More special constables needed to crack complex cases


A City of London Police commander has called on the Square Mile’s bankers and accountants to “volunteer and help us solve financial crime.”

Special commander James Phipson said City Police want to attract “200 to 300” special constables – volunteer police officers – to offer their expertise in banking, accounting and insurance for free.

It follows a change in the law which last year empowered police forces to carry out enhanced security checks on volunteers, embed them in major investigations, and use them to stem the growing tide of online and financial crime.

“These are all areas where the police have failed to attract people with these skills,” said SC Phipson, who also owns a professional services company. “And it’s because we lose a lot of our detectives to jobs in banking and compliance.”

He added: “We would love to hear from you if you work in the City, financial services or telecoms. We can promise you will get some amazing training and experience, and you will make a difference.”

The force has long used special constables, including in the 2012 conviction of Kweku Adoboli, who was handed a seven-year prison sentence for defrauding UBS bank of £2.3billion – which became the biggest fraud in British history.

But new powers from the 2017 Police and Crime Act also meant the door can be left open for officers to return to the force after moving on to become bankers or compliance officers and contribute with their new skills.

SC Phipson said: “For the last six months we have had a team of five former police constables who have moved into other full-time employment, but we have now been able to retain them whilst they also train in their new financial sector roles.

“One of the five is a special fraud investigator and he’s now involved in multiple investigations. One is an ex-Met Police detective chief inspector and is supervising the others.”

But he insisted the force is not outgunned by cyber criminals, and that special constables will contribute specific skills that the public shouldn’t expect normal officers to hold.

He said: “The reason we’re doing this isn’t because we’re outgunned. Fraud is a growing type of crime, while street crime isn’t going away either, and we have limited resources, and these specials will bring with them expertise that the public wouldn’t expect normal police officers to have. And it’s without expense to the public.”

The force revealed earlier this month that the number of reported fraud cases received by Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting service, increased last year by 14%.

SC Phipson said the force carries out extensive background checks on all new specials.

He said: “No-one will be allowed to work at the heart of a criminal case without us being absolutely certain that we can trust them.

“And we run compliance and conflict of interest checks. So of course no one will be involved in a case that has any link to their employer.”