Chief Constable responds to crime concerns in Windsor and Maidenhead

Following on from concerns in the Royal Borough regarding bike thefts, safety in the night-time economy and the use of e-scooters, the Advertiser spoke with Thames Valley Police's Chief Constable to get his views on the issues affecting the local community.

Chief Constable responds to crime concerns in Windsor and Maidenhead

Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell sought to address concerns raised in Maidenhead and the surrounding areas in an interview with the Advertiser on Tuesday.

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Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell sought to address concerns raised in Maidenhead and the surrounding areas in an interview with the Advertiser on Tuesday.

In the 20-minute interview, Chief Constable Campbell discussed actions being taken to prevent crime across the Royal Borough.

In recent weeks, bike thefts have been of notable concerns, particularly in relation to complaints from residents regarding thefts from Maidenhead Railway Station.

Last week, ward councillor Gurch Singh (Lib Dem) described the station as the current ‘bike theft capital of Europe’.

However, Chief Constable Campbell refuted the figures.

“In 2018, we had 418 bike thefts reported to us [in Windsor and Maidenhead]. Last year, we had 113, so it’s down by almost three-quarters,” he said.

“That’s 113 crimes too many, but there has been a significant reduction in bike thefts in and around Windsor and Maidenhead town centres.

“That’s a consequence of patrol activity, good use of CCTV and suitable arrests as well.”

Whilst the Chief Constable said statistics showed bike thefts were down, theft of motor vehicles were on the rise, even though thefts from the vehicles have fallen.

“Quite often, keyless-entry vehicles are associated with high-value cars, and we have seen on occasion increases where vehicles are stolen,” said John.

“Quite often, and this is where it becomes a particular concern, [thieves] had to steal the key in order to get into the vehicle – certainly when I was a young officer, you’d have very simple ways of stealing a car that would not involve the keys at all.

“There can be a danger of people breaking into houses on occasion to do that.

“We’ve not seen too much of a spike in that, but we have seen an increase in theft of motor vehicles in the Windsor and Maidenhead area – the teams are looking at that locally in terms of patterns around that – but we have seen a reduction in theft from vehicles.”

Since nightclubs and late-night venues reopened after lockdown restrictions ended last summer, there was a reported rise in spiking and incidents in which young women were victims.

Chief Constable Campbell said there was a rise in needle-spiking around October last year, although he added there were no associated assaults following all reported incidents to TVP.

“It’s something that we are constantly monitoring, and responding to,” John explained.

“We’ve got a lot of work going on in the night-time economy in and around our strategy around violence against women and girls.

“There’s an operation called Operation Vigilante, and this is where we have specially-trained officers in plain clothes, and usual officers as well, in town centres, and what they do is look for the inappropriate, predatory behaviour of some men that want to come into the night-time economy and take advantage of women and girls in that environment in an awful and illegal way.

“The importance around that is we’re only targeting the male perpetrators and not actually women and young women to change their behaviours – they’re on a night out, they’re enjoying themselves, and they should be able to do that without any fear.

“We’ve had a number of successes and stop checks of people that need to know that the police are out and watching their behaviours.”

And, on the issues of a potential legislation of e-scooters, the Chief Constable said: “I don’t have any concerns, so long as people are using them legally.

“The challenge is what we find is that we have reports to us of people using them on pavements, people using them recklessly, and that’s where the issues come for policing and the safety of the public.

“If people are using them as they should and they’re lawfully-entitled to, then it’s a good way of getting about [with] less impact on the environment and a pretty cheap way of travelling.”