Operation REPEAT, a scheme that is training health and social care workers from across the county to recognise doorstep crime and fraud offences, has reached more than 200 care professionals, thanks to funding from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold.

The scheme, which launched in Northamptonshire in September 2021, is the only scheme in the country to offer doorstep crime prevention training and is already having a huge impact in Northamptonshire, as more health and social care professionals recognise and report incidents to the police.

Rogue traders, unscrupulous salespeople, distraction burglars and bogus callers are some of the professional criminals that target elderly and vulnerable people.  The training sessions being delivered by Operation REPEAT, which stands for Reinforcing Elderly Persons Education at all Times, aims to arm attendees with the knowledge to recognise when fraud is happening, understand the chain of criminality and how details are shared in the criminal world, know what lengths the fraudsters will go to to exploit vulnerable people, as well as how to report criminal incidents.

Numerous offences have already been reported and prevented following these training sessions. Within three days of attending an Operation REPEAT session a carer was able to recognise an attempted courier fraud whilst visiting a client and was able to intervene and cut off the call.

A romance fraud was also averted by a 61-year-old woman, who had lost her husband a few years earlier. She met someone on social media purporting to be an Officer from the United States Army and became emotionally attached to him. Following several months of contact, the woman started to become suspicious as the conversation turned to money and after hearing about romance fraud she stopped contact.

Fraudsters use psychological tactics, befriending and grooming to gain trust and then persuade the victim to part with their money or valuables. As trusted members of the community, health and social care workers can warn and support the elderly or vulnerable people in their care and help them avoid falling for these scams.

Ginny Marks from Northamptonshire Carers, Wellingborough said: “Those who have attended the two sessions we held at our office have been in awe of the information and knowledge gained from attending the course.  It has so many points of relevance and importance for the work we do across the county with carers and the people they care for and their loved ones, out in the community.

“It’s one of those subjects that everyone is aware of but has little knowledge of how to recognise all the wickedness that’s out there, and how to deal promptly and effectively with the information they discover while working with people. We all feel so much better informed, and confident we can handle all types of fraud and doorstep crime in the most effective way.”

Commissioner Mold said: “I was delighted to attend a recent training session in Moulton to see for myself how impactful this project is. The principle of using trusted members of the community to continually reinforce fraud prevention messages on a weekly or daily basis is a really effective way to reach the most vulnerable people in our county.

“We want this training to provide the existing community workforce with the knowledge and confidence to spot and speak out to help us break and disrupt this type of crime. We cannot rely on justice alone, we need to intervene early to protect older and more vulnerable people from these fraudsters.”

Reg Burrell, Director of Operation REPEAT said: “Our research has shown us that by channelling education sessions to trusted members of our community who are already engaging with the most vulnerable people means we can get the messages out directly and repeatedly and stand a better chance of avoiding fraud.

“This type of crime is particularly unpleasant because of the vulnerability of the people being targeted. Victims will not only suffer financial loss because of doorstep crime and fraud, but it can also impact their mental and emotional health and wellbeing. By delivering these doorstep crime prevention sessions, we want to stop these criminals in their tracks and wherever possible, bring them to justice.”