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Fraud: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 37812, tabled on 20 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department has plans to increase sentences for people convicted of fraudulent activity that is related to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

28 April 2020

The Government is committed to ensuring a robust response to those who exploit the covid-19 outbreak through criminal means.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts. Fraud is a serious offence and Parliament, in setting a maximum penalty of 10 years’ custody, has provided the courts with the full range of sentencing powers to deal effectively with offenders.

If a victim is particularly vulnerable for any reason (this applies regardless of the Covid context) then the sentencing guidelines do provide an aggravating factor for the victim’s vulnerability. This means a more severe penalty could be imposed than would have been the case absent the aggravating factor (subject always to the maximum penalty for the offence).

The Government continues to work alongside the CPS to provide a multi-agency response to criminality associated with covid-19. A joint interim charging protocol has been agreed between the police and CPS which gives the highest priority to custody cases and all covid-19 related cases, including related fraud offences.