News item

Journalists scoop top trading standards award

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI), in partnership with Consumer Direct, has saluted journalists whose campaigning scoops have exposed scams and rogues.

The 2008 TSI Media Awards were presented at the launch of TSI's National Consumer Week at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in London by John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, on Monday 17 November.

'Regional Consumer Journalist of the Year' was awarded to Elisa Mitchell, of ITV Meridian, for the second year running. Elisa regularly attends TSI National Conference and has excellent relationships with many people working in trading standards. The judges were particularly impressed with a feature Elisa did on underage drinking.

Two awards for 'Best Consumer Television Programme' were given out, one of which went to 'Sort It', of ITV West Country. This hard-hitting news programme with Jonathan Gibson forms part of a regional news broadcast and was commended for its work in tracking down fraudsters and warning consumers of scams.

The BBC's 'Don't Get Done, Get Dom' with Dominic Littlewood won the other award. The show was praised for conveying information to viewers in an entertaining and informative way.

The local authority press teams who work with trading standards services around the country were also hailed in the awards.

Surrey County Council was judged to have the 'Best Local Authority Press Office Team' and Julie Cuthbert, of Nottinghamshire County Council, and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council's Sofia Constantinou were joint winners in the 'Best Local Authority Press Officer' category.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI, said: 'The media can be our closest ally when it comes to exposing and publicising rogue practices and dangerous merchandise.
'By working together we can communicate our message effectively and educate consumers and businesses about the values of trading fairly.

'The TSI Media Awards highlight many examples of trading standards services building strong links with local newspaper, radio or TV journalists. The awards also serve to recognise the hard work done by local authority press officers across the country.'

The awards were presented in conjunction with Consumer Direct, the Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service that works in partnership with local authority trading standards services.
Karen Chilvers, head of marketing for Consumer Direct, said: 'These awards recognise that consumer journalists play an important role in educating consumers about their rights and empowering them to make informed decisions, find the best deals and resolve disputes with shops and traders.'

And Jed Mayatt, Manager of UK European Consumer Centre, a member of the judging panel said: 'The media plays a vital role in helping us to get our messages over to a large audience, so that consumers know and understand their rights in an ever more complex marketplace.

Notes to editors

Judges for the 2008 TSI Media Awards were: Karen Chilvers, head of marketing, Consumer Direct; Oliver Hickson, head of campaigns, Office of Fair Trading; Jed Mayatt, UK European Consumer Centre; Lou Thomas, TSI press office; Tim Gillett, TS Today, TSI's monthly magazine.

Their verdicts on each category:

Regional Consumer Journalist of the Year
Elisa Mitchell, ITV Meridian
Nominated by: Dorset Trading Standards, Hampshire Trading Standards, Bournemouth Trading Standards
The judges said: 'Her comprehensive feature on underage drinking involved a huge amount of work and some top-notch investigative journalism. The message that came out of the piece was very strong and positive, with a commendable depth of work for a regional journalist'.

Best Consumer TV Programme
Sort It - ITV West Country, with Jonathan Gibson
Nominated by: Devon Trading Standards and Consumer Direct South West
The judges said: 'Great work tracking down fraudsters and a very effective way to warn consumers about ongoing scams - excellent work. A hard-hitting news programme considering that it forms part of a regional news broadcast, rather than being a stand-alone show. Presenter Jonathan Gibson was also highly commended in the Regional Journalist of the Year category, and was praised for his effective communication between the media and the local authority, as well as for his thorough investigations.'

Best Consumer TV Programme
Don't Get Done, Get Dom, with Dominic Littlewood
Nominated by: Frank Shepherd, Consumer Direct
The judges said: 'Impressed with the programme's strong campaigning against large retailers. Conveyed important information to the viewer in an entertaining and informative way, showing that it is not always complicated to launch a complaint against a retail giant. The show worked very hard to get an educational message to the consumer. Excellent use of case studies.'

Best Local Authority Press Office Team
Surrey County Council
Nominated by: Steve Ruddy, Surrey Trading Standards
The judges said: 'Under a lot of pressure following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease on its patch, this was an object lesson in crisis management - with strong work in the face of intense media interest from around the country - but the Surrey team also deserves high praise for its ongoing work on behalf of the local authority. The press office proved itself to be efficient and effective in delivering key messages on behalf of the trading standards team right throughout 2008.'

Best Local Authority Press Officer
Julie Cuthbert, Nottinghamshire County Council
Nominated by: Mark Hughes, Nottinghamshire Trading Standards
The judges said: 'Julie developed a link between trading standards and the local media through hard, effective strategic work over several campaigns. Clearly popular with colleagues, this was a very strong nomination. Julie's work displayed both meticulous planning and a structured marketing strategy, working with several different agencies, as well as evidence that her work had been a success.'

Best Local Authority Press Officer
Sofia Constantinou, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Nominated by: Samantha Scott, Consumer Direct West Midlands
The judges said: 'Sofia gained a huge amount of coverage for her 'Yee-Ha' campaign to expose cowboy traders, helping to enhance the reputation of the local authority as a whole. The campaign was extremely creative and was picked up by a wide range of media. As well as serving to warn consumers about rogue traders, the campaign also asked householders to report suspicious activity and enjoyed several successes in bringing rogue traders to book.'

National Consumer Week

This is the 21st annual National Consumer Week organised by the Trading Standards Institute and for the fourth year in association with Consumer Direct, the government-funded consumer advice telephone and online service.
National Consumer Week is a platform to raise awareness about specific consumer issues and particularly to highlight new developments in an increasingly complex and competitive marketplace. It profiles the work of and is supported by local authority trading standards services across the UK.

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

Consumer Direct - 08454 04 05 06

Consumer Direct is a Government-funded telephone and online consumer advice service that works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Services. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services.

Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.

Calls cost a maximum of 4p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. The advice and information given is free.