Tributes paid to victims of the Forbury Gardens attack
On Saturday 27th June a virtual vigil will be held in tribute to the victims of last week's appalling attack in Forbury Gardens.
In the days following the attacks, Reading has seen an outpouring of grief and sadness that has united the local community, and has received solidarity and support from people around the country and across the world.
The online vigil at 7pm on Saturday, exactly a week after the attacks will encourage people to come together to light a candle and stand in solidarity with #ReadingTogether. The online vigil is being organised by Reading Borough Council and can be joined via a live stream on the Council’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Readingcouncil. The Mayor of Reading, Chief Constable and the PCC will join other community leaders and groups across the town, followed by the lighting of a remembrance candle. With coronavirus restrictions on gatherings in public spaces and social distancing the tribute will take place online.
Everybody’s thoughts and prayers will remain with the family and close friends of the three men, James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails, who were murdered last week.
- Members of the public can sign an online book of condolence at http://together.reading.gov.uk/book-of-condolence/
- Anyone affected by the attack who need support can contact the PCC's victims' service, Victims First on 0300 1234 148 or visit victims-first.org.uk.
PC Harper murder trial resumes at the Old Bailey
The trial into the death of PC Andrew Harper has restarted at the Old Bailey. The case had previously been halted due to the coronavirus crisis. Mr Justice Edis has recognised the significance of the case and it is encouraging that this is one of the first jury trials in the country to begin as the lockdown restrictions have begun to be relaxed.
This will be a particularly difficult time for PC Harper's family and colleagues as they go through the ordeal of the trial for a second time.
£103,000 provided by PCC's COVID-19 response fund
Emergency funding granted by the Police and Crime Commissioner aimed to support organisations through the coronavirus crisis has allocated £103,740 to charities and community groups across Thames Valley.
The Police Property Act Fund, jointly managed by the PCC and Chief Constable, is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, including seizures from criminals.
There were 209 applications to the latest funding round, seeking in excess of £1 million, and 32 organisations were successful in receiving funding of between £692 and £8,000.
This is the first round of the PPAF for 2020/2021 and there is set to be another round later in the year.
For a full list of organisations who have been awarded funding, please visit the PCC website Police Property Act Fund Donations 2020-2021.
Man who duped pensioners order to pay £190,000
Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act were brought against Ben Field, aged 29, previously of Wellingborough Road, Olney.
Last year, Ben Field was found guilty of the murder of Peter Farquhar, who died in 2015 aged 69. Field was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum term of 36 years. Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police, he has now been ordered to pay back more than £190,000 in compensation to the estates of both his victims.
Field admitted to duping Maids Moreton residents, Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin, who was in her eighties at the time, into thinking he loved them in order to defraud them.
At Oxford Crown Court on 18th June, Field was ordered to pay back a total of £193,921.32 gained via the fraudulent activity that he has been convicted of. If the money is not paid back then the court has ordered Field to serve an additional period of 16 months’ imprisonment.
Senior investigating officer, Principal Investigator Mark Glover, said: “No sum of money could compensate the families of Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin. Nevertheless, it is right that the sum of more than £190,000 is stripped from Ben Field and returned to the estates of his victims.
Appeal on 30th anniversary of unsolved murder
Thames Valley Police is appealing for information on the 30th anniversary of a brutal unsolved murder in Oxfordshire.
In June 1990 Lennie Gomm was murdered while he was carrying a fare in his taxi. The 75-year-old married father-of-three, from Forest Hill, near Wheatley, was stabbed to death in Hampton Gay Lane, near Bletchingdon.
Head of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Investigation Review Team, Peter Beirne said: “It has been thirty years since Lennie Gomm was brutally murdered while doing the job he loved as a taxi driver.
“Despite a thorough investigation at the time, the case remains undetected.
“Since the murder we have continued to work on the case, and using advancements in forensic science, have developed evidence, that could link the offender to the attack.
“There will be people who have information or suspicions about Lennie’s murder, and I am urging them to make contact with the police.
“You might know someone who acts strangely when Lennie’s murder is mentioned on the TV or radio, or perhaps you know someone who has an obsession with the case. If you have any suspicions whatsoever then please contact Thames Valley Police or Crimestoppers. It will be a simple matter for us to check their details.
“You can contact Thames Valley Police online or by calling 101 or emailing MajorCrimeReviewTeam@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk
“You can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.”
Child sexual abuse warrants executed across Thames Valley
Thames Valley Police has carried out a series of warrants at addresses across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire in a bid to disrupt those who are carrying out online child sexual abuse.
Throughout May, officers across the force area have completed 37 warrants, arrested 32 people, seized a total of 419 devices and safeguarded 24 children.
Specialist officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit also worked jointly with Thames Valley Police to arrest an additional four people who were suspected of making arrangements to meet for sexual activity with children.
Online sexual abuse is any type of sexual abuse that happens on the internet, whether through social networks, online gaming or using mobile phones. In some cases this involves children being groomed or exploited by an adult.
There are no grey areas, those who attempt to exploit children on line are serious criminals, but there is help available to these individuals in order to prevent further offences.
If you are concerned for the safety of a child, call Thames Valley Police on 101, the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Virtual policing and crime discussion event
Join me for an online discussion about the big issues affecting policing and crime across Thames Valley and the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner in delivering and effective and efficient police force.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions my normal face to face events have been put on hold but thanks to video technology there is an alternative.
The next live discussion will be via Zoom on Monday 20th July, 7-8pm. Click the link below to register now to join this free event.
Make your voice heard to help shape the future!
The role of the Police & Crime Commissioner includes holding to Chief Constable to account, setting the council tax precept for policing, commissioning services for victims of crime, funding community safety partnerships and setting the policing priorities for the Thames Valley.
I want to know your views about policing where you live. Please spare a few moments to complete my short survey and tell me what you think is going well and what can be done better. Click the button below or visit www.matthewbarber.co.uk/haveyoursay.
Please do spread the word and share the survey with friends and family!