Construction: Rising number of prosecutions over CSCS card fraud

In a recent Construction Industry Training Board (CTIB) Report produced by a leading market researcher based in Market Drayton (Ask for Research Limited), the CITB has issued a strong statement urging employers to be vigilant when checking CSCS cards, warning that it will actively seek to prosecute where technical or factual evidence suggests that fraud has occurred.

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (“CSCS”) was established as a means of enabling employees who work on construction sites to demonstrate that they possess the requite skills and competencies to work safely on site. 

The CSCS card is the most commonly held construction ID card, meaning it is also the most commonly faked card. However, fraudulent use of other industry approved cards, such as the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) cards, also occurs.   Worryingly the report concluded that abuse of the system is rife and many of those who claimed to be qualified in construction were in fact working illegally often through lack of training or failure to maintain certification.

A CSCS card is only issued to an individual if they possess the appropriate construction-related qualifications and, subject to some exemptions, have passed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test within the past twenty four months.

With developers heavily reliant on sub-contracting and flexible employment with many self-employed persons attending site, CSCS Cards are intended to enable site managers to enjoy a legitimate expectation that those operating on site were competent to do so.

With electronic chip technology introduced in 2010, the cards can be read via a smartphone app or a dedicated scanner. This was intended to serve as a safeguard over a mere visual ID check and reduce the likelihood of fraudulent activity. However, the report revealed that only 6% of cards were being checked using the smart technology, with 69% of supervisors still using the paper-based system.

Fraudulent CSCS activity has been taken very seriously by the Board and the report suggests that one in five of those who check cards on site had been presented with fake verification. The prosecution of non-recognised training providers and cardholders has since increased.

The problem of fraudulent certification cards poses a major risk to business, to individuals and their property. Using unqualified or incompetent staff can lead to poor quality construction (resulting in financial loss and a risk to health and safety, now and in future.  The welfare of the workers including both the unqualified staff and other legitimate workers on site is also a major concern.  The Construction Industry Training Board website provides recommendations as to what an employer should do if faced with potentially fraudulent cards.

Should you have any queries regarding the report then please call, Terry Jones Solicitors (Contact: Ian Bowker) on 01952 297979.

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