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REGIONAL SCAMBUSTER PILOTS-DTI MAKES£1.8M AWARD TO BOOST CLAMP DOWN ON ROGUE TRADERS

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A series of scambuster initiatives to help to combat rogue traders has been given the green light by consumer minis...
A series of scambuster initiatives to help to combat rogue traders has been given the green light by consumer minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

Three trading standards authorities across England will receive almost£1.8m, to help them operate the pilot schemes and target conmen and illegal businesses.

The teams will work across local authority boundaries to catch illegal salesmen operating the worst and often hardest to tackle scams. The funding will also free up some local trading standards officers to focus on other aspects of tackling illegal practices in their areas.

In particular the pilot schemes will concentrate on tackling:

* Illegal door-step salespeople, including those trying to sell financial and credit services

* Counterfeiters and illegal car-boot sellers

* Illegal unqualified television repair workers

* People involved in the illegal trade in pedigree pets

* Cowboy builders who cost homeowners thousands of pounds in shoddy and unnecessary building work

The dedicated scambuster teams will educate consumers and businesses by raising awareness of rogue traders and counterfeiters, making consumers better able to spot the rogues from the reputable businesses.

Mr Sutcliffe said:

'I want to see bogus sellers, who knock on the doors of some of the most vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods put out of business. These scambuster pilots mean that trading standards officers will be able to crack down on unscrupulous traders and businesses and stamp out their kind of fraudulent and malicious practices.

'This money will allow teams of investigators to focus on the larger scale scams that operate across local authority boundaries and work to take action against the worst kinds of traders.'

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute,

said: 'I am delighted that the DTI has recognised the need for additional resources and new ways of working.

'Quite rightly the public expect trading standards services to stop these scams and bring fraudsters to task. We have been in danger of losing the battle but now, with these reinforcements we can start to fight back.'

The DTI asked trading standards offices to bid for a share of fund, with awards being made to Central England Trading Standards Authority, North East Trading Standards Authorities and jointly between Trading Standards South East, East of England Trading Standards and London Trading Standards Authority.

The successful authorities will receive£895,000 a year for two years between them.

Notes

1. The trading standards service is delivered through more than 200 local authorities in England Scotland and Wales. Trading standards officers are normally authorised to take action only within the boundaries of their own local authority.

2. The Scambusters initiative was proposed as part of the DTI's Consumer Strategy, unveiled in June 2005.

3. Trading Standards Groups from Scotland, Wales and the nine English regions were invited to bid for a share of the funding.

4. The£1.8m is in addition to a total of£1.2m already earmarked for establishing intelligence hubs in Scotland, Wales and the nine English regions.

5. The Central England Trading Standards Authorities Group (CEnTSA) covers West Midlands, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Stoke City, Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

6. The North East Trading Standards Authorities Group (NETSA) covers Northumberland, Newcastle U Tyne, N Tyneside, Gateshead, S Tyneside, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton on Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Durham.

7. The Trading Standards South East group (TSSE) covers Brighton & Hove, Portsmouth, Southampton, Surrey, W Sussex, Medway, E Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Kent, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes, Windsor & Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest, Slough, Wokingham, Reading, West Berkshire; London Trading Standards Authorities (LoTSA) covers all London boroughs and East of England Trading Standards Authorities (EETSA) Group covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Luton, Norfolk, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea, Suffolk, Thurrock.

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