How do we investigate?

We work with the Department for Work and Pensions who can use many legal powers to help us check whether fraud has been committed.

  • We match our records with data held by other organisations
  • We can watch to check where someone is living or if they're working
  • If we have proof to show that fraud may have been committed, we carry out interviews under caution in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

What happens when we catch someone committing fraud?

If fraud has been proved, you'll have to pay back any money you shouldn't have had.

If you've been interviewed under caution, we use the information from the interview and any other evidence to decide on further action.

If you’re called for an interview under caution and don’t attend, we make the decision on further action based on the evidence we already have.

There are three actions we can take:

Local Authority Caution

We offer a caution in less serious cases, but only when someone admits fraud and shows regret for it.

The caution is a warning given by the council and offered instead of going to court.

It's like a police caution but doesn't give you a criminal record. The caution is noted on a national database and stands for five years.

If you accept the caution, we won’t take any further action. But if you refuse it, we may consider taking you to court.

Administrative penalty

This is a fixed fine offered instead of going to court – it has to be paid as well as paying back the overpaid benefit.

There is no right of appeal against the penalty.

If you refuse the penalty offer, we may then consider court action.

Although this penalty is instead of prosecution, we can still take you to the civil court if you don’t repay both the overpaid benefit and the penalty.


If the fraud is serious, we may take you to court.

Our Legal Services team will decide this.

Cases begin in the Magistrates Court, but if a case is very serious it can be passed to Crown Court.

When we record a caution, administrative penalty or successful court case, the Department for Work and Pensions can also decide to cut or stop your benefits for a fixed period.

All our successful court cases go in the local press and on the internet, which helps to deter people from committing fraud.

For more information, visit - Benefit fraud.

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Last updated: Fri 5 November, 2021 @ 12:39