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Fraud fall

The first year-on-year comparisons of fraud and computer misuse offences in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed a fall of 15 per cent. This is a measure of crimes against the general population and does not cover fraud against businesses, says the official UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). The fall was driven mainly by decreases in consumer and retail fraud, such as offences related to online shopping or fraudulent computer service calls. Estimates of bank and credit account fraud remained at levels similar to the previous year.

New victimisation questions on fraud and computer misuse were incorporated into the CSEW from October 2015. Up to the year ending September 2017 the questions were asked of half the survey sample. From October 2017 onwards the questions are being asked of a full survey sample. Generally, the ONS says that becoming the victim of crime is not a common experience for most people; and that crime estimated by the survey has fallen considerably from the peak levels seen in 1995.

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Josh Gunnell, fraud specialist, Callcredit Information Group, said: “The latest ONS statistics clearly indicate that fraud remains a threat to every organisation in the country. With 3.2 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales and over half of these (1.8 million) being cyber related, the worrying trend shows no signs of abating. This is especially pertinent considering the damaging impact the ongoing fraud threat has had on trust in organisations, with a majority of consumers we spoke to believing that fraudsters are always one step ahead of businesses.

“To win back consumer confidence, which is key to long-term success, businesses need to do everything they can to keep data and identities safe. Implementing smarter, more dynamic fraud prevention strategies, such as artificial intelligence, alongside traditional fraud prevention methods – and communicating these to their customers – can go a long way towards achieving this. In addition, the importance of using behavioural and location data to provide fraud insights cannot be overstated.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Crime Recording and Statistics, Lincolnshire Chief Constable Bill Skelly pointed to a decrease of 10 per cent in crime measured by the Crime Survey of England and Wales but an increase of 14 per cent in police recorded crime.

He said: “Today’s police officers are dealing with more complex crime, more safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people and an unprecedented terror threat, as well as tackling some of the genuine rises in knife and gun crime, robbery, burglary and vehicle-related crime – crimes which turn the trend on many years of reductions. Our response involves good proactive policing in communities, developing specialist capabilities for more complex crime and working with government and our other partners to find effective ways of intervening early to prevent crime and harm. We continue to work with the Government and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure we are investing to meet growing and changing demand.”

Mark Bangs, Crime Statistics and Analysis, ONS said: “These latest figures indicate that levels of crime have continued to fall compared with the previous year, but this picture varied across different types of crime and not all offence types showed falls.

“While overall levels of violent crime were not increasing, there is evidence of rises having occurred in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories such as knife and gun crime. The first year-on-year comparisons from new estimates of fraud, one of the most frequently occurring crimes, indicate fewer incidents were experienced by the general population compared with the previous year.”

The ONS makes the point that police recorded crime statistics must be interpreted with caution. The police can only record crimes that are brought to their attention.


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