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Fedster

Role to 'reduce demand on investigators' as victims at high risk of scams, HMICFRS warns

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Fedster

'Fraud is not a police priority because it does not bang, bleed or shout'.

Sitting on fraud?: Forces

Sitting on fraud?: Forces "seeking reasons" not to investigate allegations

Date - 2nd April 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
3 Comments3 Comments}

 

Some forces are actively looking for excuses not to investigate fraud cases, a watchdog report reveals.

Inspectors found that despite a good degree of evidence, including identified suspects, the role of at least one staff member was to “reduce demand on investigators” by whatever appropriate method.

Fraud victims are being let down as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found an inconsistent approach was leaving the public at "high risk" of scams.

The inspectorate concluded many fraud victims are not receiving the level of service they deserve.

Flagging up examples which "make sorry reading", it said some forces were "seeking reasons" not to investigate allegations.

An officer told the inquiry fraud is not considered a priority because it does not "bang, bleed or shout".

One force was found to have filed 96 per cent of the cases it received from a national intelligence bureau without further investigation.

But inspectors found some of the cases had a good degree of evidence, including identified suspects.

One staff member was "quite clear that their role was to 'reduce demand on investigators', the report said, adding: "They told us, 'If there is an excuse not to investigate it, we will use it'."

HMICFRS visited 11 forces in England and Wales as well as other agencies involved in tackling fraud.

It found problems at all levels, with "unacceptably wide variations" in the quality of case handling, unnecessary delays and a lack of proactive targeting of fraudsters.

Despite an increase in reported frauds in the last three years, the number of cases disseminated to forces for investigation has reduced, according to HMICFRS.

One analyst told the inspection team: "Everything is against fraud. It is not a priority, not sexy, people don't report it and it is difficult to prove, which takes time, resources and money."

Four of the 11 forces had fewer than 10 dedicated fraud investigators, and one had only two.

Issues such as gun crime, child sexual exploitation and drug supply were more likely to be prioritised.

The inspectorate said some victims have reported losing their entire life savings to fraud, adding that the crimes can result in enormous psychological and emotional damage.

"There should be no doubt that combating fraud, and those who commit it, is important," the report said.

It also revealed cease and desist letters have been sent to suspects to request that they stop their activities, including in relation to an alleged £50,000 fraud.

With an estimated 3.3 million incidents, fraud accounted for almost a third of all crime as measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales in the year to June.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said stronger "strategic leadership" was needed.

"Without that leadership the current situation will continue, with fraudsters feeling like they can act with impunity and victims feeling confused and disillusioned," he added.

While there were examples of investigators providing victims with excellent service, they are hampered by a lack of government or national policing strategies for tackling fraud, Mr Parr said.

Commander Karen Baxter, national police coordinator for economic crime, acknowledged there are areas needing improvement across policing.

She said: "A significant amount of work has already started to address some of the issues raised in the report."

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Hyphen

The only thing that should be filed without further thought is this report. Absolute fools really. 

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Reasonable Man
The only thing that should be filed without further thought is this report. Absolute fools really. 

Care to expand? The report by Police Oracle or the report by HMICFRS?
Who are the fools? The officers who don’t investigate crimes with leads, the bosses who make policies that allow such behaviour or the Inspectors for making such practices public?

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SimonT

We spend all day, every shift desperately calculating the threat harm and risk of every single job knowing that we are probably going to get to 20% at best. 

Domestic violence, suicidal people, missing people all take up our time. Fraud in the most part simply doesn't carry the same risk. Unless the victim is vulnerable. 

And everything gets booted to action fraud for some ungodly reason. 

Is it any wonder that fraud falls by the wayside. 

I would happily do more with it, but I would happily do more about all manner of things. But I don't have the resources. 

Its strange that hmifrc only seem to review things on isolation rather than a force as a whole 

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Hyphen
Posted (edited)

The point I’m getting at which I am sure many cops will agree with is fraud is a very  time consuming and resource intensive offence to investigate, many forces have frauds sitting with response cops. 

On top of that a lot of frauds are rightly closed down as the individual victims are re-imbursed by the banks.

The main issue I take with these sorts of reports and criticisms is they don’t take in to account the sheer state of policing caused by lack of investment and cuts. 

If they would like fraud to be investigated more then what is dropped? Domestic violence? Do we stop looking for mispers? Do we refuse to attend Mental Health jobs? Do we give frauds to CID teams and drop S18 investigations? 

I do take your point though, my original post probably wasn’t helpful without expanding.

Edited by Hyphen
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Reasonable Man
The point I’m getting at which I am sure many cops will agree with is fraud is a very  time consuming and resource intensive offence to investigate, many forces have frauds sitting with response cops. 
On top of that a lot of frauds are rightly closed down as the individual victims are re-imbursed by the banks.
The main issue I take with these sorts of reports and criticisms is they don’t take in to account the sheer state of policing caused by lack of investment and cuts. 
If they would like fraud to be investigated more then what is dropped? Domestic violence? Do we stop looking for mispers? Do we refuse to attend Mental Health jobs? Do we give frauds to CID teams and drop S18 investigations? 
I do take your point though, my original post probably wasn’t helpful without expanding.

I was genuinely confused at your first post. Yes, apart from the PEEL inspections, HMICFRS does review things in isolation. Rather than criticising those reports I see them all taken together as further proof of the poor funding of policing.
The police should be able to deal with everything and not just give up on certain things because in someone’s opinion something else is more important. Sure, give up fraud because no one’s really hurt - except we all pay a bit more to the financial institutions and the criminals can launder their drug money and pay for terrorism with impunity. Then give up on burglary and car crime because no ones really hurt. Minor assaults? Nah. Bigger fish to fry. Eventually the police will only deal with murders, life changing assaults, riots and child sexual abuse.
The police should be shouting about the disgrace of not having the resources to deal with fraud, not excusing it.
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Lone Wolf
4 hours ago, Reasonable Man said:


I was genuinely confused at your first post. Yes, apart from the PEEL inspections, HMICFRS does review things in isolation. Rather than criticising those reports I see them all taken together as further proof of the poor funding of policing.
The police should be able to deal with everything and not just give up on certain things because in someone’s opinion something else is more important. Sure, give up fraud because no one’s really hurt - except we all pay a bit more to the financial institutions and the criminals can launder their drug money and pay for terrorism with impunity. Then give up on burglary and car crime because no ones really hurt. Minor assaults? Nah. Bigger fish to fry. Eventually the police will only deal with murders, life changing assaults, riots and child sexual abuse.
The police should be shouting about the disgrace of not having the resources to deal with fraud, not excusing it.

I find myself in agreement.

Whilst fraud investigation might not be every police officer's ideal line of work it's still police work, unlike a huge proportion of what police are actually dealing with each day.

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Sceptre

Most of the quotes from the quite extensive report seem to have come from the executive summary, so it's questionable whether the news articles are giving a complete picture or have just skimmed over it. The full report for anyone interested is here

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