Norfolk to play central role in national fight against fraud
Confusion over where consumers should turn to complain about rogue traders will be tackled by a national trading standards board in which Norfolk is playing a lead role.
A new front in the war on fraudsters opened last week with charity, Citizens Advice, taking over responsibilities from the Office for Fair Trading and Consumer Focus.
A National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) has also been set up, headed by David Collinson, Norfolk County Council's assistant director for public protection.
The move is meant to make it easier for people to report scams and get advice on rogue firms, after complaints that victims of fraud were unsure who to report suspected dodgy dealing to.
Linda Aspland, 66, from Attleborough was passed around five organisations in six weeks before she could finally give police evidence about a suspected heating oil scam.
'It seems ridiculous that we don't stop these sorts of things,' she said.
North Norfolk MP and consumer affairs minister, Norman Lamb, said: 'For too long people have been faced with an array of different bodies for advice and support, but its not always clear who to turn to first.
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'The Citizens Advice service will become the publicly-funded voice of consumers, championing their needs and empowering them to make the right choices for themselves.'
An advice line replacing Consumer Direct was launched by the CAB on April 2 and the charity will become the first stop for consumers to get advice.
Trading Standards will still play a role in protecting consumers and businesses and prosecuting rogue firms, with the government increasing its funding by �10.5m.
Mr Collinson, interim chairman of the NTSB said: 'This is a real opportunity for trading standards to improve the coordination and delivery of national consumer protection. The government's decision is transformational, enabling a truly joined up approach to tackling rogues and scammers that operate across borders.'
Harry Humphrey, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for community protection, said: 'Norfolk County Council has long had a reputation for a well-run and effective trading standards service, and has been able to influence these changes.'