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Community Care spoke to Olivier, who has worked extensively in this area with his trading standards colleagues, about the council’s approach to these cases; and to Keith Brown, professor of social work at Bournemouth University, who explains what research tells us about how to prevent vulnerable people from falling victim to scams.

Olivier says that prior to the introduction of the financial abuse provisions in the Care Act 2014, social workers in Croydon noticed they were having an increasing amount of contact with trading standards officers.

This prompted the council to develop a joint working protocol between the two teams, in order to standardise expectations and responses when working with these cases.

The guidance requires safeguarding adults boards to consider how to involve local trading standards teams in their work, and states that scamming cases should always be reported to local police and trading standards services for investigation.

Olivier concludes that social workers must get to grips with scams and rogue traders because this type of abuse is “so comprehensive and so life-changing”.

“No one is saying that because of the Care Act social workers suddenly need to be experts in forensic fraud investigation – but you need to link with colleagues who are.

“And as a social worker you do need to be equally comfortable being the enquiry officer in the case of someone who’s lost £200,000, as you are for someone who’s lost £20 – for all the reasons why that’s more important and more devastating.”

Keith Brown has coordinated research on how to prevent vulnerable people in society from falling victim to financial scams. This has included working in partnership with national trading standards organisations to produce a guide that describes the different types of scams currently taking place, and offer advice on how to prevent this abuse.

He says that historically a lot of safeguarding work has been about “knocks and bruises”, but a whole new area is now being uncovered and needs to be understood.

“We have often underplayed hugely the emotional and psychological significance of feeling duped and having someone come in and con you of your life savings.

“But actually the impact of this can be as profound as the terrible situation where someone has been knocked about and has bruises. The trauma of it is huge.”

He adds that councils face such significant financial pressure that they may not want to find a whole new lot of clients – but those clients do exist.

“Social work should be about supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society – and increasingly we are realising that these people are the most vulnerable.

“We need to step up our game in trying to support and protect them from this.”

Article published by Community Care: 30th August 2017

To read the full article by Community Care then click here.

To read more about the work conducted by Bournemouth University on Financial Scamming then click here.

If you suspect that you, or someone you know are subject to any form of Abuse, click here to see how to recognise and report.

Warwickshire Safeguarding Adults Board are currently working with Warwickshire Trading Standards to input some useful information and resources on combatting financial abuse in Warwickshire, this will be uploaded onto our Useful Information webpages when complete - so watch this space!


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