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Should I report a suspected fraud or corruption to the SFO?

Yes, your report could provide valuable information which may contribute to us successfully investigating and prosecuting criminals.  It doesn't matter if the fraud is happening now, took place in the past, or is planned to happen in the future.

Reporting fraud and corruption could positively benefit you and society by:

  • reducing fraud and corruption
  • protecting the public from future criminal conduct
  • reducing the cost to society caused by fraud and corruption
  • delivering justice and the rule of law
  • enabling compensation to be paid to the victims from the recovery of funds and assets that were obtained as a result of the criminal activity
  • maintaining confidence in the UK's business and financial institutions

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What types of fraud and corruption should be reported to the SFO?

We are a government department and part of the UK criminal justice system.  We aim to protect society by investigating and prosecuting people who commit serious, complex fraud and corruption.  Our aims and objectives contribute to:

  • protecting the public by reducing the incidence and the cost of fraud and corruption
  • delivering justice and the rule of law
  • maintaining confidence in the UK's business and financial institutions

Fraudsters do not recognise international boundaries.  While the SFO has jurisdiction over England, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not over Scotland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands), it also works closely with other law enforcement agencies and regulators, both in the UK and abroad to investigate and prosecute people who commit serious and complex fraud and corruption.

Our International Assistance team in particular works closely on cases where the criminal conduct is principally taking place in another jurisdiction.  The SFO helps other countries and law enforcement agencies (for example, the  Department of Justice in the United States) in cases like this.

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Can I speak out in confidence?

Yes.  If requested, we will treat any information you give us sensitively and in confidence.  We will protect your identity, only disclosing it with your consent, or if directed to do so by a court.

While you do not have to give us your name, it is helpful if we have it (and other contact details) because it may be harder to investigate the concern if we cannot check or ask follow-up questions.  And, if you give us your details, it is easier to get protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

If you are concerned about confidentiality you may like to talk to the lawyers at Public Concern at Work (an independent charity and a leading authority on public interest disclosures).  You can contact them on 020 7404 6609, by email at helpline@pcaw.co.uk or you can visit their website www.pcaw.co.uk.

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What happens once I contact the SFO?

Your call, form, letter or email will be more helpful if it includes all the details of the suspected fraud or corruption and any relevant information or evidence that you know or possess.

If you are unsure about what to include, email us at confidential@sfo.gsi.gov.uk and we will help.

We will take a record of the details of your disclosure so that we can start assessing your information.  Depending on the information you give us, we may need to contact you again to get the full picture of the allegations.  

Don't be alarmed if you do not hear back from us.  If you don't hear from us, it doesn't mean that your information was not important.  We value your contribution very much.  However, because of the sensitive nature of criminal investigations, we may not (for operational reasons or because of legal restrictions) be able to discuss any detail of the actions we have taken on the information you gave us.  We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

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Will I be kept informed of the outcome of the SFO investigation?

We realise that you may like to know what has happened as a result of the information you gave us.  If you wish, we will keep you informed when we are able to do so.  However, there may be occasions when the sensitive nature of criminal investigation work means that we are not able to, or are restricted by law, from discussing the case.

Complex investigations can take considerable time and so it may appear to you that nothing much has changed since you reported your information to us.  This does not necessarily mean that nothing is happening.  The process of investigating and gathering evidence needs to be planned and executed carefully and this may not be apparent to you.

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Am I covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act?

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 covers employees, contractors, trainees, agency staff, home-workers, police officers and every professional in the NHS.  The usual employment law restrictions on minimum qualification period and age do not apply to this act.  It does not cover self-employed people (other than in the NHS), volunteers, the intelligence services or the armed forces.

If you are in doubt, please ask us at the time you make a report and we will ensure that your disclosure to us is logged for future reference should you require it.

If you want to obtain independent legal advice, then you can look for it independently or through an organisation, like Public Concern at Work, dedicated to helping workers in your situation - Public Concern at Work.

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Does the SFO provide legal advice on my work or employment status?

No.  We can't give legal advice or intervene in matters of employment relations and we have no powers to determine whether or not PIDA protection applies.  However, we will log your disclosure if you want a record made of your disclosure to us.  

If you require confidential advice on what is protected by PIDA and how best to raise your concern, you may want to speak to your own solicitor or speak to the legal team at Public Concern at Work (an independent charity and a leading authority on public interest disclosures).  You can contact them on 020 7404 6609, by email at helpline@pcaw.co.uk or you can look at their website, www.pcaw.co.uk.

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Where can I get more information about the Public Interest Disclosure Act?

You can contact:

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