A BENEFITS officer and her son have been arrested over suspicions she tampered with claims to steal money.

Police turned up on the doorstep of a home on Broomfield Mews, Pitsea, yesterday morning as part of a criminal investigation at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The officers were joined by department investigators.

The 48-year-old woman, who is understood to work as a benefits officer, was arrested at 6.15am on suspicion of theft by employee and an offence under the Misuse of Computers Act.

It is alleged that she gained unauthorised access to Government computers to commit further offences.

Police also arrested her son, a 20-year-old man from Basildon, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft.

They were both taken to Basildon police station for questioning while officers carried out a search of the home.

The pair remained in custody at the time the Echo went to print.

PC Marek Jaworski, from Basildon’s community policing team, carried out the arrest alongside colleague PC Jill Prophet.

He said: “The Department of Work and Pensions have carried out an internal investigation into a member of staff who was suspected of fiddling with benefit payments.

“Although it wasn’t our investigation, the reason why we were involved is because we have got the powers to arrest, search the property and seize any items of interest.

“Now that an arrest has been made, we have handed it back over to the Department for Work and Pensions and we have very limited involvement from now on.”

He said the operation, which was also attended by Basildon’s emergency response officers, went smoothly.

He said: “We arrived at the property in the early hours of the morning to ensure that the suspect would be at home.

“We knocked at the door and the woman inside was already up and let us in.

“Everybody was co-operative and we didn’t need to exercise any proper police powers.

“The only person who did make a fuss was the woman’s husband, he was not arrested.”

The DWP is the Government’s biggest public service department and administers the state pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to over 22 million claimants and customers.

It is currently planning to move its base from inside the JobCentre, in the Gore, Basildon, to Basildon Council’s headquarters in St Martin’s Square.

A spokesman for the DWP said it would “not be appropriate” to comment on the case at this time.

To speak to an advisor about a benefits claim, call 0345 606 0265.