Response to fraud review fails to address police funding and prioritisation

The government has come under fire for failing to address two key issues for the insurance industry in its long-awaited response to the fraud review.

The response to the review failed to make clear statements on police funding for fighting fraud and the prioritisation of fraud investigations.

Insurance industry bodies warned that a failure to provide funding and increase the priority given to fraud investigations could hinder the industry's fight against fraud.

The insurance industry is now set to turn up the heat on the government in a bid to achieve greater clarity on policing.

ABI director general Stephen Haddrill warned that action against fraud would be "undermined if fraud detection is not given the resources it deserves. Police funding for this work must be enhanced."

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) said: "To maximise the impact of the IFB we need to be seeing a more comprehensive police response on a national scale."

The government's response to the fraud review consultation set out a range of steps for tackling fraud.

These include creating a national fraud strategic authority, to co-ordinate and lead fraud prevention work; designing a national fraud reporting centre to gather intelligence and measure fraud; and extending the remit of the City of London police to become the national lead police force on fraud.

However, plans to set up regional centres to supplement the City force were abandoned by the government.

Chris Hannant, head of financial crime prevention and market regulation, ABI, told Insurance Times: "The actual government response danced around policing recommendations and, when questioned, it gave no clear indications.

"You could argue that questions of priority and resources should follow strategy and measurement, but that argument was not made by the government."

Over the coming months, the ABI will press the Home Office and the rest of government on mainstreaming fraud investigation.

It would like to see fraud as a key performance indicator within the National Community Safety and Policing Plan as well as enhanced funding for the investigation of fraud offences.

A comprehensive spending review of all government spending is expected to be carried out in October when the issue of police funding is likely to be addressed.

Hannant said: "We realise that counter terrorism will remain a top priority for the police, but we would like to see fraud get the same billing, especially lower level crimes.

"This will ensure it gets tackled rather than neglected, which is the current situation."