Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews has vowed to do more to crackdown on fraud after new figures revealed the devastating emotional impact on victims.
A new study led by Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC shows fraud surged by 24 per cent during the pandemic, leaving around 700,000 people ‘highly vulnerable’ to the crime every year.
Fraud now accounts for 39 per cent of all crime but currently just two per cent of police resources are dedicated to fighting the crime – with fewer than 8,000 prosecutions in 2019.
Meanwhile, only 15 per cent of victims report their experiences to the police or Action Fraud.
Mr Matthews has pledged to do more to protect the vulnerable and increase the support offered to victims of crime as part of his strategy to make Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland safer.
He said: “One of the most tragic facts about fraud is that victims are very often the most vulnerable and defenceless members of society. As this survey shows, becoming a victim of fraud can have a serious, long-term impact on emotional wellbeing and resilience and my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered in this way.
“We need to do more to support the recovery process but we also need to make sure our police officers have the resources necessary to prevent this crime from happening in the first place, sparing potential victims’ unnecessary distress and agony.
“I want the Police to have the best equipment and technology available to do their jobs effectively and catch the most sophisticated offenders. I will do everything possible to equip our officers with the tools they need to stay one step ahead and protect our communities from the very real threat of fraud.”
According to the Victims’ Commissioner’s report, 4.6million people are affected by fraud each year and around 700,000 will go on to suffer profoundly as a result of their experiences.
The research categorises fraud victims according to their vulnerability to better understand what characterise fraud victims, their respective support needs and what activity agencies might need to consider to better support them.
Victims are mapped across three broad categories: ‘high-vulnerability victims’ (representing 22% of all fraud victims), ‘medium-vulnerability victims’ (23%), and ‘low-vulnerability victims’ (55%). The analysis suggests there were around 700,000 high-vulnerability victims in 2018/19.
The research comes after a 2019 HMICFRS report assessing the police response to fraud concluded too many victims receive poor service and are denied justice, while both investigation and prevention services are under-resourced and given insufficient priority.
“Despite the prevalence of fraud, when we think of the word ‘victim’, fraud is probably not one of the first crimes that springs to mind,” said Dame Vera Baird.
“Yet in high-harm fraud cases, victims frequently suffer deeply.”
Media enquiries: Sallie Blair 01283 821012
Posted on Wednesday 20th October 2021