I write this after one of the busiest weekends we have had for many months. As you will have no doubt seen in the local media on Sunday night, 19th October, our Officers were called to a murder in Abingdon and supported the Fire service with a major fire at Didcot Power Station. Having two such major incidents occur within such a short space of time placed significant demands on our resources and I am extremely proud of the effectiveness and professionalism with which we responded.
Police Officers were called to the river bank in Abingdon on Sunday evening to a report of a male having been stabbed. On arrival the Officers found a male, Robert Dobinson, with serious life threatening wounds, the Officers priority was to try and save the males life and immediately started to perform first aid and CPR, unfortunately they were unable to save his life. The attending Officers were then quickly able to identify a female who they believed to be responsible for the offence and they arrested her on suspicion of murder. A 40 year old female, Natasha Elderfield, has subsequently been charged with murder and remanded in custody.
The fire at Didcot Power Station was a major incident within which our role was to facilitate the response of the Fire Service and other partners to manage the incident. This required us working with Oxfordshire County Council to coordinate road closures and ensure cordons were in place to enable the Fire Service to safely tackle the fire. A significant amount of multi agency planning and training goes into ensuring major operations such as this are responded to effectively and it was extremely pleasing to see how quickly and efficiently the scene was brought under control without any injury. As always, I was extremely impressed and very grateful for the professionalism of our colleagues in the Fire Service.
On Monday evening this week I attended a meeting at King Alfred’s school in Wantage with members of the rural community from across our district to discuss rural crime issues. I am really grateful to the large number of people who attended and the positive response provided. I am very conscious of the impact of criminality in some of our isolated villages and working with local people to reduce crime is a priority for us. Working together we are having some real success, arrests are significantly up this year and crime has fallen significantly, once again this week we have successfully arrested several harecoursers who have travelled here from other parts of the country, we have seized vehicles and dogs from these individuals and bailed them with conditions not to come back into Oxfordshire.
We are currently asking local businesses to raise their awareness after a series of burglaries in which safes have been targeted. There have been three night-time burglaries in recent weeks which we believe may be part of a series by the same offenders targeting commercial premises. The first was in Uffington on Thursday 16th October when offenders gained entry to the Post Office in Broad Street and stole cigarettes and tobacco. The second was on the 17th October at the Timpson store on the Marcham Road, Abingdon where the offenders stole cash and watches after breaking into the safe. In the most recent offence on the 21st October offenders forced open the back door of Sweet Fuels Ltd in Challow and stole a safe from the front office.
We believe these offences may be linked to a number of other offences that have occurred at Shrivenham, Rowstock and Chilton and may be part of a broader series of offences that have been occurring in other parts of the Thames Valley and in other force areas including Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Hampshire. The offenders seem to be targeting commercial premises in remote areas, including industrial units and fast food outlets. The investigation into these offences is ongoing with a number of detectives working on the enquiry and liaising with surrounding police forces. Additional patrols have been allocated to the area for overnight patrols and will continue until the offenders are identified and arrested.
We believe that the offenders are visiting the attacked premises prior to the offences occurring in order to plan the burglary and we would therefore ask business owners to be vigilant and report any suspicious incidents or visitors. There are a number of steps business owners can take to help to prevent these offences, including not keeping cash on the premises overnight, making sure their CCTV is working and of a good quality, and using Smartwater to security mark their property. Our local neighbourhood teams and crime reduction advisors are available to visit businesses and give crime reduction advice and tips on how to improve security.
With Halloween fast approaching, we are reminding people to make sure they conduct their trick-or-treating responsibly. Many residents enjoy Halloween and view it as harmless fun, but for others it can be distressing time receiving visits from unexpected callers, particularly amongst the elderly and those that live alone.
Halloween is one of our busiest nights of the year and we will have additional resources on duty and our Neighborhood Policing Teams will be undertaking high-visibility patrols over the period to deal with anti-social behavior and as always we urge parents to ensure their children enjoy the festivity but understand the impact they can have if they behave irresponsibly.
If you do not want callers on Halloween you can download and print a ‘No trick-or-treat’ flyer from the Thames Valley Police website and display it in a window or visit your local station to pick up a copy. If you or your children are “trick or treating” and you see this flyer displayed please respect the wishes of the occupant and move on to the next house.
It is with dismay that we are still encountering a small but continuing number of hate crime offences, these are offences where the victim believes that they have been targeted because of a particular characteristic. These may include an individual’s ethnicity, age, religion, sexuality or disability. These are pernicious offences invariably committed by bullies against individuals who they know cannot protect themselves, as you would rightly expect, these are issues we take extremely seriously and are robustly pursued. We have dealt with two homophobic offences this week and urge anybody else who believes they are being targeted because of their personal characteristics to contact the police.
This month we are attempting to raise awareness in particular about disability hate crime and we are encouraging victims, friends, family and support workers to report any incident where they believe they, or another person is being targeted because of their disability. Last year, just 106 disability hate crime incidents were reported to Thames Valley Police. While low crime figures may be seen as encouraging, in reality we think there are disability hate crimes which are going unreported. What really does concern me is some people may believe that being targeted because of their disability is just a way of life, this should not the case and I really do want to encourage anybody who is being victimised because they have a disability to let us know.
If anybody feels unable to report a hate crime to the police for whatever reason, they can contact independent charities such as Stop Hate UK and True Vision in confidence.
There is more information about disability hate crime, how to spot the signs someone may be a victim, how to report disability hate crime and how to obtain support for victims and witnesses on the Thames Valley Police website: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/aboutus/aboutus-ead/aboutus-ead-hate-crime/aboutus-ead-disability-hate-crime.htm
Whilst there is still plenty for us to do, as I always point out, it is important to remember that we do live in one of the safest places in the UK, we are very fortunate, and you are less likely to be a victim of crime here than almost anywhere else in the country. For this, I am extremely grateful to all our Officers and staff and for your continuing help and support.
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South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse LPA
You can also follow us on Twitter @TvpSouthandVale or just view our page at:www.twitter.com/TvpSouthandVale.