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Operation Calibre, a new initiative to tackle personal robbery

THE POLICE have launched Operation Calibre, a new initiative to tackle personal robbery, launched on Saturday 10 December and will continue until Saturday 17 December.

The national operation, taking place across England, Wales, and Scotland, is part of intensified efforts to crack down on personal robbery.

Robbery is an aggravated form of theft where the offender uses force or fear to steal from another.

Dyfed-Powys remains a very safe place to work and live – England and Wales had a robbery rate per 1,000 population of 1.2 in 2020, whilst Dyfed-Powys was 0.1 robberies per 1,000 population for the same period. We also had the lowest rate of the four Welsh forces.

This week of action deliberately coincides with the build up to the festive period and when shoppers are likely to be out more, shopping for gifts for their loved ones. We along with our colleagues in police forces across the UK are targeting habitual offenders to take them off the street. The operation will focus on the different strands of education, engagement, prevention and enforcement.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Personal Robbery, Commander Richard Smith, said:

“Personal robbery has a devastating impact on victims, leaving them with trauma which can be lasting. We know criminals look for easy opportunities, often targeting some of the most vulnerable in society, such as children, with high levels of violence exhibited, making robbery particularly traumatic.

“We continue to see this impact and it is why tackling personal robbery remains a national policing priority. Whilst personal robberies are at their lowest levels since 2016, we cannot afford to take it for granted and must continue to target those habitual criminals who can be responsible for a large amount of offending.

“Police officers across the country are working day and night to protect communities and our message to those who think it is ok to commit a robbery and inflict violence in our communities is clear: we will not tolerate this. You will end up facing significant consequences and we will catch you.

“We will target our activity in known hotspot areas, increasing our visibility and operational activity and arresting those intent on committing crime. We know that weapons are often used during robberies and lots of places now use screening technology to detect weapons. If you are found to be carrying a knife or any other weapon, you will be arrested and prosecuted.

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“However, tackling robbery requires a multi-faceted response. Policing cannot do it alone, which is why this week of action sees engagement with charities, schools and many other partners.

“It is through engagement and working with partners that we can deliver long-lasting change and ensure young people can see the effects robbery can have.

“Throughout the week, we will see both an increase in operational policing activity as well as preventative work with schools and clubs to deliver educational workshops to show young people the impact of robbery and how it effects the future of both the victim and offender.

“Finally, there are several tips you can do to reduce the chances of you becoming a victim, included below. I encourage everyone to follow these and share them with family and friends. If in the unfortunate circumstances you are a victim of robbery, report it to the police or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

Personal robbery safety tips

  • Anyone can become a victim of robbery, make sure you do all you can to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
  • You are less likely to be targeted if you look confident. Move with purpose and try to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Plan your route and think about what to take with you, especially if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before. Keep to busy, well-lit streets, walkways and paths which are more likely to be covered by CCTV. Only take licensed taxis or minicabs booked by phone or a mobile phone app.
  • Keep your mobile phone and valuables out of sight. If you’re using your phone it’s more likely to be snatched from your hand as you’re not paying attention to your surroundings, so look around you.
  • And never leave a mobile, any other device, wallet or purse on the table of an outdoor café, pub or restaurant. Same goes for any jewellery you might be wearing – keep it covered when walking down the street.
  • Finally – and this is so important to remember – if you’re threatened with violence, don’t risk your personal safety. Property can be replaced, you can’t.
  • It’s a good idea to scan the area around ATMs before you use them. Be aware of anyone standing close by and always check the machine to see if it’s been tampered with before you use it.
  • Things to look out for are devices attached to the machine – some are more obvious than others. If you do see something suspicious contact the police and the bank.
  • Remember, if it doesn’t look or feel right then steer clear and, if possible, go inside the bank where it will be safer. And always keep a regular check on your transactions.
  • We know it’s not always easy, but try to be aware of anyone near you when you’re at an ATM. Being aware of your surroundings and not being distracted makes it harder for people to take advantage and less likely that they’ll try to.
  • Thieves will watch as you key in your PIN or distract you while you’re withdrawing cash. Be vigilant. Cover your PIN and keep an eye on your card at all times. If someone taps you on the shoulder or tries to speak to you, just ignore them.
  • When you’ve left the ATM, put your card away immediately.
  • You should also be careful with contactless cards. You can get a card holder to prevent your card details being inadvertently read.