Category Archives: Huntingdonshire

“You can carry a knife and be lucky and never have to use it but how do you know you won’t. You don’t.”

As a child my son Andrew had a fascination with taking things apart and putting them back together. He once filled a lawnmower with petrol and accidentally set it alight. He did a lot of things like that I knew one day might land him in trouble but what happened to him on 8th January was not one of my worries.

Andrew Hasler 7

Andrew celebrating his birthday

 

Andrew 12

Heights were never a problem for Andrew

 

 

I last saw Andrew alive on Christmas Eve 2016 when he was telling me how he had fallen off a ladder. What he didn’t tell me before was that he was two storeys high and had been hanging by his finger tips and it was only thanks to someone seeing him on CCTV that he was rescued! This was typical of Andrew, he had no fear. He was a helpful, kind natured, generous young man.

 

 

 

 

It was Sunday lunchtime when I was sitting in the local coffee shop ordering some lunch when I received a message out of the blue from one of Andrew’s friends asking me to get in touch. I knew instantly that something wasn’t right and then couldn’t get hold of the friend or Andrew.

I remember sitting there eating my lunch but not really wanting it at all and not knowing what to do.

I eventually spoke to Andrew’s neighbour who told me there were police and ambulance outside his home. With that I called the local police station and hospital but couldn’t get any information.

I went home and waited and watched every single car as it passed the window and then I saw the police car arrive. I had the front door open ready and I remember saying ‘I’m not going to like what you tell me’.

They told me Andrew was dead.

Andrew Hasler 1

I didn’t believe it, even though I knew deep down, long before they’d arrived that it was true.

I went through the motions calling his father, his brother, my parents. I just remember saying ‘he’s dead’. I didn’t know what had happened.

When the family liaison officer arrived one of the first things I remember is her telling me that Andrew was an innocent victim. I was very shocked that in that small space of time they knew there were defence wounds.

From that point I was running on autopilot. Things needed to be done. I had a funeral to arrange. The money I had hoped to spend on his wedding one day would now be spent on his funeral.

To be told later that your son stepped in to save someone else – one minute you are proud and the next you are asking yourself why he did that? He could still be here. At the same time you know that there was never going to be a happy ending for someone and you wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Andrew was stabbed 17 times but it was only one that killed him and the woman he was protecting was lucky that one of her 15 stab wounds missed her heart by just centimetres.

It’s still not real. I still expect him to knock on the door. I go and visit Andrew’s grave but I don’t know what to say to him so I play music. It’s not something I ever thought I would have to do.

I remember being in the supermarket and suddenly it hit me that I was in the shop where the knives were bought. I remember trying to avoid the knife section but also wondering what kind of knife it was. Then at the checkout I wanted to ask why he was sold them. Who would expect a 40-year-old to be buying three knives with that intention?

I have to do something positive for Andrew. He fought to save someone’s life and lost his. If just one person hands in a knife or chooses not to carry one then that could save someone’s life.

Think about the consequences.  Do you want to face 25 years – possibly the best years of your life – in prison?

Think about the parents, brothers, sisters, family, friends, the whole community. No parent should ever have to bury their child. I know it happens through illness but something that’s as needless as this, it shouldn’t happen.

What would your parents and family say? They’ll lose you and have to live with the consequences that you killed someone.

You can carry a knife and be lucky and never have to use it but how do you know you won’t. You don’t.

Helen Fazier

Working together to tackle hare coursing

Throughout the autumn and winter one of the local issues that police have received the most calls about is hare coursing. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about; hare coursing is where dogs are used to chase hares for sport and is illegal under the Hunting Act of 2004 and the Game Act of 1831. Aside from the obvious cruelty issues there are many other factors which make this a problem with which we need to get to grips.

It is often the case that the hare coursers will be in gangs coming from various parts of the country, they are always very determined to carry out their pursuit and will stop at nothing do so. They will often drive across fields of newly set crops, often causing thousands of pounds worth of damage and threatening anyone that challenges them. It is fair to say that these gangs have caused a great deal of fear and intimidation in the rural community.

I know that some people don’t have a lot of sympathy for the farmers but the fact is that by damaging their crops these offenders are damaging their livelihoods. I have known of cases where the coursers have driven straight through the farmyard to get onto a field and when asked not to do so have responded with threats of violence, some have even threatened to burn down the farmer’s home.

When living in an isolated area it’s no wonder that some of the rural community feel intimidated by this.

Cambridgeshire Police have set up a Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) to help to deal with this and other rural crime related problems but they are only a small team and have to cover the entire county. Very often when the calls come in it is the local officers that have to attend and we aren’t always best equipped to deal with the problem.

The coursers are always in 4x4s and it’s difficult to catch them on fields and muddy droves when driving a front wheel drive patrol car. This is why we have to work together and we need you the public to be vigilant. If you this see this taking place please call the police. Note down registration numbers and descriptions of vehicles.

Sharing the intelligence is something that can have a great deal of advantages. It gives us an early warning system of what and who to look out for. There have been recent examples when we have shared these details with other counties and on occasions they have stopped some of the vehicles and found that they are being driven illegally and even by a person wanted for burglary.

Over the past couple of weeks, in my area we have had some successes in catching and deterring the hare coursers. On 7th January a vehicle was seized by police in Somersham after having its tyres punctured by a stinger and the occupant was caught. On 14th January four people were arrested for coursing in Warboys and their vehicle was seized.

Seized coursers Vehicle 1_.jpg

But rather than just reacting when they are here we want to try to stop them coming at all. The RCAT are pursuing civil court injunctions in order to stop known offenders from coming here and giving us greater powers to deal with them when they do.
Very often we concentrate most of our resources in the towns but I’d like to reassure the rural community that we will do our best to keep you safe as well.

Sergeant Andy Street
St. Ives and Ramsey Neighbourhood Policing Team

Result of Huntingdonshire bike theft survey

During the summer, Cambridgeshire Constabulary ran an on-line survey in the Huntingdonshire District to gather information from people who had been victims of bicycle thefts in the previous 12 months.

The intention was to see if any patterns emerge that will help both the police and the public, so that crime prevention advice can be targeted more precisely in relation to places, times, and any other factors that appear to be significant in the theft of bicycles.

There are 5 key messages that we would like to highlight:

• Most bike thefts happen at your own home – including from the garden, shed or garage;

• In one third of cases, the bikes were not locked;

• In nearly a third of cases the stolen bike was a very expensive item, worth £500 or more;

• Bike thefts peak in the summer months of June, July and August;

• Three-quarters of bike theft victims have since taken steps to improve their bike security, such as by using better quality bike locks, but also through other common-sense actions like making sure shed or garage doors are kept locked.

The following graphs show the results of the survey:

Location of Theft:

Graph 1

Over a third of bike thefts are from your own home.

In Which Town or Village was the Bike Stolen?

Graph 2

Not surprisingly, most thefts occur in the three main towns in the District: Huntingdon, St Neots and St Ives. If the survey had included Cambridge city, the number of thefts there would have dwarfed the other towns and villages: there are typically over 2,000 bike thefts in Cambridge every year.

Was The Bike Locked When It Was Stolen?

Graph 3

In a third of cases, the bike had been left unlocked. Bikes should always be locked to an immovable object whenever they are left unattended, including when they are put away in a shed or garage at home.

What Quality of Lock or Other Security Was Fitted to the Bike?

Graph 4
Police recommend that the quality of the security should reflect the value of the item. If you have a very valuable bike, you need to spend a lot more on its security than you would on a cheap old bone-rattler. Two different types of lock are normally best: a D-lock and a good quality cable or chain with a padlock.

What Was The Bike Locked To?

Graph 5

 

It is always best to secure the bike tightly to an immovable object so that it cannot easily be moved. Make sure the two locks catch the bike frame as well as both wheels and the solid object you are locking it to. Locking it to itself is really no good at all – it can be just lifted and carried away.

What was the Approximate Value of the Bike?

Graph 6

 

Nearly a third of stolen bikes are worth £500 or more, and half are worth more than £300.
When Did the Theft Happen?

Graph 7

Afternoons, evenings and night-time are when most thefts occur.

Graph 9

There seems to be a steady decline in the number of thefts as the week progresses, with Mondays being the worst.

Graph 8

The summer months of June, July and August are the peak period for bike thefts.

Did You Replace The Stolen Bike?

Graph 10

 

It is sad to see that a third of people didn’t replace their stolen bike – it indicates that their life-style was affected by the theft and the bike was no longer an important part of their routine, whether it was used for commuting, weekends out in the countryside, or just popping down to the shops.

Was The Replacement Bike…

Graph 11

 

It seems that most replacements are on a like-for-like basis, although some people trade up and some trade down…

Have You Invested in Better Security for Your Bike?

Graph 12

 

It is good to see that three-quarters of people improve their bike security after having experienced a theft.

How Have You Improved Your Bike Security?

Graph 13

Better locks are always a good idea, ideally two: a good quality D-Lock and a robust cable or chain with a padlock. But doing the obvious things is important too, such as locking shed or garage doors. ‘Advanced Security’ methods such as installing CCTV and motion sensors at your home are also an option.

Have You Changed Your Cycling Habits in Any Way?

Graph 14

A lot of people do change their cycling habits after a bike theft, but not always in a good way.

How Have You Changed Your Cycling Habits?

Graph 15

It is sad to see that quite a few people use their bikes less as a result of a theft, but other changes are for the better, such as taking greater care of the bike and the things in it or on it.

ADVICE ON HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BIKE

You can do a lot to reduce the chances of your bike being stolen and to protect the investment that you have made in it.

There is lots of advice on the new Cambridgeshire Constabulary website at:

https://www.cambs.police.uk/information-and-services/Cycle-crime.aspx

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.