Labour announce Joy Garner as their candidate for Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Staffordshire Police CrestJust coming in, Joy Garner has been announced as the Labour candidate for the role of Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner in the elections in November.

Joy  was up against former police authority chairman Michael Poulter in the vote and currently sites on Staffordshire Police Authority & Staffordshire Joint Police and Crime Panel. Continue reading

Why a political elected Police Commissioner is a dangerous idea

Next November there will be the election for local Police Commissioners in Staffordshire and Stoke – as it will be everywhere else in the country. It is likely that all the main political parties will be entering candidates. Already there seems evidence that the party HQs are controlling the business about who becomes the candidate. In North Wales, for instance, the local Labour Party is accused of trying to impose a short list of three without internal party debate. The other political parties will want to control the process. Continue reading

Police Commissioners and the Thick Red Fog

Neill Harvey-Smith hopes the new Police and Crime Commissioner will leave policing to the Thin Blue Line and tackle the Thick Red Fog of fear and powerlessness.

A woman found notes left on her car, telling her she shouldn’t park at a particular spot at the side of the road. She checked with the police and they confirmed she could legally park there. So she continued – and her car was vandalised.

I read this story on the front page of a local newspaper last week. My first reaction was sympathy – for the frustration, the cost, the injustice that the woman did nothing wrong and was victimised. My second was surprise – why is this in a newspaper? Isn’t this just what happens? Continue reading

Operation Impact

Staffordshire Police today launched Operation Impact, the force wide approach to tackle serious acquisitive crime and bring those criminals associated to justice.

Staffordshire Police has already re-focused its efforts in tackling serious acquisitive crime, in the first half of this year (April to Sept) offences have fallen by 367, a fall of 8% with overall crime falling by nearly 10% across the force.

Six days of action will follow across Staffordshire and the City, starting on Monday 31 October through until Saturday 5 November.

I’m looking forward to some really good results as we work proactively across the County and Stoke-on-Trent to target criminals, detect and reduce crime and make our communities feel safe.

We will also be working with partners, colleagues from education, social services and road crime teams to deal with a variety of offences and issues such as anti-social behaviour and truancy to non-insured vehicles.

Whilst acquisitive crime rates are falling across Staffordshire and the City, we are not complacent, and it remains a priority for ourselves and our partners to tackle the issue by bringing offenders to justice.

During the week long operation there will be regular updates publicising the week’s activity through the force website, media and social media to allow members of the public to access updates of the action.

Open Mike Night

Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Mike Cunningham will be answering questions live on-line tonight.

Follow the event in the window below.

Old Bill’s Almanack 2011

My “Baker’s dozen predictions for 2011.

I thought that I would stick my neck out and predict 13 events to occur in the area and looking a little further out national and international events for the New Year. As far as the last prediction as far as first contact with aliens during 2011 Paddy Power are offering 100-1. And if it does come to pass I will be having a pint of Vulcan beer in the “Final Frontier” pub next January 1st.

1. A comfortable majority will vote against the Sainsbury road proposals in Leek on a small turn out in the January referendum.

2. The Conservative led administration at SMDC will lose power in the May District Council elections.

3. The Foxlowe Community Arts venue plans will begin to come into fruition in 2011.

4. Unemployment will increase markedly in Leek during the year.

5. Fear of crime will increase following a major incident in Leek during the summer.

6. A financial scandal will shake confidence in the governance of the area in March.

7. Major civil unrest including riots in major cities in the UK will increase as unemployment rises towards 3 million by the autumn.

8. A leading Liberal Democrat member of the coalition will leave the Government and defect to the Labour Party in the autumn.

9. Pakistan will be subject to a military coup.

10. An environmental catastrophe will occur in China.

11. A major earthquake will hit California in June.

12. There will be a major terrorism event in a European City

13. Contact with an extra terrestrial civilisation will occur in September

Police ANPR Operation

Sitting in a Vaxhall Vectra at the side of the A53 in Etruria on a cold wet Thursday doesn’t sound like the most glamourous of ways to spend a couple of hours, but if the car happens to be a top of the range police car fitted with over £5000 of Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment it does become a slightly more interesting proposition.

There were 4 highly visible police cars taking part in the operation around Hanley on Thursday, each one checking the number plates of 1000s of cars each hour. No matter if they are driving, parked up monitoring the traffic or have already pulled someone over, the ANPR kit checks the registration plate of each car it sees in either of its two cameras against a database of over 2 million cars which are flagged for attention.

As each car comes in to view the camera captures an image and feeds it in to the ANPR computer fitted to the car and searches the databases for Tax, Insurance, MOT as well as information from the Police National Computer which checks to see if the vehicle or its owner are wanted in relation to accidents or crime. Details of stolen vehicles are also added to the system as they are reported. All these checks are done almost instantly and the information for each vehicle is flashed up on a dashboard mounted monitor.

4 years ago it was estimated that 10% of vehicles on the road in the UK were uninsured, today in Staffordshire that is down to 2.5%. The reduction in uninsured vehicles is because of the proactive approach we take and the ability to seize uninsured vehicles at the roadside.

If you drive an uninsured vehicle and are stopped, you will receive a £200 fixed penalty at the roadside & 6 points on your licence. We will then seize your vehicle, which will cost you a further £150 in recovery costs. The recovery operator will then charge you around £20 per day for storing your vehicle until you have insured it and collected it. So you could be looking at up to £600 plus the cost of your insurance, which will almost undoubtedly also go up in price and will be more expensive than if you had insured your vehicle in the first place.

The operation around Hanley resulted in 11 negative breath tests, 4 cars seized for not having insurance, 7 people reported for summons and 5 fixed penalty notices for various driving offences.
Today we used our Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment police cars to target people illegally using the road around the city centre. We know that criminals involved in committing crime often commit motoring offences. Also vehicles that aren’t insured are more likely to be involved in a collision.

The ANPR system focusses on vehicles but is not solely for the detection of vehicle crime, if you are wanted by the police in relation to any crime, your vehicle details can be entered on the the ANPR and officer anywhere in the country will be able to see that your vehicle should be stopped and you questioned or arrested.
Adem Kilincarslan who was jailed last week for a rape which took place 15 years ago was caught by ANPR, Kilincarslan had been involved in an accident at Weston Coyney and failed to stop, his vehicle details were entered on to the Police National Computer and the ANPR system. He was stopped and questioned by PC?? from the Police Crime Unit who arrested him after a search of his vehicle found 2 knives under the drivers seat. A DNA Sample was taken after his arrest and this was subsequently matched to a sample taken as part of the investigation in to the rape 15 years ago.

the ANPR gives us information on vehicles as they are scanned by our system but we don’t rely on it solely, still use our instincts to stop cars. When we look at a car that passes all the ANPR checks we can usually tell if there is something that we need to investigate

As well as the ongoing ANPR operations around the city, Staffordshire Police are also taking part in the national annual Drink Driving campaign, on Wednesday officers from the Tunstall Incident Management Team targeted drivers in the Chell Heath Road, Smallthorne and Fegg Hayes areas between 6.30 pm and 10.15 pm.

A total of 211 vehicles were stopped with 9 drivers, aged between 23 and 64 years old, were breathalysed. All provided negative tests.

One vehicle was seized for not being insured and a number of drivers were given information on drink driving.

The late Robert Freeman

I used to know the father of Robert Freeman the man whose murder was reported in the Sentinel. Two men were found guilty of his death ; a third was found guilty of manslaughter. Freeman was stabbed to death in his flat in Bentilee. All three men responsible received heavy prison sentences. This terrible case is compounded by the killing of Robert Freeman’s sister Julie, she was murdered, by a grim coincidence exactly 4 years to the day before her brother. Both deaths were drug related.

I last saw David Freeman, Robert and Julie’s father nearly 40 years ago. We were both pupils at Carmountside High School on the Abbey Hulton estate in Stoke from 1966-71. We were also members of a group of lads ” The Birchfield Mob” that included David and his brother Robert, to whom his nephew the murdered man bore a strong resemblance, the Reeves brother’s, Eric Robinson, “Danny” Kaye, myself and others whose names whose names now elude me.

We used to be activity that might have led to an ASBO now although in reality in did not stretch further than trespassing, apple scrumping, annoying adults and kicking a football around an oval in Eaveswood Road. Typical laddish things. David and I were in the same class and I tended to hang around with him and the others. David was very good with his hands in metalwork and woodwork. He was industrious a good sportsman and from memory thoughtful and quite considered. He could stick up for himself.

The Freeman family were like many others on the Abbey Hulton estate. Hard working, companionable, family centred. This was the Abbey Hulton that I knew in the years before DC- Drugs came.

I can probably date when hard drugs made its first appearance on the streets of Abbey Hulton. I was working on the Abbey as an Education Welfare Officer in late 1981. The first heroin -related death was of a young man named Harvey who was found dead in a shed. He probably died of hypothermia as temperatures that winter were frequently below zero.

I think heroin appearing on the streets and the massive growth of unemployment during 1980-1 is no coincidence. You destroy a set pattern of how people are expected to lead their lives on a council estate like Abbey Hulton or Chell Heath or Bentilee or anywhere else and something came to occupy that vacuum. We have been playing the price ever since.

The irony is that areas like Abbey Hulton were quite socially conservative areas and my peers at High School were very disdainful of the drug culture in the early 70s. I bought a copy of a Stones album into the 5th year common room once and some made dismissive comments about Mick Jagger’s cannabis habits.

All that began to change scarcely a decade later and drugs have wrecked havoc destroying lives and undermining communities ever since.

I witnessed the desolation that that involvement in drugs can cause on Wednesday 6th September 2000.

I remember the date very well. I was working in Tameside for the mental health organisation Mind and in the late morning a youth called at the office to say that there was something wrong with his friend who lived opposite the offices in Ashton

Another worker and I went over the road and entered a very run down flat. On the stairs there was rubble and in a first floor room we found his friend slumped on a settee.

The TV was on and a can of beer on a small table beside him. The man was dead, very grey and purple in the face. A small syringe was sticking in the back of his right hand.

On the walls of the decaying room were an England Football scarf, a poster of the film “Trainspotting” and pictures of the dead man whose name was Terry McGuire and a small child, his daughter.

McGuire was in his late 30s. Evidently McGuire who had been out of Strangeways Prison a few months. He had died from a toxic batch of heroin that had killed many users in the North West that autumn.

It seems that the dealers mix the heroin with all sorts of rubbish including brick dust.

Currently we have a situation where it is the dealer who chooses price, purity, cutting agents as well as business location and operating hours. And these dealers certainly are not asking minors for ID, nor are they encouraging their customers to moderate or abstain from drug use.

Sooner or later national politician will have to grasp the nettle of decriminalisation and legalising drugs. I’m of the opinion like former Labour minister Bob Ainsworth drug addiction is a public health issue rather than a criminal one. Mr Ainsworth deserves credit for starting that debate. Because unless we realise that we need a new strategy to tackle drugs fundamentally decent families like the Freeman’s will continually be burying their children

Operation Nemesis Continues

Police in Stoke-on-Trent have raided five addresses this morning as part of the force’s ongoing Operation Nemesis campaign.

The operation, led by Inspector Mark Hardern, commander of Tunstall Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU), was the result of information received from concerned members of the public about drug misuse in their community.

Warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act were executed at five addresses by a team of officers including response and neighbourhood officers, Special Constables and dog handlers from the force’s Tactical Support Unit.

Officers raided addresses in King William Street, Tunstall; Finch Place in Brindley Ford; Sherwin Road in Stanfield and Bishop Road and Warren Road in Chell Heath.

One man, aged 31, was arrested at the address in King William Street on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis.

These properties were targeted by officers following concerns raised by local residents of suspicious activities at the addresses. Together with our partners we will continue to target, and take action against, those people who are involved in drugs activity, and help to improve life for all members of the communities we serve.

Operation Nemesis is a recognised, force-wide campaign which continues to disrupt the activities of drug dealers in our county. Our message is clear – drug misuse will not be tolerated in Stoke-on-Trent.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public for letting us know their concerns – and encourage others to come forward and do the same. We will endeavour to act on all information received.

Anyone with information about the supply of drugs in their community is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Four People Charged With Murder Of Andreas Fantousi

Detectives from the Staffordshire Police Major Investigation Department, after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, charged four people with the murder of Andreas Fantousi last night.

30 year old Andreas Fantousi, who lived in Bond Street, Tunstall sustained fatal injuries during an incident which occurred in Bond Street at around 10.35 on Monday 22 November.

He was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire where he later died.

Sophie Manning, aged 19, Michael Gordon, aged 21, Ricky Gregory, aged 22 and Sheree Smith, aged 18, all from Tunstall will all appear before North Staffordshire Magistrates tomorrow charged with the murder of Andreas Fantousi.

The family of Mr Fantousi have been informed and continue to be supported by family liaison officers. Local neighbourhood police will continue to conduct highly visible patrols in the area to support the community affected by Mondays tragic incident.