Scams Prevention Strategy Partnership and Advisory Group - Accessing Support and Enabling People working group minutes: December 2020

Minutes from the first meeting of the group on 14 December 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Saskia Kearns (Chair), Scottish Government – Consumer Policy and Interventions
  • Neil Ritchie, Scottish Government (SG) – Head of Consumer, Competition and Energy Company Services Unit
  • Tanya Friel, Scottish Government – Consumer Policy and Interventions
  • Connor McKay, Scottish Government – Cyber Resilience
  • Wendy McInnes, Scottish Government – Building Safer Communities
  • Pam Stewar, Advice Direct Scotland
  • Ruth Mendel, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • David Cameron, Crimestoppers
  • Bryan MacKie, Police Scotland
  • Matthew Paden, Police Scotland
  • Neil Grant, Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC)
  • Mark McGinty, SCOTSS
  • Julie McCarron, Trading Standards Scotland (TSS)
  • Steve Smith, TrueCall
  • Michelle Rennie, Victim Support Scotland 
  • Zoe Westwood, Victim Support Scotland
  • Thomas Docherty, Which? 


  • Ian Stephen, Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC)
  • Mike Findley, Victim Support Scotland
  • Hollie Gibson, Scottish Government – Building Safer Communities

Items and actions

Reader, to note: statements regarding any next steps, or new work being considered for delivery by partners, may no longer reflect planned work at the time of publishing this minute, due to on-going developments and dialogue following the date of this meeting. 

Welcome and introduction

The chair welcomed partners to this working group meeting, before briefly giving an overview of the focus of discussion, on front line support, which will take into account recent developments from the other working groups. This meeting will aim to establish agreement/endorsement on next steps going into the new year to help set direction of travel for the strategy.

Focus and aims

This working group will have a front line, people focused approach, looking externally at what people see and need to be protected against scams. Through the discussions from the data working group, agreement was reached to take forward thinking around the establishment of a single point of contact for scams. Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) have submitted a discussion paper, which will be issued to partners.

Action point:

  • SG will circulate ADS discussion paper for partners to comment

The aims of this working group are to identify gaps and opportunities on the front line offer of advice and support and think about the wider impact of scams. This could involve looking at signposting, integration of carers and looking at mental health and wellbeing impact, as well as improving the reporting process and redress which are all important. There is a need to consider how to establish consistency when thinking about campaigns and messaging, as this will help to improve understanding and education, allowing people to not only be reactive when scams happen, but to build longer term resilience and avoid the risk of scams in the future. 

Advisory working groups: discussions to date

Potential next steps that were discussed at meetings of working groups 1 on Data, and 3 on sharing good practice, are as follows:

  • consideration of a single point of contact, for the reporting of scams and access to advice and support
  • coding reviews – Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) and Police Scotland (PS) are looking at the enforcement side, as well as engaging with ADS, thinking about a single point of contact database
  • call blockers, working with TSS on this piece of work and looking at how to centralise distribution of call blockers, ensuring this is needs based and not location based
  • collective campaigns and a shared calendar of events to allow for better coordination and streamlining of campaigns, to create a bigger impact
  • partners are leading on work around a centralised toolkit, looking to adopt the East Renfrewshire Financial Harm Toolkit, considerations ongoing about how to do this
  • SG are commissioning a piece of work around mapping the scams landscape, to clarify roles and responsibilities of partners. This will create a toolkit as a reference to what everyone does and will create opportunities to link up and find gaps
  • looking at the establishment of a partnership group to support longer term partnership working

Accessing support and enabling people: 
A) Impacts of scams: developing a ‘whole person, whole system’ support package

This part of the discussion focuses on what peoples’ needs are and how partners can join up and address any gaps which may exist. At this stage, TrueCall were invited to deliver a short overview of findings from work undertaken by Bournemouth University on wellbeing and telephone scams, and the success of call blockers. 

Action point:

  • SG/TrueCall to share presentation slides

General discussion points

It is important to take into account the good work that is being undertaken across the UK and think about how this can help our approach, as scams are not Scotland specific. It is important to consider feedback loop, where people are impacted, they can see the support which meets their needs.

SBRC is doing good work with banks and looking at 2 step authentication and Power of Attorney (POA). There could be an opportunity to consider a link between the two which could prevent vulnerable people falling victim to a scam. This idea was met with support from partners, and ties in with PS’s work on Banking Protocol 2, with several pop-ups highlighting the role POA could play in scam prevention. The Law Society could be included in discussions, relating to this particular issue as they are responsible for drawing up POAs. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) may also have links here in their work on advocacy and social justice.

Action point:

  • SG to follow up with CAS around any links in the social justice space in relation to role of POA in scam prevention

It was suggested that bank cards could be issued without the 3 digit security code on the back, which would give people some control over their finances and may prevent them being scammed online. There may be a need to reach out to banks to discuss this idea further. CAS have a contact for StopScamsUK which worked with the banks previously and are interested in this approach. 

Victim Support Scotland

The chair invited Victim Support Scotland to give a brief overview of the work they do and the role that they could play in signposting for additional support as part of the single point of contact. 

Victim Support Scotland are a national charity which offers emotional and practical support to people affected by crime, although they are not a counselling service. At a practical level, they help people navigate through the criminal justice system, help people to ensure personal and home safety and provide help and support on issues such as scams and fraud, domestic abuse and families bereaved by murder. Victim Support Scotland work with a wide range of partners and agencies and also administer the Victim Support Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. 

TrueCall spotted an opportunity to help stop repeat victims of scams and suggested working with Victim Support Scotland to look at referring people for call blockers, which they are happy to discuss. These discussions could also include ADS and TSS as part of the centralisation and auto-referral of call blockers. TSS have support for one online registration / eligibility form that partners can link people directly through to, or host for submission to TSS, and open to anyone who could benefit from a call blocker. Victim Support Scotland could also support the launch of the rollout of call blockers next year, as appropriate, and share information on social media and with victims they support.

Action point:

  • TrueCall and Victim Support Scotland to discuss offline potential to refer people for call blockers, alongside TSS and ADS

Accessing support and enabling people: 
B) Frontline communications and campaign messaging

This part of the discussion focuses on how partners can make movement on having a shared language on scams prevention as well as thoughts on how the group might work on campaigns to coincide with the launch the strategy.

Shared language

Rather than having a shared language, there was a feeling that it may be more helpful to have stakeholders meet on a regular basis to discuss the key issues and the modus operandi (MO) of new scams and from this design a suitable comms strategy. 

This is similar to what is being done at present within the Cyber Resilience Unit in Scottish Government, where all partners meet regularly to share intelligence and messaging and create a strategic comms plan. This is a good way to map out key themes for the year, bringing all information into one place and looking for opportunities where partners can work together to share comms messaging. There is real value in people coming together to share different developments. The idea of having a shared language in relation to scams was discussed previously, with some partners indicating the on-going value and importance of tailored messaging by individual organisations in certain instances.

Following on from this, a calendar of events can allow for the creation of a strategic comms plan where campaigns are aligned and can tell a story throughout the year, rather than having a shared language which may be unnecessary. What may be of greater importance is mapping out and finding other organisations in the scams prevention landscape and working in partnership, which PS did with their new scams campaign.

Partnership delivery of strategy launch campaign

TSS, ADS and Which? provided updates to the group on on-going considerations they were making regarding development and delivery of scams prevention campaign work.  

TSS commented that they saw an opportunity for wider partnership delivery of the Shut Out Scammers campaign later in the year. Alongside this consideration, TSS have had discussions with SCOTSS and PS around a strategic action plan for enforcement bodies to coordinate campaign messaging and strategic intervention work, out of which specific campaign activities may arise. TSS commented that through these discussions it may transpire that there is relevance and value in developing a joint enforcement focused campaign, which could be link to the new strategy and dissemination of call blockers, which TSS were in the process of acquiring more of.

Which? then updated partners on considerations that they were making through discussion with ADS regarding delivery of a larger scale campaign later in the year.

In 2017 Which? partnered with other organisations in relation to the Nuisance Call Campaign. SG provided funding for part of this and as such, leaflets were produced and distributed, as well as establishing pop up stalls with the then Cabinet Secretary in Glasgow Central Station and events which took place at Holyrood and in Aberdeen. 

Looking at this campaign as an example, Which? would therefore like to explore an opportunity post Easter 2021, to potentially have a larger scale face-to-face series of events over more than one day. Subject to other partners being interest, Which? will look to bring a more substantive proposal to the main advisory group. It will be important to get partnership buy in and it is possible timings could work well.

In response to the suggestion, CAS indicated that they would be keen to be involved in this process and filter information down to a local level but stress it is important to get early notification of dates if possible to allow for proper planning

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland (NWS) and Crimestoppers have increased their reach through the NWS Alert Service, especially in local communities, among older people, where they meet people’s needs working with funded stakeholders, with a noticeable difference in the way of working. This group could be helpful in this space. CAS echoed this view that tailored messaging meets the needs of local communities.

Partners then recognised the opportunity for ADS, Which? and TSS to pull in NWS and CAS in order to work together to take forward messaging campaign with tailored messaging, for example for vulnerable people. It is important to have a collective voice regarding advice disseminated, especially as it relates to enforcement. Also, as part of the strategy, looking at regional representation in enforcement, it is important to consider different types of victims we want to focus on. For example, during the last rollout of the call blockers, people with autism were considered. This is something that partners can work together on and take forward.  

The role of banks in future campaigns was also highlighted by Crimestoppers who advised that banks have a facility to block devices. This could also be an important message to get out to people, for example if people know stolen devices could be used for scams, then this may encourage people to messaging this to contact their banks and get appropriate help and support. 

Partners concluded the discussion by recognising the option for TSS, ADS and Which? to combine their campaign ideas in order to deliver something with greater combined impact later in 2021. It was agreed that discussion around this would be picked up in the new year, through a more focused meeting between the three partner organisations as facilitated by SG.  

Due to time restraints, it was agreed that the Working Group would come together again early in the new year to discuss agenda items 4 C) Education and D) Digital Innovation.

Action point:

  • SG will look to confirm a date for the next meeting of this group as well as the main advisory group in January 2021

Summary of discussion

The chair concluded the meeting and thanked partners for attending. The meeting generate a lot of good discussion and ideas to take forward into the new year.

Action points

  • SG - to circulate ADS discussion paper on Single Point of Contact for partners to comment
  • SG/TrueCall - to share presentation slides with the group
  • SG/CAS - to follow up around any links in the social justice space in relation to role of POA in scam prevention
  • TrueCall/Victim Support Scotland - to discuss offline potential to refer people for call blockers
  • SG - to confirm a date for the next meeting of this group as well as the main advisory group in January 2021
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