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select for full details The traffic officers getting people to Christmas dinner
Both traffic officers with Highways England, their patch includes the Channel tunnel, the M25 and the A2, with an outstation in Dartford.
By Tasmin Rutter 21 Dec, 2015

Although Jason and Nicola Cook are unable to spend Christmas with their three daughters and seven grandchildren this year, they will be together. In fact, they’ll be side-by-side for the whole day, driving up and down part of the M25.

Both traffic officers with Highways England, their patch includes the Channel tunnel, the M25 and the A2, with an outstation in Dartford. Nicola had been working at the Dartford branch for a year before Jason joined in May 2006 and, as they put it, the magic happened.

“We kind of did our courting whilst sitting next to each other in a car, getting to know each other – like finding out whether she liked marmite,” says Jason. “You do that kind of chatting when you’re eight hours sitting in car together in the middle of the night.”

Highways England deploys staff 24 hours a day to deal with incidents on the country’s core road network and distributes information about preparing for winter driving for example. Jason and Nicola, both members of Prospect, the trade union for professionals, describe their role as a safety patrol, dealing with minor accidents, routine breakdowns and drivers who have got lost. They hand over serious incidents to police or ambulance services.

There won’t be many lorries on the roads on 25 December, but the roads won’t be completely empty, according to Jason, like they were when he was a child. Instead, there’ll be carloads of families and presents and people getting lost or stuck on their way to Christmas dinner. Nicola and Jason spent a previous Christmas Day leading an elderly lady to the right junction after she’d accidentally ended up on the motorway and had got lost on her way to see her grandchildren in Tunbridge Wells.

They have both worked on Christmas Day several times before and always try to synchronise their schedules during the festive season. They don’t mind it too much, says Nicola. “At Christmas everyone is jollier – even if they’ve broken down they tend to realise you’re doing your utmost to help them.”

select for full details The police officers responding to emergency calls

While many families sit around in their paper hats arguing over a game of charades, throughout the night of 25 and 26 December police officer Adam Norton will be standing by to deal with the more extreme family fallouts. A response sergeant in Runcorn, Cheshire, he’ll be responding to 999 calls and other urgent issues – and says that although the pubs shut early, violence often ensues when people spend all day drinking.

Many of his back-office colleagues won’t be working, but the rest of the police service will need to run at its usual capacity: demand on frontline staff is exacerbated by the fact that so many people are celebrating on the same day.

It’ll be a real wrench being away from his wife and three kids, but Norton says he’s grateful to associate Christmas with happy memories when his job brings him into contact with so many people for whom it’s difficult time of year.

“Last Christmas I spent my morning with an individual who was suicidal, taking them through to hospital to get support from mental health services,” he says. The festive period sees a rise in incidents related to depression, alcohol, loneliness and domestic violence.

“It’s very, very sad, but it’s good that we’re there for these people. For some people it might be the only friendly face they see on Christmas Day,” he says. “Although it might not be the Christmas any of us had hoped for, we sort of improved it very slightly, the best we can.”

select for full details Heroic Shayne Ward desperately trying to find family he rescued from motorway smash
Shayne leapt into action and rushed to the aid of the family after witnessing the smash on the M60 on Friday.
By Steve White 28 June, 2015

Singer Shayne Ward is desperately worried about a family he helped rescue after a motorway smash.

Shayne leapt into action and rushed to the aid of the family after witnessing the smash on the M60 on Friday.

The 30-year-old pulled the child and her dad from the vehicle and led them to safety after the accident on Manchester’s M60 orbital motorway.

He has tweeted asking for help to find out the condition of a dad and girl he pulled from a car on the M60 in Manchester on Friday.

The X Factor winner in 2005 said: “I’ve tried different hospitals but no luck so far.”

He says he has contacted local hospitals but has unable to get an update on their condition.

He tweeted: “Just witnessed the most horrific crash on the M60.

“I ran to the car to see a family-of-four.

“I pulled a little girl and her father from the wreckage.

“Can everyone please retweet this in hope that it reaches the relations of the family, as I’ve tried to contact different hospitals in Manchester...but no luck so far.

Shayne, who shot to stardom after winning the X Factor in 2005, will soon be joining the cast of Coronation Street.

The singer will play Aidan Connor, the cousin of Kym Marsh’s character Michelle.

His first scenes will be screened this summer.

select for full details The shocking moment a foreign-registered lorry REVERSES on the M1
lorry was spotted trying to avoid tailbacks in Bedforshire yesterday when part of M1 was closed following major incident between a lorry and a van.
By Gemma Mullin 26 June, 2015

This is the shocking moment a foreign-registered lorry reversed down the motorway to avoid a traffic jam.

The heavy goods vehicle was spotted trying to avoid major tailbacks on the northbound carriageway in Bedfordshire after a crash between a lorry and a van left part of the M1 closed yesterday.

Emergency services were using the hard shoulder to get to the scene of the crash between the junction for Luton Airport and the town centre at around 2pm.

In a bid to get out of the queues the driver, who was allegedly not wearing a seatbelt, reversed his cab and 40 foot trailer back to the previous exit.

He turned himself round on the cross hatching, manoeuvered over the grass verge and proceeded to exit the motorway.

Beds, Cambs and Herts Roads Policing Unit tweeted yesterday to remind lorry drivers about safety on the motorway following the incident.

It said: 'Serious collision M1 jcn 10 -11. Hgvs the hard shoulder is not a place for a Tacho break emergency services cannot get through.'

The law states that it's illegal to reverse on the motorway at any point - whether that is on the main carriageway, hard shoulder or a slip road.

The penalty can be a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on the licence or a discretionary disqualification from driving.

Bedfordshire Police have been unable to confirm whether the incident was reported to them. MailOnline has approached Waberer's International, the company which the lorry was from, for a comment.

France: Reminder - Earphones No Longer Allowed on Motorcycles
Getting caught with one will result in a €135 fine and 3 points from your driving license. So be warned.
By Mike Werner 25 Jun, 2015

Just a friendly reminder for any of you who are crazy enough to visit France on your motorcycle (or car for that matters). Starting on the 1st of July this year, no matter what vehicle type (motorcycle, car, truck), you are not allowed to use a wired, and even most wireless headphone.

Many thought that to escape the no-mobile-phone-use-without-a-hands-free-kit law, by using a wired headphone or even a wireless one, you are no longer allowed to do so. And it's not only for telephone conversations: listening to music or your mother-in-law's podcast monologue why her daughter could have married someone better is no allowed.


Luckily, we motorcycle riders are an exception to this rule. If you have one of those communication kits installed in your helmet, either third party (Cardo, Hello, Sena, etc) or from the helmet manufacturer (Nolan, Schuberth, etc), they are allowed. But not a direct wired headset to your phone, or even one of those pesky Bluetooth earpieces. In fact, the law does not allow earphones that are in your ear.

Motorist arrested after crashing through motorway toll barriers and driving wrong way
SUSPECTED drink driver has been arrested after he smashed through motorway toll barriers and drove the wrong way down the high-speed road
By Joe Sheppard 1 Jul, 2015

A picture of a Ford Ka with a broken windscreen was tweeted by the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) after officers stopped the vehicle on the M6.

It is believed the damage to the car was caused when the driver, a foreign national, crashed through barriers at junction T3 near Sutton Coldfield.

The motorist drove down the motorway pursued by police in the early hours of the morning on the stretch of the M6 in south Staffordshire.

On its Twitter page the CMPG praised the officers on the scene.

They said: "Fantastic work by CMPG officers willing to put themselves in harm's way to stop potential fatal accident with vehicle travelling the wrong way."

select for full details Stafford Police officers head to New York City to take on police in a charity boxing match
A TEAM of Staffordshire Police officers are heading to New York for a long standing charity boxing match with the New York Police Department.
By Staffs Newsletter 25 June, 2015

The team of eight boxers and two trainers from the Blue Glove Boxing Academy will be heading to Coney Island for the show on August 20.

The event will raise cash for the New York Police Department's chosen charity Cops and Kids.

To date the BGBA has raised over £250,000 for good causes through fundraising challenges but this will be the first international one.

To mark the occasion the officers will be presenting their opponents with ceremonial truncheons and the not for profit sports club is asking businesses to sponsor each of the truncheons, which will then take pride of place in the NYPD Police Headquarters. Anyone interested in them should contact the BGBA Event Manager Gareth Aston on 07857132698

One of the BGBA founders Colin Gay said: "The club are extremely honoured to have been asked over to New York for this event, supporting our colleagues in the NYPD, in the process raising some vitally needed funds for their charity."

Chief constable Jane Sawyers added: "I'm sure the team will be excellent ambassadors for the force and they'll prove a knockout with their American colleagues. Offering the opportunity for local companies and organisations to sponsor the ceremonial truncheons is a really creative way of getting them involved in the fundraising, and I hope more of them come forward to offer help.

"Boxing training is notoriously tough so I admire the dedication the boxers are showing in their preparation for the event. Whether they beat the Americans or not they'll still have reached their goal as they'll have raised a lot of money for charity.

"The Blue Glove Boxing Academy's Battle of the Badges events have proved a great success in the past in raising money for charity. I wish them all the best for this transatlantic bout and I'm sure it'll be a great experience for them."

select for full details NYPD will hire 800 recruits and move 415 cops off desk duty under neighborhood policing plan
The NYPD will hire an extra 800 recruits in the next three months and spring 415 cops from desk duty as part of a neighborhood policing plan rolled out Thursday.
By Rocco Parascandola 25 June, 2015

Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced the accelerated hiring program just three days after City Hall agreed to add 1,297 new cops in next year’s budget.

When the full number of new officers are on the job, 358 veteran officers will transfer into counterterrorism and the remaining 800-plus will work as neighborhood coordination officers.

Those cops are key to the new plan, with Bratton hopeful they will spend more than two hours per shift out of their patrol cars and mingling with local residents like the beat cops of yore.

“Everything old is new again,” said Bratton at a news conference in Washington Heights’ 34th Precinct stationhouse, home to a pilot program for the new approach.

“This is neighborhood policing, more intimate, neighborhood by neighborhood . . . Twenty years from now, we’ll look back at this time as a watershed event in the history of this department and the city.”

Bratton noted this was the NYPD’s first “plan of action” since 1994 — the first year of his first tour as commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

To put more cops on the street, the NYPD is also in the process of converting 415 positions currently held by cops into civilian jobs.

“The best change, the best reform happens at the grass roots,” said de Blasio. “Instead of a top-down approach where everything started when there was a problem . . . we are now doing a bottom-up approach where the officer knows the community, the community knows the officer.

“We stop the problem in many cases before it even happens,” the mayor said. “It’s neighborhood policing. It’s preventative policing.”

select for full details ‘London dungeon’: Victorian-era prison still bloodstained and rat-infested
IT’S infested with vermin and cockroaches, walls and bedsheets are left stained with blood and inmates are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day.
By au news 25 June, 2015

This is what incarceration is like in a Victorian-era London prison that appears stuck in the dark ages.

A shocking report on Pentonville Prison published this week paints a vivid picture of a filthy, overcrowded facility where rubbish is piled outside the wings and dirty showers pose a serious health threat.

“Clearly some areas had not been cleaned for a considerable time and remained dirty for much of the inspection,” read the report. “Prisoners struggled to gain daily access to showers, and to obtain enough clean clothing, cleaning materials and eating utensils.”

The high turnover of the prison, which holds more than 1200 men and admits 100 new prisoners each week, means inmates are forced to share cramped cells designed for one, many of which have broken or missing windows and are covered with graffiti.

Drugs are easily obtainable and violence is rife in Pentonville. Staff veer between “indifferent” and “irresponsible”.

The report is based on an unannounced inspection in February, which came 17 months after chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick questioned whether the prison had a viable future. Yet conditions have only deteriorated further.

Just a quarter of the population was engaged in purposeful activity at any one time, and “acute staff shortages” meant their needs were rarely met. Some were let out of their cells for less than one hour a day, with not even a radio to keep them company

select for full details Merseyside's most wanted jailed AGAIN over multi-million pound drugs plot
Last year Ian Stanton was jailed for 12 years over 400kg cocaine plot - today he was sentenced to 16 years over huge cross-border drugs racket.
By John Siddle 25 June, 2015

Merseyside drugs trafficker who was among the lynchpins of a vast £30m conspiracy was today locked up for the second time in little more than a year.

Ian Stanton, 44, was the ringleader of the Liverpool end of a drugs racket which saw huge amounts of super-strength cocaine and amphetamine shipped to the North East.

The former motor trader recruited a network of henchmen to do his dirty work, including his 23-year-old son Shaun, when he fled to Spain to evade capture over a separate £120m cocaine plot.

The fugitive was named as Merseyside’s most wanted before being captured and jailed for 12 years last April.

Today, Stanton was locked up for 16 years. His right-hand-man, Liverpool-based Keith Watson, 38, was handed 15 years and four months.

Both admitted counts of supplying Class A and Class B drugs over a two year period.

Police pulled together evidence from 20 “key dates” - which included seven drugs seizures of high purity cocaine and amphetamine.

An sophisticated amphetamine factory was also uncovered in Hornby Boulevard, Bootle.

Judge Peter Armstrong, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, called the drugs haul a “snapshot” of dealing on a “significant and commercial scale”.

If the amphetamine was sold at street purity of 1% at £10, the total amount would have been worth more than £8m.

But the true scale of other deals likely to have taken place could have seen Teesside immersed with tens of kilos more of drugs, worth many millions of pounds.

National Crime Agency Branch Commander David Norris said: “What we uncovered here was a number of inter-connected organised criminal groups working together to source drugs, sell them, and then launder the profits.

“They were extremely well organised, transporting large quantities of drugs across the country with large sums of cash going in return. Some members of this network had spent virtually their whole lives trying to stay under the radar of law enforcement.

select for full details Humberston school children's anger at parents for bad parking
WORRIED schoolchildren have launched an urgent appeal to parents to watch where they park.
By Grimsby Telegraph 24 June, 2015

Pupils on the school council at the Humberston CofE Primary School have teamed up with a beat PCSO to remind motorists that irresponsible parking at the school site in Church Lane can be dangerous.

Members of the school council have outlined problem parking as one of the main issues facing students.

The council have teamed up with teachers to notify parents through regular newsletters and have in the past sent reminder texts.

Pupil and member of the school council Zac Nearney, 11, said parents parking outside the school is a daily problem.

"It's dangerous around the school area because you get young children who can't see because of the parked cars," he said.

"All we want is for our school to be safe and we don't want anyone to be injured.

"Sometimes we even get three cars parked at the gates of the school where cars are not supposed to be."

Fellow school councillor Louis Boulter, 11, said: "With there being big cars parked near the school and little children it can be quite traumatising for them.

"The road signs are there for a reason so we don't want them to be ignored by parents."

Teachers and school councillors gathered at the gates of the Church Lane school displaying pictures of the road signs which are already in place to remind motorists, such as 20mph and "no parking".

PCSO Steve Sutton, beat officer for the New Waltham and Humberston area, has been assisting the pupils and the school in getting their message across.

"The children have identified that parking near the school in the morning and in the afternoon is a major problem," he said.

"I have been out with them today to observe so I can see what dangers they are facing.

"Of course most schools in the area have problems like this, but the pupils here have identified this as a particular problem."

He added: "What happens is parents are rushing in the morning and instead of parking a distance away and walking to school with their child, they are parking right at the gates.

"I've been really impressed with the maturity of the children on the school council.

"They have an enthusiasm and an understanding of protecting others."

Boy racers get warning after flouting injunction
The first drivers to flout an injunction order which cracks down on anti-social "car cruising" near Hucknall have been served with warnings by police.
By Nottingham Post 26 Jun, 2015

in January, Nottinghamshire County Council, with the support of Nottinghamshire Police and other community safety partners, secured an injunction order to ban boy racers at three locations in the county.

These were an area just off junction 27 of the motorway and at Victoria and Chilwell Retail Parks. More than 50 drivers were stopped by police during a crackdown earlier this month. Most were reminded about the injunction and no further action was taken.

But motorists who were driving anti-socially were issued with first breach injunctions – a final warning that they will face charges if found to be in breach again. Banned behaviour includes racing, riding in a convoy, driving at excessive speeds and performing 'stunts'.

select for full details All-terrain vehicle unveiled for the Thames Valley Police
OFFICERS at Thames Valley Police are the first in the country to use this rugged all-terrain vehicle to tackle rural crime.
By Oxford Mail 26 Jun, 2015

the high-performance Kubota RTVX900, which costs about £10,000, is designed to transport officers to areas that were previously impossible to access in the fight against the rural crime in the UK.

Prime Minister and MP for Witney David Cameron backed the force’s latest move to tackle rural crime.

He said: “In rural areas like my constituency our forces face unique challenges and this vehicle will be a great asset to Thames Valley Police as they focus their attention on tackling rural crime.”

Kubota is based in Thame and the vehicle with a top speed of 47mph is powered by a 21.6HP, three-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine.

The new addition to the force was revealed yesterday at Carterton police station in Burford Road.

Supt Kath Lowe, Local Police Area Commander of Cherwell and West Oxfordshire, said: “Crime in rural parts of Oxfordshire can range from theft of agricultural and construction plant and machinery, to wildlife crimes like hare coursing and poaching, or the theft of diesel and saddle stones.

“A significant number of crimes we deal with out of Carterton are in rural areas.

“However, a serious issue for us has been getting to crime scenes.”

select for full details Aston drug dealers ploughed car into a tree during crack and heroin run
Harees Mahmood, 18, and Mohammed Ismaeel, 20 were on drug run when car ploughed into tree in Erdington.
By Matt Lloyd 23 June, 2015

a drug dealer and his driver have been jailed after their car ploughed into a tree while on a run.

Police found heroin and crack cocaine in the vehicle when Harees Mahmood and Mohammed Ismaeel crashed on Gypsy Lane in Erdington.

Dealer Mahmood was left needing hospital treatment while Ismaeel fled the scene at 3.15pm on September 19.

In the wreck of the car police found 29 wraps of heroin worth £290 and 38 wraps of crack cocaine worth £380.

Too ill to be arrested and interviewed, Mahmood was treated in hospital and released.

But when police called at his Emscote Road home in Aston on October 2 they found a further 20 wraps of crack cocaine and 14 wraps of heroin.

A pair of digital scales and two wads of cash, one of £1,335 and another of £265 were also found.

Mahmood, who has previous convictions for possession of crack and heroin, pleaded guilty to four charges of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

Described as playing a significant role, he was sent to a young offenders institution for 30 months.

Ismaeel, of Albert Road, Aston, who was arrested later in October, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of Class A with intent.

However he has since been jailed for three-years-ten-months after being convicted of wounding and dangerous driving.

He was ordered to serve an extra 12 months on top of that sentence.

Jailing the pair at Birmingham Crown Court, His Honour Judge Paul Farrer QC said: “Mahmood you were released from hospital and went home, not having been arrested.

“A couple of weeks after police came to your family address to arrest you and found further drugs in your possession.

“You were not on bail but this second finding shows a real degree of persistence and is a substantial aggravating feature.

“I accept you are immature and have problems in your background, suffer from ADHD and had a difficult upbringing.

“That said, these offences are so serious they can only be met with a sentence of immediate detention.”

Ismaeel was told he played a lesser role, that of a driver, and that his sentence must be seen in relation to the three years-and-ten months he was already serving.

Tarlowchan Dubb, defending Mahmood, said a pre-sentence report on the teen made appalling reading.

select for full details Gateshead heroin gang rammed police cars and ran over detective during drugs bust
Members of a gang led by recently released cocaine kingpin David Charlton are today behind bars after a dramatic drugs bust in a West Denton car park
By Rob Kennedy 11 June, 2015

a drugs boss was caught running a heroin racket weeks after being released from prison for a cocaine plot - despite a dramatic bid for freedom when his gang rammed police cars and ran over a detective.

David Charlton was locked up for eight years in 2009 after operating a cocaine factory with his dad from their bathroom.

But after being let out of prison after serving half his sentence, Charlton was straight back to his old ways, this time with the help of his brother.

He was the kingpin in a Gateshead gang who were importing large amounts of high purity heroin into the North East from Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire.

Police were onto them and closed in to bust the gang as they met to do a deal in the car park at West Denton Retail Park, in Newcastle, near McDonalds and Go Outdoors.

But one of Charlton’s henchman rammed through police cars which had blocked them in, dragging another member of the gang along then flinging him to the ground as he desperately tried to get in the passenger door of the speeding car.

The driver for the Huddersfield group then followed through the blockade and ran over a detective, carrying him on the bonnet then throwing him to the ground.

Both cars were then involved in high speed crashes and police recovered a kilo of heroin and £32,930 in cash.

Now Charlton has been jailed for eight years and eight months as the gang were locked up for a total of more than 30 years after admitting the heroin conspiracy at Newcastle Crown Court.

Sentencing them, Judge Robert Adams told Charlton: “It’s fairly clear you were undeterred by the previous sentence and speedily returned to your criminal activities almost as soon as you could after your release.

select for full details Bankers Appreciation Society  Join our Society today, we respect and marvel at our wonderful hard working, honest bankers!
 2015 Bankers Hall of Fame
Congratulate a banker on a job well done today

 2014 Hero Bankers of 2014
What a colossal year for British bankers was 2014

 2013 Bankers Roll of Honour
Honesty, Integrity, Honour these are the bankers' bywords in 2013

 2012 Very Proud indeed to be a banker
Read it, read it all and be very proud of our marvellous bankers

Read our banker pages that range across 2012 - 2015 and what do you see? Well what can we make of the bankers and their last 4 years?

Can we be very proud of our banks and their bankers? Honesty? Integrity? Honour? are these the words that come to mind when you think of A BANKER?? well are they?

select for full details Thousands of lorry drivers have spent two days stuck on the M20 in Kent after striking French workers blockaded Calais
Kent County Council said its staff provided 2,000 bottles of water and 750 snack meals on Tuesday.
By Martin Fricker 1 Jul, 2015

It said another 5,000 bottles, plus 200 meals, were due to be distributed today to drivers caught up on the M20.

Portable toilets have also been set up for drivers along sections of the motorway.

Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service also said it handed out drinks and food along the closed stretch of the M20.

Ironically some of the water handed to drivers was FRENCH water - Evian.

The trucker added: "We've been told not to expect to get to the end of the queue and onto the ferry until Sunday.

"If this hot weather carries on there could be deaths or a riot. It's unbearable and we've got no shade.

"Fair play to the French, they know how to get what they want, but they don't think about the consequences for people like us.

"We're stranded with nowhere to go. Even if we wanted to get onto the Eurotunnel we can't because we're stuck in this queue.

"We're hearing on our radios that the queue is getting bigger by the hour. It's 24 miles long apparently.

"We're just trying to stick together like brothers, sharing whatever water and food we have and looking out for each other."

Meanwhile, militant ferry workers in Calais who broke on the Channel Tunnel train track have mocked security at the Eurotunnel site as 'like a sieve'.

A group of 28 striking sailors scaled the fence, set fire to tyres and tried to dismantle some of the rails used by Le Shuttle trains between France and the UK.

After the break-in on Tuesday, union boss Eric Vercoutre bragged to the French media: "The security there is like a sieve. It's a joke.

"I strolled into the tunnel in my flip-flops."

Vercoutre said they had 'done Eurotunnel a favour' by highlighting poor security when thousands of British-bound migrants are trying to break into the Channel Tunnel every day.

The men left the site before they could be arrested by French border police, and Eurotunnel said it was now seeking to have the group charged with trespassing and endangering life.

select for full details Days of having cops on street corners are gone:
How police chief announced cuts in patrols
By Chris Riches 24 June, 2015

Greater Manchester Police decided it was a waste to station dedicated officers in Bolton town centre on Friday nights "just in case something happens".

Instead Chief Supt Shaun Donnellan, Bolton's most senior officer, said they will tackle night crime with a rapid response unit.

He argued the notion of having bobbies "on street corners" as a visible deterrent to crime had no place in today's policing.

Mr Donnellan said: "In this day and age we cannot sustain people to be there just in case. We have got a far stronger handle on the town centre than we have ever had. We can only react to what we know about, and if there is a need for us to be out on Friday nights we will be there in whatever numbers are required. The days of having cops on street corners just in case are gone."

But locals disagree. They said the sight of a "bobby on the beat" on Friday nights was an age-old, reliable deterrent.

Engineering student Simon Dawson, 38, said: "Bolton does feel safe on Friday nights but that was partly due to being able to spot a policeman in the square.

"It's obvious isn't it - if thugs of crooks know a policeman is a 10-minute drive away they know they can get away with committing crime."

select for full details Retired Eddie McPhie, 70, said: "I think its outrageous they have taken away the police on a Friday night.

"It's like taking a hospital away and saying 'If you are sick we will get to you'.

"No, actually I feel safer knowing there is a hospital for me to go to if I need it."

Police chiefs say the decision to withdraw the unit, usually based in a van in Nelson Square, was made after a recent drop in crime.

The team that has now been removed from the Friday night duty was working under Operation BAND - Bolton Against Night-time Disorder.

BAND will continue, however, and a unit will stay in the town centre on Saturday nights, when police say they are busier.

Ch Supt Donnellan said: "The need for officers in the town centre on Fridays is just not there.

"The demand in terms of incidents reported to us on Friday night has dropped below the point where we need a dedicated patrol.

"We even had some feedback which told us that the response was heavy-handed and it would put people off coming to Bolton.

"We have got CCTV which can spot trouble starting, so we can probably be there before anybody can put a call in to us.

select for full details Haroon Ahmed: Criminal has been arrested, police say
Mr Ahmed had escaped HMP Dovegate prison by walking out with visitors.
By Chris Green 1 June, 2015

A robber who escaped from a high-security prison run by the outsourcing giant Serco by walking out with his visitors has been re-arrested, police have said.

Haroon Ahmed said he was escorted out of HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire last week after jokingly asking a prison officer: “Is it OK for me to go home?” The 26-year-old had been in jail since 2008, after being convicted of robbing a garage armed with a knife.

Over the weekend he claimed to have fled to Marbella on the Costa del Sol, where he sought legal advice. But on Monday morning he was arrested at an address in Nottingham – raising doubts over whether he had ever left the country at all.

Before he was arrested, Ahmed told reporters that he had “wanted to test out the security” of the Category B prison and that his brazen escape had not been planned. “I thought ‘I’ll give it a go’– and walked out of the door. That’s how easy it was. I just kept on walking,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

“I just got up when the visit was ending. I said to a prison officer ‘Is it OK for me to go home?’ as a joke. I just walked off with all the visitors and went through the security procedures. A prison officer escorted me to the gate,” he added in a separate interview with Sky News.

Ahmed is being held in a police station in Burton upon Trent. It is understood that he will not be returned to Dovegate but will instead be “upgraded” to a Category A prison, where only the most serious offenders who pose an immediate threat to the public are held.

Staffordshire Police said in a statement: “Haroon Ahmed, 26, who is from the Derby area, was arrested this morning in the Nottingham area and has been taken into custody. Detectives have been searching for Ahmed since his escape from HMP Dovegate prison last Wednesday where he was serving a sentence for robbery.

“We would like to thank the public and media for their help in sharing our appeals to find Ahmed. Our social media posts reached just under 300,000 people.”

Sources close to the prison, which has been run by the private company Serco since it opened in 2001, said Ahmed had managed to get away unnoticed during visiting hours despite being on the prison’s “watch list”. The jail currently houses more than 900 male inmates, most

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the manner of Ahmed’s escape was “bizarre” but may be explained by Dovegate’s high staff turnover, which often caused confusion.

“This is why you need ‘jailcraft’ – knowing how things work,” she said. “You do need experience and expertise. I’ve never heard of anybody just walking out. I’ve heard of helicopters and people tunnelling, but just walking out of a closed prison is extraordinary.”

His escape came just hours before the publication of a report by the Government’s prisons watchdog which raised concerns about “very tight” staffing levels at Dovegate. Inspectors said that, on some occasions, entire wings of the prison had been left unstaffed while inmates were out of their cells.

On Thursday police arrested his brother, Majeed Ahmed, 25, of Derby, and have charged him with assisting a prisoner in escaping from prison. He has been released on bail to appear before magistrates on 25 June.

A Serco spokesman said it was in the process of investigating the incident and would not be commenting further. Michael Guy, the firm’s director at HMP Dovegate, previously said the escape was being treated “extremely seriously”.

Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow Minister for Prisons, said: “The escape of this prisoner was farcical. If it featured in an episode of Porridge we'd be calling it far-fetched. Sadly, this episode is not funny, and has exposed serious failings in security. A violent man has made a laughing stock of our prison system.”

N E W     Y O R K
select for full details Silk Road founder jailed for life and ordered to forfeit £120 million
The man who created the underground drug-selling website Silk Road has been jailed for life.
By Jimmy Nsubuga 30 May, 2015

Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced in New York yesterday for orchestrating a scheme that enabled more than $200 million (£130m) of anonymous online drug sales using the digital currency bitcoin. A federal jury in February found him guilty of charges including distributing drugs through the Internet and conspiring to commit computer hacking and money laundering.

During sentencing US District Judge Katherine Forrest cited six deaths from drugs bought on Ross Ulbricht’s site and five people he tried to have killed.

select for full details ‘It was a carefully planned life’s work. It was your opus,’ she said.

‘You are no better a person than any other drug dealer.’

The sentence also included an order to forfeit the $183.9m (£120m) fortune Ulbricht had amassed.

Ulbricht’s 2013 arrest shut down what prosecutors described as an unprecedented one-stop online shopping mall where the supply of drugs was virtually limitless. Outside of court Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel promised an appeal, calling the sentence unreasonable, unjust and unfair.

Ross Ulbricht, the man behind illegal online drug emporium Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday by Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan’s US district court for the southern district of New York.

by Sam Thielman on 29 May, 2015
Before the sentencing the parents of the victims of drug overdoses addressed the court. Ulbricht broke down in tears. “I never wanted that to happen,” he said. “I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path.”

The 31-year-old physics graduate and former boy scout was handed five sentences: one for 20 years, one for 15 years, one for five and two for life. All are to be served concurrently with no chance of parole.

The judge handed out the most severe sentence available to the man US authorities identified as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, pseudonymous founder of an Amazon-like online market for illegal goods.

“The stated purpose [of Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws,” Forrest told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.

Ulbrict had begged the judge to “leave a light at the end of the tunnel” ahead of his sentence. “I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age,” he wrote to Forrest this week. Prosecutors wrote Forrest a 16-page letter requesting the opposite: “[A] lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum is appropriate in this case.”

“I’ve changed. I’m not the man I was when I created Silk Road. I’m a little wiser. A little more mature and much more humble,” Ulbricht pled in court.

Forrest rejected arguments that Silk Road had reduced harm among drug users by taking illegal activities off the street. “No drug dealer from the Bronx has ever made this argument to the court. It’s a privileged argument and it’s an argument made by one of the privileged,” she said.

Silk Road was once the largest “dark web” marketplace for illegal drugs and other services. In March 2013 the secret site listed 10,000 items for sale, 7,000 of which were drugs including cannabis, MDMA and heroin. Prosecutors said Silk Road had generated nearly $213.9m (£140m) in sales and $13.2m in commissions before police shut it down.

Ulbricht was convicted in February after a four-week trial on all seven counts, from selling narcotics and money laundering to maintaining an “ongoing criminal enterprise”, a charge usually reserved for mob kingpins. Prosecutors said that he had gone so far as to solicit six murders for hire, although no charges were ever brought.

Throughout the trial, the defense suggested that Ulbricht was the victim of a complex hacking attack that left him looking like the fall guy. Given the evidence presented against Ulbricht, the pitch proved a hard sell to the jury.

The Ripper hoax that haunted West Yorkshire
Peter Sutcliffe claimed three more victims as police hunted for the Ripper in Sunderland.
By Grant Woodward 23 Jun, 2015

How a new novel seeks to silence ‘Wearside Jack’ forever

Delivered in a thick North East accent, they were words that sent a chill through the heart of West Yorkshire. Bragging about his murderous exploits, the Yorkshire Ripper taunted the police force he continued to elude.

Blacklock’s compelling new novel I’m Jack, his first, tells the story of the owner of that disembodied voice, the man quickly dubbed ‘Wearside Jack’ by the tabloids.

He was not, of course, the real Ripper. While George Oldfield was tying himself in knots with his wild goose chase in Sunderland, 80 miles away in West Yorkshire, Peter Sutcliffe carried on killing.

Quizzed and freed because his accent did not match that on the tape, Sutcliffe would claim three further victims before eventually being caught. Those final murders and the sense that the hoaxer had proved a fatal distraction help explain why the mystery of Wearside Jack endured even as the real killer languished in Broadmoor.

select for full details Good Samaritan grabs his camera
thwarts gang trying to steal his neighbour's motorbike
By Rachel Blundy 24 Jun, 2015

a Good Samaritan has told of the moment he thwarted a motorbike gang who tried to steal his neighbour's motorcycle. the man, who lives in a quiet mews in Streatham, spotted the trio on two motorbikes outside his home this morning.

He began taking photographs of the group as they eyed up his neighbour's motorcycle, which was parked opposite his kitchen window.

But they sped away when they noticed him taking pictures just after 6.30am today.

One biker is reported to have returned moments later and threatened the witness, saying; "We know where you live".

When the man replied that he had photographs of the group's licence plates, the biker is said to have denied that the bikes belonged to them, before riding away. Police are now hunting for the gang over several attempted thefts in the area, according to reports.

The told the Standard: "With hindsight it might have been reckless of me to take photographs. But I did not feel threatened by them. It felt like a hollow threat. They did not seem like they meant it."

Describing the incident, he said: "I went into my kitchen at about 6.30am and looked out of the window to see them standing outside.

"They had bike helmets on and were looking very suspicious. One of them was looking at a bike and tapped it to see if it had an alarm. I took a photograph and as soon as they saw me they stopped what they were doing. All of them drove off.

"Then one of them came back and threatened me. He said; "We know where you live". And I said I have photographs of you and your number plates. He replied that they weren't their bikes. Then he rode off."

He continued: "When the police arrived, they said someone had reported the same gang for trying to steal a car before."

a news report from   I R E L A N D
select for full details Prison service chief stresses import of rehabilitation
Prison officers’ conference told a ‘humane service’ is about rebuilding broken people.
By Conor Lally 9 May, 2015

The role of the prison system is to “build up” and “bring back” criminals by treating them with humanity, the head of the Irish Prison Service has said.

Michael Donnellan said while some luxuries extended to prisoners might seem too liberal, the prison service must try to get through to “angry” criminals, including those with a violent record in prison.

“To crush people more, in my experience, doesn’t really work. It makes people more angry. What you’ve got to try to do is build people up so we can have a safer society.”

He said the courts sentenced criminals to imprisonment as a punishment for their crimes. The prison service had no role in further punishing them.

“A humane prison service is about trying to take people who are broken and build them back up again,” he said.

“[But] no level of violence is tolerable. I’m very clear about that . . . we take all necessary steps including criminal convictions.”

Mr Donnellan made his comments in the closing session of the Prison Officers’ Association annual conference in Dromoland, Co Clare, after his management style had been strongly criticised by officers.

They have said violent prisoners, some who had attacked staff more than 100 times, had continued to enjoy rewards, days after stabbing officers.

The association said one prisoner who stabbed two officers in the head in Mountjoy last month was given €65 for his birthday nine days later and bought cake and fizzy drinks to mark the day. They claimed another inmate involved in over 200 disciplinary incidents, including attacks on staff, had been supplied with a fish tank to pacify him and plans were being considered for a small garden he could use. This was despite his record in prison being so violent that staff dealing with him were dressing in riot gear.

Car overturns in Redditch motorway crash
Ambulance crews were called to the M42 between junctions 3 and 2 following reports a car had left the motorway.
By Connie Osbourne 1 Jul, 2015

The vehicle, driven by a man in his 40s, had rolled down a steep verge before landing on its roof.

West Midlands Ambulance Service sent an ambulance, a paramedic area support officer, a doctor and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Strensham to the scene.

Amazingly the man managed to free himself from the vehicle and was conscious on arrival.

A spokesman said: “Crews had to battle through thick hedges and shrubbery in order to reach the man, whilst the air ambulance was able to land on a field nearby where the vehicle had come to rest.

“The man was assessed, but incredibly walked away uninjured, bar a small graze to his arm and did not require transporting to hospital.

select for full details Why is the A14 in Cambridgeshire such a hotspot for crashes?
Endless lines of traffic, sirens howling in the distance and the horrifying wreckage of crumpled metal are all too familiar to the average commuter in Cambridge these days.
By Cambridge News 2 Jul, 2015

During the first 18 weeks this year, the A14 became the scene of 29 crashes, five of which were serious, and this week alone saw the road closed for hours two days in a row following major collisions.

Naturally, the past two days of mayhem have got readers asking why, despite Highways England's injection of £16.75 million into the Girton junction upgrade, does this keep happening?

In fact, some of you suggested the widening of the road was itself at fault.

Writing on the News' Facebook page, Rob Warner said: "I would say that since this part of road has been changed.

"This is why the accidents are happening. Seems funny that before the road was widened and extended there wasn't half as many."

However, another reader Grant Hawley had a different take on the situation, saying: "They should make the lanes between Girton and Fen Ditton a no overtaking zone by putting permanent cones down the middle of the road,stopping people cutting in at the last minute to exit at Milton. I and lots of other drivers stay in the left lane to exit at Milton. Why can't every one?"

Figures show that in 2014 there were 106 crashes on the A14 within Cambridgeshire.

In these 12 months, there were 95 minor crashes – with only slight injuries, 10 serious-injury accidents and tragically one fatal crash which claimed the life of 57-year-old motorcyclist Terence Pettitt, from Bury St Edmunds.

And with 29 crashes in the first four months of this year – including five serious incidents – it already seems like 2015 may be no different.

But research by the Co-operative Insurance conducted in the East of England suggests that human behaviour, compounded by modern technology, may be at the heart of the issue.

They found that 62 per cent of drivers admitted to regularly driving badly, with nearly 30 per cent admitting to breaking the speed limit by 5mph and 10 per cent driving more than 20mph.

More than five per cent admitted to breaking temporary speed limits and the News revealed this week that more than 5,000 drivers had been caught speeding through the 50mph limit imposed to protect workers carrying out the upgrade at Girton.

Mark Reader, a research assistant at Cambridge University's Department of Land Economy, said that the figure of human error could be as high 95 per cent of crashes. He now advocates the use of automatic braking systems in cars to mitigate the possibility of a collision.

select for full details Motorway conman preys on Good Samaritans
Kind motorists handed over hundreds, say police.
By John Garvey 1 Jul, 2015

WILTSHIRE Police are once again investigating reports of an elaborate fraud along the M4 corridor are keen to hear from people who may have been targeted.

The man carries a green fuel can and is believed to stand on various slip roads between junction 19 of the M4 (M32 junction) and junction 15 (A419 Swindon turnoff).

Claiming his vehicle has broken down elsewhere due to running out of fuel he asks motorists for a lift to the nearest service station, primarily Leigh Delemere or Membury.

En route he claims to take a call from the Highways Agency or police who require his car to be moved at a cost of around £1000. Those giving him a lift have then offered to help out towards the cost. Once dropped at the services they never hear from him again.

Similar incidents occured in early 2014 which a man was convicted for but who has since been released from prison.

The latest incidents took place in May and June 2015 and resulted in the man conning two victims out of several hundred pounds.

Officers are keen to hear from anyone who may have been targeted in similar circumstances or who has any information about these incidents.

People with information are asked to contact Police Sergeant Paul Harveyon 101. Alternatively the independent Crimestoppers charity can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

select for full details first roadhoggers - now police clamp down on scourge of motorway rubber-neckers
Thames Valley Police has sent notices of intended prosecution to drivers who took photographs of an accident on the M40.
By Graham Spence 25 Jun, 2015

Police are clamping down on 'rubber-neckers' and plan to charge motorists who took photographs of an accident, bringing the opposite carriage way of the M40 to a virtual standstill last weekend.

Suspects have already been alerted of this on Twitter by Thames Valley Police's Chief Inspector Parsons, who tweeted: “For those drivers filming the M40 crash j2 to 3 we will be in touch."

On Monday he again tweeted: “Last job of the day completed-NIPs sent to those drivers filming M40 crash (whilst driving) on Saturday evening.”

An NIP is a Notice of Intended Prosecution.

Four people were injured in the accident last Saturday (June 20) after a car crashed into the back of an ambulance giving assistance to victims of another incident on the M40 at Junction 2.

Passing motorists on the opposite side of the carriageway took photos and videos of the accident, bringing traffic to a virtual standstill. This is illegal and carries a £100 fine and three licence points.

This follows a clamp down on roadhoggers - where a slow driver who hogged the middle lane of the M62 near Manchester was fined £940 and given three penalty points on his licence.

The news was cheered around the country.

Now police have rubber-neckers in their sights. In another accident on the M6 recently, more than 80 motorists were prosecuted for slowing down and taking photographs.

The rubber-neckers were all caught using their mobile phones to snap the dramatic lorry fire on the busy motorway in the West Midlands.

Police captured the offending drivers on CCTV between junctions 4 and 4a in June and then traced them from their number plates.

It is believed to be the first time a police force has carried out a mass prosecution of rubber-neckers - who brought the opposite carriageway to a standstill.

M1 TRAFFIC: Gallery of images shows motorway misery after multi-vehicle accident closed three lanes
Traffic queues currently stretch for 10 miles on the northbound side of the M1 following a multi-vehicle accident on the Buckinghamshire stretch near Milton Keynes that blocked three lanes.
By MK Web 25 Jun, 2015

Two lanes have now been re-opened, however severe delays continue up to junction J14, A509 (Milton Keynes).

Congestion stretches all the way back to the J13, A421 (Bedford).

Thames Valley Police have so far said no one has been injured.

select for full details

select for full details Driver banned after boy fell from coach onto motorway
A south Wales coach driver and operator have been handed suspended jail terms after a boy fell from their vehicle on to a motorway
By BBC NEWS 25 June, 2015

The boy, 13, fell out of an emergency exit on to the M49 near Bristol while heading to a rugby match in May 2014.

The coach's owner Keith Jones, 63, and driver Tudor West, 62, both from Bridgend, were convicted at Bristol Crown Court.

West was also banned from driving for 18 months.

The trial heard West had checked the door on the morning of the incident.

But inspectors found it would open with the lightest of touches and described repairs to a latch on the door as "a bodge".

The boy, a member of Tondu under-13s rugby team in Bridgend, suffered a broken wrist when he fell from the coach, which was taking his touring team to Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset.

Jones was handed a nine-month jail term, suspended for two years, after he was convicted of aiding and abetting dangerous driving.

He was also ordered to complete 75 hours of unpaid work, handed eight points on his driving licence and ordered to pay £1,500 costs.

West was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

The driver was ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and banned from the road for 18 months.

After the hearing, PC Wayne Carhart of Avon and Somerset Police said the force "could easily have been dealing with a fatality" if a woman driving behind the coach had not reacted quickly to avoid the boy.

select for full details Amazing pictures of 1950s Wirral taken during Ealing film shoot
check out the Liverpool Echo's picture gallery.
By Abigail O'Leary 21 June, 2015

A 1950s film which was shot in Wirral has been re-released this month after being digitally cleaned up by computer experts.

The Magnet, which was one of the famous Ealing Studios’ comedies, shows Wirral in all its post-war glory.

The black and white film gave James Fox his first starring role at the age of 11 and told the story of a young boy from Wallasey who deceptively obtains a prized magnet leading to a series of confusing events.

Now pictures released by StudioCanal Films Ltd, show New Brighton beach and views across the Mersey as it looked 65 years ago.

Ealing Studios’ comedy series featured more than 150 films made over a three decade period, and some showed how the country once blighted by war was slowly rebuilding itself from the ashes.

But many, like The Magnet, also showed the antiquated class system crumbling under post-war spirit.

Filmed in New Brighton, many viewers picked up on the lack of Liverpool accents in the film, which only seemed to be used intermittently.

Now fans will get the chance to watch the digitally enhanced version of the film and peer back to Wirral in the earluy post war period.

select for full details M62 lorry crash: Video shows aftermath of horrific smash
The footage, filmed from an onboard camera, shows the lorry which crashed through the central reservation and ploughed into 10 other vehicles on Monday morning.
By Paul Britton 9 Jun, 2015

The 37-year-old lorry driver was airlifted to hospital and police said in an update today that he remains in a critical condition with a serious head injury.

It’s also been revealed that two others were injured in the smash - and that the lorry ploughed into TEN other vehicles after it crashed through the motorway central reservation westbound between junctions 21 22 near Milnrow in Rochdale yesterday

Police said today: “The lorry went through the reservation, onto the opposite side, colliding with ten vehicles. The 37-year-old lorry driver was airlifted to hospital and remains in a critical condition with a head injury.

“A 30-year-old man suffered whiplash and a 53-year-old man sustained a leg injury. Officers are also asking anyone who may have captured footage on CCTV or a dash-cam to contact them.”

The M62 has now fully reopened between the two junctions after a near 20-hour closure caused by the lorry crash.

The lorry was carrying 44 tonnes of butter and the crash at 8.15am yesterday morning resulted in queues stretching back for 21 miles from junction 18 at Simister Island to past junction 24 at Ainley Top.

select for full details Police officer accused of dangerous driving tells court he was 'just doing his job'
POLICE officer accused of dangerous driving when he pursued a petrol thief at speeds of up to 80mph told a jury he was only doing what police officers are trained to do which is catch criminals.
By Michael Black 5 June, 2015

Pc Adam Steventon, 39, followed and caught Terence Maugh after he watched him steal petrol from a Tesco petrol station at Skipton.

The Skipton-based officer pursued Maugh in the Vauxhall Vectra for three miles at speeds between 30mph and 80mph along the A629 from Skipton towards Keighley, crossing double white lines and jumping a red light in a coned off 30mph road works.

Maugh smashed head-on into a red Citroen C4, spinning in the road works. The Citroen driver escaped serious injury. Maugh jumped out over a wall only for Pc Steventon to chase him for a quarter of a mile across a field and arrest him.

Pc Steventon booked Maugh in at Skipton Police Station for dangerous driving and making off without payment only to come under a cloud himself because of the crash. He was told in the parade room he could have breached Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines introduced in 2011 which prohibited non traffic officers from engaging in pursuits.

After a police investigation, he was accused of following the Vectra too closely and was charged with dangerous driving on the A629, Keighley and Cononley Road on March 12, 2014.

Taking the witness stand, at Hull Crown Court Pc Steventon, a police officer for 17 years, said he was working the 3pm-11pm shift in a 1.3 Astra with a female special constable when they saw a Vectra pull into the Tesco petrol station and its driver begin to fill up with petrol. He admitted his “police nose” made him suspicious of the poor condition of the car and knew when it mounted the kerb and rapidly sped off the driver had not paid.

“My first thought was: I have just seen a crime and I have to apprehend the offender,” said Pc Steventon. “My mental plan was to follow the vehicle, so that I could notify the traffic officer on duty. I did not think I was doing anything wrong. I just thought I was doing my job. I do not think my driving was dangerous or put others at risk at any time.”

He told the jury how he notified the traffic officer “there was a fail to stop” over the police radio and began following the Vectra, keeping in contact with force control over the radio as he described his location.

“I thought, Andy, the traffic officer was close by,” said Pc Steventon. “We were not pursing, we were just following at the time. Pursuit is getting behind the car, blues on, lights on, using tactics to get it to stop.”

He said he saw the Vectra hit a kerb in a cloud of dust and drove on through the debris. During the next portion of the pursuit the Vectra was 400m in front on a 60mph road. “I was think I was travelling at 60-80mph. I do not think my speed was excessive. It is a long straight road, it out is in open country. I had driven the road hundreds of times.”

In a statement to police, Pc Steventon said he had been given a North Yorkshire Superintendent’s letter of appreciation in 2012 for following a burglar’s van in a patrol car until he was arrested.

Under cross-examination from Crown barrister David Hall PC Steventon admitted he had not been given advanced driver training, but instead had completed a standard two-week police driver training course in 1998 when he first became a police officer

select for full details M6 Toll road: Transport chief calls for owner to open up road to ease traffic misery
Councillor Tahir Ali said he would lobby Midland Expressway Limited to allow freight vehicles to use their toll road for free.
By Neil Elkes 15 Apr, 2015

Birmingham’s transport chief has called on the owner of the M6 Toll road to open it up and help ease the traffic misery on the city’s streets.

Councillor Tahir Ali said he would lobby Midland Expressway Limited (MEL) to allow freight vehicles to use the Toll road for free until August while works on Spaghetti Junction and other parts of the M6 are ongoing.

Such a move would take up to 10,000 HGVs a day off the M6, opening up space for an extra 30,000 cars.

Currently about 2,000 lorries use it.

A combination of major roadworks, including the slip road closures and the Paradise Forum demolition, has left the city’s street gridlocked at peak times.

Accidents and shunts only add to the chaos.

Birmingham Mail readers, in the recent My Manifesto, survey called for the Toll road to be nationalised.

Coun Ali (Lab, Nechells) said it is “nonsensical” that there is free space on the Toll road while Birmingham remains gridlocked.

He said: “If the Government, through the Highways Agency, has taken the decision to close slip roads and carry out this work then they should ask MEL for their help.

“It is nonsensical that we have this road asset under used while there are major delays on the rest of the region’s roads.”

He was replying to a question from councillor Victoria Quinn, the chairman of the council’s transport watchdog committee.

She said that nationalising the M6 had been a priority for readers of the Birmingham Mail, but in the short term the road should be used to help ease the congestion.

And while welcoming the investment in transport signified by the works. She said that there is a clear business case for MEL as a summer free


thank you to John Pemberton on June 6 for the update in the Daily Mail

PC Adam Steventon was found Not Guilty by the jury

select for full details Terror of police officer in 15 minute motorway attack
DANGEROUS driver who attacked an on duty policewoman for more than 15 minutes before driving off, throwing her into the road onto the ground just inches from cars on one of Hampshire’s busiest motorways the M3 has been jailed.
By Daily Echo 2 Jul, 2015

Innocent Fowung launched an attacked on PC Vikki Sharpe during which she fought to stop him dragging them both into the carriageway of the M3 where they could have been killed.

Despite PC Sharpe managing to handcuff him to his steering wheel and leaning into the car in a bid to stop him driving away, Fowung was able to reverse into her police car, which threw the officer against the car and onto the ground seriously injured.

Winchester Crown Court heard how PC Sharpe, from the Roads Policing Team, pulled Fowung, 47, over on June 15 last year the 47-year-old after she spotted him driving erratically along the M3, near Basingstoke.

She breath tested him and when he failed that, she went on to arrested him and . It was at this point that he became aggressive.

She said: “I remember feeling very vulnerable straight away, the strength that he gripped my arm with when he first placed hands on me made it quite clear of his intentions.”

She was then forced to struggle with Fowung at the side of the motorway for more than 15 minutes, managing to cuff one of his hands.

Despite taking his keys, during the fight he managed to get them back and go back to his car in a bid to make his escape.

PC Sharpe leaned into the car to try and get back the keys and managed to put the other cuff on his steering wheel, but he suddenly reversed into her parked car behind, flinging her against his car and onto the ground.

Fortunately he was soon stopped by her colleagues further along the motorway.

PC Sharpe suffered numerous injuries including a broken hand, damaged ribs, and back and shoulder pain, and waswhich left her off work for three months.

During the sentencing PC Vikki SharpeShe told the court how the attack on June 15, last year, has affected her.

She said: “I have seriously considered resigning from my job, something that I never thought I would do. It has made me doubt myself, my abilities and why I am a police officer.”

Fowung, from Coventry, pleaded guilty and was jailed for 12 months for the assault and a further 10 months to run consecutively for dangerous driving. He was also given a three-year driving ban.

After the sentencing John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said: “PC Sharpe displayed courage, tenacity and commitment to duty in what was a prolonged and cowardly attack by Mr Fowung.

“Police officers perform a difficult and dangerous job, I hope the prison sentence handed down acts as a reminder

further coverage by U K N I P on 29 June 2015
Fowung was charged with a number of offences including, assaulting a police officer, dangerous driving, fail to provide a specimen of breath and driving with no insurance. A week before the Crown Court trial Fowung changed his plea to guilty for all offences. He appeared before Mr Recorder Haggan QC at Winchester Crown Court on the 18th June 2015.

During the sentencing PC Vikki Sharpe read out her Victim Impact Statement which underlined the impact such assaults have on police officers. In part of her statement PC Sharpe said, “I still suffer from back and shoulder pain which is helped with pain relief, my hand has not mended to a level that it was prior to the incident. My index finger is deformed, I am unable to grip and use the finger for simple tasks, such as undoing a jar or gripping a handle. I have seriously considered resigning from my job, something that I never thought I would do. It has made me doubt myself, my abilities and why I am a Police Officer.”

The incident had been recorded on the police vehicle in car video and on the officers Body Worn Video. The Judge told Fowung that the officer was polite and courteous to him. He said that he (Fowung) struggled with the officer and used all of his strength to resist the officer. The Judge told Fowung that he had done everything in his power to get away from the officer and described the incident as a ‘prolonged, sustained assault and was one of the worst cases of assault on a police officer whilst resisting arrest he had seen.

Fowung was sentenced to 12 months in prison for the assault on PC Sharpe, he was further sentenced to 10 months in prison for dangerous driving which he would serve consecutively. A driving ban of 3 years was also imposed at the end of which Fowung would have to take an extended retest.

The Judge paid tribute to PC Vikki Sharpe’s actions, saying she displayed enormous courage.

select for full details MP calls on Highways England to suspend ‘chaotic’ A27 census
TRAFFIC ‘chaos’ on the roads prompted the area’s MP to pen an urgent letter to the Highways England calling on them to suspend a census on the A27 which has caused widespread disruption.
By Worthing Herald 25 June, 2015

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton revealed his anger at the study today (Thursday, June 25).

It comes after scores of commuters travelling through Shoreham, Lancing and Worthing were asked to complete the survey from Highways England.

The agency was gathering data to form proposals on how to improve the A27.

However, in doing so, they – along with the help of Sussex Police – ordered one in four drivers to stop and answer a series of questions during rush hour, causing long tailbacks from Lancing to the Southwick Tunnel.

Mr Loughton said: “This census has caused chaos and the way in which it was conducted was simply unacceptable.

“No warning was given, least of all to me. I support the Highways Agency in researching appropriate proposals to improve the A27 and of course I have been very involved in getting this project off the ground at long last but the way they are going about it is all wrong.

“Drivers had to wait in some cases five times longer than usual and this is hardly going to encourage local residents to cooperate with research for this essential work in future.

“Given the amount of technology available these days I fail to see how there are not less disruptive ways to gather necessary data. The official national census certainly did not cause this much disruption and annoyance.

“It is ironic that work to reduce congestion on the A27 itself caused maximum congestion and the police and highways officials carrying out the work were oblivious to the disruption they were responsible for.

A spokesman for Highways England said the survey was now ‘substantially complete’ and thanked drivers for their patience and co-operation.

select for full details Gateshead toddler reunited with favourite toy thanks to traffic officers
Tearful toddler will have a surprise reunion at the weekend with the hand-made bunny she dropped from their car on the M1.
By Barbara Hodgson 11 June, 2015

When Gateshead toddler Phoebe Dixon lost her favourite toy she was inconsolable.

The three-year-old had made cuddly bunny Inty herself so when she dropped the rabbit out of the car window onto the motorway during a family trip en route to Birmingham there was no drying her tears.

Caught on the hop, mam Rebecca, 33, tried everything to fill the Inty-shape gap in her daughter’s life but nothing worked.

Then to her amazement an email she sent as a “long shot” to the highways department telling them the sad tale has paid off.

Two traffic officers near the scene of Inty’s fall in Yorkshire came to the rescue, managed to spot the battered bunny on the central reservation - mostly thanks to the bright purple princess dress it was wearing - and strapped it into the back seat for a ride back to base.

Now Phoebe is to have a surprise reunion on Saturday with her beloved bunny when the family arrives to pick it up.

Delighted Rebecca has not yet told her daughter the good news but Inty is set to be waiting for the youngster at a family do at the weekend when they travel down to Yorkshire where Phoebe’s gran lives.

They are going to celebrate Rebecca’s mother’s birthday who in the meantime will be making a special trip to collect the fluffy toy from the local highways agency where it was taken.

Mam-of-two Rebecca, from Low Fell in Gateshead, had not expected to hear any more of the bunny which fell from the car as she and Phoebe, her mechanical engineer husband Graham and eight-month-old son Barnaby, drove to Birmingham to see her in-laws a week ago.

select for full details Woman slips up as she's fined £100 for eating banana while driving in traffic jam
Shocked Elsa Harris, 45, from Bournemouth, Dorset, criticised the action, saying: "This is the most expensive banana I've ever had in my life".
By Jon Livesey 28 June, 2015

A motorist has told of her shock after she was hit with a £100 fine for eating a banana in a traffic jam.

Elsa Harris, who had peeled the majority of the fruit at home, took her hands off the wheel to remove the last bit of skin in gridlocked Barrack Road, Christchurch, Dorset.

And the 45-year-old was swiftly pulled over by police.

Carer Elsa, from Bournemouth, was slapped with a £100 fine and given the choice of either three penalty points or completing a driver awareness course.

Elsa, who has never been in trouble with the law before, told the Bournemouth Echo her car was stationary at the time as she was in a traffic jam.

Criticising the officer's actions, she said he told her she had posed a danger to other motorists by driving without her hands on the wheel.

She said: "This is the most expensive banana I've ever had in my life.

"I couldn't believe it, you get drink drivers, people texting and eating while they speed along. Surely, me eating a banana in a traffic jam is not that important."

Although eating while driving is not an offence, anyone distracted behind the wheel or failing to operate their vehicle correctly because they are eating could be committing an offence of driving without due care and attention, or not being in proper control of a vehicle.

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