Police must be given resources to deal with 'worrying emerging trend' of romance fraud - says federation

Romance fraud is a "worrying emerging trend" and police forces must be given the resources to deal with the crime, the chairman of a Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation has warned.

The chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, Steve Kent, who represents the force’s rank and file officers, said it is vital more resources are available to deal with the offences due to the sophisticated techniques used by fraudsters.

Figures obtained from the Action Fraud national organisation by The Yorkshire Post have shown that there were 95 reports of romance fraud reported to police in South Yorkshire during 2020.

The chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, Steve Kent, who represents the force’s rank and file officers, said it is vital more resources are available to deal with the offences due to the sophisticated techniques used by fraudsters.

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He also stressed it is key that police have the support of the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service when it comes to securing justice for victims, particularly when many are reluctant to come forward and report what has happened, over fear of embarrassment.

Mr Kent said: "This is a worrying and emerging trend and when you think of the emotion involved this can be truly heartbreaking for people who fall victim to this type of crime.

"What this also shows is the ever changing way that fraudsters are committing their crimes.

“Therefore it is vital that our police officers and forces are given the resources and means to deal with the appalling individuals who commit these crimes.

"Sometimes victims are very reluctant to come forward and for that reason we need the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service to support and pursue these people independently where clear evidence exists to prosecute them."

The Government said it is continuing with its efforts to crackdown on all forms of fraud in the UK.

Home Office Minister Baroness Williams said: “It is despicable that criminals use emotional manipulation to exploit and defraud people.

“The Home Office worked closely with City of London Police on a national campaign running throughout October to raise greater public awareness about romance fraud, which included targeted protect messaging being displayed on dating websites and apps.

“Operational activity conducted during the campaign led to a number of arrests and has already resulted in over £140,000 being repatriated to UK victims.

“We are continuing our efforts to crack down on all forms of fraud by working closely with industry, law enforcement and regulators to reduce the number of victims and ensure they get the support and advice they need.”