October 31 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Lost cocker spaniels, large cat sightings, 999 calls about ghosts and zombies and officers misusing their sirens all feature in the latest batch of inquiries to Cambridgeshire Police.
The force publishes all Freedom of Information responses and they show an eclectic mix of concerns..
We know, for instance, that in the past three years there have been eight logged incidents where callers suspect the presence of a ‘large cat’.
The most recent ‘sighting’, according to police files, was last year in Friday Bridge near Wisbech where unconfirmed reports noted a “panther seen in back garden”.
At Little Eversden near Huntingdon police never did get to the bottom of a 2010 sighting of a “very large wild cat seen in fields- possibly a Lynx” and they’re still on the trail of the “big black cat who walked across the road” at Comberton near Cambridge.
In Cambridgeshire ET would have had a field a day – since 2010 there have been 13 emergency calls to police detailing “paranormal or extra-terrestrial activity such as ghosts, zombies, UFO sightings or witchcraft”.
Police, obliged by law to respond, detailed each reported incident with four such incidents from March alone.
Many of the reported incidents, say police, can be attributed to mental health issues or drink and some are, quite simply, down to pranksters or misunderstandings.
In September 2011, for example, at Great Shelford in the south of the county, police responded to a 999 caller who was concerned about three “suspicious vehicles” near an unoccupied farm.
“It turned out the three cars who were ghost hunting,” says Cambs Police.
The fate of cocker spaniels also features with five having been reported missing in the past year compared to just one the year before.
The statistics also reveal that 1,781 hoax calls were made between August 2010 and July 2013, with officers deployed to 1,074 of them.
There were also 3,747 bikes reported stolen in 2012, of which only 72 were recovered by police.
And £100 fixed penalty notices for careless driving also feature with 43 drivers being issued with them in the first three months since their introduction in August.
One member of the public wanted to know how many times Cambs police officers had broken data protection laws, including carrying out unlawful background checks; 44 times since 2009 with 23 of them in 2011.
In 11 instances, information was passed on to a third party. Offences led to five dismissals and four resignations.
Not that answering FOI requests was to blame but one response reports an alarming increase in police officers battling depression in the past three years.
In 2012/13 officers missed 528 days due to depression, compared to 270 in 2010/11.
But the question as to whether any police officer had ever misused the siren on their car remains unanswered.
“Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate any information to satisfy your request, as we do not hold this information,” said police.
“We have been unable to locate any record of a complaint over the misuse of sirens - or blue lights - by any officer or member of police staff at any time.”