HC Deb 09 March 1967 vol 742 cc1739-41
23. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to strengthen the Fraud Squad, in particular to provide for greater continuity of service and training facilities in legal and accountancy matters.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I have nothing to add to the replies I gave to the hon. Member's Questions on 27th February. [Vol. 742, c. 35–36.]

Mr. Mills

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is very great public concern about the delay and difficulty in dealing with people involved in company frauds? Will he consider setting up a Fraud Investigation Unit, combining the Fraud Squad, the Board of Trade and the Department of Public Prosecutions, so that there would be much greater activity in this area and a more professional approach?

Mr. Jenkins

It is possible to exaggerate some of the criticisms which have been made of the existing position. This is a very important area of police activity, and I am having consultations with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and the Attorney-General.

Sir J. Hobson

Does the Home Secretary realise that many cases of fraudulent trading now take over three, and of ten four or five years, to bring to trial? Is he aware that something must be done urgently to reduce this delay? Will he consider a system, which I believe is employed in New York, of attaching younger qualified accountants for a short period to the Fraud Squad in order that both may benefit from the experience of the other?

Mr. Jenkins

I will happily consider anything to avoid these long delays which have built up over a very substantial number of years.

24. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will arrange for the reorganisation of the Fraud Squad in such a way that it takes active steps to prevent and deter fraud in insurance companies, building societies, hire purchase companies and other commercial bodies.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Preventive action is already taken, within the limits of the powers available to the police.

Mr. Mills

Compared with the amount of effort which is devoted to warning the public about locking up their homes and business premises, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that sufficient attention is paid to this sphere of activity in which many members of the public can lose vast amounts of money?

Mr. Jenkins

Yes. This appears in the reply which I gave to the hon. Gentleman's previous Question. I am considering the position with two of my right hon. Friends. One has to be careful in this matter to make sure that one is acting upon the basis of well-founded complaints, because otherwise it would be possible to shake public confidence and cause very grave consequences without there being reason for so doing.

Mr. Ogden

Would my right hon. Friend give very serious consideration to the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills)? Can he assure the House that any suggested reorganisation will apply to Northern Ireland as well as to this country?

Mr. Sharples

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps he is taking to improve the facilities for the investigation of fraud available to police forces throughout the Metropolitan area?

Mr. Jenkins

That is a different question; I would be glad to answer it, with notice.

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