Driven up the pole

Look, you lot, this isn’t big and it isn’t clever. This morning, I spotted the following tweet in my timeline, from PC Simon Bytheway, the local Neighbourhood Police Officer for Brownhills, who operates out of Brownhills Police Station, opposite the Hussey Arms.

The officer is a good copper clearly experiencing some frustration with the situation. The flags in question aren’t even particularly reusable – they’re not Union flags, but the police force insignia.

police flag cropped

C’mon you muppets – it’s just mindless theft. Picture supplied by West Midlands Police.

Nicky Biddlestone, from the Corporate Communications Department, wrote to me later in the day:

Hi Bob

The flag has been stolen at least twice in the last 6 months, and three or four times in the past. Obviously these flags are expensive, and this is an unnecessary waste of tax payers money to replace.

I would be really grateful if you could raise this on your blog either appealing for witnesses or to the person (or persons) who have been removing the flags.

Kind regards

Nicky Biddlestone
Communications Officer
Corporate Communications Department
West Midlands Police

Whilst this may seem amusing, it’s an utterly senseless action that is costing West Midlands Police money at a time when they least have it to spare, and there are far more pressing things for our coppers to be dealing with than this.

Please, if you have any information about the thefts, please  Walsall Police on the 101 number or 0345 113 5000. You could even speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

This kind of arseholery is why we never get nice nice things… and I certainly don’t endorse the following.

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27 Responses to Driven up the pole

  1. gabriel says:

    Are they taking the flag in broad daylight? In which case, why isn’t anyone inside the building seeing this happen? It is quite a large police station, and has 13 office windows and the main entrance all pointing in the direction of the flagpole. Are they taking the flag under cover of darkness? In which case, why do they have so little respect for their own “unit” flag that they completely ignore etiquette and do not lower it before sunset?

    I don’t find the thefts amusing, but I have no sympathy for them either. To have it stolen once is bad luck. Twice is careless. Five or six times is simply bloody negligent. Doesn’t Brownhills station have CCTV? Doesn’t West Midlands Police even have a small cctv cam – like the one I was forced to buy and put in my window because there are never any coppers around to deter, let alone detect, crime locally (caveat: my local force is Hampshire, not WMP) – that they can plug in and leave pointing out of one of those 13 windows?

    As for the taxpayer footing the bill, why aren’t they insured against theft like the rest of us have to be if we hope to have a chance to recover our losses?

    I don’t condone the thefts, but they are certainly eye opening. That they cannot catch or deter people thieving LITERALLY ON THEIR OWN FRONT DOORSTEP doesn’t inspire much confidence.

  2. edwina says:

    Food for thought there. If they cannot protect “their” flag, what chance for the rest of us eh?

  3. Peter says:

    Evening all…….. I’m stunned, amazed and confused! Does Brownhills still have a Poice Station? I mean, I know there’s a building opposite the Hussey Arms with Police written above the front door, but is there anything inside it still these days? I tried to report some anti-social behaviour happening locally to Brownhills Police Station about a year or year and a half ago. I couldn’t even get in the building yet alone report a crime, I used the intercom on the front door to speak to a laptop in India and was then redirected to the Peoples Republic of Bloxwich to report ” the crime” in Brownhills. Guess what? I didn’t bother…………….
    Here’s an idea, instead of policing Brownhills via Facebook and Twatter, and employing ex McDonalds employees of the month to occassionally walk around with Hi-Viz vests on why don’t we have some real coppers in Brownhills again? That way not only would the flag outside the building have some meaning but there might be a force to be reckoned with next time it gets nicked!
    The Thin Blue Line is getting thinner and thinner these days, I suspect probably as thin as the material that makes the flag in the first place, which pound to a penny is probably made in China anyway, hey there’s an idea next time we have a crime in Brownhills we can contact China (Might get a quicker response that way)

    Mind how you go…………….


    • Rob says:

      Fully agree with Peter’s comments here.
      A few years back in Burntwood two Street Wardens/PCSO’s/pretend coppers were foisted upon us. The bloke was an ex-flipper, the woman an ex-hairdresser, presumably failure in these careers was an asset for wanderinng the town doing nothing. Shame there wasn’t a pantomoime horse available to accompany them on their “duties” but it was probably doing something useful.
      Waste of time and money, lets either have a real police presence or none at all.

  4. Chief wiggum says:

    So the flag has been stolen 7 times in total sounds like police negligence and unduly wasting taxpayers money to me.

  5. Hi Folks

    Can we calm it down a bit, please?

    Brownhills Station is unmanned at night, and as this shows, it’s a low pole in a vulnerable position, opposite a pub, near a well-used cut-through.

    My suggestion would be to move the flagpole to the edge of the roof or bracket it off the wall, personally, but it is apparently rules that stations above a certain size fly the flag.

    Brownhills policing team – quite visible – are a good bunch of coppers who work hard and get involved with the community – every single community event I’ve been to, they’re there. I see them on the towpaths out on their bikes and walking the estates and commons.

    They aren’t a huge team, and have a lot of work on. But on the whole our town is quite a low crime area and they do a hard job trying to keep it that way.

    Their use of social media is great too – it gets things like the flashing incidents and that awful incident last week out to the public more quickly. Don’t knock that; it brings them closer and provides a useful service.

    The flag thing is daft – as would be insuring it – but I’d suggest the solution lies in moving it. I think a pole in that location is really too vulnerable.


  6. Dave (Eddy) Edwards says:

    Well said Bob. A bit of support wouldn,t go amiss.

  7. gabriel says:

    The solution is much simpler and much cheaper than that: Don’t leave the flag up the pole at night! The universally accepted protocol for flying flags is that they are lowered before sunset unless they are illuminated during the hours of darkness. It takes less than a minute to untie the knot and take a flag down. Instead of guilt-tripping everyone else and dog-whistling about “tax payers money” they should take responsibility for the safety and security of their property.

    If common sense was dynamite, they clearly wouldn’t have enough to blow their nose.

  8. Pc Simon Bytheway says:

    Ladies and Gents,

    Firstly I would like to thank Bob for his support and free advertising of this issue. Secondly I would like to say that although some of the comments above did bring a smile to my face, the facts of this are simple. Someone is taking it upon themselves to take the flag whilst the station is not occupied. I take on board the constructive comments made in relation to CCTV and alike, and believe me I will be having a good look at the security surrounding it.

    As for the comments in relation to good old fashioned bobbies on the beat in Brownhills, I hope this fits the bill when I say whoever It is that I catch stealing or in possession of our force emblem of which I am extremely proud will wish they hadn’t bothered. Especially when they are explaining their actions to a magistrate in the next available court room.

    If anyone would like to come and report ASB issues within the Brownhills area, Please feel free to either stop me in the street, or contact us on 101 (ext 7884 6341).

    Thanks again Bob!!

    • Peter says:

      Evening all…………
      Simon. Hello. I’m a little confused here by some of your response!
      Nicking the forces emblem, of which you are rightly so proud of, is a crime….Fact. I’ve got no problem with that or putting whoever is doing it in front of the nearest beak at the earliest opportunity, I wish you well with that.
      However, next to the station, is or was a Crime House (sorry not the correct title) but basically a mock up of a normal everyday house for which the police advise the public how best to secure and prevent theft etc, if when you have an openday and a guy sticks his hand up and says “I leave my bicycle outside every night on full view and it’s been nicked 7 times” You’d probably advise him to move it somewhere else……. I’m only guessing at that but it sounds reasonable enough to me. I’m also only guessing but his Insurance company would have by now excluded it from his Insurance cover probably on the basis that there is a reasonable pressumption that it will get nicked again.
      So what is the difference with the forces emblem?
      Even on a temporary basis is it not reasonable to expect some action to prevent the 8th one being nicked? I’m not sure it needs “a good look at the security surrounding it” I’ve performed already a good look at the security surrounding it, so it saves some valuable Police time, and have concluded that it needs taking down at night and locking in a cupboard!!!
      Thanks to the hard work of our thin blue line there isn’t a lot of ASB but next time rather than have to wander around looking for you or phoning a laptop in India I would much prefer to walk into our local Police Station and talk with someone. The whole premis of reporting crime by twitter, facebook, laptop’s in India and in person as you are doing your rounds, is that it’s all after the event, in other words watch the crime happen, let them get away, and then go and fill out a form afterwards rather than take action at the time.
      Of course Simon none of this is your doing, you only have 1 pair of hands etc, and can only be in 1 place at at a time, but you could reduce the crime figures in Brownhills by simply putting your much valued emblem in a cupboard at night.
      As I say to Bob, on a fairly regular basis, Simon: Keep up the good work…….

      Mind how you go………….


      • Peter
        Police specifically ask the public not to report crime by social media, but dial 101.

        • woodlandway says:

          Hya Bob. By dialling 101 are we speaking to a person who can immediately respond to an act of ASB or are we merely recording a crime of ASB. That is my point with all this, without a properly manned Police Station we are merely recording crime and not actually doing something about it. Although you stated that Brownhills Police Station is unmanned at night, I’ve a feelign it’s not open to the public during the day either but is used as a base only?
          Keep up the good work.


          • I’ve a feeling your queries about operational matters might be better directed at the police, to be honest, but Brownhills has not had a front desk as far as i’m aware for a number of years.
            Cuts in funding etc. put paid to that era. But you know that as well as I do.

        • Peter says:

          Don’t know why it’s calling me Woodland Way, it should be Peter.

  9. gabriel says:

    Plod Dear BrownhillsBob, please would you advise your readers that I am very upset about my bike being stolen. It has been stolen at least twice in the last 6 months, and three or four times in the past. I am a police person and it is costing the taxpayer very much money to keep buying me a new bike.
    BrownhillsBob: Of course – this quite clearly a terrible crime against humanity. Please give more details.
    Plod Bob, I leave my prized bicycle leaning up against the wall in the front garden of my unattended station every night. Opposite the pub. You know, the dark bit, by the cut-through.
    BrownhillsBob: Good lord man, you need to install a new £10,000 bicycle-mount on the roof of the station, with some sort of hydraulic lifting system to raise it up, so that drunken passers-by cannot reach your otherwise unsecured, attractive and desirable cycle. This will represent a much more efficient use of valuable tax payers money.
    Tax Paying Peon: Plod, just stop leaving your bike leaning against the wall at night.
    BrownhillsBob: Don’t be daft, peon. And stop mocking our wonderful, bicycle-leaning crimestopping heroes in blue! They have reduced tow-path and sunny afternoon community event crime significantly!
    Plod: I take on board your comments about not leaning my cycle unattended against the wall opposite the pub. However I will continue to do so while considering your comments and apply electrodes to the testicles of any teenage miscreant caught stealing said bike in the meantime.

    You pair should really stop and listen to yourselves occasionally.

  10. gabriel says:

    Bile? Is it only bile when it is critical of your comments? Seems like my criticism of your silly response and the police’s silly behaviour is not a patch on your criticism of various local authorities etc. Surely you aren’t admitting that you can deal it out but not take it?

    • Gabriel, I can take any amount of your contributions. I have done since the start of this blog.You’re free to say and attack what you want, providing it’s within normal bounds.
      I just think it’s a remarkably strong response. For the record, I’ll run any police appeal I’m asked because it’s community spirited, and that’s what this blog is here to do.
      Invective is water off a ducks back, but I reserve the right to comment upon it, on my own site.

  11. gabriel says:

    Bob, I don’t believe I have ever stepped out of what a reasonable person would consider reasonable bounds. If I have then I would completely respect and agree with a decision taken by yourself to delete an unreasonable comment of mine. In this specific instance I believe that both yours and PC Bytheway’s responses have been open to criticism. Yours for suggesting a costly public works project to solve an issue which would not exist if common sense were applied, as well as for the explicit scolding that because it involves a friend of yours in uniform who rides a bike on a tow path we should not criticise. PC Bytheway’s for stating that he will get all Judge Dredd over a piece of cloth while in June 2013 there were 83 reported crimes within a 1 mile radius of his precious flag that were *probably* not the result of a lack of basic common sense on the part of the victim.

    Go figure.

    • No, you haven’t, and I never said you did. Just pointing out that comment is open, and that you’re always welcome, if not always agreed with.
      Mounting a flagpole on a wall doesn’t seem that great a deal to me, personally. Hour or so with some rawl bolts, they even do kits for public buildings. On the roof even simpler.
      The officer in question is not a friend – he’s a local copper whom I’ve never met, but seems a decent type. I met his predecessors, who seemed nice people. Anyone who follows my stuff reasonably closely will see that I’ve criticised the police on occasion. To be perfectly honest, I did find this one slightly amusing, particularly some of the social media response.
      But this site is here for all aspects of the community – those who live in it, those who want to discuss it’s history, and yes, those who police and govern it. The fact that you have vented your spleen is neither here nor there. Your opinion is as welcome as that of anyone else.
      By the same token, I reserve the right to respond in any way I see fit.
      Seems reasonable to me
      PS. All that refreshing to spoodle the ratings system is doing my page stats the world of good 😉

  12. gabriel says:

    If a single person can impact your stats to any significant extent, you need to worry about your wider traffic. If you’re not worried about your traffic, however, I don’t see how it is of any significance =)

    • A single person doesn’t, no, because the stats are about visitors. However, looking at the stats, the view for this page hump in quantity for only 3 visitors. Curious, I thought.
      The stats – and rating system are largely irrelevant, but I’m always interested to see who can’t resist refreshing to keep piling on the thumbs up or down totals.
      Like commenting under another alias in the same thread, it’s an odd habit.

  13. Pedro says:

    Have a little compassion for the vexillologist, he or she may need help, it may have become a mania. The culprit may be stealing a number of them to use as swaps with other vexillologists. Please do not string the culprit up from the nearest flagstaff. (We never say pole)

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