Jamie Coulson investigates what police cuts will mean for the public, and Lucy Hester reveals the story behind a painting of the Madonna.
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Welcome to inside out from a York. This week, we investigate the havoc
caused by metal thieves. And we ask whether the authorities are
powerless to stop them. He stole 30 yards of cable, and only got �60.50,
while it cost Network Rail over �60,000.
We also ask police officers helped save the public will be after the
cut. People who look at these police cuts, can you say to them,
It's an illegal trade so lucrative that some criminals have turned
their backs on drug dealing to cash in. From raids on bikes and
barbecues in backyards, to the theft of live power cable, stealing
metal is big business. Asha Tanna has been investigating what's
driving the trade and how the These are some of the more extreme
consequences of metal theft. But each day, people are being affected
by the trade in stolen metals in ways you might not expect. If your
train has been delayed recently, you might have trackside thieves to
blame. Tonight, we join the British Transport Police as they patrol
hundreds of miles of track in their crackdown on the cable thieves.
People are risking prison, they are risking their lives, it's just
madness. I wish to God I'd never done it.
Whether stolen or not, all waste metal is likely to end up here, in
a scrapyard. And the trade has never been more lucrative. On
average, metal prices have more than trebled in the last decade.
The UK scrap metal industry turns over �10 billion a year. And 60 %
of that is exported. Scrap metal prices have shot up in value over
the last ten years as demand soared from from emerging economic
superpowers, like China. In our interconnected globalised world,
the effects of China's booming economy can be felt thousands of
miles away. The railway industry is one of the
hardest hit. Thousands of miles of trackside cabling, containing
copper wire, is hard to guard. Cable thefts are equated to �2.9
million of compensation we paid to passengers. We have to replace
Cable, and you can probably double that. And these are the culprits:
Thieves who risk their lives stealing cable with thousands of
volts still surging through it. This man has admitted stealing
trackside cable. He will be sent to Crown Court for sentencing, and
fears the consequences of his crime. I woke up this morning, crying my
eyes out, because thinking of going to jail is not nice. There has been
information that has come in from an anonymous source today.
British Transport Police has specialist cable theft teams. This
night shift, based in West Yorkshire, will patrol one of the
worst areas in the country for the crime. First stop for Detective
Constable Jackie Wilson, and PC Andy Jones, is a visit to two men
suspected of being connected to a spate of cable thefts. The man
living at this address has been questioned as part of an ongoing
investigation into a spate of cable thefts. That was one of the suspect.
He is at home, obviously. friend nearby isn't in though.
Patrolling railway access points from North Yorkshire to the
Midlands is daunting enough in the daylight, but known cable theft
hotspots are more likely to be targets at night. People don't
realise how big an impact it can have on everybody, and that is why
we ask the public to be vigilant, and let us know if they see
anything. Tonight, there are no arrests, but the patrols continue
day and night because the stakes are so high. We had a guy who
nicked 30 yards of signal cable. He got �16.50 for it, and it cost
Network Rail �50,000 plus in delays, costs and repairs. It's almost
impossible for scrap dealers to be 100 % sure whether it's legitimate.
And that's led to the authorities finding new ways of tackling the
problem. Thank you for being here today and assisting us. It's early
morning in the East End of Sheffield. People who are into
criminality elsewhere are doing this because it is more lucrative.
Sometimes it is the same faces. It is a case of stopping vehicles in
the area. It is based on intelligence and shared information.
Some vehicles are more obvious than ours have -- others. Joining the
police are teams from the city council, benefits agency and
vehicle licensing. If it can't be proved that metal is stolen, then
other offences might have been committed. And such action is aimed
at making opportunist metal thieves think twice. It Constable Rodney
McEnery is one of a team of police pursuit officers tasked with
stopping any commercial vehicles that might be carrying metal.
escorting this flatbed truck back to the check site. If he is
unemployed, how can the of border transit van? There's very little
metal on the truck, but thorough checks are now being carried out on
the vehicle and the driver. This young man here, he says he is
unemployed. But he got this than 10 weeks ago, and has just got this
insurance. Meanwhile, police teams are out making unannounced visits
to scrap yards to see if they can find any metal that shouldn't be
there. Officers are looking for metal that has been marked with
SmartWater - a security spray that, once applied, can only be see under
UV light. But there's nothing here to arouse suspicion. I spoke to the
boss of this yard about how best to combat the trade in stolen metal.
Robin, how can you be so sure that the scrap metal that's coming to
you isn't stolen? You can't beat 100% sure. There is a certain
amount of clouding of the material's origins, but we try to
negotiate with people. What would you do if someone came in with
material you thought would be stolen? We would ask them to leave
the premises. Perhaps if it was voluntary, we would follow suit.
This fabrication firm, on a Sheffield industrial estate, deals
in aluminium, but it's the theft of lead that's threatening the
business. You can see where the thieves have climbed on the roofs,
and pinched all the lead. Consequently, in this building here,
you have got water running on the inside on to the electric.
these men caught on CCTV can be seen carrying off the lead from
every roof on the industrial estate. We can't produce anything because
of the health and safety risk. Over the last two months, we have had
three to four days of production that have been lost. We can't have
a sign saying the sale, because that is like putting an advert in
the paper saying, this is where we are, come and get it. Meanwhile,
back at Operation Rapier, there have been no arrests this time, but
the spot checks have served as a shot across the bow. Nine scrap
dealers were visited, nearly 200 penalties were issued for traffic
offences, and three vehicles were seized. The Department for Work and
Pensions is continuing investigations into a number of
cases. There is a need far higher at legislation. If someone is
offering new cable, frankly, they will not have got hold of it
honestly. Should there be a change in the law? Or I don't think so.
What has got to be stopped is the trading at the lower levels.
change in the law may never happen and might not even solve the
problem. But while prices remain high, there's nothing to stop
criminals cashing in on stolen Coming up: An art detective story.
The Madonna, who started life in a prisoner-of-war camp and ended up
in York. Police forces are facing cuts of 20%, so do it -- what does
that mean for our safety? I have been speaking to officers from one
forced to see what they think. This is a tough time for the police.
They are getting less money, but Humberside police are making cuts
which will lead to fewer police officers. Tough decisions have to
be made on what we can stop doing and it is wrong to say to the
public they would get same service because they will not. The sums do
not add up. Things have got to change. In a secure police compound
south of the Humber, especially as training exercise is about to begin.
-- a specialist training exercise. These are firearms officers
learning how to deal with an armed attack. Right now, the heart rate
should be elevated. They do not know what they will be facing.
Heart rate slightly higher now. This is a frontline policing and
these officers are paid to make life-and-death decisions. But it
comes at a cost. It is a huge concern. We are a busy department
and firearms is a responsible area of policing. The unit will lose an
instructor and could face further cuts as well. I didn't know where
the budget would take us, if we will lose some of our authorised
fire arms officers as well. We are in a state of flux as most of the
force is. A happy baby full of smiles but she was stamped on and
killed by her mother's boyfriend because she was ill and would not
stop crying. She has no life but he will be a young man with he comes
up. One of the most senior detectives dealing with murder,
rape and kidnap says she can't promise to keep delivering the same
level of service. If I had 50 detective officers yesterday and in
the new world I would have 35, those 35 detectives cannot cover
the work but 50 detectives were covering. It is an impossible
situation. So, there will be a short ball. Without a doubt. What
do you think? It worries me. As a police officer for 30 years I have
seen a lot of change and we do make things work but at the risk of
burning out the staff we have now. She's worried if current crimes
have to take priority, old unsolved cases will not be investigated.
team are dealing with a 10-year-old there was raped in 1984 and we do
have a full DNA profile. That is not a victim of today but she is
still a victim and deserves a service. For the past 15 years,
Humberside police have had their own helicopter, that will change
with helicopters shared between forces. A national agency would
decide which call-outs get priority. It's another difficult choice but
the chief constable believes a cheaper service can still work.
They are expensive items of kit. The plans... We are confident we
will still have an aircraft in Humberside, are not owned by the
force but we will get the benefit of it when we need it. It will cost
less for the same benefit. That means there is more money to invest
in operational policing locally. has round to the police than.
helicopter costs �2 million a year, this crime fighting is not cheat.
We have been policing Humberside for over 160 years. You can get
policing without a helicopter. I do not want to go without it. Savings
have to be found but government wants operational policing to stay
the same. There are fears with police cuts, crime rates will go up.
How can you assure people that were not be the case. I cannot give that
assurance. The police cuts is part of the chemistry, the cumulative
effect of the cuts across the whole of the service make impact on
Whilst -- last summer there were riots across the biggest cities.
Police forces from Humberside were called to London when crowds got
out of control. The future of the force's mounted section is only
guaranteed for one more year. How beginning she would it be if you
lost the mounted section? A huge loss to operational policing in
Humberside. The flexibility it provides in terms of public order
and neighbourhood policing support would be irreplaceable. A decision
about the mountain section will be made after the Olympics next summer.
Speaking from my own experience, two officers on horseback into the
job of a team of up to 25 Police Support Unit staff. They are
invaluable. I would hate to see the This is the West Cliff estate in
Scunthorpe, crime has dropped dramatically because of patrols by
police Community Support Officers. But the number of officers in the
force could drop by a third in the next three years. If they were not
in the area they will be a vast difference to the community. They
know we are around as a deterrent. They are not openly smoking in the
streets. I have a family and I am quite worried. Humberside police
has to look and see whether they will keep all of us on or keep some
of us on. I am worried about my job like everybody else in the country.
On the estate, police work with housing officials to cut crime. So
far, it's going well. It means reduced costs so they could be
similar partnerships in future. can see the good work, we can see
the impact we are having which is positive and we can also foresee
what will happen if we have to reduce the staff in the area.
What I don't want to do is get the public. We will deliver the best
service we can with the staff we have. But what I am saying is that
cannot be the same level of service that we offer now. Just finally,
those people who look at the police cuts coming, can you say to them
they have no reason to worry? can't. I will always be honest. You
cannot take 20% out of the budget that having impact on operational
policing. Now an amazing art detective story
that involves a nun, a bedsheet and a prisoner of war and a remarkable
painting. Lucy Hester has been on She stands in the ruins of a city,
surrounded by desperate people in ragged clothes. But this Madonna
has been on an incredible journey. It's a journey that started in a
prisoner of war camp in Castleford, and ended here, in a house in York.
Not in an art gallery or museum. It's in here. This massive painting
is hanging on Al and Dave Milnes' Hello, Al. Wow! That's amazing. So,
that's huge. How big is that? think it's about 8 foot tall and 5
foot wide. Because I'm looking at doors in your house. How on earth
did you get it in? Well, with difficulty. When they bought it in
1997, they didn't know what it was about, or who painted it. They had
meant to buy a table. I have a habit of Yorkshire Post on a
Saturday, back page it has all the auctions in it. I saw this sale of
the contents of a convent over in Lancashire. There were a lot of
people in the auction rooms. The top part was visible. There were a
lot of people in the auction rooms, it was very crowded, and the top
part of it was visible, and it looked like a medieval painting. It
was quite dark and it was sort of it was just odd, and it made me
feel a bit uneasy really. Some sort of religious figure in it, and
other people around her. So, sort of ignored it really. Until the
crowds thinned out, and my husband was able to come round to the
foreground, and see these figures, and realised that it was actually a
modern painting. Suddenly, it was sort of like, oh my God, you know
that's actually a fantastic composition. That's not been
painted by someone who's trained at Dulux or something like that. This
is a proper painting. So I just popped my hand up,
perfect timing, bid over there, that chap, anyone else in? No, it
went down, slap. And we'd bought it. And it was like yes, that's amazing.
I asked the auctioneer, do you know anything about the painting, it's a
very unusual painting. He said that we think it was done by a prisoner
of war. We didn't know from which country, didn't know from which war,
it was just the rumour it was done by a prisoner of war, that's what
the auctioneer knew. Dave made contact with the nuns who
had sold the painting, and astonishingly, one of the sisters
who had worked with prisoners of war in Castleford was still alive
and living in London. Sister Petrona is now 96, but still has
vivid memories of the war and how she was treated as a German nun
living in Britain. I had a passport. Do you know what my status was?
Come here I tell you. Enemy alien! And I was teaching all the time in
an English school. Sister Petrona revealed that the artist was also a
German, a prisoner of war called Arthur Braun. She still has one of
Arthur's wartime paintings, created like the Madonna, in a prison camp
in Methley. It was the sisters who asked Arthur Braun to create his
masterpiece. One of the big front rooms was a
very big room, at least twice as big as this room, and wider. And we
had that frame of a mirror, it was a huge mirror. And we thought: we
would like to have a picture in the chapel. And Arthur Braun caught the
idea and said yes, a wartime picture would be wonderful. Now the
nuns had a problem. Arthur had accepted the commission for the
huge painting, but the materials he needed were in short supply,
especially for a German prisoner of war. Luckily Sister Petrona taught
art here, at St Joseph's primary in Castleford. From the school she
brought children's powder paints, and the sisters donated a huge bed-
sheet for Arthur to use as a canvas. Arthur would have mixed the powder
paint with linseed oil. But he needed a studio in the prisoner of
war camp. I wanted to find out about the conditions Arthur and the
other prisoners lived in. So we asked the Methley archive group to
help us out. They appealed for people who remembered the German
POWs imprisoned here at Methley. Although he was only a boy, Terry
Waite remembers the German prisoners of war. I can remember I
was only very small looking down on these prisoners, there would have
been probably about ten of them, walking past each morning because
they used to go work in the fields. All dressed in their grey coats.
And they used to talk to me and I thought it strange, I can't
understand what these guys are saying to me. The prisoner of war
camp was at Methley hall, a 16th century stately home used by the
Army during the war. Terry offered to show me the place where Arthur
Braun painted the Madonna. house was here, this was the front
along here, stretching right back to behind there where the bales are.
The hall was demolished in 1964. All that's left of the prisoner of
war camp are the bases of the huts where they lived. And in fact, this
is one of the pads that we're stood on now. Is it really? So I mean,
the huts are actually quite small aren't they? And probably fairly
cramped. Do you think Arthur would have painted that painting in one
of these huts? Well, it's possible, but I reckon it's going on for 8
feet tall, so we wondered if he actually did it in the Hall? You
know, was allowed to paint it in the Hall? Arthur Braun now had his
materials and a sort of studio. But what was the subject of the
painting going to be? For the nuns, he chose a traditional religious
composition the Madonna and Child but in a wartime setting. He calls
it Our Lady of the Ruins, I think. And you see all the poor people,
the cripples, praying to the mother of God. But Arthur also wanted to
include his own, tragic story. got a letter from an old POW
colleague of his who had been in America with him, in which he
described Arthur Braun's experience of learning that his wife had died
in Freiburg. And I suppose for me, it instantly became to look like a
painting that a part of its content was grief. I've always took it that
the actual Madonna is an image of his wife. When we first saw the
painting actually that was one of the unusual things about it, in
that you have quite a young woman, almost like a next door neighbour,
stood in this biblical scene of devastation. The painting's called
Maria in the Ruins, and so they represent the damage that war can
do. The nuns certainly felt that they were meant to represent the
buildings of Freiburg and this figure here is the artist himself.
When Arthur Braun painted the Madonna in the Ruins, he was a
prisoner of war. But here in Methley, the young Germans weren't
treated as enemies. Many of them became friendly with the villagers,
something they demonstrated very movingly one Christmas Eve, here in
St Oswald's Church. # Silent Night (Stille Nacht) original performance
I'd be about sixteen. I was in the congregation. It was full of course
because it was Christmas Eve. And during the service they were asked
to sing Silent Night in German, which they did and it really did
And a lot of the prisoners were very upset at the time I remember.
Quite a few of them broke down crying, in tears. Something you
don't forget. I can't even tell you who preached that night, but I can
remember the prisoners singing It was fabulous, it was home to me,
the agony of the sufferers of war. -- it brought home to me. The last
incident, the last thing they could do was appeal to a supernatural
power. To stop it. If you want to contact us about the stories you've
seen tonight, you can on Facebook or Twitter. That is all from the
York. Join us for next week's programme.
Asha Tanna goes on the trail of the metal thieves, Jamie Coulson investigates whether police cuts will lead to less protection for the public and Lucy Hester finds out the amazing wartime story behind an amazing painting of the Madonna.