08/12/2003

City of London police to take lead role in fraud probes

The City of London Police is to take the lead in investigating fraudsters and complex fraud cases in the south east, and the government has earmarked £2 million to assist the force in their expanded role.

The investment - provided by the Home Office and the Corporation of London - will be backed by a further £1 million from the Home Office to fund the capital costs of the expansion.

City of London Police operates within London's 'square mile' and have considerable expertise in investigating complex fraud cases. Their experience will now be used to uncover and prosecute serious fraud wherever it occurs in the south east – not just the City.

The cost of fraud to the UK economy has been put as high as £14 billion a year - the equivalent of £230 for every member of the population. Between 1997 and 2002, the number of prosecutions for benefit fraud rose from under 12,000 to nearly 27,000. The government said that "social equality demands that we now bear down on white- collar crime as vigorously".

Speaking at today's British Bankers' Association Annual Financial Crime Conference, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said: "We are determined to clamp down on fraud and at the same time take the profit out of crime. Fraud costs Britain billions of pounds every year, affecting us all - not only financially but by damaging our reputation for good business.

"Today's announcement means that the specialist expertise of City of London Police in tackling fraud will help cut crime right across the country, supported and expanded by a £3 million cash boost this year. This is a significant increase in the resources and expertise dedicated to fighting fraud, allowing the police to step up and speed up investigations."

The City of London Police will be the first force to be recognised as a 'lead force', as outlined in the recent Green Paper on 'Policing: Building Safer Communities Together', and will take the lead on all fraud investigations across the south east.

(gmcg)

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