Lie detectors used to catch out fraudsters

Martlock Town Hall
Martlock Town Hall

The use of lie detector tests to catch out council tax fraudsters generated more than £180,000 in the Derbyshire Dales.

Derbyshire Dales District Council revealed the figure after coming under fire for using voice risk analysis (VRA) software to uncover fraudulent council tax claimants.

A freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by campaign group False Economy, revealed the authority was one of 24 councils nationwide which admitted to using the technology in 2011.

East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership footed the £280,000 bill for a Derbyshire–wide scheme to crack down on fraud. Of this sum, £10,481 plus VAT was spent in the Dales.

The contract was taken on by Capita, which used it to measure levels of stress in people’s voices, which may have indicated they were lying.

The purpose of the exercise was to check whether people were honestly claiming the single person council tax discount.

The discount allows single people to only pay 75 per cent of the family rate for council tax.

The lie detector technology was denounced by the Department of Work and Pensions in 2010 as it was found to be unreliable.

A spokesman for the district council said: “Derbyshire Dales District Council did not spend a single penny on participating in the county–wide review of single person council tax discount entitlement, which was carried out three years ago by Capita.

“The full £280,000 cost of this review – which raised £2.9million for the participating authorities in rectifying falsely claimed single person discounts – was met by the East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership.

“So the net gain was significant and it is worth stressing that the use of VRA software by Capita played a very small part in the overall review.

“Derbyshire Dales District Council has never directly used VRA, nor do we have any future plans to do so.”

The use of the software generated £182,000 additional income for the Derbyshire Dales.

The district council retained £22,000 of the amount raised.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Dales District Council said that despite the revenue generated by the system, it is not currently using lie detectors.

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