To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have been successfully prosecuted for benefit fraud in the last year for which figures are available, broken down into those prosecuted (a) for the first time, (b) for the second time and (c) for the third or subsequent time.
In 2000–01, 24,112 people were prosecuted or sanctioned by Benefits Agency fraud investigators and local authorities reported that they prosecuted or sanctioned 1,650 people 1 . These are more than double the numbers in 1997–98.
9,030 successful prosecutions were undertaken by the Benefits Agency and 1,100 successful prosecutions were reported by local authorities 1 . Our research suggests that approximately 5 per cent. of prosecutions involve a person with a previous conviction for benefit fraud. We are putting in place mechanisms to identify second and further convictions.
1. Figures for local authorities are taken from management information returns.
2. It is possible that there could be some double counting with Benefits Agency data if there were cases which involved a joint prosecution.
3. Data are not available for all 409 local authorities. The total for Great Britain includes estimates for local authorities that have not responded. These estimates are based on historical and regional data. This type of estimate is standard practice in reporting totals where there have been non-respondents.