Supporting victims of hurricane Irma

PC Den Williams from Ely and PC Ross Beesley from Wisbech have just returned from the British Virgin Islands following the catastrophic damage caused by hurricane Irma feeling humbled by the three week experience…

“The world watched as hurricane Irma took hold of the Caribbean and travelled across the North Atlantic killing more than 120 people with winds of up to 185mph at the end of August.

News bulletins and social media sites were awash with images and videos showing the pure devastation hurricane Irma had left behind but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to witness.

We volunteered, along with more than 50 other officers from across the country, to offer mutual aid in the British Virgin Islands and flew out from RAF Brize Norton to Barbados on 9 September.

Words cannot describe the devastation. We saw it on the TV before we left but you are detached from the pictures and videos. It’s not until you are there that you can smell the sewage in the street, you avoid puddles not knowing if the power cable lying in it is live or not.

We saw 40ft containers that had been thrown around, homes without roofs and what was an island full of lush greenery turned into something like what you would see in a Hollywood movie.

Yet the people were still upbeat. Despite losing everything themselves they were committed to helping others. There was one woman in particular, Janet, who left her own teenage children to come to the aid of those in a children’s home.

With around 40 per cent of the islands police force unable to work because of the devastation caused to their own lives, the majority of our time was spent at banks to stop looting and robberies or at supermarkets and fuel stations to prevent panic buying.

The moment we landed and our presence was known, we were starting to make a difference. We were able to take some control and allow everyone to get on with try to rebuild what they had lost.

It wasn’t long after we arrived that we were put under a 24 hour curfew as hurricane Maria struck the islands.

Our efforts soon turned to offering reassurance to members of the public, giving people lifts from hospital and interacting with the families and children.

We were so touched by the community they were working with that we got in touch with the Police Federation and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, and were able to secure a donation to purchase books, toys, pens and pencils for the children.

The best part of the trip was seeing the small difference we were making. Seeing the children’s faces when you presented them with small gifts, playing ball with them. You couldn’t put a price on it.

Being in 40C heat, wearing full body armour and not being able to wash above the neck because of the E.coli in the water was a low. We were living without the basics but we had a roof over our heads, were fed and watered which is more than most had out there.

One of the things we will take away from the experience was a line from a gentleman who had lost his home, his belongings, everything. He said; ‘I’ve got life and as long as I have that, I can rebuild everything else’.”

Nessa

[Courtesy of HealthTalk – http://www.healthtalk.org/]

From the age of 17 Nessa was in an emotionally abusive and controlling relationship with her children’s father. She also experienced physical abuse from a subsequent partner. Although the marks on her skin from the violent attacks she endured have faded, the psychological effects of the emotional abuse continue to impact on her sense of self.

Nessa experienced emotional-psychological abuse and controlling behaviour during her five year relationship with the father of her children. He made her feel unattractive and that no other man would want her because she had ‘stretch marks and two children’. Her partner dictated the clothes she wore, didn’t allow her to wear makeup and made it difficult for her to keep in touch with family and friends. She describes his behaviour as increasingly paranoid. She felt lonely and no longer knew who she was. Nessa ended the relationship after her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and her partner tried to limit the time that she spent with him.

A few months later Nessa began a new relationship with an old friend. During this nine month relationship her partner subjected her to regular violent attacks. For example, pushing, slapping, head butting and hitting her with the metal buckle of his leather belt. This physical abuse often took place in front of her children. Nessa minimised and excused his behaviour to herself, friends and professionals (such as the police and social workers). It wasn’t until they broke up that she accepted that his behaviour was abusive and that what he had done ‘was really wrong’. This time, the trigger for the end of the relationship was the intervention of Social Services which followed a phone call she made to the police during one physical attack.

Two months on Nessa flinches all of the time, she doesn’t like men sitting too close to her and feels that she now has ‘trust issues’. Her confidence and self-esteem continue to be dented by her experiences of abuse. Her children, as witnesses to the abuse, are also affected. For example her daughter is wary of men and lacks confidence and her son sometimes displays violent behaviour, such as slapping and throwing things. However, her friends and family have been encouraging her to go out to pubs and clubs with them, which is helping to boost her confidence and both she and the children are feeling happier. Nessa has also found attending the Freedom Programme useful. It has helped her to realise that there are other women in the same situation and that she is not ‘the person to blame’ for everything that has happened to her.

Initially reluctant to have the involvement of Social Services, Nessa now accepts that her negative ideas about them were wrong. She continues to regularly receive support from her social worker and a support worker from the local domestic abuse service, who have helped her in many ways, such as providing a listening ear, arranging a place for her on the Freedom Programme, and helping her to access bereavement counselling.

Nessa wants to tell other women currently in an abusive relationship that ‘no matter how hard it is …there is a light at the end of the tunnel and just keep focusing on that light and try to get out of it, because it really, it really is worth it’.

Click here for audio and video with Nessa – http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/domestic-violence-abuse/womens-experiences-domestic-violence-and-abuse/nessa.

Bike thefts – reducing your chances of becoming a victim

On average across the UK, a bicycle is stolen every 60 seconds. In the St Ives area, between two and three are stolen on average every week.

We have recently analysed reports of bicycle thefts in the St Ives and Ramsey area over the last three years and come up with some interesting results:

Where are bikes stolen from?Where are bikes stolen from

 

 

 

 

 

On which days are bikes most stolen?Which days

 

count of time

 

 

 

At what times are bikes most stolen?

 

 

 

 

 

Were the bikes locked?Count of locked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bike theft facts (St Ives and Ramsey data):

  • Roughly 40% of bike thefts are from people’s homes (including gardens and garden sheds)
  • Bike thefts occur most at the beginning of the week
  • Bike thefts occur most at night or in the evening
  • In over a third of cases, bikes were not locked when they were stolen

Protecting your bike

You should always lock your bike whenever you leave it unattended, both at home and at your destination:

  • Lock your bike to a cycle rack, post, or another immovable object. It’s always best to use two different types of lock – this makes it harder to steal as the thief needs different tools for each lock. Police recommend a good quality ‘D’ lock together with a robust chain and padlock
  • Choose a busy, well-lit area, with lots of passers-by, rather than a quiet, dark corner. Ideally, use designated bike parking facilities or choose an area with CCTV coverage
  • Lock your bike tightly so that it cannot easily be moved and make sure the two locks catch the bike frame as well as both wheels and the solid object you are locking it to.
  • Take with you any items that can be removed without tools such as wheels, lights, pump, saddle etc
  • Don’t leave your bike in the same place every day

Are your locks up to the job?

Use the best quality locks that you can afford, taking into account the value of the bike. It really is not sensible to use a cheap £5 lock on a bicycle worth several hundred pounds or more. You should expect to spend at least £30 or £40 on a good quality ‘D’ lock that cannot easily be sawn through or cut off with bolt-croppers. You can also obtain a lock with a built-in audible alarm for about £30.

Register your bike

If you register your bike, you stand a much better chance of getting it back if it is ever lost or stolen. You can register your bike and other property free of charge at Immobilise. It only takes a couple of minutes and all you need is your bicycle model, make and frame number.

You will find the frame number either:

  • On the bottom of the frame, underneath the pedals, or
  • On the frame near the handle-bars, or
  • On the frame where the seat-post fits, or
  • On the frame towards the back wheel

(Other bicycle registration services are also available, such as Bike Register)

Mark your bike

You should mark your postcode onto the frame of your bike in two separate locations, one of which should be hidden. The police occasionally run ‘bike days’ when they will do this for you for free – keep an eye on social media sites for notifications. Alternatively, you can do it for yourself with a stencil kit that can be bought for a few pounds. The kit comes with a warning sticker to fix to the bike frame, which is itself an excellent deterrent to potential thieves.

Ultra-violet (UV) marking kits are also available – these allow you to place marks on the frame which are invisible under normal lighting conditions and only become visible when illuminated with UV light.

There is also a device called a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag available which you attach to your bike by inserting it into the tube of the frame beneath the seat and is virtually impossible to remove. The tag contains a unique electronic identification number which can be ‘read’ by the electronic scanners used by the police. The unique number is logged on your bicycle Registration Account along with the rest of your details.

Perhaps the ultimate anti-theft device for your bike is an invisible GPS Tracker. This can be fitted inside the handle-bars of the bike and you activate it whenever you leave your bike unattended. It interacts with an app on your mobile phone and allows you to pinpoint your bike’s location to within a few metres.

Technology is constantly developing and new security, marking and tracking devices are constantly being developed. Keep an eye on the specialist bicycle magazines and web-sites for the latest innovations!

Buying second hand

Unfortunately, there is a thriving black-market in the sale of stolen bicycles. If you are looking to buy a second-hand bike, don’t be conned – look for the signs that indicate that something may be wrong:

  • Do the seller and the bike go together? You should ideally meet the seller face-to-face, preferably at their house or place of work, and ask yourself whether they seem genuine.
  • Do the parts match? Thieves will often damage a bike to make it easier to steal. Does the front wheel match from the back? Is the frame number missing or are there any signs it has been interfered with? Has the bike been re-sprayed? These are all indicators that something is wrong.
  • Does the seller have proof of purchase? Are there any receipts, manuals, guarantees or insurance documents?
  • Are there any security markings on the frame? In addition to the frame number, there may be a postcode marking or RFID security tag on the bike. If any of these are damaged, or if the information doesn’t match that of the seller, warning bells should ring in your mind.
  • Be very suspicious of an unexpected bargain – it may just be too good to be true.

Useful links

Here are some links to web-sites that provide advice and guidance on safeguarding your bike:
Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Immobilise

Spot the signs and change the story – Tyrone’s story

Only younger brothers will understand me. We’re following in the footsteps of older brothers. You are looking up to your brother. You want to do the same things. You want to do as good as he and do it even better…

But we have different characters, different way of thinking, even if we are similar. We are not cloned.” – Wladimir Klitschko

Wayne was 18 and the man of the house. His dad was long gone and he needed to provide for and protect his family. But it’s a bit difficult for him to do that now that he’s dead.

Wayne was a drug dealer. But he wasn’t just a dealer, he used drugs too. Which led to him overdosing in 2015, leaving behind his two younger brothers. But that’s not all he left behind. He also left a very large drugs debt to his bosses.

Wayne was a drugs runner for a London organised crime group who were running a county line into Cambridgeshire.

Daryl, Wayne’s younger brother, looked up to Wayne, he wanted to follow in his footsteps and be like him. Not even a year after Wayne’s death Daryl was doing just that when the police found him in a 45-year-old drug user’s house, supplying him with heroin.

Daryl frequently skipped school. He’d been found hanging around shops and streets many times but had never been found with drugs on him. He had started wearing jewellery and seemed to have access to more cash and clothes.

Unfortunately Daryl did not learn from this first experience with the police and was arrested again in similar circumstances in Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

There had been a lot of gang rivalry in Cambridge and Daryl had run over a rival dealer in in a gang feud to protect his drug business. This led to his arrest and his current residency in prison.

Tyrone, the youngest of the brothers, is now 12. He has lost both his brothers, one to an overdose and one to prison, all because of drugs. Tyrone frequently runs away from home and has been displaying the signs of county lines criminality.

But the story can and will be different for Tyrone. The signs have been spotted early and partner agencies, including a local children’s charity, are working with him to make his story end differently. To ensure he has a different way of thinking and that he is not a clone of either of his brothers.

Would you know how to spot the signs of drug dealing in your local community?

Would you know that someone was vulnerable to exploitation by drug dealers?

Here are some questions to consider:

 

  • Have you seen something you think could be drug related but are not sure?
  • Do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?
  • Do you know someone who is saying they have a drugs debt?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes you should call police on 101 or report it online at www.contactcambspolice.uk/Report/.You don’t need to give us your name. Just tell us what you know – even the smallest amount of information could be the piece of the puzzle we need. Calls can be dealt with anonymously. Or you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

If somebody is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always call 999.

You can find out more about county lines on our county lines web pages.

While this article is based on real life examples all characters and events in this story are fictional and have been created to deliver information about county lines criminality.

Spot the signs and change the story – Tasha’s story

As part of a weeklong “county lines” awareness campaign, we are educating officers, staff, partners and the public about spotting the signs of this type of crime.

Take Tasha’s story. She was a child who went missing and returned home on many occasions. But what was she up to while missing?

Spot the signs and change the story. #SaferCambs

Here’s Tasha’s story…

I met Jamie about six months ago. He used to hang around the back of the school playing field at lunch and give me cigarettes. He’s generous like that, but then again I guess he can afford to be. I mean, come on, he has his own flat (well one he shares with that man) and have you seen his trainers?

Jamie is so nice, well he was at first. He was always telling me how beautiful I am and saying he wanted to spend more time with me. That’s why we started meeting up after school. It was so much fun but I had a curfew and had to be home at night.

Then one day Jamie suggested I moved in with him. I was so excited, how could I say no? He had his own flat and was earning good money. So I packed my bag and moved in.

That first weekend was great. No adults bossing me around. We had a house-warming party, drank vodka and I even tried a bit of cocaine.  Nobody would miss me from my foster home. Well that’s what I thought. But I was wrong. The foster carers had called the police, who found me after a couple of days and returned me to my home.

But our love was strong and Jamie continued to meet me at lunch times and more often than not I wouldn’t bother going back to school in the afternoons. Nobody was going to stop me seeing him. Then he asked me to move in with him again. He said he needed some help with a big job and I could earn some money while I lived there. All I had to do was deliver a package to a flat, which was a short bus ride away. Well of course I was going to say yes, wasn’t I?

So I packed my bag again and after everybody had gone to bed I sneaked out.

I delivered the package. It wasn’t as simple as I had thought it would be as I had to hide the package, in my body, so nobody would find it, because if I got caught with it I would most definitely get in trouble with the police and it would cost Jamie a lot of money. This was because the package contained drugs. But I didn’t mind. I was being paid and it made Jamie happy.

Anyway, after a few days the police caught up with me again. Luckily I wasn’t carrying a package. But I did have the mobile phone Jamie gave me and £200 cash on me. Thankfully, I explained them away and the police just returned me to my foster home once again.

It’s so annoying when the police pick me up and return me home. Luckily, everybody is just so happy that I am ‘safe and well’ that they don’t really ask what I’ve been up to while I’ve been away.

I’ve run away loads of times now. Jamie’s got used to me being taken away from him. But it’s only ever for a few days and then we get to see each other again. We’re used to spending time apart because when I do deliveries for him I can be gone for a few days at a time, so it’s no different.

This time I may be away for a little longer than a few days and I don’t like my chances of running away much either as I don’t think the police will be returning me to my foster parents anytime soon.

That’s because this time they found me in a hotel room with £10,000 worth of heroin. I think I might be going to prison. I’m hoping Jamie will be able to sort it out. The police haven’t been able to get hold of him on the number I have for him yet. They say it’s been disconnected. But that can’t be right.

It’s been a few days now but I’m sure he will be in touch, won’t he?

 

Would you know how to spot the signs of drug dealing in your local community?

Would you know that someone was vulnerable to exploitation by drug dealers?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Have you seen something you think could be drug related but are not sure?
  • Do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?
  • Do you know someone who is saying they have a drugs debt?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes you should call police on 101 or report it online at www.contactcambspolice.uk/Report/.You don’t need to give us your name. Just tell us what you know – even the smallest amount of information could be the piece of the puzzle we need. Calls can be dealt with anonymously. Or you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

If somebody is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always call 999.

You can find out more about county lines on our county lines web pages.

While this article is based on real life examples all characters and events in this story are fictional and have been created to deliver information about county lines criminality.

Snapchat’s Snap Maps – Are you at risk?

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media channels for 13 to 17-year-olds*. For those who don’t know, it’s an app that’s downloaded to a smartphone and is primarily used for sending photos or videos which automatically delete after up to 10 seconds.

More often than not users add their friends from their contact list or use the ‘nearby’ function to search for friends.

adding friends

Following a recent update to the app, users are now able to opt into a feature called ‘Snap Map’. This is a live map which shows the location of you, your friends and events in the area. It is designed to allow more engagement between friends. You can also see local events though a heat map collating ‘our story’ snaps. The app works in conjunction with BitMoji and you can design what your character will look like on the live map.

It’s an extremely accurate map, showing your location within 10 meters, providing the opportunity for anybody who is on your friend’s list to see almost exactly where you are.

snap map

The good news is that you can choose exactly who you want to share your location with and it’s not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend. When you first use the map function you’ll see that you are automatically set to Ghost Mode which means you can’t be seen.  There are two other options allowing you to show all friends your location or you can select specific friends.

Sharing any personal information online, including your location, should be treated with caution on any application.

We would advise parents and carers to discuss social media use with their children, monitor their use and keep up to date with new developments and applications.

While there are concerns that the type of information being shared could potentially be open to abuse, the risks can be significantly reduced by users adopting a responsible approach by assessing who they share their information with and activating the facility’s privacy settings and ‘Ghost Mode’ function in their accounts.

Ghost mode

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has lots of information about the many different social media applications including Snapchat.

If you have concerns about something that has happened online, you can make a report to one of CEOP’s Child Protection Advisors, alternatively call police on 101 or get in touch with Childline.

*Statistics from 2016 show that 23% of their users were aged 13-17, 37% were 18-24 and 26% 25-34.