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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Cumbria police crackdown on rogue doorstep traders

A CRACKDOWN on doorstep traders in Cumbria found that six were unaware they had to offer customers a seven-day “cooling off” period after any home-based purchase.

The trading rule applies to all deals that are struck with traders on a person’s doorstep or in their home.

As part of the week-long Operation Rogue Trader last week, police and trading standards officials have been working in Barrow and Carlisle, checking on the activities of doorstep traders.

There have been several disturbing examples in recent years of rogue traders targeting vulnerable elderly residents.

In some cases, people claiming to be builders have charged large sums for shoddy or non-existent work.

Throughout this week, police and trading standards officers have worked in areas previously targeted, carrying out checks on vehicles and confirming any accreditation claims were genuine.

Steve Playle, the Trading Standards Institute’s lead officer for doorstep crime, said: “Operation Rogue Trader is a fantastic initiative that brings together trading standards officers and police officers in order to tackle the menace of criminals who cause enormous emotional distress and massive financial detriment to so many householders across the country.

“The activities of cold calling home maintenance rogues are often linked to the activities of distraction burglars and all the evidence shows that it is the elderly and vulnerable who are deliberately targeted by this crime.

“The simple message from trading standards is to always say ‘no’ to any traders offering to carry out work who unexpectedly turn up on your doorstep.”

Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, strategic director of Operation Liberal, said he was delighted Cumbria Constabulary were participating in Operation Rogue Trader.

He said: “Rogue trading is a pattern of offending which deliberately targets the most vulnerable members of our communities, and most often the elderly.

“We need to get crime prevention messages about rogue trading not just to householders but to whole communities as well as to relatives and friends, particularly of elderly residents.

“The golden rule is that if you are not sure who is at the door, don’t open it. If you have any suspicions at all about cold-callers or traders operating in your community, call police on 101.”

Mike Smyth, public protection manager for Cumbria County Council, added: “We want people to have the necessary support and help to be able to turn away cold callers.

“While it is not illegal for traders to canvas for work in this manner, rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem locally as well as nationally.”

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