§ Ms Ruddock
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security on how many occasions social security fraud was detected in the London borough of Lewisham in each of the past five years; how many claimants were proceeded against; and, of these, how many were convicted by the courts.
§ Mr. Hague
The administration of Fraud detection is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Letter from M. Bichard to Ms Joan Ruddock dated 4 November 1993:As Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions raised about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security, asking on how many occasions social security fraud was detected in the London Borough of Lewisham in each of the past five years; how many claimant were proceeded against; and of these, how many were convicted by the courts.You should note that although I have provided statistics for the Fraud Sector based at Lewisham, that office's boundaries do not correspond with county or borough boundaries and the figures 586W provided include some customers living in the London Borough of Greenwich and to a lesser extent the London Borough of Southwark.The Sector Fraud organisation has only been in existence since January 1991 and therefore the first full year for which figures are available is the year ending 31 March 1992. In that year there were a total of 3,563 social security investigations into fraud and 40 prosecutions by the Fraud Sector at Lewisham. For the year ending March 1993 there were a total of 4,351 investigations into fraud and 38 prosecutions. For this year to date there have been 1,766 investigations and 13 prosecutions.Information on the number of convictions from those prosecutions is not available, but I can tell you that the rate of conviction by the Courts dealing with Social Security fraud prosecutions is in excess of 97 per cent. of those cases in which proceedings are taken.I hope you find this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will be placed in the Library.