Staffordshire Police’s most senior officers will be hitting the internet next week to speak to local residents about policing across the county as part of the force’s latest on-line engagement event.
The Open Mike Night event will involve Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, Deputy Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, Director of Resources Graham Liddiard and Assistant Chief Constables Jane Sawyers and Julian Blazeby, who will all be available to answer questions.
This is the second Open Mike Night and it’s hoped that it will be even more successful than the previous web chat which allowed over 500 people to attend the virtual meeting while around 100 questions were answered.
Mr Cunningham said: “I am keen to be as open and accessible as possible through these on-line events which are extremely popular with our communities. On this Open Mike Night my colleagues in the force executive team will be joining me so we can respond to even more comments than last time.
“I want people from across the county and Stoke-on-Trent to get involved and ask questions or, as many people do, just follow the conversations. Every day across Staffordshire our officers and staff are talking to people about the issues that affect them; this is another opportunity to ask questions about the way we are working to keep everyone safe and reassured.”
Open Mike Night takes place on Wednesday 18 April from 6pm until around 7.30pm here on Whitehill Online. Look out for more details to follow of how you can get involved.
Violent crime with injury has fallen by over 16 per cent across Staffordshire as police and partner agencies work together to make the county even safer.
In the last 12 months violence with injury has reduced across all nine Local Policing Team areas with the number of crimes recorded in 2011/12 standing at 7,091.
This represents a 16.2 per cent decrease when compared to 8,465 violence with injury crimes recorded in 2010/11.
A quarter of these injuries are caused by domestic violence. The force has a well-established policy of taking positive action in respect of this type of crime and works closely with local authorities and partner agencies such as Women’s Aid and Arch to tackle underlying causes.
Assistant Chief Constable Julian Blazeby said: “This is good news for the people of Staffordshire who can rest assured that we, together with our partners, are doing all we can to keep people safe, and make them feel safe. There’s no excuse for violence in the home, in our town centres or anywhere else for that matter.
“While the fall in the number of cases of violence with injury is to be welcomed, we will continue our drive to reduce it still further. We are working closely with our colleagues at local authorities and other partner agencies to clamp down on violence in all of its forms and make the communities we serve even safer.
“Operation Safer Nights was launched in December 2009 to specifically tackle violent crime, much of which is fuelled by alcohol, and has since seen the development of numerous initiatives aimed at reducing violent incidents in our town centres. With early intervention tactics, would be trouble makers are removed from our town centres. Our licensing teams work closely with the licensing industry to ensure venues are operating lawfully and any licence conditions imposed are adhered too.
“We want people to be safe and to feel safe when they are out enjoying themselves and we remain committed to tackling the things that matter most to the communities we serve.”
David Pearsall, Chair of Staffordshire Police Authority, said: “These figures are extremely pleasing, tackling violence in our town centres is a priority and we continue to work together with our partners to ensure that our town are safe and enjoyable places to visit.”
Staffordshire Police is encouraging people to join, or set up, a police registered Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Neighbourhood Watch is about residents working together with the police to protect their homes, businesses and communities.
It’s a powerful community-focused network which helps residents and businesses to fight crime and feel safer.
A range of products to help set up and encourage others to join are free, unlike some independent companies who can charge.
The police registered schemes operate by members reporting any suspicious people or incidents. Information is also sent to members advising them about local crime or whether there are bogus officials or rogue traders working in that area. This is done in a timely manner either by phone or email.
It works through the On-line Watch system (OWL). People who don’t want to become a member of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme could just sign up to receive messages about crime in the area. It also offers crime prevention advice on how to take simple precautions to prevent becoming a victim of crime. Messages are relevant to where you live and completely free.
OWL also provides a wealth of local information including neighbourhood newsletters, crime statistics, house prices, local councils and details of local politicians, weather and transport.
It also lets you report problems such as fly-tipping or broken street lights directly to the correct department in the right organisation.
Vicki Singleton, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for Cannock and South Staffordshire, said: “Active police registered Neighbourhood Watch schemes can empower communities by opening and maintaining direct lines of communication with police and other residents.
“Information given to police can be invaluable in helping to catch criminals while they are operating in an area, and warning other residents.
“We are trying to attract a new generation of people to become part of a police registered Neighbourhood Watch scheme or to just join up free for the OWL messaging service.
“People of all ages are encouraged to join. For more information go to our website www.staffordshire.police.uk or contact your local Neighbourhood Watch Manager by ringing the force’s non emergency number 101.”
Staffordshire residents are being warned about falling prey to a scam involving Ukash vouchers.
Ukash is a legitimate scheme which allows people to use cash to pay online by exchanging notes and coins for a voucher.
However, fraudsters are cold-calling people across the country and falsely offering refunds of around £4,000 for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) on previous loans.
In order to release the funds, potential victims are asked to make a Ukash payment to cover administration costs. This involves them buying a voucher from a Ukash outlet and giving the 19-digit voucher code to the offender.
Two women from Tamworth made Ukash payments of £110 and £50 to release PPI funds they told they were entitled to, but never received. In a similar scam, a Stoke-on-Trent man applied for an on-line loan and was asked to make £275 in Ukash payments up front, but didn’t get the loan.
DC Tim Whiteley, from Staffordshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Ukash are simply cash vouchers and if you give the code to anyone it will allow them to cash the voucher or spend it from anywhere in the world. They can be safe if used as intended but if you step outside the guidelines of use, you are likely to get caught out.
“Ukash should only be used for making payments online at participating Ukash merchants. No part of the 19-digit voucher code should ever be given to anyone over the phone.
“We would ask the public – particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable - to be on their guard and ensure they do not fall prey to these scams which are taking place across the country. No legitimate organisation will ask you to pay a fee to receive money.
“Investigations have revealed that some of the payments have been credited to overseas online betting accounts used by the offenders.
“If someone phones you and seems to have knowledge of your personal details or circumstances, do not confirm any information with them or provide them with any missing details. Be very cautious, ask for their name and a contact number, so you can verify their details. If in any doubt contact the police.”
For more details about safe use of Ukash visit www.ukash.com
People who suspect fraud should contact Staffordshire Police on 101. Alternatively contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit their website www.actionfraud.org.uk
Staffordshire Police have today (Friday 6 January) opened an online photograph competition ahead of the national 101 non emergency number launch next week.
Members of the public can enter the competition by taking a photograph which incorporates ‘101’ using everyday items. A shortlist will then be picked, which will then be posted onto the force’s Facebook site for public voting though ‘Likes’.
Ian Fegan, Head of Corporate Communications, said: “The competition is a great way for budding photographs in Staffordshire to use their creativity to help promote 101, and be in the chance of winning a unique prize. “We’re looking for innovative photographs where people create 101 in their photo using everyday objects, such as writing 101 with a bike wheel next to two posts.”
There are three prizes - one winner’s prize, a Jaguar 240 Police Car Model 1:18 scale, and two runners up prizes, a Jaguar MK2 3.8 and a Jaguar X16 Series 1 4.2, which were donated to the force. The winning photographs will then be used by the force to help promote the 101 number. The introduction of the 101 number in November 2011 means communities have one easy way to contact their local police force to report non-emergency crime and disorder. Since its launch, 101 has been well received by the public. In an emergency, the public should continue to call 999, such as when a crime is in progress, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened. For full terms and conditions visit www.staffordshire.police.uk/photo