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This issue of Watch Out magazine has been sponsored by

AUGUST 2017

WatchOut Kent edition

Where reputation matters

Don’t let fly-tippers turn communities into a rubbish dump - see page 7


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Part worn tyres may be cheap but they could end up costing you your life

Cheap tyres are KILLERS By Staff Reporter MOTORISTS trying to save money could be dicing with death by buying dangerous second-hand tyres, with as many as 83 per cent of used tyres in some areas being sold illegally, warn councils. Part-worn tyres are being sold with serious safety defects, unsafe repairs and incorrect labelling, with some used tyres on sale found to be 23 years old, according to council Trading Standards teams across the country who are cracking down on irresponsible businesses flouting the law. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is urging motorists buying second-hand tyres to check they are in good condition and bear the required 'PART-WORN' tyre marking. The stamp lets drivers know that the tyre has been checked and meets legal requirements. Latest government figures show there were 16 people killed and 908 road casualties – more than two a day – in reported accidents in the UK in 2015 where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor. With research showing that around 4.5 million part-worn tyres are being sold in the UK

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every year, the LGA is warning sellers of illegal used tyres they face confiscation of their stock and prosecution which could lead to a hefty fine and a prison sentence. The warning follows recent operations by council Trading Standards teams. They include: Brent and Harrow Trading Standards officers found that only two of 12 (17 per cent) used tyres bought from 12 different traders met legally acceptable standards, while at least six of them had defects that could pose a serious safety risk if they were put back on a car. A trader is being prosecuted as a result. Durham County Council officers found that only one of 39 (2.6 per cent) tyres stocked at various dealers bore the required 'PARTWORN' tyre marking, with 25 tyres having problems that could impair safety. Ten tyres had unsafe repairs, nine were over 10 years old and one was 23 years old Enfield Trading Standards bought several part-worn tyres from local businesses and found half of them to be unsafe, with 83 per cent of the tyres not having the required ‘PART-WORN' stamp applied to them before being exposed for sale. The LGA is advising motorists to avoid buying dangerous second-hand tyres and urging traders to comply with used tyre laws. Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA's

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Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “The prevalence of dangerous used tyres for sale at some businesses is alarming and irresponsible traders are putting lives at risk. “Cheap part-worn tyres might be tempting to buy but if they don't have the correct legal markings, motorists risk buying illegal tyres which could contribute to a major accident. “Motorists buying used tyres should go to a reputable trader and check they have ‘PARTWORN' stamped on them as without this mark, they are unlikely to have been checked and the retailer is breaking the law. They should also look out for any cracks, tears, lumps and check the state of the thread before buying. “It's also worth looking at how good a deal used tyres offer. New tyres are available to suit all budgets, provide a safer option and should last longer, meaning they may offer better value for money in the long term. “Trading Standards teams nationwide will continue to advise traders on their responsibilities, carry out test purchasing and won't hesitate to prosecute anyone selling unsafe used tyres. Anyone who suspects that part-worn tyres being sold do not comply with legislation should contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.

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Home and away Hospice cheated by crooks DOROTHY House Hospice Care has become the latest victim of scammers after the charity was fleeced out of £130,000, which could have been used to pay for three full time specialist nurses, by a "sophisticated" phone call. The attack on the Winsley-based charity, which provides compassionate care and support for people with terminal illnesses, was branded despicable by chief executive John Davies. The money, which came out of the charity's general funds, is equivalent to four-anda-half days of running costs or three full time specialist nurses. “We are fortunate to be in a strong financial position - we spend £12.5m on health and social care costs every year - so this figure is less than one per cent of our running costs," said Mr Davies. "However this money has been given to us in good faith and I am determined to tell them that we will scrutinize everything."

Fake Budweiser factory A FAKE Budweiser factory producing counterfeit beer has been uncovered by cops in Dongguan, China.. The famous beer brewery is an international brand but that makes it prey to bootleggers wishing to cash in on the name. And now footage has shown the innerworkings of a factory where cheap booze is packaged up as the American beer. In the first clip, female workers can be seen handling the recycled cans which are then canned by a machine on a conveyor belt in the next clip. Then, the third clip shows a Trade and Industry Bureau taskforce arriving at the factory to check out the products at the factory According to city authorities, the under-

ground factory was able to churn out 600,000 crates of fake Bud a month, which were then distributed to bars and nightclubs. Budweiser has become the third largest beer brand in China and has 14 breweries there.

Isle of Wight Against scams THE Isle of Wight Council Trading Standards service has launched the Isle of Wight Against Scams Partnership to present a united front against fraudsters. They’ve launched a charter which aims to: •Raise awareness and destigmatise scams •Prevent and protect •Identify and record •Enforce, seek access to justice and restore a sense of wellbeing and confidence to victims Dr Keith Brown, a Professor of Social Work at Bournemouth University, leads the national research team for Trading Standards: “Scammers play on victims who are usually lonely and we do need to think about loneliness in our society. “Isolation and loneliness is a terrible … curse, evil, problem, and we are only beginning to really understand the impact on people. So we do need to think about our neighbours, our relatives, our friends around and make sure they’re not lonely.”

Dance star jailed FORMER Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller is going to prison for a year and a day after being sentenced on Tuesday in a Pittsburgh federal courtroom over fraud charges. The reality television star received the sentence after she had been indicted on 20 counts of fraud related to hiding $755,000 in earning from the U.S. government last year. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci told the court that Miller went from being a 'dance mom in the bankruptcy case to dance con.' Dance Moms is a reality series on the Lifetime network, which follows the early training and careers of children in dance under the guidance of Miller as their dance instructor.

Barclays shamed BARCLAYS has the worst record for unfairly rejecting fraud claims, a study found. Its customers made around 5,800 complaints to the Financial Omdbusman about card fraud and disputed payments from April 2015 to February 2017. In more than a third of cases involving Barclays, the Ombudsman found the bank had wrongly rejected the customer’s complaint. Santander was next worst with 33 per cent, while Nationwide Building Society was third, with 28 per cent, according to consumer group Which?

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Card fraud victims should be refunded unless the bank proves the customer acted negligently — by sharing card details, for example. But not all banks do this.

White collar crooks A NEW app and website called White Collar Crime Risk Zones , which goes by the initials WCCRZ, shows exactly what neighbourhoods are occupied by financial criminals, how much damage they're doing and even what they might look like. Using data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a team of technologists affiliated with the left-wing magazine New Inquiry created the open-source tool so that anyone can put a face on the world of white collar crime hidden in their own home town. The app was created in the image of socalled "predictive policing" apps — the new spectrum of apps and tools used by police to map out where crime is likely to occur so they know what neighbourhoods to patrol.

Jude’s mum scammed ACTOR Jude Law's elderly late grandmother was conned out of £60,000 by cowboy builders, who conned elderly and vulnerable householders into paying huge bills in what a judge describes as "merciless deceit in their own homes." Retired biology teacher Meinwen Parry, in her 80s, from Bangor, Mr Law's grandmother, had memory problems, and was defrauded of £60,900. An 84-year-old former caretaker who had health and mobility problems was also swindled out of his £656,000 life savings for unnecessary and substandard roofing work Caernarfon crown court heard Builder Steven Jones, 38, a professional roofer from Llangefni, who admitted fraud, was one of those involved and was jailed for eight years.

Filthy takeaway fined AN INDIAN restaurant and takeaway in Newport which was given a zero hygiene rating after a rodent infestation has been fined more than £33,330. Duldul Miah, owner of the New Delhi in Caerleon Road, which is now closed, and his company Doleshori Ltd appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates Court where both pleaded guilty to 10 food hygiene offences and two of failing to display a valid rating sticker. Mr Miah was fined £11,570 and his firm £21,760. Newport City Council’s environmental health team found an established and widespread rodent infestation and cleaning and disinfection across the business was poor and the building was poor .

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Barbecues can be fun, but they can also be dangerous if you don’t take proper safety precautions

Top tips for barbecue safety FIREFIGHTERS are telling families across the country to make the most of the summer sun and enjoy family barbecues...but they offer a serious word of warning. Following incidents where people have been badly burned by using petrol to get the barbecue started, fire chiefs have issued advice to keep everhyone safe. During the summer months, it's only natural to want to be outside, enjoying a barbecue with family and friends. But there are dangers that lurk behind such fun pursuits. Using petrol to light your barbecue or leaving it unattended are two of the most common mistakes people make. Every summer this results in firefighters being called to fires caused by barbecues that have got out of control. In some instances, this has led to serious injuries and damage to property. A top ingredient for a great barbecue is to make sure that you cook with safety in mind. Barbecue safety advice nNever leave the barbecue unattended nKeep a bucket of sand or water nearby for emergencies nEnsure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it

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nDispose of barbecue coals carefully and only when completely cooled nKeep your barbecue well away from trees, shrubs, fences or sheds nNever use petrol or other accelerants to get your barbecue started Barbecue tips Charcoal barbecues nMake sure that your barbecue is in good working order nMake sure the site chosen for the barbecue is flat and well away from sheds, fences and overhanging branches and other foliage nUse only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 50mm (two inches) nUse only recognised fire lighters or starter fuel, and only use on cold coals. Use the minimum quantity necessary to start the fire nKeep children and garden games well away from the cooking area nNever leave the barbecue unattended When the cooking is finished, make sure the barbecue is cool before trying to move it nEmpty the spent ashes onto bare garden soil nNever put ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin

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Gas barbecues - these use bottled gas, so follow these simple rules: nMake sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder nChange gas cylinders in the open air if possible, otherwise open doors and windows to provide good ventilation nIf you suspect a leak in the gas cylinder or pipework brush soapy water around all joints and watch for bubbles nIf you find a leaky joint, try to tighten it, but do not over-tighten nDo not keep more spare gas cylinders than you need nStore gas cylinders outside (protect from frost and direct sunlight) nDo not store gas cylinders under the stairs of your home. If you are upstairs this is your means of escape from a fire nWhen you have finished cooking with a gas barbecue, turn off the gas cylinder before the barbecue controls, this makes sure that any residue gas in the pipeline is used up Enjoy yourselves, but remember... excessive alcohol and fire are a lethal mix

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KENT NEWS IN BRIEF Knifed by an intruder A STALKER who sent a cow’s tongue to his former partner during an eight-month campaign of harassment has been jailed. Danny Wells, 29, of Gordon Close, Ashford, also posted an animal’s heart to the woman following the end of their relationship, and wrote more than 100 emails containing abusive and threatening comments. The offences came to a head in early 2017 when the victim received letters from funeral operators responding to enquiries Wells had submitted in her name. He also accessed her online shopping account and purchased more than 20 books with titles including `Watching You’ and `Appointment With Death’. Wells was jailed for two years and eight months when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court. He was also given an indefinite restraining order against the victim.

Violent drug dealer A DRUG dealer who forced two men into his car in Thanet before violently assaulting them has been jailed for nine years. Tyson Gordon was wearing a balaclava and brandishing a hammer, when on 8 November, 2015 he smashed his way into a flat in Athelstan Road, Margate, where one of his victims was staying. He told the man to leave, pushing him out of the property and into his car. Inside the BMW was another man who had previously also been forced out of a property in Adelaide Gardens, Ramsgate, and beaten with a hammer and struck with the butt of a gun. Gordon, 27, formerly of Buenos Aires, Margate, claimed both men owed him money from drug debts. One man was struck repeatedly to the legs and back with a hammer then produced what appeared to be a firearm and forced the barrel into the man's mouth, demanding repayment of the debt before driving away and leaving him to walk home. At Canterbury Crown Court Gordon pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, possession of a firearm, and a charge of false imprisonment. He also admitted possessing crack cocaine with intent to supply, and possessing cannabis and was jailed for nine years.

Homework for cops CHILDREN from Eastchurch Brownies have been finding out more about the work of Kent Police and staying safe. Police Community Support Officers Ben Stevenson and Claire Croucher paid a visit to the brownies’ hut. The PCSOs spoke to the children about policing and answered questions about the work they do across the Isle of Sheppey. They also offered advice on stranger danger, cyber safety and other crime prevention tips. PCSO Stevenson said: “It was a pleasure to

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meet members from Eastchurch Brownies and they gave us a lovely thank-you card. “We were invited to give a talk as they are working towards getting their crime prevention badges. “It was a good opportunity to raise awareness of staying safe and the steps people of any age can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.”

Stay safe with drones KENT Police is to add the use of drones to the many ways in which it keeps the county safe. Officers have been trialling the unmanned aerial vehicles since 2015 and have consulted with other forces using drones to identify the benefits offered to day-to-day policing. As a result, drones are now be used in Kent from last month. The aerial units will be used to help officers locate vulnerable missing people before they come to harm. They will also be used at some crime scenes and at serious road traffic collisions to provide officers with a better understanding of the terrain and evidential opportunities. Drones will be operated by uniformed police officers who have received appropriate training and use of the force’s drones will be published on the public facing Kent Police website. Superintendent Mat Newton said: “It is clear the use of drones in approved circumstances can improve the ability of officers to find missing people or get a better view of the scene of an incident. “They will not replace police helicopters but can be used by officers during the early stages of an incident when a helicopter is not immediately available or their use is impractical. VWe have also given great consideration to the safety aspects of using drones as well as their operational capabilities and we firmly believe they will help us in delivering a first class service to the people of Kent.’

Fined for nuisance calls ELECTRICAL survey provider MyHome Installations Ltd, which entered the hall of shame on the Beeb's Rogue Traders for pressure selling to pensioners, is facing a £50,000 fine for nuisance calls. The UK Information Commissioner's Office probed 169 complaints from members of the public whose phone numbers were listed on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), meaning they specifically opted out of receiving calls from marketing monkeys. The ICO found MyHome Installations, based in Kent, England, had obtained details for potential customers over 18 months from third-party companies that allegedly insisted the personal details had been screened against the no-call register. However, MyHome Installations was unable to hand over proof of consent, claiming a previous marketing manager had bought the information and added it to call lists without making any reference to its source. The shoddy work practises of MyHome

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Installations were highlighted previously by Rogue Traders. The programme exposed some pretty nasty individuals at the firm that weren't afraid to push elderly people to buy its services, using scaremongering tactics.

Counterfeiters jailed THREE members of a counterfeit currency racket involved in the distribution of more than £135,000 worth of fake banknotes have been jailed. James Brennan, 36, of Eastern Gardens, Ashford; Frazer North, , 33, of Tillingbourne Green, Orpington; and Daniel Chapman, , 42, of The Downage, Gravesend, all admitted their part in the conspiracy, which was investigated by specialist officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. Brennan was jailed for seven years and eight months when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing with North receiving a custodial sentence of four years and two months. Chapman will spend two years and eight months behind bars. n It is believed the group planned to sell each Bank of England note for between £2 and £5 each, and would only accept a minimum order of £1,000 in real cash.

Director stole £6m FINANCE director Michael Collins could not suppress his greed for money and the good things in life so he stole £6 million from his bosses to pay for his passion for designer clothes, luxury holidays and fine dining But that greed has ended with Collins, of West Hill, Downe, Kent, being jailed for five years and four months’ at the Old Bailey after he pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust and false accounting He was also disqualified from becoming a company director for 10 years. Collins was the executive finance director of a company called The Mediterranean Insurance and Reinsurance Company Limited (MedRe), based in central London.

Jailed for sexual activity A MAN has been jailed for sexual activity with a schoolboy he groomed online. Theo Black, 26, of Beckenham, Kent was sentenced to four years and six months' imprisonment at Croydon Crown Court for engaging in sexual activity with a child and possession of indecent images. In September 2014, the 14-year-old male victim encountered Black on a social networking app. The boy agreed to meet Black at a southeast London station. When the victim arrived, Black took him to his home address. The victim told Black that he was 14, but despite this, Black initiated and engaged in sexual activity with the child. When Black's electronic devices were examined by specialist officers they revealed evidence of indecent images and film clips of children aged between eight and 14 engaging in sexual activity.

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Four examples of how flytippers are blighting our countryside and the streets of London

The cost of dumping rubbish By Peter Faulkner THE rising cost of clearing up fly-tipped rubbish is putting pressure on local authorities struggling with funding problems. Some 70% of local authorities say fly-tipping is a major problem, according to a poll commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy. It comes as a separate Ipsos MORI survey shows that over a third of people (36%) said they thought it was OK to do things legally defined as fly-tipping. More than 50% of local authorities who said fly-tipping was a major problem think that changes – including the increase of bulky waste charges and closing recycling centres have contributed to the problem. Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said increases in waste disposal charges and closing recycling centres had

contributed to an increase in fly-tipping. “We know that local authorities are at their wits' end trying to tackle the growing crisis of dumped rubbish," she said. “There is a real challenge here to educate the public that not only is it not OK to fly-tip, it is illegal and can result in a substantial fine for householders and a criminal record." The Ipsos MORI nationwide survey revealed that 47% of people don't know that they're responsible in law if their waste is fly-tipped by a third party. Some 36% of people think it is acceptable to get rid of an unwanted sofa or mattress in a way that is legally classed as fly-tipping. The latest figures show there were more than 900,000 reported fly-tipping incidents in 2014/15 – costing local councils in excess of £50million a year to deal with.

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Keep Britain Tidy has launched an action plan to tackle the blight of fly-tipping to raise awareness that people have a legal duty of care to dispose of waste properly. To deliver this plan, the group wants councils and waste contractors to join their experts to tackle fly-tipping at local level where communities are being hit. Keep Britain Tidy is also are calling on the government to direct revenue generated through the landfill tax to local authorities to support a free collection and recycling service. It says this would enable local authorities to remove charges that might be contributing to increases in fly-tipping. Currently, the maximum fine for fly-tipping in the magistrates' court is £50,000 or 12 months in prison but 95% of the fines issued are less than £1,000.

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NEWS in brief GP trafficked woman

Shock crime figures

GP Ayodeji Adewakun, 45, and her husband Abimbola. 49, a nurse, have been jailed for trafficking a woman to the UK in order to exploit her. Ayodeji was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for one count of trafficking, Abimbola was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment for one count of trafficking. The pair were each also ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation to the victim and £2,520 to cover court costs. The couple had brought the 29-year-old female victim to the UK from Nigeria to work at their home. She was contracted to work from 7am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, looking after the Adewakuns' children for £500 per month. In reality they didn't pay her anythinguntil May 2009 when she complained.

Tasers to fight crime ABOUT 1,800 more London police officers will be armed with Tasers to boost public safety following rising crime and violent crime including the recent terror attacks. The move will arm about a quarter of all officers with the stun guns, with more than 6,400 of the capital's 27,000 officers using the devices. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has linked the boost to an increase in violent crime, including knife crime, as well as increasing assaults sustained by officers in recent years. However, she did not specifically mention the terror attacks which have shocked the country for their violence and involved knife crime, including the stabbing death of one officer.

Fighting budget fraud TWENTY European member states have decided to establish a new European public prosecutor's office in a bid to speed up the fight against budget fraud. The European Parliament will now have to give its consent to the plan. Once in place, the independent EU public prosecutor will be given the power to investigate and prosecute criminal cases affecting the EU budget, such as corruption or fraud with EU funds, or cross-border VAT fraud. Every year at least 50bn of revenues from VAT are lost for national budgets all over Europe through cross-border fraud. Transnational organised crime is making billions in profit by evading national rules and escaping criminal prosecution. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of budget and human resources, said: "We are strengthening our efforts in protecting taxpayers' money

Latest statistics show that moped crime is on the increase

THEFTS by moped-riding gangs are partly behind the largest increase in police-recorded crime in ten years, latest figures show. Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales showed that almost five million crimes were recorded in the year to March 2017, a 10 per cent rise on the previous year. Among this was a 7 per cent rise in theft, including a 20 per cent rise in theft of a vehicle and a 10 per cent increase in shoplifting. Reported influences of motor theft reached 91,433, an increase of more than 15,000 from the previous year and the highest level since 2011. Bicycle theft increased by 9 per cent and there was also a 21 per cent increase in "dine and dash" offences, which rose from 64,538 to 77,917. The ONS said that a recent increase in moped crimes in cities such as London could be behind some of the rise in theft. Pedestrians have reported having their mobile phones snatched from their hands as they walk on the pavement by thieves riding mopeds. Last month drivers protested against a spate of attacks by other moped riders, including a

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recent flurry of acid attacks on delivery drivers in east London. Five of the attacks took place within 90 minutes. Moped drivers were doused with a corrosive liquid by attackers who pulled up alongside them. Two teenagers aged 15 and 16 were subsequently arrested. The figures also showed a 20 per cent rise in knife crime and a 23 per cent rise in gun crime. The police-recorded figures were released alongside figures from the crime survey for England and Wales, which showed a seven per cent drop. The survey data records people's experiences of crime and does not include offences such as homicide, sexual offences, shoplifting, harassment, public order, drug and weapon possession. Separate statistics released today show that police numbers have fallen to the lowest level in 30 years. A Home Office report showed that there were 123,142 officers in England and Wales at the end of March this year - the lowest number since 1985.

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New free app is making communities safer and linking friends and neighbours

Sign up to be safe and h-appy IT’S late at night and Rachel is walking home from the tube alone. She sees a large, rowdy group of men blocking the footpath ahead. She feels nervous. She pulls out her phone which already has her Trygve Personal Safety Alarm activated and hovers her finger over the ‘Send Alarm NOW’ button. One tap, and she could instantly alert everyone in the area that she’s in trouble and needs assistance. One street away, Trygve-user Tony would receive Rachel’s alarm as a push notification on his phone. Over the road, Mark and Jennifer would also receive Rachel’s alarm on theirs. A street away, 10 other households containing Trygve users would receive the alarm. If necessary, Rachel could have a collection of supportive neighbours at her side within minutes. The power of active neighbours is already proven through crime-reducing initiatives like Neighbourhood Watch. Even in today’s busy society, trends in social media show that neighbours still want to connect and support each other. But what if we could go further than just socialising? What if residents could collaboratively work with each other, local police and

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councils to make their neighbourhoods the safest they can be? Communities across London are having success doing exactly that. On several occasions, residents and police working together using Trygve has led to the arrests of local criminals. But no matter where you live, Trygve can be downloaded and operated in your area making the district safe for you, your family, your friends and neighbours. One example was when a resident used her local police-led group in Trygve to report that a known suspicious car had turned up in her street and the passengers were doing drugs. As she watched the police arrive, she noticed one of the suspects quickly hide something in a nearby garden. She alerted the Trygve group again, which included the police on scene, telling them to check the garden. The police searched the garden and found a dangerous assault weapon, leading to the suspect’s arrest. “Several arrests would not have happened without Trygve, said PC Tom Curtis of Hackney Police. “Trygve gives us instant information, but also allows us to have a more positive relationship with our residents. “It also allows the community to appreciate

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and support the work that police do,” The Trygve app works in real time, meaning crime can be reported and actioned as it happens, informing people at the time of the incident, rather than afterwards. Incidents (‘events’) can be posted on the map by any Trygve user and users collaborate on the events together. Communication can be to the public, to selected groups or direct to local organisations. “We see a great potential for Trygve in London, especially in the intra-watch communication area and the multitude of watches yet to be. Anything that binds communities is actively encouraged by us,” London Community Watch Trust chairman, Mark Glazer, said. The Trygve mentality believes that everyone within a community can be helpful and supportive resources. If residents are informed and equipped with the right tools, they are empowered to support each other and work together to keep their neighbourhoods safe. Trygve is completely free for private users and available on iOS, Android and computers. Join now and be part of the new supportive digital environment sweeping the country and making communities safer. www.trygve.co.uk/get-started

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Katie Piper, scarred after the attack by her boyfriend

Naomi Oni, attacked near her home in East London

The truth about acid attacks RECENT acid attacks on innocent members of the public have suggested that this is a new and ugly phenomenom about to hit the country. But almost 1,500 acid attacks were reported in Britain between 2011-2106 proving that this is a growing problem that needs addressing. Even school children as young as 13 have been using corrosive substances as weapons. Crime statistics show that there was more than 450 acid attacks in London alone last year, with the number of attacks in the capital more than doubling since 2014. Between 2011 and 2016, there was almost 1,500 reports of attacks involving corrosive fluids in the capital. There were 431 attacks in 2016 alone, compared to 261 the previous year. In London, The borough with the most acid attacks was Newham which had three times more attacks than the next highest borough, with a total of 398 attacks from 2011 to 2016. The borough in second spot, Barking & Dagenham, had 134 acid attacks between the same period while the lowest number of acid attacks took place in Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea, which has 15 acid attacks each between 2011 and 2016.

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But experts say the real figure is much higher, with the true scale of the problem hidden because people are afraid to come forward. The news comes after assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton, the National Police Chiefs Council spokesperson on corrosive attacks, said many victims are staying silent. She said: “I do fear that this is a hidden crime and that some of the victims are in fear of reprisal and don't come forward.� It is believed criminal gang members are carrying acid in drinks bottles because they are less likely to get caught than if they carry a knife or gun. Schoolchildren as young as 13 have also told how 'squirting' rivals with acid is easier than trying to stab or fight them. The figures have added to calls to ban the sale of corrosive substances to youngsters, a cal stepped up following a series of acid attacks last month. Shops currently have to report children or teenagers acting suspiciously when they buy acid or strong household cleaners, but there is no age restriction on its sale. The issue first came to widespread public attention when model Katie Piper was attacked with sulphuric acid by her exboyfriend Daniel Lynch in 2008.

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Ms Piper has since led campaigns to raise awareness of the problem, founding her own charity to help people living with burns and scars and releasing an autobiography about her life entitled Beautiful. Another high-profile victim of the sickening weapon was Naomi Oni, who suffered burns to her face and chest in an attack near her east London home in December 2012. She later hit out at authorities over the lack of support and the 'incompetant' way in which her complaint was handled'. Victim Adele Bellis, who lost an ear and suffered permanent scarring in the sulphuric acid attack in Suffolk in 2014, also bravely spoke publicly about rebuilding her life after the attack. The issue has received renewed attention in recent weeks after clubbers were doused with a corrosive substance at Mangle nightclub in Dalston, London, on April 17, leaving two people blind in one eye and 18 others with multiple burns. Arthur Collins, the former boyfriend of TOWIE star Fern McCann, has since appeared in court, alongside another man, Andre Phoenix.

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Police warn: Make sure your kids are safe TWO recent incidents in Bexley Primary Schools are cause for concern. An Eastern European male entered a primary school and walked directly to the year 6 area and spoke to a teacher. He said he was there to collect a child, who he named as Julia. This was the class where a Julia had recently left with one of her par-

ents. The parent of that child was subsequently spoken to and had no idea who this male was. In a separate incident, another Eastern European female called another primary school and named a child by their full name saying they would be collecting at 2.30pm to take her to a hospital appointment.

They did not turn up and the child was collected by dad at the end of the school day as normal. He had no knowledge of who may have called. Please be vigilant and ensure that police are made aware of any similar incidents that you may know of -Sgt. Alison Bateman, Borough Police.

Watch group anger over police station closure LONDON Mayor,Sadiq Khan has announced that half of the capital’s police stations aree to close - and Bexleyheath is one of those on his chopping block. The Mayor says that over the past 10 years the number of crimes reported at police stations and front counters has fallen by three quarters. Today just eight per cent of all crimes are reported at front counters, compared to 22 per cent in 2006. The intent is to reduce police operating costs by reducing the number of police stations providing ‘front office’ services to one per borough. In most boroughs that means the principle police station will provide that service but Bexley Neighbourhood Watch say that won’t happen in Bexleyheath because the front office service is to be transferred to the police office at Marlow House, Sidcup and once that has been done, Bexleyheath Police Station will be closed as soon as they can find a buyer for the site. The plan is to join Bexley with both Greenwich and Lewisham forces which does not seem to account for the increase in crime across London including burglary, knife crime, gun crime, acid attacks and of course terrorist attacks. That's on top of a shortage of officers which was recently also highlighted by the media. A public consultation is in progress. Bexley NHW is now recommending that residents log onto www.london.gov.uk/what-wedo/mayors-office-policing-and-crimemopac/mopac-consultations/share-yourviews-accessing-met to read the draft strategy and share your views. “We would appreciate your support in keeping Bexleyheath Police Station open as well as the front desk,” said a Watch spokesman. “With the custody suite at

Bexleyheath Police Station under threat of closure Bexleyheath recently closed, officers from Bexley whomake an arrest already have to take offenders to Plumstead Police Station which means they are already offline for longer. “We feel this is a short-sighted plan that puts further stress on officers who are already overworked and could also reduce the overall effectiveness of Neighbourhood Watch which, being based in Bexleyheath police station, has a close and valuable working relationship with the police. Under the Mayor of London’s plans London’s police force will move into the digital age by spending more time on the phone. A new telephone and digital investigation unit will in future investigate crimes such as

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burglary where it is not necessary for officers to attend a crime scene. This means officers will spend more time at the end of the phone line while closure of stations will save cash and streamline the force. At least one station will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in each of the capital’s 32 boroughs. Police say more people are happy to have crimes dealt with over the phone and say that if there is evidence to support an investigation or a victim needs an officer, for instance if they are vulnerable, police will always visiit. The new strategy states that some crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse and hate crime will always involve a visit from a police officer.

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Kent Watch Out magazine - August 2017  
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