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Community Safety News SPRING - 2021

The Community Safety Newsletter aims to keep Buckinghamshire residents, businesses and partner agencies informed about what the Community Safety Team has recently been involved in, crime prevention advice, information on awareness raising campaigns and upcoming events.

Coronavirus Scams

Vaccination Scams

Criminals are continuing to try and take advantage of these difficult times, by sending fraudulent messages about the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Action Fraud has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases, the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

To protect yourself and family members from fraud, please remember the following points:

  • In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up! If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726, which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040.

Romance Fraud

Throughout Covid-19 fraudsters have been using the opportunity to exploit individuals causing them to fall victim to a variety of scams, one of which being Romance Fraud.

During the pandemic, the increase in loneliness and isolation has caused many people to sign up to online dating applications and social media platforms. Most of these avenues are legitimate, however fraudsters have been known to set up fake profiles in order to form a relationship with you. They make you believe that you have met the perfect partner in order to steal money or personal information for identity theft. Anybody can fall victim - male or female, young or old.

Thames Valley Police have developed a Romance fraud e-booklet which demonstrates the tactics used by romance fraudsters, as well as dispelling myths of embarrassment often linked with this type of crime in a bid to prevent further victims and raise public awareness.

If you believe you have been a victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040.

For emotional and/ or practical support following a scam, please contact Victims First on 0300 1234 148.

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Spring Garden Crime

As we head into spring, many of us will start working on our gardens in preparation for the warmer months. Unfortunately statistics show that there is often a spike in shed burglaries during the spring.

As the days become longer and the weather heats up, opportunist thieves will start to look out for open windows, insecure sheds, gardening tools and bicycles left out. Please take a look at our simple, yet effective tips to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime.

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Doorstep Cold Calling

Cold calling is the act of making uninvited visits to your home with the intention of selling goods or services. Never allow anyone access to your home unless you are able to verify the callers are who they say they are, and are representatives of a legitimate organisation with a valid reason for knocking on your door. Genuine callers will not mind being challenged.

Sadly, rogue traders do take advantage of the elderly and those who are vulnerable. To empower residents to say NO to cold calling traders, Bucks & Surrey Trading Standards can provide residents with free door stickers. To receive yours please email trading.standards@surreycc.gov.uk

If you have received a cold call from a rogue trader, please contact Bucks and Surrey Trading Standards via Citizens Advice consumer service on: 0808 223 1133.

If you are looking for work to be carried out, Trading Standards recommends residents use a legitimate business, such as those listed on Trading Standards Approved Scheme.

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Rural Crime

Preventing and detecting crime can be harder in rural areas. This is due to there often being fewer witnesses and greater opportunities for criminals to target isolated properties, vehicles or businesses. The impact of these crimes can also be greater, with people feeling more vulnerable due to their remote location.

There are many ways you can protect yourself from being a victim of rural crime:

  • Be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious
  • Take keys out of all vehicles when they are not being used
  • Install sensor security lights and consider installing CCTV
  • Mark your tools and register them free on Immobilise
  • Ensure all plant machinery is stored securely
  • Consider having trackers fitted to vehicles

For further information please visit Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Prevention webpage.

Remember - if you spot any suspicious behaviour please call 999 immediately.

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Safer Internet Day

This years Safer Internet Day theme was An internet we trust - exploring reliability in the online world.

We supported the Safer Internet Day campaign on 9th February by sharing key messages and resources on social media. With many children spending more time online, we thought it would be beneficial to focus on information and tips aimed at parents/ carers, so they can keep up to speed with the latest social media platforms, games and applications that their children are using.

Below are a list of some of the great resources available:

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Domestic Abuse

Running up to Valentine's Day we ran a domestic abuse campaign focusing on the message Love shouldn't hurt.

When most of us think about Valentine’s Day we think of spending time with our partners, romantic gestures, a loving message in a Valentine’s card and maybe a gift. Unfortunately for many people in Buckinghamshire it represents just another day of physical or psychological abuse at the hands of a loved one.

National restrictions has meant that many people are spending longer periods of time at home with their partners; amplifying existing tensions and escalating conflict. Lockdown may have made it harder for victims to access help and support which is why it’s really important to raise awareness of the different ways our residents can access help and support services, see below.

During our campaign we also urged residents to keep an eye on neighbours, friends and family members. It's vital we all know the signs of domestic abuse so if we notice or hear something that doesn't feel right we can speak out and report it.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and it can affect anyone. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, sexual orientation, disability, religion or socioeconomic status.

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Ask for ANI Domestic Abuse Codeword Scheme

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Domestic Abuse Funding

On the 12th February the Government announced that £125 million was being allocated to Councils across England to provide support for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

We are pleased to advise Buckinghamshire Council has been granted £854,917 of this additional funding.

Work will start with our key partners to see how the money could be best spent to further support victims of domestic abuse. Updates on what help and support we have been able to offer due to these extra funds will be included on future newsletters.

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Travel Safe Bucks supports Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary Joint Operations Road Policing Unit Mobile Phone Campaign

Throughout February, Transport for Buckinghamshire’s road safety initiative, Travel Safe Bucks, focused on their mobile phone campaign, running alongside the police’s national campaign, which is aimed at tackling the issue of people who use their mobile phones whilst driving.

Most people are responsible and don’t use their phones when behind the wheel. However, there are still far too many drivers who are willing to take the risk.

Research has shown that you are four times more likely to crash if you use your phone whilst driving, and that you are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision texting than you are drink driving. Being on your phone, either making a call, sending a text, or scrolling social media, means that you are far less aware of what is going on around you. Your reactions can be up to 50% slower and you will fail to take in important information, such as road signs, the position of the vehicles ahead of you or any pedestrians or cyclists travelling along the same route as you.

Thames Valley Roads Policing Unit focus was on the detection and prosecution of offending drivers to reduce the unacceptable and unnecessary danger that using a mobile phone whilst driving can present to all road users. Travel Safe Bucks actively supported this action with their mobile phone campaign throughout February.

Think twice before answering a call or text, even on hands free. Don’t take your eyes off the road. Drivers need to be asking themselves if it’s worth the risk – to which the answer is definitely NO! But only think it, DON’T reply!

Follow the Travel Safe Bucks team on their social media channels - Facebook: @TravelSafeBucks Twitter: @travelsafebucks and join the conversation by using #ItsNotWorthTheRisk #StandingUpForHangingUp

It is illegal to use your phone whilst driving

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National Child Exploitation Awareness Day

Thursday 18th March marks National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, a day aimed to highlight the issues surrounding Child Exploitation; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children exploiting and abusing their peers.

Child Exploitation is a type of child abuse and is when a young person is forced or encouraged to take part in sexual activity in return for something, e.g. attention, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation. It can happen to any young person from any background, culture or religion, regardless of gender.

Child exploitation is a hidden crime. Young people will often trust their abuser and won't understand that they're being abused. They also may be too scared to tell anyone what's happening. Below are a list of signs to look out for:

  • Going missing regularly or return home late
  • Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • Being very secretive with their phone or what they are doing online
  • Associating with older people
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Unexplained gifts
  • Losing contact with family and friends
  • Unexplained changes in personality, mood swings and seeming insecure
  • Becoming withdrawn, clingy or unusually secretive

It's never too late to get help - support is available:

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National Stalking Awareness Week

This years National Stalking Awareness Week starts on Tuesday 20th April.

Stalking is classed as any behaviour from another person which is persistent, unwanted and harassing, anything that causes you any kind of fear or anxiety. Examples of stalking behaviours can include but are not limited to:

  • Sending flowers or unwanted gifts
  • Damaging property
  • Unwanted phone calls or text messages
  • Physical assault
  • Driving past the victim's home or workplace
  • Gathering information on the victim by contacting people who know the victim, using public records etc.
  • Threats to the victim or those close, particularly those who are seen to be 'protecting the victim' or acting as the buffer between the victim and the stalker
  • Burglary or robbery of the victim's home, workplace, car etc.

If you or someone you know is being stalked and you are not sure what to do or who to talk to, you can contact the freephone National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300. Alternatively you can complete the online enquiry form.

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Victims of Modern Slavery & Exploitation - Hidden in plain sight!

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an increase in risk. Although national referrals for modern slavery have fallen- we know that this is down to the fact that we cannot meet or see those who may be vulnerable. Now, more than ever, modern slavery is hidden in plain sight. Increased unemployment, poverty and social isolation, combined with the implications of Brexit, are creating huge increases in vulnerability.

So what can we do in our work places, in our communities and within our families to support and help those who may be hidden in plain sight? How can we spot modern slavery & exploitation? The following signs produced by the Clewer Initiative may help us during this time of reduced interaction and social distancing:

Who can look and how?

  • Volunteers working in projects for vulnerable and destitute people, such as food banks, should understand the signs to look out for when dealing with service users.
  • While spending more time at home, anybody can be more alert to what’s happening on their street and who’s delivering to their door.
  • We can all keep our eyes open and be aware when we go out for essential activities or daily exercise.
  • People involved in agriculture, harvesting and food processing can be alert to warning signs among workers.

While you’re out

  • Potential victims seeking help at food-banks.
  • Signs of people living on site where services are closed e.g. car washes.
  • Young people going out and/or travelling unnecessarily.
  • Comings and goings to a property at any time of day and night.
  • Concerns about delivery drivers and door to door sellers.
  • Signs of small groups hanging around dealing drugs.

In your neighbourhood

  • An increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat.
  • Social distancing issues with overcrowded accommodation or workplaces.
  • Poor or no hygiene facilities.
  • High levels of condensation on windows & constantly covered/blacked out windows.
  • Constant buzz of ventilation and strong lighting throughout day and night.
  • Comings and goings at all hours.

People you see and know

  • Change in a young person’s mood and/or behaviour (e.g. becoming secretive/ withdrawn/ aggressive/ emotional).
  • Excessive and unexplained outings.
  • Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable, new things particularly mobile phones.
  • Signs of physical or psychological abuse and untreated sickness or injuries.
  • Appear malnourished, unkempt, withdrawn and/or neglected

If you have concerns or suspicions about a potential victim please contact one of the support services, below:

  • First Response Team - 01296 383 962 (For children - The Missing and Exploitation Hub supports victims of all forms of exploitation up to the age of 25)
  • Safeguarding Adults Team - 0800 137915
  • Modern Slavery Helpline - 08000 121 700 or submit a report online
  • Download the UnseenUK App to easily check the signs whilst at work, shopping, using services, or in the community.
  • Victims First - 0300 1234148

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Street Associations

Have you been helping out in your street during this pandemic? Volunteers have provided so much support during these restrictions, how could you continue supporting your neighbours even when this is all just a memory. The Street Association initiative aims to create friendly and supportive streets where people belong, have friends and look out for one-another. It requires residents to sign up as members and pass on information to those who might be vulnerable, encouraging neighbours to stay safe and well so residents feel they are part of a safer and stronger community.

To do this, members receive an information pack covering important issues including scams, doorstep crime and loneliness, as well as details to direct individuals to the right organisations for support. Members also have access to free workshops. Whilst the role of a member is to raise awareness and share information, we are seeing even further positive outcomes. For further information please email Jacqueline from the Community Engagement & Development Team: communities@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

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Police.UK

Police.UK is the national website for policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The website is full of lots of information, such as crime reduction advice and support services for those affected by crime. The Police website also provides local area information - you can explore the latest crime statistics, see your Neighbourhood Policing Team and find out what's being done to tackle crime.

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Coronavirus Information

For further information on the coronavirus, vaccinations, rapid testing, service changes and details on how to access support across Buckinghamshire please visit: Bucks Coronavirus information.

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Social Media

To keep up to date with key community safety messages and crime reduction tips, please follow our social media channels:

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Contact Details

If you would like further information or advice from the Community Safety Team, please contact us:

Created By
Hayley Casey
Appreciate