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select for full details Planning application put in for Stonehenge Tunnel
Plans for the £1.6bn Stonehenge Tunnel have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
By Katherine Smale 19 Oct, 2018

An application by Highways England for a development consent order have been filed. The Planning Inspectorate will now have 28 days to decide whether to accept the plans.

If accepted, the Inspectorate will undertake a detailed examination of the application, in which stakeholders and the public can participate, before making a recommendation on whether it should go ahead to the transport secrtary. Work on site is scheduled to start in 2021.

A public consultation for the scheme finished in August.

The A303 Stonehenge tunnel project is one of the most complex and controversial projects Highways England is undertaking.

It involves building a 2.9km long twin-bore tunnel through the World Heritage Site with portals inside its boundaries.

The tunnel has come under fire from opposition groups.

In April, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK told Highways England that it was “alarmed” by the “flawed” proposals, and the Stonehenge Alliance said the work would damage archaeological remains at the site.

The first consultation received 5,000 responses.

select for full details The tunnel is to ease congestion along the A303 route which, particularly in the summer when it is often congested.

The road bisects the Stonehenge part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site, running just 165m away from the monument.

The road also cuts the village of Winterbourne Stoke in two.

The proposed A303 upgrade involves building a new dual two-lane carriageway between Amesbury and Berwick Down, moving the existing road into a tunnel next to the monument.

Turner & Townsend is to provide commercial services for the upgrade.

Galliford Try has already said it will not be bidding for the tunnel as the risk transfer, “onerous” terms and conditions and variable track record meant the project does not fit its business model.

select for full details Government reveals second new prison in England to be privately run
HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire and HMP Wellingborough will be built using public capital
By Jamie Grierson 6 Nov, 2018

Two new jails announced by the government are to be privately run, it has emerged, as the role of profit-making prisons comes under increased scrutiny after the crisis at the formerly G4S-operated HMP Birmingham.

In a parliamentary written answer, the prisons minister, Rory Stewart, confirmed that HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire will be privately run.

the MoJ previously said a new jail – HMP Wellingborough – would be privately run. Both prisons will be built using public capital.

In August, ministers were forced to take the operation of HMP Birmingham away from G4S while public sector officials attempted to restore order to the prison. High levels of violence, drug use and self-harm had prompted the chief inspector of prisons to issue an urgent notification process to the justice secretary. This is the most severe course of action available to the inspector.

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, who tabled a written question asking if the new prisons would be privately run, said: “Just how bad does it have to get until the government ends its obsession with the private sector running huge swathes of our justice system in order to make a quick profit?

“This summer two flagship justice privatisations ran aground, with HMP Birmingham brought back under public control and the government forced to end the private probation contracts early. But the Tories refuse to learn the lessons.

“There are very real fears that corners will be cut as the private contractors running these new prisons put profits first. Public accountability is also likely to be undermined as the private companies, hiding behind the cloak of commercial confidentiality, have no requirement to publish staffing levels for example.

select for full details Highways England - Traffic Officer Ride Out
Energy Saving Trust looking at ways of reducing emissions from Traffic Officer Vehicles
By Tim Anderson 6 Nov, 2018

Energy Saving Trust works to helps people save energy when they’re at home and on the move. One of our key areas of expertise is working with businesses to help them manage the emissions from their fleet. Energy Saving Trust is working with Highways England to do just that.

We’ve all seen the ubiquitous Traffic Officer Vehicles, which patrol the motorways up and down the country. These hard working vehicles and their crews are there to keep traffic moving and ensure the roads are safe places for everyone to use.

Energy Saving Trust is looking at ways of reducing the emissions from these Traffic Officer Vehicles. In particular, we are examining whether ultra-low emission vehicles (i.e. electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids) could be deployed to help reduce fuel costs and emissions. But there are some challenges.

Highways England needs a vehicle that does it all. As well as being reliable, safe and comfortable, it needs to be able to tow heavy vehicles off the carriageway, carry large amounts of heavy kit and be all-weather capable. Highways England officers currently use large 4x4 vehicles to meet these needs, but they have fuel consumption and emissions to match. Highways England is committed to investigating alternatives.

As part of the project, I have been working with the Highways England lead, Matthew Leeder, to engage with the Traffic Officer Service team to understand how the vehicles are used. I joined the team at Knutsford outstation in Cheshire at 6am on a rainy morning in November for the early shift to get the full experience. Welcoming me aboard the Mitsubishi Shogun were Traffic Officers Martin Wallace and Dean (Deano) Schnieders.

Once the morning briefing was complete, the vehicle inspection took place with a walk around the vehicle to check all the kit was stowed, the emergency lights and horn were working and the radios were tuned properly. The designated ‘route 52’ took us up the M6, across the M56 and up the M53 towards Liverpool to check all was running smoothly.

To save fuel, the crew are encouraged to complete a preliminary patrol, then park up in a strategic location and await news of an incident from a member of the public or from the Regional Control Centre watching the motorway cameras.

For us, it was a quiet morning and fortunately for the users of our section of motorway, all was running smoothly.

The radio chatter from around the region indicated that it was not all plain sailing with a number of collisions and debris on the road needing to be sorted out in other areas.

The Mitsubishi Shogun and Land Rover Discovery are fine vehicles and carry out their tasks with distinction. They are popular with Traffic Officers, for whom comfort is a key consideration. As Highways England move to reduce emissions, the highly visible Traffic Officer Vehicles will be an obvious place to start.

select for full details Suffolk Police's new model shows more PCs for Haverhill but fewer PCSOs
On the dame day that Suffolk Constabulary confirmed how many officers will be serving Haverhill under the county’s new policing model, its Chief Constable has announced that he is to retire
By Steve Barton 2 Nov, 2018

the new model, implemented on Monday will enable local policing to continue to be as flexible, effective and efficient as possible for all our communities.

The changes will mean more than 150 Police Constables and 28 Sergeants will work in SNT’s across Suffolk.

However to achieve this, the number of Police Community Support officers (PCSOs) has been reduced from the 81 full-time equivalent (FTE) PCSOs in July to 48 FTE PCSOs.

A total of 30 PCSOs will work within the SNTs, while the constabulary is looking to achieve 18 partner-funded posts across the county. At present the number stands at 16 which are subject to two-year service level agreement.

Further changes see the introduction of Community Engagement Officers and a new Serious Crime Disruption Team has been created to tackle crime trends.

Three Neighbourhood & Partnerships Teams (NPT) have been created and are responsible for the management of specific areas of policing such as Rural Crime, Licensing and Retail/Business Crime, ensuring that these are tackled and developed in a joined up way.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore said: "The message that comes through loud and clear when I speak to local communities is they want much greater visibility and I’m pleased to say we have listened.

"From today we will see an extra 104 police officers moving into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which is great news. In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will now reduce, but the outcome will be more police officers in local policing.

Mr Passmore added: "I’d like to wish all these officers the best of luck in their new roles and hope the public appreciates that, without any extra funding from central government, the Chief Constable is making the most of the resources he has to provide an efficient and effective police service to the people of Suffolk.”

select for full details Highway England ease fears over Queensbury tunnel 'being left to collapse'
Highways England has said safety work on a disused railway will be done as soon as possible after concerns were raised it was being left to collapse.
By Ian Hirst 14 Nov, 2018

The 1.4-mile long Queensbury Tunnel is the focus of an ongoing campaign to reopen it as part of a cycle network linking Bradford and Keighley to Halifax.

However Highways England’s Historical Railway Estate (HRE), which manages the tunnel for the Department for Transport, intends to permanently close it at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £3.6 million.

According to the Queensbury Tunnel Society a recent report into coal mining risks by Jacobs, HRE’s consulting engineers, shows that only short sections of the tunnel would be infilled as part of the proposed abandonment scheme, amounting to about 15% of its total length.

They say the remainder - mostly passing beneath the populated part of Queensbury - would be left to collapse, including a 300-metre long section where the lining is already failing.

However a spokesperson for Highways England said: “The safety of the community is paramount and the Department for Transport, the owners of the tunnel, agree that safety work to reduce the risk to the community around Queensbury Tunnel should be undertaken as soon as possible.

"Phase 1 of the proposed work has started and involves partial strengthening of the most vulnerable areas of the tunnel which will also provide a safe working area throughout the tunnel for any future work undertaken.

“We are working closely with Bradford Council on the preparation of the planning application for Phase 2 of our safety work.

select for full details 'Fake ambulance' pulled over by Swansea police
An "apparently fake" ambulance vehicle was pulled over as it was being driven by a man in Swansea, police have said.
By BBC NEWS 13 Nov, 2018

The estate car, which was covered in highly-visible paint and logos, was stopped at Penclawdd, Gower, on Monday.

The 19-year-old driver was held on suspicion of driving whilst disqualified, with no insurance and other offences.

The Welsh Ambulance Service confirmed it was not one of its vehicles and the driver was not an employee.

Twitter "Male arrested this morning for driving this ambulance in Penclawdd for driving whilst disqualified/no insurance+other offences. Great team work by #team3townhill @SWP_Roads #GowerNPT + @WelshAmbulance.Please note this is not a @WelshAmbulance vehicle nor is the driver an employee"

Bristol University students face £100 noisy party fine
students at the University of Bristol who keep their neighbours awake with noise now face a £100 fine.
By BBC NEWS 18 Oct, 2018
select for full details
City residents have complained of parties in shared houses affecting whole streets due to the volume.

Under the university's scheme, each student in a property could be fined if wrongdoing was uncovered.

Repeat offenders face fines of up to £250, and a charge of £50 to attend anti-social behaviour impact awareness sessions.

Students sign a contract agreeing to adhere to a code of conduct when they enrol, including penalties for "breaches of local rules and regulations".

First-year economics student Ben, who did not wish to give his surname, described the fines as "a bit steep and a strong deterrent".

He said: "You can understand the locals perspectives and I would hate the noise, but if you are living in a student area like Redland or Cotham you should expect it."

First-year biochemistry student Luca Colby added: "If you are planning a party you should warn your neighbours first, but keeping them up all night with noise isn't on."

Students get welcome packs on community living, including how to be considerate neighbours.

The university holds campaigns aimed at first and second-year students to help them integrate as they move into private rented accommodation.

Money raised from fines goes back into a community fund for activities which encourage students to positively engage with their neighbours.

select for full details BMW driver gets six points on licence after waving arms out of window
‘Careless’ driver handed fine and penalty points after taking hands off wheel and waving them out of the window – right behind traffic officers
By Shropshire Star 15 Nov, 2018

A ‘careless’ BMW driver has been handed six points on his licence on top of a fine after waving his arms out of the window – while behind Highways England traffic officers.

Video recorded by a Highways England vehicle show Jeremy Dillon, 51, of Hespek Raise, Carlisle, following close to a car heading a rolling roadblock in place to allow an obstruction at junction 44 of the northbound M6 to be removed.

Officers said Dillon’s proximity and lane change during the incident on May 4 gave them the impression he was trying to get past the roadblock. Having followed the traffic officers, Dillon can then be seen taking his hands off the wheel then waving them out of the window.

Interviewed by Cumbria Constabulary, he initially told police officers he felt his driving wasn’t careless – before being shown the footage. He then accepted that the distance between his car and the Highways England vehicle amounted to driving without due care and attention.

He said he couldn’t recall sticking his hands out of the window, but admitted it was a “stupid act” and couldn’t provide a reason other than being annoyed at the roadblock.

He was due to appear in court on November 6 but pleaded guilty by post to a charge of careless driving. Along with the penalty points, Dillon also received a £286 fine.

Afterwards, PC Kevin Bestford of Cumbria Constabulary said: “The Highways England traffic officers were carrying out an important piece of work to keep all road users on the M6 safe. A successful rolling roadblock requires concentration and skilled driving, and the last thing these officers needed to deal with was someone driving far too close, attempting to pass and waving their arms out of the car window.

“I hope the driver learns from this experience and comes away from it with a greater appreciation and understanding of the important work of Highways England officers.”

select for full details Police could suspend 101 non-emergency number
Bedfordshire Police suspended the service this week to cope with a spike in calls
By Lizzie Dearden 10 Nov, 2018

Police forces across the country could start suspending the non-emergency 101 service to cope with an influx of calls, it has been warned.

Bedfordshire Police announced a “suspension” of 101 after a spike in 999 calls last week, in what could be the first move of its kind.

But The Independent has learned there is no requirement for police forces to inform authorities or the public if they take the same decision.

Suspensions of 101 are not formally recorded by either the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) or the Home Office, meaning that the scale of the practice is unknown.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, called for full monitoring to be brought in amid a rise in violent crime.

“I can see more forces starting to suspend 101, and I think they should if it means we can prioritise the here-and-now emergencies,” he told The Independent.

“I think they will be forced into that position. The sad reality is that there are officers across the country not answering 999 calls in the time they should because there are simply not enough resources going round.”

select for full details Children in prison aren’t coping
Most young people in English jails feel isolated and take drugs to deal with stress, grief and anger – it’s a ticking time-bomb
By Mark Johnson 7 Nov, 2018

Children’s jails are places we all wish didn’t exist. In this country we lock children up at 10, the minimum legal age for criminal responsibility. In secure children’s homes, young offender institutions and secure training centres, children are detained for committing crime but also for their own protection from abuse. This means some are detained having done nothing wrong. They can be locked up for any amount of time, including for the majority of their childhood.

Recently, User Voice, the organisation I founded, gave some of them an opportunity to tell the world about their lives. We spoke to 200 out of the approximately 1,000 children in jails, through focus groups, interviews and surveys. These voices are rarely heard, so this is probably the most in-depth consultation of incarcerated 10- to 17-year-olds in recent history.

What they told us made me angry and fearful for their futures. These vulnerable children are seriously stressed. Eighty-five per cent said they had taken drugs, of whom a large proportion told us this was to cope and to alleviate stress, grief and anger.

“Isn’t that why all people take drugs, to suppress feelings and escape the world? It’s an easy way to cope with reality,” one child explained. For all the stories of good practice and standout staff, there were many, many more of torturous loneliness.

“I have been let down in the care system so many times it’s hard to trust,” was the all-too-common refrain. “It’s OK if you’ve got small problems,” said another boy, seemingly resigned to dealing with his issues on his own. They are far from isolated examples. These children don’t believe adults will help them: three-quarters said they didn’t trust any professional involved in their so-called care. “Can’t go anywhere for help because all they will do is write stuff down and use it against you,” one child told us.

select for full details Police in talks to scrap 'reasonable grounds' condition for stop and search
Exclusive: police chiefs in England and Wales want to expand use of the search power
By Vikram Dodd 11 Nov, 2018

Police chiefs want to trigger an expansion of stop and search by lowering the level of suspicion an officer needs against a suspect to use the power, the Guardian has learned.

They want to scrap the requirement that “reasonable grounds” are needed before a person can be subjected to a search, amid mounting concern over knife attacks.

Senior officers have held talks with advisers to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, within the last fortnight to discuss the issue. It would fuel the debate about police discrimination against minority ethnic communities, civil liberties and the role stop and search has to play in tackling violent crime.

The plans were confirmed by Adrian Hanstock, the deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police and national lead on stop and search for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The proposals, which apply to England and Wales, would also make it more likely that those caught with a knife could be dealt with by an education programme, the so-called public health approach, rather than ending up before the courts.

Hanstock told the Guardian: “There are a lot of calls for officers to do more stop and search. But the current individual threshold that officers have to meet is very tight and precise. So is there any appetite to reduce that threshold where an officer has a genuine fear that the person is at risk, or there is a safeguarding threat, or is a risk to others?

“If that officer does not have sufficient grounds or X-ray vision to see they are carrying a weapon, and they are concerned they may have something to cause harm, that should trigger a search.

select for full details Public confidence in police damaged by cuts, report warns
MPs say forces in England and Wales are making fewer arrests, ‘severely denting’ trust
By Rajeev Syal 7 Nov, 2018

Public confidence in the ability of police officers to do their jobs has been “severely dented” as forces struggle to cope with dwindling resources, parliament’s spending watchdog has warned.

The public accounts select committee concluded police are taking longer to charge suspects, fewer arrests are being made and the number of patrol officers has been stripped back.

Cuts in funding and reductions of about one-fifth to staffing levels have left forces under “increasing strain”, according to a cross-party report released on Wednesday.

The report highlighted how police are dealing with more non crime-related incidents, at a time when violent and sexual offending is on the rise.

It comes amid a heated debate over why crime is rising. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has led Labour politicians this week in claiming funding cuts are a major factor in the rise in knife attacks across the UK. Government ministers, in contrast, have blamed a change in the “nature of crime”.

The report said: “Forces are struggling to deliver an effective service: it is taking longer to charge offences, they are making fewer arrests, they are doing less neighbourhood policing and public satisfaction is declining.”

The committee cited figures showing the proportion of crimes resulting in a charge or summons dropped from 15% in March 2015 to 9% in March 2018.

Police are carrying out less proactive work, including fewer breathalyser tests, motoring fixed penalties and convictions for drug trafficking and possession, the report said.

MPs also levelled criticism at the Home Office, accusing the department of failing to show “strategic leadership” of the policing system and having only a “limited understanding” of the resources needed by forces.

“The police’s main duties are to protect the public and prevent crime,” the report said. “But only about a quarter of the emergency and priority incidents that the police respond to are crime-related.”

select for full details Woman drives in motorway roadworks safety lane - at 10 times speed limit
Shocking video shows an "incompetent" motorway driver using a road workers safety lane at 10 times the speed limit.
By SWD MEDIA 7 Nov, 2018

The lane on the M6 is clearly fenced off from traffic with metal and concrete barriers but that didn’t stop the driver putting workers’ lives at risk.

The clip shows the car driving at the same 50mph speed as the rest of the traffic while passing a hut clearly marked with a 5mph limit.

A disbelieving Matthew Owen captured the incident as he was driving on the northbound M6 between junctions 2 and 3.

In the short clip a driver in a small hatchback can be seen driving down the roadworks safety lane of the M6. A mixture of metal fencing and concrete bollards are in place to keep traffic away from the work force.

A sign can also be seen which warns: “Works traffic only.”

Even when a short exit appears that allows works traffic to exit or join the safety lane, the driver carries on ahead.

select for full details Hull police boss warns ALL PCSOs could be cut under pension change plans in letter to Hull MPs
The cuts come despite violent crimes going up this year, with one Hull MP saying he was assaulted by a gang of youths
By Patrick Daly 6 Nov, 2018

Every single PCSO could be cut from Humberside Police in proposed pension changes according to Chief Constable Lee Freeman.

Mr Freeman has written to every Hull MP - who in turn have written to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid - to explain the impact that a proposed Government shake-up in police pensions could have on the force.

Since 2010 the government has cut police funding by 19 per cent. Police in England and Wales have now been told that a £420m pensions shortfall must be met from their already reduced budgets.

The move could cost £9.2 million, on top of £17m of savings expected over the next four years, which Mr Freeman previously said meeting would be equivalent to losing 320 jobs from the Humberside force - more than 132 police officers and all 250 PCSOs.

In his letter to MPs, he has warned that if the changes are approved it could mean scrapping the PCSO role - often described as the “eyes of the police” when it comes to dealing with antisocial behaviour and understanding community issues - completely.

“If there were no additional central funding provided, then the force will need to lose the equivalent of 52 police officers in 2019/20 and a further 80 officers in 2020/21 to bridge this funding gap,” Chief Constable Freeman told MPs in the letter.

select for full details Taxpayers to get lumbered with £6.8 billion Lower Thames Crossing bill?
FEARS are emerging that the controversial second Lower Thames Crossing could be fully funded by taxpayers – to the tune of £6.8billion.
By Thurrock Gazette 16 Nov, 2018
Originally, the project had been set to be part funded through taxpayers’ money and private funding schemes.

But during last week’s budget announcement, it was announced the government was abolishing private funding schemes, where private companies fund and manage large projects for a long-term profit.

And in an interview with the Highways Magazine, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan warned that the crossing may have to be funded by the public if it was to be open by the 2027 target.

A spokesman for the department of transport told the Gazette it is committed to progressing with the scheme and that a business case, including funding, would be considered next year.

But members of the Lower Thames Crossing Action Group are not happy – and they claim they were told at an information event it would now be fully publicly funded.

Thurrock Council has previously stated it is completely against the crossing proposal, and is now set to consider a judicial review into the plans.

A spokesman for the action group said: “Originally the tunnel section had been proposed to be public (taxpayers) money/funding, with the rest of the route being funded with private money.

“Since the budget announcement this has all changed.

select for full details Police reportedly told 96-year-old victim of terrifying burglary: 'I doubt we'll catch him'
'Everything you would expect the police to do, I have done'
By Conor Gogarty 13 Nov, 2018

Police have come under fire from the family of a 96-year-old war hero who had “60 years of memories” stolen in a terrifying burglary.

A man broke into Molly Luke’s home at about 8pm last Thursday in Pelham Crescent, Churchdown, then took jewellery valuing more than £100,000.

The jewellery was the pensioner’s way of remembering her late husband and nephew – but the burglar took it after shining a torch in her face while she lay in bed.

Molly, who built munitions during the Second World War, was victim to the burglary just days before Remembrance Sunday. Now her great-niece Kelly Denham-Reid has criticised a lack of police action since the crime took place.

She said a PCSO who came to Pelham Crescent on Friday told her: “I doubt we'll catch him.”

She is unhappy no officer has visited Molly since Friday, though police did call this afternoon to make an appointment.

Kelly has spoken to neighbours in a bid to get a lead on a suspect. She says none of those she talked to had been contacted by police. “Everything you would expect the police to do, I have done,” she continued.

“I have been in touch with local businesses myself and sent photos of the items to local pawnbrokers. I have also been checking eBay.

select for full details Farmer deployed by Highway England to clear sheep off M62
Sheep were grazing on the side of the M62 junction 22 to 23 at 1:50pm on Monday (29 October), with Highway England mulling a possible closure of the motorway.

By Farming UK 30 Oct, 2018

Traffic officers eventually stopped the traffic, and a farmer and his sheep dog were called on to help collect the sheep and move them to safety.

the motorway is one of the UK's busiest, with an average daily traffic flow of 144,000 vehicles

Highway England used Twitter to confirm that the matter had been resolved: "J22 to J23 - The dog and farmer have done some amazing work.

Sheep collected and returned to field. All traffic has been released.

Thanks for your patience."

Twitter > Mission accomplished: J22 to J23 - The dog and farmer have done some amazing work.

Twitter > Sheep collected and returned to field. All traffic has been released.

Twitter > Thanks for your patience, PM - Oct 29, 2018

It is not the first time livestock have disrupted traffic on Britain's roads.

Around the 2017 Christmas period, dozens of turkeys were left on the road after a lorry jackknifed near Driffield, in East Yorkshire.

select for full details Female prison officer, 27, accused of relationship with young inmate
A PRISON officer has appeared in court accused of entering into a relationship with a serving prisoner at a men’s Young Offenders Institution.
By Charlotte Bowe 9 Nov, 2018

Stacey Louise Sutherland, 27, faces a single charge of misconduct in a public office at HMP Deerbolt, in Barnard Castle, which holds young adults age 18 to 21.

The alleged offence relates to a six-week period between April 2018 and May 2018.

Miss Sutherland, of Marshall Street, Barnard Castle, County Durham, appeared in Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning for a short hearing.

District Judge Tim Capstick addressed the 27-year-old and told her she will receive unconditional bail ahead of her next court appearance at Teesside Crown Court on December 6.

Misconduct in a public office offence under review Law Commission

Misconduct in a public office is a common law offence: it is not defined in any statute. It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The offence requires that: a public officer acting as such; wilfully neglects to perform his or her duty and/or wilfully misconducts him or herself; to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder; without reasonable excuse or justification.

The offence is widely considered to be ill-defined and has been subject to recent criticism by the Government, the Court of Appeal, the press and legal academics.

In general terms, those consultees who responded to the background paper agreed with us that the law is in need of reform, in order to ensure that public officials are appropriately held to account for misconduct committed in connection with their official duties. Consultees also indicated that our review of the law and its problems was comprehensive.

What is misconduct in public office? Clive Coleman

Misconduct in public office is an ancient common law offence, created by judges, which can be traced back to the 13th century.

Applying it to the 21st century news media involved the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) striking a balance between the freedom of the press to probe and find out what is happening on the one hand, and protecting and maintaining impartial and incorrupt public services on the other.

It has always been a difficult balance.

For many years some journalists have paid public officials for information.

In 2003 Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the Sun, told a committee of MPs that News International had paid the police for stories.

select for full details Highways England apologises after freedom of information request shows authority misled MPs over M26 plans
Highways England said apologises if it has "inadvertently given the wrong impression"
By Ben Hatton 14 Nov, 2018

Highways England has apologised after Kent MPs said they were told plans to use the M26 to hold lorries were not being made, when in fact they were.

Tom Tugendhat MP’s office said he spoke with a “senior representative” from Highways England on October 4, and “repeatedly asked about any plans to use the M26, but was told there are not any”.

But a freedom of information request made by Kent Live shows work on the design and preparation for the M26 Contingency Planning Scheme – including plans to hold lorries on the M26 – started on August 31.

Highways England said the transport secretary Chris Grayling MP issued the instruction.

A Highways England spokesman said: "We would never intentionally mislead Mr Tugendhat. This is a very complex set of issues and, if at any stage we have inadvertently given the wrong impression about any aspect of our work, we apologise."

When the row broke out earlier in October the authority refused to recognise or comment on the allegation it had misled MPs.

Work is being carried out on the M26 so it can hold lorries, with concerns raised that Brexit may cause severe border disruption.

select for full details Gwent Police PCSOs 'allowed' car to be stolen and stripped for parts
A MOTORIST has demanded an apology from police after community support officers allowed his prized Mini Cooper to be stolen and stripped for parts
By Sam Ferguson 24 Oct, 2018

Officers were at the scene when the car was towed away by men who said they were asked to take it by a council employee, despite not having keys, logbooks, paperwork or the owner’s permission.

The Mini’s owner, Michael Collison, formerly of Recce’s Terrace, Cwmcarn, bought the grey car in December last year, and declared it statutorily off the road so he could keep it on a patch of unused land near his home while he worked on making it roadworthy again.

But on August 11, Mr Collison’s neighbour saw two men trying to load the Mini onto the back of a trailer in the company of two Gwent Police community support officers.

And after months of chasing the police over its removal, it has now emerged that the council did not issue any order for it to be towed, and that the 2002-registered car has been stripped for parts.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Mr Collison, 59, told the South Wales Argus.

“I moved to North Wales, but had left the car there temporarily with plans to bring it up.

“As soon as my neighbour got in touch I reported it stolen. My former housemate and I have been chasing Gwent Police ever since.”

Almost two months and plenty of emails later, an officer investigating the matter told Mr Collison they had tracked down his car to Abercynon, and had interviewed the two men who had taken it.

The pair said they were paid £80 by a man called ‘Geoff’, who they assumed worked for the council, to move two “abandoned cars”, including Mr Collison’s Mini.

The email from the officer says: “He [the lorry driver] states he acted in good faith but as we now know this is not the case as he had no keys, logbook, paperwork or owner’s permission to collect your vehicle.

“Your vehicle has since been stripped for parts.

select for full details Long-range camera takes aim at dangerous drivers
Dangerous or illegal activity behind the wheel — including tailgating and mobile phone use — can now be snapped before a driver has even had chance to see the camera.
By RAC NEWS 16 Nov, 2018

Unlike traditional speed guns, which only measure how fast cars are travelling, the new camera produces clear, high-quality video footage and photographs of vehicles and their occupants’ behaviour. Gloucestershire Police unveiled the new camera as part of Operation Indemis, a collaborative approach to policing the region’s busiest routes, including the M4 and M5.

Officers say one of the aims is to educate motorists about the importance of driving safely on the roads, with some drivers offered advice on how to improve under the initiative.

However, anyone caught committing offences faces prosecution, including those engaged in tailgating, speeding, driving without a seatbelt or using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel.

Earlier this year, Highways England launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of tailgating after figures revealed that one in eight road casualties are caused by tailgating.

Martin Surl, Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, thinks the camera represents a new way of policing the UK’s roads and hopes it will help change behaviours.

He said: “Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road. We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere.

“The aim is not just to penalise motorists but to uphold the law by creating a change in people’s behaviour. But the police will enforce the law when necessary.”

If the scheme is a success, Gloucestershire Police says it will look to work with other agencies, including the Motor Insurer’s Bureau and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to explore how the technology could make UK roads safer.

select for full details Marked police van stolen from outside Suffolk police station
Vehicle reportedly driven 'erratically' then dumped 15 miles away
By Harriet Agerholm 13 Nov, 2018

a man accused of stealing a marked police van from outside a police station has appeared in court charged with seven offences.

The Vauxhall Vivaro van was taken from Lowestoft police station on Saturday evening and found abandoned 15 miles away in the town of Bungay at around 1am the next day.

Suffolk Police received several reports that the van was being driven erratically, it said.

Sean Warman, 27, from Lowestoft, was arrested in Bungay on Sunday morning, according to the force.

He appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving in connection with the incident.

He was also charged with blackmail, robbery, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and two counts of impersonating a police constable

Mr Warman, who appeared by videolink from Great Yarmouth police station, spoke only to confirm his personal details.

select for full details Highways Agency looks to ban tractors on ‘smart’ A-roads
Highways England is looking to change some A-roads into motorway standard roads
By Casey Cooper-Fiske 30 Oct, 2018

The Highways Agency could ban tractors from certain English A-roads as they slow down traffic and are a safety risk according to the road regulator.

Highways England has proposed that some current A-roads are transformed into motorway standard roads. The transformation would see the removal of traffic lights and roundabouts, so that vehicles can enter and exit the carriageway via a slip road. The move would see cyclists, horses, pedestrians and mopeds banned alongside tractors.

Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England, said: “It is absolutely a safety thing for a high-speed road network. Segregation of vulnerable users from high-speed traffic is a sensible thing to do. The key thing is to provide an alternative.”

The first A-road set to be transformed is the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon. Plans would see a ban on right turns, along with a new six-lane bypass installed to the south of Huntingdon.

A Highways England spokesman said: “We are actively progressing plans to upgrade a section of the A14 to motorway. Our aspirations are to upgrade further A-roads in the future, which may include upgrading to motorway standard where appropriate. The A1 in the North East was recently upgraded and is now the A1(M) between Leeming and Barton.

“The improvements also include 11 miles of new local access road, improving safety for local traffic and the surrounding communities as well as providing an improved route for cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians. There are also 10 new bridges to help people more easily get from one side to the other.”

select for full details Labour MP deliberately misled police over speeding, court told
Fiona Onasanya blamed former lodger for driving her speeding car, Old Bailey hears
By Rajeev Syal 13 Nov, 2018

A Labour MP deliberately misled the police and became “trapped in a number of lies” after blaming a former lodger for driving her speeding car, a court has heard.

Fiona Onasanya, the MP for Peterborough, was accused at the Old Bailey of colluding with her brother to pervert the course of justice after her Nissan Micra was recorded driving over the speed limit in July 2017.

Her brother Festus Onasanya, 33, admitted three counts of perverting the course of justice, a week before he was due to face trial.

Onasanya, a former solicitor, named Aleks Antipow as being behind the wheel on official forms, but the prosecution claims he was at home with his parents in Russia.

David Jeremy QC, opening the case for the prosecution, said Fiona Onasanya had deliberately planned with her brother to deceive the police. They adopted a method that had been used by Festus Onasanya to try to avoid speeding offences on two other occasions, he said.

“It must, as some of us will know, be very irritating to receive that bit of paper telling us that we have triggered a speed camera and asking us to own up or name the driver.

“But while irritation is understandable, telling lies to frustrate an investigation into an offence is not. What Miss Onasanya did when her vehicle was trapped on 24 July 2017, was not to own up and tell the truth but was to adopt her brother’s system of evading prosecution.

select for full details “The two of them were acting jointly in telling lies in order to prevent the prosecution of the true driver,” he told the jury at the Old Bailey in central London.

Onasanya’s car was caught by a speed camera on the B1167 in Thorney, Cambridgeshire, the court heard. The driver was travelling at 41mph in a 30pmh zone.

Is interstellar object 'Oumuamua an alien space probe?'
The interstellar object 'Oumuamua could be a light-sail created by an alien civilization.'
By Hamish Johnston 7 Nov, 2018

That is the highly speculative conclusion of Shmuel Bialy and Avi Loeb of Harvard University, who say that the unexplained trajectory of the object as it travelled through the solar system could be the result of it being accelerated by sunlight.

In a statement about the research, Loeb says that it is "unclear whether 'Oumuamua' might be a defunct technological debris of equipment that is not operational any more or whether it is functional". Bialy and Loeb believe the object could be a light-sail, which would have used the radiation pressure of starlight – or perhaps even light from a giant laser – to reach the solar system. Japan's IKAROS mission, which launched in 2010, has already used a light-sail to accelerate a spacecraft using sunlight.

‘Ridiculous’ £9m divorce earns sister prison term
select for full details A ‘RIDICULOUS’ £9.4million divorce row has led to jail terms for a brother and sister — with a combined age of almost 150.
By Joel Taylor 7 Nov, 2018

Property tycoon John Hart, 83, was sentenced to 14 months earlier this year for failing to co-operate with his former air hostess ex-wife, Karen, 62.

Now his sister, Susan Byrne, 65, has been handed a three-month sentence for contempt for defying court orders out of ‘misplaced loyalty’ to her older brother.

‘In my opinion, this is a ridiculous situation which is brought about by a steadfast refusal to obey court orders,’ said Judge Stephen Wildblood.

The epic battle, which has already swallowed up £1million in legal fees, was triggered when Mr Hart was ordered to pay his ex-wife £3.5million by a divorce judge.

The ‘proud and canny’ self-made businessman kept £5.9million of the marital pot, but was told to hand over his £1.6million property business to his ex.

Mrs Hart (pictured) gained a court possession order for the business in 2015 but found it had been ‘stripped’ of almost all the records needed to run it.

Hart was jailed in May after failing to fully comply with an order to hand over the documents. The judge said the pensioner ‘was of blameless character’ but had shown ‘no remorse at all’ and had thrown away ‘some of the money which he holds so dear’ in legal fees.

Yesterday the high court judge sentenced his sister for failing to hand Mrs Hart the records. The ‘highly respected and respectable’ Byrne acted ‘out of her sense of misplaced loyalty to the elder brother who has protected her and cared for her from a very early age,’ he said.

Byrne has 21 days to appeal before the sentence comes into effect.

The Harts wed in 1987 and had two children. They enjoyed a ‘lavish lifestyle’, with homes in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, Miami and Spain.

select for full details PCSOs in Leeds should have done more to help vulnerable man hours before his death
The man was found dead in Great George Street in July 2017
By Nathan Hyde 25 Oct, 2018

Two police community support officers (PCSOs) should have done more to help a 'vulnerable' man hours before he was found dead in Leeds, the Independent Office for Police Conduct has ruled.

The officers found the man on the floor, outside St George’s Crypt, on July 23 in 2017 and spoke to a woman near him who said he had banged his head.

They left without taking the woman's details, but she approached them shortly after and admitted hitting him. She also made further threats of violence towards him.

After this confrontation, the officers decided to separate the couple and then leave.

But that evening West Yorkshire Police received a 999 call to say the couple were fighting on Great George Street.

Officers were sent to the scene and they found the man dead on the bridge which runs over the Inner Ring Road, shortly after they arrived.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct conducted a throughout investigation into the PCSOs' actions and the circumstances leading up to the man's death.

The police watchdog released its findings on Tuesday, October 23.

select for full details MPs concerned over police pension changes which could mean losing 130 officers or all PCSOs
They worry dramatic cuts in police could lead to a spike in crime
By Jamie Waller 6 Nov, 2018

MPs from across the Humber region have raised concerns that Humberside Police could lose over 130 officers in the next few years.

Without extra funding to pay for planned pension contribution changes, the force may have to cut 52 officers in the next financial year, and a further 80 the year after.

Eight MPs from Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Hull have written to the Home Secretary over fears that the changes proposed by the Government would lead to a reduction in police.

In the letter, the group, including Nic Dakin, Melanie Onn and Martin Vickers, said: "In Humberside, these pension changes would add £2.6 million to the force's costs in 2019/20, rising to £6.6m from 2020/21 onwards.

"Without extra grant funding, this change would equate to Humberside Police cutting 52 officers in 2019-20, then a further 80 in 2020-21.

"Although police numbers are not the only factor that drives crime figures, there is growing evidence that a reduction in officer numbers and the loss of equipment such as the Humberside Police helicopter have fed through into rising crime. For example, there has been a recent 30 per cent increase in violent crime in Humberside. Worryingly, much crime goes unreported."

The MPs argue in the letter that recent increases in police numbers across the area could be "undermined" if funding isn't given to cover pension contribution changes.

select for full details Fifteen children as young as 12 and six adults 'from Vietnam' are found hiding in a shipment of sparkling water
A driver is being hauled before the courts after more than 20 migrants were found trying to enter the UK in a refrigerated lorry.
By Amie Gordon 7 Nov, 2018

The group, believed to be 21 Vietnamese migrants including 15 children as young as 12, were concealed in a shipment of sparkling water at the Port of Newhaven.

They were detained at the East Sussex port on Thursday, the same day that 13 migrants were spotted being let out of a lorry forty miles north of the port in Kent.

A Romanian man believed to be the driver has been charged with assisting unlawful entry into the UK.

The lorry was stopped on its arrival from Dieppe in France and the children have been transferred to the care of social services.

An 18-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman found on the lorry have been removed from the UK.

Four other adults are in immigration detention centres while their cases are assessed.

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