On 22 February, Victim Support’s National Fraud Lead Wayne Stevens appeared in front of a committee of MPs to discuss the criminal justice approach to fraud. Wayne gave evidence before the Justice Select Committee alongside the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, and the CIFAS Chief Executive Officer, Mike Haley. He shone a light on the impact that fraud has on victims and the improvements that can be made.
He also highlighted reasons for recent rises in fraud, as well as the opportunities that government has to drive change:
“There’s a significant opportunity for social media and tech companies to get involved to prevent fraud. The Online Harms Bill can be explicit about fraud and there’s also the opportunity to bring paid for advertising into scope.
“People have moved to online behaviours and the lockdown has contributed to that to some extent. We think that there are also more young people using social media, online banking and so fraudsters have changed their modus operandi to make use of these […] a very new and opportunistic thing.”
Fraud is the most commonly experienced crime type across England and Wales with 5.1 million fraud offences recorded last year. Not only are fraud offences often difficult to report and prosecute which contributes to significant under-reporting, but experiencing fraud can also lead to life-changing losses. In addition to financial losses which can result in selling treasured possessions, taking out loans or even bankruptcy, fraud can also have a significant emotional impact on victims as it is associated with shame, stigma and self-blame.
The Justice Committee launched an inquiry focusing on the criminal justice system’s approach to combatting fraud. Earlier this year, Victim Support submitted a written response to the inquiry, highlighting the impact that fraud can have on people who experience it. Following the submission, we are proud to share that our National Fraud Lead, Wayne Stevens, was invited to give oral evidence to the Committee.
The entire evidence session, including Victim Support’s evidence, can be watched here.