Police crackdown on unsafe vehicles in Norwich
Peter WalshA police sting in the city yesterday clamped down on illegal drivers and unsafe vehicles - in an operation designed to stamp out rogue traders.The joint operation between Norfolk police, customs officials and VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) was designed to clamp down on a range of offences including driving without insurance, unsafe vehicles and even tax avoidance.Peter Walsh
A police sting in the city yesterday clamped down on illegal drivers and unsafe vehicles - in an operation designed to stamp out rogue traders.
The joint operation between Norfolk police, customs officials and VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) was designed to clamp down on a range of offences including driving without insurance, unsafe vehicles and even tax avoidance.
Many of these offences are linked to what Norfolk police call rogue traders, or unlicensed, unregistered workers who pose as legitimate businesses and target vulnerable residents.
Instances of rogue traders calling on elderly people and offering to carry out work have been a serious problem in the Lakenham and Tuckswood areas of Norwich, leading to the operation in the car park of Pet's at Home on Hall Road.
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Officers from Norfolk police's Operation Radar team and the Lakenham and Tuckswood Safer Neighbourhood Team headed the operation.
Detective Constable David McCormack from Operation Radar, which targets rogue traders, said that three drivers were fined for having no rear number plate, two were found to have no MOT certificate and two had no insurance.
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One of the vehicles with no insurance was seized, as was one of the five vehicles found to be unsafe by VOSA officials.
Police were also searching for scrap metal thieves, while Revenue and Customs officials were testing for the use of red diesel and the Environment Agency were checking that commercial vehicles had licences to carry waste material.
Checks were also made on employment details, and three people will be investigated for not being properly registered to pay tax.
'The objectives were to drive down metal theft and fuel theft in the area as well as rogue trader activity,' said Det Con McCormack.
'We utilised the Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) service to pull people off Barratt Road and Hall Road - some of the major routes round here - which lead to the A47 and A140 Ipswich Road.'
Det Con McCormack said he hoped the operation would help send out a message that crime of this type would not be tolerated in Norfolk - and that rogue traders would be caught and dealt with.
He said: 'We hope any legitimate traders that were stopped have got confidence that we're stopping illegitimate people that are trying to take their business.
'We're protecting vulnerable people as they are the main target of rogue traders. We're taking a positive approach to deal with them as part of a multi-agency force.'
More than a dozen police officers were involved in yesterday's operation which was jointly led by Sergeant David Jerman of the Lakenham and Tuckswood SNT. He said: 'It's been about working together, with all the partner agencies, to clamp down on rogue traders. It's a visible reassurance - we're dealing with people who commit crime and are tackling them.'
But as well as dealing with rogue traders, Sgt Jerman said the operation was also about ensuring that vehicles stopped were fit to be on the road.
He added: 'Some of the vehicles we pulled over were quite big and if there was a fault then it could be quite serious.'
In the first hour of yesterday's operation, which started just after 10am, nine vehicles, all vans, were pulled over by police and checked by the various agencies.
One driver, who did not want to be named, was fined �30 for not having a number plate on his trailer.
"I should have had my number plate on there but I didn't," he said.
"That's the first time I've ever been pulled over. I've been driving for about ten years."
"I think it's good. It keeps the bad people off the road and the good people on the road," he said.
"There are people out there ten times worse than me."
Farmer Robert Lakey, 20, was pulled over in his tractor and trailer after delivering a flock of sheep.
He was also fined �30 for not having a number plate on his trailer, which was found to have three defective brakes.
'I suppose it's good in one respect, but not if you've got something wrong,' he said.
He was given a police escort to the old cattle market site, where his trailer was impounded until it was repaired.
Det Con McCormack said: 'We'll be doing more of these operations.'
'The number as we approach the summer period will only increase.'
Anyone with any information about rogue traders should call 0845 456 4567.
Have you been the victim of a rogue trader? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org