Thieving £31k social worker sparks County Hall rule changes
PUBLISHED: 17:51 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:53 03 October 2013
A STRING of new staff checks have been introduced after it emerged a social worker had stolen more than £30,000 from vulnerable Welwyn Garden City victims, County Hall has said.
Last week the Welwyn Hatfield Times reported Lorraine Graves, 36, had been jailed for 15 months after it emerged she had helped herself to £31,000 from five elderly and disabled people’s savings.
The former social worker, who stole the cash to fund a spiralling gambling addiction, was dubbed “disgusting and shameful” at a court hearing last month.
Cambridge Crown Court heard Graves, employed by Herts County Council, had been allowed to withdraw cash on clients’ behalf.
This week a statement from the authority said: “We are extremely disappointed in the conduct of this member of staff and express our sincere apologies and sympathy to her victims and their families.
“We are pleased this matter has gone through the judicial process.”
Colette Wyatt-Lowe, cabinet member for adult care and health, said financial procedures were immediately investigated.
Graves’ deception was discovered after an elderly victim died.
The social worker had falsely claimed Christina Newman had spent £1,000 on a caravan holiday and bought a new television shortly before her death, pocketing the money herself.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe said each vulnerable client now had a budget plan, which specified agreed expenditure.
Any attempt to make purchases not recorded would be blocked, and prompt an investigation.
There are also now debit cards for purchases made on behalf of clients, with County Hall saying there is now a clear audit trail.
She added: “Our revised procedures have since been the subject of a formal audit, which concluded this week that there are now even higher levels of assurance in place.”
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