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Monday, July 17, 2006

Swansea firebugs and Pontarddulais plonkers

The world is full of idiots. I woke up a short while ago to find our home filled with smoke and the vile stench of a serious fire. With all of us evacuated to the garden, I was about to call the fire brigade on my mobile. Then it dawned on me - I'd seen no flames nor felt any heat beyond that of the summer, as we made our escape. I turned around, and saw black smoke billowing into the air, from a location a couple of hundred metres away. I couldn't see its source, as it was obscured by houses. But I then recognised the stench as burning car, and realised it was coming from a nearby lane.

I really resent being dragged from my sleep at just before five in the morning, terrified out of my wits, believing my home is on fire. Don't get me wrong, I'm often up at this time, to listen to the birds singing and to breathe in the fresh morning air. What do I get instead? The acrid, throat-searing, lung-choking stench of burning rubber, metal, plastic, paint, petrol and electrical cables, and a volley of loud bangs as at least one petrol tank exploded. The stench is vile, my throat is swollen up and I can barely breathe. And this is the second night/morning in a poxy row that a car has been torched in almost the very same spot. So it looks like the little toerag who used to terrorise this neighbourhood with his car-torching, has been released back amongst us, instead of being left to rot in jail where the little shit belongs. So where the hell are the police? Let me tell you a little story about the police, that may shock you.

A couple of days ago, my elderly mother was alone in her house in Pontarddulais, when she heard numerous sirens screeching past her house. As my sister had gone down to the town centre to carry out various errands, my old mum got very concerned that my sister had somehow got entangled in a bank or post office raid, or had maybe been run over or something - you know how elderly folk worry. Well, my mum took a look out of her window and saw a terrifying sight.

About a dozen police officers came tearing up the road, all in heavy-duty protective clothing. At least four of them carried high velocity rifles. They were as aggressive as hell, and stormed into my mother's garden, before leaving. My sister, meanwhile, had spotted armed police leaving the house, as she returned from her errands, and she panicked, thinking something had happened to my mother. In fact, several local residents were terrified by the sudden arrival of an armed response team, in a small town. People assumed that an armed and dangerous suspect was on the loose, maybe even a terrorist.

After leaving my mother's property, the officers sped into her neighbour's property, hammered on the door, and pushed their way into the house with no warrant and as far as I know, no invite to do so. They apprehended and needlessly killed their suspect in the neighbour's garden. It was a cow. A bloody runaway cow that had panicked upon finding itself in the town's main thoroughfare, and had run amok through the streets, injuring itself, before finding its way into my mum's neighbour's garden, and coming to rest very peacefully beneath a tree, threatening no-one.

After the poor cow had been killed, apparently a police inspector arrived and commended his men for "a job well done". If he meant the job of terrifying half the town's population, making an illegal entry into a private dwelling, unnecessarily killing an innocent animal, wasting thousands of pounds of tax-payers money to do so, whilst simultaneously alienating decent people who had, until then, shown ultimate respect for the police, yes, they did a first class job.

I understand that a runaway cow can cause a lot of property damage and threaten human safety. But this was preposterous, testosterone-fuelled overkill. The animal was injured and at rest. A vet with a tranquiliser gun would have been a better option. No residents would have been intimidated, it would have cost less than mobilising a team of heavily armed officers, and the cow would still be alive. I think South Wales Police ought to be ashamed of themselves for this escapade, especially for the illegal entry into a private dwelling. The police can only come into your home without a warrant, if they need to save life or limb, apprehend a suspect believed to have committed an arrestable offence, or seize evidence from premises controlled by someone who has been arrested for an arrestable offence. Outside of these circumstances, no warrant equals no right to enter.

How dare they behave like this. I think someone's been watching too many high-octane Hollywood movies featuring SWAT teams. A cow, for crying out loud. How can any police force justify such a massive response for a bloody cow? Where were they when that little car-torcher was trying to gas half my neighbourhood, whilst destroying property he'd stolen off someone else, who had no doubt worked damned hard to pay for it? Maybe if the car thief had stolen a cow and it had decided to run amok and chase him around the neighbourhood, they might have turned up, rifles a-ready.

I hope the Pontarddulais Posse face some kind of disciplinary action for their revolting behaviour. Police officers face a hard enough time as it is, without this bunch of buffoons getting them all a bad name. The sad fact is, since the cow incident, a number of the town's residents have said they've lost respect for the police. And we're not talking young hotheads, eager to denigrate the police for the slightest reason, but respectable pensioners, who have held the police in high esteem all their lives. It seems H division has a serious exercise in damage limitation on its hands. Let's just hope they have good PR people. And a nice cell waiting for the little sod who stank out my neighbourhood this morning.

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