IN a bid to halt doorstep crime, a large area of West Moors has been designated a cold calling controlled zone (CCCZ).

Dorset County Council's Trading Standards Service, in partnership with Dorset Police and Home Watch launched the project on Wednesday to coincide with Operation Rogue Trader Day, a national event which publicises and cracks down on rogue doorstep traders.

A CCCZ is an area where residents want to stop uninvited traders ringing their doorbell and trying to sell them goods and services.

Signs stating "No Uninvited Doorstep Traders" are displayed and every resident is given an information pack with advice on cold calling and a window card to display in their home.

If a trader attempts to approach residents within this zone without being invited to do so, residents can call Dorset Police on (01305) or (01202) 222222 to report them, or call 999 if they are acting in a threatening manner or refusing to leave a property when asked.

All reports will be followed up by the police or a trading standards officer.

A proven and effective measure

Dorset County Council's Head of Regulatory Services Bill Jaggs said: "The Cold Calling Control Zone warns bogus callers and rogue traders that they are being watched by the community.

"It is a proven and effective measure in the fight against doorstep crime and gives people the choice to say no to doorstep selling, and protects vulnerable residents who may be at risk."

Detective Inspector Jim Beashel of Dorset Police Public Protection Bureau added: "While Dorset is a very safe county with a low rate of incidents of this type it's important that people protect themselves and help us to prevent crime. I would urge people to stop, chain and check every time an official or someone unexpected calls at the door. If you are in any doubt don't hesitate to call the police by dialling 999. Help us to protect our communities from rogue traders."

Trading Standards will be keeping in touch with all residents to see if the zone has made a difference.

And if this pilot scheme is successful, more Cold Calling Control Zones could be started in other parts of the county, where residents are likely to be vulnerable or may have been targeted by distraction burglars in the past, and who would support a Zone being set up in their area.

Precautions recommended

Dorset County Council recommends the following precautions: Stop before answering the door and think if you are expecting anyone. You should also check the back door is closed and locked, taking the key out.

Make sure the door is chained, and keep it that way and look out of a spyhole or window to see who is there.

The next step is to ask for and carefully check the person's identity card - any genuine caller will be happy to provide their card and wait for you to check it.

Do not let anyone in who has not shown you, and allowed you to check an identity card - tell them you do not want them and that you will phone the police.