Police launch anti-cold caller zones
BOGUS or unwanted doorstep traders will soon be consigned to history in parts of Essex thanks to the introduction today of No Cold-Calling Zones.Residents will no longer be subjected to cold-calling salesmen as the police, Essex County Council trading standards and a housing association team up to fight back against callers who cause misery to hundreds of vulnerable people each year.
By Sharon Asplin
BOGUS or unwanted doorstep traders will soon be consigned to history in parts of Essex thanks to the introduction today of No Cold-Calling Zones.
Residents will no longer be subjected to cold-calling salesmen as the police, Essex County Council trading standards and a housing association team up to fight back against callers who cause misery to hundreds of vulnerable people each year.
Permanent signs will be erected in the zones to warn potential cold-calling or bogus traders such as so-called roofers, pavers or tree cutters that they are not welcome. Each resident will be issued with an information pack which highlights the procedure when a trader infringes the zone.
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Householders can then contact a careline or hotline number when they receive unwanted traders on their doorstep.
Assistant Chief Constable Liam Brigginshaw is confident the high-visibility, multi-agency approach, to be introduced first at a sheltered housing complex in Chelmsford, will “put bogus callers on the back foot”.
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“We're breaking barriers with this new scheme,” he said. “Some initiatives are set up and left alone, but we will be keeping in close contact with these residents. We will be regularly patrolling the areas and revisiting those residents who feel vulnerable.”
Officers from Chelmsford Police Station and trading standards carried out a survey among people living in Andrews Place which is considered to be one of the troubled hotspots in the county. Residents aged between 59 and 95 felt most at risk, with the majority having already been victims to bogus doorstep traders with jewellery and money stolen. The sheltered housing complex has now become a No Cold-Calling Zone.
Mr Brigginshaw added: “People often ask why such vulnerable people open their doors to these so-called tradesmen. Well, it's often because they are lonely and look for anyone to talk to.”
The zones are an extension of the doorstep initiative that has been running in Essex for the last four years.
Roger Walters, Essex County Council's executive member for trading standards, said: “This initiative is a great example of authorities in Essex working together to tackle a problem identified by the local community.
“The type of crime these criminals commit is very lucrative for them and very distressing for the victims. It is all about empowering Essex residents, especially the elderly or vulnerable.
“If you are ever in doubt about a person calling at your house remember - you can always say no and close the door - a genuine caller will understand.”
Andrews Place is managed by Chelmer Housing Partnership which is also helping residents by providing a free weekly bus service to the supermarket as well as maintaining gardens and communal areas in a bid to dissuade cold callers from targeting areas.
Other areas in Chelmsford will become no-go zones for distraction burglars by the end of the year and, if successful, the scheme could be rolled out across the rest of the county.
n The East Anglian Daily Times is stepping up its Safe in Your Home Campaign, which aims to help
stamp out bogus officials and workers who have been increasingly targeting elderly and vulnerable residents in the region.
Laminate cards, giving advice to people faced with unwanted callers, are now available from our offices. The EADT scheme has won the backing of police in Essex and Suffolk as well as trading standards officers and Age Concern.