Tradesmen have been around almost as long as home ownership has been around. No matter how well you look after your home there will come a time when you need to call on the services of a tradesman to fix a problem you may have or maybe you might want to call on the services of a tradesman to carry out updates, renewals or renovations to your home.
A tradesman is basically an independent person engage in trade which can be any number of different professions including a joiner, plumber, electrician, builder or locksmith, to mention just a few. The problem with tradesmen is that many of the industries they work in are completely unregulated. Of course an electrician must be NICEIC registered before they can work on your electrics, a plumber or heating engineer must be Gas Safe before they can work on your boiler.
However the locksmith industry in the UK is completely unregulated and anyone can buy some cheap tools offline, watch a few ‘how to’ videos and start touting themselves as a professional locksmiths and here lies the problem.
When dealing with electricians and heating engineers you know that their details are on a database somewhere so you know who you are letting into you home, with a locksmith, regulation is not a legal requirement and you can’t even be certain that the person you rang is even using their real name.
A fact many people don’t even consider is that with the locksmith industry you are trusting someone with your personal security and well-being and basically giving someone you don’t even know access to your house keys? Think about that? What is stopping the locksmith quickly cutting a set of keys from themselves?
An ex-solider who was advertising himself as locksmith in and around Sunderland, Durham and the North East was jailed for 15 years in July 2017 for rape and physical assault, click here to read the news article, do you really want to be letting a monster like this into your home? Or even giving him access to your keys?
OK, so it’s rare that a locksmith is in fact a sexual predator, but it’s better to be safe than sorry… However, there have been a growing number of reports in recent years where homes where burgled soon after the homeowners used the services of an amateur locksmith found online and whether the locksmith himself was the one doing the break-in, which is very easy when you have the keys and/or alarm code, and your holiday schedule (many people like to do a security check/upgrade before going on holiday) or the locksmith passed your keys/details/schedule to his criminal friends the outcome is the same.
It’s not easy but there are a number of things you should do and shouldn’t do when calling on the services of a locksmith, many are obvious yet people still make the mistake.
Avoid choosing a locksmith from a free ads website such as Gumtree, Loot or a Facebook Group, seriously, this seems obvious yet people still do it. Why is locksmith advertising on these websites? It’s because they are either no good or dodgy and want complete anonymity for some reason.
With this type of free ad websites the dodgy, amateur locksmith can use different names, run multiple ads in different areas, change their phone number regularly, which are usually just cheap, pre-paid, throw away mobiles and stay completely anonymous.
The amateur locksmith is not looking for regular repeat work or referral’s they are after one off emergency access jobs where they can overcharge and add fabricated extras such as a call out fee, a night rate supplement, a fuel supplement and anything else they can think of so that they can present you with a £300, £400 bill for an £60/£80 job and the reason these locksmiths go after the emergency access jobs is because they can do them without training or skill.
A professional locksmith will turn up with the correct tools and attempt non destructive access if possible, if not they will carefully remove your lock or just the barrel using specialised tools, whereas the amateur will simply turn up armed with a drill, a hammer and a few chisels and will have little regard for your property, locks, or door frame.
To avoid choosing the wrong locksmith you should choose a locksmith with his/her own website that shows their full address and full contact information including mobile and landline number. This way you know the locksmith is legitimate and not hiding behind third party free ad website.
They may have reviews and feedback on their website; however these can easily be faked so look for Google reviews as these are more difficult to fake. A legitimate business should have a Google business page as well as their own website; on this Google business page you can find reviews and feedback from genuine customers.
You can also check their website for accreditation and information about what training they have had. Even though the locksmith industry is unregulated a locksmith can join voluntary associations such as the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) and Nationwide Locksmiths. Also look for training information on a locksmith’s website. The UK’s largest and most respected locksmith training college is Train Locksmiths in Manchester so if you see this logo or a reference to them you know that you are dealing with a professionally trained locksmith and not a self taught amateur.
A growing number of locksmiths now forgo have their own website in favour of using dedicated ownership directory sites such as lockright.uk or localtrausted.co.uk. A dedicated ownership directory website is more modern version of the old, dated directory sites such as yell.com that list multiple business and sponsored links per area/sector meaning that you are basically searching again once you enter their site, which nobody wants to do.
With a modern dedicated ownership directory only one business is prompted per area, per business sector so it’s basically like having your own website yet the directory does all the marketing.
These type of site have become increasingly popular with small independent traders in recent years, the main reason is that the monthly fee to take on an area/sector – which can cover dozens of towns, cities and villages – can be considerably less than the cost of paying for you own monthly organic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or PPC (pay per click/adwords) to promote your own website
Because of last years well publicise rape case in the North East and a few other less publicised sexual assaults committed by tradesmen over the years many locksmiths and other independent tradesmen have now taken voluntary CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks, now re-branded as DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) to put their customers minds as ease.
If you are looking for professional, fully vetted locksmiths then you may find the list below useful