Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers across the UK were targeted in a national day of action on Wednesday 13 April 2016 as part of a week-long crime prevention initiative.
Activities on the day ranged from executing warrants, identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live. Police and trading standards services across the country worked with the Department of Work and Pensions, Environment Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA, the DVSA, Border Force and Scambusters to catch rogue traders and to prevent innocent people from becoming victims of crime.
In 2015 Operation Rogue Trader saw over 100 people arrested, £3.1m worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected. Rogue trading is a UK wide problem with evidence suggesting a number of burglars associate with rogue traders. Rogue traders often travel vast distances to commit offences, highlighting why having a national capability such as Operation Liberal is important.
Andrew Luckett, the Office Manager for Operation Liberal, said:
“Distraction crimes and scams continue to occur and the victims are swindled out of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work which has a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.
“We will continue to carry out operations like this and remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.”
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.
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.”
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 criminal’s lives as difficult as possible by sharing intelligence, causing disruption and taking criminal prosecutions where necessary.”
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. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for a Welsh speaking adviser
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any doorstep offender or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111
Notes to editors:
- Spokespeople from Operation Liberal and Trading Standards Institute and will be available for some interviews on Friday 15 April 2016.
- The press release is embargoed until 0001 hours on Friday15 April 2016, so should not be published until then to allow for the completion of operational activity.
- Many police forces taking part will be co-ordinating media activity locally. Please contact your local police press office for details.
- Operation Liberal –Marilyn Barratt Community Safety Officer Operation Liberal, 01623 608010 or Marilyn.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Trading Standards Institute/NTSB –Laura Hurcum, Press Officer, TSI on 08456 089 430 or email@example.com