Lincolnshire Police joins online crime fighting initiative

Lincolnshire Police has joined the world’s first scheme aimed at reducing the cost and burden on police officers filling in forms related to online fraud.

From boiler rooms to eBay scams, fraud is big business, particularly online, and the latest national figures suggest it is a £73 billion a year crime — based only on the crimes that are reported and recorded.

Set up and run by the National Fraud Authority, Action Fraud is a one-stop reporting centre which will handle reports of volume fraud from March 2013.

Lincolnshire Police, along with other East Midlands forces, joined the scheme on January 1.

Instead of local officers taking reports themselves – at an estimated 15 minutes per report – victims will be asked to report the crime to Action Fraud, either by phone or online.

Information from businesses, members of the public and charities will then be sent on by Action Fraud to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), which also receives information about possible fraud from the police, banks and government, among others.

This national body of information will then be assessed, with an expectation that only 15% of it will then translate into crimes requiring investigation. It will then send packages for investigation to local forces, national agencies (SOCA) or others (Department of Work and Pensions).

Every month, the NFIB will send reports to all forces setting out the profile of crime reports and information to ensure Forces have a clear picture of what is happening locally. Additionally, the monthly reports will contain information about national threats and trends.

Currently, on-line shopping and auction fraud is the most common type of crime report.

The only exception to the new national process will be “crimes in action”. Such reports will still need to be managed by host forces to whom the reports are first made and recorded as such on local systems. Once taken, these crime in action reports will need to “keyed in” to the national Action Fraud website by officers.

Detective Sergeant Ian Jarman, of the Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit, said that joining Action Fraud will provide an enhanced service to victims of fraud:

“Where the victim is reporting a crime in action, or is assessed to be vulnerable, we will continue to deal with the report as normal. But for all other such reports, the victim will make contact with Action Fraud, via the telephone or by logging on to its website. Based on the experiences of the pilot forces, it estimated that the new reporting system will save Lincolnshire Officers in excess of 500 hours per year from taking reports from alleged victims.”

“It is estimated that only 15% of all information reported actually constitutes a crime requiring investigation, and the NFIB will send packages for investigation to the most appropriate authority – SOCA, the central e-crime unit, the Department of Work and Pensions or individual forces,” Detective Jarman explained.

“Clearly, such a system has the potential to save us hundreds of hours spent filling in reports. It provides the public throughout the UK with just one point of reference, and will mean that our time is spent conducting actionable investigations and preventing scams, rip-offs and cons in the first place.”