New guidelines on tackling the growing problem of company fraud have been agreed between London's police forces and the Confederation of British Industry.

The measures launched by Home Secretary Jack Straw on Friday, are designed to increase the efficiency of fraud investigations by increasing cooperation between the police and big business.

He said: "These proposals demonstrate how the police can harness private sector expertise, while introducing necessary quality control checks, to assist the investigation process."

He added that he had asked to be kept informed on the progress of the initiative which begins on April 1.

Sixty per cent of companies are said by the CBI to suffer from fraud each year, costing industry billions of pounds.

As part of the guidelines, the Metropolitan and City police forces have agreed a step-by-step approach to investigating suspected complex fraud cases.

The guidelines will allow large companies based in London to carry out fraud investigation work providing they have the resources, under the supervision of the police, to the standard required to bring a criminal case.

John Smith, head of group security at Prudential plc and chairman of the CBI's fraud working party, said: "These guidelines formalise current cooperation arrangements between larger companies and the police on fraud. They are intended to reduce the pressure on police resources by increasing the efficiency of fraud investigations."