In additional to the NPCC strategy this plan has taken into account the strategic priorities set out in the HM Gov. Economic Crime Plan 2019 to 2022. Once again this is to ensure that our strategic priorities are aligned to the national approach, and ensure a linear approach to deliver the national strategic requirements whilst achieving effective local delivery to identify the local threats and tackle this criminality to safeguard local people, organisations, and businesses.
This plan demonstrates how Hertfordshire Constabulary will deliver its approach to fraud through the 4 P structure (Protect, Prepare, Prevent, and Pursue). This strategy complements the Partnership Strategy which is focussed on three common frauds committed against the residents of Hertfordshire; direct mailing scams, electronic communication scams, and doorstep scams. We will build upon the work already being delivered.
The national threat environment
Fraud is a borderless threat with cyber enablers and complex money laundering structures
Fraud includes low value and localised offending, as well as complex and organised fraud. Fraud can be carried out remotely, with perpetrators targeting UK citizens and businesses from abroad. Victims, offenders and enablers can be based across multiple force areas and international jurisdictions.
In the national context the link between organised crime and volume fraud is under developed. They can be one and the same. A high proportion of fraud is likely to be categorised as serious and organised, some of which would be carried out be organised crime groups. Some of these organised crime networks are involved in other serious and organised crime such as drugs trafficking and modern slavery.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has invested to tackle the threat from Fraud, and has invested in establishing a dedicated Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit. This has resulted in the recognition of Fraud as SOC is advanced, and during an NPCC Peer Review of SOC (October 2019) it was commented that ‘the Force has significantly invested in Fraud and Modern Slavery units’.
Fraud affects our communities more often than any other crime type.
Anyone can become a victim of fraud – individuals, SMEs, large corporates, charities and public sector organisations. Fraudsters deliberately target some of the most vulnerable in our society. This includes people who are elderly, lonely, in debt or have mental health problems. They repeatedly target victims, sharing details of the susceptible and vulnerable across criminal networks.
The financial loss from fraud can be life changing for victims. Fraudsters do not only take victims’ money. They take their sense of security, confidence and well-being. Victims suffer financial hardship, anxiety, depression and other mental and physical health problems. This has led to victims feeling suicidal and taking their own lives. Fraud losses put small businesses at risk, jeopardising the livelihood of proprietors and their employees.
The Hertfordshire threat environment
7241 fraud and cyber offences *
Loss of £40m to victims *
1832 victims were classified as vulnerable (25%) *
Fraud and cyber represent 10% of all reported crime *
Hertfordshire Constabulary recognises the risk fraud presents to our vulnerable residents. 25% of victims were vulnerable highlighting the exploitative threat within fraud victimology.
Fraud offences often have a cyber-element to them. The growth of the digital world and new technologies has changed the nature of offending, with the Constabulary seeing more cyber-dependent and cyber-enabled crime across many crime types. The Constabulary has previously invested in specialist capabilities to support such digital investigations, demand in these areas continues to increase and future investment demand will continue. Online fraud in Hertfordshire is at one of the highest levels in the country. This will require further enhancement of the organisation’s capabilities and capacity, including ensuring frontline staff have the necessary competence to initiate investigations. Recognising these risks, the Constabulary has appointed a dedicated Cyber Prevent Officer to provide additional digital preventative advice to individuals, businesses and communities. Our Victim Service Team and Beacon provide additional support given to the victims of these crimes.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has invested in the creation of the dedicated Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit. This dedicated team will investigate the highest harm and complex fraud cases reported. The recently published ‘responding to and investigation allegations of fraud’ policy sets out how the force manages reports of crime in line with national policy and the Action Fraud structure. The policy was written to provide clear guidelines to all staff who receive reports of fraud, or are involved in the investigation of these crime.
The initial point of assessment of a Fraud crime is the Investigation Management Unit (IMU). Once each separate crime information package has been recorded onto Athena it then gets assessed by a member of IMU to determine allocation for investigation. Frauds which are visibly complex, serious and high value will be disseminated to the Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, those which don’t fall into this bracket will be disseminated to LCU Detective Sergeant for allocation to the appropriate officer or department.
* Hertfordshire Fraud Triage – Year Ending March 2022
To strengthen the protection of individuals, communities, systems and infrastructure against fraud.
Our ambition is to strengthen fraud capabilities across our existing workforce through process improvement, professional development, and sharing of good practice. Our aim is to deliver a dynamic and efficient response to fraud, making sure that we maximise the use of digital and financial investigation techniques and other proactive tactics so investigations are more proactive and less protracted.
We will ensure that the threat from Fraud is highlighted to local communities and businesses through delivering local and national campaigns and targeted crime prevention advice that effectively influences behavioural change.
We will encourage the reporting of fraud by providing accessible pathways for individuals and organisations to report fraud, and track the progress and outcome of their reports.
We will ensure that Hertfordshire Constabulary has officers and staff with the right training, the right skills, and the right tools to investigate Fraud crimes.
We will work closely with the Regional Economic Crime Unit to ensure that both intelligence and best practise is shared to increase our understanding of emerging threats, and to ensure that we maximise use of regional skills and assets to protect people and businesses from Fraud.
We will deliver a victim service that understands the range of vulnerability factors to identify and support those most at risk of repeat victimisation.
To reduce the impact of fraud firstly by understanding and dealing effectively with the current and emerging threat.
We will work closely with partners and our local communities to increase capacity, capability and effectiveness at tackling fraud. Success will require support and knowledge across the partnership to firstly identify fraud threats and crime, and joint work to achieve increased investigative and intelligence capabilities across policing and other partners.
We will seek to improve the sharing of information with other agencies to ensure that potential victims can be identified and provided help and support they need.
We will seek to gain a detailed picture of the perpetrators of fraud in Hertfordshire to develop the intelligence led approach to identify those engaged in this criminality, and to identify locations and victims susceptible to fraud criminality.
We will ensure that each fraud OCG is evaluated at the point of closure to identify ‘what works’ and ‘areas for improvement’ to strengthen our approach to tacking future criminality.
The Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit will continue to investigate the most serious and complex frauds in Hertfordshire, and will also provide a knowledge hub for other investigators across the force and region dealing with fraud investigations.
The Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit will work with local industry to identify best practice and new opportunities across the private sector to develop and enhance the police and partnership approach to identify and tackle fraud.
To stop individuals becoming involved in fraud or providing support for economic crime criminal activity.
Effective policing also means developing a better understanding of the risk profiles of individuals and businesses in our communities so interventions are targeted effectively. Hertfordshire will use national and local intelligence to understand the local threat and risk profiles of their communities.
To improve knowledge and understanding of the criminal career pathways to economic crime in order to inform proactive and multi agency interventions.
To identify the professionals and businesses that enable economic crime.
To identify individuals likely to reoffend and suitable for offender management regimes.
To maximise the effectiveness of long-term offender disruption and reduce the risk of re-offending through the use of ancillary orders such as Serious Crime Prevention Orders.
To provide training to frontline police and partnership staff to equip them with the skills and knowledge to identify and support victims of fraud through community engagement and other forms of community/business interaction.
To reduce the fraud threat through the investigation of individuals and groups engaged in fraud and the disruption of their activities.
A better understanding of the impact of interventions will result in more effective interventions. We will maximise our use of technology, analytics and evaluation to develop more evidence based practices and understand impact.
To maximise the use of the Organised Crime Group (OCG) mapping process through which those groups engaged in fraud criminality are disrupted and dismantled.
To ensure that those recorded crimes which have the highest risk and complexity are investigated by the dedicated Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit.
To maximise the range of disruptions through the use of the partners available, including GAIN which is accessible through the ROCU.
To ensure that all fraud OCG’s are briefed at Regional level through the Regional Tasking and Intelligence Group led by the ROCU, to share emerging threats and maximise the delivery of support from the ROCU and other agencies.
To ensure that all fraud OCG’s are fully briefed at the local community safety partnership level (through the JAG), to ensure partnership visibility of threat and partnership activity to reduce the impact and reduce the risk of further offending.
*Hertfordshire Constabulary awaits the release of the Home Office National Fraud Strategy. Upon receipt of the aforementioned strategy, a new local strategy will be devised in line with recommendations set out by the Home Office and regional partners.