The Treasury will next week decide whether to fund a national fraud reporting centre that would speed up police investigations of scams marketed online.
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The proposed centre will accept reports by e-mail, via a website and over the phone from fraud victims in England and Wales, collate the data and analyse it for patterns. Depending on the nature of the reports, the centre will refer cases either to a national fraud squad or fraud squads on local police forces.
The City of London Police Force will be the nominal host for the proposed centre.
According to the Office of Fair Trading, fraud costs the UK £3.5bn a year. The national fraud centre is budgeted at "a few million".
City Police detective inspector Peter Ratcliffe told Computer Weekly the proposed centre would develop a protocol to enable it to share information with other organisations. These would include the banks' payment processors association, APACS, Trading Standards, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Insurance Fraud Bureau, as well as crime intelligence agencies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers' E-Crime unit, which has asked the Treasury for £4.5m to get off the ground.
Ratcliffe said he had received a "very positive" response from the 27 police forces he had presented to so far, and he will be speaking to the rest next month.
"They have some questions about where to send the intelligence and about staff resources, but there is no disagreement about the principle," he said.