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Research Questions

  1. What is the performance of the Scams Team in its current form?
  2. How can the services and future provision in the context of the Consumer Landscape Reforms be improved?
  3. What are the existing measures (and any other potential measures) of consumer detriment?

Background

The National Trading Standards Scams Team established in 2012, initially as a pilot, is hosted by East Sussex County Council Trading Standards. It was developed out of a desire to deal more effectively with Mass Mail Fraud (MMF) on a local, regional and national level, and to support victims. The Scams Team's activities are guided by five objectives. These are:

  • To identify victims of fraud.
  • To intervene and protect victims from further victimisation.
  • To investigate criminal activity.
  • To inform local authorities and agencies on how to work with and support scam victims.
  • To influence people at local, regional and national levels to take a stand against scams.

Goals

RAND Europe was commissioned by National Trading Standards (NTS) to undertake an independent review of the Scams Team to help inform its future development, delivery and effectiveness. The review will include:

  • An assessment of the Scams Team in its current form.
  • Recommendations for service improvements and future provision in the context of the Consumer Landscape Reforms, building on ideas generated by delivery partners.
  • Recommendations for existing measures and measure of consumer detriment.

Methodology

The project team will use four main sources to carry out the review:

  • A review of academic and grey literature.
  • A 'Theory of Change' (ToC) workshop with staff from the Scams Team.
  • Interviews with partners, local authorities, Scams Team and NTS members.
  • A survey of all 200 local Trading Standards Services (TSS).
  • A review of documents and data provided by the Scams Team and NTS.

Key Findings

Helping to reduce the impact of MMF on consumers

There is clear evidence that the work of the Team helps to identify previously unidentified victims, and through interventions with local TSS reduces the impact of MMF on them. The Scams Team's work has helped to establish levels of consumer detriment as well as prevent future detriment.

How has the Scams Team 'added value'?

The team appears to add value in a number of ways. Its national position appears to have: enabled a coordinated approach to the MMF problem across the country; brought economies of scale by avoiding the need for local TSS to develop their own understanding, etc.; concentrated multi-disciplinary expertise in one place; been a single focal point for relations with key national partners; and introduced innovative approaches and pilot projects.

Does the Scams Team provide value for money?

Based on the evidence available, the Scams Team appears to be delivering significant added value which is securing beneficial outcomes which could not, and would not, be secured in its absence. We estimate the 'value for money' provided by the Team of £27 saved per £1 invested. If we only include returned savings (i.e. those that the Team is able to identify with a high degree of precision), we get £12 saved per £1 over the three years.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The role and organisation of the Scams Team

  • Chapter Three

    Impact of the Scams Team

  • Chapter Four

    Working with partners

  • Chapter Five

    Measuring consumer detriment and savings

  • Chapter Six

    Value for money assessment

  • Appendix A

    Methodology

  • Appendix B

    Survey of local Trading Standards Services

  • Appendix C

    Interview protocols

  • Appendix D

    Calculation tool

  • Appendix E

    Bibliography

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Department for the National Trading Standards and conducted by RAND Europe.

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