Eight arrests and £258,000 in fraud prevented by Banking Protocol in Cleveland

A ground-breaking fraud prevention scheme has stopped thousands of pounds being passed to criminals in its first year of operation, figures from UK Finance show.

Thursday, 28th December 2017, 1:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th December 2017, 1:20 pm
The trading standards team and banking staff involved in a joint initiative. Dan Briggs, trading standards; Detective Sergeant Andy King; Susan Healey, Halifax; Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council's trading standards and licensing manager; Jazz Parry-Brown, NatWest; Stephen Clark, Virgin Money and Janet Watkins Santander.

The Banking Protocol, developed as a partnership between the finance industry, police and trading standards, enables bank staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with a rapid response to the branch.

In the 12 months since the pilot was launched until the end of October 2017, the Banking Protocol has prevented £9.1million of ‘over the counter’ fraud nationally, with individual customers protected from losing sums from £99 up to £212,000. So far, the scheme has led to 101 arrests being made across the country, with police responding to a total of 1,262 Banking Protocol calls.

In Cleveland’s force area, £258,000 in fraud has been prevented, with eight arrests made since the protocol was launched.

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The Banking Protocol was first launched in October 2016 with a pilot in London, before a national rollout began in March.

Cleveland Police, along with Northumbria and Durham, were the first forces to recognise the benefits of this unique partnership and launched the scheme in March 2017.

It is now in place in 43 police forces across the country, with all remaining forces in the UK committed to introducing it.

Stephen Bell, Cleveland Police’s Economic and Cyber Crime Detective Inspector, said: “This is a fantastic initiative that brings together the various agencies from both the public and private sectors to help prevent crime.

“It ensures vulnerable members of our community do not become victims of financial crime.”

Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, added: “Fraud can have a devastating effect on some of the most susceptible people in society and it’s by working together with law enforcement, and others, that we can make a real difference when it matters most. The Banking Protocol is a great example of this collaboration in action protecting people from becoming victims.

“The finance industry is determined to crack down on fraud and is taking action on all fronts - the Protocol is an important weapon in our armoury.”

UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol with support from the National Trading Standards Scam Team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future.

The Post Office is also part of the Protocol.

People can speak to a member of the council’s trading standards team on 01429 523362 (telephones will re-open following the Christmas break on Tuesday, January 2 2018 at 8.30am).