CRIME Quantity of forged cash is shrinking, police say

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The amount of forged money being produced in Britain has dropped by two-thirds in the last year, it emerged yesterday. Just over pounds 10m in counterfeit sterling was seized in 1996, compared to pounds 29m in 1995. A third of that was detected before it was used by criminals, according to the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

Many of the people responsible for producing large amounts of forged cash in the past are now in jail, claim the police. Unlike drugs, the amount of forged money being produced can be gauged by police seizures because all counterfeits are eventually detected. "There is no question of counterfeit notes remaining in circulation for long as inevitably they gravitate to the retail trade," said Detective Inspector Wayne Smith, head of specialist crimes at the NCIS.

Forgeries are not improving dramatically with new technology, as had been feared, he said. "Our experience shows that despite colour photocopiers becoming more widely available, colour copies represent 5 per cent of the counterfeit problem. Most "professional" counterfeiters continue to use traditional offset litho printing machines.

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