Door-to-Door Salesmen – Neighbourhood Watch warning

Many of you will be aware of persons going door-to-door trying to sell goods, informing the occupant they are just out of prison or on probation and trying to turn their lives around.  This is usually a scam, the goods are of an inferior quality and they may try to talk their way into your home.  They can be intimidating toward the elderly and vulnerable when things don’t go their way and often revert to abuse or threats.  In short, these are not genuine street traders; they work in groups and carry out their illegal activity in one area at a time.  To sell door to door, it is a legal requirement to hold a pedlar’s licence.  There are strict rules around obtaining a licence and they can only be obtained by applying to the Police.

Section 4 of the Pedlars Act 1871 requires an individual carrying out the business as a Pedlar to obtain a certificate granted by the Chief Officer of Police for the district in which the pedlar resides for at least a month prior to making an application.  The Chief Officer (often the Borough Commander) will grant the certificate on being satisfied that the applicant:

• Is over 17 years of age;

• Is a person of good character;

• Intends in good faith to carry on the trade of a pedlar.

The certificate, valid for one year from date of issue, will authorise the holder to act as a pedlar anywhere in the UK.  Any person using an expired certificate should be treated as acting without a certificate.  If you work as a pedlar without a certificate, or you let someone else use yours, you can be fined up to £200.  You may receive a prison sentence of up to 6 months if you give false information when you apply or make or carry a forged certificate. 

So, if they do not hold a certificate that has been duly authorised by the Police, it looks fake, belongs to another person, or is simply out of date – do not buy from them.  They will often state they do not need a certificate or ‘hawker’s’ licence to show you items for you to order.  This is a ruse; a certificate is required whatever they claim. 


politely refuse to buy from them and close the door;

  • do not become involved in any verbal altercation with them;
  • do not let them into your address for any reason;
  • never give out any personal information.

Call the Police on 101 (999 in an emergency) if you are subjected to verbal abuse or intimidation, or simply to let your Safer Neighbourhood Team know they are in the area.


Bromley Neighbourhood Watch Association