Posts Tagged 'police constable'

There goes my gun…

Firearms on display

We’re holding a firearms amnesty between July 19th and August 2nd 2014 during which people can turn over weapons without fear of being prosecuted for gun possession.

In Britain, one of the tightest areas of the law concerns the control of firearms.

Without a licence, you can barely so much as look at a gun without getting into trouble. Even if you don’t break any of the laws concerning discharging them, merely having possession of a component from a gun is likely to attract a hefty sentence from the people in funny wigs.

With a licence, there are still plenty of restrictions in place about what sort of weapons you can own, where you can take them and what you’re allowed to do with them.

Assuming you’ve been granted a licence, you still can’t your shotgun to the pub with you after a long day blasting holes in grouse – you’re expected to rigidly follow the guidelines and risk having weapons confiscated if you don’t.

Considering the misery that both real and imitation firearms can cause when they fall into the wrong hands, it’s clear why these strict controls are sensible.

This month the law has been made tighter still with the maximum penalty for illegal gun possession having leapt from ten years to life in prison.

Another change is that anyone given a prison sentence, including suspended sentences, of three months or more is now banned from possessing antique firearms which could previously be held as a “curiosity or ornament” with a relevant certificate.

To help get as many firearms off the streets as we can, we’re taking part in an amnesty between July 19th and August 2nd 2014 during which people can turn over weapons without fear of being prosecuted for gun possession.

This includes guns, imitation firearms, antiques and ammunition, all of which can be turned over to any police station front office in the West Midlands.

To do so, it’s recommended that you give us a call beforehand on 101 to check opening hours and obtain advice on how best to transport a weapon or alternatively, if you’re not able to reach a station, to make arrangements for the weapon or ammunition to be collected.

Running alongside the knife surrender bins that we’ve recently unveiled in Whitmore Reans and Edgbaston, the amnesty is all part of our aim to drive down violent crime.

Writing as an officer who works on the Violent Crime Team, the last thing any of us want to do is investigate a stabbing or shooting that could have been avoided had the weapon been surrendered so please, spread the word the use this period up to August 2nd to help us make your streets safer.

P.S. Of the firearms cases I’ve dealt with recently, all of them have involved imitation firearms which I’d advise it’s a good idea to dispose of too. There’s no good reason to have them and as this person found, walking in public with an imitation handgun very nearly ended up in him being shot by our firearms officers.

Losing my favourite game…

Zeus

The ‘Gameover Zeus’ malware is threatening computers. Unlike with real Zeus though, you can protect yourself by following some simple internet safety steps.

I imagine there’s a fair chance you’re sitting reading this thinking ‘As this isn’t ancient Greece, there’s little-to-no chance that Zeus will descend from Mount Olympus and attack me today’.

This is usually quite a safe assumption.

Sitting in Bloxwich, or Aldridge, or maybe even Dudley, there’s so little chance that an all-powerful mythological deity is going to suddenly appear and wreak havoc that it’s really not worth worrying about.

Problem is, you might not be as safe from godly thunderbolts as you think.

As the National Crime Agency is warning, we may have around two weeks to protect ourselves from the ‘Gameover Zeus‘ malware that is currently slinking around the internet, creeping its way into people’s computers and causing all sorts of problems.

Often spread by people downloading attachments on apparently legitimate emails, the software then hunts for financial information and may encrypt the user’s own files demanding a ransom for their unlocking.

The good news is that by following some sensible crime prevention tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of being bothered by Zeus and his big beard over the coming weeks -

  • Never open email attachments unless you are absolutely, positively, definitely sure of their source
  • Install some decent anti-virus software, making sure it’s running and up to date
  • You know all those ‘updates are available’ dialogue boxes that you’ve been ignoring? Time to actually click on them and install the latest patches
  • Back up your files – see more here on my previous blog about this

The FBI suspect a Russian national called Evgeniy Bogachev of being behind the malware attacks (if you spot him in Walsall, let me know) but even if they do arrest him after a helicopter assault on his fortified moon base, it’ll still be best practice to follow the above pointers.

By being sensible with your internet safety, there’s no reason for an attack from Zeus to be as unlikely as you thought it was in the first place – be vigilant, check your anti-virus software and help keep the Midlands Zeus-free.

She’s a waterfall…

1

What do the burglary team do all day? Sometimes we fight foes on top of waterfalls. We do other stuff too though…

What do the burglary team at Local CID do all day?

The obvious answer would be that we look for clues with our magnifying glasses, try on deerstalkers and place pins on large wall maps.

To be fair, this is pretty accurate.

Without magnifying glasses, we’d miss the vital piece in the jigsaw that cracks the case.

No deerstalkers and nobody would know we’re from CID, no randomly-placed map pins and our office wouldn’t look professional.

Whilst it is pretty accurate, the role does involve more than just fighting nemesis at the top of the Reichenbach Falls*.

For the burglary team, one of the first things we do in the morning is to check overnight crime to see what’s been happening on our beats.

Any house burglaries that we find, we look into to see what areas they’re in, how they’ve been committed etc and then will give the victim a call for an update.

We’ll chase up any forensic results, check out the intelligence using our clever computers and follow up any oustanding enquiries with witnesses and CCTV.

One of the most important things we’ll then do is to liaise with a magpie.

This isn’t the result of something funny being slipped into our pipes, rather the ‘magie’ officer is a specialist who links in with the pawn shops and helps track down stolen property.

Aside snooping around the second hand market, the magpie officer also makes enquiries with the National Mobile Property Register – the ‘PNC of property’ – to check that outstanding items are correctly listed.

If there’s sufficient evidence, we speak to the Local Priority Team and Offender Managers who can lend assistance with arrests, we then conduct property searches to help locate evidence before interview suspects at the station.

If all goes to plan following an arrest then hopefully we’re able to charge and remand (keep in the cells) our suspect and dispatch him or her to court the following day.

Whilst this is a flavour of the sort of work the burglary team does, it’s important to point out that by following some simple crime prevention advice, many of the burglaries that come to us could be avoided.

You’re likely to pick up some handy tips on our Safer Homes website on how to keep your home secure, equally important though is to register all of your goods on the property register.

Doing so is quick, easy and will cost you no pennies whatsoever.

Simply log onto www.immobilise.com and start listing your valuables – doing so makes it much, much easier for us to identify them so please make it the next website you visit! 

* Realistically this only happens once or twice a month.

On your own…

Minesweeper!

Time to update your operating system? Support for Windows 3.1 ended years ago, XP has now gone the same way.

Anticipating the mood swings, messy bedrooms and questionable hygiene to come, this week Microsoft did what most parents can’t and cut loose support for their thirteen year old ‘child’, Windows XP, before the troublesome teenage years really kicked in.

This means that they’ll no longer be releasing security updates and bug fixes for the still popular operating system and users will be largely on their own.

Using a computer without any sort of security support is a bit like lion-taming without a whip and a chair – it’s generally not a good idea and whilst you stand less chance of being eaten by a lion, you could be gobbled up by the digital equivalent.

As such, the large numbers of people still using XP, maybe a quarter of all users, are now realistically left with three options -

  1. Upgrading their operating systems
  2. Paying Microsoft several million pounds for extended support on an individual basis as some governments have done
  3. Continuing on XP and hoping for the best

The reason you don’t want to go for option three is that the the internet bad guys are now free to exploit any vulnerabilities in the operating system for their own malicious ends, safe in the knowledge that nobody at Microsoft is countering them.

Option two is largely ruled out by the whole multi-million pound thing which really only leaves option one, abandoning XP in favour of a new program.

This could mean a newer version of Windows, 7 or 8 comes to mind which may require a hardware upgrade or new computer to run, joining the hipsters at Apple or alternatively, checking out one of the FREE open-source Linux operating systems on offer such as Ubuntu.

Whilst XP will still work, the lack of security support means any computer running it is now much more vulnerable to malware, viruses and other bugs that could see your files compromised and transactions across the interweb possibly open to interception.

Sure, updating your operating system isn’t particularly convenient but less convenient still is having your computer’s front door left wide open to the internet by a hormone plagued teenage operating system so please, act now to secure your PC from the criminals!

P.S. There are a couple of useful guides here and here on upgrading/securing your PC in light of the XP move, you’re also advised to change all website passwords after a recent bug found in the encryption that many sites use.

 

How low are you willing to go?

Stolen in a recent charity shop burglary, can you help with enquiries?

Stolen in a recent charity shop burglary, can you help with enquiries?

The below press release was issued by our Corporate Communications department recently following a burglary at the St Giles Hospice Shop in Walsall Town Centre, I’m republishing it here too in case anyone missed it.

I’m in charge of the case and with the victim being a cancer charity, I’m obviously keen to do all I can to find out who was responsible.

Please feel free to forward on this appeal and as per the below, if you have any information that may help then please let us know or pass it on anonymously via Crimestoppers.

Walsall Town Centre Charity Shop Targeted

Walsall Police are appealing for information following a burglary at a charity shop in the town centre.

Thieves smashed their way into the St Giles Hospice Shop on the High Street at some point between Saturday 22 March at 3:40pm and Monday 24 March at 8:20am.

A grey Navman iCN320 sat-nav was stolen from a display cabinet before the thieves made good their escape.

PC Stanley, from the Walsall Investigation Team, said: “This was a particularly cruel break in with the victim being a charity shop run by volunteers.

“The St Giles Shop raises money for people suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses, we are keen to catch and prosecute the persons responsible as soon as possible.

“We urge people in the local area to think if they have been offered such an item for sale in recent and if they may have information to pass to the investigation team.”

Anyone with information is urged to call PC Stanley on 101 or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

He’s going to take me to that little room…

Wiley

As Wiley will tell you, previous arrests might see you turned away from the USA or Canada if you’re not prepared (Image from Clozone)

Unlike three hundred years ago when to get to the USA or Canada would require a six month sea voyage during which you’d probably have to eat half the crew, things are much easier these days.

You buy a ticket, hop on a plane and you’re there by the time you’ve watched Meet The Fockers twice over.

The exception to things being this simple, as rapper Wiley has recently found out on a failed trip to Toronto, is if you’ve ever been arrested or have previous convictions.

This is because any arrest, even one not resulting in any charges, means you may no longer be eligible for a visa waiver and so will have to apply for a visa from an embassy.

Canada and the USA deal with previous arrests and convictions slightly differently but if you’ve any doubts over whether you may be considered ‘inadmissible’, you need to check with the immigration authorities before you go.

Not doing so may mean that as soon as you arrive, you’ll be turned straight back round and returned at your own expense.

To find out more about immigration to the US, you have to speak to a wizard (!) who will guide you through a set of simple questions to determine if you’ll need a visa or not.

The Canadian Government doesn’t appear to have a wizard (boo) but they do have a website that tells you a little more about their immigration criteria.

Previous arrests or convictions aren’t an automatic bar to travel and whilst the disruption to travel isn’t quite as inconvenient as being eaten during a crossing of the Atlantic, it’s much better to check visa requirements prior to booking rather than being turned away at customs when you land.

P.S. You can find out more about visa issues specific to the USA on the Ask The Police website

Bend me, shape me…

Republished via BBC News

Police to abandon traditional helmets after research shows they alter officers’ head shapes

"It's stuck!"

The Custodian helmet is to be replaced.

Police forces across England & Wales are to replace the traditional Custodian helmet after researchers published data showing that over time, the helmets caused the shapes of their wearers’ heads to change.

Academics at the College of Policing demonstrated that over the course of several years, some officers’ heads were up to five inches longer than they had been when they had been measured as new recruits.

The Custodian, first adopted by the London Metropolitan Police in 1863, will be replaced by flat caps.

Long running research

The study into head shapes took place over twenty years with researchers gathering data from over 10,000 beat officers working in forces around England & Wales.

The data, published in the International Journal of Police Science, demonstrated a trend for officers’ heads to gradually assume the same shape as their helmets and to become noticeably more cone-shaped.

Changes in air pressure to blame

Report publisher Justin Lofter has said that the effect can be explained by “small changes in air pressure” within the helmet.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, he said: “The air pressure inside the helmet is slightly lower than outside causing a small suction effect on the top of the head which after several years, begins to pull the head into the shape of the helmet”

Tradition important

But Police Federation leader Dixon Green has argued that the ‘cone head’ effect has long been known about and that many officers are proud that their heads get reshaped by the traditional headgear.

“It’s a sign of experience”, he said.

Police forces are set to phase out the helmets by the end of the year.

 

Chev brakes are snarling as you stumble across the road…

Tyres_2

Sundays are a good opportunity to check your car over including tread depth (Image from ProjectManhattan)

Whilst Sundays are traditionally reserved for hangovers, eating roast dinners and ploughing through papers swollen with supplements, they are also a working day for us police.

This means that when our shifts dictate we’re on duty on the seventh day, rather than sleep in and then get dragged around the park by the dog, we all get up super early and head to the station to solve crimes.

As good as Sundays are for solving crimes (or at least, they’re no worse than any other day), we find they’re also a good day for checking over our vehicles to make sure the wheels aren’t about to fall off.

A periodic check up is always a good idea to keep your motor-vehicle safe and Sunday represents an excellent day to use as a sensible period.

Here’s what you’ll want to check for in a list that’ll eat up no more than five minutes of your valuable Sunday -

  • Grip – Have the tyres got enough tread? 1.6 mm is the legal minimum, peek at the wear indicators to quickly see how deep your tread is
  • Tyre pressure – Is the tyre pressure right? The correct pressure should be on the wall of the tyre, check it for free at the garage
  • Illumination – Are all of your lights in working order?
  • Visibility – Are your windscreen wipers showing any sign of wear? Have you got screen wash?
  • Seatbelts – Are they in good order ready to prevent you doing an involuntary Superman impression through the window during a collision?

The above are all road safety-orientated checks that take moments to complete and help keep you and other road users safe.

Less essential but still important checks are as follows -

  • Apparel – Are your manly leather driving gloves frayed? If so, replace them!
  • Snacking – Do you have a ready supply of non-brand specific circular mints in the glove box?
  • Tunes – Are any of your ‘Classic Driving Power Ballads’ CDs scratched?

And if you happen to be driving a police car, you’ll also want to check -

  • Are you carrying a scene log and tape?
  • Have you got enough exhibit bags and tags?
  • Does the police Airwave radio work?

Whilst I’m happy to accept that a lot of the points off the latter two lists are probably not all that important, the same can’t be said about those on the first list.

Poorly maintained vehicles, worn bulbs and a lack of visibility are factors that regularly crop up as contributing causes to accidents so it really is a good idea to follow our lead and lend a little of your Sunday to making sure you and your family are safe when out on the roads.

 

You’re the devil in disguise…

There’s been a slight rise in ‘distraction’ burglaries in Streetly and Aldridge – beware!

To write this blog, I’ve had to battle with several competing distractions. They were in no particular order as follows -

  • Looking out window to see if there were any interesting shaped clouds to be spotted
  • Watching some videos of geeks completing ‘speed runs’ of old video games (‘Zelda: Ocarina of Time’ to be specific)
  • Browsing the Krispy Kreme doughnuts website

All in all, none of these distraction actually helped me write the blog. You could say they hindered me.

Anyhoo, the reason that I’m now writing this blog rather than searching YouTube for a ‘perfect’ video combining cats AND bacon is that I need to bring to your attention a slight rise in ‘distraction’ type of burglaries that we’ve experienced recently in the Streetly and Aldridge areas of Walsall.

The exact method varies but often it’ll be some heartless miscreant knocking on an elderly person’s door claiming to be offering roofing insulation, gardening work or maybe even stating that they’re from the police.

Having gained entry, they’ll then use the opportunity to take what they can before making a swift exit with some of their victim’s property.

As I’ve written about lately, a recent variant of this type of crime is the ‘Courier Fraud’ scam whereby the victim is phoned by someone who obtains their bank details and then sends round a courier to pick up their bank card claiming it’s required as evidence.

These crimes are particularly cruel and so I’d ask that everyone remain vigilant for suspicious persons in their neighbourhoods and keep an eye on elderly neighbours in case they receive unwanted visitors.

Please spread the word to those folk not yet wired into the internet and remember, if you do notice something or someone that happens to set off you ‘there’s something about this that isn’t right’ alarm, please contact us straight away.

You can phone us on 101 or in an emergency, dial 999.

Gather as much detail as you can safely do – descriptions of people, vehicles, registration plates etc – and let us know so that we can swoop in and investigate before another local person falls victim to the scammers.

Fight crime by PUNCHING IT ON THE NOSE at the following websites:

Why don’t you be the writer?

wiki

We’re hosting a Wikipedia ‘editathon’ tomorrow at the West Midlands Police Museum, fancy getting involved?

Do you have an interest in the history of the police, a little Wikipedia know how and a few hours free tomorrow afternoon?

If so, you may just be interested to know that between 10:00 and 16:00 tomorrow we’re throwing open the doors of the West Midlands Police Museum in Sparkhill so that editors wanting to write about policing history can examine the museum’s artefacts close up.

If you’re interested in joining local Wikipedia Wizard Andy Mabbett at the event then please head over to the event’s page and register your interest, there are only a few places left so you’ll need to be quick!

You can follow the event on Twitter by using the hashtag #WikiWMP if you can’t make it yourself to see what’s happening during the day.

I’ll be particularly interested to see some improvements to our own main Wikipedia page as after editing a fair amount of it myself last year using my nerd skills, it is now in need of a bit of an overhaul to bring it up to date and maybe even a little closer to featured article status.

I’d remind anyone who thinks they could contribute to any of our Wikipedia pages but that can’t make it tomorrow, please to consider that anyone can edit Wikipedia and if you think you can help please feel free to get involved.


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PC Stanley’s Twitter Feed

  • Back in this morning for the start of another shift set, the custody blocks are brimming with prisoners but none for us that I can see. 10 hours ago
  • Had to transcribe one of my suspect interviews tonight - it was like listening to a radio show starring myself. A boring one at that! 3 days ago
  • Off to Colmore Gate in Brum to meet with @cpsuk reference some actions for a court case, taking the 'extra toasty' train to get there. 4 days ago
  • In early today for a catch up session, have some work to do preparing for an upcoming court case and phone calls to make too. 4 days ago
  • Completely missed the #CommonwealthGames opening ceremony due to a very busy shift - how many medals did we win? 4 days ago

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