Report published 6 December 2017. Awaiting Government response
Scope of the inquiry
Around one in six of all estimated crimes in England and Wales in the year to 30 September 2016 were fraud committed online, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Online fraud includes criminals accessing individuals’ and businesses’ bank accounts, stealing and using their card details, or duping them into transferring money.
City of London Police is the national lead force for online fraud and works to improve capability across forces; however, individual Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible locally. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), approaches by police forces vary with some working well with the private sector to help identify victims, but others treating online fraud as a low priority.
Home Office Ministers have formed a Joint Fraud Taskforce to help coordinate a response to the growing problem. However the NAO report found that the Home Office faces a challenge in convincing partners such as banks and law enforcement bodies to take on responsibility for preventing and reducing the crime. The NAO also found that the Home Office lacks accurate data with which it can assess the adequacy of its response. It is estimated that only one-fifth of Online Fraud is reported to the police, but even then available data is not sufficiently shared between the Government, law enforcement agencies and industry.
The Public Accounts Committee will ask witnesses from the Home Office and City of London Police about how they are working with partners to promote responsibility for the problem, and how they are better educating the public about protecting themselves against fraud. The Committee will also ask whether police forces are focusing enough resources on tackling this threat, with the NAO reporting that nationwide only one in 150 police officers worked primarily on economic crime.