Due to COVID-19 measures, Friday’s Hero Awards ceremony was hosted online for the first time and recognised the trading standards response to the crisis.
Newham Trading Standards, led by George MacDougal, won an award for their tireless and hard work on a seven-days-a-week rota since the Government announced restrictions on March 23.
The National Animal Health and Welfare Panel, comprising Jane Mathews, Zoe Phillips, John Chaplin, Robert Quest, Stephanie Young and Wendy Martin, won an award for their daily animal welfare threat identification teleconference. The panel, which has been running since March, produces guides for local, central and devolved authorities about COVID-19 and its threat to animal health and welfare.
Kent Trading Standards received an award for an unprecedented number of referrals and complaints received and dealt with. The service engaged with 170 businesses and visited 75. They worked with Environmental Health and police to enforce business closures where needed, with 19 prohibition notices given.
Above and beyond
Carmarthenshire Trading Standards also won an award for their outstanding work during the pandemic. The service went above and beyond since March 23, undertaking leaflet drops to more than 1,800 homes, calling vulnerable residents to see how they were coping with lockdown, offering assistance and checking on residents under social distancing measures.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards COVID-19 Alert Team won an award for producing a community newsletter and sharing real-time scams and frauds during lockdown and beyond. The service created a direct line with front-line colleagues through which they could share information and intelligence. It was later extended to be used by Police, Fire Service, Health Service, adult social care, housing, emergency planning, community safety and the voluntary sector.
The Overall Winner was Environmental Health & Trading Standards COVID-19 Expert Group (ETC19 Group), for coordinating the Scottish local authority enforcement response to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and interpreting the regulations and guidance to ensure the consistency of application across Scotland.
Katherine Hart of Angus Council Trading Standards received an award for her recent work as CTSI Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katherine and her diligent colleagues proactively led on warning the public about emerging scams themed around coronavirus. Katherine appeared in many articles in the press, online, and on broadcast warning the public about new scams, in particular a particularly dangerous one which mimicked the Government’s coronavirus test and trace system. Katherine daily liaised with the CTSI communications team, and brought intelligence to the team, advising on the messages that needed to go out urgently.
Craig Easson, Service Lead at Angus Trading Standards, said: “Katherine is passionate, determined and incredibly persistent in her pursuit to shut down any doorstep scams that hit her radar. Katherine has stood up to COVID-19 scamsters quickly and effectively.”
Branch and section winners
This year’s branch and section Hero Award winners also went above and beyond to serve their communities. Cenred Elworthy, Manager at London Trading Standards, won an award for providing unprecedented support to his staff during the pandemic. Cenred helped his team of four trading standards officers to adapt to their new responsibilities during the crisis.
Lorraine Porter, an area inspector in Belfast, was recognised with an award for her superb work leading enforcement staff during the pandemic. Lorraine sourced laptops and phones, personally delivering them to redeployed staff. The team was inundated with enquiries during the crisis, and Lorraine often worked late at night and on weekends to provide much-needed support to the community.
Paul Holland of Angus Trading Standards is the personification of the CTSI Hero Award, receiving the award alongside the prestigious Brian Smith Award for his incredible work over the past seven years. Paul worked with the late Brian Smith in 2013 to put together a package of advice, info, service and support for vulnerable people for a variety of scams – a new idea at the time. The scheme began in three Scottish regions, and thanks to Paul’s perseverance and skilful negotiating for funding, this was rolled out across the whole of Scotland.
Lee Ormandy and the prevention team of Bucks and Surrey Trading Standards received an award for their diligent work during the lockdown. When the pandemic hit, Lee drafted a letter to all vulnerable residents in both counties, covering COVID-19 security as well as information on scams. The work was so good, National Trading Standards (NTS) adopted the wording and distributed it to all local trading standards departments. Following the letter, the team started making weekly phone calls to the vulnerable to provide support, often numbering over 250 calls per week. Through protective measures, the prevention team prevented residents £31,000 being lost to criminals, from January to March 2020, rising to £101,100 during the April-June period.
This year’s Overall Winner in the brach and section category went to Vicki Burch, Lead Officer for Product Safety at Hertfordshire Trading Standards and Chair of the East of England Product Safety Group. Vicki won the overall Hero Award for her strong partnership building skills with organisations throughout the consumer protection landscape and for her decisive action in the face of the pandemic.
Vicki promptly upskilled team members and produced guides to help support local businesses at a time when Government guidance was lacking. She oversaw consistent messaging across the Eastern Region, and liaised with the Government on PPE, carrying out training on PPE regulations on behalf of CTSI and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to over 500 local authority trading standards officers.
CTSI Director of Communications, Eleni Chalkidou, said: “Congratulations to all winners of our COVID-19 Team Hero Awards. What I love about the trading standards profession is that no matter what is thrown at it, it will rise to the challenge and deliver. Consumer protection professionals demonstrated their worth, brilliance and commitment up and down the country, and we are excited to recognise their achievements.”