Police expand fight over doorstep cons

The Oxford Times: Pcso Helen Keen at Eynsham police station with window stickers, hoping to raise awareness of the new scheme to protect the vulnerable Buy this photo Pcso Helen Keen at Eynsham police station with window stickers, hoping to raise awareness of the new scheme to protect the vulnerable

VULNERABLE pensioners are to get a helping hand from police as a protection scheme is branched out.

The Vera (Vulnerable Elderly Residents’ Addresses) project sees police keep a log of where the most vulnerable people live, so they can make sure they are given the help they need.

It is now being launched in West Oxfordshire after success in Oxford, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire.

And officers in West Oxfordshire are now calling on neighbours to let them know if anyone vulnerable lives in their street.

It comes as the Oxford Mail last month revealed doorstep criminals targeting elderly county residents had hit a seven-year high, with rogue traders conning people out of at least £864,000 in 627 incidents between April last year and March this year.

West Oxfordshire Neighbourhood Inspector Ollie Holland said: “Vulnerable and elderly residents often feel they don’t want to bother anyone or be a burden but we want to make sure they know they can contact their local police team if they have any issues.

“We work hard with our partners, such as Trading Standards, to reduce doorstep crime and this is a key part of getting that prevention message across.

“Each resident we visit will receive a pack containing information on protecting yourself from bogus callers and general advice on home and personal security so if you know anyone who could benefit from this scheme please contact us.”

Officers from neighbourhood police teams will now be visiting vulnerable residents to introduce themselves as a point of contact.

They will also hand out the packs, put together by the West Oxfordshire Community Safety Partnership, which include home security leaflets, “no cold callers” stickers, and purse bells to deter handbag thieves.

They will also include “Nominate a Neighbour” cards which refer unknown visitors to a neighbour who can check they are genuine.

Vera was expanded in Oxford after the floods of 2007 showed the need for police to know where the vulnerable lived.

Pc Jan Warner, who heads the scheme in Jericho, Abingdon Road and West Oxford, advised West Oxfordshire police before the launch.

According to her, it helped make neighbourhoods more community-minded with residents looking out for one another.

She said: “For us as community officers, knowing where vulnerable elderly residents might be and knowing that other residents are helping them does provide more cohesion.

“If we know where they are we can offer the right sort of help.”

Pcso Helen Keen, of the Eynsham neighbourhood police team, said: “It is a really good scheme for us to get to know who the elderly and vulnerable people are so they don’t ever feel they are on their own. It is all about getting to know people, the community, and pulling together.”

Anyone who wishes to refer a vulnerable neighbour should get in touch with their neighbourhood police via the 101 number.

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