“I’m sorry but you can’t have that information because of data protection”: a critical review of the Data Protection Act and its prohibitive effect on public sector fraud investigation

Baker, Paddy (2013) “I’m sorry but you can’t have that information because of data protection”: a critical review of the Data Protection Act and its prohibitive effect on public sector fraud investigation. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (431kB)

    Abstract

    This research focuses on the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the inhibitive effect the legislation has on public sector fraud investigations. The main reason for undertaking this study is that the researcher has worked for 20 years in the counter fraud profession and finds it extremely difficult to carry out his role effectively because of the stifling effect of the Act. Despite numerous reports over the past 25 years, pointing out that a fear of the regulator is restricting the flow of information needed to conduct criminal investigations the Government has failed to take any steps to address the problem. A literature review yielded no research data on the specific effects of the DPA in relation to fraud enquiries and identified a gap in the knowledge.
    This research aims to highlight the problems faced by those counter fraud specialists (CFS) who strive daily to acquire the information needed to prove or disprove criminality. By selecting 10 interviewees for semi-structured interviews, the researcher was able to guarantee a 100% response rate and give the best chance of establishing the reliability and validity of the research.
    The key findings are that those who work to counter fraud in the public sector are faced with a daily battle to persuade data controllers to disclose information to assist their investigations. Where powers are provided to compel disclosure, under the Social Security Fraud Act for example, the CFSs are able to work without hindrance. There are also built in control measures in the form of authorising officers who make an assessment on proportionality and lawfulness before sanctioning the data request. The statute requires the data to be disclosed thus eradicating the need for the data controllers to exercise judgment.
    The implications of this research are that central government, faced with ever rising losses to fraud, needs to review the DPA to ensure the exemptions are fully understood by data controllers. Alternatively there needs to be a Disclosure Act allowing CFSs to request information were the DPA is not a defence to disclosure.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 14:35
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:34
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/14489

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...