Whilst the use of false identity documents for many different purposes is well publicised, historically it has been difficult to quantify the scale of the problem and the impact it has on individual client sectors.
Following on from last quarter’s review* of identity document referrals to our expert helpdesk team, this month I’d like to share some insights from the construction industry which help to illustrate the scale of the problem for our customers in that sector.
(*If you missed last quarter’s blog, focused on Medical Recruitment, you can catch up here).
In the construction industry, the risk of employing illegal workers is intensified by a high demand for labour coupled with a skills shortage and a complex, fast-moving supply chain involving contractors, sub-contractors, sub-sub contractors etc.
In a 2016 survey by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, across 550 participants from the sector:
- 81% would say illegal working has been on the rise over the past 15 years
- 33% suspected there was a chance that illegal working had been present at a previous or current employer
- The overall increase in counterfeit documents referred to our team across our customers in all sectors in Q1 2017 when compared to Q4 2016 is around 18%. However, the number of fraudulent documents referred to us by our customers in the construction industry more than doubled over the same period
- In Q1 2017, our helpdesk team saw more failed identity documents from construction customers than from any other sector that we work in, with almost 40% of failed documents referred to our team coming from our customers in that sector
- Over 56% of those fake documents purported to be a UK residency document – either a visa or a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- BRPs account for 20% of all the failed documents in this sector which is more than anywhere else in our customer base.
Whilst my analysis is based on a short timeframe, and a relatively small sample size compared to the thousands of construction sites operating in the UK, it does, nevertheless, demonstrate that the risk of illegal workers presenting fake identity documents on construction sites is very real. We saw 9 different types of failed documents which also highlights the challenge facing those onsite staff who, without any technology to support them, may not have the document knowledge that they need to make an informed decision when examining identity documents.
As part of the Considerate Constructor survey mentioned above, 93% also agreed that illegal working could be better tackled in the construction industry. Our technology is clearly helping construction businesses to identify and prevent illegal working and protect themselves from employing someone who is not who they say they are and all of the risks associated with an illegal worker.