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Fraud Review

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

“On 1 October the Government established the National Fraud Strategic Authority (NFSA), an agency of the Attorney-General’s Office. Created out of the Government’s response to the 2006 Fraud Review, the NFSA will work with private, public and third sector organisations to initiate, co-ordinate and communicate counter-fraud activity across the economy.

Fraud is a crime that is second only to the illegal drug trade in terms of its impacts on the UK. In 2005, the Association of Chief Police Officers estimated the annual cost of fraud is around £14 billion or nearly £265 for every person in England and Wales. Apart from the financial impacts, fraud also carries a high social cost as often the proceeds of organised fraud are used to fund larger, more serious crimes, such as people and drug trafficking or terrorism.

The business plan that was published on 1 October outlines the NFSA’s priorities, functions and its financial plan; copies of which are have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government, through the comprehensive spending review, have committed nearly £29 million (between 2008-11) to implement the Fraud Review’s key recommendations to develop a strategic authority, a lead police force, a reporting centre and undertake consultation on a range of criminal justice reforms.

The authority’s key priorities will include the delivery of:

a criminal justice system that focuses on the needs of victims by bringing fraudsters to swifter justice, efficiently and effectively;

stronger deterrence to fraudsters through a tough, multi-agency law enforcement and regulatory response; and

greater public confidence in the response to fraud, and greater capability of individuals and organisations to protect themselves.

There is much work underway in the establishment of not only the NFSA, but also the National Lead Police Force and National Fraud Reporting Centre.

This National Lead Police Force, operated by the City of London police will reinforce the policing response to fraud through the provision of essential counter-fraud specialist training, best practice and support to police forces in England and Wales thorough the recruitment of around 40 additional officers and specialists.

To inform the authority’s assessment of the fraud threat will be a new National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC), which is planned to start operating in late 2009.This centre, also being developed and managed by the City Of London police, will aim to address the under-reporting of fraud through the provision of a telephone and web-based reporting service, which will enable individuals and companies to share information on reports of fraud and receive advice and information to protect themselves from future attacks by fraudsters”.