Specialist unit to support vulnerable fraud victims rolled out across all forces
A specialist unit that supports vulnerable victims of fraud has been rolled out to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Aug 2, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Piloted in London, the Action Fraud National Economic Crime Victim Care Unit (NECVCU) provides victims of fraud and cybercrime with bespoke and specialist advice to help them protect themselves from falling victim again.
Since 2018, it has engaged with almost 350,000 victims and prevented an estimated £2,882,616 being lost to fraud
The unit, which is run by the City of London Police as the national lead force for fraud, has helped 113,356 victims of fraud and cybercrime in the past financial year alone (April 2022 – March 2023).
City of London Police Assistant Commissioner Pete O’Doherty said: “Victims of fraud and cybercrime are at the very heart of the work that we do as national lead force for fraud and the NECVCU is an invaluable service which provides specialist advice and support to victims when they are often at their most vulnerable.
“The unit has supported and empowered thousands of victims to recover from their experience with fraud and cybercrime. Without support from the NECVCU, many victims would likely have fallen victim again.
“We are delighted that thanks to additional investment, the unit has now been rolled out to all forces across England and Wales.
“The unit will continue to work tirelessly to support victims and the NECVCU should be incredibly proud of everything it has achieved this year.”
The Action Fraud NECVCU aims to make victims of fraud feel safer and more confident, following contact from specially trained advocates, and also helps them to cope and recover from their experience of fraud.
The unit also aims to significantly reduce the likelihood of repeat victimisation, by providing prevention advice and support.
Through Home Office funding, the NECVCU has engaged with and supported 349,322 victims since 2018 (as of July 25, 2023) – with only 152 people being recorded as repeat victims of fraud and cybercrime.
The unit has also prevented 181 people becoming repeat victims, stopping an estimated £2,882,616 being lost to fraud. Since January 2021, the Action Fraud NECVCU has supported 108 victims to recover £2,965,062.
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said: “Fighting fraud is at the heart of our campaign to fight crime. The NECVCU delivers on our pioneering Fraud Strategy.
“Fraud doesn’t just lead to financial loss, it can destroy confidence and lead to severe stress. That’s why it’s so important that victims get the best possible care and support.”
The unit supports all 43 police forces with the level one service, with 38 of those forces signed up to the level two service.
The level one service provides appropriate support to less complex cases where there is no indication of vulnerability identified within the report. The level one team provides protect and crime prevention advice, as well as signposting to local support services. A referral pathway is also in place, so where vulnerability is identified following initial contact with the victim, the victim care team is able to pass these cases to level two service providers.
The level two service handles more complex and difficult cases, where an indication of vulnerability has been identified within the report. Reports are thoroughly reviewed by a dedicated team and passed to a team of victim care reviewers. This team will then contact victims to further assess their vulnerability and work with them to not only provide protect and crime prevention advice, but also link in with existing services, such as the NHS and social services, and help the victim to cope and recover from the fraud.
Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, said: “We understand that falling victim to fraud or cybercrime can have devastating consequences on victims, and not just financially. It can affect people’s mental health, confidence, relationships with family and friends and cause them to feel ashamed or embarrassed.
“I am incredibly proud of the excellent service the NECVCU provides to victims across the country and the feedback from victims really does highlight the importance of reporting to Action Fraud.”
James Thomson, chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, added: “Victims are at the heart of everything that the City of London Police do. They are the number one priority.
“Fraud is a malicious crime that targets all of us, but for some it can be life changing. Fraudsters do not discriminate and therefore it is important that those that are most vulnerable are identified, supported, and empowered.
“The NECVCU is an important function in making sure that people do not become victims again and with the aim being to make them feel safer.”
The unit’s work was recognised at the 2021 and 2022 Tackling Economic Crime Awards where it was shortlisted for Outstanding Team and Outstanding Policing Initiative.
The unit is also benefiting from a partnership between the City of London Police and Lloyds Banking Group, which will see £7 million of proceeds of crime used to fund a series of fraud fighting and victim support programmes.