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ADOPTED: Exploratory research to examine the health impact of scams and fraud and the current
knowledge and systems in the police and partner agencies for targeting and delivering victim support

Lead researchers: Ms Ruth Halkon and Dr Michael Skidmore, The Police Foundation; Professor Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime, University of Portsmouth; Dr Amy Meenaghan, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Portsmouth.


We aim to help the police find those who are most likely to suffer the worst damage to their mental and

physical health from falling victim to fraud and make sure they receive the support they need to prevent

that damage happening.


Fraud is the most common and fastest growing crime in England and Wales. Many people do not report

fraud and those who do often don’t receive help to reduce the crime's impact on their wellbeing. People

affected by fraud can suffer serious physical and mental health problems which can lead to poor

physical health, anxiety, depression and suicide.

Many factors can shape how victims are affected:

  • stress caused by losing what to them are big sums of money

  • feeling betrayed by someone they thought was their friend or partner

    blaming themselves

  • feeling friends, family and service providers do not understand them

  • struggling to recover due to existing social or health needs.

The police know less about the needs of fraud victims than victims of other crimes like domestic abuse.

They are under pressure to improve the service they offer but there are many gaps:

  • Fraud is common crime and can affect victims in many ways, which hinders finding victims who need

    the most support

  • Those police think are most likely to be harmed, known as ‘vulnerable’, may not suffer the worst effects

  • It is not clear what being 'vulnerable' in a crime context actually means

  • Current systems to address 'vulnerability' mainly focus on cutting crime rather than victim health

  • Research by Which? suggests the impact of fraud on victims' wellbeing amounts to £9.3bn, but we

    need more data

Design and methods

Our research will focus on two police forces who work jointly to provide support to victims which is

widely seen as the best in the country. The project will focus on their systems, data and services to

measure their success and produce a case study for understanding and addressing fraud's health

impacts. This will be done via:

  • Reading research papers to find out more about fraud victim impact, vulnerability and victim needs

  • Looking at police and health and welfare data to learn about health impacts of different fraud types

  • Talking to those working for the police, social services, victim support services and key health services

  • Interviews with national subject matter experts

  • Interviews with fraud victims who have been given support after fraud impacted their health to learn

    how this helped them

Patient and public involvement

Our overall aim is to involve fraud victims in finding a support framework that works for them


The report will be launched at an event and published on the Police Foundation website. It will be

promoted on our blog, newsletter and social media channels.

This fact finding project is a first step to creating a new framework that will be used to find those who

need the most help to stop their mental and physical health being badly hit and make sure they are

given it. The future project would involve:

  • Organising roundtable events with people

  • Bringing police, health and welfare services together to trial the framework

  • Sharing findings and learning points across the country

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