From policing to electronic identity checking: an interview with Gavin Burton

From policing to electronic identity checking: an interview with Gavin Burton
Posted by Gavin Burton on 20th September 2016.

In this blog, I talk to Gavin Burton who has recently joined TrustID as our Strategic Development Director. With a background in the Metropolitan Police, he shares his views on the changing face of crime and how scanning can best protect businesses as well as explaining his role in the team.

Q: Tell us about your experience in the world of fraud prevention?

Gavin Burton (GB): "My background is within the police. In the past few years, I was a detective investigating cases such as homicide and then as part of the ‘Organised Crime’ team for the Olympics, protecting the UK from fraud such as counterfeit tickets, touts and money-laundering. Most recently, I spent 4 and a half years working in the ‘Amberhill’ team. This is a group within the Metropolitan Police working to investigate counterfeit identity data and share intelligence with various government bodies and private partnerships to prevent crime. We were primarily looking at passports, driving licenses, visas and residence permits that were forged or altered or even genuine documents which were obtained fraudulently. I headed up partnership with around 25 organisations across the public sector and financial services and indeed the one with TrustID."

Q: How did you see policing change during your career?

GB: "I’d say that crime has changed as society has changed. There has been a huge rise in fraud and the ‘criminal’ is no so longer visible; it’s not just burglars anymore but a different criminal, perhaps hidden, behind a screen or an online scam. It’s true to say that crime has advanced as technology has advanced – counterfeiting is more sophisticated and much easier than before and the world is more mobile so more and more identity documents are produced and the opportunity for ‘invisible’ crime increases. It’s a real challenge to keep up. The other side is that my role in the Met Police became increasingly about prevention – using data to spot trends or drive intelligence that cut crime off ‘before it happened’ and protecting the vulnerable before they became targets. I’m definitely a prevention convert..!"

Q: How big do you think the problem of fake identity really is?

GB: "Well, I don’t think identity crime can be dealt with as a singular issue – it’s core to most crime because you need ID for everything… to access bank accounts, jobs, work… If you can get away with using fake identity, it opens up so many avenues for further crime. So knowing that the person you are dealing with is who they say they are is critical; it’s the first thing to get right. I believe that if someone is using a fake document, let’s say to get a job, then for the business concerned, it’s not just about ‘getting caught and fined’ but it also presents a huge public risk. I mean, if someone is prepared to trick you about who they are, what else could they be hiding?"

Q: How do you think solutions like TrustID help?

GB: "To be honest, fraudsters and counterfeiters know that most of the people looking at identity documents are not experts. And I think it’s a huge responsibility to put on any individual within a business to ask them to spot those fraudulent applicants. I don’t think you can expect an HR Manager, for example, to know the finer details of every passport ever issued and I’m pretty sure that most of them just don’t have the time to make a detailed manual examination or compare loads of online images. So document scanning offers a huge opportunity for a business to protect themselves and their staff whilst demonstrating that they are compliant. And from my time in Amberhill, I also know that, quite simply, electronic scanners do find fakes!"

Q: What is your role going to be within TrustID?

GB: "I’ve joined the team here as the Strategic Development Director. This means that I’ll be working on forging partnerships with both government and industry, both to highlight the benefits that electronic scanning solutions can bring and also to better understand the thinking around identity checking, whether this be compliance, Right to Work or general fraud prevention. I’ll also be working with customers to drive the best use of our systems."

Gavin Burton

Strategic Development Director at TrustID with a background in the Metropolitan Police, dealing with all things compliance, monitoring document trends and working closely with customers.

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