Police target doorstep crime and driving offenders

Bogus callers and motoring offenders are the target of the latest initiatives being run by police, while efforts are continuing to recruit more support staff.

Operation Monarda is the name of the campaign against so-called “doorstep crime”. Run jointly by the police and trading standards, it aims to raise awareness of rogue traders and provide advice and information for households to protect themselves against offenders.

The campaign will run into the summer. Expect to see commercial vehicles being stopped and checked as part of the initiative.

Chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch said shoddy practices would not be tolerated. He fears older people may be particularly susceptible to bogus calls.

“We will be working with our partners in Trading Standards and with adult protection services to provide reassurance to the people of Shetland that bogus callers and their associated crimes will not be tolerated,” he said.

“Doorstep callers and associated crime affects everyone, but we know the elderly can be particularly vulnerable.

“Bogus callers and rogue traders can be extremely convincing in securing the confidence of potential victims, with potentially devastating affects for individuals and families – both financially, and otherwise.”

It comes a year after a firm operating in the isles came under criticism from a 90-year-old Lerwick man. Retired fisherman James “Pinkie” Wiseman, of Cheyne Crescent, was unhappy with visiting operators Groundforce, which had worked on his driveway the previous summer. He complained they failed to properly finish off the work on his driveway, after he spent £10,000 on the job. After examination and an independent survey done by roads engineers the work appeared to be satisfactory but poorly-finished at some points.

Shetland Islands Council’s Trading Standards team leader, David Marsh, said help was available to people who fall foul of unsatisfactory operators.

“We have information and advice to help folk protect themselves and their neighbours from bogus callers and rogue traders,” he added.

Mr Marsh invited people concerned to telephone or visit the Trading Standards office on the ground floor of Charlotte House in Lerwick.

Meanwhile, an unmarked police car is set to take to the roads following a successful trial run throughout March which saw 36 road users charged with motoring offences.

Mr Tulloch said 11 people were caught speeding behind the wheel, six were nabbed for drink driving and nine were spotted committing seatbelt offences.

One motorist was charged for using his mobile phone while driving, two had no MOTs, two had no insurance, and five were driving vehicles with defective parts.

“We are going to continue using an unmarked vehicle to improve road safety,” Mr Tulloch said.
In a separate development, interviews are due to take place following moves to recruit two members of support staff to the Lerwick station.

The posts were advertised last month after plans emerged to extend the station’s opening hours until midnight, seven days a week.

Once appointed and trained, the new recruits will be capable of manning the front desk into the late evening – helping to address concerns over a trial period that the current opening times are not long enough.

Mr Tulloch added: “I am confident we will identify two successful candidates, and once they are trained we will be in a position to extend the opening hours at Lerwick Police Station.

“We will measure the footfall, and how well that’s being used.”


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