The winners of the 2021 CTSI Hero Awards were named at a ceremony at One Great George Street, Westminster on Tuesday 19 October, in recognition of their achievements over the past year. The award winners had all demonstrated dedication, passion and originality in their consumer protection work, which encompassed a broad range of issues, including food allergens, counterfeit goods, scams, product safety, community engagement and promoting equality.
Dilys Harris, a Senior Trading Standards Officer at Caerphilly County Borough Council, worked tirelessly over the past year to develop an allergen resource for businesses all over the UK. The creation of the resource was in part inspired by the late Megan Lee, who died after suffering a severe allergic reaction to nuts contained in a takeaway meal in 2016. Megan’s parents, Gemma and Adam, attended the ceremony and gave a heartfelt speech about the story of their daughter. They met Dilys for the first time and thanked her for undertaking the work, which greatly expanded the reach of their own awareness-raising campaign.
Harris said: “I am humbled to have been selected to receive the CTSI Hero Award. A huge thank you to every one of our partners and colleagues who helped make my initial idea a reality. I am honoured to have our work recognised; it means so much to me that the work that I am so passionate about also resonates with others.
“I have been so moved by Megan Lee’s story, the stories of others who have tragically passed away, and those living with food allergies. The compassion I have for allergy sufferers is what has driven the work forward over the course of the last year.”
Tackling the counterfeiters
Another award winner, Senior Trading Standards Officer Tariq Mohammed, has dedicated his career to combatting counterfeiting and piracy in notorious crime spot areas in Birmingham and Ealing, often facing threats to his safety while identifying and stopping organised crime networks.
His nomination praised him for his “endless passion and his determination to succeed, which places him above most in his chosen profession.”
Mohammed said: “I am honoured and delighted to receive such a prestigious award. I would like to thank those who recommended me for this award and the colleagues that have supported me during my career in trading standards, in particular IP crime.”
Another winner who has fought against the fakers is WRi Group Managing Director, Graham Mogg, who received a Business Award for significant contributions to consumer protection across the UK.
Mogg said: “To be recognised in this way by CTSI and the trading standards profession is a huge honour for me on both a personal and professional level. My time in the police and at the IPO stood me in good stead to create and lead WRi Group, which is a family business focussed on protecting legitimate rights owners and consumers by undermining those engaged in IP Crime.”
Cheshire East Tradings’ Older Persons Scams Awareness and Aftercare Project won the Institute’s Best Consumer Protection Campaign Award for its work to raise awareness of scams and provide aftercare to the victims.
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 was praised as an outstanding example of collaborative work. 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.”
BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme was recognised for championing consumer protection stories, particularly since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. Over this period, the show covered many of the primary scams to have emerged during the pandemic, including scams themed around the NHS and vaccinations, vaccination passports, phoney health visitors and many others.
The programme offered several CTSI Lead Officers the opportunity to comment and provide consumer advice. One such Lead Officer is Katherine Hart, who said: “I have been impressed with the diversity and scope and incredible stories they are able to highlight. The programme is fantastic in promoting awareness of all consumer issues.”
Angel Harrow, a Trading Standards Enforcement Officer working at Southwark Council’s trading standards service, won the Product Safety Award for her work supporting trading standards investigations, which led to the seizure of around 3,000 skin lightening products. Another investigation led to an online trader based in Leicester receiving a 40 week custodial sentence suspended for 24 months after an online test purchase operation conducted by Southwark Trading Standards revealed that the trader was selling illegal cosmetics products. Harrow has also led on several local investigations, with one trader fined over £52,000 after twice being caught selling illegal skin lighteners.
Harrow said: “I am filled with gratitude to receive this award. It’s wonderful that the contributions that trading standards officers make to protect our community are recognised and celebrated by CTSI.”
Community engagement & equality
A project entitled ‘Raising Awareness of Mental Health & Wellbeing in Farming Communities’, created by Heart of the South West Trading Standards officers Nikki Rattenbury, Rebecca Barker and Samantha Younger of the Trading Standards Farming Partnership (TSFP), received the award for best Trading Standards Project.
The project brought together several rural organisations and support services to raise the profile of mental health in rural communities and demonstrate the help available to those in need.
Paul Thomas, Head of the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said: “Farming is a major part of Devon’s economy, but for many the pandemic made what was already a challenging way of life a lot more difficult.”
Herriman said: “Everything about this campaign demonstrates trading standards professionals going above and beyond to support the communities they serve. The project speaks volumes for the importance of key stakeholders collaborating to deliver a comprehensive support service to a particularly vulnerable community who have welcomed the help.”
In another award, three trading standards professionals were recognised for their important work in promoting race and equality within the trading standards profession.
Tendy Lindsay, Valerie Simpson and Giles Speid were praised for their work with the CTSI Race & Equalities Working Group, which was set up in October 2020. CTSI London Branch formed its own Race & Equalities Working Group to mirror these efforts throughout London in December 2020.
Herriman said: “Tendy, Valerie and Giles have done groundbreaking work to drive the profile of the importance of race and equalities in the trading standards profession. The murder of George Floyd brought into sharp focus how much still needs to be done to tackle prejudice in society and this is something we are taking very seriously at CTSI, acknowledging the challenge of where we need to do things differently, but recognising that by working together we can make real changes that will ultimately benefit not just the profession, but also the consumers we protect.
“This important work means fairness and equality will drive changes within the trading standards profession and ensure that we are representative of the communities we are so proud to serve.’