A joint operation by Slough Borough Council, Thames Valley Police and their partners saw 41 homes visited across the borough on Wednesday 10 May as part of a national crackdown on rogue trading.
A 34-strong team of officers from Slough trading standards, the local police team, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), targeted homes where building work was going on in a bid to weed out any rogue traders operating in the area.
Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high pressure sales techniques. The work is often sub-standard or not required at all.
No rogue traders were found operating in Slough during the operation. However, as a result of the day of action, four building firms were warned about not issuing 14-day cancellation notices, which are required by law to give customers a cooling off period before committing to building work.
Immigration Enforcement checks found 11 men from India and one from Pakistan had no right to be in the UK. All of the offenders were granted temporary release while their cases are progressed and must report to the Home Office routinely during this time.
A further man was arrested and charged by Thames Valley Police and appeared before Slough Magistrates’ Court on Friday 12 May for possessing a fake identity card.
HMRC gathered information about possible income tax avoidance.
A residential property in which trade waste was being burnt in the garden was also discovered and was reported to the council’s neighbourhood enforcement team for further investigation.
Councillor Arvind Dhaliwal, cabinet member for regulation and consumer protection, said: “Rogue trading often goes far beyond a bit of dodgy dealing – there are organised crime groups who go out touting for work, preying on elderly or vulnerable people and charging extortionate amounts of money for simple home improvements, like laying driveways or roofing repairs.
“Joint operations like this allow us to take a more coordinated approach to disrupting rogue traders, tackling many different issues at once, whether it’s poor workmanship, minor breaches of the law, or organised crime.”
He added: “We continue to remind local residents of the need to be vigilant when it comes to picking someone to do their work – you can never be too careful.”
Inspector Chris Shaw from Thames Valley Police, said: “This has been yet another successful year carrying out enforcement activities in partnership with other agencies, to disrupt criminals masquerading as legitimate traders to target vulnerable people.
“This is a particularly disgraceful crime that can have a devastating impact on victims’ lives, both emotionally and financially.”
Report rogue traders to Slough trading standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service by calling 03454 040506 or using the incident report form online at www.slough.gov.uk/tradingstandards If the matter is of an urgent nature Slough trading standards will respond rapidly.
You can also call Thames Valley Police on their non-emergency number 101. In an emergency dial 999.
The national day of action - named Operation Rogue Trader - is led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit, whose remit includes doorstep offending and associated travelling criminality, and trading standards.
Operation Rogue Trader is now in its twelfth year. Last year’s crackdown saw 271 people arrested, £2.9m worth of property recovered and more than 5,900 vehicles inspected.