Thursday, 6 September 2012

Operation Gram - Cheshire Police

Earlier this week I received a fascinating invite - would I like to accompany Cheshire Police on one of its operations?  Having said Yes - but what does it involve - I was told it would mean an early morning start and I was to wear warm clothes.  Now suitably intrigued I said yes and was told to get myself to Police Headquarters in Winsford for 4:45am.  This meant a 3:50am alarm call for me.

The briefing in the early hours at Police HQ,Winsford

I'm the tired looking one with the orange lanyard!

Anyway in the early hours of this morning around 300 officers from Cheshire Police met at police HQ.  I witnessed the briefing and was privileged in being allowed to accompany them when executing warrants in Runcorn aimed at disrupting the illegal drugs trade in the town.

I was impressed with everything I saw.  The planning was meticulous, the officers were thoroughly professional - but with a suitably laconic sense of humour.  

A lengthy convoy of vehicles left Winsford - it must have been quite a sight to see en route to Runcorn where the convoy broke into teams to do their work.

I witnessed 3 warrants being executed and saw doors being broken in and properties and suspects secured - all from the safety of the public highway!  Not only was it fascinating to watch I learned a lot just by listening to the officers interact with each other - and use mutually encouraging and respectful banter to reinforce their planning and make sure each one knew what their role was. 

Clearly the officers were keyed up - but they remained professional throughout even through the unexpected and shocked responses of those who were being arrested and those who witnessed their loved ones being arrested.  Having to react to the unexpected is inevitably part of the job.

It was after the second warrant had been executed and the officers were waiting for authorisation to move to their third set of premises when I saw them relax and reflect on what they were doing.  It was humbling to hear the officers comment about how innocent family members - such as young children - could be affected by witnessing heavily protected officers bursting into a house.

With the more serious suspects now arrested we moved to the final set of premises for this particular team.  This suspect was more vocal than any of the others - they'd taken their arrests quietly - or at least the parts I saw or heard. This guy protested his innocence in very colourful language repeatedly.  Again the professionalism shone through - he was quietly, but firmly placed in the 'secure accommodation' of the rear portion of the van.  

Then it was off to Runcorn police station to see the paperwork being generated and recorded - and finally a trip back to HQ.  I had my 'full English' in the HQ Canteen not long after 8am.  A fascinating morning.

As it happened I was able to convey my thanks and appreciation directly to the chief constable in a meeting later on that morning.  I also commented on what I had seen at CWaC's Executive Meeting later on in the evening.