Today representatives from police forces across the country met to review the first ever Economic Crime Victim Care Unit, which has been running as a pilot for four months (December 2014-March 2015).
The unit was funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and set up by the City of London Police and supported by the Metropolitan and the British Transport police.
As economic crime has become an increasing issue for the public over the past decade, it has been acknowledged by authorities that victims don’t always feel that they have received adequate victim care.
Reducing repeat victims
The pan-London unit based in the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, was set-up to address this issue and provide a better service to victims. The team are not investigators and cannot assist in the recovery of any losses.
A small team of specialist advocates were established to support a group of London victims who had fallen foul to fraud or other types of economic crime, with the aim being to make them feel safer and reduce the possibility of them becoming a repeat victim.
This team has monitored what they considered to be the most effective interactions and sought the views of victims themselves, to see what type of care worked best for them. Surveys were conducted by both Victim Support and an independent body to evaluate whether the victims were able to benefit from the service.
High level of care
One victim who was part of the project said: “My behaviour has changed, I’m more dubious when the phone rings, it makes me think a lot more; is this genuine or not? I’m now more careful about committing myself.”
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith who has led the project said:“It’s imperative that all victims of economic crime receive a high level of care and more needs to be done to ensure that from the point of reporting, victims of fraud and economic crime receive all the support that they need.
“Today’s event will allow law enforcement agencies involved in victim to care to discuss the pilot and the best way to deliver victim care in the future. This is most definitely a step in the right direction and the City of London Police is glad to have played an integral part in the pilot project”.
Since finishing the pilot in March, it has been confirmed a further 12 months of funding will be provided by MOPAC and the City of London Corporation to ensure that the unit is able to develop its service and continue to help victims of economic crime.
A small team of specialist advocates will continue to work in the Economic Crime Directorate to fulfil the aim of making victims feel safer and reducing the possibility of them becoming a repeat victim. Further work will be being done to develop the unit and options will be explored, to see if the service could in the future be made available to victims outside of London.
Age UK, the Fraud Advisory Panel, Victim Support and the Chief Executive of the Police and Crime Commissioners have all be involved in the project so far and will continue to provide their expert advice.