Crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers has teamed up with the Ministry of Justice’s National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to launch a project that will allow those in prison to anonymously pass on information about crime.
The two organisations have put together a system that will allow offenders to dial a special pin number from inside their prison, which will prevent their call to Crimestoppers being monitored by the police authorities.
The campaign has been put together with the support of prisoner focus groups and it is hoped that the new system will increase the amount of useful information received by Crimestoppers from the prison population.
It is hoped that the new pin system will help to tackle Issues occurring inside prisons, which include the trafficking of drugs from the outside and mobile phones being used as currency. These are being used to intimidate witnesses and to order drugs.
A pilot scheme for the system was run in a Yorkshire prison in 2007 and generated an incredibly positive response, while a similar scheme has also been running in Scotland since September 2008.
This new system is intended to allow complete anonymity for those that are calling, while also reinforcing that Crimestoppers is not a part of the police or the prison authorities.
Founder of Crimestoppers, Lord Ashcroft, KCMG, said: “From day one, Crimestoppers' success has been due to the anonymity that has been guaranteed to those supplying information about crime. Because of the knowledge that the prison population is likely to have about crime, the launch of this pin service offers the same guarantee of anonymity to prisoners as it does to members of the public.
“This is a huge step forward for Crimestoppers in accessing information from a potentially vital group of individuals. I am delighted that NOMS has given us this valuable opportunity to introduce this project into their prisons.”
Crispin Blunt, Prisons Minister, said: “I am pleased to support the continuing partnership between the Prison Service and Crimestoppers. It’s important that prisoners who do not wish to speak to the police or a prison officer are able to give anonymous information to Crimestoppers - last year alone over 8,000 people were arrested and charged thanks to information received by the charity. This is an invaluable service that can only increase the safety of prisons and the public.”
Ann Scott, Eastern Regional Manager for Crimestoppers explained how the Bedfordshire Crimestoppers Volunteer Committee already has a close working relationship with HMP Bedford. “They have a number of activities planned over the forthcoming months where Crimestoppers volunteers will engage with prisoners and their families within the prison. They will be handing out Crimestoppers information, including bookmarks, notepads and calendars. Their main message will be that they can fight crime without revealing their identity, as Crimestoppers do not take any names or personal details from those giving information about crime”.
Julian Bray Crimestoppers committee volunteer member resident in Peterborough commented: "This innovative development will roll out contrywide and as soon as we have information on any HMP Peterborough involvement we will release details, it will certainly help fight crime."
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