Protecting vulnerable residents from rogue traders and distraction burglars
Dacorum police and Hertfordshire Trading Standards, are today (Wednesday) launching a new initiative aimed at protecting vulnerable residents from rogue traders and distraction burglars.
Under the tactical name of Operation Watchman, police and Trading Standards will respond to calls from members of the public who observe any form of work taking place at the home of someone who is elderly or vulnerable, for any reason.
Thorough checks will then be completed to ensure that the work is being carried out by legitimate tradespeople, who are fully complying with the law.
Any rogue traders will be dealt with robustly and face the possibility of arrest, prosecution and having their vehicles and other assets seized.
As part of this, a new campaign called ‘Love Your Neighbour’ is also being launched, calling on members of the public to play their part in making the scheme effective.
If you see any work taking place at the home of someone who is elderly or vulnerable please call Hertfordshire Police on 101 to report it, quoting ‘Operation Watchman’.
Examples to look out for include building work or repairs being carried out to roofs, new driveways being laid, tree surgery or gardening. This list is not exhaustive and any work you observe can be reported.
Dacorum Chief Inspector Craig Flint said: “Whilst the police response to rogue trading has been enhanced over recent years, there is opportunity to further improve on this good work and to work more closely with Trading Standards and other enforcement bodies.
"By launching this new initiative, which is thought to be a national first, we are aiming to protect the more vulnerable members of our community and make Dacorum a ‘no go’ area for rogue traders.”
Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Our Trading Standards teams work hard to keep residents safe from rogue traders, and this joint
initiative with the police will be another important step forward in that work.
“Dacorum is fortunate to have many excellent and legitimate tradespeople and this operation is not focusing on them. Rather, we want to weed out and disrupt those who are operating illegally and who are deliberately targeting vulnerable members of our community.”
Officers had a chance to trial the new working arrangements ahead of the launch date when, on Friday, March 13, officers received a report from an elderly couple about aggressive traders that had begun roof cleaning to their property in Tring, despite them declining any work.
Officers attended the location and following a search of the area, managed to locate the vehicle and the suspects working at a second property close by.
Working in partnership with Trading Standards, the officers were able to identify potential offences relating to Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Fraud Act 2006.
The two suspects were subsequently arrested and their vehicle seized. A further victim was then identified from a previous day.
The suspects a 25 year old man and a 19 year old man, both from Leighton Buzzard, have been arrested on suspicion of fraud offences.
They have been released on bail until 7 April while the investigation continues, with conditions not to enter Dacorum.
Details of reputable traders can be found here.
If the project proves successful, it is envisaged it will be rolled out across the county.