Social care worker Melanie Brown received Certificate of Commendation
Social worker helps trading standards catch a rogue trader who targeted the vulnerable
Her efforts to be recognised with a national award
Social care worker Melanie Brown, of Powys social services, has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation at the Trading Standards Institute’s Conference in Brighton on Thursday 20 June for her key role in the criminal investigation of a rogue trader.
Ms Brown had acted as the support worker for her client, of Ystradgynlais, for two years when she noticed that he was acting out of character. She noticed that he seemed to be having an unusual amount of building work done and found out that the builder Richard Rees was taking him out for lunches.
Ms Brown said: “I was concerned that this builder was grooming my client, who has severe mental health issues, appearing to be his friend, but scamming him out of money. I monitored the situation over many months and finally managed to make my client see he was being duped – he then showed me all the invoices which showed that he had paid Rees some £10,000, an extortionate amount for what had actually been done.”
The social care worker took it upon herself to visit the cafe where Rees was regularly taking his victim – there she found out from the cafe owner that the builder came in often, bringing vulnerable people with him.
Ms Brown reported the matter to trading standards, sparking the beginning of Operation Diamond.
Ken Yorston, head of service at Powys trading standards, said: “This referral enabled us to start a criminal investigation, and we found 20 other victims across South Wales – all extremely vulnerable – with total rogue trader activity to a value of at least £85,000. Melanie also gave her client invaluable support when he acted as a witness at Crown Court.”
TSI’s chief executive Leon Livermore said: “We are delighted to be able to give national recognition to Melanie Brown by presenting her with a Certificate of Commendation. She went beyond the call of duty to help and protect her client, and to ensure this callous rogue trader did not get away with targeting vulnerable adults with mental health issues.”
Richard Rees received a suspended prison sentence in August 2012 – a financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is underway.
Notes for Editors:
The awards ceremony was at the Brighton Centre on Thursday 29 June at 11am. For interviews or photographs please contact Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815 or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.
The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2013
The Trading Standards Institute’s annual trading standards and consumer affairs Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe. The 2013 Conference is at Brighton Centre from Tuesday 18 June to Thursday 20 June.
Some 1,500 attended the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations.
For more information please visit http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/events/conference2013.cfm and follow the #TSIConf13 stream on our @TSI_uk Twitter account.