Helen Paterson - Wrexham Council

Some council services are more obvious than others.

Bin collections. Road repairs. Schools. We notice these things because they touch our lives on a daily basis.

But there are lots of other things that slip beneath the radar – and yet impact on our lives just as much.

I’ve written a few ‘back to the floor’ articles on this blog, and after spending a day with Trading Standards recently, I felt compelled to write another.

I was fascinated by the range of activities carried out by this team, and it was a real eye-opener.

For starters, I spent much of the morning on Operation Harbour – working with Ceri and Lynne, as well as officers from North Wales Police, and Milo the tobacco detection dog (he’s a very clever dog).

We were checking for illegal tobacco at self-storage locations around the county borough.

Dogs like Milo – provided by WagtailUK – are used to sniff-out tobacco on premises, and it really made me think about the consequences of the illegal trade. It makes it easier for children to get cigarettes, harder for smokers to quit, results in lost tax revenue and harms legitimate businesses.

I also learnt a lot about the other work the team does – like tackling counterfeit clothing and unsafe electrical items being offered for sale around town and over the internet (particularly social media).

The team also talked passionately about protecting vulnerable people from criminals who target them in their own homes – intimidating them into spending huge amounts of money on unnecessary and ineffective property repairs.

Some of the cases the team has dealt with are really harrowing, but it was great to hear about the success stories too – where criminals have been stopped in their tracks, preventing further heartache and distress for victims.

I only spent a brief time with the team, but it’s clear they’re very much among the ‘unsung heroes’ of the council.

Their work goes largely unnoticed by the general public, but they strive behind the scenes to make Wrexham a fairer, healthier and safer place – both for residents and businesses.