The whitchurch neighbourhood watch
In these troubled times it’s more important than ever to look out for our neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or alone and self isolating.
Be on the lookout for unusual activity, suspicious phone calls and scams. It’s a time when many of us may be feeling anxious, isolated and vulnerable, so let’s all pull together to support one another.
Our local neighbourhood police station is at Winslow. Contact the station via email: WinslowandDistrictNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk
If in doubt, please call the Police on 999 for an emergency, or 101 to report anything else.
Here is your local Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for July 2020:
Reported crimes and incidents 15th May to 14th June
I’ve received no reports of crimes or anti-social behaviour in the village during this period.
In May Whitchurch Surgery posted reports of a possible scam, with some women being contacted by text message claiming to be from the Call and Recall Service, to advise they are overdue for screening. The message asks them to call a mobile number and provide personal details. These messages are not from the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Should you receive such an approach or are concerned that you have already received one, please tell the practice so that the NHS Fraud team can be informed.
Over £5 million has been reported lost by victims of coronavirus-related scams! With the NHS Test and Trace service now up and running, how will we know the difference between a genuine contact tracer and a potential scammer?
Contact tracers will:
· call you from 0300 013 5000
· send you text messages from ‘NHS’
· ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
· ask if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
· provide advice on what you must do as you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
Contact tracers will never:
· ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (e.g. those starting 09 or 087)
· ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind
· ask for any details about your bank account
· ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
· ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set these up over the phone
· disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
· provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
· ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
If you think you’ve been sent a scam email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m afraid the list of Coronavirus-related scams continues as there has been an increase in reports about a virus-related TV Licensing scam. The fraudsters claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. They are told they are eligible for a “COVID-19 Personalized Offer” of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.
There has also been an increase in emails and texts sent by fraudsters claiming to be from the Department for Work and Pensions. The DWP will never text or email asking for your personal information or bank details.
The advice – as always is – don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details.
Reporting suspicious behaviour to the police
Annoyingly, there is currently no way of specifically reporting suspicious behaviour to the police online! However, one of our committee members actually received a prompt response when she went through this route – https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/contact-us-to-discuss-something-else/ even though the website says it can take up to two working days to get a response! So it’s worth a try if you are having no luck getting through on 101. You can also email Winslow police on email@example.com
Safe as houses
With lockdown restrictions easing and some people starting to return to work, burglars will be looking for the tell-tale signs that you’re not at home. So do all you can to make your home look occupied and more secure. Programmable light, TV and radio timers (set to a talk station) all act as deterrents. Or consider a fake TV which comes on automatically at dusk and simulates the light emitted by a real telly. Burglar alarms and outside security lights are also off-putting to intruders. Think too about ways you can improve security in your garden and outbuildings, which not only keeps bikes and other valuables in your shed and garage safe, but can also stop burglars getting into your home. And when you’ve finished in the garden for the day, try and remember to lock away your tools as they can be used to break into your home. It’s all about making it as difficult as possible for the thieves.
With (hopefully) lovely warm weather upon us, there will be a temptation to leave ground floor windows and doors open. So if you’re upstairs or out of the room – even just for a few minutes – close them and help keep the burglars out.
More tips on protecting your home can be found at: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/protect-your-home-by-protecting-your-garden
Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free July. Andrea Scagell