Consumer champions from Lancashire County Council are amongst the winners of a Trading Standards 'Oscar'.
The North of England Trading Standards Group (NETS) - of which Lancashire County Council is a founder member - has been awarded the Brindley Medal for excellence, innovation and partnership working.
The award has been given to by the Trading Standards Institute for the pioneering work NETS has done to combat doorstep crime - particularly protecting elderly and vulnerable consumers from 'dodgy doorstep builders'.
Dorothy Westell, Lancashire's Champion for Older People, who received the award at Conference said:
"I am delighted Lancashire Trading Standards and their colleagues in the Northern Counties Group have been recognised for the work they are doing. As Older Peoples Champion I welcome any initiative which helps older people to remain safe in their own home, reduces incidents of doorstep crime and the fear of crime."
Chief Trading Standards Officer Jim Potts said:
"A recent Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report, highlighted the problems of doorstep crime, which affects many vulnerable members of the Lancashire community. It recognises the inadequacies of the legislation and recommends changes in the law and a national consumer education campaign, to provide consumers with information on their rights when buying on the doorstep.
"Our project is a partnership of Trading Standards Services, the Police, Age Concern, Victim Support and Businesses working towards reducing doorstep crime. Part of the initiative is to raise the issue of doorstep crime and seek new legislation."
Partnership work in Lancashire has resulted in locally based building societies adopting a protocol to reduce older people withdrawing large amounts of money to pay for shoddy work.
Unfortunately incidents are still happening and only last week a complaint was made to the Trading Standards Service of an older South Ribble resident who had paid £9000 for a roof repair. The work was not completed and the bogus workers have now disappeared. Enquiries are continuing into this case. However, Trading Standards have been successful in stopping some unnecessary jobs being done before money has been handed out.
Last year Lancashire's Trading Standards team received over 400 complaints related to doorstep selling, ranging from damp proofing work, gardening, tarmacing work and general repairs to property, many consumers reporting excessive prices and shoddy workmanship.
To report such incidents Lancashire Trading Standards can be contacted on 0845 600 1352.
Note to Editors:
The award will be presented to NETS and Lancashire CC representatives at the Annual Trading Standards Conference at Manchester on Wednesday 23 June.
The North of England Group consists of Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lancashire Trading Standards.
Attached is a list of top tips for dealing with bogus callers:
- Ensure that all doors are locked at all times even when at home; if you have once, always put the chain on before you open the door, or look out the window to see if you know the caller.
- Always ask to see an identification card, then ring the company concerned - not the number on the identification card - to check that the caller is genuine. Genuine callers will not mind waiting.
- Always ask the caller to call back later when you have someone with you if you are still unsure.
- Never be pressurised or persuaded to accept the work doorstep traders offer. Always ask for quotes from 3 different people for works to be done. Don't agree to have anything done until you have 'shopped around'.
- Remember bogus callers can come in all shapes and sizes - women, men, pairs and children. There are well documented cases of bogus callers even posing as policemen, council officials and charity workers.
-The risk of this crime happening to you is statistically a small one, but by following the steps above you can help protect yourself.
For further information please contact: Martin Crabtree on 01772 533536