Jessica Fino 13 Jun 2018 10:39am

Limited resources blamed for drop in white-collar prosecutions

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) tactics have been called into question following a drop in white-collar crime prosecutions

A report from law firm Pinsent Masons said a lack of police and prosecution resources caused prosecutions to fall by 6% from 8,304 in 2016 to 7,786 in 2017. There were 273,600 fraud cases reported to Action Fraud last year.

White-collar crime includes fraud, money laundering, cyber crime, bribery and insider trading.

The firm said the pressure on police resources may have resulted from the FCA and SFO focusing their time and resources on larger and more complex corporate criminal cases.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has previously said police budgets fell by 14% between 2010/11 and 2014/15, while the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) budget has been cut by 25% since 2010.

Pinsent Masons partner Tom Stocker said, "Our experience is that the SFO is targeting large companies. While that leads to significant fines and good publicity for the SFO, the government needs to consider whether enough is being done to look after vulnerable individuals who are the victims of now commonplace but sophisticated scams."

Stocker argued that the police and CPS need adequate funding to carry out complex investigations, and more money needs to be spent to give police forces the ability to tackle rising crime levels.

“Nearly every adult in the UK will have received a phishing call or a fraudulent email. Why is that allowed to happen? Victims of fraud are now expected to report directly to Action Fraud rather than to the local police station,” he said.

“It is has become a triage system which pretends that matters are being dealt with when, in fact, most frauds are not being investigated,” he added.

Stocker argued that lower value frauds should be prioritised more and urged the government to address the issue “ both from a resource and public policy perspective”.

The FCA and the SFO declined to comment.