New figures from the Office of National Statistic’s ‘Crime in England and Wales: year ending Sept 2016’ report, showed an estimated 6.2 million incidents of crime in 2016.
In addition to covering a wide variety of crimes, such as burglary and theft of vehicles, new for the 2016 results is the inclusion of statistics on fraud and computer misuse.
There were 3.6 million fraud and 2.0 million computer misuse offences for the first full year in which such questions have been included in the CSEW.
“The inclusion of these new offences yields a new headline estimate of 11.8 million incidents of crime covered by the survey, but it will be another year before a comparable time series is available,” the report stated.
“The new fraud and computer misuse estimation of 5.6 million offences highlights the challenge forces face to be better equipped to fight cyber enabled crime and the need for all of us to better protect ourselves,” said Andy Lea, Head of Policing at KPMG. “These figures also show the difficult decisions forces will need to make when prioritising their use of resources.”
The survey results show that adults aged 16 and over experienced an estimated 3.6 million incidents of fraud, with just over half of these (53%; 1.9 million incidents) being cyber-related.
The CSEW classifies a crime as being ‘cyber-related’ when the internet or any type of online activity was related to any aspect of the offence.
Key findings include:
The most common types of fraud experienced were “Bank and credit account” fraud (2.5 million incidents; 68% of the total).
“Non-investment” fraud – such as fraud related to online shopping or fraudulent computer service calls (0.9 million incidents; 26% of the total) was the second highest.
There were an estimated 2.0 million computer misuse incidents reported.
Around two-thirds (66%; 1.3 million incidents) of the computer misuse incidents were computer virus-related and around one-third (34%; 0.7 million incidents) were related to unauthorised access to personal information (including hacking).
Financial losses to victims
The report shows that, although a high number of cyber crimes were reported, in just under two-thirds of incidents resulting in financial loss, the victim lost less than £250 (61%).
Two-thirds of fraud incidents involved initial loss of money or goods to the victim (66%), independent of any reimbursement received. This equates to an estimated 2.4 million offences, compared with 1.2 million incidents of fraud involving no loss.
Incidents of bank and credit account fraud were more likely to result in initial loss to the victim (73%, equivalent to 1.8 million) than other types of fraud.
In the majority of these incidents, the victim received a full reimbursement, typically from their financial services provider (83%).
Traditional crime blurs into virtual crime
“We see a blurring between traditional, real world crime and virtual crime; criminals are happy to blend their techniques across the two and so ‘cyber’ can no longer be seen as a separate compartment of crime,” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
“It is important to note that an accurate year-on-year comparison from the ONS, to demonstrate the growth of fraudulent cybercrime, will not be possible until January 2018. However, we agree that bank and credit account fraud is one of the most problematic areas with the continuing rise of e-commerce,” Emm continued.