Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

ONS crime survey shows it’s time to crack down on cyber crime


CIPFA responded to the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) latest Crime Survey for England and Wales, which included fraud and computer misuse offences for the first time.

The survey, covering incidents of crime reported in the year to September 2016, was released on 19 January. It showed there were 3.6 million fraud and 2 million computer misuse offences recorded.

Rachael Tiffen, head of the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, said: “The scale of cyber-crime and fraud revealed today shows it is reaching near epidemic levels.

“The Government, together with businesses, must crack down on these more sophisticated scams by having the right skills, capacity and technology in place. As without sufficient counter fraud measures, we will see the proportion of public funds spent on dealing with these types of crimes continue to increase.” 

The fraud and computer misuse offences included:

  • bank and credit account fraud - meaning criminals accessing bank accounts, credit cards or fraudulently using plastic card details
  • 'advance fee fraud' - crimes where the victim has been tricked into handing over cash after a communication, such as a lottery scam
  • 'non-investment fraud' - criminals conning a victim into buying something, often online, perhaps through a bogus phone call or email
  • other frauds including investment or fake charity scams.

There are two broad categories of 'computer misuse' crimes:

  • unauthorised access to personal information, including hacking
  • computer virus, malware or other incidents such as Distributed Denial of Service or "DDoS" attacks aimed at online services.

Organisations can help protect themselves from these threats by understanding the risks relevant to their circumstances and developing clear mitigation strategies, based on the resources available.

Training staff to recognise suspicious requests for financial information and how these should be managed and reported are also essential.

Where to go for help