BREXIT has made tackling fraud “more difficult”, the director of legal services at the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Gregor McGill told the parliamentary justice committee on Tuesday that leaving the EU had created problems for police pursuing fraudsters overseas.

The committee heard that about 25% of fraud cases involved only defendants from the UK, with the number of cases involving “foreign” defendants rising “considerably more”.

It was also told that the number of computer-related fraud offences was “enormous”.

McGill said: “It’s still possible to do the work, but when you are outside the EU it’s hard because you have to go through treaties and you have to build up local relationships and local engagement to get done what was a matter of course when we were part of the EU.

"It doesn’t stop us doing it but it slows us down and makes it more difficult.”

Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Bar Association, told the committee: “There’s an analogy with the lorries waiting to get their paperwork done, trying to cross the Channel.

“The fact is it hasn’t made us more agile, what is has meant is that we’ve had to rebuild and start relationships afresh with people who no longer trust us in the same way.”

The committee also heard that only around 0.75% of reported fraud was prosecuted, while Fenhalls said “fraud has not until now been a priority for anybody”.

McGill said: “I think we need to make fraud a priority for law enforcement agencies because it’s a sad fact that we talk about, ‘do people know what the state of fraud is?’.

“You’re more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other crime in this country and the cost to the economy is about £4.7 billion, so it is a significant issue so the priority is, really, I think really important.”