Back to basics: ghting fraud
Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University,
Purpose – This article aims to focus on the impact of the current austerity measures on UK public
sector anti-fraud and nancial crime investigative resource capacity building initiative developed over
the years to tackle fraud against the public purse.
Design/methodology/approach – The article draws on secondary sources of data and available
literature on fraud and nancial crime.
Findings – Fraud is a challenge in the UK public sector but the cut-back on anti-fraud and nancial
crime investigative resources, given the scale of public sector fraud, the growing emphasis on
accountability and the time of austerity with public money more exposed to fraud is arguably a
back-door/u-turn policy on zero-tolerance approach in tackling public sector fraud and nancial crime.
There is the potential of this encouraging more fraud and nancial crime against the public sector in the
long term if measures are not taken to devise strategies for enhancing anti-fraud and nancial crime
investigative resource capacity.
Research limitations/implications – The research implication for this article is that it opens an
avenue for future studies to examine post austerity strategies for strengthening public sector anti-fraud
and nancial crime investigative resource strategies to deal with emerging fraud threats to UK public
Practical implications – This article acts as a reference guide for policymakers to reect on the
long-term adverse impact of the austerity on anti-fraud and nancial crime investigative resource
capacity and capability in tackling fraud public sector fraud.
Originality/value – The paper attempts to present an alternative lens to examining the scale of UK
public sector fraud problem rather than relying on headline story of declining fraud in UK.
Keywords Austerity and fraud, Fraud risk management, Public sector fraud,
Public sector fraud and nancial crime
Paper type Viewpoint
Introduction and background
Fraud and nancial crimes are unacceptable to the United Kingdom (UK) public sector
and concern for managing those risks has attracted interests and debates over the past
25 years from the wider public including media, parliamentarians and the government
(See, HM Treasury, 1989;Committee on Public Accounts, 1994; Audit Commission,
1998; Smith, 1985;QC Grabiner Report, 2000;Scampion Report, 2000). Related to this
there have been key developments in public sector accountability such as the
establishment of the National Audit Ofce, Audit Commission and the introduction of
New Public Management policies with strong emphasis on accountability, spending
public money wisely and protecting it against fraud (See Treasury Report, 2012;Prowle,
2010;Pickett, 2010). The 2009 credit crunch (See Tomasic, 2011;Hardouin, 2011),
revelations about Members of Parliament (MPs’) expenses abuse of public money to
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Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.22 No. 2, 2015
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