50th Cold Calling Control Zone launched in West Yorkshire
In a society where people often view an unexpected knock on the door as irritating, frustrating and, in some cases, even frightening, it comes as no surprise that in a recent survey by Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards, 35% of people said that this sort of activity does increase their fear of crime and a massive 93% of people stated that they did not want people knocking on their doors at all.
In response to this and a continuous stream of reports involving rogue traders, distraction burglaries, doorstep criminals and unsolicited sales people, West Yorkshire Trading Standards has been working in partnership with a range of agencies including West Yorkshire Police, Community Safety Partnerships, Neighbourhood Watch Groups, Housing Associations, local councillors and most importantly, local residents to implement Cold Calling Control Zones. The first zone was set up in West Yorkshire back in 2005.
So-called ‘doorstep crime’ often results from an initial cold call. Unscrupulous traders will prey on the elderly and vulnerable members of society, carry out unnecessary, substandard and sometimes even dangerous work and then use strong arm tactics to persuade consumers to part with large sums of money for poor workmanship. The technique of turning up unannounced can also often be used by thieves to trick their way into houses to potentially steal money and valuables.
The 50th zone was launched on Tuesday this week (28th February) covering the Rhyddings Estate in Ackworth, Wakefield.
The zones have been hailed a huge success nationally and have received a warm welcome from residents, contributing to the overall reduction of crime in the areas where they now exist.
As part of the zones, all residents receive information packs and double sided door stickers to display as well as signs at the main entry points to the streets to warn traders that they are entering an area where cold callers are not welcome.
In addition to the startling figures above, even more concerning was that only 14% of people stated that they had reported incidents to the relevant authorities, highlighting a gap in education and awareness raising around this subject.
The zones aim to arm residents with the knowledge they need to be safe within their homes, and most importantly, the confidence to say NO to these people and prevent further incidents occurring. By involving residents in the consultation process, and by revisiting the zones regularly to carry out educational workshops and feedback sessions, residents are encouraged to take ownership of the zones and their input allows for the zones to remain effective and sustainable.
To increase community awareness, training is provided to other agencies supporting local neighbourhoods, such as Police Officers, PCSOs, Neighbourhood Wardens and Community Safety Officers, who come into regular contact with residents who may be susceptible to these sort of problems. The training equips colleagues with the knowledge they need to assist and advise residents who are in need of help and report incidents effectively to the most appropriate organisation.
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said ‘It is encouraging to see that the popularity of the zones is continuing to increase. Reaching the 50th mark is a remarkable achievement for consumer protection and we will continue to support any initiative that protects vulnerable people in a place where they should feel at their safest, which is in their own home’.
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: “These zones are a very important tool in the fight against doorstep crime, whilst also bringing together communities and the agencies working within them to reach a common goal. The on going education for both residents and professionals means that we are combating the issues from all angles’.
For further information on Cold Calling Control Zones, and to view our google map of all live zones in West Yorkshire, please visit http://www.ts.wyjs.org.uk/wyjs-trading-doorstep-crime.asp or call Consumer Direct on 08454 0405060