Southwark wins third annual Touchstone Award 2014

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London Borough praised for uncovering fraudulent operation.

The British Hallmarking Council and the four Assay Offices of the UK have revealed the winner of this year’s Touchstone Award 2014, praising the London Borough of Southwark for uncovering a major fraudulent investigation.

2014 marked the third annual presentation of the prestigious award, recognising imitative and innovation in relation to hallmarking legislation.

Southwark’s operation was prompted by a complaint from a member of the public. A thorough investigation revealed a fraudulent trading exercise, resulting in more than 1,300 items of jewellery being seized. Many items were marked 925, but the Assay Office confirmed that the items were not silver and that they contained counterfeit hallmarks.

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Accepting the Award on behalf of Southwark, Justin Miller said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this case and it is a bonus to be recognised in this way. As a result of the serious offences identified we will now be proceeding with a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”

Flintshire County Council were highly commended.

The Touchstone Award is funded by the four UK Assay Offices and by the British Hallmarking Council, in association with the Trading Standards Service.

Champion of the Touchstone Award for the British Hallmarking Council, Robert Grice, said: “Accolades for Trading Standards departments inevitably focus on prevention of activities which are potentially harmful to health or even life threatening, such as unsafe fireworks and counterfeit alcohol. However, people ignoring the hallmarking legislation may be defrauding large numbers of the population, many of whom might be vulnerable and dependent on the value of their jewellery as an investment.

“Hallmarking legislation is a challenging area for Trading Standards Officers who constantly strive to ensure that the public are not being cheated out of substantial amounts of money.”

This year’s award was presented during an awards ceremony at the Trading Standard Institute’s annual conference dinner in Harrogate.

The London Borough of Southwark will be the 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 later in the year.

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