Press releases

A former top detective receives national trading standards award for his fight against rogues

Investigating the brutal murder of an 82-year-old disabled woman while he was a top detective made Brian Steele resolute in the war against bogus builders and other doorstep criminals.

Brian, a former detective superintendent with West Yorkshire police, has for the past decade led a campaign to raise awareness about doorstep crime across the UK.

His dedication and commitment is recognised with the Trading Standards Institute’s (TSI) Hero Award, which he received at TSI’s Conference in Edinburgh today.

His passion for tackling the scourge of criminals who target elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes sprang from the investigations he led into the murder of Isobel Gray in West Yorkshire in 1997.

Miss Gray, who was severely disabled with curvature of the spine, became a serial victim of bogus property repairers and was eventually murdered by distraction burglars who knew that she had paid the fraudsters in cash.

Nigel Strick from Cumbria Trading Standards said: 'With experience drawn from his investigation of the murder of Isobel Gray Brian continues to raise awareness and deliver training to police officers, trading standards officers and other organisations, travelling the length and breadth of the UK to deliver his messages.

'Brian’s passion and commitment to tackling this dreadful crime has proved infectious, with many trading standards and police officers in the country now engaged in the war against bogus builders and other doorstep criminals with similar zeal.'

Brian is currently working with Cumbria Trading Standards on a three year investigation into waste recycling frauds - and he plans to retire this summer.

Whilst Miss Gray’s murderers were never convicted the investigations prompted a four year Home Office research programme into distraction burglary and doorstep crime.

The case was also taken up by MP Paul Truswell who has worked closely with Brian Steele to campaign for a bill to ban doorstep cold calling by people offering property related services.

Speaking in the House of Commons about the case Mr Truswell said: 'Anyone who has heard Brian speak on the subject or read his research will be aware that he describes graphically how the perpetrators did not show the slightest remorse for their crimes and view older people merely as the impersonal objects of their cunning trade.

'They said that they could smell money in an older person's home. They also told Brian that they were prepared, if thwarted and if all else failed, to use violence to achieve their ends.

'They described the way in which they bought and sold the names of their victims, presumably such as Isobel Gray.'

The campaign for 'Isobel's Law,' named in memory of Miss Gray, has gained widespread support.

Notes for Editors:

Brian Steele will receive his Hero Award at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh at 12.45.

For further information or to arrange an interview or a photograph please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815or by e-mail on

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.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.

The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010

The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010, organised by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a 'must' for consumer journalists!

The TSI-hosted annual Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe.

The 2010 Conference is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from Tuesday 15 June to Thursday 17 June.

Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.

Please contact the press office should you wish to organise any interviews – an ISDN line is available for pre-booking.

The conference is hosted by TSI chairman David Sanders and the main sponsor is the Electrical Safety Council. 

Some 3,000 people are attending the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts!

16 June 2010