A local residents charity, which was ordered to pay nearly £9,000 to a former cleaner after failing to pay her the minimum wage, is being investigated by the police.
Cleveland police confirmed they were investigating Manor Residents Association, which provides courses, advice and children’s services in Hartlepool, County Durham, after concerns were raised by the local council.
A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said that after its latest audit review of the charity the council referred "a number of issues" to the local police. But he said he could not give any further details of the issues until the police had concluded their investigation.
According to council board papers from earlier this month, the audit review found that "no assurance" could be made that council funding would be properly managed by Manor Residents Association.
A spokeswoman from Cleveland police said an investigation into the charity was being dealt with by the force’s economic crime unit.
A Cleveland police statement said: "Concerns were raised some time ago and the matter was referred to the Charity Commission – which is a regulatory body for the Manor Residents Association."
The statement said that on 6 September evidence was produced that "appeared to show that criminal offences had been committed", which are being investigated.
The police spokeswoman confirmed that as part of the investigation police officers visited the charity’s premises on 19 September.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator was in contact with the police and was aware of the ongoing police inquiry. "We are continuing to gather information to look into the regulatory concerns we have about the charity," she said.
In April this year the charity was ordered by an employment tribunal to pay £8,800 to its former cleaner, Lynda Gooding, after it failed to pay her the minimum wage and repeatedly did not pay her on time.
However, the charity has so far failed to pay Gooding, and in August it unsuccessfully tried to suspend a bailiff order that she had raised in an attempt to retrieve the funds.
Third Sector contacted Manor Residents Association but no one was available for comment.