UK: Police cuts blamed as fraud cases fall
10 Dec 2019

Prosecution of white-collar crime has fallen by almost 30 per cent since 2014, according to figures released today.

Analysts blame cuts to police numbers driven by austerity for the fall in the number of cases of fraud, money laundering, cybercrime and insider trading being prosecuted.

Ministry of Justice figures show that there were 9,415 prosecutions in 2014 compared with 6,670 last year. The number of cases fell by 14 per cent last year alone, from 7,790 in 2017. Over roughly the same period, reported fraud and cyber offences across the UK rose by more than 8.5 per cent to 693,418.

Researchers said that the government’s own recent reports had suggested that cuts to police resources have hampered the investigation of white-collar crime.

Today’s report, produced by the data analyst Thomson Reuters, points to recent research from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, which found that many police fraud teams had been reduced over the last decade.

It is said that fraud squads have been reassigned to deal with more high profile violent crimes and sexual offences. As a result, according to today’s report, “some fraud teams were only able to conduct one investigation at a time, with more complex ones not being pursued at all”.

According to the National Audit Office, central and local government funding to police forces fell by 19 per cent, adjusted for inflation, between 2010-11 and 2018-19.

Today’s research also says that fraud has become more sophisticated, with many cases involving cross-border transactions and multiple countries. Criminals are increasingly exploiting fast-moving advances in financial services technology, such as crypto-assets, to move money anonymously.

The report points to figures from Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, which estimate that up to £4 billion is laundered across the EU annually using crypto-assets.

By Jonathan Ames, The Times, 9 December 2019

Read more at The Times

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