Page last updated at 00:44 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 01:44 UK

Card fraud 'runs into millions'

Credit cards
Credit card fraud is costing the country millions of pounds each year

Credit card fraud alone cost Scotland £11.5m in the year 2006 to 2007, a report has found.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland estimated all frauds totalled an equivalent of £330 for every person in the country.

An HMICS report called for a more joined-up approach to the problem and a separate unit to tackle serious fraud.

However, senior police officers said the capability already existed to deal with fraud.

The HMICS study also called on the government to work more closely with the police, the Crown Office and the procurator fiscal.

It made a number of recommendations aimed at improving how police work with their partners to tackle serious fraud.

The impact is felt not just by the individuals or businesses directly affected, but by the public generally and the public purse
Paddy Tomkins
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary

One was to set up a unit to co-ordinate intelligence gathering, enhance knowledge of fraud and initiate and promote prevention.

Paddy Tomkins, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, said: "Fraud in Scotland concerns everyone. For example, it is estimated that on average £330 for every man, woman and child in Scotland is lost through fraud each year.

"The impact is felt not just by the individuals or businesses directly affected, but by the public generally and the public purse.

"Although police recording of fraud needs to be improved and is inconsistent, figures from APACS show a 16% rise from 2006 to 2007, when £11.5m was lost to plastic payment card fraud alone in Scotland. A recent estimate put the overall loss to the UK as between £13bn and £20bn each year."

'Inconsistent recording'

Mr Tomkins said he had presented the report to the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce and had received its support.

He added that the inspection found several significant challenges facing the police in relation to fraud.

He said the recording of fraud in Scotland was one of the weaker areas of police data recording.

"Inconsistent recording can not only frustrate individual members of the public trying to report such crimes, but large businesses can also experience similar difficulties when trying to report large frauds or crime patterns," he added.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said it would examine the recommendations along with Scotland's eight forces.

He said: "Capability for dealing with serious fraud already exists within the Scottish police service and any proposal to make significant changes to that would require to be the subject of detailed discussion."

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland is responsible for inspecting the eight Scottish police forces and five police services.

HMICS operates independently of the police forces, police authorities and the Scottish Government and exists to monitor and improve the police services in Scotland.


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