Scottish Scams Strategic Partnership minutes: February 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 23 February 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.
  • Neil Ritchie (Chair), Scottish Government (SG) Head of Consumer, Competition and Energy Company Services Unit.
  • Andrew McConnell, Scottish Government, Consumer Standards and Policy 
  • Pauline Scott, Scottish Government, Consumer Standards and Policy
  • Pam Stewart, Advice Direct Scotland (ADS)
  • Sarah-Jayne Dunn, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Laura Toffolo, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Katherine Hart, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) able to attend only part of the meeting connectivity issues.
  • Stevie Trim, Police Scotland
  • Graeme Paton, Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS)
  • Ken Daly, Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS)
  • Laura Jamieson, Trading Standards Scotland (TSS)
  • Stephanie Borthwick, Which?
  • Conor McKay, Scottish Government, Cyber Resilience
  • Paul Allen, Scottish Government, Building Safer Communities
  • Heather Gibson, Scottish Government, Adult Support and Protection
  • Alan Nicholson, Scottish Government, Serious Organised Crime


  • Christine Farrow, UK Finance
  • Joyce Greenhorn, Police Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the Minister, Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.

Ministerial address

Mr Arthur apologised for being unable to attend the first meeting on 12 August 2021.

He is looking forward to getting to know and work together with the Strategic Partnership on shared efforts to tackle scams in Scotland.

The consumer policy space is new for the Minister however he is aware that scammers have thrived during this difficult time.  The Scams Prevention, Awareness and Enforcement Strategy reflects the commitment from Scottish Government for reactive and proactive steps to support those at risk of scams and those victims of scams.
The 10 actions set out in the strategy will put us on the right course to achieve improved outcomes for people across Scotland with a focus on resources and proactive activity.

The main ask from the Minister is for us to work as a team, collaboration and coordination is the cornerstone by which the Strategy is transformed.  Tackling scams is complex so pooling our capabilities and capacity can ensure pace of delivery, realising that resources are stretched.

The Minister said that he is pleased that a number of members of the Partnership put forward funding proposals that align with actions from the strategy.  He explained that the budget process for next year is ongoing and he cannot commit anything at this time however, given the importance of tackling scams as part of supporting the wider recovery effort, the Minister would expect this work to be prioritised.   

The Minister finished by saying that he’s seeing the work of the Partnership as being one component of our much wider effort to ensure a fair and sustainable economic recovery in Scotland.  The Minister thanked all partners for their efforts to support the national response to COVID-19 and continued support in the recovery phase.

The Minister looks forward to continuing to support this group as working-planning continues and delivery ramps up.  


Partners were asked to submit questions in advance of the meeting.
Q - from Graeme Paton, SCOTSS - can the Minister give reassurance that future Scams Prevention Funds will exist beyond March 2022, so allowing Strategic Partners to build on the work we are doing now?

A, - Graeme commented that the Minister had already answered this question in his opening address.

Q - from Graeme Paton, SCOTSS - what does the minister see as the Scottish Government’s role in supporting and making sure Local Authority Trading Standards are in a position to continue to contribute their energies to the vital role we play in scam prevention and enforcement?

A - the Minister recognises the commitment of Trading Standards services and the resource issues. The Scottish Government engages regularly with COSLA and there are well-established mechanisms in place for future discussions on this matter should COSLA seek to raise this with the Scottish Government. The Minister is also aware that COSLA are involved in developing a workforce strategy and encourages this process to continue.

Q -from Heather Gibson, Scottish Government, Adult Support and Protection - the team are currently exploring with colleagues in Financial Services what financial institutions can do to assist safeguarding adults finances.  What role does the Minister see for banks?

A - Mr McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise leads on  financial services so the Minister was unable to comment in detail however he is aware that no one body or organisation can safeguard adults’ finances from scams on its own. There are other factors to be considered and the private sector has an important role to play.

Pauline Scott, Scottish Government, Consumer Stands and Policy commented that Heather may in interested in a separate conversation with her to learn more about the Banking Protocol and the StopScams UK 159 Project. Stevie Trim from Police Scotland works closely with UK Finance on the Banking Protocol and is also happy to share information from a Police Scotland perspective.  

UK Finance are a member of the Strategic Partnership but were unable to attend the meeting today.


  • Pauline to contact Heather and arrange a meeting to discuss further. Action point is cleared and a meeting was arranged for 2 March 2022. Stevie Trim from Police Scotland was also in attendance

Laura Jamieson from TSS suggested the Partnership may want to think about what the vision for 2024 is for the average consumer and what that means for them  ie technological interventions etc? In response, Neil provided an update on Consumer Scotland, the board are having its final meeting today 23 Feb 2022 before becoming vested.  


  • Pauline to invite Consumer Scotland to the next Strategic Partnership meeting

The Minister thanked everyone for attending today and left the meeting.

Restructure of the Scottish Government team

Neil provided an overview of the restructure of the SG Team. Andrew McConnell now leads on the Strategy, taking over from Saskia. Andrew and Pauline sit within Jill Rosie’s team – Consumer Standards and Policy and Consumer Scotland.

Revised terms of reference – paper 1

Andrew explained the reason for reviewing the TOR (issued to Partnership members on 17 February 2022). No concerns or comments.

Strategic actions – progress to date – paper 2

Andrew provided a summary of progress on the 10 Strategic Actions. Things have moved on a lot since actions have been created and the majority are progressing. It is important to note that we do not want to duplicate work and therefore some actions are being moved forward by other organisations. Eg Action 5 Conduct reviews, or deep dives, across key sectors. Scottish Government have met with Home Office to discuss the Joint Fraud Taskforce (JFT) and the Fraud Action Plan.

The Home Office are keen to learn from our Strategic Partnership and progress to date. The Home Office are already looking at key sectors and have developed voluntary charters with the, accountancy sector, telecommunications and retail banking with plans to expand this work further. Rather than duplicate work and efforts to engage with massive organisations, Andrew suggested we look to the work of the Home Office to cover Strategic Action 5. No comments or concerns however Pauline is happy to provide feedback on the voluntary charters to the Home Office on behalf of the Partnership when everyone has had a chance to read through this information. The Home Office are due to publish a fraud mapping exercise towards the end of this month.


  • Pauline to share a link to the Home Office fraud mapping report with the Partnership when it becomes available

Graeme (SCOTSS) is interested in our interactions with Home Office and their interest in our work. Andrew suggested we may want to invite Home Office to one of the Strategic Partnership meetings in the future.

Summary of SG funding for scams prevention projects – paper 3

SCOTSS – Graeme provided a summary of progress of the project. The 4 strands of work are progressing well with 690 requests for call blockers and 494 requests for ring door bells. They are having difficulty getting ring door bells but hope to this will be resolved in the near future. They are developing the number of LA participating in the approved trader scheme, expanding the approved trader network. The Financial Harm Prevention Toolkit initially developed by East Renfrewshire Prevention Team is under development as a national package and will be available to all LA in Scotland.

Regarding call blockers - Stephanie from Which? is working with telcos and is keen to know if anonymous calls are still prevalent or whether spoofing calls are now the  issue. Analysis will follow on from the project.  

Stevie from Police Scotland added that when someone uses a burner phone, they are now able to block repeat offender calls.


  • Pauline to put Stephanie in touch with SCOTSS and TSS and trueCall to discuss further. Action Point is cleared

ADS – Pam gave a summary of the Data Analysis and AI development project. ADS have contacted Trading Standards to ask what data they would like to see. They are attending the SCOTSS partnership meeting 24 Feb 2022 to discuss AI options. They are currently cleaning data for it to be checkable and are building a dashboard of data that will be shared with Trading Standards. The AI will avoid running reports and will provide quick access to information/trends. It should save organisations time spent on pulling out data.

ADS and Victim Support Scotland - Enhancing referral pathways for victim support. This project aims to make a smooth referral from ADS to Victim Support Scotland for people where increased vulnerability is identified. The system will be up and running from 31 March 2022.

TSS – Laura provided a summary of Mobile Safe project which is a two year project. The universal SIM card fits in to any phone and blocks nuisance calls to mobiles. They have 100 SIMS cards that offer unlimited calls and texts and 2g data.

Laura and the team have hosted a series of information sessions to over 100 people from various organisations. Laura is happy to open this up further. TSS have received positive feedback from Police Scotland, LA, ADS and various other organisations.  

TSS have arranged a trial with Alzheimer Scotland, trial - 5 SIMS. Depending on the outcome the product may be recommended on the Alzheimer Scotland website.

TSS are more than happy to work with all partners.

TSS and trueCall data - analysis project 

Laura is attending monthly meetings with Steve Smith from trueCall. Steve is working on the Data Analysis tool. He is utilising two different databases which can automatically rate different types of call. In due course it will be able to produce a list of the top 1,000 phone numbers that are sending out the calls.   
This project would prevent the need for the current level of manual analysis plus identify threat levels.  TSS are undertaking testing of the new system – 95% match and 78% of numbers are spot on.  There is work still to be done on call categorisations.  

Streamlining the Landscape Group – note of meeting – paper 4

Pauline gave a summary of the purpose of the group, membership and highlights of the Streamlining the Landscape Group meeting 7 December 2021. Paper 4 provides a summary and lists the action points from the meeting.

Signposting for in Scams reporting in Scotland

Wording agreed by the group:

Scottish consumers can report suspected scams and suspicious activity using the quick reporting tool.

Alternatively, specialist consumer advisers are available on 0808 164 6000 (Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm), or by visiting, operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland. 

ADS will triage calls to Police Scotland, Victim Support Scotland and other appropriate organisations.

Katherine from CTSI said they are here to support the messages from TSS and SCOTSS. They are seeing huge media interest in scams and have regular contact from journalists and TV outlets. They are trying to raise the profile from a Scotland perspective, streamlining the landscape however there are still mixed messages for reporting, etc, ADS and Police Scotland.

Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

The streamlining the landscape group discussed the feasibility of SPOC. They agreed to keep this item on the agenda but to focus on practical issues at the moment.

Local practitioners workshop – planned for April/May 2022

Laura from TSS has agreed to lead on the workshop, with Scottish Government. CAB advisers, local TS officers and Police Scotland will also be invited to join. Plans are underway.


  • all to forward any comments or suggestions for the Streamlining the Landscape Group to Pauline

Scams intelligence in Scotland – note of meeting to discuss Which? report – paper

General feedback on gather data/intelligence for which the Partnership are grateful to Which? for this work. The report is factual and not a Which? recommendation report.  

Partners were asked to think about next steps following the presentation from Katie at Which? on 14 December 2021.

We agreed that the current partners projects are working towards the recommendations from the report. ADS are already looking at what a scams dashboard might look like and who will require access to the anonymous data, - ADS are happy to share data. Trading Standards will get access to the dashboard. Pam from ADS said that working more closely with Police Scotland would be useful and they will follow up when the they have the outcome of the project.

Laura from CAS is keen to see an interface/dashboard, latest scams etc for advisers.

Stevie from Police Scotland said serious and organised scams patterns are important and can be reflected on other areas of scams, they use the same tactics but different approaches, it would be useful to link and use an interface/dashboard for this reason.


The chair concluded the meeting and again recognised the work and deliverables achieved so far.   Future opportunities are welcome to discuss intelligence, dashboards and build on current initiatives and potential new initiatives in the coming months.  

Action points:

  • Pauline to contact Heather and arrange a meeting to discuss banking protocol. Action point is cleared
  • Pauline to invite Consumer Scotland to the next Strategic Partnership meeting
  • Pauline to put Stephanie in touch with SCOTSS and TSS and trueCall to discuss call blockers further. Action point is cleared
  • Pauline to share a link to the Home Office fraud mapping report with the Partnership when it becomes available
  • all to forward any comments or suggestions for the Streamlining the Landscape Group to Pauline
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