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Posts Tagged ‘Police’

Dear old Gone showed up at our door the other week. He’d just been released from prison, where he’s spent the summer. It’s almost an annual event, him showing up in September, homeless, almost like he has a plan to help new Ministry Trainees learn good doorstep skills.

He’d thrown his prison release paperwork in the bin and first went to Rev Very Benevolent over in the next tow-un to ours. Rev V-B tried to help Gone find somewhere to live, but sadly the housing group who’d accommodated him before said they wouldn’t take him on. In fact, they’d been about to evict him before he went to jail.

The trouble for Gone is that he’s not really a criminal. He shouldn’t really be in jail. He’s a vulnerable and increasingly frail man with a serious alcohol addiction. And he’s enormously annoying and quite scary when he’s in the drink. And then charming and sweet and can talk the socks off anyone who’ll listen. But he’s frightened and anxious about other people, which makes him a pretty dire neighbour. And he can cause trouble and stress when he turns up somewhere boozed up. What he needs is something like an old fashioned asylum, where he’s not allowed out, not allowed alcohol, and not given his own money. He’d spent £75 of his getting-out-of-prison money on a portable dvd player and some dvds. He could have had a couple of nights in a hotel for that. But he’s incapable of spending money wisely and no-one will house him for long. So I guess in some ways he knew what would happen next.

Rev V-B contacted me a few days later to say that Gone had been conspicuous by his absence for a few days. And that he’d had a call to say that Gone would be up before a magistrate for another breach of his ASBO. So it looks like the prison service is once again expensively accommodating a vulnerable man who doesn’t fit in the system. And maybe it’s the only way that will work for him. It does seem crazy though. Pray with us for wisdom to know how to help him in his next foray back into the world a few months (I guess) from now.

Gone left his calling card in our flower bed

Gone left his calling card on our drive

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On Saturday a dear member of our congregation, who was 91 in December, was mugged as she walked out of an alleyway close to her home. Thankfully, she wasn’t that badly hurt and some brilliant passers-by came to her aid – one chap chased the mugger down the street and was able to get details of a getaway car.

We have some hope that the mugger will be brought to justice – the police were able to follow up on the vehicle, thanks to CCTV footage. Now we’re praying for our friend’s recovery and for wisdom and enough evidence for the police.

And then yesterday morning the Vicar reports that our school was broken into AGAIN this weekend. This time they got into the office, although we’re not sure if anything was taken this time. Our site manager was talking about getting CCTV cameras in after last week’s break-in. Alas, I don’t think he’d managed to install them before the weekend.

I wonder if January, when people are feeling the pinch after splurging money at Christmas, is a peak time for crime? There certainly seems to be a wave of it here in the parish just now. Mind you, there was plenty of crime before Christmas too – typing our postcode into police.uk makes for depressing reading. In November there were 5 burglaries within about 200yds of our front door. Perhaps this is contributing to the rising numbers we’ve been seeing at church of late – seeing wickedness so close up can make you wonder about who’s in charge of the world and long for God’s justice.

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We had some excitement in the parish today – a ‘suspicious package’ was found in a house just round the corner that was being raided for drugs. Residents in houses close to the raided property were evacuated, and we were asked if we could accommodate them in the church hall.

So we were there with the teapots and some biscuits, on and off all morning, whilst we all speculated about what was happening. I quite enjoyed myself – particularly because I met a couple of neighbours that we’d not previously had the chance to speak to. It was a bit of a pain for them, though – one friend was without her diabetic medication, another lady had her two young children with her, but not their toys, people needed to get their cars to get to work. Most folk took the opportunity to go shopping in town but returned later to hang around and chat at the end of the street or pop into the hall for more refreshments.

Finally, after about 31/2 hours, we were told that people could go home. I stayed behind in the hall to tidy up and the local PCSO and his Sergeant came and chatted. Turns out the suspicious package wasn’t Semtex, as had been suspected, but something to do with with preparation of drugs. They seized cannabis wraps from the property and made three arrests. More drug dealing – the house next door to that one was raided a few weeks ago and seizures made for the same thing. I reckon you could probably raid a couple of houses on every street in this parish and find evidence of drug use or dealing.

The police were quite cheery, as these arrests were made on top of two successful operations locally earlier this week. A house just opposite the church was raided and found to contain a stolen motorbike and 27 stolen bicycles. And only last night they carried out some checks with immigration officials. They found illegal immigrants, but also some dodgy vehicles that were being stripped down, including a vintage Rolls and a BMW that had been nicked from Police HQ.

So a good week for clamping down on crime – well done to our local coppers. It does make you wonder what’s happening behind closed doors when the police aren’t calling. And makes us pray for this broken parish all the more.

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Thankfully, since police installed a CCTV camera opposite the church yard a few months ago, our local druggies have been getting their supplies elsewhere. It got very frustrating last summer, with drug deals taking place almost daily under our noses. The police had a few near misses with catching the dealers, too.

On one occasion I had called 999 and the cops came, but it wasn’t our normal team, who happened to be out at a training day. The police car gave chase to the dealer, who they think had a large quantity of drugs on him. But the dealer got away and since it wasn’t the local team chasing, they weren’t able to identify who was driving. Alas.

The camera was up for about six months, I guess. It’s gone now, but the dealing hasn’t returned in earnest. But we still know that the dealers live in the parish, and occasional drug deals are spotted here and there. But when they happen, people don’t always report it. They don’t see any immediate effects and that can be discouraging. We’re glad we’re (mostly) free of drug dealing, but knowing that the dealers are still plying their trade elsewhere makes people doubt the strength of the police and the reality of justice.

West Midlands Police Superintendent (he’s recently been promoted) Mark Payne has a blog where he explains why things look so slow when people are looking for justice. He repeats what we heard from the local police sergeant at our neighbourhood forum the other week: small pieces of information are important, even if it looks like nothing is happening.

So for now, I’m waiting for the police to put it all together, reporting everything (and encouraging others to do the same) and praying for God’s justice to come quickly.

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So the kids are back at school and everyone is busy catching up on the local gossip. The neighbourhood drug dealers are a popular topic of conversation. Chattychap thinks that some of the teenagers in the area are being recruited to make the actual drug deliveries. This distances the dealers from the deals. And sadly some of the local kids don’t have very clear moral frameworks and would find the idea of making easy money very appealing.

Everyone knows who the dealers are, even the local police (I had a chat with them the other day about it). But to nick them, they need to catch them with the stuff, or in the act. This is extremely tricky, with a single PC and two PCSOs covering an area a good bit larger than our parish, which is home to nearly 3,000 souls.

The PCSOs told me that the best way that local people can help to get rid of these guys is to note any deals or activity that we see happening and pool them together to give to the police. But mostly it feels like nothing is being done, even though everyone knows what’s going on.

I saw the dealers just the other day, hanging about with some other guys at the top of our street. I couldn’t see a drug deal, but they were just standing around looking suspicious, maybe waiting for a deal or a delivery. Can the police use that? I doubt it.

Recently an elderly lady in our congregation was badly hurt when she was mugged very near to the church. The thief stole her handbag in broad daylight. Most people agree that it was probably a drug addict. We need to rid our neighbourhood of the dealers, but it seems an almost impossible task. I believe in the transforming power of the gospel, but we need to know people first to tell them of the forgiveness Jesus can give and how he can change lives. And I’m a little nervous about introducing myself.

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The Vicar organised a men’s breakfast last Saturday morning. After their bacon and eggs the chaps did some work in the churchyard. Our churchyard is pretty small – there’s the new playground, some lovely trees and a few dilapidated headstones and chest tombs. But it’s also completely open, and many people walk through it as a shortcut. Others use it for less civilised purposes.

The gardening crew last week only unearthed the usual debris – Kestrel Super Strength beer cans, Sobieski Polish vodka bottles, used condoms, newspapers, clothes – everything you’d want for a top evening’s entertainment. It was just before the Vicar family went on our summer camping holiday a few weeks ago that we found something a little unexpected.

We were on our way back to the Vicarage at lunchtime, after our main Sunday service, when I spotted a green metal box propped up against one of the chest tombs. It looked very new, so we picked it up and had a look inside. It was a two burner camping stove, completely unused. Well, it was most tempting. A week to our longest ever camping trip and we only have a piddly single burner stove.

Just the job for a family that camps

Just the job for a family that camps

We valiantly resisted the urge simply to snaffle it, though, and the Vicar handed it in at our local police station. There was speculation as to its origin – was it nicked by one of the local drug addicts, who then struggled to find a buyer? Had it belonged to the Roma gentlemen who’d been sleeping out on the church steps on the balmy summer evenings? The police decided they’d log it as lost property. And told the Vicar that if no-one had come looking for it by the first week in September, then he could claim it.

So although we camped with the one burner stove this summer, next summer we will have gourmet options. The snazzy new stove is now sitting in our cellar. And if anyone would like to leave some extra comfy camping mats in our churchyard, I’d be very happy.

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A great phrase

The Curate used to play golf fairly regularly with a local policeman.

The policeman had a wonderful phrase to describe a character with whom he had had too many professional dealings.

He’s a bad bag of washing

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