#AskTheChief webchat

I would like to thank everyone who took part in Wednesday evening’s online question and answer session (opens new window). I answered as many questions as I could during the session and have now taken a look at all the unanswered questions. There were some clear themes which I have addressed and answered.

Crime types

Policing our roads

Several people asked me questions about the policing of our roads such as enforcement of speed limits and using mobile phones whilst driving. Many people asked about their particular local areas, often rural villages, where they said speeding is an issue.
Our Roads Policing Unit is a mobile and proactive team who are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that prevent, detect and bring offenders to justice for traffic crimes. They deliver targeted enforcement focused on the ‘fatal four’ offences of speed, distraction (including mobile phones), seatbelts and drink/drug driving, as this is most likely to reduce those killed or seriously injured on our roads. You can contact your local neighbourhood officer with specific concerns.

Cyber crime

I was asked a number of questions about cyber and cyber-enabled crime, our response and how to stay safe online.
Cyber crime is an emerging area of crime, with the number, sophistication and impact of these crimes continuing to grow nationally, with approx a 4% increase nationally. Crime can also be enabled online with 1,909 of these over the past year in the Thames Valley. Meanwhile there has been a drop in crimes such as robbery, vehicle crime and burglary.
Prevention is key, you can take a few simple steps to keep yourself safe online. If you would like advice on how to do this visit the crime prevention page.
Cyber crime is a priority and the Force must continue to ensure that we have the skills and resources to prevent, disrupt and investigate cyber and cyber enabled crimes.

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a Force priority. In 2015 an HMIC inspection found that we provide a good service to victims of domestic abuse, keeping them safe from harm.
Last year crimes and incidents rose by 19.5%, with the Force receiving a call every 14 minutes. I am pleased to say that more of our investigations are resulting in a charge or caution. Very recently I have agreed to increase the numbers of officers and staff in domestic abuse units.

Hate Crime within our communities

Some of you asked me about hate crime. No one should be subjected to hate or intolerance. It is felt that these crimes and incidents are underreported nationally and I would personally encourage anyone who feels that they have been a victim or has witnessed these crimes and incidents to report it to us so that my officers can robustly investigate it.
A concern was raised from a retailer in relation to shoplifting. Over the past year we have received just over 20,000 reports of bilking and shoplifting. We need to all work together to make our communities safer and I encourage business to play their part in preventing crime. Across the Thames Valley we are working with retailers to problem solve and put in preventative measures such as relocation of high value products and pay at pump technology. We are also looking working together to maximise the efficiency of reporting and investigations by exploring the use of technology to report and transfer evidence such as CCTV.

Force Wide

Police visibility and deployment, cuts to police budgets and impact
Over the last five years despite budget cuts we have protected the numbers of frontline officers.
We are committed to maintaining our presence in our communities and this will be targeted at areas of greatest needs. Earlier this year I increased the numbers of officers and staff in child abuse units and I’ve also agreed to increase the numbers in domestic abuse units.
We don’t know what our budgets will be in future years, however we need to be smart with our finite resources and the Force is continually looking at ways to become more effective and efficient. The most important thing is to maintain our service to the public now and in the future.
I was specifically asked about double crewing in times of austerity. In the main officers patrol alone, however there are circumstances when they are deployed in pairs, this is dependent on a range of factors including time of day/night, operational need, risk posed and of course severity of incident. I also got a question about the number and deployment of our police dogs – for more information click here. I was also asked about the policing of MOD and RAF sites, they have their own police officers; we will of course support each other if required.

Policing style

Many of you asked questions about authority, respect for the law and our policing style as opposed to other countries. The British model of policing by consent is admired right across the world. How legitimate we are to you is key to this.
In terms of zero tolerance policing this is not an effective style for us to adopt and there are no plans to do so.
Police officer safety, incidents in the USA and London
The safety of my officers and staff is paramount; however the tragic incidents seen in the USA does not reflect the threat in the UK. Where there are incidents at home or abroad, we monitor the situation and I can reassure you we have the resources in place to keep people safe from harm.

Public contact

During the conversation, a few of you mentioned that you would like to be able to contact police online, report incidents via text and online.
We are working hard to develop a tool that will transform public contact with the police. From a recent survey we know that 86% of people prefer to contact us via phone and 1 in 10 people would like to contact us via social media, both in a non-emergency, which supports your comments. We must however remember this doesn’t suit everyone and as stated in our commitment you will be able to contact us whenever and however is convenient to you, in person, over the phone or online and my officers and staff will have access to more information to provide a more tailored service to you.


I received a question or two about Brexit. The outcome of the negotiations about the UK’s relationship with Europe in the future has the potential to impact on law enforcement and security. We need to continue to work closely and at speed with European countries, maintaining our ability to share intelligence, biometrics and other data to keep people in the UK safe and prevent and disrupt criminals.
In terms of immediate impact, nationally there has been an increase in the reporting of hate crime since the referendum vote. In the Thames Valley reports of incidents directly attributable to the EU debate are low, however across the board we are seeing an increased level of reporting for incidents motivated by other prejudicial factors.
Compliments and complaints
A number of people contacted me with queries about their experiences and the level of service they have received from us. If you would like to discuss your individual experience or you are unhappy with the service you have received from us, please visit this page on our website to find out what you can do next.
Localised issues
Common concerns
Many of you asked questions about parking, cyclists, anti-social behaviour, littering and begging.
Causing a parking obstruction is an offence and you can report this by calling 101 if you witness it. As is cycling on pavements, if cyclists are riding dangerously and officers will pick up on it if they see it. As with everything we do have to prioritise our resources targeting them at areas of greatest need.
I recognise the impact of anti social behaviour. I am pleased to say it has halved over the past five years, however we still receive a call once every 20 minutes.
Begging is not classed as anti-social behaviour, but some people do aggressive begging which can be anti-social.
Our local neighbourhood teams work with the community and our partners to help address local issues such as these. We are also supportive of local authority and partner initiatives such as community wardens and street pastors.
Where compliments and concerns have been raised in relation to specific areas, be reassured that I have passed these on to our Local Police Commanders.

Question about policing in your local area

If you have questions about issues in your local area which were not addressed, please contact your local neighbourhood team. As I said in my open letter, we need to work together to build stronger more resilient communities so please do not hesitate to contact them.
Many of you already actively participate in your communities. We are one community and I encourage residents, business and our partners to play their part in local problem solving and protecting themselves and others from becoming victims of crime.

Our Commitment

If you would like to find out more about Thames Valley Police and Our Commitment or would like to read my open letter please visit our website. You can also email me via chiefconstable@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk
I received some great feedback from those of you who participated in the online question and answer session and it was really good to hear from residents about the issues that are important to them.
I hope my answers have explained how the Force will continue to deliver an effective and efficient service which meets the needs of you, the public we serve.
Please be reassured that my officers, staff and volunteers will continue to work tirelessly, along with our partners and importantly with you, the public, to make the Thames Valley an even safer place to live and work.

Once again thank you for taking the time to get involved and myself and my colleagues look forward to hosting many more of these online question and answer sessions including more localised events with LPA Commanders and on subjects that matter to you.

Best wishes,

Francis Habgood QPM
Chief Constable, Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police is proposing to reduce the number of front counters in Oxfordshire.

Thames Valley Police is proposing to reduce the number of front counters in Oxfordshire.

In times of austerity, the Force needs to look at ways to transform how it delivers services in order to be as effective and efficient as possible, whilst maximising every opportunity to prevent crime, protect the public and bring offenders to justice.

The way people interact with the police is changing; the public wants to contact us at a time and place that’s convenient to them – with more people engaging with us on the phone or online. A total of 86% people told us they prefer to contact police on the phone in a non-emergency, based on a survey of 9,187 people.

Therefore, we are proposing to close a number of front counters in the county as we improve our communication with the public by other means while ensuring that in the main you will never be further than ten miles from a front counter.

The public can still contact the police by telephone, via our website, social media accounts or our community alert system.

The following changes are scheduled to come in on 1 April 2016:
• Abingdon, St Aldates and Banbury front counters will now be open from 8am and 10pm, seven days a week.
• Meanwhile, front counters at Witney and Bicester will be open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, while Kidlington will be open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Previously, each front counter would offer a different level of service but these counters will offer all services to the public.
• Front counters at Cowley, Henley, Didcot, Thame, Wantage, Faringdon, Wallingford, Carterton, Woodstock and Chipping Norton are scheduled to close.

Thames Valley Police continues to review its estate and will relinquish buildings that are no longer fit for purpose or expensive to maintain. These overall changes are estimated to bring savings of £29m by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7m per annum.

Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell said:

“The way people interact with the police is changing; the public wants to contact us at a time and place that’s convenient to them. We have found that more people are engaging with us on the phone, online or through our social media channels rather than visiting their local police station.

“Earlier this year we undertook a review of the varying services provided at front counters, the public usage and the associated costs. Analysis of demand has shown us that fewer people are visiting our front counters, especially overnight, therefore we are revising this provision.

“We are proposing to reduce the number of front counters available to the public across the force, with all front counters now offering the same service. In order to minimise the impact in the main the public will be within ten miles of a front counter.

“It is also proposed the counters will operate two sets of opening hours according to local need; a seven days a week provision or weekday provision.

“Staff at our front counters have been notified of our proposed changes and are being consulted with. At this stage no staff have been put at risk.

“Bricks and mortar has little to do with policing, therefore, officers and staff are being empowered to be more mobile in their work with the use of smart phones, tablets, laptops and
wifi connection in vehicles.

“These changes are part of a larger review of our estate, as part of a programme called asset management. We are relinquishing buildings that are no longer fit for purpose or expensive to maintain. These changes to our estate are estimated to bring savings of £29m by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7m per annum.

“I wish to reassure the public we are by no means withdrawing from our communities and the availability and visibility of police officers to attend incidents is not affected by front counter opening times. Across the Thames Valley we have substantial resources to deploy to any incident.”

The public can still contact the police 24-hours a day by calling 101 in a non-emergency call or 999 in an emergency. For the deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired you can contact the Force by texting 18000.

More and more of our services are moving online. The public can access information, crime prevention advice, report a crime or find contact details for local neighbourhood teams by visiting our website www.thamesvalley.police.uk

Anthony Stansfeld Police and Crime Commissioner said: “With a smaller budget and an ever increased demand on policing, it is vital that we look at ways we can improve the way we operate.

“We don’t want to see our buildings sitting empty, unused and costing money when the funding that’s saved can go into other areas where it is needed such as new technology, protecting vulnerable people, child abuse and domestic abuse.

“A review of our estate and the reinvestment of savings from the closing of assets that are underutilised will support the delivery of a more efficient and effective service to communities across the Thames Valley”.

2015 Breathtaking solar eclipse witnessed by Millions Somewhere

Millions of people in the UK and northern Europe have glimpsed the best solar eclipse in years.

A great swathe of the Earth’s surface was plunged into darkness as the Moon came between us and the Sun.

The deep shadow formed first in the North Atlantic and then swept up into the Arctic, ending at the North Pole.

People keen to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon were advised not to look directly at it.

Residents of Henley on Thames and the Gainsborough Estate were seen ignoring this advice and staring straight up into the sky.

Gainsborough Resident, Simon Narracott, took this photo of the eclipse. “This is one of the best pictures I have ever taken” he said, clearly overawed with the moment.
2015 Eclipse

The view from Makins Field was also as impressive. Many children were at the skatepark looking up at the promised spectacle.
2015 Eclipse

A picture taken by junior snapper, Izzy (16), on the town steps showed the detail that all Henley residents will remember for days.
2015 Eclipse

GRA Charity Christmas Toy Run

XMAS GRA are organising an exciting community charity event for this December.On 6th December we will be delivering new toys to two local Children’s Hospitals by Motorbike convoy!!. We are asking local residents and shops to donate new toys to give to children who are poorly and terminally ill for Christmas.The two hospitals are:

-Oxford Children’s Hospital AND Helen and Douglas House Hospice in Oxford.

We are asking people to donate items such as:

For Babies: Bibs, Scratch mitts, Small rattles. Baby toys  and Baby socks.

For Older children: Pens, Books, Craft materials, Small cars, Lego and Bubbles.

For Teenagers: Toiletries, Socks and Puzzle books.

PLEASE DONATE if you can, Christmas can be a very scary and distressing time for these children.We are just asking that people consider buying 1 extra item in their normal supermarket shop, and this can make a HUGE difference to these children.If you would like to donate OR ar a biker and would like to help out and join our convoy on the day then please contact Paula Isaac: pollyisaac@Hotmail.com OR David Eggleton on 07836202508.




Free Skip – Clear Your Clutter for Free

Following on from the success of the last free skip, the Gainsborough Road Residents Association and SOHA Housing have organised another.

On Saturday 16th Aug 2014, from 8am to 10am (or until full) a skip will be placed at the bottom of Gainsborough Road by Makins Playing Field.

A skip full of rubish at Gainsbrough Estate.

Use it or lose it, now is your chance to get rid of stuff you don’t need, and stuff you have been meaning to take to the dump but not got around to. It’s FREE and if you need a hand moving stuff to the skip there will be residents around to help you.

Summer Party for Gainsborough Estate and Friends

August 5th 2014 was the annual party for the Gainsborough Estate, organised by SOHA and the Gainsborough Residents Group.

Gainsborough and SOHA 2014

Food was available, at no cost to all residents, and kindly supplied through SOHA by Creative Catering. Loads of burgers and hot dogs, as well as a Vegan offering meant everyone was happy.

Creative Catering 2014

A climbing wall was available to all, and was a real hit with the kids. It was tall enough to be challenging and did require a parental consent form!

Gainsborough 2014 Climing Wall

The event was very well supported by both SOHA and the local Council, and everyone worked as a team to deliver a really good event for the kids (and adults). The Town Mayor attended the event, and was in no hurry to leave, having so much fun with the attending crowds.

Gainsborough Party SOHA and Mayor

African Drumming was also one of the events on offer, and although it sounded easy it was far from that. Considerable skill was needed to maintain a good rhythm, and I hope the video gives you some idea of the team work involved across all ages to make a flowing drum beat.

African Drumming 2014

The short video gives you some idea of the skills leant and practiced on the day. (I apologise for the wind noise at the start of the video)

Although funds were tight, Dave Eggleton still managed to get a flypast from a WW2 Spitfire, followed shortly after by a WW1 bi-plane.

Spitfire and Moth

I can’t wait to see what is organised for next year.

“Pram-Walk” Refurbished for Summer

A new handrail and a complete repainting of the Gainsborough Estate “pram-walk” has revitalised the pedestrian estate entrance. The bright white walls make the path light and give it a more “open” feel, and the new handrail help the elder residents feel more secure from falling.

Gainsborough Estate PramWalk

Flowers Planted for WW1 Remembrance

As a long lasting memorial of Remembrance, and part of Henley in Bloom, the Gainsborough Residents have planted and public bed of wild thistles and poppies.  Located at the footpath entrance to the Gainsborough Estate, on an unused area at the edge of Makins field, the flowers will be visible to all passers by.

Gainsborough Remembrance Flowers

Much of the hard work, digging the old grass out and sifting the soil to get a good bed, was done by Dave Eggleton of the Gainsborough Resident Association.

Gainsborough Dave Eggleton

The plants were regularly watered by a team of Gainsborough residents so they did not die in the summer heat.
Gainsborough Estate Waterers

The resulting flowers will last for years with only an occasional helping hand to weed. They look beautiful and are a dignified addition to the estate entrance.

Gainsborough Estate Flowers 1 (2)

Gainsborough Estate Flowers 1

New Road Markings for The Gainsborough Estate

Those nice chaps at the council came and repainted the road markings on the Gainsborough Estate, giving it a new, fresh look.

The entrance to the Gainsborough Estate looks much nicer now.

Gainsborough Estate White Lines 1

And roads within are clearly marked, keeping everyone safe.

Gainsborough Estate White Lines 5

Gainsborough Estate White Lines 2

Disabled spaces have been marked up, allowing full width access to vehicles.

Gainsborough Estate White Lines 3

Gainsborough Estate White Lines 4