The Justice Committee holds the opening session of its new inquiry into fraud and the justice system
Fraud accounts for approximately half of all crime and costs the UK over £137 billion a year. The majority of fraud is facilitated by digital technologies, meaning many cases can be perpetrated from other countries. The first half of 2021 saw a 285% rise in online fraud, such as phishing and text scams, fuelled by the increased use of online platforms during the pandemic. Scams often focus on the most vulnerable in society and can cause serious harm to victims. Consumer organisation Which? calculated that 350 people a week were victims to a fraud that left them in severe emotional distress. Depending on the form of the fraud, victims do not always get their money back and the long-term financial consequences can be severe.
The first panel will examine the scale of fraud and the impact it has on victims. Victims’ Commissioner, Vera Baird, and representatives of campaign groups, CIFAS and Victim Support, will be questioned on the quality of support for victims in dealing with the financial and emotional consequences of crime. It will also look at what more can be done to prevent fraud from taking place and examine potential barriers to victims reporting crimes to the police.
The second panel will investigate the response of the criminal justice system to fraud. Heads of economic crime from the National Economic Crime Centre, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the City of London Police will be questioned on whether fraud is given sufficient priority and resourcing. It will also examine what strategies are employed to better understand fraud risk and whether innovations have brought success in combatting this form of crime.