National Traffic

  2012 articles

Smash-and-grab raider sues police after he is injured fleeing crime scene on stolen bike

select for full story Justin Davenport and Josh Loeb 07 December 2012
A smash and grab raider is suing Scotland Yard after he was injured in an ambush by police as he fled from a robbery on a stolen motorcyle.

Dean Cole, 24, was part of a gang that terrorised 46 stores in the West End, stealing goods worth £1 million.

Cole was riding a high-powered stolen bike with an accomplice when undercover police swooped on the gang as they tried to flee from a raid on Chanel in Mayfair in August last year.

His bike was rammed by an unmarked police vehicle in Old Bond Street and there were reports at the time that the motorcyclist had suffered a broken leg.

Cole is thought to have caught his leg in the spinning wheel of the bike as it crashed to the ground.

Now solicitors have submitted a claim for damages against the Metropolitan Police, claiming the actions of police officers caused his injuries.

This week Southwark crown court heard Cole’s injuries were still so severe that he may be unfit to appear in court next month when the gang are sentenced. A woman who answered the door at Cole’s home in Holloway refused to say whether he was available for comment, only asking: “How did you know that he lives here?”

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said Cole looked “fine” when he saw him recently and claimed that he was not hobbling on crutches on that occasion.

The ambush came after officers from a specialist police squad targeting smash and grab raiders staked out stores in the West End for 100 nights. Detectives from Westminster’s Crime Squad lay in wait for the gang which hit the West End with lightning raids, making it impossible for police to pursue them.

Raiders roared into London’s smartest streets and smashed their way into stores including Christian Dior, Anya Hindmarch, Loewe, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Jimmy Choo and Apple in Covent Garden.

Armed with sledgehammers and crowbars they broke through plate glass windows and shutters to steal handbags, jewellery, computers, iPads and fashion accessories.

They escaped by driving through London’s streets at up to 100mph — police estimated it took them just four minutes to travel from the West End to Islington, where they were based.

Amsterdam to create 'scum villages'
Amsterdam is to create "Scum villages" where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with "minimal services" under constant police supervision.
select for full story By Bruno Waterfield 4:05PM GMT 03 Dec 2012
Holland's capital already has a special hit squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six month course in how to behave.

Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's Labour mayor, has tabled the £810,000 plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often leads to law abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.

"This is the world turned upside down," the mayor said at the weekend.

The project also involves setting up a special hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities The new punishment housing camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together."

Whilst denying that the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", a spokesman for the city mayor stressed that the special residential units would aim to enforce good behaviour.

"The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said.

The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam's famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.

There are already several small-scale trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for persistent offenders, living under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.

Under the new policy, from January next year, victims will no longer have to move to escape their tormentors, who will be moved to the new units.

A team of district "harassment directors" have already been appointed to spot signals of problems and to gather reports of nuisance tenants.

The Dutch Parool newspaper observed that the policy was not a new one. In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless.

Fears of 'cronyism' as new police commissioners appoint their £65,000 deputies
Newly-elected police and crime commissioners have been accused of “cronyism”, following claims some had appointed friends as their deputies.
By Hannah Furness 9:54AM GMT 07 Dec 2012
Sixteen police and crime commissioners are now believed to have appointed their own friends, former colleagues and contacts as deputies on salaries up to £65,000.

One is reported to be planning to hire 17 people to assist him at taxpayers’ expense, including four assistant commissioners.

While the PCCs were elected by the public last month, the role of a deputy commissioner is not subject to a democratic vote and does not have to be advertised.

select for full story It can therefore be filled by any individual appointed by the new commissioner. A panel of councillors can scrutinise the decision but has no power of veto.

The system has led to fears commissioners are already appointing their allies and friends and has led to accusations of “cronyism”. As many as 16 of the 41 PCCs in England and Wales intended to appoint deputies on salaries totalling at least £468,000, reports said.

One, independent West Mercia commissioner Bill Longmore, is reported to have intended to appoint his campaign manager as a deputy.

John Campion, a Conservative councillor scrutinising the prospective appointment as part of a panel told the Times he would be “very surprised” if the public felt “somebody should be handed a £50,000-a-year job without any competition whatsoever just because he happened to be the winning candidate’s election campaigner”.

He added there would be “uproar” if a council or the NHS did the same, along with accusations of “cronyism”.

“Your first major decision is a backroom deal that can be seen as you putting one of your buddies in a highly paid job,” he said.

Other PCCs also intend to appoint their own deputies.

Adam Simmonds, Conservative commissioner in Northamptonshire, is reported to be hoping to appoint 17 staff, including his election campaign agent.

Matthew Grove, commissioner in Humberside, will recommend the appointment of a Tory colleague, while Labour’s Bob Jones will pay deputy Yvonne Mosquito £65,000 per year for a 32-hour week.

The starting salary of a police constable has now been cut to £19,000 per annum.

Jon Collins, from independent think tank Police Foundation, last night told the newspaper: “Commissioners need to be as open and transparent as they can be about how they chose people for the role, why that person is best suited for the role and what they hope they will achieve by appointing them to the role.”

Bill Longmore, West Mercia PCC, said: “I am aware the appointment of Deputy PCCs is a controversial issue nationally but I have no doubt that one is needed.

Pensioner, 82, driving wrong way on a motorway killed himself and another driver in 100mph head-on crash
By Alex Ward PUBLISHED:18:00, 8 December 2012| UPDATED:19:16, 8 December 2012
A pensioner, 82, who drove the wrong way on a motorway after missing his turn-off, killed himself and another driver in a 100mph head-on crash.

Cyril Titcombe was driving his wife Sheila home from Bristol airport after a holiday in Ibiza, when he did a U-turn on the M4 and started travelling west along the eastbound carriageway before he collided with an oncoming car halfway between junction 14 at Hungerford and 13 at Newbury on July 7.

Mr Titcombe was killed instantly while the other driver, Tunay Guillym, 48, who was travelling 70 to 80 mph in the fast lane at the time of the collision, was rushed to John Radcliffe Hospital but was later pronounced dead

A1 to be upgraded to motorway status
select for full story The upgrade of the A1 to motorway status between London and Newcastle is to be completed, the chancellor has said in his Autumn Statement.
Work on the 12-mile (19.3km) stretch between Leeming Bar and Barton in North Yorkshire will cost an estimated £314m.

Plans to complete the upgrade of the road were dropped in 2010 as part of cost-cutting measures.

A further £64m will be spent on upgrading the A1 at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, Tyneside.

The work, to begin in 2013/14, will transform the existing dual carriageway to a three-lane road.

John Weighell, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said the news was welcome.

He added: "The council has been lobbying for these essential improvements to the major strategic highway through North Yorkshire and the North East

Bride jailed for downloading terror magazine
A newly-married sister of two convicted terrorists was jailed for a year today for keeping al-Qaeda terrorist material on her mobile phone.
By Tom Whitehead, Security Editor 1:49PM GMT 06 Dec 2012
Ruksana Begum, 22, who has a first class accountancy degree, had been married just a month when police discovered copies of the banned Inspire magazine on her phone.

But the woman, who a judge described as “intelligent and articulate”, will be out within a month because of time spent on remand.

The Old Bailey heard how her two brothers Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah, pleaded guilty to a plot to blow up the Stock Exchange and were sentenced this year to 12 and 16 years jail in February.

Mohammed Chowdhury, who was jailed for 13 years for the same December 2010 plot, asked to marry her but she had never met him.

Sentencing her, Mr Justice Fulford accepted she only downloaded the material to see what had driven her brothers to terrorism.

Begum married a man in June and moved to London with her new husband.

She pleaded guilty last month to having material which was likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

This was two editions of al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine on a micro SD memory card in her mobile.

Begum, of the Provost Estate, Islington, north London, appeared with only her eyes visible beneath a black veil to be sentenced after being remanded in Holloway prison.

Kate Wilkinson, prosecuting, said: "These items contained both instructional and ideological material."

The terrorist material included instructions on remote control detonation, handgun training and how to ignite forest fires.

Hossein Zahir, defending, said Begum downloaded the material a few weeks before because she wanted to understand why her brothers had taken the path they had.

He said: "She was confident that her brothers were innocent and they would be acquitted. Then they pleaded guilty

New police chief asks for no more budget cuts
Published on Wednesday 5 December 2012 11:35 Wigan Today
WIGAN’S newly elected Police Commissioner has met with his Police and Crime panel for the first time and called on the government to stop further cuts to the policing budget.
Tony Lloyd, who became Greater Manchester’s first PCC last month, discussed his first police and crime plan, which will be published early next year, at the meeting as well as the proposed cuts to the policing budget.

select for full story The panel, which scrutinises and holds the commissioner to account, is made up of the nine local authority leaders, including Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith, and the Salford elected mayor, plus two independent members.

At the meeting, Commissioner Lloyd, said: “I’m delighted to be here and very much welcome the opportunity to talk to you all as it’s important that we work together to keep crime falling across Greater Manchester.”

The ten council leaders were also urged to come together to fight against child sex exploitation.

Mr Lloyd, added: “Child sex exploitation is an issue that challenges us all which is why I invite all ten councils to sit down with me so we can share best practice in tackling this issue.”

The commissioner has wasted no time in calling on the government to commit itself to no further cuts to policing budgets.

Following a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May, the former Manchester Central MP, said: “Whilst in parliament, I asked the Prime Minister if he would guarantee that there would be no further cuts to policing budgets.

“He failed to answer my question, so today along with other fellow commissioners, the Home Secretary was asked if she would give that guarantee.

“It was clear to me before the election that the safety of communities across Greater Manchester was under threat with the reckless 20 per cent government cuts we have suffered.

“The prospect of further disproportionate cuts to Greater Manchester is worrying and I pledged at the election to oppose these cuts. The Home Secretary must listen to the 2.5 million people I represent who want to see our police cutting crime, not the government cutting our police.” Tony Lloyd stepped down from his House of Commons role to stand in the PCC elections.

182 magistrate trials between January and March have collapsed due to lack of interpreter

In one case in Ipswich this year, a court was reduced to using Google Translate

Magistrates have filed 5,000 complaints against private firm Applied Language Solutions
select for full article By Daniel Martin, Whitehall Correspondent PUBLISHED:00:30, 24 November 2012| UPDATED:00:30, 24 November 2012
Dozens of trials have been abandoned because of a 'catastrophic' shortage of interpreters which has forced courts to rely on Google Translate, MPs have been told.

Ken Clarke's shambolic outsourcing of legal translation services is blamed for putting public safety at risk after suspects were released back on to the streets when interpreters failed to turn up.

The National Audit Office has found that between January and March this year, 182 trials in magistrates courts, and an unknown number in crown courts, have collapsed.

In one case in Ipswich in March, the failure of a Lithuanian interpreter to appear meant that Google Translate, a comparatively crude and time-consuming online translation service, had to be used.

A trial is declared 'ineffective' if it has to be abandoned on day one. It is then rescheduled at huge cost to taxpayers, with some defendants having to be freed on bail in the meantime.

The total of 182 does not include other delays caused by the interpreter shortage, such as trials having to be adjourned day after day. Magistrates, solicitors and translators warn that inadequate standards of interpretation could lead to miscarriages of justice and make British courts the 'laughing stock' of the world.

Courts across England used to rely on local interpreters but in January this year the former Justice Secretary controversially handed a monopoly on translating to a private firm, Applied Language Solutions.

Magistrates have lodged more than 5,000 complaints against the firm after it failed to send interpreters to a fifth of trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or translators who are simply incompetent. In one case the defendant's wife acted as an interpreter.

In another, ALS sent a Romanian to translate instead of a Roma speaker. The full depth of the scandal emerged in submissions to a justice select committee inquiry.

MPs were told that a murder trial went ahead with a beautician translating, even though she did not understand the words 'friction' or 'deterioration'.

Standards were allegedly so lax at the firm that a director of another translation company was able to sign up his cat Masha as an ALS translator – and the cat was offered jobs.

Many police forces also use ALS and in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, three Hungarians had to be released on bail as an interpreter could not be found.

Mr Clarke's reforms were supposed to save £18million a year, but a minister admitted in the summer that there will be no savings this year.

A spokesman for Capita, which took over the running of ALS earlier this year, said performance had improved, with more than 95 per cent of bookings now being filled and complaints down.

How France sees the same amount of taxis now, that they had in 1924 and how aspirin can only be sold in Chemists and nowhere else
[EXTRACT] By Simon Heffer PUBLISHED: 22:02, 23 November 2012
Historically, the French have despised the disciplines of the free market, dismissing them rudely as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ — one of the worst insults they can deploy.

However, it is the elimination of market mechanisms from so many aspects of French life that makes it such a wasteful, inefficient and, frankly, corrupt country.

Mr Sarkozy, briefly, planned to change this. He commissioned a progressive socialist, Jacques Attali, to draw up a list of essential reforms that would make France more competitive and efficient.

In January 2008, Mr Attali delivered a list of 316 proposals.

The fate of two of these sensible suggestions symbolised the futility of the whole exercise.

First, take the example of Mr Attali’s idea that the number of licensed taxis should be increased

The number had remained the same since 1924. But taxi drivers, furious that more licences would mean less work for each of them, called a strike which paralysed the city as other public transport services came out in sympathy. The idea was swiftly abandoned.

Second, reform of the way proprietary medicine was dispensed was proposed to break the monopoly enjoyed by pharmacists.

Indeed, it is impossible to buy minor drugs such as aspirin in a supermarket in France. Thus Mr Attali proposed that any shop should be allowed to sell over-the-counter drugs.

A strike by pharmacists put an end to that.

There was little more success with the other 314 proposals, most of which never left the drawing-board.

'Your conduct amounts to every parent's nightmare,'
says Judge Peter Rook QC

By Arthur Martin PUBLISHED: 16:51, 23 November 2012
A paedophile who was spared jail after molesting a five-year-old girl went on to rape a child by posing as a babysitter on the internet.

Red Saunders, 23, raped a girl of eight and sexually assaulted another seven-year-old girl after tricking two families into believing he was a legitimate babysitter.

He was hired through Gumtree, a popular online classifieds noticeboard, after using his brother’s name to pose as a child minder.

The parents of the girls had no idea he had been banned from working with children in 2005 for molesting a five-year-old girl while working as a playgroup organiser at a gym.

When they asked Saunders to provide a document to show he had been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau, he claimed it was ‘on its way’.

Following his arrest, police found a terrifying ‘abduction diary’ in which he described how to kidnap girls, abuse them, kill them and dispose of their bodies

select for full article
A pileup of 80 to 100 vehicles on a foggy Texas interstate near Beaumont, is pictured in this still image taken from video courtesy of KPRC-TV, November 22, 2012. The pileup in the eastbound lane of Interstate 10 near Beaumont shut down the highway in both directions and injured at least 51 people, eight critically, officials said
select for full article
Massive pileup on Interstate 10 in Texas
select for full article

School bring in proofreaders to check teachers' spelling
A team of proofreaders is being drafted in by a school to correct reports written by teachers before they are sent out to parents
The experts will correct grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes – a job usually done by schools themselves.

By Fred Attewill - 21st November, 2012
They will each be paid £14.02 an hour for up to three weeks’ work a year to make sure reports written about pupils by the dozens of full-time staff are up to scratch.

Critics said it was a ‘sad reflection on teachers who cannot write English’.

Former head teacher Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘It is very rare to find teachers who are not making mistakes in grammar and punctuation.

'These days it is common to find reports littered with errors.’

The proofreaders are being recruited by Northgate High School in Ipswich.

They will also be ‘tactfully suggesting strategies’ to help teachers who make frequent mistakes.

Head teacher David Hutton said: ‘Making a final quality check prior to publication merely indicates the high level of professionalism we strive to achieve.'

select for full article Drug dealer rammed woman's car on M5 motorway over unpaid £2,000 debt
Saturday, November 24, 2012, The Bristol Post
A drug dealer repeatedly rammed a woman’s car on the motorway while his accomplice aimed a rifle at her after she failed to pay a drug debt.

Jordan Small followed the woman at high speed on the M5 in Bristol after she left Weston-super-Mare without paying for her cannabis. While he did so, his accomplice Craig Hailstone pointed an air rifle at the vehicle, terrifying the occupants.

The shaken woman finally pulled over and paid up but her £2,000 vehicle had been written off.

At Bristol Crown Court Small, 21, of Madam Lane, Worle, Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply and dangerous driving.

Hailstone, 20, of Tavistock Road, Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm.

Judge Julian Lambert jailed Small for 28 months and banned him from driving for three years.

Hailstone was given a nine-month sentence in a young offender’s institution suspended for two years.

He was also given 240 hours unpaid work, a six-month tagged curfew and had to agree to not take any drugs or contact Small for two years.

Kirsty Real, prosecuting, said a woman had driven to Weston to pay off a £200 cannabis debt and had met Small in a supermarket car park.

“She then left and had not given him the money,” Miss Real said.

Both defendants then pursued her on the M5 in Mr Small’s van and pulled up alongside her, telling her to pull over.

“When she failed to do so the van was used to ram her vehicle from behind and on the side on several occasions,” Miss Real said.

“Mr Hailstone then produced a rifle that he aimed at the car.

“The woman’s friend told her not to stop because they had a gun.

“She pulled over onto the hard shoulder near junction 20 at Clevedon and the van crossed the path of a motorcycle in order to ram her car and caused it to spin.

“She managed to drive it back on the motorway but because of the damage the car was limited in speed.

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