A COMMERCIAL collection company which claims to raise funds on behalf of the air ambulance is being investigated by Trading Standards, despite the watchdog earlier saying it wasn’t breaking the law.

As previously reported, leaflets and collection bags have been distributed across Worcestershire by Air Ambulance Service, misleading people into handing over goods which they believe will benefit local charities.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of theft and fraud in Kempsey, near Worcester, for collecting bags with Air Ambulance Service printed on them.

They were later released without charge after Trading Standards said they weren’t breaching rules as the small print states they are a profit-making organisation.

However, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (Trading Standards) has now said it is conducting further enquiries into Air Ambulance Service.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has also confirmed it has received complaints about the firm.

In January, the ASA made a ruling against Air Ambulance Service that said their leaflets were misleading and needed to be changed. The ASA is investigating to see if their ruling has been breached.

Worcestershire Regulatory Services said it is investigating to see if bags found recently in the county are from the same company subjected to the ASA’s ruling.

Research by your Worcester News into Companies House records reveals that Air Ambulance Service was forced to change its name in April.

Its official trading name is now St Anthony (Trading Co) based at an address in Oxfordshire – the same address for the company subjected to the ASA ruling.

A spokesman from Worcestershire Regulatory Services said it would work closely with West Mercia Police.

He said: “Both organisations share intelligence in relation to criminal activity within the Worcestershire area.

“However the organisations are completely independent and will make decisions based on the best evidence available at any point in time, which includes taking a final decision on pursuing criminal prosecution.”

Inspector Janet Heritage, of West Mercia Police, said: “We continue to work closely with Worcestershire Regulatory Services on this and other investigations.

We will investigate any new information thoroughly and will take positive action against any identified offenders.”

• People with concerns about collectors can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit consumerdirect.gov.uk