Posts Tagged 'wolverhampton'

I see a darkness…

Via West Midlands Police Appeals for Help -

Police officer dies after being assaulted while off-duty

A POLICE officer has died in hospital after he was assaulted while he was on a night out off-duty in Wolverhampton.

The 33-year-old victim was walking past Divine Bar in Darlington Street at around 4.30am on Monday (Jan 28) when he became embroiled in a row with a black man and two white women who’d just left the club.

During a scuffle the victim was punched and left unconscious in the road with a serious head injury; he was taken to hospital and died last night (Thursday 7 February).

A post mortem will be carried out in due course to determine the exact cause of death.

West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Phil Asquith, said: “They got into a scuffle moments after leaving Divine Bar…I’d appeal for anyone who was in the club that night and may have seen them to contact police.

“Similarly I’m keen to hear from anyone who was driving along Darlington Street in the early hours of that morning, heading home after a night out or perhaps taxi drivers, as they may have witnessed it.

“At the time they may have written it off as a low-level disorder but it’s a very serious assault which has resulted in a man dying.”

An 18-year-old man and two women have been arrested by police and bailed until a date next month pending further enquiries.

Det Insp Asquith, added: “If anyone has any information that could assist the inquiry, who’s possibly heard someone since talking about the incident, I’d ask them to call us on the 101 number as their information could prove vital.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact West Midlands Police Force CID on the 101 number or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

I keep myself to myself in the crush of the crowd…

“We’ve had some word that there is some bad red rope licorice circulating in the crowd….”. How can you stay safe at gigs?

As you may have gathered from the repeated use of song lyrics for my blog titles, I’m a little bit into my music.

Yes, arranging one note after another in such a way that you get McCartney’s ‘Frog Chorus’ moves me in a way that little else does.

It’s not only music that floats PC Stanley’s police boat though. As you may have gathered from this here blog and supporting Twitter feed, I’m a computer nerd too and so as a result, I’m pretty big fan of the old social media.

Put these two interests together and what do you have? Well, I’ll tell you. You have #gigsafe.

If you’re cool enough to be following @brumpolice, the official Twitter account of the Birmingham Central & West Local Policing Unit, you may have noticed some of their #gigsafe tweets going out ahead of artists hitting the city’s happening music scene.

The quirky tweets, incredibly popular with followers and often retweeted by the featured bands themselves, tie in sound crime prevention advice with the band’s songs to help ensure gig goers emerge from the mosh pit with roughly the same amount of blood, phones and Converse trainers that they went in with.

I’m looking to join in with the #gigsafe fun over the next few months but thought it might be a good idea to summarise some of the key safety tips on this here blog to help you neon painted live music fans get the best of your nights out.

Starting from the top then and written from the perspective of a seasoned ‘gig attending guy’ (Muse, Carling Academy, May 23rd 2001 with Cooper Temple Clause supporting – who else was there to see Matt Bellamy recklessly throw his guitar into the crowd?), here are my top tips for staying #gigsafe -

  • Easy on the drink: Just because you can get ten pints for ten pounds at Blast Off doesn’t mean you should get ten pints for ten pounds. Take it easy on the old Jägerbombs and remember, not getting run over by a bus is much harder when your veins are 90% filled with Jack Daniels.
  • Don’t do drugs: Offered red rope licorice in the toilets? First of all you’ve know idea what you’re putting into your body and secondly, get caught and rather than seeing Alt-J, you’re likely to end up with The Police.
  • Keep you valuables hidden: Was the gig #awesome? Fine, but maybe wait until you’re safely in a taxi before tweeting it – thieves love it when people advertise what phones they’ve got when they stumble out the Academy with their ears ringing
  • Plan your route home: Make sure your plan for getting home is more constructive than “I’ll just crowd surf back to Perry Barr”. You won’t. Get a taxi booked, check the train timetable or find a friend called ‘Des’ and ensure that they don’t drink and can drive you home.
  • Stick to the well lit areas: We all know what happened to Bruce Wayne’s parents when they walked down a dark alleyway. Stick to the main roads and with the crowds.
  • Avoid dodgy taxis: If you are going to get a taxi, you’re always better off with one that is an actual licensed taxi rather than with some shady guy who’s got a Metro and an expired MOT. The taxi should be displaying a badge as should the driver, for more info see here.
  • Lost and stolen aren’t the same thing: Lost your phone whilst stage diving? There’s a big difference between ‘lost’ and ‘stolen’ so if you do find that you get home minus your mobile, think very carefully before reporting it as nicked simply to get a crime number. We have a habit of finding out the truth.
  • Be nice: Don’t do that thing where you pelt Daphne and Celeste with bottles at the 2000 Reading Festival.

So there you have it, a relatively constructive guide to staying #gigsafe.

For more tips, check out our Twitter feeds and if Swedish Simon & Garfunkel/Fleet Foxes conglomerate First Aid Kit are coming to Birmingham any time soon, let me know as I’m pretty keen on seeing them.

Stay safe, hipsters!

One time and one time only…

A year on from the August Riots the canteen at the station is a much more peaceful place – what perspective has the year put on the disorders though?

A year ago this week officers from Walsall, from Birmingham, London and across the country found themselves in the midst of some of the worst rioting seen in England for years.

The destruction seemed wholesale, the rioters shockingly ambitious and at the same time random in their choice of victims. Images of police lines stretched across a blazing skyline shot across the world, leaving in their wake tough questions about how the riots had come to be.

Writing now, a year on, it’s hard to believe that a year has passed since those three days in August.

Repairs to the stricken areas continue, buildings have been torn down and the empty gaps they’ve left stand as a stark reminder of what can happen when the perception spreads that law and order has broken down.

I can’t claim to have played a particularly important role in the riots myself. I wasn’t one of the officers charging past broken shops near the Bullring, nor was I stood watching the Carpetright shop engulfed by a firestorm in Haringey.

Instead I was one of the many officers working extended shifts to restore the impression that the law still stood, that those who had come to riot would face the consequences and that the public ought not be panicked by what they saw each night on the news.

Looking back, what stood out to me at the time and what still stands today is the impression that whilst the rioters seemed to enjoy a fleeting taste of the upper hand, the police and other emergency services reacted and adapted with a professionalism that was nothing short of inspiring.

Rest days were cancelled, officers found themselves in unfamiliar situations and faced people on the streets who appeared set upon harming them by any means possible.

Faced with such apparent hatred the officers I worked alongside didn’t buckle, didn’t hesitate – instead they volunteered to work on, shift after shift in unimaginable situations and without a word of complaint.

To me the riots were particularly disturbing owing to the suddenness with which they took hold.

Riots, I’d always thought, would be prefaced by a period of visible tension, by rising discontent leading to a tipping point at which tensions boiled over and barricades sprung up.

A great deal of work has been done investigating the cause of the riots, notably through the Guardian and LSE’s collaborative project Reading The Riots, with various reasons raised by the rioters themselves in attempts to explain why they had taken to the streets.

Frustration at the use of Stop & Search powers in some areas has been floated as one reason and as a contributor; an argument could be made that these frustrations represent the preface I’d have expected with shooting of Mark Duggan representing the tipping point.

Sensible use of stop powers allied with better communication with the affected communities seem to be the way forward to address perceptions of frustration, and indeed forces across the country have already done a great deal of work to bridge divides.

Other explanations have looked towards gangs, social media and simple opportunism, the latter of which I think seems the most convincing explanation for why people, sometimes even those with no criminal background, found their way to the trouble spots and began to loot.

A year’s hindsight has suggested to me that whatever the cause of the original riots in Tottenham, the disorders that followed were able to take place because the idea had taken hold that ‘everyone was at it’, that the opportunity had unexpectedly presented itself to loot with impunity and that this, for some, was an opportunity that could not be missed.

As for why the riots came to a close, officers being made available in large numbers through Mutual Aid, some 16,000 in London alone, now appears to have been the principle deterrent to those thinking of returning to the streets for another night of disorder.

Proposed cuts to police numbers in this respect need to keep this in view – financial circumstances make cuts necessary but not at the expense of our ability to raise large numbers should the need arise.

The tragic deaths of the three men on Dudley Road, Birmingham, similarly arrested the further development of the riots, accompanied as they were by the impassioned appeal for calm of Tariq Jahan, father of one of those lost.

The riots, already sinister in tone, had taken on a direction that even those originally enthusiastic about the looting seemed reluctant to follow.

A year seems like a long time but as I’ve said, looking back it’s hard to believe that twelve months now stand between today and those chaotic, hellish scenes.

The need to maintain a visible, believable presence, alongside an ability to rapidly respond to incidents before they are able to escalate, will likely be the key elements in preventing a repeat of history and I think are some of the most important considerations to take from the riots.

Whilst the riots thankfully reached their conclusion after a few long days, a conclusion is yet to be reached on their legacy, with this anniversary reminding us that time does not heal all wounds.

The IPCC, for example, is yet to report on Mark Duggan’s death and investigations are ongoing to identify outstanding rioters with Operation View still yielding results in the West Midlands.

We have the flexibility in our structure and the quality in our people to deal with situations such as those seen during last August.

The real measure of our response to the riots will come not on this anniversary but in ten, twenty or thirty years time – should those decades pass without a repeat of the 2011 riots then we’ll know the steps we took away from Tottenham were steps taken in the right direction.

Olympics update – apologies for the lack of blogs over the past few weeks, I’d been down in London helping Lord Coe out at the games. I’m looking at putting a blog together about the experience of living and working in the capital just as soon as the games themselves draw to a close – highlights include the torch relay, Team USA and Wimbledon so stay tuned!.

Hate is all you need…

Meet The BeatAndrew Bolland, New Business Manager, Stop Hate UK

When it comes to police work it’s important to recognise that much of our success can be attributed to the fact that we work closely with other agencies. The fire and ambulance services, social services and the council are obvious examples, although equally as important are the many independent charities that we work alongside each day.

I’m keen to use these ‘Meet The Beat’ interviews to not only introduce people from different roles in the police, but also to show the range of other groups that we engage with, in order to show that addressing crime is a group effort.

Stop Hate UK is one of the charities that help support our ambition to fight hate crimes by providing education on the matter and offering victims support when it comes to reporting hate crimes. In this interview I speak to Andy Bolland, New Business Manager for Stop Hate UK, about the service that they offer.

Andrew Bolland

Okay Andy, you’re the first person I’ve interviewed for a Meet The Beat interview who’s not ‘in the job’ so to speak – can you tell us a little about your background?

I have lived in West Yorkshire Yorkshire all my life and started work for Rolls Royce Plc as an apprentice engineer too many years ago to mention. This was in the days when use of inappropriate language was fairly typical and I look back now realising how inappropriate this “banter” was and how it must have caused real offence to the people who were subjected to such behaviour.

Since then I have worked for Victim Support, West Yorkshire Police and now Stop Hate UK. In all these rolls my main aim was providing support to victims and witnesses of crimes to ensure that their journey through the criminal justice system was as good as good as possible. It is hard to come forward when you are a victim of crime and I feel the least agencies can do is provide effective support to people who take this step.

So you work for Stop Hate UK – can you give us an overview of what your charity aims to do?

The charity’s aim is to raise awareness of Hate Crime, the impact on victims, families and communities and to encourage people to report incidents in order that they can access assistance and support. We provide a free and independent 24 hour Help Line that operates in a number of areas of the country to compliment other local reporting methods e.g. direct to police or via Hate Incident Reporting Centres. The service is available 24 hours per day in a range of accessible formats including Phone, Text, Text-Relay, Web-chat and online Reporting.

We additionally provide training and awareness sessions to a wide range of organisations to increase awareness of Hate Crime. This can be delivered to any organisation to provide understanding that will enable delegates to recognise such incidents and advise victims on there options regarding support and reporting.

What exactly is a hate crime then? Who can be a victim of hate crime?

A Hate Crime is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility based on Race, Religion, Disability, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Anybody can be a victim of a Hate Crime as everybody can be targeted relative to these Hate Crime strands. People can also be victimised due to their connections to other people or groups, for example a carer for somebody with a disability, may be a victim of a Disability Hate Crime if they are specifically targeted for this relationship.

It is important to realise that Hate Crime is about perception, so victims can feel they have been a victim of Hate Crime regardless of their own identity and personal characteristics.

How can people use your charity to make a report of a hate crime?

People can report incidents 24 hours a day via the methods mentioned earlier. When contacting the service, calls will be assisted by trained operators who deal specifically with Hate Crime. They will receive immediate advice and distance support at the time of reporting. Operators will also discuss options for sharing details of the incident with other agencies such as West Midlands Police and other independent organisations.

If the caller gives consent to share information, Stop Hate UK will pass details to specific contacts in partner agencies who will then be able to investigate the incident and provide ongoing local support. The service is confidential so if callers do not wish information to be shared with other agencies, no personal details will be passed to other agencies.

You have specific reporting services operating in Walsall and Wolverhampton – can you tell us a little more about these?

The Stop Hate Line is mentioned above is provided in a number of areas across the country including Walsall and Wolverhampton. This provides an additional service that compliments other local reporting methods, enabling local agencies to support victims and communities.

Sadly at this moment in time we are not commissioned to provide the service in other areas of the West Midlands, so people wishing to report incidents outside Walsall and Wolverhampton are recommended to report directly to the Police or via other local reporting services. If you would like to consider developing the service within other areas please call Stop Hate UK on 0113 293 5100

Do you think that hate crime is under-reported? If so, what might be the reasons for this?

Whilst it is impossible to state conclusively that Hate Crime is under reported, it is widely recognised that far more incidents occur, than are reported . This under reporting relates to all strands of Hate Crime so is not specific to one reason. Frequent reasons that are identified for under reporting include Lack of awareness of Hate Crime, Fear, Lack of confidence, Feeling isolated, Mistrust of statutory agencies, Victims who have become normalised to certain behaviours, compromising peoples privacy, cultural issues, communication difficulties and simply not knowing how or where to report.

The picture is not all bad, whilst under reporting exists over 52,000 incidents were reported to police in the last available statistics, a higher level of reporting than in many comparable counties…we need to do more though and through services such as Stop hate Line we aim to increase peoples options regarding reporting.

How can people help Stop Hate UK? Are you looking for volunteers?

People can help Stop Hate UK in many ways. First and foremost when you come across Hate Crime report it…this can be anything from Graffiti to witnessing assaults. If you can, encourage victims to report incidents and seek support….use the Help Line it is free and confidential and a first step to accessing support. If you are able to promote the service to others please do so, we have a range of free to download posters that can be displayed to raise awareness of our work.

Equally we encourage volunteering within the organisation, particularly for people prepared to give up some of their time to take calls and support others.

You can also become a member of Stop Hate UK to keep up to date with our work and show support for the aims of the organisation. Equally as a charity we always welcome donations of any size that allows us to develop our work. Have a look at our website www.stophateuk.org to find out more or join us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Do you also offer training for people about hate crime? Who do you work with?

We deliver training to a wide range of groups including within schools, statutory agencies, housing providers and community based groups. Whilst we normally have to charge for delivery of training sessions, please fee free to contact me at andrew@stophateuk.org to discuss your particular needs.

Autumn is come to my hometown…

As seen from the Chester Road, the Autumn sun rising on Tuesday morning. Photo taken by Brownhills Bob, please click above to see his excellent Brownhills Blog.

First of all, with us still hanging on to the last few hours of August I’m a little uncomfortable with heralding the coming of Autumn however it seems I’m one of the few who are of this opinion and so here we are, a quick blog looking back over the past few months and ahead to the future.

When I mention the ‘past few months’, I’m thinking of little else than the disorder we saw in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich. Sure, I could mention the occasional sunny day that represented the slim efforts of this year’s Summer but they were completely overshadowed by the events of those few days in August.

Nobody could have seen it coming and we as a force, along with forces up and down the country, had to rapidly adapt to the situation and take the steps necessary to quell the disorder and restore peace to the streets. Public support was crucial to our success and meant the world to the officers who were out in the riot vans, in the operation centres and performing a thousand other less visible but still crucial roles.

We’re currently in the process of reviewing our response to the disorders and are working our way towards compiling a report that will be presented to the Chief Constable highlighting both developmental issues and the many examples of good practice that came to light.

We’ve been particularly keen to look at the role played by social media – something new to the force in the context of such a major operation – and work out how we could better engage with the public through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.

The coming months will see the nights drawing in, temperatures dropping and the force facing a range of demands, some of which we know about and some we don’t. As Donald Rumsfeld would say, “Things we don’t know we don’t know”.

Some of the ‘known knowns’ include the major operation to police the coming Liberal Democrat Conference, keeping up the pressure on robberies through Serve & Protect and concentrating on the rise in burglaries that longer nights can sometimes foster.

Remembering back to the complications caused by last year’s severe Winter, we’ll be better prepared to maintain our service if the snow sets in again with resources managed more effectively and officers remembering their wooly hats and mittens.

As for the unknowns, the hardest part of policing has always been working out how to prepare for the major incident – the plane crash, murder, or disorder – of which we have no prior warning and that we only become aware of when a panicked 999 call is received by our control room. As we always have done and always will do, we’re constantly reflecting on our service and on the opportunities available to make improvements.

The last month has been interesting to say the least, the coming months will be exciting and no doubt challenging too. As one season slides away and another takes its place we’ll continue to do what we all joined to do – serving our communities and protecting them from harm.

Try to run, try to hide…

A Day In The LifeParading at Walsall Police Station, Tuesday May 3rd 2011, Tour of Duty – 15:00 to 00:00

This has been one of the shifts we get every now and then when every single person in our area seems to be on the phone reporting incidents to ourselves and we have cars dashing everywhere trying to prioritise the most important jobs and attend accordingly. I think the fact that I’d not even found the time to spare two seconds to send a single Tweet showed just how busy it was!

The shift started off as shifts usually do, we’ll be in early to catch up on emails and then sit down on parade for the daily briefing. We’re told what our call signs will be for the day (mine was WSM23), who we’re working with and if there’s anything in particular we need to pay attention to. This done, we then grab some car keys and hit the mean streets.

We’d been assigned as the ‘Action Car’ for the day which means we ask other officers if they have tasks we can help with and then see what we can do to get them sorted. Often these are things are part of ongoing enquiries – collecting CCTV discs, picking up quick statements etc – and mean that the other officers can dedicate themselves to answering calls from the public.

I had several statements I needed to collect myself as part of a prosecution file that I’ve been working on so spent the first few hours of the shift with my pen working as hard as I could make it, nearly burning a hole through my trusty clipboard. Each of the statements made it more likely that we’d be able to get a conviction at court so I didn’t mind spending the time ensuring that they were of a good quality.

Having completed this we could hear how busy it was over the radio and so let the control room know we were available. As soon as we had done so we were dispatched to a potential fight at a pub and so raced across to the location, only for other officers to arrive ahead of us and us to be redirected to help assist with a search for a suspect who had just taken flight in Willenhall.

Spinning the car round we dash over to the area and armed with a description, start to scour the side streets for the outstanding male as other units including the police dog help out too. We think he may have got away but as soon as we think this, we are directed by locals towards some gardens into which the male has fled.

I hop out the car, run down the alley and spot the male. He spots me, thinks “I don’t like the look of him” and runs off with me in pursuit. I catch up with him as he is trying to vault a wall and take hold of him, pulling him back and encouraging him to stay there. He doesn’t and so I give up chase again, eventually catching up with him and tackling him to the grass. A struggle ensues and unfortunately he gets free, only for me to catch him again and restrain him on the floor for a second time, this time long enough for another officer to join me and help handcuff him.

I’ve suffered a few cuts and bruises during the altercation so the male adds ‘assaulting a police officer with intention to resist arrest’ to his list of charges and is taken to Bloxwich Police Station. I follow and complete a statement describing what had happened for other officers to use in interview later in the shift.

We are then sent to attend a report of an assault that had taken place in Wolverhampton over the weekend. We take the necessary details and complete a statement describing what had happened and tell the person making the report that officers in Wolverhampton will investigate the matter from this point onwards and will be in contact shortly.

This done, we’re nearly at the end of the shift so we return to Walsall to get our paperwork signed up by a sergeant and I sit down to enjoy the fine cheese and chutney sandwich I’d prepared about ten hours previously. I had meant to eat it for my ‘tea’ but not had the chance, not a problem though – it tasted just as good at midnight as it would have done at any other time!


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