I am pleased to present my comments in response to the above report within the meaning of section 55(5) of the Police Act 1996 (as amended by section 37 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017).
I very much welcome this report which was based on visits to eleven police forces (not including Kent), all nine regional organised crime units, the National Crime Agency, Action Fraud, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Europol.
The report makes 16 recommendations and identifies 5 areas for improvement (AFIs). 10 of the recommendations are for the NPCC Coordinator for Economic Crime. This highlights the core findings of the report which are a lack of consistency and governance across forces and regions nationally, and that organisations are not held to account for their performance.
I would endorse these findings. I believe the policing response across the UK in recent years, not because of the efforts of individual officers and staff, but in terms of process and management has been disappointing. Unfortunately, the process itself lets victims down – it is not sufficiently joined up at a national and local level and victims often receive a service based on where an offender lives. This means it can be a postcode lottery based on the resources allocated by the local police force tasked with investigating it.
Whilst many forces have reduced or withdrawn their specialist teams in favour of a regional response, the Chief Constable’s comments (attached) highlight how the Serious Economic Crime Unit was re-structured in 2017, with the creation of new teams to provide a centralised response. The HMICFRS report specifically assigns two recommendations and five AFIs to Chief Constables, and it also provides an overview of activity already undertaken or planned by Kent Police to address these.
Both the Chief Constable and I place real importance on addressing fraud. However, whilst Kent Police are in a really good position, having a dedicated fraud team, cybercrime team and economic crime team with skilled investigators, unless the crime is allocated to Kent Police for investigation, they are unable to do anything about it.
I believe that Kent Police are in a strong position to tackle fraud, having increased its establishment and invested in specialist training. Based on feedback from the Chief Constable at my Performance and Delivery Board on 5 June 2019, and his comments (attached), I am also reassured that Kent Police have identified and are taking steps to further enhance the service to victims in line with the recommendations and AFIs identified in the report.
As with all HMICFRS reports, I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account for relevant recommendations and AFIs at my quarterly Performance and Delivery Board to ensure where crimes are allocated to Kent Police, the victim receives a high quality service.