A FORMER Dorset Police officer has been jailed after admitting to fraudulently claiming to be unfit for work.

Matthew Littlefair, aged 36 and of Alderholt, was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on Wednesday, November 3, to two years and three months in prison after admitting a charge of fraud by false representation.

On October 30, 2017, Littlefair, who was a police constable, was involved in a minor road traffic collision in Hampshire while he was off duty and subsequently attended hospital for injuries including whiplash and back pain.

After being discharged from hospital, he reported as unfit for duty and took sick leave from work.

In April 2018 Littlefair attempted a return to work with adjustments, such as home working and reduced hours, but claimed his pain and symptoms were so severe he could not continue this as he still suffered from constant pain.

In September 2019, based on information provided by Littlefair, a medical practitioner determined Littlefair could no longer perform his duties as a frontline police officer and he was offered an ill-health award, which required a formal review in five years’ time.

Littlefair appealed the decision, claiming he was unlikely he would be able to work again in the future and an appeal hearing was initially set for March 2020 but was subsequently delayed due to the pandemic.

Littlefair continued to receive his full salary during this period.

In January 2020, Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit was made aware of concerns of the legitimacy of Littlefair’s claims and launched an investigation, which was supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

A surveillance team was deployed as part of the investigation and on several occasions they witnessed Littlefair drive to remote locations to take part in activity such as walking his dog or running.

A search was conducted at his address in May 2020 and officers found six pharmacy bags containing prescription medication dating back to October 2019. Only two of the bags had been opened and a very small amount of the medication used. Analysis of seized digital devices identified compelling evidence, which revealed that Littlefair was leading an active life throughout his period of sickness.

Littlefair was interview by officers on May 28, 2020, and subsequently suspended from duty. Investigators engaged with the Crown Prosecution Service who authorised Dorset Police to charge Littlefair with fraud by false representation.

After entering his guilty plea, Littlefair resigned as a Dorset Police officer. Following the conclusion of the court case, formal misconduct proceedings will be held.

At the sentencing hearing a timetable was also set for Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings to recover the pay Littlefair had fraudulently claimed from Dorset Police.

Detective Inspector Darren Moores, of Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit, said: “The evidence we compiled clearly shows that, while Matthew Littlefair gave the indication that he was unfit for work and in constant pain to both colleagues and medical professionals, he was in fact continuing to lead a full and active life.

"Police officers are publicly funded to protect the public and whilst the vast majority of police officers execute their duties with commitment and dedication, they are not above the law and it was wholly in the public’s interest to investigate Littlefair and bring him to justice for his deceit. Police officers are rightly accountable to the public and I hope that this investigation demonstrates that Dorset Police will not shy away from investigating suspected wrongdoing by members of the Force.”

IOPC Director of Major Investigations, Steve Noonan, said: “The actions of this former Dorset Police officer were not only deceitful and selfish, but have the potential to damage public trust and confidence in the police service. Dorset Police rightly took this matter very seriously and after a referral from the force we decided to supervise their investigation into the conduct of Matthew Littlefair.

"The former officer was found to have acted fraudulently in misrepresenting the extent of his injuries, and today’s outcome shows that such deceitful behaviour will not be tolerated. It will now be for the force to take forward appropriate misconduct proceedings.”