North East Lincolnshire Council Annual Fraud Report 2015/2016

The request was partially successful.

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

I refer to North East Lincolnshire Council's Annual Fraud Report 2015/2016 in which it states the following:

https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/wp-content/up...

"....Two employees have been dismissed for misconduct, although it should be noted that Internal Audit had a relatively a small role within this wider investigation. In seven cases there was either no case to answer or insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation further; "

I would like disclosing;

1. the period the above investigations into allegations of fraud were carried out, for example April 2015 to April 2016.

2. whether correspondence ( https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d... ) dated 21 April sent to the council refered to in this response ( http://legalbeagles.info/forums/showthre... ) was included in the in the seven cases referred to in the report and if so did it relate to the two employees who were dismissed for misconduct.

3. A brief description of all the matters investigated and/or link to relevant reports

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt (aka fFaudwAtch UK)

 

Further to our correspondence of July 6th, we consider that this request
2461/1617, along with the large number of related requests submitted over
the past 4 of years under your own name and pseudonyms such as fFaudwAtch
UK through the ‘whatdotheyknow’ website, form a campaign intended to
frustrate and challenge the Council’s ability to effectively administer
and collect Council Tax in accordance with the Local Government Finance
Act 1992.

 

Despite the Council answering and directing you to the information you
require, and signposting you to the established procedures in place to
formally challenge Council Tax decisions, you have continued to submit
regular and overlapping requests challenging the administration and
collection of Council Tax by the Council. This unreasonable persistence
and intransigence, is placing an unreasonable burden on the resources of
the Council. Further the inclusion in your requests of unfounded
accusations and the targeting of individuals addressing the issues you
have raised, appears to be a deliberate intention to personalise requests
and cause annoyance or distress. As your requests have no serious purpose
other than to continue your challenge of the Council’s administration of
Council Tax, I have determined by virtue of section 14 (1) of the Freedom
of Information Act that your request is vexatious in nature.

 

We will therefore not be responding to this request by virtue of section
14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

The Council will consider any future requests received, on a request by
request basis, but would again draw your attention to guidance issued by
the Information Commissioner’s Office regarding what you should and should
not do when making an information request, which is available on their
website: [1]https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/offici...

 

Please note that requests made to continue your campaign to challenge the
administration and collection of Council Tax by the Council, or which
target the processes or individuals that are in place to handle and
address your requests for information and complaints, will be refused in
accordance with section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of North East Lincolnshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'North East Lincolnshire Council Annual Fraud Report 2015/2016'.

It is not the first time I've asked NELC to refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations. I have always made doubly sure that any statements I do make can be fully supported and the council will know this. I suggest that the next time you think about making such assertions you bear this in mind.

If the council took the trouble to review every instance where it has tried to discredit me it will in all cases find that everything I have contended with regards the Council’s administration of Council Tax and established procedures has been correct. As such my requests do have serious purpose and in light of certain officers refusing to address the most recent injustice caused by the council there is even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

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

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt (aka fFaudwAtch UK)

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information request NEL/2461/1617.

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request, and determine that this has been in accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act, and your request was correctly refused on the basis of
Section 14 (1) of the Freedom Information Act.

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Feedback Officer

 

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Complaint to Information Commissioner's Office for the council's mishandling of this freedom of information request.

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
SK9 5AF

14 July 2016

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF FOI REQUEST NE LINC'S COUNCIL – REF NUMBER 2461-1617

I made a freedom of information request to North East Lincolnshire Council. The details can be found on the “what do they know” website at the following address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...
“North East Lincolnshire Council Annual Fraud Report 2015/2016”

BACKGROUND

North East Lincolnshire Council [redact] obtained a liability order by committing [redact]. There was no debt owing, however, the Council [redact] engineered a non-payment scenario. The Police, Local Government Ombudsman and judges are complicit because all of them have looked the other way when the matter brought to their attention.

The negligence of the organisations has enabled North East Lincolnshire Council unhindered to make further [redact] demands by appointing its [redact] bailiff firm Rossendales to enforce the liability order that was obtained by [redact] to the court about money that is not owed.

A formal complaint had been submitted to the Council which contained an allegation of [redact] but was dealt with through the corporate complaints procedure where the Council flatly refused to address it, asserting that the concerns raised fell outside the scope of the complaints process.

It was later discovered that the a member of the Council’s complaints team should have referred the matter to the Audit, Risk, Insurance and Corporate Fraud team immediately in accordance with the 'Fraud Response Plan’.

Correspondence was entered into with the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Mr Maione, to ensure that the [redact] allegations were investigated internally by the audit and assurance team as Humberside Police would not cooperate and refused to investigate. Mr Maione seemed reluctant to deal with the matter and implied a threat in an email sent 18 May 2016. Concerning the allegations his correspondence contained the following:

“You will no doubt appreciate that making allegations including [redact] which are found to be unsubstantiated and/or not evidenced is itself a serious matter."

The audit and assurance team claimed to have carried out a detailed investigation was which was reviewed by the head of audit and assurance (Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect) who concluded that, based on the evidence of the review, he had found no evidence that any [redact] activity had taken place and stated he would not be corresponding further on the issue.

Meanwhile, the [redact] charges continue increasing (currently around £540) and it is believed the internal investigation was a cover-up to protect the reputation of the council and those who, if the matter was investigated properly, would face serious consequences.

In light of the implied threat that was made prior to the investigation, it was viewed that if the investigation genuinely found no evidence that any fraudulent activity had taken place then there would be serious consequences for the person who had made the allegations.

It is believed that the council had no plans to act on its implied threat because the investigation was a sham. This is reinforced by Mr Maione stating he would not respond to further emails, and Mr Hanmer, that he would not be corresponding further on the issue when he was asked for details of the investigation.

On 11 July 2016 the local press announced (but without further details) that two council workers had been sacked over misconduct which had been set out in North East Lincolnshire Council’s Annual Fraud Report 2015/16. The content of interest stated as follows:

“Two employees have been dismissed for misconduct, although it should be noted that Internal Audit had a relatively a small role within this wider investigation. In seven cases there was either no case to answer or insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation further...”

The request referred to two emails, one sent to the council on 21 April 2016 and the council’s reply (contents below) dated 23 June 2016:

“As set out in previous correspondence from Mr Maione, the Council’s monitoring officer, the audit team has now reviewed the allegations contained in your email to me dated [21] April 2016 under the auspices of the Council’s whistleblowing policy. A review of all relevant correspondence, court papers and interviews with key officers has taken place as part of this process. It has been concluded that the actions taken by officers regarding your Council Tax account were correct based on the information and correspondence made available to them at the time, and we have found no evidence that any fraudulent activity has taken place.

I note your comments around the complaints policy and the fraud response plan in relation to the handling of complaints involving allegations of fraud and corruption and these will be considered when the Council updates both policies during 2016/17.”

FOI REQUEST – 13 JULY 2016

The Council was asked to disclose what information it held with regard to the period the investigations into allegations of fraud were carried out (for example April 2015 to April 2016) and whether correspondence (21 April) sent to the council referred to in its response (23 June) was included in the seven cases referred to in the report and if so did it relate to the two employees who were dismissed for misconduct. A brief description of all the matters investigated and/or link to relevant reports was also asked for.

RESPONSE – 13 JULY 2016

The Council determined the request vexatious and refused to provide the information under section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act as it considered the request had no serious purpose other than to continue challenging the Council’s administration of Council Tax, and so not intending or attempting to obtain any recorded information held by the Council. It stated further that the request included unfounded accusations.

REQUEST FOR INTERNAL REVIEW – 14 JULY 2016

The council was reminded that it was not the first time it was asked to refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations and that it was always made doubly sure that any statements made could be fully supported and the council would know this. It was suggested that the next time the council considered making such assertions it bore this in mind.

It was put to the council that if it took the trouble to review every instance where it has tried to discredit me it would in all cases find that everything I have contended with regards the Council’s administration of Council Tax etc., had been correct. And with that in mind the requests do have serious purpose and in light of certain officers refusing to address the most recent injustice it had caused there was even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

RESPONSE TO INTERNAL REVIEW – 14 JULY 2016

The response and the handling of the request was determined to have been in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the request correctly refused on the basis of Section 14 (1) of the Freedom Information Act.

Yours sincerely

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