Met Police Chief: Don’t Reward Victims Of Online Fraud

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Bernard Horgan-Howe says that focus should be on helping public improve online protection

One of the UK’s most senior police leaders has come under fire after claiming that victims of online fraud don’t deserve to receive a refund.

Sir Bernard Horgan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, has said that consumers should be focused on protecting themselves better against the increasing threat of cybercrime, and are being “rewarded for bad behaviour” by being refunded for crimes committed against them.


Met_Commissioner_Bernard_Hogan-HoweThe comments came as Horgan-Howe (pictured left) discussed in The Times how banks are helping change public behaviour towards online security.

“If you are continually rewarded for bad behaviour you will probably continue to do it but if the obverse is true you might consider changing behaviour,” he wrote.

“The system is not incentivising you to protect yourself. If someone said to you: ‘If you’ve not updated your software I will give you half back,’ you would do it.”

A recent survey from Deloitte estimated that a fifth of British consumers were the victim of cybercrime during 2015, with twenty-one percent claiming they had personal details stolen and their bank accounts used to buy goods and services as a result of a cyber security breach.

Horgan-Howe’s statements immediately attracted criticism from several organisations who say that the police chief was simply trying to shift away the blame from his force’s inadequate work.

British police are set to include figures surrounding cybercrime estimates in official crime statistics for the first time this July. This includes consumer watchdog Which?, which described Hogan-Howe’s suggestion as “an astonishingly misjudged proposal”.

“With online fraud increasing, this is an astonishingly misjudged proposal from the Met police commissioner,” Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said.

“When Which? investigated last year, we found too often that banks were dragging their feet when dealing with fraud. The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud.”

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