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Survey aims to help communities deal with doorstep crime

25th April 2014

An online survey launched this week by The Highland Council’s Trading Standards seeks to examine the problem of rogue doorstep trading and to highlight local areas that might benefit from setting up ‘Cold Call Control Zones’.

Most doorstep traders offer legitimate services. However, a small number seek to exploit the vulnerable by charging inflated prices for poor quality work, providing false information or acting as a front for “distraction burglaries” and unsolicited visits by honest traders are even unwelcome by many.

From more than 270 reported incidents in The Highland Council area last year, residents claimed that they lost around £166,000 as a result of a number of crimes including bogus selling, unfair commercial practices and high pressure selling.

National figures from the Office of Fair Trading suggest that only ten percent of incidents are reported.

The survey is available to complete HERE

Participants are asked how many times they have been visited by doorstep traders in the past 12 months, whether they were unhappy with their experiences and if they would support the introduction of a Cold Call Control Zone (CCCZ) in their area.

It is hoped that the results of the survey will help Trading Standards in identifying areas that would benefit from increased help in dealing with doorstep crime through the introduction of CCCZ’s.

Although supported by the Council, CCCZ’s are community-run and funded schemes that aim to empower residents to say “No” to unwanted doorstep traders through education and deter bogus traders by the placement of signage around a designated zone.

A recent pilot scheme in Wimberley Way, Inverness has proven to be a success with 77 percent of those surveyed feeling less worried about doorstep crime at home and 75 percent feeling less worried about doorstep crime in their area.

Trading Standards Manager Gordon Robb said: “Tackling doorstep crime is a priority for Trading Standards at UK and Scottish level and as can be seen from our complaint data, the Highland Council area is not immune from the misery that it can cause. We are keen to ensure that we can assist communities that need our help. CCCZ’s are proven to work in many different parts of the UK. I feel they are a great way of empowering communities to deter and disrupt criminal behaviour.

“Given the suspected low reporting rate of such crime, we need more information about who, when and where people are being effected and I am confident this survey will give us a better impression of doorstep trading activity in the Highland Council area.”

Chairman of Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure committee Thomas Prag said: “The undesirable activities of some doorstep traders can have a very unwelcome impact on people, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Cold Call Control measures have been proven to help so it's good to see our Trading Standards team taking this forward. They need to hear from the public to find out where problems are occurring and who may have an interest in taking action to ensure people feel happier and safer in their homes."

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