Posts Tagged 'christmas'

I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree…

Dear Santa,

This year I feel I have been exceptionally well behaved. I have arrested lots of bad guys, I have kept my pocket note book up to date and I’ve even done my best to stick to my ‘fewer doughnuts’ resolution.

As such I hope you don’t mind me sending you a little Christmas list, seeing as I should be on the good list and all?

I’m not asking for a Dreamcast, a Furby or whatever else it is that the kids are wanting this year – what I’m actually asking for is you to do something for me.

I know that each year you zoom around the planet at 1,800 miles per second, diving into people’s homes and distributing presents to all the (good) boys and girls.

What I’d really, really like is that whilst you’re disregarding the flying sleigh speed limits, you take into account the following few requests and help ensure that you make this my jolliest Christmas ever.

Here’s what I’m asking that you do:

  • I know that to make things a little easier on yourself you sometimes leave presents out a little early. Do you think you could put them somewhere out of sight until the big day, just so that no naughty elves walk past and spot them through the window?
  • When you’re nosing around people’s houses for mince pies, carrots and brandy, please check that people’s doors and windows are closed and locked
  • If when you’re up on the rooftops you happen to spot suspicious folk loitering around below, could you give the police a call on 101 and let us know so we can check it out?
  • Should you have time between mince pies, maybe you check out our 12 Days of Christmas website and find out more about festive crime prevention?

Thank you!

(PC) Richard

Memories are made of this…

What were my highlights of 2012? The below blog tells you, this caption doesn’t.

There we go then, 2012 is pretty much out the way. The Queen ‘Jubileed’, the Olympics were brilliant and to top it all off, the world didn’t come to an end.

As is the tradition at this time of year, I thought I’d take a sporadic look back at what were a few of the highlights from the past twelve months.

They are, in no particular order, as follows:

Arrest of the year:

Responding to a report of an assault back in July, we suspected our suspect was hiding in a nearby house as a bike matching the description of the one he was riding was parked right outside.

The occupant let us in and I thought I heard something from a bedroom upstairs so went to investigate but found it empty, other than the cloth covering of one of the wardrobes flapping gently.

On closer inspection I noticed a pair of feet sticking out and so gave our wardrobe monster a few minutes to think he was invisible whilst I motioned for my partner to join me before pulling back the covering and saying “Come along sir, we’d probably best go sort this out at the station”.

Best tweet of the year:

Okay, maybe I can’t narrow it down to one specific tweet as I like to think they’re all of the same quality (interpret that as you like!), but being able to use social media as a part of my role continues to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the job and this year I’ve been able to reach more people than ever.

The feedback continues to be positive and I think some of the best memories of the year coming from the tweeting and blogging have resulted from meeting several of my lovely followers face to face.

It’s always nice to put a face to a name and I think it’s a valuable reminder that whilst we spend our time dealing with Walsall’s worst 1%, the other 99% are a thoroughly lovely bunch who I am proud to be serving.

Doughnut of the year:

We police officers eat foods other than doughnuts. Honest, we do.

This said, they’re obviously an important ‘food group’ and there’s nothing better for topping up the sugar levels towards the end of a long shift than a glazed, preferably cream filled, fried doughnut.

As a tradition officers bring in cakes when there’s a birthday, sometime around August one of the lads on my shift won the Sports Club lottery and so treated us to a pack of Sainsbury’s finest doughnuts. Delicious was not the word!

Sporting achievement of the year:

Contrary to the impression you might get from the above paragraph and occasional mentions of Creme Eggs on my Twitter feed, I do like to do my best to keep fit.

Whilst I was proud that I completed the Birmingham Half Marathon in under an hour and a half, I think the Walsall Police Walking Club’s attempt on the Yorkshire Three Peaks was probably the better effort as we worked together to achieve it.

It was back in May and pretty warm but we made it round in one piece, no one died and as I wrote at the time, that’s my benchmark for success so a success it was.

Charity event of the year:

When not out arresting folk, many officers dabble in charity fund-raising and subject themselves to various ordeals all in the name of raising a few pennies for their chosen cause.

You may remember I’d mentioned PC Emma Smith’s fund-raising efforts for the sailors of her son’s navy squadron back in October, as so many local people got behind the campaign I think it’s got to be one of the highlights of the year for me.

Through a dedicated campaign of badgering local businesses, she amassed a hoard of goods to be sent out to Afghan for 857 Squadron which included shower gels, a DAB radio and also a healthy donation for their welfare fund.

Overall highlight of the year:

The best week and a half of the year for me was probably spent down in London helping out at the big sports day.

It was fantastic to be involved, especially as the enthusiasm of everyone in the capital made for a delightful atmosphere in which to police and I’m confident that over the next thirty years or so there’ll be few opportunities that’ll come close to matching the chance to work at the Olympics.

I’d say the best part of the trip was the few hours we spent on Westminster Bridge for the torch relay – being right at the centre of the capital in front of Big Ben and surrounded by tourists may be wearing for officers who do it all the time but for us Brummies it was a novel, memorable experience.

Now as I’ve written about before, 2013 is going to see some pretty big changes for us police here in Walsall. We’ll be going through a structural ‘rejiggle’ at the end of January and as part of it I’ll be leaving my response team and concentrating on investigation.

I’m really looking forward to the move and the chance to pick up some new skills, the blogs and tweets will be continuing and so I’ll be sharing the new role with you and will be available to answer any questions you may have.

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas and will enjoy a happy new year!


P.S. At the request of @rougefever, here is a link to a particularly good photo of a macaw. She didn’t think that this blog featured enough macaws. I had to agree.

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout – I’m telling you why…

Christmas is just around the corner, are you prepared for a ‘reverse burglary’ by Santa Clause though? Read on!

Christmas time is here. Check out tomorrow and it’ll confirm as much – December 25th is only hours away and with it will almost certainly come a massive rise in strange ‘reverse burglaries’.

What exactly is a ‘reverse burglary’ you ask? Well, you may recall last year I featured several posts from Force CID’s DS Kimo on our attempts to capture a suspect known to us as ‘Santa Clause’.

First of all there was our appeal for witnesses which was followed by the arrest of Clause the very next day. We thought we had the case nailed but then on Christmas Eve there was shocking news – our suspect turned out to be an imposter and the real Clause was still at large.

We’d failed and the consequence was that Clause broke into millions of houses around the world over the next few hours, stealing small amounts of brandy but leaving behind high value goods under people’s Christmas trees.

One year on and whilst the operation to capture Clause is ongoing, it’s looking unlikely that he’ll be located before he strikes again this evening.

As this is the case, the best I can offer is a few Christmas crime prevention tips from DS Kimo on how you can best safeguard your house against a strike by Clause himself.

Here’s the advice from the man in the know:

  • Hide the mince pies – Never leave small plates of mince pies and a glass of brandy on open display. We know that Clause pretty much lives off these and they’re as good as an invitation for him to come in and wreak havoc.
  • Block your chimney – Any hardware store should be able to supply the tools you’ll need to ensure that the chimney is not accessible. This is essential as 99% of the time Clause gains access to properties by the chimney.
  • Throw away your ‘Santa Stop Here’ sign – At any other time of year would you put up a sign welcoming burglars? Of course not, don’t encourage the jolly fat man!
  • Obstruct his landing strip – All available intel suggests that Santa reaches rooftops by using a magical sleigh drawn by reindeer. Litter your rooftop with barriers to frustrate his landing and maybe slop a little anti-vandal paint around too.
  • Know what to look for – We believe Clause usually wears a bright red suit with white fur lining and heavy boots, he shouldn’t be hard to spot.
  • Listen out - As well as wearing a bright red suit, Santa seems to have trouble keeping the noise down. If he’s nearby you will probably be able to hear him laughing loudly and encouraging his reindeer to take flight.
  • Don’t write to him – Clause operates in a strange way, he seems to receive letters sent to him up the chimney and then a few weeks later arrives with many of the requested items. Don’t make it easy for him, if he doesn’t know what you want he may not come in the first place.

Now I’m on duty this evening on a special ‘Santa watch’ team so we’ll be keeping our eyes open for any Clause-related activity in the Walsall area and we’ll need you to do the same.

If you do suspect that you’ve seen Clause, please get in touch with me via Twitter and I’ll see what I can do about sending a car or two over.

Beyond this stay safe and have a very merry Christmas!


The near and the dear ones, the old and the young…

We’re now four days into our annual Christmas drink and drug drive campaign and with every patrol car in Walsall and across the West Midlands carrying freshly calibrated breathalyser kits, our officers have been keeping the pressure on people considering driving after drinking with regular stop checks and operations.

I know that in the past few days there have been at least three arrests made by my shift alone for drink driving with one motorist found to be three times over the legal limit when he was tested at the station.

Sadly alcohol remains the primary factor in a quarter of all fatal road accidents and last year, males in their early twenties were the most likely to either fail or refuse a breath test following a traffic accident.

It can take many hours for alcohol levels to fall to safe levels following a night out and many people are caught the morning after – the only reliable way to avoid the risk is not to drink at all.

The above video only hints at how horrific the consequences of driving after drink of drugs can be – please, please don’t risk it.


All the things I should’ve said that I never said, all the things we should’ve done that we never did…

Christmas can be a busy period for our Family Liaison Officers but what exactly is their role?

In this specially written article marking the start of our Christmas Drink Drive Campaign, WMP Family Liaison Officer Mick Jennings gives an overview of a role that I believe is one of the hardest an officer can hold. Following a fatal road accident or similar, Family Liaison Officers are sent out to make contact with the families of the deceased. Tragically Christmas can be a busy time for them.

“Police said Family Liaison Officers had been appointed to support the families of those involved.”

You may have heard this, or similar, in relation to road deaths or murders, but what does it mean? Who are these Family Liaison Officers and what exactly do they do?

Well firstly, it’s a misnomer to say Family Liaison Officers (FLO) ‘support’ a family. FLOs, as they are commonly referred as, are not counsellors and it is not their role to provide emotional support to a grieving family.

The concept of family liaison has been in existence for many years, but it was events during the 90s that really galvanised the role into something that we can identify with today.

One of the main drivers for effective family liaison was the MacPherson Report into the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 which made several recommendations in relation to the training and deployment of Family Liaison Officers.

The primary role of any FLO is an investigator, tasked by the Senior Investigating Officer to develop a professional working relationship with the victim’s family. All enquiries and communication with the family will be made through the FLO, thereby minimising as much as possible the intrusion into the family at this traumatic time.

The FLO should aim to develop a relationship through trust and honesty but, especially in the early days of a deployment, their role will be very challenging, particularly where there maybe a mistrust of the police, or where police involvement may have been a factor in the death. Whatever the situation, one overriding principal is that the police will never close the door on contact with a victim’s family.

The role of FLO is voluntary and there is no expectation that any officer must become one. Those that do undertake the training can, at any time, decide that the role is not for them after all and even a trained FLO can turn down a deployment if they feel that they cannot give it the commitment that it deserves. This might be for a variety of reasons, for example, if the FLO was already heavily committed with another investigation or was due to go on leave in the next few days.

The Family Liaison Officer Training Course lasts for five days but is designed to draw upon the officers’ previously acquired skills in their area of business and it is not recommended that they volunteer too early in their career.

The content of the course is compatible with the national training programme and features a variety of topics to test the suitability of the officer for this role. Once an officer has completed the training, it is expected that they will be first deployed with an experienced FLO to act as mentor.

In any investigation the aim should be to deploy FLOs in pairs or as part of a team, dependant on the circumstances of the incident under investigation. That way should anything happen that necessitates a new FLO being deployed, the continuity with the family, and therefore the relationship, is maintained.

In addition, in the early days of an investigation the FLO maybe spending several hours at the family home and may need the support of a colleague, even if its just an extra pair of hands. Anyone in this family environment, even if just assisting the lead FLO, should be trained and know what to expect.

Before meeting a family, the Family Liaison Officer can expect to receive a full briefing about the incident under investigation as it is essential that they know exactly what has happened, where it happened, to whom and what is expected of them by the Senior Investigating Officer. Where possible, it is recommended that the FLO visit the crime or collision scene to familiarise themselves with it should family members wish to go there themselves.

When first meeting the family, it may not always be possible to answer all the questions they have, either because of operational reasons or purely because the FLO doesn’t know at that time. Other than for those reasons, the FLO will never intentionally keep the truth from the family, no matter how upsetting it may be. The art of effective family liaison is honesty, tactfully delivered.

Every investigation will have standard tasks for the FLO such as arranging a formal identification of the deceased and taking lifestyle statements, but he/she should not become complacent as every investigation is dealing with the untimely, and often unlawful, death of a loved one, and every deployment should be as professional as the last, treating families with respect and dignity.

Over time the demands on the FLO in the investigative sense may subside but he/she will remain in contact with the family for as long as the Senior Investigating Officer requires, updating and informing at key stages, even accompanying them to any subsequent court hearings.

Eventually, though, the time will come when the FLO deployment will come to an end. Known as an Exit Strategy, the FLO will have been preparing the family for this final visit, after which, as the investigation has ended, there will be no further contact. Some families may become very attached to what they see as ‘their FLO’ but, whatever the case, it is important that the family are allowed to move forward and the FLO will be deployed to another family who have lost a loved one in tragic circumstances.

Ever day, dozens of Family Liaison Officers are being deployed around England and Wales as part of investigations into unlawful killings, suspicious deaths and child abuse, to name but a few.

The officers are proud to perform the role, often without any additional remuneration, and are proud of the difference their professional behaviour can make to a family at such a dark hour. But above all a Family Liaison Officer is proud to be an investigator seeking the truth of what happened.

About Mick:

Mick Jennings has featured on this blog before and is a trained Family Liaison Officer in both Crime and Roads Policing. As well as teaching new to role FLOs in his own force, Mick has trained officers from across the country. In 2008 he assisted the National Policing Improvement Agency in devising the National FLO Development Programme and has spoken at several conferences in relation to Family Liaison. To follow the life of a traffic cops trainer, or to just ask a question, he can be found @PCJenningsWMP.

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!”.


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.


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