The annual Operation Dasher police campaign has been launched in Swindon.
The police initiative aims to help people have a peaceful festive period as offivcers target the associated crime and anti-social behaviour.
Across the busy Christmas period, Swindon neighbourhood teams will be conducting high-visibility operations and patrols across the town centre and out-of-town shopping locations, focusing on the daytime economy and extended late night business opening hours until Christmas Eve.
The initiative was introduced more than a decade ago due to the increased footfall in the town and the accompanying rise in crime and anti-social behaviour across the festive period.
Over the next three weeks, neighbourhood policing teams from across the town will be proactively conducting patrols and operations in hot spot areas, working with partners such as Swindon Borough Council CCTV operators and street wardens, Pubwatch and store security staff to ensure everyone has a safe and merry Christmas.
Swindon neighbourhood officer PC Paul Bezzant said: “We run Op Dasher over the Christmas period annually as part of our ongoing efforts to tackle acquisitive crime and anti-social behaviour in Swindon town centre.
“We know there is an increase in crime over this busy period and in the lead up to Christmas, so you’re likely to see more officers out and about to combat this and to offer reassurance to the public and business community across Swindon.
“Officers will also meet with partners regularly to share intelligence and any other relevant information which will then be passed on to local businesses and shops.
“We want people who are going about their business in Swindon to feel safe and are hopeful that this approach will achieve this.”
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson said: “We know that this time of year is potentially lucrative for organised crime groups as they target businesses at the busiest period for retailers.
“I’ve challenged Wiltshire Police to do better, to be more robust and to take action when it’s needed in terms of business crime. It's crucial they use a more strategic, and embedded, approach, as part of their overall policing response.
“Operation Dasher is the right opportunity to set the standards of the type of service businesses should expect and as ever, I will continue to scrutinise the police response on their behalf, alongside encouraging other partners, such as local authorities, to look more closely at how we can all work together more effectively to tackle this growing problem.”
The force has issued a list of tips on avoiding becoming a victim of crime when out and about during the Christmas period:
- When out shopping, keep your purse and handbag with you; don’t leave it in your trolley or unattended.
- Keep any cash you may have on you to a minimum.
- Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are a target - keep secure and out of sight.
- Be careful at cash machines and when paying by card - shield your PIN at all times.
- Don’t leave Christmas presents or valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards or cheque books in your car. If unavoidable – put them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off.
- Remove Satnavs, clean away suction marks on windows and make sure car doors, windows and sunroofs are all properly closed and locked.
- Leave absolutely nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check.
- If you own a van, remove tools overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear.
People who are victims of crime or want to report suspicious behaviour are asked to call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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