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Neighbourhood Policing Week: Fighting shoplifting and driving positive change in Aylesbury

Fighting shoplifting and driving positive change in Aylesbury

Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action

Friday 26th January 2024

Police Constable Elliott Jones speaks to us during Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action 2024 about his role on the frontline, including his recent ride-along with MP Rob Butler, issuing Criminal Behaviour Orders against prolific shoplifters, gathering evidence relating to 17 offences in a neighbour dispute case, and working with local establishments in Aylesbury West.

Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action (22nd – 28th January) celebrates community policing successes and raises awareness of the importance of neighbourhood officers for reducing crime and building public trust and confidence in the police service. Elliott was recruited and trained via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, which supports talented graduates to become exceptional neighbourhood officers across England and Wales.

Police Constable Elliott Jones

Police Constable Elliott Jones said:

“I joined Thames Valley Police in 2022 via Police Now’s neighbourhood policing programme so I could embed myself in the local community from the start of my policing career. As an officer on the Aylesbury West Neighbourhood Policing Team, I focus on building strong community relationships and finding long-term solutions to the issues most affecting local residents.

“For example, I have been working hard to address reports of shoplifting affecting local businesses and staff across the large retail area on our patch. In one case, an individual was shoplifting almost daily from different stores, taking everything from food to clothing and medication. I worked with retail and security staff to gather statements and evidence, and successfully identify and arrest multiple perpetrators.

“Through the evidence gathered, we have been able to issue banning letters for the most prolific offenders, prohibiting them from entering certain shops in our main retail park. We are also preparing two Criminal Behaviour Orders for other known offenders who regularly shoplift. Unfortunately during the festive period, shops are less likely to report shoplifting, so although the reports for shoplifting on Aylesbury West have reduced by a fifth we are under no illusions that another hurdle is supporting retail staff with reporting. We are in the middle of introducing Shopwatch in the area, a crime prevention initiative that promotes communication between retailers and local police, to make reporting easier and strengthen those relationships further.

“I have also recently worked to resolve a neighbour dispute, which involved conducting interviews with multiple victims and witnesses and gathering evidence relating to 17 offences. We have arrested one person on suspicion of assault, harassment, racially aggravated criminal damage and other public order offences. The case file is currently with the Crown Prosecution Service awaiting a charging decision, and in the meantime I am continuing to engage with residents at the address and put in necessary safeguarding measures for all involved, alongside the local council.

“Engaging with community partners such as local councils, charities and businesses is an important part of the job; it allows us to take a multi-agency approach to reducing crime and better use our resources to support the public together. For example, we worked with local housing associations and courts to obtain multiple Closure Orders on properties, where either a vulnerable person’s property was being used for drug supply and storage, or there was persistent anti-social behaviour. We also recently hosted local MP Rob Butler for a police ride-along, visiting community spaces and discussing local crime hotspot areas and the processes we have in place to address anti-social behaviour. It was great to have the opportunity to highlight key challenges and our work to our local MP.

“We have also been engaging with care homes, schools and religious establishments across the area. In schools, we are engaging with students to raise awareness of different types of crime and identify anyone who might benefit from early intervention to prevent them falling into patterns of anti-social behaviour or crime. St Peter’s Church hosts a community café every Thursday between 10:30-1200hrs, for members of the public to drop in and chat. We attend almost weekly to speak with the public about any concerns they are having and offer crime prevention resources such as personal attack alarms and anti-spiking equipment. We also speak with the staff about some of the more vulnerable people that attend and how we can help. This helps us address any issues, inform the public on police processes and improve our lines of intelligence.

“What I love about neighbourhood policing is that it’s not just a ‘plaster’ for when things go wrong, but a way of implementing long-term positive change by addressing problems at their root. There’s also a good mix of teamworking and independence, and you often have the freedom to design your own community initiatives around community and force priorities.”

MP for the Aylesbury Constituency Rob Butler said:

“Neighbourhood policing is what matters most to local people. They rightly want to feel safe in their local communities, and to know that when there’s anti-social behaviour or criminal activity, it will be taken seriously. Strong neighbourhood policing teams in Aylesbury are making a real difference, and that’s nearly always down to the skill of the officers involved. Elliott and his colleagues are doing superb work, as I saw first-hand during my recent ride along. I was especially impressed by the proactive approach that means crimes are often prevented, so reducing the number of victims and keeping our community safe.”

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