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LAW ENFORCEMENT

Fraud Victims Being Failed By Police

Fraud victims are being betrayed by police who fail to investigate tens of thousands of scams, according to a report from police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Officers routinely drop probes into bank scams, which cost the UK £190billion a year, because the crime does not 'bang, bleed or shout', the damning report has warned.

Incredibly, one force dropped 96 per cent of cases it received from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau – even though some had good evidence, including identified suspects, said the police watchdog.

HMICFRS said some forces were deliberately 'seeking reasons' not to investigate, with teams set up to 'suppress demand', effectively a form of rationing of police services.

The 108-page report said the failures led to 'fraudsters feeling they can act with impunity and victims feeling confused and disillusioned'.

Experts say Britain is facing an 'authorised' fraud epidemic, where unsuspecting bank customers are conned into transferring huge amounts of money from their accounts to ones run by a gang.

According to the annual Crime Survey for England & Wales, which conducts face-to-face interviews with people to glean their experiences of offences, there were 3.3million incidents of fraud in the year to June. But only 640,000 frauds were reported to investigators, about 11 per cent of all recorded crime.

HMICFRS said fraud was not considered a priority by police when compared to other crimes, such as violence, gun crime, drug trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

But inspectors said scams could have a 'devastating impact' on the victims, causing 'enormous psychological and emotional damage'. The proceeds of fraud can also be used to fund serious organised crime and terrorism. The watchdog's withering report said an 'inconsistent' approach to investigating fraud by the 43 police forces in England and Wales was leaving the public at 'high risk' of becoming victims.

Too many people who had been scammed by swindlers were 'not receiving the level of service they deserve' with problems at all levels in law enforcement.

One analyst told HMICFRS: 'Everything is against fraud. It is not a priority, not sexy, people don't report it and it is difficult to prove, which takes time, resources and money.'

The report said: 'As we were told by one officer, 'fraud does not bang, bleed, or shout'. Faced with those choices, chief constables and police and crime commissioners have difficult decisions to make.' But it added: 'Although we understand why fraud may not be considered a priority for some organisations, it does not follow that we accept that the current position should be allowed to prevail.'

The report said: 'Sadly, we have found too many examples of processes that are inefficient and organisations that are not being properly held to account for their performance. As a result, many victims of fraud are not receiving the level of service they deserve.'

A Home Office spokesman said: 'We have been clear that the law enforcement response to fraud needs to improve as this type of crime can have a devastating impact on victims. We will carefully consider the recommendations and work closely with law enforcement to implement them.'

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