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Cambridgeshire police urge householders to use lockdown to spot suspicious behaviour

Police are encouraging people working from home to report any suspicious behaviour that they see in their street.

With many people spending more time at home during the day, officers are encouraging people who spot crimes to report them.

Superintendent James Sutherland. Picture: Keith Heppell
Superintendent James Sutherland. Picture: Keith Heppell

The force’s new ‘Stay In, Speak Out’ campaign aims to make the most of how many more people are working at home during the pandemic.

Superintendent James Sutherland, of Cambridgeshire police, said: “We have got a whole lot more people who are at home and home in the daytime compared with previously when they would have been out at work. So, there are many more eyes on the street, looking at the local community and looking out for their neighbours.

“When you are home every day you get a real sense of what normal looks like in your community and therefore quite an intuitive sense about things that look abnormal or suspicious.

“We are really trying to encourage people to do two things: to stay at home and follow the guidance and also if they see something that doesn’t feel right or sit right to call us or to report it to us online so we can work out the best thing to do with it.”

One man called police last Friday with concerns he could hear a cutting noise outside his neighbour’s house in Brampton. It was later revealed a catalytic converter had been stolen from the neighbour’s car.

And last Wednesday police were called by a woman after her neighbour knocked on the door and said they had seen three people climbing on the roof of her house in Cambridge. When the neighbour approached the group, they were threatened.

Supt Sutherland said people do not have to be sure that a crime is taking place before they report it.

Superintendent James Sutherland. Picture: Keith Heppell
Superintendent James Sutherland. Picture: Keith Heppell

“A lot of information we get that leads to drug warrants normally starts with information about suspicions from the community. It could be that you see people coming at all hours or notice strange smells play. That piece of information might not be enough for us to act on but it all starts building up a picture and, if we start getting lots of suspicious reports of a person or a location, that’s when we know we have to do some digging.

“Other signs that people might be cultivating drugs in a premises is if something is extremely well heated because it’s very energy-intensive to cultivate cannabis. Blacked-out windows could be another.

“You get a sense over time about people who live next door to you or across the road from you. If there are strange comings and goings at all times at night and people are unusually reclusive, one of those things alone would not lead to us knocking on the door, but you don’t know what other people have told us about a place and it builds up a picture for us.

“Let us work out what your information means. We don’t go charging around knocking on people’s doors based on suspicions. We build up a picture.”

Calls from members of the public have helped arrest suspected car thieves, raise the alarm on possible rogue traders and taken drugs and weapons off the streets.

The campaign also comes after a Twitter poll revealed 14 per cent of people said they had reported concerns to police directly as a result of increased time at home.

Suspicions or concerns can be reported via the force’s online web chat function at bit.ly/3ruIxRB, via the online reporting forms at bit.ly/3uWf4T8 or by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

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