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Progress combatting fraud

Background to the report

The term ‘fraud’ covers a wide range of criminal activity, but at its heart, relates to an act of dishonesty, normally through deception or breach of trust, with the intent to either make a gain or cause a loss of money or other property. Criminals can employ a wide variety of approaches to commit fraud but around 80% of fraud offences in the United Kingdom (UK) are enabled through computer technology. Tackling fraud therefore presents particular challenges because criminals can target thousands of victims remotely from anywhere in the world. The Home Office (the Department) is ultimately responsible for preventing and reducing crime, including fraud. In doing so it needs to work with many other bodies.

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Scope of the report

Our report focuses primarily on the Home Office but includes reference to other public and private sector organisations where these are relevant. It focuses on the Department’s work to tackle fraud against individuals and businesses. It does not cover fraud in the public sector; wider cyber-crime, such as hacking; or other crimes conducted through the internet, such as bribery.

Report conclusions

Fraud is a significant and growing problem. It currently accounts for around 41% of all crime against individuals. Tackling fraud is a complex issue that requires coordinated action from government, bodies across the public and private sectors, and the public. In 2017, we concluded that fraud had been overlooked by government, law enforcement and industry, and we urged the Department to lead the change that was required. While it has taken some limited actions to improve its response to fraud, five years on, the Department is not yet leading an effective cross-government approach and has had limited influence over its partners in the public and private sectors. It has lacked a clarity of purpose and robust data on the scale of the problem and the resources being deployed, and it has no reliable way of measuring the financial impact or value for money of its policies.

The Department’s new Fraud Strategy presents an opportunity to reinvigorate its ambition and address the gaps in its approach. But, for this to be successful, the Department needs to lead a whole-system response that properly coordinates and targets available resources, informed by a thorough understanding of the size and nature of the threat and what works in tackling it.


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