Be A Good Neighbour For National Consumer Week
Residents are being urged to join the fight against doorstep crime during National Consumer Week – by protecting themselves – and helping to protect the elderly and the vulnerable from offenders, too.
Neighbours, family members and carers all play an essential role in ensuring vulnerable residents are protected against those who call at their homes and offer goods or services that, at first glance, seem too good to be true, but end up being extortionately expensive or of shoddy quality.
As such, they are being urged to get involved as Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards team throws its weight behind the Trading Standards Institute’s National Consumer Week, which also involves South Wales Police, Age Cymru and Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.
There are many warning signs that a friend, neighbour or loved one could be at risk of doorstep crime and handy guides have been produced as part of the campaign to help.
People are also being urged to volunteer as a nominated neighbour for an elderly or vulnerable resident in their community, meaning any callers are sent to them. There are signs that can be displayed in homes, diverting callers to the nominated neighbour.
Download the Good Neighbour Checklist
Download the Nominated Neighbour Sign (which can be printed and displayed in windows.)
Doorstep crime remains a key focus of RCT Trading Standards, as it has a devastating impact on those who fall victim to offenders. In many cases, residents have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket, or left with dangerous or shoddy work. Doorstep crime is also associated with distraction burglary.
In recent months, RCT Trading Standards officers have dealt with the following cases:
An elderly lady who originally agreed to have the roof of her house cleaned. This escalated to include cleaning of the driveway, for a total cost of £700. She was then pressured to have the inside of the house decorated, at a cost of £2,800, which she paid. The offenders then returned to “finish” the work and asked for a further £1,000. An independent survey proved the work undertaken was not only worthless, but would cost more money to put right. The offenders were caught and convicted.
An elderly lady who agreed to have a patch of damage on her driveway repaired for £65. This escalated to the entire driveway being laid, at a cost of £1,600 and the front path being added to the works, for a further £1,700, which was paid in cash. A report showed there was no value to the work undertaken and the sealant used on the driveway was actually meant for use in insulating attic roofs. Two men were convicted.
An elderly couple who were approached by a firm claiming they were there to put right faults on a poorly-laid driveway. More and more jobs were added to the work until the couple ended up paying out £14,500 in cash. The offenders were convicted and imprisoned.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has also introduced pilot Cold Calling Control Zones in Porth, Tonteg and Llantrisant, supporting residents who were reporting a higher than average number of doorstep callers and fear offences could be committed as a result.
Evaluation of the scheme has shown a reduced number of “cold calls” as a result, with nearly 93 per cent of those who responded from the zones saying they felt more confident about sending sellers away and over 83 per cent saying they felt the zones had deterred cold callers and that they feel themselves and their homes are safer as a result.
Cllr Paul Cannon QPM, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, Tourism and Heritage, said: “Doorstep crime is a key focus for us throughout the year, due to the devastating impact it can have on our residents. We are pleased to give the campaign an extra push during National Consumer Week.
“I would urge all residents to think about what they can do to assist the elderly and the vulnerable in their community, ensuring they are aware of how to protect themselves and, where necessary, acting as a nominated neighbour and helping to protect them.”
“I have met many older people and their families from across Wales who have shared with me the devastating impact that doorstep crime has had on their lives. This is why I welcome this campaign, which will raise awareness about doorstep crime and provide vital information about sources of help, advice and support. “As Commissioner, I will also continue my work with a range of partners to make communities across Wales age-friendly and a hostile place for criminals and scammers.”
Signs an unwanted doorstep caller may be visiting a neighbour:
A van is parked nearby with workmen in, on, or near your neighbour's property
Ladders or scaffolding suddenly appear
Noises such as banging, drilling, or chainsaws
Trees are suddenly removed or pruned in your neighbour's garden
Poor quality work visible on the roof, driveway, or property
Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
Your neighbour leaves their house more frequently to visit bank, building society, or post office accompanied by a trader
Report suspicious activity or offences to Trading Standards.