Scamming

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 13 June 2013.

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Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in conjunction with local authorities to tackle scamming. (S4O-02255)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

We are firmly committed to tackling the problem of scamming, which often targets the most vulnerable members of our society. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their community and it is unacceptable for people to feel intimidated on their own doorstep or in their own home, as is invariably the case with such crime.

The Scottish Government and the Scottish business resilience centre are working on a project that is chaired by Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin of Police Scotland. The project will engage with all 32 local authorities across Scotland to ensure consistency of practice, maximum protection for adults who are at risk of financial harm and greater collaborative efforts by all key stakeholders in the public and private sectors. The project will build on the wealth of good work that is under way across Scotland. We all need to work together to prevent scams and to protect the vulnerable.

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I draw the cabinet secretary’s attention to an initiative that Angus Council is to launch tomorrow. I believe that, in launching scam-free Angus, Scottish National Party-led Angus Council is the first local authority to adopt a specific policy on financial harm that will involve cross-departmental and multi-agency co-operation. That is aimed particularly at protecting the most vulnerable adults.

Will the cabinet secretary join me in welcoming that initiative? Will he encourage other councils to do something similar?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

I welcome the initiative. I am aware—not just as the Cabinet Secretary for Justice but as a constituency member—of the harm and trauma that are caused, especially to the vulnerable, by the often sophisticated scams that are carried out. We fully support the excellent work that Angus Council is doing.

It is important that we take on board the important role that trading standards officers and local authorities perform. We are working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the issue, and I hope that the Angus approach will be integrated.

I have been involved in activity on the issue, and I pay tribute to outgoing Assistant Chief Constable Angela Wilson, who raised matters to do with sophisticated scams that we, as an Administration, took on board. We did so in conjunction with Police Scotland and some financial institutions, which, along with trading standards officers and local authorities, have an important role to play.

We are talking about sophisticated and deeply hurtful crimes that are perpetrated on the vulnerable. We all have a duty to protect those people, so I am grateful to the member for raising the issue and to his council colleagues for their actions.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Question 5, in the name of Ken Macintosh, has not been lodged, but an explanation has been provided.