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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

Crime survey reveals fraud now most prevalent crime

24 July 2016

Thursday’s Office for National Statistics crime survey was a milestone for fraud reporting.

The figures showed that nearly six million fraud and cyber crimes took place in England and Wales last year – making these the most common crime type.

We know that millions of victims are affected by fraud each year. Fighting fraud and related cybercrime must be a priority for the UK. The impact is huge - not just on individuals, but on business and government too. As the proceeds of frauds can then be used to fund further criminality, there are also links between fraud and other forms of organised crime.

Yesterday's statistics are a great step forward. But as the ONS itself says, we still don't have the full picture. There is a huge gap between the estimate and the actual reported figures. The ONS says that this is because most fraud offences do not come to the attention of the police. Our members report around 800 to 1000 cases per day to the police. But this is just 350 organisations. We need government to work with industry more widely to make sure we get a proper measure of all fraud in the UK, and encourage individuals to report all fraud to Action Fraud.

These are huge numbers but they are not surprising. Fraudsters are expert collaborators and to fight fraud, we need to work together too. The Joint Fraud Taskforce is crucial in bringing government, law enforcement and business together to enhance the fight against this crime. But we also need more education, so that people can take steps to protect themselves and make decisions based on solid cyber knowledge.

We would like to see Government ensuring the citizens and businesses of the UK have the right skills and knowledge to deal with this crime, by introducing a Cyber Life Skills strategy for workplaces and individuals. This threat isn’t going to go away, so we need to skill up the nation and its workplaces to combat it.

A lot of good progress – but so much more to do.

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