Welfare, Rural and Health Division
I am Sue Patten, the Head of the Welfare, Rural and Health Division (WRHD) and I would like to welcome you to our webpage.
On 1 April 2012, the prosecution function of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) merged with the CPS, and those staff responsible for prosecutions within DWP, who had formed the DWP Prosecution Division (DWP PD), became CPS staff.
They joined the Welfare, Rural and Health Division which was formed in 2011 when colleagues from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) joined the CPS.
The merger was designed to provide greater prosecutorial resilience and increased efficiency, delivering an enhanced prosecution service for the public. As DWP PD had been until April 2012, the Welfare, Rural and Health Division (WRHD) is responsible from April 2012 for prosecuting certain types of crime on behalf of the DWP, the Department of Health and some Local Authorities. In 2011-12, DWP PD were responsible for prosecuting a total of over 11,000 cases.
Along with the DWP PD, those staff responsible for the prosecutions for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also joined the CPS in April 2012.
You can read about how we prosecute welfare, rural and health related cases in the legal guidance section of this website.
Senior Business Manager
Astrid Goodwin oversees the business side of the Division
Introduction to the WRH Units
The Division is divided into seven different units:
WRH Birmingham and WRH Cardiff
Both headed by Carl Roberts
WRH Leeds and WRH Liverpool
Both headed by Nicola Wheeler
WRH London and Environment, Food and Farming Unit (EFFU)
both headed by Alex White
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Unit (MHRA)
Headed by Ayo Awoyungbo
The majority of cases dealt with by the WRH teams are investigated by the DWP's internal investigation department, Fraud Investigation Services (FIS). FIS remain with DWP.
The cases FIS deal with are primarily concerned with benefit fraud and the vast majority are prosecuted in the magistrates' courts. Benefit fraud is when someone is dishonest in order to receive benefit or knowingly fails to report a change in their circumstances. This includes, for example, people who:
- do not report they are now living with a partner or that their partner has started work
- do not report they are receiving other benefits
- do not declare their savings or do not declare the right amount of savings
- are claiming for children who have left home
- do not report they have started work, or started to earn money
- do not report they have inherited money
- do not report they are going abroad, living abroad, or have changed address.
Other examples of crime that FIS investigate include frauds related to grants (e.g. Crisis loans), the access to work scheme, maternity and other allowance fraud and identity fraud (e.g. false or hijacked identity).
The remaining cases prosecuted are on behalf of the Department of Health (DH) (often fraud offences) and brought forward by NHS Protect NHS Business Services Authority. These cases involve fraud against the NHS.
Benefit fraud sentencing appeal decisions
As a service to visitors to our website we are now publishing summaries of recent benefit fraud sentencing appeal decisions. Benefit fraud is identified as a specific category of offence in the Sentencing Guidelines on Fraud issued in 2009.
We hope that you find it interesting to see how the Court of Appeal has interpreted the Guidelines when dealing with appeals against sentence. We will update this section every month.
Introduction to the Environment, Food and Farming Unit (EFFU)
The EFFU was part of WRHD before the merger with the DWP Prosecution Division. The Unit continues to be responsible for prosecuting cases previously dealt with by Defra. These cases are prosecuted on behalf of a number of different organisations including: Animal Health, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Forestry Commission, Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Rural Payments Agency, The Food and Environment Research Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate
Cases handled by this unit include the illegal use and sale of veterinary medicines, offences against fish and shellfish health regulations, environmental damage, animal welfare crimes, illegal working practices in the food and agriculture industries and crimes related to livestock registration and food labelling.
Introduction to the Medical Healthcare and Products Regulatory Agency Unit (MHRA)
The MHRA Unit prosecutes all cases on behalf of the Medical Healthcare and Products Regulatory Agency. Offences include: the production and distribution of counterfeit medicines.