Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has called for urgent work into ‘crash for cash’ collisions that threaten the safety of road users and hit taxpayers in the pocket.
A report presented at his Strategic Governance Board this week revealed so-called ‘crash for cash’ schemes are costing the Derbyshire economy millions of pounds every year.
‘Crash for cash’ is the term that has been coined for fraudulent activity in which a criminal deliberately instigates a crash or generates the paperwork for a fake crash. Through such a scam, fraudsters are able to claim for vehicle damage, personal injury such as whiplash and other related costs.
Although it is difficult to assess how much of an issue ‘Crash for Cash’ offences are in Derbyshire, it is estimated that everybody pays between £10 and £50 extra a year for their insurance premiums as a result of the scams – a figure which does not include additional premiums to cover un-insured drivers.
Using national statistics from the Insurance Fraud Bureau combined with population estimates for the region of Derbyshire (Over 1 million people or 1.6% of UK), it is estimated that the annual cost of ‘crash for cash’ in Derbyshire is £5.4m, with the total number of Personal injury claims linked to ‘Crash for Cash’ being 889.
“Crash for cash is not a victimless crime – it compromises the safety of all road users and has a serious financial impact on every taxpayer,” said Mr Dhindsa.
“This is fraudulent activity which drains police and health resources at a time when those budgets are already in the grip of austerity and more work is urgently needed between insurance companies and road safety specialists to identify workable solutions.
“A huge amount of police resources are required to investigate collisions where ‘crash for cash’ fraud schemes are suspected. These investigations take many months to complete and involve numerous suspects – all of which diverts time and money from critical areas of frontline policing. It is a situation that needs serious attention.”
There are three types of ‘Crash for Cash’ schemes:
- The Induced Accident – where the fraudster targets an innocent motorist to become the ‘at fault’ driver, typically by suddenly braking so the innocent driver cannot stop in time.
- The Staged Accident – typically where two vehicles both in the hands of the fraudsters will be deliberately crashed together away from the public eye and a collision claimed to have occurred.
- The Ghost Accident – in which contrived or ‘ghost’ accidents are paper-based frauds which involve submitting completely fabricated claims for accidents which never actually took place and in some cases for cars that do not even exist.
Currently, the Constabulary has two live investigations into ‘crash for cash’ offences – one is in relation to 44 collisions and up to a value of £750,000 where 14 people have been charged and the second relates to 12 collisions up to a value of £300,000 where 17 people have been charged.
The PCC is committed to monitoring the problem and identifying necessary further work.
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Posted on Friday 23rd September 2016