County Council Trading Standards and Police join forces for Operation Rogue Trader in Oxfordshire
Rogue traders and aggressive doorstep sellers were targeted this week by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards as part of ongoing work to protect Oxfordshire residents and business people.
Working in collaboration with Thames Valley Police, Operation Rogue Trader aims to stop rogue business practices and raise awareness of the dangers linked to hiring cold-callers.
Fourteen Trading Standards staff and around 30 police travelled around the county during the week. 67 traders were approached and checked; 10 warning letters were issued, including for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and for Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 offences; five waste offences were fined by district councils; and an overloaded vehicle is being investigated along with seven doorstep crime offences and two police offences.
In Henley four traders were checked; three warning letters were issued to traders for not providing ‘cancellation rights’ to residents; and there were three offences for carrying waste without a licence.
In Witney 11 traders were checked; and two warning letters issued to traders for not providing ‘cancellation rights’ to residents.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, £19,995 was returned to victims of rogue traders as a result of intervention by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Operations Manager for 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.”
Operation Rogue Trader is a national multi-agency campaign coordinated by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and the Police National Intelligence Unit, Liberal. It began specifically to target doorstep crimes, especially distraction burglaries and rogue trader offences. As rogue trading practices diversified, Operation Rogue Trader grew to allow participating authorities to proactively target criminal behaviour, and raise awareness amongst the most vulnerable groups.
Police spokesperson, Andy Luckett, said: “Operation Rogue Trader catches offenders and disrupts criminal activity. Rogue traders tend to be involved in a number of illegal activities and working with multiple agencies means we can seriously obstruct criminals and get them off the streets.”
CTSI Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, Tim Day, said: “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.
“This campaign is a core part of a wider strategy to ensure trading standards and the police can work together so there’s no place for these kinds of criminals to hide.”
Activities during the week of action 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.
If you suspect someone of being a rogue trader, or find yourself accosted by uninvited doorstep sellers, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations covers unfair practices such as over-charging and poor-quality work.
Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 requires traders to provide potential customers with a 14-day cancellation right before work commences.