National Recognition for Cornwall’s Trading Standards.

6 April 2016 Posted by

Cornwall Council’s Fair Trading team (part of the Public Protection Service) has received a national award in recognition of its work to protect the most vulnerable of Cornwall’s residents from financial exploitation.

Recognising that victims of scam mail or doorstep fraud are far more likely to suffer a dramatic deterioration in health, an increase in social isolation and even a loss of independent living, the Fair Trading team has been keen to tackle these insidious crimes and intervene with suspected victims. Over 1800 potential victims have now been identified in Cornwall yet we suspect this represents the tip of the iceberg. In response, the small team has had to adopt some different ways of working. These include;

  • Establishing a small team of Trading Standards Volunteers, trained to undertake home visits to victims of scam mail.
  • Developing closer working relationships with financial institutions and community groups (our “eyes and ears” within the community).
  • Improving links and intelligence-sharing with local police and other agencies (Customs & Excise, National Illegal Money Lending Team, etc)
  • Investing Proceeds of Crime funding to provide call-blocking equipment to those most at risk.
  • Introduction of a “Trading Standards Approval” scheme for local businesses.
  • Training police officers to ensure a more effective response to doorstep fraud incidents.

One year on and as a result of the scam victim visits, work that has been predominantly undertaken by our Trading Standards Volunteers, we have seen an average saving per victim of over £475. In the first 12 months of operation 118 victims have been visited, saving a total of over £56,000. Estimates suggest that this work has taken over 1500 hrs to complete and thus saved the equivalent of around £37,000 in salaries. Reporting of doorstep crime incidents by the Police has increased by over 130% and as a result 115 victims of doorstep fraud were identified in 2015 compared with just 64 in the previous year. This reporting has meant that, for example, during the first quarter of 2015/16 early interventions by Trading Standards prevented some £10,000 from being paid to doorstep con-men – in the same quarter of 2014/15 the amount was just £450.

The award is made by the Municipal Journal, the main national magazine for local government.

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About the Author

Simon, Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

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