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What are fraud, bribery and theft?


Whilst the Fraud Act (2006) (the ‘Act’) does not provide a single definition of fraud, it may be described as ‘theft with deception’. The key characteristics of fraud include an individual acting dishonestly with the expectation of either making a gain for themselves or another person, or causing a loss to a third party.

The act identifies fraud as a single offence which can be committed in three separate ways:

Fraud by false representation

A person dishonestly makes a false representation, intending to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

The legal definition of ‘representation’ is broad and includes written, verbal and non-verbal communication.

Fraud by failing to disclose information

A person dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and Intends, by failing to disclose the information to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

Fraud by abuse of position

A person occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person dishonestly abuses that position, and intends, by means of abuse of that position to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.


Under the Bribery Act 2010, bribery can be committed by individuals under two main offence categories:

Offering, or paying a bribe to induce or reward improper duty, or knowing that acceptance of the bribe would in itself be improper performance.

Requesting, agreeing to receive, or receiving a bribe intending that as a consequence improper duty would be performed, or knowing that acceptance of the bribe is in itself improper.

In both instances, the bribe is intended to influence performance of a function, which may be carried out before, at the same time, or after the bribe is paid. 

Bribes can take many forms including cash, holidays, event tickets, meals etc. Decisions could relate to, among others, recruitment, the award of contracts, planning consents and other awards. The bribe may be paid directly, or via third parties.

A local authority is deemed a ‘commercial organisation’ which can commit an offence of failing to prevent bribery. It is only possible to defend such an allegation if the council has put in place adequate procedures designed to prevent persons associated with it from undertaking such conduct.

The council, or third parties representing the council will neither accept nor offer bribes to contractors, suppliers or customers and should act with integrity at all times.


Theft is defined in the 1968 Theft Act as:

"a person shall be guilty of theft if they dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

Money Laundering

The process by which criminals attempt to ‘recycle’ the proceeds of their criminal activities in order to conceal its origins and ownership and which leaves them with money that cannot be traced back to a crime. Our anti money laundering strategy is included in appendix 3 of the Financial Regulations contained within the constitution.

Concerns relating to Money Laundering should be reported immediately to the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO). Contact details for the MLRO can be found on the how to report a concern page.


Corruption does not in itself define a specific crime in the UK, however it is a term used to describe a wide range of unethical behaviour, including fraud and bribery.

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