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17/05/2004

Proposals to tighten up anti-fraud laws unveiled

An overhaul of the fraud laws, which the government hopes will simplify them to better equip police and prosecutors to deal with modern crimes, has been proposed today.

The government has said that the reform was necessary as current laws focus on specific frauds and do not adequately tackle the wide range of possible fraudulent activity or keep pace with rapidly developing technology.

Fraud currently costs the UK economy around £14 billion a year.

Today, Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland launched a consultation paper which proposes a general offence of fraud which could be committed in three ways: by false representation; by wrongfully failing to disclose information' and by abuse of position.

Baroness Scotland said: "Modern criminals are also increasingly sophisticated and use technology to commit frauds. For example, buying services over the internet could be subject to fraud because of a deficiency in the current law.

"Our proposals respond to these challenges. We are aiming to create laws which are responsive to the society we live in and are effective so they build victims' confidence that the criminal justice system is on their side. Our proposals would overhaul the law to simplify it, cast its net wider and make it easier to secure just convictions."

Baroness Scotland called on members of the public, law enforcers, legal practitioners and businesses to consider and respond to the proposals.

Other anti-fraud proposals taken forward by the government include giving the Serious Fraud Office and City of London Police extra money to tackle the crime; and supporting financial institutions and the retail industry with their introduction of the chip-and-PIN system for plastic cards.

(gmcg)

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