In 1985, PC Keith Blakelock was murdered during the riots at the Broadwater Farm estate in London and the police appealed for information, stating that people knew who had been responsible but were frightened of coming forward.
Michael Ashcroft (now Lord Ashcroft and Chairman of the Trustees of Crimestoppers), a businessman, offered to provide the police with money for a reward to encourage somebody to come forward with information. This led to discussions with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, resulting in Michael Ashcroft founding the establishment of the Crimestoppers operation in the UK in January 1988. He set up the charity and, together with some business colleagues who were also concerned about the rise in violent crime, funded the UK operation.
'Community Action Trust'
Originally launched as the 'Community Action Trust', the charity was renamed Crimestoppers in 1995, by then covering the whole of the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Initially, the administrative organisation was based on TV regions, but the best model proved to be local county-based committees working in partnership with single police forces. The roll-out of this structure continues; there are now 44 volunteer committees across the UK and a further increase will follow, as volunteer numbers grow sufficiently to set up these new, more locally focused groups.
The concept of businesses establishing a partnership with the media and the police to help solve crimes in this way chimed with a study undertaken by the Metropolitan Police, who had come across Crime Stoppers in America, originating some 10 years earlier in Albuquerque.
Lord Ashcroft has been Chairman of the Trustees of Crimestoppers for the last 28 years and a core supporter and donor to the charity throughout this period.