Journalism

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The shocking truth about policing in Cambridge

“How many of us were you expecting to see here?” asked a police officer, as I sat down.

I don’t know, but around 20 officers seemed reasonable for a city of 120,000 people.

A number of laughs roared from the handful of officers in the room. “No, this is it. All of us for Cambridge.”

What do you think about that? I asked. “It is ridiculous,” the officer said.

I’d invited myself along for a Friday night on patrol with police in Cambridge to see the harsh realities of modern policing.

The horrifying truth that I found is police are under incredible amounts of pressure, always have the risk of being assaulted, and deal with sights, sounds and smells which people maybe see once in a lifetime – which they see weekly or even daily.

Our officers have had poo thrown at them, had people with infections spit in their eyes, and had been moments away from death after being charged at by mentally ill people carrying knives.

Here’s what happened when I shadowed officers at Parkside Police Station in a 10-hour shift.

Click here to read more.

Man locked in Cambridge Waterstones bookshop after staff leave for the night

A man was trapped in a Cambridge bookshop for over an hour tonight (Monday, February 13) after staff locked up and went home with him still inside.

Oliver Soskice, 69, was perusing the upstairs sections of Waterstone’s on Sidney Street around the 7pm closing time when he noticed all was not right.

He said: “I was upstairs, I was looking for something. I half noticed the place was particularly quiet but it didn’t strike me as odd.

“But then when I came down there was an unearthly silence and then I realised I’d locked myself in.”

The Cambridge-based painter, whose wife is a university professor, triggered the shop’s lights and alarms as he tried to escape the deserted shop.

Mr Soskice estimated he was locked inside for around an hour and 20 minutes before a manager came to rescue him.

Admitting that he had previously almost got locked in the University Library, he remained calm in the face of adversity.

“I could see people going backwards and forwards. I was hoping a policeman might go by or something like that.”

After failing to reach his wife, Mr Soskice rang his daughter who suggested he ring the non-emergency police 101 number.

Officers struggled to find the correct contact numbers for the store and Mr Soskice could not locate the right button to operate the front desk telephone.

Eventually the confined painter was released from the empty shop by a manager who said this had never happened to a customer before.

Mr Soskice remained reflective over his temporary imprisonment and added: “There are worse places to be trapped than in a Waterstone’s.

“The two things that interest me are the philosophy section and the section on art.”

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Cat burglar’s purr-fect crimes

Pet cat Paddy is a bit of a magpie when it comes to stealing and squirrelling away strange items.

The modern-day cat burglar’s list of of purr-fect crimes includes stealing: 25 flowerpots, dog bone soft toys, a toy banana, an orchid with its pot, three pegs, a Manchester United football, a box of assorted screws, a KFC burger box and sandwich boxes.

The feline felon’s bag of booty has grown so much owner Paul Terry, of Studlands Park, Newmarket, has now gone onto Facebook to try to find the victims so that the items can be returned.

Paul said: “It’s hilarious. Other cats bring home dead mice but he [Paddy] doesn’t. I’ve been waving £20 notes in his face to see if he can get those instead!

“You sit there at night, you hear a meow and then round the back door somewhere there he is with a new item.

“I’ve got five cats all together, and he’s the only one that does it.

“I’m having to post the stolen items on Facebook to see if neighbours can claim them back, which quite a few have.”

Paul, who is a painter and decorating manager for C J Murfitt Ltd in Ely, has owned Paddy, a five-year-old Norwegian Forest, for three years.

He was previously owned by a friend who claimed Paddy had been taking items all his life.

Paul said: “It’s usually every other day. Sometimes it’s daily, sometime’s it’s weekly.

“I thought at some point someone was playing a prank on me but I’ve seen him carry some items. And they’re heavy ones as well. He jumps over fences.

“It’s just so stupid. He brings home so much rubbish. He’s like a Womble.”