Social worker stole items intended for vulnerable families

A senior social worker has admitted stealing nearly £9,000 worth of furniture, appliances and clothing intended for vulnerable children and families.

As team manager at Aberdeenshire Council, Jennifer Stephen, 47, of McGregor Crescent, Peterhead, was responsible for buying items for families in north-east Scotland.

These included essential household appliances for families living on the breadline and equipment for children with disabilities.

But it emerged that, between September 2005 and August 2008, Stephen induced colleagues to sign off purchase orders for a number of goods totalling £8,885, which she then had delivered to her own home.

When Grampian police visited the house after a complaint from the council, they found a tumble drier, washing machine, sofa, Wii Fit games console, electric guitar and gym equipment intended for service users, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Stephen had also reportedly ordered school uniforms claiming they were for families living in poverty, but gave them instead to her own children.

She was sacked by Aberdeenshire Council after an internal inquiry and, at Peterhead Sheriff Court on 3 February, admitted defrauding the authority of £8,885. She is due to return to court for sentencing in March.

A council spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on former staff or criminal matters, but we can assure people that, as soon as the matter was brought to our attention, we dealt with it swiftly, investigating the matter internally and assisting police.”

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