Anti fraud and corruption strategy
What is fraud?
Fraud is any intentional false representation, including failure to declare information or abuse of position. Which is carried out to make gain, cause loss or expose another to the risk of loss.
How to report a concern
Confidential hotline: Freephone – 0800 528 0294
There are many ways to raise a concern:
For further advice on any fraud issues or to report a fraud please contact one of the following:
You can also email us on email@example.com for any housing fraud or illegal sub-letting.
Anti-fraud strategy's aim
This strategy outlines the council’s commitment and approach to tackling both internal and external fraud, including roles and responsibilities.
It applies to councillors, employees, agency workers, contractors, partners, consultants, suppliers and service users.
The strategy is designed to:
- encourage prevention
- promote transparency
- ensure effective investigation where suspected fraud or corruption has occurred
- prosecute offenders where appropriate and proportionate to do so
- close system weaknesses as they are identified
- publicise success to act as a deterrent
- revise controls with Internal Audit and Management.
This Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy links into the National Fraud Strategy, “Fighting Fraud Locally”.
It provides a strategic approach for Local Authorities to tackle fraud, by Acknowledging and seeking to understand fraud risks.
Preventing and detecting more fraud and pursuing those who commit fraud against the authority by prosecuting and seeking financial redress to recover losses.
This strategy outlines how the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) will deliver this commitment and provides advice on how individuals and organisations may raise concerns relating to fraud and corruption.
Roles and responsibilities
The council is an ethical organisation and requires that it’s elected Members, staff, inclusive of permanent and temporary workers, agency workers and contractors and all individuals and organisations associated with it to be honest and fair in their dealings with the council and its service users.
Members and managers are expected to lead by example in this regard, observing the Principles of the Nolan Committee into Standards in Public Life:
- Selflessness: Holders of public office take decisions in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
- Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in their performance of their official duties.
- Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
- Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
- Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
- Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
- Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principals by leadership and example.
Employees have a critical role to play in the prevention of fraud and corruption. Employees who suspect a fraud or irregularity have a duty to report their concerns.
Where such concerns exist, individuals are asked to make a note of all relevant details, such as what was said in phone or other conversations, when these conversations took place and the names of anyone involved.
The matter should be reported immediately to either your:
- Line Manager
- Head of Service
- Divisional Director
- Corporate Director
Employees must not do any of the following:
- Contact the suspected perpetrator in an effort to determine facts or demand restitution
- Discuss the case facts, suspicions or allegations with anyone outside the council (including the Press)
- Discuss the case with anyone within the council other than those listed.
We will try to deter people from committing fraud by:
- Publicising that the council will not tolerate fraud and corruption, demonstrated by this anti-fraud & corruption strategy and the whistleblowing policy.
- Encouraging a strong anti-fraud culture amongst its employees and councillors. As well as providing easy and effective ways to report suspicions of fraud or corruption.
- When fraud/corruption are identified, we will conduct complete and thorough investigations. We will take decisive action if allegations are proven, such as:
- civil actions and financial recovery through the Proceeds of Crime Act, where appropriate.
- Working with the communications team to publicise the successful outcomes in combating fraud and corruption.
- Deploying robust systems of internal control to mitigate the opportunity for fraud and corruption on an on-going basis.
- Developing and delivering general and tailored fraud awareness sessions to council employees and its partner Tower Hamlets Homes.
- Maintaining fraud awareness presentations and e-learning for all officers.
We employ a range of control mechanisms within our systems, policies and procedures in order to mitigate the risk of fraud and corruption.
Chief Officers and managers are the key management control and are responsible for assessing the risk of fraud and corruption in their operational area
As such are responsible for implementing appropriate strategies in order to manage this risk.
The Head of Audit and Risk Management is responsible for both Risk Management and Counter-Fraud and Investigation.
While these two operational functions are distinct from the main assurance role of Internal Audit.
All three work together to promote and advise on key actions that can be taken to aid in the prevention of fraud and corruption against the council.
The council has a robust Whistleblowing procedure and our Financial Regulations require employees to report any suspected cases of fraud or corruption appropriately.
The council participates in a range of data matching exercises to detect fraud including:
- The National Fraud Initiative currently managed by the Cabinet Office
- Undertaking internal data – matching exercises utilising data held by the council.
- Working in partnership with local authorities, the National Anti-Fraud Network, government bodies and the commercial sector
- Sample transaction and control testing as part of Internal Audit reviews undertaken as part of the on-going Internal Audit Plan.
We are committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability.
Therefore, the council expects all councillors, employees, contractors, partners and suppliers to raise any concerns they may have about standards of probity in any aspect of the council’s work.
This Fraud Response Plan sets out the responsibilities of stakeholders and provides guidance for the action that should be taken in relation to suspected instances of theft, bribery, fraud or corruption involving the council’s funds and assets or those that the council administers on behalf of others.
What to do when fraud, bribery or corruption is suspected
The Corporate Anti-Fraud team is responsible for the investigation of allegations of fraud and corruption against the council.
Each allegation will be considered on its individual merits and a decision made on the most appropriate way to proceed with any investigation, this may include:
- Criminal or civil investigation by the council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team.
- Internal examination as part of an Internal Audit review.
- Dedicated internal fraud investigation.
- Management investigation overseen by the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team.
- All allegations will be logged and risk assessed by the Intel Team Leader and reviewed by Corporate Anti-Fraud Manager.
- If it is considered the allegation requires further investigation, a lead Investigating Officer will be appointed. This officer will be suitably trained and experienced in undertaking fraud investigations to a prosecution standard by our internal Legal Service
- The investigator will prepare an investigation plan and agree a scope of work with a nominated manager in the department where the investigation is being completed.
Investigations into allegations
As part of any investigation, the council will ensure that:
- Any allegation is dealt with promptly, confidentially and fairly.
- The investigation will be undertaken against an agreed scoping brief and be compliant with existing procedures and legislative guidelines.
- All records, assets and correspondence will be held securely and if it is believed that computer records are held that are relevant to the investigation these will be secured for analysis.
- If email data is considered appropriate to access in order to take the investigation forward this will be approved by the Head of Audit and Risk Management before access is granted.
- The investigation will be undertaken with a view to obtaining evidence to a criminal standard.
- Where sufficient evidence leads to belief that criminal action should be considered a referral will be made to the councils Legal Service for consideration to prosecute.
- Where abuse identifies system breaches or other weaknesses these will be reported upon and suggestions for improvement made.
- Human Resources and/or the Corporate Director of Law and Governance are consulted where appropriate.
- All evidence that has been collected is stored securely and recorded appropriately.
- Any interviews undertaken are conducted fairly and in line with appropriate legislation such as the Police & Criminal Evidence Act.
- Relevant Chief Officers and Managers are informed of the progress of the investigation as appropriate.
- All investigations are conducted in a timely manner, in-line with the Criminal Procedures & Investigations Act, and the Human Rights Act.
As part of the investigation the council will consider whether:
- Disciplinary action will be taken against any employee involved
- Civil or criminal prosecution action should be instigated
- The matter should be referred to the Police
- Changes are required to improve the systems and controls of the affected area to improve effective governance and reduce further risk to fraud or impropriety
- Any other action should be recommended
At the conclusion of an investigation, the investigating officer will report the findings to the relevant managers, Chief Officer and Human Resources.
Any disciplinary action considered will be in compliance with Human Resources policy and procedures. Where necessary, the individual who is subject to investigation will be informed of the outcome in writing and will be advised of what action, if any is to be taken.
Where it is found that a fraud has been committed against the council we will make recommendations to ensure that any control weaknesses which provided the opportunity for the fraud are addressed and followed up as part of the Internal Audit review cycle.
Disciplinary procedures and suspension from work
Where investigations result in a case of breaches of the appropriate council Code of Conduct there may be occasions when ‘prima facie’ a disciplinary investigation is appropriate.
The Investigating Officer will support this enquiry but it will be undertaken independently from the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team and led by HR. Where it is appropriate to consider suspension from work a decision will be made by Divisional Director, HR Business Partner and the Head of Audit and Risk Management.
Liaison with other organisations
The council will actively engage with other organisations, and develop and maintain strong links in its efforts to pursue and strengthen its anti-fraud and corruption strategy at both a local and national level.
The Corporate Anti-Fraud Team works with the Police, Local Authorities, the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, the DWP Home Office Immigration teams and central Government departments.
The council is an active user of the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN)services and will utilise the full range of intelligence and evidence gathering avenues to support its counter-fraud and investigation activity.
The council is a member of the London Borough Fraud Investigators Group(LBFIG), with the Corporate Anti-Fraud Manager being part of the LBFIG Executive Committee.
Where financial impropriety has been discovered, whether perpetrated by Officers, Members or third parties (e.g. suppliers, contractors, service providers), the Head of Audit & Risk Management will consult with the Corporate Director of Resources and Corporate Director of Law and Governance as appropriate.
They will form a view on whether the matter should be reported to the Police. In cases where matters are referred to the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service will determine whether or not a prosecution will be pursued.
Should matters be dealt with internally, a decision will be made in conjunction with Senior Management and Corporate HR on the most suitable course of action, in accordance with the councils Enforcement Policy, Members Code of Conduct, Employee Code of Conduct and the councils disciplinary procedure.
Suspected financial impropriety by any third party that the council has dealings with will be the subject of investigation. If proven, this may result in the termination of individual contracts and may result in prosecution or civil action.
Any matters considered for prosecution will be subject to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the Evidential Test and the Public Interest test. While each case is considered on its own merits, a consistent set of principles will be applied in forming the decision whether or not to prosecute.
In cases where fraud and/or corruption is proven, the council in-line with its Enforcement Policy, will consider instigating prosecution proceedings in conjunction with the Corporate Director of Law and Governance. Please see Enforcement Policy
Should matters that are referred to the Police be considered for prosecution, action will be instigated through the Crown Prosecution Service.
Recovery of losses
In proven cases of financial loss, the council will seek to recover all such losses through whatever means it considers appropriate. If the fraud was committed by an employee, the loss may be recovered from any monies due to the individual on termination of employment.
Where the opportunity exists and evidence is strong enough to utilise the services of the councils Financial Investigator this will be done to exercise recovery through the application of Proceeds of Crime action.
Review of internal controls
To prevent any recurrence of fraud, the system of internal control will be assessed to identify weaknesses that have allowed the fraud to occur.
The investigation report will highlight the system failures and make recommendations for improvements which will be included in an action plan for agreement with the relevant Head of Service.
The Corporate Anti-Fraud Manager will liaise with the Internal Audit team to ensure that future audit plans and work programmes reflect identified control weaknesses.
Elected Members and directors have a significant role to play in the council’s corporate governance.
To facilitate this role, a summary of all fraud cases will be submitted on a regular basis to the Audit Committee and Statutory Officers Meetings.
Download the anti fraud and corruption strategy.