Express & Star

Going on patrol with Black Country police on 'Britain's roughest estate'

As part of our ongoing coverage of anti-social behaviour in the Black Country, we received a first-hand experience of just what police officers have to go through when they're patrolling "Britain's roughest estate."

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Sergeant Phil Upton at Ryecroft Cemetery with Express and Star reporter Daniel Walton.

As we were hurriedly shuffled back into the relative safety of the West Midland's Police van, with a small number of youths screaming unpleasant things like "go die" and "**** off", one sentence was ringing in my ears, "I hope you're ready".

These were the words spoken by Bloxwich Police Sergeant, Phil Upton, preluding a police patrol around Blakenall's Dawson Street organised exclusively for the Express and Star.

SGT Phil Upton at base..

I was raised in this area and as a result I thought I knew what to expect. I was confident, but it turned out I didn't really know what the patrol had in store.

As we sat in the briefing room, Sergeant Upton talked us through what to do if the worst was to happen - "Head back to the safety of the van," he said.

For this patrol we mainly kept to roads and streets that are very much affected by anti-social behaviour on a regular basis - those in the Blakenall area, covering Dawson Street, Blakenall Lane and Coalpool Lane; all areas which have recently made national news with the level of ASB the locals have to endure.

Sergeant Upton said during the briefing: "Where we are going is one of the areas that we have experienced more problems in.

"We are going out there to interact with the community mainly, but we will also be looking into Dawson Street and also carrying out a weapons sweep in Ryecroft Cemetery."

Following the briefing on safety procedures, we loaded into the police van and made our way to the first location, Blakenall Lane.

Only seconds after pulling onto the lane and already we had one youth give our van the middle finger before sprinting off from his four friends when the officers pulled over.

Being there attracts a lot of attention, probably with the cameras too, these youths pictured here were no trouble though..

"Why did your mate run off?" Sergeant Upton asked.

"Because he gave you the finger," one of the youngsters replied.