Recent e) Briefings Articles

The Slow Death of the DWP ‘Lie Detector’

by Unity     November 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm

More than a year ago, Liberal Conspiracy published a short series of briefings on a controversial trial of a so-called ‘voice risk analysis’ system by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Yesterday, the ultimate fate of these systems was revealed in a rather terse response to a parlimentary question tabled by the Tory MP for East Yorkshire, Greg Knight:

Chris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions

In 2008-09 a total of £1,734,314.07 was paid directly to the 24 local authorities involved in voice risk analysis pilots. There was no DWP funding for voice risk analysis in subsequent years. The pilots finished in December 2009. Local authorities can continue to use voice risk analysis at their own discretion and at their own expense.

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Nadine’s not a feminist, but….

by Cath Elliott     February 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I found myself in the unenviable position this week of actually agreeing with Nadine Dorries about something. But don’t worry, it was a short lived affair.

Now despite the fact that I appear to be one of the few lefties she hasn’t yet blocked on Twitter, I’m not renowned for holding Dorries in any high esteem (see here for example), so you can imagine my surprise when she tweeted this:

…and I found myself nodding along.

Yes she’s right, the political new media is dominated by men – in fact it’s something I’ve been intending to write about for a while now.
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LC briefing: Lie detectors – where your money is going

by Unity     March 16, 2009 at 11:58 am

For this LC briefing, using Freedom of Information requests, I can tell you exactly how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on the trial to date and exactly where this technology is being used to vet benefits claimants.

If James Purnell’s department did decide to roll out this system nationally, one company could, within the next five years, build an effective monopoly over the processing of welfare benefit claims worth tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of pounds a year.

So here’s the breakdown, and a little surprise I uncovered last week…

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LC briefing: DWP on Trial – a quick update

by Unity     March 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

Yesterday, the Guardian technology supplement carried a story that covers a part of our briefing, specifically the threat of a libel action by Amir Liberman/Nemesysco against two Swedish reseachers who published a paper criticising the ‘lie detector’.
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LC briefing: Lie detectors – how it all started

by Unity     March 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

Time for some background to this story. The public sector business services contracts company Capita are behind the DWP trial. In fact all the local authorities involved in the trial have IT services and outsourcing contracts with Capita. This notice verifies that.

In November 2004, Capita acquired the full shareholding in an insurance claims investigation company called Brownsword Ltd from private equity investors, ISIS Equity Partners. In buying out Brownsword, Capita also acquired an exclusive 10 year licence, from another company (DigiLog UK) for what DigiLog calls its  ‘Advanced Validation Solutions’ – this is the same system that the DWP are trialling and at the heart of that system lies the controversial ‘voice risk analysis’ software we’ve been investigating.

As some readers have already noted, this software-based system, which its developer calls ‘Layered Voice Analysis’ (LVA), was developed from a patent filed in 1997 by an Israeli national, Amir Liberman, and is currently owned and marketed by Liberman’s company, Nemesysco. DigiLog UK is Nemesysco’s UK agent and distributor.

So far, we’ve referred to this system as a ‘lie detector’, but in fact, Nemesysco makes a number of much more expansive claims for its technology on its website.
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LC briefing: editor’s note

by Sunny Hundal     March 11, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Last year Hazel Blears MP (in)famously said most blogs did little to ‘add value’ to our political culture. If by ‘value’, Blears did not mean bloggers doing research into government initiatives and occasionally exposing them for the gimmicks they are, then she probably won’t be pleased with our briefing either.

Today, coincidentally, David Hencke asks if James Purnell is the worst social security minister ever: I’d say he is in contention for the worst Labour minister ever given how empty his initiatives at the DWP have been. His plans to trial lie detectors to tackle benefit fraud will eventually be exposed as one of those vacuous stunts.

First a bit of background.
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Liberal Conspiracy briefing: Exposing the DWP’s lie detector testing

by Unity     March 11, 2009 at 11:52 am

LC briefingHello LC readers I have a treat for you. Today we start publishing the first of our briefings – a document I’ve been working on for the past month or so. It’s not coming out all at once because there are some legal and other issues still to be resolved. But in coming days and weeks, more will be revealed.

Our focus is on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and in particular its recent decision to use lie detection technology to catch out benefit claimants.

We think that this is not only unethical, but the technology itself is so prone to error as to be useless for the purpose for which is it supposedly intended. So why is the DWP spending over a million pounds promoting it across local authorities? Has it done research into its drawbacks and limitations? If yes, then why is it still using it?

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CIC: Why don’t more people get into politics?

by Unity     December 12, 2008 at 5:13 am

If this whole business of debating the CLG white paper, ‘Communities In Control’ is starting to make you feel like you’re losing the will to live then take my sincere advice and steer clear of the Chapter (7) on ‘Standing For Office’.

The chapter kicks off by pointing out that women, ethnic minorities and under 25’s are heavily under-represented on local councils as elected members compared to broad population demographics, after which we discover that bears really do shit in the woods and that they suspect that the Pope may possibly be a Catholic.

The proposed ‘solution’ for this problem is a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women Councillors Taskforce, which already exists, and all usual nonsense about training, mentoring, shadowing, networking and outreach events that gets thrown in the pot by the government devoid of genuinely innovative thinking.
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CIC: How to complain to councils

by Tony Kennick     December 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm

All this week, Liberal Conspiracy will finish reviewing the Communities in Control White Paper launched by Hazel Blears recently.

Chapter Six of the Communities in Control White Paper is entitled “redress” and details proposals about what should happen when the public aren’t happy with a service.

The chapter’s introduction starts with the suggestion that the country is not in the bad old days of “wait of many weeks for a phone to be installed” and follows up with three statistics, one in five people complain to their council every year, only 34 percent of those people are happy with how that complaint is dealt with but 55% of people believe this service is better than what they receive from the private sector.
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CIC: Toying with elected Mayors

by Andrew Adams     December 10, 2008 at 10:08 am

All this week, Liberal Conspiracy will finish reviewing the Communities in Control White Paper launched by Hazel Blears recently.

The purpose of Chapter 5 is to outline “how people can hold officials to account through new powers of petitioning, and ways in which we will establish more visible and accountable local leaders by encouraging more powerful elected mayors”.

Their intention is to raise visibility of existing scrutiny functions, particularly Overview and Scrutiny Committees (OSCs), and encourage councils to consider new approaches to scrutiny. Ways this could be done include having large scale public forums or making committee meetings more accessible by moving them out of the town hall and into the community and having webcasts.
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