The new sentencing guideline published today has been welcomed by TrustMark, the Government-endorsed quality mark for reputable tradesmen, as it could mean tougher sentencing for rogue traders who defraud and rip off the public.
TrustMark contributed to the Sentencing Council’s consultation last year and endorsed a revised framework for sentencing that will affect rogue traders who operate on the black market and win business by fraudulently using registration marks.
Liz Male, chairman of TrustMark, says:
“TrustMark applauds the introduction of the new sentencing guideline which we hope will result in tougher sentencing for cowboy builders and rogue traders who operate in the black market, swoop in on victims of floods, storms and other home damage, and who often like to win business by fraudulently using registration marks and pretending to be ‘approved’.
“We are delighted that the new sentencing guideline puts so much emphasis on victim impact, as well as taking into account the victim’s vulnerability. This is particularly important when it comes to home repairs and improvements because the impact on a victim can be huge, whatever the size of the financial loss. Often it is a homeowner’s personal space and refuge that has been violated, and their confidence badly damaged in just the place where they should feel safest.
“Of course, judges should also recognise that it’s not always the older generations who are most vulnerable – in fact, new homeowners who may be in their twenties or thirties, who may not have knowledge of good local firms or who have had no prior experience of hiring and managing tradespeople to work on their homes, can be equally vulnerable to rogue traders.
“We hope that stronger penalties will help us get the message across to these rogues that their activities will not be tolerated and have no place in our industry. Cowboy builders and rogue traders will be driven out of the marketplace by strong prevention schemes like TrustMark working alongside the UK’s excellent trading standards professionals, the courts and the strong penalties that can be enforced by today’s announcement.
“TrustMark will only ever signpost homeowners to tradespeople who have been expertly and independently inspected and checked for technical competence, good trading practices and good customer service, and who have pledged to work to Government-endorsed standards. You can check the validity of these firms on our website or via our 24/7 helpline.”
The guideline will come into force in courts from 1 October 2014.