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Conducting a fraud investigation can be like playing a game of snakes and ladders. Some factors will help you make great progress and others will cause you to slip back.

What is an investigation and the role of the investigator?

What is an investigation?

There are several definitions of a criminal investigation, but the one for England and Wales is set out in the Code of Practice to the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). This defines a criminal investigation as:​

An investigation conducted by police officers with a view to it being ascertained whether a person should be charged with an offence, or whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it.​

(CPIA 1996)

Investigations can be either reactive or proactive​ and may be carried out in relation to:​

  • Crimes that have been committed​
  • Identifying whether a crime has actually been committed, with a view to commencing criminal proceedings​
  • Crimes that the police believe may be committed, for example, when premises or individuals are kept under observation for a period of time, with a view to the possible institution of criminal proceedings.

What responsibilities does the investigator have?

An investigator is responsible for:​

  • Identifying lines of enquiry​
  • Securing material​
  • Recording information ​
  • Producing a report​
  • Giving evidence​
  • Retaining records​
  • FIM considerations

(Betts 2017)


Betts, M.,J. (2017) Investigation of Fraud and Economic Crime Oxford: Oxford University Press

London: Legislation.gov.uk Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (1996) [online]. available from https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/25/part/II [11 July 2019]

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