Challenge fraud service for vulnerable victims
A total of £16.5m was lost to fraud between April 2018 and March 2019 in Dorset alone, while victims lost £2.2bn across the UK. Phishing emails, scam phone calls, and malware are just a few ways people can be targeted online and the threat evolves every day.
While prevention and awareness raising activity is key to reduce the number of people affected by fraud, support for those who fall victim is a key concern for the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The PCC has built on the CyberSafe prevention campaign he funded and launched during his first term. In his second term he funded the Dorset Police Cyber Crime Protection and Prevention Officer in Dorset Police, providing a dedicated resource for advice and guidance to communities.
Using the Cyber-Crime Prevention Toolkit and other tools, this officer has given presentations to businesses and community groups.
Active social media accounts provide regular updates and advice and the Dorset Alert messaging system is used to provide information on the latest scams.
A series of guest blogs on the PCC website have been published to increase awareness, on topics such as Remember to Stay Safe from Fraudsters, How to Stay Safe on Social Media – Part One and Part Two, and How to Avoid the Summer Holiday Scammers. Dorset Police’s Cyber Crime Unit produced an article warning against romance fraud, and this work was highlighted by the Bournemouth Echo.
In 2017 Dorset Police launched the Banking Protocol, a partnership between the police, finance industry and trading standards. It is a fraud prevention scheme to identify and protect potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society, by training bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and try to prevent them withdrawing cash or transferring money to a fraudster, with an immediate police response to the bank.
An internal Fraud Triage Team (FTT) has also been developed, to support investigations and offer guidance and advice to officers attending incidents of fraud.
The Business Crime Strategy developed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner identifies fraud as a key focus. Businesses have communicated their frustrations to the PCC and Chief Constable on the increased threat from cyber fraud and inconsistencies of safety messages, so this strategy will see Dorset Police work with business leaders to address these concerns.
The PCC is responsible for commissioning victim support services with a new contract awarded in 2019, and also continues to work with the City of London Police and National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) to improve the national Action Fraud centre, particularly regarding victim care. He has signed up as a SCAMbassador as part of the National Trading Standards Friends Against Scams initiative and receives NFIB Cyber Crime and Fraud Profiles for Dorset which assist in monitoring issues locally and scrutinising the Force response.
More recently, through his Safer Dorset Fund Community Grant Scheme, the Commissioner has supported the Prama Foundation in funding the purchase of 750 ‘Scampaks’ for distribution to vulnerable elderly people to raise their awareness of fraud and assist in protecting them against scams.