As the 25th anniversary nears
of the founding of Crimestoppers, I am in Cyprus today to launch an exciting
Called Operation Zygos, it is our first
fugitives’ campaign on the island and its objective is simple: to locate and
apprehend nine suspected criminals who are thought to be in hiding in Cyprus. It is regrettable that a minority of
suspected criminals from the UK see Cyprus as a safe place to keep a low
profile and evade law enforcement. However, I believe that, with the support of
the locals and expatriates living on the island, we can and will bring these
individuals to justice.
As part of its latest project,
Crimestoppers will again work alongside the Serious Organised Crime Agency
(SOCA) and – for the first time – the
Cyprus Police (CYPOL) to try to catch the suspects. I founded Crimestoppers in 1988 as a
three-way partnership between the business community, the police and the media.
Businesses put up money to finance the scheme, the police are willing to act on
information from the public and the media highlights the charity’s work.
Since Crimestoppers began, it has
received over a million actionable calls, resulting in more than 115,000
arrests and charges. More than £123million worth of stolen goods has been
recovered and more than £232million
worth of drugs has been seized. Often the publicity generated from a
Crimestoppers’ campaign is enough to make some wanted suspects hand themselves
in before any information is
received. This highlights just how effective the public, working in conjunction
with Crimestoppers, can be in fighting crime.
Operation Zygos is the third fugitives’
campaign to be launched by Crimestoppers and SOCA, with similar, successful
campaigns in Spain and the Netherlands. Operation
Captura, a campaign running in Spain for the last six years, has seen
tremendous success, with 49 wanted suspects located and arrested out of 65
appeals. As a result of quality information,
we have been able to provide support to police authorities in Spain and have
fugitives brought back to the UK for justice. Some of these have been caught in
other countries, which highlights the clear message that there is nowhere to hide.
The public response to this campaign
has been overwhelming, and my hope is that it will be much the same here in
Cyprus. Crimestoppers and SOCA will work closely
with the British High Commission in Nicosia and with British and Cypriot law
enforcement agencies. Today’s campaign highlights appeals for
information on criminals who have had European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) issued
against them. Information given to Crimestoppers can help locate these
criminals so that arrests can be carried out by the Cypriot police.
The individuals featured today all
have one thing in common – they think they can evade the UK justice system by
taking refuge in Cyprus. However, I believe the people of Cyprus
are a tight-knit community and its residents will want to see those who have
committed crimes punished for their actions. There is, after all, a fair chance
that these suspected criminals have not “retired”: they are likely still to be active
law-breakers and they can still cause harm.
I am convinced that Operation Zygos
will prove to be another example of the continuing impact that Crimestoppers is
having abroad. I urge you to visit the
Crimestoppers’ website on www.crimestoppers.org.cy to find out more information
about those being sought. The suspects are wanted for crimes
including sexual offences, high-value drug offences and fraud.
If you, or anyone you know, has
information about any of the criminals featured in our appeal today, contact
Crimestoppers on 08000 5511 (or 8000 5511 from
Cyprus). Alternatively, fill out the anonymous online form available through the website: www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Crimestoppers is an independent charity
and not part of the police service: the anonymity of every individual providing
information is guaranteed and he, or she, will not have to give a statement to the
police or go to court.