Statistics released on Thursday (July 21) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) include, for the first time, data reported to Action Fraud.
The figures show that Sussex is a relatively safe place to live but that crime is changing.
Overall crime in Sussex between April 2015 and March 2016 increased by five per cent which is below the national average of a 10 per cent increase for the South East region and nine per cent for England and Wales.
However, this includes a significant decrease in crimes such as burglaries and theft; a 16 per cent decrease in burglaries of homes and a 23 per cent decrease in theft.
Superintendent Steve Curry said, "We are pleased by these figures which show for acquisitive crime we are in the top quarter of all forces in the country. The addition of fraud shows how crime is changing in the modern world and this changes the challenges to policing. It shows there needs to be a different way of tackling criminals as crime evolves.
"We have seen increases in a number of crime types, notably violence against the person and sexual offences but we know we are getting better at recording offences and that people have become more confident in reporting offences to us.
"We still need the public to report crime to us so that we can put our resources where they are needed. We are continuing to catch and arrest those people who cause problems in the county and will not become complacent in doing so."
We have four Action Fraud referrals per 1000 population a decrease of four per cent over last year which is in line with the National average, however we can see from the ONS figures that most fraud and cyber crime isn’t reported to the police.
Sussex Police has been leading the way nationally tackling fraud with the Operation Signature campaign, which has been building awareness of fraud. An example of this is the reduction in courier frauds, since the beginning of 2015 1,267 courier frauds were reported to Sussex Police, compared to 44 victims in 2016. Not all victims lost money but reported the fraud to Sussex Police.
Detective Chief Inspector Tracy Edwards, who leads Operation Signature, said, "We are delighted to see the ONS Fraud figures as it enables us to understand the changing face of crime in recent years. The reduction in courier fraud crime does show how effective Sussex Police and partners have been in raising awareness of fraud, not to mention apprehending those criminals responsible. We will continue to emphasise to the public that ‘scams’ are fraud and fraud is crime - report it.
"We know we usually have 400 victims of fraud each month reported to us or Action Fraud; the fraud statistic included in the ONS figures is sadly not a surprise. We receive approximately 100 referrals a month from Action Fraud deemed to have sufficient information and lines of enquiry to commence an investigation.”
"Action Fraud offers advice to those who make reports to them and we have Operation Signature to offer support and advice to vulnerable people. We and our partners work tirelessly to ensure we raise awareness of fraud and deliver safeguarding messages through our monthly fraud newsletter.”
Since Operation Signature was launched, evidence has shown that fraudsters persistently target victims who have been identified as vulnerable. Telephone enabled fraud is regularly the most prolific method of contacting victims across Sussex.
"Recently the most prevalent method is fraudsters suggesting that the victim has a problem with or a virus in their computer. They ask for bank details and they initially take a small amount, returning for more without the victim’s knowledge. Sussex Police has invested in 100 TrueCall devices which are designed to block nuisance calls and can be a very effective method of protecting victims being targeted through the telephone. Unrecognised callers are asked for their identity before they are put through to the recipient, meaning that unknown or ‘cold’ callers can be refused.”
DCI Edwards added, "We work with our partners including the Police and Crime Commissioner's Elders' Commission, Neighbourhood Watch, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Trading Standards and charities to all raise awareness of fraud.
"We know that very often people are too embarrassed to report fraud, believing they are in some part to blame for being tricked. This is not the case; fraudsters are not ‘cheeky scammers’, they are criminals. They are ruthless and incredibly persuasive and dispassionate, often preying on people's vulnerability or lack of knowledge.
"We can prevent fraud by following easy to take steps. I would encourage everyone of every age to educate themselves and their family members about fraud and how to protect against it."