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Home > Banknotes > Counterfeit Bank of England Banknotes
 

Counterfeit Bank of England Banknotes

Counterfeits Removed From Circulation

A key role of the Bank of England is to maintain confidence in the currency.  The Bank is responsible for providing banknotes that the public can use with the confidence that they are genuine.  As part of this objective, the Bank monitors the incidence of counterfeit Bank of England banknotes by recording the number of counterfeits removed from circulation.

The vast majority of counterfeits are discovered by the banking system when they are separated from genuine banknotes during a sorting process for re-circulation. Some are removed by the public or retailers who hand them into the police or banks and some when the police make arrests or carry out search warrants.  Counterfeits are typically removed from circulation quickly, often after a single use. 

In the first 6 months of 2014 (H1), around 233,000 Bank of England counterfeit banknotes were taken out of circulation with a face value1 of £4.2mn.  This is just a tiny proportion of the genuine banknotes in circulation; an average over 3 billion with a face value exceeding £55 billion.
 
The figures below show the H1 2014 data along with annual data since 2005.
 
1 Counterfeit notes are worthless
 

Number and Notional Value of Counterfeits Removed from Circulation
(rounded to the nearest 1,000)

​£5 ​£10 ​£20 ​£50 ​TOTAL ​Value (£mn)
​2014 H1 ​1,000 ​61,000 ​164,000 ​7,000 ​233,000 ​£4,245,000
​2013 ​5,000 ​246,000 ​423,000 ​15,000 ​689,000 ​£11,695,000
​2012 ​4,000 ​162,000 ​556,000 ​15,000 ​737,000 ​£13,510,000
​2011 ​6,000 ​121,000 ​255,000 ​2,000 ​384,000 ​£6,440,000
​2010 ​6,000 ​11,000 ​284,000 ​4,000 ​305,000 ​£6,020,000
​2009 ​4,000 ​21,000 ​543,000 ​3,000 ​571,000 ​£11,240,000
​2008 ​4,000 ​6,000 ​691,000 ​3,000 ​704,000 ​£14,050,000
​2007 ​4,000 ​6,000 ​284,000 ​4,000 ​298,000 ​£5,960,000
​2006 ​8,000 ​8,000 ​367,000 ​6,000 ​389,000 ​£7,760,000
​2005 ​6,000 ​7,000 ​485,000 ​6,000 ​504,000 ​£10,100,000
 
The data includes counterfeit Bank of England banknotes discovered in the first 6 months of 2014 and recorded by the Bank of England by 9 September 2014. The Bank of England continues to receive some counterfeits several months after they are found because, for example, the police may retain them as evidence. Consequently the figures may be subject to revision.

 

Chart 1 (click on image to enlarge)
Number of counterfeits removed from circulation (with equivalent notional value) H1 2014 - Denominational Mix 

Chart 2 (click on image to enlarge)Number of counterfeits removed from circulation

Chart 3 (click on image to enlarge)Counterfeit notes removed from circulation and police bulk seizures (1000 notes or more)

Chart 4 shows the number of counterfeits taken out of circulation each year by the Bank and "bulk seizures" of 1,000 notes or more, which are intercepted by the police before they enter circulation.

Chart 4 (click on image to enlarge)

Table 1: Data for Chart 4

​Total number of counterfeits removed from circulation ​Number of counterfeits removed before they entered circulation (bulk seizures)
2014 H1 233,000 0
2013 689,000 ​7,000
​2012 737,000 9,000
​2011 384,000 0
​2010 305,000 ​42,000
​2009 571,000 20,000
​2008 ​704,000 ​13,000
​2007 298,000 15,000
​2006 ​389,000 8,000
​2005 504,000 ​45,000
 

The Bank's Anti-Counterfeiting Strategy

The strategy comprises five key elements:

  • Banknote design
  • Educational materials
  • Working with law enforcement
  • Framework for cash handling machines
  • Code of Conduct for the Authentication of Machine-Dispenses banknotes

See the following for more information on the Bank's work to combat counterfeiting, law enforcement and a table of major cases that have resulted in a conviction.

Counterfeit Prevention - The Bank's work to combat counterfeiting and law enforcement 

Table of major law enforcement cases that have resulted in a conviction

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