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Case Studies

Barriers to policing financial crime

Most police detectives in England and Wales investigating financial crime do not have enough knowledge to build a case. That’s among the findings of research from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth. The ICJS asked why results of such investigations vary so widely, especially when the fraud is the number one volume crime in the UK.

The report, published in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, published by Oxford University Press, finds that only 40 per cent of investigators understood the process by which fraud is reported. A third of those questioned said they had not received proper training in how to investigate financial crime. There was also a poor perception of fraud and the impact on victims amongst those questioned.

In many cases, investigators had a negative view of their work, and did not have the time, training or determination, researchers found. Financial crime is perceived to be notoriously challenging to investigate. Investigations into less prolific, but higher profile and headline grabbing crimes are known to get better results.

The lead author Paul Gilmour, is Lecturer of Criminal Justice and Policing, at the ICJS. He said: “The police service in England and Wales has been subject of much criticism in the past two decades over the response to financial crime. Many studies have reported failures in how the police investigate and prosecute financial crime, which have led to many victims being dissatisfied with the service provided by police. Despite this, there has been little research into the barriers facing police investigators entrusted with tackling financial crime.

“Our article reports on a study into such barriers, through surveys and interviews with investigators that aimed to better understand the challenges faced by police forces within England and Wales. It demonstrates several overriding practical and cultural issues that inhibit the success of investigations. The article concludes that police need a better appreciation of financial crime, to help improve the service delivered to victims and to prioritise this often undervalued field of policing.”


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