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Fraud victims are being let down by police

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Most fraud victims are being let down by police, a watchdog’s damning report has warned.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found some police forces actively looked for reasons to drop fraud cases.

One officer told the investigation that fraud does not ‘bang, bleed or shout’ so is not considered a priority.

The report said fraud cases were dealt with in an “inconsistent manner”.

The watchdog visited 11 police forces in England and Wales and other agencies including Action Fraud and Europol.

Seven of the 11 forces inspected were unable to provide basic data on the demand fraud places on them.

One force filed, with no further action, 96% of the cases it received from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau despite some of these cases having a good degree of evidence, including identified suspects.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “The current model of local investigations supported by national functions is the right one. But processes need to be much more efficient, and performance must be managed to provide the best possible service that available resources will allow.

“We did find examples of local investigators providing victims with excellent service, but they are hampered by the lack of government or national policing strategies for tackling fraud.

“This has profound implications in how forces understand roles and responsibilities, how the public is protected from fraud and how victims of fraud are treated by police forces.

“So we are calling on the police service to make a choice. Either continue with the current inconsistent approach, which puts members of the public at a high risk of becoming victims of crime or look at ways to improve that will start to make a difference.”

An investigation last year by consumer group Which? found 96% of crimes reported to Action Fraud were closed without a successful outcome.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “Too often, victims are left feeling abandoned and confused as investigations drag on with little sign of progress.

“To show they are serious about winning the battle against increasingly sophisticated fraudsters, the Government, police and banking industry must establish a more coordinated approach and make scams a top priority.”

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