Post Office Fraud - horrendous miscarriages

#1
I could not believe was I was listening to yesterday when Radio 5 ran a story about Post Office fraud cases. It appears 550 postmasters were prosecuted for fraud over a period of years in the noughties i.e. stealing money from the Post Office. The evidence was from the Post Office software called Horizon that showed the post masters figures did not balance. All 550 denied stealing all were found guilty. In December 2019 the Post Office admitted the software was faulty after many years of denying it. On Radio 5 a women was interviews who was sent to prison for 6 months. She worked for a Post Office and was accused of stealing £11,500. She was only 19 when sent to prison. She was sent to Holloway Prison and has an horrendous time with other prisoner serving life sentences. She always said she was innocence and her family paid £11,500 to the Post Office, Because she pleaded not guilty the judge sent her to prison to teach her a lesson. Despite the Post Office saying they made a mistake her criminal record has not being cleared. She is still traumatised from what has happened to her.

Surely when these cases started appearing with the introduction of the new Post Office software, the Post Office managers must have realised something strange was happening i.e. 550 post masters were on the fiddle (we are talking thousands of pounds). Also the legal profession and judges. I was always taught there is no software that is ever 100% error free and that was by the guy that started Logica a major software company in the 1980s.
 
#2
I could not believe was I was listening to yesterday when Radio 5 ran a story about Post Office fraud cases. It appears 550 postmasters were prosecuted for fraud over a period of years in the noughties i.e. stealing money from the Post Office. The evidence was from the Post Office software called Horizon that showed the post masters figures did not balance. All 550 denied stealing all were found guilty. In December 2019 the Post Office admitted the software was faulty after many years of denying it. On Radio 5 a women was interviews who was sent to prison for 6 months. She worked for a Post Office and was accused of stealing £11,500. She was only 19 when sent to prison. She was sent to Holloway Prison and has an horrendous time with other prisoner serving life sentences. She always said she was innocence and her family paid £11,500 to the Post Office, Because she pleaded not guilty the judge sent her to prison to teach her a lesson. Despite the Post Office saying they made a mistake her criminal record has not being cleared. She is still traumatised from what has happened to her.

Surely when these cases started appearing with the introduction of the new Post Office software, the Post Office managers must have realised something strange was happening i.e. 550 post masters were on the fiddle (we are talking thousands of pounds). Also the legal profession and judges. I was always taught there is no software that is ever 100% error free and that was by the guy that started Logica a major software company in the 1980s.
Never heard of the case before. Very sad.

Were you in the IT business around the same time as me then? My first job was at Scicon. I started there in 1980.
 
#3
This has been going on years. It was obvious that Mr and Mrs Smith in Littletowns all over the country weren't embezzling money from the PO. It was a disgrace that prosecutions continued when it was obvious what the problem was. Lots of lives ruined for no reason.

These people should be recompensed by the PO at personal expense to the managers who allowed this to happen.
 
#6
My second job after graduating was with Scicon in Aberdeen - 1984. The first year I spent travelling backwards and forwards to Shell in London.
Small world. I joined them in 1980 in London. After going down to London for uni in 1977. Then left to join Reuters in 1987.

They were owned by BP. So I used to play football and cricket for BP at their sports complex in South East London.

The Scicon and Logica offices were not far from each other in central London. Just off Oxford Street. I think the Scicon head office is now a hotel.
 
#7
I used to work for the Post Office (before this happened) and it sounds exactly like the Post Office management that I knew. No-one would question something like this. Even when the number of frauds were going through the roof. Fraud has always been a problem at the PO and they used to have a team in each area which dealt with it. Mostly this would be posties nicking from birthday cards and similar low level offenses. A classic I remember was a postie who was found to have thousands of items of mail in his garage at home. He couldn't actually read so anything that he couldn't work out by matching a pattern he would bung in the garage. Quite sad really.

When they started to focus on turning the "service" into a "business" this was one of the costs that were cut and a lot of expertise was lost. So (I guess) when faced with this situation they simply followed the rules. They were told that "Horizon" was fool proof and so they continued down the path set out for dealing with unexplained losses. Common sense was not in the playbook so never used, some of the recorded losses were almost impossible to rationalise, Sub Post Offices with tiny turnovers "losing" thousands in a week.

Not sure you can blame individual managers the problems were (and probably are) systemic.
 
#9
This has been in the news previously when the former employees were exonerated.

It is an absolute disgrace, somebody or maybe somebodies should go to jail for a long, long time for it.

It shows the dangers of computer systems to the ordinary worker and their personal reputations.
 
#10
We all laughed at the sketch of the female travel agent who comments "Computer says No" but this shows it does happen in real life. A lot of people blindly believe computer outputs 100%, they don't believe there is such a thing as computer or software errors. Why didn't they look for any additional evidence, such where did the money go if it was stolen? - what were the police doing, what were the lawyers and judges doing and of course the P/O managers.
 
#11
This has been in the news previously when the former employees were exonerated.

It is an absolute disgrace, somebody or maybe somebodies should go to jail for a long, long time for it.

It shows the dangers of computer systems to the ordinary worker and their personal reputations.
Nothing to do with the dangers of computers, and everything to do with the stupidity of humans who blindly follow the output, without any questioning.