Unwanted callers get the message

L-r, PC Nick Walker and PC Justin Hulford of the Lothian and Borders Police with a new sign warning against "cold callers" in the Coldstream area.
L-r, PC Nick Walker and PC Justin Hulford of the Lothian and Borders Police with a new sign warning against "cold callers" in the Coldstream area.

as part of a police campaign to reduce bogus callers and workmen targeting vulnerable people in the region, Coldstream became the first place in Berwickshire to get official ‘No Cold Calling’ zones.

Signs went up in four areas of Coldstream - Woodlands Park, Lees Mill Drive, Bennecourt and Lennel Mount, last week. They indicate to would-be sales people that they must first make themselves known to the police or residents beforehand, and the effect was immediate.

Within a day a salesman from a double glazing company called in at Coldstream Police Station asking about the signs.

“He wasn’t very happy about them, but they had the desired effect in that he came to register with us first, so that we knew there was a legitimate company working in the area,” explained Coldstream community police officer PC Nick Walker.

As well as the street signs at the entrance to the housing estates or streets, individual residents were given preventative information and a window sticker to show they are part of the scheme.

The intention is that any cold callers who see the signs will not attempt to call on households in the zone. Should there be an unwanted call in the area the police will follow it up to advise those responsible or take any action necessary.

The ‘No Cold Calling’ zones, which are part of the overall Operation Guard, do not deny anyone the right to be in a public place. Simply being in an area where a zone exists is NOT a criminal offence.

Nor is it intended that the zones should stop all callers; they simply encourages legitimate callers to make residents and/or the police aware of their activities in advance.

PC Hulford, Community Projects Officer with Lothian and Borders Police said: “These zones are one of a range of methods we are using to tackle bogus callers.

“Working with our communities we can continue to keep the Scottish Borders a safe place to live, work and visit.

“It has been found that the existence of a zone deters callers in the first place and if a caller does enter a zone, a resident finds it much easier to exercise their rights in not dealing with the person. “Zones help communities make a joint stand against those callers with dishonest intentions.”

The pilot scheme is a united effort between Lothian and Borders Police and Scottish Borders Safer Communities Partnership, with the help of Fantasy Signs who produced the street signs. It’s being rolled out to include a total of 1000 homes and after Coldstream other Berwickshire communities that will be trying it out are Swinton, Hutton and Paxton (without signs) and Ayton.

The idea of the ‘No Cold Caller’ zones was first brought up by PC Walker with Coldstream and District Community council and members confirmed that in areas such as Lennel Mount it was common to have cold callers visiting the estate once or twice a month. All community councillors were in agreement with creating the zones in the town and agreed to sound residents out in defined areas to see if they would be willing to act as a leader to explain to local residents what is involved. All went to plan, the signs and stickers were printed, and their impact has been immediate.