I do not think conviction rate quite means this

Fraud cost the British economy more £38 billion in the 2010/11 – just £2 billion less than the entire defence budget.

More than half of all fraud in Britain – around £21 billion – involves public sector money. Tax fraud accounts for £15 billion a year while around £1 billion in benefits are illegally claimed.

Central government lost around £2.6 billion to fraudsters last year compared to £2.1 billion lost by local authorities.

The most serious fraud cases are heavily dependant on forensic accounting to gather evidence. Last year, the Serious Fraud Office processed around 70 million documents – the equivalent to a paper stack 200 miles high.

Because of the paper trail left behind by perpetrators of fraud it has a conviction rate of around 84 per cent – among the highest for any crime.

Umm, no, not really.

What they\’ve used there is the conviction rate from being charged to being convicted. For we most certainly are not seeing 84% of those who nick £38 billion a year spending time at Brenda\’s Pleasure.

Fraud is a hugely under-reported cime and also a hugely under-prosecuted crime, precisely because of the difficulty in building a case: paper trails or no.

3 thoughts on “I do not think conviction rate quite means this”

  1. Is the 200 mile high stack of paperwork because of the complexity of fraud, or because most of it is in the public sector where excessive paperwork is the norm?

  2. According to an old mate of mine who, before he retired, was a forensic accountant with one of the “serious crime squads”, the biggest problem came at the trial. Many of his cases were spectacularly complex and thus were incredibly difficult to present to a jury – often made up of average unemployed people (they’re the only ones with enough available time, these cases can last for months) – in a way that was even vaguely comprehensible.

    Net result was that they only proceeded to trial with the relatively straightforward and/or watertight cases – hence the high conviction rate. But it was a very small subset of all the cases they started investigating.

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