Community Safety Leader:No Cold Calling Zone milestone in fight against doorstep crime

Community Safety Leader, Councillor Cammy Day, writes in today's Edinburgh Evening News about how Cold Calling Zones enable residents to take action against rogue traders who take advantage of vulnerable people in their area.

I’m delighted that our Trading Standards Team have managed to break the 100 No Cold Calling Zones barrier. This is a great achievement and has only been possible through the hard work of residents engaging with their neighbours and showing their support, so a special well done to the residents that take the time to act as Zone Champions.                                                  

Doorstep Crime is one of our Trading Standards Team’s top priorities, and they work closely with our partners in Police Scotland on both prevention and enforcement activity. Recent enforcement results for the joint initiative Operation Aristotle have been reported in the Evening News, with offenders being given significant custodial sentences, but prevention is better than cure!

One of our No Cold Calling Zones set up during the summer in Currie has led to a formal warning being issued to a trader who ignored the zone, and cold called despite being asked to leave. This was as a result of a member of the public sending us details of the trader and a picture of his van. It’s important that the public give us this information so we can follow it up. In terms of uncovering such behaviour and disrupting and deterring bogus workmen operating in our communities feedback from zones is key and I encourage residents to get in touch.

Rogue traders work by trying to pressurise you into buying a product or service that you don’t actually need and bogus callers pretend to be someone they’re not, such as officials, meter readers, charity collectors and even police officers. This kind of activity can be devastating for victims, both financially and in terms of having the confidence to live independently. We hope this gets the message out that crimes of this nature won’t be tolerated in our communities. Criminals who prey on vulnerable or the elderly are despicable.

Our Trading Standards team can’t be everywhere at once, though, which is why the sense of community built up in forming these zones is so important. Look out for your neighbours and keep an eye out for any strangers in the area. 96% of residents who have provided feedback have said they are more confident when answering the door since being included in a NCCZ.

Last week we visited a new zone in Barnton where they have set up Whatsapp groups to share information and alert neighbours to unwanted callers as well as look out for the more vulnerable in their area. Whilst there we sprayed a No Cold Calling Zone emblem on the pavement. These stencils are in addition to signs in areas where feedback has indicated there are still people claiming not to have seen the signs. These are sprayed with temporary paint which lasts around 8-12 weeks. This helps to stop any dispute that the lamp post signs have been overlooked when challenging traders.

The more we can do to stop cold calling and bogus workmen that safer we will all be.

The current list of Zones is available at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/nccz and this is being updated all the time as new zones are formed. You will also find information on forming a zone there you can call 0131 529 3030 or email trading.standards@edinburgh.gov.uk

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