Its been a busy week for us here in the Dudley Control Room with all the ‘normal’ things coming in along with a few more notable events. Whats ‘normal’ though? Was it the Burglary arrests, the Robbery arrests, the shoplifting arrests? Or was it the Hoax calls, the disputes with neighbours, the “I’m lost and drunk, will you get me home?” Or was it the hour of peace and quite? Perhaps it was the Mental Health patient helped into treatment, the missing persons found or the Domestic Abuse offenders arrested and put before the courts? Or was it just the peace and quite that is Dudley?
Continuing on from last weeks garden theme, we took a call the other day from a local resident reporting the theft of some fish from his pond. While we always remain open-minded about incidents we were a little bit sceptical whether this was a criminal offence, not the theft (theft of fish is an offence) but more a case of ‘who dunit?’
This man had raised the fish from young over a number of years and was clearly devastated about the loss. He had taken all the garden security advice literally, including barbed wire along the fence by the canal; the Garden was impregnable but someone had got in and stolen all his prized fish! However, he had an immaculately cared for garden but there was not a footprint in sight, nothing disturbed so how could ‘they’ have stolen the fish. It was with some sadness that we had to point out that nobody had been in the garden and that he really ought to put a net over his pond if he didnâ€™t want a Heron to take any more of them. There is a lot of wildlife out there across Dudley (the genuine sort!), much more so than many people realise, from Badgers to Foxes and Hawks to Herons and all are very active during the night. The Heron may seem an odd and ungainly bird at the best of times but is a very voracious overnight feeder.
I posted before about some of the issues we are faced with around the theft of metal. It continues to be an issue facing all of us although there are some good initiatives underway to tackle the ‘market’ side of things. One of the latest will see Scrap Dealers taking the fingerprints of some of the persons trying to sell scrap to them. We also run frequent operations targeting the offenders and yards.
With the continuing high resale value of scrap metal however there are still offenders out there who will try. Some of these came a bit unstuck earlier this week when we received a report of people breaking into a house. We got officers there very quickly and surrounded the area. This in itself can be a bit tricky because with the network of paths, alleyways and canals around Dudley it can take up a lot of staff to do this. Sometimes because of this network we have to place officers quite some distance away on a tow-path for example. There is no better feeling though when youâ€™ve studied the map, looked at possible escape routes and maybe half an hour after the event the offenders are caught trying to flee along one of the routes you identified.
Anyway this time the offenders were seen to run off over garden fences but some of our finest ‘trackers’ were off after them over the fences as well. In the winter sometimes we are able to follow footprints in the snow but on this occasion all we had to do was follow a trail of water splashes and the officers quickly caught up with and arrested some very wet offenders. One of the problems with ripping out a boiler without turning off the water is that you get very wet! So it was off to custody and a change into one of our very fetching white suits while their clothes dried.
One of the constants within the Control Room is that you never know what the next minute will bring. Sometimes what initially seems very worrying and a serious risk turns out to be very minor while at other times it works in reverse with initially minor incidents/calls suddenly become much more serious. We had one of these the other day when we received a report of a minor collision. But when officers and ambulance got there it became apparent that the casualty was very seriously ill. This then lead on to a full road closure, initially for the safety of the ambulance crew and police officers working at the scene and then to allow for a full investigation to be done. It also led to some very confusing Twitter messages from me – ‘Road is Closed’, ‘Road is Open’, ‘Road is Closed’!
You may hear on Traffic News “road closed for accident investigation”, well that is what this was all about. After serious collisions (we don’t use the term ‘accident‘ anymore!) we treat the area exactly the same as a Crime Scene. The area is closed off and a full Forensic investigation takes place. It used to be a pen and paper, some chalk and a measuring tape but it is all very high-tech now with digital and laser equipment for measurements calculations and photographs including from Police Helicopter and a lot of witness interviewing. We try not to keep the road closed for long but it is essential to close it to ensure the best possible investigation is undertaken. One of the reasons for keeping the road closed is to ensure we capture all of the evidence available. Once the road is reopened then all potential evidence is ruined.
Back to the beginning, so what is Normal then? I guess there really is no such thing as normal, every day is different!
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