The notices below are from the Thames Valley Police Neighbourhood Alert system and are published as and when they are received:
Received 22 June 2017 – Outside Water Safety
This hot weather has encouraged people to cool off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries and lakes. Please be mindful that this can be very dangerous.
Dangers of open water:
• The water may look calm on the surface, but there can be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under the water.
• The water may feel warm on the surface, but just a few feet below the surface it can be icy cold. The cold water can affect stamina and strength of swimmers.
Key safety tips for staying safe near water:
Alcohol and swimming do not mix! Stay out of the water if you have been drinking.
• Never let any children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds.
• Never interfere with lifesaving equipment – you might need it yourself.
• Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.
Parents please make sure your children are aware of the dangers!
It is Drowning Prevention Week please visit http://www.rlss.org.uk for more info.
For more water safety advice please visit: http://www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/water-safety/
Received 6 June 2017 – Wedding Services Fraud
With the upcoming “Wedding Season”, and for those individuals who are considering making plans for next year and beyond, you should be aware of the potential risks of fraud involved.
According to ‘bridesmagazine.co.uk’, in 2017 the average wedding cost spend is approximately £30,111. This will be paid out to multiple vendors, including; photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies, to name a few. Many of these services will require booking at least several months in advance and you may be obliged to pay a deposit or even the full balance at the time.
Being aware of the potential risks and following the below prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud:
Paying by Credit Card will provide you with protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, for purchases above £100 and below £30,000. This means that even if a Company goes into liquidation before your big day, you could claim a refund through your Credit Card Company.
Social Media – Some Companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services. Whilst many are genuine, some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself;
• Ensure you obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information. Should you experience any problems, you will then be able to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.
• Ensure you obtain a contract before paying money for services. Make certain you fully read and understand what you are signing and note the terms of cancellation.
Consider purchasing Wedding Insurance – Policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance. They can protect you from events that would not be covered under the Consumer Credit Act.
Complete research on each vendor, ensuring you are dealing with a bona fide person or company. Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. You should do this even if using companies recommended by a trustworthy friend or source.
For services such as wedding photographers, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style; meet the photographer in person and ask to view sample albums. If you like an image from a wedding, ask to view the photographs taken of the whole event so you can see the overall quality.
Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is!
Received 4 May 2017 – Crime statistics for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse released
Thames Valley Police has released crime statistics which cover the past twelve months.
The latest figures show that there were 138,710 crimes reported across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire from 1 April 2016 until 31 March 2017. This is a 7.2% increase to the previous year (2015/16) where there were 129,449 reported crimes within the same time frame.
Of these 9,895 crimes were reported in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Local Police Area (LPA), a rise of 4.0% on last year.
The increase in crime reports is reflected nationally (ONS Crime Survey of England and Wales), and is largely attributed to improvements in compliance with National Crime Recording Standards, following recommendations made by HMIC in 2014.
Overall crime levels in Thames Valley still remain low compared with five and ten years ago. There were 66,976 fewer crimes recorded in this timeframe compared with five years ago (205,686), and 8,357 fewer recorded offences compared with ten years ago (147,067).
Following the release of the figures, Superintendent Rory Freeman, LPA Commander for South and Vale said: “Whilst we have seen some increase in reports of crime this year, this is similar to the national trend.
“Despite this, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse continues to be a very safe place to live and work. The future is challenging and our priority is constantly trying to match the right resources to our areas of greatest harm and demand whilst seeking to maintain and enhance public confidence in policing.
“Our officers work hard with communities to prevent crime and we are encouraging people to take simple steps that will protect them, their property and businesses. Campaigns such as #Protectyourworld in the Autumn and our February rural crime campaign are good examples of how we have raised awareness and confidence in our communities to report incidents to us.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my staff and our partner agencies for their hard work over the last year and most importantly extend my gratitude to our communities for their continued support.”
Received 4 May 2017 – Thefts from Vehicles – Beauty spot car parks
We have seen a couple of thefts from vehicles from beauty spot car parks in our area recently. The vehicles have been broken into by smashing windows and personal items like handbags, cards and cash have been stolen. If you are visiting our local beauty spots please follow the following advice:
• Don’t take any valuables with you to the location, leave them at home!
• If you have to take a handbag, purse, wallet, etc then take it on the walk with you. Do not leave it in your vehicle.
• Remove any electrical equipment from your car, including sat navs, mobile phones, ipads. Again if you don’t need it, then please leave it at home.
• Do not hide bags or valuables in your car. They are not safe under seats, hidden under clothing or even in the boot of the car.
• Don’t leave clothing across seats or any shopping bags out. It can give the appearance that valuables are hidden underneath
• Don’t hide items when you get there or move them to your boot. Someone could be watching you hide all of it and will break in when you have gone for a walk.
• Lock the doors to your car and set the alarm.
• Report any suspicious vehicles, people or activity on 101.
If you have seen any suspicious looking people or vehicles in these areas or have any information relating to this message please call the Police via the 24 hour non-emergency telephone number 101.
Alternatively, if you have information but wish to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online by visiting www.crimestoppers-org.uk. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
Received 18 April 2017 – Wonga Data breach
Wonga has updated their website with further information and confirmed that they are contacting all those affected and are taking steps to protect them, but there are also some things you can do to keep your information secure.
Here’s what you can do to make yourself safer:
If any of your financial details were compromised, notify your bank or card company as soon as possible. Review your financial statements regularly for any unusual activity.
Criminals can use personal data obtained from a data breach to commit identity fraud. Consider using credit reference agencies, such as Experian or Equifax, to regularly monitor your credit file for unusual activity.
Be suspicious of any unsolicited calls, emails or texts, even if it appears to be from a company you know of. Don’t open the attachments or click on links within unsolicited emails, and never disclose any personal or financial details during a cold call.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, please report it to us: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
Received 4 April 2017 – Law Abiding Citizen Alert
Fraudsters are sending out a high volume of phishing emails to personal and business email addresses, pretending to come from various email addresses, which have been compromised.
The subject line contains the recipient’s name, and the main body of text is as below:
I am disturbing you for a very serious reason. Although we are not familiar, but I have significant amount of individual info concerning you. The thing is that, most likely mistakenly, the data of your account has been emailed to me.
For instance, your address is:
[real home address]
I am a law-abiding citizen, so I decided to personal data may have been hacked. I attached the file – [surname].dot that I received, that you could explore what info has become obtainable for scammers. File password is – 2811
The emails include an attachment – a ‘.dot’ file usually titled with the recipient’s name.
Received 29 March 2017 – Police and Crime Commissioner launches new Police and Crime Plan
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Anthony Stansfeld, has launched his new five year Police and Crime Plan for the Thames Valley.
The document sets out the priorities for policing and other crime reduction organisations. It consists of five strategic priorities which are:
• Vulnerability – Managing demand on services through working together with a particular focus on mental health, elder abuse, hidden abuse, and the criminal justice experience for victims
• Prevention and Early Intervention – Improving safeguarding in both the physical and virtual space including tackling cyber-crime, road safety, peer on peer abuse, hate crime and female genital mutilation (FGM)
• Reducing Re-offending – Targeting and managing harm and risk with a focus on substance misuse, violence involving weapons and offender management
• Serious Organised Crime and Terrorism – Improving the local response including increased public awareness, promoting a ‘dare to share’ culture, and preventing violent extremism and exploitation of vulnerable people
• Police Ethics and Reform – Increasing the pace of change with a focus on improved support for victims, uptake of new technology, and improving the perceptions of police among young people
The Plan was informed by the views of nearly 5000 residents, including over 1000 young people, who took part in the PCCs policing and crime survey in 2016.
It was also developed using a broad range of information including academic research, analysis of crime trends and consultation with partners including the police and local authorities.
Anthony Stansfeld said: “Demand on policing and community safety issues have changed over the last few years and my new plan reflects this. The Plan focuses on many new and emerging issues for policing but crimes such as household burglary and rural crime will also remain a priority.
“Tackling new demand, as well as maintaining support for the investigation of more traditional crimes, won’t be an easy task. However, as recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspections have shown, Thames Valley Police is a force we can be proud of and I have faith that they will be able to rise to this challenge and continue to safeguard the communities of Thames Valley.
“I will now be working closely with partner organisations to understand how they will address the issues identified.”
For more information and to view the full Police and Crime Plan visit the PCC website.
Received 23 March 2017 – Thames Valley Police statement on Westminster terrorist incident
Following the tragic events in London yesterday afternoon, Thames Valley Police would like to remind our communities that the national threat level remains at SEVERE: as it has been since October 2014.
This means that an attack is highly likely and we urge the public to be alert but not alarmed.
Along with our partners we continue to do everything we can to help protect our communities, public institutions, critical national infrastructure and businesses.
We have reviewed our security measures and activities, including those for pre-planned events and in crowded places and there is no intelligence to suggest a specific threat to our communities within the Thames Valley following the terrorist attack in London yesterday. We will continue to provide a visible policing presence across the Thames Valley to provide reassurance to our communities.
Today we will be engaging with key community representatives to allay concerns and fears linked to this incident – with a particular focus on supporting our Muslim communities. We will be actively monitoring any incidents of hate crime and will ensure that they are dealt with robustly.
Communities defeat terrorism – we depend on information from the public, you are also our eyes and ears, and everyone can play their part in the effort to keep us safe. Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or activity to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or in an emergency call 999. In the rare event of a weapons attack occurring we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice.
Chief Constable Francis Habgood said: “In light of the tragic incident in London, the cooperation of our communities is more important than ever before.
“I would urge you to contact the police straight away if you believe that someone is acting suspiciously. Trust your instincts and let us decide whether the information is important or not. No piece of information is considered too small or insignificant.
“I would like to reassure you that Thames Valley Police has reviewed our security measures and there is no specific intelligence to suggest a threat to our communities within Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
“My officers and staff will continue to provide a visible presence in our communities and we have specialist resources in place to respond in an emergency.”