DWP: no denial of blanket harvesting of CCTV or fake-friending of disabled people


Disability support group Fightback4Justice posted shocking claims last week on its Facebook page about the DWP’s (Dept of Work and Pensions) treatment of disabled benefit claimants.


The group claimed that:

  • the DWP is asking certain companies in the leisure industry to provide CCTV footage of any and all disabled people their cameras capture, with a view to using this to prosecute – or persecute – benefit claimants for supposed fraud, as if a disabled person should never be allowed to enjoy a theme-park visit or a park
  • the DWP is using fake profiles to ‘friend’ disabled claimants on Facebook, in order to access their photos and posts, again with a view to using these to allege fraud

Such behaviour would certainly raise serious ethical questions about profiling, about breaches of human rights such as the right to privacy and a family life and about entrapment.

The SKWAWKBOX sent details of the claims to the DWP and asked whether there was any truth in the appalling allegations. The questions we asked were:

  • Please confirm whether there’s any truth in the claim that you’ve asked companies to provide footage of disabled people or are in any way using such footage in deciding claims or pursuing claimants

    If there is any substance in the claim, please also advise the DWP’s position with regard to the issues this raises in terms of data protection, privacy and profiling, which would be against human rights and equality legislation.

  • Please also confirm whether any DWP personnel or other agents are using Facebook as described in the latter part of the screenshot.

The response, when it arrived, said baldly:

dwp cctv.png

No denial of harvesting CCTV footage from leisure firms. No denial of the use of fake profiles to ‘friend’ disabled people on Facebook.

No answer to the ethical and legal issues such behaviour raises – except to hide behind a blanket claim that everything the DWP does is legal.

Fightback4Justice says it has observed an increase in such behaviour and that the DWP has begun to increase staffing for such purposes.


The government has been censured by the United Nations for its treatment of disabled people. It does not seem to intend to improve its conduct.

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  1. Interesting that the Govenment can harvest cctv, and ‘fake friend’ disabled people, at one end of its sphere of influence; whilst at the other, its Crown Court in Sheffield can deny that there are CCTV camaras, and then deny that they should keep such film, when a disabled member of the public was seriously assaulted by several police officers, whilst going about the lawful business of the Family Court in that reception space.

  2. Also needed: An independent investigation into the behavior of the DWP’s press officers and their campaign to suppress negative news, focusing particularly on how they managed to “spike”—or persuade journalists not to publish numerous stories which cast the DWP in a negative light.

  3. Beginning to sound a bit like McAthur type of behavior from the dwp
    Why not spend more time catching out tax evaders, the bigger more lucrative catch. No further comment necessary

  4. I wonder if a social media campaign would discourage theme parks from handing this cctv footage to the dwp unless they have a court order.
    In the past I have as a volunteer helped supervise people with learning difficulties on visits to a theme park. I find it quite disturbing that these vulnerable people are now being spied upon with a complete disregard for both the DPA and their human rights.

  5. The persecution of the disabled is one of the sickest sides to the Tories these days. Is it because they are the most vulnerable that they want to hurt them.

  6. I wonder how the DWP are checking up on claimants these days, now that we no longer have to submit forms and photocopy bank statements, he said, looking at an envelope that has obviously been steamed open….

  7. Just when you think the govt/ DWP have reached the bottom of the barrel, they find another scrape. Persecution hardly covers this – can you imagine the cost of scrutinising all the data, even if they use face recognition? How much effort will be needed to get one person caught in allegedly “compromising” acts, trace and check identity, cross check against actual disability, and then stop benefits, and then fund the appeals process?

    Who thinks it’s more likely that they will just start randomly stopping benefits, and claim to have proof, and sit back and wait to see who actually appeals?

    1. “Who thinks it’s more likely that they will just start randomly stopping benefits, and claim to have proof, and sit back and wait to see who actually appeals?”

      You’d have thought that an impossibility, pre-2010. These current snide bastards have shown utter contempt for the law that this really could be a possibility tomorrow, if they so ordain. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’d have already been done by now IF they’d won a majority last election.

      As I’ve said before – These are getting away with the things the very dead and rotting thatcher used to flick herself off about, but NEVER dared implement.

      As the know their time’s short, don’t be surprised if something like this turns out to be part of their ‘scorched earth’ policy, anyway.

  8. The f**k’s going on in this country?

    We’ve got this.

    We’ve got rats in Torquay photographing the homeless and ‘cross referencing’ them to see if they’re actually homeless.

    Next it’ll be along the lines of: “Is your (unemployed) neighbour such a fan of (Insert crap soap opera/ tv show here) that they need a Tv in their living room AND bedroom? How do they afford two tv’s if they claim?

    Why not find out & tell us? There’s a possible reward if you phone 09*** with your answer. (Calls charged at premium rate)

    As I wrote on voxpolitical; I remember reading somewhere that the city of Wurzburg during the nazi era only had a handful of gestapo officers, whose (more or less) sole duty was arresting people who’d been denounced by their neighbours – there were that many reports given to them that’s all they had time for! People were ‘snitching’ on their own people for the most spurious of reasons…

    This Tory Govt are rapidly coercing/kidding the populace to go down the same path…

    Tell them to get to f**k; don’t play, or YOU’RE NEXT.

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