Angry residents are demanding answers about police response times to a ram raid in Whittlesey earlier today that wrecked the Nationwide Building Society. Ironically the building society branch is just round the corner from Peel House, which until 2015 was the town police station but is now the offices of Whittlesey town council.
And it is town councillor Barry Wainwright leading the charge to get answers from Cambridgeshire police.
Cllr Wainwright posted to the town council Facebook group that he has already asked the CCTV control room manager questions about the Whittlesey ram raid. He said his questions were:
- Did the CCTV record the raid in progress?
- Was it observed by the operators?
- Were the operators able to alert the police patrols whilst the raid was still in progress?
Cllr Wainwright said: “The control room is manned 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.
“The six Whittlesey cameras have a section of their own and are on constant display. There are regularly scheduled ‘CCTV Patrols’ where the operator will take control of each camera and view a 360° sweep, zooming in to any areas of interest. These patrols are timed and recorded.”
He added: “The quality of the CCTV images that can be recorded is outstanding. Several councillors went on a tour of the control room just a couple of weeks ago. Night vision is excellent and will be more than enough to identify people if they aren’t masked beyond all recognition (they probably were!).
“The only questions that remain are whether the camera was pointed in the right direction at the time and whether the operatives noticed anything out of the ordinary on the screens as it was happening. Given the time of night, when there would have been very little else moving, I think there’s a pretty good chance.”
He said he hoped for a response on Monday.
Residents meanwhile are suggesting the Nationwide could set up somewhere else temporarily and suggestions have included the library and the council offices.
“As a town let’s think outside of the so-called box and not let Nationwide have an open excuse to close this branch, our last bank/building society in the town,” said the Facebook post.
One suggestion has been raised to invite Nationwide to take up temporary use of an empty betting shop which they feel would have good security.
Another post said: “Whittlesey Town Council contribute a sizeable amount of money as do the other market towns which are supposed to be viewed at a central hub in Peterborough.
Just a casual night in Whittlesey where a group of lads steel a JCB and decide to steal the @AskNationwide cash machine !! Absolutely crazy. All that damage for a few grand! #bankjob pic.twitter.com/4Oyblh74tJ
— Shaun Harley (@ShaunHarley06) October 28, 2023
“Questions need to be asked are we getting value for money if they are not monitoring the cameras.”
Four Ram raiders demolished part of the Nationwide Building Society in Whittlesey early today.
At around 1.45am police were called to reports that four suspects were at Nationwide, Eastgate, using a JCB digger and a white Ford Ranger pick-up truck to steal money from the cash machine.
Det Insp Shish Thind said: “We are in the early stages of the investigation and keen to speak to any witnesses who saw suspicious activity in the area in the early hours of this morning to get in touch, or if you were driving by and have captured dashcam footage please get in touch.”
Residents reacted furiously, many questioning why CCTV in the town centre was not able to alert police earlier to the ram raid.
“Maybe having a police station nearby might not have stopped this happening but not having one certainly didn’t,” one resident posted to social media.
“Didn’t somebody watching the CCTV around the town think it odd that a teleporter was being driven around the town early in the morning?”
Another commented: “How was it even possible to steal the JBC from a building site in first place? Security?”
One other resident said: “We need police in Whittlesey all time this time of year”.
— David Lowndes (@PTdavidlowndes2) October 28, 2023
Det Insp Thind said: “Business burglaries are not a victimless crime – they have a huge impact on shop workers and the people that use their facilities in our communities.
“We’re urging people to report suspicious behaviour around premises with ATMs. ATM crimes could often be prevented if so-called “precursor” offences are reported to us. These can often seem minor and include theft of number plates, ropes, straps, and chains and cutting equipment.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police online www.cambs.police.uk quoting reference 35/80589/23 Those without internet access should call 101. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
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