Wiltshire Police has once again joined forces with Trading Standards and other partnership agencies in Swindon and Wiltshire in a bid to target rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers as part of a week-long crime prevention initiative.
The national Operation Rogue Trader campaign involved a week of action from Monday 11 April until Friday 15 April from police forces and agencies across the UK, with a specific day of enforcement on Wednesday 13 April 2016.
Wiltshire Police officers and staff along with members of Trading Standards took part in the day with officers using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to carry out intelligence-led roadside stop checks of vehicles, as well as mobile patrols and engaging with the public to offer advice and guidance around rogue trading in their specific area.
- 26 vehicles were stopped.
- 21 companies were checked.
- Six vehicles had no insurance.
- Three vehicles were recovered.
- Three people were issued with a fixed penalty notice.
Rogue trading is a UK wide problem with evidence suggesting a number of burglars associate with rogue traders. Between January 2016 and March 2016 Wiltshire Council Trading Standards service received 133 notifications of traders cold calling at people’s homes. 24 of these were recorded as doorstep crime incidents which involved property maintenance work. The remaining notifications followed attempts by traders to sell goods or offer maintenance services.
Operation Rogue Trader is led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit that links associated crimes and gathers intelligence on key nominals and organised crime groups who travel extensively throughout the UK.
Wiltshire Police’s Head of Crime Prevention Superintendent Phil Staynings said: “I hope today sends a clear warning out to those who try to con the most vulnerable in our communities.
“This was another successful day in which a number of agencies all worked together to educate traders working in Wiltshire and take action against those who weren’t trading fairly.
“Although a number of the traders stopped were legitimate it appears from their positive feedback that our work is appreciated by consumers and genuine traders alike.
“We will continue to work closely with partners to help prevent rogue traders from targeting vulnerable members of our communities and encourage anyone who is concerned about potential rogue traders to contact police.”
Wiltshire Council consumer protection manager Yvonne Bennett said: “We are very pleased to have supported this operation as we are all too familiar with the devastating impact rogue traders have on the health and confidence of their victims.
“Anyone who has doubts or suspicions about a particular trader or is tempted to employ someone who turns up uninvited at their door, should not take up their services but find a reputable company instead. If the service sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
“We ask that people be as vigilant as possible to this type of crime, and look out for any vulnerable or elderly friends and relatives who might be particularly at risk.”
Chartered Trading Standards Institute Chief Executive Leon Livermore said: “Rogue traders cost consumers around £442 million per year, with elderly and vulnerable people the most commonly targeted.
“Operation Rogue Trader is a great opportunity to put the spotlight on these callous criminals who cause distress and financial ruin to so many victims across the country.
“Meanwhile, consumers should remain vigilant and do their homework. Before agreeing to have any work carried out they should find a reputable trader who is a member of an approved trader scheme and take advice from friends and family as to whether or not it is a good deal.”
Other agencies also took part in the operation, including HM Revenue and Customs, the Environment Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
The Department for Work and Pensions Investigations team leader Adrian Ayland said: “DWP takes benefit fraud seriously. In addition to investigating cases of alleged fraud referred to us, we also participate in multi-agency proactive operations such as Rogue Trader in order to identify potential benefit frauds and to protect taxpayers’ money.”
DVSA Head of Compliance, Gordon Macdonald, said: “The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is pleased to be working alongside Wiltshire Police.
DVSA takes road safety very seriously and carries out roadside operations to target non-compliant drivers and their vehicles
These operations send out a clear message that those who break the rules and risk the lives of passengers and other road users will be caught and prosecuted”
Householders are asked to remember the following advice:
Not sure? Don’t open the door!
Check the identity of the doorstep caller by telephoning the company they are purporting to be from. Use telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider.
Check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme or the Government Trust Mark scheme.
Discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader.
Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out.
Never pay cash up front and never go to the bank or cash point with a trader.
If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999.