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Crime

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many criminal offences related to the misappropriation of proofs of identity have been (a) reported and (b) brought to trial in each of the last five years; in how many such prosecutions convictions were achieved; and what information has been collated on the number of victims of such crimes from answers to the new questions incorporated into the British Crime Survey in 2005 on such matters. (178629)

In terms of recorded crime and court proceedings, statistics are not available in the form requested.

The use of another person’s identification details (or the use of false identification details), often referred to as identity theft, is not in itself an offence in law. It is the action that is undertaken, using those identification details, that needs to be considered in respect of whether an offence has occurred. As such no specific information is available.

Most instances of ‘Identity Theft’ come to light when victim’s details are used to obtain goods, services or money using credit arrangements or loans. Instances of this should be recorded under the new Home Office offence classifications ‘Fraud by False Representation Other Fraud’ or ‘Obtaining Services Dishonestly’. These new offences were created following the introduction of the Fraud Act 2006 and were introduced into the recorded crime series with effect from April 2007.

Where bank, credit card, or store card accounts are opened using identities to which the individuals are not entitled, and then used to commit fraud, then an offence of ‘Fraud by False Representation Cheque, Plastic Card and Online Bank Accounts (NOT eBay or Pay Pal)’ should be recorded.

If there is no intent to commit fraud and there is evidence that an account has been created using a false, stolen or improperly obtained identity document contained within the Identity Cards Act 2006 then an offence under the new classification ‘Possession of False Documents’ should be recorded.

Statistics for all the new recorded crime offence classifications referred to above will be available for 2007-08 and will be published in July 2008. Information on fraud and forgery offences recorded by the police using the old classifications is available in table 2.04 of ‘Crime in England and Wales 2006/07’. The table can be accessed at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb1107chap2.xls

Equivalent data for court proceedings and cautions for fraud offences (under the old classifications) can be found in the Criminal Statistics England and Wales publication which can be accessed at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/crim-stats-2006-tag.pdf

Tables 2.8 and 2.13 show prosecutions and crown court trials for fraud and forgery and table 3.16 shows convictions and cautions for fraud and forgery broken down by offence class.

Court proceedings data for 2007 for the offences referred to above will not be available until the autumn of 2008.

With regard to information collated by the British Crime Survey on victims of such crimes, according to the 2006-07 BCS, 2 per cent. of adults had experienced their personal details being used in the last year without their permission in one or more of the ways asked about. This proportion includes those who came to know about the identity fraud, but the true figure could be higher because some respondents may not have known about the deception.

Detailed information from the 2005-06 BCS on ID fraud is contained in section 3.5 of Home Office Statistical Bulletin 10/07 entitled ‘Mobile phone theft, plastic card and identity fraud: Findings from the 2005/06 British Crime Survey’. A copy of this publication is available at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb1007.pdf

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent evidence she has collated on the correlation between the level of crime and (a) police numbers and (b) police funding. (198506)

There is no simple relationship between levels of crime and police numbers, and police funding. I refer the hon. Member to the recent Government response to the Home Affairs Committee—Second Special Report, Session 2006-07, Appendix: Government Response in particular page 1, response after paragraph 2:

“..... crime is affected by a range of factors and it is therefore too crude simply to compare increases in police funding with changes in crime and then draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the police in reducing crime-not least because increases in policing and their visibility can in fact provide the public with more confidence to report more crime incidents. Current Home Office research shows that, when controlling for some of these factors—for example changes in the economy, demography and social factors—increases in police strength, visibility and focus have had a significant impact on reducing crime.”

A copy of the Government's response to the second report is available on the Parliament website on the following link:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmhaff/1092/109204.htm