Crime never sleeps.
Post III in this year’s WEP/IWSG challenge and on the theme, the Year of the Art. Although this year’s posts are not another ongoing case for Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai of the North Wales Police, I’ve attempted something else involving them.
So, once more I’m going down the stand-alone path with my dynamic Welsh duo.
As always, apologies if I’m slow to respond or slow to visit your posts.
Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via:
Thursday, January 2nd
Kama and I shine torches across the runway invaded by the turbulent waters of Cardigan Bay. Three figures wave from the top of a stranded Land Rover, so the flood rescue coxswain steers towards them.
“Thank God, you found us before this flood rose higher. Our vehicle died on us—”
“Where were you going this late?”’
“Back to Llanbedr. We’d just repaired our plane in a hanger when the storm hit.”
The team makes room in the inflatable for the three men, but then, despite the storm, I hear distressed animal noises from a nearby barn.
“We need to investigate.”
One of the men shakes his head. “It’s just a stray dog. We tried helping it earlier, but it just growled at us, then slunk off.”
“We’re shivering,” says another rescued man. “We need to get home, please.”
The men don’t want our interference but I ignore their protests. Who are they? Were they repairing a plane? Access to the Snowdonia Flight School is not difficult.
But to them we’re their rescuers – not off-duty police.
Glancing at my partner, I swing my legs over the side. “We can do this. If we have to swim, we can. We’ve handled worst conditions.”
Kama whispers to the coxswain, before lowering herself into the flood waters.
She shouts back to the team as thunder echoes around us. “Sparkle’s correct. It’s our job to save any life. We’ll catch up later.”
We wade through the rising water towards the barn. The sounds are not just a dog.
“Was that a growl?” asks Kama. “Sounded more like a macaque.”
As we approach the barn door, the alarm calls increase.
“But here? You know—”
“—because my relatives in Tamil Nadu live near a troop. But they’re endangered macaques.”
We ease the door ajar and slip inside. Our torches shine on four piercing golden eyes in black faces surrounded by silver-grey manes – large canines bared
And other cages with exotic creatures.
The floor ripples. Rising water. And writhing snakes trying to escape drowning.
Plastic water bottles float. I shiver. Bottles with captive birds.
“We have to call this in. Those guys were smuggling illegal wildlife – by plane if they even had one. The National Wildlife Crime Unit won’t be open until the morning. RSPCA has a 24 hour hotline.”
My colleague reports our find to control, who reassure us that the RSPCA will be alerted.
“Can we at least get the creatures above the water?” I pick up two bottles and put them on a nearby shelf.
“ Are you leaving the snakes for the Indian charmer?” Kama nudges me.
I point to handles at the end of the plastic containers with the struggling serpents. “The scumbags took some precautions even if it wasn’t through concern for these poor guys.”
When we have moved every creature above the flood, we head outside into the storm.
“If our smugglers are in Llanbedr, we need to arrest them now—”
“I asked the coxswain to call uniform and ensure they watch their home, until we relieve them.”
Wading to firm ground is harder now. In places we have to swim – no challenge, even clothed.
However, the rain and sea water has made the fields boggy between access roads.
It’s only when we reach the road from Shell Island to Llanbedr that we can walk, then jog. Kama contacts uniform and updates them.
“A squad car will meet you at the rail crossing in five.”
The smugglers haven’t bolted, guessing the extensive flooding will divert attention – wrongly.
When the door opens, the leader looks beyond us at the uniform support.
“Shouldn’t they be fighting crime?”
“Smuggling wildlife is a crime.” Kama produces her warrant card. “We’re arresting you for offences under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Please read them their rights PC Anwyl.”
Friday, January 3rd
Emergency services continue to be stretched in the morning, and Porthmadog Heddlu are in demand. Our colleagues are exhausted, but the phones keep ringing. From serious crimes to breached seawalls and flooded front-rooms, people feel we should be resolving their problems. The situation is exacerbated with the main coastal railway line closed, and many key A roads impassable.
Perfect conditions for crime.
Someone is pinning a poster to the wall – a reminder of the flood of assignments we face.
And for Kama and me, our task has escalated. Crimes involving wildlife are generally not seen as “serious”, or are not thought of as “real crimes”.
But these smugglers have been identified. We want to see them prosecuted – not fined a few pounds and slapped on the wrists..
“We need stronger sentencing guidelines in Wales,” says DCI Ffion Baines. “That would result in more appropriate punishments for such horrible crimes. And more likely deter potential offenders. If you present your case, then I’ll back you with the CPS.”
But with no sentencing guidelines, the Crown Prosecution Service may find this case impossible to deal with effectively.
“Smuggling might be the stronger avenue. Evading customs. Contravening flying regulations, maybe. Lateral approach might throw up other crimes – crimes carrying a real sentence.”
“Time to send a clear message to the rest of the world that this part of the UK is doing its bit to address the devastating impact of the illegal wildlife trade.”
I point at The Great Wave poster. “Time to unleash our own tidal wave.”
908 words FCA
Although the initial inspiration for this flash was The Great Wave prompt, my mind was swept up with images of the storm surges that hit North Wales in December 2013 and January 2014. We were due to move into our new home there on March 1st (St David’s Day), so we were concerned as Harlech is on the coast,
When we arrived, there were still signs of the storms, although nothing akin to the damage done in the Great Storm of 1987, which scarred the landscape in the SE, around my family home. However, the Welsh storms left their mark – here’s how the BBC reported the storm on January 3rd 2014:
Conservation and environmental threats have concerned me for decades, so a chance to involve Sparkle and Kama was inevitable.
For more on the despicable trade in illegal wildlife, visit:
Finally, if you want to learn more about Lion-tailed Macaques, here’s a documentary made around Kama Pillai’s ancestral home: