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COPFS

DWP - Benefit Fraud

Freedom of information: DWP Benefit Fraud

Thank you for your e-mail of 7 January 2014 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in which you seek the following information:

"(1) in a recent response to an FOI request, the DWP advised that during the fiscal year 2012/13 1,233 persons were reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with alleged benefit fraud offences.

Please provide the following: 

(a) the number of persons against whom the PF took no action against

(b) the number of persons against whom proceedings have commenced, but not concluded

(c) the number of persons found (i) Not Guilty (ii) Not Proven (iii) Guilty

(d) the number of persons against whom the PF took an alternative to prosecution (including which alternatives and the numbers concerned)

(2) in a recent response to an FOI request, the DWP advised that during the fiscal year 2013/14 (to November 2013) 775 persons were reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with alleged
benefit  fraud  offences. Please provide the following: 

(a) the number of persons against whom the PF took no action against 

(b) the number of persons against whom proceedings have commenced, but not concluded

(c) the number of persons found (i) Not Guilty (ii) Not Proven (iii) Guilty

(d) the number of persons against whom the PF took an alternative to prosecution (including which alternatives and the numbers concerned)"

I have provided the information that you have requested at Annex A.

It may assist to explain that COPFS uses a live operational case management system, specifically designed to receive criminal and death reports from the police and other specialist reporting agencies and to manage the cases for prosecution purposes. The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes.

As the COPFS case management system does not record whether or not an alleged offence relates to benefit fraud in a manner which can be searched electronically, to enable us to identify the information you have requested, we would have to conduct a manual search of all of the cases reported to COPFS by the DWP to check whether or not they relate to benefit fraud. Section 1(1) of FOISA does not oblige a Scottish public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request exceeds a specified financial threshold, which is currently £600. We estimate that due to the volume of cases that would have to be manually considered, checking the relevant cases to comply with this request would exceed the £600
threshold. As such, the information provided outlines the total number of people reported to COPFS by the DWP.

In addition, you will note that, based on the information held in our case management system, the total number of people reported to COPFS by the DWP in the years specified is different from the information provided to you by DWP. Despite contact with the DWP, I have unfortunately been unable to ascertain the reason for the differing figures, however, I can assure you that the information provided is an accurate account of the information held on our case management system.

xlsBenefit Fraud - DWP - Annex A.xls27.5 KB