Support worker stole money from vulnerable man then staged cover up

John Prentice helped himself to £10 from a cash tin on eight separate occasions between August and October 2020.

Support worker stole money from vulnerable man then staged cover up BongkarnThanyakij via iStock
Money: John Prentice helped himself to £10 on eight occasions between August and October 2020.

A support worker who repeatedly stole money from a vulnerable service user and tried to cover up his crimes has been struck off the care register.

John Prentice helped himself to £10 from a cash tin on eight separate occasions between August and October 2020 while working for Potential Living in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.

After taking the money, Prentice then got the service user – who did not have the capacity to manage his own finances and had limited understanding of language – to sign a sheet indicating he had received the £10 when he had not.

Prentice’s dishonesty came to an end after he was confronted by his employer.

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He has now been banned from working in the industry after the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) found his fitness to practise impaired.

In a written ruling published this month, the SSSC said: “Social service workers are expected to be truthful, open, honest and trustworthy.

“You took £10 from [the service user’s] cash tin on eight separate occasions for your own use.

“This was dishonest, a serious abuse of trust, and gives rise to significant concerns in relation to your integrity and values.

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“You recorded on cash sheets that you had given the money to [the service user] when you had not done so.

“This was carried out deliberately to conceal your dishonesty and further abused the trust placed in you.

“Your behaviour placed or was likely to have placed [the service user] at risk of financial and emotional harm.”

Prentice, who has not worked in the sector for more than a year, was said to have repaid the money he stole.

The SSSC accepted that he had admitted his behaviour, expressed remorse and had shown some insight.

It was also noted that Prentice fully cooperated with his employer and the SSSC and had previously worked in the sector since 2008 without incident.

However, his lack of “developed insight” and the pattern of bad behaviour “gives rise to a risk that it could be repeated in the future”.

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In conclusion, the watchdog said a removal order was the “most appropriate sanction” to maintain the “continuing trust and confidence in the social service profession and the SSSC as the regulator of the profession”.

The removal order came into effect on December 2.