Inverness residents launch pilot Cold Call Control Zone

The residents in Wimberley Way, Inverness, are to become the first in The Highland Council area to introduce a Cold Calling Control Zone.

This pilot initiative, which is aimed at reducing unwanted cold calling and increasing awareness of doorstep crime, has been facilitated by The Highland Council’s Trading Standards working with the Ministry of Defence Police, Northern Constabulary and the local community.

In order to be considered for a ‘zone’ there needs to be either an identified doorstep crime hotspot or a clear demand from local residents. In this pilot case, a survey of residents showed that of those that responded, all were in favour of the zone.

Street signage will indicate to people considering cold calling that the residents of this particular area do not wish to be contacted in this way. Each household will also be issued with an advice leaflet and door sticker. Any trader who persists on cold calling, when a householder has indicated that they do not wish it, could be considered as carrying out an aggressive commercial practice which is a criminal offence under consumer protection law. 

Councillor Drew Millar Chairman of The Highland Council's, Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee welcomed the new zone: “Doorstep crime is a serious problem nationally with the heartache and misery it causes being well reported. This type of initiative is a good example of the Trading Standards Service working with partners and the community to meet the needs of that community. The idea of the scheme is to give people the confidence to allow them to exercise personal choice and the knowledge of who to contact if they have any concerns. They allow us all to look out for those who may be vulnerable to these types of callers. A report on the performance of the pilot will be brought back to the Council in due course and if proven to be successful will hopefully be able to be rolled out to other Highland Communities.”

PC Craig Cooper, from the MOD Police, said that the force was very keen to support the initiative as the Wimberley Way area is home to a large number of Service families: “We had received a lot of feedback from residents that cold callers are a nuisance and blight on their lives,” he added. “When their partners are away serving on active duty it can leave Service families feeling more vulnerable and a visit from a cold caller can leave them intimidated and distressed. There is also strong evidence indicating a link between dishonest cold callers and distraction burglaries, either through direct involvement or selling on information about residents to others more willing to take an advantage. Similar schemes have been undertaken in other parts of the UK and have proved to be very successful.  Residents have reported an increase in confidence, assertiveness and a significant reduction in the fear of crime.”

Alan Kennedy, Captain (Retired), MBE of the Army Welfare Service that funded the production of the street and door signs said: “We, the Army Welfare Service in the Highlands, are very pleased to lend our support to this initiative which, if successful, we would like to see replicated across other communities. We hope that it reduces the amount of unwelcome callers and bogus workmen in the local area and at the same time reduces the opportunity for door step crime and opportunist thieves.”

Mrs Katie Gladstone whose husband is an officer with 3SCOTS, based at Fort George and who lives within the Wimberley Estate, assisted in the design and wording of the signage and represented the residents during the setting up of the scheme. She said: “Any initiative which makes us feel more secure in our homes has to be welcomed. We do not all have the confidence required to say ‘No’ to door steppers but by displaying the stickers on our doors then hopefully such situations can be avoided. I would urge all residents to support the scheme, display the stickers and to report those who fail to respect our choice.”

3 Dec 2012