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The partnership works in this way. The Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111, is available on a 24-hour basis. That enables any member of the public who knows the identity of a person who has committed a serious crime, or knows details of a crime being hatched, to call. I am not talking about minor crime or offences such as shoplifting but crimes of magnitude, particularly violence such as murder, attempted murder, rape, child molestation, human trafficking, grievous bodily harm and drug dealing. It involves the police fully briefing the media on major crimes, giving, if available, descriptions of the alleged offenders. The media then publicise this together with the Crimestoppers number, and members of the public who have information on that or any other serious crime can then pass it on to police via the anonymous line. Some people may raise their eyebrows because the caller is anonymous, but Crimestoppers is a charity and that allows it to give anonymity.
The caller does not have to identify himself or herself as they would if they went straight to the police, so their identity is protected by giving them a code number or name that is used in all further communications. Police do not carry out arrests solely on the information provided, because they are fully aware that some mischief-makers might try to use the system to make malicious and unfounded allegations. Police must seek corroborative evidence through further inquiries; but the Crimestoppers information often points them in the right direction. People passing information that proves to be accurate and helps to prevent or clear up major crimes are entitled to a reward, as the noble Baroness has mentioned, but it is significant that few of those passing information are interested in such a reward. The majority do it
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I declare an interest in Crimestoppers. First, I am a trustee of Crimestoppers and am a member of its national board. Secondly, I have recently been invited by Kent Crimestoppers to become a patron and I have accepted. That will entail attending its meetings and encouraging and helping those members of the community, the volunteers, who operate the Crimestoppers system.
I return to my point about people not going to the police and coming to Crimestoppers instead. They do that because in some extreme cases, if they go to the police and it becomes known that they have done so, it will be regarded as betrayal and might result in serious bodily harm against them. It is not unknown for a member of an offenders family to make a call to Crimestoppers because they were fearful that the offender was on the brink of being drawn into an even greater criminal network. They take the Crimestoppers path as the most effective way to help put a stop to the situation before it can escalate into offences that potentially carry lengthy or even life sentences.
The Crimestoppers scheme, as we have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, began in this country in 1998. Although I had by then taken on the job of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, I can claim no credit for the scheme having been adopted throughout the Metropolitan Police area and the extraordinary successes it has subsequently achieved. My predecessor, Sir Kenneth Newman, had set the ball rolling, together with a youngish businessman who had seen the system working in New Mexico and had brought the idea to the UK. That businessman is now a Member of your Lordships House. Although some might not like his political benefactions or his business successes, it is not putting it too highly when I say that I firmly believe that if it had not been for him and his support for Crimestoppers, some young people may well have died from brutal and inhuman criminal attacks.
I have one example. In November 2001 a 10 year-old girl was abducted from outside a community centre in Ashford in Kent. The child was taken to nearby woodland where she was viciously assaulted and raped. Yes, a 10 year-old girl. A full DNA profile was obtained from the residue on the girls body, but that did not match with anything on the national DNA database. Kent Police then carried out intelligence-led screening of 2,000 men from a local estate who volunteered their DNA samples, but again no match was found.
Some eight months later, a 30 year-old woman in Earlswood, Surrey, was out walking. She was beaten to the ground and raped. DNA low copy number technology was used to obtain a partial profile, which was found to match the profile discovered after the 10 year-old had been assaulted and raped in Ashford in November the previous year.
Two further attacks, one on Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common, and the other on Epsom Common, led to the setting up of an inquiry and surveillance
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In October 2002, a 14 year-old girl was raped in Stevenage. Fortunately, although seriously traumatised, she was able to help police compile a picture of her attacker which was distributed to the media, together with the Crimestoppers number. An anonymous caller contacted Crimestoppers with information, which led police to the house of Antoni Imiela, a 38 year-old railway worker living in the village of Appledore in Kent. Although the information was initially given to Crimestoppers anonymously, the person who informed it then told the press that she had done so. A DNA sample from Imiela was taken by detectives and forwarded to the forensic science laboratory, but before the result was known, Imiela kidnapped and indecently assaulted another 10 year-old in Birmingham. He was arrested as soon as the sample that he had given detectives was found to match the DNA profile from the first assault and rape of the 10 year-old child in Ashford one year previously.
After Imielas arrest, the widespread investigation team was reduced from 350 officers to 30. More than 100 scientists in five forensic science laboratories had worked on the case and the lengthy investigation was estimated to have cost well in excess of £2 million. Imiela was subsequently convicted of seven rapes, and the kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape of yet another 10 year-old girl. He was given seven life sentences.
Bringing that case to a conclusion through a partnership between police, the media and the public via Crimestoppers may well have saved other small girls from having their lives ruined by this vicious rapist. That one case alone, not to mention the calls to Crimestoppers in its short life that have resulted in more than 700 people being charged with murder or attempted murder, must justify the money that has been invested in it. But it cannot continue with only the sustenance of charitable donations.
In a recent case, police discovered the body of a young man in his 20s purely as a result of information from Crimestoppers giving a precise location. The body had practically decomposed and had been partly eaten by animals, with parts removed. The subsequent investigation has resulted in five people being charged with murder.
Within Crimestoppers, we are grateful for the support shown by the Home Office. I am aware that the director of the scheme is of the clear view that the Home Secretary is, as one would imagine, wholly supportive. However, that charity, while having helped to bring to book some of the countrys most violent criminals and many hard-drug dealers, has yet to reach its full potential in helping clear up and prevent the most vicious crimes such as murder, attempted murders and brutal rapes of our young children. I ask for the continued and active support of the police, the
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The noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, mentioned the polices most-wanted list, which is put on a website by Crimestoppers. Kent Police maintains its own most-wanted list in conjunction with Crimestoppers. Just a few weeks ago, a predatory paedophile saw the list and his own description on it. He knew that the game was up, went straight to the police and gave himself up. That shows the worth of what that community-based charity is doing.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Trumpington on securing this debate and those who have spoken in it. I knew about Crimestoppers because of its work in Lambeth. The cases just illustrated by the noble Lord, Lord Imbert, underline its value to society. I add my voice to those saying that it should be properly funded, because it is becoming an essential part of the police intelligence effort to catch criminals. There can be nothing more sensible than a well organised charity doing work that benefits society as a whole.
It is many years since I was involved in UK policing, first on Merseyside and then nationally during my years at the Department of Transport, but I endorse strongly the words of the noble Lord, Lord Dear, about preparations for 2012. I do so with a little background knowledge of the trials and tribulations of the South African police force in preparing for the World Cup in 2010. A great many aspects of policing will be thrown up in 2012 by the sheer numbers of people not only entering this country but travelling across the boundaries in Europe. My private information is that neither here nor in South Africa have all the boundary problems started to be thought through.
I shall concentrate the rest of my remarks on the contribution of the police and, indirectly, the Home Office to the identification, prevention, solving and reduction of counterfeiting. It may not be immediately obvious to all your Lordships, but counterfeiting is a growing crime of enormous importance. Regrettably, it is closely linked to other national and international crime, especially drug trafficking and money-laundering. Lest your Lordships should think that this aspect of crime is far less important than others, perhaps I may explain that counterfeit goods in this country and across the world are posing increasingly serious threats to personal health, hygiene and well-being, be it in pharmaceuticals, food or skincare products, and to businesses micro, small, medium and large.
Counterfeiting is causing severe loss of revenue to Customs and tax authorities in the developed as well as the developing world. While this issue is generally regarded as one for Trade Ministers and business, because global trade is now a massive loser of as much as $2,000 billion a year from counterfeiting, it is high time that we paid more attention to it. The OECD estimates of the cost to business are for more than $630 billion a year, but the cost to Governments in lost revenues, the cost to police and the cost from the health consequences of counterfeit pharmaceuticals cause the sum to more than double that cost to business.
We all know that these issues are not popular ones, but my interest in fighting counterfeiters has developed over recent years because I see the effects of the failure to fight these criminals. That is why I ask the Government to give expert backing to the efforts of those police working with Interpol to set up exchange of information that can lead to the detection not only of the counterfeiters themselves but of those involved with them. Interpol is working closely with the World Customs Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the International Trademark Association and Business Action to stop counterfeiting and piracy. Having spent some time at the fourth global congress on anti-counterfeiting and piracy last month, I am now more aware than ever of the growing dangers of counterfeit products and their interconnection with the drug traffickers and money-launderers and with every sort of crime.
Another group of persons is usually not heard of, but I shall term them the counterfeit goods brokers. They are people who are not involved in the production and never go near the products themselves. Those brokers, and the shippers who assist them, are a new link between the counterfeiters, wherever they may be, and the merchants who buy the goods cheap. This links with what my noble friend said about cybercrime; much of the counterfeit brokers activity is now on the internet. However, there are brochures and two annual conferences purely for these brokers to put on show their counterfeit wares. There is much more that we could do that is out in the open but is not happening at present for the lack of resources and lack of interconnection of those resources.
In this regard, I mention the success that Interpol has had since 9/11 in the exchange of passport information between more than 100 countries. We now have an information network on passports, which, although it does not solve the problem of stolen passports being reused, is certainly very helpful to police forces across the world. We need to set up something similar for counterfeit goods, for the counterfeiters and for those who are bringing real sadness and trouble to others. Interpol is well engaged in this. It uses techniques from developed nations to train police forces in how best to fight the counterfeit battle, but without a database on the information we shall not make progress. Interpol plays a critical role with industry to deal with fakes of every kind.
This is no cottage industry run by lovable rogues. I know all the stories about fake Louis Vuitton handbags not doing anybody any harm, but that is a tiny proportion of what does the harm. This is serious crime that is run worldwide, with organisational structures that mirror those of conventional business companies. I speak not only of fake CDs, DVDs, computer programmes, mobile phones or even cars, as we saw recently in the media. I speak also of electrical goods that cause fire, such as circuit breakers without a piece of metal to break the circuit; I speak of building materials that weaken structures and, in a recent earthquake zone, caused far more damage than would have been anticipated because the concrete was not properly made. I speak of fake gypsum boards and glass that is not shatterproof but is sold as cheap windscreens, of fake foods that cause illness and of household goods and fertilisers. I speak, above all, of
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We have a planned anti-counterfeiting trade agreement, which will help Governments in the task, but it is only by equipping our police force to work with Interpol as well as other agencies to apprehend the counterfeiters and the fraudsters that we shall decrease the worldwide trade in counterfeits and the pain and death caused by them to many people. Interpols help to the World Customs Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, as well as to business organisations, needs renewed recognition by the G8 to create global collective action. The G8 summits in 2005, 2006 and 2007 recognised that this huge global issue requires strong and sustained action by Governments. To beat counterfeit crime and to assist in the quicker and better detection of drug runners and other fraudsters, I ask the Government to give greater active support to Interpol in the important work that it does, much assisted by the police forces of the United Kingdom.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I warmly thank the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, for bringing forward this debate, which is particularly timely. Yesterday we had the Statement on the national security strategy, which mentioned the police only once. I appreciate that the Statement concentrated on other things, but when there is a national emergency of any sort it is to the police that people turn first, because they are in the front line of dealing with such emergencies.
The noble Lord, Lord Judd, commented that this was going to be a very reflective debateand he was absolutely right. It has been reflective of lessons learnt and has looked into the future, which is why it has been particularly interesting. Some speakers have touched on the future, such as the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, who spoke about counterfeiting. That is often an overlooked crime, given the effects that she graphically described. It links in, as she said, with other crimes and is often not a stand-alone crime. I think, for example, of the recent problems of people selling counterfeit DVDs. They are themselves often the victims of crime in that they have been duped into coming into the UKhaving paid sums to do so as an illegal immigrantand are then further exploited in selling counterfeit DVDs. Counterfeiting is much understressed.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, emphasised cyber crime. Most of us have probably had personal experience of that through so-called phishing e-mails. There are campaigns on many ways in which the public can protect themselves against various crimes, but I have not seen a government campaign warning of the dangers of replying to e-mails which encourage people to reveal their bank details, although individual banks make an effort to pursue this. It is astoundingly common for people to respond to those e-mails, which suggests that a campaign against them should be initiated.
An area that has not been mentioned, and on which I should like to dwell very briefly, is that of domestic violence. It is depressing that this is still one of the commonest crimes in this country. It accounts for 16 per cent of all violent crime, it has more repeat victims than any other crime and on average, shockingly, 35 assaults will occur before a victim even phones the police. It still claims the lives of two women a week and 30 men a year. It affects a very large number of people in this country, not only direct victims but children who live in violent households. Is the Minister satisfied that there is enough standardisation of response across all police forces? While there have rightly been calls for a local ability to respond to local demands, that needs to be balanced with standard reporting so that we can see exactly how each force is performing.
Gaps remain in the area of domestic violence that need to be filled. There is also a gap for which the Government are responsible because of their decision not to allow any recourse to public funds for women who do not have legal immigrant status but who are still subject to extreme domestic violence and have no option but to stay with the perpetrator of that violence or else to live on the street. While I appreciate that these women are illegal immigrants, this matter needs to be looked atthis has been commented on by Amnesty and other organisationsbut the polices hands are tied with regard to this very difficult issue.
There are two ways of preventing crime. First, one can try to remove opportunity and temptation. The police campaign encouraging people to lock their cars and use identification marks on their possessions has been very effective. Police forces run very good campaigns to encourage people to use the newer technologies such as SmartWater to identify goods. Secondly, one can try to prevent people offending and reoffending although I am sure that the police must feel deeply frustrated about that. I do not want to take up time quoting prison statistics because I am sure your Lordships are well aware how high reoffending rates are, but I must point out that however well the police do their job it is being fundamentally undermined by a system of failing rehabilitation.
Last week the Minister, Beverley Hughes, talked of targeting 1,000 children worst offenders with substantial intervention support. But as her Written Answer of 11 March shows, there are still about 96,000 other young people offending. It is shocking that each year there are 97,000 first-time entrants into the criminal justice system. This is a really big problem.
I want to highlight a scheme that seeks to prevent crime. Community Action Through Sport, which runs over the county border in Cornwall, recently came to my attention. It is the brainchild of Chief Inspector Julie Williams, who had had a lot of complaints about the anti-social behaviour of young people in the town centre. A dispersal order was about to be introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour Act. However, she chose to take a very different course and set up a scheme that rewards young people for their good behaviour. Depending on the level of their good behaviour, they are awarded a sporting activity. If they help an old lady who falls over while getting off a bus, they might get a free swim in the local swimming
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The scheme has had another big benefit in that the perception of crime has plummeted in that area. Noble Lords mentioned that the perception of crime is a problem and a preventive scheme of that sort is extremely valuable and important. The chief inspector has to run the scheme in addition to doing her day job. It received some funding from the lottery which has enabled a full-time project officer to be employed to spread it further. This illustrates the difficulty of getting money for measures to prevent crime as opposed to it all being spent on locking people up.
Important contributions were made to the debate. I was pleased that the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, devoted his speech to talking about traffic crime; he highlighted how many deaths occur a year due to traffic crime and speeding. Coming from a rural area, I know that that is one of the crimes that people most fear. I live at the end of the north Devon link road, on which a shocking number of deaths occur each year. People rely on the police to be in the front line in trying to persuade people to cut their speed on that road. When I talked to school pupils in the area as part of the Lord Speakers outreach programme I discovered that they were not worried about terrorismone would not expect that in north Devonbut they were worried about dying in a car accident. This is a very real problem and I am glad that the noble Viscount highlighted it. The police have wide support on this issue, even from people who know that they are speeding and should not.
A theme that ran through this debate was that political will is needed to shape the future of the police. We have had the Flanagan report and noble Lords have highlighted comments made by, among others, the Police Federation, that cutting central targets will allow police officers to deliver the type of policing that local communities want and will eliminate the ridiculous arrests that officers are often compelled to make to satisfy Home Office diktats. Those comments were echoed around the House by noble Lords who have great experience in these matters.
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