First job this morning was an all too familiar shout in Bigtown; “Constable Chaos, can you attend Arkwright Industrial Estate, report of travellers setting up, six caravans and they’ve got a couple of horses roadside”.
As it happens, Mrs Chaos and I have a caravan – maybe the control room thought I could go and swap tips on the best sites to visit in Bognor Regis, or cheapest place to get LPG gas in Devon or something like that. We brought ours about three years ago. It’s not an especially flashy caravan as they go – certainly nothing like those penthouses on wheels our friends in the travelling community roll about in, but it’s fine for our needs – it has a fridge, a cooker, a loo, shower, somewhere to sit and somewhere to sleep.
The thing is though, when we go away in our caravan, we tend to head for the coast. It’s nice there; pleasant; scenic. You can walk along a beach at sunset; grab a pub meal overlooking a beach filled with carefree children splashing in the water, laughing and giggling, burying their dads under massive sand piles while they sleep. If you’re lucky, as you can be in parts of Wales or off the Norfolk coast, you might even see dolphins or seals playing in the water.
We’ve been all over the place in our van – Cornwall, Dorset, Norfolk, Wales, even up into Scotland. We did stay on a site in London once when we were going for a show, but generally it’s the seaside for us. I would never think, for one minute, that given the option of travelling and stopping anywhere in the UK, Arkwright Industrial Estate in Bigtown would be my destination of choice. I’m sure bobbies all over the country must have the same thought about their towns or cities.
I mentioned this in conversation with Mick, the self styled leader of this band of soulless cohorts. He seemed amused by my thoughts but insisted that the coastal life was not for them. Seemingly the toxic smell of industrial pollutants held a far stronger draw to the string-vestedness of the menfolk of their community than the fresh sea breeze, calling of the seagulls and all those fish n chips.
I reckoned, if they weren’t so busy running wild around the industrial park, in and out of the unlocked warehouse doors and grabbing anything they could find to make a sword out of, the numerous young children of the group would have sided with me – after all would your children choose copper pipes over choc ices ????
I also pointed out to Mick and his merry men how they must be amongst the most unlucky sector of the community ever to visit Bigtown – you see whenever a group of travellers grace our fair town with their presence, it is always at the same time as an immediate spike in all sorts of theft, burglary and similar offences. It must be really unfortunate for them to move from town to town, and every time, arrive in a location just as a crime wave hits. I tried to give the group advice on their personal safety and crime prevention whilst they were under our care – after all, their shiny new Range Rovers and 30ft long caravans are very expensive, but again, Mick assured me I had nothing to worry about and that they would be fine.
As is the required way, I asked Mick and his friends how long they would be holidaying in Bigtown to which the answer was the inevitable “we’ll see how it goes”. All the pleasantries out of the way I thanked them for choosing to visit Bigtown, and helping to swell the coffers of our local economy with their undoubtedly high tourist expenditure, then waved my goodbyes and headed back to the police station to update the Duty Inspector as to my newly found knowledge.
As I left, all the little urchins stopped their copper pipe sword fights with the local business employees (who were clearly losing the battle as they were very red in the face) to wave goodbye to me. At least I think it was goodbye they were waving, although from the angle I was sat in the drivers seat of the panda, I could only see two fingers on each of the kids hands – must have been a trick of the light I guess.
Once back at the station I gave my update to the Duty Inspector, and then had to repeat it all over again over the radio so that some else could type it all into the computer. nothing like doing things several times you know.
After giving the boss the basics, I informed him I was going to pop over to the Intelligence Officers office. He looked at me a little strange but then I explained this pattern I had identified. That where a crime wave spiked wherever the caravan dwellers deposited themselves. I reasoned that if we could ‘engage’ with the travellers, and get them to tell us everywhere they would be going for the next three months, we could set up some sort of sting operation – you know, get a load of officers, in plain clothes, in unmarked vehicles, on overtime of course because the shifts are short and too busy to deal, and stake out all the likely targets in the places we knew the travellers would be heading for. That way we’d be in exactly the right spot to catch the offenders red handed – think of the figures we’d mop up.
For reasons I can’t work out however, the Inspector didn’t share my enthusiasm for this plan, and suggested I needed to go and lie down in a dark room for a short while, listening to a CD of whale noises. I don’t think he’ll pass his promotion board this year being negative to good ideas like that you know.