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Victim's anger at 'Ghost of Scrooge' theft suspects

The victims of a Grinch-like Christmas theft have branded the crooks who ransacked their charity garden 'the ghost of Scrooge'.

The men were caught on CCTV, with one seemingly helping himself to some of the expensive display out front along with another man in the background appearing to do the same.

Geoff and Tina Patchet have decked out their home on Wincanton Road in Redcar with lights and decorations for years, raising thousands for charity.

This year, the display was for the town's lifeboat station.

CCTV captures crooks on camera.

"They're just scumbags. I've called it the ghost of Scrooge.

That one who you've seen all in white on there, I say it's the ghost of Scrooge because that's all they are.

"They are not just robbing me you know, they're robbing everybody of seeing something really nice for Christmas.

"A lot of the families can't do anything like this so that helps them aswell"

– Geoff Patchett

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Armed police called to deal with 'superheroes'

Men dressed as superheroes sparked armed police call outs. Credit: PA

Armed police on Teesside, called to deal with reports of a man in camouflage carrying a gun, arrived to find an assortment of harmless 'superheroes' attending a fancy dress party.

Cleveland's armed response officers arrived at the scene to find a variety of Star Wars Stormtroopers and Captain America lookalikes.

It one of 30 fancy-dress related calls reported in the force area since January last year, and revealed through a Freedom of Information request.

In the vast majority of cases, no crime had been committed.

Some of the more unusual reports from across the country include:

  • A terrified witness who reported a man wearing a horse's head and carrying a rifle in July. He was on the way to a fancy dress party.
  • A man who was spotted leaving a garage and getting into a car with a violin case and a machine gun. He was dressed as a pretend gangster.
  • An intoxicated 'witch' was given advice by police after trying to fight passers by.

"In the past we have received a very small number of reports made in good faith of people believed to have weapons on them in a public area.

"In such cases, police would have to adhere to policy that any mention of a weapon being present means that armed response officers (ARVs) would be deployed.

"Very occasionally police arrive at an incident where people present are in fancy dress.

"Officers are expected to deal with every member of the public they come into contact with courteously and professionally.

"Public safety is always paramount and, even though on these particular occasions it was quickly established that the people were in costume and the “weapons” were toy or imitation, the involvement of ARVs was justified and explained to the person or people present."

– Cleveland Police spokesperson

Sexual exploitation 'growth industry' in Middlesbrough, council hears

Sexual exploitation of children is a "growth industry" in Middlesbrough with both primary and secondary school children targeted, a new report says.

The claims were made in a report to the council's community safety and leisure scrutiny panel.

In the report Martin Burnett, assistant head teacher at Acklam Grange Secondary School, said child sex exploitation was extremely prevalent in the area.

Several groups gave evidence for the report including Barnardo's and Cleveland Police.

The report said: "When speaking to the Assistant Head Teacher from Acklam Grange school the panel learnt that CSE (child sex exploitation) in Middlesbrough was a ‘growth industry’ and that it was extremely prevalent in Middlesbrough.

"Worryingly Members heard that the risk was not only to secondary school pupils and that incidences of primary school pupils being targeted had been picked up in the transition process from primary to secondary school."

The report said that police, youth workers and other agencies made regular patrols to find potentially vulnerable children

The report said: "The importance of the whole community looking out for evidence of CSE cannot be underestimated."

The findings of the report will be discussed by the council's executive in the future.

Cleveland PCC human trafficking warning

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, is warning people not to assume that trafficking does not happen on Teesside. It follows a Human Trafficking and Slavery Conference.

Representatives from the National Crime Agency, national charity Hope for Justice, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and young people from Barnardos, all spoke about how human trafficking and slavery is hidden in communities. They said that trafficking can take many forms, including forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, or for criminal means.

Cleveland Police has made three referrals to the UK Human Trafficking Centre this year after officers had identified two people who had been trafficked as cannabis farmers to run farms and a possible case of domestic servitude.

“It’s hidden from communities, but we are working to bring it to the forefront and I want people living across Cleveland to help us. It could be that people are being trafficked for criminal means, or for forced labour in homes in the area. Anyone with concerns about something they see or hear should contact police."

– Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger

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Cleveland: Only police force to investigate all crimes

Cleveland Police is the only force in the country to investigate all crimes reported to it.

Cleveland's performance is in stark contrast to many other police forces, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary - which suggests that many have given up on basic policing, because of a lack of resources.

There are 43 police forces in England and Wales. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
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Police need 'the tools to do the job'

Police need "the tools to do the job" if they are going to investigate every crime which is reported, a watchdog has told Good Morning Britain.

HMIC's Thomas Winsor said police did prioritise violent crimes but needed to be "properly supervised, properly lead and given the tools to do the job," if they were going to investigate more low level criminality.

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Acpo: Austerity policing means 'prioritising calls'

Austerity has forced police to use their time more efficiently and this has meant prioritising calls from victims of alleged crimes, the Association of Chief Police Officers said.

President Sir Hugh Orde said:

We accept that the public has a natural expectation to have a positive and supportive experience of interacting with the police service when they have been a victim of crime.

The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers' time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls.

In some instances, this may mean that a report of a crime where the victim is not in imminent danger or the offender is not still in the immediate vicinity will be dealt with over the phone or by other means than the deployment of an officer to the scene. This is not an abdication of forces' duty of care to victims.

– Sir Hugh Orde
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17 police forces 'failed to identify vulnerable callers'

Some 17 police constabularies in England and Wales have such a disinterested mindset towards some crimes they "failed to identify vulnerable callers", a watchdog has found.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found:

  • A total of 37 out of 43 forces in England and Wales used a system in which a call-handler assessed whether an officer should attend the scene of an incident.
  • But in some forces, call-handlers could not accurately describe what amounted to a risk or threat.
  • Attendance rates at crime scenes in the year to November 30 2013 varied widely between forces from 39% in Warwickshire to 100% in Cleveland.
  • This means that nearly two-thirds of crime scenes in Warwickshire were not attended by a police officer.
  • And in 17 forces, the Inspectorate found police community support officers (PCSOs) were being asked to investigate crimes beyond their role profile and training.
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