The Fraud 'Justice Systems': a scoping study

Fraud is an expensive crime problem with millions of cases occurring each year. However, only a tiny proportion of cases are dealt with by the criminal justice system, instead:

  • innovative ways have emerged for corporate victims to secure prison sanctions against fraudsters through the use of contempt in the civil courts;
  • some fraudsters, who have stolen millions of pounds, have been sanctioned by regulatory bodies with no reference to the criminal courts;
  • and thousands of ‘fraudsters’ are punished by being placed on privately run fraudster registers, with no confirmation of ‘guilt’, but with serious implications for their ability to secure jobs and access financial products such as insurance, credit cards, and mortgages.

The standards of justice in these systems vary significantly and in some cases are at odds with some of the foundations of justice, such as separation between investigators, prosecutors and those who determine guilt.

These justice systems have received very little research, but many questions arise concerning their extent of use, effectiveness and wider implications to society. This project aims to undertake a scoping study that will map the wide range of state and private bodies administering justice in this area and evaluate the suitability, strengths and weaknesses of such arrangements. This will provide an evidence base and research tools for further research and policy development in this socially significant but neglected area.

Project details



Professor Mark Button, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth

Funding programme

Law in Society

Grant amount and duration


October 2015 - March 2016



The Fraud 'Justice Systems': A Scoping Study on the Civil, Regulatory and Private Paths to 'Justice' for Fraudsters (PDF)

Article from 'Criminal Law & Justice Weekly' by Professor Button, January 2017

Article from 'Police Professional' by Professor Button, December 2016

Article from 'Professional Security' by Professor Button, December 2016

Article from 'New Law Journal' by Professor Button, March 2017