“We want you!”

Volunteer recruitment posterWould you like to give something back to the community? Would you like to help to put criminals behind bars?

Then we want youDo you have skills to lend such as fundraising, marketing, dealing with the media, organising events?

Crimestoppers is expanding to serve all communities in your area that want to help solve crime. We need your help to promote the charity to young people and to those who might know the criminals. We also need help with fundraising to pay out the rewards we offer for information.

When it comes to crime-fighting success stories, forget the comic book superheroes, forget Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, forget Poirot and Miss Marple – nothing can compare with an anonymous information service offered by the national charity, Crimestoppers.

As it marks its 25th anniversary, the Crimestoppers charity has lots of reasons to celebrate – whether it’s the 1.4 million anonymous calls it has taken in the UK since 1988, or the 121, 575 arrests and charges that have been made in that time as a result of those calls.

In our part of the world, West Mercia Crimestoppers, clocked-up an impressive 2,074 calls about criminals in the county last year – with 74 criminals in the area being arrested and charged as a result.

Regional Manager, Pauline Hadley, is so proud of what Crimestoppers has achieved over the last quarter of a century and believes that with the right volunteers, so much more can be achieved.

“Crimestoppers offers a safe and anonymous way to help get criminals off our streets,” Pauline says. “Sometimes people don’t want to go to police, particularly if they are afraid of the criminal. We go to great lengths to ensure that no one can possibly find out who is contacting Crimestoppers.

“When we receive a call, it is not even itemised on the caller’s bill. The call handler asks relevant questions that may help to arrest the criminal. We never ask for information about who is calling. We don’t even record whether the caller is a man or a woman. Then, we simply pass the information to the relevant police force.”

“The charity has grown and grown over the years and now more than 40 per cent of the information we receive comes from people completing our online form anonymously. Even here, the details of their URL (computer address) is scrambled around the world so that we cannot trace where it came from.”

Pauline is keen to emphasise one thing about Crimestoppers above all else– it’s not part of the police.

“We’re not part of the police, we’re not a television programme with Nick Ross – Crimestoppers is an independent charity enabling people to report crime without any fear of repercussions against them.”

Run largely by volunteers, the charity looks for innovative ways to encourage information about criminal activity.

“We need help with fundraising, marketing, project management and event organisation to name a few areas. In Staffordshire we are also seeking officers for the committee including a Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. Any one who may wish to help are asked to apply via our website Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Crimestoppers was born in the USA, back in 1978.

“A young student was shot dead in a robbery in Albuquerque,” Pauline explains. “The local police chief was certain that the culprit was a local criminal, and that there would be members of the community out there who knew who had done it, but were too afraid for their own safety to come forward.

“So he got together with local businesses and asked them to pay for a second phone line in his office, so members of the public could call him directly and anonymously with information about the crime.

“He asked local media to broadcast the phone number. Within 24 hours of the phone line being installed, the information had been passed to the police chief, and officers had arrested the suspect.

“Following the success of the incident, the police chief was going to get the line removed, but he found that the calls just kept coming – with anonymous information about all sorts of other crimes. That’s how the idea of Crimestoppers was born.”

It was created here in the UK in 1988, following the murder of PC Keith Blakelock in the Broadwater Farm Riots of 1985.

“Lord Ashcroft, who had heard about the success of Crimestoppers in the USA, decided to set up a similar charity here in the UK, initially to call for information about PC Blakelock’s death, and he invested £50,000 of his own money in getting it off the ground,” Pauline says.

Twenty five years on, and 22 people are arrested in the UK every day as a result of information given to Crimestoppers. In 1988 Crimestoppers received just 5,000 calls with useful information – last year more than 95,000 pieces of information were received.

One of the more innovative recent campaigns against serious and organised criminals has seen Crimestoppers leaflets being delivered through letterboxes, containing a “scratch and sniff” panel – allowing residents to get a whiff of what a cannabis farm smells like, so they can keep their noses peeled during their daily life.

“In short, the charity helps communities become safer and residents become more proud of their area as they help us to detect the drug dealers, thieves and burglars.

“We do offer rewards up to £1,000 for information about criminals, but I think it’s a reflection of how good society still is that just 0.4 per cent of people offered Crimestoppers rewards actually take them – most people report crimes to us because they want the criminals off the streets, and they understand that all the money, including rewards, has to be raised by the charity as we receive no Government funding.”

If you want to help the charity, contact us..

Young people can also visit the youth website www.fearless.org.