On BBC Radio 4's well-respected 'You and Yours' programme t'other lunchtime, it was reported that a 2014 UK government initiative intended to help individuals repeatedly targeted by postal scams was failing miserably. The consumer protection scheme was created in response to findings that the names and addresses of around 10,000 individuals in the UK -- the overwhelming majority elderly, living alone, and likely to be suffering from some age-related illness or other -- had finished up on target lists bought and sold by criminal gangs, as a result of which they were being subjected to repeated, multiple scam attempts.
The initiative called upon local authority Trading Standards officers to visit local victims and set up a contact arrangement whereby the victims could provide TS with whatever scam materials they were receiving. The arrangement would not only aid investigations into the scammers, it would also reassure the victims that official help was readily to hand.
A check into how well the scheme was working showed that in the two years it has been running, only 120 victims have so far been visited. The failure was explained by a representative of the Trading Standards Institute as a case of the government on one hand making lofty promises about UK consumer protection and, on the other hand, cutting the resources upon which those promises depended for their fulfillment.
The government, said the representative, had abolished so many UK trading standards posts that the total today is exactly half what it was five years ago.
I seem to remember that a particular politician and a particular political party of recent memory made much of something called The Big Society. What wasn't made clear was that this referred to The Big Society of Scammers and Scumbags. Perhaps we should've asked.