News item

TSI chairman speaks at national conference

Bryan Lewin, the chairman of the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) explained to a national conference today (02 July) how local authorities can benefit from money seized from criminals.

Mr Lewin, who is also head of Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards Service, and county council leader Councillor Jim Harker, gave a speech to a breakfast meeting at this year's Local Government Association (LGA) conference in Bournemouth.

The pair talked about their success in using proceeds of crime legislation to benefit local communities.

Northamptonshire County Council's work has been at the forefront of developments around how the proceeds of crime legislation can be used by local authorities.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) is an exciting piece of legislation which helps tackle criminals by hitting them where it hurts - by taking away their financial assets. One third of the money seized from such assets can go to local authorities, meaning there is an opportunity for local authorities to gain additional funding while at the same time enabling them to help in the battle against crime.

POCA came into force in March 2003 and provided new powers of investigation into the extent and whereabouts of the proceeds of crime. Since April 2006, local authorities involved in the confiscation of criminal property, were able to access an incentive scheme which allowed them to retain up to a third of recovered assets following successful prosecutions.

POCA brings numerous benefits to councils. It sends out a clear message that crime doesn't pay and helps to remove criminal role models from local communities. It can contribute to local crime and disorder strategies as well as play a key role in tackling lifestyle criminals such as counterfeiters, persistent rogue traders and loan sharks.

Bryan Lewin said: 'I am delighted to be speaking at the LGA conference. I am hoping to highlight the work that has been carried out in Northamptonshire, as well as demonstrate to other local authorities that by using this legislation, they can benefit by acquiring much-needed additional revenue.

'It is important those involved in crime are deprived of the financial gains a criminal lifestyle offers. By using this legislation, local authorities can help reduce crime by stopping the criminals from profiting.'

Notes to Editors

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-backed telephone and online consumer advice service which works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards. 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 4 pence 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.