Professor Mark Button – Written evidence (FDF0032)

 

Introduction

I am very happy to submit brief evidence for this committee to consider. I focus upon the impact of fraud on individuals and the suitability of policing structures for fraud.

Impact of fraud on individuals

I have been involved in several studies that have explored the impact of fraud (and attempted) frauds on individuals. These include the research for the National Fraud Authority on fraud victims, research on online fraud victims for the Sentencing Council and more recently victims of computer misuse for the Home Office. These projects together have involved face-to-face interviews with over 100 victims and survey data from over a thousand. Fraud without physical violence or even a loss can cause severe impact on victims. Some of the impacts include:

 

Fraud is very clearly not a victimless crime and the financial cost is just one component of harm.

Policing structures

Frauds against individuals (and attempts via computer misuse) alone account for around half of all crime. This excludes organisational victims too, which would probably increase the portion of crime which is fraud even further. Yet of police resources there are probably around 1500 specialist officers/staff. The Department for Work and Pensions has around 8000 specialist staff and perhaps more depending upon the definition for one type of fraud. The resources, however, are only one aspect of the challenge:

 

Reforms

In my view the following should be pursued:

 

References to relevant work

Button, M., Blackbourn, D., Sugiura, L., Shepherd, D., Kapend, R and Wang, V. (2021) From feeling like rape to a minor inconvenience: Victims’ accounts of the impact of computer misuse crime in the United Kingdom. Telematics, 64, 101675.

Button, M. and Whittaker, J. (2021) Exploring the voluntary response to cyber-fraud: From vigilantism to responsibilisation. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 66.

Button, M. (2021). Hiding behind the Veil of Action Fraud: The Police Response to Economic Crime in England and Wales and Evaluating the Case for Regionalization or a National Economic Crime Agency. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 15, 1758-1772

Whittaker, J. and Button, M. (2021). Understanding pet scams: A case study of advance fee and non-delivery fraud using victims’ accounts. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 53: 4 497-514,

Button, M., Sugiura, L., Blackbourn, D., Kapend, R., Shepherd, D., Wang, V. (2020) Victims of Computer Misuse. Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth. Available at https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/portal/files/20818559/Victims_of_Computer_Misuse_Main_Findings.pdf

Button, M. (2019) Private Policing. 2nd Edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Button, M. Shepherd, D. and Blackbourn, D. (2018) ‘The Iceberg Beneath the Sea’, Fraudsters and their Punishment through Non-Criminal Justice in the ‘Fraud Justice Network’ in England and Wales. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 53: 56-66. 

Button, M., & Cross, C. (2017). Cyber frauds, scams and their victims. Taylor & Francis.

Button, M., Shepherd, D. and Blackbourn, D. (2016) The Fraud ‘Justice Systems’: A Scoping Study on the Civil, Regulatory and Private Paths to ‘Justice’ for Fraudsters. Portsmouth: Centre for Counter Fraud Studies.

Button, M., Blackbourn, D. and Tunley, M. (2015) ‘The Not So Thin Blue Line After All?’ Investigative Resources Dedicated to Fighting Fraud/Economic Crime in the United Kingdom. Policing, 9: 129-142. doi:10.1093/police/pau037

Button, M., Wakefield, A., Brooks, G., Lewis, C. and Shepherd, D. (2015) Confronting the ”Fraud Bottleneck”: Private Sanctions for Fraud and their Implications for Justice. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 1: 159-174.

Button, M., Lewis, C. & Tapley, J. (2014). Not a victimless crime: the impact of fraud on individual victims and their families. Security Journal, 27(1), 36-54.

Kerr, J., Owen, R., McNaughton Nicholls, C. and Button, M. (2013) Research on Sentencing Online Fraud Offences. London: Sentencing Council.

Button, M., Tapley, J. and Lewis, C. (2013) The ‘Fraud Justice Network’ and the Infra-structure of Support for Individual Fraud Victims in England and Wales. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 13: 37-61.

Button, M., Lewis, C. and Tapley, J. (2009) A Better Deal for Victims. London: National Fraud Authority.  

 

22 April 2022