Fair & Square in conversation with the Chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board

Our guest on this episode of the Fair & Square podcast is James Thomson, whose varied career has spanned private and stock market listed businesses to policing and education in the public sector.

James’ current business interests include chairing affordable housebuilder MJ Gleeson, but it was his roles in the world of policing and fraud prevention that formed the discussion with our host Adam Batstone.

As Chair of City of London Police*, Non-Executive Director of the Serious Fraud Office* and Chair of The National Cyber Resilience Centre Group*, James sits at the heart of organisations tackling the rising threat of fraud to UK businesses and citizens.

“Economic and cybercrime effects more people more often than any other crime,” he says.

“In the UK alone fraud accounts for 40% of all estimated crime and combined with cybercrime, fraud is the most commonly experienced crime with some 6.1 million reports in 2021-22.”

James was first interested in policing during his university days, but not knowing anyone in that world he trained as an accountant then went into investment banking before the corporate sector.

As a young accountant at Price Waterhouse he worked in the firm’s forensic unit and was involved in the investigation into the Maxwell directors following the financial scandal after Robert Maxwell died.

“I think that planted the seed around fraud,” he says.

After leaving banking in the early 2000s, James realised you could become a policeman in your spare time and became a Special Constable of the City of London Police – where he is now chairman which is equivalent to a Police and Crime Commissioner elsewhere.

James talks about the complex network of organisations which exist to police fraud and other financial crime and their responsibilities, activities and how they work effectively together. He also highlights long-standing partnerships with the private sector including banking and insurance and the rising impact of technology.

“Fraud has grown significantly as new technologies are exploited and the City of London Police reckon about 89% of fraud is facilitated by the use of digital technology such as the internet and the UK is considered an easier target with our English language and frictionless payment systems making it attractive to UK and international criminals alike.”

He talks about the importance of relationship with overseas law enforcement and private technology and social media platforms, highlighting a partnership between the City of London Police and Microsoft whose activity has included closing fraudulent call centres.

James also mentions how law enforcement agencies are harnessing technology and developments such as AI, turning it back onto the fraudster by using chatbots to lure criminals.

Finally James provides some practical advice on how to recognise fraud and some tips to avoid becoming victim of crime, ensuing this edition of Fair & Square is educational as well as entertaining and informative.





*City of London Police Authority

The local police service for the Square Mile with national responsibilities in policing for fraud, economic and cybercrime.

*Serious Fraud Office

The SFO is the specialist prosecuting authority tackling the top level of serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption.

*National Cyber Resilience Centre Group

National Cyber Resilience Centre Group (NCRCG) is a not-for-profit company, funded and supported by the Home Office, policing and Ambassador partners, set up to help strengthen the reach of the National Cyber Crime Programme with focus on the cyber resilience of small and medium sized enterprises