who are deemed creditors) can nominate an insolvency practitioner of their choosing to be appointed to act as liquidator. A liquidator's role is to realise the assets of the business and distribute the proceeds to its creditors as well as acting in the best interests of the creditors as a whole. A fraud need not be proven for this to happen which can see this route as a quicker and more direct route to funds for victims. We have seen many victims take this control following losses that have proven to be life changing.
Victims may also not be aware of potential compensatory routes that may be available to them such as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Whilst the will is to disrupt and reduce fraud I believe it is the victims that must be at the forefront of any successful strategy. I am in full support of this recommendation as victims should be armed with as much knowledge as possible to seek emotional and financial redress and to help them stay alert or safeguarded from future frauds.
Some police forces are actively seeking reasons to drop investigations into fraud, a watchdog's report has warned. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said an "inconsistent" approach to policing fraud in England and Wales left the public at high risk of scams. One officer told its inquiry the crime was not considered a priority because it does not "bang, bleed or shout". Police said "significant" work was under way to address the problems. UK cyber-crime victims lose £190,000 a day Fraudsters 'use tricks of speech' in cons Elderly 'under siege' from scammers