Thursday, 18 December 2014

Council house fraud raids lead to five arrests

A series of morning raids on council homes in Southwark have resulted in five arrests for fraud and immigration offences.

Southwark Council joined forces with the UK Border Agency and police in the crackdown on council home fraud yesterday morning.

The council said that the raid saved £648,000 in housing costs.

An investigation was launched after the council discovered that a number of fake documents – including passports, birth certificates and Home Office letters – had been used to support claims for council housing.

The raids resulted in three arrests in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe for immigration offences – two Ghanaian men and a Ghanaian woman - and two arrests in Peckham and Walworth for fraud.

Ian Wingfield, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, said: ‘We have a current waiting list of around 20,000 people who are desperate for a home.

‘It’s simply not acceptable to defraud the council, and taxpayers, by subletting a council home or obtaining it fraudulently – it costs the authority thousands of pounds a year, money which could provide vital services and we cannot allow fraudsters to deny the 20,000 people on the waiting list a home.

‘We cannot ignore the issue. That’s why we’ll be coming down hard on those defrauding the authority.’

Alex Jayes, chief immigration officer for the Bexley, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark Local Immigration Team, said: ‘This operation successfully targeted suspected fraudulent use of council houses by individuals who appear to have used bogus documentation.

‘Those arrested by the UK Border Agency are now being questioned and detained for immigration offences, and steps will now be taken to remove them from the country at the earliest opportunity.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • " The council said that the raid saved £648,000 in housing costs."...for 5 arrests??? thats £130k saved per arrest?? can we have a little clarity on this Alex- or do you take the council's word as gospel?

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  • Rick Campbell

    Methinks there's a bit more to this that meets the eye....

    ... but £648K? Images of people sitting on stools and mending shoes spring to mind.

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  • F451

    Perhaps they are caluclating this on the basis of a years rental income, or a years housing benefit - or even 5-years which was the period used in the recent Newham case I believe.

    Well done Southwark Council on spotting the forged documents - I do wonder why the UK Border Agency did not notice them, but perhaps the people entered whilst Ms May had told the Agency to look the other way.

    The fact that these homes will now be available for genuine tenants and not some money grabbing, fraud committing criminals is excellent news. I take it those arrested will not be deported to the House of Lords - they appear qualified.

    Well done Southwark - good job someone's on the ball.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Apparently --- £18,000 p.a. for the average tenant stay of 3 years in temporary accommodation according to a media site.

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