The results for the British Crime Survey for the first time show that fraud and cybercrime are the most prevalent crimes committed against people in England and Wales.
The introduction of questions around fraud and cybercrime show the changing face of crime with offences enabled by use of the internet changing the nature of offending in the UK.
Criminals and organised crime groups no longer have to commit crime in person and often use the anonymity of the internet to commit crime.
According to Action Fraud, the importance of today’s statistics is underlined as crime in this area is hugely under reported as evidenced by the vast difference between the number of reports to Action Fraud (406,935 in 2014) and the millions evidenced in the British Crime Survey.
Victims are frequently defrauded and then reimbursed by financial institutions with neither party reporting the matter to Action Fraud or the police.
This hampers law enforcements ability to investigate, prosecute or prevent further crimes being committed against victims and prioritise it against other crime types.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, part of the City of London Police, help to disrupt 4,000 websites, bank accounts and phone lines every month leading to the prevention of £369 million fraud last year.
But with the cost of fraud to the UK economy estimated at £30 billion more needs to be done and more resources are needed to assist law enforcement to help victims of crime and prevent further victimisation.
With half of all fraud and cybercrime committed against UK victims by criminals overseas investigation in this area is costly and labour intensive.
The police cannot solve this problem alone and the UK’s response needs to be a co-ordinated one and include the business community.