Ernie Clark. Hilperton Division, Wiltshire Council.

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Monday October 15, 2018 Clamping down on rogue traders.

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Partnership operation a success.

A week-long operation to clamp down on rogue traders in Wiltshire took place last week, to prevent Wiltshire residents, particularly those who are vulnerable, from becoming victims of crime.

Wiltshire Council officers from trading standards and environmental services launched national campaign Operation Rogue Trader locally, a national campaign, with Wiltshire Police and other partner agencies.

Activities included roadside stop checks and conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.

During the operation enforcement officers carried out checks on 64 businesses, who were stopped by Wiltshire Police. Trading standards issued advice to 22 businesses, environmental enforcement officers identified 10 businesses carrying waste without a waste carrier’s licence or waste transfer documentation. These offences will be followed up by officers which could result in fixed penalty notices being issued to offenders if documentation cannot be provided.

In addition, officers were looking at all manner of businesses who deal with commercial waste, garden/tree works and construction vehicles.

These checks were conducted to reduce the amount of illegal deposits or fly-tipping of waste throughout Wiltshire.

Rogue traders often offer gardening, roofing or driveway work or maintenance services at initially cheap rates but the quality of work is substandard or unnecessary and the final price extortionate. They regularly use aggressive sales techniques to pressurise often vulnerable consumers into making hasty decisions.

The cabinet member for public protection, said: “ A rogue trader on TV or in movies is often portrayed as a cheeky wheeler-dealer type, but the reality couldn’t be further away from that. These doorstep criminals target often vulnerable members of our communities to part with their hard earned money for unnecessary, overpriced and low-quality work – and the effects can be devastating.

“The vast majority of businesses in Wiltshire are good, honest and hardworking, and it’s a real shame that there are criminals out there that can damage their reputation."

Detective Sergeant Anthony King from the Wiltshire Police Community Tasking Team said: “Operation Rogue Trader is an important reminder to us all that there are people out there who are trying to take advantage of those most vulnerable in our county.

“We all need to be vigilant to this type of crime, which can have a long lasting financial and emotional impact for its victims.

“As a Force we want to send a clear message out to the perpetrators of this crime, it will not be tolerated in Wiltshire. Together with our partners we will work to educate the public and prosecute those who carry out this crime.

“We ask that the community follow advice from Trading Standards, look out for any vulnerable or elderly friends and relatives who might be particularly at risk and do your homework before engaging anyone to carryout work on your property.”

Householders are advised:

• ‘If in doubt, keep them out!’

• Never work with cold-callers and don’t be rushed into home repairs

• Consumers are legally entitled to a 14-day cooling off period in most home improvement contracts formed at their home

• Check the identity of the caller by phoning the company they claim to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider

• Check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, the local Authority Assured Trader Schemes or the Government Trust Mark scheme.

• Ask a neighbour or friend nearby to check out the caller before you open the door to them or agree to have work done. Some areas in the country have ‘nominated neighbour schemes’ you can sign up to. Check with your local police to find out if there is one in your area

• Never pay cash up front

• Always get at least three quotes before agreeing to have work done

• Use the Trading Standards approved “Buy with Confidence” traders. These businesses are vetted and audited by Trading Standards Officers. To find a Buy with Confidence trader visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk or alternately a list of approved traders can be obtained from Wiltshire Council’s Trading Standards service.

If anyone suspects a rogue trader is at the door, they should contact the police by dialling 101. In an emergency, call 999. People can also report rogue traders to local trading standards by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.