A support worker convicted of benefit fraud has been removed from the register after a disciplinary hearing.
Jennifer Morrison was registered in Aberdeen with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as a support worker in both a housing support service and a care-at-home service.
She was subject to a hearing of the SSSC which found her fitness to practise impaired due to her conviction.
On September 5 last year, Morrison was convicted of two charges of benefit fraud at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. At the time she was employed as a support worker in Aberdeen.
The offences took place outwith her employment over a period of just under two years from August 2015 to April 2017.
In the decision report it states: “The allegations were very serious. You had secured payment of substantial benefits you were not entitled to.
“There was a pattern of dishonest behaviour and a disregard for the law over a period of 20 months.
“Dishonesty was not easily remedied as it may represent attitudinal or values issues. The behaviour breached fundamental tenets of the profession.”
The report goes on to state that Morrison had worked in the sector for six months without issue and had left in November last year, handing in her resignation letter on the day of a disciplinary hearing.
“The wider interest was a legitimate concern,” the panel’s report stated.
“Any ordinary person might see the reputation of the profession as damaged by your conviction.
“The public expect care workers to be honest, since they are dealing with vulnerable service users.
“With prolonged and repeated behaviour such as that seen here, the public would expect the SSSC to act to mark the inappropriateness of the behaviour.”
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In the ruling it states that the disciplinary panel’s information was that Morrison was no longer working in the sector. It also said that although the offences took place outside of work, this was not a mitigating factor.
The panel noted that she had not taken steps to bring the matter to her employer until after she had been sentenced in court.
Explaining the panel’s decision to remove her from the register, the report said: “The panel therefore concluded that the only appropriate order was an order for removal from the register.
“They noted from the decisions guidance that a removal order should be used where there is no other way to protect the public or where confidence in the social services profession would be undermined by allowing the worker to remain on the register.
“They considered that both of these considerations applied.
“They considered that a removal order was necessary to maintain public confidence in the profession.”