Annual Fraud Conference 2021 – Oxford Town Hall

On 24 November 2021 I will be “going home” to speak at the Annual Fraud Conference 2021 – The Power of Partnerships – being held at Oxford Town Hall. This is in its 6th year now and is organised by Oxford City Council’s Oxford Investigation Service (OIS).


From 1987 to 1997 I worked in Oxford for the Oxfordshire Money Advice Project, a debt training, support and advocacy agency funded by Oxfordshire County Council and run by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. During that time I also spent 4 years as a city councillor, including almost 2 years as chair of the Housing Committee.

Oxford, and the Town Hall in particular, has always therefore held precious memories for me and I have always enjoyed my returns since coming to the Bar in 1999, primarily to the County Court, and the nostalgia-bug invariably grips me whenever I am there.

This time I am privileged to be surrounded by such an impressive line-up covering fraud from its detection and investigation stage through to its prosecution and appropriate response.

I am especially lucky to be talking in a workshop with Raj Vine, the fantastic Counter Fraud Specialist at Riverside. I worked with Raj, and indeed the OIS, in a sub-letting possession trial I wrote about earlier this year.

The title of this year’s conference is especially important for two main reasons. Firstly, when you look at any housing fraud case which has produced a successful outcome for the landlord then it will always have only done so because of the input of various agencies, individuals and professions. I am fortunate that by the time I get involved much of the hard work has already been done!

Secondly, it illustrates for me as a lawyer where I could do more, listen more and learn more – whether that be investigation work, officer input, etc. Teamwork is not, and should never be, an empty mantra and partnerships are essential to identify the true factual scenario, maximise prospects of success and hone the case to the extent it warrants.

Tenancy Fraud Forum 2018

 

The Tenancy Fraud Forum (TFF) held its annual conference at the BMA in London on Wednesday, 3 October 2018:

The TFF was launched in April 2012 and arose out of a recognition that there was an increasing need for a fraud forum that focused solely on tenancy fraud issues because of the complex law that surrounds such matters, and the requirement for niche investigations. The Executive Committee of TFF is made up of fraud specialists from local authorities and housing associations.

The annual event was as ever well attended and I was privileged to be asked to give the keynote speech, and focused on the need for greater understanding of the extent of fraud ‘in the system’, the litigation tools at the disposal of landlords and the need to consider widening the local authority investigation powers to be found in the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Power to Require Information) (England) Regulations 2014/899 and the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Detection of Fraud) (Wales) 2014/826 beyond the suspected fraud and their family.

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The lasting impression I got from listening to some excellent speakers on topics such as money laundering, surveillance and right to buy fraud – and speaking to many delegates – was that there was some tremendous work going on in the social housing sector to detect fraud and an increasing cross-working practice in the sector, alongside an acknowledgement that there is a long way to go:

The TFF is a an important organisation led by the brilliant and indefatigable Katrina Robinson MBE…I’m already looking forward to the 2019 Conference!