Cooking the books in NHS catering
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
Winston S Churchill (1874–1965)
It may seem an odd place to start a book about fraud cases that were largely successfully investigated to one degree or another, but fraud auditors and investigators don’t get delivered by the stork fully formed and professionally at the top of their game. We all learn our trade by a mixture of other colleagues’ experiences, learning what can or cannot be done and, ultimately, we learn from our own earlier mistakes.
When I started my career, only detectives and Customs officers had professional training to become investigators, everyone else learned as they went along or from experienced colleagues. Professional training nowadays can give a whole range of investigators and auditors the tools, but you still need to learn when and where they are appropriate during a live investigation. The art of becoming a better investigator is to know when you have made a mistake and never, ever, do it again.
For the first twelve years of my working life, from 1971 to 1983, I was an external auditor and then an audit trainer in the NHS. We were very much fraud audit oriented in those days, although systems based auditing had already replaced some of the ‘voucher bashing’ tick and turn work that had been an auditor’s bread and butter in the 1960s.
After seven years as a field auditor, I found ...