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The Importance of REPORTING Crime and Bad Behaviour

Friday, August 7th, 2020

“Is it worth reporting?” “We won’t hear back.” “It’s too difficult to get through on 101.” “I don’t understand how to report.”

These are common perceptions on reporting crime and bad behaviour to the Police. The purpose of this article is to explain exactly why it IS so important to make reports, and how to do it.

WHY it’s important to report

Below we examine a number of contexts in which reporting crimes or concerns is important. The picture that emerges is that we, as residents, can do more to help focus attention and resource on our own locality, and even help in the fight against broader crime. They are well summed up by the following advice from Sgt Roy Evans:

“Although Thames Valley Police communicate to the public via Twitter and Facebook, we do not monitor public social media groups. Please do not think that a post concerning Anti-Social Behaviour, speeding motorists, groups congregating etc will get a police response. I would encourage the public to report these issues at the time via telephone or the online reporting system.

At a recent Have Your Say meeting, approximately 10 different people reported the same issue. When asked if they had reported it to the police, they admitted they had not. Upon researching the specifics of the issues and the consequential wider impact, we discovered that actual calls to the police did not evidence or reflect these problems whatsoever.

For us to be able to do something, we need to know about it. If you don’t tell us, don’t assume someone else will.”
– Sgt Roy Evans, leader of Chesham Neighbourhood Policing Team


The frustration of residents on speeding is evident from every Forum quarterly survey, in particular in certain hotspots. At our May Forum Meeting, there was particular concern about St Mary’s Way, Chesham, being used as a late-night racetrack. Andy Garnett, Forum Chair, promised to escalate this, and it was discussed subsequently with LPA Commander Supt Amy Clements. A crucial part of her advice was for residents to REPORT incidents, with as much specificity and detail as possible. By building up logs, we are much more likely to be able to justify attention and resource, including from Roads Policing.

Anti-Social Behaviour – social media is not enough

Another common frustration is anti-social behaviour. Since the end of lockdown, we have seen frequent posts on social media, detailing incidents in Amersham, Chesham Bois, Prestwood, Great Missenden and elsewhere. Often these prompt furious discussion. But Sgt Roy Evans stresses that the Police cannot take account of reports on social media. Not only would it be impractical for the Police to monitor every local social media group and account, but there are also potential privacy issues. Again, he stresses the importance of REPORTING. In the absence of such reports, the impression may be that our villages have no anti social issues, and it is harder to justify support.

Stolen Bikes

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Thames Valley, interviewed on BBC Radio Oxford on 6th August 2020:
“…bike thefts may be part of a bigger picture, even funding County Lines drug crime. A user steals a bike, is paid a low sum in drugs, and bikes are then sold on for vast profits by criminal gangs… where we get more sophisticated, using the techniques that Police can deploy against big criminal gangs, often what appears to be a low-level crime can be a symptom of a much bigger problem… every bike matters, each will feed into an intelligence picture… if it’s not reported, the Police won’t have the picture.”

Rural Crime

Chris Pigott, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, re NFU Mutual Rural Crime 2020 Report:
“it’s report, report, report, don’t think because you haven’t heard anything back on it that it’s not being picked up. Because they will see a pattern and they will look at the pattern of criminality in that area, and that will drive the Police to put resources into that area. So the more it’s reported, the more an analyst could look at it and say, ‘This is a problem area, we need to be concentrating on this’.”

Fly Tipping

Fly tipping is an all-too-evident environmental issue around Chiltern, presenting hazards for wildlife and people. Whilst the reporting system is different (see below), it is also critical to report fly tipping. In addition to the environmental impact, sometimes it will cause obstruction, and it is a fact that fly tipped rubbish, if allowed to remain in place, will attract further tipping. Criminals involved in fly tipping, especially those of industrial scale, may well be involved in other forms of criminality. And the costs of clearing flytipping fall mainly on council taxpayers.

HOW to report to Thames Valley Police

There is a long-standing problem of misuse (and sometimes abuse) of the 999 reporting system. But it IS critical for emergencies, and should be used if:

  • A crime is happening right now.
  • Someone is in immediate danger, or there is a risk of serious damage to property.
  • A suspect for a serious crime is nearby.
  • There is a traffic collision involving injury or danger to other road users.

But for most instances, it will be appropriate to report via the 101 system.

The ‘non-emergency’ 101 telephone service has had a bad name for long wait times in the past, as well as the fee for using the service having caused some controversy. However, improvements have been made:
screenshot of Thames Valley Police 101 online reporting page

  • In the interview cited above, Matthew Barber stated that average wait times for the telephone service have been reduced to 1.5 minutes (though probably this doesn’t include the prerecorded preamble and options of over 2 minutes).
  • The online 101 reporting service is an effective alternative;
  • and the 15p fee for using the telephone service was scrapped from 1st April 2020.

Online Reporting works!

Our article on 26th March 2020 reports a positive personal experience of reporting online via 101. The report prompted a next-day response, and reporting online can help avert the danger of a long wait on the telephone escalating the reporter’s already fraught state.

Report Fly Tipping to Buckinghamshire Council

Fly tipping should be reported to Buckinghamshire Council through ‘Fix My Street’:

There are several reasons to make a report. First, Bucks CC had a good record on successful prosecution: on average more than one fly-tipper is caught and convicted every week in Buckinghamshire. Fly Tipping is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates’ Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Since the launch of The Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire campaign against fly-tipping – ‘Illegal Dumping Costs’ – in 2003, fly-tipping across the county more than halved.

Note that it is also important to check the status of contractors removing your waste: everyone has a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure their household or business waste is disposed of correctly. If you fail to do this, you can be prosecuted even if your waste is fly tipped by someone else on your behalf.

Please see also our page on Litter, which is one of the 22 concerns included in our quarterly surveys.

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