Agenda item

Counter Fraud & Investigation Quarterly Update (Q3)


Phil Butt presented the report that outlined the performance of the Counter Fraud and Investigation team over the last quarter for Thurrock Council as well as the work the team have delivered nationally for other public bodies.


Councillor Carter thanked Phil Butt for the report and welcomed the proactive work that was being undertaken and referred to page 115 of the report, Proactive Work Plan, Training of high-risk areas in counter fraud measures and questioned whether this was a long course or for multiple people to be trained over this time. Phil Butt stated this was on-going due to changes in staff, changes to legislation, having time to adapt to those changes and it was important to keep running the training.


Councillor Collins referred to page 110 of the report, paragraph 3.1 and referred to the two sanctions that had been delivered in cases of proven fraud and questioned what was meant by sanctions. Phil Butt stated there were many examples of a sanction which could mean that someone had been taken to court criminally or a case that had been referred to HR where a parallel investigation had taken place for a member of staff who had been dismissed, or a property recovered.


Councillor Collins referred to page 110 of the report, paragraph 3.1 and referred to the 91 investigations currently being conducted by the CFI team and questioned whether these were Thurrock based and were there any other cases on top of this number to which Phil Butt stated he did not have this number to hand but would confirm the number and respond to members.


Councillor Collins questioned what it would take to trigger a fraud investigation to which Phil Butt stated there were different methods in which allegations were received such as the whistleblowing scheme, through another law enforcement agency such as the Police, another local authority or from a member of the public.


Councillor Ononaji referred to page 110 of the report and referenced that Housing were at the top of all the tables in relation to suspected fraud cases and questioned why housing fraud was so high and what was being done differently to reduce fraud in the housing section. Phil Butt stating the reason was that housing was a big part of the council in the services that they private to the public and not all reports that were received may not be fraud. Over the past couple of years had worked very proactive with the housing department in terms of the comms that were sent out and continued to work very closely with the housing officers offering training and making visits with them to properties. In relation to prevention this was around working with the housing department and undertaking housing audits which had now started again following the Covid lockdown.


Charles Clarke referred to page 110 of the report referred to the 66 reports of suspected fraud and the 38 investigations that had been closed this quarter and questioned whether the value of detected fraud was part of the 66 reports or as part of those on-going investigations. Phil Butt stated this was part of the on-going as some cases could take a year or more to get to court. Charles Clarke questioned whether this also formed part of the 91 investigations to which Phil Butt stated the 91 was the number that was currently being investigated.


Lisa Laybourn referred to serious organised crime and the council’s anti money laundering policies and questioned whether there were any additional risks in the current situation with Russia and whether work plans had been adjusted in response of this. Phil Butt stated the current risk with Russia were more cyber related and the likely increase in mandated fraud. The council had its own cyber team who worked behind the scenes on assisting the council to ensure their systems were watertight. The council also worked alongside other enforcement agencies and to be able to look to see what was happening in other areas.




The Standard and Audit Committee notes on the performance of the Counter Fraud & Investigation service.


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