A police initiative to help support vulnerable and isolated Croydon residents has been rolled out across several south London boroughs since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The initiative, named Operation Nogi, was originally launched off the backs of Inspector Phyllis Rooney and Sergeant Liam Hack from Croydon’s emergency response team.

The idea was born in August 2019 after Inspector Rooney expressed to her sergeants a desire to do more to help the elderly in the community.

It was decided to set-up a welfare car, made-up of two uniformed officers, with the aim of providing reassurance visits to elderly and isolated vulnerable people in Croydon.

Each visit would last up to an hour with officers giving reassurance, helping to build support networks and crime prevention advice on issues such as banking protocols, rogue traders and cold callers.

To ensure that residents know the visits were legitimate, the appointments are always pre-arranged and the attending officers wear full uniform and have ID.

As the initiative grew, officers began to work with other organisations such as Croydon’s adult social care team and trading standards officers – who were encouraged to make referrals to the officers.

With the isolation enforced since the coronavirus outbreak, as well as a reported spike in scams, Operation Nogi was stepped up and rolled out across 15 emergency response teams in boroughs including Croydon, Bromley, and Sutton.

News Shopper:

In line with Public Health England guidelines, the visits have had to change with officers now conducting doorstop visits for a maximum of 15 minutes, keeping at least two meters away and wearing personal protective equipment.

As well as continuing to provide reassurance and crime prevention advice, emphasis is also placed on officers asking the resident about their level of isolation, including if they are able to get out and get food and supplies. Officers can then work with partners to try and ensure an appropriate plan is in place for each resident.

Since the outbreak, local supermarkets have also joined the scheme and are donating food and household essentials, which officers take with them on visits and give out as appropriate.

One 78-year-old man from Coulsdon, who was almost conned out of £40,000 in an investment scam, avoided being a victim thanks to advice given to him during a visit.

Sergeant Liam Hack, who is the Operation Nogi lead for South BCU, said: “I have been completely blown away by the amazing response we have had for this initiative - from the residents, officers on the BCU willing to get involved and the organisations who have come on board and are helping to make the scheme a huge success.

“It’s nice to know what a difference these visits are making to people’s lives, especially during such a challenging time. The visits have also highlighted the levels of isolation that some people in our communities are living in, which can make them extremely vulnerable, so it’s great that we can make their lives a little less lonely and a little more beatable just by paying them a short 15 minute visit. I hope that the initiative continues to grow so that we can help not only more people in London, but across the UK.”

If you would like to refer someone to benefit from the scheme, email the Operation Nogi team at SNMailbox-.OPNOGI@met.police.uk.

For crime prevention advice on how to avoid coronavirus related fraud and scams, visit https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/c19/coronavirus-covid-19/fraud-and-scams/

If you think you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.