We must work together to beat the criminals
January 12 2021
Police in Filton say they are determined to work with residents after a series of thefts, acts of vandalism and car crime were highlighted on social media in the lead-up to Christmas.
But officers, speaking exclusively to Filtonvoice, say using Facebook is only of use if the incident is followed up by an official report to police.
They say new crime fighting software means that a series of seemingly small incidents can be like pieces of a jigsaw and the more incidents they are made aware of, the more likely it is they can identify the perpetrators.
They say they now want to improve this further by working closer with residents' groups, Filtonvoice and the town council to coordinate the circulation of vital information.
Since November, residents have been using the Filton News and Views Facebook platform to tell others about crime.
A feature last month was several incidents of outdoor Christmas decorations being damaged or stolen, which police say is a relatively new type of crime in Filton.
Now a Facebook Filton Neighbourhood Watch group has been set up, with the organisers hoping to work together with others to reduce crime.
Sergeant Steve Ives said he and his Beat team wanted to work with groups like this to make information appeals.
He said:"We need the community to be our eyes and ears but if we don't know about crimes, we cannot build up pictures about patterns of offending and the possible perpetrators.
"We now have IT systems which pull together information and give us the most up-to-date interpretations of what is going on in Filton.
"By doing this, we are able to identify certain groups or individuals and we can'put the squeeze' on them which makes them aware we are watching them.
"What we can do is assure residents that we monitor every log which comes in and this helps us build a picture."
Sgt Ives said that one concern from residents was the perception of a lack of Beat officers.
He said that policing in our area is effectively split. Beat officers are on duty in shifts from 7am-11pm. He said these officers use their time to not only be a presence but also to build up relationships in the community to help officers understand patterns of problems.
The second group is response officers who are available 24/7. They work with the Beat teams which allows them to understand some of the issues which go on late at night and to focus on possible offenders.
Sgt Ives said officers also carry out plain clothes duties in Filton.
He said:"There is always police cover for Filton."
Other residents have complained about activity in and around Millennium Green, especially fireworks exploding in bins, drug dealing, youngsters on mopeds and drunkenness.
Some local people say there is a need to bring back the CCTV cameras which used to be in the area.
One Northville Road resident said:"As a resident living close to Millennium Green field entrance, I would like to bring to the attention of Filton Voice and Filton Town Council the increase in crime and anti social behaviour in Filton.
"This has been from drug dealing, theft,vandalism and blowing up the field's bins with fireworks.
"What sort of place are we living in when people are stealing Christmas decorations as mine were. I think it is about time the council took positive, proactive action and returned the CCTV camera at the entrance to Millennium Green and in addition, security lighting I would also like to know why the camera was removed in the first place?"
Sgt Ives said CCTV was a local authority matter but Filton councillor Adam Monk said the CCTV was originally removed because local people had complained about privacy, with the camera pointing to their gardens.
Another issue for Filton residents is the impact of
ungated lanes in the area which gives burglars easier access to properties.
At the December full Filton Town Council meeting, the beat Team reported that they did recognise this issue.
In a report to councillors, officers said: "We will be conducting high visibility patrols in hotspot areas and rear lanes.
"We will also be asking residents who have CCTV to assist in our enquiries. It is also important that residents call in as soon as possible. If the incident is in progress to call 999 and if already happened to call on 101.
"As discussed in a previous meeting it is vital that residents make us aware of crime/issues in the community.
"This helps us to collate information to be able to deploy resources to relevant and hotspot areas meaning we can try to tackle issues and reduce crime.
"We understand that Facebook is a great platform for residents to make others aware of issues within the community, however again we ask that this is done so after it has been reported to the Police so that a crime reference or log number can be included in the post.
"We are also in the process of setting up a South Gloucestershire Neighbourhood Policing Facebook page which residents can view to see an up to date insight in the work we are doing locally.”
Burglaries - how the Beat team reacted
PC Rick Woodland says: "In November we had 22 break-ins within a 28 day period. As the Beat Team we created a Problem Solving Plan (PSP), which is basically an incident record that we raise within our crime recording system, recognising that there is a crime trend emerging and to capture all incidents, suspects, partner agencies to combat the problem in one record instead of having lots of different crimes with no co-ordination. This PSP will then be treated as a priority.
"In relation to this PSP, we monitored and analysed every log of this nature and any suspicious logs in the area, this enabled us to establish crime trends/hotspots and times to enable targeted patrols through intelligence led Policing. We spoke to members of the public and victims, we used the local Beat Team knowledge to map crime trends and hotspot times/area/suspect, and we created a briefing slide for all Response Officers to see before their shift to make them aware of the issue, and to patrol in any downtime between jobs.
"We performed operations as a Beat Team, bringing in other Beat Officers from different areas of South Gloucestershire to conduct plain clothes patrols. One tactic we also utilised was speaking to ‘likely suspects’, albeit having very little evidence we would be able to put in front of a court. We then targeted these people who were‘likely suspects’ by making home visits to make them aware of‘hearsay’ evidence that has come to our attention. All of this pressure and hard work seems to have paid off and in December, at time of going to print, we have had only one attempted non-dwelling burglary reported, where screws had been taken out of an external door, but nothing stolen.
"I would like to just emphasis again the importance of reporting incidents through the official channels, and if people are going to circulate their incident on social media then this should be followed with their crime reference number so people can contact the Police if they have information regarding that incident so we can make follow-up enquiries.”