Crooks’ cash pays for alarm

editorial image

CASH seized from criminals has once again been put to good use after the money helped buy equipment to guard against offenders.

Blackhall Colliery Primary School is the latest to benefit from money obtained by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

A storage shed at the Middle Street-based school is among other out-buildings in the area being protected with the help of money obtained after police applied to the courts for seizure orders relating to money and assets crooks acquired through their criminal lifestyle.

Cash seized under POCA can be used as part of a continuing campaign to be put towards community-based initiatives.

POCA money paid for an alarm to protect the building and the money was secured by the East Durham Safer Neighbourhood Unit.

Last year, the unit provided “This shed is alarmed” signs funded through the Safer Durham Partnership.

Sergeant Tracey Whelan, of Peterlee Police and Durham Constabulary’s community safety branch, said: “Using the POCA legislation we have been able to fund crime prevention equipment for our communities, thereby helping local people protect their property against burglars.”

The school’s deputy headteacher Denise Wilkinson said: “I think this is an absolutely worthwhile scheme and our school is very pleased to be part of it.

“The fact we got the shed alarmed free to the school has been wonderful.”

Police are also urging residents to be their eyes and ears over the school summer holidays to help protect schools from vandals.

Sgt Whelan said traditionally incidents of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour increase after the end of the summer term.

She added: “Young people with a lot of extra time on their hands can all too easily become involved in mischief and low-level crime.

“Empty schools can become targets for vandals as they look for places to congregate with their friends.

“I would urge people living in the vicinity of schools to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or anti-social behaviour on or around these premises.

“An act of vandalism or theft can have far-reaching consequences for a school and its pupils and we need local people to be our eyes and ears in the weeks ahead.”

Mrs Wilkinson added: “We really do appreciate when people look out for us when we are away for the summer break.”