Community safety

Advice from Trading Standards Officer

ADVICE FROM MERTON’S TRADING STANDARDS DEPARTMENT AND HOW IT CAN HELP YOU 

Over recent months Trading Standards and the Police have dealt with several instances in Raynes Park and West Barnes of residents falling victim to being cold called by rogue traders. One householder lost over £49,000 whilst attempts were made to defraud other residents of £45000 and £26000. 

Such stories have been highlighted on TV and in the Press many times and you may well think it will never happen to you, but it is so easy to get caught out before realising just what has happened.  

Typically, the rogue appears at the front door saying he is working locally and has noticed a roof tile or similar needs attention. If the resident shows any interest the job suddenly gets bigger. Mostly unnecessary work will be priced far above the market rate. Money is requested up front, usually in cash. The job will be left incomplete and work undertaken is of poor quality. If the householder makes a claim they find names and addresses not traceable. 

In light of this Merton and Richmond Trading Standards wishes to highlight the following:

Don’t buy at the door. This is the most important and effective way to avoid falling victim to traders calling at your door. Trading Standards recommend residents always say no to cold callers. 

Door Stickers stating “We don’t buy at the door from uninvited sales people” are available free of charge from Trading Standards. If you receive a visit you can simply point to the sticker and close the door.

Finding a reputable trader. Personal recommendations can be useful, so too can some trader approval schemes. The better schemes undertake detailed checks on the traders and provide useful customer feedback along with a route to complain. Schemes we recommend are “Buy with Confidence” (https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ ) , “Which? Trusted Traders” (http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk/ ) and “Checkatrade” (http://www.checkatrade.com/ ). 

When older residents have smaller jobs we also recommend using the Merton Age Concern Handyperson scheme. Tasks they can do include household repairs, decorating, putting up curtains and much more. Further information can be found at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/merton/our-services/handyperson-service/ and tel. 020 8648 5792.  

Cancellation rights.  A written notice giving you 14 days to cancel should be provided if you agree a contract when a trader is in your home (with a few exceptions). It is an offence not to provide this. 

Contract information.  The trader must also supply other information in writing before the householder agrees the contract. This includes a description of the work to be carried out, the total price to pay inclusive of VAT, the name and address of the business and any phone numbers. 

Starting work without permission is a popular tactic employed by doorstep traders and an offence.  The rogue may use vague language so the consumer feels that maybe they inadvertently agreed; even though they didn’t. They may also start removing roof tiles and even walls so the house is no longer secure or watertight, giving the householder little option but to proceed with the work. 

Trader refuses to leave when asked. If you ask a trader to leave your home and they refuse then this is also an offence.   

Claims made by the trader. Doorstep traders often make false claims such as being a member of trade associations. They may also make statements that could have some element of truth but are nevertheless prohibited. For example, a salesman cannot imply they will lose their job if they cannot close the sale. 

Bogus official. Many victims of doorstep crime are targeted a second time by the rogue traders or their associates, this time claiming they are Trading Standards Officers, Police or other officials. These bogus officials say they are able to recover money paid to the original rogue trader, often claiming this is part of a court process. The bogusofficial always requires some form of payment to be made by the victim before any compensation can be paid. Unfortunately, several homeowners in Merton have lost large amounts of money to this scam. 

Look out for neighbours. The way that we find out about many of these incidents is by concerned neighbours letting us know. Victims may not be capable of contacting us or not even realise they are being defrauded. 

If you are concerned about unusual building work, particularly at the home of a neighbour who may be vulnerable, then let us know. We are happy to visit and check if the trader is genuine and if the householder needs assistance. 

Trading Standards can be contacted on tel. 020 8545 4018 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Mike O’Hare, Senior Trading Standards Officer, London Borough of Merton

Pets at Risk

We have heard from a local resident who volunteers for a small animal protection charity based in South Norwood, warning us of cats and other animals going missing, being injured, and even killed in the Greater London area. The Charity is currently working with the Police and the RSPCA to identify the culprits. 

Although these unpleasant incidents appear to have started in the Croydon area, attacks have now widened to include the SW19 and SW20 areas, with one of the most recent occurrences in West Barnes Lane.   Residents (cat owners in particular) are being warned to keep their pets in after dark. A leaflet is currently being distributed asking people to call 999 to report anyone seen behaving suspiciously with a cat.   Similarly, if you see any domestic or wild animals who have been injured or found dead with knife wounds, to contact 07961 030 064 or 07957 830 940 immediately.

Merton Neighbourhood Watch

September 2016 

Operation Bumblebee 

Operation Bumblebee is an anti-burglary campaign undertaken by the Met. Police, which aims to crack down on burglary in the capital and raise the public's awareness of measures they can take to protect their homes. At this time of year, when the nights start to draw in, there is a seasonal rise in burglary. The police will be carrying out a number of initiatives to help address this. 

Operation Neptune 

Pawn shops will be visited to check stock for any stolen goods. Officers will also take photos of known burglars to see if staff recognise them. 

Street-a-week 

Prevention work is being carried out in areas where there have been a number of burglaries. This involves delivering leaflets that provide crime prevention advice with the aim of reducing your chances of becoming victim of burglary. There are many instances of burglary that can be avoided by carrying out some simple steps, such as double locking doors and windows. For a free crime

prevention survey please contact your local team directly. Their contact details can be found on the police website: http://content.met.police.uk/Borough/Merton 

NO MORE campaign 

The London Borough of Merton is supporting the NO MORE campaign to raise awareness of domestic & sexual abuse amongst residents. The launch of the NO MORE campaign took place on the 12th September and was attended by

Borough Commander Steve Wallace and Mayor of Merton, - Councillor Brenda Fraser - who raised the NO MORE flag. 

There are number of services available in Merton for those affected by domestic, sexual violence and abuse. Further information can be found at: www.merton.gov.uk/domesticviolence or www.nomore.org 

NO MORE began in America in March 2013.  and was launched in the UK in May this year as a unifying symbol to end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assaults.   It campaigns to engage communities in taking a stand against these crimes. The campaign is overseen by Hestia, one of the leading third-sector organisations working within these fields. 

Useful Numbers to Note 

Emergencies                           999 or 911

Crimestoppers                        0800 555 111

NHW Office                           020 8649 3213

Police Non-Emergency             101

 

 

Safer Neighbourhoods - Top Tips

Top tips from the Safer Neighbourhood Teams to help residents avoid being burgled. 

·                Mark or etch your property with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.

·                Register items with a serial number at: www.immobilise.com

·                Do not leave your car keys or ID documents near doors, letterbox or windows. Lock them away safely.

·                Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.

·                Keep your valuables out of sight through windows.

·                Leave some lights on & ask a neighbour to pop in and open/close curtains if it will be dark before you get home or you are away for a few days.

·                Install a visible burglar alarm &/or CCTV & don’t forget to set it!

·                Always keep sheds and outbuildings securely locked.

·                Lock away any ladders safely out of view.

·                Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time. 

Don’t advertise your holiday on Social Media

If you see anyone acting suspiciously in your area, call 999 immediately.

 

Project Griffin - Counter-terrorism

Project Griffin is the national counter terrorism awareness initiative for business produced by NaCTSO to protect our cities and communities from the threat of terrorism. 

The aim of Project Griffin is to  help understand the threat from terrorism to the UK,   to guide individuals on what to do if they find themselves involved in a terrorist incident or event that leads up to a planned attack and to enable people to recognise and report suspicious activity.

Project Griffin currently holds briefing events to increase public and staff awareness of how best to reduce and respond to the most likely types of terrorist activities. The events are presented by trained police advisors delivering a range of CT awareness modules. 

Events are free and can last between one and six hours depending on the time available and number of modules covered. The modules are reviewed and updated regularly and currently cover the following topics: 

  • Current Threat Firearms & Weapons attacks Hostile Reconnaissance 
  • Document Awareness Response to Suspicious Items Drones (U.A.V) 
  • Bombs (I.E.D) Postal threat Social Networking 
  • Cyber Domestic Extremism Insider Threat 

 

 NaCTSO also launched a new Griffin initiative, Project Griffin - Industry Self Delivery, on 20th April 2016. 

Specialist officers around the country are now briefing around 100,000 workers every year. However the new self-delivery programme aims to reach ten times that number. 

Companies wishing to deliver Project Griffin to their employees are invited to apply to register with NaCTSO. 

NaCTSO will register approved companies and provide them with the NaCTSO Project Griffin package relevant to their sector, plus regular future updates. 

To ensure that a company is a ‘fit and proper body’ to deliver Project Griffin, the following essential criteria for registration will be applied.  A company must:  

a)      be a PLC 

b)      Have an existing corporate training structure using accredited trainers 

c)      Operate in the ‘Crowded lace’ environment 

d)      Deliver all and any part of the NaCTSO Project Griffin product free of charge 

e)      Sign a formal contract agreeing to abide by NaCTSO (MPS) Crown Copyright terms & conditions of use  

Further details can be found on the NaCTSO website, www.nactso.gov.uk, and clicking to register will take you

to Eventbrite, the registration mechanism and quite a simple process to follow. 

Once registered - and assuming that all the above criteria are met - companies will then be registered on the NaCTSO website and allocated a unique registration number. These details will be included on a NaCTSO Project Griffin Certificate of Attendance when employees have completed a module(s). The certificates will include the NaCTSO and company logo’s, the name of the deliverer and their companies unique NaCTSO Reg. No.  NaCTSO will contact registered companies to offer assistance to their trainers through a Product Familiarisation programme, which will enable them to deliver the product to their employees. (Attendance would not be compulsory but may incur an attendance charge to recover costs). 

If you have any questions then please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    Or Visit www.nactso.gov.uk for further details and to register.

 

 

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