HC Deb 05 February 1987 vol 109 cc1131-2
7. Mr. Tom Cox

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fraud cases have been investigated by the Metropolitan police's fraud investigation squad; and how many have resulted in conviction.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I understand from the Commissioner that 511 new investigations were undertaken by the Metropolitan police company fraud investigation squad during 1986. Information about the number of investigations which result in conviction is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Cox

I note that reply, but is the Minister aware that it shows the ever-increasing number of fraud cases that are now coming to the surface—some of them extremely complex and many of them in the City? Against the background, can he give an assurance that the police will have the required number of personnel and facilities to enable them to tackle this growing amount of crime?

Mr. Hogg

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Government are already extremely worried about this and for that reason have introduced through the Criminal Justic Bill provisions to give a new serious fraud office extensive powers of investigation. We have also greatly increased the powers of the courts to try such cases. I hope that we shall have the hon. Gentleman's congratulations and support.

Mr. Dykes

May I congratulate the Government on the measures taken so far, but, sadly, also say that the fraud squad still is relatively overwhelmed? Therefore, will my hon. Friend consider the need to increase yet again the number of personnel and to intensify their traning in depth?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend is always right to draw attention to these matters, but the figures are perhaps not so discouraging as he thinks. In 1985, for example, the police cleared up about 68 per cent. of all recorded cases of fraud and of the cases tried at the Crown Court involving fraud, acquittals accounted for only about 11 per cent.

Mr. Skinner

If the special branch and the Metropolitan police have so many people that they can clear out the archives of the BBC in Scotland, why can they not get down to the City of London, which is just round the corner, and clean out the crooks there? If there is a problem with personnel, why not transfer a few from one force to the other?

Mr. Hogg

It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman cannot take serious matters seriously.

Mr. Jessel

Can more accountants and lawyers be recruited, as I ask in question No. 47?

Mr. Speaker

That is a bit unfair.

Mr. Hogg

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Will the Minister give an assurance on behalf of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that sufficient extra officers will be seconded to the City and the commercial fraud department to ensure, not only that existing fraud investigations can continue apace, but that there will be sufficient officers to bring to trial quickly those who may be guilty of frauds in connection with the affairs of Guinness plc?

Mr. Hogg

There is no evidence at the moment that the relevant police squads are undermanned.

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