Rogue traders facing new crackdown
CONMEN and rogue traders are to be driven out of Suffolk in an unprecedented crackdown on doorstep callers, it can be revealed.Suffolk County Council has appointed a full-time doorstep caller co-ordinator to spearhead a new probe into the problem, which will involve intelligence-gathering and undercover raids.
CONMEN and rogue traders are to be driven out of Suffolk in an unprecedented crackdown on doorstep callers, it can be revealed.
Suffolk County Council has appointed a full-time doorstep caller co-ordinator to spearhead a new probe into the problem, which will involve intelligence-gathering and undercover raids.
It is hoped tough new action will see more fraudsters punished in the courts and will send out a message to offenders that Suffolk will not tolerate their crimes.
Dozens of vulnerable people fall victim to doorstep callers in the county every year – including the recent case of an 80-year-old pensioner who was persuaded by pushy salesmen to sign a contract for work on her home at 11pm.
Another shocking case involved a pensioner, suffering from depression, who was duped out of £40,000 when he was pressurised into signing six contracts for unnecessary work - including the installation of an air vent – by the same bogus trader.
In the past 12 months, Suffolk Trading Standards has received 95 complaints about conmen and rogue traders alone – including 10 last month. Although the figure is fewer in comparison to previous years, the service is intent on driving out doorstep callers altogether.
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Tony Doorly, who will become Doorstep Co-ordinator in Suffolk from April, said: "Suffolk has seen how important this issue is and how bogus callers and rogue traders can have a detrimental impact on people's lives.
"We are looking to see what action we can take to make Suffolk an unwelcome place for this types of people.
"If appropriate, we will take prosecuting action against them. It will also involve obtaining intelligence and this could include undercover work.
"We're looking at linking with other agencies involved in community safety. We want to empower people to look after themselves and put structures in place so we can get these people out of Suffolk."
Doorstep callers are rogue tradesmen and women who either use pushy techniques to secure a sale for a particular product, or carry out work at an owner's property that is sub-standard or overcharged.
Research suggests doorstep callers often sell information about likely victims to others so pensioners may then be subjected to repeat calls or even burglary.
Peter Monk, county councillor and portfolio holder for public protection, said: "It's an excellent step. We are very much at the forefront of getting support for this sort of action.
"We have been targeting which of the areas has been giving us most concern. Sometimes rural areas are seen as an easy touch as we have got an ageing community.
"It has annoyed me to have to report the losses that people have suffered. There are unscrupulous people out there who prey on the vulnerable."
Last night a spokeswoman for Help the Aged said: "Help the Aged welcomes the appointment of a doorstep caller co-ordinator for East Anglia, following a number of crimes against older people in the area.
"Although older people are the group least at risk of crime it is a sad fact that rogue traders do particularly target older and vulnerable people.
"Hopefully the new co-ordinator will spearhead initiatives that will help inform older people in the community of common sense precautions to protect themselves from unscrupulous traders. This will enable older people and their friends and family to take the precautions that are needed but still remain active members of their community."