West Mercia Police and Shropshire’s trading standards team join forces for Operation Rogue Trader
Rogue traders and aggressive doorstep sellers were targeted this week by Shropshire Council’s trading standards team, working in collaboration with West Mercia Police as part of Operation Rogue Trader.
Officers from the council’s trading standards team joined with counterparts from West Mercia Police on a series of intelligence-led patrols in Shrewsbury and south Shropshire, looking to catch and disrupt rogues and protect members of the public. They have also visited a number of banks and building societies in Shrewsbury, to offer advice to members of the public on how to avoid falling foul of the rogues.
As a result of the joint-working, two vehicles were seized by police, illegal collection of scrap metal is being investigated by trading standards, and further intelligence has been gathered about the activities of traders who have recently been affecting the county.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:-
“Tackling rogue trader criminal activity is a top priority for the council’s trading standards team and we are determined to make it very clear that rogue traders are not welcome in Shropshire. We undertake intelligence-led targeted enforcement and work closely with partners on a local, regional and national basis to bring rogue traders to justice through the courts, and to secure compensation for victims wherever we can. Equally important is our crucial role in raising awareness of doorstep crime and helping prevent innocent people from falling
“We encourage members of the public to help themselves, their families, friends and neighbours, by being vigilant and remembering the key message – If in doubt, keep them out!”
Further advice includes:
- Never work with cold-callers, and don’t ever be rushed into home repairs.
- Consumers are legally entitled to a 14-day cooling off period in most home improvement contracts formed at their home.
- Check the identity of the caller by phoning the company they are purporting to be from. Use the 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, any Local Authority Assured Trader Schemes or the Government’s TrustMark scheme.
- Ask a neighbour or friend nearby to check out the caller before you open the door to them or agree to have work done.
- Never pay cash up front.
- Always get at least three quotes before agreeing to have work done. Suspected rogue trader activity should be reported to Shropshire Council’s trading standards team by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or the police on 101. In an emergency, call 999.
Joyce Barrow, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, waste and regulatory services, said:
“Operation Rogue Trader catches offenders and disrupts criminal activity. Our trading standards team know that rogue traders tend to be involved in a number of illegal activities, including distraction burglary, and do operate across county boundaries to commit offences. Working with multiple agencies means the council can play its part to seriously obstruct criminals and get them off the streets. Unfortunately, rogue traders and doorstep criminals prey on the most vulnerable in our communities, and working closely with the police and other agencies means the council can intervene sooner and safeguard potential victims. Operation Rogue Trader is a core part of a wider strategy to ensure trading standards and the police work together so there’s no place for these kinds of criminals to hide, and the campaign provides a key platform to educate people and put a stop to doorstep crime in our communities.”
Operation Rogue Trader is a national multi-agency campaign co-ordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with Liberal, the Police National Intelligence Unit.
Last year’s campaign involved over 1,400 personnel: 1,806 were stopped and searched, 87 arrests with 871 offences, and over £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, Operation Rogue Trader grew to allow participating authorities to proactively target criminal behaviour, and raise awareness amongst the most vulnerable groups.
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 agencies 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 to these criminals. 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.