Update from Thames Valley Police
To receive the above update.
Peter Bullet, Thames Valley Police (TVP) explained he was the area’s Community and engagement Officer and provided the Forum with the crime statistics for the Town Centre and the surrounding area:
· Theft from cars in West Windsor:
o January to March 2019 – 24 reported
o March to 17 July 2019 – 64 reported
· Theft from cars in the town Centre:
o January to March 2019 – 22 reported
o March to 17 July 2019 – 85 reported.
The big issues were in the Town and it was a spike in theft from cars the police saw every year; the police also emphasised that there was a spike in thefts from cars at the Legoland car park.. There was a huge influx of people from Easter into the area so it was not an easy issue to solved. In 2018, only 45 thefts from cars were reported but, the police felt that the figures were lower due to the royal Wedding which meant there was a higher police presence. To tackle the rise in thefts from cars, the police have been running a clear car campaign and have been carrying out car park sweeps across eight car parks in the borough. The campaign sees police officers look inside cars and see what is on show. Letters are then sent out to the owners of the vehicles to make them aware. The figures have not been confirmed yet but, so far well over 200 cars have been reported.
· Residential burglaries in West Windsor:
o From January to March 2019 – 26
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 37
· Residential burglaries in the Town Centre:
o From January to March 2019 – 6
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 14
Peter Bullet said the burglaries usually occurred due to people leaving their windows open. To tackle the issue of residential burglaries, the police were running their summer burglary campaign and were also offering free home security surveys to residents.
· Businesses burgled in West Windsor:
o From January to March 2019 – 2
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 8
· Businesses burgled in the Town Centre:
o From January to March 2019 – 6
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 10
The figures on burglaries from businesses were very similar to 2018.
· Cycle Theft in West Windsor:
o From January to March 2019 – 3
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 12
· Cycle Theft in the Town Centre:
o From January to March 2019 – 18
o From March to 17 July 2019 – 60
There were only 32 bike thefts in 2018. The Central Team have been running bike marking events at Windsor Boys’ School and work with the British Transport Police was also being done to combat thefts of bikes from train stations. Posters had also been displayed warning cyclists that thieves were operating. The police were trying to get information to people about locking bikes properly and using decent bike locks to help prevent thefts.
Peter Bullet stated 14 tickets had been issued to cyclists riding their bikes over Eton Bridge and up the High Street in Windsor; Peascod Street would be targeted during the summer months. TVP had been working with the Council to try and reduce the volume of cycle thefts by looking at the position of the bike racks. If funding was available, more bike racks were required and some of the current bike racks were not in the best position.
TVP were working with retailers in the Town Centre to get them involved in an initiative to prevent shoplifting. When a retailer sees a shoplifter, they need to call the Town Centre CCTV service who would inform all retailers who were taking part in the scheme to notify them of the shoplifting.
TVP were currently working in Maidenhead on County Lines but, were now coming over to the Dedworth and Central Windsor areas to work on preventing and disrupting County Lines. They had also discussed using libraries for knife amnesties but, that was refused. A knife amnesty was carried out every year and they were working on a plan of where to hold the next one.
Mr Pick stated that the Community Support Officers were working on preventing people being scammed and had been working in conjunction with the Neighbourhood Watch Association.
The Chairman requested the figures on how many suspects had been arrested in relation to the crime figures be brought to the next forum meeting. He was aware that not all of the suspects would have been charged, but he felt the figures could be used as a deterrent.
v Action – Thames Valley Police to provide the figures for how many suspects have been arrested in West Windsor and the Central Area of Windsor in relation to the crime figures reported at the meeting.
The Chairman asked if there had been any evidence of an increase in pick-pocketing in the Town Centre. Mr Pick stated that pick-pockets did operate in the Town Centre and stated there were ways of securing bags and purses with bells which would ring when dippers were trying to steal them. it was a cost effective way of helping to prevent being pick-pocketed.
The Chairman said it was welcome news on cyclists being intercepted in Peascod Street. He asked if someone could be positioned at the bottom of William Street as delivery drivers, and other drivers did not obey the no entry signs. Peter Bullet confirmed the police did not have jurisdiction to intercept cyclists in Windsor Yards but, as soon as the cyclists left that area, the police could stop them; he added he would approach Windsor Yards to make them aware of the problem; but no matter where cyclists were found, they would be stopped and spoken to about conduct if cycling where they are not allowed. Councillor Tisi asked if a piece on community safety could be included in the autumn issue of Around the Royal Borough newsletter. Chris Nash, Community Protection Principal said he would have Community Wardens patrol Windsor Yards.
v Action – A piece on Community Safety provided by Thames Valley Police be included in the autumn edition of Around the Royal Borough.
Mr Kenyan said the speed limit on Frances Road had been reduced to 20mph and the same needed to be done on Sheet Street as the cars drove down that road at speeds of 40mph. children used that street and the speeding cars needed enforcement. The Chairman responded there needed to be commitment from residents in sheet street to have the speed limit reduced to 20mph and for signage to be erected.
Councillor Knowles congratulated the police for their work on crime prevention and stated since being elected, he had been encouraging residents to report crimes to prevent under-reporting. The Community and Engagement Officer responded saying TVP asked people to dial 101 but, it could take up to 45 minutes to answer that call, therefore, residents could log an incident online. The police were aware that for some car crime and burglaries, people did not always bother reporting them and very few people were recruiting bike crime; the other obstacle was that when a bike crime was reported, the victims did not always remember what their bike looked like and could not provide an accurate description. When bike thefts were reported, the police asked for a photo of the stolen bike and its frame number. Peter Bullet said there were lots of ways to report crime; residents could email direct to the Central Team; he understood the frustration of reporting a crime using the 101 system.
Mr Pick stated the Neighbourhood Watch Association regularly circulated photos of items being left on car seats via social media to make people aware that thieves operated in the area and to remind people not to leave their belongings in view. Councillor Davey stated bike crime seemed to keep rising and enquired at what point the Council could look at creating a dedicated area for bikes with a guard. Councillor Rayner responded saying the Council was looking at more secure parking for cycles at Windsor Leisure Centre and other areas. The Chairman commented that the issue was building a large unit to store bikes securely in a conservation area; the unit, if permitted, would then direct thieves where to go when looking for cycles to steal. Mr Pick stated cages can be bought and locked over cycles at stations. The Chairman stated both train stations in Windsor were in the conservation area and therefore, were unlikely to get planning permission for any permanent structure to house bikes. The Town Manager explained a planning application for 2-tier racks was made and turned down at Windsor Riverside Station. He added he was looking to increase the number of racks but, not secure racks due to the conservation area. Claire Milne suggested the issue was the use of inadequate bike locks. Mr Pick recommended a lock which costs around £70 called a D-Lock with a chain that could not be easily cut through. Thieves used backpacks with bolt cutters and used the bag to cover them breaking the locks. He added leaflets would be placed on every bike explaining how to lock a bike properly
Mr Pick confirmed that when a bike is recovered by police but left unclaimed, it was then auctioned off with the money raised put back into community organisations.