County news: police crackdown on rogue traders

Police, environmental health and trading standards officers in Durrington, West Sussex

Police, environmental health and trading standards officers in Durrington, West Sussex

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Rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers were targeted in Sussex as part of a national day of action on Wednesday (April 13).

Activities on the day ranged from identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.

Over the week PCSOs carried out crime prevention events at local supermarkets, garden centres and shopping centres across West Sussex as well as arresting an Eastbourne shopkeeper.

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.”

Delivered in partnership with Trading Standards, highlights included:

- Targeted patrols and warrants with Sussex Police and Trading Standards officers in likely hotspots across the county.

- In East Sussex, a shopkeeper from Eastbourne caught with counterfeit cigarettes was arrested and sent before the courts while a cold caller operating from Bexhill was issued with a court order requiring him to operate within the law.

- A crime prevention event at Eastbourne Hospital and at Asda, Brighton Marina, giving advice to elderly and vulnerable people on scams prevention.

- The installation of a call blocking device in Brighton to protect a household from cold callers.

- Visiting previous victims to provide reassurance as well as working in partnership with legitimate businesses to encourage them to report suspected rogue traders.

- Targeted crime prevention leaflet drops by Brighton and Hove Cadet Troop.

In West Sussex a number of scrap metal vehicle stops were made and advice was given to them by the Environment Agency.

Local mobile traders were spoken to while completing jobs in people’s homes across Worthing and Adur.

Trading Standards is investigating some of these individuals further.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s lead officer for doorstep crime Steve Playle 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.”

Need to know information about rogue 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. They often use persuasive sales techniques 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.uk or calling 101.

Or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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