Conmen and aggressive doorstep sellers were targeted during a major crackdown as part of Operation Rogue Trader.
Officers from Nottingham City Council’s Trading Standards team led a week of activity to crack down on rogue traders and raise awareness of the dangers linked to hiring cold-callers.
As part of the week of action (8-12 October), officers joined Nottinghamshire Police in patrolling the City, speaking to traders and carrying out checks.
Council Community Protection officers and Trading Standards colleagues spoke with residents – raising awareness about rogue traders and how to avoid being ripped off. Over the course of the week, they talked to more than 400 local residents and 30 traders.
Trading Standards also worked with colleagues in the authority’s Taxi Licensing team to discuss doorstep crime with taxi drivers. This is because rogue traders often send victims of doorstep crime to the bank in a taxi to withdraw cash. Drivers were asked to report suspicious activity to help prevent doorstep crime.
Trading Standards then joined with Nottinghamshire Police, Community Protection, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Environment Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a vehicle checkpoint. During this operation, 14 vehicles were stopped and checked by the partner agencies resulting in 38 offences being identified and enforced.
Operation Rogue Trader is a national multi-agency campaign coordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with Liberal, the Police National Intelligence Unit.
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.
Last year’s campaign involved more 1,400 officers nationwide, 1,806 people were stopped and searched, with 87 arrests over 871 offences and more £40,000 in property seized.
Operation Rogue Trader began specifically to target doorstep crimes, especially distraction burglaries and rogue trader offences. As rogue-trading practices diversified, the operation grew to allow participating authorities to proactively target criminal behaviour, and raise awareness among the most vulnerable groups.
Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection at Nottingham City Council, said: “Rogue traders and conmen deliberately target those in our communities who are least able to stand up for themselves, including the elderly and disabled. Their crimes are deplorable and, in partnership with fellow agencies, we must do everything we can to stop this activity.”
Liberal spokesperson Andy Luckett, said: “Operation Rogue Trader catches offenders and disrupts criminal activity. Rogue traders tend to be involved in a number of illegal activities and working with multiple agencies means we can seriously obstruct criminals and get them off the streets.”
CTSI lead officer for doorstep crime, Tim Day, said: “Rogue traders and doorstep fraudsters prey on the most vulnerable in society. Working closely with the police and other partners means we can intervene sooner and safeguard potential victims.
“This campaign is a core part of a wider strategy to ensure trading standards and the police can work together so there’s no place for these kinds of criminals to hide.”
Louise Baxter, who is CTSI lead officer for consumer education and team manager at National Trading Standards, said: “It’s crucial to raise awareness of doorstep crime and help prevent innocent people from falling victim. This campaign provides a platform to educate people and put a stop to doorstep crime in our communities.”
Activities during the week of action include executing warrants, identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), conducting intelligence-led patrols and raids, and educating members of the public and frequently-targeted groups before they can be scammed.
If you suspect someone of being a rogue trader, or find yourself accosted by uninvited doorstep sellers, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.