One in 50 fraud reports end in police charge or summons, figures reveal

Police said fraud investigations can be complex, long running, and often involve external financial

Police said fraud investigations can be complex, long running, and often involve external financial institutions Picture: MARTIN KEENE/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

About one in every 50 reports of fraud resulted in police charging a suspect in Suffolk last year, according to new figures.

Home Office data showed eight (2%) of 395 fraud reports led to police charges or court summons in the year ending March 2018.

Figures also revealed an almost 40-fold increase in reports – from just 10 in the previous 12 months.

While the sharp rise was put down to changes in data handling, police said the latest figure represented total, often multiple, global reports against Suffolk-based individuals or companies.

According to figures, ‘evidential difficulties’ prevented further action in 207 cases (52%), despite a suspect being identified.

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The prosecution service suggests such difficulties may arise in corporate prosecutions, when a company’s controlling officer must be clearly identified.

In 85 cases, no suspect was identified, while 15 victims did not support further action and investigation transferred to another body on 15 occasions.

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While two out-of-court cautions and three informal community resolutions were issued, two prosecutions and 53 further investigations were deemed not to be in the public interest.

In Norfolk, 73 of 467 (16%) of reports led to police charges or summons, while 205 of 1,676 (12%) led to the same outcome in Essex.

A Suffolk police spokesman said investigations differed from other crime, with reports centrally managed through Action Fraud, and a dedicated local team determining if circumstances warrant criminal investigation or if agencies like Trading Standards are better placed to investigate.

“Allocation of investigations can sometimes be protracted,” said the spokesman.

“Investigations can be complex, long running, and often involve external financial institutions.

“We understand that fraud has a significant impact on individuals and businesses, and work hard to understand this and support victims during these long investigations.”

From 2016, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau required forces to submit relevant data in relation to fraud reports.

A change in IT at Suffolk police led to inconsistencies in recording and submission, the spokesman said, indicating figures were much greater than suggested in 2016/2017, but that data issues had now been addressed. An increase was otherwise broadly in line with national figures, they added.

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