Archive for December, 2011

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Via West Midlands Police Press Releases -

Arrested male believed to be Santa Claus found to be imposter, real offender still at large

December 24th 2011

WEST MIDLANDS POLICE have urged members of the public to remain vigilant after it emerged that the male arrested earlier this week believed to be Santa Claus was in fact one of several hundred thousand body doubles.

DS Kimo, from WMP Force CID, stated “Detectives first became suspicious of the male’s story when he was unable to recall the names of all of his reindeer, other than Rudolph which is the one everyone knows. In addition he failed to point out Lapland on a map and spoke with a stronger Midlands accent than we would expect the real Claus to have.

“We then took a DNA sample and confirmed that the male we had in custody was not the real Claus but instead a very realistic lookalike.”

“We have not ruled out the possibility that the male was working with Claus himself as a decoy. Claus remains at large and poses a considerable risk to people across the world, it being likely that as in previous years he will break into millions of houses this evening to spread Christmas joy.”

The male originally arrested has been named as Dave Smith (61) from Lichfield Road, Walsall. Whilst the 4,029,289,486 burglary charges have been dropped against Smith, he is now being questioned in relation to offences of wasting police time and assisting an offender.

Signs that indicate the real Claus is nearby include the sound of bells coming from the roof, empty Coca Cola bottles left in the snow and the sight of a reindeer-drawn flying sleigh silhouetted against the full moon.

DS Kimo’s advises people across the West Midlands and further afield to “Keep your curtains closed, your chimneys blocked and most importantly have a very merry Christmas!”.


These are my twisted words…

CPS have charged Terry with a Public Order offence but how have they reached this decision?

There’s been lots of talk in the news recently about someone called John Terry being charged by the Met for something he’s alleged to have said to a guy called Anton Ferdinand.

I may as well start off my admitting that when it comes to football itself, I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this post hoping for some insight about how the charge will affect Chelsea’s hopes of winning the Football Cup, you may be disappointed.

What I do know you a little about though is what the reports of the CPS looking at Terry’s ‘file’ and making a charging decision mean. In this shortish post I aim to explain a little about the process through which the Met will have gone to put Terry in front of the Magistrates.

Terry had been accused of using racist language towards Ferdinand during a Premier League game at the end of October this year. A member of the public had overheard him using what was perceived to be unacceptable words and had made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police. The suspicion was that the words used may amount of a Public Order offence.

The Met had looked into the allegation, no doubt referring to Loftus Road Stadium‘s truly exceptional CCTV system, and on the basis of the evidence officers conducted a voluntary interview about the matter at Terry’s home.

Having completed their investigation – gathered all of the available evidence and obtained an account from Terry himself under caution – officers then had to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.

Who is able to make a decision to charge a suspect with an offence – that is to say that it is appropriate to send someone to court to answer an allegation – depends on the type of offence.

For fairly straightforward cases involving relatively low level crimes – thefts, criminal damage and the like – the police can usually make the decision independently as to whether there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to send a person to court.

More complicated/serious matters or those with a domestic, racial or hate element require the CPS to review the evidence before authorising the police to charge.

Because the allegation made against Terry was that he had used racial abuse, the matter had to be submitted for the attention of CPS.

When reports were made of a file being handed to CPS, this would have meant copies of the statements collected during the investigation and possibly any visually recorded evidence such as that collected by television cameras and pitch-side microphones, had been sent for CPS to look at.

Having this evidence in their possession, CPS then need to consider The Code and decide firstly whether there is sufficient evidence to allow a realistic prospect of conviction and secondly, is it in the public interest to put the matter before the courts – the combination of these considerations being referred to as the ‘Full Code Test‘.

Once the strengths and the weaknesses of the case have been assessed, CPS will then advise the police if they think the suspect should be charged or not.

In Terry’s case CPS have made the decision that he should be charged with a racially aggravated S. 5 Public Order offence and so he will now be summonsed – told he has to appear at court – where the matter will go to trial and he will be asked to enter a plea.

The use of racially abusive language – on or off the pitch – is clearly unacceptable and if Terry is found guilty the fact that the offence is racially aggravated will inform the sentence passed. The case has been provisionally scheduled for February 1st and I’ll be very interested to see how both the courts and The FA deal with the allegation.

It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank…

Via West Midlands Police Press Releases -

Male arrested for millions of burglaries in every country on the entire planet

December 20th 2011

A MALE was arrested as part of an operation last night on suspicion of 4,029,289,486 counts of burglary, 2,957,292,589 counts of theft and one count of operating a sleigh whilst drunk.

Santa Claus (69) was apprehended as a result of an intelligence-led operation launched by West Midlands Police Force CID lasting over the past seven months.

At the time of the arrest, Claus was found to be in possession of several million pounds worth of assorted high value goods and also a quantity of marked mince pies and carrots which has been left in ‘bait’ houses on several different continents.

When searched in custody, Claus was found to be in possession of a concealed supply of candy canes, yule log and Christmas pudding.

Claus was caught in a sting operation after targeting a specially rigged house in the Aldridge area of Walsall at which at least seventy police officers were waiting. Detectives believe he was commencing a practice run ahead of a larger crime spree planned for around December 24th.

DS Kimo, from Force CID, said “Santa Claus is a calculating and dangerous criminal. Working alone we believe him to be responsible for thefts of mince pies, carrots and brandy around the world, possibly as far back as the fifteenth century. We are working with Interpol and other partnership agencies to identify both victims and witnesses.

“The operation to catch Claus has been long and difficult. Criminals of Claus’s character are thankfully rare but people around the world should be able to feel at ease knowing he is now safely behind bars where is belongs.”

DS Kimo also warned against copy-cat criminal activity in the wake of Clause’s arrest.

“Make no mistake, criminal activity on this scale will not be tolerated and we are able to focus the full force of our resources to ensure that offenders are brought to justice”.

Claus has been charged with all but four of the charges of burglary for which he was arrested and has been remanded in police custody until his appearance at court later this week.

The nine flying reindeer that Claus had with him at the time of his arrest have been turned over to the care of the RSPCA for re-homing.


He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…

Via West Midlands Police Press Releases

Serial mince pie and carrot thief, enters houses via chimney. Can you help identify him?

December 19th 2011

WEST MIDLANDS POLICE are appealing for information from members of the public ahead of an anticipated series of burglaries across the region and further afield, predicted to take place on the night of December 24th.

Working with several other police forces under the supervision of Scotland Yard and liaising with Interpol, detectives are keen to track a male who they believe picks Christmas Eve and the early hours of Christmas Day to break into houses up and down the country in what has been termed a ‘sophisticated and well planned attack’.

Intelligence gathered from a range of sources suggests that as in previous years, the male will attempt to gain access to properties via the chimney having landed on the rooftop in what eye witnesses have described as a vehicle similar to a sleigh and drawn by a number of animals, possibly reindeer.

Police E-Fit of the suspect

Once inside the male follows the same peculiar MO, placing high value goods under the victim’s Christmas tree before stealing small quantities of brandy, mince pies and carrots. The male then exits the house again via the chimney before moving onto neighbouring properties and has been known to target whole towns or even counties during the course of a single night.

The wanted male is described as being in his late sixties, around 5’8″ tall and has a plump build with a ruddy, red cheeked complexion. He has a thick white beard and is said to commonly wear a distinctive red suit with white trim, heavy black boots and a pointed red hat with white bobble. Whilst believed to be silent when inside people’s houses, the male is apparently quite vocal whilst on rooftops as he has been heard saying in a friendly, booming voice phrases such as ‘Ho Ho Ho!’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone!’.

DS Kimo, from WMP Force CID, said “We are keen to speak to this male as soon as possible and would urge him to attend the nearest police station at the earliest opportunity’.

Homeowners are should remain vigilant in the nights leading up to Christmas Day and are advised not to leave plates of mince pies on open display. Should the male be spotted, residents are encouraged to phone the international operator straight away and ask to be put through to the Santa Taskforce in Lapland.


Speaking words of wisdom…

Last week I sat down for an interview at Walsall Police Station. As this is something that I do frequently you’d be forgiven for thinking that in itself, this is nothing particularly interesting.

What set this interview apart was that rather than asking the questions I was on the receiving end. I was sat in one of the interview rooms at the station answering questions about criminal activity in the Walsall area. What exactly was going on?

Well, I had agreed to meet Dean Hill from the WS5 Blog who wanted to speak to me about what my role involves, what I do on a day to day basis and how people can best avoid becoming a victim of crime.

For anyone who’s not seen the WS5 Blog it’s well worth checking out, especially if you live in the Bescot, Tame Bridge or Yew Tree areas of Walsall. It’s what fashionable media types call a ‘hyperlocal‘ blog as it focuses exclusively on a small geographical area and is written for the benefit of the people living in, or concerned with, that area. It’s running along similar lines to Brownhills Bob’s very popular Brownhills Blog which too is well worth a look, even if you don’t live in Brownhills.

My chat with Dean was scheduled to last around half an hour but in the end actually ran to over an hour and a half, such is my ability to waffle on about crime and policing! Dean has recorded the interview and uploaded it to his SoundCloud profile, thankfully editing it into bite size chunks for easier listening.

Without further delay* then, here is the interview for your listening pleasure!

Part 1What does a response officer do?

Part 2What does a typical day consist of?

Part 3How does social media help policing?

Part 4Current issues and objectives leading up to Christmas

Part 5Are cuts impacting policing over the Christmas period?

Part 6What are we doing to tackle metal thefts?

Part 7How can I keep my house and car safe over Christmas?

Part 8Christmas drink drive campaign and what happens after being stopped for drunk driving

Part 9How West Midlands Police are looking to reduce anti-social behaviour over Christmas

Part 10Neighbourhood Watch and how people can get involved with the work of the police

Part 11Reporting crime via Crimestoppers

Part 12Policing during the August Riots

Part 13How to beat bogus callers

If interviews like this are something that you’d like to see us doing more often then please let us know as I felt it was very worthwhile and would be happy to look at doing something similar again in the future.

Thanks again to Dean for taking the time to come down and talk with me and again, I’d encourage you to take a look at the WS5 Blog and its Twitter stream if you’re interested in learning more about what is happening in the Bescot area.

* You may experience further delay if you’re reading this blog on a phone made by a popular type of fruit and it decides it doesn’t fancy displaying Flash content. If the sound files don’t load above or are a little slow please try looking at this page on your desktop computer or instead go direct to Dean’s SoundCloud profile and try there.

I’m going out for a little drive and it could be the last time you see me alive…

…more than just a few words.

Diamond dogs…

Meet The BeatPolice Dog Mambo, Force Dog Unit

I’ve been excited about this Meet The Beat interview ever since I was able to get in touch with Mambo, one of our trainee police dogs, last month. I knew that he was keen on Twitter (he’s got his own account) and so thought he’d make a good candidate to answer a few questions about his role.

As you’ll read below, he hasn’t let us down and I think he’s a very, very good boy for taking the time out from his busy schedule to tell us what he gets up to with the police dog unit!

Mambo shows off his impressive tongue!

Hello there, who’s a good boy?

I just hope this gets translated from ‘woof’ to human well, and there are no misquoted remarks like you see when a footballer does interviews for a local hometown reporter in his native country when away on international duty. . . . .

So you’re training to be a police dog, how long have you been training for and what does your training involve?

I’m now nearing the end of my initial training phase. I’ve been with my puppy walker since I was 6 weeks old, and am now 11 months old. I’ll be going to a dog handler in January when I’ll be 12 months old. Hopefully I’ll be starting an initial licensing course in February, which lasts up to 12 weeks.

The initial part of my training is all about ‘environmental’ development, so going to places like shopping centres, train stations, building yards – all the places I might end up having to work in/search when I’m older. I need to be used to the noises, smells, floor surfaces, dark spaces etc of all these types of places, so they don’t ever ‘spook’ me when I’m working. We do a lot of work inside of old disused buildings.

Along the way I’m taught basic commands like any other normal dog like sit, lie, wait etc. Unfortunately though no shake a paw or roll over! I’m also taught to bark and also taught heelwork.

We also work on my agility, bite work and nose development, so will be taught how to get over things, bite correctly, find items and follow a track. It’s then all about developing these skills ready for allocation to a handler – where hopefully I’m not far off being a fully licensable dog at the age of 9-12 months.

The aim is to hit the licensing course with all the skills, main training and attributes already installed. Hopefully when I start the course I can already do all the exercises to a high standard, and it’s then just about working with my new handler to fine tune my skills and respond to situations in the way he/she would want me to out on the street.

My current dad has developed 6 dogs, so he’s now into a great routine with us all, to get us up to speed and ready for a course. All of his dogs have gone onto be fully licensed Police Dogs, so fingers crossed I keep up the good record! PD Cooper holds the record at Warwickshire Police for the fastest completion of an initial licensing course – completing a 12 weeks course in just over 5 weeks! No pressure . . . . .

Have you always wanted to be a police dog? Did it take long to apply and did you get any help filling in the application form?

I’ve always wanted to be a full Police Dog – it’s in my genes and I was literally born to do this job!

The breeding scheme at West Midlands Police is run by Dave Raymond, who has created a leading and highly commended breed scheme throughout the UK. We supply dogs to Forces all over the UK and Worldwide – our dogs have even gone to places like the Seychelles & into Samsung HQ to work.

Fortunately no forms ever need filling out by me – it’s all about my performance!!

What’s an average day like for a police dog? Are there different roles you can specialise in?

Every day is different just like for ‘human’ police officers. Some days you could be at a football match keeping a large group in order, other days chasing after a burglar or searching for a missing person.

Within the dog section itself there are various roles; general purpose (which is what I will be), explosive search dogs, drugs search dogs, cash and firearms detection dogs and also cadaver (body/blood detection) dogs. @WMPcsidogsmithy is a cadaver dog, also known as a CSI dog.

Mainly German Shepherds are used for GP (General Purpose) work, with Springer Spaniels used for the search – but we do have other types of dogs within the section like Malinois, Labrador/Retrievers, along with a 12 month old Rottweiler “Russ” who’s currently in the early stages of his development.

How can dogs help human police officers? What sort of jobs do you get called to?

Dogs can help human Police Officers as their heightened sense of smell is much better than humans. This means we are able to easily pinpoint small amounts of a trained scent. This could be a person’s scent, drugs, explosives etc.

Dogs are MUCH quicker than humans and much more agile which means we are better at chasing & catching criminals – despite the large amount of people who still think they can run away from us!!

Dogs are also able to use their nose to follow someone, instead of a human using their eyes; if they are no longer in sight a human would have effectively lost that person. But dogs can track them from the footsteps whether this be on the grass or concrete, so even though we can’t see them we still know where they have been and more importantly where they have stopped. Dogs are brilliant for a presence at public order situations like football matches or more recently in the riots. We can often deter and disperse large volatile crowds on our own, where sometimes it would take 3/4/5 or more human officers – mainly because most people do not wish to have 42 teeth planted on them!

What’s your shift pattern like? Do you have to work nights?

We work the same shifts as human officers, providing 24 hour cover to the force.

What are your favourite parts about your role and the job in general?

Ultimately my job is actually, just one big game for me. Whether it be chasing after a bad guy or tracking a missing vulnerable person – it’s all part of the game. Even in riot and public order events, although it can be scary for our human Officers, to us it is just another big game.

Added to the fact I’m out at ‘work’ playing with my best mate [my handler] – life just couldn’t be better.

Is there anything you don’t like about your job or is there anything you’d change?

It’s not great when you see & hear of fellow PD’s (or Police Officers for that matter) being injured or killed in the line of duty – however we are there to ‘Serve & Protect’ whether that be the general public or paying the ultimate price to save our handler’s life.

One good way to annoy a Police Dog is to harm (or threaten to harm) his handler – and vice versa!!

What’s it like travelling in the back of a police car at high speed? Are you ever allowed to drive?

As part of our development we spend lots of time in the car – although the speed thing is not something we can get used to until we’re with a Police handler.

I’ll be going out with my potential new handler to get me used to the car at high speed and the hustle & bustle of the blues & twos. Unfortunately we’re never allowed to drive, although we may sneak into the front seat when no ones looking!

How many hours a week do you spend doing paperwork?

Absolutely ZERO although my handler may have a little bit to do – but for me none . . . . it’s a dog’s life!!


What would you say has been the most memorable thing you’ve done or been involved with since you joined the police? I know you’re still in training, have you had a chance yet to bite a criminal’s ankles?

I’ve had a very memorable (some might say eventful!) puppy hood. I’ve had to have one of my claws taken out after slicing it pretty much off on some litter in our local Woods. And more recently I had to have a tooth taken out – although neither events have adversely affected my performance.

I’ve not yet had the chance to bite any criminals, it’s all sleeve work at the moment – but when the time comes I’m sure I’ll be ready

Human police officers have a rank structure – is there one for police dogs too?

All Police Dogs think they are ‘top dog’ – although there is no official rank or structure.

However, you can’t help but show respect to those dogs who have been out on the street catching criminals for years. There are some real life top dogs out serving our Force at the moment.

Have you ever done any of the following – dug up a bone so big you couldn’t drag it, chased a car and caught it, chased your tail and caught it?

I’m actually banned from my dad’s grass now, after my predecessor PD Ozzy decided to break pretty much every fence panel of the garden and regularly hop into the neighbour’s garden – so no digging up of bones unfortunately.

So it would have to be the tail!!!!!

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