HC Deb 05 November 2002 vol 392 c203W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officers in his Department and officers authorised by him he estimates will be permitted to seek access to communications data as defined in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; how many times his Department or such officials sought access to such data from communications providers including Internet service providers under the Data Protection Act 1998 in the last year; and if he will make a statement. [74478]

Malcolm Wicks

The Department is currently making use of powers under the Social Security Fraud Act 2001 which allow authorised officers to require information, including communications data, from the financial, utility and educational sectors to find evidence of fraud. Powers like these will help us continue our crackdown on fraud and make sure that the right benefits go to the right people.

These powers were commenced on 30 April 2002 and 114 officers have so far been authorised by my right hon. Friend. This is in line with our commitment made during passage of the legislation that there would be no more than 300 authorised officers in the department at any one time. In addition, 66 local authority officers have been authorised by their chief executives or chief finance officers.

Information is not held centrally on the number of requests made for data under the Data Protection Act 1998, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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