Heresy or carrying a torch for Wightman

Doubtless the next week will be full of commemorative events regarding the Titanic sinking. However for those interested in free speech and free expression then April 11th– the day that I write- has significance. For today is the 400th anniversary of the last person to be burnt at the stake on the charge of heresy and he was a Staffordshire man. Edward Wightman went to the stake on the 11th April 1612 at Lichfield. He was a businessman and local Baptist minister in Burton. He also had business interests in Uttoxeter and Cheadle. Continue reading

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

Two Jailed After Operation Nemesis Raids

Carl Moreton and Peter Rogers both from Winghay Place in Chell are waking up behind bars this morning after being convicted of serious drug offences at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.

Moreton & Rogers were both arrested during high profile raids that took place early on the morning of Wednesday 19 May. Officers from the City’s police proactive unit supported by police dogs and local officers forced their way into a number of addresses in the Chell area of Stoke-on-Trent.

Within a few minutes of the coordinated raids six people were in police custody. Detailed searches of the properties soon resulted in the seizure of a significant quantity of illegal drugs. Forensic tests were carried out on the drugs which had a total street value of £138,420 and included heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and an ecstasy substitute.

Operation Nemesis is all about bringing criminals like this to justice. We are very pleased that these men face a significant time behind bars. The communities of Stoke-on-Trent have continued to show their support for Operation Nemesis by calling Crimestoppers with information on drugs and crime affecting their communities. Crimestoppers passes that anonymous information to our officers who are then able to mount operations like the one that lead to these convictions.

Carl Moreton was sentenced to 4-years and Peter Rogers was sentenced to 6 years 8 months

Police Open Day A Great Success

Almost 1000 people went to Longton Police Station open day on Saturday to learn more about policing in Staffordshire.

The event was opened by Lord Mayor Denver Tolley, ACC Jane Sawyers & Rob Flello MP who cut a line of police tape to let the visitors in.

Hundreds of people watched police dog Jerry with handler Steve Billingtonsearch a car for hidden drugs. Jerry has been playing his role in tacklingdrugs for five years and daily attends drugs raids across the north of theCounty as part of Operation Nemesis.

Armed Response Officers were also on had to explain about their vital role in protecting our community. Visitors had the rare opportunity to handle the weapons used by police and to learn how officers deal with life threatening incidents

Today has been about showing the community the sorts of work thats done behind the scenes to keep them safe. Visitors spoke about how they enjoyed learning more about policing in Stoke-on-Trent and many were able to find out about the actual levels of crime across the city.

Visitors had a chance to tour was the cell block, have their “Ëœmugshots’ and fingerprints taken for a souvenir to take away as well as try on various items ofpolice uniform and pose for the camera dressed for duty.

A scenes of crime officer was also on hand to demonstrate how forensic evidence is recovered.

Many of the visitors took time to speak to officers about their role in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour issues in the community.

Operation Nemesis Three Years On

The award-winning Operation Nemesis the police operation to crackdown on drug dealers in Staffordshire is celebrating its third anniversary.

Operation Nemesis was launched in Stoke-on-Trent on 13 September 2007 following an undercover police operation which had lasted over a year in the city. Around 400 police officers attended the city’s Kings Hall at 5am that day to be briefed on the first of three major arrest operations over a three-month period.

Since its launch Operation Nemesis has netted hundreds of suspected drug dealers who have been arrested and taken off the streets of Staffordshire. Many of these offenders have subsequently been charged and sent to prison for drugs offences.

Since that day Operation Nemesis became part of daily business for Staffordshire Police and, following the success of the campaign in Stoke-on-Trent, it has subsequently been rolled out across the county.

£2.7m has been recovered through asset recovery linked to the Operation Nemesis campaign in the past 3 years.

Operation Nemesis remains Staffordshire Police’s commitment to tackling major drug dealers and bringing them to justice.

Drug misuse will not be tolerated in Staffordshire and we will act on all information received regarding suspected drug dealing in the communities we serve.

We are determined to carry on working with our partner agencies to rid communities of drug dealing and the negative effect it has on neighbourhoods and families.

We continue to work closely with our colleagues in local authorities and those who work for Staffordshire’s drug support and treatment services. We place a huge emphasis on helping addicts kick their habit. We also offer a great deal of support to their family and friends to help them achieve this.

I must take this opportunity to thank members of the public for their continued help and support with Operation Nemesis. The campaign’s ongoing success is testament to the confidence people have in providing us with information about suspected drugs activity in their community. The help we receive from the public is vital and I would encourage people to continue to let us know their concerns.

Residents tell us they want robust action taken against dealers, and the criminal activity and anti-social behaviour they attract, and we will continue to take positive action.

Operation Nemesis carries a simple message to drug offenders: we are not going away and we will bring you to justice.

The number of people who have been arrested in connection with drugs offences (which includes supply of, possession, possession with intent to supply, production and trafficking) since the launch of Operation Nemesis:

  • Sep 07 ““ March 08 ““ 1,100
  • April 08 ““ March 09 -1, 483
  • April 09 ““ March 10 ““ 1, 619

2,705 drug offences (Class A and Class B) have been recorded by Staffordshire Police since the launch of Operation Nemesis in September 2007:

  • Sep 07 ““ March 08 ““ 1,054
  • April 08 ““ March 09 ““ 870
  • April 09 ““ March 10 ““ 781

Operation Nemises Update: Court Appearance For Three

Following a series of morning raids across the north of Stoke-on-Trent, Operation Nemises continues to yield results.

Two men and one woman from the Chell area of the city will today appear in court on serious drugs related charges.

Staffordshire Police had raided 5 properties as part of the ongoing Operation Nemesis.

The 5 properties, all in close proximity to each other around Monks Neil Park, were raided simultaneously by around 30 undercover officers who used force to gain entry. Search warrants were issued for the raids after reports from members of the public and investigations by the police.

No drugs were found at either of the properties on Sutton Place and no arrests were made.

As the searches on Sutton Place were being carried out other officers had raided 2 properties on Winghay Place and one on Ward Place.

A large quantity of what is believed to be class A drugs, were found at one of the properties on Winghay Place, hidden in a car. The car was taken away for forensic examination.

A male was arrested at the property in Ward Place and Police firearms officers were called to check and make safe a number of firearms which were found at the property.

Six Arrested During Morning Raids For Operation Nemesis

Staffordshire Police raided 5 properties in the Chell Heath Area of the city this morning as part of the ongoing Operation Nemesis.

The 5 properties, all in close proximity to each other around Monks Neil Park, were raided simultaneously by around 30 undercover officers who used force to gain entry. Search warrants were issued for the raids after reports from members of the public and investigations by the police. Continue reading

Things not discussed in the election

I have watched the three leader debates and what has struck me is the things that are not discussed by the leaders and in the election generally. I have compiled a list of ten things that either have not been discussed or passed over fleetingly.

They are

1 Afghanistan/ Pakistan

2 Prison numbers.

3 The growing impact of China

4 Nuclear material falling into the hands of terriorists

5 The Future of Higher Education.

6 The War on Drugs.

7 Climate Change

8 Securing Energy Needs.

9 Ageing Population of UK/ Pensions

10 Corporate Power and impact on local communities.

When Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister he was asked what was the most difficult thing about being PM. “Events dear boy, events” he responded. Who for example could have thought that only months after the 2001 General Election the terrible events of 9/11 would have occured that have had such a profound impact upon foreign and domestic politics since.

One of the issues that I have included on the list , for example, is the question of missing fissionable material. The concern has been knocking around for a time. I recall going to the Hay Festival in 2002 to hear Robert McNamara Defense Secretary to President Kennedy and Johnson showing the greatest concern on the subject. It still is an issue and last month President Obama adressed a international conference on the subject.

Similarly the war on drugs which I have also written about on Pits and Pots. Given the massive amount of resources that are eaten up by this effort there has been no debate about whether this massive investment is making any difference.

The Prison quection is yet another one. In the time of economic restraint can we afford a prison building programme.

And finally the growing influence of China which seems to be coming out of recession. I cannot recall any debate on for example China forging deals with African States and effectively buying up natural resources.

I am sure that most and probably all these unspoken questions will have an impact upon local life. Who in 1989 could have foreseen that the breaching of the Berlin Wall would see 20 years later influxes of Eastern Europeans into the UK.

Operation Nemesis One Arrested

Police arrested a woman at an address in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, in connection with drugs offences.

The 51-year-old was arrested at a property on Newfield Street last night (17 March), after officers executed a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

A small cannabis factory was found in a bedroom at the location. The factory made up of approximately 12 plants was found during the search.

The woman was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the cultivation of cannabis and taken to the force’s Northern Area Custody Facility for questioning. She has been released on bail, pending further inquiries, until May.

Staffordshire Police is continuing to target those involved in the supply of drugs under its Operation Nemesis campaign, and anyone with concerns about drug misuse in their community is urged to get in touch.

The following are some of the tell tale signs of properties being used for growing cannabis.
They include:

    Windows permanently covered from the inside
    Visits to the premises at unusual times of the day or night
    People visiting just to “maintain” the house
    Daily or weekly calls at the house by people who stay for a short time
    Black bin bags or laundry bags being taken away
    Compost bags or gardening equipment left outside, usually at the rear of the premises
    Vents protruding through the roof or a rear window
    Strange, pungent smells from the premises
    Unusual noises from equipment such as cooling fans

Anyone with information about drug use in their community is urged to call police on 0300 123 4455 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Requiem for a City

I watched an excellent as well as sobering documentary last night on I Player. The documentary, which was originally on BBC2 last weekend, chronicled the decline of a great American city Detroit. Detroit at one point after the Second World War was the 4th largest city in the States. It’s now the 11th although its population continues to fall. For a period of 60 years Detroit reigned supreme as the car making capital of the world a position. Three companies Ford, Chrysler and General Motors dominated the City and its surrounding towns such as Flint were heavily reliant on Motown’s economy. However by the 60s Detroit pre-eminence was challenged by Eastern and European carmakers especially as the fuel crisis of the 70s required smaller more economic cars rather than the huge gas-guzzlers produced by the Americans.

Social factors also played a part in the death of the city. The collapse of the economy lead to an increase in crime, much of it drugs related. Recent decades have been characterised by middle class flight to the suburbs, a declining tax base, a weakening of local government whose response has been to close public services. The programme included a tour of the many closed schools and libraries in the City and a massive increase in derelict land.

The credit crunch, the collapse of the banks and the global recession have all accelerated the decline.

Unemployment stands at around 30%.

Another issue has been race with parts of the city no go areas for whites and blacks as the decline of the city has lead to greater polarisation.

Does all this sound familiar? The programme on Detroit was subtitled Requiem for a City and as one of the residents interviewed remarked in reference to the Hurricane that devastated New Orleans was” a slow motion Katrina”. Certainly the documentary dwelt on the many empty factories and land which was rapidly returning to the prairie.

Is this a vision of what life is going to be for the post industrial city of the west? I think we kid ourselves to think that this could not happen in Stoke, but all the factors that were reported in Detroit are evident here. The reliance on a few industries, the flight of the professional classes, decline of the public sector, etc are all aspects that have occurred in Stoke and which the vast amounts of public investment over the last 30 years have failed to stop. In some cases the Americans are heads of the game with considerable investment in nano technology and bioengineering taking place in the Greater Detroit area.

The programme did end on signs of hope. The fastest growing movement in the States is the urban farm movement and many people were moving to the City to take part in this new urban experiment growing their own food or developing areas of the city in biomass crop growing. The programme ended by posing some interesting question for cities as they face the challenges of the 21st century at a time when the demands of climate change require we examine how we live.