Yesterday I had the honour of being the opening speaker at a seminar aimed at tackling financial harm in Angus through partnership. You can see Cllr Glennis Middleton, our Convener of Social Work and Health talking about scamming and the event here –
Participating were people from Angus Council, partners in the public and private sectors, from the Post Office, the financial services industry, from the small business community & the Royal Mail. We also had representatives from the Office of the Public Guardian. The wide range of agencies represented is perhaps the clearest indication that the business of financial harm is big business and also multi agency business.
The annual cost of scams to individuals in Scotland is estimated by Actions Fraud to be in excess of £750 million. Angus’s share of that is over £15 million and we know that the organised criminals target more vulnerable people. That is an awful lot of money lost to our most vulnerable citizens every year. We have had 4 people in Angus that we know of who have lost 6 figure sums to scammers, their entire life savings lost to criminals. Many more have lost much smaller amounts with just as devastating an impact.
Collectively we have done a lot in Angus to address this issue. And by “we” I don’t mean Angus Council alone; I really do mean our local police and NHS colleagues, our social work adult protection and trading standards staff, our local postmasters and Royal Mail staff, as well as the voluntary and private sector more generally. But we must not be complacent or for a second think we have cracked this problem. There is a desire amongst colleagues locally to keep this effort moving forward.
What we are aiming for is a consistent, slick and united response to cases of financial harm; no more ad hoc responses to these referrals in Angus. The aim of the seminar was to help all partners on the journey towards an ever safer and more secure Angus. For some of us it might mean doing some things a bit differently and putting individual agency needs or structures second to the needs of vulnerable adults at risk of financial harm. So be it.