Category Archives: crimewatch

Crime And Policing In Aughton, Latest Published News

From the Minutes Of Meeting Held On Monday, 14 October 2019

The Chairman welcomed the representatives from Lancashire Constabulary, Chief Inspector Ian Jones, Sgt Billy Matthews and PCSO Jillian Reid who would be speaking on ‘the Policing of Aughton’ during Public Question Time.

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME – the Chairman adjourned the meeting at this stage and welcomed Mr Clive Grunshaw, the Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner and Chief Inspector Ian Jones

who gave an update on ‘the Policing of Aughton’ since his last visit in May 2019. With regards to the anti-social behaviour issue, he said the police had not been fully aware of what was going on in Aughton and he was grateful to the Parish Council and some local residents for pointing out what was happening, where and when. Aughton ranked high in the County for nuisance and antisocial behaviour but a plan had now been put in place to try and eradicate this.

He had looked at what there was for youth in the area and, although it was not his role, he had gone to the Police & Crime Commissioner for assistance and funding to: • Set up a Boxing Club in Ormskirk. • Set up a New Zone Bus to visit the hotspots in the area. • Working with the police cadets. • Try and educate youngsters through the schools on knife crime, drug use, etc.

He went on to: • Give an update on the serious incident, with the use of firearms, at a property in Back Lane, Aughton. • Noted the problems at the Quarry Woodland, off Delph Lane, on the park off Cherry Tree Lane and the site off Winifred Lane including the playarea, car park, bowling green and Sports Pavilion area. • Give a brief update on the proposed dedicated Task Force of Police Officers to be introduced in West Lancashire to tackle the issues that matter most to local residents, eg nuisance & anti-social behaviour, drug-dealing, etc. • PCSOs were now trained up on pedal cycles and were being trained to operate speed guns. • The introduction of ‘mini police’ – school children to encourage parents not to park on yellow lines outside schools etc. • Finally, the CBM vacancy on his team had now been filled and the officer would be taking up the post as soon as possible.

A question and answer session then took part with the Chief Inspector on various issues including Working with the British Transport Police at both rail stations in Aughton; Mischief Night – all police staff were on duty – problem youngsters to be taken to a dedicated area in Skelmersdale awaiting ‘parental release’; Police/Public Protection Orders; Reassurance to stop antisocial behaviour; Drug taking by youngsters and how the police were trying to deal with the problem, mainly through the parents; Police numbers reduction over the last few years but the force now hoped to get back to the previous level of officers for Neighbourhood Policing – Task Team, Response Team, Neighbourhood Team; Questions on the statistics produced on the Police Website; the problems with the ‘101 service; Suggestions for engaging with young people and the older youths; Aughton Police Station, Neighbourhood Watch & refurbishment of Skelmersdale Police Station.

The Chairman thanked the Chief Inspector and his staff for attending the meeting and said he hoped they would return to Aughton at a future meeting to give a further update on the Policing of Aughton.

Mr Clive Grunshaw

the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, was then invited to speak. He touched on his role as the PCC for the last 7 years and then covered 3 main aspects: • the Budget – cuts in budget, reduction in police officers, policing to threat, harm and risk, cuts on all services. • the Police & Crime Commissioner Plan 2016-2021 which outlined the priorities for Lancashire Constabulary over the coming years, and • the Chief Constable, who was responsible for policing but he was accountable to the Police & Crime Commissioner.

He spoke about the proposed increase in police officers by the Government and the allocation for Lancashire; the proposed introduction of dedicated Task Force Officers to give ‘visibility’, TACOS and the Drone Team, the need to reconnect with the Neighbourhood Force and empower with the community; and finally, Our Lancashire and the Volunteer Partnership to be launched on ‘Lancashire Day on 27 Nov’.

A question and answer session then took place with Mr Grunshaw on various issues, and he responded accordingly. He said local residents could contact him direct through his website http://www.lancashire-pcc.gov.uk which also covered in detail many of the issues raised above. The Chairman thanked Mr Grunshaw for visiting Aughton to update local residents on Policing in Lancs.

Minute 11186 CHAIRMAN/VICE-CHAIRMAN/PARISH CLERK’S OCTOBER MEETING WITH THE LOCAL POLICE – a brief report was given on the informal meeting held 9 October 2019 – PCSO Jillian Reid attended.

There had been 21 reported crimes since the last meeting (September, 17 crimes) (August 14 crimes) (July 21 crimes) including 4 domestic incidents, 2 malicious communications, 4 cases of assault, 1 harassment, 4 burglary in a dwelling (Long Lane, Scarth Hill Lane, Holly Lane, Liverpool Road), 3 criminal damage excluding a vehicle (Delph Common Road, Town Green Lane, Delph Park Avenue), 1 case of arson (domestic related), 1 missing from home incident (person found), 1 vehicle crime (Moor Hall).

In Aughton, other than reported crimes, there had been 98 incidents. Discussion took place over the many youngsters on bikes riding around the Parish in the dark without lights on their bikes (dangerous and intimidating). The Public Bowling Green and the rear the Sports Pavilion were still considered ‘hot spots’ now particularly late evening. Pavement parking in Granville Park and Town Green Lane were also reported.

“Task Four-ce” Pessimism?

In September the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw

announced “A dedicated task force of police officers is being rolled out across Lancashire this month, tackling issues that matter most to people. The taskforce is split into proactive teams of four or five officers spread across nine areas in the county, with the responsibility for tackling local priorities including drug dealing, anti-social behaviour and burglary, alongside disrupting organised crime group activity and targeting outstanding offenders”.

Mr Grunshaw said “The Government’s funding announcement at the end of last year made it clear that the only way to raise funds to put extra officers on our streets, which the people of Lancashire consistently tell me is what they want to see, was to fully utilise the council tax flexibility given to Police and Crime Commissioners. This was the only option provided by Government to protect and bolster policing here in Lancashire and not using it would have meant a further cut to the budget and 125 fewer police officers. Thanks to support from the public, I’m pleased to say that for the first time since 2010 investment is being made into policing here in Lancashire with additional officers going into every district, focusing on reducing and preventing crime and dealing with the issues that matter most to people”.

So West Lancashire will have a Task Force. Ch Supt Sam Mackenzie of Lancashire Constabulary said “The introduction of these officers is great news and puts extra officers into our communities. The roll out of the Neighbourhood Policing task force will help us to continue tackling key crime hotspot’s and allow us to be more proactive in preventing the crimes that concern us all the most. I expect their impact to be significant in every corner of the county. I believe these officers will make a real difference in our community and look forward to seeing the effects they have”.

But “Sceptical of Aughton” who might be me, or you, has a cynical view of the concept. He’s a retired police officer who wrote to the Champion

and foresees the four, maybe five officers actually being somewhat depleted by annual leave, rest days, and sickness, leaving not much officer time to deal with burglary, drugs, anti-social behaviour, target outstanding offenders, and assist in tackling Organised Crime Groups. Not to mention the practical garaging of vehicles and storing equipment. 

As “Sceptical of Aughton” says, all the above doesn’t leave much time to have a “significant” impact on anything. We hope he is wrong, but we share his misgivings.

 

The Police Eyes In The Sky

Lancashire Police have a dedicated Drone Team under Police Tactical Operations.

Lancashire Police reported yesterday”Good evening from the Drone Team. These are our two latest Pilots in training and we are completing night time tasking later tonight”.

The drones are believed to be supplied by Aeryon, who build high-performance, small unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and software for military, public safety, and commercial customers around the world. The Lancashire Police model is the Skyranger.

Perhaps the Aughton Parish Council should become a customer and position one over crime infested Winifred Lane and other local crime hotspots!

Here Comes The Commissioner’s Begging Bowl

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner  has launched a survey asking council tax payers across Lancashire if they are willing to pay more to support the recruitment of 80 police officers and increase proactive policing in their community. The consultation follows the budget announcement last week, where the Government has once again passed the burden of the cost of policing onto council tax payers .

The latest financial settlement for Lancashire sees it increase by £6.8m and whilst the Commissioner welcomes any additional grant, it does not even cover the increase to employer pension contributions for policing, announced in September. The real world consequences of dealing with this pensions deficit alone, is forecast to cost Lancashire Constabulary around £7.1m per year from 19/20 – the equivalent to over 150 police officers.

However, since 2010 Lancashire Constabulary  has had to make over £84m of savings as a direct result of the Government cutting £50m of central funding during the same period, with an additional £18m of savings required by 2022. In the same period Lancashire has lost 800 police officer posts and 350 support staff, meaning there are increasingly fewer places where savings can be made. Despite the cuts, the Constabulary is still deemed to be efficient and effective by external inspectors.

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said “I strongly believe that more funding should come from the Government and I will continue to lobby the Home Secretary and Policing Minister. The current funding for policing isn’t sufficient to deal with growing demands on the police and the financial settlement allows me to raise further funds but only through passing this burden onto council tax payers. This isn’t fair and it isn’t sustainable” .

“However, raising funds through council tax contributions is the only option the Government have given me to protect and bolster policing and if I did not consider this, it would mean a cut to our budget. There are over a million calls for service every year to Lancashire Police and investment is needed to keep up with ever increasing demands on policing and to deliver a service the public expect. Police officers and staff are working round the clock to keep people safe but, they are over stretched.”

“The public are being asked if they would be prepared to pay an extra 46 pence per week for a Band D property to invest in policing services in their area. Three quarters of Lancashire residents are in lower bands and so would pay less, and this would raise over £10m for policing in Lancashire”. 

Increased revenue raised through council tax would help to deal with the changing nature of crime and provide more local, visible and accessible policing that is more responsive to local issues. Mr Grunshaw explained, “Across the county residents tell me that they want to see better investment in policing. More detectives are also being recruited by the force ollowing public feedback asking to prioritise investigations around major crimes, child exploitation and domestic abuse but they want more police officers, and they want to see them out on the streets, tackling crime and keeping us safe.

“The reality is the ability to invest in our policing teams and meet the pressures on the service is completely reliant on raising council tax by the highest amount we can. With rising demands, increasing costs through inflation and growing crime we cannot accept a further reduction in our police budget.

“Asking for more money , the public quite rightly expect to get something in return and need to feel the difference which is why if the proposals go ahead, it would be spent on 80 extra police officers. These officers would form task forces in every district in Lancashire to support neighbourhood policing teams to solve problems in communities, focusing on reducing and preventing crime, anti-social behaviour, public order and supporting public events. This would include three officers dedicated to tackling rural crime in each of the county’s policing divisions.

“Specialist target teams would be increased to strengthen the force’s ability to tackle cross border crime and criminality, focusing on burglary and robbery 24/7 to ensure police are making an impact around the issues that really matter to people and cause the biggest misery and concern. These extra officers would also work alongside drones funded by proceeds of crime to locate and track offenders and support searches for missing people”.

The thing is, Clive, you want ME to pay for police pensions from MY pension. How fair is that?

Fewer Councillors And More Police?

Janet Ingman has written to the Champion  to ask how we might be able to afford to let a new councillor resign and spend about £8,000 on a by-election but not put more money into policing. The short answer is the two matters are not locally related. Funding of local councils and funding of policing come from different pots. Janet Ingman surely makes a good point, as anyone could, about the short career of the Labour politician who resigned. As with the other case, the Tory in Hesketh-with-Becconsall, the public are paying for political party failures, but the bill should be sent to them, not us.

As for why do we pay so much for so many councillors, and are they the way to cut back on unnecessary spending, I simply quote again the case of Wally Westley in his Cabinet pomp, when he stated on the same day two answers. Asked in August 2010 “Why do we need 54 councillors? Surely we could get rid of about one third of them with a little judicious thought? That would lead to a smaller council, a smaller cabinet (less expenses) and a smaller administration, smaller salaries for the highly paid senior staff who would have less responsibility, smaller premises and the sale of some of the capital assets we own” he replied “The number of Borough Councillors is set by the Government and the Boundary Commission. My personal view is that there are too many and that the number could be reduced by 50%”. But when asked “As for the number of councillors, why don’t you instigate a review of WLBC with the Boundary Commission?” he replied “I would not want to waste money on a Boundary Commission Review or the resultant election. There are far more important matters and it would only be an unnecessary distraction”. Truly unbelievable until you realise the calibre of the man!

Janet Ingman mentions neighbourhood watch but doesn’t hear of them now. They do exist, with difficulty as any current NHW co-ordinator will tell her. Encouraged to organise watches, people are now disillusioned by lack of support. By chance, also in the Champion, is a headline  that “Deadline looms for bids for funding of projects to tackle reoffending”, from a “police commissioner’s £200k pot”. It beggars belief that Mr Grunshaw received a massive rise from us for his police budget, only for us now to discover HE wants to spend OUR money doing what the Home Secretary should pay for, reducing reoffending. It’s bad enough that while police bills go up police officer numbers reduce. We can only wonder what salary is paid to the Independent chair of the Reoffending Boards who just happens to be a recent Chief Constable in Cumbria?

Watch Out For These Fake Texts About Your EE Bill

These fake text messages  purport to be from EE and claim that you haven’t paid a bill. The link in the message leads to a phishing website designed to steal your EE account login details, as well as personal & financial information.

Don’t be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link or attachment in an unexpected email or text.

For more information on how to stay secure online, visit http://www.cyberaware.gov.uk

Expensive Fish

Local Police are reporting that the people driving this Peugeot Partner  van are believed to have been selling fish door to door throughout West Lancs. The last time it was seen was in the Tarleton and Mere Brow areas. Their prices are exorbitant (£300+). Please report any sighting to 101 quoting LC-20180605-0332. It is not thought the brown wheelie bin is being used for delivering the fish.

Elsewhere rural crime is being highlighted after it was reported a local politician returning home found a strange vehicle on his property, and on being challenged the driver reversed into the owner’s car before escaping. Apparently an arrest was made later. It will be interesting to know the full facts when the expected court case takes place. Police have so far made no comment. 

Oh My Lords, No Referendum?

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Give the electorate a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords” .

Government responded “The Government is committed to ensuring that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons. As set out in the manifesto, the Government is committed to ensuring that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons.

“Whilst comprehensive reform is not a priority, the Government will also continue to work to ensure that the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.

“The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Burns, made recommendations in October 2017 on ways of reducing the size of the House without requiring legislation. In response, The Prime Minister has written to the Lord Speaker and agreed to continue with the restraint she has shown so far when making appointments to the House. It is incumbent on all sides of the House to consider what they can do to further promote the culture of retirement. In light of the Prime Minister’s letter, the Lord Speaker has asked the Committee to reconvene to consider next steps”. Cabinet Office

The immediate solution might be to stop all allowances for members, most of whom are failed politicians on Commons pensions anyway. That should cull about half of them. Then introduce democracy and start elections. Does anyone seriously think this system of dumping muppets into the Lords is acceptable ?

Neighbourhood Watch, A Special Responsibility Without Allowances

Would You Be Interested In Setting Up A Neighbourhood Watch (NHW)  Scheme?”. I was asked that question a few days ago. Strange, I thought, I have already set up a scheme and I am its co-ordinator. It started in January 2016. It’s now part of the Lancashire Volunteer Partnership. But when I started there was a paid Police Watch Liaison Officer.

The December 2015 Minutes of the Aughton Parish Council state “The Chairman then invited the representative from Lancashire Constabulary, Lynn Wareing, to give her presentation on Neighbourhood Watch. The Watch Liaison Officer gave details of what the setting up of a NHW scheme entailed, the number of properties involved (between 5 & 20), and the role of a Co-ordinator for each scheme. She introduced the Chairman of Chorley & District Neighbourhood Watch Association who brought his experience to the meeting and full details on how a Co-ordinator would set up a Neighbourhood Watch, manage a Scheme and listed the benefits which included: bringing people closer together, building a stronger community spirit, helping to reduce crime. Leaflets on Neighbourhood Watch were circulated at the meeting and would be available at Aughton Police Station”.

In the spirit of voluntary unpaid local service some people who attended that meeting, me being one, signed up. It might be, to some, a special responsibility without the special responsibility allowances some other, 32 I believe, elected, people are deemed to need and receive!

In October 2016 we received this news from Lynn Wareing “I have been in the role of Watch Liaison Officer since December 2011, however, I was informed last week that my role is to be disestablished and therefore abolished as part of the Lancashire Constabulary’s change process. I have been assured that police support for Neighbourhood Watch will continue although, at this time, I have no information as to how this will look in the future. Similarly, I have no information as to who will become the Single Point Of Contact within the Constabulary or indeed whether there will be such a S.P.O.C. I will no longer be responsible for the ‘In The Know’ (ITK) message broadcasts that you receive in relation to local crime, threats and updates. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with such dedicated and caring community volunteers as yourselves and I would like to thank you, personally, for your hard work, dedication and commitment to community safety and the care of vulnerable individuals”.

It became obvious that the reduced Police funding crisis made the Watch Liaison Officer an easy target, and off she popped, leaving behind some disillusioned co-ordinators.

On hearing of local unrest, the Police and Crime Commissioner  wrote to us “I have been contacted by some co-ordinators who have raised concerns regarding the role of NHW Liaison Officers as part of this work…I wanted to give you a little more information and hopefully re-assure you of my commitment, and that of Lancashire Constabulary, in supporting you and your local schemes. Neighbourhood Watch is an important part of my vision for policing in Lancashire, it is part of the key priority of Protecting Local Policing in my new Police and Crime Plan…Crime, however, is changing and so the responses to crime must also change and develop and I am keen to support Neighbourhood Watch in this…I am committed to ensuring Neighbourhood Watch, alongside our cadets and Special Constabulary get the best support possible and my office and I are working with the Constabulary and the neighbourhood and Home Watch Network as well as others on a new volunteering model across the county which recognises the importance of partnership working across all of the public sector…I want to ensure the support you receive in the future is fit for purpose and supports you in making the different you want to see in your communities…If roles are changed this will be to reflect new ways of working and I am clear that the level of support offered to co-ordinators such as yourselves should not be diminished”. Blah blah!

Anyway, back to the recent invitation. You need “a passion for making your community a better place, to become a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator”. Act as a key point of contact to receive and cascade information between watch members, other local coordinators and partners, where relevant. Manage watch administration, ensuring that the scheme and membership information is registered in line with local policy and kept up to date. Signpost members with community safety issues to the most appropriate organisation. Promote personal responsibility for community safety by encouraging watch members to improve both home and personal security. Promote neighbourliness by encouraging members to share crime reduction information and keep an eye on each other’s homes and possessions, giving special consideration to vulnerable neighbours. Support public services to identify local issues and solve problems where there are community concerns”.

Cascading of information is a strange phrase to use about NHW, at least in Aughton, where once a month the Parish Council Chairman and Clerk attend what is called a “Meeting with Local Police”. It used to be a PACT meeting, unfortunately abandoned due to poor local public interest. They don’t let me attend, something to do with secrets, although in my work I signed the Official Secrets Act 63 years ago and remain bound by it. They receive details of crimes in Aughton which are reported at the following parish meeting. So all the crimes reported are therefore historic, perhaps five weeks old. No use whatsoever to the NHW co-ordinators and their members who must wonder why they joined. This poster    is not available to us. If I print it and stick it to a lamp-post I will become a crime statistic perhaps five weeks after I am convicted of doing it. Crazy!

 

County Council Leader Accused

The Lancashire Post  today reports by publishing in full a recent High Court decision. “Council leader accused of deliberate campaign to intimidate witness in corruption probe”. Lancashire County Council’s leader was involved in a “deliberate and concerted campaign” to intimidate a key witness in a corruption probe, according to police documents to seek authorisation for his arrest. A newly-published court judgement reveals police claims of intimidating behaviour from Coun Geoff Driver, who is currently on police bail. He was arrested along with three others – former County Hall chief executive Phil Halsall, David McElhinney, the chief executive of the now defunct One Connect and another former LCC chief executive Ged Fitzgerald – in May last year on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation. Mr Fitzgerald, who is currently suspended from his role as chief executive of Liverpool Council, attempted to seek a judicial review over a judge’s decision to grant permission to search his home and arrest him last May. His case has been dismissed by Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Nicol, sitting at the High Court in London .

Their judgement reveals key details of the long-running investigation, which the judges described as into “corruption in local government” into the four men, including; Allegations that data from seven laptops, six iPads and iPhones had been deliberately wiped during the police investigation and a desktop computer belonging to Mr McElhinney was ordered to be destroyed; Allegations that Mr Halsall had advised Coun Driver to change the properties of any Word documents he sent in to PDFs, in order to disguise their origins; Allegations that Coun Driver attended a meeting at LCC that he had been advised he should not attend, and attempted to remove documents.

All four men, who remain on bail, are at the centre of a criminal investigation linked to One Connect Limited – the now defunct partnership between LCC and telecom giants BT. Warrants granted at Preston Crown Court on May 19 last year by Judge Robert Altham, authorised police to search the four men’s homes for “any electronic storage devices including but not exclusively mobile phones, computers, lap tops, iPads and any other digital or electronic storage devices.” Lancashire Police’s original application for the warrants, said: “Circumstances essentially revolve around recent activity by Mr Driver, including his sending emails to a principal witness in the wider case, Ian Young (LCC’s senior lawyer) which led to Mr Young making a complaint to police alleging a deliberate and concerted campaign to intimidate him as a key witness in both criminal and ongoing civil proceedings linked to the criminal case.” It adds: “Evidence has now been gathered which shows that between 2013 and 2015, Mr Driver in collusion with Philip Hassall, David McElhinney and Gerard Fitzgerald, was involved in activity directed toward a number of principal witnesses…which was clearly designed to intimidate, belittle and undermine them both professionally and, crucially, as witnesses in the investigation.”

The police alleged Mr Driver used his position as leader of the Conservative party group, and, at times, leader of the council “to assist Mr Halsall and Mr McElhinney in the potential construction of their defences” and claims Mr Fitzgerald, Mr McElhinney and Mr Halsall were all close personal friends. The judgement revealed officers had been granted restricted access to Mr Driver’s email accounts in March 2017, and that police claimed Mr Halsall had advised Geoff Driver to change the properties of any Word document he sent into PDF, in order to disguise its origins. The force’s application alleged wilful and deliberate acts by Halsall and McElhinney to use Geoff Driver as a “source of information” and alleges his attendance at an LCC meeting on September 27, 2013 was to “glean information” concerning the internal inquiry and the appointment of a designated independent person to conduct it.

It also reveals Geoff Driver submitted multiple Freedom of Information requests concerning Operation Sheridan, had made a complaint to the IPCC concerning the Operation and had also put down a Notice of Motion for discussion at LCC. After hearing about email evidence at the hearing last May, Judge Altham said it indicated that “Mr Driver is in cahoots with the others, providing not only information but also providing challenge to people who can cause difficulties in the course of this investigation”. He concluded there were reasonable grounds for believing that the warrants would yield material of substantial value to the investigation and was satisfied that it was in the public interest “to allow police officers to enter four domestic properties.”

Judge Altham was required to consider whether other means of obtaining this evidence had been considered but agreed that would not be practicable because there had been in this case ”careful steps taken to cover their tracks.”

The two judges sitting at the High Court rejected Mr Fitzgerald’s bid for a judicial review, concluding that “the efforts of Messrs Driver, Halsall and McElhinny gave reasonable grounds for belief that there had been a conspiracy to pervert”. Lancashire Police’s investigation is ongoing and the four men are due to answer bail on May 22. They all deny any wrongdoing and have not been charged. Lancashire Police, Coun Driver, Mr Halsall and Hogan Brown (Mr Fitzgerald’s solicitors) declined to comment. Mr McElhinney could not be reached.