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FIGHTING CRIME TOGETHER

The new Orihuela team

It is widely believed that the financial “crisis” and austerity measures has a direct increase on crime figures, but both experts and evidence is showing that this belief may not be as accurate as we may think.

In the UK, criminologists are associating the downward trend with a change in attitudes in society, when the culture of greed was prevalent in the 80´s, along with what they are calling the “loadsamoney” attitude, which is an element that has reduced, along with crime figures. One crime survey for England and Wales estimates that there were 8.9 million crimes against adults in 2012, the lowest figure since the survey began in 1981.

This week, Torrevieja has revealed that crime figures have fallen during the first quarter of this year, this despite the problems the Local Police were facing in terms of working conditions, staff number reductions and conflicts with the councillor responsible for them, resulting in times when there were no police officers actually patrolling the streets, according to the unions. The political and administrative matters may well have been resolved, with the appointment of a new councillor to take on these responsibilities, a factor which a number of people have already identified as positive, with the obvious reduction in police vehicles parked at the local station, which they assume now are actually patrolling the streets.

A 13.3% overall reduction in crime over last year was recorded in Torrevieja, the biggest drop being a 62.1% reduction in vehicle crime, as well as a 24.35% reduction in the number of reported burglaries.

To further bolster policing of Orihuela, a new ‘Quick Response Group’ of Local Police Officers was unveiled by the mayor last week, based at the Rabaloche police station, comprising of 10 policemen, 2 officers and a Police Inspector with access to a car, a van and two motorcycles. Their work will be limited to specific areas of the city where conflict is known to exist such as Rabaloche, Capuchins, San Isidro and San Anton, but the mayor said that they are able to be moved to other districts should the need arise. All 13 of the group members are volunteers.

This Public Safety Task Force will be employed across the whole remit of police activities including traffic related matters, drug and alcohol issues and in any establishments where criminal activity is expected to or has occurred.

In reality, modern methods of policing, along with technological advances in detection and protection of equipment and property, shows that crime is actually falling, despite the high levels of unemployment, showing that the concept of the relation to crime and recession may be a myth, but vigilance still plays the biggest part in us all doing our bit to fight crime.

The Spanish government has launched a campaign this week to raise awareness of the importance of self protection and vigilance, specifically targeting properties that may be left vacant during the summer months. The centrepiece of the campaign is an educational video that explains basic home safety and security tips, and is available both on the web at www.micasaasalvo.es as and the Ministry of the Interior´s own YouTube channel.

There are also Twitter and Facebook profiles set up, @MiCasaAsalvo, where tips and advice are also sent, along with a hashtag #MiCasaAsalvo. For “social network” sites are seen as a quick and easy way to get information out to the public, in fact, the Spanish police have been using this method for some time, with specific accounts and action centres set up to report drug and child pornography suspicions, without fear of repercussion, which have proved successful in a number of cases already. In fact, as the British may identify with a constable´s collar number, some police forces, such as in the town of Jun in Granada, have officers displaying their Twitter “handle”, so members of the public can contact them direct, putting police officers back in the community they serve, albeit in a more modern way than Dixon of Dock Green may have considered.

Although the police are there to detect crime and brings those responsible to justice, as the government campaign suggests, much of the responsibility of crime prevention lays directly with us. We all know the obvious rules of not leaving valuables on show in the car, on the back seat or in homes, not leaving doors and windows open, thus inviting criminals in. The biggest threat to criminals is vigilance and defence, but as the summer comes round again, so might the wave of opportunistic criminals who prey on the vulnerable and innocent, whose guard may have slipped for just a moment, allowing them to swoop in and attack, with just a fleeting moment.

For information and advice on crime prevention, the Neighbourhood Watch in Spain has a wealth of resources available, and act as a direct link between police forces, town halls and citizens to help prevent and report crime. They have a website, which is www.nhwinspain.com, and can offer assistance at a local level.

As part of the nationwide campaign, these are some of the principle tips for summer home safety:

  • If you’ll be away for a few days, keep doors and windows closed.
  • Making your house look occupied is the best deterrent.
  • Ask a neighbour to collect your mail and ask them to keep an eye on your home.
  • If you leave valuable objects or documents at home, keep them in a safe place.
  • Avoid discussing your holiday plans with strangers or on social networks.
  • Be vigilant allowing strangers in through communal doors.
  • If you find your door open or a broken window, do not go, call the police from outside on 091, or the Guardia Civil on 062, or the emergency call centre of 112, where international operators are available.
  • Citizen collaboration contributes to the safety of us all.
  • For thieves, all eyes are security cameras. If you see something strange, report it.
  • And remember, if a thief breaks into your house, never confront them, call for those who can help.

With governments, the police and security services, volunteers and us, all working together, we can continue to fight crime in a preventive way, so long as we keep a watchful eye out and remember basic safety tips.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/39630/

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