Blackburn has been the scene of the highest number of staged accidents, research by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) has revealed.

The findings prompted one leading politician to brand staged motor accidents as "a significant national problem".

John Greenway, MP and chairman of the All Political Party Working Group (APPWG) for insurance and financial services, made the comments after the IFB said 22,500 fraudulent accidents had occurred since 1999.

"Latest statistics from the IFB clearly demonstrate the direct risk to public safety represented by induced accidents," said Greenway. "This is now a significant national problem impacting many cities across the UK and requiring an urgent national solution."

The IFB research revealed an explosion in the number of staged accidents across the country. The highest number of 'crash for cash' scams occurred in Blackburn, but London and Luton are also named as hotspots.

Each successful scam can net criminals up to £30,000. Increasingly, the IFB said, proceeds from the crime are being used to fund serious crimes, including drug trafficking and gun-running.

The latest research has prompted the IFB to renew calls for the police to be given formal targets for the investigation of staged frauds.

John Beadle, chairman of the IFB, said: "The solution to this serious problem is collaboration between the insurance industry, police, public bodies and the general public."