§ Mr. Fortescue
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what qualifications are required in special investigation officers in his department; how these officers are chosen; what is the lower age limit; what are their duties; by what authority they enter and search premises; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Crossman
Special investigators are ordinary officers of the Department who are used for making enquiries into cases of suspected fraud on supplementary benefit where the investigation requires more time and attention than an officer in a local office can give to them in addition to his normal duties. There is no lower age limit, but because of the need for experience very young officers are not selected. The youngest officer in post is aged 24. On first appointment a special investigator is given a spell of training during which he works with experienced officers before taking cases on his own.
Special investigators have been operating since 1954. There are 145 of them in the whole of Great Britain. They work under the control of the Regional Offices. They have no special powers, and are not to be confused with inspectors appointed under Section 90 of the National Insurance Act who are mainly concerned with enforcing compliance with the contribution requirements of the insurance scheme, and who have a legal right to enter places where employment is carried on (other than private dwelling houses) and to require information to be given by persons in those places.