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200 Arrests and 1,000 offences detected in national doorstep crime campaign success

22nd May 2014

A national multi-agency doorstep crime operation, led by Police Scotland, has been a major success in preventing and beating the rogue traders and doorstep con men.

Police and other agencies detected over 1,000 offences during the dates of operational activity, with over 200 individuals being subsequently arrested. Charges specific to activity surrounding serious and organised crime were also libelled and reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Operations Monarda 1& 2, which ran in conjunction with the UK wide Operation Rogue Trader, achieved the results during operations in April 2014 and September 2013.

It involved over 600 police officers plus 250 colleagues in 21 other areas including, 81 Trading Standards Officers, and Community Wardens, HM Revenue and Customs, the Department of Work and Pensions, and SEPA.

Chief Inspector Martin Rutland of Police Scotland's Safer Communities team said: "This is a great example of Police Scotland working with partners including local authorities and trading standards teams and the private and voluntary sectors providing proof that we are keeping people safe. It has also strengthened and given us new partnerships and links we can use in future campaigns.

"Doorstep crime can affect anyone within our local communities, but we are aware that in particular older people can be targeted due to a perceived vulnerability.

"It is far from a victimless type of crime. The effects of it can have life changing consequences on victim's health and wellbeing, in addition to the impact of any subsequent financial loss.

"Some of the techniques used by these criminals are very high pressure and very sophisticated. It is very easy for anyone, even if you are well educated or world-wise to fall foul of them.

"There is no stigma or embarrassment in getting caught out and Police Scotland urges victims or their families to come forward and report this type of crime. The more people that come forward, the greater our ability to identify and catch those responsible, preventing future crimes.”

"One of the other parts of this operation was the promotion of a new Nominated Neighbour Scheme, which raises awareness and empower the community to protect its own and disrupt unlawful behaviour. The scheme is already making an impact on communities across the country.

"A crucial element of Operation Monarda was about raising awareness of this type of crime and how to help people avoid becoming victims of it. We issued more than 26,000 leaflets and had more than 1,600 posters on prominent display in public areas, gave 235 presentations to local groups and ran 43 road shows and community events to get our message out.

"Social media also played a part. We had 15,000 hits when there was a multi-agency discussion on Facebook and one of our presentation was to a ‘silver surfers' group for older people who are on the web.

"Operation Monarda has placed a positive and reassuring focus on doorstep crime within all connected organisations, the wider media and the public. Police Scotland's 14 divisions are continuing to provide a tailored response in this area, along with key partner agencies.”

Further information about the nominated neighbour scheme can be found on the Police Scotland website at this link or by calling your local Community Policing team on 101.

Mr Rutland added that although the latest national operation has concluded, work continues around the country to tackle these criminals and protect those who can often be the most vulnerable in our community.

Here are some case studies from Operation Monarda.

• A doorstep criminal that targeted residents in Edinburgh appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff court from custody after carrying out substandard and over-priced work on 14 properties. Along with one other male, he gained £25,000 in total and was arrested and charged by Police with multiple Frauds, along with over 40 charges in relation to Consumer Protection Offences that were identified by Trading Standards. Police also seized a number of assets belonging to him, with further requests for the forfeiture of cash totalling almost £100,000 through Proceeds of Crime legislation.

• Officers stopped at a house where scaffolding work was on-going and spoke with an individual who was known to police. It transpired the occupants didn't want work done and had been coerced into it with a hard sell. Trading Standard identified a number of consumer credit offences and the work immediately stopped and scaffolding removed. Police could not prove criminality; however, Trading Standards were able to take forward a prosecution under consumer rights legislation. Police followed up with a bogus worker alarm to the elderly occupants to prevent repeat victimisation.

• As a result of a number of distraction thefts at 9 different loci where the victims were elderly three people were detained and charged with 10 offences.

• Police in the Highlands and Islands stopped and prevented bogus workmen from carrying out further works and a woman was arrested by police and subsequently remanded in custody after both incidents saw elderly residents targeted in their own homes. The two incidents both occurred in the Inverness area. As part of the week-long campaign an estimated £1500 was saved by consumers through actions by police and partner agencies. On Friday 18 April 2014, officers stopped 36 works vehicles resulting in two drivers found to be driving without insurance, one driving with no license, three fixed penalty notices issued and one vehicle seized.

* One male arrested for bogus worker fraud on elderly victim. Additional offences being looked at by Trading Standards and Department for Work and Pensions, along with Financial Investigation Unit to identify assets. Prohibition notice issued for vehicle.

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