TWO workers from a company which claims it is collecting funds on behalf of the air ambulance have been released without charge after Trading Standards said they were not breaking the law.

Their release has prompted the Midlands Air Ambulance charity to warn people not to be fooled into thinking that the collections are anything to do with them. As reported in the Worcester News on Saturday, two Lithuanian men were arrested on suspicion of fraud and theft after being caught on camera collecting bags in Kempsey, near Worcester.

A spokesman from West Mercia Police said they had liaised with Trading Standards officers at Worcestershire County Council who said no further action should be taken.

The bags and accompanying leaflets, which have been distributed across the county, have Air Ambulance Service printed on them in bold type and claim to be “working to towards providing financial assistance to cover or reduce the cost of ground and air ambulance medical transportation”.

People are directed to – which is unavailable and are urged to call or text premium rate phone numbers for membership information.

However, in the small print it says the company is collecting commercially to make profit and is not associated with any local helicopter emergency service.

Jamie Colley, fair trading officer at the county council’s regulatory services, refused to comment on individual cases but said companies which collect clothing to sell for profit are not doing anything illegal.

He added: “They have to be clear on the collection bags and not mislead people into thinking they are a charity. If they are misleading, then it is in breach of our rules.

“If people think information is misleading then they should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

"We don’t want to deter people from making complaints.”

Kempsey parish councillor David Harrison, who is also regional fund-raising co-ordinator for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity, said: “It makes you think, what is the point in trying to stop these people?

“All we can do is to continue to warn people.”

Concerned residents in Pershore have contacted the Worcester News about Air Ambulance Service collections taking place in the town tomorrow.

Our research suggests this company is operating all over the country and we have found no evidence of any local air ambulance services receiving funds from them.

A spokesman from Midlands Air Ambulance said anyone who falsely claimed to collect of behalf of the air ambulance undermined their charity’s relation with the public.

“We wish to clarify that these collectors are in no way affiliated with the charity and, as far as we can ascertain, are misleading the public with their claims and adopted identity,” he said.

“We would like it to be clamped down on.”

A spokesman from West Mercia Police said: “We are still encouraging people who notice suspicious activity in their area to report it to us by calling 0300 3333000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

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