These notes are transcribed from presentations at the Neighbourhood Watch Meeting on Monday 11 February 2019 (see video below). To hear more about issues in Thatcham at the moment please listen to an interview with Inspector Mark Tucker and Kath Little from the Thatcham Together Community Forum on Kennet Radio (from 1hr3min).
Area Commander Superintendent Jim Weems
Latest crime statistics – the Crime Survey of England and Wales (which is the government’s preferred method of measuring crime) reports that the public think crime levels are the same as last year. But nationally the level of Reported Crime is up 14%. About 10 years ago it was the opposite (reported crime was falling but people felt less safe). In West Berkshire Reported Crime has risen 9% – increase in burglary and violent crime although drug offences have fallen.
What are the police priorities?
1.Prevention and problem solving approach – working with partners in the community, early intervention, developing more resilient communities (this one is very resilient with NHW)
2. Safeguarding vulnerable people – homeless, elderly, mental health issues, addicts (no crime has occured)
3. Catching the criminals – the police is focusing on hidden crimes (domestic abuse, hate crime, child abuse, fraud)
4. Counter terrorism – threat levels are still severe for 4 years now.
5. Reducing recidivism (re-offending). For examples a new Drug Diversion Scheme is being piloted n West Berkshire which gives first time offenders for possession only the choice of drug treatment rather than a legal prosecution. Keeping users out of court has freed up police time to such an extent that they have been able to arrest 28 drug dealers recently. It also avoids criminalising young people whose best outcome is to get help rather than a criminal record which will reduce their life outcomes.
6. Organised Crime Groups – these are busy people who commit lots of crime for example several county drugs lines in West Berkshire (drug lines running out of big cities into market towns, up to £30,000 per week) and ‘cuckooing’ (where gangs set up business in the home of a vulnerable person).
7. Knife crime – is directly linked to drugs – consumption needs to be tackled to stop the dealers.
8. Modern slavery happens in West Berkshire often in nail bars, car washes, take aways. The victims do not always recognise they are being treated like slaves because they are used to being exploited and treated badly. They often don’t get paid any money and are held in servitude.
9. Traditional rural crime is down because security of farm machinery is improving. But isolated communities are still vulnerable because it will take longer for police to reach the scene for example ATMs in remote locations like rural petrol stations are targetted.
10. Theft from motor vehicles is increasing eg please be aware of criminals using devices at Reading and Chieveley service station car parks to defeat your car lock. Always check the doors are locked before you leave your vehicle. The lights going on when you press the key button is not enough. Some families have had all their luggage stolen on their way to their holiday destination.
11. Doorstep crime – preying on the vulnerable and elderly. will target people with handrails.
A lot is going on with policing at the moment. We have been behind the curve of technology but a new call handling system is coming soon and more online reporting and crime status updating to take the pressure off 101 service that gets swamped by hundreds of mobile calls reporting an incident.
Mark Tucker – Neighbourhood Inspector for Newbury & Thatcham
Drug gangs find a vulnerable person and move into their home and use it as a dealing base – this is called ‘cuckooing’ police have acheived 14 home closures to evict the intruders and protect the vulnerable home owners which has meant that gangs have to move on
A surprising percentage of online fraud victims are young people as they tend to trust the internet more than older people.
Rogue traders operate everywhere and are often associated with organised crime gangs. They will claim to see something on your property that needs urgent attention. They are very charming and they will cold call unlike reputable traders. They have been known to bully women into making a decision on their own rather than wait for their husband to come home. The first quote they give will be very reasonable but the work often escalates. They will want payment by cash only. They will offer to drive you to the cashpoint. Please never let them into your home.
If you are in doubt at all that there might be a crime in progress please call 999. If you tell the trader you are calling the police they won’t stick around for long. If you need help in your home there are reputable websites where you can check traders out eg check-a-trade
Community Forums and Neighbourhood Action Group – please attend these meetings that facilitate police and communities to work together to reduce crime.
To hear more about Thatcham Together Community Forum and the issues in Thatcham at the moment please listen here to an interview with Mark Tucker and Kath Little (from 1hr3min) on Kennet Radio.
Sam Mortimore Community Safety Advisor from Royal Berks Fire & Rescue Service – prevention coordinator for Reading & West Berkshire
We are pleased that the number of domestic house fires has not increased but the amount of people getting injured is high. Since April 2018 there have been 30 casualties in our area, 15 of these since October. The injuries are being sustained by people trying to put out fires themselves or not being able to escape in time because they don’t have smoke alarms in the right place. So please call 999 earlier rather than later, however small the fire is.
123 road traffic collisions so far this year, a third of which occured on the M4, leading to 73 casualties and 4 fatalities.
Anything we can do to slow people down on the road and make people think is vital.
Parking issues – if a car is blocking a fire appliance’s route it will be moved one way or another but it does take time and will slow down an appliance trying to get to a call out. If you are worried about parking on your street let us know and we will bring the pump down to test if we can get through. We can encourage bevahioural change of anti-social parking.
With the help of Neigbourhood Watch Coordinators we recently completed our 100,000 safety visit to residents in the community, checking their homes and smoke alarms.