(POP0049)

 

Written evidence submitted by the City of London Police Authority Board (POP0049)

Submitted by the Office of the City Remembrancer

  1. The City of London Police are the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Economic and Cyber Crime and National Lead Force for Fraud.  City of London Police operates Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, funded by the Home Office, which is the national reporting and recording centre for fraud and cyber-crime. It also provides training and continuous professional development for the police and private sector workforce through its Economic Crime Academy.

 

  1. Along with the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency and Serious Fraud Office, City Police is part of the National Economic Crime Centre which leads the cross-system law enforcement response to fraud.

 

  1. The City of London Police and the City of London Corporation acting through its Police Authority Board (PAB), provide a bridge for law enforcement into financial institutions and, importantly, also into the fintech sector. With the support of the PAB and stakeholder groups such as UK Finance, City Police has consistently shown how it can harness and work with the private sector in the pursuit and prevention of the perpetrators of fraud. This includes working through the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), and internationally with Microsoft.

 

  1. This submission should be considered alongside that submitted by the City of London Police.

Prioritisation of fraud

 

  1. The City of London Police Authority Board believes that fraud and economic crime should be given greater priority by government and police forces across the country. As identified by the Justice Committee in their recent report on Fraud and the Justice System, “Fraud accounts for more than 40% of all crime yet receives only around 2% of police funding.[1] The City of London Police Authority agrees with its conclusion that if the Government is serious in its ambition to reduce fraud, it needs to ensure it is allocated sufficient resourcing within police budgets to help identify and prosecute crimes as well as prevent these crimes from occurring.[2]

 

  1. One of the key challenges in tackling fraud and cyber crime is that it is often spread across force boundaries. An estimated 78% of frauds involve offences where suspects and victims do not live in the same force jurisdiction. As such, fraud and economic crime requires prioritisation by government, territorial forces and other national law enforcement bodies.

 

  1. Action Fraud provides a national crime reporting and recording service on behalf of policing where victims from anywhere in the country can report fraud and cyber crime, and receive prevention advice and support. Centralised reporting enables policing to link crimes from across the country, preventing the duplication that would occur if each force was investigating crimes based on local victim reports, and increasing the likelihood of investigation due to the true scale of offending being identified which would not be apparent from local data. It also provides a real time overview of reporting trends, initiating fast time protect and pursue action in response to emerging threats e.g., COVID-19 related crime.

 

  1. Without proper support and sufficient prioritisation, the benefits of centralised reporting of fraud are lessened. Fraud should be included as a strategic policing requirement, which will encourage forces across the country to focus effort and resources on fraud crimes. The City of London Police are working with police forces and police and crime commissioners to improve fraud performance and to encourage fraud to be named as a priority within their respective Policing Plans. The force is also working with the Home Office to secure funding to create a new national network of investigators across the regions in England & Wales. This will increase police capacity for high harm fraud investigation including online fraud. The network will be coordinated by City Police as National Lead Force.

 

  1. The City of London Police is in the process of procuring a next generation fraud and cybercrime reporting and analysis service. Through intelligence-led interventions, the service will position itself upstream of fraud to aid prevention of crimes occurring, pursue offenders and organised criminals and will do its utmost to protect the public from victimisation.

 

  1. The aim of the programme is two-fold: to redesign how fraud and cybercrime offences are reported by the public and organisations, and to streamline the review process of these claims. This will enable the City of London Police to more efficiently understand the on-going threats associated with fraud and cybercrime and increase the chances of bringing more criminals to justice.

 

Tackling cyber-dependent crime

  1. Approximately 80% of fraud is perpetrated online and the growth of cyber-dependent crime posing a particular threat to businesses and economy. It is therefore vital that forces across the country boost the awareness and training of their officers so they can give victims appropriate support on first contact and also help give appropriate advice to people and businesses to better protect themselves in the first instance. Forces should also engage with and understand the services offered by their Regional Cyber Resilience Centres - a successful partnership between policing, academia and the private sector that provides cost-effective advice to small and medium-sized business to improve their cyber resilience. The City of London Police Authority Board fully supports the City of London Police in their role as National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on Cyber, hosting the National Cyber Resilience Centre Group, to support recruitment of National Ambassadors from the private sector to support the regional offer and broaden our reach to SMEs across the country. With local support from forces and Police and Crime Commissioners, this reach can be extended even further and better protect businesses, people’s livelihoods and our wider economy at a time when they need it most.

Support for victims

 

  1. Victims should be placed at the heart of policing and be regarded as a further priority area. Support for victims has been a key priority for the City of London Police, with the force being the first unit in the country to provide a bespoke service to victims of economic crime.

 

  1. The Action Fraud National Economic Crime Victim Care Unit (AF-NECVCU) are a team of specialist advocates working within the City of London Police that supports vulnerable people who have fallen victim to fraud and cybercrime, with the aim being to make them feel safer and reduce the possibility of them becoming a repeat victim. It is the first unit in the country to provide a bespoke service to victims of economic crime. The AF-NECVCU tailor advice to victims’ needs in a professional, sensitive and empathetic manner to support recovery and prevent re-victimisation.

 

  1. Forces may wish to consider greater representation of victims in their policing plans. The City of London Police’s 2022-25 Policing Plan makes a number of commitments to support victims, including an ambition to increase the percentage of survey respondents who are satisfied with the Action Fraud reporting service (telephone and online), and to appoint a new Victims’ Champion to coordinate support to victims and lead on service improvements.

 

  1. The Policing Plan also has a focus on female victims of violence, victims of domestic abuse and vulnerable victims of crime. Ambitions in this area include ensuring that multi-agency safeguarding meetings are held, providing a holistic approach to supporting children that come to police attention, and quality assuring Public Protection Notices (PPNs) to enable effective referrals to partners and timely provision of support to individuals identified as vulnerable. Furthermore, the City Police will seek to provide support and advice to female victims of violence, with an aim to reduce the number who withdraw from criminal justice proceedings during the investigation.

 

October 2022


[1] Justice Committee, Fraud and the Justice System: Fourth Report of Session 2022-23, p39, October 2022 https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/30328/documents/175363/default/

[2] Ibid.