Lincolnshire Police to join new national anti-fraud scheme

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A new Action Fraud scheme has been set up to deal with fraud cases, freeing Lincolnshire’s officers to work on other local crimes.

Latest national figures suggest it is a £73 billion a year crime - and that’s only based on the crimes that are reported and recorded.

Action Fraud is a world’s first scheme aimed at reducing that cost, the burden on police officers filling in forms, and enhancing the quality of targeted investigation and preventative activity.

Set up and run by the National Fraud Authority, Action Fraud is a one-stop reporting centre which will, by March 2013, handle reports of volume fraud from through out UK.

Instead of local officers taking reports themselves - at an estimated 15 minutes per report - victims will be asked to report the crime to Action Fraud, either by phone or via a special website.

Lincolnshire will, along with other East Midlands forces, join the scheme from the 1st January 2013 and in so doing revolutionise how fraud and financially-motivated internet crime is handled.

Information from businesses, members of the public and charities will then be sent on by Action Fraud to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), which also receives information about possible fraud from the police, banks and government, among others.

This national body of information will then be assessed, with an expectation that only 15% of it will then translate into crimes requiring investigation. It will then send packages for investigation to local forces, national agencies (SOCA) or others (Department of Work and Pensions) subject to:

• Where the fraud was committed

• The area containing the biggest number of offences / victims

• Where the first offence occurred

• Where the victim lives / works.

Every month, the NFIB will send reports to all forces setting out the profile of crime reports and information to ensure Forces have a clear picture of what is happening locally. Additionally, the monthly reports will contain information about national threats and trends.

Five forces have piloted the new reporting system - Leicestershire, Kent, Greater Manchester Police, Cumbria and the City of London. Their experience has been overwhelmingly positive, and, as ever, wrinkles have emerged to help inform Lincolnshire and others as they prepare for go live.

To ensure accurate data is supplied to the Home Office in terms of counting rules, advice is to be sent to all Force Crime Registrars in the coming days to ensure accuracy and compliance. But the experience of trial forces highlights the need to ensure actionable investigations and ensuing “detection” or “no crime” are recorded with Action Fraud which will supply the Home Office with data.

And some crime types are to be removed from the traditional “fraud” categories and placed into other Home Office crime categories - for example “bilking” (Making off without payment) will be transferred into the “theft” category - to ensure an accurate picture of fraud is recorded.

Plans are in place to ensure all staff and residents, organisations and businesses in Lincolnshire are aware of Action Fraud in time for the local launch. Posters and leaflets, as well as media releases and the use of on-line social media tools will be used to raise awareness.

Action Fraud is the product of several drivers, not least the Attorney General’s Fraud Review in 2006, the Organised Crime Strategy in 2010 and the Cyber crime Strategy that went through parliament in 2010. The National Fraud Authority’s “Fighting Fraud Together” provided further evidence of the need for such a national repository of fraud reports, and the proposals for Action Fraud were finally approved by ACPO Cabinet and Council in January this year.

Detective Sergeant Ian Jarman, of the Force’s Economic Crime Unit, said that joining Action Fraud will provide an enhanced service to victims of fraud.

He said: “Where the victim is reporting a crime in action, or is assessed to be vulnerable, we will continue to deal with the report as normal. But for all other such reports, the victim will make contact with Action Fraud, via the telephone or by logging on to its website. Based on the experiences of the pilot forces, it estimated that the new reporting system will save Lincolnshire Officers in excess of 500 hours per year from taking reports from alleged victims.

“It is estimated that only 15% of all information reported actually constitutes a crime requiring investigation, and the NFIB will send packages for investigation to the most appropriate authority - SOCA, the central e-crime unit, the Department of Work and Pensions or individual forces.”

“Clearly, such a system has the potential to save us hundreds of hours spent filling in reports. It provides the public throughout the UK with just one point of reference, and will mean that our time is spent conducting actionable investigations and preventing scams, rip-offs and cons in the first place.”

For further information visit the Action Fraud Website - www.actionfraud.police.uk