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“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

“Knife crime takes more than one life, it takes us all.”

“James was a good baby, a happy child. At school he was brilliant at gymnastics and had potential to go far but decided that it wasn’t the right thing for him and we supported that. It didn’t stop him showing off his muscles at every opportunity though. He was always in the garden doing handstands and would regularly go to the gym.

James (standing) and brother Luke

James (standing) and his brother Luke


James doing handstand

James showing off his talents in the garden

“When he was 17, James found his first love and moved all the way to the Lake District to be with her. They had a son, Leon, who is now eight. The relationship with his girlfriend wasn’t meant to be and about four years ago James moved back home but any opportunity he got, he would be back visiting Leon. He loved being a dad, it’s what he lived for.


James and Leon

James and son Leon


“James took up painting and decorating but also had a passion for cooking and had started getting into catering. He would always be helping me out in the kitchen, and made a brilliant gravy for the Sunday roast.

“Friday, 30th June last year started out as just a normal day. James spoke to his son Leon in the morning and went off to work. Each Friday pretty much followed the same routine for James. He’d come home, have a shower and some dinner and then go out to party – like any young person would. This day was no different. He went out as usual but popped back about 9pm to get a jumper and I remember telling him not to be noisy when he got home as I was looking after my other grandson.

“It was about 10:45pm when one of his friends started knocking at the door. I was shaking my head thinking that he was mucking about but he insisted I open the door and speak to him. When I did, he told me that James was in Stretton Avenue, that police and ambulance were there and he was being resuscitated. I screamed up the stairs to my partner who rushed down there but they wouldn’t let anyone through, he could see it was not looking good.

“When I got to the hospital we were told that the doctors had been working on him for over an hour but he had died. I was in shock. I’d only seen James two hours previously. That night we all just cried all night.


James, Linda and Luke

James, his mum Linda and brother Luke


“The police came round in the morning but everything was just a haze. We’d been told that James had been stabbed in the heart. This just doesn’t happen, not to normal people like us.

“Then we had to face the trial and re-live how he died in great detail. At least we have some sort of justice and James can rest in peace.

“Leon misses his dad so much, we all miss him, it’s an unbearable pain. There’s not a day, probably even a minute that goes by that I don’t think about him. Sometimes I go to the spot where he fell and lay flowers, we also have a plaque in the garden because he loved being outside.


James memorial

A memorial left by James’ grandparents


“If Ali hadn’t of been carrying a knife then chances are there would’ve been a scuffle of some sort but no one would’ve died and James would be here today.

“The family of Ali might not be able to get their heads around their son being a murderer but at least he’s alive and they can visit him. All we get to see is a cemetery.

“Knife crime takes more than one life, it takes us all. If you chose to carry a knife there will be no winners, just losers.”

Linda Hall

“Applying to become a Special was the best thing I ever did”

Pic for blog

Special Sergeant Adam Barnwell, 30, has been stationed at Parkside Police Station in Cambridge since August 2010. He is a web developer at a large and successful games company in Cambridge.

I chose to apply because I’d spent the majority of my education improving my web development skills and felt I had a career but I still wanted to do something in law enforcement and contribute to the community.

It felt like a perfect middle ground for me. Training consisted of a mixture of classroom and practical training sessions which were designed to fit around my day job for just over three months. I learnt an incredible amount that I simply wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t signed up to be an officer.

The sessions included topics such as law, community engagement, defence techniques, software training and equipment handling, to name but a few. After many hours spent wrestling my peers to the floor and taking exams, I was invited to a passing out ceremony with my peers. The ceremony was chaired by a Cambridgeshire magistrate and my family arrived to witness me take my vow and attest. I received my warrant card and my certificate and became a fully warranted police officer. I was extremely proud as it felt like all my hard work over many months had paid off, but, as I was soon to realise, my training had only just begun.

I had a new supervisor – a Special sergeant with six years of service behind him – and after a tour of Parkside, I went out on my very first shift with a group of new Specials from my training course. We went out on foot in Sydney Street, Cambridge, stopping private vehicles from contravening the emergency vehicles, taxis and bus route through the one-way system. This was my first taste of conflict as the majority of drivers got irate at the amount of time the police had taken from them and they were being fined. It was a real trial by fire. A week or so previously I had been sitting in a classroom learning about various conflict resolution models and now I was putting it into very real practice. Under the watchful eye of my supervisor, I issued 15 tickets and spent four hours ‘on the beat’.

My next milestone was my first 999 response. I was crewed with a regular officer and just as briefing finished we received a job from the control room. They said a caller could hear screams from next door. Before I knew it my partner was racing through Cambridge city and out into rural Cambridgeshire with blue lights and sirens going, navigating around traffic and going through red lights. Everything felt unnatural as we drove on the wrong side of the road for the majority of our journey to avoid traffic and through red lights. I immediately understood how fast it seemed from inside the car in comparison to how it looked from outside and as I was pumped so full of adrenaline I missed a lot of what the control room was relaying and didn’t let go of my death grip on the door handle until we arrived.

Over the next six months I worked my way through a development portfolio that every officer must complete to show they are competent at dealing with the majority of situations, under the instruction of a tutor. During this time I contributed hundreds of hours and dealt with missing person cases, burglaries, sudden deaths, drink driving, arrests, domestic abuse, assault, injured members of the public, firearms offences, theft, robbery, offensive weapons, to name a few. I was also given the opportunity to crew with a dog handler and his dog Troy, donned a flight suit and went up in the police helicopter over Cambridge and was attached to the CSI unit and dusted for fingerprints and shoe impressions after a burglary.

After my first year I had accrued roughly 500 hours’ service and had learnt so much. I had dealt with more than I ever had imagined and overcome situations I certainly wouldn’t have been able to as a regular member of the public. Over the next year, I received training to become part of a police support unit, more commonly known as ‘riot police’, which involved use of a riot baton and deploying a cordon. With this training, I attended the English Defence League (EDL) protests in Luton and was in amongst the police horses and protesters. I also started undercover operations to tackle shoplifters during Christmas shopping.

During my third year I was one of the officers lining the route for the Olympic torch and protected VIPs as they travelled to the games in London. I made the biggest drugs bust of my career to date whilst on patrol with another Special, taking £10,000 worth of cocaine off the streets, and I received personal thanks from the Chief Constable.

In my fourth year I was able to accomplish something I had wanted to do for a very long time: I was given a seat on the constabulary’s response driving course. The waiting list is years long so it was a real honour to be considered. I got two weeks off work from my employer and for two weeks, between 8am and 6pm daily, I was taught the skills needed to drive emergency vehicles in emergency conditions. It was a long, tiring and mentally gruelling course where one mistake could be fatal. There were written and practical exams every other day and a final verification run at the end of the two weeks where you are told if you have passed or not. I passed with high marks, which made me extremely proud and very grateful for the opportunity.

Just over seven years in and I’m still doing it. I’ve received the standard three month training plus extra training in areas including counter terrorism, basic driving permit, policing of football events, PSU (riot) policing, fingerprint systems, intelligence submission, property management, legal powers and policy, defence techniques, first aid, CPR, speed detection laser devices, initial actions at major crime scenes, CSI, international warrants and leadership training.

No shift is the same, every incident throws a new curve ball your way and you have an excellent team of regular and Special officers backing you up every step of the way. I have an understanding with my employer that if there’s an emergency and numbers are needed, I can deploy and can leave work and start earlier by a few hours on certain occasions to assist with policing responsibilities. If you’re on the fence, I would suggest you apply to come on a ride along. If you’re thinking of applying, I suggest you do so without hesitation as it’s the best thing I ever did.

More on becoming a Special here


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

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:




Modern slavery: a victim’s experience

I’d been through a tough time in Latvia and was looking for a fresh start. I’d heard how people had moved to the UK and found work with good wages. It felt like the right thing to do to get out of my situation.

I saw an advert online saying that there was plenty of work in Cambridgeshire. I called the number and spoke to a man who said that he could guarantee work and that accommodation would also be included as part of the job.

I didn’t have the money to pay for the travel, but he said I could pay him back when I got my wages. It sounded perfect and I agreed to go.

When I arrived in the UK I was taken to my accommodation. It wasn’t what I expected, but I didn’t want to complain. I thought I could find something else after a few months of working. There were twelve of us living in a two bedroom house, sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

The man who brought me to the UK said he needed my passport to complete some paperwork before I could start work, so I gave it to him.

It took about a week before I started work, initially in the fields and then later in a factory. The hours were long and my wages were paid to the man who organised everything. He only gave me about £15 a week after he had taken off money for rent, my debt for travel to the UK and transport to work.

Sometimes there wasn’t any work for a while, but I still had to pay rent. I couldn’t afford to and so it was added to my debt.

I confronted him about returning my passport and the low wages, but he assaulted me and said I was ungrateful. I felt trapped and just had to take it. I had to spend all the money I got on food just to survive. Even if I did somehow manage to save enough money to go home, I didn’t have my passport to make the journey.

I was becoming increasingly desperate and didn’t know where to turn.

Then one day police officers came to the house and said that they were investigating the man who had brought me to the UK. I told them what had happened to me and they arranged for me to go to a place of safety.

I thought my situation in Latvia was bad, but this had been much worse. I wish I’d never taken the job, but finally I had managed to escape.

If you’re concerned for someone’s welfare please call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively you can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

For more information on the signs to look out for visit

*This blog has been based on common experiences of victims of modern slavery in Cambridgeshire. It is not the specific account of one individual.