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Two awards for projects tackling car crime and indecent exposure

Thieves were jacking up cars in broad daylight in order to steal catalytic converters

Surrey Police’s Problem Solving Team which was set up two years ago has contributed towards two initiatives which has led to the force receiving two Home Office Tilley Awards.

The project that secured the win in the ‘Neighbourhoods’ category, tackled the rise in catalytic converter thefts in and around Surrey. During 2021, we were noticing an increase in catalytic converter thefts many of which were being stolen in broad daylight by criminals jacking up a vehicle and cutting off the catalytic converter in a matter of minutes. This caused significant impact to owners who were left without a mode of transport and in some cases serious violence has been used or threatened.

To spread awareness of the issue and increase reporting rates th4e force used social media, videos, signs, flyers, interviews, presentations and an ad-van campaign . This resulted in a 135% increase in reports, 13 arrests and  a 63.92% reduction in thefts in the three months following.

T/DCI Kate Hyder said: “This project was a joint operation between Surrey’s Serious Organised Crime Unit and our newly formed Problem-Solving Team. We worked alongside neighbourhood teams and partner agencies, using a problem-solving approach to tackle crime.”

“Catalytic converter thefts have a huge impact on the public as it can leave those affected without a mode of transport, so I am incredibly proud of the work the team have dedicated to this project to help prevent crime of a similar nature. Overall, since the beginning of the project up to today, we have now seen a 71% reduction in thefts..”

The project that secured victory within the ‘Business Support and Volunteers’ category, focused on the Basingstoke Canal in Woking.

Since 2019, this stretch of canal had several reports of indecent exposure and suspicious incidents, particularly against women and girls. Several geographical issues were helping to facilitate the offences, including overgrown shrubbery which isolated some areas of the path and a lack of CCTV which meant investigating the offences was difficult.

In response Woking’s Safer Neighbourhood team worked with the local community to cut down overgrown shrubbery, CCTV cameras were installed, graffiti was removed, new signs were installed to encourage early reporting and an investment of electronic bikes were put in the area for officers and members of the canal watch to use, to patrol the path quickly and efficiently.

The canal watch involved using volunteers who became guardians of the Canal reporting issues and concerns to the appropriate agency.

In October 2022, the winners of all five categories within the Tilley Awards will present their project at the National Problem-Solving Conference to a panel of judges, who will then decide the overall winner. The overall winner will then be put forward for an international award.

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