§ Mr. Duncan Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many cases of benefit fraud have been successfully prosecuted in each month since 1 May 1997. 
§ Mr. Denham
Tackling fraud and abuse is a top priority for the Government. However, questions on Benefit Agency operational matters are the responsibility of its Chief Executive, Peter Mathison. He will write to the hon. Member.264W
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. lain Duncan Smith, dated 31 July 1998:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the number of cases of benefit fraud successfully prosecuted in each month since 1st May 1997.Please find detailed in the attached table a month by month breakdown of the prosecution figures. These figures are totals combining figures from the Benefit Fraud Investigation Service who carry out locally based fraud investigations and the Benefits Agency Security Investigation Service who concentrate on serious attacks on the benefit system by organised criminals.The Department has always operated a selective cost effective and humane prosecution policy. However, as set out in the green paper "Beating Fraud is Everyone's Business: Securing the Future", the Government is committed to removing "no-go areas" where a fraudster might assume that he or she will avoid prosecution. Fraud attracting low overpayment is certainly no guarantee that a fraudster will not be prosecuted.Administrative penalties are one alternative to prosecution which the BA can now choose to offer in cases involving less serious fraud. We expect the application of this penalty to grow as staff become familiar with its use and we intend to evaluate the effectiveness of this new sanction.I hope you find this reply helpful.
Benefit Fraud Investigation Service, Benefits Agency Security Investigation prosecution figures since May 1997 Date May 1997 901 June 1997 1,091 July 1997 1,171 August 1997 928 September 1997 994 October 1997 953 November 1997 982 December 1997 820 January 1998 997 February 1998 874 March 1998 902 April 1998 876 May 1998 791 June 1998 845
Figures are provisional and subject to change