Police forces across the North West region are joining a national scheme aimed at helping to tackle the growing problem of fraud. Cheshire Police will be amongst the forces going live with the launch on 18 February whereby this move to new ways of reporting will change the way that fraudulent crimes will be collated and used to detect crimes as well as build up intelligence about fraud and fraudsters in the locality.
Action Fraud has been operational since 2009, and has been designed to handle many thousands of reports of fraud and internet crime a month. There have been over one million unique visitors to the Action Fraud website since it was launched nationally.
Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire Police have all signed up to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. From Monday 18 February, victims of fraud should contact Action Fraud via the national number or website. Anyone reporting fraud to Cheshire Police will be referred to Action Fraud unless the victim is perceived to be vulnerable or an immediate police response will result in the offender being caught. By April 2013, all police forces in England and Wales will be directing the public to this service.
When reporting a crime to Action Fraud, a national crime reference number is generated and the case is referred onto the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for analysis before it is dispatched out to the relevant force where the criminal activity is taking place. This new system of reporting will allow for centralised intelligence and help identify and disrupt networks of criminal gang activity so that seemingly unrelated incidents from around the country can be linked through analysis. This will identify networks of criminals and will help prevent other people from becoming victims themselves.
Cheshire Police will continue to take reports of serious fraud and deal with cases where a crime is in action or where the victim is particularly vulnerable.
Detective Superintendent Geraint Jones said: "The purpose of Action Fraud is two fold: firstly to make it easier for the public to report fraud and secondly, to develop intelligence, look at trends and enable a better investigation to come out of the process. The result will be a speedier, more intelligent and more efficient process.
"Fraud is a serious crime. It impacts on all kinds of communities, in particular, vulnerable people. This type of criminality needs to be clamped down upon and the offenders need to be brought to justice."
It is estimated that fraud costs the British economy £73 billion every year. This includes anything from simple online scams to organised gangs targeting vulnerable people. In some cases, the offenders are located outside of the country.
To report fraud, Action Fraud can be contacted directly by phone on 0300 123 2040 or online through www.actionfraud.police.uk. For more information about different types of fraud and how you can prevent yourself becoming a victim, please visit www.cheshire.police.uk.