Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Focus on UK Detecting: "On the Sick" - Detecting Benefit Fraud

I have just had a comment sent to an earlier post containing what amounts to an anonymous allegation about a fellow metal detectorist, which of course I cannot publish. The sender apparently wishes the world to know that when he spent some time looking for and eventually finding some object of great importance and value: 
"mr [deleted] was on the sick for a bad back long term sickness benefit quote ???????/??"
Swinging a metal detector slow and low and clambering over stiles and cloddy earth are not exactly things one does when one really has a bad back. If you can do that, you are fit for work. No doctor who has ever been out and done it would ever (honestly) give somebody a sick note to go out metal detecting.

It strikes me that claiming sickness (or unemployment) benefit dishonestly (when in fact fit for work) is against the law in the United Kingdom. As such, should not finders of Treasure be required to show at an inquest that at the time of their discovery they were not breaking the law in this too? After all, a Treasure inquest is held to establish the precise circumstances of discovery, if an individual is conducting an illegal act at the time of discovery then surely he cannot lawfully claim the reward?

This is also missing from even the Glasgow definition of illegal artefact hunting.

[It is also a statistic missing from the PAS breakdown, how many items in their database are reported by retired folk, self-employed people, ladies on maternity leave, folk on unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or any other kind of benefit? How many objects are reported by dole scroungers, out in the fields all day every day nd therefore unvailable for and not actively seeking work? Should dole scroungers' data figure alongside those reported by law-abiding detectorists?] 

UPDATE 14.11.2012
Heritage Action have reminded me of a related case where they too were tipped off about alleged simlar
"A very well known rally orginizer [..................] this is tax free earnings as this individual is unemployed and claiming benefits is there no justice in this country[?]. 
No. No there is not. And I bet that since 23rd January 2012, the person making that accusation has not informed the Benefits Fraud Squad either to enable them to investigate that claim - so is himself concealing knowledge of a possible crime. Like all those in the UK who for years kept quiet about what they knew (or thought they knew) first hand about a certain pervy celebrity, but kept quiet until the moment when everybody else claims their five minutes of fame, and THEN, and only then, do they speak up. Modern Britain has become the ultimate walk-on-by society as apathy about the damage done to the archaeological record by artefact hunting and collecting shamefully demonstrates. No moral courage at all.

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