Scam advertising must be included in Online Safety Bill, says City of London

The Government’s decision to include fraud as a ‘priority harm’ in the Online Safety Bill has been welcomed today by the City of London Corporation’s Police Authority Board and the City of London Police.

But the City of London’s policing chiefs say that paid-for advertising must also be included in the draft legislation to stop people from becoming victims of fraudulent online advertisements.

The City Corporation’s Police Authority Board, which sets policing priorities for the City of London and ensures that the City of London Police runs an effective and efficient service, has been campaigning with the force and a range of industry bodies for fraud and paid-for advertising to be included in the Bill.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Police Authority Board, James Thomson, said:

“We are very encouraged to see that fraud will be included as a priority harm in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, which will help tackle this invidious and fast-growing crime, which can often have a devastating impact on victims.

"It is an important step in ensuring that social media and technology companies have a duty of care to prevent their platforms from being used to commit fraud, and to ensure that they are pro-active in tackling it.

“However, it is our firmly held view that paid-for advertising must be included within the scope of the Bill to help protect people from scam adverts.

“Not only would failure to do so risk undermining the benefits of including fraud as a priority harm, it would give the green light to fraudsters to continue targeting victims via this route and may lead to a significant increase in this harmful content.”

Assistant Commissioner Pete O’Doherty from City of London Police said:

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to our calls for fraud and money laundering to be included as a priority harm in the Online Safety Bill, as fraud accounts for almost 40% of all crime.

“These crimes are devastating to victims, and we know that, in 2020/21, almost one in five instances of fraud reported into Action Fraud used at least one social media and communication platform to perpetrate fraud.”

The City of London Police receives 800,000 reports of fraud every year. It accounts for 40% of all crimes and is of increasing importance nationally, but only receives a fraction - just under 2% - of police resources to tackle it.

Fraud is an under-reported crime, and reported losses were around £2.3bn in the last financial year.

As well as substantial financial loss, it causes significant harm to victims of crime, many often highly vulnerable, and in many cases that harm is life-changing.


Notes for Editors:

For media enquiries:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Public Services), City of London Corporation

T: 07795 333060 / E:

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

About the City of London Police Authority Board:

Managed by the City of London Corporation, the City of London Police Authority Board’s role is to make sure that the City of London Police runs an effective and efficient service by holding the Commissioner to account; to ensure value for money in the way the police is run, and to set policing priorities taking into account the views of the community. [The Court of Common Council is the Police Authority for the Square Mile as set out in the City of London Police Act 1839. Under Section 56 of the Act, the Common Council delegated to the Police Authority Board all of its police authority functions (with the exception of the appointment of the Commissioner)].

About the City of London Police:

The City of London Police is responsible for policing the City's business district, the 'Square Mile' in the historical centre of London. In addition, it holds national responsibility for Economic Crime and under this remit, it is host to Action Fraud (the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service); the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau; the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department; and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. The City of London continues to be one of the safest urban areas in the country.