Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
Provided here are the:
- government response, which describes the levels of response and support, costs and the legislative options
- guidance for businesses, to help protect them from becoming victims of payment fraud and to reduce the risks of inadvertently supplying specialist printing equipment and materials for criminal use
The consultation closing date has been extended until 2 April to mitigate the impact of moving the Home Office website to GOV.UK.
Fraudsters require highly specialist printing equipment to make false documents such as passports, driving licences and credit cards. While the possession and use of such false documents is illegal, there is currently no specific offence of supplying such equipment to fraudsters and it is difficult to prosecute those who knowingly, or through not taking sufficient care, supply equipment to them. The government is seeking views on proposals to change the law to close this gap.
The equipment in scope of these proposals includes plastic card printers, bespoke rubber stamps and consumables such as ultra violet inks and hot foiling equipment. The Metropolitan Police’s Project Genesius, which operates jointly with the highly specialist printing industry, has a voluntary Code of Conduct for suppliers of highly specialist printing equipment, which obliges them to follow good business practice by:
- maintaining records of transactions
- profiling customers for their integrity
- not supplying equipment if they doubt the legitimacy of a customer and reporting this to the police.
However, companies are not obliged to sign up to this Code and there is no sanction for companies signing up but not abiding by the Code. These proposals would enable the police to prosecute suppliers of highly specialist printing equipment who do not abide by that Code and do not follow industry good practice.
The National Fraud Authority estimates that 3% of annual turnover is lost by businesses through payment fraud. These legislative proposals would raise awareness of suspicious behaviour, enabling highly specialist printing companies to spot this early on and to improve their procedures. Based on estimates from companies that have signed up to the current voluntary Code of Conduct, this could save an estimated 10-15 per cent of companies’ time from receiving and processing fewer suspicious requests and orders, which are more likely to result in payment fraud. The costs and benefits of these proposals are set out in more detail in the impact assessment below. There would also be a benefit to the police and the wider criminal justice system, as these proposals would increase the likelihood of successful prosecutions of those who supply this equipment to fraudsters.
The government is proposing to create two new criminal offences: one of deliberately and one of negligently supplying highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters. The proposals seek to require highly specialist printing companies to follow requirements like those in the voluntary Code of Conduct to avoid prosecution under those offences. This would make it more difficult for criminals to obtain the necessary equipment to create false official and government-issued documents and should therefore reduce crime that relies on false identities.
Aims of the consultation
This consultation will inform the development of these proposals and their detailed provisions. It will enable the government to ensure that all the relevant equipment is covered (including emerging technologies), and consider fully what steps companies can reasonably take to ensure that their processes meet the requirements of any new offences. As such, the consultation is aimed at the highly specialist printing industry, which is the only group that would be directly affected by these proposals. For example this includes but is not limited to: suppliers of plastic card printers, bespoke rubber stamps and ultra violet printing inks.