Fines levied in April for illegal whitening varied greatly across England

Fines levied in April for illegal whitening varied greatly across England

During April 2018, several people were fined for illegal practise of dentistry. The highest amount was imposed on Chelsey Harwood, from Liverpool who was ordered to pay more than £11,000 in fines and costs. But Megan Barringer of Chesterfield was ordered to pay £650 and in Milton Keynes a fine of £600 was imposed. Finally in Chelmsford, a beautician was ordered to pay £2,500.

Chelsey Harwood, the former Liverpool reality TV star, who was jailed last year for conning taxpayers out of £25,000, offered cut-price cosmetic dentistry treatments on Facebook and Instagram. She advertised a mobile ‘Teeth whitening by Chelsey ’ service – despite being warned it was illegal unless performed by dental professionals.

She was caught out by undercover investigators from the GDC, who Harwood berated when they revealed their true identity. She failed to answer a summons requiring her to attend Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on April 19 and was proven guilty in her absence of two charges.

At a second hearing, she yet again failed to attend court for sentencing and was fined £7,500, a £180 victim surcharge and the full GDC legal costs of £3,422.98 in her absence. On passing sentence, District Judge Andrew Shaw said Harwood’s income was comparable to “commercial crime with the potential of earning £2,500 per week or £10,000 per month”. He also added that there was a “realistic and fair suspicion that not all income was declared for tax”.

Local beautician, Megan Barringer of Be You Tiful Boutique in Hasland, Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to offering illegal tooth whitening and was ordered to pay £650 by Northern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court. After receiving a complaint that the salon was advertising illegal tooth whitening on social media, the GDC launched an investigation and prosecuted her.

Milton Keynes resident, Lydia Ferguson, pleaded guilty to offering illegal tooth whitening and has been ordered to pay almost £600 by Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court. After receiving a complaint in mid-2017 that Optima White was illegally offering tooth whitening, the GDC launched an investigation. There was a long history of Optima White illegally offering tooth whitening, with three people having been previously convicted and fined and numerous warning letters having been sent. The investigation produced evidence that Ms Ferguson, working with Optima White, unlawfully held herself out as being prepared to practise dentistry in the form of tooth whitening.

Chelmsford beautician, Kirsty O'Connor of Kiroco's Cosmetics in Chelmsford, pleaded guilty to offering illegal tooth whitening and has been ordered to pay over £2,500 by Chelmsford Magistrates' Court. After receiving a complaint in September 2017 from Chelmsford City Council Environmental Health, the GDC launched an investigation, which produced evidence that Ms O'Connor offered to provide the illegal treatment on 19 December 2017. She had previously been sent two warning letters by the dental regulator in 2015 and 2016 when Kiroco's Cosmetics was based in Braintree (nearby).

Francesca Keen, Head of Illegal Practice at the General Dental council, said: "Our primary purpose at the GDC is to protect the public from harm. Illegal tooth whitening represents a real risk as those who carry it out are neither qualified to assess a patient's suitability for the treatment nor are they able to intervene should an emergency arise. The GDC takes reports of the illegal practice of dentistry very seriously and, where appropriate, will prosecute in the criminal courts."

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