Issued By
North Yorkshire County Council

A FOCUS ON DOORSTEP CRIME

 

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Please see photo opportunity in note to editors

ORGANISATIONS from North Yorkshire and the region will be meeting on 14 November at the Cairn Hotel, Harrogate to focus on the problems of doorstep crime. 

The seminar which is being organised by North Yorkshire County Council in conjunction with the North of England Trading Standards Group, will look at the wider issues of doorstep sellers but in particular concentrate on how to tackle bogus callers who prey on the vulnerable often under the guise of selling something or offering to carry out a house repair.  

Evidence suggests that only a small proportion of victims ever report incidents and consequently accurate figures of the scale of the problem are very difficult to obtain.  However a recent survey by Help the Aged reported that 300,000 older people were targeted in the last 12 months by bogus caller crime and that the average age of victims was 78 years.  In the Yorkshire and Humberside region, the survey reported that 28,000 older people had been targeted in the last year.

Recent reports to the trading standards service include a number of householders being ‘ripped off’ for thousands of pounds by tarmac gangs who often use strong arm tactics and deception to persuade the elderly to part with their savings.  In another case, an elderly Scarborough man paid nearly £4000 to a bogus roof repairer who spent just a couple of hours on site and has never been seen since. 

Local authorities across the UK will be carrying out the largest ever survey of householders during November to assess the scale of the problem and people’s attitudes towards doorstep sellers.  The survey is being organised by North Yorkshire County Council but will involve some 50,000 householders from the Shetlands in Scotland to Carmarthen in Wales and Kent in England

County Councillor John Dennis, Executive Member for the Business and Community Services Directorate said: “This is a very serious issue and the answers will not be easy.  Everybody needs to be aware of how these criminals operate so that every organisation can play its part.  The problems caused by these criminals may be local but the issue is national.  By bringing together organisations such as local authorities, the police and voluntary groups we hope to generate some real commitment to tackling this menace.”

Executive member: Cllr John Dennis (Con) 01609 883349

Group spokespeople: Cllr Steve Shaw-Wright (Lab) 01757 708849; Cllr Mrs Caroline Seymour (Lib-Dem) 01642 710382.

CONTACT: Stuart Pudney on 01609 766405 or Richard Flinton on 01609 766421

 

NOTE TO EDITORS: 

You are invited to a photo opportunity at 1pm on 14 November at the Cairn Hotel, Harrogate when Jeremy Walker, Chief Executive of North Yorkshire County Council will formally sign a Doorstep Cold Calling Protocol (see details of protocol below).

The seminar will start at 10am and is expected to finish after lunch.  Speakers will include:

 

The ‘Feeling Good Theatre Group’ from Leeds will also be giving a performance.  This group of older people spread the message through a very effective presentation.

If you wish to attend the seminar it would be helpful if you could register - contact Sue Seddon on 01609 766407.

This seminar falls within National Consumer Week, the theme of which is doorstep crime.  You are likely to be receiving further information about this directly from the Trading Standards Institute. 

Other events during the week include:

1.   AM - 12 November - Formal launch of national consumer week by Melanie Johnson, DTI Minister for Competition, Consumers and Markets at the Department of Trade and Industry, London.  Performing at the launch will be the Feeling Good Theatre.

2.   Launch of a ‘National Cold Calling Protocol’.  This will be formally signed by most of the major utilities on 12 November at the National Consumer Week launch.  This protocol (see below) requires callers to take positive steps to ensure that householders have the means to check their identity.  This protocol is applicable to anybody who calls at someone’s home and consequently at the Harrogate seminar at 1pm, it will be formally signed by the Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council as being applicable to county council staff who call at people’s homes in the course of their work.

3.   During the week, North Yorkshire County Council is leading the largest survey of people’s experiences and attitudes of doorstep selling/doorstep crime.  It is expected that 50,000 householders will be surveyed across the UK from the Shetlands in Scotland, to Carmarthen in Wales to Kent.  It is expected that the results of this survey will be published in mid December.

4.   The North of England Trading Standards Group, which includes North Yorkshire County Council is producing a series of information videos aimed at the elderly, professionals and support workers, advice agencies and enforcement officers.  In addition, the Feeling Good Theatre Group production is being made as a training video with scripts, with the intention that other community theatre groups can perform this elsewhere in the country. 

5.   During national consumer week, local examples of doorstep crime and doorstep selling complaints received by the North Yorkshire County Council trading standards service will be released as they are received.

6.   Following the Harrogate seminar, contact will be made with local media to work up a longer-term media campaign to highlight the problems and to publicise incidents as they are reported.  This is likely to include a new e-mail system for the quick exchange of information about local issues relating in particular to doorstep selling/crime.

 

National Doorstep Cold Calling Protocol

Where possible representatives will have previously notified appointments. On the occasions where this is not possible the following procedure will be observed:

1.   The representative will physically hand their identification card to the householder and declare their name and organisation.  They will request that the householder compares their face with the photograph on the card and explain that they will not enter until the householder does so.

2.      The representative will carry a larger identification card for examination by persons with sight difficulties.  This card will bear print of at least size/font 14 and enlarged photograph.

3.      The representative will explain the purpose of his/her visit.

4.      The representative will explain that the householder can check their identification by telephoning their organisation and that they can arrange for attendance of a third party e.g. neighbour if they wish. 

5.      The representative will make it clear that they will not enter the house unless the householder is happy for them to do so.

6.      The representative will always be happy to return at a later pre-arranged date/time if the householder requests.

The organisation will provide a landline telephone number, preferably free phone, to facilitate employee bona-fide checks.  This telephone number must be a direct line to a person/people and not utilise automated call management systems. Where possible this number should also be listed in the public telephone directory and other company advertising material.