April 2020

Copyright © 2019 Matthew Barber, Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, All rights reserved.

Cut It Out – domestic abuse
awareness training

The Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner’s Violence Reduction unit has launched a new campaign supported by world famous stylist Nicky Clarke. The Cut It Out campaign intends to raise awareness of domestic abuse across the hair and beauty industry.

The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit has developed a new training package for students in the industry to help them spot the signs of abuse and to ensure they know how to support victims and seek further help.

The campaign was launched this week at Activate Learning’s Oxford campus. Nicky Clarke joined the launch event and spoke to students and staff about how the training is being delivered.

It is estimated that one in four women and one in six men experiencing some form of domestic abuse during their life. Hair-dressers, barbers and beauty therapists are often in a position of privilege with their client, not only working physically close to them but also very often, they are someone trusted to talk to or confide in. The Cut It Out campaign recognises this unit opportunity to spot the signs of abuse and to intervene early.

The training package, first developed with Milton Keynes College is available for anyone to access on Activate Learning’s website.

The training covers different forms of abuse, not just physical, but emotional, financial and controlling behaviours. It provides advice on how to encourage someone to make a report, escape abuse and signposts to leading support organisations.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or are worried about someone who may be, you can contact Thames Valley Police. If there is an emergency that’s ongoing or life is in danger call 999 immediately. If you cannot speak, call 999 and dial 55. In a non-emergency case and for general advice call 101. Further information is available on the Thames Valley Police website.

Victims First for residents of the Thames Valley: 0300 1234 148 or via online chat

New initiative announced to tackle fly-tipping across Thames Valley

Fly tipping is a major concern across Thames Valley and it can affect private landowners in both rural and urban locations. Conservative PCC Candidate, Matthew Barber, has already announced his intention to bring together a taskforce of local authorities, the Environment Agency and the police to develop a strategy to better tackle the problem, which can be big business for criminals.

Now in a first of a kind in Thames Valley, a new pilot scheme is being proposed to support farmers and landowners to remove fly-tipping from their land free of charge and to put in place measures to prevent it from happening again.

Local councils do not remove fly-tipped waste on private land, that is the responsibility of the landowner, however councils do investigate reports of fly tipping.

Under the proposed pilot scheme in one local authority area, farmers and private landowners in West Oxfordshire District would be able to report fly-tipping on their land and the council will arrange for the fly tip to be cleared – with the cost being met by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The council would then suggest measures that would help the landowner to prevent further tipping on their land. Mobile, quickly deployable CCTV cameras could then be used in hot spot areas with the aim of securing evidence to catch and prosecute the fly tippers.

Matthew Barber, Conservative PCC candidate said fly-tipping on private land is an issue that is frequently raised, especially by people living in rural communities.

“Fly tipping is organised crime and can impact both urban and rural areas. I have spoken to many landowners who have had to bear the cost of this criminal activity. It harms their land; it harms the local environment and it is quite simply a crime.

“I want to help fight this criminal behaviour across Thames Valley, and so I look forward to the opportunity of working with West Oxfordshire to develop this pilot scheme. The initiative would be evaluated to understand its effect on fly tipping in those areas, and the ability to track down the offenders.”

Op Holly launched across Thames Valley

Dangerous drink and drug drivers are being targeted by Thames Valley Police during the seasonal Op Holly Christmas campaign in a bid to reduce drug and alcohol related traffic collisions and to protect other road users.

Police are encouraging drivers to know ‘It’s Not Worth the Risk’ and not to drink alcohol and/or take drugs before getting behind the wheel.

Between 1 December 2019 and 1 January 2020 officers will be carrying out breath tests, drug tests and field impairment tests, working to deter any motorists thinking about driving while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs.

On average 20% of all fatal collisions involve an impairment from drink or drugs. In Hampshire and Thames Valley, around 400 drink drivers are caught a month.

The public are encouraged to report drink and drug drivers with as much information and detail as possible so they can be targeted. If you know someone who drink or drug drives you can report them online or by calling 101. Alternatively if you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If there is an immediate risk to the public always call 999.

The true cost of casual cocaine use

The UK is one of the biggest consumers of cocaine in Europe and Thames Valley Police has launched a new campaign “True Costs” to highlight the unseen harm that can be caused by the casual use of illegal drugs.

The true costs of cocaine use are significant and far reaching, from child exploitation and other criminality, to health and environmental. Most people don’t see the awful things we see so the Force are shining a light on these costs.

Not everyone who takes cocaine knows the reality of how it is produced and supplied. We are providing the facts so you can make informed choices for yourself.

What’s the scale of cocaine use in the Thames Valley?

There are currently a number of active organised crime groups involved in the supply of cocaine in Thames Valley. This means there is a demand for the drug which must be supplied via a network of organised crime groups. In recent years, awareness of county drugs lines has grown due to media interest. This type of organised crime is a breeding ground for wider criminality, including the exploitation of children.

Children as young as seven are being groomed into the world of drugs. They are forced to move cocaine, sometimes inside their own bodies across counties and beyond. In doing so, they face violence, intimidation, risks to their health and life. These are the true costs of cocaine use.

How does this affect children in the Thames Valley?

Through the work of Thames Valley Police with local support services, we know of hundreds of children who are, could be, or have been, at risk of exploitation, who are being supported by council teams across social care, early help and youth justice in the Thames Valley.

Mentoring in prisons

This week I was pleased to join trustees and volunteer mentors from Trailblazers who were celebrating 15 years of their work in Aylesbury’s Young Offenders Institution. Trailblazers are a national charity based inside HMYOI Aylesbury and operating in several prison facilities across the country. They offer weekly one to one mentoring for prisoners as well as “through the gate” support once they are released.

The work of Trailblazers – and other organisations like them – is supported by the Police & Crime Commissioner from the Police Property Act Fund. Cash seized by the police from criminals is provided to charitable causes such as Trailblazers that work to reduce reoffending.

Not only to the help to turn around the lives of individuals, but by providing education and support to offenders they are stopping other people from becoming victims of crime in the future.

To find out more about the work of Trailblazers please visit www.trailblazersmentoring.org.uk.

Tackling Domestic Abuse must be a priority for the Government

In an interview last week, retired Chief Superintendent John Sutherland said that domestic abuse is the “single greatest harm in society”. He added, it’s a “disease of pandemic proportions”. These hard-hitting words are borne out of many years’ exposure to tragic cases on the frontline.

We should all listen because the silence resulting from intimidation, fear and control often prevents victims from speaking out. And there are many victims. Last week, the ONS published a report – that passed by largely unnoticed – on domestic abuse prevalence. It shows an estimated 2 million adults suffer from domestic abuse every year. Over a third of victims are male, though this is sometimes overlooked.

Read the full article on my website...