Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sussex Police Fraud Newsletter

From Detective Chief Inspector Tracy Edwards, Operation Signature, Sussex Police –

Scams are fraud and fraud is crime, report it – this is our message for Sussex residents.

Each month, we see fraudsters targeting people across the county by phone, email and face to face in an attempt to defraud them. These ‘scammers’ are criminals who chose to prey on some of our most vulnerable. Operation Signature is our answer, working together with our partners to prevent fraud and identify and support our most vulnerable victims.

In this newsletter we share the latest warnings about recent frauds, and also examples of new initiatives to prevent these crimes.

By its very nature, fraud is constantly evolving and taking on new forms. But be assured that, by following our tips at the bottom of this newsletter and encouraging family, friends and colleagues to do so too, you will reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

Are you wise to computer service fraud?

We continue to receive reports of Sussex residents being targeted for computer service fraud. This is when a cold caller contacts you posing to be from a legitimate company such as Microsoft, and tells you there’s a problem with your computer. They may say you have a virus on your computer or there’s a problem with your internet connection, and that they will fix it for a fee.

These fraudsters may ask you to visit a particular website or install some software so that they can gain remote access to your computer. This may then allow them to access your personal information, such as online banking. If you receive a call like this, do not give out your payment details and call Sussex Police or Action Fraud with the details.

Further guidance is available here: https://www.getsafeonline.org/blog/do-you-really-know-what-computer-service-fraud-is/

Students should be wary of accommodation fraud and ‘money mules’

As the autumn term approaches, we are warning students to be vigilant as they could be targeted for two fraud types. Students should look out for fraudulent accommodation adverts, in which a deposit is taken for non-existent accommodation. We are also aware they can be targeted as ‘money mules’ – when criminals ask them to hold money in their accounts for a fee, making them unwittingly complicit in the crime. More information is available here: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-money-muling.

Fraudulent cold callers offering government payments

Cold callers have been telephoning Sussex residents offering false government payments to pensioners or those with illnesses. Victims are asked to give callers their bank details and to make a payment in iTunes vouchers in order to receive the non-existent grant of thousands of pounds. Some fraudsters have even requested further payments amounting to hundreds of pounds for ‘insurance’ purposes.

Top tips to foil these fraudsters:

  • Treat cold callers with suspicion. If in doubt, hang up and phone a relative, someone you trust or the police after waiting 10 minutes for the line to clear.
  • The government will never ask for upfront payment in return for benefits or grants.
  • Never give out your personal details to a cold caller.

Warning of bogus council tax refund fraud

Sussex Police has seen a rise in reports of Council Tax refund fraud. This is where fraudsters telephone or appear personally at your door offering to help you reduce your Council Tax bill, with the real aim of getting you to part with your money.

Anyone can have their band checked free of charge by contacting the Valuation Office Agency. Details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/contacting-your-regional-valuation-office

If you doubt that a caller is genuine, contact Sussex Police or your local council.

Remember: banks and police will NEVER call and ask you to transfer funds to a new account, NEVER collect your cards from your home, NEVER ask you to buy high value goods and NEVER ask you to hand over cards or money.

Keep your money safe with these tips:

  • Check people are who they say they are. Not sure? Don’t open the door!
  • Never send or give money to people you don’t know or trust
  • Remember to protect your identity – don’t share your personal information with unexpected callers
  • Beware of email and computer scams. Treat all emails from unknown senders with suspicion and never click on links within them
  • Never share your PIN number or enter your PIN into a telephone
  • If in doubt, phone a relative, friend or someone you know personally
  • Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it could be fraud.

If you suspect someone you know may be vulnerable to fraud, please share this newsletter with them and encourage them to look at the ‘Little Book of Scams’, available on the following link: http://tinyurl.com/z8khtgh.

If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud call Sussex Police on 101 or visit www.sussex.police.uk

If you need to a report fraud or attempted fraud, you can do so by contacting Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040. You can also read the latest Action Fraud alerts at www.actionfraud.police.uk/news or by following @actionfrauduk on Twitter.


Help us keep Sussex safe

Seen something suspicious or have information about a crime or incident? Please contact us online, email us at 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101.

Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Colours of summer and serendipity

London Road Station Partnership Blog

In late May, we planted out a fairly random collection of annual flower seedlings around the tree pits in Shaftesbury Place, just as last year we’d scattered a motely selection of remaining flower seed there. The result: a beautiful display of summer colour which has been delighting people as they walk towards the station. If only we could say we planned it, but yet again, it’s more the result of serendipity. The magenta, pink and white of the cosmos, the pinks, whites and mauves of the nicotianas, the pinks and white of the cleome have all blended beautifully together, highlighted by the orange of the marigolds. If we needed proof of randomness, there’s a bolting lettuce creeping out from the flowers.

Today we cleared dead leaves, dead flowers and generally tidied up around the station, trying hard to get some water into the soil after two weeks of hot and dry weather…

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Threat to the future of parks and playgrounds

From The Argus

Play equipment in Saunders Park

Play equipment in Saunders Park

Residents are being warned that city playgrounds cannot all be maintained to the same current standards under council cuts.

Brighton and Hove City Council has launched a consultation into the future of its 147 parks and green spaces and have told those taking part that the city’s 53 playgrounds cannot continue as they are because of budget savings.

Part of the “Big Conversation” consultation will test the water for support of community groups to take over responsibility for parks, allotments and public spaces.

Residents are also being asked for their support of proposals to replace play equipment with natural play features carved from trees which require less maintenance or not to replace some play equipment at all when they reach the end of their usable life.

The authority has warned this could create a two-tier level of quality of playgrounds with some in the city offering much more for children than others.

Residents are also being asked whether they would support more corporate sponsorship in parks to increase revenues and whether residents should be allowed to cut grass verges near their homes to save money.

The council could also prioritise spending on parks and playgrounds ahead of verges, cemeteries and allotments depending on consultation support.

The changes are needed because of proposed cuts in the budget of the city parks department which will have reduced by almost 30 per cent between 2008 and 2020.

By 2020 the council department will have less than £3.5 million a year which is not enough to retain all parks and green spaces to their current standard.

The department’s annual budget is among the smallest within the council at the equivalent of £14 for every resident.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “We know that people really value their neighbourhood parks and recreation areas, and want to see them protected and preserved into the future.

“That’s why we are encouraging everyone to get involved in the Big Conversation, share their priorities, opinions and ideas and make sure their voice is heard,

“This consultation is a way of involving everyone from the start in a really important discussion on how we create new models for the future management of our precious parks and open spaces.”

To take part in the consultation visit brighton-hove.gov.uk/parks-consultation before October 28.

Paper copies of the consultation are also available.

A tree for Station Approach

SRRA has secured permission to plant a tree next to the footbridge on the station approach off Springfield Road. The vision is either a Silver Birch or Mountain Ash to match the trees on the south side of the station.

Does anyone have a tree in their garden they could donate? Ideally it would need to be fairly well grown and mature, perhaps 4m in height, as a smaller specimen would be vulnerable to vandalism.

If we cannot find a donated tree we will need to buy one. To purchase one of a suitable size would cost anything from £100 to £300 so if you would like to make a contribution to the fund please email southdownrise@gmail.com.

Thanks in advance.

Shared bike scheme

From Brighton & Hove City Council

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The council is working to set up a bike sharing service for the city to launch in May 2017.

We hope to have 430 bikes and 50 docking stations across the city, open 24 hours a day, all year round.

The aim is to provide an easy, healthy way to get around the city for residents, visitors and commuters. View a map of the proposed area of the scheme.

Tell us what you think

We would like to hear from the people who live, work and visit Brighton & Hove about what would help make you want to use the service and what would make sure the service feel part of the city.

Bikeshare partner

We are looking for a company to operate the Bikeshare scheme and will be appointing one in the autumn.

The council is looking for an operator that can provide a range of options for hiring a bike to help residents, workers, rail commuters and visitors to Brighton & Hove to make use of a simple, attractive bike sharing system.

Bike hub locations

Bike hub locations will be finalised when the operator is in place and they will be in high-density areas where people would find them most convenient. They will be on commuter routes and near other transport hubs like stations, and have a consistent coverage across the scheme area.

There will be formal consultation on locations that require changes to Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) and any public representations will be brought to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

Funding

The total capital cost of the scheme is £1.45 million. An award of £1.16 million has been granted by the Coast to Capital (C2C) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with match funding of £290,000 from Brighton & Hove City Council.

Contact us

If you’d like to get in touch about the bike sharing scheme, please contact BHBikeShare@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

Recycling rates fall to new low

From The Argus

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The city’s dismal recycling rates continue to drop to new lows despite the Labour administration’s pledge to get basic services “back on track”.

Recycling rates in Brighton and Hove, already among the worst in the country, have dropped again to 24.68 per cent leaving the city trailing behind comparable authorities.

The continuing fall in 2015/16 from 25.8 per cent comes despite the introduction of new schemes including recycling wheelie bins, garden waste collections and expanded communal recycling.

Opposition councillors said the administration was performing like “a failed business” and urged the council to show more innovation.

Unions blamed falling service on staff cuts which has led to managers going out on rounds.

Labour councillors said their new schemes had been “really promising” in helping to increase the amount families were recycling.

Latest figures show the proportion of waste reused, recycled or composted continuing to decline with the authority performing worse than Cheltenham, Bournemouth and Bristol.

The city is ranked bottom against ‘statistical neighbours’ – similar places – lagging behind Blackpool Borough Council’s recycling rate of 40 per cent.

The council is missing its current target of 28 per cent, revised down from 2012’s target of 40 per cent, and also failing to hit its target of missed recycling collections by more than double.

Council officers have called for “a significant change in policy” to address the issue, suggesting food waste collection and fortnightly refuse collections to boost rates.

Conservative environment spokesman Tony Janio said his group would not support fortnightly waste collections as it unfairly penalised residents while Labour agree it would not be workable or cost effective.

He added: “We raised this very issue at a recent committee which highlighted the many areas where the council simply is not meeting the mark by which we would want to serve our residents.

“If this wasn’t in the public sector, Labour would be running a failed business – as it happens they are just a failed party.”

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “One of the fundamental problems going on in that service is the lack of staff and resources, current staffing levels are appalling.

“Currently we have managers going out, driving and loading bins on to the vehicles, it hasn’t been that bad for years.

“They need to make sure the right level of staffing and vehicles are available so that our members can go out and do the work.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, environment committee chairwoman, said: “We have introduced a number of initiatives that are helping to improve our recycling rates, the initial signs are really promising.

“It is a challenge to keep basic services going during budget reductions, but we are also introducing ways to generate income.

“Comparing Brighton and Hove with neighbours is not an ideal way of assessing our performance because it is not comparing like with like.”, some areas are more rural and collect high amounts of green waste.”

ANGER OVER COMMUNAL BIN PLAN FOR HISTORIC SQUARES

PLANS to introduce large recycling bins in historic seafront squares are facing angry opposition.

Brighton and Hove City Council has launched a consultation but the move to hold the process over the summer has been criticised with ward councillors claiming the administration was “shamelessly burying bad news” and not offering residents enough choice.

Palmeira, Brunswick and Sussex squares and surrounding streets could all receive new roadside communal bins for recycling under the proposals.

Resident Mike Kingston said: “The idea was brought up again a few years ago when representative of the council gave specific and unequivocal assurances in public meetings that any future consultations would include maintaining the present system of collection from bin stores.

“The consultation now received contains no such alternative.”

This option is being left out due to health and safety.

The authority has agreed to extend the consultation through to September 18.

The scheme, which was first launched in parts of the city five years ago, could also be expanded into Viaduct Road and Beaconsfield Road and Westbourne Street.

Fiona Bower, chairwoman of the Friends of Brunswick Square and Terrace, said: “The actual process has been a case study in how not to run a consultation: they have failed in their duty to run a fair consultation.”

But Green councillors have claimed that the Labour-run council is seeking to minimise opposition by conducting the consultation when many residents are likely to be away.

They also warned that extending the deadline will require further letters being sent to residents at more cost to the taxpayer.

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, ward councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide, said: “This is an outrageously underhand way for the council to behave, which shows a complete disregard for the views of residents in the area. Once again, we see Labour putting the con in consultation, using every trick in the book to ignore and dismiss public opinion.”

Watering can work-out

London Road Station Partnership Blog

It’s been a busy summer and despite low temperatures and lots of rain earlier in June and July, our gardens are drying out quickly. At London Road Station, we are dependent on water butts and rain water so we spend a lot of time watering.

I’ve been aware that I’ve let all my exercise routines slip this summer because I’ve told myself being in the garden is just as good and I don’t have time to go to the gym or pool. As we come to the middle of August, I’m not so sure that ‘just’ gardening is enough … I’m starting to feel the strain of the watering can. In my own garden, I’ve reverted to using mains water and the hose. This is not good on so many levels, so this morning, as I waited the 30 seconds it takes to fill the 10 litre watering can, I started doing…

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