Victim inequality and offender impunity
: the asymmetric outcomes of motor insurance fraud

  • Stephen Evans

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research examines whether the funding of IFED, a dedicated police unit, set up to deal exclusively with allegations of insurance fraud brought by those insurers providing the funding, has impacted the ability of non-insurer victims of insurance fraud to gain access to justice.

The first stage of the research sought to identify and quantify the nature of fraud and its impact on both the insurance industry and on non-insurers. It included a desk-top review of the credit-hire sector, the local bus sector and large fleet-operators. The second stage involved a self-completion questionnaire to build econometric and experiential data from the credit-hire sector before effecting semi-structured interviews with twenty-nine witnesses working within or proximate to the area being investigated and conducting research and further interviews in respect of five case studies.

An emergent theme was the use by the insurance industry of data, predominantly driven by uncorroborated estimates, that showed the industry to be impacted hugely by fraud, a conclusion that they had deployed to inspire a media and lobbying campaign to seek regulatory change protective of their business model whilst also gaining exclusive access to a dedicated police resource. Whilst no direct harm was reported by non-insurer victims because of the existence of IFED there was evidence of criminal offenders migrating to victims less capable of soliciting a police response and so gaming the system to gain impunity.

The research posits an objective methodology for scoring the economic, societal or criminological validity of a privately-funded public-police initiatives with implications for future partnerships in other areas where business can contribute to the cost of law enforcement to assess whether enforcement success can feed directly through to the profit line but without inspiring victim inequality or offender impunity.

Whilst the Police had, prior to the Fraud Review and the creation of IFED, demonstrated limited enthusiasm for investigating allegations of fraud, the creation of IFED, accompanied with the effects of austerity measures on policing, has had a meaningful and detrimental impact on the ability of certain non-insurers to deal with insurance fraud relative to the protection available to insurers. The identity of the victim made a difference. The partisan approach to a single victim-set may be contributing to the growth of insurance fraud facilitated by organised criminals and increasing the likelihood of impunity for offenders committing acquisitive vehicle offences involving the rental and credit-hire industries.
Date of AwardMar 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMark Button (Supervisor)

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