The daily life in Saltburn in Cleveland took on a more serious turn yesterday after reports were made to the police about a woman acting suspiciously in the town. As information started to trickle through it appeared that armed police had responded to those calls and had a woman under observation near to the Victorian Pier area of the town on the seafront.
What followed was an 8 hour stand-off with a woman who, reports led the police to believe, was carrying a bomb and acting suspiciously. Police firearms units, negotiators, fire brigade and ambulance personnel all attended along with an Army bomb disposal team. As the cordon closed in around her, the woman, described as white and wearing full traditional Islamic clothing, was seen to drop the bag that she carried to the floor and walk away from it, it was then police trained their weapons on her and ordered her to the ground as police negotiators began the long and delicate process of talking to her.
The woman, a 40-year old from the local area was subsequently arrested at 7.20pm yesterday following the negotiations and was detained under the Mental Health Act. Police have 72 hours to decide if she will be charged.
These are, in their most basic form, an outline of the events and the facts as they unfolded yesterday.
There has been much speculation, comment, opinions and thought expressed on social media forums about the rights and wrongs of the actions carried out by the police and other emergency services and about the woman herself – It was a waste of tax payers money. It was overkill. It was a farce. The police did the right thing. They should have just shot her! They overreacted. If she didn’t respond to the police then what did she expect? She was dressed like a Muslim so what does she expect! They did a good job. Better to be safe than sorry. It took far too long to resolve. She should be locked up etc etc.
The examples above are not definitive by any means and there are many more to read if you care to. Some of the comment posted was very reasonable and balanced whilst some of it was total crap but one thing you can be sure of, regardless of your own opinions and views, which of course you are completely entitled to, is that yesterday evening a woman was driven away, alive, to a police station and held in custody pending further investigation. Residents and locals of Saltburn returned, alive, to their homes to watch it all again on the late news and all the emergency services finished their respective shifts, alive and returned to their various locations.
As someone who has recently finished 22-years service with the military and who has been to every conflict zone, some on more than one occasion, that the British Army have being involved in over those years I have seen the effects of bomb blasts and explosions on the human body and the devastation and carnage caused when they go off. This operation ended without incident and was a complete success. You can live with the delays. You can live with the disruption. You can live with the expense – we have to pay our taxes anyway! You can live with the road closures and you can live with the time taken to resolve it. You can live with it all.
And that’s really the point.
Everyone gets to live.
Sometimes these disruptions are required and needed. A report was made to the police. It was followed up and action was taken and a positive result came out of it. Job done.
As a photographer I was, of course, shooting pictures yesterday as events unfolded. Some of those that ran in the papers today can be seen below and by following this link… What the papers say…