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Met officers pay special visits to the elderly and isolated

Metropolitan Police officers in South London are paying visits to vulnerable elderly and isolated people in the community.

Operation Nogi was set up a few months ago by Inspector Phyllis Rooney and Sergeant Liam Hack - from Team B of Croydon’s emergency response team (ERT) - in order to support elderly members of the public. 

Before the outbreak, the team would go out on visits for about two shifts out of 10 with an average of four visits per shift, each lasting up to an hour.

The scheme has now been rolled out to 15 ERT teams across the South Basic Command Unit (Croydon, Bromley, Sutton) area to enable more vulnerable people in the community to benefit from seeing the officers during the lockdown.

The team work with Croydon Council’s adult social care team and trading standards officers to identify people in the community in need.

Sergeant Liam Hack, who is the Operation Nogi lead for South BCU, said: “I have been completely blown away by the amazing response we have had for this initiative - from the residents, officers on the BCU willing to get involved and the organisations who have come on board and are helping to make the scheme a huge success.

Due to outbreak, officers now wear PPE, stay a maximum of 15 minutes and keep at least 2 metres apart.  Appointments are always pre-arranged with the attending officers wearing uniform and carrying ID.

Officers also deliver food and household essentials donated by local supermarkets involved in the scheme.

This group has also proved more vulnerable to scams during the virus outbreak.

A 78-year-old man from Coulsdon was almost conned out of £40,000 in an investment scam, but he avoided being a victim thanks to advice given to him during a visit.

The Met’s Cyber Crime Unit became involved in the scheme, making referrals for victims of courier fraud.

Sergeant Hack went on to say: “It’s nice to know what a difference these visits are making to people’s lives, especially during such a challenging time. The visits have also highlighted the levels of isolation that some people in our communities are living in, which can make them extremely vulnerable, so it’s great that we can make their lives a little less lonely and a little more beatable just by paying them a short 15 minute visit. I hope that the initiative continues to grow so that we can help not only more people in London, but across the UK.”

With fewer emergency calls to respond to, officers now hope to carry out more visits in the future. NPCC figures yesterday revealed a 14 per cent drop nationally in the past four weeks. 

Chief Inspector Luke Mooney, from South BCU, said: “I’m really proud of the positive impact this initiative is having on helping the most vulnerable elderly and isolated people in our communities during such a challenging time.

“Operation Nogi is our opportunity to make sure that our most vulnerable residents are not targeted by criminals. It’s a really important thing to do and I’m really proud that we are the first BCU in the Met to do this operation. I’d encourage not only other BCUs in the Met to adopt the initiative, but also police forces across the UK – imagine the difference we would be able to make nationwide!

Councillor Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “Operation Nogi is building on the excellent work that council teams including adult social care and trading standards already carry out to protect our older residents, and it is particularly important during this unsettling time due to COVID-19.

“From home safety advice to providing fraud prevention tips, this partnership has already made a difference to the lives of some of Croydon’s most vulnerable residents. I look forward to this excellent initiative developing further in the months to come.”

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