Category Archives: Police

A Sunday to Remember in Bloxwich

Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)

This year’s Remembrance Sunday in Bloxwich was indeed one to remember, mostly for all the right reasons – but was also an event dogged by confusion and controversy.

Most importantly, the local community came together in their hundreds once again as they have done since the 1920s, to remember and honour in silence and in song those fallen in war and conflict, especially local servicemen and women and the other victims of war – and to hope for that peace which is the right of all but which is so rarely found in this world.

It has to be said, however, that the day was sadly somewhat tarnished by the controversy over the cancellation of the traditional High Street parade of veterans and local groups, including youth groups, who enthusiastically but thoughtfully gather to march each year.

The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
Conspiracy theories and confusion

Confusion over the reasons behind the parade’s cancellation resulted in understandably angry but sometimes, it has to be said, ill-informed mutterings on local social media and on the streets of Bloxwich and district. Some of that was to be expected, as information was at first scarce and communication from organisers who were desperately trying to rescue the event and other official channels was sometimes confused. But then the publicising of the Bloxwich event has never been very good and always last minute, something which needs to be rectified in future.

No Legion, no parade

Variously blaming Walsall Council, local councilors, Walsall Police and others, these stirrings mostly missed the main reason why the parade was cancelled and re-scheduled as a short march through the grounds of All Saints Church. This was, as was widely reported in the Bloxwich Telegraph, primarily down to the demise of the Bloxwich branch of the Royal British Legion, presumably due to insufficient local support, in 2013.  This meant that, due to a combination of health and safety law and official red tape, as well as perfectly reasonable safety concerns, together with the unwillingness of the Royal British Legion to extend insurance for the march without a local branch, the usual parade could not go ahead.

Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Police cuts

Overshadowing this primary problem was the issue of nationwide police cuts due to our national Conservative government’s ‘austerity’ policies, something which has received a massive amount of media coverage in recent weeks. Even had there been a branch of the Legion to insure and organise a parade, our sources informed us,  it would almost certainly have been cut back due to there being half as many police available to marshal road closures as last year. This is a situation likely to get worse next year.

All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
The Bloxwich Royal British Legion must be reformed

So, it is absolutely essential that a new branch of the Royal British Legion be formed in Bloxwich, so that local veterans may be supported locally, so that funds may contnue to be raised for the charity, and  so that Bloxwich people may see the return of their traditional Remembrance Sunday parade.

Thankfully, local interest in forming such a branch is already taking shape, and anyone who is interested in helping and taking part is invited to contact the Legion’s local contact, Mr Bill Griffiths, by telephoning  07944869687 or 01922 492064.

The future

The present police cuts and the prospect of more of the same next year may call the parade’s future  into question again, even if, as is hoped, a new branch of the Legion rises phoenix-like in Bloxwich in time for Remembrance Sunday 2016. It looks like any future organisers will have to fund and organise at least part of the traffic management themselves, due to reduced numbers of police available.

Between now and then, Bloxwich people will really have to ‘step up to the plate’ and help.  After all, Remembrance is for life, not just Remembrance Sunday.

The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
Bloxwich can still be proud

But whatever happens next year, Bloxwich can at least be proud that disaster was largely averted this year by the hard work of public-spirited local councillors, All Saints Church and representatives of other churches, many local groups and police – and not least the veterans themselves – who came together with other local people to organise a shortened march through the church grounds and a massively well-supported Service of Remembrance within the church itself.

Not only that, thanks should also be offered to those many local people who, whether unable to get into the church or determined, as Bloxwich folk often are, to stand up for Bloxwich and for tradition, still gathered round the Bloxwich War Memorial to pay their respects as in days gone by.

Hopefully, everyone who turned out in church or on the streets of Bloxwich on Sunday last will actively support the future of the Royal British Legion and Remembrance in Bloxwich as well as looking to the past  – otherwise it may have no future!

Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial -- lest we forget... (pic Stuart Williams)
Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial — lest we forget… (pic Stuart Williams)

 

To view larger versions of the above photographs, and for more pictures of the day by Stuart Williams, follow this link to a Flickr photo album.

For more background to this event, see our previous reports.

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Concerns for missing Abbotts Street man

Missing: Anthony Danks
Missing: Anthony Danks

Walsall Police are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of a man who has been missing since Monday (27 July).

Anthony Danks left his home in Abbotts Street, Bloxwich, Walsall to go to a doctors appointment at around 1pm and has not been seen since.

The 50-year-old suffers from mental health issues and a heart condition which requires regular medication. He previously lived in Liverpool and officers believe he has travelled back to that area of the country.

He is described as white, 5ft 6ins tall, large build, bald and clean shaven. He was last seen wearing a navy blue round neck t-shirt with ‘Queen’ on the front in white, black tracksuit bottoms and light grey trainers. He is also known to smoke a vapour pipe.

Police believe Anthony boarded a train heading from Walsall to Liverpool on Monday afternoon.

They believe he has taken some of his medication with him but he doesn’t have more than a week’s worth with him and his health could deteriorate without them.

If you’ve seen Anthony or have any idea where he might be, please call the police on 101 as soon as possible.

They want to appeal directly to Anthony to get in touch with them and let them know he is safe and well.

Alternatively information can be given to the Missing People charity on 116 000.

Council and police target truants

Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Truants will be targeted in a new joint project between Walsall Council and Walsall Police starting on Monday.The project sees the council building on their success to date with partner agencies as part of the national Troubled Families programme and uses funding from within the programme for the truancy patrols.

A police officer and council attendance officers will tour the borough in a branded vehicle stopping children of school age and/or their parents to ask why they aren’t in school and if necessary ask them to return to school.

Officers will also support children, young people and their families if they identify any concerns or issues, as part of our focus to help families as early as possible. The team can help to signpost families and young people to a range of support and advice as sometimes there can be other issues beyond truancy.

The focus will be on school children of all ages.

The project will run to the end of the current school year at which time it will be evaluated.

Issues around school absence and anti-social behaviour are also addressed directly in schools with the support of attendance officers.

PS Gary Iliff, from Walsall Police, said: ”These dedicated multi agency patrols will supplement the existing engagement in schools by local neighbourhood teams.

“There will now be greater support for families at the earliest opportunity to maximise educational opportunity in Walsall.”

Councillor Barbara Cassidy, portfolio holder for children’s services at Walsall Council, said: “An education is one of the most important elements to a successful future.

“To learn, grow and achieve, children and young people need to be in school.

“As well as the educational benefits, many children get other benefits from attending school such as interaction with their peers and a healthy meal.

“This is why it is important that we support young people and their families to understand the importance of attending school regularly.

“These regular patrols will also help us to reach out to any children and families who may need some extra support so that we can put them in touch with the right agencies to help them.

“If you are concerned about a child or young person or if you have any queries I would encourage you to contact the council’s attendance service on 01922 686233.”

 

Community Question Time for the Bloxwich area – live web chat tonight

WM Police Contact Centre.

North Walsall Area Partnership is offering a live web chat at this evening’s Area Community Meeting so that residents who are unable to attend in person can still ask questions via a live web chat.

The communities of Birchills, Leamore, Blakenall Heath, and Bloxwich are invited to attend the Question Time event where they can meet and directly ask senior managers from Walsall Council, West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police, NHS Walsall and Social Landlord(s) any questions they have about community safety or anti-social behaviour.

The event, which is taking place today (Monday 18 March), will also include a digital section of the meeting to complement the traditional question time event. The live web chat will commence at 7.15pm and will last approximately forty five minutes.

Councillor Zahid Ali, cabinet member for Public Protection  at Walsall Council and Chair of Safer Walsall Partnership, said: “This is a great opportunity for local people to discuss with senior partnership officers any community safety concerns or issues.

“The live web chat will enable those who are unable to attend these meetings the opportunity to ask questions and engage with senior managers from the police, local council and our partner agencies.”

Officers in attendance will include Chief Superintendent David Sturman and Walsall Council’s Executive Director Jamie Morris.  Ward councillors will also be present during the event.

Borough Commander David Sturman, said: “Virtual neighbourhood meetings mean that we can conduct live web chats with members of the public literally by the touch of a button.

“There is the potential to reach hundreds of members of the public who traditionally never engage with partners or attend public meetings.”

The web chats are simple to use. Members of the public submit their community safety or anti-social behaviour queries or questions over the internet (using the link below) and the panel will answer as many of them as possible during web chat.

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/np/walsall/findoutmore/live-chat.asp

Questions may also be viewable live on The Bloxwich Telegraph in a window below:

Masked robbers attack Bloxwich youth – appeal

Hildicks Bridge
Hildicks Bridge

A Bloxwich youth was attacked by three masked robbers as he walked along a canal towpath earlier this month.

The 17-year-old was confronted and threatened by the men near to Hildicks Bridge off Goscote Lane between 8pm and 8.30pm on Monday 7 January.

They demanded he hand over his mobile phone, which he did, and they then ran off towards the road.

Detective Constable Jon Baker, of Walsall CID, said:

“Fortunately the victim was not injured but was left very shaken up following the robbery.

“We want to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who saw three masked men in the area on the evening.

“If you have any information which could help our investigation, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, please contact us.”

Anyone with information about the robbery should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Editorial: Police and Crime Commissioner election today

Commissioner Gordon, PCC candidate for the Walsall Boro of Gotham City.

Call me a hairy old cynic if you like (and all of those terms may well be true), but the imminent prospect of giving yet another distant and probably rather deaf politician a leg-up onto the Gravy Train does not exactly fill me with glee – however this is the opportunity which has been gifted to all of us of voting age by the rampant racketeers running the show from Number 10 down in Londinium, oh chums.

Yes, for those of you who haven’t noticed (and who could blame you, bearing in mind the late and rather skimpy information about candidates made available?) you may be interested to know that the Bat-Signal has finally gone up over Brummagem, heralding the election for the new Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands (aka Greater Brummagem) which takes place today (Thursday 15th November) at a polling station near you.

Once the election has concluded and the results announced, the PCCs, for short, will replace police authorities currently in charge of 41 police forces in England and Wales.  They will have wide powers of oversight, being responsible for setting priorities for their police force, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable – but not, it is said, over the day-to-day operation of local policing.  In other words, they’ll be busy wasting police time, an activity for which us ordinary Gothamites would be banged in the slammer or relieved of a whole heap of moolah.

But seriously folks, it is remotely possible that they will have some influence over the desperate cuts that are disturbing the peace in cop shops across the nation, so this is worth bearing in mind.  On the other hand, depending on their political colour, they may be only too keen to preside over a criminal record of cuts, maybe even replacing our much-loved local rozzers with rusty Robocops like we’ve seen in so many libraries of late…

Those PCC’s in the most extensive police force areas – and Greater Brummagem is presumably one of these – will be paid salaries of more than £100,000 – and no prior police force experience is needed, which seems rather a novelty for such an apparently complex and influential job.  But then, it also seems that neither MP’s nor government Ministers need to know anything about running a country either, so why not?

Will this whole shebang be worth more than a hill o’ beans in the end?  Or will the Government continue to Kapow our local bobbies till all we have left of our excellent Walsall Police force is a Tardis, a part-time PCSO and a com-BAT-trained Chihuahua?

Well, as far as voting goes at least, the choice is yours in the end – this is a democracy, after all (allegedly).  And just in case you don’t believe, as do some less charitable folk, that the whole business is just another cynical ploy to enable politicians to gain more power over both plod and plebs alike, it seems only right that we point you in the direction of some useful background info about the candidates for this exercise in ‘regional’ democracy (what do you mean, you wish we were back in Staffordshire?).

The candidates for the West Midlands Police PCC are (or were, in one case):

  • Matt Bennett – Conservative
  • Ray Egan – Independent (CANDIDATE HAS WITHDRAWN)
  • Bill Etheridge – UKIP
  • Cath Hannon – Independent
  • Bob Jones – Labour
  • Ayoub Khan – Liberal Democrat
  • Mike Rumble – Independent
  • Bishop Derek Webley – Independent

If you haven’t received a leaflet about the candidates through your door, you may find the following sites useful for background to help you make your choice more informed, should you wish to vote:

http://www.westmidlandspcc.info/candidates/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19544007

Whether you’re excited or not at the prospect of replacing a gaggle of overpaid, faceless bureaucrats with a single, slightly less faceless, overpaid  bureaucrat (remember none of these PCC candidates are from Walsall, the nearest is a denizen of Wolverhampton) who may or may not have a political axe to grind, you may at least like the idea of more alleged accountability over police policy and funding, if not more accountability over the police themselves.  On that basis, perhaps it may be worth voting after all.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way – and if only 10% turn out for the vote, that can hardly be a victory for democracy, or accountability,can it?

Personally, I think I may just spend the day digging guano out of the Bloxwich Bat-cave…

Dear Citizens of Greater Brummagem, your comments are most welcome (but keep ’em clean!).

Going loco, down in Little Blocko...

Stuart Williams, Editor

Police granted dispersal order in Blakenall Heath and Leamore

Blakenall Dispersal Order Map courtesy West Midlands Police.

Officers from the Blakenall neighbourhood policing team have been granted a dispersal order to help tackle anti-social behaviour in and around the area of Blakenall Heath and Leamore indicated on the map shown above.

The order gives officers the power to move groups of two or more people suspected of causing anti-social behaviour from within the strictly defined area.

Officers also have the power to return anybody under the age of 16 to their home address between the hours of 9pm and 6am.

The order, which has been granted in partnership with Walsall Council, will run for five months from Friday 9 November 2012 until Monday 8 April 2013.

Police applied for the dispersal order after receiving complaints from residents concerning anti-social behaviour (ASB).

Officers hope to make the area a better to live by significantly reducing ASB during the coming months and will be patrolling the area to ensure the order is obeyed.

Sergeant Jim Nixon, responsible for policing in Blakenall Heath, said:

“My officers will be paying particular attention to hotspot locations identified by the community within the dispersal area and we will be looking to take further action against those who are repeatedly found to be flouting the order.

“We are committed to reducing anti-social behaviour and hope that this will make a real difference to local people, their neighbours and the wider community.”

Anybody with concerns about anti-social behaviour in the area should contact their local neighbourhood team on 101.

Shocking Bloxwich tree vandalism mystery solved

Sergeant Hannah Davies (inset) and tree damage

The mystery of the terrible vandalism done to trees in the Bloxwich Promenade Gardens off High Street has been solved, thanks to information received from public-spirited local people via Cllr Kath Philips, Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick, The Bloxwich Telegraph and others, and the perpetrator has been promptly identified and located by Bloxwich police.

The fear of possible dog-fighting activity has also, thankfully, now been laid to rest.

Bloxwich East Neighbourhood team leader Sergeant Hannah Davies (photo inset above), speaking to The Bloxwich Telegraph, said:

“A local male has been identified as responsible for the damage by encouraging his dog to scratch at the trees while he was sitting in the park.

“The dog isn’t a fighting dog and doesn’t pose any more danger to the public than any other dog, his actions were merely done for amusement but have unfortunately resulted in devastating damage to several trees.  The damage caused has no link to dog fighting at all.

“The male in question will be arrested and dealt with at the earliest opportunity. No further damage to the trees has been done since this male has been identified and spoken to briefly by officers.

“The Council have been liaised with and have provided funding so the trees can be surrounded by bamboo to protect them.  Cllr Fitzpatrick, Cllr Phillips and Nikki Rolls have been updated.”

These mindless acts of vandalism were kindly brought to the attention of The Bloxwich Telegraph by local Councillor Kath Philips – see our original story via this link.

Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council has invited anyone willing to volunteer to help with the work of protecting the trees to join her at the Bloxwich Fountain in Promenade Gardens on Thursday at 10.30am – see today’s earlier story via this link.

Bloxwich East Neighbourhood Police’s website can be found via this link.

Conman preying on young women hunted by police: appeal

Police Line

Police are hunting a man who failed to appear before the courts for crimes committed in the Black Country.

Alex McEvoy, 26, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Walsall Magistrates Court last month to a theft which took place at an address on Mill Lane in Wednesfield.

Back in October last year, McEvoy stole cash and gold chains from a 24-year-old woman who he had befriended over a period of time. The chains, which were pawned, had belonged to the woman’s dead grandmother.

Having admitted the offence, he was released by the courts on bail pending sentencing.

LITTLE BLOXWICH OFFENCE

While on court bail, a similar offence took place in which a 23-year-old woman from Stoney Lane, Little Bloxwich befriended McEvoy and had her kindness re-paid by having her debit card stolen and a substantial quantity of cash stolen.

McEvoy was named as the offender but failed to appear before Walsall Magistrates Court on 8 August to face charges. In his absence, magistrate’s found him guilty and issued a warrant for his immediate arrest.

Despite the best efforts of local officers, Alex McEvoy who has connections across the West Midlands and Staffordshire, has so far evaded officers.

APPEAL

Detective Constable Jo Myatt-Jones, from Walsall police station, said:

“We are appealing to anyone who knows the whereabouts of Alex McEvoy to contact us.

“The courts have found that man chooses his victims based on their vulnerability and ingratiates himself with them and their family. He becomes involved in their lives, gaining their trust and then uses this to his advantage by betraying them and stealing from them.

“He has used many guises to meet women including pretending to be a security guard.

“We have released his picture in a bid to trace him and to try to prevent him committing any further offences. He may be operating under an alias and we are urging anyone who may recognise him or can tell us where he is to get in touch.”

Anyone with information which may aid DC Myatt-Jones should call West Midlands Police on 101. Alternatively information can be given anonymously by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.