The National Crime Agency’s (NCA) director general Lynne Owens has issued a tasking to improve the response to fraud. The tasking, which is made under the Crime and Courts Act 2013, follows a discussion with chief constables and other partners at the National Strategic Tasking and Co-ordination Group (NSTCG) on 2 December.
It applies to all police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units in England and Wales, Police Scotland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Serious Fraud Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Financial Conduct Authority.
This is only the fourth tasking ever issued by the NCA. It was proposed jointly by Graeme Biggar, the director general of the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), and Commissioner Ian Dyson of the City of London Police, the lead police force for fraud.
Biggar said: “Fraud affects so many people, with around 700,000 reports to Action Fraud made in the past year. We know that lots of people who fall victim to scams don’t report it so it’s likely the impact is much greater. We are determined, along with our private and public sector partners, to make a real difference to the way in which we tackle fraud. As a result, the NECC is leading a project in conjunction with the City of London Police to step-up the national response to fraud immediately with activity continuing over the next year. This tasking is part of that work and focused on improving the intelligence picture on fraud, pursuing offenders causing the highest harm and increasing the priority of fraud across the system.”
Broader reforms to the current system for tackling fraud are being considered in the review of serious and organised crime commissioned by the Government and being led by Sir Craig Mackey.
Forms of tasking
The NECC is a multi-agency centre set up in November 2018. The core partners that comprise the NECC are the NCA (where it’s based), the City of London Police, the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It works closely with the private sector with the aim of reducing economic crime.
The tasking applies to each of the recipients in slightly different ways. The Serious Fraud Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Financial Conduct Authority will contribute to the tasking within the parameters of their existing statutory responsibilities.
There are two forms of tasking under the Crime and Courts Act 2013: a voluntary tasking or a directed tasking. A voluntary tasking provides for a chief officer of a UK police force or a UK law enforcement agency to perform a task if the NCA’s director general requests the person to perform it.
A directed tasking means that the recipient of the direction must comply with the request, but should only be used if a voluntary tasking will not suffice, and can only be issued to chief officers in police forces in England and Wales (and, in certain circumstances, to the British Transport Police).
The tasking on fraud is a voluntary tasking.
The other taskings issued by the NCA under the Crime and Courts Act 2013 have been on firearms, county lines and child sexual abuse.