Posts Tagged 'Operation Serve and Protect'

I kept on running into the south lands, that’s where they found me, my head in my hands…

Where are you, John? We'd like a little chat...

Having just had a quick peek at the FBI’s ‘Ten Most Wanted‘ list, I notice that they’ve got the catchy headline ‘be part of the solution’.

As we’ve just published our own version of the Most Wanted list, I’m writing to encourage you to be part of the solution yourself and help us catch some of the West Midlands’ most sought after criminals.

Drawing on the success of Operation View during which we encouraged – and are still encouraging – you to take a look at CCTV captured during the August Riots, we now have a dedicated section of our website on which we’re publishing some rather unpleasant mugshots of persons who we’re hoping you’ll help us locate.

Doing so is easy enough – you just need to take a note of the offender’s reference number and then either give us a call on 101 or alternatively, approach Crimestoppers anonymously with your tip off.

The people we’ve added to the gallery are wanted for some of the worst offences it’s possible to commit – there are suspected murderers, robbers, burglars and more. They’ve all either been convicted or are named as responsible for a range of serious offences and what’s more, whilst their not residing in one of our cells are more likely than not out causing harm in your area.

Because this is the case we need your help to locate and arrest these villains as soon as possible. You might recognise them from the pub, or through a friend of a friend or maybe you’ve seen them hanging around on your estate – whatever your connection and however strong, it’s important that you get in touch to help us prevent further offences.

As you’ll notice from the gallery, there are already suspects who have big red ‘arrested’ stamps across their silhouettes – this will be because members of the public have got in touch and we’d love to see a few more stamps appearing on the other people in the gallery – it’ll be owing to your help that this will happen.

I will follow you into the dark…

A sophisticated system of satellites means even distant corners of the planet, like Aldridge, are covered by GPS.

The other week a very interesting job came in over the radio. There’d been a report of a potential robbery that had just happened in the town centre during which someone had their phone stolen. As we do for any robbery all response units converged on the area and began searching for the offenders.

What was remarkable was that as we approached the town centre with our sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, the control room began to broadcast updates on the location of the phone. At first I thought they might be watching the offenders on CCTV but then it became apparent what was actually happening – the victim had installed on his phone a tracking application and so was able to relay the phone’s position to the 999 operator*.

This meant that rather than having a large search area that expanded exponentially with each minute that went past, we could focus on where the phone was likely to be and so greatly increase the chances of both recovering it and arresting the offenders.

Whilst in this case the phone lost signal just before officers converged on its location, the usefulness of the tracker showed what a benefit such applications can be to helping defeat the bad guys.

This applies not only in catching them immediately after an incident, but also to recovering property at a later point. Pinpointing your device’s location, for example, may be enough for us to be able to apply for a search warrant and go bashing in doors with our big red key.

If you own a phone made by a popular type of fruit I’d recommend installing the Find My iPhone app which allows you to both locate, message and even remotely wipe a stolen device. Even without the app installed, you can still log into iCloud to display your phone’s location remotely.

Other similar services are available for BlackBerry, Android and Windows phones allowing users to instantly locate their phones and often are free to use.

Alongside installing and learning how to use the location services on offer, as I’ve written about before the first thing you should do when you come into possession of any new toy – be it a twig, a fancy phone or a nice watch – is to register it for free on Immobilise. Record serial numbers, take photos and then upload it to the site so that we can identify and return property when it’s recovered.

New technology provides us with new ways to help fight crime and can often help in unexpected ways. Not too long ago a man in Sussex was able to provide officers with a picture of a potential suspect after photos taken on his stolen iPad were automatically sent to him following the theft.

At the same time, prevention is better than cure and so whilst we’re assisted by GPS satellites whizzing overhead and other similarly high-tech stuff, it’s always best keep your possessions out of sight and not let yourself be a victim in the first place.

* Actually in this example the chain of communication was even more complicated – as the victim obviously didn’t have a phone himself, he had to contact his family via a telephone box who accessed the location of his stolen mobile remotely from their computer. As they lived in another county they spoke to their local police who in turn sent the information to our control room who in turn sent it to us. It was West Midlands Police meets 24!

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.

She left a week to roam, your protector’s coming home…

At the start of April I’d written a blog post all about a mysterious new operation called ‘Serve and Protect’.

Serve and Protect was – and still is – all about proactively targeting known offenders across the West Midlands, ensuring that their chances to commit further crimes are reduced and preventing problems before they are able to escalate out of control.

As an ongoing operation about to enter its second stage, how has Serve and Protect been working in practice and where is it likely to head in the future?

At the start of April officers across the West Midlands were briefed about the aims of the operation and how they were to help realise its ambition of driving down crime. Response shifts such as mine were issued with lists of known criminals to whom we were assigned to target – to conduct bail checks on, collect intelligence about and generally annoy.

Working alongside other departments, we have all been driving towards the same aim. Traffic units have been asked to trace vehicles connected with offences, firearms units have been zipping around executing search warrants and detectives from CID have been coming down hard on those responsible for burglaries. Mobile patrols have been stepped up in hotspot areas and senior officers have been paying close attention to the statistics collected to ensure that the right units are in the right places.

Reflecting the hard work that has been put in across the board, great results have been rolling in. Firearms have been taken off the streets, numerous cannabis factories pulled apart and many an ugly criminal thrown behind bars.

Over £15,000 has been recovered from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act and what’s more, this is only the start of Serve and Protect.

Now well established as an effective way to crush criminal ambitions, we’re now looking at adjusting the sights of Serve and Protect to focus on robberies and similar offences.

CID officers and offender managers will be at the core of this drive with new tactics adopted by response teams like my own so that offenders are caught within minutes of an incident occurring.

You can keep up to date with Serve and Protect’s progress by keeping an eye out for the operation’s #serveprotectwmp hashtag on Twitter and also by taking the occasional peek at the Serve and Protect blog.

More than just following the operation though, you can actively get involved by contacting us with information on suspicious activity in your local area. All information is treated with the strictest of confidence and if you’d rather not contact us directly, you can also help us out anonymously via Crimestoppers.

A tip off from yourself will be appreciated by all the officers working as part of Serve and Protect but even more so by the person who doesn’t end up a victim as a result of your help.

You’re gonna have to serve somebody…

If you’re ‘down with da kids’ like me and are following myself or other West Midlands Police officers through our many Twitter feeds, you may have noticed a few mentions to a mysterious operation known only as ‘Serve and Protect’. The operation’s hash tag, #serveprotectwmp, has been cropping up with increasing frequency and lots of officers have been talking about their contribution to the force-wide operation.

Wait a darn minute though, what actually is ‘Protect and Serve’? Well, hopefully with the help of the above message from our Chief Constable Chris Sims and the following paragraph from yours truly, you should be brought sufficiently up to speed so that when you next see #serveprotectwmp populating your Twitter feed you’ll understand what it means and how it’ll affect you.

In the simplest terms, Protect and Serve will see us focusing on the most hardened, nastiest criminals across the force area and ensuring that their opportunities for causing trouble are much reduced. We know who’s likely to be offending, we know where they live, how they operate and who they associate with. Taking this information into account we are then able to target them, gathering more intelligence on them and keeping the spotlight on them so that they simply have no opportunity to commit their next crime. By keeping up such a sharp focus we are then able to intervene in advance if it looks likely that they’re going to stray from the straight and narrow and so prevent the commission of future offences.

I guess you could compare the operation’s principle to that of one of those retrievable leashes you see people using to walk their dogs, ferrets and guinea pigs etc. The leash means that the pet is always in sight, under control and if it gets a little too excited can be easily recalled.

You can keep up to date on the progress of Serve and Protect by keeping an eye for the operation’s hash tags on Twitter. In addition, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Forsyth has started a regularly updated blog dedicated to the operation on which you can read about the progress being made across the force.

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