GUEST COLUMNIST: Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles wants to lift the veil on hidden crimes

Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. Alan Charles
Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. Alan Charles

Protecting people from harm is a priority for every force but when the threat is hidden, it becomes much more difficult to intervene. 
As Commissioner, I want to see trust and confidence in our service so that victims don’t suffer in silence. 
Nowhere is this more urgent than hate crime which continually threatens to undermine relationships, divide our communities and perpetuate fear.

Derbyshire is a vibrant county and home to many cultures and nationalities. It’s vital that we build a tolerant, inclusive society and one in which victims of injustice have the courage to report their experiences to police.

Taking robust enforcement action is important but it’s also necessary for us to step up the support available to encourage greater numbers of victims to speak out.

Hate crime often occurs in public places in full view of other residents.

One of the ways we’re aiming to increase protection for potential victims of hate crime is to boost safety on bus travel throughout the Chesterfield area.

The force recently teamed up with local bus operator Stagecoach to launch Operation Routemaster – a multiagency initiative designed to make bus travel more pleasant and safe for customers. Officers from the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be using bus journeys as part of their reassurance patrols and drivers are being encouraged to report incidents such as damage, antisocial behaviour, ticket misuse and hate crime. 
Another hidden crime that is threatening the safety of our communities is cybercrime.

Increasingly, offenders are hiding behind technology to commit their crimes and are homing in on elderly or vulnerable people who they perceive to be ‘easy targets’.

A new initiative between Citizens Advice, Derbyshire County Council, Trading Standards and Age UK Derby and Derbyshire aims to raise awareness among elderly people of the potential risks of mass-marketing, internet, doorstep and telephone scams.

Recently, Trading Standards revealed that ‘easy target’ lists had been shared among criminal gangs across the world and contained the names of more than 300 scam victims in Derbyshire. This has resulted in repeated contact by fraudsters to scam victims.