Oxfordshire Trading Standards save doorstep crime victims over £250,000

Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, working in partnership with Thames Valley Police, banks and other agencies, have saved over £250,000 for the victims of rogue traders in the last 12 months. This is the largest amount of money ever saved by the doorstep crime team since it was established 12 years ago. The team targets rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable and elderly and claim to be legitimate companies. However, these ‘traders’ who carry out the ‘work’ are often not appropriately qualified and the majority of the work carried out is unnecessary and of poor quality, to the point of being dangerous.

Protecting the vulnerable

The doorstep crime team in Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service includes three Trading Standards Officers and a seconded Police Officer from Thames Valley Police. In the past year, the team secured over a quarter of a million pounds in savings for victims using various methods including responding to rogue trader incidents as they occurred. Banks and other financial institutions have also been instrumental in securing these savings, by reporting suspicious large cash withdrawals to Thames Valley Police and Trading Standards, allowing the doorstep crime team to intervene and protect vulnerable adults from a wide range of financial abuse.

Joint working

Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service continues to work closely with local banks and building societies, as well as delivering presentations and educational events to community groups, raising the awareness of rogue trader activities and other forms of financial abuse against older people.

Martin Woodley, the doorstep crime team leader in Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service said:

“It is encouraging that the team has managed to increase the savings for this financial year. However, we need to stay vigilant, as the number of incidents has also risen. This has led to a knock-on effect, increasing the amount of money obtained from victims. This type of fraudulent activity is happening frequently in Oxfordshire, where some victims are conned out of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work. This causes a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and on their confidence. We then need to provide continuing support, by putting safeguarding measures in place.”

Top tips to avoid becoming a victim

To avoid becoming a victim yourself, do not make an instant decision on one cold call. If you are interested in work being carried out, then speak to family or friends to discuss it, do some online checks on the internet and get three quotes from reputable traders. The Trading Standards Service also has a list of approved traders, via the Buy With Confidence Scheme.  More tips on how to avoid becoming a victim are on the county council's website at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards .

If you believe that you are a victim of a rogue trader, or are concerned that a neighbour or family member may be, please report it to Trading Standards via 03454 04 05 06. If you feel threatened in anyway, call 999.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Operations Manager said:

“The figure of £250,000 saved and recovered for victims of doorstep crime is a visible sign of the hard work and dedication shown by the doorstep crime team, supported by other colleagues and a range of partner organisations. We are also grateful to the victims who come forward to report such incidents of doorstep crime and for the concerned neighbours and family members, who also help us to identify situations of concern.”