CSCS test fraudsters sent to prison
Two test centre administrators who admitted falsifying CITB health, safety & environment tests, required to obtain CSCS cards and work on construction sites, were each sent to prison for 28 months when they appeared before Chester Crown Court on Friday (18 February).
The two men, one from Manchester and one from Macclesfield, were test centre administrators at the accredited DWM Plant Ltd in Knutsford, Cheshire.
During an investigation into fraud, CITB uncovered a large-scale criminal operation involving mostly foreign nationals being assisted on their CITB HS&E test.
Some candidates were travelling long distances and completing their tests in just four or five minutes by means of a remote mouse.
The case was reported to Cheshire police, who carried out a criminal investigation into the conduct of two men, Callum Ingram and Stephen McWhirk.
Ingram, aged 28 and from Manchester, and McWhirk, aged 62 and living in Macclesfield, were charged with offences that took place between May and September 2019.
The trial was originally scheduled for June this year. However, the pair pleaded guilty in December last year and the case was moved forward to last week.
Sentencing the two men, Recorder Taylor said the fraud had exposed potentially large numbers of people in the industry and members of the public to the risk of serious harm by providing a means for unqualified people to work on building sites when they had no idea of health & safety requirements.
Some of those people who fraudulently passed the test were found to be unable even to understand instructions in English.
The court heard the pair had profited by somewhere in the region of £37,700.
DC Sarah Newton, from Cheshire Police, says: “Throughout the investigation we liaised with CITB, allowing a joint investigation due to the unique and specific nature of the fraud.
“Fraudulently obtained CSCS cards mean that the holder has not demonstrated the professional competence and awareness of health & safety legislation that is required for them to work safely in the construction industry. This creates obvious risks, not only to themselves but also to other workers and members of the public, while also undermining confidence. We will continue to work with partners wherever criminality puts people at risk.”
CITB’s Fraud Manager, Ian Sidney, led the initial investigation. He said after sentence had been passed: “We welcome the result today. It sends out a message that we will not tolerate individuals compromising construction site safety by facilitating some people cutting corners to obtain their site cards without the required knowledge, skills or experience to pass the tests.
“CITB also acknowledges and is grateful for the support provided by Cheshire Police in securing the arrest and subsequent conviction of the two defendants.”
The DWM Plant test centre was closed and 1,305 tests revoked in Jan 2020. Those whose tests were revoked were offered a voucher to retest for free and allowed three-months in which to retake the test.
Partner card schemes were informed of the revocations and, where appropriate, competence cards have also been retracted.
Anyone that has any information regarding fraudulent testing activity can report it confidentially to CITB at [email protected].