Police officers in Cumbria said they’re increasing proactive patrols over the festive period to catch criminals and maintain safety.

They’re carrying out a series of separate operations targeting a range of crime, including:

  • Personal safety – keeping safe on nights out and at events
  • Domestic abuse
  • Violence against women and girls (VAWG)
  • Drink and drug driving
  • Burglary prevention
  • Retail crime
  • Fraud prevention and online safety
  • Pursuing and targeting priority offenders

The police said campaigns, which will run throughout December and into the new year, will ‘promote useful safety information, details on how to report crimes, information on support services and provide advice on how to celebrate safely this Christmas’.

It will see cops using targeted activity to pursue criminals and disrupt their actions over the next six weeks, according to Cumbria Constabulary.

Assistant chief constable Dave Stalker told the News and Star: “Over this period, we do have increases in a number of crime types.

“That is why we are targeting specific areas that will include domestic abuse.

“Unfortunately, we do see spikes in that over the festive period whilst we have families congregated together, that mix of alcohol, and we have people's use of the road network.

“We want people to have fun but be responsible in terms of the use of vehicles, because we also see when people are impaired, an increase in people unfortunately facing the tragic consequences of being killed or serious injured.”

“Inevitably, when it's a party season, we want people to enjoy themselves.

“It's a good time to be spending with your families, to be socialising.

“When we see an increase in that type of activity, with a mix of alcohol, there are increases in the use of the roads whilst under the influence.

“Our message is very strong, do not do that.

“We do see over this period increases in people being killed or seriously injured.

“So please do not drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of drugs.

“We now have a dedicated road policing team in this county.

“They have been very, very successful and they will be targeting the roads and those that are putting others at risk.”

ACC Stalker added on the topic of burglary: “With burglary, again, this is a period of time unprecedented in terms of every household increasing its stock of valuable items.

“Similarly, retail crime, if you think of the activity within our town centres and the vulnerability to targeting, whether by opportunistic thieves or those more organised, this campaign and increase in proactivity will seek to target those that would perpetrate those offences.”

When asked if the cost of living crisis is having an effect on the number of thievery incidents, ACC Stalker said: “Whilst we do have the societal impact of the cost of living crisis, we are fortunate in this county where we're experiencing lower levels of burglary and theft, and we have got an improved outcome rate in terms of detecting and bringing to justice those responsible for that type of offence.

“However, let's not be complacent around this because it is an opportunity for those that would, that minority who are involved in criminality, that would become involved in this type of activity, to target households when they're probably at their most stocked and at their most vulnerable.”

Neighbourhood policing teams will be carrying out high visibility foot patrols in and around shopping centres and supermarkets in efforts to target criminals committing shoplifting offences.

It’s not just shoplifting that is considered retail crime, as ACC Stalker explained: “Behind this as well, there are also offences against those working within this industry where we see offenders use acts of violence towards shopkeepers or sales assistants.

“So it is very much about preventing and deterring by having a visible presence, but also where people are detained, we will come, we will arrest, we will prosecute, because this is affecting people's livelihoods.”

A ‘Safer Streets Welfare Hub’ is in place in Carlisle to support people on a night out, specifically vulnerable people, women and girls – and plans are in place to roll this out in the west and south of the county and to use them at major events. 

ACC Stalker continued: “We will be increasing our high-visibility uniformed street patrols in our main nightlife areas across the county. 

“We will also be actively engaging with licenced premises.

“We want everyone to have a good time and enjoy themselves, and the extra measures we are putting in place for the night-time economy will help keep people safe whilst also targeting anyone who is behaving inappropriately.

“Violence against women and girls is taken very seriously and remains a top priority for Cumbria Police.

“We will be working once again with partner agencies in providing welfare support to those who need it and be on hand on to respond to immediate concerns.”

Criminality also occurs online, and offenders may try to cash in on people shopping online at a time when people are particularly busy and may not pay as much attention as normal in terms of their online safety.

ACC Stalker continued: “Sadly, there are fraudsters who prey on people online and will look to take advantage of a period where online shopping is more prevalent.

“It is very important people know that being defrauded is not their fault; they should not feel ashamed – they are victims of crime just like every other victim of crime.”

Cumbria’s police, fire and crime commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “The festive period is a time to celebrate, be with friends and family and many of us will be out and about more, all want to make sure that we can do this safely.

“Throughout December the police will be targeting criminals as well as providing safety messages, advice and information on different crime types and how victims can access support. 

“We would of course rather prevent crimes and would remind everyone to be cautious about safety and security both in person and online.

“Contempt for criminality is a key message for the constabulary and I would send the message to those tempted to commit crime on the county that criminality of any kind is not tolerated in Cumbria. 

“Anyone committing crime in the county, can expect the police to take their crimes very seriously to bring them to justice and to face the consequences of their actions. 

“I also want to urge the public to report any crime or suspicious activity to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“Residents know their communities better than anyone and can provide the Police with information that can help build evidence and reduce local crime.

“Keeping Cumbria safe is a community effort so let’s work together this December to make the county a safer place to live, work and visit.”