North Yorkshire is celebrating a milestone in the fight against doorstep crime and rogue traders.
The zones were launched eight years ago at Great Ayton, near Stokesley. The area had been heavily targeted by gangs of bogus roof repairers from the North East, who had fleeced vulnerable residents out of thousands of pounds. Members of one three man roofing gang, who cheated one Great Ayton resident out of £56,000, were convicted and sent to prison for their crimes.
Since then, the zones have shown their value time and again in helping to reduce both cold calling and doorstep crime in general.
Where a majority of residents in an area agree, trading standards officers create zones in which doorstep salesmen are discouraged from visiting. There has been a significant fall in the number of uninvited callers since the zones were created.
County Councillor John Fort, the Divisional Member for Pateley Bridge said:
I’ve been involved with this initiative since the start and this is about local residents or communities having the confidence to say ‘No’ to uninvited salespeople and to warn rogue traders and cold-callers that they are not welcome.
Pateley Bridge town councillor Hilary Jefferson will be acting as the local co-ordinator of the new No Cold Calling Zone.
Councillor Hilary Jefferson said:
There are quite a few older residents in the area who are plagued by doorstep callers at all hours of the day and night.
Some of them try to sell shoddy goods but even worse are those who want to do roofing or gardening work and then charge extortionate amounts, sometimes thousands of pounds, for nothing.
Residents can feel frightened if left to face these rogues on their own. No one should be frightened to answer the door and we’ll all be pulling together to make sure the community says ‘No’ to doorstep callers.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards & Planning Services, said:
We believe that ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ send out a clear signal to those people who target vulnerable householders that they are not welcome. The cold callers put undue pressure on householders by having someone knocking at their door, often at dusk, trying to get them to buy something or have work done.
Doorstep crime is a major problem throughout the UK and older adults in particular are at risk from bogus callers and doorstep rogue traders. These problems are well documented and well known to investigative agencies such as trading standards and the police.
One of three crimes can follow the knock on the door from a doorstep trader:
- Distraction burglary – Where one ‘trader’ will keep the occupant talking, while another often unnoticed accomplice scours the house for valuables and money.
- Obtaining property by deception – The ‘trader’ will deceive the victim into handing over property or money in return for the provision of property or services which the ‘trader’ never intended to provide.
- Improperly conducted property repairs or gardening maintenance – The trader will convince the occupant of the house that emergency repairs are needed, usually for something that is difficult to check. These jobs often don’t need doing, and they charge the occupant extortionate amounts of money to carry out the work.
Anyone who feels that their neighbourhood would benefit from being in such a zone should contact the North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards & Planning Services on 08454 04 05 06