This is the first of a series of quarterly bulletins that I intend to write as the local police area commander for Aylesbury Vale. I hope that these messages will offer a flavour of what Thames Valley Police has been doing, together with partners and often with the help of the community, to keep the district safe. I won’t be able to cover everything, but will focus on what I see as highlights and issues of interest. I may sometimes focus on particular crime theme or to highlight a particular piece of work that we have been doing with our partners, and which they often lead on. I’m always open to feedback, so do let me know if you’d like me to change the focus, or include different things.
Key current issues can be summarised as follows:
The pernicious impact of illegal drugs on society is well documented. Apart from the harm that drugs can cause people, and the associated health costs, a significant proportion of other crime is committed by people either to fund their habit or because of the chaotic lifestyles they lead as a consequence of addiction. Drug users are vulnerable to exploitation and are often the victims of crime, because of the positions they find themselves in and the people they come into contact with. This enduring challenge is a priority for my team and we are working hard with partner organisations to address this issue.
Drug dealers from outside the district persist in trying to develop and take over the local ‘drugs market’. This phenomenon is common to a number of other parts of the country and has come to be referred to nationally as ‘County Lines’ activity. I’ve put additional resources into targeting this type of drug dealing, and we have arrested and convicted a growing number of dealers. We will continue to focus on that problem, and are particularly concerned by the fact that children have been approached to get involved in dealing on behalf of the groups, and that vulnerable adults have had their homes taken over so that drugs can be dealt from the premises. We have been very proactive in dealing with these issues as they arise, but I would ask for you to contact the police, either on 101 or direct to your neighbourhood policing team, if you have concerns about any individuals or families who you think may be being exploited (because that’s what it is) by drug dealers. We need to keep things in perspective and remember that Aylesbury and the Vale continue to be safe places to live, but we can never take it for granted, and must continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable people.
Modern day slavery is an insidious form of criminality that involves people from the UK and abroad being forced to live and work in squalid conditions and for very little, and sometimes no pay. This can involve incredibly long hours and can include a range of activities from car washes, fruit picking to prostitution. Many victims believe that they are being made legitimate offers of employment or accommodation only to find that they are forced to live and work in these dreadful conditions. Thames Valley Police and partners are committed to identifying and taking action against those involved in this criminality and safeguarding victims. Whilst we have not really seen this form criminality in Aylesbury Vale it is something that is very much a priority not only for the Force but also central Government. As such we regularly take part in initiatives to identify modem slavery, investigate and safeguard. If you suspect that this is taking place please do call us on 101, or in an emergency 999 as every piece of information is analysed to see if we can take action.
As most people will know, burglary remains a priority for Thames Valley Police. We have focused our staff and resources on preventing and deterring this type of criminality and have recently seen a number of successful outcomes. As a consequence, we anticipate a number of lengthy prison terms following a series of arrests. Whilst we acknowledge this good work we also recognise that burglary has slightly increased across Aylesbury Vale this year and we cannot become complacent. To this end, we ensure all of our teams, being emergency response, neighbourhood and investigation are well briefed and tasking to patrol in the right areas. I meet with my team daily to discuss burglaries and with senior officers from across the police area and partner organisations every fortnight to ensure we stay on top of this issue.
I urge everyone in Aylesbury Vale to ensure they make our area as hostile to criminals as possible by ensuring windows and doors are locked when houses are empty. It is also important to remain vigilant at all time both in terms of your property but also that of your neighbours. If you see anything suspicious then please call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
The prevention of crime is most effectively achieved through activity that involves residents, our local authority, local businesses and the police. Our neighbourhood teams will soon be starting a burglary prevention campaign to coincide with the darker nights so I would ask that you look out for this and consider any advice to help us all keep our property safe.
Lastly, if you want to take a more active part in crime prevention then please think about joining, or even forming a Neighbourhood Watch. If you need to contact your local neighbourhood policing team you can do this by visiting our website page: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/yournh.htm
Unfortunately we continue to see a number of thefts from motor vehicles. These include property left inside vehicles, tool and sometimes number plates. I have recently commissioned some intelligence work to be done around this as I do not underestimate the impact this has on victims. This is an area of criminality that I will be asking your local neighbourhood team to focus on through high visibility intelligence led patrols and some less visible police operations.
Again however would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone to not leave personal items out on display. We will off course do what we can to prevent crime and catch those responsible however I would appeal to you to either secure personal items in your vehicles out of sight or to take them with you, we believe most of this crime is opportunist meaning those involved in car crime will target vehicles based on what they see when they walk past so please take a moment to move things out of sight or better still, remove them from the vehicle. It is of note that many of the thefts occur overnight from unlocked cars.
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) continues to be of high importance to both myself and my staff. I am fully aware of the blight that persistent ASB, caused by the few, can bring to a community. I am fully committed to ensuring that my locally based neighbourhood police teams continue to use their problem solving skills to address your concerns in these areas. I have an experienced and dedicated ASB police officer who is co-located with colleagues at Aylesbury Vale District Council who effectively employs the powers conferred to us under the Anti-social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act. This officer forms part of a wider Problem Solving Team whose work goes in hand with the local neighborhood officers and PCSOs. These local teams are committed to engage with and make themselves visible to local communities in an effort to develop the type of resilience that builds lasting foundations we can all feel really proud of.
To finish I would just like to say how happy I am to have been posted to Aylesbury Vale as the Local Police Area Commander. My priorities as your police commander will largely continue on from my predecessor, Superintendent Olly Wright, which are to safeguard the vulnerable, to prevent and reduce crime and to provide the best possible service to victims. I am passionate about policing which to me means keeping people as safe as we can.
Whilst there is always work to be done, I am reassured that whenever I look at our crime data or review the incidents that we deal with, I can see that Aylesbury Vale is a safe place to live, work and visit. And when crime does occur, we have teams of police officers and staff who work together to deliver the best possible service to victims of crime and do all they can to identify and then bring offenders to justice.
I look forward to the coming months and the challenges that policing the Christmas and New Year period will bring. Since arriving I have set time aside to meet not only those who work inside our police station but also partners who play their part in preventing crime keeping us all safe. In the coming months I’m hoping to be able to spend some time out on patrol with our teams and perhaps meet some of you in person.
Superintendent Tim Metcalfe
Aylesbury Vale Local Police Area Commander
Thames Valley Police