Christmas is coming!

Christmas Eve, what does it mean to you?

Roasting chestnuts,
Mulled wine,
Midnight Mass,
Christingle candles?

It means one thing, tomorrow will be the big day! Family time, celebrations, lots of food, drink and making merry! Most get excited by Christmas and most have already finished work making preparations for the big day. Well there are many of us that work during the Christmas period.

My little offering will be a Christmas Eve tweetathon. Most of my twitter followers already know, I am a man of Office but also a man of Family. The one thing I want to offer you is an insight of how things fit together!

Follow me @PCCloake and I will be giving very regular updates of 24 hours of my life on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. I’ll be working a 6pm – 4am shift dealing with the inevitable Christmas spirit but I will be starting the tweetathon from 8am on Christmas Eve until 8am Christmas Day.

Follow the hash tag #MyXmasEve and you can follow the journey of Christmas Eve into Christmas Day from family to policing and back in 24 hours!

Hope you enjoy it!


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Daniel Entwistle

Daniel Entwistle went missing on 3rd May 2003. The significance of this date escaped me for a long while: it is, of course, the same day of the year Madeleine McCann was to disappear on 4 years later. There the similarities between the two cases end; while Madeleine has become one of the most famous missing children in the world, Daniel’s story has been all but lost to the mists of time.

In spring 2003 7-year-old Daniel Joseph Entwistle was living on Copperfield Avenue in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, with his father David, mother Paula and brothers Antony, 10, and John, 2. The family were originally from Burnley in Lancashire, but had moved to the Norfolk area 3 years earlier to be near members of Paula Entwistle’s family.

Daniel attended Greenacre First, Middle and Nursery School and was described by his headmaster as being “a delightful little boy, always with a ready smile and a ready quip”. He had been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), limiting his attention span and possibly affecting his ability to judge levels of risk.

On Saturday 3rd May 2003, the start of a sunny Bank Holiday weekend, Daniel was captured on CCTV visiting a local shop (pictured). The time was around 5pm and he was wearing a distinctive blue Adidas T-shirt. After returning home with the milk he’d bought, he vanished. His red and white bicycle was found on Trinity Square, off Southgates Road, an area less than a mile from his home he’d been known to play in in the past. Yards away was a harbour wall and, beyond that, the fast-flowing River Yare.

A large-scale search ensued, involving a press campaign, hundreds of interviews with potential witnesses, and sonar examinations of the riverbed. Nothing was found; no clothing, no clue, no trace of the boy except his abandoned bike.

The relationship between Daniel’s parents deteriorated, allegedly due to the stress of their son’s disappearance, and Paula Entwistle obtained a court order banning her husband from having contact with her. David Entwistle made headlines for breaching the order twice.

The active police investigation into Daniel’s disappearance was brought to a close in August 2003, a little over 3 months after he’d gone missing. The assumption appeared to be that he had fallen into the river and drowned. On the balance of probabilities, it was the likeliest explanation for his disappearance, especially given Daniel’s dangerous combination of ADHD and his inability to swim.

However, on rare occasions real life defies the cold hard logic of probabilities. Daniel was known to dislike water; what if he hadn’t fallen into the river after all? What are the other possibilities?

Followers of true crime stories will be aware of cases where children have been abducted and “hidden in plain sight”. Famous US victims include Elizabeth Smart, Shawn Hornbeck and Steven Stayner, who were abducted and kept from their families for 9 months, more than 4 years, and more than 7 years respectively.

Let’s ignore the theory of accidental drowning for a moment and assume that Daniel was abducted. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’s still alive. What factors about the circumstances he’s in could we make educated guesses at, based on previous cases? I would think it likely that:

He is known by a different name, but may still have the same first name.
He is living as the “son” or other relative of a single man.
He may give his birthday as being on or near his actual birthday (28th July 1995).
He has apparent “freedom” to come and go as he pleases, while remaining under the complete control of his abductor.
He is either enrolled in school under false documents, or he doesn’t attend school at all.
He has been sexually abused by his abductor, and hasn’t told anyone.
He will lie/not want to talk about his family history.
He has some sort of online presence, and may have made/will make pleas for help over the internet.
After this many years, the situation he’s in would be incredibly difficult for him to escape from without outside intervention. Past cases show us that the abduction of another, younger child could prove to be the key to his rescue.

The late Steven Stayner, as someone who’d been forced to live through it, provided insight into what an abducted child goes through, and invaluable advice on how to spot one. Click here for the major points, in his own words, on the Steven Stayner & Missing Children’s Memorial. This statement by him, in particular, sticks in my memory:
“Today, no one knows how many missing children are dead or how many now live as I did. But if you’re going to help, you have to be aware of the real nature of stranger abduction and be committed to helping children. While it may be hard for you to tell an abducted child from an abused child, it’s not hard to tell a child in trouble. And it’s not hard to do something about it.”
Madeleine McCann has proven that the plight of a missing child can capture the attention of a sizeable community. Her name and likeness are known around the world, and that situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. During my research for this post I haven’t come across a single news article about Daniel that’s dated after 2003. If he were still alive, he could be forgiven for thinking he’s been forgotten about.

Blog courtesy of

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To Bait A Thief

Bait operations, also known as Police Sting Operations, honey traps. You may have strong views for or against these but they have been used by law enforcement for a good decade now and have become a recognised tactic in the fight against crime. This forms part of the work I do to prevent crime.

Thieves caught after covert sting

The questions are:-

Do they work?
When to set one up?

Do they work? Well the answer to this is quite simple, they work if a simple formula is applied to the situation. There are elements that are required to ensure a success of these types of operations. Without these elements you risk being counter productive, after all, a bait operation should be used to

A) Reduce a particular crime in an area
B) successfully identify those committing the crime
C) Building an evidential case in which to successfully prosecute those criminals.

So what are these elements?

Geographical location – You need to identify where your problem occurs. There is little point in placing a bait operation in an area that isn’t being affected by the crime you are targeting. This may seem like basic common sense but you normally find that a particular crime series moves and evolves in time and you need to make sure you are ahead of the criminal and really pre-empt their next move.

The right bait – You simply don’t go shark fishing with a Butterfly net. This is where you have to become the victim. understand what the offender is specifically looking for and make your bait attractive to them. You have to do what the victims do. If you find that victims are are losing motorbikes from insecure garages you have to put a motorbike in an insecure garage.

This video is from one of my operations which saw a massive reduction in garage burglaries in the town.

Local knowledge of potential suspects – The bait operation works best when it is used as confirmation that a particular offender is offending in your area. In an ideal scenario, when you come to arrest the offender after the operation, it shouldn’t be the first time you ever heard of them. It does happen from time to time but shouldn’t be the norm.

Probably the most effective use of a bait operation is the final stage. This is where you have had successes and you then shout those successes from the roof tops to all that you can. Criminologists will say that offenders before offending use a simple calculation before committing their crime. This is Risk versus Reward. You need to make it apparent to all those wanting to commit that type of crime that their risk now far outweighs their reward. When this is done well, can be the most impactive form of crime prevention. I sure there is also a thought that the criminals don’t want to look like they have been out smarted by the Police and caught with their hands in the sweetie jar but this is only my supposition.

You won’t see Police dressed as bushes, hauled up trees with binoculars. In fact you won’t see us at all. You will certainly see us if you wish to commit the crime but the first time you will see us is when you’ve committed the crime and when you are least expecting us. One this is known, you will hear from us when we are successful, and from experience, is the majority of the time. Do I love doing these operations? Of course I do!

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David’s Friend

I need to re-blog a comment made on David’s Story. Please take the time to read it as it Is very heart felt and an eye opener of a comment!

“David could easily have been my friend Chris, though you wisely (and I’m sure intentionally) didn’t give enough detail to tell one way or the other. He and David faced the same Goliath, on a cold winter night, and reached the same decision. I hope he came across someone like you who took the trouble to stop and listen to the why, as well as the what. Someone who wasn’t afraid to make that connection and stand at his side as he stared into the pit. Even if it didn’t change his eventual decision, feeling suicidal is one of the loneliest places in the world to be, and I’m sure having some company on the journey helped him.

I know it’s tempting to ask what more you could have done, and blame yourself for not being able to change the outcome. But someone once told me a wonderful analogy, which I think applies here. We live in a world where it’s raining eggs, they’re falling all around us, all the time. Some people buy umbrellas and a pair of wellies. You and I instead try to catch as many as we can. We feel bad when they fall too far away for us to grab. We feel worse when sometimes one breaks in our hand as we catch it. But each of these are eggs which would have broken anyway if we hadn’t been there, and some of the eggs we manage to cradle safely in our palms. Soppy cliché? probably, but sometimes too easy to forget that.”

This really hits home the impact this has on every one surrounding the situation. I’m really glad this comment was made!

Thank You

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David’s story

I don’t know why, but last night I decided that today I would tell you David’s story. David isn’t his real name but one I have given him to protect any of those involved.

One Saturday night I was driving through the town centre in the public order carrier, policing the pubs and clubs as was normal on a busy Saturday night. I remember it was a cold winters evening and I had added numerous layers under my uniform.

Driving along I was suddenly confronted by a male stood in the road waving frantically trying to get my attention. I stopped thinking he had maybe been a victim of an assault or similar and got out and approached him. I could see he looked upset but no shouting or tears, he looked weary. As I got closer I could see that his clothes were soaking and water was still dripping from him onto the road. Before I could even speak he said to me “I couldn’t do it, I got scared” I wasn’t sure what he meant by this until I asked what he meant by this and asked why he was so wet “I walked into the sea to kill myself but I couldn’t do it. I’m so cold”

As I say, this was a very cold night and he was soaking. My initial priority was to get him medical attention. I also knew he needed to speak to someone that could work through the reasonings for his actions. I popped him in the back of my van and put every available heater on and drove the short journey to A&E. During the journey I explained that I was also detaining him under Sec 136 of The Mental Health Act so he could be assessed by a mental health professional. He seemed fairly unobjectionable about this. David was chatty, polite and was very apologetic.

We got to A&E and I walked him in and explained to staff that he needed to be seen as he was so cold and told them that he had been detained under Sec 136. You need not explain Sec 136 to A&E staff as they have as many dealings with this legislation as we do. David and I went and sat in a quiet room away from the main waiting room to give us a little privacy and whilst waiting for the nurse, we carried on chatting.

When confronted with someone that has made an attempt on their life can make for an awkward conversation, but not being the shy and retiring type I asked David why he had found himself wanting to kill himself. He pulled out a sodden railway ticket. It was a one way ticket to Eastbourne and from the timing on the ticket, he would only have been in town for a short while before heading to the beach. He explained that he came to Eastbourne as he heard about Beachy Head and travelled here with the intention of jumping. He then explained that he went there and couldn’t do it. He then walked down to the seafront where he thought the easier option was to walk into the freezing, rough sea and be overcome. Once again he told me that on walking into the sea he couldn’t do it and was scared.

David explained that he was a student at a university and was studying Geology. As he was explaining this his head dropped for the first time since I met him. He went on to say that he couldn’t cope with the pressures of the course but desperately didn’t want to let his family down by dropping out. His only option in his head would be to end his life. I tried to explain that a parents love would always out weigh their desire for there child to “do well” but David wasn’t convinced.

I was a little angry at David’s predicament, why should anyone feel that their options were so limited and have such fear of failure that they would rather kill themselves. This was a thought I kept to myself and carried on chatting with him for an hour or so before I passed my duty of care over to the Crisis team. I said my farewells to David, shook his hand and told him that I was a real pleasure to have met him. It had indeed, been a pleasure.

I left the hospital knowing that he was in the right place and being seen by the right people. I went back into the town and began once again dealing with day to day drunken fights and assaults. However, I couldn’t shake David from my mind.

Two days later, I was back at work and looking through my emails and began reading one from an inspector from The British transport Police. Curious as to what it was about I began reading…..

“PC Cloake, can you provide a statement as to your dealings with a lad called David two nights ago. He wasn’t sectioned under the mental health act and upon being released jumped in front of a train. Could you provide a statement for the forthcoming Coroners inquest”

My heart sunk. I began questioning if there was anything I could have said or done to have helped him to prevent this outcome. I knew there was nothing I could have done. Anger came back once again at the situation and still does writing this. A young man, who could have achieved anything he wanted to in his life was now gone due to the pressure to do well.

The reason I called him David, is because he had to face his Goliath. His Goliath was his life, stood in front of him all mapped out, challenging him. This time the thought of fighting Goliath was too much, unachievable, an immense challenge that David didn’t believe he could ever win.

I will always remember David and his situation. The experience I shall use to hopefully make me a wiser and more understanding person. This is all I can gleen from this wasted life.

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In sickness and in cancelled rest days


Well to time has come. I have been with my better half for a number of years, we have two gorgeous boys and are well and truly besotted with each other. It’s time to formalise this relationship next year with a couple of rings and vows to match.

As we entered into the preliminary discussions of what, where, when and how (I think the who is already sorted), I mentioned that I would like to get married in my full dress uniform.

Now, I have to apply for authority from The Chief to do this so nothing is, as yet, final. Now I can already hear the echoes of colleagues and others asking why I would choose this and some shouting “Cloakey, why?” But this is a decision that both my betroved and I have discussed.

So here is my rationale……

I didn’t always want to be a Police Officer, in fact I was studying all the sciences and maths with a view of becoming a doctor. After an epiphany I realised that I law enforcement was actually the way forward for me and began the application process. Once, twice I applied and failed to meet the grade due to lack of life experience. On the third attempt, I received the letter that would ultimately change my life.

“Mr Cloake, I am please to inform you that you have been successful”

I cannot describe my absolute elation and happiness and a very deep sense of pride. I did not realise (certainly not as much as I do now) that I would be waving goodbye to Mr Cloake and soon be saying hello to PC Cloake.

” I PC Cloake of Sussex Police do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.”

As every Police Officer, immediate family of an Officer and friends of officers know, you suddenly have many restrictions on your personal life. I am never really off duty, I no longer have a job, but hold the (proud) Office of Constable. To quote Spider man “With great power comes great responsibility”

Why would I want to get married in my work gear? I’m sure the mechanics out there wouldn’t get married in boiler suits, doctors without stethoscopes round their neck, builders without hard hats. So why is my situation different.

Firstly, the most important reason is pride in what I do, what I stand for and The Office I hold.

I am still hearing people asking “Why?”

Secondly, both myself and my better half understand that there are constraints on our lives due to the work I do. I will be holding said office for a good number of years to come. It is very much the reality of “For richer for poorer, in sickness and in cancelled rest days” There is a rational realisation between the two of us that there is another feature to our relationship. Sometimes a conflicting entity within our family unit. Another part of my life that needs to be embraced.

For me getting married in my uniform, shows that we are beginning our marriage with our eyes open. We both understand that there will be times when others will come first before us and our children. We both understand that there could be a day when I may not come home, get seriously injured, or need extra support when something is witnessed that leaves a deep emotional scar.

My wife to be will be marrying Dan. She will become Mrs Cloake and I will be her husband. Both she and I know however, that PC Cloake will always feature until that time when I wave farewell to my vocation and enjoy my twilight years with her purely as Mr Cloake once again.

I’ll start polishing buttons!

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Policing Beachy Head My personal experience

Beachy Head, maybe you have visited it or maybe not, it is a piece of beautiful headland just south of Eastbourne. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty. When you visit it during the day you will be astounded by the sheer power it commands on the landscape.

For me, an Eastbourne Officer, I see a different side to the beast, a more tragic side, a side of it that echoes sadness, loneliness and untimely death . If you have not been there, I am sure you have heard of it.

A few years ago I used to tutor new constables in the town and show them the ropes. It was always an important part of their development to deal with a death at the head because if you are going to work in the town, you WILL have to deal with a tragic death there.

The journey from the town centre to The Head becomes so familiar that I can honestly say that I know every lump and bump in the road as I travel on blues to a person at the edge. It is a sad affair but one that is centuries old at this location.

Suicide? Accidental? Foul play? I do not care or need to assume, it is not my job to make that decision. I will fulfill my duty to gather all the information so a Coroner can decide. For me, every time I have had a person brought from the bottom is is simply another day that will etched on the memories of family members for the rest of their life. A hole in their lives that will never be filled.

From my experience many leave an item at the top to almost mark their point of decent, glasses, shoes, a bag, but very rarely a note. However, I can say that nearly all of the time, they are on their own.

As I have previously said, the Head at day is a beautiful place, you will see families walking dogs, lovers hand in hand, picnics and the invariable seagulls squawking in the background. At night, the Head takes on more eary, sad and may I say it, a scary place to be. No lights, no landmarks (as you are on it) and normally shrouded by low cloud cover. This is the time where you have to have some strong determination and resolve to foot search for someone. Knowing there is a 600 foot drop to your side walking along looking for that person takes courage. You do it though, a chance to save someones life, find the mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter that may be there.

One night shift I took a call there. My colleague and I saw break lights flickering at the edge. Running towards the car it was obvious that the driver had their axles caught and were trying to free their car in order to drive off. We broke the window, dragged the person out and had a wrestle before we finally got them to a safe place. Hours later we returned to recover the car and it was only at that point in the dawn daylight, it bacame apparent how close we had been to the edge, wrestling on the floor. I can say that my loose change in my pocket would had dropped 600ft without a bounce. That person is still with us today and I cannot say if they remember me as much as I do them.

finding someone sat on the edge takes fast thinking, courage, good talking but more importantly empathy. You are often seen as the enemy to step in and mess with someones bigger plans. It is then, when you have to summon all your personal experience of life and turn their opinion of you to a friend or confidant. That shoulder they couldn’t find. The voice of reason when nothing is making sense. Or in some cases, the soundings of a crazy person to someone that has never been so clear in their head as they are at that point in time and in that place. Its not about being a hero, it’s about being there!

You will never eradicate the toll of loss at The Head, but as a Police Officer, you can be there. For the people at their lowest ebb, for their families, friends and loved ones they leave behind. You can save lives, you can offer the ultimate service to those that require it.

To make that lumpy, bumpy journey to The Head is one I will make many more times before I finish. But each time that journey is made I know what the people I deal with as a result will get one thing from me…. my all!


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