Cheshire East anti-scam project wins CTSI Hero Award
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has recognised an anti-scam project in Cheshire East at its annual Hero Awards ceremony in London.
The awards, hosted by CTSI at One Great George Street, Westminster, on the evening of Tuesday, October 19, recognise significant contributions to consumer protection across the UK.
The project, a partnership between Cheshire East Trading Standards and Age UK Cheshire East, entitled 'The Older Persons Scams Awareness and Aftercare Project', won the Institute's Best Consumer Protection Campaign Award for its work raising awareness of scams and providing aftercare to the victims of scams in the Cheshire East area.
In May 2018, Cheshire East Trading Standards officers met with Damon Taylor, the Chief Executive of Age UK Cheshire East (Age UK CE). The meeting discussed the ongoing objectives to tackle and prevent impactive scams whilst supporting victims and further improving the partnership and the advice, safeguarding, and potential support to their service users and clients. The intelligence-led proactive targeting, education and awareness of scams provided by Trading Standards were delivering outcomes. However, the meeting attendees identified that aftercare provisions and victim support were elements needing improvement.
Discussion on this led to creating a full-time Project Manager role funded by two successful grant applications that would lead on work with residents, partners, and council members providing scams awareness and aftercare. The project overcame an initial barrier of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which required swift adaptation. The project brought the Cheshire Police Economic Crime Unit, and PCSOs on board, and involved aftercare, including follow-up calls to reassure scam victims did not feel alone after being targeted by scammers, including doorstep scams.
The individuals recognised as part of the project are Paul Unwin, Andrew Burrows, Mark Lodge and Rick Hughes of Cheshire East Trading Standards, and Sally Wilson and Damon Taylor of Age UK Cheshire East.
The campaign is an outstanding example of collaborative work between key stakeholders and engaging with the most vulnerable members of the public.
Paul Unwin, Trading Standards Team Leader at Cheshire East Council, said: "The partnership project identified an important gap around victim care, which in turn impacts upon further potential detriment and the health & wellbeing for residents in Cheshire East. Preventing harm and tackling criminality, especially around scams, is a priority objective for Trading Standards. We are delighted to partner Age UK CE to make a real impact and deliver outcomes through this project.
"The project has been very well received and exceeded our expectations. The success of this project has undoubtedly resulted in old and vulnerable residents of Cheshire East being made more aware of scams and doorstep crime, and prevented repeat victimisation.
"Working with Age UK CE has been an enjoyable and relatively seamless process, and only goes to highlight the importance of partnership working between Local Authority and the third sector."
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated we are all vulnerable and that unscrupulous scammers will use any opportunity to defraud the public.
"The Cheshire East scams awareness and aftercare project is an example for all on how to work collaboratively across organisations and consider new approaches to help serve the public.
"Scams have profoundly negative psychological impacts. The addition of aftercare for people targeted by scams in this project is brilliant, and I thank both Cheshire East's trading standards officers and Age UK for thinking out of the box and for collaborating to create a project to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the community."
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
CTSI 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. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk