‘Council cops’ plan branded draconian: Southend councillor hits out at way benefit cheats are being handled

Southend Standard: Concerned – Julian Ware-Lane Concerned – Julian Ware-Lane

PLANS for “council cops” to raid houses and seize assets have been branded “draconian”.

Julian Ware-Lane, Labour councillor for Milton, has criticised Southend Council’s plans to give counter-fraud teams new powers to carry out investigations independently of the police.

Council officers would be able to access the electoral role and Tesco Clubcard records, execute search warrants and seize assets that could be the proceeds of crime or benefit fraud.

Speaking at a Southend Council meeting, Mr Ware-Lane said: “In the last year benefit fraud and error accounted for 2.1 per cent of total benefit expenditure, ensuring the recovery of this public money is of top priority.

However, giving council employees these powers seem draconian, unnecessary and a duplication of the proper authority and procedures of the police.”

The council has had the ability to strengthen its officers’ hands since 1985, but is only now looking to activate the powers.

Mr Ware-Lane, who is a member of the council’s audit committee, which discussed the plans last year, said: “We can all agree benefit cheats must be caught and punished, and public money recovered, but these proposals leaves me distinctly uneasy.

“Entering people’s homes, executing warrants and seizing property should be carried out in the proper manner, by the proper authorities.

“The police are accountable to the judiciary and a number of other public bodies, these new ‘council cops’ are expected to have all the powers, but where is the accountability?”

Paul Collins, Lib Dem chairman of the council’s audit committee, backed the plan.

The councillor, who represents Westborough, said: “It’s appropriate the right authorities pursue this and it’s not always left to the police.

“The council officers are accountable to the judiciary for their actions, as you would expect.”

Quoting from the committee’s report recommending the powers, he added: “This will significantly enhance the counter fraud team’s ability in detecting, preventing and deterring fraud and corruption in all areas of the council.”

Comments (18)

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11:24am Wed 5 Mar 14

profondo asbo says...

hands up who believes those benefit fraud stats...
hands up who believes those benefit fraud stats... profondo asbo
  • Score: -3

11:53am Wed 5 Mar 14

ThisYear says...

Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings.

The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages
Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages ThisYear
  • Score: 6

12:31pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Howard Cháse says...

Tesco clubcard points? What about Nectar Points and Co-Op Divi?
Tesco clubcard points? What about Nectar Points and Co-Op Divi? Howard Cháse
  • Score: 0

12:41pm Wed 5 Mar 14

pembury53 says...

profondo asbo wrote:
hands up who believes those benefit fraud stats...
I think the caveat there is quote "fraud and error" so 2% of the 2.1% could be error then ?
[quote][p][bold]profondo asbo[/bold] wrote: hands up who believes those benefit fraud stats...[/p][/quote]I think the caveat there is quote "fraud and error" so 2% of the 2.1% could be error then ? pembury53
  • Score: 1

1:22pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Alekhine says...

ThisYear wrote:
Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages
I wonder who would pay for that.
[quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages[/p][/quote]I wonder who would pay for that. Alekhine
  • Score: 2

4:17pm Wed 5 Mar 14

ThisYear says...

Alekhine wrote:
ThisYear wrote:
Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages
I wonder who would pay for that.
The council maybe...they can use public money to save public money...
[quote][p][bold]Alekhine[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages[/p][/quote]I wonder who would pay for that.[/p][/quote]The council maybe...they can use public money to save public money... ThisYear
  • Score: 3

4:24pm Wed 5 Mar 14

jolllyboy says...

This is way over the top, come on if the council cannot detect fraud by covert means they should not be allowed these powers because they are likely to be mis-used. Just think if someone says something a councillor doesnt like - in they go! The police are there for a reason. noone should accept a civilian copper. PCSO's are not allowed these rights so noone else should.
This is way over the top, come on if the council cannot detect fraud by covert means they should not be allowed these powers because they are likely to be mis-used. Just think if someone says something a councillor doesnt like - in they go! The police are there for a reason. noone should accept a civilian copper. PCSO's are not allowed these rights so noone else should. jolllyboy
  • Score: 8

4:32pm Wed 5 Mar 14

John Bull 40 says...

Is this councillor for real, who is he worried about people who fiddle benefits?
Is this councillor for real, who is he worried about people who fiddle benefits? John Bull 40
  • Score: -5

5:34pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Living the La Vida Legra says...

Why not? Get rid of the spongers = less tax
As a tax payer I am over the moon that benefits are being cut
Why not? Get rid of the spongers = less tax As a tax payer I am over the moon that benefits are being cut Living the La Vida Legra
  • Score: -4

9:49pm Wed 5 Mar 14

abd123 says...

The fraud and error percentage is what was discovered. There is no way of knowing what fraudulent claims were not discovered because the Coucil has not got the necessary powers and nobody else is going to investigate. When you see so many reports of how people cheat the system for many years the more investigation the better for society, but bad news for cheats. They would only have time to use these powers when there is good reason to.
The fraud and error percentage is what was discovered. There is no way of knowing what fraudulent claims were not discovered because the Coucil has not got the necessary powers and nobody else is going to investigate. When you see so many reports of how people cheat the system for many years the more investigation the better for society, but bad news for cheats. They would only have time to use these powers when there is good reason to. abd123
  • Score: -3

11:30pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Kim Gandy says...

ThisYear wrote:
Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings.

The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages
....and again in English.

Do you practice talking blx or does it come naturally?
[quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages[/p][/quote]....and again in English. Do you practice talking blx or does it come naturally? Kim Gandy
  • Score: -5

11:32pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Kim Gandy says...

Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish.

The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again.

Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us.

I'd go much further...
Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish. The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again. Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us. I'd go much further... Kim Gandy
  • Score: -7

11:40pm Wed 5 Mar 14

emcee says...

jolllyboy wrote:
This is way over the top, come on if the council cannot detect fraud by covert means they should not be allowed these powers because they are likely to be mis-used. Just think if someone says something a councillor doesnt like - in they go! The police are there for a reason. noone should accept a civilian copper. PCSO's are not allowed these rights so noone else should.
Absolutely. The police are only able to carry out their tasks by consent of the governed and have to take an oath to serve the queen and to uphold the law. PCSOs are civilian assistants (albeit in a uniform) to the police and do not, and cannot, have the same powers because of this. Likewise, these "council cops" (a tabloid reference if ever there was one) cannot do anything beyond the boundries that already exsist in constitutional law.
As for obtaining personally identifiable information from data sources (loyalty cards etc), which are considered private under the Data Protection Act, I think that the council will be treading on dodgy ground, as will Tesco (and other private sources of data) should they release said data. This could and, IMO, should lead to prosecutions under the DPA for said contraventions of such privacy.
[quote][p][bold]jolllyboy[/bold] wrote: This is way over the top, come on if the council cannot detect fraud by covert means they should not be allowed these powers because they are likely to be mis-used. Just think if someone says something a councillor doesnt like - in they go! The police are there for a reason. noone should accept a civilian copper. PCSO's are not allowed these rights so noone else should.[/p][/quote]Absolutely. The police are only able to carry out their tasks by consent of the governed and have to take an oath to serve the queen and to uphold the law. PCSOs are civilian assistants (albeit in a uniform) to the police and do not, and cannot, have the same powers because of this. Likewise, these "council cops" (a tabloid reference if ever there was one) cannot do anything beyond the boundries that already exsist in constitutional law. As for obtaining personally identifiable information from data sources (loyalty cards etc), which are considered private under the Data Protection Act, I think that the council will be treading on dodgy ground, as will Tesco (and other private sources of data) should they release said data. This could and, IMO, should lead to prosecutions under the DPA for said contraventions of such privacy. emcee
  • Score: 10

11:57pm Wed 5 Mar 14

jayman says...

I wouldn't Trust southend council to; build a cafe in a park, put books in a brand new library or plant a palm tree on a beach. Forgive my unease when trusting southend council with privacy and civil liberties...
I wouldn't Trust southend council to; build a cafe in a park, put books in a brand new library or plant a palm tree on a beach. Forgive my unease when trusting southend council with privacy and civil liberties... jayman
  • Score: 6

12:05am Thu 6 Mar 14

jayman says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish.

The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again.

Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us.

I'd go much further...
Typical tory! Elaborately throws teddy in the corner when confronted with a well reasoned and proportionate opinion based on sound judgement and holistically respected civil liberties.
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish. The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again. Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us. I'd go much further...[/p][/quote]Typical tory! Elaborately throws teddy in the corner when confronted with a well reasoned and proportionate opinion based on sound judgement and holistically respected civil liberties. jayman
  • Score: 4

7:53am Thu 6 Mar 14

carnmountyouknowitmakessense says...

A muscle firm like the good old LBS parking enforcement team, would be able to meet the critirea for this job.
A muscle firm like the good old LBS parking enforcement team, would be able to meet the critirea for this job. carnmountyouknowitmakessense
  • Score: 1

8:03am Thu 6 Mar 14

profondo asbo says...

jayman wrote:
Kim Gandy wrote:
Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish.

The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again.

Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us.

I'd go much further...
Typical tory! Elaborately throws teddy in the corner when confronted with a well reasoned and proportionate opinion based on sound judgement and holistically respected civil liberties.
from the party that gave us benefits britain. pay tribute to those trying to sort out the mess on your way to confession.
[quote][p][bold]jayman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: Typical Labour. Gobs off about his unease about seizing goods and executing warrants and entering homes... sez he who belongs to the party that invented Big Brother on a massive scale and thought nothing of persecuting people just for putting out the wrong type of rubbish. The Hypocrisy party at its most strident again. Quite right, take back goods to the same value these people have thieved from the rest of us. I'd go much further...[/p][/quote]Typical tory! Elaborately throws teddy in the corner when confronted with a well reasoned and proportionate opinion based on sound judgement and holistically respected civil liberties.[/p][/quote]from the party that gave us benefits britain. pay tribute to those trying to sort out the mess on your way to confession. profondo asbo
  • Score: 2

12:56pm Thu 6 Mar 14

ThisYear says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
ThisYear wrote:
Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings.

The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages
....and again in English.

Do you practice talking blx or does it come naturally?
Kim you feel my post you quoted is written on a foreign language?

How long have you been having these difficulties?

I do believe that some people after trauma speak with a different accent than they had before trauma...any help?
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: Next you will have the binmen able to perform weddings. The council needs to know that a 'civilian' police service could follow in the same format using the same route to scrutinise them and their dealings..and maybe their wages[/p][/quote]....and again in English. Do you practice talking blx or does it come naturally?[/p][/quote]Kim you feel my post you quoted is written on a foreign language? How long have you been having these difficulties? I do believe that some people after trauma speak with a different accent than they had before trauma...any help? ThisYear
  • Score: 0

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