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Armed police officers.

FIREARMS officers have been a familiar sight in recent weeks as armed cops were deployed on the streets to reassure the public following the terror attacks.

West Midlands Police’s own armed units worked alongside colleagues from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary on permanent postings at more than 20 strategic sites.

In Staffordshire the public would have also seen armed officers on high visibility patrols around the streets and at local attractions such as Drayton Manor Park and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Those high-visibility teams have been stepped down with the lowering of the UK’s terror threat − but the force’s firearms officers remain on mobile patrol and standby 24/7 to protect the public against the threat of gun or knife crime.

Similar Armed officers are also on permanent 24/7 patrol in Staffordshire, as well as surrounding Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire

Chief Inspector Danny Delaney from West Midlands Police’s Firearms Unit, said: “Rest assured we have Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) patrolling the West Midlands around the clock to keep people safe.

“They are not high-visibility units; they get about in unmarked police vehicles and it’s likely most people will have been passed by one our ARVs at some stage without realising there were armed police on board.

“These officers are trained to the highest standard and are on hand and equipped to swiftly respond to any emerging incidents should the need arise.”

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson made a vow to bolster the force’s firearms reserves − and in the last 12 months the number of armed front-line officers has increased by a third.

In fact, there are now more armed police employed by West Midlands Police than at any time in the past.

Firearms officers must pass a demanding 10-week course that not only tests physical and technical attributes but also temperament, mental toughness and extreme-pressure decision making.

Chief Insp Delaney, added: “It’s a tough physical and mental challenge because, unashamedly, we only want the most competent firearms officers on the streets of the West Midlands protecting the public. And I have to be 100 per cent confident in the ability of each and every one of them.

“Success in our eyes is to resolve a situation without having to reach for a weapon − but there will sometimes be occasions where this is necessary and absolutely the right thing to do to protect the public.”

Find out what it takes to become a West Midlands Police firearms officer with this series of short films following candidates through training on this link.

999 call on iphone

WEST MIDLANDS Police is asking people to use the 999 service responsibly during the current heightened security state and only dial it for real emergencies.

Last night the national security state was raised to critical, this means that not only does an attack remain highly likely but a further attack may be imminent.

As a result emergency resources will be stretched and members of the public are reminded to only dial 999 if there is a threat to life or a genuine crime in progress and police attendance is immediately required.

Examples of genuine emergencies include where there is a threat to life, where there is on-going violence or if offenders are still at or near to the scene or if there has been an injury road traffic collision.

Any suspicious activity should still immediately be reported to 999 or the via the National Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

Non-emergency calls and enquiries should be directed to the 101 non-emergency number. This should be used to report a crime or anti-social behaviour which does not need an emergency response. For example, it could be used to report a crime that has already happened, seek crime prevention advice or make police aware of local policing issues.

Every year West Midlands Police receives more than two million telephone calls, including nearly 700,000 emergency calls, many of which are not genuine emergencies.

Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner, Head of Force contact said: “We are asking the public to just think before calling the police at this critical time. At the moment our officers and staff are juggling a huge number of demands and we ask people to be patient and bear with us. Of course any suspicious behaviour or emergency should still be reported on 999 but we have limited resources and still get time wasting calls.

“Recent examples of misusing the 999 system include calls about a shop not offering a refund, a picnic taking place in a park and spilled paint.

“We are averaging between 4-5,000 calls a day in total and we need to assess each and every one so please think before dialling.”

Police cell block

A MAN has been arrested following a disturbance near a vigil in Birmingham city centre this evening (Wednesday 23 May 2017).

The 39-year-old Birmingham man – who is known to police and is thought to have a history of mental ill-health – was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

The event was being held in support of the victims of yesterday’s Manchester terror attack.

Superintendent Andy Parsons, responsible for policing in the west of Birmingham, said: “Officers spotted the man acting suspiciously and spoke to him. At this point they have arrested him.

“The man was carrying a bag, and as a precaution, Victoria Square where the vigil was being held was cleared for around 15 minutes.

“A small axe was recovered along with a large stick.

“We will be interviewing the man to understand his intentions after mental health experts have assessed his condition.

“I’d like to thank people for the calm and collected way in which they responded to the incident. The professionalism of our officers who responded to the incident is also commendable and indicative of British policing.”

The charity Mind is available around the clock to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. Visit their website for advice and support including information for loved ones: www.mind.org.uk

Fake UGG boots store

A MAN who sold fake Ugg boots from a Birmingham shopping centre − conning shoppers in the run up to Christmas − has been hit with a court fine after being convicted of trademark violations.

cott Sutton opened a unit in The Pavillions on Christmas Eve 2014 and lured customers in with branding identical to that used by the iconic Aussie bootmaker, plus an eye-catching 70 per cent discount offer.

He sold pairs at £50 each − all cash purchases as Sutton rejected card payments − during a four-day sales spree before officers acted on concerns raised by a city centre PCSO to move in and close the shop down.

Enquiries were made with Ugg ’s brand protection and legal advisors − who confirmed the store wasn’t legitimate − and officers traced several customers tricked into believing the boots were genuine.They included one 15-year-old girl who parted with her Christmas cash after being told by a sales assistant the boots were genuine but could be sold at knock-down prices as “they weren’t made at the real Ugg factory”.

Sutton, formerly of Newfield Road in Hagley, was behind the till on 27 December 2014 when police swooped and in interview claimed he hadn’t committed a criminal offence and that it was a matter for trading standards.

However, West Midlands Police investigators eventually secured three charges of unauthorised trademark use against the 49-year-old.

Sutton admitted the offences and at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday (May 2) was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £980 in costs; he faces being jailed for three months if he fails to pay the fine.

PC Min Patel, from Birmingham Police’s Investigations Team, said: “It was a brazen fraud: he rented a unit in one of Birmingham’s most prestigious shopping centres and placed Ugg signage in windows and above the door to add further credibility to the deception.

“The packaging was professional and Ugg labels had been stitched onto the boots…most customers were left convinced this was a reputable business.

“Some shoppers may have suspected the boots were fake but were happy to part with their money for the name and not the quality.

“However, many customers felt ripped off that they had spent £50 or £100 on fake goods − and many of the purchases were Christmas presents for friends and family.

“Shoppers should always be wary about offers that appear too good to be true, both when shopping in the high street or online. Many of Sutton’s victims were upset at being conned…I hope the action taken by West Midlands Police shows frauds of this type won’t be tolerated.”

Police seized £7,000 in cash from Sutton’s car while 100 pairs of Ugg boot fakes were recovered from the Pavillions store.

In interview, Sutton denied giving shoppers the suggestion the boots were genuine as that would “insult their intelligence”.

He refused to name the supplier and said he was “out to prove a point” to trading standards having previously had a greetings card shop closed down by them.

Staffordshire Police Insignia in Tamworth

A MAN has died following a collision on Belgrave Middleway just after 11.40pm last night (Sunday).

The man was struck by a dark coloured Ford Mondeo as it travelled along the west bound carriageway of the road. The car was being pursued from Short Heath Road in Erdington after the driver failed to stop for police.

The pursuit was started by response officers but was then continued by specialist traffic officers. It was abandoned when the car went through a red light shortly before the collision occurred.

Paramedics were called to assist but tragically nothing could be done to save the 45-year-old pedestrian and he died at the scene. Specialist officers are supporting his family.

The Mondeo fled the scene and police are still searching for the driver. He is being urged to give himself up.

Belgrave Middleway has been closed in both directions between Bristol Road and Haden Circus while emergency services and collision reconstruction experts establish the circumstances of the incident. Motorists are being asked to avoid the area until the road is re-opened later today.

The force’s Professional Standards Department has informed the IPCC as is normal procedure in a collision where a police vehicle is involved.

Anyone who witnessed what happened is asked to call the Collision Investigation Unit on 101.

Our thoughts are with all involved at this terrible time.

west midlands counter terrorism unit (CTU)

AFTER the horrendous incident in London yesterday, West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit have issues a statement to the public.

Police have also confirmed that arrests were made at an address in Birmingham late last night, and that this was connected to the Westminster incident.

This statement says:

Following the terrible incidents in London yesterday, our thoughts are with those who have been affected.

Overnight our colleagues from the Metropolitan Police have searched a number of addresses across the country and have made a number of arrests in connection with the incident, including addresses in Birmingham.

The arrests and searches were intelligence led and there was no immediate risk to public safety. We would like to reassure our communities that we have extra officers out on patrol throughout the next few days to offer reassurance and address any concerns you may have. We are keen to stress that this additional security is not based on any new or emerging intelligence.

communities defeat terrorismThe security threat level nationally remains unchanged at Severe meaning an attack is highly likely. As ever the public are urged to remain alert and not alarmed. Everyone is advised to be vigilant and to report any concerns to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, always dial 999.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on counter terrorism for the force, said: Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life – Let us decide if it is important.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.

“Our policing tactics and security measures are being reviewed on a daily basis – we, along with our partners, are working around the clock to keep Birmingham and our other cities as safe as can be.”

Mobile phone in hand whilst driving

MORE than 250 drivers in the West Midlands were hit with new heavier fines for using mobile phones behind the wheel during a week-long clampdown.

Offenders included 30 truckers, a driving instructor, and a man accessing mobile banking while travelling on the M5 with a phone in one hand and a bank statement in the other.

All of the 261 distracted drivers caught during the 1-8 March campaign have been handed £200 fines and six points on their licence.

It means if they’re caught again they facing being banned from the roads through the ‘totting-up’ process.

Inspector Sion Hathaway, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “It’s disappointing that despite all the publicity around tougher new punishments, and the dangers of distracted driving, many people are still putting lives at risk by using phones at the wheel.

“It’s shocking so many HGV drivers were among those we caught: these are professional drivers, ones that should be setting high standards, yet we found 30 truckers phoning, texting or using the internet while driving.

“We used our unmarked police HGV cab during the operation which enabled us to look right into truckers’ cabs and catch any trying to discretely use mobile devices. They’ve been reported to the regional Traffic Commissioner, who oversees regulation of the haulage trade, and could face a suspension.

“A driving instructor was also among those fined. He was found using a mobile when his full attention should have been on his learner driver.

“Motorists should not need the risk of a £200 fine and six points to stop using phones: the possibility of causing a crash, one that could result in devastating consequences, should be deterrent enough.”

Around half of the distracted drivers were caught on the M5 and M6 with the others pulled over on urban roads in the West Midlands.

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who brought in the original ban on driving while on a mobile phone back in 2003, added: “These tougher penalties are welcomed by all sensible road users as driving while using a handheld mobile phone is potentially lethal.

“This is about saving lives. Studies have found that motorists who talk on their handheld phone while driving are four times more like to crash. Statistics also show that in just five years there were more than 3,000 accidents involving a driver on the phone.

“But I want it to go further: I’d like to see local groups benefit from the higher fines. It is only right the fines from reckless drivers help pay to keep our roads safe.”

west midlands counter terrorism unit (CTU)

WITH the terror threat becoming increasingly complex and varied, police are calling on communities to act on their instincts to help prevent atrocities taking place in the UK and overseas.

The campaign is called “Make Nothing Happen” and focuses on the critical role the public can play in defeating terrorism. This is the first campaign under a new branding platform called ACT – Action Counters Terrorism. It urges the public to report suspicious activity to help police bring dangerous offenders to justice and prevent terror attacks in the UK and overseas.

At a time when the scale, volume and complexity of the terrorism threat continues to grow police are advising the public to ACT to report any potential suspicious activity or online content they come across and are concerned about.

Last year a record number of people contacted the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline, with the service receiving more than 22,000 calls.  Officers hope this number will continue to increase if more can be done to encourage people to call or report online.

The campaign is the result of recent research with the public looking into their attitudes towards CT policing.  Over 80 per cent said that it was important for communities to work with the police to prevent terrorism. Yet a quarter said they might not report their suspicions because they were afraid of wasting police time, whilst 39 per cent weren’t sure what is meant by ‘suspicious behaviour’.

‘Make Nothing Happen’ will see a six week national marketing campaign running across radio and digital channels. Supported by national and regional media activity this activity will highlight what to report and how to do it.

The message is clear: “Don’t worry, don’t delay, just ACT” by:

  •  Reporting suspicious activity to the police by calling or visiting the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or gov.uk/ACT
  • Reporting online terrorist and extremist material online by clicking on gov.uk/ACT
  • Remaining alert at home, work and when out and about, so we can all play our part in defeating terrorism and keeping everyone safe

The campaign will be launched in the West Midlands by Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, Head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism used, who said: “Communities can be confident that West Midlands Police, together with our partners, is continually working hard to safeguard the public.

“We want to reassure communities that they shouldn’t be concerned about wasting police time or getting someone into trouble. We encourage the public to work hand-in-hand with the police, acting as our eyes and ears and reporting anything that concerns them and help keep us all safe.”

As part of the campaign, the public will see increased public awareness activity which involves a two-part podcast series telling the inside story of how terrorist attacks were foiled, radio adverts urging the public to act and report their concerns and three short films describing what happens when someone makes a call or online referral.  Follow @WMPolice and @TerrorismPolicing to stay updated and spread the message with #ActionCountersTerrorism.

Although part of West Midlands Police, WMCTU is a regional unit – one of five across the country that form the counter terrorism policing network.

Most of the unit’s work is based within the West Midlands Police area but it can also be assigned responsibility for investigating cases anywhere in the country.

Police 4x4

TWO West Midlands Police constables have been arrested this morning by officers from the force’s counter corruption unit.

Five other men and one woman were also arrested in the early morning raids across the area.

The two officers – aged 47 and 35  – are based at Perry Barr and were arrested at their homes in the West Midlands.

Both officers were arrested in connection with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, conspiracy to steal and to supply drugs.

Police also arrested a 42 year old man and a 36 year old woman from Derby, and a 28 year old man from Alum Rock, in connection with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, conspiracy to steal and to supply drugs.

Also arrested this morning in connection with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office was a 42 year old man from Washwood Heath, a 27 year old man from Alum Rock and a 25 year old man from Aston.

All  are being questioned at police stations across the West Midlands.

Ralph Clarke

A 101-YEAR-OLD man has become the oldest person to be jailed for a criminal offence in UK legal history after a West Midlands Police investigation uncovered his shocking child abuse past. 

Retired lorry driver Ralph Clarke systematically sexually assaulted two young sisters in the 1970s and early 80s.

He abused the girls – who were aged between four and 13 at the time – at his home in Erdington, in the cab of his works truck, and in his garden shed.

His victims plucked up the courage to report the offences to West Midlands Police in August last year having seen Facebook posts celebrating Clarke’s 100th birthday.

The enquiry established a catalogue of offending against the girls spanning many years and revealed their brother had also suffered at Clarke’s hands.

Clarke admitted several indecent assaults, gross indecency and attempted buggery against a boy but denied 22 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency against the girls.

He claimed the women – now in their late 40s – were serial liars but a jury at Birmingham Crown Court ton Friday 16 Dec deemed he was lying in a bid to cover up his sex attacks and found him guilty on all but one count.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and will be placed on the sex offender register for life.

Imprisoned: Retired lorry driver Ralph Clarke

Imprisoned: Retired lorry driver Ralph Clarke

Detective Constable Emma Fennon from West Midlands Police’s Historic Sex Offences Unit, said:

“I’d like to welcome the decision of the jury in convicting Ralph Clarke today.

“He subjected three young children − who were aged between 4 and 13-years-old at the time − to unspeakable abuse over many years. He took advantage of their vulnerability and they have lived with the emotional and psychological scars from that abuse for decades.

“Thankfully, today, justice has finally caught up with him.

“There are people who may question the public interest in taking a man aged 101 to court. What I’d say is that age alone should be no defence. We worked closely with colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service and Clarke’s age and wellbeing were considered.

“But given the serious nature of the offences, the breach of trust and vulnerability of the young victims, it was decided that a prosecution was in the public interest.

“We at West Midlands Police will always be guided by the wishes of victims. His victims took the brave step to disclose what had happened to them − and they needed to see him pay for what he’d subjected them to.

“We have supported them through the criminal process and I’m delighted that they have now seen justice prevail. They have sat through all of the evidence and I know at times it has been difficult for them.

“This case goes to show that it is never too late to report sexual offences − even if the abuse happened may years, even decades, earlier we can still put compelling cases to juries. West Midlands Police will always take reports seriously and do all we can to support victims and punish offenders.

“And I’d finally like to pay tribute to the courage and determination of Ralph Clarke’s victims in coming forward and disclosing these offences to us.

I hope they can take some comfort from today’s verdict and finally move on with their lives.”

Coping with the impact of sexual violence:

How you recover is up to you but it is important to feel that you have got control in your life and keep yourself safe mentally, physically and emotionally.

You need to go get yourself checked out at a GUM clinic to ensure that you have no sexually transmitted illnesses.

One way of coping with feelings is talking about how you feel – this could be with a family member, a friend, a Helpline, a counsellor, in a support group – whatever you feel comfortable with.

Remember that you have options!

Helplines:

Staffordshire Victims Gateway
For advice and support call 0330 0881 339

GayLife North Staffordshire
For advice and support call 0300 123 0970

Savana AGE 4+
24 hour message service: 01782 433204

They support all aspects of sexual abuse for anyone who has experienced or is affected by any form of sexual violence including rape, sexual violence, domestic violence, ‘honour’ related violence and childhood sexual abuse, whether recently or in the past. Providing 1 to 1 counselling and working with social workers if required.

National Rape Crisis for England and Wales
www.rapecrisis.org.uk

SARAC
01783 517185
Sexual Abuse And Rape Advice Centre. Sexual health counselling for men and women
http://sarac.org.uk

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