Question Time with the Police Commissioner

Image result for west midlands police commissioner

Owing to growing local concerns regarding crimes and community safety Moseley, Kings Heath and Brandwood Neighbourhood Forums invite you to our own Question Time on Wednesday 28 March at 7.30pm at Queensbridge School. It is advised to book (free) by 20 March to guarantee admission as the event is likely to attract large numbers. For details and booking process visit:

The first hour will be pre-submitted questions based on concerns raised in local areas. To send questions in advance please email by 20 March. There will also be some time for questions from the floor. Doors open at 7pm.

Full lineup of community groups for networking day 7 October 2017

Kings Heath Residents’ Forum is organising a networking day on Saturday 7 October 2017. The purpose is to give residents a chance to meet local organisations and individuals who can provide advice, help and support in the area. The full list of participating groups is:

For more information about each group or individual, click on the name.

There is no charge for the networking day – all you need to do is to walk in, join in and benefit from all the information that will be available.

Event information:

Date: 7 October 2017

Opening hours: 10am to 2pm

Location: Kings Heath Community Centre, 8 Heathfield Road, Kings Heath, B14 7DB

Take care in hot weather

The Design Out Crime team from WM Police is emphasising the need to take care of belongings during the hot weather.

Their point is that thieves will grab any opportunity. In hot weather, they can get into a house through an open window when the owner is away or in the back garden. And if we’re enjoying a barbecue in the back garden, we probably won’t realise that somebody has got in through an open front window.

Unfortunately, they might not even need to get in. If laptops, phones, car keys and so on are left within reach of an open window or door, they can be stolen very quickly.

So the message from the Police is to make sure that our doors and windows are shut and locked if we’re not in the house. It may mean that the house is hotter than we’d like when we get back but better to be too hot than to lose valuables.

It’s also worth remembering that garden sheds often contain all the tools a thief needs to break in. Steps, ladders, spades that can be used as crowbars – the possibilities mean that sheds must be locked. If ladders have to be left outside, they need to be chained to a fixed point.

There’s more information here

When it comes to cars, always check that the doors really are locked after using the remote locking fob. And always lock the car, even if it’s only being left for a few minutes. For example, when paying for fuel, lock the car before going to pay. Finally, as always, lock items such as satnavs, handbags, laptop bags and so on out of sight.

There’s more advice here.

One point worth remembering is that this isn’t a campaign by the Police to make us all worried about theft. It’s more about taking care as we do in most areas of life. When we’re crossing the road, for example, we check to make sure we’re not going to get hit by a car. Now we’re being asked to be just as careful about our houses and cars.

How to recognise a police warrant card

At the beginning of this month, we added an item about thieves on the streets. The original story is here. This included advice from the Police to always ask to see identification from anybody claiming to be a Police officer.

The difficulty with this advice is that few of us have ever seen a Police officer’s identification, called a Warrant Card. That makes it difficult to know whether what we’re being shown is genuine.

One of the local Police Liaison Team members has provided some advice on how to identify a real Warrant Card. It will be the same size as a credit card, be made of plastic and have:

  • A blue bar across the top of the card with the word Police in white on the blue bar if it identifies a Police officer.
  • Below that, in red lettering, the words ‘POLICE OFFICER’.
  • The officer’s collar number and their photograph will be across the centre of the card.
  • Their name and rank will be below the photograph.

The officer may have their card in a leather wallet but this isn’t always the case.

Perhaps the key point is that if you’re not absolutely certain that the card you’re being shown is genuine, say you’re going to call the Police. If the person who has shown the card isn’t a real Police officer, they’re unlikely to hang around if they think you’re really going to phone up to make sure they’re genuine.

Mobile phones used for theft

A warning has been sent by the local Police team about mobile phones being used to steal money. The warning applies to old-style mobiles and to smart phones.

The scam starts when the victim receives a text message. The message appears to be from the victim’s bank or credit card company. It tells the victim that a transaction has been approved on their card. All the victim is asked to do is to text back ‘Y’ or ‘N’, depending on whether or not the transaction is genuine.

Inevitably, they will text ‘N’ because the transaction is never genuine. That tells the thief that this is a real mobile phone number.

The scam then moves on and ends up with the victim providing enough information for the thief to be able to steal money from their bank or to use their card to buy goods online.

The advice from the Police is:

  • Always check the validity of the text message by contacting your credit card provider or bank using the number on the back of the card or on the credit card/bank statement.
  • Beware of cold calls where the caller claims to be from a bank or credit card company.
  • If think the phone call might really be from your bank, hang up the phone and wait for 10 minutes before calling the bank back. Better still, use a different phone. This is because thieves have been able to keep a phone line open so when the victim has thought they were calling their bank, it was just the thief picking up the call. Again, use the phone number on the back of your card or on your bank statement in order to contact your bank.
  • If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, please report it to Action Fraud here or alternatively by calling 0300 123 2040

Take care with email

The recent malware attacks that hit a variety of big organisations across the world have highlighted the need for care with online systems.

It seems unlikely that the original ransomware that hit so many big organisations was spread by email, but the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that criminals are trying to cash in on the attack. Some are offering fixes and support services that allegedly will protect computers.

They’re fake.

Recent examples of this type of activity include:

  • Social media alerts that include links to fake security patches. Clicking the link is likely to install real malware on your computer.
  • Emails claiming to be from a telecoms provider and telling you that you’re about to be locked out of your account. You just need to click on the link in the email to verify a few details. If you click the link, you will be asked for enough information to allow the criminals to take over your account.
  • App stores offering ransomware ‘patches’ for mobiles although mobiles weren’t affected by the recent events. If you buy the app, you’ll be paying money for nothing.
  • Messages that pop up on your computer, claiming to be from Microsoft and warning that your computer has a virus. Typically the message includes a phone number. If you call it, you’ll eventually be sold some software that you can either get for nothing or that you don’t need.

In addition, criminals may try to steal your money by sending you an email and persuading you to open an attachment or click on a link. The message may:

  • Say your order is on its way, details are in an attached confirmation. You know you haven’t ordered anything so you’re tempted to open the attachment to find out what is being delivered. If you do that, you’ll likely end up providing information to thieves.
  • Say there’s been some unusual activity on your bank account or credit card and ask you to click on a link to confirm the details. If you click on the link you’ll be asked to provide enough details to enable thieves to take money from your bank account.
  • Claim that your eBay or PayPal account is about to be suspended. The email will include a link and ask you to confirm some details. Again, if you do, they will be able to take over your account.
  • Claim that you have a tax refund waiting. Again, there will be a link which will ask you to confirm bank details and, again, if you provide them, the thieves will be able to take money from your account.
  • Claim that an organisation such as a solicitor or builder that you’re due to pay money to has changed their bank account details. This usually means that their email account has been hacked and, if you use the new account details, you’ll be sending the money to thieves.

These are just a few of the scams that have been seen recently.

The NCSC and Action Fraud offer advice to help avoid these scams:

  • Never open an email attachment that you’re not expecting. Just delete the email.
  • Never click on a link in an email. If you think the message may really be from your bank or whatever, go to the relevant web page in the normal way or call the organisation that is supposed to have sent you the email. But don’t use any phone number in the email. Use the number you normally use.
  • Never allow anybody to have remote access to your computer. If you think you have a problem with your computer, take it to a reliable local repair company – don’t rely on somebody who phones you claiming that they can see you have a problem. Only thieves do this.
  • Never give anybody your password or PIN. Nobody from a trustworthy organisation will ever ask you for that information.
  • Don’t think it’s wrong to be rude to somebody calling and telling you there’s a problem with your computer. They’re thieves. Say nothing: just put the phone down.
  • If you’re buying a house or having work done that will involve paying substantial sums of money, agree with the solicitor or the builder on how they must tell you their bank details have changed. Don’t believe an email that comes out of the blue.

For more information, the Action Fraud website is here.