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Trading standards officers across East Anglia and the south east have pledged to step up their fight against cowboy...
Trading standards officers across East Anglia and the south east have pledged to step up their fight against cowboy doorstep traders and have agreed to pool their intelligence with their regional colleagues.

At a conference held at Essex trading standards HQ in Chelmsford last week, officers discussed how to beat criminal workmen who offer to resurface drives or lay down block paving and then demand excessively high payments, often with menace, for low quality work. It was agreed that sharing intelligence would help to strengthen trading standards fight against doorstep crime.

'It can be difficult to track these criminals because they are in an area for a very short time or live a considerable distance away', said Steve Lynch from Essex trading standards. 'By pooling our intelligence with our colleagues, we will be able to use our resources more effectively and will be able to take action when cowboys are operating in an area.

'Tarmac cowboys prey on the elderly and vulnerable. They use blackmail, burglary, theft, intimidation and deception to get extortionate payments for shoddy work', Steve explained.

'Their techniques are becoming more sophisticated and they can be very credible. Tarmac cowboys drive official looking vans and dress smartly. They scan the papers for public notices and know when genuine roadworks are taking place in an area. Genuine contractors working for utility companies or local authorities never have any tarmac left over'.

Representatives from Bedfordshire, Havering, Herfordshire, Kent, Newham, Norfolk, Suffolk, Southend and Thurock trading standards attended.

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