HC Deb 24 March 1998 vol 309 c119W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guidance has been issued in relation to Benefits Agency involvement in police road blocks; and if she will make a statement. [33599]

Mr. Keith Bradley

Tackling fraud is central to rebuilding integrity in, and commanding public support for, a modern security system. The Government welcome properly conducted multi-agency initiatives which have a valuable role to play in countering abuse. Questions on Benefit Agency operational matters are the responsibility of the Chief Executive, Peter Mathison. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Riggs to Mr. Alan Beith, dated 23 March 1998: The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked Peter Mathison to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about guidance issued in relation to Benefits Agency (BA) involvement in police road blocks. As Mr. Mathison is away from the office on leave, I am replying. Comprehensive guidance was issued to staff on 4 September 1995 and provided precise instructions concerning the procedures and conduct for fraud staff taking part in multi-agency road stops initiatives. The main issues covered within the guidance, refer to the criteria which should exist if BA staff are to participate in police road blocks. The instructions advised staff of the types and format of questions which can be used, the procedures to be followed where suspicion exists, any powers which staff can employ, types of clothing and identification, as well as the procedures for informing the driver of their rights. These instructions were updated during February 1997 and will be incorporated into the Fraud Investigators Guide, which will be issued to staff at the start of the next financial year. I hope you find this reply helpful.