Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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:

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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 http://bit.ly/2qb3RAn.

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

Are you and your family oversharing?

Have you ever stopped to think about what you or your family are posting on social media? The instant nature of posting and sharing means it’s incredibly easy to give too much information away, be it personal information, opinions or private photos and videos.

Oversharing can have negative consequences, including providing personal details to undesirable people and damaging your online reputation.

Here are some top tips from Internet Matters.

Are your children sharing inappropriate selfies?

Discuss the reasons why they feel the need to share such images and the potential long-term impact this could have on them if the pictures are used without their consent.

Peer pressure and the desire for attention can be reasons why some children feel the need to share inappropriate photos with friends and people they meet online.

Did you know it is illegal for a child under 16 to share a naked image of themselves? Just as it is illegal for someone to be in possession of one.

Encourage young people to spend time with real friends without feeling the need to gain approval by getting ‘likes’ on a photo they’ve shared.

Do you feel they’re spending too much time on social media?

Agree some house rules on when and how long children can go online and which sites they should visit.

It’s a good idea to give your eyes at least 30 minutes rest from the screen before bed. Don’t forget that young people are often influenced by their parents so ensure you’ve put your phone or tablet away too.

Are they sharing their location through apps?

You can turn the geolocation off to ensure your child’s whereabouts is private. Explain why it’s important that they never share personal information with people they don’t know online and remind them you are there if someone is making them feel uncomfortable.

Be clear that they should never meet someone face to face without your consent or you present. You never know who could be hiding behind the screen.

Have they posted too much personal information?

Talk to your children about the potential risks of sharing personal content online such as grooming or cyberbullying.

Help them understand how to remove information that could pose a risk to them and ensure their accounts are private so their shared information can only be seen by people they know.

Are they chatting to strangers online?

Is your child aware that people can and do hide behind fake profiles for dishonest reasons and the person they’ve been chatting to could easily be someone with bad intentions.

Show them how to block unwanted friend requests or to report anything offensive.

Are they gaming with strangers online?

Playing games online can be fun and might seem harmless but ensure your children are aware that gaming can also be a platform for people to hide behind fake profiles.

Consider using parental controls to limit who they can play with online.

Do they have hundreds of followers?

Discuss what it means to be a friend or a follower online, the pros and cons of having lots of ‘friends’ online and the importance of knowing that they’re people you can trust.

Have they shared embarrassing images?

Almost everyone has a presence online today or their own personal digital footprint which will be with them for years to come.

Maintain a positive presence online by encouraging children to think before they share. Messages, pictures and videos, even sent ‘privately’ could end up in the wrong hands.

Set an example and never post anything that you wouldn’t want them to see.

Are they at risk of being cyberbullied?

Children who are being cyberbullied often find it difficult to talk about it so make sure they know they can talk to you without being judgemental or getting upset.

Do they understand what they share online can hurt others?

Talk about peer pressure and how screens and anonymity can lead to behaviour that is hurtful. There can be blurred lines between uploading and sharing content because it’s funny or might get lots of likes versus the potential to cause offence or hurt.

Have they been affected by content shared online?

Show them how to gently challenge their friends if they find their content offensive. Remind them they can always talk to you about things happening online.

If you feel comments or post may be affecting your child’s mental health and wellbeing, seek advice from your GP. Depending on the seriousness, you might want to report it to police on 101.

Are they ready to share on social media?

Did you know that most applications have a minimum age rating of 13 which means the content might not be suitable for a younger child.

Carry out some research yourself about why type of content they may be exposed to.

For further information and advice, visit Internet Matters.

Betrayed by her boyfriend in revenge porn nightmare

Hazel was head over heels in love when she shared an intimate video with her boyfriend. She had no idea he would betray her trust just months later.

I will never forget the summer of 2013. I was 23 years-old. I’d not long split up with my boyfriend of 10 months and I was sitting in a park having a picnic with my friends thinking about my future and looking to put the past behind me.

I glanced down at my phone to see I’d been sent lots of Facebook friend requests. When I looked to see who they were from I realised they were all men, strange men I’d never met or even heard of.

It was only when I checked the messages in my ‘others’ folder that dread began to fill my body. The messages were rude, some unbelievably crude, strangers describing what they wanted to do to me.

There were also messages from men warning me that ‘my video’ had been ‘leaked’ with attached links so I could find it. I googled my name and there it was, page after page, site after site. In big capital letters all I could see was my name, my full name, accompanied with insulting tags. I felt dirty and disgusted. How could he do this to me?

When I first got with my boyfriend, I was infatuated. He asked me to do a little video for him for ‘when we were apart’. I eventually agreed. The video was quickly forgotten about and that was that.

Our relationship broke down some months later as I discovered him to be very manipulative. He said he would post the video online but I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think he or anyone could be that cruel. I even doubted that he was responsible when it did come out.

My nightmare continued over the next few weeks as the video went viral. It was re-posted by people across the world and I would have about 30 strangers message me every day. It took a long time but I contacted the websites directly and explained what had happened and to my relief, one by one the videos were being taken down.

Was I wrong to share the video with my then boyfriend? At the time no. I trusted him and never believed he would ever take revenge on me in such a hurtful way.

Would I send photos to a new boyfriend? I have been asked and I confidently explain why I’d rather not. I have only ever received positive responses. I am respected for that decision.

However, I do believe that if someone wishes to share such images then there should be nothing wrong with that, provided you are of a legal age and there is complete trust. The receiver respects and understands the consequences they can face if they break this trust and the law.

I’ve since campaigned alongside MPs for revenge porn to become a crime and in 2015 it became illegal to distribute a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress.

It covers images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as those that are shared via text message and carried a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

I’ve shared my story in schools and been shocked at the number of people who have not only sent or received images or videos but how many have become a victim when their personal images have been shared online.

Please don’t suffer alone. There is help available.

Snaps, sexts, nudes, fanpics – an insight into teenage life on social media.

Rebecca, 13, provides an insight into teenage life on social media.

“I’ve had a phone for two years now. I wanted one so I could chat with my friends. I’m now on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Oovoo.

“I send selfies to my friends all the time but I’ve never sent a nude. I can’t imagine taking my clothes off and sending a stranger or even someone I know a naked picture. It’s just weird. My body is private. That’s not to say a lot of my friends do and they think it’s cool and normal too.

“My friend Lucy sends her boyfriend, and other boys, nudes all the time. She’s forever getting her boobs and more out. The boys open them in front of their mates, just like she does when she receives one, so we end up seeing private parts of girls and boys from across the school. Lucy sometimes gets upset when she finds out other people have been looking at her pictures but that doesn’t stop her doing it again. She thinks it makes the boys happy and it makes her feel good about herself.

“I’ve had boys in the year above me send nudes. They start sending pictures of their face and the pictures just continue until their revealing all. They try to get me to send them back. It’s disgusting to see so I delete them and if they keep hassling me I just block them.

“I also get random messages from guys I’ve never heard of. Asking me to chat and asking me to check out links to horrible websites. One of my friends was contacted by a French guy who’d been looking at the pictures and videos on her profile and telling her that he really liked her and wanted to meet up. We told her to block him. It was a bit weird.

“My parents were initially against me using social media, saying that I was too young but we talked about what should and shouldn’t be shared. We talk lots at school about what staying safe online and I feel confident there are people I could turn to if I ever found myself in trouble.

“My phone is a big part of my life and I’m never without it. I’m aware that there are dangers of being on social media but so long as you think about what you are doing and sharing, you’ll be safe.”

What her dad, Daniel, 48 says:

“Rebecca was 11-years-old when we decided she needed a phone. She was in Year 6 and had just started walking to and from school with her friends. Yes she wanted a phone but it was for her own safety that we bought her one.

“We set ground rules from day one. We’ve put restrictions on the phone so anything unsuitable for under 15s can’t be accessed or viewed. Other stipulations were that she enables the phone tracking at all times so I can locate her. Also, her passcode must be displayed on the fridge at all times so if we want to access it for any reason, we can do so.

“It’s shocking to know the things 11, 12 and 13-year-olds say and send to each other. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rebecca hasn’t thought about sending an image that perhaps she shouldn’t but as parents we can’t monitor her activity 24/7.

“It worries us as parents what could happen knowing that she’s got an online presence but it’s part of the world we live in and we’ve got to trust that she’ll make the right decisions but also let her know that we’re here if she ever needs our help.”