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Touchstone Award Winners 2013

24 Jun 2013


TSI President -  Baroness Christine Crawley 

  Mark Smith from North Ayrshire Council receiving Touchstone Award from Christopher J. Jewitt

The prestigious award, which acknowledges the excellent work of local authorities in support of hallmarking, is sponsored by the four UK Assay Offices and the British Hallmarking Council. In only the second year since its inception the award was presented during a lively dinner at the Trading Standards Conference in Brighton on Tuesday 17th June.  

Presenting the Touchstone Award to Mark Smith, Chairman of the British Hallmarking Council Christopher J. Jewitt said “Hallmarking is the oldest form of consumer protection and is vital in order to protect consumers. The work detailed in the applications for the Touchstone Award clearly demonstrates that there is still an important job to be done in relation to hallmarking. The winning entry from North Ayrshire which was unanimously chosen as the winner by each of the individual judges on the panel reveals a sad tale of deceit and exploitation. People ignoring the hallmarking legislation may be defrauding large numbers of the population and there may be big money involved.”

The Touchstone Awards applications submitted from across the UK this year were of an extremely high calibre. They demonstrated careful long term pre-operational planning, and robust implementation strategies. The operations are being followed up by appropriate enforcement action, criminal prosecution where appropriate, and good business practice advice. The applications also indicated policies to ensure regular future monitoring of compliance with hallmarking legislation.

The joint activities of the Trading Standards Service and the Assay Offices, utilising their individual expertise, was shown to be particularly beneficial. 

North Ayrshire’s operation revealed consumer malpractice which involved not only non-hallmarking of articles but manufacture of under-carat products.

Like most parts of the UK, North Ayrshire has seen an explosion in the trading of scrap gold in recent years, driven by the high price of gold and the consumer squeeze. Trading Standards set out to monitor the local market place to ensure a fair trading environment for buyers and sellers alike. Their close scrutiny and “mystery shopping“ of the market not only ensured it was properly regulated but also, unexpectedly revealed a long established scam involving a local goldsmith who was essentially cheating his customers on a regular basis by returning repairs which were under-carated, or not returning them at all. Further investigations prompted 120 complaints against the goldsmith and a prosecution is now in progress; a fitting result for a Trading Standards Team who are clearly very proactive and alert to malpractice.

The British Hallmarking Council also congratulated the London Borough of Southwark and North Lanarkshire whose entries were Highly Commended by the judges. North Ayrshire will be the proud custodians of the Touchstone Award for a year and their team will benefit from a free day’s training and an awards lunch at Goldsmiths’ Hall, in the City of London, in November. 

Trading Standards Institute Chief Executive Leon Livermore said: "The Touchstone Award is a fantastic initiative by the British Hallmarking Council and we are delighted to host the awards ceremony here at our Conference''.

"The efforts of North Ayrshire Council trading standards make them a truly deserving winner – their operation revealed consumer malpractice which involved not only hall-marking issues but also under-carat items, causing real detriment to consumers in the area''.

"Uncovering scams in their local area provides the community with reassurance that their local council and trading standards department are actively seeking out those who flout consumer laws and regulations. This can only cause a positive effect across the country and make rogue traders think twice, whatever county they operate in."

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