Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers across the UK have been targeted in a UK wide week of action from Monday 8th to Friday 12th May.
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.
Rogue Traders ’cold call’ residents, offering to provide goods or services which are of poor quality deliberately overcharging. They charge for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money. It is known that the offenders travel large distances to commit crime and some of the teams exchange information with other criminals.
Locally, Nottingham City Council Trading Standards Service has led a week of activity to crack down on rogue traders including joining Nottinghamshire Police patrolling the City every day speaking to traders and carrying out checks. Officers from Trading Standards and Community Protection Officers also spent the week visiting residents; raising awareness about Rogue Traders and how to avoid being ripped off. Over the course of the week, Officers have visited and delivered information leaflets to over 500 residents.
On Thursday, Trading Standards joined with Nottinghamshire Police, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), HMRC and the Environment Agency for a vehicle checkpoint. During this joint operation, 23 vehicles were stopped and checked by the partner agencies resulting in 19 offences being identified and enforced.
During the week Trading Standards also held a joint Rogue Trader Workshop along with Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards Service with attendees from several partner agencies working directly with our residents and in our communities. The workshop involved a discussion about partners working together to clear our neighbourhoods of door to door con artists.
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 Trader Week is a national campaign run by Operation Liberal (Police National Intelligence Unit) tackling Cross Border Criminality. The last Rogue Trader Operation in 2016 saw nearly 300 people arrested, and nearly £ 3 Million worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected.
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.
“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.
Across the country police forces, Trading Standards, Department for Work and Pensions, Environment Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA and VOSA the UK Border Agency Scambusters and other partners will work together to catch rogue traders and to prevent people from becoming victims of crime.
Activities on the day ranged from executing warrants, identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.
It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door and legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine. 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.
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any distraction burglar or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111