Statement from the City of London Police.
Recent media coverage has reported that Action Fraud is going to be closed down, misinterpreting the Beating Crime Plan. This has caused alarm to victims of fraud and to staff who work to prevent fraud and protect people from becoming victims of crime.
The City of London Police is the national policing lead for fraud and works closely with partners and other law enforcement agencies to provide a linked up, national policing response.
Action Fraud is the national reporting centre hosted by the City of London Police. It receives reports of fraud and cyber crime and is the first national system for fraud reporting anywhere in the world. Reports from Action Fraud are assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), linking similar reports and identifying viable lines of enquiry for police forces and other law enforcement agencies to investigate.
Angela McLaren, Assistant Commissioner, City of London Police said:
“As the lead police force for fraud, we know that fraud affects more people than any other crime and is not victimless. We see the effects of fraud on victims every day, not just the financial distress it causes, but also the emotional impact.
“We are committed to providing the best service possible to victims of fraud, either by bringing criminals to justice or by using the intelligence that the public bring to Action Fraud to take down scam websites and phone numbers, preventing people from falling victim to unscrupulous criminals.
“I want to reassure the public that the Action Fraud system will remain in operation whilst we procure a new fraud and cybercrime reporting and analysis service. This new service is being procured in recognition of advances to technology and growing demand on the service. In the meantime we will continue to make improvements to the existing system.”
The procurement of a new system of reporting will benefit from more up-to-date available technologies which can help with increased demand. Work is already well-underway to create a new and improved system for reporting fraud and analysing those reports.
The system will be designed and procured carefully, with input at every stage from those that use the system. There are currently a number of different companies who believe they have the best solution for a modernised service.
The threat from fraud is increasing. Fraud reports have risen by 27 per cent in the past five years whilst resourcing in policing has decreased. However, City of London Police is actively working with police forces and partners across the UK to improve the policing response and ensure that the capability and capacity to tackle fraud is grown. This has included investment into new leadership roles and technology, providing specialist training for police officers and also increased numbers of officers dedicated to fraud, thanks to the policing uplift programme.
The City of London Police has a vital co-ordination role. It acts to support other forces and partner organisations in supplying expertise and operational support in bringing criminals who are intent on defrauding the public to justice. Additionally it has a vital role in preventing people from becoming victims of fraud: as a result of reports into the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) from the public, a tool launched in April 2020 with support from the City of London Police, more than 97,500 web addresses were taken down between April 2020 and June 2021.
The City of London Police also plays a vital role in supporting victims of fraud. Action Fraud’s National Economic Crime Victim Care Unit (NECVCU) supports victims following a crime and provides them with bespoke and specialist advice to help them better protect themselves from fraud in the future. The unit has been engaging with victims since 2015, including a large number of vulnerable individuals. Out of the victims the unit has engaged with so far, less than 1 per cent have reappeared on Action Fraud’s system as a repeat victim.