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Serious and Organised Crime

Volume 586: debated on Monday 13 October 2014

Serious and organised crime is a threat to the UK’s national security, and damages communities across the country. The Government are committed to tackling this threat. One year ago, we launched a comprehensive new strategy to tackle serious and organised crime and a powerful new crime-fighting organisation—the National Crime Agency—which is already making a difference. We are driving forward reform, including through the Serious Crime Bill, which will strengthen our ability to disrupt and prosecute serious and organised criminals.

I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. Two families in Selby have lost their entire life savings as a result of a sophisticated organised phone-fraud scam. In both cases, the victims quickly realised that they were being scammed and alerted their banks and the police. After a bit of cajoling and arm-twisting, some of the banks involved have reacted well and returned the money, but the Yorkshire building society and the TSB have so far not been as helpful as they perhaps could have been. What action does the Minister plan to take to protect our constituents from these fraudsters? Will she meet me to discuss a way forward?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. This Government take economic and financial crime extremely seriously, which is why the Home Secretary set up the economic crime command within the National Crime Agency and why she and I have been working with banks and other financial institutions to ensure that we can give everyone security in their financial operations. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his great work as a constituency MP and on achieving the recovery of money for one of his constituents. I would be more than happy to meet him to discuss what else we can do.

If the Minister is to tackle serious and organised crime, will she consider looking at the competency and fitness for purpose of the Serious Fraud Office? Its recent history does not fill many of us with confidence. The fact of the matter is that, because of a lack of resources, the SFO has increasingly had to listen to the big accountancy firms, which is leading us into terribly dangerous waters.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments and assure him that, through the inter-ministerial anti-corruption group, we are looking carefully at how we can tackle all economic crime in the most effective way.