A specialist police unit dedicated to combating insurance fraud is to be set-up thanks to funding from the insurance industry, the City of London Police has said.
The police-private sector partnership will be supported by the National Fraud Authority (NFA), and operated by the force’s Economic Crime Directorate.
It will provide additional operational capability to the directorate, focusing solely on tackling insurance fraud, a crime valued at £2 billion per year – which adds an extra £44 a year to each premium paid by consumers.
The unit, which is expected to go live on January 1 next year, will consist of 35 specialist fraud detectives and police support staff and will provide a dedicated response to threats posed to the insurance industry by both organised gangs and opportunist fraudsters.
Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police, said: “A dedicated police unit funded by the insurance industry and operated by fraud detectives from the force is a major step forward in the fight against a crime that hits the pockets of everyone paying insurance premiums.
“This initiative is the culmination of months of hard work with the insurance industry, and represents another important landmark for private sector funding in policing, something that we should actively encourage within the current financial climate.”
The key focus of the unit will be enforcement and prevention strategies designed to tackle current issues.
It will be able to capitalise on the force’s wider policing resources as well as its status as the national lead force for fraud, enabling it to co-ordinate support from UK law enforcement and assist individual forces with their own insurance fraud investigations.
James Brokenshire, minister for Crime and Security, said: “The Government is determined to give greater focus to tackling both serious and economic crime which is why the powerful new National Crime Agency will ensure we have an improved capability to tackle this issue.
“This will be a great example of how collaborative working can help to combat fraudsters and I want to congratulate and thank the insurance industry and City of London Police for all their hard work and dedication.”
The unit will also work in close partnership with the insurance industry on their continued campaign to prevent insurance fraud and recover the proceeds of crime.
Currently, overall fraud is estimated to cost the UK £38 billion.
The City of London Police added that this is a positive step forward in building closer relationships between policing and the private sector, paving the way for other specialist units and, potentially, national economic crime teams to be created through similar funding arrangements in other sectors.