Benefits prosecution policy

Summary of Prosecution Policy

We have a duty to administer claims for Housing and Council Tax Reduction. This includes a responsibility to prevent and detect Benefit fraud.

As part of our commitment to protect public funds, Tamworth Borough Council will consider prosecuting people suspected of committing fraud. This is when we feel the evidence will support a prosecution and action would be in the public interest.

When considering whether it is appropriate to instigate proceedings, we will decide if there is clear and accurate evidence of an offence, if the explanation given by the defendant is credible in the light of the evidence and whether the evidence supports an innocent explanation.

In deciding whether "public interest" is best served by a prosecution, the financial amount and length of time over which the offence was carried out will also be considered. We will consider any evidence of previous fraudulent claims, and if an offender has abused their position of trust within the authority.

Alternatives to prosecution are a Local Authority Caution, which is an oral warning given in certain circumstances to a person who has committed an offence. Any cases selected for caution must have evidence to prove the offence.

An administration penalty can also be considered, which is equivalent to 50% of the overpayment. Again, there must be sufficient evidence to prove the offence.

In all cases where an overpayment has occurred, recovery will be sought in accordance with the Overpayments/Debt Recovery strategy.

Following successful prosecution, the authority will issue a press release, giving details of the prosecution, in order to deter potential fraudsters.