Since 2010, cuts to police have seen a dramatic reduction in police numbers – numbers of officers are down by 25%, with a further £40m squeeze by 2020. Moreover, there is currently a ‘national crisis’ of detectives according to an HMRC report, and it doesn’t stop there – the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have had their budgets reduced by a similar amount.
But what does this mean? In terms of investigating serious and organised crime, terrorism and homicide, the police in the UK remains one of the best in the world. However, the shortfall would appear to be mainly affecting the response and investigation to perceived ‘victimless’ crime – commercial burglary, theft, and fraud.
While perhaps not a national priority, the appropriation of hundreds of thousands of pounds would impact even the largest business; a small or medium company may even go under.
Effective insurance placement is a must; ensuring that your policies cover the loss from internal or external theft will go a substantial way to reducing your long-term impact, and the peace of mind will allow you to objectively respond in an appropriate way, rather than the additional worry of considering whether to investigate, and where the money for this will come from.
So how to respond if you are victim of crime?
Naturally, the first port of call in the event of being a victim of crime is calling the police, and we would always advocate taking that route. However, depending on the crime, the response to an incident by law enforcement can be delayed, as appointments are made and resources allocated, or not responded to at all. Having an internal system in place is key; either to make the police investigation easier and more efficient, or to pass this on for a private investigation and prosecution.
With an investigation, time is of the essence. Make sure you gather and retain all the material that you can, keeping it in one place and organised – this could be emails, documents, banking statements, CCTV or anything else that is relevant – and keeping track of who produces what. Keeping a ‘decision log’ or other record of everything that has taken place is extremely useful from an evidence gathering perspective.
A criminal investigation is different to civil litigation, so ensuring you keep all the material relating to the incident, even if you are not sure of its relevance, is vital – the amount of cases that have been dropped due to disclosure failings has been highlighted recently in the media, so starting an investigation correctly from the outset is important.
With external financial fraud, speed is of even greater essence – once the money has been passed through several accounts, then it is almost impossible to recover. A swift cyber investigation, and a legal team instructed the same day, can lead to the freezing of accounts and the recovery of funds. Waiting several weeks for a law enforcement response means often this money is moved and cannot be recovered.
If the police do not take on the crime, then an alternative is a private prosecution – at AnotherDay, we have considerable experience and work with specialist law firms in this expanding area. In essence, evidence is gathered and an evidential and public interest test applied – should the evidence pass the threshold then criminal proceedings can be commenced. This looks the same as a state prosecution; with defendants receiving custodial sentences, confiscation orders applied for, and reasonable costs can be recovered from Central Funds.
Being a victim of crime is a horrible experience, but preparing for it and knowing how to respond, will reduce the sting and also the long-term costs. At AnotherDay we have years of experience investigating serious and organised crime, and can advise you at every step of the way.