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Title: Professionalising counter fraud specialists (fraud investigators) in the UK public sector : a focus upon Department for Work and Pensions, National Health Service and the Local Authority
Author: Frimpong, K. O.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis seeks to examine and explore the professionalisation initiatives of the UK public sector counter fraud specialists (fraud investigators), with a focus upon the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), National Health Service (NHS) and Local Authority (LA). The conceptual framework used to underpin the study was functionalist / “traits” theory of a profession and professionalisation. The main research question for the thesis concerns the issue of whether counter fraud specialism is a profession or not. Thus the question here is: “Is counter fraud specialism a profession or not?”. Additionally, the thesis seeks to answer the question on how to develop a profession of counter fraud specialists. Thus, the question here is “If we want to develop a profession of counter fraud specialists (CFS), how do we do it?”. Fraud is a growing problem in UK which affects the government, businesses, individuals and society as a whole, and much more than would be assumed by anyone suggesting it to be a victimless crime. Despite this, the reputation of UK public sector fraud investigators had in the past gained negative images resulting from the use of questionable investigative practices, together with the lack of appropriate mechanism for evaluating the training of fraud investigators, and the ease of defrauding the welfare system. This became a great concern for UK politicians/parliamentarians since the 1970’s, resulting in the introduction of government initiatives, which emphasised the need to professionalise and introduce professionalism into anti-fraud work. The professionalisation initiatives led to the creation of a new breed of fraud investigators, otherwise known as “Counter Fraud Specialists” charged with the responsibilities of protecting the public purse and safeguarding it against fraud. In spite of the introduction of those initiatives and the positive contribution by Counter Fraud Specialists in protecting the public purse coupled with the ongoing austerity measures in the UK public sector, there has not been any major academic study assessing those initiatives. The study is important to the researcher because findings from the study will help inform the debate on professionalisation agenda for the UK public sector counter fraud specialists. Additionally, it will contribute to the academic research on the subject, given that, the literature on fraud and professionalisation on Counter Fraud Specialists has failed to address this. The study was undertaken by applying mixed-methods approaches involving the use of survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with a selected number of counter fraud practitioners in the UK public sector. In addition, documentary analysis was also undertaken. Generally, the study revealed developments enhancing the status of UK public sector counter fraud specialists as a result of the professionalisation initiatives/agenda. Nonetheless, the strength of the quality of developments remained arguable given identified weaknesses in the “pillars of institution” such as normative, regulative and cultural-cognitive symbols that, together with associated activities and resources provide the bedrock for institutional transformation and professionalising occupations. The study provides recommendations on areas of improvement and future research. Therefore, my contribution to knowledge in this study is that, I have attempted to show how to develop a profession for counter fraud specialists in the UK public sector, mainly, the DWP, NHS and LA. In addition, the study has failed to find evidence that counter fraud meets what the literature says is a hallmark of a profession. The literatures on fraud and professionalisation of counter fraud specialists have failed to address this and this is my contribution to knowledge.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available