West Yorkshire Police join forces with partners to beat doorstep crime (12 May 2017)

Rt -9_0West Yorkshire Police has teamed up with Trading Standards to offer advice on how to beat rogue traders, and to help families and neighbours looking out for vulnerable loved ones and members of their community.  

The message - 'Not Sure? Don't Open the Door!' - is aimed at potential victims, particularly vulnerable, elderly people, and their families.  

Police forces, Trading Standards and partner agencies across the country are taking part in enforcement activity aimed at disrupting criminals purporting to be legitimate traders in order to target vulnerable householders.  

It forms part of a joint operation between Operation Liberal - the national intelligence unit tackling Cross Border Criminality and supported by the National Police Chiefs Council - and trading standards services. 

Rogue trading is often linked to distraction burglary, whereby an offender gains access to a property by distracting the householder in order to steal valuables or cash. 

Officers are offering advice on how to stay safe and have provided common lines used by rogue traders in order to gain access to your property. They may include - 

"I was just up on your neighbour's roof and noticed that you had a few tiles missing from yours…." 

"It's a government scheme for one day only…." 

"I will need some cash up front, I can drive you to the bank if you like?" 

"If you don't get the work done now, it'll cost you more later on down the line…." 

"Don't tell anyone how cheap we're doing this work for you…." 

Rt -6_1Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques. The work is often expensive, sub-standard and not required at all. 

"Raising awareness of the dangers posed by rogue traders is particularly important as is following a few simple steps which can greatly reduce your chance of being a victim of such criminals on your own doorstep." 

Chris Joyce, West Yorkshire Police's Crime Prevention Officer, said: "Our message is simple - 'Not Sure? Don't Open the Door.' 

"We are asking residents to check the identity of the doorstep caller by telephoning the company they are purporting to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory and check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme or the Government Trust Mark Scheme.  

"Discuss any work to be carried out with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader and never sign anything on the spot, pay cash up front or go to a bank or cash point with a trader. 

"Lastly, if you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999."

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: "Rogue trading is the deliberate overcharging for unsatisfactory goods or services, for example the charging of unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to obtain money. 

"We are continuing to target perpetrators who carry out these crimes, and who deliberately target vulnerable people. We will continue to seek prosecutions, as well as offering support to victims and reduce repeat victimisation." 

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "This behaviour is absolutely despicable and we must all do what we can to stop rogue traders.  

"I recently helped fund a joint task force with West Yorkshire Police, Trading Standards and adult social care with a focus on investigating financial exploitation and abuse of vulnerable and older victims. The team has been operational since October 2016 and has already had some impressive results. 

"I would also urge everyone to have a think about their relatives and loved ones and pass these prevention messages on to anyone they feel may be vulnerable to door step crime. For further help and advice pleas

Students from Huddersfield University have also been coming up with ideas on how to combat doorstep callers who aren't genuine tradesmen or women.  

The innovative designs will be unveiled at an official presentation on campus on Friday, 12 May to a panel of judges made up of partners from West Yorkshire Police, Victim Support, Age UK and Trading Standards.  

Professor Rachel Armitage, Director of Secure Societies Institute at Huddersfield University, said: "As part of the inter-disciplinary approach to developing innovative solutions to security challenges, the Secure Societies Institute has been working closely with the Product Design team within the School of Art, Design and Architecture, to host an annual designing out crime challenge.  

"This year we decided to focus upon the crime problem of Doorstep Crime. This is a real challenge for the Product Design students as many are not aware of the devastating impact of this crime.  

"Bringing these partners together with this cross-School approach to tackling crime through design is, in my view, both innovative and extremely effective. If we can design products to prevent Doorstep Crime, whilst informing these students of the risks associated with this crime, we can make a real difference and reduce the impact upon potential victims". 

Video footage and images of the day will be available after the event. And next week we will be hearing from an 86-year-old Leeds woman who was targeted by rogue traders in her own home. 

You can find safety messages and advice on this year's campaign on social media by following #roguetrader17. Further information is also available on the West Yorkshire Police website here.  

If you have any information on rogue traders in your area, please call police on 999 in an emergency or 101. Information can also be passed to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2017