February 2023: News for Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford

Don’t fall for romance fraud this Valentine’s Day

I WANT to start by thanking those who completed my precept survey last month. As ever, it was important that I heard from as many people as possible.

I understand how stretched finances are for many of us, so I need to carefully consider what the public has to say on any tax increases before I propose a finalised budget.

It is important to remind you it is also a difficult time for funding your police force; policing is not immune to the cost-of-living crisis, so the budget is being set against a challenging economic environment.

I will continue to update you regarding my precept decision in the coming weeks.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I urge online daters to stay alert to potential scammers and to not fall victim to romance fraud. Romance fraud is much more common than many of us realise, with fraudsters taking advantage of those trying to find a connection or relationship.

Romance fraud involves fraudsters masquerading as romantic partners and, after laying the groundwork for a ‘relationship’ with a victim, the scammer will ask for ‘favours’, like sending them money, providing personal and financial information, or purchasing items for them.

It isn’t hearts these fraudsters want to steal: it’s bank account balances.

This is an awful, heart-breaking crime; victims invest time into someone and think they have a genuine personal connection. I know many victims feel ashamed when they realise romance fraudsters have scammed them.

Please know support is available from the police and the Action Fraud website.

If you think a family member or friend is a victim of this terrible crime, please make them aware of the signs and encourage them to report it to Action Fraud.

I would also like to bring to your attention our next Performance and Accountability Board (PAB), which will take place on Tuesday, February 7.

I was elected to be the voice of local people in policing. I will be questioning Chief Constable Sarah Crew to ensure she delivers an efficient, effective, and legitimate police service for our communities.

I will ask questions about police performance and priorities in Avon and Somerset.

If you have any concerns or questions you would like included in the live broadcast, you can contact me and the OPCC via our website.