SAVS Stopping Door step Scammers
A five-year campaign to protect older people from doorstep scammers has resulted in the creation of a dedicated police team.
Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) launched Safe as Houses in 2016 with the aim of providing support, advice and information to older people across the town at risk from fraud and doorstep scams.
Volunteers – trained by police detectives – worked to protect vulnerable residents and support those who had already fallen victim to the crimes.
Working closely with Trading Standards and Essex Police, they visited victims and carried out prevention talks to community groups and charities.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) contributed £6,000 to SAVS in the form of a crime and disorder reduction grant from the 2019-2020 Community Safety Development Fund to continue the work for another year.
The PFCC has funded the project since its launch – investing £85,000 and enabling 5,900 residents to receive support.
Anthony Quinn, deputy CEO of SAVS, said: “Without this funding, we would never have been able to achieve to this level. The PFCC has really supported this work. The investment has been consistent and effective.”
Now, with Southend police setting up a dedicated team to combat this type of fraud, SAVS is handing over to the authority.
Anthony said: “There was a big gap in Southend resources to get out to victims of fraud, to find out how they had been impacted, to signpost them for further support and to find out the triggers, such as isolation and bereavement.
“There has been a rise in fraud, particularly since Covid-19; it has exploded. It is not just older people falling victim; we have seen well-educated teachers and even former police officers falling for it. People can be absolutely brainwashed. Everyone has to be on their guard.
“We have been able to help and support policing resources and the community and help to raise the profile of these crimes. A few thousand people will have received a face-to-face response from us. They are now more informed about fraud.
“We have embedded that in the community and they share the information with their peer group. They have also gained confidence in reporting incidents. The overall picture in Southend is much clearer as a result.
“Essex Police recognise it is an area they need to target and have formed a team to carry out those visits, so that gap is now being filled.
“That, for us, is a great success, that we are able to bring our project to an end. Now, there will be a dedicated resource to take things even further.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said: “Protecting vulnerable people and cracking down on fraud are both key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.
“Across Essex we have a huge number of voluntary and community groups helping to build safe and secure communities. SAVS is one of these organisations and provides invaluable support to Southend and its residents through the Safe as Houses Project. Anyone can become a victim of fraud, I thank you all for your hard work in keeping our older generations safe from this awful crime.”