A NORTH-EAST council plans to issue a code of conduct for its staff in an attempt to make life more difficult for bogus callers.

The new guidelines will require that workers visiting Darlington Borough Council properties produce identification and call at houses at reasonable times.

The code, which is likely to be approved by Darlington Borough Council's cabinet, will apply to council employees and contract workers, and both scheduled and unplanned visits.

The proposals follow a five-month review by councillors to find ways to reassure and protect people - particularly the elderly and vulnerable - from bogus callers gaining access into their homes.

The new policy proposes that anyone visiting private homes must:

* Clearly display a badge which includes a photograph, logo and contact telephone number, which must be written in large print.

* Produce identification at each visit and have a badge to pass through the letterbox.

* Call at reasonable hours and, if the time is not convenient, arrange another visit.

The code says any contractor employed by the council must abide by these regulations and provide details of which department they are working on behalf of.

Councillor Bill Holmes, who oversaw the review into home visits, said it was a positive move.

"It has to be considered that old people can be very, very frightened by some visitors, particularly with all the well-publicised cases of false callers.

"There are also people who might be disabled or partially sighted, and their needs have to be taken into account.

"This new protocol has considered common concerns and, hopefully, will help to ease fears about callers, and reassure people about their security during house visits."

The Northern Echo launched its Doorsteppers campaign in 2003 to crack down on bogus tradesmen and cold callers in the region.