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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Government warned to combat fraud
Man counts money
Organised crime is behind a sharp rise in fraud
Large-scale fraud, often involving organised crime, is growing fast and the government is failing to keep up, a new report says.

Figures prepared for the Home Office reveal that the overall cost of fraud could be costing the country up to 13.8bn a year.

And the National Criminal Intelligence Service now views fraud as a major crime threat.

But the report, from the Fraud Advisory Panel, warns that traditional systems of checks and balances are inadequate to deal with the rise in corruption and money laundering conducted by organised criminals.

Current system failing

The panel recommends that the government takes new emergency measures to counter organised crime.

"Fraud is now about more than just fiddling the books," said the panel's chairman George Staple QC.

"It is a crime increasingly linked to corruption and money laundering and conducted by organised criminals. Our traditional system of checks and balances is failing to cope".

The report says the way the Government tackles the problem of fraud is too fragmented, noting that responsibility is split across 16 departments and agencies.

It also says police fraud squads now face a "crisis of resources".

Such units are often being led by relatively inexperienced officers, and most fraud squads have been reduced in size or abolished.

New measures needed

The Panel wants to see the police response to fraud improved by increasing resources and manpower, and says the Home Office should review whether a National Fraud Squad is needed.

The report advocates the setting up of a National Economic Crime Commission to oversee the fight against fraud.

It also wants to see what it calls a "joined-up" anti-fraud strategy, with better co-operation between Government and the police.

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George Staple QC, Chair of the Fraud Advisory panel
"There must be an answer to this"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Scotland
Sharp rise in company fraud
18 Jul 01 | Business
Banks to help fund fraud force
12 Apr 01 | Business
Net fraud scam foiled
20 Jun 01 | Business
Net police fail online shoppers
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