Industry Qualifications calls for Ofqual to establish Expert Panel on qualifications fraud

Raymond Clarke: CEO at Industry Qualifications

Raymond Clarke: CEO at Industry Qualifications

Awarding organisation Industry Qualifications (IQ) has called upon qualifications regulator Ofqual to establish an expert panel for confronting the issue of qualifications fraud in those industries which require qualifications to obtain a licence to work.

IQ itself was a victim of qualifications fraud in 2015 when Ashley Commerce College (ACC) was exposed by the BBC as having submitted examination and assessment framework that had been produced on a fraudulent basis. The qualifications concerned related to the security industry and were issued by IQ in good faith, and indeed in accordance with established procedures. The qualifications issued fraudulently by ACC allowed some individuals to apply for a licence to work in the security industry.

At the time, the BBC reported: “Industry insiders had told the BBC large numbers of colleges were willing to help students cheat on security examinations. One former Security Industry Authority employee, speaking anonymously, said a high number of colleges were breaking the rules. He went on (to say) thousands of people [are] working in the industry illegally, having obtained accreditation illegally.”

In an age tragically marked by terrorist atrocities, IQ believes we all need to know that those charged with keeping us safe are appropriately trained and qualified through a rigorous system of assessment and accreditation. Qualifications fraud in the security industry is a significant threat to public safety.

It has been reported that the ACC case was just one of 19 cases of companies operating fraudulently or engaging in malpractice in the security industry, working with a number of awarding organisations, with the ACC case being the only case related to IQ.

“Since the exposure of ACC, IQ has been working to encourage the prosecution of those involved in what was a complex fraud,” said Raymond Clarke, chief executive of IQ. “This was our first experience of confronting systematic fraud and, despite the BBC coverage, it has been very difficult to gain traction with the police and regulatory authorities which would lead to the criminal prosecution of those involved. The need for the qualifications regulator, Ofqual, to take a lead in the creation of an environment which both reduces the risk of qualifications fraud and deals emphatically with those involved when it does occur is self-evident.”

Establishing an Expert Panel

In response to what is clearly a significant issue, IQ is now proposing the establishment of an Expert Panel. The objectives of such an Expert Panel would be to:

*determine the level and nature of qualifications fraud in the UK qualifications system

*review current regulatory mechanisms for recording and disseminating information on those involved in fraud and/or serious malpractice, and subsequently develop proposals which would ensure that such individuals are barred from the UK qualifications framework

*review the approach to the prosecution of fraud and establish procedures and protocols with the police service to ensure effective prosecution

According to Clarke, the scale of the problem is currently unknown, with information concerning those involved in suspected fraud or serious malpractice incomplete and largely inaccessible.

“The worrying fact is that those involved in fraud at ACC could still be involved in the delivery of regulated qualifications elsewhere. Nobody knows. What is known is that they have not had to face prosecution for illegal acts which have threatened public safety. Under the leadership of Ofqual, there’s an urgent need for stakeholders to address this issue in both an open and progressive manner. Any failure to confront this issue serves the interests of nobody other than the fraudsters.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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