Crime fighting charity’s 25 years of successful tip-offs

Herald Series: Phil Gomm, chairman of Thames Valley Crimestoppers Phil Gomm, chairman of Thames Valley Crimestoppers

A CRIME-FIGHTING charity is celebrating 25 years in which it has seen more tip-offs from Oxfordshire callers every year.

Independent group Crimestoppers allows informants to make anonymous tip-offs without being traced.

Statistics from the charity show there were 758 calls from Oxfordshire in the last financial year – up 259 per cent on the 211 made in 1999/00.

The national charity was launched in 1988 and the Thames Valley branch opened in 1998.

One Oxford-based volunteer, who asked not to be named, said: “Like so many people, I want to give back to my community, which is why I volunteer.

“However, Crimestoppers is special because it enables ordinary members of the public make their own communities safe, and not just be the victims or witnesses.

“People do not have to feel helpless, concerned that they will end up in court or exposed if they report what they know. It’s a great service.”

The volunteer of more than six years said she did everything from giving talks to fundraising.

But Phil Gomm, pictured, chairman of Thames Valley Crimestoppers, said the county crimes solved by Crimestoppers tip-offs were unknown because information given to police was never traced or followed up because of the charity’s rules on keeping informants anonymous.

He said details from callers to the charity’s London-based call centre were blocked and deleted so volunteers did not know who had called and the service allowed witnesses to help solve crime without having to go to court.

He added: “Within Oxfordshire, Crimestoppers has developed a really good relationship with the public that live there.

“More and more people have realised they can report crime anonymously to us and help us solve it.”

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Sara Thornton, Thames Valley Police chief constable, said the force received 3,086 pieces of “significant” information through the charity between April 2012 and May this year – an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year.

She said: “We understand that sometimes it is difficult for members of the public to contact us directly, whether through fear of being identified or a reluctance to speak to the police.”

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, added: “Public engagement is key to effective crime reduction.”

s Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org

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