Trading standards officer wins recognition award for ‘Moonshine’ seize
When Craig McClue, Authorised Officer for South Ayrshire Trading Standards Service, was approached by Strathclyde Police in November 2009 regarding a local retailer selling suspected mephodrone, otherwise known as ‘Moonshine’, his immediate action led to the successful prosecution of two individuals.
The police were powerless as the drug wasn’t classified at the time, so Craig found a way to deal with it using existing trading standards legislation to blow the cover on this substance being disguised as bath salts.
For his dedicated work in eradicating an issue that was becoming epidemic for young people, and for the successful prosecution of two individuals, Craig received a Recognition Award from the Trading Standards Institute at the annual Conference in Bournemouth today.
Craig said: ‘I’m extremely honoured to accept the Trading Standards Institute Recognition award. I accept it on behalf of my colleagues at South Ayrshire Trading Standards Service. It’s a testament to their hard work that we can tackle large scale market problems which have the potential to cause significant consumer harm and detriment. I’m very grateful to TSI for recognising our work in this way.’
In November 2009, when Craig was asked to assist, the drug was not subject to control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Lack of classification meant the police couldn’t act, but advice from LACORS (The Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services – now LG Regulation) was that tackling ‘legal highs’ was specifically not the role of trading standards either.
Regardless of this, Craig considered the problem through his role as a consumer products safety enforcement officer and the “Council’s vision for the future aims” which includes, ‘to make South Ayrshire an even safer place to live, work and play.’
Working with the South Ayrshire Trading Standards Service, Craig planned to remove the threat to the health and safety of the local citizens caused by ‘legal highs’, and mephedrone in particular. He issued press releases and worked with local schools to warn people about legal highs and the potential dangers they can bring if taken.
Despite the fact the sellers in question had had a new supply re-labelled ‘bath salts, not for human consumption’, Craig obtained a sample in a bid to prove that ‘Moonshine’ was in fact mephedrone. He also arranged a covert test purchase in order to dispel the claim that it was not to be consumed by humans. In the footage the sellers were willing to encourage and instruct customers on how the drug should be ingested – even likening it to methods for taking cocaine.
With enough evidence to prove the product had been incorrectly described, Craig, with police assistance, visited the premises and seized all ‘Moonshine’ from the retailers, removing over £3,000 worth of the harmful drug from local supply. Unfortunately the retailer pledged to repackage and re-label a fresh supply.
Information from the Home Office in late 2009 showed that mephedrone would not be a controlled substance in the imminent future so Craig proceeded with a second test purchase to identify how easily young people were able to access it. Following another fail, a second seize was made.
Craig then searched for experts in pharmacology who were able to comment on the dangers of the drug and would be willing to provide evidence. Armed with expert opinions and crucial covert footage as evidence, Craig met with the local Procurator Fiscal to review the investigation in consideration of the submission of a prosecution report. After reviewing the evidence the Procurator Fiscal not only agreed to proceed with cosmetic labelling charges, but also with charges under the General Product (Safety) Regulations 2005 and included a common law charge of ‘culpable and reckless conduct.’
The actions of Craig and South Ayrshire Trading Standards Service led to the successful prosecution of two individuals who believed they could risk the health and safety of local young people by selling them dangerous drugs disguised as bath salts.
Notes for Editors:
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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 2011
The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition 2011, 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 2011 Conference is being held at the Bournemouth International Centre from Tuesday 21 June to Thursday 23 June.
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The conference is hosted by TSI president Baroness Christine Crawley and TSI chairman Peter Heafield.
Some 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. There will be in excess of 100 exhibitors. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts.