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.’