Coronavirus daily briefing: Fighting the 'most sophisticated' criminals

Crime was one of the main topics on the agenda at today's coronavirus daily briefing from 10 Downing Street.

Saturday, 25th April 2020, 5:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th April 2020, 5:58 pm
Priti Patel, who chaired today's conference

Today's briefing from Downing Street was chaired by Home Secretary Priti Patel, with Lynne Owens, Director General of the National Crime Agency and Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England also in attendance.

Crime was one of the main topics on today's agenda.

Priti Patel paid tribute to the selfless frontline workers struck down by the virus and said: "Their sacrifice will not be forgotten."

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She revealed overall crime is down. Such as car, burglary and shoplifting.

But "the most sophisticated" criminals are seeking to "exploit and capitalise" on the crisis.

"Our world class law enforcement is also adapting," she said.

She said police have received 1,300 reports of child sexual exploitation cases.

And she outlined the work police are doing to counter domestic abuse.

Ms Patel gave an example of some of the law enforcement - with a Border Force raid seizing £1m of cocaine set to be smuggled to the UK concealed in boxes of face masks. Plus PPE and test kit scams.

Coronavirus-related fraud currently stands at £2.4m.

The Home Secretary slammed dangerous drivers using quiet roads as "personal racetracks" saying drivers had been clocked at 150mph on the M1 and 134mph in a London 40mph zone.

She praised the police and fire service for taking shopping and prescriptions to people as folk are urged to stay at home.

She said the "action we are collectively taking is working" and people's sacrifices "are saving people's lives".

Lynne Owens outlined how criminals are taking advantage of the crisis

She revealed that operations had taken place to seize firearms and drugs

And that more than 2,000 online pandemic-related scams had been taken offline.

She spoke of work to protect vulnerable children, citing the arrest of a man attempting to re enter the UK from the Philippines.

She outlined steps people can take to protect themselves from harm including: Protect children online - online materials on keeping children safe can be found at thinkyouknow.co.uk; staying safe online; looking after your money - fraudsters use phone, email and text to sell fake testing kits and treatments.

Stephen Powis said the NHS "has not been overwhelmed" and reminded people that the NHS was there for them if they had conditions that were not coronavirus-related, such as people concerned about heart attacks, strokes and pregnant mothers.

Prof Powis outlined how there were reductions in public transport usage.

They are at much lower levels than they were prior to social distancing being introduced.

But he said car usage was increasing slightly.

He said: “It’s really important that despite the weather we stay at home."

He said we may start to see more positive cases with test capacity being expanded and that there was " a sustained reduction in people being treated in hospitals”.

Prof Powis said: “There is a trend towards a decline in deaths, that will occur later than hospital admissions.”

"If we keep complying then we will begin to see a decline in deaths," he said.