Colin Baxter: We need your help to stop doorstop crime

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WE protect the public – and genuine businesses – from unscrupulous traders, says Colin Baxter, but we can’t do it without you

Trading Standards are a small but valuable service, and we sometimes aren’t noticed until things go wrong. Our coverage is wide and varied, from weights and measures, product safety and doorstep crime to combating organised criminality.

Our recent activity in Currie setting up No Cold Calling Zones is just one part of our work in dealing with doorstep crime, but one where a small amount of prevention activity can make a huge difference if it stops residents losing money to unscrupulous criminals.

The work in Currie started as a result of an attempted fraud. We actually received the referral after a genuine trader spoke with the resident and recommended that they phone Trading Standards. It’s also vital that we can protect legitimate traders by preventing criminal activity.

In Edinburgh we have a fantastic working relationship with our partners in Police Scotland. We undertake investigations into doorstep criminals and share intelligence as part of Operation Aristotle. We also carry out preventative work with other departments and third sector organisations, raising awareness of Trading Standards and what we do.

So what steps can you take to protect yourselves and your communities?

• Don’t buy at the door

• Set up a No Cold Calling Zone

• Be active in your community, and look out for other who may be more vulnerable than you

• Consider using a Trusted Trader for any work you do require

• Report anyone who is calling within a No Cold Calling Zone

• Be aware – who is in the van driving round the streets, or those individuals calling at the doors?

Our No Cold Calling Zones co-ordinators are really important in helping us monitor the zones, and the fact that the satisfaction rating with the zones is 100 per cent is a testament to their hard work.

Finally, reporting levels of doorstep crime are often very low – people need to speak out. We’ve had some great examples of people sharing their concerns with each other via social media (which is excellent), but not telling the authorities. If we don’t know it’s happening then we can’t dedicate the appropriate resources. If you report anyone we will look into it.

We share intelligence which assist us in dealing with cross border issues – the intelligence picture is often complex and small pieces of information can be very valuable in identifying offenders.

If you have any questions or would like to know more contact us on 0131-529 3030 or e-mail trading.standards@edinburgh.gov.uk.

• Colin Baxter is Trading Standards manager for Edinburgh City Council