North Wales police target doorstep crime

An awareness campaign to help reduce doorstep crime has been launched in North Wales.

The fully bi-lingual campaign will beam TV ads into living rooms, and post mailers through hundreds of thousands of letterboxes throughout May and June this year.

The campaign offers advice in the form of three clear steps which have been developed to help decrease the number of rogue trader and distraction burglary victims across Wales, and to increase the reporting of suspicious doorstep incidents.

The three step message to the public is:

  • If in doubt, keep them out!
  • Be prepared, be in control
  • Call a neighbour or the police

The campaign is the All-Wales Doorstep Crime Group’s response to an agreed call for action, following concerns that many - if not most doorstep type crimes - are going completely unreported.

According to statistics, doorstep crime is no more prevalent across Wales than any other part of the UK. There were 104 incidents reported in 2009, which is actually the lowest recorded across Wales for five years. But, in contrast, calls to Trading Standards shows a 10 per cent increase in reports year on year, signalling a possible rise in some activity. Females over 80-years-old who live on their own are especially vulnerable.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Shannon said: “This campaign aims to raise awareness of the threat from doorstep crime across the whole community and together, in partnership, we can do something about these crimes and further protect the vulnerable in our communities across Wales.

“The scale of the problem with doorstep crime is very difficult to quantify. We can draw little comfort from statistics which show a decrease in the number of recorded incidents, because it is recognised there is under reporting due to a range of factors, such as the personal embarrassment of being conned; or simply not realising if somebody has become a victim.”

Social Justice Minister Carl Sargeant said: “Doorstep crime is particularly appalling as it targets the most vulnerable people in society, making older people feel afraid to open the door.

“The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to tackling doorstep crime, by providing £1.8 million for an initiative aimed at crimes of concern to older people, including this ‘All-Wales Doorstep Crime Campaign’.

“This campaign is important as it raises awareness of the dangers of doorstep fraudsters, and offers clear advice on how to react if a doorstep caller knocks at the front door. My advice to people worried about doorstep fraudsters is, if in doubt keep them out!”

The main target audience for the campaign are people over 65-years-old as records show they are the most vulnerable. Their middle aged children, who are arguably in the best position to empower and influence their parents, are also targeted by the campaign.

In line with a cold-caller theme, an animated ‘ice-man’ character features most prominently throughout all the elements of the campaign, including a TV ad which goes live on May 31; a direct mail campaign targeting people living in Wales aged over 80 years old; radio ads which go on air half way through June; and bus panel and press advertising throughout June and July.

At the centre of the campaign will be a dedicated website which offers advice about how to deal with unannounced doorstep callers, and also explains how people can help others. It will be rich in content, providing case studies and opportunities to download items which can be used to help tackle the problem.

The campaign, which has been funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, has been developed by the All-Wales Doorstep Crime Group which is a partnership which comprises of the Police Service, Local Authorities, Trading Standards and support groups such as Age Cymru.

Dave Riley, Chair of Welsh Heads of Trading Standards, said: "Rogue traders are unscrupulous criminals who take advantage of householders by pressurising them into making hasty decisions. Trading Standards services throughout Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom are working together and in partnership with the police to protect and inform the public and to bring the criminals to justice. This campaign is an important step forward in our work in Wales."