Local Police Authority – Commander’s update – Supt Andy Boyd

It is unbelievable that we are already moving into autumn. With all of its busy events, the summer has flown by and I trust people have managed to enjoy the numerous different events across the area such as Bunkfest at Wallingford and the Woodcote Rally which have all been tremendous successes. I never cease to be amazed at the huge variety of different events that take place across the area each summer catering to all sorts of different interests. It is always worthwhile visiting the Councils’ websites to see exactly what events are on: http://www.southernoxfordshire.com/ and http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news-and-events/events . Our local neighbourhood policing teams endeavour to support as many of these events as possible, providing an opportunity for people to engage with their local policing team while ensuring the events pass off peacefully and minimise any disruption to the local community. As I write this, we are preparing for the Thame Fair and the Flying Pig Festival at Shrivenham.

The priority for the police at this time is the rape that occurred in Drayton on 4 September 2014. A woman in her twenties was jogging on a bridleway adjacent to the A34 in Drayton between 8.30pm and 8.45pm when a man approached her, pulled her to the ground and raped her. This is now the subject of a large investigation which is being managed by our Major Crime Unit. We are appealing for anybody who was in the area and saw or heard anything suspicious to contact us as a matter of urgency. While thankfully offences of this nature are extremely rare, I do recognise the impact they can have on a local community and have deployed additional officers to the area who will keep local people updated and provide high visibility reassurance patrols.

We continue our emphasis on tackling rural crime and are aware now that many of the crops have been harvested, we traditionally start to see an increase in hare coursing. This year has been no exception, however we are really pleased to report that with the first two incidents reported to us, we were able to respond quickly and arrested seven men in total for hare coursing. These seven men are on bail and will be reporting to Abingdon police station later this month. We will continue to patrol rural areas and anyone who is found to be committing offences under the Hunting Act will be arrested and brought to justice.

When I discuss crime with members of the rural community, the one offence that understandably causes significant concern is the theft of dogs. This thankfully does not happen very often but when it does, we recognise the distress it causes to families and take the offence extremely seriously. Last month, four dogs were stolen from an address in Blewbury. The attending police officers conducted extensive local enquiries and identified a distinctive vehicle that had been seen acting suspiciously in the area and traced it to a mobile home site in Berkshire.

Following this information, officers from this police area made repeated visits to this site over several days making enquiries as to the whereabouts of the missing dogs. While enquiries at the site met very little support and proved extremely challenging, our relentless approach ensured we recovered all four dogs although, regrettably, one of them has died. We are continuing our investigation to identify those responsible and my simple message to anybody who believes they can commit such offences is we will take robust action.

It is widely acknowledged that drug addiction is a significant factor in many people resorting to committing crime and our officers are committed to tackling the supply of controlled drugs. At the beginning of last month, we executed a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act in Didcot and recovered a large quantity of heroin and crack cocaine from within the property. Three people were arrested for possession with intent to supply class A drugs and are currently on police bail.

As we move toward autumn, I am always conscious that burglary rates, while still thankfully very low across the area, begin to increase due to burglars taking advantage of the darker evenings and so we continue to encourage residents to mark their property. We are encouraged by the continued rise in sales of SmartWater kits and would urge people if they have not already done so, to purchase one of the kits which provide a unique identity code for your property. Eighty percent of the residents in the village of Hinton Waldrist have now marked their belongings with SmartWater, and as a result, SmartWater have placed signs at both entrances of the village ensuring any potential burglars know it is not worth their while entering the village.

I would ask any local Parish Councils who wish to adopt a similar approach to contact their local neighbourhood team and we will provide support in implementing a similar scheme.
In these articles I always like to pay a particular thank you to our officers and staff who work tirelessly often in very difficult situations on your behalf. I was really pleased to recognise a number of our staff at a recent commendation ceremony during which we recognised officers who pursued a car after it had rammed them and subsequently arrested the occupant of the vehicle, seizing a considerable quantity of cash and drugs; an officer who secured evidence that led to the arrest of two violent offenders after an aggravated burglary; the diligent and committed work undertaken by a PCSO in supporting residents of a high burglary area to utilise SmartWater which contributed to a significant reduction in burglaries; an officer who put themselves in a potentially life threatening situation in their line of duty and lastly officers who were called to a particularly harrowing incident for the family involved and were able to do their jobs with the utmost professionalism and compassion.

As I reiterated at the ceremony we are all able to sleep soundly in our beds at night because these officers and their colleagues are working tirelessly 365 days, often in extremely challenging situations and invariably putting themselves in harm’s way. However, as I regularly point out, we have not reduced crime on our own and I am extremely grateful for your continuing help and support.

Together, we are challenging the criminal, protecting the vulnerable and delivering a high quality service.

South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse LPA
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