The Crime Survey for England and Wales included the offences for the first time in its annual report, which covered the year to September 2016. There were an estimated 3.6 million cases of fraud and two million computer misuse offences in a year, according to a UK official survey.  Separate figures recorded by police showed an 8% rise in offences overall.

The Office for National Statistics said crime recording improvements meant the police figures could not reveal trends.

Cyber and fraud: What is being counted?

  • 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 “DDoS” attacks aimed at online services

The figures for fraud and computer misuse show how behind the curve our statistics have fallen.

It is undeniable that the overall level of crime has been falling across the industrialised world for a quarter of a century, as report after report on our experiences show we are less and less likely to be victims.  However, while traditional crimes such as burglary and theft fall, criminal gangs look for new opportunities by exploiting gaps in online and banking security.

The brutal fact is that nobody knows how big the problem is. It is massively underreported and, outside of London, it is arguable that national policing hasn’t yet got the skills or the expert manpower it needs.  A good detective must have the skills to catch a burglar or killer, but very few of them have the skills to analyse screens of information and find criminals who have taken the digital road to a life of crime.  While there was a 23% increase in attempted murders, the ONS said this may have been “influenced” by improved crime recording. Recorded offences involving a knife or sharp weapon hit their highest level for five years, up 11% up on the previous year to 30,838.  There was a 7% rise in gun crime, which BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said had been mainly driven by an increase in offences involving handguns and shotguns, but added that some of the increase might be accounted for by better firearm identification processes.  Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the crime figures were akin to “the warning lights flashing.”

Investing in Security

Policing minister Brandon Lewis said reforms of the police were “working” and the offences “traditionally” measured by the survey, before the inclusion of fraud and cybercrime, had fallen by 370,000.

Mr Lewis said the government was investing £1.9bn in cybersecurity over five years, adding that the survey helped inform efforts.

Source: Cyber Security Intelligence