There are two main statistical sources which report on fraud: police recorded crime and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is clear that the CSEW provides the best indication of the volume of fraud offences experienced by individuals. Most of these offences do not come to the attention of the police and as a result police recorded crime gives a limited picture of fraud. Police recorded crime figures include fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud. The CSEW, as a household survey, records crimes experienced by individuals. The Times article published this week, illustrates the complexities of fraud and recording it as a crime.
The ONS quarterly crime statistics bulletin for England and Wales section nine, highlights the various sources and their strengths and limitations. The bulletin clearly sets out key differences and provides insight on which source provides the better measure for each situation. It includes reference to data collected by UK Finance which gives a fuller picture of card and bank account fraud. It is clear in this publication that the best indication on the number of fraudulent offences committed against individuals, such as those highlighted in the article, is provided within the CSEW.
In 2014, the UK Statistics Authority removed the National Statistics designation from police recorded crime statistics to signal to users their limitations in terms of quality. The CSEW remains a National Statistic. Concerns about the administrative recording of fraud highlighted by the article are consistent with these judgements about National Statistics status.