The investigation and prosecution of serious fraud in England and Wales
This study sought to examine the principles and practice of investigation and prosecution of serious fraud by criminal justice agencies within the English and Welsh legal system. It commenced with an examination of the literature in relation to the status of fraud within the English legal system together with that in relation to the principles and operation of several of the agencies identified as dealing primarily with fraud. This identified that the English legal system did not recognise fraud as an offence and that the criminal and civil justice systems dealt with what was popularly accepted as constituting "fraud". To make meaningful analysis of the systems' response to this, the study would have to be confined to a specific type of fraud and to either the civil or criminal the branches of the justice system. Fraud committed by companies or individuals against other companies or individuals, involving large sums of money, and dealt with by the criminal justice system was adopted as the focus of the study. The main agencies responsible for this type of fraud were identified as being the police, the Crown Prosecution Service; the Serious Fraud Office and the Department of Trade and Industry. Examination of the literature revealed the possible overlap of remit and operation between these and regulatory agencies. Access was granted to the staff and files of police, CPS and DTI. Approximately three months was spent conducting fieldwork in the offices of each of these agencies; interviewing staff, examining files and attending case conferences. Examination of these agencies operation revealed common themes that supported a conclusion that fraud was not a high priority within the criminal justice system. The lack of a substantive offence of fraud is discussed and analysis made of the results with a view to possible improvements to the current systems.