Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston spoke with an audience of over 400 people at the Older People’s Information Day, held at Chelmsford Cathedral, on 29th April, 2014.
The Day was opened by Councillor Trevor Miller, Mayor of Chelmsford, and the event featured presentations on various topics including legal and financial advice, eye health, travel opportunities, safety in Chelmsford and current developments in Chelmsford including the John Lewis Development and the Greater Beaulieu Park area. The event finished with a seated exercise session which everyone enjoyed.
Nick began his presentation by stressing the safety of Essex: “I want you to feel safe. Happily we live in a low-crime county and over the past 10 years, crime has thankfully come down.”
After reassuring residents, Nick Alston related a true story about an older person in North Essex whose rapid action recently helped to catch criminals and prevent further crimes. Following police activity to warn local residents of a recent burglary in the area, the person saw a suspicious-looking vehicle driving in their road and called 101 to report their suspicion. This alerted the police and, following a swift response, Essex Police were able to arrest several men on suspicion of burglary and to recover stolen property.
Nick said: “We have 400 pairs of eyes and ears here today. It would make a huge difference if, were you to see something suspicious, you reported it to Essex Police on 101 or on 999 if you thought a crime might be taking place.”
The PCC also spoke about fraud and made the audience aware of common scams including illegally getting bank account details, cowboy builders and investment schemes. He comments, “The average age for a victim of fraud is now 61 years old, so all of us here today have to be really careful about these things. You must make sure that anyone who comes through your door is a trusted contact. Also be wary of fraud via email and the telephone.”
Nick discussed a particular telephone scam whereby criminals impersonate police officers and try to persuade people to disclose details of their bank account or credit cards, sometimes even sending a taxi round in the effort to get a victim’s card or to ask them to withdraw money from their bank branch or an ATM machine. The clear message from Essex Police is not to divulge details of bank or building society accounts to a cold caller, no matter who that caller pretends to be.
The importance of Neighbourhood Watch
The PCC encouraged people to become a part of their Neighbourhood Watch Scheme so they can keep up to date with the latest news in their area. “I’m a member. It is either free to join or may cost just a small token amount a year, so sign up if you have any concerns and need someone to talk to. You’ll also get timely information about any crime in your neighbourhood, and what you can do to reduce opportunities for criminals.”
Malcom Watson, Older Persons Champion at Chelmsford City Council comments, “A big thank you to Nick Alston; it’s great to see him out and about at events like this. After a year of working with the elected commissioner, you can really tell the difference.”
Here were some views on the day:
“It’s great to see Nick in the public eye. I’ve often seen him at the Anglia Ruskin events. I’m personally worried about burglaries, but Nick’s comments certainly helped me understand what’s going on. He keeps things current in peoples’ minds, particularly when he mentioned the 101 service.”
Micheal Yallop from Springfield
“I saw the event in the newspaper and my son encouraged me to come along today. I have really enjoyed it and have exchanged a few telephone numbers with the people here. I have lived in Chelmsford for 26 years and I know that Nick is the first Essex PCC. When the elections were first held, I was unsure what the PCC did, but now I have met him, I feel I have more understanding of the role.”
Joan Willsher from Chelmsford