Volunteers join Sussex Police to support victims of fraud
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A Sussex Police scheme that will see volunteers help support fraud victims across the county was launched on Friday (December 6) by Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne (above centre).
With fraud being the fastest growing crime type, there are thousands of victims each year in Sussex.
Now some 23 volunteers will be officially joining Sussex Police and they’ll work with officers to contact local individuals and businesses who have recently reported scams to Action Fraud.
Each volunteer will be responsible for sending emails or letters, offering tailored prevention advice on areas such as telephone/mobile phone scams, identity theft and online hacking.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 13,779 scams reported to Action Fraud, (a 6 per cent increase compared with the same period the previous year) with a total of £28.2m stolen from Sussex residents, (a 16 per cent increase).
Many victims of fraud find themselves being re-targeted in the future.
Financial abuse safeguarding officer Bernadette Lawrie (above left) said: “Under Operation Signature every victim of fraud who is vulnerable will be seen by a uniformed officer but the launch of this new scheme ensures that every victim of fraud is contacted by Sussex Police. We would like to see the number of victims and repeat victims significantly reduced and for the public to feel more digitally confident and scam aware.
“They will be contacted by letter or email by fraud prevention volunteers who will provide them with a tailored package of advice specific to the fraud that they have experienced. They will be provided with information, including signposting to local crime prevention events.”
With scams ranging from the simplest confidence trick to the most sophisticated high-tech online fraud, it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest news and advice.
Safe Space Sussex, the only local online directory of support services, has been updated to include specific advice and details of local fraud awareness events. Now victims will be proactively signposted to this website for help and support.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne. who launched the scheme. said: “It’s not about patronising people but about acknowledging that scammers are finding it easier to masquerade in our lives by using all the personal information that is readily available online. By giving people the right tools to protect themselves in the future we hope to significantly reduce the amount of those re-victimised by this crime.”
Sussex Police has been working over the last year with partners including local county councils and charities to put this scheme together. It is soon to begin in West Sussex and then will extend to East Sussex and Brighton and Hove.
Mrs Bourne adds: “Volunteers within policing are an essential cog in the workings of the force. Warranted officers and trained police staff can’t always fill these gaps in communication; it places too much strain on resources and takes them away from where they are needed most.
“I know that this scheme was inundated with applications from potential volunteers and this makes me proud to live in a county that has such an amazing appetite to give back."