Rachael Tiffen wins Stella Walsh Award

12-07-2017

Huge congratulations to Rachael Tiffen, head of the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, who has won the 2017 Stella Walsh Award for Long Term Commitment to Preventing Fraud. 

The Stella Walsh Award is given by the Fraud Women's Network (FWN) in memory of Stella Walsh, a key founding member of the Network.

We are delighted for Rachael and publish her nomination in full below.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is nominating Rachael Tiffen for the 2017 Stella Walsh Award for Long Term Commitment to Preventing Fraud.

Rachael’s counter fraud career spans over 20 years, during which time she has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to innovation and improving standards across the counter fraud profession.

Her career began in 1993 as an internal fraud investigator for Islington Council. She was the only woman in a male-dominated environment, and within a year she had progressed to managing investigations.

In 1998 Rachael was appointed manager of the corporate anti-fraud team at Lambeth Council, a highly publicised role and a very notable achievement for someone relatively new to counter fraud. Not only was it London’s very first corporate anti-fraud team, but it was also the largest at the time, boasting 60 individuals.

Seeking to extend her experience further, she moved to the London Borough of Waltham Forest in 2001 to manage both fraud and audit. Recognising the profound risks associated with recruitment fraud, she set up a ground-breaking employee vetting team. The specially trained team conducted rigorous pre-employment checks to verify that successful job applicants were who they claimed to be and that their employment histories and experiences matched their application forms. The results were staggering – in 2007/08 when the team completed over 1,000 vetting checks, more than 6% of applicants failed the checking process – almost double the previous year’s rate*.

The borough and Rachael gained considerable recognition for this work. Rachael was awarded the CIPFA Cliff Nicholson Award for Innovation and Excellence in Public Service Audit, while the team’s work was extensively cited as an example of best practice in the Audit Commission’s Protecting the Public Purse 2009 report.

In 2010 Rachael joined the Home Office as a deputy director in the National Fraud Authority. Here, her commitment to local government came to the fore and she successfully campaigned for a national counter fraud strategy for the sector – this became the seminal Fighting Fraud Locally strategy, published in 2011.

Almost single-handedly, Rachael led on the development of the strategy. She first gained the buy-in of chief executives from local authorities across England and the director of corporate resources from the London Borough of Ealing, who went on to chair the strategy’s development board. In researching the strategy, she interviewed over 400 local authority staff, plus representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and SOLACE. She also harnessed support and backing for the strategy and led on drafting the text itself, successfully steering it through central government clearance.

Aware that a strategy alone could not affect the step-change needed, Rachael then approached the private sector and developed over 30 short pilot programmes to help councils better detect fraud. These generated income of around £11m in the first year and were featured in the Fighting Fraud Locally 2012 Review. Wanting to further highlight the successful work being done by local authorities to combat fraud, she introduced the concept of the Fighting Fraud Locally Awards in 2012. These proved very successful and are now known as the Government Counter Fraud Awards.

Following a period with the Ministry of Defence in 2013 as manager of the Fraud Defence and Loss Prevention Service, Rachael was offered a unique opportunity to create and run a new fraud initiative with CIPFA, which aimed to pick up where the recently abolished National Fraud Authority and Audit Commission had left off.

Rachael launched the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre in 2014. Under her stewardship and in just three short years, the Centre now offers a wide range of counter fraud qualifications, including two accredited by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board (CFPAB) and three international qualifications. The Centre has trained over 100 counter fraud specialists and introduced tools to help public sector organisations detect, prevent and recover fraud losses more effectively. It continues to share and promote best practice and is a proud supporter of many high-profile fraud awareness campaigns.

In her role as head of the Counter Fraud Centre, Rachael has also been able to continue her work on Fighting Fraud Locally. In 2015 the DCLG approached the London Borough of Ealing to ask if they would commission CIPFA to produce the next Fighting Fraud Locally Strategy. Rachael again led a team to undertake this work and in April 2016 the second national strategy by local government for local government was published by the government.

Reflecting her commitment to innovation, Rachael is now in the process of delivering the London Counter Fraud Hub, which is bringing together London boroughs and counter fraud specialists with the latest technologies to help tackle fraud and corruption. Led by Rachael and working with a consortium of partners, including BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, the initiative is the first of its kind and it will provide London with over £60m in savings a year.

Tireless in her commitment to serving the wider counter fraud arena, Rachael has given much of her own time to support those who work in this area. In 1999 she set up the CIPFA Better Governance Forum and became the chair of the advisory board in 2006. She has served as chair of the London Public Sector Counter Fraud Partnership since 2001 and has been on the London Fraud Forum Committee since 2013. And in 2009 she became a trustee of the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work.

We believe Rachael thoroughly deserves the 2017 Stella Walsh Lifetime Achievement Award. As described by CIPFA Chief Executive, Rob Whiteman: 

"Rachael is pioneering, tenacious and widely known and respected throughout the counter fraud industry. Her career has been marked by ground-breaking achievements and a single-minded determination to root out fraud at all levels of government.

"I would not hesitate to say that Rachael has been one of the most pivotal players in the fight against public sector fraud during the past 20 years and is set to be a leading influence for years to come."

*Audit Commission, Protecting the Public Purse (2009)