Social worker struck off for obtaining £6K fraudulently

HCPC strikes off social worker who gained direct payments fraudulently

Published on 16th February 2018

The HCPC has struck off a social worker after she obtained £6,000 fraudulently.

Mrs Khush Thapar was convicted of convicted of “furnishing false information relating in accounts” on 26 September 2016 at Croydon Crown Court.

Panel Chair P Geering commented: “The conviction is serious. It is an allegation of dishonesty and is so serious that it has the potential of undermining public confidence in the profession if no action were taken.”

Mrs Thapar was in receipt of Direct Payments to cover her assessed needs related to her physical health during the time she was working for Croydon Council. Concerns were raised in relation to the payments being made to her and an investigation was instigated.

Mrs Thapar received a total of £43,837.50p in direct payments from the Council. It was discovered that, of that, a total sum of £6,365 was received dishonestly. As a result of this investigation, she was charged with criminal offences of False Accounting.

On 26 September 2016, she pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to a charge of Fraud by False Accounting. On 28 October 2016 she was sentenced to 16 weeks custody suspended for two years and ordered to pay £1000 costs, and a victim surcharge, to be paid within six months.

In sentencing, the trial Judge acknowledged that in the past she had been demonstrated honesty and integrity as demanded by her role as a social worker and acknowledged the health problems experienced by her and her children and a marriage breakdown.

However, he said: “Nonetheless, what I am absolutely sure of is that in this case you spotted an opportunity of which you were aware because of your employment to take money dishonestly and that is what you did, and, indeed, that is what you pleaded guilty to. The amount that you took dishonestly was £6,365. What you did was you applied for direct payments, to most of which you would have been entitled, but you dishonestly topped it up and then tried to cover your tracks and lied about it.”

He added: “I do consider that abuse of the sort of position that you held to obtain benefits payments of which you were aware because of your specialist professional knowledge, that is a very real breach of trust indeed.”

The Health and Care Professions Council Panel determined that Mrs Thapar has shown limited insight into her behaviour. She still says it was an accounting error rather than recognising it as dishonest behaviour in the terms to which she had pleaded guilty. She had previously worked helping others to fill out benefit claim forms and understood the importance of accuracy and honesty. She referred to her financial and other difficulties and said that she is not in the same situation now.

The Panel noted that her dishonesty occurred before she was registered as a social worker.  However, because of her lack of insight there is a risk of repetition of dishonesty. The Panel is of the view that if faced with a similar situation in the future, Mrs Thapar might again be tempted. The Panel is of the view that dishonesty is very difficult to remediate.

The Panel ordered that Mrs Thapar should be struck off the social work register.

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