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  1. #1
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    Default Does the British Embassy Pass Everything We Provide Them With to All UK Departments ?

    Hi all. I wasn't sure which Forum to post this in - i did think it might belong in the UK Visas forum - it is definitely relevant to everyone putting their personal details as part of an application for a UK Visa of any kind, but there are implications for all UK citizens who do anything that will require involvement with the British Embassy, Bangkok. Ok, this is the issue : an old friend of mine, now sadly passed away, was living in Isaan for more than 5 years, and about half way through that time he got married to a Thai 'lady' who was the eventual cause of his demise (another story). Not long after the wedding - maybe a couple of months - he noticed that his UK State Pension had stopped being paid into his Thai bank account. He wasn't much good with email or phones, so he waited until he was next back in the UK and went in person to his local Social Security office to ask the obvious question : Why has my pension been stopped ? Tap tap on the computer keyboard...'Oh Mr.X - that is because we learned that you have married a Thai woman.' It turned out that up until April 2010 (i might be a year out) - UK guys could get an INCREASE after marrying a Thai female who could be termed a 'Dependent'. (This has been scrapped btw.) So my old mate got a 50% increase in his monthly pension, which was very welcome. BUT - my point here is - HOW did the DSS (or whatever they are now called) - FIND OUT about his marriage ? There is only one answer - by being hooked up to the Bangkok British Embassy where he of course had to go to get his 'Free To Marry' document after proving to them he was Single or Divorced. He was 100% sure that he had had no contact with any other government office at all. Really, he was the kind of guy who gets baffled by the simplest form, and needed help with everything - he just didn't do 'contact' with anyone in authority, and he did not tell anyone in authority that he had got married. I am sure as i can be that the Embassy informed the DSS about his change of circumstance. The fact that in this case it was to his advantage, is neither here nor there - it's the whole bureaucratic process i'm interested in.

    What i'd like to hear about, rather than only opinions about this question one way or the other - is members EXPERIENCES, IF they have a similar story of possible transfer of 'private' information direct from the British Embassy to other government offices back in the UK. I think this is a genuinely big issue for UK citizens who have to virtually open up every detail of their lives in the process of helping a Thai to get a UK Visa of any kind. [And before anyone thinks it's worth doing : could the "If you've got nothing to hide what's there to worry about" response be assumed! ]

  2. #2
    Premium Member Gary & Nok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingerSongwriter View Post
    he noticed that his UK State Pension had stopped being paid into his Thai bank account.

    Why has my pension been stopped ?

    So my old mate got a 50% increase in his monthly pension
    This doesn't make sense! His pension was stopped but he got an increase!!!

    I can't say in my experience that anything was "transferred" to another department. I had to tell anyone that needed to know that I had married, but then I wasn't on any Government handout list (for want of a better word) so perhaps that might explain why.
    Independence Day 31st January 2020

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    It makes perfect sense. His pension was stopped temporarily so that it could be re-started after he went in to see them and filled in a form as a newly-married person. Simple. [Btw : i wouldn't call a state pension paid into over a whole working life a 'government handout' !]

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    Premium Member Gary & Nok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingerSongwriter View Post
    His pension was stopped temporarily so that it could be re-started after he went in to see them and filled in a form as a newly-married person. Simple.
    Ah! now you give further information, it does make sense!

    Quote Originally Posted by SingerSongwriter View Post
    [Btw : i wouldn't call a state pension paid into over a whole working life a 'government handout' !]
    I did say "for want of a better word".
    Independence Day 31st January 2020

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    I wish someone on the inside at the embassy would pop up and give us the full story on this - i have a feeling it is going to remain one of those 'unknowns' - but really, it should be public knowledge. Obviously, for anyone with a paranoid mind (like me) it would always be best to ASSUME that everything is shared between government departments, including embassies around the world.

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    Premium Member caller's Avatar
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    I find it hard to believe that UK Embassy's all over the World are notifying the Pensions service, or whatever relevant department for those under 65, of every 'freedom to marry' document they issue. It's no proof that this was followed through with an actual marriage.

    But even if they do, I cannot envisage any circumstance in which a pension payment would stop to correct it upwards pending contact from the pensioner, simply because of the obvious hardship it would cause in most circumstances, assuming he had notified them he was no longer in the UK?

    Even when a pension is overpaid, it's not stopped, but reduced to recover any overpayment from on-going payments.
    'Tis me

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    Quote Originally Posted by caller View Post
    ... But even if they do, I cannot envisage any circumstance in which a pension payment would stop to correct it upwards pending contact from the pensioner, simply because of the obvious hardship it would cause in most circumstances, assuming he had notified them he was no longer in the UK? ...
    I agree. The likelihood is a letter the Department for Work and Pensions sent to this chap remained unanswered after a reminder or two and they stopped the payments believing the chap might have died knowing that if he was still alive and well he'd be in touch to advise them!
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  8. #8
    Furniture เฟอร์นิเจอร์ ian1208's Avatar
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    Sharing information.

    Every public and goverment department share information. There are notices just about everywhere (written or virtual) warning you.
    All someone has to do is type in your name (part of it) and your DOB (part of it) and all the possibilities will come up.

    There is a shared database.
    Judging others before you have met isn't a wise option.

  9. #9
    Premium Member caller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian1208 View Post
    Sharing information.

    Every public and goverment department share information. There are notices just about everywhere (written or virtual) warning you.
    All someone has to do is type in your name (part of it) and your DOB (part of it) and all the possibilities will come up.

    There is a shared database.
    The warning is a legal requirement to do with Data Protection, informing an individual of how there data may be used and usually for the purposes of the prevention and detection of fraud.

    There is no shared database between all Govt. Departments. There are some closely aligned, for example the system you mention that manages the records held against each persons NI No, which actually contains a lifelong record of declared addresses, employers, any benefits claimed and Tax Office data. That came into existence in approx. 1990 (the team I then worked in piloted it).

    As stated elsewhere, data from Local Govt. and various Govt. Agencies, such as Local Govt. employees, Council Tax data, Council tenants, benefit and tax credit claimants, pensioners, immigration records - visa holders etc, is downloaded and sent for matching, falling under the 'prevention and detection of fraud' guise. This was originally an Australian concept that was brought to the UK years ago by the Audit Commission for use within and between Local Govt. to tackle fraud. Central Govt. originally refused to participate and even up to my retirement last year, the DWP still refused to fully participate (staff records).
    'Tis me

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    Premium Member KhunIanB-UK's Avatar
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    Isn't that sharing of information a good thing? If you want to get married and being married changes the "benefits" you get, whether it be for better or worse, shouldn't the state that is paying those "benefits" be aware if one part is involved directly and another may not be and then the laid down rules be applied based on that, again whether it is positive or negative. Remember it's the payers of taxes that in effect pay for almost everything when it comes to the state and it's meant for the benefit of society rather than the individual.

  11. #11
    Premium Member caller's Avatar
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    It's a good thing if you have nothing to hide.

    A few years back I was at a presentation by a senior aussie civil servant and he was amazed at the obstacles here to implementing change to move with the times, as well as sharing systems that would make processes more efficient as well as cut down on fraud. But as he pointed out, they didn't have 50+ years of history of a welfare system that is sometimes fiercely defended and a political hot potato to contend with.
    'Tis me

  12. #12
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    Default Thanks.

    Thanks for all the thoughtful replies - much good sense and accumulated knowledge as usual here. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether there is a kind of overarching database about us all, but otherwise a lot of consensus that sharing of data is routine. One point (raised by Tobias) which is important in the case of my rather incapable friend - yep, it is quite likely that the UK gvt tried to make contact after they found about his marriage to a Thai woman and then gave up and stopped his pension after there was no reply. He was a strange chap - a bit 'cut off' - correction / seriously cut off - the kind of person who could do the cryptic crossword but was otherwise hapless about life and people. That was why he was cleaned out by a drinking, gambling, unscrupulous female. He once asked me if i would help him use a computer to check if she had been removing money from an online bank account as his balance had dived - so i asked him if he had a password, and he said no...and it turned out he'd never been near an online bank account - wouldn't have known where to start. So i think any contact from the UK gvt would have passed him by. I never heard him say a harsh thing about anyone, and in spite of (or maybe because of) his naivety, i always liked to see him and sit a while. He was one of the many who turn up in LOS in need of something or someone, and really haven't got what it takes to survive when the wrongdoers start circling for the kill.

  13. #13
    Furniture เฟอร์นิเจอร์ ian1208's Avatar
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    There is no shared database between all Govt. Departments.
    Maybe not 'all' departments Caller but immigration and police share data on travelers coming in and going out the UK.
    In turn this is linked to a wider database throughout Europe. One example.
    Following on from that, the DWP can and does share data on individuals who clam benefits that leave the country (fraud detection) in turn they lease with immigration (API) as the way to 'ping them' (technical term) is on the way in to the UK.

    The OP asked if there was a link. The simple answer is yes. Both immigration and the DWP can and often share information (on request) about fraud. The police share information with both. Sometimes they jointly share information by way of a simple request.

    Most of us have already signed away our rights regarding this and probably if truth be told, it wouldn't matter anyway if we have nothing to hide.
    Judging others before you have met isn't a wise option.

  14. #14
    Premium Member caller's Avatar
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    How does the DWP know when someone is leaving the Country, or have I misunderstood what you have said?

    Immigration records are woefully outdated, for example they participate in the National Fraud initiative, the fraud data-matching exercise I refer to above. I guess it's pretty obvious that from what I write, that I had a career in counter fraud work and not long ago, their data identified that one of my colleagues was an overstayer as their work permit had expired, which was technically correct as it actually had some two years previously, but sensibly and lawfully, they had renewed it as required. This somewhat relevant information had somehow, simply passed by immigrations computer systems. But our experience from their data matching records showed this was actually par for the course. I should point out that we had our own checks and measures in place and requested confirmation of their renewed work permit as the old one was due to expire (or whatever the formal term is).

    Pretty much everybody in fraud investigation shares / requests / provides data where lawfully enabled to do so, but that doesn't mean that everyone has access to all data held by various agencies. There is certainly no right to just go a fishing expedition in the hope of something relevant turning up. Requests have to be succinct, valid, lawful in a prescribed manner and often controlled via higher authority and / or designated officers and recorded and monitored. It's not a case of x simply requesting all info held by y on z.

    And that is a long way short of a central shared system.

    I actually think the public is better protected now than it ever has been. Years ago, in a saner world and before all these controls came in, I could probably get access to pretty much anything when needed as although there was basically an 'official' blank on any data sharing, but as we needed such info to do our jobs, I and many others had all sorts of informal agreements to provide / receive info, whether from the PO, tax office, Police, including passenger lists via Special Branch and uncle tom cobley and all! And we used to work regularly with immigration, which was eventually officially sanctioned. I quite enjoyed the many network meetings attended to keep such relationships going (hic!), all gone now sadly!

    And I share your view that if nothing to hide, why worry?
    'Tis me

  15. #15
    Premium Member Gary & Nok's Avatar
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    Oh what a joy if everything was shared because then if x did not = y then the appropriate wrong doing could be spat out to z who then could put it right.

    The police can't even get their act together over a "simple" thing such as wrong doings with cars.
    i.e Car owner must have MOT (where necessary), insurance, tax and a driving licence. If one of those does not gel on the database why is there not a long list of addresses to be raided or letters sent out demanding corrective action/fines.

    There are numerous possibilities to make things a lot simpler for the authorities and to outwit criminals that go along with shared data but it just isn't going to happen. It would do an awful lot of people out of work and make the "violates my human rights" brigade of this country have a coronary.
    Independence Day 31st January 2020

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