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BLOG: On The Beat

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 17, 2014

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With Denis Murphy, Ashbourne Police sergeant

A CRIME trend on your beat can cause a lot of soul-searching.

Our recent non-dwelling burglary problem has generated a good deal of space in the News Telegraph (very helpful – thanks News Telegraph!) and hours of police officer time spent in investigations and prevention work.

People might be surprised to learn that many police officers take such clusters of offences very personally, but we do. Of course, one victim is a victim too many. However, when the offences start to become more numerous, then it is clear that lots of people get affected and it becomes a problem for the whole community.

That’s why the Ashbourne Safer Neighbourhood Team has extended our Priority Profile regarding burglary of people’s sheds, outhouses and stores. And we will continue to direct all our efforts to trying to prevent these offences and to catch those committing them.

Soul searching about these crime spikes can be a good exercise because as well as looking to more innovative crime fighting techniques we can also think about the good old fashioned basics of investigation and policing.

Frequently, a key to building an evidential case is witness testimony. We also rely heavily on information from the community to help us build an intelligence picture. Happily, in the wake of our recent burglaries, we have seen a great response in terms of folk ringing the police about suspicious incidents and people. We take these calls very seriously and where the information can be verified they should be followed up.

As grateful as we are for these calls, we should be getting many more than we are. Which leads me to ask “Whatever happened to our curtain-twitching culture?”

I remember very clearly that there was vigilance and an overall watchfulness in our communities when I started out as a young Constable that seems to have all but disappeared.

Doubtless, there is some kind of profound explanation around societal change and people’s fascination with the virtual world and other people’s lives rather than the realcommunity outside their window.

However, I would really like to bring that curtain-twitching mentality back.

A watchful concern for our neighbourhoods from everyone living and working there should not just the preserve of our (excellent) local Neighbourhood Watches.

When you see something suspicious, get as much information as you can and phone us on 101. Then ask us about setting up a Watch in your neighbourhood!

(The views are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Derbyshire Constabulary)

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