Interview with former Commissioner, City of London Police, at Counter Fraud 2022

We sat down with Ian Dyson after he chaired an expert Clue-hosted panel to find out his thoughts on the evolving fraud threat landscape. With unrivalled experience leading the national police counter-fraud effort, he is ideally placed to share valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities in the fight against fraud.

We asked Ian:

  • Who is winning the race between fraudsters and fraud fighters?
  • How effective is public-private sector collaboration?
  • What would you say to those struggling to get technology business cases approved?
  • What two or three things could be done to tackle escalating fraud?

Who is winning the race between fraudsters and fraud fighters?

“One of the challenges around fraud is that the public do not really see the scale of what is being done to tackle fraud. There is a headline about fraudsters ripping off hundreds of millions of pounds. But those numbers are big because the global economy is big. I think there’s an awful lot that is being done, and yet, the public perception is that nothing is being done. I am quite optimistic that we’re doing an appropriate amount of work.”

How effective is public-private sector collaboration?

“In my experience, collaboration works at the operational level. I think where it struggles is when you get into intelligence, or data sharing. We all know there are massive constraints – legal, technical, cost of sharing. It’s a massive opportunity for technology, because sometimes the stumbling block is that ability to share, but systems don’t talk to each other. So, I think there’s a real opportunity for technical collaboration.”

What would you say to those struggling to get technology business cases approved?

“If you’re trying to seek an investment, and have a very short timescale, very clear inputs, very clear outputs, it’s easier to get the business case across the line. I think the challenge around fraud is that sometimes, because of the scale of the problem, that to actually make a dent, and start to get the curve down, you need big investment. And I think that’s where the numbers start to get a bit scary for leaders. There is sometimes still a very cautious mindset about investment in technology.

“The cost of not doing something is often not really factored in, and that’s really tricky because some of the government procurement guidelines about how you construct a business case, and how you show return on investment, can force you down a very binary equation of this money in equals this money out, as opposed to saying this money in prevents this happening. And this is a big cost.

“There are some areas where that doesn’t necessarily apply. In the world of counterterrorism, for example, I think there’s such a mindset that says, if we don’t do this, people might die. And they’ve been much more attuned to make a business case around security services. ‘This’ amount of money in will allow us to track ‘this’ number of people. ‘This’ amount will only allow us to do ‘this’ number. It’s the challenge that we talked about in the session, about the prevention piece, you do want to get upstream, we do want to prevent, but the business case for prevention is always longer term, and it’s always a less tangible association between inputs and outcomes.”

What two or three things could be done to tackle escalating fraud?

“Number one is prevention, advice, and campaigning. If you did it at scale, with the badges of government, and law enforcement, and policing, I think people will listen. Some very simple steps would help a significant amount.

“Number two is how we can celebrate some of the work that is going because I think one of the challenges of this rising demand is people think that law enforcement and Government has given up. Something that shows how the Government is protecting you against the fraudster.

“And then I think some more proactive work around demonstrating how money has been taken back from the fraudster. We all know the reason fraud is growing exponentially is because there’s so much money to be made. Being able to show that money is being taken back is the perennial challenge of law enforcement.”

Whitepaper coming soon

Before the interview Ian chaired a Clue-hosted panel featuring experts from NHS Counter Fraud Authority, British Council, and Education and Skills Funding Agency, Department for Education – just some of the organisations using Clue in their counter fraud operations.

The panel, which followed research interviews with counter fraud experts across government in January and February 2022, discussed challenges counter fraud operations are facing in the fight against increasingly agile fraudsters and how technology can help in areas including adopting preventative strategies; recruiting and retaining talent; enabling collaboration through data sharing; and automating repetitive manual tasks.

A whitepaper will be published shortly bringing together the research findings and the panel discussion. To receive your copy as soon as it is published email paul.bamforth@clue.co.uk.