Neighbourhood Watch

Wealden District Police - August Update

Uckfield Police Station Officially Opens
Uckfield Police Station will be officially opened on Wednesday 17 August by the High Sheriff, Mr David Tate, OBE.
The extensive refurbishment project has cost in excess of £420,000 and has been the result of a successful bid to the Home Office's Premises Improvement Fund
(PIF) with additional funding allocated by the force and Sussex Police Authority.   Originally built in 1904 the refurbishment works have substantially improved the public enquiry office at the front of the station, making it a more open and inviting environment for the public. The localised CCTV control room has been modernised as well as improved facilities for the increased number of officers and Police Community Support Officers working from Uckfield.
The refurbished station also has the facility to detain low risk offenders ensuring that they are dealt with quickly and appropriately ensuring that local officers remain within the town. A total of 15 prisoners have already been dealt with locally since the facility opened in July. Higher risk prisoners are now taken to the newly built custody centre located on the outskirts of Eastbourne which is much easier to get to than the old facility in Grove Road.  The whole building has been upgraded, bringing it up to date with modern standards and making it more user-friendly to people with disabilities. The interior of the building has been redecorated and balanced with the sympathetic community police station exterior, and the reassuring and familiar traditional blue lamps have been installed outside the entrance to the station.

Terrorism Act arrests in Sussex
This month's message continues with updating you as to the terrorist attacks in London. Below is an update from Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Williams as to the contribution Sussex Police are making in brining these offenders to justice. July saw a joint operation between Sussex and the Metropolitan Police in connection with the bombings in London on 21st July. Searches were conducted at two addresses in Sussex, and six men and one woman were arrested under the Terrorism Act and were interviewed at a police station in Sussex.
The safety of the public is paramount. There are no known risks to local residents and no armed officers were used during the operation.
Police will continue to make contact with and reassure members of our local communities. We should bear in mind that this activity was part of a criminal
investigation: it was not against any particular community and I know all communities with the Force area are working together with us to keep Sussex safe.

These recent atrocities have increased the demand on the police and our partners. Wealden Police have played their part in supporting these efforts whilst still delivering a local police service to our local communities. Each of our 42 Towns and Parishes in Wealden now has a Police Community Support Officer as a regular point of contact. A full list of these officers and the communities they serve can be found on the Wealden District Police website.

I continue to receive excellent feedback as to the very positive contribution that these officers are making. This was brought home in a recent search for a missing 15 year old boy.

On Friday July 29 a frantic family member rang Wealden Police stating that a 15yr old child had run away from home. Due to his age and background there were significant concerns as to the his welfare and a major search operation was instigated by local Sergeant, Rose Hanson, and her team. They were quickly supported by the local Police Community Support Officers and colleagues from the Police Dog Unit, Roads Policing Department and the Sussex Police helicopter. For over two hours a considerable number of officers were involved in searching the area. Officers used their local knowledge and the young mans background to eventually track him down and return him, safe and well, to his distraught family.

This is an excellent example of how police resources both locally and across Sussex came together in searching for this young lad. The Police Community Support Officers were fantastic and eventually found the lad through their extensive local knowledge. If anyone ever doubted the effectiveness of such officers this result goes a long way to proving their value.

This is not an isolated incident, Wealden Police have dealt with 173 missing people over the last 12 months. Each one having a distraught friend or family member fearing the worst. Indeed we are still looking for 13 year old Rachel Golden from Crowborough. The recent press appeal can be found here.

Local drug dealer gets a visit
The success of Police Community Support Officers and the local Police team working together with the community was further highlighted when local intelligence and information from residents culminated in the execution of a search warrant. A Police drugs search dog was used and sniffed out 78g of cannabis and approximately £300 in cash. Several hundred small plastic bags were also recovered. A local man was arrested and we are currently preparing for his appearance at court. Although only a small amount of drugs were recovered the presence of what is believed to be a local drug dealer living within the community was profound.

Rex Matthews     Wealden District Police Commander

East Sussex Trading Standards is warning the public to be careful about buying frozen fish from travelling door-to-door sellers.

Members of the public have been targeted in Mayfield and Eastbourne by cold callers selling fish from a white van. The fish is of poor quality and expensive. Several varieties are on sale but the majority of packaging has no weight or date markings. There is also a total lack of information about the food producer.

A local fishmonger examined the fish with trading standards and confirmed that it is vastly over-priced and of very poor quality.

Commenting, Councillor Bob Tidy, Lead Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: "There are still some reputable fishmongers who call door to door on a regular basis and the public can confidently buy fish from them. Cold-calling itinerant traders are unlikely to be so reliable. Pre-packed fish should be marked with certain information which is there to inform consumers what they are buying, how much of it and its shelf life. These unfortunate incidents are yet more examples of a cold-calling trader cheating East Sussex residents and I urge consumers to think twice before they buy from strangers on the doorstep".

Any consumers who are approached by fishmongers not known in their area, please advise the East Sussex Trading Standards Service on 01323 418200 or trading.standards@eastsussex.gov.uk

Door Knockers from Poland!

Just to let you know this begging has arrived in the Rotherfield area - A fellow CSN member had just such a caller only a few days ago. She said he wasn't threatening in any way and she just shook her head and politely told him she never dealt at the door.

Trading Standards has this advice, especially for the vulnerable:

Do not deal with people who knock on your door offering to do home improvement work or want to store their equipment on your property.
If you do receive such a call, then stop before you answer the door, put the chain on and check the person's credentials. If you do not know the caller do not let them in, as once they are in it may be very difficult to get them to leave.
Do not agree to any work where the caller says "we are only in the area today"
Do not be enticed into hiring the caller on the basis that they will offer you a reduction in price, if you allow them to store their machinery on your property.

If work is required there are several trading schemes up and running in the East Sussex area, which work in partnership with East Sussex County Council. Through these partnerships, householders can put you in touch with reliable builders. Please contact Contractor Call on 01323 724433, Check the Trader on 01424 781869 or East Sussex Trading Standards for details of reputable traders.

For information on how to deal with cold callers and how to make your home as secure as you can from these types of traders please contact Trading Standards on 01323 418200

Bogus callers and cash theft
Police in Hastings and Rother are issuing a warning about a man who claims to be a police officer who is targeting the homes of elderly and vulnerable people. On Saturday (August 14) a bogus caller struck at four houses: two in Hastings, one in Burwash and one in Battle. The first incident happened at around midday at the home of a 91 year old man in Park View, Hastings. The caller told his victim that he was a police officer and flashed a card at him. The householder did not check it and assumed it was a genuine warrant card. The bogus officer then told the man that he needed to check any banknotes he had. The victim gave him a large quantity of cash, at which point the caller left, taking the money with him.

About two hours later, what's believed to have been the same man struck again at Heathfield Road in Burwash. This time the victim was an elderly lady who was also told by the male that he was a police officer. He came into her home and looked through her belongings. The lady did not have any cash and the caller left with nothing. It was only a short time later that the bogus caller arrived at an address in Hastings Road, Battle. Again he told his victim, a 90 year old lady, that he was a police officer who needed to check any banknotes she had. After the lady handed over a quantity of cash, the man left with all her money. The bogus caller struck for the final time on that day at an address in the St Helens area of Hastings. On this occasion, he told the elderly male occupant that he was connected with a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. But his potential victim assumed he was not genuine and refused to let him in.

Police believe the caller on all four occasions was the same man. All the victims gave a similar description of a smart man dressed in a suit. One witness believed he drove away in a small white van. Of the first incident, Detective Inspector Tim Nunn said: "This cruel crime has left the victim feeling foolish and vulnerable". He went on: "It is clear that this man is deliberately targeting elderly and vulnerable victims and we would like people of all ages to be particularly vigilant when strangers come to their door." Police say all genuine callers, including police staff, will carry an identification card. Anyone with any doubts should not let the caller in and a phone call to the organisation they claim to represent usually proves whether they are genuine or not. DI Nunn said: "If you do have a caller that you know is bogus, close your door and notify police immediately, giving police a full description of that person, including their clothing and any vehicle you think they are with."

Police are asking for everyone's help to trace this caller and to prevent any further incidents. Anyone who knows anything about the four incidents, or who may have had similar calls themselves, please contact DC Anita Turner at Hastings CID on 0845 60 70 999.

New charity collection scam warning
If you think you've been donating clothes to charity - check again! East Sussex Trading Standards recently warned of a company called Olonex that was circulating a leaflet across the County, encouraging residents to donate unwanted clothes, and other goods, supposedly to help people in the third world. The leaflet had been carefully worded to give residents the impression they are donating to charity, but a careful check of the leaflet's fine print revealed that the company is a commercial organisation, not a charity.

Now another Company is working in the area, this time called Kraslava Services Seven Ltd, and again, the circular they deliver asking for donated goods to be left on the doorstep for later collection, gives the false impression that the collection is a charitable one. The Advertising Standards Authority warned Kaslava on 21st July 2004 about their misleading advertising, and told the company to withdraw the circular immediately. Trading Standards have received information that suggests the misleading circular is still being used. One complainant reported having a full laundry bag she had left out on her doorstep for her Laundry Service to collect, mysteriously disappear, and later realised that it was the day that these collectors were due to return. The bag contained a week's worth of the family laundry, worth several hundred pounds.

The people behind Companies such as Olonex, and Kraslava are depriving legitimate charities of significant revenue, and misleading the public into lining the pockets of businesses who sell the donated goods on for profit. Commenting, County Council Lead Member for Community Safety, Councillor Bob Tidy, said: "I strongly encourage residents to use the established charity shops to make donations. Charity collections of unwanted clothes are an excellent means of recycling items and allowing people to show support for a chosen cause."

Operation Riverhead - 25/07/04
On Sunday 25th July 2004 Wealden Police and officers from East Sussex Trading Standards, The Inland Revenue and from the Financial Investigation Branch carried out a raid on Bramley Farm Car Boot Fair near Polegate. This is the second operation in the series and follows on from the initial huge success back in June this year where 1000's of counterfeit DVD's, sunglasses, clothing were seized along with drugs with a street value of approximately 20,000 recovered from an address in Eastbourne following searches.

Approximately 19 police officers, 6 officers from Trading Standards and 2 members of The Inland Revenue took part in Operation Riverhead which targeted those who sell stolen and counterfeit goods to unsuspecting members of the public.

As a result of this operation 4 people were arrested which now brings the total number arrested under this operation to 10. A large quantity of counterfeit goods were again seized together with bulk shoplifting items such as cosmetics.

Chief Inspector Rex Matthews from Wealden Police who led the operation said, "This is another example of several agencies working together to tackle those people using boot fairs to sell stolen, prohibited and counterfeit goods. Experience and intelligence has shown that these people are often involved in a wide range of criminal activity including drugs. This is our second swoop on a car boot fair with the full support and co-operation of the organisers who want to rid these events of such criminals making it a safe friendly event to visit where people can buy goods with confidence. We are not after genuine sellers only those who are selling stolen, prohibited or counterfeit products"

We will continue to run more of these operations at various locations throughout the summer. The management of Cophall and Bramley Farm have been extremely cooperative and clearly want to promote the type of business that only attracts genuine sellers. We will be working with the management to help them promote these values as well as developing a controlled approach to car boot sales in the Wealden District area.

C/Insp Matthews Wealden District Commander