Residents across Wiltshire and Swindon have been in touch to let me know about issues relating to speeding in their area. To save lives, and protect our communities, I'm determined to empower local communities with the tools they need to identify and discourage unsafe and illegal driving practices.
After reading about some work done by the community speedwatch team in Royal Wootton Bassett, I wrote this letter to the Gazette and Herald outlining my plans to tackle speeding as your next Police and Crime Commissioner.
I was pleased to read of the efforts being made by the community speedwatch team in Royal Wootton Bassett in last week’s edition. Readers may be interested to hear that the issue of targeting dangerous speeders will be central to my campaign if I manage to get elected as Wiltshire’s next Police and Crime Commissioner in the Byelection to be held on the 19thof August.
What I will be bringing is a commitment to raise the issue of the use of community-owned intelligent speed cameras. From the work already undertaken in our county, it has been shown that this technology generates really useful intelligence not only on who speeds, but where they speed and what time they speed. I am not talking about those who may stray just a few miles an hour over the speed limit, but those who have been recorded driving in excess of 60mph in 30MPH zones. Clearly, these drivers who are often found to be uninsured, and un-taxed are a menace to other road users and to pedestrians and everything must be done to catch them and take them off the road.
Intelligent speed cameras, of which the Bath-based company Auto Speed Watch is one example, can help communities identify these criminals. However, up until now the offices of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable have been reluctant to engage with those communities that have employed such measures. If I am elected, I will ensure that they do. The intelligence collected can then be used by the Police’s own camera units to target the real criminals on our roads. I have already raised this as a member of the Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Panel, it will be a pleasure to see it implemented as policy.
Dr Brian Mathew
Liberal Democrat Candidate for Wiltshire and Swindon’s next Police and Crime Commissioner & Wiltshire Councillor for Box & Colerne
Since DogZoom, many parliamentarians have decided to take action. There are even reports of a government taskforce that will be focussed on curtailing and catching pet thieves. This is all thanks to you and your support of my campaign to end the scourge that is dog theft. So thank you. The fight is not over and there is much more work to be done, but after years of stagnation i am happy to say, we have finally made some progress.
Preventing Pet Theft & DogZoom
Last year, I noticed a sudden increase on my local social media posts about dogs being stolen which motivated me to start investigating what was going on. The more I learnt the more horrified I became. I am an animal lover and dog owner and a seasoned campaigner, so I decided to launch a campaign in Wiltshire as it was clear the police were not taking pet theft seriously.
So I joined forces with other – long established – pet theft campaigns. When plans for
an outdoor event for Pet Theft Awareness Week were thwarted by Lockdown Three, I was inspired to do a virtual dog rally, which i'm calling DogZoom
Incidents of pet theft are increasing every day because the lockdown has driven demand for pet ownership which has in turn made the cost of pets soar. The law is inadequate and for criminals pet napping is low risk with big dividends as some breeds are now reaching £2,000 to £3,000 per dog. Dogs are stolen to breed from in puppy farms, but they are also sold on the internet with heart rendering tales which are fabricated. - Liz Webster
The law is letting us down. The theft of a pet in the eyes of the law is the same as stealing a low value household item. Bicycle theft has more priority of pet theft as the police are required to keep a record of the numbers of bicycles stolen. If your house is burgled and the dog stolen, there is no requirement for the police to record this heart breaking crime.
We need the Government to change the law. And we need the public to be more informed when making choices to own a pet. Add to that we need to inform pet owners on steps they can take to protect themselves from criminals.
Experiences from victims of pet theft, advice from experts on how to protect your pets, ways you can get involved and help make a change and there’s messages from surprise, pet-loving celebrities and politicians too.
In conjunction with theStolen and Missing Pet Alliance(SAMPA) andDogLost, we are calling forPet Theft Reform. The current law is inadequate and there is currently no separate category for pet theft in the 1968 Theft Act.
Are pets really just property?
Pets are seen as property or a possession that can be easily be replaced. We disagree with this; our pets are irreplaceable and valued members of our families. They are loved, cherished, unique sentient beings.
Pet theft is currently treated the same way as having your mobile phone or laptop stolen. It can be difficult for owners to obtain a crime reference number and the theft is seldom investigated.
If caught, pet thieves are normally given a small fine and – at best – a suspended sentence. There is currently no deterrent.
Prevention and advice is top of the agenda while explaining why we need tougher laws to act as a deterrent to protect our dogs and all domestic pets.
No one is safe from this crime, which hits families and the elderly. The loss of a companion and family member is devastating.
SAMPA has been campaigning since 2014 for a simple amendment to the Theft Act, to include a separate definition for our domestic pets. We need#PetTheftReformto give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences to act as a deterrent, provide punishment, and protect the public.
Over the last four years, we have seen Dog Theft cases increase but 2020 surpassed any expectations, with demands for dogs increasing during Covid lockdown. Co-founders of SAMPA, Doglost (the UK’s largest lost and found dog service), saw a 170% increase on their 2019 figures.