Fraud must be taken ‘far more seriously’ by police

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Fraud is “indefensibly” a low priority for police and needs to be taken “far more seriously”, according to the chief inspector of constabulary.

Sir Tom Winsor said the detection rate in fraud is “woefully low”.

Setting out his final annual assessment of the state of policing in England and Wales, which reviews how things have changed during his decade-long tenure before he leaves at the end of the month, he said: “Fraud needs to be taken far more seriously.

“It is indefensibly a low priority for the police. And yet it is a tsunami of offending which can, and does, lead to catastrophic human suffering and some people destroy themselves when they’ve lost everything they’ve ever worked for.”

While there have been some improvements, he also warned a “high proportion of crimes are not being recorded, and therefore, not investigated”.

Sir Tom’s report said it was “unjustifiable for any police force to decline to attend and properly investigate crimes of a serious nature, such as burglary or domestic abuse”.

Some forces “plead inadequacies of resources and the need to prioritise more serious crimes”.

“But domestic abuse is a serious crime. Domestic abuse can be a murder in slow motion,” he told reporters.

Police “do have to prioritise” and the public will “have to put their hands in their pockets” if they want “all demand met”, he said.

Asked if that meant the police cannot afford to investigate all crime, he replied: “Correct. They cannot afford to investigate all crime and therefore they have to prioritise. That’s always been the case, it’s not a new thing.”

He said he would expect the police to turn up if he was burgled tomorrow and to take it seriously but added: “I wouldn’t expect him to be caught unless he left a sufficient evidential trail.”

During his 10 years in post he said he felt victims’ experiences of policing were “better overall” but “not perfect”.

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