Author Topic: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers  (Read 31354 times)

DarthVector

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DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« on: 11 Aug 2013 01:19PM »
In the course of this thread on DWP disability-related fraud investigations, we've had a lot of discussion on what the DWP are and aren't allowed to do when gathering intelligence. I've been investigating, and it is a truly incredible can of worms.

Please be warned that there is a substantial risk that I have made serious mistakes or omissions in preparing this summary. This stuff really is difficult, partly because it's so legalistic, and partly because the information is scattered all over the place.

Intelligence gathering by Government departments is generally covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), or RIPA. The DWP weren't originally granted powers under this Act, but were added later by statutory order.

You can get a copy of an introduction to parts (not all) of RIPA from Liberty here. The statutory order from 2010 that mentions the DWP is here. There are a lot of statutory orders relating to RIPA; you can see a search list here.

The DWP have also been granted powers to gather intelligence under the Social Security Fraud Act (2001), or SSFA. Among other things, this specifies a huge list of organisations from which the DWP is allowed to collect an enormous amount of information - banks, utilities, telecoms companies, etc.

I have also located some DWP guides that their fraud investigators use to make sure they follow correct procedure:
They have been lightly redacted, but most of the information is still there.

Edit: These four documents came from the DWP Fraud Guide. You can also find a lot of other information there about how the DWP conduct fraud investigations.

This information comes to several hundred pages in total, so I haven't remotely been able to read it all, but I've come up with a list of RIPA-regulated activities that the DWP can and can't perform:
  • the DWP cannot intercept communications.

  • the DWP cannot perform intrusive surveillance (such as obtaining access to private property without permission to perform surveillance or place surveillance equipment).

    For example, they're not allowed to bug your house or car, they're not allowed to use things like parabolic microphones to listen to you there, and they're not allowed to sit in your garden at night to eavesdrop through an open window.

  • the DWP can perform directed surveillance (watching and listening to you in circumstances where you can't expect privacy).

    For example, they can follow you around and film you while you're out shopping, and they can eavesdrop on your conversation in places like a cafe or a public park.

    In addition, they can watch you in your garden or through a window if they do it from a place where the general public would be able to see you, and they can eavesdrop on anything they can hear from the pavement while you're in your garden or near an open window in your house.

    They can also get permission to conduct surveillance from someone else's private property, so (for example) they can film or eavesdrop on you from behind your neighbour's fence if your neighbour agrees to let them do so.

    However, they are required to protect any personal information they obtain during surveillance which does not relate to their investigation.

  • the DWP can use human intelligence sources. This means that they can use witnesses, informants and information obtained from sources like Crimestoppers or the DWP's own anonymous fraud reporting hotline.

  • the DWP can collect some but not all types of communications data. This is more closely regulated under the SSFA than RIPA; the data they can collect is specified as part of the huge list of organisations and information types authorised by the SSFA.

    The exact borderline is fuzzy, but it seems that they can get information like your contact and payment details from a telecoms company (which includes an ISP or a TV provider), but they can't get information which identifies individual communications.

    In other words, they can't get your itemised phone bill, for example, and I presume that your ISP's detailed access logs would be off limits as well, since they would identify individual communications by email, or with websites as you clicked on links.
The DWP guide to Intelligence Gathering includes their rules on communications data (starting on page 30). It also has a table in Appendix 1 (starting on page 34) of organisations they can ask for information; for each type of organisation, the table specifies the information the DWP can ask for.

Note: the DWP is permitted by the SSFA to obtain a lot of information which is not covered by RIPA at all. For example, they can get things like bank information and utility usage, along with an enormous list of other stuff. If this bothers you, you really do need to look at that table.

That's everything I have - I hope those of you who've been wondering about this stuff find it useful.

Edit: added a link to the DWP Fraud Guide contents page and a link to the section on Covert Human Intelligence Sources.
« Last Edit: 11 Aug 2013 01:43PM by DarthVector »

Sunny Clouds

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #1 on: 11 Aug 2013 01:35PM »
That's helpful.

(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

lankou

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #2 on: 11 Aug 2013 01:47PM »
DWP Intelligence is an oxymoron.

DarthVector

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #3 on: 11 Aug 2013 01:50PM »
No, no, they don't have intelligence, they're just trying to gather it...

Sunny Clouds

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #4 on: 11 Aug 2013 02:49PM »
 >lol<
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

KizzyKazaer

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #5 on: 11 Aug 2013 06:48PM »
 >biggrin<  and thanks, Darth for researching and putting together all this   >star<

Yvette

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #6 on: 11 Aug 2013 06:56PM »
Darth, it must have taken a huge effort and lots of spoons, so thank you very much indeed.

Modified: sp.

DarthVector

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #7 on: 11 Aug 2013 07:48PM »
You're all very welcome.

Although I've basically spent the day thinking about this stuff, it's all stuff I want to know for myself anyway, so the fact that it might be useful to you is a happy bonus from my perspective.

The only extra effort I've put in is writing some coherent notes for you to read; even those represent a useful resource for me to come back to in future. They might as well be here as on my hard disk.

I'm also very aware that come DLA to PIP transfer time, I might well find myself in need of the vast amount of welfare advice that many people here have pulled together, so these things work both ways.

Does anyone else use OuchToo as a searchable reference for the stuff you remember seeing here last month, but can't quite remember the details of now?

I catch myself doing that quite often these days - for example, yesterday I had to look up my old thread about the latest consultation on MPs' pay and pensions, because I'd lost the consultation document (again)...

Paranoid

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #8 on: 12 May 2016 07:11PM »
hi

sorry I know this is an old post but its the exact subject I was looking for and I found it when googling can DWP follow you etc.

I had a suspicious event when someone seemed to be watching me from in tree's in park when I was taking my dog out. I use a mobility scooter and am deaf and agoraphobic so it's no easy thing for me to do and is only time I go out when its really quiet and no-one about so it's making me really panicky about my dogs next walk.

I'm very paranoid and suffer persecution complex after being bullied most of my life and made fun of so I'm not sure if this is going to trigger another breakdown or what but now I'm thinking the new neighbours that moved in a year ago but never actually speak to me or anything could be planted by DWP and watching and listening. 

Sometimes I think things in my house had been moved and wondered if they were sneaking in through the neighbours via the attic as I've never been able to get up in there or coming in house and planting bugs if I've come back and found door unlocked. One time the front of the doorbell seemed to be missing and I can see the screws underneath when I'm sure there was a plastic cover over them before.  Can they do this? ... (wait until I do go out then come in house and plant bugs or change batteries in equipment) I've covered my smoke alarms incase there's camera's inside them.

As I don't go out in public or busy places due to agoraphobia they can't really follow me other than when I take my dog out or see me when I play with him in the garden.  If they were surveilling from a neighbours house/garden would they just leave equipment there recording day and night or would I see people in the garden pretending to be neighbours gardening? etc.   ..Would they keep it up for a year and have kids there so they appeared like a proper family? (rough time the new neighbours have been there) or is this me just having some kind of paranoid episode again?   

Just wondering how far they can go legally to watch people, particuarly if person doesn't go anywhere (in public) for them to follow in peak daytime? Can they pretend to be delivery people/work people to get in my house?   Or would they have concluded that I really am severely agoraphobic and stopped watching after weeks or months?

Thanks

P


Dark_Divinity

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #9 on: 13 May 2016 06:10PM »
Would this happen around the time they send out to you a WCA Form?

To see if they can find any information that they can that could contradict any information you may put down in the form and send back to them?  >erm<

« Last Edit: 13 May 2016 06:18PM by Dark_Divinity »
July 2017- Autism Spectrum Condition.

June 2012 -Hypothyroidism.

neurochick

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #10 on: 13 May 2016 06:27PM »
Yes, you are being paranoid, Paranoid. There is NO WAY on earth that the DWP would plant an entire family for a year to watch you - not a chance.  Apart from the fact they don't ever plant whole families to spy on people, do you have any idea what the cost of that kind of surveillance is?  Unless you are running a massive benefit fraud worth hundreds of thousands of they are not going to watch you constantly for a year either.

You'll see, if you read the email above, that they can't sneak in and put cameras in your smoke detectors or any of the other things you have been imagining.  Take the covers off the smoke detectors - you are more likely to kill yourself in a fire by having them covered up than you are of being watched. Its highly inadvisable to cover smoke detectors in a home and may invalidate your home insurance if there is a fire.     

It costs an absolute fortune and is incredibly manpower intensive to investigate benefit fraud, especially using any form of surveillance.  There are a limited number of people employed to do this stuff too.  The DWP pick their cases to spend time and resources on.  They pick the cases where its likely to be financially worth it in terms of the return and value of fraud prevented versus the value of the fraudulent claim.  And, yes, I have a friend who's husband is a DWP fraud investigator so I know a bit about what they do.         

Dark_Divinity

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #11 on: 13 May 2016 06:36PM »
I wasn't talking about planting an entire fake family, I was meaning something of a smaller scale and covert.
Just realising you were replying to a post by another user.   >blush<
« Last Edit: 13 May 2016 06:38PM by Dark_Divinity »
July 2017- Autism Spectrum Condition.

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KizzyKazaer

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #12 on: 13 May 2016 09:40PM »
Welcome to OuchToo, Paranoid - Neurochick's reply has hopefully reassured you on the realities (and practicalities!) but just to say I know how horrible it is living with paranoia as I experienced this during psychotic episodes a few years back;  I was convinced that MI5 were interested in me amongst other things  >yikes<  Not nice.  Are you actually receiving any psychiatric help for this, as you shouldn't have to just live with it..

JLR2

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #13 on: 13 May 2016 10:17PM »
There are two things that have given me cause for, let's say thought, one is the pinging I get on my phone when I'm talking to my friend in Berlin and sometimes with no one using the phone I'll hear it ping as if to start ringing, I did get a few calls recently from an international number but whoever it was never said anything simply hung up, the other thing is a number of caravans in a nearby car part which look to all intentions empty if not abandoned, certainly they've not seen soap and water for years.

The one thing about the caravans is that so far as being able to catch a glimpse of me that would be a bit tedious for any watcher as I rarely go through to my back door or into the garden at the back. That said I do find myself worrying, maybe a bit too much, about things like cleaning my windows as the idea of someone thinking 'Oh he can clean his windows, get him in for questioning' brings on these second thoughts be fore I venture out to clean them.

I no longer mix with the locals where I live as I am concerned about ever looking anything other than utterly and completely miserable as to do otherwise is to invite, I feel, a cross between jealousy, envy and anger no doubt leading to someone reaching for their smartphone to take as many pics as they can. All it would take is for somebody in a bad mood, either having had a bad day or perhaps having lost their job, been sanctioned themselves or for some other reason to look on me and feel why the heck am I on the benefits I am when they are either being made to work ever harder for a pittance or suffering in some other way because of the actions of the present government.

Guess I'm just a wee bit of a worrier.

neilwilkes

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Re: DWP Intelligence Gathering Powers
« Reply #14 on: 14 May 2016 12:29PM »
There are two things that have given me cause for, let's say thought, one is the pinging I get on my phone when I'm talking to my friend in Berlin and sometimes with no one using the phone I'll hear it ping as if to start ringing, I did get a few calls recently from an international number but whoever it was never said anything simply hung up, the other thing is a number of caravans in a nearby car part which look to all intentions empty if not abandoned, certainly they've not seen soap and water for years.

The phone thing is sales calls - these are almost always generated by a computer faster than the call centre (usually abroad) can take them so when you answer it is like a silent call - incredibly frustrating but the only recourse we have is to log the number & get yourself registered with the Telephone Preference Company and complain.