Crackdown on rogue traders
Northumbria Police has taken part in a national initiative that tackles bogus callers and rogue traders who target vulnerable people.
It joined partners including Trading Standards, Department for Work and Pensions, Environment Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA, VOSA and the UK Border Agency Scambusters in National Enforcement Day.
The event took place on Wednesday. The main focus of the day of action was on bogus and rogue traders who typically target areas where vulnerable people, including the elderly, live.
Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.
Detective Superintendent Peter Bent, Northumbria Police said: “This operation demonstrates how seriously we take this type of crime. Fraudsters or rogue traders will not be tolerated within our force area.
“It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door however if an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is so be careful who you deal with and what you agree to. Legitimate callers will certainly not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine, so don’t be afraid to do so. Legitimate callers should also be carrying a form of photographic identity which includes details of the company they are representing. There are also a number of schemes available which allow customers access to tradespeople who are checked and vetted. Using one of these schemes removes most of the risk regarding who can be trusted to perform good work at an appropriate price and I would encourage people to consider using one rather than using a cold caller at their door.
“Never let anyone into your home who you are unsure about or uncomfortable with and report any suspicious callers to the police straight away.”
Motor patrol officers also took to the roads as part of the day of action and stopped around 40 vehicles. In addition to that, 25 other offences were identified. As part of the operation, officers from Operation Dragoon also helped carry out the vehicle stops with some successful results. With Officers stop checking companies and visiting houses to reassure and inform the public.
The campaign is being run by Operation Liberal (Police National Intelligence Unit) tackling Cross Border Criminality. All police forces across England Wales and Scotland are consortium members of Operation Liberal. The unit used to solely concentrate on Door Step Crime which included Distraction Burglary and Rogue Trader offences.
This is the 12th year that organisations as part of a multi-agency campaign have targeted rogue traders and highlight the dangers that consenting to have work carried out by cold callers can bring.
The last Rogue Trader Operation in 2016 saw nearly 300 people arrested, and nearly £3million worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected.
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Rogue trading is a UK wide problem and evidence suggests that a number of distraction burglars’ network with each other and associate with rogue traders. Rogue traders often travel vast distances to commit offences, highlighting why having a national capability such as Operation Liberal is important.
Andy Luckett the Office Manager from Operation Liberal said: “Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity as well as highlighting the dangers of rogue trading and doorstep crime.
“As you can imagine those involved in this form of illegal activity do not tend to be law abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By involving a range of different agencies, we can seriously hamper their offending patterns and aim to disrupt their criminal activity and the aim is to get them off the streets.
He added: “Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases is their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When someone falls foul of a rogue trading scam, research shows it has a seriously detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.”
Tim Day, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said: “Trading Standards Services throughout the UK continue to combat the crimes associated with cold calling home maintenance traders and professional doorstep fraudsters.
“We aim to take robust enforcement action to provide a meaningful sanction and deterrent and will, where possible, remove the criminal proceeds and return them to the victims.
“Working closely with partners in the Police and Adults Social Care on interventions, Trading Standards ensures those at risk of victimisation and exploitation are safeguarded and those responsible for the crimes are brought to justice.
“Rogue Trader week is a key part of the strategy to proactively tackle this type of criminality, and intelligence sharing and joint initiatives between Trading Standards and the Police will continue, ensuring there is no hiding place for the criminals.”
Anyone with information about rogue traders should contact Northumbria Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.