Retired Police Sergeant Izzy Knowles never dialed 999—for the second night in a row his garage was targeted by potential intruders trying to break in.
Izzy, who did not say that she was a former police officer, when she called, said that no officers were sent in the patrol car.
Instead of feeling reassured by his decision to call for help, Izzy told his nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter: ‘The response to @WMPolice was sad and embarrassing’.
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After about 48 hours, Izzy’s perceptions were no longer as black and white as they seemed in the heat of the moment – but her unexpected transition from a service provider to a service user now sheds a new light on this. Puts what it’s like to be in both sides of the thin blue line.
In other words, what is it like to be a (former in this case) police officer who needs to call 999 himself?
After seeing Izzy’s tweet on Thursday, Birmingham Live asked West Midlands Police why it didn’t send a car to his home – and its detailed response suggests the force was feeling as much as Izzy’s period , was taking more notice than that.
Izzy, 64, was awarded a BEM on the Queen’s New Year Honors List after a citation of 15 bullet points. This involved 30 years of service with the police in South Birmingham, as well as a large amount of community work.
But with the benefit of being viewed through the prism of a detailed response to her case from West Midlands Police, Izzy told TODAY that her feelings would have been different if the force had explained things a bit more in her time of need.
“I wanted to feel confident,” Izzy said. “I didn’t say I was a former police sergeant when I called so that I could be treated fairly like everyone else.
“I guess if they called me back and said they didn’t plan to participate – but would send logs to CID for investigation – I wouldn’t have tweeted what I did.
“I was thinking ‘The call handler didn’t ask me enough questions to see if I was alone’.
“I don’t want this (report) to be about me, just about the best way for everyone to feel safe in their homes.”
West Midlands Police reaction to ‘tragic’ service claim
In a full statement, Supta Hasan Shigdar of Force Contact said: “We were informed via live chat on Tuesday after 9.30 pm a woman reported that a man had tried to break into her garage, but her husband harassed him and he ran away.
“His details were taken, and the report was sent to our Force CID for investigation.
“Next day, he called 999 after 8.30 pm to inform that someone had again tried to enter his garage and heard a noise and people were running.
“We have since been given details of a car carrying two people near the scene, and the matter is being reviewed by Force CID.
“All theft progress is given our top priority by the call handler and we will aim to get the officers to the scene within 15 minutes.
“However, on this occasion, since there were no suspects still at the scene, there was no immediate interrogation, there was no immediate danger to the victims or witnesses, and no CCTV was available, there was no need to send officers to the scene immediately. Wasn’t.
“The victim was contacted the next day to provide further details to aid in the investigation.”
Izzy said there were still lessons to be learned about how people should be treated when forced to dial 999 with the situation she found herself in on Wednesday night — and communication was key.
Speaking below before West Midlands Police responded to our own inquiry, Izzy told Birmingham Live on Thursday: “I want to defend the police because I know how hard the job is.
“I’ve been there and you’re never going to please everyone. Some people expect miracles.
“I’m sure individual executives care, still care and want to do a good job.
“But the way things are at the moment, they are ‘fire brigade policing.’ It’s not sustainable and you just end up with more crime.
“I think anyone who calls 999 expects the police to answer and make sure they are safe.
“While I was working, the officers of King’s Heath would circle straight for any attempted burglary.”
Izzy said he was alerted to an attempt to break into his garage on Tuesday, January 11.
He then used the online live chat facility to report his information and obtain a crime reference number.
On Wednesday, January 12, she realized her new lock had been attacked and dialed 999.
Izzy said: “For two nights of running, people were trying to get into our garage, even though there was nothing valuable inside.
“There was a burglary in an empty house and, on Tuesday, a neighbor saw three ‘kids’ working suspiciously.
“They tried to lock our garage, but by then everyone was gone so I used live chat to report it.
“We had a different lock on Wednesday and they cut it, so I called 999.
“Even when you know there’s only so much they can do, for them to talk to you, to look around, and to be local — I know it makes you feel a lot more confident.” does it.
“The neighborhood team came the day after Thursday – a PC and a PCSO.”
In his tweet, Izzy said that his 999 calls were ’20 seconds’.
West Midlands Police told Birmingham Live it had been more than two minutes – a fact that Izzy agreed to once checked her phone logs.
“It felt like only 20 seconds (I was reporting the incident) at the time,” she said.
“But there was a second call with the details of a car number plate and she was too young.
“I think what I wanted from the first call was for the call handler to ask me more questions to help reassure me if I was alone (they were taking my call seriously).”
perceived lack of action
Izzy said that local residents and contacts in South Birmingham were often saying they were looking for more support from the police – and it helped their own mindset to think that the police didn’t take their own calls seriously. took.
“People are reporting a lot of serious stuff, from thefts to robberies and serious accidents,” Izzy said.
“But when there’s no response, they feel like they’re not being taken seriously and that’s when you start to feel like you’re not reporting stuff.
“The police then start missing out on information and intelligence, and criminals start to think they are getting away with it.
“When the police are not cracking down on incidents of burglary… it really leads people to think that someone is taking things of sentimental value into their home. This creates a lasting shock.
“When there was a burglary in a house, the officers would come, to check the CCTV, to ask the neighbors and to make you feel that they were taking your matter seriously, so the more you catch them. For intelligence, can make a big difference.
“You catch them and (these incidents) stop for a while.
“When the neighborhood teams are at the ball, (offenders) know you know (who they might be).
“When that doesn’t happen, groups can feel unappreciated, they get excited.”
Prevention best but ‘hard to measure’
Izzy claimed that the closure of police stations has affected the police system in the area.
“Police lose their sense of ownership of an area,” she said. “You don’t know if they’re coming from the city center or Steakford or anywhere.”
Izzy argued that the preventive work was “hard to reflect on the figures”, so neighborhood officials were “often being diverted elsewhere.
“A lot of organized and serious crime is often related to drugs, but neighborhood teams are often taken in and it escalates when you lose that crime to local intelligence.
“Covid hasn’t helped, certainly it hasn’t. Good neighborhood officials served for years and to know who the people were, they could also call the mothers of the children.
“Having those kinds of numbers is a powerful thing.”
Theft and West Midlands Police
On 31 December 2021, Birmingham Live reported that West Midlands Police were ‘bottom of the league’ in terms of unresolved theft rates over the Christmas period.
Izzy was also thinking that when she dialed 999, could anyone have been caught from her call?
Commenting on the local arrest rate, Labor West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster told Birmingham Live in that report: “Standing at any time of the year is always deeply distressing and I fully understand people’s concern. .
“Unfortunately, despite the West Midlands Police working incredibly hard to prevent and combat piracy, the force has suffered massive government cuts over the past decade, reducing the number of officers in our region by a quarter. has occurred.
“That’s why I’ve urged the lawmakers in my area to join me in my campaign for proper funding, so that I can return officer numbers to the level I was last seen in 2010 and bring down the level of piracy.”
- What’s your 999 story? Have you ever called for help and got frustrated – only to change your mind later? Have you called 999 and amazed by the response? Did your quick action save someone’s life? Do the police deserve more praise? Tell us your story in the comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and enter ‘999 Feedback’ as the subject
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