Press releases

Journalists scoop top trading standards awards

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI), in partnership with Consumer Direct, today (Monday 12 November 2007) saluted journalists from newspapers, television and radio whose campaigning scoops have exposed scams and rogues.

The 2007 Media Awards were presented at the launch of National Consumer Week at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in London by Bryan Lewin, chairman of TSI, and John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT.

'National Consumer Journalist of the Year' was awarded to Jane Barrie of the Sunday Mail in Scotland, who in 2006 had won TSI's Scottish journalist of the year. Jane often works closely with Scottish trading standards teams, and has helped to expose a range of conmen and rogues in her regular feature, 'The Judge', over the last 12 months.

Elisa Mitchell, of ITV Meridian Tonight, scooped the 'Regional Consumer Journalist of the Year' title for presenting coverage of trading standards issues that 'goes beyond the easy headlines'. Her work included a concerted campaign, working with trading standards, to expose rogues selling counterfeit goods in Dorset.

The 'Best Consumer Television Programme' award went to 'Scam Squad', of Talkback Thames. This six-part series, broadcast on the BBC earlier this year, fought off strong competition in a tightly-contested category. The judges particularly liked the way 'Scam Squad' appealed to a younger audience than some of the more traditional consumer programmes.

Long-established broadcaster Laurence Reed, of BBC Radio Cornwall, won the 'Best Consumer Radio Programme' accolade. He has built a reputation as someone whom listeners can trust to champion local issues and works closely with Consumer Direct and trading standards to provide the best possible advice to listeners.

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

The Somerset County Council Public Relations Team was judged 'Best Local Authority Press Office Team' and Graham Twarog, of Gloucestershire County Council was 'Best Local Authority Press Officer'.

Bryan Lewin, chair of TSI said: 'Trading standards teams all over the UK owe a lot to journalists, who help us to make the public aware of the sharp practices that we come across during our working lives.

'They help us to warn people to be on their guard against falling victim to scams and rogues - and encourage more people to report issues they are concerned about to trading standards for investigation.

'The TSI Media Awards highlight many examples of trading standards services building strong links with local newspaper, radio or TV journalists.'

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.

Christine Cryne, Director of Consumer Direct at the OFT, said: 'The media plays a very important role in championing the rights of consumers and highlighting the work of trading standards.

'Journalists help trading standards professionals to expose malpractice and to get messages across to protect the public. We are delighted to have supported this year's TSI Media Awards to demonstrate how much we value the role that journalists play.'

Notes to Editors

Judges for the 2007 TSI Media Awards were: Christine Wade, assistant chief executive, consumer advice and trading standards, OFT; Christine Cryne, director, Consumer Direct; Karen Chilvers, head of marketing, Consumer Direct; Nigel Strick, TSI Executive Board; Lou Thomas, TSI press office; Mike Sewell, of TS Today, TSI's monthly magazine.

Their verdicts on each category:

Consumer Journalist of the Year
Jane Barrie, Sunday Mail
Nominated by: Andrew Moynihan, North Ayrshire Trading Standards

The judges' said: 'Jane Barrie is the mastermind behind The Judge, the Sunday Mail's long-running pages that campaign on behalf of consumers. Jane scooped a TSI Media Award last year and she has continued to fight on behalf of consumers and, often working closely with Scottish trading standards teams, expose a range of conmen and rogues over the past 12 months. Another journalist in Scotland, Alistair Jamieson, also drew praise from the judges - for the way his new column, Ask The Scotsman, had presented some important educational messages to consumers.'

Regional Consumer Journalist of the Year
Elisa Mitchell, ITV Meridian Tonight
Nominated by: Ivan Hancock, Dorset Trading Standards

The judges' said: 'In nominating Elisa Mitchell, Ivan Hancock from Dorset Trading Standards highlighted how she succeeded in presenting coverage of trading standards issues that 'goes beyond the easy headlines'. The way she had worked with trading standards in a number of areas, including the concerted campaign to expose rogues selling counterfeit goods in Dorset, caught the eye of the judges. Jonathan Gibson, from ITV West Country, finished a close second in this category, for his reporting of a range of consumer issues, not least on the Sort It programme.'

Best Consumer Television Programme
Scam Squad, Talkback Thames
Nominated by: Steve Ruddy, Surrey Trading Standards

The judges said: 'This six-part series, broadcast on the BBC earlier this year, fought off some strong competition in a very tightly-contested category. Apart from the way the film crew worked closely with trading standards teams from Kent and Surrey , the judges liked the way that Scam Squad was relevant to a younger audience than some more traditional consumer programmes. The same could be said of two of the runners-up in this category, the BBC's Rogue Traders and Don't Get Done Get Dom, which are also successfully engaging younger audiences.'

Best Consumer Radio Programme
Laurence Reed, BBC Radio Cornwall
Nominated by: David Thomas, Consumer Direct South West

The judges said: 'This long-established broadcaster continues to fight for the rights of consumers across Cornwall. He has built a reputation as someone whom listeners can trust to champion the local issues that are relevant to them - and he works with Consumer Direct and trading standards to ensure listeners receive the best possible advice.'

Best Local Authority Press Officer
Graham Twarog, Gloucestershire County Council
Nominated by: Julie Houston, Gloucestershire Trading Standards

The judges said: 'Graham has clearly offered consistent, proactive support to the Gloucestershire Trading Standards team over the past few years - and this reached new heights during 2007. The judges were particularly impressed at the well-managed trading standards communication programme following this year's flooding, when consumers were warned about the risks of employing rogue traders during the tidy-up exercise.'

Best Local Authority Press Office Team
Somerset County Council PR team
Nominated by: Lynda King, Somerset Trading Standards

The judges said: 'A very good example of how effective planning and execution of PR campaigns can reap rewards. The team clarified their key audiences and messages and tailored their material accordingly. The way they provided clear evidence of the impact of their work was also outstanding.'

National Consumer Week

This is the 17th annual National Consumer Week organised by the Trading Standards Institute and for the third 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.