Cold war on streets

A NATIONWIDE scheme first established in Cambridgeshire to help home owners combat doorstep conmen could be under threat from the humble Avon lady and other retailers. The No Cold Calling zones are facing a challenge from the Direct Selling Association,

A NATIONWIDE scheme first established in Cambridgeshire to help home owners combat doorstep conmen could be under threat from the humble Avon lady and other retailers.

The 'No Cold Calling' zones are facing a challenge from the Direct Selling Association, which represents legitimate door-to-door salesmen, such as Avon.

It says they result in their clients being unfairly penalised and should be scrapped.

The zones, which can be found across Huntingdonshire, have been hailed by trading standards as one of the most successful public protection schemes.

It says they have helped to reduce doorstep crime, such as conmen using cold calling to find easy targets for distraction burglaries.

There are about 1,000 in the UK, covering about 350,000 homes. Three years ago, Cambridgeshire introduced the zones in St Ives and now there are 55 in the county.

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Richard Berry, director of the Direct Selling Association, believes increased consumer advice could replace the schemes.

He said: "We believe that No Cold Calling zones are unreasonable. Many people say they do not mind being visited by the businesses we represent but they want to avoid rogue traders."

The scheme is being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to determine its legality.

An OFT spokesman said: "We are working to find a compromise that balances the need to protect vulnerable residents while ensuring honest traders are not penalised.

"We are seeking legal advice and carrying out an investigation into the legality of No Cold Calling zones."

In 2006, a report carried out in Cambridgeshire over a two-year period found there was an 11 per cent decrease in distraction burglaries in No Cold Calling zones in the county.

David Broughton, a senior Cambridgeshire trading standards officer, said the schemes were successful and should be kept.

He said: "The scheme was set up when older people living in burglaries suffered quite badly from rogue traders.

"This was upsetting for residents and trading standards worked with the police and residents to deal with the problem.

"People supported the idea of setting up No Cold Calling zones and felt empowered through the scheme.

"Since then, it has created a reduced risk of crime and proved very successful spreading across the UK."

A 2002 Trading Standards Institute national survey of nearly 10,000 householders found that 96 per cent of the public did not want salespeople calling at their homes.

INFORMATION: To find out more about No Cold Calling Zones visit www.tsi.org.uk

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