North Ayrshire Council’s Trading Standards department has been presented with a prestigious national award for its efforts in tackling fraudulent trading of scrap gold.
Staff received the British Hallmarking Council’s Touchstone award in recognition of their efforts to uphold and enforce hallmarking legislation in North Ayrshire, while ensuring consumers are able to secure a fair deal when buying and selling gold locally.
As part of their work, Trading Standards officers visited jewellery manufacturers and retailers, pawn shops and gold buyers in the local area, where a range of jewellery was examined. Trading practices and staff training programmes were discussed with businesses to ensure they were fully aware of hallmarking legislation and were trained to recognise hallmarks, which helps determine the correct price customers should receive when selling gold.
The team’s close scrutiny of the gold market and operation of a ‘mystery shopping’ scheme helped enforce proper regulation and revealed a number of instances of fraud involving a local business.
North Ayrshire Council’s SNP Cabinet member for Economy and Employment, Cllr Marie Burns, said, “With such a big rise in the trade of gold over recent years, we must do everything we can to protect our local consumers, many of whom may be vulnerable and dependent on the value of their jewellery as an investment.
“The Trading Standards team’s astute planning and action has not only led to the Council being recognised for best practice in this field, but has also uncovered serious misconduct by a local trader.”