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GMB Welcomes Use Of CSCS Smartcards To Halt Qualification Card Fraud

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

GMB Welcomes Use Of CSCS Smartcards To Halt High Levels Of Qualification Card Fraud

It is simply not good enough for sites to visually check their workforce's competency and safety training anymore says GMB


GMB, the union for workers in the construction industry, has welcomed the use of new technology by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) following a number of high profile cases of qualification card fraud.

Over the last few years, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has carried out a number of arrests on card factories that supplied workers with fake qualifications cards to enable them to illicitly gain access to restricted construction sites.

CSCS introduced microchipped cards in 2010 but say that adoption to the more secure system has been slow due to the industry’s reluctance to take up new technology. Improvements in the technology since then however, have meant that supervisors are able to use app-enabled smartphones to check on employees’ training and qualifications without the need for proprietary card readers.

Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer, said:

"GMB applauds this innovative solution to eradicate fraudulent skills cards which are of grave concern to both safety and skills levels on our construction sites.

“Recent investigations from television programs such as Fake Britain and Newsnight revealed the seriousness of the need for change. Smart cards are a serious way to tackle the black market of these cards but the will to embrace this new technology must come from the every part of the construction industry supply chain, from the top to the bottom.

“It is simply not good enough for sites to visually check their workforce's competency and safety training anymore. Every employer must make it mandatory for their supervisors to check employees’ CSCS cards using the simple smart phone or tablet apps which are available free of charge. The cost savings and effectiveness of ensuring our sites are safely manned with skilled operatives is a no-brainer, so why aren't the employers enforcing it?"

END

Contact:
Phill Whitehurst on or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or press.office@gmb.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1 CSCS brings sector up to speed (Construction News).

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/more/partnership-publishing/cscs-brings-sector-up-to-speed/10014021.article?blocktitle=These-articles-are-produced-as-commercial-editorial&contentID=12208

2 National Crime Agency (NCA) card factory arrests.

In Jan 2015, 2 Albanian men were sentenced to 6 ½ and 5 ½ years after computers containing over 8,000 document images was found, as well as £12,000 cash were found at a card factory in London. Approx 3,000 of images were for CSCS cards and a smaller number for CPCS cards. Fake Britain TV programme featured this case and focussed on safety in construction industry.

Westgate Site in London. 3 site workers had cards checked and after liaison with Ian Sidney, all 3 cards CSCS cards confirmed as fake. Police called and 2 offenders fled site, 1 was arrested. The male that was arrested was charged with 5 x counts of Fraud. He was remanded for court and was also an immigration overstayer so will be deported once sentence served.

A father and two sons from Derby who provided jobs for 180 illegal construction workers have been jailed for a total of 17-and-a-half years. CITB helped secure convictions. The trio supplied illegal workers to sites across the country. Derby Crown Court heard that father was “the driving force behind the employment of most workers” and also created fake documents. He was jailed for seven and-a-half years, while the sons were both sentenced to five years. CITB’s card fraud team supported the Home Office Immigration Enforcement and the Police in the investigation.

A company director from Staffordshire, was arrested by CITB’s Fraud team in Nov 2015. Accused of buying 13 fake CSCS cards in a local pub and using them to secure a cleaning contract on a construction site in Stafford. The fakes were uncovered by the employer during a routine induction process, who dismissed the 12 cleaning staff immediately and informed CITB’s Fraud Team. Cannock Magistrate’s Court on 6 April, charged the defendant with fraud by false representation. They received 14 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months and are required to undertake 180 hours of unpaid community service. They must also pay a victim surcharge and court costs totalling £265.

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