Recent crime figures showing a decline in most offences are very welcome but there is no room for complacency.
Many people are falling victim to a sophisticated scam known as "vishing" in which fraudsters telephone purporting to be from your bank, obtain your account details, and then steal your money. An elderly widow from Abergavenny has just lost her life savings in this way. The bank claim it is her fault. I disagree. Banks could be doing a great deal more to keep customers safe. I will be taking up the lady's case with NatWest whilst writing to the British Bankers’ Association with a list of practical ideas banks could implement to make these frauds harder to perpetrate.
It would also be good if the phone companies could do something about the fact that if a fraudster phones then does not hang up, they will still be on the other end of the line even after you have hung up and dialled what you think is your bank. If you get a call from your bank, always phone back from a different line.
Treatment of rape victims has improved greatly in the UK over the last 20 years, yet there is still a long way to go. A child victim in Monmouthshire has been told that the conviction of her alleged attacker, who had been found guilty by a court, has been quashed on a technicality. Her mother only knew about this after making persistent phone calls. She has also been told there will be no retrial, partly because they don't want the victim to have to go through another court case. Nobody thought to check with the victim first as she would certainly be happy to return to court to ensure justice is done.
Finally, there is a spate of burglaries happening in the Osbaston area of Monmouth. I have held regular discussions with Gwent Police about the ongoing investigation and certain measures are being put in place. It would appear these burglaries are the handiwork of professional criminals. They are carefully targeting houses in which the owners are out, either for the evening or on holiday – which suggests to me that they are knocking on doors first to double check properties are empty. Residents should be especially vigilant and make a careful note of any unusual or unexplained callers to their home.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 15 December 2014*