Council bosses have welcomed a focus on protecting elderly and vulnerable people as part of its trading standards plan.
Hartlepool Council Regeneration Services Committee have approved the Trading Standards Service Plan for next year - aimed at making tackling rogue traders, scams and cons a ‘high priority’.
Another ‘high priority’ issue for the year is product safety.
Councillors welcomed the plan, highlighting the help it offered to elderly people as one of the key points.
Coun Kevin Cranney, chair of the committee, said: “There is a massive increase in elderly people getting targeted now.
“I’m really glad we’re pushing no cold call zones.
“We’ve got to try and encourage more elderly and disabled people to get involved in the community.
“You always see on Facebook people posting saying they are seeing people on their street and don’t know who they area.
“I’m really glad this is a priority.”
The plan also includes continuing to promote ‘No Cold Call Zones’ as a means of reducing the number of traders visiting people on their doorsteps, especially the elderly.
Since 2016, the number of zones has increased from 7 to 36 and almost 8,000 ‘Say No to Doorstep Traders’ stickers have been issued, free of charge, to local residents.
The plan for 2018/19 was drawn out after the council reviewed the results from the previous year.
Sylvia Pinkney, head of public protection, highlighted how for the first time last year’s plan included using underage volunteers to see whether children would be allowed to use ‘Over 18’ gaming machines in pubs.
The volunteers used were 15 and 16 year old boys and it was found that two of the pubs allowed the children to use the machines without challenge.
A further pub allowed the children on the machines for several minutes before they were challenged and only one pub actually stopped the children before they had the opportunity to gamble.
Coun Rob Cook said at the meeting he welcomed the scheme and looked forward to it continuing.
He said: “It can be very difficult to tell these days with kids, you don’t know if they are 16, 18 or 20.
“I know this is an issue we are actively working on and we need to be challenging them.”
Ms Pinkney also pointed how changing technology meant a greater importance was needed in cracking down on social media.
She said: “Before people would sell goods in car parks or at car boot sales.
“Now they will be doing it on the internet, on Facebook or on Ebay.
“The way we target them has had to change considerably and we are taking alternative actions to solve problems.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service