Figures published by UK Finance have revealed that £24.7 million of fraud has been prevented and 197 arrests made thanks to the introduction of the Banking Protocol, a ground-breaking scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch. The publication of the latest figures marks one year since a national roll-out of the scheme began in May 2017.
The Banking Protocol enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch. UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the scheme, which is a partnership between the finance industry and the police supported by National Trading Standards and the Joint Fraud Task Force.
Branch staff, call handlers, police and trading standards officers in each area have all been trained in the Banking Protocol and the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.
The scheme was first introduced as a pilot in London during October 2016. Since March of this year it has been implemented by all 45 police forces in the UK. Since being introduced, the Banking Protocol has led to 197 arrests across the country, while 3,682 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to through the scheme, with the average prevention per call equating to £6,720.
The most recent figures show that the scheme prevented over £3 million in fraud in May 2018 – a monthly record – while 17 arrests were made.
As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims and is often targeted at the most vulnerable people in society, which is why we must work together to prevent it. The Banking Protocol shows how close co-operation between the industry and law enforcement can help to protect victims and crack down on fraudsters. This kind of joined-up approach is crucial to stay one step ahead and ensure that unscrupulous scammers preying on customers are brought to justice.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Glenn Maleary, head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, stated: “The scale and borderless nature of fraud means we are having to find new and innovative ways to protect the public and deter the criminals. Banks are often the first point of contact for someone who is about to fall victim to fraud, so the Banking Protocol is a vital way of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing fraudsters from taking advantage of them. Since it was initiated, the Protocol has built its strength. It’s now preventing people losing millions of pounds to fraudsters, but we have to remain vigilant to changing criminal trends and adapt accordingly.”