The report, ‘Fraud: Time to Choose’, makes clear the choice that needs to be made. Leaders in government and the police service can either continue to respond to fraud in an inconsistent manner or they can act to ensure that there is a clearer strategy, less variation in service between forces and better communication with the public.
“In a time of competing priorities for the police service, we understand that police leaders have difficult decisions to make. But during this inspection, one officer told us that fraud does not ‘bang, bleed or shout’ and, as a result, it is not considered a priority. Nonetheless, people are more likely to be victims of fraud than any other crime.
“The current model of local investigations supported by national functions is the right one. But processes need to be much more efficient, and performance must be managed to provide the best possible service that available resources will allow. We did find examples of local investigators providing victims with excellent service, but they are hampered by the lack of government or national policing strategies for tackling fraud. This has profound implications in how forces understand roles and responsibilities, how the public is protected from fraud and how victims of fraud are treated by police forces.
“Seven of the 11 forces we inspected were unable to provide basic data on the demand fraud places on them. Despite good evidence, some cases were simply being dropped, with staff believing their function was to reduce demand. While we acknowledge the pressures on the police service, this simply cannot be acceptable.
“So we are calling on the police service to make a choice. Either continue with the current inconsistent approach, which puts members of the public at a high risk of becoming victims of crime or look at ways to improve that will start to make a difference.
“The recommendations in this report highlight the areas where police forces and other organisations need to improve. In particular, there needs to be stronger strategic leadership to tackle fraud. Without that leadership the current situation will continue, with fraudsters feeling like they can act with impunity and victims feeling confused and disillusioned. This has to change.”