Fraud prosecutions slowed by record Crown Court wait times
THE UK’s Crown Court backlog is stalling efforts to tackle the UK’s worsening fraud epidemic, according to new research from KPMG.
The value of frauds worth more than £100,000 reaching the UK’s Crown Courts increased 288 per cent, from £137.4m in the first half of 2021 to £532.6m in H1 2022, as a series of multi-million-pound fraud cases bolstered the total sum, figures from KPMG’s fraud barometer show.
However, the uptick in value came as the total number of fraud cases being heard in the UK’s Criminal Justice system dropped 13 per cent, from 149 cases in H1 2021 to 129 cases in H1 2022, as major court backlogs stalled prosecutions.
Instead, the value figures were bolstered by a spate of high-value frauds, that saw seven of the 129 fraud cases to reach the UK’s Crown Courts in the first half of 2022 valued at sums of between £10m and £50m. Another £266m case bolstered the figures.
For comparison, there were no cases valued at sums of more than £50m in 2021.
The drop in the number of cases being heard by the UK’s Crown Courts comes as record court backlogs, of almost 60,000 cases, have caused average wait times for hearings to hit record highs of 251 days, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures show.
Roy Waligora, head of UK investigations at KPMG, said the buildup of cases has meant “UK Crown Courts are struggling to make headway in prosecuting these criminals.”
He said the case backlog, set to be made worse by the criminal barristers’ strike, means it “takes years for fraudsters to be prosecuted.”
He added that the record long wait times will in turn mean any potential impacts of the UK government’s wider efforts to tackle the country’s fraud epidemic, including the £25m launch of the Public Sector Fraud Authority, will not be felt for years.
“It will be some time before the impact of this initiative is felt,” Waligora said.