Issued By
North Yorkshire
County Council

NORTH YORKSHIRE CRACKDOWN ON DOORSTEP CRIME

NORTH YORKSHIRE County Council today (24-11-'03) launches its campaign to crackdown on doorstep selling and doorstep crime.

Householders will be urged not to deal with cold calling doorstep sellers. The clear message is that throughout North Yorkshire they are simply not welcome.

Earlier this year the county council’s trading standards service published a survey about doorstep selling. Some 2,000 randomly selected householders in North Yorkshire were asked to give their views and experiences of doorstep callers.

Not surprisingly 98% said that they did not want doorstep sellers calling and not one single person said they actually welcomed them.

We will persist with our campaign until we finally get the message across - cold calling is simply not welcome.

In North Yorkshire nearly three quarters of householders reported receiving cold callers in the previous month, figures much higher than the national average of 61.5%.

Worryingly, up to 20% of householders reported having a recent bad experience with a cold calling doorstep seller but only a small proportion of those reported it to the authorities - either police or trading standards.

Also of concern was the low level of householder security. In North Yorkshire only 13.2% of people reported ever asking for IDs and only 1.2% would ever check them out.

Even basic measures such as the use of door chains were disappointingly low with only a third of North Yorkshire householders having one fitted and only 4% ever using them - again much lower than the national average. Even with older adults only 40% had door chains or door bars fitted.

MORE……………….
A follow up report by the National Trading Standards Institute concentrated on the problems caused by door to door callers offering property repairs. That report concluded that the only way of tackling the problem was to totally ban the cold calling of property repairs and maintenance.

The number of serious doorstep crime incidents reported to both the police and trading standards services in North Yorkshire has grown significantly over the past years. Incidents involving older people losing thousands of pounds are common place and what has become clear is that the authorities have not kept pace with the skills and organisation of the criminals.

But now the tables are turned. Throughout North Yorkshire, enforcement agencies such as trading standards and the police together with partner agencies such as Neighbourhood Watch, Victim Support, WRVS and many more are working together on a major campaign to protect our communities from rogue doorstep traders and bogus callers.

Councillor Carl Les, the county council's executive member for business and community services, said: “A few years ago our message was, 'Be careful who you deal with on the doorstep' but we now know that message was wrong. It is not possible to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

"The criminals are too plausible and too well organised so the message has to be quite simply 'Say no to doorstep callers'. This is a campaign linking up to other areas throughout the country, and hopefully salespeople who cold call will get the message that they are not welcome.

"If they don't it will get very uncomfortable for them. The county council’s trading standards service has adopted a zero tolerance approach and will not hesitate to prosecute any cold calling salesperson who steps over the line.”

This campaign will rely heavily on members of the public not only in changing the way they deal with and tolerate doorstep callers but also reporting incidents to either the police or on the trading standards doorstoppers hotline 0845-3303313.

NOTE TO EDITORS: We encourage you to run this article - and any other stories about doorstep selling/crime or distraction burglary - together with the 'doorstoppers' logo. Please contact the communications unit on 01609-532206 and we will supply you with a CD of the logo in whichever format you require.

24/11/03

Contact: Stuart Pudney 01609-766405

Executive member: Councillor Carl Les (Con) 01677-423702 Mob: 07860-639600

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