Crime levels will rise by up to 40% when new estimates of the scale of fraud are included in statistics for the first time, a senior police officer has said.
An extra three million offences could be added when victims' experiences of fraud and cyber crime are incorporated into the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), according to Adrian Leppard, commissioner of City of London Police.
In a letter to other forces last week, according to The Mail On Sunday, Mr Leppard wrote: "The public spotlight will fall on this issue soon as the results of the recently updated Crime Survey for England and Wales are published.
"These will add an extra three million fraud and cyber incidents to the overall level of crime in the UK - an increase of up to 40%."
The latest figures from the CSEW showed that, for the offences it covers, there were an estimated 6.8million incidents of crime against households and victims aged 16 and over.
This was a 7% decrease compared with the previous year's survey, and the lowest estimate since the research started in 1981.
Statisticians started a project last year to develop new questions for the CSEW to capture victims' experiences of fraud and cyber crime.
An update on the plans published earlier this year by the Office for National Statistics said: "Whilst the consistency of the survey questions over time has been one of its great strengths, with the rise of the internet there have been concerns that the survey has failed to keep up with the changing nature of crime; the internet provides not only new means of committing established crimes, but also opportunities to undertake new types of crime."
A first set of experimental statistics could be published alongside the main quarterly update on the CSEW next month, with full estimates expected to emerge from around April next year.
A government report published in 2011 estimated that cyber crime costs the UK economy £27bn a year.
Police forces are bracing for a fresh round of spending cuts later this year.
The Home Office, which provides money to forces from central government, is unprotected in the forthcoming spending review - meaning it could be ordered to make reductions of between 25% and 40%.