CITY OF LONDON Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard believes a new national fraud squad should be set up, financed by the banks.
The logic behind Sheppard’s plan is that cuts in government funding to the police mean that the new fraud squad would need to get money from somewhere else and that might as well be the finance industry itself.
“We have to acknowledge where we are: public sector has to make cuts,” Leppard told the Telegraph.
Under Sheppard’s scheme, banks would stump up about a third of the estimated £100M a year cost of the national squad, which would coordinate regional fraud squads under City of London police control.
“If you look at the figures, economic crime is one of the few areas that is going up rather than down; working with the private sector can help,” added Sheppard.
“I think this a real opportunity. If you think about it, lots of areas, such as shopping centres, already have private sector funded policing.
“What we are doing would build on that.”
In the aftermath of the Credit Crunch, when banks indulged in all sorts of dodgy practises under cover of self- and ‘light-touch’ regulation, Leppard’s idea might seem strange.
Also, a couple of security guards keeping an eye on Primark is a bit different to billion-pound fraud that could bring the whole economy down.
Leppard denied that the banks-pay-to-investigate-themselves approach would lead to the new force turning a blind eye to fraud and said that there would be no “linkage at all between funding and operational independence.”
Close observers of the Press Complaints Commission (funded by the press) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (run by the police) might disagree.