INSIGHT - Police to ignore most fraud.
Companies that fall victim to serious fraud will soon have to undertake their own investigations. A shift in police policy, which is planned to take effect from April next year, has been triggered by concerns among senior officers over the amount of effort spent investigating cases that are unlikely ever to produce sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution. Detective Chief Superintendent James Perry, head of the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad, told FD: “Traditionally, we have investigated all cases of alleged fraud where the value exceeds our threshold (currently £750,000) and where it can be shown that the allegation amounts to a criminal fraud rather than a civil tort. The problem is that we are frequently asked to investigate cases that are five or six years old, where the evidential trail has gone cold. The use of a scarce resource in these circumstances can no longer be justified.” This view was echoed in the City of London Fraud Squad. Detective superintendent Ken Farrow said: “We will be asking companies to come to us with much of the initial work of an investigation already completed.” From April, the decision on whether or not to take a case will depend on: – the effect of the crime on the victim; – the standard of criminal involved (suspected regular fraudster or first time offender); – the chances of a successful prosecution. While each of the 51 police forces in the UK is operationally autonomous, the trend within the two London forces is being mirrored elsewhere as chief constables seek to balance resources against demands. According to one senior officer, about two-thirds of all UK forces have now either reduced or disbanded their anti-fraud capability. The West Midlands Police has reduced its Fraud Squad from 40 officers to 15 within the past few months.