The Dirty Dozen — Reg Parkes — 29 September 2014.

This is a sequel to follow Reg’s talk entitled “Rat Catcher” that was given earlier in the year in which he spoke about the early days of chas­ing bene­fit fraud­sters whilst in the Department of Employment.

His sub­ject involved head­ing a team that had expan­ded to eleven “chasers” and a typist cov­er­ing South Yorkshire.  There were other teams based in Leeds and Hull, with his boss in Leeds.

Reg explained that their main object­ive was to get fraud­sters “off the books” ie not claim­ing unem­ploy­ment bene­fit.  If they could get some repay­ment, it was a bonus.  Of course sev­eral were also taken to Court.

In the 1960’s unem­ployed people living in Stocksbridge and Oughtibridge could claim bene­fit by post which made cheat­ing easier and Reg was fre­quently involved with this area.  He recalled when he was fol­low­ing a sus­pect and had to queue at the same bus stop.  He was sud­denly greeted in a loud voice by a lady who recog­nised him with the words “Hello Reg,  still chas­ing the fraud­sters then!”.  The sus­pect ran away and Reg decided that a more pro­act­ive approach should be adop­ted in future.  At about this time, Reg called at a suspect’s address.  When the door opened the man with a dog appeared.  Reg brushed the dog aside and spoke to the man.  He never thought any­thing more about the matter until his boss told him that there was a com­plaint against him and a bill for £600 for killing the dog.  He went back to the address at about 3pm the next after­noon to find another man still in pyja­mas watch­ing horse racing on the tele­vi­sion with the dog at his feet.  He dis­covered that the com­plain­ant didn’t own the dog and was in fact only the lodger.

As the years passed, the team became better and better equipped.  They were issued with cam­eras with night focus lenses, radios, bin­ocu­lars, water­proof cloth­ing, maps and dog deterrent bleep­ers.  The latter he found was only partly effect­ive against dogs but really worked on cats.

Reg towards the end of his career was in charge of both the West and the South Yorkshire oper­a­tions having spent some time seconded to the Police force.  He is a mine of inform­a­tion.  Each ques­tion asked by the Club eli­cited another storey told with great wit.