§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people have been(a) prosecuted and (b) convicted of social security fraud in each of the last five years; 
(2) how many people who have been convicted of social security fraud in each of the past five years had a previous conviction for social security fraud. 
§ Mr. Rooker
[pursuant to his reply, 11 December 2000, c. 48–49W]: The information is in the table.
Sanctions for benefit fraud Year Prosecutions Cautions and penalties as an alternative to prosecution Total 1995–96 10,677 — 10,677 1996–97 12,863 — 12,863 1997–98 12,009 — 12,009 1998–99 11,185 2,835 14,020 1999–2000 9,977 12,332 22,309
The figures do not include sanctions for benefit fraud by authorities administering housing and council tax benefits. Penalties as an alternative to prosecution were introduced by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act with effect from December 1998.
Information on the number of prosecutions resulting in convictions is currently available only in respect of Benefit Fraud Investigation Service prosecutions in the years 1997–98 and 1998–99—in both years 99 per cent. of such prosecutions were successful.
Our research suggests that approximately 5 per cent. of prosecutions involve a person with a previous conviction for benefit fraud. We are putting in place mechanisms to identify second and further convictions.