Aberdeen City Council fights fraud

The work of specialist Aberdeen City Council investigators has prevented the local authority losing more than £1million as part of a commitment to fighting fraud.

To coincide with International Fraud Awareness Week, the work of the Council’s Corporate Investigation Team has been put under the spotlight.

In 2015 Aberdeen City Council published a new policy relating to fraud, bribery and corruption and created the dedicated group of staff responsible for providing a coordinated approach.

Councillor Willie Young, Convener of Finance Policy and Resources Committee said: “In recent years there has been much more openness surrounding the issue of fraud, especially within the public sector. As a public authority Aberdeen City Council is responsible for ensuring we use our resources efficiently in order to continue to provide frontline services and money lost to fraud has an impact on what can do.

“The Council has a zero tolerance approach to fraud, and works with other law enforcement agencies to share data and resources. The Council also participates in the National Fraud Initiative which is an exercise that matches data between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud.”

This year Aberdeen City Council canceled 993 council tax discounts amounting to £1.3million which would have continued had an investigation not taken place. It is just one example of the proactive work being done by the investigation team.

Cllr Young added: “The team we have in place is qualified to undertake complex investigations and the members have many years of experience in investigating fraud.

“We are investing in new technology to help us detect fraudulent behavior much earlier and we will take robust action against any individual or groups who try to defraud the Council.

“A lot of research has been undertaken in the past few years to try to put a figure on how much organisations lose to fraud but the reality is we can never know for certain. We should also remember fraud doesn’t just involve money being stolen it also relates to Council assets that are stolen or being used for non-Council business.”

The team works in tandem with other Council staff such as Internal Audit, ICT security, senior management as well as Police Scotland and other local authorities. Earlier this year the team were nominated for an Council award for their dedication and innovative approach to tackling fraud.

Cllr Young said: “Fraud is an area that no-one likes to admit happens but the reality is that all organisations, large or small, are being targeted daily by people who are intent on stealing. With the increasing pressure on budgets it is important that we take a robust approach in tackling fraud.

“The reality is that every pound that is lost to fraud cannot be spent on providing front line service and I would ask anyone who has information relating to fraud against our services to come forward.”

The Corporate Investigations Team can be contacted at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk (select Report It), by calling 01224 523526, by email at fraudadmin@aberdeencity.gov.uk or in person at Marischal College.