With Christmas just around the corner residents are being warned to be on their guard against strangers knocking at their door claiming to be dustmen and asking for a seasonal tip.

Refuse collectors employed by the council's contractor Serco are strictly forbidden from approaching residents and asking for gifts.

They face stringent disciplinary action, including dismissal, if they solicit for tips.

Anyone who approaches households and asks for a seasonal bonus is almost certainly not a genuine refuse collector but an opportunist hoping to cash in on residents’ generosity.

Any approaches for money by people claiming to be refuse collectors should be reported to the police straight away or the council’s waste management team on 020 8871 8558.