Former probation officer sentenced for benefit fraud

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A former probation officer has been sentenced for benefit fraud.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that Joanne Sherriff-Jones, 50, claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit despite the fact that she was working as a probation officer and also, for a period, for the National Offender Management Service.

She fraudulently claimed around £50,000 in benefits from February 2012 to November 2016.

The defendant’s benefit claims were initially lawful. From 1993, she claimed Income Support as a single person and then as a lone parent to her daughter and then for herself, her daughter and her partner.

She also claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit, also initially lawfully. But the claims became fraudulent when she failed to tell the authorities that from February 2012, she’d been working for the Probation Service.

She went on to also work for the National Offender Management Service from 2014 to 2016 and from May 2016 to November 2016  she worked as a probation officer for a peripatetic contract company called Laytoft.

The defendant, who lives in Wakefield, also failed to declare that she had savings of more than £6,000.

At Leeds Magistrates’ Court on 17 March 2020, she pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain and three counts of fraud by false representation. She has since repaid the money she falsely claimed.

Today (24 July 2020) at Leeds Crown Court she was given a jail term of 8 months, suspended for 18 months.

George Ward of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Fraud Unit said: “This case almost beggars belief. While working with offenders to address their criminality, she was, in fact, an offender herself.

“No doubt in her professional life, she was applying the various measures that the State uses to help people get back on the straight and narrow.

“Meanwhile, in her personal life she was becoming more enmeshed in criminality.

“She stole around £50,000 from the benefits system - money that is badly needed elsewhere to support people in need.

“Initially her claims were lawful but after failing to notify the authorities when she got a job, she simply continued to say she needed state support to survive. That was a lie and she is now paying the price.”

Notes to editors

  • George Ward is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Mersey-Cheshire's Fraud Unit
  • The fraudulent benefit claims were:
    • Income Support: £28,197.42, from 14/03/2012 to 20/02/2018
    • Housing Benefit: £20,426.96, from 19/03/2012 to 14/11/2016
    • Council Tax Benefit: £901.88, from 19/03/2012 to 01/04/2013
  • The total of loss in this case is £49,526.26

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