Victims of crime are being left without financial justice as just £1 in every £6,120 stolen is recovered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), according to new research.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from data specialist Fortytwo Data has found that in the last five years, the CPS has seized £354 million worth of stolen money under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002). But while this seems like a significant amount, according to Fortytwo this represents just 0.02% of money stolen in the same period.
On an annual basis, £31 million was seized from fraudsters in England and Wales in 2016/17 by the CPS, while the total amount of stolen money recovered by all government agencies including the CPS, HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS), and the National Crime Agency (NCA), was £201 million.
However, Fortytwo Data says the National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that fraud cost victims in the UK lost an astonishing £193 billion in the same year – meaning the amount recovered is a far cry from the estimated loss figures.
The NCA says UK residents are more likely to be victims of fraud than any other crime, which highlights the importance of protecting financial accounts and information against loss or theft.
Often stolen funds are difficult to recover as in many cases they are sent overseas beyond the jurisdiction of UK authorities.
But on a more positive note, partial figures for 2017/18 show that funds are being recovered from criminals at an average of £1.4 million per week, a 29% improvement on equivalent data in 2012.
‘Crime shouldn’t pay’
Julian Dixon, chief executive of anti-money laundering and big data specialist Fortytwo Data, comments: “Victims should be demanding more of their haul is recovered because crime shouldn’t pay.”
A spokesperson for the CPS says: “The CPS works in conjunction with the NCA and HMCTS to freeze, seize and sell the assets of criminals wherever possible. We are clear that conviction is not the end of the line – the CPS will go after criminal assets.
“Your figure [the NCA’s £193 billion] is the estimated cost of all fraud in the UK – both detected an undetected – but the CPS can only enforce confiscation orders where suspects have been identified and, in most cases, convicted. Your figures [the £354 million reported in Fortytwo Data’s FOI request] also do not include funds confiscated by the NCA and HMCTS or those seized under different legislation.”