A POLICE officer who resigned before being convicted of fraud and perverting the course of justice could be barred from ever working for any other force.

Emma Atkinson pleaded guilty to both charges after it came to light that she had forged the signature of her former partner and a colleague on a mortgage application.

The 40-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months when she appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Today, the sentence has been welcomed by Cleveland Police's Temporary Head of the Directorate of Standards and Ethics, Superintendent Paul Waugh, said: “We received an internal complaint about an officer's conduct in June 2019. Cleveland Police takes all such complaints extremely seriously and the allegations were fully investigated. The internal investigation led to the police officer being charged and convicted of criminal offences leading to the sentence given today.

"Emma Atkinson no longer works for Cleveland Police and an application is being made to ensure she will be placed on a national barred list so that she cannot become a police officer anywhere else in the country.

“The public rightly expects that police officers and those working for the service have the highest of standards, and know that they are not above the law. We have launched a new internal confidential reporting system, break the silence, to allow staff to securely report concerns anonymously in the strictest of confidence and have other strong measures in place to bring misconduct and criminality to our attention. This also includes ways for member of the public to report wrongdoing.

"This sentence should give confidence to all that we will not tolerate such behaviour within Cleveland and we will take action to address any concerns raised relating to the standards and behaviour of officers and staff.

”We have several hundreds of dedicated, honest and caring staff within Cleveland Police and cases such as this tarnishes their daily efforts – we must work together to not let that happen.”

Atkinson, of Surbiton Road, Fairfield, Stockton, pleaded guilty to fraud and perverting the course of justice.

The court heard how the mother-of-two used the £17,000 loan to buy her ex-partner out of the mortgage on their home but then failed to notify the lender that he was no longer living at the address.