Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

Life as a solicitor dealing with wills, trusts, probate and property matters is often very civilised.

I do not often get my hands dirty and rarely encounter the criminal element, that is unless one of my clients is a victim.

Doorstep crime is not headline grabbing but it is rife. Most starts with a cold call to the victim’s house.

According to Trading Standards, out of reported incidents relating to so called property repairs, 40 per cent were for roof repairs and the next highest was gardening, followed by block paving and driveways.

Most victims live in privately owned housing. Doorstep crime in extra care housing, warden controlled properties or other supported housing is negligible.

Think also about the potential indicators that a vulnerable person is living in a property.

There may be physical adaptations such as ramps, hand rails and key safes. The garden may be neglected. Offenders will try the obvious targets first.

Cold callers are water off a duck’s back to robust individuals like me, but imagine if you are a frail, older person living alone, perhaps with some kind of dementia.

Factor into that the statistic that The Alzheimer’s Society reckon that only 40 per cent of people living with dementia have it diagnosed, which means many victims of doorstep crime may not even comprehend a crime has taken place.

Add to that those who are too embarrassed to admit it. All of which means doorstep crime is likely hugely under reported.

It is all very unsatisfactory and whilst it is currently not a criminal offence to cold call at the home of a consumer, the number of incidents which I have come across over the years have made me wonder if it would not be a bad thing if it was banned altogether.

In the meantime what we can all do is be vigilant. We can look out for our neighbours and Lancashire Trading Standards are promoting a scheme where a person can become the “nominated neighbour’ so that a vulnerable person is given a card they can pass to cold callers referring them on to a trusted neighbour who will check the caller’s identity.