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Fraud and Economic Crime: Prosecutions

Volume 730: debated on Thursday 30 March 2023

4. What steps she is taking to help ensure effective prosecution of perpetrators of fraud and economic crime. (904397)

We are determined to strengthen our response to all forms of economic crime, including fraud, and the Government will soon publish a new fraud strategy to address this threat. Both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office play an important role in bringing fraudsters to justice.

As the Solicitor General will know, each September the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, organised by Professor Barry Rider, meets at Jesus College Cambridge, and the issue of establishing a dedicated anti-fraud or economic crime agency is frequently raised. What consideration has been given to that proposal, and what is the Solicitor General doing to promote education about fraud, and prevention and discouragement of it, through effective early compliance?

I am indeed aware of that symposium, because I have been invited to speak at it this year, and I very much hope to see the hon. Gentleman there so that we can discuss this subject even further. As he will know, the National Economic Crime Centre, which was launched in 2018, leads the UK’s operational response to economic crime. As for his wider question, he will be aware of the Government’s fraud strategy, which will be released soon.

Every day that passes, more lives are destroyed by fraud. We urgently need a Government who understand the scale of that crisis and have a plan to tackle it. Five months ago, the Prime Minister stood at the Dispatch Box and told us that

“the Government will shortly publish our fraud strategy…to block more scams and better protect the public.”—[Official Report, 2 November 2022; Vol. 721, c. 859.]

The Solicitor General has told us again today that the strategy will come shortly. Do the Government have a different concept of time? What do they mean by “shortly”, and how much longer are we going to need to wait—or is this just another example of the Government making big promises on crucial issues and delivering absolutely nothing?

The shadow Attorney General is not right about that. The fraud strategy will be published. In terms of delivery, she will be pleased to hear that last year the CPS prosecuted over 6,000 defendants where fraud and forgery was the principal offence, and the conviction rate was over 80%. This is a Government that have delivered and will continue to deliver in this area.