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CPS launches ambitious plan to combat economic crime

|News, Fraud and economic crime

The first ever CPS Economic Crime strategy sets out an ambitious plan to combat these offences which are estimated to cost billions each year.

The strategy, launched today (30 March 2021) at a round table meeting with Government departments, police and criminal justice partners, highlights that fraud is now one of the most common crime types in England and Wales. The scale of the problem is growing. Some £479 million was lost in 2020 to scams where people were tricked into making bank transfers to fraudsters, according to the data from UK Finance. Over the past financial year, the CPS has prosecuted 10,000 economic crime cases.

It is also evolving. 86% of reported fraud is now estimated to be cyber enabled, fuelled by advances in technology.  In the last year we have seen cyber criminals look to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic. Huge increases in the number of people working remotely mean that significantly more people will be vulnerable to computer service fraud. Opportunistic fraudsters have also tried to exploit the government’s bounce back loan scheme by posing as businesses in order to obtain money.

With 800,000 people a year now falling victim to economic crime, the CPS will focus on how prosecutors can better help and support them, including those who are most vulnerable.

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions said: “The impact of economic crime on victims can be devastating, ranging from vulnerable people being exploited and left with unaffordable personal losses to the negative impact on the viability of businesses, all of which leads to significant losses to taxpayers.

“This is a serious and growing area of criminality, which is why we have developed a focused plan to help combat it,  providing more resources for specialist economic crime prosecutors, working closer with the police to build strong cases from the outset and giving victims confidence to come forward.”

The strategy includes a range of commitments including:

  • reviewing our structures and capabilities to ensure we have the right resources in the right place;
  • supporting more virtual hearings for economic crime cases, to help reduce the backlog in cases and give victims and witnesses more efficient access to justice;
  • recovering the proceeds of crime, depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains and seeking compensation for victims where possible;
  • harnessing the opportunities of technology to support effective economic crime prosecutions, while balancing the rights of a fair trial with the right to privacy; and
  • supporting in the creation of the first ever Economic Crime court and the use of more Nightingale courts for fraud cases.

Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “Our understanding of the scale and impact of economic crime has increased significantly over the last few years, and has shown that we need a much greater focus on this corrosive threat. These are often complicated crimes that require specialist knowledge and experience, and I welcome this approach by the CPS and their commitment to delivering justice for the victims of economic crime.”

The CPS also has a unit dedicated to asset recovery and in 2019-20 over £100m has been taken from criminals’ ill-gotten gains.

Notes to editors

  • The CPS Economic Crime Strategy is available on our website. 
  • The CPS Economic Crime Strategy stakeholders roundtable was hosted by the DPP and in attendance were:
    • Duncan Tessier, Director of Economic Crime, Home Office;
    • Keira Harper, Deputy Director of Economic Crime, Home Office;
    • Bozena Hillyer, Director for Counter Fraud, Compliance and Debt, Department of Work and Pensions;
    • Laura Eshelby, Deputy Director Government Counter Fraud Profession & C-19 Intelligence Response, Cabinet Office;
    • Giles Thompson, Director of Financial Sanctions, HM Treasury;
    • Claire Fielder, Deputy Director Justice and Home Affairs, Spending Review, HM Treasury;
    • Sarah Pritchard, Director, National Economic Crime Centre;
    • Lisa Osofsky, Director, Serious Fraud Office;
    • Sara Lawson, General Counsel, Serious Fraud Office;
    • Michelle Crotty, Chief Capability Officer, Serious Fraud Office;
    • Simon York, Director of Fraud Investigation Service, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs;
    • Angela McLaren, Assistant Commissioner for Economic and Cyber Crime, City of London Police;
    • Graham McNulty, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police;
    • Detective Superintendent John Roch, Head of Economic Crime Metropolitan Police;
    • Susan Frith, Chief Executive, NHS Counter Fraud Authority;
    • Vincent Coughlin, Chief Criminal Counsel, Financial Conduct Authority; and
    • Andy Morling, Head of the National Food Crime Unit, Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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