Police Act to Tackle Rogue Traders

This week police across the north east have joined forces with colleagues across the UK to tackle the menace of rogue traders.

Rogue Trader 1 Along with partner agencies such as Trading Standards, the police are involved in a week of enforcement activity aimed at disrupting criminals who masquerade as legitimate traders in order to target vulnerable – largely elderly – residents.

The event is being co-ordinated by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit tackling cross-border crime and supported by the National Police Chiefs Council.
Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques. The work is often expensive, sub-standard and in many cases not even required at all.

Rogue trading is often linked to distraction burglary, which is carried out by an offender who gains access to a property by distracting or deceiving the householder in order to steal valuables or cash.

The joint enforcement day in April 2016 saw more than 5,900 vehicles stopped and checked; 271 arrests made; nearly £3m worth of property recovered and 2,766 offences identified nationally.

Officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) were joined by colleagues from other agencies including Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs and DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) in two separate operations on Tuesday 9th May and Thursday 11th May.

The operations were based in Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Middlesbrough and Portack at Stockton and a total of 168 vehicles were stopped.

One driver was tested for drugs using a roadside drugwipe test and failed, 30 vehicles were found to have defects such as defective tyres - including a van which was found to be driving on a rear tyre which was almost completely flat, defective lights and brakes, one driver was found to be using their mobile whilst driving, nine vehicles were found to have no MOT, four vehicles were overloaded and one driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

Three vans, a car and a heavy goods vehicle were all found to have no insurance, whilst four had no licences to transport scrap and four had no tax.

Additionally, hundreds of pounds of suspected counterfeit cash was seized.

The Department for Work and Pensions checked 156 people and will be making follow up enquiries with a number of those.

Sergeant Paul Harker, from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Operation Rogue Trader aims to disrupt rogue traders and to tackle those that purposely target victims to carry out unnecessary and overpriced work. Throughout this operation we found a number of offences being committed and all those were dealt with appropriately.

“It is important that people know that as a consumer, they have the right to contact Trading Standards should they feel that work they have procured has not been carried out to the correct standard.

“We will continue with such operations alongside partner agencies in order to protect victims from being conned out of vast amounts of money for this type of unnecessary work.”

Peter Constantine, from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) said: “This operation is part of a national initiative tackling rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable in our communities. Working with our partners we will continue to enforce all legislation against these individuals, to disrupt their activity in the north east. This is an excellent example of partners working together to protect our communities.”