I am currently in Spain doing my bit to help catch ten of Britain’s most wanted criminals. And I am as confident as I can be that the latest appeal by Crimestoppers – codenamed Operation Captura – will follow the trend of past ones by achieving both positive and swift results.
Indeed previous campaigns to locate, arrest, charge and imprison murderers, rapists, paedophiles, armed robbers, fraudsters, drug-runners and other law-breakers have proved so successful that some of those individuals who have been named on the wanted list have promptly given themselves up to the police knowing that the “game was up”.
Crimestoppers, which I founded 23 years ago, is the only national charity that seeks to solve crime, and it remains at the forefront of the battle to crack unsolved cases and to bring known criminals who are “on the run” to justice.
This morning, in my role as Chair of the charity, I will help Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to launch a campaign to mark the fifth anniversary of Operation Captura.
The names and photographs of ten wanted men who are thought to be on the run in Spain will be released to the media today and circulated in a country that has become increasingly popular over the years with ex-pats.
The multi-agency campaign seeks to locate – and ultimately imprison – serious criminals who are wanted by the police and other law enforcement agencies for crimes committed in the UK.
The success rate of past campaigns has been nothing short of extraordinary. Since the first appeal was launched back in October 2006, 46 of the 60 criminals who were “named and shamed” have been arrested and, to this day, many remain behind bars for their crimes.
In the wake of the recent riots in Britain, the profile of Crimestoppers has never been higher but, for those who are unfamiliar with it, I should briefly explain its roots and the impact it has had over the past 23 years.
I founded the charity in 1988 in the wake of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock, a 40-year-old father of three who was hacked to death on the streets of London during the Broadwater Farm riots. Crimestoppers enables members of the public to pass on information about crimes anonymously either through its 24/7 telephone line or through its website. The element of anonymity means that those with knowledge of crimes feel safe passing on information indirectly to the police. In short, Crimestoppers seeks to break down the wall of silence that surrounds most crimes and which criminals exploit to avoid arrest.
The business community, the police and the media provide an effective three-way partnership. 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.
A combination of paid officials and a loyal band of volunteers have established Crimestoppers as one of the greatest charity success stories of the past quarter of a century in the UK. Since 1988, the charity has received more than 1.2 million actionable calls resulting in more than £116 million worth of stolen goods being recovered and more than £217 million worth of drugs being seized.
Unfortunately, a small number of criminals see Spain as a safe place to evade law enforcement but, thanks to the confidence that the UK, Spanish and ex-pat communities have in Crimestoppers, I am convinced that many individuals named today will not be able to escape justice for much longer.
Operation Captura highlights appeals for information on criminals who have European arrest warrants issued against them. Information given to Crimestoppers can help locate these criminals so that arrests can be carried out by the Spanish police.
Today’s appeal will seek information on five major criminals who have not been publicly identified before, while the details of five more men are being re-issued in a fresh attempt to bring them to justice.
As information comes in on the wanted men’s suspected whereabouts, Crimestoppers and SOCA will work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff in Madrid and with British and Spanish law enforcement agencies in an attempt to have them detained.
If the current success rate can be maintained, many of the ten wanted men will be in custody well before Christmas, and possibly within days or even hours. I urge everyone to help the latest appeal – and to turn the fifth anniversary of Operation Captura into yet another success story for Crimestoppers. Please help make our communities in the UK and Spain safer.
- The new and full wanted list can be accessed on www.crimestoppers-uk.org. If anyone is calling from Spain (rather than the UK), those with information can ring a special freephone number: 900 555 111. This hotline will be answered via the usual Crimestoppers number of 0800 555 111, and a translator will be made available on request.