Following the broadcast of the BBC’s Inside Out programme back in March, during which an Industry Qualifications (IQ) Assessment Centre was exposed as operating in a fraudulent manner, IQ has been working to remove fraudulent certification, strengthen its own procedures in light of the new understanding gained from the exposure and liaising with the BBC on the evidence realised by the undercover investigation.
IQ has publicly welcomed the BBC’s investigation and believes that the evidence collected as a result of the Inside Out programme will provide “significant assistance” when it comes to reducing fraud within the training sector.
However, IQ has been critical of some aspects of the BBC’s programme, in particular the broadcaster’s failure to make it clear to viewers that IQ was not the only awarding organisation affected.
In conversation prior to broadcast, the BBC had explained that it held evidence of suspected fraud and malpractice at 20 Assessment Centres (two of them IQ centres) working with a number of awarding organisations.
In response to a wider complaint from IQ, the BBC has now stated: “The relevant section of the programme made no allegation of wrongdoing on the part of IQ.”
The broadcaster also “agrees that it would have given viewers a more complete picture of the extent of the fraud if it had been made clear that other awarding organisations were also affected.”
IQ welcomes this acknowledgement as it highlights what’s clearly an industry issue. “Despite a considerable amount of excellent practice in the training supply side to the sector,” states IQ, “there’s clearly a level of fraud and malpractice which is not insignificant and which must be addressed collectively by regulators, awarding organisations and the sector itself.”
Update on the present situation
Since first being made aware of potentially fraudulent activity in February, IQ has published a White Paper detailing the changes that it believes are required if suspected fraud within the training supply chain to the sector is to be successfully tackled. The company has also published details of changes that IQ is making to reduce the potential risk of fraud.
A total of 251 candidates have had their certificates voided, in turn leading to the withdrawal of 129 Security Industry Authority licenses. Ten individuals appealed against the decision to void their certificates, all of whom have now been investigated and the original IQ decisions subsequently confirmed as standing.
A minority of those who appealed appear to have been genuinely defrauded on an issue relating to a second license. Subsequently, they’ve been advised and assisted around how to take their complaints to the police service.
A number of directors, trainers and administrators at Ashley Commerce College – along with the students who were party to fraud – have been reported to the police service along with three trainers working in other centres who were referring students to Ashley Commerce College.
In addition to the situation at Ashley Commerce College, IQ states that it “now has details of a number of trainers and training companies” where allegations of fraudulent practice have been made and is currently considering how this intelligence can legally be shared with other awarding organisations.
An official statement reads: “It’s the view of IQ that more needs to be done across the awarding organisations to provide better and timelier intelligence” in order “to reduce opportunities for wrongdoing.”
IQ is also calling for a named contact point within the police service for those awarding organisations reporting instances of suspected fraud.
“The response of the police service to date has been wholly inadequate,” explained Raymond Clarke, CEO at IQ. “Part of this is around a lack of understanding of awarding organisations and the damage that can be done by examination fraud. IQ will be initiating civil action later this summer once the costs of the fraud have been calculated. Candidates will be given the opportunity to make a donation through IQ to a charity nominated by ourselves in order to avoid being drawn into civil action, but all of the trainers concerned will face significant claims for damages.”