Posts Tagged 'arrest'

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.

 

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.

 

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:

Melody calling…

When Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, he probably thought it was a neat bit of kit that could be used by folk to call distant relatives with news that they’d brought a new ox, or got a bicycle with a massive front wheel or maybe grown a new moustache.

What he might not have figured was that come 2014, we’d not only be using our telephones to spread the news about ox purchases but also, unfortunately, to con vulnerable people.

The way they work is this – there’ll be a call from someone official, maybe claiming to be a bank employee or a police officer, telling their victim that their bank card has been cloned.

The fraudsters may encourage their victim to phone the police or their bank’s fraud department but will block their phone line meaning when they redial, they unwittingly end up speaking to the same fraudsters again.

Thinking they’re now speaking to someone they can trust, the victim is encouraged to give their personal details and are told that a courier will attend their address to pick up their bank card as ‘evidence’.

Someone claiming to have been sent from the bank or police then turns up and takes the card, after which they make withdrawals now in possession of both the card and the PIN.

It’s a horrible little con and particularly cruel as the victims tend to be older and are being exploited by malicious criminals not caring about the damage they cause.

In reality, neither us police or bank staff would EVER request the disclosure of banking details over the phone and nor do we EVER send couriers round to people’s houses to collect bank cards.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these types of calls, you should end the call immediately and then phone the police straight away, preferably using a different phone if you can.

It’s a con and as ever, if you are suspicious that something isn’t right then hang up and talk to us by dialing 101.

You can find out more about Courier Fraud here and I’d encourage people to spread the word to older relatives to make them aware of the issue so that they know what to do if they are targeted.

Overall, telephones are great for ordering coronary disease-inducing takeaways or telling your friends about your new handlebar moustache and top hat combination.

They’re less great when being used by fraudsters so please alert people to the Courier Fraud scam and help hang up the line on the criminals.

It’s a good call – Alexander Graham Bell would approve!

And just like the movies, we play out our last scene…

Not a common offence but against the law all the same, recording films in the cinema can end people up in court.

Because it’s 2014 and pretty much now the future, nobody is content with experiencing life through the the medium of their boring old eyeballs.

That’s what people have been doing since we crawled out of the sea back in the day, and as this video shows, it’s not the way things are done any more.

The kidz (we spell thingz with a ‘z’ in 2014) much prefer to ‘dual screen’, experiencing things second hand through the relay of their phone camera rather than actually watching what is going on in front of them.

Whilst this may be annoying to musicians performing to an audience of glowing screens held aloft, usually the worst that is likely to happen from paying more attention to your phone than what is going on around you is an unexpected encounter with a lamp post.

An exception though, and one that the Investigation Team dealt with today, is when people sit in the cinema and having ignored the warnings about not using recording devices, decide to do just that and end up getting arrested for trying to bootleg films.

Now it’s not a particularly common thing we deal with but something that cinema staff are increasingly on the lookout for with the knowledge that culprits can be arrested and sent to court for even trying it.

The law we depend on comes from the Fraud Act 2006 (S. 6 if you’re interested) and also, if material is then distributed, some exciting offences under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Whilst I’d like to be able to ‘patrol’ cinemas all day watching films, munching popcorn and keeping my eye out for people trying a spot of ‘camcording’, it’s not something we can really do so we’re dependent on not only cinema staff, but also members of the public being vigilant.

Bootleggers sometimes use cameras disguised as other objects (a tub of popcorn, as an example) and can stitch together images from one performance with audio from another (providing it’s the same film!) so if you see someone with a microphone, it’s a safe bet they’re up to no good.

We’re always keen to know when folk are up to no good so please bare in mind that if you happen to see someone in the cinema recording the film with more than just their eyeballs and their memory, it is a criminal offence and you should let the cinema staff know!

Trust Vs. Mistrust

As a police officer, on an average shift I tend to wear a range of different bits of kit to help assisting me in achieving my daily goal of punching crime on the nose.

Trousers are a given. I have a radio nattering in my ear, a can of CS spray that hasn’t been used once in four years, a torch, a USB stick for downloading CCTV footage, police-issue ‘bracelets’ and a range of other bits and pieces designed to make the job easier.

All in all and including the stab vest that I wear to prevent an anti-social skewering of my organs, the kit weighs about as much as a very small child, a large cat or some other object of equivalent weight to that of my kit.

Now it may seem strange that considering the less than pleasant experience of wearing all of the above on a hot day, I’d be keen to have another gizmo to carry but there is something that I’m keen to be issued that I don’t yet carry.

To quote the Gadget Show, the ‘tech’ I’m interested in is a body worn camera, a subject that I’ve visited before after the story last year about someone wearing an unfashionable pair of Google Glasses witnessing an assault.

Their issue to officers has been in the news again recently in light of the Mark Duggan inquest with the Met suggesting that they’d be worn by their firearms units to help boost transparency.

This can only be a good thing and similar steps have been taken by other forces with Hampshire Constabulary now using them as standard issue and trials of badge type devices being ran in Birmingham and as I understand it, to be extended to other areas of the Midlands too.

I think the feeling amongst many officers is that they’d be supportive of their use as the evidence that they gather is mutually beneficial to both the officers and the public.

For officers, they’d help cut down allegations of misconduct and incivility as interactions would be documented and there’d be no disputing who did what and who said what following incidents.

For the public, they help gather strong, valuable evidence that can be presented to the courts and the benefit of this would likely be fewer not guilty pleas and time saved for both police and the courts accordingly.

Now their introduction wouldn’t be cheap – the bill in Hampshire alone was over quarter of a million pounds – but as an investment considering the potential for future savings and not to mention the public reassurance associated with the transparency that they’d provide, I’m argue that this is worth the cost.

Us officers are proud of the job we do, we want to do that job to the highest quality we can and contrary to what some people might think, the handful of untrustworthy examples brought to light in recent news stories do not represent the other 99% of us.

I’d like to see officers wearing cameras as standard as I know that by doing so, they’d prove what I’ve said above is correct.

P.S. BBC-style disclaimer – Above video used as an example of how the cameras are used only, other brands of camera are available and I’ve no intention of endorsing this camera over any other that is available now, will be available in the future or that could have been brought a hundred years ago when photography was more exciting with hoods and explosive powder.  

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

If you’d call me now, baby, I’d come a running…

Metal theft – give us a call and help us scrap it!

Just a quick one this to say how much difference it can make when you good people (the general public) take the time to pick up the phone and let us people (police types) know when something just ain’t right.

I’ve spent today dealing with a prisoner arrested for metal theft.

It’s a big problem in the Midlands, metal being nicked, and we’re keen to tackle the problem as we know nobody likes their roof leaking when the flashing has been taken, or their train being delayed because some silly sausage has taken the cabling.

My prisoner became a prisoner because a vigilant member of the public had noticed him up on a factory roof acting in a suspicious manner, ducking down when cars went by.

Thinking ‘Holy smokes, something’s awry at the old foundry!’, our goodly member of the public dialled 9 on his phone. Then 9. Then finally 9 once more. 999. My number.

The operator took the details, agreed with him that something wasn’t right and dispatched officers immediately.

As officers happened to be patrolling just around the corner, they arrived literally about two minutes after the call had been made and bumped into a dodgy chap who just happened to be covered in what appeared to be lead. Oh dear, oh dear.

He’s arrested, he’s charged with metal theft shortly afterwards and as I don’t much like letting prisoners go, I ensured that he’s been kept in our dingy cells until court on Monday morning.

Without that initial call, the above might not have happened and the same dodgy chap may well be out and about now causing misery for someone else.

If something doesn’t seem right to you, the best thing you can do is call us either on 999 or on 101 in a non-emergency – you never know how valuable your call could be.

P.S. Apologies that the flow of bloggles has eased off a little recently, it’s been a busy period but will try kick-starting things again after Santa has been!

Tommy, can you hear me?

I’ve written about the Proceeds of Crime Act before (oh yes I have, see here) and as it enables us to strip the bad guys of their ill-gotten white tigers, it’s definitely one of my top five Acts.

The above video illustrates why the powers afforded to us by ‘POCA’ can be so pleasing to use as they let us confiscate large amounts of cash on the spot and apply to the courts to strip criminal assets too.

Rather than being a gangster ducking and diving amongst foggy London Town’s docklands back in the 50s as his name suggests, Tommy Scragg was actually a conman living in leafy Solihull who was convicted of a multi-million pound tax fraud last year.

Officers looking into the fraud noticed Scragg was living way beyond his means and so have been able to get the court’s permission to sell off his stuff to help raise money for local community projects.

If you like the idea of criminals rightly losing all of their assets to the auctioneer’s hammer then it’s worth remembering that many successful seizures take place in the first place because members of the public have let us know something isn’t right about the finances of someone in their area.

Should you live next to someone with no identifiable source of income to explain the Fabergé egg collection you can see in their window then please give us a call, you never know how helpful your information might be!

You can call us on 101 or alternatively, give your information anonymously via Crimestoppers and let us know your suspicions.


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