Hertfordshire Trading Standards
Trading Standards is a division within the Community Protection Directorate of Hertfordshire County Council. Our role is to safeguard the interests of consumers and the county's business community. Hertfordshire has over one million consumers and is home to over 33,000 businesses, including the national and international headquarters of many companies.
- 14 June 2016
- East of England
- Local Alliances:
- Welwyn Hatfield Dementia Action Alliance , Dementia Friendly East Herts Action group, North Hertfordshire District Dementia Action Alliance
1. Action Plan
1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?
The Trading Standards Service has a significant contribution to make to safeguarding vulnerable adults through strong working relationships with both statutory and voluntary agencies. Each can help us to identify people who, as vulnerable consumers, need protection and assistance in resolving everyday consumer issues and the investigation and where possible resolution of cases of financial abuse.
The Service priorities are:
• Prevent people being the victims of commercial crime in their homes, by traders who may attempt to pressurise residents into making decisions they may later regret in order to make sales or commission work;
• Any form of financial abuse with regard to the provision of goods and services;
• Disrupt dishonest traders operating via the doorstep, telephone, mail, internet and social media.
The training which the officers have received enable them to advise, support and assist vulnerable consumers who contact direct or are referred to the Service with issues concerning the way goods and services have been provided or instances of financial abuse eg scam victims, doorstep crime. The Service is also to able to assist in instances where the consumer lacks mental capacity to contract for the provision of goods and services.
It has been established that victims of doorstep crime and financial abuse are often over the age of 70, are lonely and socially isolated. Due to the capacity issues related to Dementia this increases the risk of them being targets of financial abuse. It is essential that officers have the necessary training to recognise levels of incapacity.
Provide training to trading standards staff to improve their ability to deal with those living with dementia and their family / carers, particularly frontline staff who deal with victims of scams and doorstep crime, as well as those dealt with on duty. It is also important that staff on reception duties are also trained to be sympathetic to the needs of those living with dementia..
Protecting residents from scams and doorstep crime offenders is a key service priority for Hertfordshire Trading Standards Service as it strengthens community safety. The service is committed to delivering the targets below and, in doing so, delivering better outcomes for people with dementia. Underpinning these overarching targets are a number of team specific service plan targets, aimed at helping to achieve the overarching targets, as follows:
To work with key partners such as The Alzheimers Society and EMDASS to provide education through talks at Dementia Cafes and training to volunteers, regarding scams and doorstep crime. This is to increase awareness of those incidents, encourage reporting of incidents and to advise how and where to report those incidents. By raising awareness of sources of financial abuse and the assistance the Service can provide with partner organisations, it enables the service to assist vulnerable people to remain safe in their homes.
Conduct appropriate media / publicity campaigns to highlight the dangers of scams and doorstep crime and encourage reporting.
Issue appropriate scams and doorstep crime alerts, particularly through the Hertfordshire Neighbourhood Watch scheme, using OWL messages and the Senior Watch sub scheme.
Undertake appropriate enforcement activities to deal with scams and doorstep crime offenders. To consider alternative ways of obtaining evidence from victims living with dementia.
Carry out safeguarding assessments of victims, with a view to preventing future scams and doorstep crimes by making referrals to appropriate agencies such as the police, HCS, Fire Prevention, Alzheimers Society, Age UK for befriending, Careline for alarms and Herts Home Security for home security advice.
To install call blocking devices for victims of telephone scams, bearing in mind the needs of the victim. To liaise with the person living with dementia, their family and friends to ensure that the security of the device is set appropriately according to their needs eg to stop outgoing calls to the speaking clock or premium rate numbers.
Create new No Cold Calling Zones in those areas with greatest need, particularly where there is a resident living with dementia who has been targeted by rogue traders.
2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?
One of the major challenges for the Trading Standards Service is to ensure that anyone who has suffered from financial abuse is aware of what the Service can provide. Also the Service needs data on who is vulnerable to this crime so that the Service can target preventative work. This involves the sharing of data of those who are at risk. To this end the Service has and continues to identify partners to assist with this. To ensure that those organisations understand our role, the service carries out training, distributes literature and provides a referral mechanism by having trained officers as single point of contact for organisations.
A further important challenge in delivering these outcomes is the current budget situation facing local government and demands for delivering an improved service, in light of cuts, in addition to existing service provision. This can be particularly demanding when large-scale criminal investigations are being conducted, which have significant resource implications.