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COUNCIL'S ANTI-FRAUD WORK ROLLED OUT ACROSS LONDON

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Greenwich LBC has welcomed the announcement that its innovative anti-fraud partnership with the police is being rol...
Greenwich LBC has welcomed the announcement that its innovative anti-fraud partnership with the police is being rolled out across London.

Since April 2003 a police officer has been based at the Council and so far has helped to uncover over£1.5million of fraud.

This groundbreaking partnership, which is believed to be the first of its type in the country, has led to 69 arrests and the recovery of 15 council properties from fraudulent tenants.

The Council has won national awards for its anti-fraud work, including an award for innovation from the National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector.

Following the success of the scheme, the Metropolitan Police has offered all London boroughs the chance to carry out a similar scheme.

Now eight London boroughs, including Lambeth and Lewisham, have agreed funding to follow the Greenwich model and bring in a police officer to work side-by-side with council officers.

Leader of Greenwich Council Chris Roberts said: 'I am pleased that eight boroughs across London will soon be able to benefit from the excellent anti-fraud working that has been happening in Greenwich over the last couple of years.

'We take fraud extremely seriously in the borough because people who fraudulently claim benefits are taking money that could be used for frontline services.

'You only have to look at our results to see that having a police officer operating within the council has worked really well for us, and I am sure it will work just as well for the other authorities that are now getting on board.'

Each council will pay half of the£100,000 annual cost of the partnership, but if they follow Greenwich's success then it will be good value for money. In the first year alone, the police officer helped uncover over£500,000 of fraud.

Among the high profile cases the partnership in Greenwich has brought to court was a South African diamond dealer who was discovered with fake passports, a stun gun and bags of fake diamonds. Despite being the owner of a sporty BMW, he was illegally claiming over 130,000 of housing, council tax, and other benefits.

Notes

-The figures quoted do not include the amount of fraud uncovered by the department as a whole, but just the work the officer has been involved in.

-Among the fraud uncovered were council tax and housing benefit fraud, student loan fraud, and fraudulent council tenancies.

-Greenwich Council has been shortlisted for the IRRV Fraud Team of the Year in 2002, 03 and 04, winning the title in 2002.

-Following Greenwich Council's recent success in uncovering fraud, it has been given the contract for anti-fraud work in Bromley as well.

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