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Crime StoppersBy Lord Ashcroft KCMG
PC. Follow Lord Ashcroft on Twitter.

Last night
saw a significant landmark in the history of Crimestoppers, the crime-fighting
charity that I founded a quarter of a century ago.

I hosted a
25th anniversary reception for the charity at the House of Lords because
I wanted to say some major “thanks yous” for what has been achieved – and to
look forward to the future, including the launch of our biggest campaign to
date.

I felt
enormous pride that something that started as simply my overwhelming desire to
tackle crime has led to two and a half decades of innovative, energetic and,
above all, hugely successful work by Crimestoppers.

Figures
released in recent days show that, since our inception in 1988, Crimestoppers
has received approaching 1.5 million actionable pieces of information. This has
led to more than 122,000 people being arrested and charged, more than £126
million of stolen goods being recovered and drugs worth almost £300 million
being seized.


On a warm
summer’s evening beside the River Thames, countless public figures were present
last night to mark the occasion and the guest speakers were the Right
Honourable Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for
Justice and Margaret Mizen, who founded the Jimmy Mizen Foundation following the
murder of her son the day after his 16th birthday.

Also
present was Sergeant Lee Blakelock, of Durham Police. The brutal murder during
the Tottenham riots of his father, PC Keith Blakelock, must have been an appalling
experience for his entire family, and Lee was just seven years old at the time.
It was a traumatic moment for the nation as a whole too – indeed it was this
tragedy that outraged me so much that I contacted the Metropolitan Police
about, first, offering an anonymous reward to catch his killers and, later,
doing something significant towards solving crime.

In the face
of personal adversity, Lee Blakelock joined the police to serve and protect our
citizens, something that shows a particular sort of courage and commitment. His
presence last night was greeted with loud applause from more than 200 guests,
including numerous MPs and members of the House of Lords, who turned up to
support the event.

The
Secretary of State, who was introduced by Mick Laurie, the Chief Executive of
Crimestoppers, described the charity as “a great British success story”. As
well as being generous enough to thank me publicly for my role, Mr Grayling
said that everyone who had worked for Crimestoppers should be “very proud of
what you have achieved”.

Mrs Mizen
spoke movingly about her determination that something positive should come from
her son’s death. She is committed to taking the fight against crime, in
general, and Crimestoppers work, in particular, to as many people as possible
through the foundation named in Jimmy’s memory.

I set up
Crimestoppers – originally called the Community Action Trust – as a charity.
This was a fortunate decision because developments in the way the police and
the courts have to manage information mean that, unless it was a charity, the
whole concept of absolute, guaranteed anonymity for information would not work
today. The downside of being a charity, however, is that we have to fund it (with
some State help) and, during these difficult economic times, that is not easy.

The charity
costs only £4.5 million a year; a tiny sum compared with what we deliver. It
was some years ago now that an external consultant estimated that our value to
policing was £120 million a year.

As well as
Crimestoppers’ staff, trustees and volunteers (nearly 500 nationwide), I wanted
to thank four groups last night. First, the public – all those people who 24
hours a day, every day of the year, give us vital information. They are the stars
of the Crimestoppers’ “show” and they are the ones who have made a difference
in the fight against crime.

Secondly, the
police: after some initial reservations, the Metropolitan Police and other
forces up and down the country embraced the concept of Crimestoppers, even
though dealing with anonymous information is not always easy.

Thirdly, I
thanked the media, which has consistently highlighted our work and our
campaigns and thereby provided an effective – and also cost effective – way of
connecting Crimestoppers with the public.

Last but
not least, I thanked businesses. They have also been an important contributor
to our success by providing funding for our work, as well as extending the
reach of our message to their staff and customers.

Our next
campaign will be the largest and most expensive that Crimestoppers has ever
mounted. Over the next 15 months, we are going to run a phased set of campaigns
– this time paying for some advertising – to raise public awareness of
Crimestoppers and what we do to a completely new level.

This
campaign, which will involve a major fund-raising programme next year, is going
to have a real impact. I have funded the first half of it myself, which means
that we can start out in five major conurbations where we believe that we can
make a difference. We still need the rest of the money to expand our work and
so if there is anyone out there prepared to help, now is the time to contact
Crimestoppers.

To
summarise: the first 25 years have been a great success and it is the success
of a unique partnership, with everyone working with us and helping us to
produce the high quality intelligence that has done so much to enable us to
catch criminals, both at home and abroad.

Crimestoppers
is still here today because we have always refused to rest on our laurels. Now
we are going to raise our game again and, at an important juncture in time,
encourage more and more people to feel they have a part to play too. However,
for all those who have contributed to the first 25 years of fighting crime
together: thank you.

> Those wanting to
know more about the work of Crimestoppers should visit
www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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