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A SENIOR police officer who has started a two-year secondment to a Government office is spearheading a regional campaign against distraction burglaries as one of his first tasks.

A SENIOR police officer who has started a two-year secondment to a Government office is spearheading a regional campaign against distraction burglaries as one of his first tasks.

Chief Inspector Mike Shields will represent six regional police forces within the Home Office Regional Crime Reduction Team, part of the Government Office for the East of England.

The campaign's regional launch will take place in Ipswich next week and aims to encourage neighbours, carers, and adults to take a closer interest in how elderly people or their retired parents are.

The campaign will include bus advertising and Mr Shields, 43, said: "We hope the campaign will make a difference to people's lives.


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"We do not want to frighten people, the crime is not significant in numbers, but in its nature it is heinous. We want to try and engage the second generation, neighbours, carers, to look out for elderly people who are more vulnerable.

"The last thing we want to do is increase the fear of crime. In the region, particularly in Suffolk, the fear of crime is worse than the crime itself. The likelihood of becoming a victim of crime is fairly limited, but it does no harm to minimise the risk.''

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The campaign, which will cover Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and will be launched in more detail on Tuesday next week, includes information about how to make sure you do not become a victim of distraction burglary.

Mr Shields will be liaising closely with the local police forces and the crime and disorder reduction partnerships across the region during his secondment.

He said: "I have to say I am really finding it rewarding, as there is so much dedication and expertise at grass roots, and so many positive things being done across the region to make people safer, and make them feel safer.

"There is more to do, and hopefully during my time here, we can push this forward, and maintain the east of England's position as the region with the lowest crime rate in the country.

"The future of crime reduction is partnership and there are a whole range of groups which can make a valuable contribution to partnership working across the region.

"By developing closer working relationships between local authorities, police, probation, prison services, youth offending teams, local schools and primary care trusts, there is a real opportunity to make a difference, reducing crime and equally importantly reducing the disproportionate fear of crime in the region."

Mr Shields was selected for the job by the Eastern Region Association of Chief Police Officers.

As part of the regional Crime Reduction Research and Analysis team, he will also have an important role in identifying and disseminating examples of good practice in crime reduction and community safety.

Mr Shields, who lives in the Ipswich area and has 25 years service with the force, has served with Suffolk Constabulary at Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Martlesham, Shotley and Leiston. The Government office for the east of England covers Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.

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