Last week was a bit of a difficult week at work for me and I wasnt even at work! After finishing Nights we go on to our Rest Days, a bit like everyone elses weekends, just in the middle of the week! So during these ‘Rest Days’ I was flicking through some Twitter posts and I picked up on one from the @wmpolice account featuring the Photo of the Day. A great idea, really interesting, but this day they posted a ‘historical’ photo from 60/70s. Not an old photo or anything else but one clearly described as ‘historical’ by my colleagues in the Press Office. Well, I stuck my head back under the covers and pretended that I didn’t know anything about the 1970s (or couldn’t remember the 60s but that was age). Then the following day @wmp_helicopter posted a photo of the first police helicopter in West Midlands Police. The sad and difficult point for me was that I actually remember the predecessor when we briefly used an airplane. Clearly I am now of ‘historical’ vintage! Particularly stuck in my memory for some reason was a day spent on the Hawksley Estate in Kings Norton, Birmingham, while the airplane flew around overhead. It was a very different world then. The plane was clearly doing something to help us on the ground but as a lowly PC nobody told me what it saw and directions from the observers onboard about where we needed to go were all a bit laboured. Nowadays it has changed so dramatically as all staff have direct communication to the helicopter and we in the Control Room can even see on the ‘Heli-telly’ what the crew can see, allowing us to be much more effective in managing incidents.
Over this past weekend we had the helicopter out to assist us across Dudley and Stourbridge a number of times, all very successful – either catching offenders or searching areas for missing people. occasionally we take calls in the Control Room from people complaining about the noise it makes while hovering overhead. The noise is very familiar to us but I do understand that it can very loud particularly at night, keeping people awake. The other evening unfortunately while putting the bins out at home I could hear that familiar sound off in the distance and see the navigation lights hovering over a neighbouring area. If we have the helicopter out there it is out there for a reason and will be as quick as possible. It allows us to very quickly search an area either where we are concerned about somebodies welfare or safety, or we are searching for an offender.
Strange Things over Halesowen
Continuing the aerial theme we had a call the other evening reporting a strange light in the sky over Halesowen. The type of call is not totally unusual, we get many many calls about all sorts of strange things (and not just from Halesowen!) some of which clearly are overactive imaginations, while others may have some degree of sense in them. Whatever the circumstances of this call there were no police issues in it. Calls to us about strange lights floating across the night sky nowadays tend to be Chinese Lanterns let off for some celebration/remembrance or other. This one though had the added ‘concern’ that they had seen it on previous nights. Whilst I always have an open mind I do tend to rule out UFOs very quickly but the power of Twitter quickly solved this mystery for us as several people pointed out to us that the International Space Station had passed over the area at this time and makes for a very impressive sight in the night sky.
Plumbing Skills for Police
If you have been following the Blog you will be aware that a while ago I made a bit of a rash promise to try to tie something from our previous week policing into the Illustration Friday weekly theme. You will also have noticed that this has been achieved to varying degrees of success both in terms of the illustrations and regularity. Given my now confirmed ‘historical vintage’ I tend not to cope particularly well with the ravages of working Nights so periods of inactivity on the drawing and Blog fronts tend to follow working nights!
This weeks Illustration Friday theme is ‘Fluid’ and while much of day-to-day policing could be described as ‘fluid’, ‘ever-changing’, ‘the situation is fluid’, etc. it was a particular incident again this week that sprang to mind. Due to the current high cost of metal we have found that theft of metals for scrap is a big issue for us and while we have a number of plans and Operations in place to target the offenders and dealers there still remain some who continue to offend. One of the offences we face is the theft of boilers and plumbing from vacant houses. This is not done with any finesse, the boiler is just ripped out leaving the water flowing through the pipes. Generally we will get the call from a neighbour telling us about the water pouring out of the house (or in worst cases coming through the ceiling). This isn’t too great a problem if we can find an owner or if we can find the stop cock but frequently officers are often left trying to be emergency plumbers, sometimes with finger plugging the hole. Once again this week we found ourselves in this position trying to find owner for a vacant property while preventing further damage to neighbouring houses.
That’s it for this week but if you want to comment on anything then please do use the comments section below or if you like what we are doing then, again, feel free to let others know, thanks.