Britain’s Hidden Victims

Autumn is here and party conference season is upon us again.  This year, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) will join forces with Age UK to deliver fringe events focusing on the issue of scams in a rapidly ageing population at both the Conservative and Labour Party conferences.

With our first ever live and interactive twitter chat, #hiddenvictims, we welcome a range of influential speakers across both events, including newly-elected MP, Julian Knight, Lord Toby Harris and Cllr Colin Noble.  We hope to prompt debate among parliamentarians, councillors, journalists and the wider public, to draw attention to the work of trading standards on this topical and hugely important issue.

Scammers are a scourge on our local communities.  Targeting the elderly and most vulnerable in society, their ruthless tactics leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors.

The National Trading Standards Scams Team estimate that up to a staggering £10 billion is lost to mass marketing scammers in the UK every year.  They have identified countless victims who receive dozens, sometimes even hundreds of pieces of scam mail through their doors every week.  To date, the team have identified over 200,000 potential victims from so-called ‘suckers lists’ and have directly helped to save UK consumers £5 million in the three years since operations began.

This is great work, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  For every one victim that reports being scammed there are estimated to be another nine who remain silent and undetected.  These are Britain’s hidden victims.

At CTSI we recognise that beating the scammers will be tough.  It requires forward thinking and long term solutions.  But we believe it is possible and the process will begin with increased early intervention and joined up partnership working.  We hope to use our fringe events to raise the profile of the work trading standards currently undertakes in this area and discuss alternative solutions to combat scammers in the future.

Jane Vass, head of public policy at Age UK, said: “Scamming is not a new problem but our fear is that it is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst older people, with an Age UK survey showing that over half of older people (aged 65+) have been targeted by fraudsters.  This is an issue which we know can have serious consequences for people’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and finances.  Some victims’ health deteriorates quickly after a scam and in the worst cases has even resulted in older people losing their independence and needing residential care.”

CTSI chief executive Leon Livermore, who will speak at both events, said that party conferences are a great opportunity to raise the issues that trading standards services face to a wider political audience.

He said: “The issue of scams is growing in importance especially as local authorities have to deal with aging populations and falling budgets. It also is a great chance to shout loudly that things can change. The ongoing reviews by BIS and the LGA are things that politicians at all levels can influence and will have a major influence on the future of the service.”

The return of parliament on 7 September signalled the beginning of activity that will continue through until the Christmas recess.  For MPs, it will be straight back to important parliamentary business as the first majority Conservative government in 19 years prepares to implement many of its key policy priorities.  At CTSI we will continue to push for further cross-party engagement with parliamentarians and hope that our fringe events will mark the start of the journey to focus minds on the major issues that trading standards services face and opportunities to protect the service moving forward.

Please see below for a finalised information on the event including the full list of panellists:

Conservative:

  • Julian Knight MP (Chair)
  • Cllr Colin Noble (LGA Community Wellbeing Board)
  • Jane Vass (Head of Public Policy, Age UK)
  • Leon Livermore (Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute)

Labour:

  • Lord Toby Harris
  • Leon Livermore (Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute)
  • Mike Smith (Head of Public Affairs, Age UK)
  • Chair (tbc)
  • LGA speaker (tbc)

Join the CTSI Twitter chat!

CTSI is hosting its first ever twitter chat to hear your ideas and thoughts on how to tackle the growing problem of scams. Scams experts from the National Trading Standards Scams Team will be on hand to answer your questions. Join the #hiddenvictims chat on Wednesday 23 September at 11am.

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