Safeguarding learning – dealing with fraud and malpractice

Safeguarding learningAs part of an ongoing series, HABC Strategic Director Chris Daniel looks at the various issues affecting the training sector, helping you to make sense of the numerous rules and regulations whilst providing tips and guidance.

In this article, Chris looks at the issue of fraud and malpractice, and how Awarding Organisations such as HABC safeguard learning and qualifications.

You may well have seen the recent BBC Inside Out programme regarding fraud and malpractice within the private security industry. The programme highlights some of the issues and practices of unscrupulous centres whose understanding or implementation of requirements is sacrificed for short-term gain.

HABC has always stated our upmost commitment towards preventing, finding and dealing with malpractice or fraud. Our strategy has always been to eradicate these practices in order to secure a long-term confidence in the qualifications that we offer. To achieve this, HABC has the most rigorous and stringent risk-management safeguards in place. Our objective for these safeguards is to protect the interests of learners and the validity and integrity of all of our qualifications.

HABC has one of the largest quality assurance department’s of all approved Awarding Organisations in relation to the number of qualifications awarded. The teams in the department work tirelessly to prevent malpractice and conduct thorough investigations if we have the slightest suspicion a misdemeanour has been committed. A good example of how this works in practice can be demonstrated by the fact that warning generators created by HABC’s system previously alerted us to one of the centres referred to in the BBC investigation featured on the Inside-Out programme. This led to HABC refusing an application for centre approval from this organisation in 2013.

HABC does not rest on its laurels, and are well aware that the potential for fraud and malpractice can never be entirely eliminated. To address this issue, HABC has many comprehensive and robust procedures and processes in place to help prevent, identify and address these serious concerns above and beyond those undertaken by some other Awarding Organisations approved to award licence-linked security qualifications. These include having a separate approval process for tutors, placing undercover mystery shoppers on full courses, undertaking regular unannounced audits and operating a policy that every single piece of assessment documentation is scrutinised via a 10-stage checking process.

With our strategy and commitment towards world-class customer service, HABC’s approach towards malpractice is one of honesty and transparency. We realise that sometimes issues can arise in centres. In these instances we will work alongside a centre to correct these issues. However, centres cannot become complacent because a zero-tolerance policy is applied if HABC find evidence of deliberate or sustained malpractice. Be assured, centre and/or tutor approval will be removed from guilty parties along with the matter being reported to relevant authorities and Awarding Organisations. If evidence of criminal activity is found this will also be reported to the police.

HABC is regularly inspected and audited by the relevant regulators and the feedback is consistently that HABC’s practices, policies and procedures in place are extremely strong and adhere to regulatory requirements. Additionally, we are often approached for guidance in dealing with matters involving malpractice and fraud. HABC has also given formal presentations setting out our robust approach to other Awarding Organisations operating in the security sector and to our regulators.

So in summary, HABC will not hesitate to take action against any centre or person found to be actively involved in malpractice or fraud, and has done so on numerous occasions in the past. When this has happened we ensure that we inform our regulators and other Awarding Organisations in accordance with our regulatory requirements. Our zero-tolerance approach also dictates that we will not approve any company or person known to have a history of malpractice/fraud.

If you have any questions or issues you would like addressed by Chris, please leave a response in the comments section and we’ll contact you directly.

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