Category Archives: Huntingdonshire

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’.”

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

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.

Results of the Ramsey policing survey

A few weeks ago, the St Ives policing team drew up and distributed an online survey designed to give residents of Ramsey and the surrounding villages the opportunity to let police know their views and opinions on crime and anti-social behaviour in their communities and how they feel policing is carried out locally.

The survey gave people the opportunity to say what they felt local policing priorities should be, within the framework of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s overall objectives, and also what other concerns and worries about crime and policing they may have.

In the two-week period that the survey was open, 283 questionnaires were completed and sent in – a really excellent response! Thank you to everyone who took the time to do the survey and let us know your views and opinions.

The survey is part of the Constabulary’s Community Engagement Programme and will be followed up by a Police/Community Forum Meeting at Ramsey Methodist Church on June 21 from 7.30pm.

The meeting will be chaired by Sgt Andy Street, who will give a presentation on the findings of the survey and answer questions from the audience.

For the benefit of everyone who completed the survey, and anyone else who is interested, here are graphs showing the responses to the various questions that were asked:

q1q2q3q4q5q6

 

 

Results from the St Ives and District ‘Policing Opinion Survey’, March 2017

In March of this year, the St Ives Local Policing Team drew up and distributed an online survey designed to give residents of St Ives and the surrounding villages the opportunity to let the police know their views and opinions on crime and anti-social behaviour in their own communities.

As well as capturing basic demographic data such as the age and gender of respondents, the survey was particularly interested in finding out what people felt policing priorities should be in their communities, within the framework of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s overall objectives.

In the two-week period that the survey was open, two hundred and thirty six questionnaires were completed and sent in – an excellent response! Thank you to everyone who took the time to do the survey and let us know your views, worries, opinions and concerns.

The survey was part of the Constabulary’s Community Engagement Program and was followed up by a Police / Community Forum Meeting held in Needingworth Village Hall on the evening of March 30. The meeting was chaired by Sgt Andy Street of the Local Policing Team, who gave a presentation on the findings of the survey and also answered questions from the audience about crime in the local area.

Also present was a representative from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards Department who gave a very interesting and useful talk on frauds and scams, and how we can protect ourselves from them.

For the benefit of anyone who completed the survey but was not able to attend the meeting, and anyone else who is interested, please see the attached graphs showing the responses to the various questions that were asked

survey 1

 

survey 2

survey 3

 

 

survey 4

 

 

 

survey 5

 

survey 6

 

 

Who’s hiding behind those messages?

The majority of people use social media to keep in contact with their friends and family but for some it can be used as a tool to groom children and young people.

Children no longer know life without the internet and are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to technology and the latest apps. However, the internet is also an easy place for men and women to make contact with young people by hiding behind screens.

What is online grooming?

Grooming is about building a relationship with a child to get something from them, like images or videos, to meet them in person and to later abuse them.

Online gaming, social media and chatrooms enable anyone the opportunity to try and make contact with a child.

Men, and women, from 18 onwards can create fake online identities and pretend to be children themselves to trick real children into chatting and sharing.

They’ll do their research before they make contact by looking at other things the child had posted and other social media sites they are on. They can then use the information to plan their conversation.

Those who want to groom children will use any sites or apps which are popular with young people. On social media they might send multiple friend requests at random in the hope that a young person will accept them.

In games and chatrooms they’ll try to start conversations with young people and then ask them to chat privately through a different app.

Don’t panic and ban your child from the internet or social media but it’s fair to assume that if a site or app is popular with young people then those with a sexual interest in children will try to use it to communicate with them. Ensure they are aware of the risks that come with speaking to anyone online.

While some people might persuade a child to meet face to face, it’s becoming increasingly common for children to be tricked or coerced into sexual activity on a webcam or into sending sexual images.

There isn’t one clear sign of online grooming but the following signs from ThinkuKnow could be an indication:

·        Have they suddenly become very secretive? People who abuse will try to stop young people telling their friends and family about the abusive relationship.

·        Are they sad or withdrawn but won’t say why? If something is going on with your child online it might be really upsetting them. They might feel trapped, like they can’t talk about it. Let them know you’re there to listen.

·        Do they seem distracted? We can all get caught up in ourselves if things are worrying us. If they seem unusually preoccupied it might be because things are weighing on them which they feel they can’t talk about.  

·        Do they have sudden mood swings? Mood swings are not uncommon in adolescence but they can be a sign that someone has built a relationship with your child which is affecting their moods. 

·        Are they unable to switch off from their phone or social media? Lots of us find it hard not to check our phone or the internet, but if your child gets particularly worried or stressed when they can’t, this can be a sign someone is controlling them.

If you are concerned about someone your child is in contact with, contact your local police, children’s social care department or report directly to CEOP.

If you want to discuss your concerns with someone call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. If you believe your child is at immediate risk call 999.