Video credit: Crimestoppers
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m enthusiastic about urging people to report crime. It’s only when victims let the police know about an incident that we get a true picture of what’s going on, so police and our other partners can put the right services in the right areas.
The 101 service allows people to report non-emergency incidents directly to the police online and via the phone. Wait times with its telephone service have been a source of frustration, especially in the summer months when we see a huge spike in the numbers of calls, but a project to reduce get callers through to the right person more quickly has been under way for a number of months, so people should notice an improvement.
For those of you who are happy using digital methods the live WebChat and online form at devon-cornwall.police.uk are very effective. Of course, in an emergency you should dial 999.
For many people though reporting a crime can cause difficulties. That’s where the charity Crimestoppers comes in. It enables people to report crimes anonymously, and that information is then passed on to police. It provides a really important source of intelligence for officers, particularly around crimes like the organised drug dealing which blights so many communities.
My office pays for a regional manager for Crimestoppers who helps to promote the charity’s work inside the force and to members of the public.
The latest figures show an increase in the number of reports of criminal activity sent from the charity to the force. In the 2016-17 year Crimestoppers logged 2,581 reports with Devon and Cornwall Police, this rose to 3,386 in 2018-19. The vast majority of these were deemed actionable by the police, proving what a valuable source of information Crimestoppers has become.
Crimes reported in this way ranged from assault through to the possession of firearms but around a third relate to drug trafficking and supply.
It’s no surprise to me that people hate to see drug dealing in their communities. Because it safeguards the anonymity of those who call in Crimestoppers allows people to report without fear of reprisals which can give free reign to criminals and serious and organised crime. We’ve seen major drug dealing operations disrupted recently, sending a clear message to those dealers from outside the force area that they target Devon and Cornwall at their peril.
Crimestoppers also offers rewards of up to £10,000 to help police get to the bottom of unsolved crimes. One of these rewards is offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Brixham man David Williams. It was a brutal crime that shattered a community and I hope, with the help of Crimestoppers and the member of the public who doubled the reward to £20,000, that it will not remain unsolved.
Of particular use in our force area is the charity’s Rural Reporting Line. Rural communities suffer a wide range of criminality that is harmful and costly and there is a reluctance by some to speak up about what they know because of reprisal. Crimestoppers is now working with the National Farmers Union to provide a dedicated service for farmers and the public to give information about these crimes.
It is also seeking to engage young people with its project Fearless. Fearless is a youth service aimed at 11-16 year olds. It is tasked with increasing awareness of the dangers surrounding street crime, drugs and violence.
The charity’s aims very much fits with my vision of creating safer, resilient and connected communities across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and is seeking out volunteers to help in its mission to reduce crime and the fear that criminality causes.
It has roles for volunteers with a range of skills from fundraising through to community engagement and finance.
The charity is available in people’s hour of need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you would like to report a crime in your community to Crimestoppers, anonymously you can call it on 0800 555111 or report online at crimestoppers-uk.org. If you have information on rural crime call the Rural Crime Hotline on 0800 783 0137 or complete the online form.