I’m delighted to wish you all a safe and merry Christmas as the Temporary Commissioner of the City of London Police. I find myself in role due to Commissioner Angela McLaren being unwell and currently away from work – and I’m sure you will all join me in wishing her a speedy recovery back into post.
The prevention of violence against women and girls is at the forefront of the City of London Police’s Christmas operation, with thousands of revellers out celebrating in the Square Mile. Safety initiatives, aimed at keeping women safe, will be running through the Christmas period. These include our Walk and Talk scheme – women sharing their thoughts on safety with an office; a night safety hub at St Botolph’s church; and our Reframe the Night operation – providing a high visible presence in the night-time economy with our partners.
I’m pleased to say that our special police operation to reduce phone snatching in the City of London has cut the number of offences in half. From June 2023, there have been 263 phone snatching offences, compared with 516 for the same period last year. Our success has been due to the hard work of our officers and the introduction of our highly visible cycle team, who are able to quickly get across the Square Mile and deter snatchers.
Looking to our national responsibilities as Lead Force for Fraud and Cyber Crime, we have huge ambitions for 2024. Fraud blights communities, accounting for 41% of all crime in 2023. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales there were an estimated 3.5 million fraud offences, equating to every 1 in every 16 adults, and there was £2.5 billion reported losses to Action Fraud. The use of Crypto Currency and AI by criminals is a real concern, but AI will also provide powerful tools to fight crime. We’re already building this into our transformation of Action Fraud, with a new reporting and analysis service launching in 2024.
In 2023 we supported the launch of the new National Fraud Strategy and Economic Crime Plan. We also developed a national Economic and Cyber Crime plan for policing. We visited every force to help improve the fraud response. The Police Cyber Alarm (software used by businesses to enable learning and intelligence sharing with law enforcement), goes from strength to strength. We now have over 7,300 members nationally.
Intelligence underpins how we take the fight to criminals. We have built a network of Proactive Economic Crime Teams to target the highest harm criminals, and this year we travelled to Ghana and Nigeria to build strategic relationships to share intelligence and deliver training to ensure we can better disrupt foreign offenders targeting the UK online.
We put victims at the heart of everything we do, and whether here in the City or across the UK, we will be unrelenting in improving outcomes for victims by pursuing offenders and protecting people and businesses from harm.
So, on behalf of us all at the City of London Police, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and a safe and prosperous 2024.