NNC - Bonnie & ACC Lewis

Residents have the right to say no to uninvited doorstep traders and nuisance callers

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The Police Crime Commissioner and South Wales Police have been working with partner agencies and local communities to develop a new approach to tackling doorstep crime and unwanted callers.

93% of people surveyed recently by South Wales Police said they do not want doorstep sellers calling at their home, yet 29% reported that uninvited traders had called at their address in the past three months with 25% saying that certain traders have called repeatedly.

To deter uninvited traders from disturbing the residents of South Wales and to give householders the confidence to say no to nuisance callers, Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, has introduced a booklet informing residents of their rights. This also includes a sticker which when displayed on or by a householder’s front door makes clear that they do not welcome uninvited doorstep callers or traders.

In a pilot for this project where residents from Porthcawl in Bridgend and Sandfields in Port Talbot received this sticker and booklet, 33% of people reported that before receiving these resources they felt poorly informed or not all informed around who to call for advice or assistance to deal with nuisance doorstep callers and uninvited traders.

In addition 95% of the residents surveyed said that they would display the sticker by their front door to deter nuisance doorstep callers and uninvited traders, and were pleased to receive these resources which makes clear their rights as a householder.

These figures are substantiated by an online poll conducted by South Wales Police which found that out of 1,104 people, 97% said they do not want uninvited doorstep traders calling.

The booklet and sticker have been produced in partnership with Trading Standards, the Older People’s Commissioner, Age Cymru, and local authorities, and feedback was gained from over 100 people at focus groups held with each of the seven local authorities to ensure that the booklet and sticker meet the needs of our communities.

Timothy Pocknell Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime - Trading Standards, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael and Deputy Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Kelly Davies

Timothy Pocknell Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime – Trading Standards, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael and Deputy Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Kelly Davies

Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner, said

“South Wales is one of the safest areas in the United Kingdom to live, work and visit, and keeping people safe in their homes and communities is one of our fundamental priorities.

“Of course there are organisations and individuals with legitimate reason to knock on your door, including emergency services, NHS personnel and political party representatives. However, what we want to prevent is residents being disturbed or put at risk by uninvited doorstep callers or traders.

“We are particularly keen to ensure that vulnerable community members are aware of their rights and we encourage whole communities to use this sticker to deter uninvited traders and callers from visiting their neighbourhood.”

South Wales Police teams and partner agencies will work together to get the booklet and sticker out to local communities, specifically targeting the areas most affected by this issue. These materials can also be downloaded from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.

Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, said

“At least 150,000 people in Wales are believed to be victims of scams each year, with many scams initiated on the doorstep of people’s homes. Many of these victims were vulnerable to doorstep crime and specifically targeted because of factors including isolation, frailty, cognitive impairment or mental health issues.

“The impact of these crimes can be quite simply devastating, so if you have a neighbour, friend or family member who would benefit from this information and from displaying this sticker on their front door, please support them to do this.”

Doorstep scammers may offer goods or services such as window or gutter cleaning, path and driveway repairs, roofing or building work, gardening and tree lopping or even persuade residents that they must come inside their homes to ‘check something’. They can be very persuasive and convincing in their approach and in what they say.

Tim Pocknell, Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, Welsh Heads of Trading Standards, said

“If the person at your door has good cause to come into your home, they will not mind you asking to see identification and waiting on your doorstep while you check their details with the organisation they claim to be representing.

“There is a useful list of contacts in the booklet with telephone numbers for organisations like Welsh Water and Western Power, so please take the time to check that the person at your door is who they say they are and if in doubt, keep them out.

“Residents should also not feel pressurised or rushed into buying goods or a service on their doorstep, and should never pay for work before it is completed. Again if the trader is genuine they will understand that you may need time to consider their offer and to discuss it with family or a friend; if they continue to pressure you, ask them to leave.”

If a resident believes they have been the victim of a doorstep scam or need to report suspicious or threatening behaviour, they should call 101 to speak to the police. In an emergency, always call 999.

Mr Michael continues

“I will be working with partners to educate organisations that regularly engage in doorstep trading to respect the rights of residents, and to not disturb householders that display this sticker. They should be aware that they will be committing an offence if they ignore the householder’s wishes.”

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis, South Wales Police, said

“Everyone is entitled to feel safe in their own home, and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities is an absolute priority.

“If you or someone you know is a victim of a doorstep crime; if the behaviour of a doorstep caller is causing you concern or; you feel threatened in any way, please report it. We will take prompt, positive action.”

This campaign will be promoted online and offline with each of the local authority areas in the South Wales Police force area: Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.