Fraud is most common crime, with one in 10 falling victim

Eight out of every 100 people have been victims of fraud.
Eight out of every 100 people have been victims of fraud.
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Fraud is now by far the most commonly perpetrated crime - with nearly one in 10 adults falling victim to scams.

New figures exposing a shift in tactics used by criminals suggest the chances of being conned is double the risk of having a car stolen.

While traditional crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft continue to fall, fraud and cyber offences account for nearly half of the headline tally.

Experimental statistics show there were 3.6 million fraud and 2 million computer misuse offences in the year to September.

The inclusion of these crimes for the first time gives a headline estimate of 11.8 million incidents covered by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said - although it stressed this total could not yet be compared with previous years.

Stripping out the two categories gives a tally of 6.2 million - which was not a "statistically significant" change compared with the previous year.

Frauds referred to police increased by 3% year-on-year, while industry data showed cases on UK-issued cards jumped by nearly two-fifths to 1.9 million.

John Flatley, of the ONS, said: "In the past, burglary and theft of vehicles were the high-volume crimes driving trends, but their numbers have fallen substantially since then.

"When the CSEW started, fraud was not considered a significant threat and the internet had yet to be invented.

"Today's figures demonstrate how crime has changed, with fraud now the most commonly experienced offence."

An estimated eight out of 100 adults are hit by fraud - higher than any other offence type measured in the survey.

The rate for computer misuse - four in 100 - is at a similar level to criminal damage, at five in 100, and vehicle-related theft, at four in 100.

Excluding fraud and computer misuse, the likelihood of being a victim of crime has fallen considerably over time, the ONS report said.

Around 15 in 100 adults were victims in the latest survey year, compared with around 23 in 100 a decade ago and around 40 in 100 in 1995, when the level reached a peak.

But taking fraud and computer offences into account gives a victimisation rate of around 22 in 100.

The ONS report also revealed that police recorded an annual rise of 22% in violent offences.

This was said to be largely driven by changes in recording processes and the inclusion of additional harassment offences.

But there did appear to be "genuine" smaller increases in some categories including homicide and knife crime.

Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Crime is changing, and the way it is measured needs to change too so we can continue to protect families and communities from the biggest threats."

Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said: "Banks work extremely hard to protect their customers and stopped £6 in every £10 of attempted fraud in the first half of 2016.

"While the industry invests in new systems to stop the criminals, fraudsters are increasingly targeting people directly, so customers and businesses need to be alert to the threats posed by the continued rise in impersonation scams attempting to trick them out of their personal details and money."