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The General Election – The Fraud Edition

The main political parties have all launched their manifestos for the 2024 General Election.

This article considers the weight the main parties have given to fighting crime and tackling fraud within their manifestos.

In short, the answer to that question is not a lot! 

Please note that this article considers the manifestos of Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Reform only.

The Conservative Party has pledged to continue their tough stance on crime by proposing the construction of four new prisons by 2030 and increasing community police officers by 8,000. 

They also aim to cut crime by more than 50% and have highlighted past achievements such as recruiting record numbers of police officers within their manifesto. Fraud is not mentioned specifically in any depth other than in reference to their record on fraud which they state has reduced by 13% in the last year. Reference is made to the new National Fraud Squad and that there are 400 officers now in post within this organisation. 

The Conservatives also commit to a ban on SIM farms, which readers may be aware are a system that sends bulk messages of fraudulent texts. There is a further pledge to ban cold calls on financial products with the aim being to prevent fraudsters duping people into buying fake investments over the telephone.

The Labour Party has pledged to tackle corruption and fraud and announced plans to introduce a new expanded fraud strategy with the purpose of tackling the full range of threats, including online, public sector and serious fraud. 

Labour also pledges they will work with technology companies to stop their platforms being exploited by fraudsters which feeds into the Serious Fraud Office’s 5 year strategy plan which we have written about previously.

David Lammy, Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, had given a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research think-tank in May 2024 in which he had delivered a series of proposed reforms relating in particular to money-laundering and whistleblowing, however these proposals do not appear to have made the final cut of Labour’s manifesto.

The Liberal Democrats pledge to prevent crime and build communities where people feel safe. They plan to do this by freeing up the time of local officers to enable them to focus on their community by creating a new Online Crime Agency with the purpose of tackling illegal online content and activity, which would include “personal fraud, revenge porn and threats and incitement to violence on social media”.

The Liberal Democrats manifesto contains a more detailed approach to crime than any of the other main political parties.

They specify how they intend to combat the rise of fraud and scams by identifying the banks with poor records in the field of fraud prevention and further, a poor history in reimbursing victims of fraud. If elected the Liberal Democrats will require victims of automated push payment scams (more commonly referred to as APP scams) to be reimbursed by banks unless there is clear evidence consumers are at fault and following on from this intention, they propose to launch a high-profile public awareness campaign with the intention of education the general public to enable them to “spot, avoid and report frauds and scams”.

The Liberal Democrats also propose building upon existing relationships with Europe to enable a collaborative approach to tackling cross-border crime which includes cybercrime and terrorism.

The Green Party emphasizes a restorative justice approach, with an aim to integrate environmental crimes into the broader crime policy, reflecting their focus on ecological issues.

Reform UK's “contract” includes a commitment to reduce bureaucracy in the police force, aiming to redirect funds towards frontline services. They also propose a simplification of the criminal justice system to speed up the process and reduce costs. They pledge to increase the Criminal Justice budget by £2million from £10million to £12million with the aim of attracting high calibre staff to reduce current delays in the criminal justice system.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are also focusing on economic measures that indirectly impact crime rates, with the Conservatives claiming economic growth in the UK outpaces other G7 countries which they claim will potentially lead to lowering crime rates, while Labour emphasises funding their initiatives by closing tax avoidance and “non-dom” loopholes. 

These varied approaches from the different parties highlight the diverse strategies being considered to tackle crime and fraud in the UK.

These commitments reflect the parties' broader strategies to address crime and fraud within the UK.

Whilst there is an acknowledgement by all parties of the strain on the criminal justice system and of the need to tackle the backlog of court cases, there is silence on the source of the extra funding and resources needed to implement the pledges and commitments to fighting crime and tackling fraud.