Crime Prevention & Safety

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November Criminal Justice Bulletin

This is the latest criminal justice news for charities from VONNE, the regional support body for the North East voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, and CLINKS.

Durham and Darlington Restorative Hub receives prestigious award

Clients of the Restorative Hub in Durham and Darlington can be assured that it meets very high standards, because the Hub has been recognised with a prestigious award.

The Durham Restorative Hub has been awarded the Restorative Service Quality Mark by the Restorative Justice Council (RJC). The Quality Mark recognises the hard work undertaken by organisations offering a restorative service, and indicates that they follow safe, high quality practice.

Restorative justice brings victims of crime, and offenders, into contact with each other, so that those affected by a particular incident can find ways to repair the harm and find a positive way forward.

Chris Straker, the RJC’s interim chief executive, said: “Through successfully completing the RSQM, Durham Restorative Hub has demonstrated that it provides the highest standards in restorative practice.”

Derek Robson, Lead Officer for the Durham Restorative Hub, said: “We were looking to ensure that our practices were viewed as safe and adhering to the standards of excellence which are set out by the RJC. It verifies to our funders and partners that we deliver a competent and professional service. We continue to review all aspects of the service we deliver, so that we can take every opportunity to improve and develop the service”.

Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg, who funds the Restorative Hub in County Durham and Darlington said “I would like to congratulate Derek Robson and his colleagues at the Hub for this very well-deserved award. Hundreds of victims every year are benefiting from their professional approach, which really helps them to draw a line under a bad experience and get on with the rest of their lives”.

The award is timely as this week is International Restorative Justice Week #RJWeek

How to shop online safely...

Software updates
Make sure you’ve installed the latest software & app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.

 Email accounts
Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.

Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text. The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases significantly during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 Payment methods
Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.

 For more information on how to stay secure online, visit

Young PCVC to take on Ron Hogg’s role for the day

A 16 year old from Belmont is to take on the duties of Ron Hogg, the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, for the day on Wednesday 21 November. This is part of Takeover Challenge.

Earlier this year Police Cadets from across County Durham and Darlington elected Ellen Terry as the Young Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC). Ellen attends Durham Sixth Form Centre.

During the day, Ellen will speak on behalf of young people at the County Durham Partnership, and develop proposals to meet the commitments outlined in her manifesto. She will also spend an hour with the Chief Constable, holding him to account on behalf of young people.

The press and broadcast media are invited to a press call:

14.00 on Wednesday 21 November at Police HQ, Aykley Heads, Durham - Takeover Challenge Day.

Ellen will be holding Chief Constable Mike Barton to account in a one-to-one meeting. She will be asking what the Police are doing to ensure that young people are safe, and that the Police are acting in their interests.

Interviews with Ellen Terry and Ron Hogg will be available.

PCCs meet in Durham to help reduce re-offending

The good work in Durham and Darlington to reduce re-offending was showcased today to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Arfon Jones and members of his team.

Durham Constabulary’s Checkpoint scheme, under which low and medium level offenders are given the opportunity to sign a contract to engage with services and to refrain from criminal behaviour in return for not facing prosecution, is seen as a model of good practice in the UK.

Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg, who hosted the visit from North Wales, said “Checkpoint demonstrates that traditional criminal justice sanctions are less effective in reducing reoffending than diversion schemes. Traditional criminal justice sanctions such as a caution or a fine do nothing to address the reasons why people offend and reduce reoffending. 71% of adult women and 63% of adult men released from custody between April to June 2016 following a custodial sentence of less than 12 months, reoffended within a year. The national costs to policing of this kind of reoffending amount to around £1billion each year.

Commenting on the visit, Arfon Jones said “it’s always helpful for PCCs to share their experiences and expertise, so that the benefits of good practice are realised across the UK. I’m grateful to Ron and his colleagues for the opportunity to see them today, and I look forward to working together in the future”.

For more information contact Jon Carling, Head of Policy and Communications, on 07851 011361 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How To Keep The Cyber-Criminals Out

Cyber-criminals use weaknesses in software and apps to attack your devices and steal your identity. Software updates are designed to fix these weaknesses and installing them as soon as possible will keep your devices & data secure. Software updates don’t have to get in the way of what you’re doing. You can choose to install them at night, when your device is plugged in and connected to wi-fi. You can also configure most devices to automatically install software and app updates.

For more information on how to stay secure online, visit or follow @Cyberprotectuk on Twitter.

Cyber criminals send victims their own passwords in extortion scam

Cyber criminals are attempting to blackmail unsuspecting victims by claiming to have used the victims' password to install spying malware on the victims' computer. The criminals claim they’ve recorded videos of the victim watching adult material by activating their webcam when they visit these websites. What makes this scam so convincing is that the email usually includes a genuine password the victim has used for one of their online accounts. We believe criminals obtain the passwords from data breaches.

What to do if you get one of these emails? Don’t reply to the email, or be pressured into paying. The police advise that you do not pay criminals. Try flagging the email as spam/junk if you receive it multiple times. Perform a password reset as soon as possible on any accounts where you’ve used the password mentioned in the email. Always use a strong, separate password for important accounts, such as your email. Where available, enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Always install the latest software and app updates. Install, or enable, anti-virus software on your laptops and computers and keep it updated.

If you receive one of these emails, report it to Action Fraud’s phishing reporting tool. If you have received one of these emails and paid the ransom, report it to your local police force.

Neighbourhood Watch E-Newsletter

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16 Year Ellen Terry has been elected as Young Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington for 2018-19. Members of the press are invited to meet with the new Young Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, accompanied by Ron Hogg, Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner.

For more information please contact Sarah Harris, Media and Engagement Officer at the Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner on: • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Durham County Council’s proposed county-wide licencing scheme for private landlords would reduce crime and anti-social behaviour

Areas of County Durham where a lot of people live in private-rented accommodation will be less likely to suffer crime and anti-social behaviour if Durham County Council’s proposal to prepare a business case to seek Government approval to introduce County-wide licencing for private landlords is approved by the Council’s Cabinet next week.

Commenting on the proposal, Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said “When Police are carrying out investigations, so much time can be lost trying to identify who owns the property where suspects are living. A County-wide licencing scheme for private landlords would make a significant difference to resolving crimes, and I believe it would also act as a deterrent because offenders would know there would be a greater likelihood of them being caught.” Ron added “This is an issue that I promised to campaign on two years ago, and now, with the support of Phil Wilson MP and Durham County Council we are within touching distance of dealing more effectively with rogue landlords.”

Durham County Council’s proposals follow up a Private Member’s Bill which Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, is trying to persuade Parliament to make law. The Bill would make it compulsory for all private landlords to sign up to a national register. One key benefit of this would be that the Police, Local Authorities and other service providers would know who to contact when there are issues with environmental damage, anti-social behaviour and crime locally. Mandatory registers are already in place in Scotland and Wales, and some Local Authorities have also introduced mandatory schemes across their area.

Phil Wilson said “Ron Hogg and I have been talking with Councillors in Durham for some time about the benefits of a mandatory national register. I am delighted that subject to necessary government approval, they are proposing to introduce a County-wide scheme, which would make a real difference to communities in the County”.

Watch out for these fake Netflix emails.

We’ve seen an increase in reports about fake Netflix emails claiming that there’s an issue with your account, or that your account has been suspended. The email states that you need to “update” your account details in order to resolve the problem. The link in the emails leads to genuine-looking Netflix phishing websites designed to steal your username and password, as well as payment details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam.
Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
For more information on how to stay secure online, visit

Nfib Alert - Bogus Overseas Officers 

Fraudsters are contacting overseas students and visitors who are in the UK via their mobile phone or social network account and purporting to represent UK or foreign law enforcement. After fraudsters have claimed to work with their respective embassy or government, they tell the victim that there is evidence in the form of forged documentation or parcels which implicate them in a crime such as money laundering, fraud or immigration offences.

After demanding further personal details from the victim such as their name, current address and copies of personal documentation, they threaten the victim by suggesting a warrant exists for their arrest which will result in their deportation and imprisonment unless they transfer a payment to them in order to cancel the arrest or pay a fine. Once the money is transferred, all contact between the victim and the fraudster is severed.

What You Need To Do: Police will never ask you to withdraw to transfer money so “it can be checked”, neither would they demand money to in order to cancel an arrest. Do not be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details no matter who they say they are; protect your information and have the confidence to question and refuse unusual requests.

If you have made a payment to someone claiming to be the police or government department, and you think you might be a victim of fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud any time of the day or night using our online fraud reporting tool. You can also get advice about fraud or cyber-crime by calling 0300 123 2040. If you are a student you can ask your Student Union or University for advice, help and support.

Durham Constabulary plans to use naloxone in custody suites, as drug deaths rise again 

6 August 2018 Heroin users will be able to be given injections of the life-saving antidote, naloxone, in police custody suites in County Durham and Darlington from later this year, under plans announced today. Naloxone is the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl. Currently, people employed or engaged in the provision of drug treatment services can, as part of their role, supply naloxone as long as it is supplied for the purpose of being available to save life in emergencies. If the plan goes ahead, Durham will be one of the first police forces in the country to introduce it into custody suites. Officers are being trained to enable its introduction later this year, and the guidelines for when naloxone should be used are currently being finalised.

Commenting on the initiative, Inspector Jason Meecham who runs the custody suites said “Many of the individuals who we care for in custody throughout County Durham and Darlington unfortunately suffer from problematic drug issues. These frequently relate to opiate use, which on occasion results in our NHS colleagues using Naloxone when detainees experience an overdose. “The new training would enable our custody officers to inject naloxone in emergencies, when someone who has taken an overdose of opiates is in custody and their life is at risk. They would still need specialist medical aftercare, but it would provide an additional opportunity to save someone’s life” This announcement comes on the day that the Office of National Statistics has released the latest drug related deaths statistics for England and Wales. The highest mortality rate was seen in the North East, with 83.2 deaths per 1 million population, a 7.5% increase from 2016, compared to 42.7 deaths per million population in England.

Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “I am really disappointed to see the new figures today. They are a true reflection of a drug policy that isn’t working. Drug users should be able to seek medical treatment without fear of being criminalised. I have called on the Government to review the current UK drug policy, as it urgently needs to do more to save lives and reduce drug related-harm.” Ron added “the plans to introduce of naloxone in Durham are part of the sensible, radical approach which we are taking to reduce harm and save the lives of drug users”. For more information and arrange an interview with Ron Hogg, please call 07814 174417 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My next Rural Statement will draw on NFU Mutual rural crime report, says Ron Hogg

The priorities for increasing community safety in rural communities will be informed by NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Report, according to Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) Ron Hogg. The NFU Mutual report, released this week, draws on claims data to give an insight into crime in the countryside and helps to identify issues and trends affecting rural communities.

The report shows that, nationally, the cost of rural crime rose by 13.4% in 2017, to £44.5million. The increase in Durham is about half as much, with the value of claims being 7.4% higher than in the previous year. Crimes such as theft of agricultural vehicles and livestock are highlighted in the report. Commenting on the report, Durham and Darlington’s PCVC, Ron Hogg, said: “This report from NFU Mutual will form another piece of evidence to support the next Rural Statement, which I will be publishing with the Chief Constable in the autumn. I am talking to people in rural areas about their experiences of rural crime and its impact, and I will use that information to set out priorities for the Police, our partners and for my office in 2019. Ron added “with my staff, I will be seeking further views throughout the summer, by attending a number of agricultural shows. This will add to the evidence base. We will work through the NFU Mutual report very carefully and use it to help us develop priorities for reducing crime and improving community safety in our rural areas.”

Watch out for these fake British Gas refund emails. 

We’ve had an increase in reports about fake British Gas emails claiming to offer refunds. The links provided in the emails lead to genuine-looking British Gas phishing websites that are designed to steal the usernames and passwords for British Gas accounts. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information on how to stay secure online, visit

North East Criminal Justice Ebulletin

This is the latest criminal justice news for charities from VONNE, the regional support body for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in the North East, and CLINKS.

Click for the Newsletter

New survey will inform my next Rural Statement, says Ron Hogg 

Rural communities in County Durham and Darlington are more satisfied with policing than those in many other parts of the country, but there is more to do, according to the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey. The survey was conducted in spring 2018, and 20,000 people took place nationally, including nearly 600 locally – up from fewer than 100 when the survey was last conducted, in 2015. It finds that, in answer to questions about satisfaction with policing, and about preventing and reducing crime, people were up to 50% more likely to be positive than the national averages. Commenting on the findings, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said “I’m very grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to this survey. Whilst the Durham Constabulary area comes out comparatively well, there is no room for complacency. I am working with the Chief Constable to develop our 2018 Rural Policing Statement, for publication later this year.

Ron added “with my staff, I am listening and talking to people in rural communities throughout the summer, including at a number of agricultural shows. This will add to the information which the survey is telling us. We will work through the survey report very carefully and use it to help us develop priorities for reducing crime and improving community safety in our rural areas.”

Notes to editors: The 2018 National Rural Crime Survey was conducted by the National Rural Crime Network, in spring 2018. The report of the survey can be found online here:
The National Rural Crime Network has produced ten recommendations, at national level, as a result of the survey:
1. We need Chief Constables to change the policing of rural communities
2. We need to do more to understand rural crime and its impact
3. We need to put that understanding into practice
4. We need to put more focus on farmers and specific rural businesses
5. We need to work together on organised crime
6. We need the criminal justice system to understand rural communities
7. We need justice to be done and be seen to be done for rural communities
8. We need to make reporting crimes easier
9. We need to do more to help rural residents and businesses with crime prevention
10. We need to ensure victims of fly-tipping are not left to pay the price of others’ actions

For more information contact Jon Carling on 07814 174417 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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New Hidden Voices resource shares children’s experiences of their dads going to prison

Children whose dads are sent to prison are rarely given the opportunity to share what for them is a deep emotional experience where they bear no blame - but a new pack of arts activities, Hidden Voices, is designed to help others understand exactly what children can face when they find themselves in this situation. The pack has been co-produced with talented artists, with children whose dads are in custody – and with men in prison whose children are back at home.

Nepacs and Helix Arts jointly developed Hidden Voices. Nepacs is a long standing charity which works across the north east region to help support a positive future for prisoners and their families through their work in prisoners, visitors’ centres and in the community. Helix Arts has been co-producing great art with diverse communities for more than 35 years and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. Children in North East England whose dads are in custody, have worked with professional musicians to co-create songs which openly share their experiences of seeing their dads go to prison and living with that situation day in day out. The Hidden Voices ‘kit bag’ of activities has been designed with the involvement of local children and prisoners from HMP Kirklevington Grange to help dads in prison to reflect on the impact of their offending on their children at home. It’s anticipated that this programme will encourage men to turn their back on crime and reduce reoffending.

Dads at HMP Kirklevington Grange listened closely to the songs and were inspired to work with them to co-design a ‘kitbag’ of creative activities based around the songs. In turn these activities will be used with other dads in prison to stimulate conversations about underlying issues, reflect on behaviours, promote empathy, increase understanding and ultimately help rebuild family relationships and resilience. The workshops were co-produced with the artists, with the young people, with prisoners and with staff from Nepacs and Helix Arts. Catherine Hearne is CEO Helix Arts: “Working with the song-writers and musicians was a completely fresh way for the children to find the words to express the feelings they had been burying or ignoring. The children began to see themselves as artists channelling their emotions into a great piece of art – just like the professionals do. The process helped them feel very differently about their experiences – it helped them come to terms with their situation and prepare for a different future.” The flexibility of the Hidden Voices resource means it can be used by Nepacs and others working with prisoners in a variety of ways. The arts-based activities have also been designed to slot into the Nepacs’ Heading Home programme. Through Heading Home Nepacs staff and volunteers provide help to prisoners, offenders, their families or friends prepare for release and resettlement across north east prisons and in the community.

Helen Attewell, chief executive of Nepacs said: “Hidden Voices has been an inspirational project for Nepacs. Helix Arts’ practitioners have been able to draw out the emotional impact of having a parent in prison through engaging young people in music and song. They have combined empathy and creativity to produce materials that will have a profound effect on attitudes and awareness. “By including Hidden Voices in our highly regarded Heading Home programme we can encourage prisoners or offenders to think about how their children are feeling and the impact of their crime and the sentence on them.” Hidden Voices was made possible with grant funding from the Ministry of Justice and with the support of the Tees and Wear Prisons Group. Nepacs has a small number of kitbags to give away to organisations working with prisoners or offenders. A request form is available on their website and materials can be downloaded for free.

PCVC hosts specialist conference to tackling Hate Crime

Practitioners across County Durham and Darlington were planning their future work together for tackling hate crime at a conference held in Newton Aycliffe today. Over 100 delegates attended the conference, which was hosted by the Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC). Hate Crime remains a key priority for the PCVC, and has been throughout his tenure. Mr Hogg said: "Reducing the impact of Hate Crime remains one of my priorities. Today’s Conference builds upon my previous seminars on hate crime. We have listened to what people have said and I am pleased that good progress has been made towards tackling hate crime locally. However I recognise that there is still much to do. I note that the number of recorded hate crimes has risen, and am pleased this appears largely to be because victims are increasingly confident to report incidents to the Police. People in this area continues to show higher levels of confidence in policing than in many other parts of the country. Today we have focused on how we can further develop joint working to improve community cohesion and tackle hate crime. Through a range of workshops we have identified a series of projects to help us to understand and reduce the true level of hate crime and incidents, increase reporting of hate incidents, provide effective support for victims and ensure that we get effective prosecutions. I am looking forward to seeing these ideas translate into an action plan to tackle and reduce hate crime.” The conference was opened by Mr Hogg, and chaired by James Kingett, from Show Racism the Red Card. Delegates were delighted to receive a speech from Stephen Miller, the Paralympic Gold Medallist as the key note speaker. Stephen Miller said: It was great to be back to address the Hate Crime Conference today. It is great to be back today, and whilst there is always more to do, it was good to see what has already been achieved. It is so important that we continue to address this big issue. I often remind people that respect is the highest currency we have. I believe events like today help to strengthening the message that hate crime won’t be tolerated.” The conference heard four brave hate crime victims share their stories, to show the positive and negative aspects of their experience. In addition a video was also show which highlighted the prejudice which a Syrian refugee family faced after being housed and settled in the North East. These presentations showed that despite a low number of reported incidents across county Durham and Darlington, hate crime is happening within our communities and that victims need support. Students from the Hermitage Academy Chester Le Street were in attendance. They delivered a powerful presentation on the holocaust. Graham Hall, Head of Community Safety, Darlington Borough Council said: “Today serves as a great reminder of the enormous impact hate crime can have on people within our communities. Lots has already been achieved however there is always more that can be done. The agencies across County Durham and Darlington, and the wider region remain committed to working together in partnership to tackle this issue.”

Scam Alert - Fake Argos Texts

Watch out for these fake Argos texts offering refunds These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you’re owed a refund. The link in the messages lead to phishing websites designed to steal your personal information, as well as payment details. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

Working together to combat crime, support victims and tackle the challenges ahead

IMPROVED SERVICES for residents, businesses and victims of crime during 2017-18, have been highlighted in a new report published today. The latest Annual Report by Ron Hogg, the Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) for County Durham and Darlington, sets out for the public how the Police and other partner organisations met the objectives which Ron set in 2017-18.

The report highlights the importance of joint-working between organisations to deliver services to combat crime, support victims and reduce re-offending in Durham and Darlington. The Cleveland and Durham Local Criminal Justice Plan, for example, brings together agencies with responsibility for delivering criminal justice, and demonstrates a commitment to achieving an end-to-end service for victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, and a joined-up process for rehabilitating offenders and reducing reoffending. Another key priority during the year was services for victims. Ron launched a Hate Crime Advocacy Service, which helps victims of hate crime to have a voice and make it more likely that offenders are brought to justice. A similar service was launched to support victims with mental ill-health.

Ron said: “Being accountable to the public is important. I use the Annual Report to let the public know how my objectives, based on their priorities, were achieved over the past year. “2017-18 has been a satisfying and successful year but crime has been rising and there are still challenges ahead. The Force now has 400 fewer officers than in 2010, and there have also been reductions in the number of police staff and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). I will continue to campaign to Government to ensure that we receive a fair funding settlement for County Durham and Darlington. “Durham Constabulary continues to be the most effective and efficient force in the country, and research shows that local people have greater confidence in the Police than almost anywhere else in the country. They can be confident that when they report a crime or incident, it will be taken seriously.”

To find out about other key achievements, services for victims, projects funded through the Community Safety Fund, and how Ron has scrutinised police performance during 2017-18, view the Annual Report at:, or search for Durham PCC on Facebook and Twitter.

Local people can be confident that crimes and incidents will be taken seriously**

REPORTED CRIMES in County Durham and Darlington increased over the past year, according to the latest Performance Report from Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Ron Hogg. The report indicates that the number of reported victim-based crimes rose by 32%, whilst levels of anti-social behaviour reduced by 11% over the twelve months to March 2018. At the same time, residents of Durham and Darlington have greater confidence in the Police than almost anywhere else in the country. 84% of people agree that ‘taking everything into account I have confidence in the police’, whilst Durham is rated higher than any other force for ‘community understanding’.

Commenting on the report, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said “There have been real increases in crimes such as theft, robbery and arson, but the increase is also due to changes to the national requirements for crime recording: more incidents such as harassment are now recorded as crimes, for example. He added “The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Durham has the highest ‘solved rate’ for crimes of any force in England and Wales, mainly because of the Constabulary’s on-going commitment to neighbourhood policing. Victims of crime can be confident to come forward and report their experiences, knowing that the Force will take them seriously”. The number of Police Officers in County Durham and Darlington has dropped by 400 Officers since 2010, following reductions in Government funding. Ron continues to call on the Government to ensure that Police have the resources they need to protect the public.

Ron’s Public Performance Report is available on his website at . Further crime prevention advice is available on the Durham Constabulary website at .