Last week, Fairfields Parish conducted an interview with the Thames Valley Police and taken the questions asked by the residents of Fairfields to the police.
In the interview, we were joined by PCSO Poppy Groves & PC Steve Prestige who have shared some great insights on how to stay safe this winter & deal with various security threats & intruders. You can hear the full interview below or read it further in the article.
Question: Are the Ring type doorbells and CCTV an effective deterrent?
Yes, ultimately we do encourage residents to invest in crime prevention, as this does act as a deterrent to any offenders and also helps the police with any investigations of crime. The ring doorbells are an effective way to protect property as the motion sensors capture any activity. We advise residents who use these to make sure the batteries are kept charged at all times in case they are ever needed. Having CCTV gives protection to your property, but it also can help an investigation should you be a victim of crime. CCTV cameras are very cheap to pick up and can be monitored through apps and smartphones and things like that. When setting up CCTV you've got to be careful of their privacy settings and make sure that neighbouring properties are not captured by CCTV as this can make evidence inadmissible in the court.
Thank you for the question.
Question: A number of residents have been asking - Can people park on the pavements?
OK so it's in two parts really. If there is a traffic regulation order in place by the local authority then yes it is an offence to park on the pavement, but there should be some signs clearly showing members of public where pavement parking is not allowed. I would say that if the traffic regulation order is in place by the local authority, be mindful of that because enforcement officers are able to issue fixed penalty notices and enforce that restriction. However, without a traffic regulation order, parking on a pavement could still be classed as an obstruction, and this could be where pedestrians or wheelchair users can't get past because of the cars blocking the path and they might have to walk into the road. Then it could be classed as an obstruction. I think it should also be noted that unless you are accessing your property via a lowered curb driveway, it is also an offense to drive on the pavement even for a short distance, and I don't think a lot of people realise that. If you actually do drive onto the path again that is an offense. Milton Keynes Council will usually deal with vehicles in breach of parking restrictions, for example, yellow lines and areas where there's a specific ban, maybe on pavement parking, but the police will usually deal with vehicles driving on the pavement or causing an obstruction and what I suggest people do is if they feel vehicles are obstructing the path then you can contact the police on 101 or via the Internet on the web form.
Chairman If they find that there is an obstruction there to contact 101 or to go onto the Internet, is that on the Thames Valley Policing Web page? Is it on there?
Answer - Yes, so if you log on to the Thames Valley Police website then there will be a link you can report an incident that will come through the normal channels to the neighbourhood team. If it's an ongoing incident then potentially we will deal with that. It may just be advice over the phone if we can find the registration of the vehicle. I would advise people to take the registration plate of the car. Yes, but like I say there are two parts of the law in relation to the traffic regulation order which is a wordy document. Fairfields don't have that at the moment, but if this became an issue, with loads of cars parking on the paths it may well be that the Council decide to put one in place, but it's being mindful that most people need to walk on the path. The path is therefore not for cars.
Chairman - Thank you very much.
Question: One of the questions that we've been asked is - Do the police or any other safety body do a cycling safety course in or around Milton Keynes?
Currently at the moment the police don't carry out a safety course as such, but if this is in relation to
a child, many schools offer these courses so it could be worth getting in contact with them to see if one is available. Alternatively more information regarding these courses can be found at Getsmartertravelmk.org. I had a look at their website earlier and there is some information regarding courses for adults and family groups, I believe it was about £5 per person for the course. There are other organisations that are running them, but the police aren't themselves.
Chairman I remember that as a child doing cycling proficiency course at school I borrowed a neighbours’ bike and would go for a ride around the streets learning arm signals and stuff it was actually quite fun as a child to be there.
Answer - I do think maybe the schools are doing it and it may well be worth suggestions from parents too, if they're not doing it, maybe to ask the school to maybe do that. Thank you very much.
Question: Another question we've got was - I am moving from my house and I'm worried about the next occupant using my mail for identity theft. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
Yes there's something you can do, you can contact the Post Office or you can apply online where you have your mail re directed, so you'll be able to set this from the date that you mean to be leaving your old property. Any post addressed to your old address will be then sent to the new address so. It will prevent any future occupants of that property receiving any of your mail.
Chairman - I did a little bit of research on the Internet as well and it looks like you've got various different options that the Post Office offer, so you can do it for different time frames and they do then charge you different amounts, so yes it's a very good service. It does work well.
Question: What lengths can I go to protect myself in my home if an intruder breaks in?
I think the main thing, the most priority, is that you need to do, if you believe there's an intruder in your house is to call the police on 999 straight away. If for any reason you cannot speak or the intruder is in the house and maybe you want to call the police but not alert the intruder of your presence you can press 55 on the keypad when prompted by the call taker, and your call can be transferred straight to the police. The service does not automatically send police to your door though, so it does not allow the police to track your location. If you're calling from a mobile, however, it will inform the call taker. You may have an emergency, cannot speak and they will try and communicate with you in a different way. If you are able to speak without putting yourself in danger, the call taker will ask yes or no questions. So if you are able to say only one thing it is essential, you try and tell the call taker your location so officers can be dispatched to your house. What I would say is it is very unlikely that you'll be confronted by an intruder in your own home, but should this happen you can use reasonable force to protect yourself, your family or your property. The force itself that you might use has to be reasonable, but my advice would always be to avoid this as the offender may be in possession of a weapon and would probably do whatever they can to try and get away. So I would also highlight an investigation would be likely to occur to ensure whatever you did was proportional legal and necessary. So the main thing is to call us, really don't put yourself in danger.
Chairman - OK, so you're supposed to call 999. If you can't talk, press 55 on your keypad.
Exactly, yes like I say yes there is a law that you can use reasonable force, protect yourself, your family, your property, but you just don't know what this person may do to try and get away. They could use violence, use a weapon against you. So if at any point you feel you're in that much danger, you should probably flee your house go to a neighbours to get the police called and so forth really.
Question: What can I do to further protect my van from being broken into and my tools from being stolen?
OK, so we have had a series of thefts last year where vans in Milton Keynes were being broken into and targeted and the way they normally try and break into a van is they will go to the side door of the van either trying to break into the lock or what has been happening, they've been bending back the door panels of the van and then just leaning through and taking tools. So what I would say, if you're able to, your tools should be removed from your van every night, in order to prevent them being stolen. However, it’s understandable that this might not always be possible to do. I mean someone working in construction could have so many tools in there they can't do it every night. So ensure your van has an alarm to alert of any possible break-in. You can also get dash cams now that can be a good deterrent and some can be set up to record during the night which possibly could deter the offender or capture them on there. I would also probably advise to park your vehicle in a well-lit area or in a place which is protected by ring doorbell or CCTV which could alert you of motion around your vehicle. Having flood lights as well to illuminate the area is also suggested and look into maybe getting industrial style locks on the van, especially the side of the van to strengthen the standard lock. Added protection, which I actually said to a member of the public recently who is a victim of his van being broken into, is to consider maybe have an inside added cage, you can probably do it yourself. If you put another kind of cage in there with a padlock they won't want to stay very long. So if you've got an added protection they will probably leave your vehicle and then try and move on to the next one. All tools should be marked, with ultraviolet pen put something on there. Maybe identify your post code, your name nicknames or whatever it is. On your tools there should be serial numbers, so make sure you log that somewhere safe. So if you are a victim of a crime, tools can be recovered if we can track them back to yourself. But be mindful that you are taking the serial number of the tools, not the model number. We've had numerous stolen tools being sold previously at the car boot sale at the bowl. We recovered hundreds and thousands of tools, but we couldn't get them back to the owners because we didn't have their details and people also logging model numbers. You can buy thousands of Bosch drills but we need the serial number. Having insurance for your tools is recommended so you can claim a loss and you can register your stolen tools on a website which is a national property register. You can Google this National Property Register and there are some sites on there which the police would check if we're trying to identify property.
Question: What can I do to secure my property over the winter?
OK, so as it gets darker in the winter months, you should consider leaving a light on. If you leave your home unattended as this gives the illusion that somebody is at home, offenders would be less likely to target your address. A timer switch is something that could be used to assist with leaving a light on. If you're going to be away from your home for long periods of time, you should make sure that all your doors and windows are locked. Get in the habit of doing it even when you're inside your property, just to make sure that you're in the habit of doing it and there's never going to be a time where you leave the door unlocked. It's also important that you make sure car doors and things like that are locked properly as well. There's been an increase in opportunist offenders attempting car door handles, and some have been successful as the cars have been left unlocked, so that's just something to consider as well. Make sure all doors are locked. Within your garden, you should make sure that garden tools and ladders and things like that are stored safely in a locked place, as burglars will often use victims own items to break into their properties. It's also important that, wheelie bins and things like that are left away from garden fences, as they can be used to assist offenders in gaining access to your property. You know your neighbourhood better than anyone, so it's important that any suspicious activity or vehicles you see that look a bit suspicious is reported to us, as it could be a small piece of a puzzle that we're looking into capturing an offender. This can be reported via 101, or if you believe a crime is in progress, you need to call 999.
Chairman - I also noted on the Thames Valley Police web page there is a link to a guide on home security as well. So if anyone's got any further questions they can also visit that webpage and get some ideas there as well about locations of where to install cameras and what type of alarm systems to install and so on so forth as well.
Answer -There's also a good website called Secure by Design, which can be useful when selecting CCTV cameras and stuff like that. It's got loads of home security information on there as well. It's another thing to consider looking at if you're looking at home security.
Question: What should I do if I see a crime or one that has been committed?
OK, so if the crime is happening there and then, and if you're witnessing the crime being committed, the first thing you should do is call 999, if you're in a position to do so. Sometimes it can be useful to use a mobile phone to record what's going on as strong evidence. What I would say is don't put yourself at risk if you're using your mobile phones, to record what's going on, what we do need, though, is the description of the offender it is often the priority for the police, so it's important you focus on obtaining as much detail of the suspect as possible. This includes any vehicles they may be using. Registration numbers or if they're using a bike the colour and the model. What we find is when people do call the police, they might be saying what's happening and which is understandable. People can be shocked to see something happen, but we don't get the details of the information, we may just get something very basic of male offender with hood up, but they were there. So many things you can see if you can open your mind up and watch, you can see their behaviour, how they walk. Yes, so you need as much detail as possible if you're able to. If the offender leaves the scene, then police would ask the direction of the travel, which way they've gone. So when police allocate the job and when they're coming on an “immediate” to the location, we sometimes won’t always go straight to the location. If the witnesses said they've gone a certain way we will be going that way. So direction of travel is important. My advice would be to avoid any confrontation, or apprehending the offender due to risk of harm that could be caused to you, let us deal with it, call the police. If a crime has already been committed, this should be reported via 101 or again on online via the web form from the Thames Valley Police website please. Relevant details such as offender’s description, CCTV opportunities or witnesses should be relayed to police. So if you're reporting it slow time, you may have a look around the area. You can see what neighbours might have ring cameras, CCTV. It just helps us out seeing rather than starting from the beginning when we attend.
Thank you so much.
Question: What should I do if I catch someone breaking into my car?
So I would say this probably is very much a similar response to someone breaking into your house. If the offence is occurring in real time, then call 999 straight away. Again, descriptions of offenders, details of the vehicle that they might be linked to should be relayed to the police call taker. Again, I would advise against apprehending the person it is unknown whether the person has a weapon or again how much violence they are prepared to use to try and get away. There is legislation though that allows citizens to detain a person, but from a police point of view, I would say it's recommended you avoid doing this if possible. Shouting to disturb the offender could be all the distraction needed to prevent them from committing the offence or damaging the vehicle, similar to what has been said before though. Try to get as much detail of the suspects and their possible direction of travel, and any associated vehicles. I will say on this is we do not promote members of the public using force on offenders due to level of injury which may be sustained to yourself or the offender. It may end up being in a position where you have to justify again what you've done, which might be absolutely fine. It's just you need to stay safe again. You just don't know what this person could do to you. OK.
Thank you so much.
Question: Can I send you CCTV footage of people walking around the houses that look like they might be up to no good?
OK, so if you believe the information that you have is useful and it could be linked to any criminal behaviour, then our advice would be to report this on 101 or by the web form through the website and this could be useful to the police as the activity witnessed could be linked to a series of ongoing crimes, or it could help us as a neighbourhood team to identify any patterns of behaviour. Information submitted will be treated as intelligence. Obviously if the footage is needed as evidence for an investigation and that person may need to be contacted. So if you believe it is of any relevance, then yes, please submit it to 101 or on the web form.
Question: What should I do if a neighbour has a really loud car?
So when I read this question, I presume we're talking about maybe the exhaust of a vehicle. Yes, OK, alright. So what I would say is if a neighbour has a loud car. Normally it would be the exhaust that's making the noise, and it probably would be a modified exhaust, because most vehicles nowadays they don't really come with loud exhaust. You can report this to the police on 101 again or on the web form on the webpage. Having realised that a modified exhaust can be dealt with slow time, it's not an emergency, but could be treated as antisocial behaviour if it's causing a nuisance to residents. We have numerous methods of dealing with vehicles that may have been modified and causes annoyance to the community, but if we deem the vehicle contravenes the Road Traffic Act, then the owner or driver could be liable for prosecution or issued a fixed penalty notice. I know in the past where I've come across modified vehicles we have done that. We can also give an order for them to take it to the garage to get that modified part off so that comes at a cost and put the standard part back on as well. So we have got power to do that as well. Like I say, if it's an ongoing nuisance, then just let your neighbourhood team know, and then we can speak to them as, it might be solved by us speaking to the owner to say. Are you aware you're causing this nuisance? They may remove it without any action from the police.
Question: We have a very verbally abusive neighbour who causes a disturbance throughout all times of the day and night. What can I do to help prevent this?
OK, so if you're experiencing problems with the neighbour then this should be reported to the police via 101 or a web form. The local neighbourhood team, so that will be me Steve and Chrissy, would pick this up and we would assist you with the problem. We also recommend that you keep diary sheets and log any activity that occurs between your neighbours that's causing the problems as it allows us as a team to understand the full extent of the problem and if your property is owned by a housing Association or the Council, we can work alongside them to manage antisocial behaviour and to also deal with any offenses that may be being committed. We offer numerous problem solving methods to combat the problem. This can range from mediation between the neighbours to prosecution if any offenses are identified, it may well be that the person causing a problem could be subjected to underlying mental health problems, which is why it should be reported to the police so that we can intervene and safeguard if it is required. So overall the first point of contact should be to us as every incident is different and we would look at it and find a problem solving method to solve the problem.
Question: And last question, Am I allowed to use my personal electric scooter on the redways around Milton Keynes?
So currently Milton Keynes is subjected to a trial of the rental E scooters. These can be used legally around Milton Keynes on roads and in the cycle lanes and red ways, and they were made legal in July. They are undergoing a 12 month trial, whilst the government reviews the legislation. The E scooters are classed as motor vehicles and the use of them falls under the Road Traffic Act. As the private E scooters can't be insured, taxed or registered, they can currently only be used on private land with the permission of the landowner, and we're working hard to educate the public on the rules around the private E scooters as many people are unaware. We've made many social media appeals just making people aware of the problems with them. If we see someone riding one, first of all we will engage with them and issue a sort of a warning because they might not even be aware that they are not allowed to be riding them in a public place. But if the same rider is caught using the scooter again. Then they will be liable to have the E scooter seized, a £300 fine and six points in their driving license as well. If they don't have a driving license, the points will be added when they pass their test. So obviously with Christmas fast approaching, we are encouraging parents to reconsider buying children these private E scooters if the intention is for them to be used in public places because they are currently illegal in England and they face the risk of them being seized, being fined and will see the receiving of points on their license, which I'm sure no one would want. The rental scooters that we've got, I think there are two major brands in Milton Keynes; they can be used on all paths and roads. So currently the rental E scooters are allowed to be used on redways. Obviously protection such as helmets and stuff should be used because they are classed as a motor vehicle still. And obviously consideration to other road users or other people using them on the pathways and stuff like that should also be considered or stopping at roads and stuff like that. Just basic safety principles should also be applied while using them.
Chairman - Thank you very much for all the questions that we got for you today and thank you for joining us. Poppy and Steve. Do you have any questions at all for us at this particular time?
Answer - If the residents have got any concerns then don't be afraid and get in contact with us and then obviously be nice for residents to get to know our names a bit more as we are your friendly neighbourhood team.
Thank you very much.
If you have any further questions which you would like to clarify with the Fairfields Parish, please email them to Mrs Jean Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org