Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Police helicopter over the Bush

At 4am on Monday morning I, like many of you, started my day. This was because a Police helicopter, a regular visitor to the Bush, was hovering low for about half an hour. By 7am, as usual, I had several enquiries from several readers as to what it had been up to. The difference was that by 10am I had had 15 seperate emails from people who had been woken and were not best pleased.

So I asked the Police, again as usual, what it had all been about. The answer, which I got later that evening, was that a stabbing suspect had been chased by a police sergeant on foot from over the border in Kensington & Chelsea, but that he and an accomplice had been on cycles so they'd called the chopper. Here's the full statement:

"19/12/11, Time of origin 03:40, from Mitre Way, W10 which is in Kensington and Chelsea Borough (BS) gives details of a call originated from a BS Sergeant who wished to stop two males on push bikes, one of whom was recognised as being a suspect for a previous stabbing. The Air Support Unit was requested at 03:43 as well as a dog unit and other units". 

All fine I guess - nobody wants a stabbing suspect to get away. But what I found interesting was the fact that because I asked this question publicly the ferocity of the response was really quite extraordinary. It was apparently an absolute abomination that I was even asking - and by implication all of you that regularly complain about being woken in the early hours should not have the audacity to wonder why.

A bit out of touch with local opinion? I thought so. It was just a simple question. So I asked the new Metropolitan Police Chief Bernard Hogan-Howe who was hosting a Twitter Q&A for Londoners. Here's what he said:

Full marks to him for that - he was certainly a lot quicker in responding than the local W12 Police press operation. The fact that the helicopter itself is shortly to have a Twitter account will be interesting to follow!

But how about this response (above) from a serving Metropolitan Police Constable - he was not impressed with my question, while another - a trainee Special Constable, went absolutely crazy with me. And then decided to delete the tweets and lock her account!

And then, our favourite local abusive journalist Adam Courtney, purveyor of false sex attack stories, decided to weigh in as well. This used to be a regular habit of his until he was hauled over the coals by his bosses for sending abusive messages. Let's hope this was just an involuntary spasm from him and that it doesn't start to bring the Chronicle into disrepute again.

So.. there we have it - a Chopper that woke many of us up, and the explanation for it. But also an interesting insight into the sensitivity that this apparently mundane subject generates from the Police themselves, and the attempt by the local dead tree press to make some kind of political point about it.

Not an edifying spectacle and similar to Adam Courtney's last outing on this subject (below).Can't we have a grown up conversation about it without descending into this?


  1. Absolutely Chris. It's just possible this is connected to the increase in the private helicopters that have buzzed the Bush constantly over the past couple of years. Maybe after so much noise from these, the police chopper at 4am seems like one last straw. From my perspective the private choppers have a real impact on noise pollution. But I'd rather have a stabbing teen caught than not. I think you should ask these questions publicly and that the police response needs to be measured and intelligent definitely not hysterical. Perhaps the officer who berated you was new to Twitter?

  2. A very spiteful post Chris.

    Adam's a decent bloke and a good local journalist. This blog is hardly without errors so it's a bit rich taking a pop. Blogs have their place but it's a good job we've also got professional journalists working in the borough.

    If you want a grown-up conversation you should start by not taking snide digs like this.

  3. I don't understand how Adam has been allowed to carry on using that twitter username as a personal account. You'd think that, under scrutiny from Trinity Mirror (parent company) due to complaints lodged by certain members of the public, he'd have been told to change it... especially in the current climate regarding the behaviour of journalists.

  4. There was another chopper out over the brackenbury road area last night. Which is why i've found this blog. Obviously the only helicopter that would be able to operate in the early hours of the morning at low altitudes would be a helicopter belonging to the emergency services. And I doubt anyone is actually upset that they are using their resources to catch criminals/suspects and save lives, BUT it would be nice to have a place where we can easily find out WHAt the helicopter is doing. Or should we just nervously pper out from under our bed covers and hope that all hell isn't breaking loose outside our front door and wait until the clamour dies away then take a peek and hope that the bad guy got caught and it is indeed safe..?

    The response to the above article by the journo and police is disgusting. It's not hard to understand that perhaps people are just concerned over whether or not it is safe. Not knowing why a helicopter is buzzing over your house leaves so many unknowns in a persons head that it is unsurprising that they get stressed about it. Why was it there? What was it doing? was I in danger if i left my house? Could a criminal/madman/mass murderer who is on the run from the police come crashing through my window and kill us all. etc etc. the less someone knows, the more they will worry about something that is, in all reason, completely illogical and extreme.

    Anyway, back to the point. Any news what the chopper was doing last night? think it was around 1:40am...

    (and yes, obviously it was chasing criminals or somesuch, but a bit more info than that would be nice)