Former footballer safeguards businesses – including former club

 Businessman and former footballer Graeme Carter

An ex-Newcastle United footballer who used to stop strikers is now helping to safeguard his former club against fraud.

Graeme Carter, from Wheatley Hill in County Durham, arrived at St James’ Park as an apprentice in 1986. The central defender, who also played basketball for English schools, signed professional forms in 1988 but only made three substitute appearances with a persistent shoulder injury hampering his progress.

He had a brief spell with Gateshead before playing and coaching in non-league football with Blue Star, Brandon United and Bishop Auckland FC.

In 2013 he set up a data shredding company – Shred Direct – which in the last 12 months collected, shredded and re-cycled more than 500 tonnes of confidential waste and waste paper.

Graeme, now 46, and his two drivers make 260 collections per month from businesses and organisations throughout the North East – including solicitors, Newcastle Building Society and Newcastle United.

“It seemed strange at first going back there. I suppose it’s only human nature to think what might have been and perhaps – if injuries could have been treated the way they are now – I might have had a longer career,” said Graeme whose team-mates during his four years at St James’ included Paul Gascoigne, Peter Beardsley and Mirandinha – the first Brazilian to play football in England, who has just made a rare return visit to the North East.

Graeme Carter in action for Newcastle

But the Shred Direct boss is now entirely focused on his business which this month celebrates its third birthday and has plans for expansion. “I’ve been doing this type of work for 20 years and during that time there has been a transformation in the way we all work,” said Graeme who sold his first company to Premier Waste Recycling in 2009. “But despite the increasing use of computers the idea of a paperless office is largely a myth.”

The advance in technology has also seen a startling growth in computer fraud with thieves becoming more daring.

In 2015, for example, businesses throughout the UK reported losses of a staggering £755m through scams involving payment cards, cheques, internet and mobile phone banking.

Earlier this year in Durham local businesses, the police and the region’s three police commissioners took part in the first North East Crime Summit – which focused on fraud – and the government is so concerned at the level of crime that it has set up a taskforce to tackle it.

One of its members believes the problem is not just the result of cybercrime and phone hacking.

“Criminals are continually looking to exploit old and new technology alike to deceive both individuals and organisations into revealing private information that will enable them to commit fraud, sometimes on an industrial level,” said Detective Chief Superintendent David Clark, who heads the City of London police’s economic crime unit.

A used cheque book or an old bill – if not destroyed – provide opportunities for the fraudsters, said Graeme.

“People are busy at work and paperwork that has been dealt with tends to be put in a file, stored and forgotten. That’s where we can help.”

One of Shred Direct’s satisfied customers is Janet Place, the practice manager for solicitors The Richmond Partnership which has offices in County Durham.

“Businesses like The Richmond Partnership still rely on paper and our clients rightly trust us to ensure their personal details are kept safe, documents are securely stored and – when the time comes – safely destroyed,” she said.

“The team at Shred Direct provides an invaluable and professional service which helps to ensure private and confidential information remains just that.”