Rogue traders and aggressive doorstep sellers were targeted this week by Plymouth Trading Standards working with Devon and Cornwall Police and partner agencies as part of Operation Rogue Trader.
Officers from Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards worked on a week of activity including a joint enforcement day with counterparts from Devon and Cornwall Police, the Environment Agency, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Department for Work and Pensions and Plymouth City Council’s Licensing Team to stop rogue business practices and raise awareness of the dangers linked to hiring cold-callers.
On Wednesday 10 October, a multi-agency stop check operation was conducted in the Plymouth area, during which 128 vehicles were pulled over, 54 traders offered business advice to help them comply with trading law, two traders were identified as displaying a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent without having obtained the necessary authorisation, potentially misleading their customers.
In total, 123 offences were identified, ranging from vehicles being driven with no insurance, untaxed vehicles, registration number offences, failure to wear seatbelts, use of mobile phones whilst driving, and possession of bladed articles.
Councillor Sally Haydon, Cabinet member for Customer Focus and Community Safety said: “This was great team work from all these agencies. If certain traders can’t get the basics right, such as taxing and insuring their work vehicles, then what hope do consumers have that the work they pay for will be carried out to a reasonable standard?”
“During the operation it became clear that the majority of traders engaged lacked knowledge about their obligations under The Consumer Contracts Regulations”, she said and added that officers were on hand to advise them.
Other Trading Standards activity in Plymouth included a stall at Plymstock Library where officers talked to consumers about rogue traders and scams, a talk to Police cadets, door to door visits in hotspots and welfare checks on past victims.
Operation Rogue Trader is a national multi-agency campaign coordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with Liberal, the Police National Intelligence Unit.
Last year’s campaign involved over 1,400 personnel, 1,806 people were stopped and searched, 87 arrests with 871 offences and over £40,000 in property seized.
Operation Rogue Trader began specifically to target doorstep crimes, especially distraction burglaries and rogue trader offences. As rogue trading practices diversified, Operation Rogue Trader grew to allow participating authorities to proactively target criminal behaviour, and raise awareness amongst the most vulnerable groups.
Andy Luckett, spokesperson for Liberal, the Police National Intelligence Unit said: “Operation Rogue Trader catches offenders and disrupts criminal activity. Rogue traders tend to be involved in a number of illegal activities and working with multiple agencies means we can seriously obstruct criminals and get them off the streets.”
CTSI Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, Tim Day, said: “Rogue traders and doorstep fraudsters prey on the most vulnerable in society. Working closely with the police and other agencies means we can intervene sooner and safeguard potential victims. “
“This campaign is a core part of a wider strategy to ensure trading standards and the police can work together so there’s no place for these kinds of criminals to hide.”
National activities during the week of action include executing warrants, identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), conducting intelligence-led patrols and raids, and educating members of the public and frequently-targeted groups before they can be scammed.
If you suspect someone of being a rogue trader, or find yourself accosted by uninvited doorstep sellers, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.