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Crimestoppers origins row steps up

PUBLISHED: 16:15 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 30 June 2010

A ROW over the origins of the Crimestoppers tip-off initiative stepped up this week as a spokesman insisted the idea for the national independent charity had been funded and driven by Tory Party donor Lord Ashcroft.

A ROW over the origins of the Crimestoppers tip-off initiative stepped up this week as a spokesman insisted the idea for the national independent charity had been funded and driven by Tory Party donor Lord Ashcroft.

Last week, the Mercury reported how shadow foreign secretary William Hague told Radio 4's Any Questions that Crimestoppers was started by Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft, even though a hotline scheme offering financial rewards was launched in Yarmouth in June 1983.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said Mr Hague was only quoting from the Crimestoppers website, which cites Lord Ashcroft as having funded and driven the independent national charity since it started in 1988.

However, when the Mercury approached Crimestoppers with details of the 1983 Yarmouth launch, the charity's spokesman Lisa Gains said: “Crimestoppers recognises that a local pilot utilising an anonymous crime hotline was set up in Great Yarmouth in 1983. The two individuals named in the story (Jim Carter and Mick Cole) have maintained occasional contact with our local and regional groups, and we welcome the continued support they have shown the charity.

“However, the idea to set this up as a national independent charity was funded and driven by Lord Ashcroft and it was the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) who took up the scheme formally as a force initiative.

“Lord Ashcroft and the MPS were responsible for developing and implementing the Crimestoppers format forcewide and then as a service for the rest of the UK. With Lord Ashcroft's intervention and generous support the Crimestoppers Trust would not exist as it does today.

“Lord Ashcroft continues to support and fund the charity and is the chairman of the board of trustees.”

This week, the Mercury received a letter from Gorleston man John Calthorpe who said Crimestoppers had already received charity status when it started in Yarmouth.


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