New bid to beat the conmen

Conmen will find it harder to get a foot in the door thanks to a new initiative launched by south Norfolk police. The “Nominate a Neighbour” scheme is being trialled in the district in a move to safeguard elderly and vulnerable residents from bogus callers and rogue traders, and will be rolled out across the county if it proves a success.

Conmen will find it harder to get a foot in the door thanks to a new initiative launched by south Norfolk police.

The “Nominate a Neighbour” scheme is being trialled in the district in a move to safeguard elderly and vulnerable residents from bogus callers and rogue traders, and will be rolled out across the county if it proves a success.

Under the scheme, instead of confronting a person they do not recognise on the doorstep, the householder can simply hold up a card at the window - or on the other side of a security chain - giving details of a nominated neighbour who will deal with the caller. If the person is genuine, the neighbour will accompany them back to the premises and stay there until they leave.

Terry and Geraldine Gilbert, of Sycamore Way in Diss, are the first volunteer neighbours to sign up. They already belong to their local Home Watch scheme, are both very enthusiastic about the latest initiative.


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“The really good thing about this is whoever the elderly person is they don't need to open the door or speak to anyone. They just have to hold the card up saying I don't recognise you,” Mr Gilbert said. His wife added: “It's a great idea and a natural extension to the Home Watch.”

Bogus callers are thieves who act as bona fide tradesmen or utility workers. They gain people's trust and access their homes to steal belongings. Rogue traders are door-to-door workers who sell goods, that are often substandard, and services such as garden work and household maintenance at exorbitant prices.

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Police analysis shows that the elderly are most at risk of being targeted by these conmen. In one recent case, an elderly woman in south Norfolk paid £10,000 for substandard and unsafe work to her house.

John Allison, police inspector for Poringland and Loddon, said: “South Norfolk, and Norfolk, remain one of the safest places in the country to live and the idea behind this scheme is to reduce further any incidents of crime. It also reduces the fear of crime which is very important with vulnerable individuals.”

The Nominate a Neighbour Scheme has been launched in partnership with South Norfolk Council, which is publishing details of how people can get involved in its magazine The Link, which is distributed to households across the area.

Derek Clarke, the district's Home Watch co-ordinator, is also circulating the information to his network of volunteers. “The scheme will compliment the aims of Home Watch perfectly in my view. Home Watch is the belt, this is the braces,” he said.

The initiative has proved successful at preventing conmen operating elsewhere in the country.

For more information write to Nominate a Neighbour Scheme, Long Stratton Police Station, Ipswich Road, Long Stratton, Norfolk, NR15 2TB including name, address and telephone number. Alternatively, email your contact details to sntlongstratton@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

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