New arrangements to report fraud in NI

12 June 2015

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has joined Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, as part of new arrangements to investigate fraud.

From Friday, anyone who has been a victim of fraud should report it directly to Action Fraud, either online or by calling the Action Fraud reporting centre on 0300 123 2040.

Action Fraud takes all fraud and cyber-crime reports in the UK and provides support to citizens through both the contact centre and its web-based channels.

Fraud reports which are submitted through the service are sent via secure transfer to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police, which is the country’s policing lead for fraud.

Members of the public should only contact police about fraud in the following circumstances: if it is a crime in action; if the crime has taken place within the previous 24 hours or if the perpetrator is known to them.

In these circumstances, callers should still ring PSNI on the non-emergency number 101 or in an emergency 999.

Last year a total of 1,896 frauds were reported to PSNI.

Figures from Action Fraud show that in the past five months, a total of 541 frauds have been reported in Northern Ireland.

The Annual Fraud Indicator 2013 estimates that fraud and cyber-crime costs the UK economy £52bn every year. This money is often used to fund crimes like drug smuggling, terrorism and people trafficking.

Action Fraud, which was previously a government service, joined the City of London Police in April 2014 and has since created a closely co-ordinated end-to-end service for victims of fraud and cyber crime.

The service was launched in 2009 and was rolled-out to all police forces in England and Wales in April 2013. Since it started over one million reports have been made and in the last year 388,438 reports of fraud and cyber crime were submitted by both members of the public and businesses.

When reporting a fraud to Action Fraud, the victim receives a national crime reference number and the case is referred to the NFIB where it is analysed along with a wealth of additional information from government departments, financial institutions and other large organisations.

Having this central collection point for crime reports enables a much clearer national picture on the main issues and allows seemingly unrelated incidents from around the country to be linked through analysis, which assists in identifying networks of criminals.

Once information has been assessed, the NFIB then sends police forces or other agencies packages for investigation, only where there is actionable intelligence or viable lines of inquiry available for the force to pursue.

Every allegation reported to Action Fraud will be recorded and where a crime is identified the victim given a reference number.

While it will not be possible to investigate every report that comes in, each one will assist the NFIB in building up a clear intelligence picture about fraud and fraudsters.

This in turn will enable the bureau help to prevent other people falling victim to fraud and public and private sector bodies to better protect themselves against the threat posed by fraud.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable for Crime Operations, Will Kerr, said: “We believe the service offered by Action Fraud is the best way of dealing with this important issue, both in terms of investigating such crime and building up a clearer understanding of fraud and fraudsters.

“It makes sense to join this national reporting service which will help to free up finite police resources to focus on those fraud investigations with viable lines of enquiry.”

Commander Steve Head, Police National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, who has helped PSNI join Action Fraud, said the national reporting system has revolutionised the way this type of crime is recorded in England and Wales.

He said: “PSNI joining Action Fraud will see Northern Ireland’s residents and businesses feed into this process, meaning the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau can provide the force with a meaningful picture of the economic crime issues in its area, allowing it to better protect its communities and pursue fraudsters operating within the locality.”

Deputy head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt, welcomed the PSNI linking up with its service.

“We encourage people to report to the service so that we can have a clear picture of the current scale of fraud and the threat which it poses," he said.

"If frauds go unreported, it allows fraudsters to operate under the radar and commit crime with no consequence.

“Working with police forces, Action Fraud helps the counter fraud community to shine a light on this kind of criminality and PSNI involvement will help us further enhance the service.

“The reports will also help shape the wider intelligence picture that is identifying emerging threats and making the UK more resistant to the threat posed by fraud."

The most convenient way to report to Action Fraud is online. Online reporting of fraud and cyber crime is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through.