Social Welfare Fraud is any area which up until the depression was allowed run on unchecked and has always been an active part of the black economy so it is understandable that this new enforcement unit is targetting the black economy and the addition of Gardai means that the Gardai have a power of arrest but I would question the legality of blanket stop and searches for every white van in the country without cause.
Absent a breach of the road traffic act it is questionable what power of stop and search arises even tough the Garda have power to arest and detain. Social Welfare Inspecors do not have such powers..
Social Welfare Fraud (an any type of fraud) used to be treated relatively leniently by the Courts but sentence ranges have increased in the last 2 years following on some Judgements from the Court of Appeal in particular.
If peoples circumstances change while on welfare it is very important to tell the Department at the time. The Deparmet of Social Protection will usually work with the Claimant where there has been an overpayment.
If you have any queries on SocialWelfare Fraud please do not hesitiate to contact the writer.
PETER CONNOLLY SOLICITOR