It is hard to believe that it was less than a year ago that I had the pleasure of attending the Socex Economic Crime Conference in Stratford upon Avon and at that time who could have possibly imagined the events of 2020. The crisis caused by the worldwide pandemic has required a different way of thinking to undertake what was seen as ‘business as usual’ and like so many others, the Conference committee have had to adapt and think different. It is therefore a real pleasure as the National Policing Lead for the Economic Crime Portfolio to welcome you to the 2020 Socex Annual Fraud and Financial Crime Conference in this, it’s virtual format.
The threat posed by serious and organised economic crime is as large as ever. Perseverance, improved governance and the direct deployment of technology and trained assets across law and enforcement, with the support from the private sector and stakeholders, lead us to believe our understanding of the salient issues concerning economic crime is continually improving. Unsurprisingly, as our understanding grows, so does the ever changing challenge as sophisticated criminals constantly seek out and exploit new and fertile opportunities. Fraud and Financial Crime is not only a policing and law enforcement issue. The harm spreads far and wide, as does the responsibility for understanding, challenging and tackling the problem. Any effective strategy to combat this harmful threat must be based on developing a clear and shared understanding, improving intelligence development and collection, effective enforcement, disruption and problem solving. Whether this is achievable or otherwise we should put the victim at the heart of our work and ensure that they are provided with the capability to protect themselves or where this is not possible we should seek to protect the most vulnerable.
Working with partners we have achieved some outstanding results against criminals in recent years, but we should not be complacent. There is more to do to protect the public from the effects of crime, which continues to grow in complexity and its associated challenges. Criminals are becoming more innovative, using rapidly advancing technology and they are often geographically removed from their victims. We need to think differently and work together to maximise opportunities for disruption. There has to be effective and meaningful engagement with communities, business, academia, charities and the voluntary sector in a collective effort to stifle the opportunities, deter the criminals and protect the public.
Tackling these challenges is beyond the capability and capacity of any single agency or organisation. We can no longer act in isolation and must position ourselves to utilise the collective armoury of tools and resources at our disposal across law enforcement and beyond to ensure a comprehensive and combative approach. A determined and collaborative approach will go a long way towards helping us achieve our duty to protect the citizens of the UK. I am in no doubt that previous conference events have led to a positive change in our approach to economic crime investigation. This forum is recognised as one of the largest multi-agency economic crime events in law enforcement and I am delighted that we are still able to deliver the Conference albeit in a new format. I urge you to take full advantage of all of the learning available and sincerely hope you enjoy this year’s virtual event.