Police and trading standards join forces to tackle rogue traders
A national day of joint enforcement action, Operation Rogue Trader, saw trading standards work alongside police to target rogue traders and aggressive doorstep sellers last month as organisations continue to tackle the problem under budgetary constraints.
Operation Rogue Trader is a national multi-agency campaign coordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) alongside Liberal, the Police National Intelligence Unit.
Personnel from trading standards, police and other enforcement partners, totalling 1156, undertook action aimed at tackling rogue practices and raising awareness of the dangers linked to engaging with cold-callers.
The operation meant officers were able to identify 708 individual offences, leading to 19 arrests and the seizure of 39 vehicles. Consumers were saved nearly £5,200.
“We welcome initiatives like this which help to tackle and root out rogue selling practices in our sector.” Sarah Lepak
In addition, action included 460 community-based awareness events, which saw trading standards and police engage with the groups most frequently targeted by rogue traders. Officers visited a further 1,324 households, offering advice on avoiding falling victim to rogue traders.
In the mobility sector, the BHTA’s Code of Practice is one of the tools that Trading Standards use to tackle rogue traders. The Code has been granted approval under the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), run by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), which only approves codes that have proved effective in safeguarding and promoting the interests of consumers beyond the basic requirements of the law.
Commenting on the importance of the initiative by Trading Standards and police, Sarah Lepak, Director of Governance and Policy for the BHTA, said: “We welcome initiatives like this which help to tackle and root out rogue selling practices in our sector.”
Activities during the operation included 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.
Discussing the shift in focus, Louise Baxter, CTSI Lead Officer for Consumer Education and Team Manager at National Trading Standards, said: “It’s crucial to raise awareness of doorstep crime and help prevent innocent people from falling victim to these criminals. This campaign provides a platform to educate people and put a stop to doorstep crime in our communities.”
Approximately one third fewer personnel took part in the Operation this year as agencies and public services across the country continue to experience the results of budget cuts.
CTSI Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, Tim Day, said: “Despite the decrease in the personnel involved, the number of offences identified was not proportionally lower. It’s also telling that, despite the high number of offences, there were far fewer arrests than last year.”
“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, but services are struggling undercuts and there is a genuine concern as to how long enforcers can continue to protect the public under this strain.”