DWP Fraud department visits at Jobcentre Plus South Wales

J Atkinson made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

The request was refused by Department for Work and Pensions.

From: J Atkinson

Dear Department for Work and Pensions/JobcentrePlus,

I am writing to you via this website because I am concerned about things that I have heard going on at local jobcentres around my area, one specifically. I have heard from two sources now that the local jobcentre has been visited by staff from your own DWP fraud department and that following that/those visits staff have suddenly it seems vanished. I know two people who attend the local jobcentre in Pontypool and have confirmed goings on that seem suspicious, with current staff reportedly saying things like 'I cant talk about that' or 'I cant say'. I feel it is entirely in the public interest and as a matter of trust in our civil service and servants to be confident that all is above board and we can have confidence and trust in them.

My questions are as follows

1- I understand there was a visit or visits to the local jobcentre in Pontypool by staff from the DWP fraud department starting at about the end of October 2012 and maybe more recently. Staff were seen and identified themselves as being from DWP fraud department.
Was there a visit or visits and if so how many?
and how many staff visited and on what dates?

2- What was the purpose of the DWP fraud department staff visit/s to Pontypool jobcentre? was there a specific purpose or tip off and if so what?

3- After the visit/s at the end of October I have it on good authority that some Pontypool jobcentre members of staff, including the manager, where not present the following day and where not seen again.
Is this true?
If so did they leave of were they sacked?
If sacked what were they specifically sacked for?
If you cannot say specifically can you confirm if any of those sacked were sacked due to the fraud staff visit?

4- Was the manager at that time sacked or did they leave?

5- Were any incidents of fraud found due to the visits/s? and if so what were they?

6- Is there any report or documentation on the fraud staff visit/s to Pontypool, if so please provide a copy?

7- I understand that at Pontypool some of these DWP fraud staff sat in on claimant appointments. Is this true? and if so what was the purpose/s of this?

8- I also understand that these DWP fraud staff were sitting in on claimants appointments without the prior knowledge or consent of those claimants . Is this true? if consent was requested prior to appointments how was this done and who did it?

9- Have there been any other visits to other local jobcentres in the South Wales areas over the last year or two. If so please detail and detail the main purpose for each visit to each site and what was the result.

10- if there are any other reports into fraud or corruption relating to or by jobcentres in the South Wales areas please detail what exists and provide a copy of each.

Yours faithfully,

J Atkinson

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From: DWP freedom-of-information-requests
Department for Work and Pensions

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From: DWP freedom-of-information-requests
Department for Work and Pensions


Attachment FoI 499 26.02.13.pdf
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Dear J Atkinson

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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From: J Atkinson

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pension's handling of my FOI request 'DWP Fraud department visits at Jobcentre Plus South Wales'.

Mt reasons are as follows

Firstly I am very surprised and dissapointed this response took so long. Why was it left to he last possible moment to respond when instead of providing clear answers I have obviously just gotten generic cut n paste waffle. I left it thinking you would be responding properly, instead you seems to have attempted to be as vague and indirect as possible.

re Q1
I asked specifically
''Was there a visit or visits and if so how many?
and how many staff visited and on what dates?''
This has not been answered, instead I just got a generic non specific reply.
So I would like a list of specific dates for visits to this and the other jobcentres in South wales over the last 2 years

re Q2
I am assuming an exemption is claimed on this question but I feel it is in the public interest for taxpayers to know weather this was a general visit or one specifically in relation to specific suspicions.

Re Q3
you have stated that staff leaving or 'changing roles' was not due to the visit by the fraud dept staff.
Can you tell me then why a manager and a number of staff would suddenly leave directly following this visit? also if staff there suddenly sounded afraid and guarded saying they cant talk about it something must have gone on. Why were these staff suddenly not there.
How many left and/or changed roles to another workplace? I think we have a right to know why public servants are there one day and not the next, particularly if current staff have obviously been told not to say anything! Why would that be?

re Q4
No answer provided. A manager has alot of responsibility and its in the public/taxpayers interest to be able to say if a manager has left, moved or was sacked.

Re Q5
Not answered, please answer. Also please state how many cases of fraud have been successfully investigated over the last 2 years across south wales jobcentres please.

Re Q6
Not answered, please answer yes or no. If yes provide copies of all dis-closeable documentation.

Re Q7/8
The response is unclear. you state fraud dept staff can sit in on appointments if there is 'a clear business need to do so'. What was the business need in these cases for that visit to Pontypool?
Its my understanding that if a client has an appointment with an advisor then that appointment is pre-arranged private and confidential. Is this not the case? please provide a clear specific answer to that.
If so then you need to request consent and agreement for any other type of meetings do you not?
If not why would you assume consent for that meeting, particularly as it would seem any such meeting would be based on a lie to the client.

You have also stated that ''the DWP Fraud Investigation Service is to identify/investigate benefit fraud by customers''
Therefor can you confirm that for those who had one of these staff sitting in on their private appointments, were they all being investigated? or only some of them?

NB please do not claim this information is exempt as claimants have the right to know whether or not they are being investigated. If you think otherwise then is this not a form of entrapment or coercion by deception.
Please explain why this would not be outside of the Civil service code of conduct found here (http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-conten...)

This states as well as the other points therin,
(6) You must:
always act in a way that is professional and that deserves and retains the confidence of all those with whom you have dealings

Re Q9, not answered, please answer.
Re Q10 not answered, nothing provided. Please answer and provide material if it exists.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dw...

Yours faithfully,

J Atkinson

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From: DWP freedom-of-information-requests
Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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From: DWP OPD COO FOI Requests
Department for Work and Pensions


Attachment Review IR 219 response.pdf
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To J Atkinson
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
 
 
 
DWP Freedom of Information Request Team
 
 
 
 
 

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From: J Atkinson

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'DWP Fraud department visits at Jobcentre Plus South Wales'.

Complaint
I requested a review and I did not get one. Instead what I got was just clear obfuscation by yourselves, outside of the public interest and spirit of the FOI act.
I belive you have falsly hidden behind an exemption stating that you do not have to answer because these fraud visits may lead to crminal prosecutions.
However I have it on good authority (from staff) that no prosecutions are planned or were even contemplated due to there being no evidence found. If this is the case then you need to answer the FOI questions put to you. Do you have any proceedings ongoing? if not then you need to comply.
Also you conducted these extra unrelated fraud staff sit ins for private and confidential appoitments without requesting the consent of the customer first it seems. I know of two cases where this is so and no proceeding were bought against them! Therfore you are in breach.
Please comply with my FOI questions properly

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dw...

Yours faithfully,

J Atkinson

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From: DWP freedom-of-information-requests
Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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From: Operations FOI Requests
Department for Work and Pensions


Attachment Review Response 446.pdf
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Dear J Atkinson,

 

Please find attached DWP response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

DWP Operations

FOI Team

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