Chris Elmore MP: Government must tackle economic fraud
Following his question during PMQs last week, Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, expands on the growing issue of economic fraud and how this issue is linked to the government's decision to scrap TV licences for over-75s.
You might not know it, but you’re more likely to be targeted by a scam than by any other type of crime. In fact, it’s thought that around 4 million people are scammed across the UK every year.
This is a problem that is getting worse – not better – and the increasingly sophisticated means criminals are using to steal people’s hard-earned cash are frankly alarming.
The number of bank transfer scams has risen by 40 per cent alone this year and, sadly unsurprisingly, criminals are increasingly exploiting the elderly and the vulnerable.
Last week, I decided to give Boris Johnson a brief respite from the mess he is making of Brexit by raising the important issue of scams at Prime Minister’s Questions.
For me, the urgency with which we need to respond to the scams epidemic quietly sweeping across our country has had an added pertinence recently.
Age UK have found that there is likely to be a significant spike in the number of people being targeted by TV licensing scams.
This has emerged following the government’s decision to break the promise they made to pensioners at the 2017 general election to protect free TV licences for the over-75s.
It sickens me that there are people out there who are willing to cash in off the back of this decision and exploit some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
I strongly feel that there is a pressing need for the government to designate tackling economic fraud as a strategic policing priority. They also need to give our police forces the resources they actually need to improve their ability to bring these fraudsters to justice.
Boris Johnson’s infamous “20,000 extra police” pledge might look, at first sight, as a cause for optimism towards getting to grips with this. Yet, the reality is, the Tories have taken over 21,000 hardworking police officers off our streets since they came to power in 2010.
If the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party are truly serious about being tough on crime, they must provide the funding and resources needed to properly challenge the damaging trend we now see across our communities.
If they fail, the cost further down the line will be far, far greater.