So what have my team of ‘invisible’ to the public officers been up to behind the scenes……..
We prevented a kilo of extremely pure cocaine reach the streets of Sussex last June as part of an operation in which Grant Clark and Tim Saunters from Hastings were arrested.
We were working together with the Metropolitan police on an organized crime group that were supplying cocaine into Sussex from London, and one of their outlets was Clark and Saunters.
A strike was planned….just like ‘by any means’…and the vehicle driven by Saunters in Hastings was seized and searched. A kilo of pure cocaine was found in the car. Then the team went on to search their houses and inside Clark’s house a safe was found containing a “production and dealers kit” and £13000 in cash.
Last month both Clark and Saunters pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown court and were sentenced to 4 years 8 months in prison each. And it doesn’t stop there as we are pursuing them through the Proceeds of Crime Act for potential assets of £130 000. That could well hit them harder than the prison sentences. This will be resulted in February so I will report back then.
And who said crime pays!!!
November was a good month for locking up organized crime criminals. Ryan Carden from Peacehaven was sentenced to 9 years at Hove Crown Court for aiding and abetting the transfer of a sawn-off shotgun.
Five other ‘criminals’ had previously been convicted during earlier court hearings following the same investigation. 3 had already been sentenced but the other 2 involved in the same crime group were sentenced with Ryan Carden.
Craig Carden, cousin of Ryan was sentenced to 5 years for possession of the same sawn-off shotgun and Stephen Fox from Brighton was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison for conspiracy to transfer the same shotgun, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
So you could say that this was ‘social justice’ by locking up members of these orgainesd crime groups.
It is important to understand and portray the damage organized crime can do at the local level, in the streets and communities of Sussex. We have a prevention-based approach to tackling orgainsed crime and try and disrupt them as much as possible using many different tactics.
I will finish with a rant: Why on earth is Clare Balding and BTSport interviewing Mike Tyson for their TV show, he was convicted in 1992 for the rape of a teenager and also has convictions for assault, cocaine possession and driving under the influence??!!!!
Did you know that you are more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other crime?
Christmas is a time when the fraudsters rub their hands with glee as there are such “easy pickings” for them as we all rush onto the computer to do our online Christmas shopping.
Lets face it, why sit in a traffic jam getting to town, another queue to park, extortionate parking fees and then fight our way round those crowded, hot shops. You can never find what you want and never a shop assistant these days!! The alternative is to sit with a nice coffee at home in front of the computer!
So don’t fall for any Internet scam or let these fraudsters ruin your Christmas and read the attached advice from Action Fraud and The City of London Police.
As organised crime is often hidden and my teams often work under cover, the public is often unaware of our activity and the great results we achieve. I am trying to make our achievements more visible as there really is months of investigation to get these high level criminals locked away!
Operation Walrus is one of many successes we have had this year. The team won an award for their great work and I put this in an earlier blog.
We designed this poster to help us demonstrate to the public how we tackle organised crime.
A good news story for the end of the week! Not that I need cheering up as my “end of the week” involved a day of mountain biking in the Surrey Hills with Lou Whiteoak!
We have awarded thirteen Sussex charities and community groups with grants from our Sussex Police Community Cashback initiative, launched earlier this year in partnership with Sussex Community Foundation. Using the proceeds of Crime Act, we have secured court orders to confiscate houses, cars, cash and other assets from convicted criminals, making sure they do not profit from their crimes.
We had a tremendous response to our scheme, with over 74 local charities and community groups from across the county, working to reduce crime, the fear of crime and/or antisocial behaviour, making applications for grants of up to £10,000 to support their work.
The applications were wide ranging and well in excess of our expectations.
The fact that this money has been taken from criminals by my team and is going back into our local communities gives me great satisfaction.
It has been a very humbling experience to see the extent of voluntary and community work being carried out across Sussex. My only disappointment is that we could not give money to everyone. However, we are hoping to continue with this scheme in the future, opening up opportunities for more community projects.
These are our first awards:
Chichester Community Development Trust received £4,300 to develop the Cabin Crew project based in Graylingwell Park, that will develop a community resource that will run courses and activities for young people and families, many of whom are social housing tenants with large families who have recently moved to the district.
Stonepillow received £2,500 towards workshops and training for homeless people in Chichester and Arun Districts.
The Crew Club received £2,866 to provide two weekly after-school sessions for 7-11 year-olds in Whitehawk.
Hangleton and Knoll Community Action received £1,000 to help provide a forum for local residents to talk over issues affecting them and to find solutions to problems such as antisocial behaviour, crime and fear of crime.
Moulsecoomb Forest Garden & Wildlife Project received £5,000 towards the cost of eco-building an outdoor classroom.
Safety Net received £2,391 towards its Safety Squads that encourage greater participation and consultation among young people in the prevention and solution of crime and antisocial behaviour.
Hastings Street Pastors received £6,795 help people who are vulnerable because of alcohol;, drugs, homelessness or other issues, on a Friday and Saturday night by listening, providing water and first aid, to help them ‘keep the peace’.
Heathfield Partnership Trust received £5,000 to develop programmes targeting disadvantaged young people aged 16-19 not in education, employment or training.
Here4U from Eastbourne received £2,500 towards running costs. It is a high street based drop-in centre for local people, addressing crisis needs, as well as the root causes of poverty through information, signposting, advice and advocacy.
Newhaven Community Development Association received £5,000 towards its Fast Forward youth project supporting 11-19 years olds at risk of criminal activity.
Snowflake Trust received £5,000 towards its work, supporting homeless and vulnerable people.
Sussex Central YMCA /Windlesham received £4,100 towards a project that will raise awareness of the issue of child sexual exploitation in the night time economy.
Whitehawk Inn received £4,155 to develop community resources to increase access to information and support to those at risk of offending.
The heat is on organised criminals in Sussex as my team continues to target and arrest drug dealers and burglars.
During the last couple of weeks the team have been busy executing warrants and arresting the suspects.
On one such warrant in a garage in Hove the team found an industrial press believed to have been used to make kilo amounts of class A drugs, along with kilo amounts of cocaine and mixing agent. Veshaj and Kolovos have been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and have both been remanded in custody.
Last week we had another excellent result, recovering antiques from a burglary in West Sussex. We found most of the stolen antiques to the delight of the victims. Ron Holdway has been charged with the burglary and remanded in custody. Other suspects arrested are on police bail.
During subsequent warrants we also found about 14 Kilos of cannabis resin and three men were arrested for drug offences.
Despite the hot weather we have not stopped in our relentless battle against these organized crime groups. The team is really buzzing at the moment; the office is full of exhibits, paper work and the odd celebratory biscuit!
Well done to all the Operation Walrus team who received an award last week at our Force Crime and Justice Awards ceremony.
Operation Walrus was an 18-month investigation into an organized crime group involved in antique burglaries across the county. The head of this crime group was Darryl Aldridge.
Aldridge would target Auction Houses via their websites and note the dates of their sales. He then tasked lower members of the crime group to undertake the burglaries at either the auction premises or private houses. He provided a “shopping list” with the items he had selected from the internet sites.
Aldridge’s criminal activity continued after his arrest and bail involving the Auction Houses and he went on to commit a further 3 high value antique house burglaries in Lancing and Brighton. This time he had identified his victims through an EBay relationship so that he knew what to steal!
Aldridge was charged with the 11 burglaries and perverting the course of justice and was found guilty of all of them after a 6 week trial. The Judge sentenced him to just less than 11 years in prison.
I was delighted with this result and for me particular mention to Nick, Barbara and Rachel from my SOCU team. This was a difficult investigation and certainly not an easy trial, but justice was served.
Barbra and Nick were also given a Court Commendation for their commitment and professionalism throughout.
The awards presented to the Op Walrus Team last week at Slaugham Manor recognized and praised their hard work and the excellent service they provided in locking away a prolific criminal in Aldridge.
Are you involved in a local community project? If so, your project may be eligible to bid for some funding from our Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) scheme.
We have set up a grant scheme called Sussex Police Community Cashback, which will put money raised from the proceeds of crime back into Sussex communities harmed by crime.
Any local charities and community groups working in the community to reduce crime, the fear of crime and/or antisocial behaviour will be able to apply for grants of up to £10,000 to support their work.
This money was seized from criminals and criminal businesses during 2012-13 and we want to ensure it goes back into helping support people making a positive difference in our communities.
My team of Financial Investigators has worked hard on cash forfeitures and confiscation investigations over this last year to strip criminals, particularly organised crime groups, of their assets. It is about taking the profit out of crime and hitting the criminals in the pocket!
It is important to us that these funds are used in our communities for worthwhile projects that will help us make a difference to crime reduction and community safety.
We have joined up with the Sussex Community Foundation and they will administer this new scheme for us. The deadline for your application is Friday 12th July 2013.
The form can be found on our Sussex Police website or Sussex Community Foundation:
Temporary Banning Order comes into force tomorrow for 2 groups of “legal highs”
On Monday 10th June 2013 an order, which has been laid in Parliament, comes into force, which provides a temporary banning order for two new Psychoactive Substances known as Benzo Fury and NBOMe . These are known as “Legal Highs” but are certainly not safe and the government has decided to make them illegal for 12 months.
Once the order comes into effect, those caught making, supplying or importing the drugs will face up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Police Officers will also be able to search or detain anyone they suspect of having the drugs and seize, keep or dispose of a substance they think is a temporary class drug.
Suppliers such as Head Shops and other manufacturers have a duty to keep up to date with legislation and should therefore be aware of this new order. They need to DISPOSE of their substances before they become illegal tomorrow (10th June 2013). If they continue to sell Benzo Fury and NBOMe after this date they will be committing an offence of supplying a controlled drug and we will come knocking!!
There are ups and downs in our job, as in any other job. Executing a successful warrant is certainly one of those lofty occasions, particularly after a detailed investigation. The second high is a successful conviction.
Towards the end of last year my team went into a house in Saltdean with a drugs warrant and interrupted 2 males and a female at the house who were in the process of making about 7,000 ecstasy pills. There was dust everywhere, all the equipment and raw materials, including a large pill-making machine on the lounge floor!
After searches in the garage and their vehicles 55g of high purity cocaine, 1270 Diazepam tablets, 2kg Ketamine, multiple kilos of cutting agent and £41,000 cash were seized.
An interesting cookery lesson!
Paul Bulford, Gavin McCall and Worms all pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown court in March to offences of producing a controlled drug, possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply and Proceeds of Crime offences. They were sentenced to 9 years, 8 years and 12 months in prison respectively. A successful conviction, another high point in the life of SOCU officers and an excellent conclusion to a good investigation.
The message is that we continue to actively target those involved in the drugs trade!
The picture below is the dining room table at the house and shows the pill making operation in full flow!
I am pleased Scott and Bailey is back for a second series..BUT…they are always smoking and drinking and the reality is that we spend all our time running, swimming and biking..yes really!!! (When we are not working of course!)
The gang of five males was involved in a fraud of over 2 million pounds stolen from Sussex University. The gang members were sentenced to a total of 16 years 7 months in prison, which is as a result of a 2-year joint investigation by our Money Laundering Team and the East Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART).
During the latter part of 2010 Sussex University was having new student accommodation being built. The work was being undertaken by a Manchester based construction company and involved a multi million pound contract. Payment was sent via an electronic transfer on a monthly basis.
However, when the university received a forged invoice they subsequently made a payment of over 2 million pounds into bank accounts controlled by Gurdip Singh from Leicester. Singh had set up a false construction business in the name of Balecourt Ltd. The university believed they were paying the Manchester Construction Company.
There is no doubt that Singh was the principle member of this organized Crime Group, but also involved in the crime were Singh’s business partner Hamel Bakrania from Leicester, Dennis Francis from Loughborough, Ohazurume from London and Andrew Wormstone, a Leeds based solicitor.
It was not until the Manchester firm queried the lack of payments from the university that the fraud was discovered and the lengthy investigation codenamed Court and convicted earlier this month.Operation Theta, commenced.
Singh pleaded guilty on 4th December 2012, but his four co-accused denied being involved in the fraud and money laundering crimes. They were tried at Leicester Crown
Another great result for DS Mick Richards and DC Nigel Tillings. Through their hard work and effective partnership with the East Midlands RART, a highly orgainised national criminal operation has been smashed and the main members of the group now serving substantial prison sentences. Time for a well deserved drink!
We in the police are facing many new challenges at the moment and there still remains that air of uncertainty. However, what is constant and not changing at all is the criminals committing crimes and a lot of the crimes remain the same, theft, burglary, drug supply, assaults of varying degree to name a few. Some criminals (not all) are also getting more sophisticated and I see this in the work of my teams in fraud, cyber-crime and other organized crime methodology. We therefore need an experienced and skilled police force to tackle all these types of criminals.
My point: experience and skill is developed and learnt and police leaders are promoted through the ranks, enhancing their knowledge as they go. This is British policing.
How will direct recruitment to superintendent achieve this? You cannot replace accumulated knowledge of policing, both frontline and detective; no training can replace first hand operational experience and understanding.
Promotion is getting harder to achieve and due to the reduced senior ranks, so competitive. Our morale will be dented further if most of these cherished posts are given to the direct entry banker, supermarket manager, company director, etc.!!
In a recent Policy Exchange report – ‘Policing 2020: policing in next 10 years’ I noticed the proposal to set up Citizen Police Academies to train the public on how to play their part in the fight against crime! There will be courses on how to citizen arrest safely and how to avoid danger……hmmmm!!! Any takers?!
I went up to the Home Office yesterday as I sit on the multi-agency National Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) Quality Assurance Panel. The reason I am involved in this is because a couple of years ago I had a four month secondment working in the Home Office to produce the National DHR guidance. An amazing opportunity, working with such a variety of agencies, bringing us all together for the one purpose of learning the lessons from domestic homicides so we can better safeguard and protect victims.
DHRs are about improving the way in which we work both individually and collectively as organisations. Establishing if there are lessons that could be learnt form the case, how they will be acted on and what is expected to change as a result.
It is important to remember that domestic violence is often repeated by the perpetrator and the violence also escalates over time. A domestic violence incident, which results in the death of the victim are very rarely a first attack. Many people and agencies may have known of these attacks, including psychological and emotional abuse; neighbors, family, GPs, housing, hospitals, police to name a few. Where there missed opportunities and can we all learn to help prevent these awful crimes?
Back to yesterday, freezing train and even colder meeting room at the Home Office. I think they are saving money by turning their heating down!
As a QA panel, we are both statutory and voluntary agencies and victim family representatives, chaired by the Home Office. We assess report standards across the country as well as identify good and poor practice and training needs. We went through seven completed reviews, all from different parts of the country. All horrific crimes, involving violent murders and some in front of young children.
You really have to be made of stern stuff not to let it affect you too much and that comes from over 20 years in the police! Reading about the sad lives that some have endured and their sudden brutal deaths is difficult but I just stay focused on the job, knowing that what we do will help prevent future domestic murders.
The Deputy Chief Constable presented an Outstanding Investigator Award to our hard working Major Fraud Team at our Awards Ceremony on Wednesday.
Chris Neilson (ECU DI) and myself put forward our Major Fraud Team as often their work goes on unnoticed and we thought it was about time to promote and acknowledge their commitment and expertise.
The Team, led by DS Sally Smith has undertaken a series of complex fraud investigations involving significant financial loss to many victims due to highly organsied criminal activity across national and international law enforcement jurisdiction.
I have previously mentioned some of these excellent investigations; they include Peckover, Greening and Roberts.
You cannot underestimate the work and detail that goes into these cases, but the results speak for themselves-
The Team has convicted 23 defendants of fraud offences totaling in excess of £10 million over the last 18 months…….. beat that visible policing on the beat!!
When you measure dedication and commitment to the job, well, Detective Constable James Whiley missed our ECU Christmas meal to see Gary Roberts convicted and sentenced to 4 ½ years at Chichester Crown Court! (And what a good meal he missed…. not wanting to rub it in!)
Roberts had not only repeatedly defrauded financial institutes in excess of £350 000 by opening accounts with fake identification, pretending to be a successful businessman, but he also befriended vulnerable women to get money from them. He had 44 separate bank accounts.
It is always important to take time out to appreciate hard work and such amazing results from a small team of 5 detectives.
As we follow through the Alastair Stewart case, I wanted to share this email with you as it epitomises the positive effects our work can have for victims of crime. I have said many times previously, this is the most rewarding part of our job.
Victims are at the heart of our work and cases like this make the years of difficult and often frustrating investigations worth it!
It is not just about ‘locking away’ the criminals but also supporting their victims, helping them put the crimes behind them and improving their lives.
DS Mick Richards called Nina from court on 19th December to tell her the result - Stewart was going to prison for 5 ½ years.
Hi Mick & Nicola,
Just wanted to say I had such a wonderful day after you called on the 19th. I took my daughter swimming, we baked gingerbread, and there were lots of kids over and activities and it was just a really great day.
I also slept better than I had in a long long time that night, and the fear I was still harbouring has totally dissipated.
Can’t thank you enough again for a job incredibly well done! I am truly grateful for every step. I know you have many other cases and the job isn’t over but I hope you get some well-deserved downtime over Christmas and New Year’s
Warmest regards and Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Following on from my blog on 28th November about the successful conclusion to a 2-year fraud investigation, Alastair Stewart, 53yrs, from Burgess Hill was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison at the Old Bailey yesterday, despite credit for a guilty plea.
Stewart had posed as a wealthy businessman and financier and conned over £650 000 from Nina Siegenthaler out in the Turks & Caicos Islands. She fell for his charms and persuasive nature and allowed him to supposedly invest her savings, which he actually spent on living a life of luxury.
Stewart caused Nina, the victim, immense psychological as well as financial harm
Nina could not bring herself to come to court in the end but gave us her victim personal statement through this video blog. She wanted her ordeal to be a warning to others. She describes how violated she felt and how Stewart had turned her life upside down by his lies and deceit.
There were four other victims who were in the process of being conned by Stewart in a similar way and they were at court with DS Mick Richards to see the sentencing.
Without victims like Nina coming forward and helping us with our investigation and prosecution we would not be able to convict such predatory criminals like Stewart. Nina has helped us remove him from society and stop him moving on to his next victim.
DS Mick Richards and DC Nicola Balkham have both worked hard on this investigation and I know that the most important aspect for them was helping Nina see justice done so she can move forward in her life.
Organised cannabis cultivation was one a fairly small-scale form of criminal behaviour, but has become a tough criminal world of extremely large profits and low risks for the criminals.
We need to deal with the organisations behind cannabis cultivation.
We arranged some training around drug investigations a few weeks ago. I am a strong advocate of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for all areas of policing. As the criminals get more sophisticated, so must we!
In our training day we considered the equipment needed to set up a factory, which includes lights, filtration systems, timers, temperature controls, cooling fans……sounds like I am giving a lesson on how to start your own cannabis cultivation factory!!
During the day we studied the different types of plants and looked at the growth stages, from seed to a mature plant in only 12 weeks.
We examined how ‘the grows’ are cropped and dried and how the resin is produced. A fascinating day and now my team are extremely well prepared to dismantle a factory, obtain the necessary evidence, identify the offenders and successfully prosecute.
They thought that it was all over (when they were sent to prison)..……well it is now after the final Proceeds of Crime (POCA) hearing at Birmingham Crown Court 2 weeks ago, where the six main defendants had more than a quarter of a million pounds of their criminal assets confiscated as a result of an extremely complex and detailed confiscation investigation.
My team of Financial Investigators work very closely with CPS and the Courts to hit the defendants in the pocket. Our work is to take the profit out of crime and to ensure that the crime does not pay!
Asif Khan, Mohsin Raja, Nazir Ahmed, Imran Rafiq, Daniel Myers and Shouel Karim were part of an organized crime group from Crawley involved in a major drug distribution network. They were all successfully convicted last year after a long focused operation and sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison between them for conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
However, our work did not stop there. A determined financial investigation and contested confiscation applications continued over the following year and resulted in 6 confiscation orders totalling £252 466.21
These Confiscation Orders are a great tool to strip offenders of their assets. The criminals’ money is then ploughed back into the fight against drugs. The orders make the offenders pay back the cash equivalent of their benefit from the crime, sometimes meaning they have to sell off their homes, cars and other luxury items such as jewellery, acquired through a criminal lifestyle..….such rewarding work for us!!
We will shortly be looking for suitable community projects or initiates to fund by using the confiscated money, a proportion of which is returned to us by the Home Office.
The story of our success with Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO) is told through my blogs in July and 23rd October and today……..
These SCPOs are preventative, restrictive and disruptive tools that we are using to help us monitor persistent and serious organized criminals. The conditions we put in the orders do restrict a person’s life but they are proportionate and necessary to help us in preventing continued criminal activity by the subjects.
Our implementation of these orders in Sussex is demonstrated through the case of Alasatir (now William) Peckover, a 23 year old from Crawley.
Peckover took only a few months to breach his SCPO and was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on 29th November to three years in prison, more than his original sentence. This was his fourth conviction in just over four years of complex Internet based hacking frauds, using different identities and defrauding individual people as well as companies.
At the court Judge Tanzer said “I believe that I will see you again in the future due to your gambling addiction and the temptation to use your computer skills to cheat which will be hard to resist due to your character”.
So off Peckover goes to prison yet again and will the Judge be proved right or will Peckover change his compulsive criminal ways? What help will he get in prison to prevent him coming out yet again to offend for the fifth time? Will it make any difference? I think it will.
No more from me today as I am off to our team Christmas do……
It was two years ago, just after four on a Friday afternoon when DS Mick Richards answered the phone in the Money Laundering Team office. As Detectives we all know about those Friday afternoon calls at the end of the day that turn your working life upside down for many months, if not years! The call was from the local police at the Turks & Caicos Islands asking if we had heard of an Alistair Stewart. They explained that a Nina Siegenthaler, a Sotheby’s real estate executive living out there had been in to the police station to report a significant fraud by Stewart. The rest is history as they say, as Stewart pleaded guilty last week to a £650 000 fraud at the Old Bailey.
What you don’t see is the 2 years of hard work and detailed investigation carried out by Mick and DC Nicola Balkham. They discovered that Stewart lived in Burgess Hill and had committed fraud previously against his elderly neighbour. This time he had taken a significant step further by masquerading as a wealthy fund manager running a Swiss finance company. In fact he had been living on benefits! He duped Nina, who fell for his charms and deceits and ended up handing him over more than £600 000 to invest for her. He used this to then fund a lavish lifestyle to further con other victims across the world and maintain the illusion of such an extravagant life.
Nina admitted that she had fallen completely for his charms and took the time to write to me to say how grateful she was for the support given to her throughout by Mick and Nicola. She told me that it took my officers to “break the spell that Alistair Stewart had on her” and how critical their support, despite being in the UK, had been on enabling her to come forward and provide evidence so that Stewart could be brought to justice.
Stewart was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 19th December. I hope to be there with Mick and Nicola to witness the conclusion of this long and successful investigation and I hope that Nina can start to find closure.
Be alert to distraction burglary and if you're not sure don't open the door!
The ACPO burglary awareness campaign features three themed weeks, this week the focus is on distraction burglaries. Distraction burglaries are where tricks, lies and distraction are used on a home owner, the most common types are where the offender pretends to be from the water board, gas or electricity, or they pretend to do repairs. Distraction burglars are members of serious organized crime groups who travel the country to target elderly people living on their own and who often keep cash in their homes.
This week is about promoting our positive action to target these organized crime groups and to share crime prevention advice. This is a priority for my teams and my blog on 1st November highlights our success in charging 5 males who had been targeting vulnerable home owners, tricking them into paying over £335 00 for unnecessary work. We also have a planned arrest tomorrow, so we remain determined! We know the profoundly negative effect these crimes can have on the victims. I will keep you updated as our case progresses through the court.
We want to use this week to alert people of this crime and to work together to make it harder for criminals to get away with distraction burglary. If you remember anything about distraction burglary, let it be:
‘If you’re not sure, don’t open the door”.
Our advice is to take these simple steps to protect yourself and share them with anyone you think could be at risk:
• Check the identity of callers by calling the company they claim to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory, online or provided independently by your service provider. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller – they may be bogus.
• Telephone a neighbor or friend nearby to come along and check out the caller before you open the door to them.
• The “Waterboard” has not existed for 28 years; turn away anyone purporting to be from it.
• Keep cash in the bank where it is secure.
• Consider storing valuable jewellry in bank deposit box- contact your bank for details.
• Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times.
• Ensure that if you do let somebody in to your home, that you close the door behind them – distraction burglars often work in teams, while you’re distracted another person may sneak in through an open door.
• If somebody asks for your help, needs to make a telephone call, needs a drink or wants directions, don’t feel pressurised into letting them in. Help through a closed door; refer them to a younger neighbour or call to ask someone to assist.
• Not sure? Don’t open the door.
Last Friday Terry Sterriker appeared at Brighton and Hove Magistrates Court charged with importing 14 333 tablets (diazepam and temazepam) class C drug from Pakistan. The drugs were recovered during a warrant that we executed at his home address in Newhaven. An interesting aspect of this case is that we believe Sterriker ordered the drugs on-line through a web site. This was not the Silk Road internet site which the Argus so kindly described in detail last week, but my point is we are working hard to tackle many different types of drug importation and supply.
Why is it that when you have an excellent member of police staff they leave to go and work in the private sector? We need to do more in the police service to retain talented staff; it is very frustrating to see them move off into the private business world. So I will use this blog to say goodbye and good luck to Hayley Carmichael! You will be missed!
We are implementing Action Fraud in Sussex on 3rd December. As we are the force leads on fraud, we have been working hard to ensure all our processes for fraud link in smoothly with Action Fraud. (When I say we I mean Chris and Sally, thanks team!)
Action Fraud is the UKs national reporting Centre for fraud and Internet crime. The public (including businesses and charities) will be able, and encouraged, to report any cases of fraud direct to Action Fraud, freeing some police time and making it a quicker and more convenient process for the public. However, we will still be able to report to Action Fraud on behalf of the public. See below link for details:
Fraud and Internet crime costs our economy an estimated £73 billion every year and the money is often used to fund crimes like drug importation, terrorism and human trafficking. This is why it is important to report fraud.
Anyone can become a victim of fraud. Action Fraud receives fraud reports from people of all ages from across the country. A national campaign launched today warns UK investors that they risk falling victim to thousands of pounds of fraud if they fail to take simple steps to check who they are investing with.
The below links detail this campaign and show how the government and private sector have joined together to advise investors on how to avoid these scams:
The Sussex Integrated Operating Model (IOM) workshops held last Thursday and Friday were both well received by our divisional colleagues and partners. We held these workshops to raise awareness about organised crime and how we need to work together to reduce the harm caused by these organised crime groups (OCGs) on a local to global basis. We had speakers from the Home Office and the National Coordinators Office to help us promote the message that organsied crime manifests itself daily in criminality and impacts on all our communities. We all have to work together to continue to disrupt it in many different ways.
Just to reinforce a message that DS Mark Rosser put out last week and urgent national advice issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to the public, and to people in the bodybuilding community in particular, following the deaths of two people (not in Sussex) believed to have taken a ‘fat-burner’ substance in tablet or powder form. The substance contains DNP (2, 4-dinitrophenol), an industrial chemical known to have serious short-term and long-term effects, which can be extremely dangerous to human health. The advice is not to take any product containing DNP at any level
Back to Bramshill Police College for another week module on the Foundation for Senior Leadership, this time the Business Skills module. During the week we had ‘exercise centurion’ which was a strategic exercise about a police station closure. I was in a top team of 5 officers from Derbyshire, Wiltshire, Thanes Valley and Avon and Somerset police. We called ourselves Team Versatile…we thought we were on the Apprentice as we were given so many different tasks that week!
My quote from the week is around organisational change: “effective organizational leadership is more about managing the journey of change rather than announcing the destination” (Ken Blanchard 2009).
The PCC elections are now over and I will be putting this quote into practice from Thursday as we embark on massive change!!
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections are getting very near and suddenly the reality of the radical reforms to our policing hits home!
Will this American style of policing work for us? The PCC will have an incredible amount of power, including the power to sack the Chief Constable. This is an unsettling time for us, with many questions being asked. What level of knowledge and understanding do the PCC candidates in Sussex have about policing??
One thing that continually frustrates and annoys me is the ‘harping’ on about putting more police out on the streets and I know I have vented about this in previous blogs! Visibility policing is only one part of our fight against crime. Last week some of my detectives from the Money Laundering Team, ECU, charged five males with offences of Fraud by False representation. They had targeted vulnerable and elderly victims living in Henfield and Warnham by conning the victims into believing they needed roofing and drainage repairs to their houses. Over a period of time about £335 000 was paid to these offenders for work that was unnecessary and certainly poorly completed.
One of the victims is an 83-year-old lady living alone. She was visited by 2 of the offenders who then offered to clean her roof of moss and repair broken tiles. She was charged an incredible £29 900 for this so-called work. We established through expert evidence that the work should not have cost more than £4000. A few months later the same elderly lady was visited again on two further occasions by 4 of the offenders who were purporting to be from Southern Water and they convinced her she needed her water filter changing. They then did the ‘work’ at a cost of £2000.
The second victim was an 80-year-old male who returned home one day to find the offenders digging a hole in his front garden and was told that a source of pollution had been traced back to his house! They persuaded him to buy a new water filter from them and charged him £3000, urging him to pay in cash. They even drove him home from the bank after he had withdrawn it.
This was an extensive and difficult investigation, taking many months. I am proud of the dedication, commitment and care that my detectives have shown on this case. They have been in regular contact with these victims and they are determined that these low life criminals get convicted and sentenced for a long time.
These criminals would not have been caught by “bobbies on the beat”!
Back in July I blogged about our first successful Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) on Alistair Peckover, a serial fraudster. Peckover had been convicted of fraud for the third time in three years and we were hoping that the stringent conditions set in the SCPO would have prevented him undertaking any more criminal activity…..wrong!!!
Peckover breached his SCPO last week and also committed further fraud. He assumed two new identities using the names James Green and Stephen Chalk. Using both identities he opened up multiple gambling accounts with on-line casinos, giving false addresses, email accounts and fraudulent proof of identity. He then discovered a way to manipulate on-line games to guarantee no loss when playing and making thousands of pounds.
One of his scams was betting on red or black in roulette. He would gamble £1000 on red but also £1 on black whilst running the software. If red came in he would joyfully collect the winnings but if it was black the bet was cancelled and he would simply play again!
But not so clever as he has been caught by us, arrested and charged with 4 offences of SCPO breach and 2 new fraud offences which are:
Making a false representation by claiming he was entitled to money from the Green account (£31 000)
Making a false representation by claiming he was entitled to money from the Chalk account (£14 500)
Peckover pleaded guilty to all the charges at court and has been remanded in custody. Good work by our Major Fraud Team.
So we have done our job to identify his continued offending and bringing him to justice, but what about the cure? Is this an addiction and illness or is it just greed? There is no doubt he will get a lengthy prison sentence this time but what else needs to be done to stop his persistent criminal activity?
This week we have launched an on-line and printed guidance called “Keeping Illegal Drugs Out of Rental Properties-A guide for Property Mangers”.
This guidance is part of our ongoing work to disrupt organised crime groups as often they are behind this illegal activity, particularly cannabis cultivation as seen in some of my previous blogs. The commercial cultivation of cannabis is seen as a low risk high profit enterprise and organised crime groups traditionally known for class A drug supply are increasingly diversifying into this area of criminality. It known as ‘The ATM for drug dealers”!
We have definitely seen a shift of cannabis production sites from the large-scale commercial industrial properties to smaller residential or domestic premises. Our guidance is aimed at increasing knowledge and highlighting the signs of drug production for private landlords who may be unaware of the risks and dangers to the community.
I ended up doing a few radio interviews, including a live interview for BBC Sussex, which I managed to do at the same time as getting my lazy son up for school!
I am off to the ‘Serving Sussex Leadership Forum’ in the morning. I know one of the areas we will be focusing on is the introduction of the Police and Crime Commissioners, elections on 15th November and a ‘go-live’ date of 22nd November! How quickly that has come round?!
It is always a good week when you send drug dealers to prison and this week we convicted and sentenced three drug dealers, two of them from Eastbourne, to a total of ten and a half years. To see the positive results of months of meticulous and focused investigation and watch the defendants “go down” to the cells at Crown Court is one of the most rewarding parts of our job in my view and gives the team a real sense of achievement and justice. As a result of our operation we have prevented large quantities of cocaine reaching the streets of Sussex.
Operation Tinsley was a long-term covert investigation into the trafficking of cocaine by an Eastbourne based organised crime group. We identified Amanda Cameron from Bucks making over 14 successive trips down to Sussex last summer and then holding clandestine meetings in various car parks to handover the drugs. Our operation culminated on 22/09/12 with the arrest of Gary Smith from Eastbourne and Peter Burton from Polegate after they were seen to receive 362 grammes of cocaine in Tesco’s car park, Lewes from Amanda Cameron. The cocaine was wrapped in layers of packaging inside a Lipsy Boutique bag.
Cameron was later arrested in a Sussex coordinated arrest in Warwickshire. She was found to have about £300 000 cash in her car and a further £122 000 cash was found at her home in Uxbridge.
The strength of the evidence prompted them all to plead guilty. At Hove Crown Court this week Cameron pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering and was sentenced to 4.5 years imprisonment and Smith and Burton pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and sentenced to 4 years and 2.5 years respectively.
The recovered £422 000 cash has been seized by us under POCA and is part of our continued work to take the cash out of crime and use it in our fight against drugs.
The blog has been quiet because I have been away on a week’s course at Bramshill Police College as part of the Foundation for Senior Leadership Programme.
It was an excellent course. There were 24 of us, Chief Inspectors and police staff, from forces across the country. I always enjoy meeting new people and find it fascinating to see how most of us very quickly all gelled together, of course there is always a few exceptions in a big group, mentioning no names!!!
I now understand the concept of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and I know it will enhance my ability to lead. It is all about self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and social skills. A lot to start putting into practice…I bet my teams can’t wait?!!!
We also had time within the course to consider and explore our own personal values and beliefs and how they can affect our decision-making and leadership. Another important and relevant area covered on the course was ‘changed management’ and how individuals and teams respond to change.
A quote to remember from the course:
Leadership-‘to inspire people and an honour not to be taken lightly’ Blanchard (2001)
Importantly I also found some great running routes around the outskirts of the College, although Sean (Derbyshire police) and I did get lost in the woods on Wednesday!
There were two female Chief Inspectors from Greater Manchester Police on my course, both on my wavelength and great company. However, when the tragic news of the murders of PCs Nicola Hughs and Fiona Bone and the horrendous violent circumstances of their deaths were seen by us on Sky News, the reality of such an awful incident hit home. The whole of Bramshill Police College was in shock and our thoughts remain with their family and friends. It was a very dark day and we all reflected on what being a police officer means, far more than just a job.
Meanwhile back at the office one of the warrants resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of Psilocybe Mushrooms known as ‘Magic Mushrooms’ and an arrest of a teenager. They are a mild hallucinogen, a class A drug and illegal. They had been shipped in a vacuum packaging for better preservation. One for parents to be aware of.
I am really enjoying the Paralympics; the athletes are inspirational as well as talented. My whole family are so engrossed and in absolute awe. As each day goes by I am getting a greater understanding of all the sports involved and the many disabilities and how they are grouped. Getting to know the athletes, their personal stories and despite their disabilities their ‘humbling’ strength and resolve. If only I could get hold of a ticket………..
So last week was a week of meetings and warrants! Sadly I had the meetings and my team had the warrants! The warrants were more successful than my meetings!
After a lengthy and complicated money laundering investigation by detectives from my Major Fraud Team, Nigel Greening pleaded guilty on the morning of the trial. It is so frustrating when they do this as so much work is involved in preparing for a not-guilty trial. At least the credit for a guilty plea is small when they leave it so late.
Greening had been involved in the laundering of some of the proceeds from a timeshare fraud, which was being run in Spain. He had the bank account in which the victim’s money went, sometimes involving life savings from these elderly victims. Although his part was small, his criminal actions added to the misery of the victims and we will continue to identify these criminals and bring them to justice.
So what is all the fuss about seeing pictures of a naked Prince Harry! Have so many people got such boring lives that they can get so excited about these pictures. Although Prince Harry is a likeable character, he lives a privileged life and has a duty to the British public to be professional and not indiscreet or irresponsible. No comment on the Royal Protection Officer!