Crackdown on Benefit Cheats
It was reported yesterday (September 16) that “benefit cheats” could face up to 10 years in prison as part of the Crown Prosecution Service’s new “tough stance” on those flouting the system.
The justification for this is financial: the DPP has stated that benefit and tax fraudsters cost the taxpayer £1.9 billion a year and that the cost to the nation incurred by benefit fraud should be at the forefront of lawyers’ minds when considering whether a prosecution is in the public interest.
With the greatest respect to the DPP, cost is not in the forefront of my mind, but if we look at money issues, the annual cost of keeping a person in prison is £37,000. Thus a ten-year sentence would cost the taxpayer £370,000.
Further, the forefront of my mind is concerned with justice rather than money. Perhaps the DPP should consider the human and financial cost of the illegal Iraq war, which puts the cost of UK benefit fraud in the shade, and should proceed urgently with the investigation of those alleged to have committed war crimes.