Prosecutors are cracking down on white-collar crime, with the number of prosecutions inching up for the first time in five years, research out today has found.
The study by law firm Pinsent Masons discovered that there were 9,401 prosecutions for white collar crime last year, compared with 9,343 the year before.
"Any increase in prosecutions for economic crime represents a gain for the authorities and should be welcomed," said Barry Vitou, partner and head of global corporate crime at Pinsent Masons.
"Organisations fighting white-collar crime now need to ensure momentum does not slip – and that they build on the initial improvement."
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In particular, the number of prosecutions related to cyber crimes has risen by 36 per cent over the past year, going from 45 in 2014 to 61 in 2015.
Vitou remarked: "Cyber-crime is a fast-growing threat and should remain a focus. The online capabilities of fraudsters are increasing and evolving all the time. The fact that prosecutions continue to rise in this area is promising and indicative of the efforts the authorities are making to get to grips with tackling what is a highly complex issue.
"However, these new kinds of crime require police forces to adapt quickly, and considerable time and investment is needed to ensure they deal with it effectively."
However, Pinsent Masons also highlighted that the rise in the number of prosecutions had also coincided with the number of frauds taking place. According to the law firm, 617,618 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales last year, up four per cent compared with the year before.
White-collar crime has become something of a hot topic in recent months. Last August, Tom Hayes became the first person to be found guilty of Libor-rigging related offences as a result of the Serious Fraud Office's (SFO) investigation.
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"The convictions secured over the last year are encouraging and the authorities involved should be praised for pursuing and convicting white-collar offenders," said Anne-Marie Ottaway, partner within the corporate crime team at Pinsent Masons and former SFO prosecutor. "However, there is no room for complacency, with many thousands of white-collar criminals continuing to evade justice each year."