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Ten detained in CITB test centre raids

18 October 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Dreamstime

Seven construction workers have been detained on suspicion of working in Britain illegally while another three were arrested for fraud involved in the delivery of CITB tests during raids on three test centres.

The unannounced visits on three health, safety and environment (HS&E) test centres in Cheshire, Essex and London, by CITB, police and the Home Office came after CITB audits found staff giving answers to candidates in exchange for cash.

At the Cheshire centre, a staff member admitted helping candidates choose correct answers, while a “considerable amount” of cash was found without a plausible explanation. A candidate was also detained and bailed on suspicion of being in the country illegally. 

In Essex, staff members admitted being supplied with a large number of candidates, many of whom the administrators were paid to give the right answers to during the test. Candidates admitted paying up to £500 to take the £21 HS&E test. Six candidates were suspected of being in the country illegally and were detained, while the centre was suspended from carrying out further tests.

In London, the Metropolitan Police, supported by CITB investigators, arrested a man suspected of facilitating corrupt tests for other candidates. A quantity of fake documentation and card making equipment was seized from a number of locations. The man has been released under investigation pending further enquiries. 

Review of past tests

CITB said it would now review just over 2,500 tests conducted by the three centres in the past year and then decide whether or not to revoke them.

Ian Sidney, CITB fraud mnager, said: “CITB has considerable experience in auditing test centres all over the country, and works with the Home Office, police and other law enforcement agencies where necessary on behalf of the construction industry to ensure a safe working environment for all.

"If anyone has information about fraudulent testing within construction they can contact CITB anonymously on [email protected]”  

CITB claimed that organised crime can earn £50,000 per week through illegal immigration and modern slavery networks, with far less risk than drug or gun crime. During an unrelated joint visit by police with CITB earlier this year, £500,000 in assets were seized.

Some workers arrive in the UK legally but are duped into thinking that the cards or qualifications they require are impossible to obtain and that expensive counterfeit versions are their only option. There are also those who are trafficked illegally, with fraudulent cards in a package awaiting them on arrival, and they are made to believe they remain in debt indefinitely to a gangmaster. 

So far in 2019, CITB has terminated 17 test centres involved in delivery of fraudulent tests or CITB qualifications.

Comments

Shocking to see 17 test centers involved in fraudulent tests. What impact this has to H&S and Quality on sites can only be guessed. The industry is awash with Bob the builders but this only adds to the problem

mark green, 21 October 2019

The whole card system needs reviewing.
Once the trade tests have been verified the appropriate trade card should be issued separately to the Health and safety card which should be updated after the health and safety test because a trade card does not go out of date like the Health and safety.
Why can't the chip be updated with a pass if a pass is achieved at the test centre then there would be no need for all the applications for updated card through the post and it should cost the applicant less money?

Richard New, 21 October 2019

That takes the biscuit

Sheila, 21 October 2019

There is no doubt the anti fraud elements of the Home Office, the Police and the CITB have done an excellent job in the arrest and detaining of suspect fraudsters. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

CITB have said they've closed 17 centres who failed to meet the standards set for quality assurance. These closures are often only temporary as many reappear under different names and directors. The quality assurance/policing of centres simply cannot keep pace with the throughput.

More quality assurance personnel, more unannounced visits, and the consideration of private investigators/mystery shoppers who can get in amongst the card/NVQ centres who are treating the whole process as a cash cow.

Michael Norton, 22 October 2019

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