County News: Crack down on rogue traders

Police, environmental health and trading standards officers at Durrington.
Police, environmental health and trading standards officers at Durrington.

Sussex Police targeted rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers in a national day of action on Wednesday (13 April) as part of a week-long initiative.

Officers conducted intelligence-led patrols in likely hotspots across the county, alongside Trading Standards staff.

The day also saw automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) used to identify vehicles used by criminals.

Over the week, mobile traders operating in Worthing and Adur were approached while completing jobs in people’s homes and some individuals will be investigated further.

A number of scrap metal vehicles stops were made and advice was given to them by the Environment Agency.

The crime prevention week aimed to encourage businesses to report suspected rogue traders and offer advice to those at risk.

PSCOs held crime prevention events at West Sussex supermarkets, garden centres and shopping centres and visited victims to provide reassurance.

Chief Inspector Simon Nelson said: “Rogue trading is a problem which often disproportionately impacts upon some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The emotional and financial costs of people being hugely overcharged for work which is unnecessary or substandard, or being targeted for other crimes such as burglary, can be devastating.

“Rogue traders often travel long distances to commit offences, which is why we are supporting this nationwide crackdown. I’m delighted that we have been able to take this opportunity to target these types of offenders, and see some excellent results.”

Steve Playle, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said: “Operation Rogue Trader is a great opportunity for the different partners involved in tackling doorstep crime to come together and carry out some enforcement work and to raise awareness of the issues. Cold calling criminals undertaking property maintenance work continue to exploit vulnerable and elderly home owners.

“Trading Standards officers right across the UK are committed to making criminals’ lives as difficult as possible by sharing intelligence, causing disruption and taking criminal prosecutions where necessary.”

Sussex Police have issued this advice about rough traders:

- It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door.

- 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.

- Persuasive sales techniques are often used by doorstep sellers to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

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 doorstep offender or rogue trader should contact Sussex Police by emailing 101@sussex.pnn.police.ukor calling 101, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-org.uk).

If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door, call 999.

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