Trading Standards and police officers have visited communities throughout Somerset this week in a joint initiative to highlight the dangers of rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers.

And next week it’s the turn of Devon with a series of information events planned throughout the county.

Over two days officers from the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service (DSTTSS) and Avon and Somerset Police advised residents on how to recognise and protect themselves against doorstep crime and rogue traders.

The multi-agency initiative is part of Operation Liberal which involves all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and supports national investigations into distraction burglaries and doorstep crime.

Trading Standards and Police officers visited towns in Sedgemoor, South Somerset, West Somerset, Taunton Deane and the Mendips, particularly focusing on communities such as Glastonbury and Street with high elderly and vulnerable populations.

Advice leaflets and door stickers were handed out with information stands set up in garden centres, supermarkets, shopping centres and post offices giving residents the chance to speak to officers and receive some one-to-one advice.

Doorstep visits, including to previous victims of rogue traders, were carried out in communities such as Bridgwater, Burnham, Cheddar, Yeovil, Street, Glastonbury, Minehead and Wedmore.

And in the Mendip and Taunton areas officers gave legitimate building firms tips on speaking to customers.

The initiative continues on Wednesday, 17 May in West Somerset when officers visit Watchet’s street market.

Next week the focus moves to Devon with Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police jointly holding information days in numerous locations.

Information stands will be set up at Seaton Tesco on Thursday 18 May and at the Budleigh Salterton Older Person’s’ Information Day in the Public Hall on Friday 19 May, and at this year’s Devon County Show from Thursday 18 May to Saturday 20 May.

If you visit stand 337, row eight, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police will advise you about how to recognise, avoid and report scams and how to find local businesses, approved by trading standards officers and are members of our Buy With Confidence approved trader scheme.

Paul Thomas, the Head of Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said:

“Rogue Traders are a blight on communities and make people’s lives a misery."

“They use high pressure sales techniques to take advantage of householders, especially the vulnerable."

“We will not tolerate such dishonest trading practices and we will continue to work closely with the Police, through intelligence sharing and joint initiatives, to enable us to protect our residents and legitimate local businesses."

“I want to thank the legitimate businesses we spoke to and encourage others to report suspicious activity to help us to and bring these criminals to justice.

Andy Luckett the Office Manager from Operation Liberal said:

“Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity as well as highlighting the dangers of rogue trading and doorstep crime."

“Those involved in this form of illegal activity do not tend to be law abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By involving a range of different agencies, we can seriously hamper their offending patterns and aim to disrupt their criminal activity.”

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