'Cash for crash' defendants face conspiracy charges.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) has said that its joint venture with Bedfordshire police has made a total of 40 arrests.

Following the operation - codenamed Exhort - and dawn raids in November 2006 which led to 10 arrests, continued investigations supported by the IFB have since led to a further 30 arrests.

In a statemen, the IFB said that 26 defendants appeared at Luton Magistrates Court on 17 and 18 June facing a number of charges from conspiracy to defraud to perverting the course of Justice.

The remaining 14 defendants are expected to appear before Luton magistrates on 24 July.

IFB chief John Beadle said the organisation was currently working on 28 other operations on behalf of the industry.

West Yorkshire Police and the IFB have also continued to work closely on Operation Keep (also known as Operation Pelican) which saw four people suspected of organising ‘crash for cash scams’ arrested in May 2007.

A further two people have now been arrested following raids on properties in Keighley and Bradford on 11 June. The men aged 24 and 25 were arrested by officers from West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.

A significant quantity of suspected drugs, an imitation firearm, cash and documentation were also found at the five properties searched by police.

Detective Inspector Peter Craig, who led the investigation said: "These warrants were part of an ongoing investigation into organised crime involving local gangs. Part of this inquiry is focusing on so called 'cash for crash' and has uncovered large-scale fraud involving contrived motor vehicle insurance claims and money laundering."

Beadle added: “The benefits of the IFB acting on behalf of the insurance industry and working closely with law enforcement is demonstrating real results. We are seeing a growing appetite across regional police forces to work with the bureau to pursue the fraudsters targeting our industry.

"It is particularly encouraging to see pperations like Exhort and Keep being extended as the police see the benefits of the joint approach and links to other serious and organised crime.

" The police themselves are keen to co-publicise the success of our joint operations within their regional media and so together we are sending an incredibly strong deterrent message to the fraudsters."

The IFB launched on 26 July 2006. Its membership consists of 34 UK insurers and 12 compensators.