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.