The time former Middlesbrough mayor Ray ‘Robocop’ Mallon tackled Bradley Welsh killer Sean Orman as he fled with watches from Edinburgh store
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In February 2015, he was jailed for five years after admitting carrying out three robberies at betting shops in the city over a 12 day period the year before.
He first struck at a William Hill in Bernard Street and approached the lone male employee with a large knife and told him: “Just keep calm and give me the money. Don’t mess me about, just give me the money.” The robber fled with £470.
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Orman struck again five days later in Ladbrokes in Longstone Road, staffed by another lone employee at the time who tussled with the robber until Orman pulled out a knife on his victim. He took money from the safe and till and fled from the shop with £962.
Orman’s luck ran out after his third raid in a William Hill branch in Balgreen Road when he wielded a knife and made off with £400 - after a punter simply jotted down the registration number on his getaway car.
He made a run for it when police stopped his car but officers later found him at an address in Pattison Street, Leith. His DNA was found inside a balaclava in the car and a knife was recovered.
At the time, the court heard from Orman’s defence lawyer that much of his adult life was blighted by drug abuse.
Tackled by ‘Robocop’
In early 2014, Orman also admitted theft from the Laing jewellery store in Edinburgh’s Frederick Street.
But as he tried to flee the high-end store with two watches worth more than £17,000, he was tackled to the ground by then Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon. Orman was put in a headlock until police arrived by Mr Mallon, a former superintendent of Cleveland Police, who happened to be looking at some watches in the window at the time.
He said: “A man came out the door with two female assistants behind him. What happened next was instinctive. It took me back to the old days.
"I stepped across the man and we grabbed hold of each other and wrestled for a few seconds. I managed to get him in a headlock and we ended up on the ground.”
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Ray Mallon was Middlesbrough’s first elected mayor when he took office in 2002 and was subsequently twice re-elected. He was nicknamed ‘Robocop’ for his New York-style zero tolerance policing.
This policing strategy is based on ‘broken windows’ theory which says there is a link between disorder and crime. It says that visible signs of decay such as litter, graffiti or broken windows, signals public disinterest and that fear of crime is greatest in these areas which, in turn, prompts ‘respectable’ community members to leave. The reasoning is that it is easier to prevent a neighbourhood’s downward spiral into crime by pursuing the most minor misdemeanours with the same robustness as more serious crimes.
The approach was criticised for various reasons including the negative consequences of aggressive policing in handling petty offences, evidence that crime has fallen in other areas where different policing methods were used, and that it might victimise people in areas where there are racial tensions.
Mr Mallon was suspended in 1997 during a wider inquiry into police corruption. He ended up leaving the force, having admitted disciplinary charges against him, but later said he was innocent and said he only admitted the matters so he could leave the force and stand for mayor. No criminal charges were ever brought against him.