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    Nine Quirky Findings From Police Freedom Of Information Requests

    Did you know that anybody can request information from their local UK police force under the Freedom of Information Act? As part of its pledge to be as open and transparent as possible, West Midlands Police publishes all FOI requests onto its website as a matter of course. And while the act enables important statistics and information to be published, it has also highlighted some of the force’s more unusual call outs. From alleged alien abductions, to big cat sightings and clown attacks, you can view some of the force’s recent FOI requests here.

    1. Ghosts, Ghouls and other spooky stuff

    Unfortunately, we see and hear our fair share of horror stories when policing the streets of the West Midlands... but this FOI request takes things to the next level.

    Those who get easily spooked by ghosts and ghouls may wish to move quickly on to the next page!

    "Incidents where the initial detail contains the word ‘Ghost’ ‘Paranormal’ or ‘Witch’ or ‘Witchcraft’ or ‘UFO’, and the wording suggests that it relates to alleged: ghosts, UFOs, paranormal activity, witches or witchcraft."

    Unbelievably, FOI data shows dozens of calls from spooked members of the public, with several of these calls even leading to arrests being made.

    Don’t worry though, we haven’t found any bogeymen under the bed… yet.

    2. Alien abductions

    Following on from the ghost and ghoul related FOI, we received a request in 2014 to divulge the number of alien abductions reported across the West Midlands.

    "Please, under the freedom of information act can you tell me how many alien abductions have been reported in the West Midlands over past three years, breaking it down for each area."

    The findings from this request reveal Birmingham to be the hub of any extra-terrestrial activity, with a total of 9 ‘abductions’ or ‘alien attacks’ being reported.

    In total, we have received twenty-three alien related reports since 2011. A full breakdown of the reports by location and type can be viewed here.

    3. Fancy dress bust-ups

    Everybody loves a good fancy dress party, but did you know that we were once called to an incident that involved a man dressed as an Elephant?!

    That’s not the only time we’ve been called out to incidents involving fancy dress though… as the following FIO request revealed incidents involving dress-up ‘nurses’ and police detectives!

    "I would like information relating to incidents in which the force has been called to deal with people wearing fancy dress costumes. … The type of costume is the detail that I am most interested in."

    Thankfully most fancy dress parties are good natured. You can see our full response to this FOI here.

    4. Clowns

    Staying on the fancy dress theme for a moment, lets talk about clowns.

    For some, clowns represent laughter, red noses and trips to the circus. But for others, clowns are evil... EVIL!

    This clown-related FOI request came in last year.

    "The number of incidents reported to your force during the past year involving people dressed as clowns or the keyword "clown". Please provide a further breakdown of each incident e.g. description, nature of offence etc."

    Our FOI team found a total of 3 clown related incidents on our systems… including one motoring related incident. Hopefully the said clown wasn't wearing giant clown boots when driving his vehicle!

    5. Onesie related crime

    Moving on from fancy dress to a similar trend that has swept the nation… the mighty Onesie!

    This FOI request certainly raised a few eyebrows in the office... and our findings were perhaps even more surprising!

    "Please provide the number of incidents reported to your force between January 1 and December 31, 2013, and January 1 and December 31, 2012, in which the word “onesie” or “onesies” appears in the description of the suspect or suspects."

    Unbelievably, we were called to 4 incidents involving people wearing Onesie’s in 2012 and 2013.

    Did you know that two of our very own officers once made an off-duty arrest while dressed in Onesies? You can see their photo here… shortly before making the arrest on their way to a fancy dress party in Solihull.

    6. Wedding day blues

    Wedding days are supposed to be filled with happiness and joy... but that wasn’t the case for 7 wedding attendees who ended up behind bars between 2012 and 2014!

    "The number of incidents reported where 'wedding' 'funeral' or 'wake' were mentioned in the incident details. Also, the number of arrests as recorded on the incident log."

    The individuals who were arrested swapped beautiful venues and wedding cake for a night in our cells with bland food and little company.

    Thankfully that wasn't the case for two West Midlands Police dog handlers, who tied the knot in December 2013.

    As well as the 7 wedding related arrests, a further 11 individuals were arrested during funerals. More details about those arrested can be found in our full response here.

    7. Online dating disasters

    Long before any talk of marriage, thousands of people are using dating websites in the hope of meeting their ideal match. Unfortunately, not every meeting results in love at first sight…

    An FOI received in 2014 requested the number of incidents in which dating websites had been mentioned in crime reports.

    "Could I please have all reported incidents – broken down by crime category - where dating websites are mentioned over the last 5 years."

    In total we received 34 calls relating to dating sites… although we can’t confirm how many of these incidents occurred due to false profile photos being shared!

    8. Bad Santa

    Christmas is a time of celebration for millions of people, with children visiting Santa’s grottos across the land during the wintertime festivities.

    The person who sent in this FOI clearly suspected not all was as it seemed…

    "The number of times in the last three years police have been called reports of crime at Father Christmas’s/Santa’s grotto-type attractions? Please outline what offences they were and whether it led to arrests, charges and convictions."

    We’re pleased to report that there we NO reports of ‘Bad Santa’s or parents battling over gifts in any of the grottos set up here in the West Midlands! Phew.

    9. Big cat sightings

    Everyone loves a Big Cat story, with legends being born across the country of Leopards, Pumas and even Cheetah’s roaming free in our countryside.

    Big Cats are clearly of interest here in the West Midlands too, as we’ve received not one but TWO Freedom of Information requests in relation to possible sightings.

    "Please provide all reported sightings of big cats to your police force in the calendar years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 to date. Please provide the date, approximate location and brief description of each sighting."

    Our response to the FOI request revealed 3 possible Big Cat sightings – including a possible LION on the loose in a Birmingham car park and a large Panther-like cat crossing the road in Coventry!

    We’ve never been able to confirm either of the sightings, but seeing as the ‘Lion’ sighting was in 2011, we’re pretty sure it was either a very large domestic cat, or perhaps a mischievous dog in disguise

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