A mother who forged documents in a bid to secure a school place for her daughter has been fined £500 and sentenced to 100 hours community service. In one of the first prosecutions of so-called ‘education tourism’,
Lura Pacheco was found to have submitted a forged tenancy agreement so that her 11-year-old daughter might attend a secondary school in Havering rather than Dagenham and Redbridge. Giles Morrison, representing Havering Council, said: “She wanted her daughter to get into a Havering school as these are generally better… It (the offence) is, I am told, something that Havering Council is very concerned with in the borough and there might be a number of prosecutions that might happen in the future.”
One would hope that that education chiefs in Dagenham and Redbridge would start to look at Havering and see what can be done to emulate their successes.
The fine and community service may seem harsh but they may be signs that things are hotting up in Havering. In 2008 a resident claimed £25,308 in housing benefit and council tax benefit, despite inheriting £44,821. But he received a sentence of just 20 weeks, suspended for one year, and was ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid community. In June 2012 a woman who claimed to be a struggling single mum-of-two was sentenced to 15 months in prison after Havering Council uncovered her double life as a jet-setting wife of a London black cab driver. She admitted fraudulently claiming more than £165,000 in benefits over a 20-year period, despite living in an expensively furnished home and enjoying numerous holidays abroad with her husband. And last year a Romford man was jailed for six weeks for benefit fraud after illegally subletting his council house. More than £14,000 was involved. Meanwhile in a separate case, a Harold Hill resident was also sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and given a curfew from 7pm to 7am daily, for fraudulently claiming almost £9,000 in housing and Council tax benefit.
Still, £500 and a sentence of 100 hours community service for being too enthusiastic for the well being of your children does seem a tad on the strong side.
The picture is 1897 Bogdanov-Belsky At School Doors var” by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky – art-catalog.ru. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons