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select for full details M6 toll road sign death: Craig Carty found guilty of causing death of Jo-Anne Mackian
Judge tells court: "The fact he blamed Jo-Anne throughout is almost unbearable callousness"
By Fionnuala Bourke 1 April, 2015

A ‘lying’ driver has been found guilty of causing the death of his former girlfriend by careless driving when he crashed into an M6 toll road sign after a night out at the Belfry Golf Course.

A judge told Warwick Crown Court that Craig Carty was “callous” and had “lied and lied and lied” about the fatal crash which killed Jo-Anne Mackian on the A4097 at Kingsbury at around 5am on 2 November 2013.

The 31 year-old, of Farcroft Road, Handsworth, is due to appear at court today when Judge Alan Parker will decide whether to sentence him or adjourn for reports.

Carty claimed Jo-Anne, from Ryland Street, Edgbaston, was driving the silver Peugeot 308 at the scene and continued to blame her by claiming she had caused the crash by grabbing his arm.

But a jury took just two hours to find him guilty by unanimous verdicts of causing the 28 year-old’s death by careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit and a further offence of doing so by driving while uninsured.

The jury had heard that Jo-Anne had gone to an event at a night club at the Belfry with a female friend who had expected to drive them back afterwards.

But instead she left with Carty, with whom she had previously been in a relationship.

He had borrowed the Peugeot, from his new girlfriend who had it as a courtesy car while her own vehicle was being repaired.

But as he reached a point where the road curved gently to the right, the car went straight on at high speed, along the grass verge and into a ‘substantial sign’ displaying the charges for the nearby M6 toll.

Jo-Anne died at the scene, but after getting out of the car with only minor injuries, Carty claimed she had been driving, said prosecutor Andrew Warner.

He later told the police and claimed in court that what had happened was that after telling her he was seeing someone new, Jo-Anne had grabbed his arm, causing the car to leave the road.

select for full details Ann Barnes vows to fight on after car insurance case is dropped
“Insufficient evidence” the CPS says
By Sarah Linney 25 Feb, 2015

Ann Barnes may have been driving without the correct insurance when she crashed last year - but she won’t be prosecuted.

Mrs Barnes says she was insured when her car collided with another car and then hit a tree in Dartford on September 16.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which passed the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “It was the IPCC’s opinion that the PCC may have committed the offence of driving without insurance when she was involved in a road traffic collision on September 16, and on a number of occasions in the six months before.”

But the Crown Prosecution Service said the case was “technical” and hinged on whether the journey was being made for business or leisure.

The CPS’ decision not to push ahead with any case would suggest it could not confirm any suggestion she did not have business insurance and was driving as part of her duties.

A spokesman said: “We would consider that far from clear.

“We were not provided with sufficient evidence that Ann Barnes drove the relevant vehicle on any other relevant occasion, which would be fundamental to considering the matter in terms of alleged criminality.

“We consider that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute.”

An allegation that Mrs Barnes had obstructed a police officer was not passed to the CPS by the IPCC, which said there was “insufficient evidence”.

Ann Barnes said: “On September 16 2014 my car was struck by another vehicle. My car was written off and the emergency services told me I was lucky to have walked away from the scene. I have always maintained that so far as I was concerned, when my car was struck I was appropriately insured.

“The insurance company has paid on the claim.

“The IPCC saw fit to commence an investigation, which lasted many months and resulted in a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“I heard this week the Crown Prosecution Service has advised that there be no further action. The initial suggestion that I had obstructed an officer was not the subject of the referral to the CPS. It was withdrawn before my interview with the IPCC on February 13.

select for full details Crime wave sweeping the nation as car thieves HACK 'keyless' motors to steal them
Gangs use simple devices they can buy online to bypass or hack into the cars’ computer systems, or otherwise just simply tow them away
By Amanda Killelea 5 Feb, 2015

A car-hacking crimewave is sweeping the nation as gangs use cheap technology to steal modern “keyless” vehicles.

Gangs use simple devices they can buy online to bypass or hack into the cars’ computer systems, or otherwise just simply tow them away.

And it isn’t just top of the range motors that are at risk - many new cars now use a push-button system to start the engine.

Last year more than 6,000 cars and vans were stolen in London alone using the technique – that is around 17 each day - accounting for 42% of all vehicle thefts.

Meanwhile in the West Midlands there were 3,427 vehicle thefts from April to November last year, of which 1,234 were keyless, just over 35%.

Now police are urging car owners to go back to old-fashioned ways of protecting their cars from thieves by using steering or gear-stick locks, and double-checking they have locked their vehicles.

Experts say the rise in the problem is down to European legislation that made it easier for thieves to gain access to the onboard computer systems of all different makes of car.

Iain Wallace of the car insurers’ research centre Thatcham said: “This bit of equipment they use to gain access to the car’s onboard computer system has a legitimate business use for mechanics, so if you lose your car key you can get a new one.

“Previously if you had a BMW and you had a problem with your car key, you would have to go back to BMW to get a new key cut. This was deemed anti-competitive as people should be able to go anywhere to get a new key, not just to the manufacturer of their car.

This isn’t just a problem in London.

Mum of three Zoe Starkie, from Stacksteads in Lancashire, fell victim to the scam last year.

select for full details Neighbour from hell caught by cctv after defecating on family's doorstep in vile hate campaign
Filthy Damian Ayles also shoved soiled tissues through their letterbox and smeared excrement over their cars.
By Jessica Fleig 25 March, 2015

This astonishing footage shows how a sick neighbour defecated on a family's doorstep in the dead of night as part of a twisted hate campaign.

Filthy Damian Ayles repeated the dirty deed four times before he was caught on CCTV by his tormented victims.

A court heard the 23 year-old also shoved soiled tissues through their letterbox and smeared excrement over their cars.

The unnamed family, who have children, suffered stress and anxiety and were left feeling unsafe in their home and unable to sleep properly.

They told police they were "tormented" as to why Ayles would want to hurt them in such a way.

Magistrates were told that Ayles struck first last April as he launched his despicable and unexplained vendetta against the family.

They found faeces on their doorstep early one morning but cleaned up the mess and did not go to police at that stage.

But Debbie Jones, prosecuting, said the mystery fouler returned five months later in September.

select for full details She said the family found more poo outside their front door on September 18 and 19 and decided to rig up a security camera.

It caught Ayles carrying out the disgusting act in the middle of the night on September 29.

Ms Jones said: "The defendant can be seen at 3.30am on September 29 pulling down his trousers, moving to the squat position and having a poo.

"He then wipes himself and puts it (the dirty tissue) in the letterbox and smears some of the faeces on their vehicle."

Mrs Jones said Ayles admitted committing the dirty deed after police matched his DNA was some of the poo - but was too embarrassed to watch the footage of himself.

He looked down at the floor with his hand over his mouth as the images were shown at Medway Magistrates court and his mother in the public gallery looked away.

Ayles, of Twydall, Kent pleaded guilty to harassment without violence and was given a two-year restraining order preventing him from going near the family.

He was also given a 12-month community order, told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay the family £350 in compensation with £85 court costs.

Chair of the bench Mandy Samrai said: "This was a very serious matter."

After the case a spokesman for the family said: "I hope that the community service is cleaning up dog poo from children's playing parks."

Wayne Crowhurst, defending, said Ayles had autism and had the mental age of a 13 year-old.

select for full details M25 car fire occupants had 'lucky escape to say the least'
The massive blaze on the motorway near Chertsey took almost an hour for firefighters to put out.
By Stephen Lloyd 23 March, 2015

A mother has revealed the "absolute nightmare" of her family car being destroyed in a huge "inferno" on the M25.

The vehicle caught alight on Friday afternoon (March 20) near Chertsey, causing a "huge tower of acrid black smoke".

Many readers on Get Surrey's Facebook page were concerned for the safety of the occupants after driving past the blaze between junction 10 and junction 11 on the clockwise stretch of the motorway.

But posting a reply to their comments, Virginia Palé-Parsons said: "Just to put your mind at rest, no-one was hurt. It was our car. Thank you for your thoughts."

Mrs Palé-Parsons, from Staines, described the incident as an "absolute nightmare".

"Smoke started coming out from the bonnet," she wrote on Facebook.

"They [the occupants] pulled over, got out and grabbed a few things.

"James went to open the bonnet and the car caught fire, then pretty much exploded.

"They are shaken but fine thankfully.

"It was a lucky escape to say the least," she added.

Mrs Palé-Parsons described the car as now being "just a shell".

'Completely burned out'

Also commenting on Facebook, eyewitness Anna Barber said she was glad the family were alright, adding: "It isn't every day you see a car on fire - [I] was a little shaken up just driving past, so I can't imagine what you have all gone through."

Crews in three fire engines from Chertsey, Painshill and Walton stations took around 45 minutes to control the blaze, which was "well alight" when they arrived at the scene at around 5.30pm.

Get Surrey reporter Henry Bodkin also drove the past the incident, and he said: "It was like an inferno.

"The vehicle looked like a people carrier - the whole front end had completely burned out when I passed.

select for full details Essex's top firefighter: we will not pay our call operators to sleep
ESSEX'S top firefighter has said cuts to the service are necessary, following a nine-day strike over new shift patterns
By Harriet Sinclair 25 March, 2015

Call operators returned to their desks at 9am on Thursday last week after manning the picket line from the Tuesday previous.

At a press conference called on Friday in response to the action by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), acting chief fire officer Adam Eckley said: "I'm not denying the people in the call centre do an important job, but they do a lot less of it than they used to.

"A lot of people now will be sitting down with a cup of tea."

But the FBU has said the new shift patterns were disproportionately affecting women with young families.

Riccardo la Torre, chairman of the FBU in Essex, said: "They are forcing professional women out of their jobs and making life intolerable for many of those who remain.

"The vast majority of the control operators are women, many with young families and caring responsibilities. They have professional careers that they need to balance with their family lives.

"These shift changes are unfair and completely unnecessary as there are alternatives on the table that cost the same but would be more manageable for all those working in the control room."

But Mr Eckley said that was not the case.

"The FBU wants to make this a women's issue and say it's about families, but the real issue is about sleeping and beds," he said. "We aren't providing beds at the new call centres and we have moved from 44 posts to 32 posts to make savings.

"If people are sleeping for three-and-a-half hours during their shift – which is what the FBU wants – then you have to have a minimum number of people who are working, and at night, when there are fewer staff, we'd be paying people to sleep. There just isn't the budget for it."

He added that call centre workers who went on strike had been paid £1,000 each to "help with the transition", and said the reality was they only took 35 calls during a 24-hour shift.

"The ambulance takes 3,000 calls a day, and we take about 35," he said. "If we are really about saving lives, we should be taking some of our money and giving it to the ambulance service or send us out on medical emergencies.

"I'm not denying they do a difficult job, but the reality is that they do a lot less of it now, and a lot of the work we do is in prevention.

"We need to have an intelligent debate about this without the emotion, because the reality is you are more likely to be bludgeoned to death by an intruder than you are to die in a house fire."

Firefighters in Essex have taken more than 50 days of strike action in the past year, most notably over nationwide pension and retirement age reforms.

select for full details Video: Gatwick police to get around on ‘Daleks’

Gatwick Airport police will be able to respond to potential security alerts quicker thanks to a pair of three-wheeled vehicles – that look a tiny bit like Daleks..

By Crawley & Horley Obs 24 March, 2015

Sussex Police officers patrolling the airport have been handed two of the Raptor vehicles as part of a month-long trial, in a bid to speed-up response times across the miles of corridors within the Terminals.

Elite airport police will now be able to respond to potential security alerts quicker thanks to a new pair of three-wheeled vehicles  that look like DALEKS.

Sussex Police officers patrolling Gatwick Airport have been handed two of the Raptor vehicles as part of a month-long trial, in a bid to speed-up response times across the miles of terminal corridors.

The three-wheeled personal transporters bear a striking resemblance to the evil Dr Who baddies, because of the curved front and singular headlamp eye.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “They will be used by the police community safety team to travel from the police station at the airport to terminal buildings, enabling PCSOs to respond to calls faster than they would on foot and to enhance police visibility.”

The Raptors, which have a top speed of 25mph, were invented and manufactured by midlands-based company Ecospin.

A spokesman for the company said: “The Raptor has European-type approval which means it’s road legal in 58 countries and is designed here in England.

select for full details Paper section of driving licence to be scrapped by DVLA

When will the changes come in and how will they affect me?

By Rose Troup Buchanan 23 March, 2015
Driving licences will go paperless from June as the government continues to press ahead with plans to take more service online.

For the past 17 years drivers have had to keep two parts of a driving licence: one a sheet of paper detailing their penalty points and endorsements, and the other a plastic ID card. The government has decided to phase out the paper element of the licence.

"The reason for abolishing the counterpart is to reduce the burden on motorists,” a government spokesperson explained.

"For most drivers there simply isn’t a need to have this information on a piece of paper when it is now freely and easily available online. It also saves drivers from paying £20 to replace a lost or damaged counterpart," they told the Plymouth Herald.

When are the changes coming into effect?

Earlier this year minister announced that all paper counterparts to licences would no longer be valid after 8th June this year. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) are also advising all drivers to destroy their paper counterparts.

If my licence was issued before 1998 do I need to get a new licence?

No. Your licence will still be valid and does not need to be replaced, until it is due for renewal

select for full details London council loses £250,000 in major parking meter swindle
A restaurant worker jammed parking meters with scraps of paper using a widespread scam which has cost a London council £250,000

By Paul Cheston 31 Mar, 2015

Domingos Lestra Goncalves, 33, stuffed bits of paper into pay and display machines around Croydon to block the funnel coins passed through.

Unsuspecting motorists plied the meter with cash but no tickets came out as their coins jammed inside.

Goncalves then used a piece of wire in a bid to release the pound coins in June last year, Southwark Crown Court heard.

He was convicted by a jury of two charges of attempted theft and two charges of damaging property following a trial in February this year.

Prosecutor Patrick Dennis said meter fiddling of this kind cost the Croydon council taxpayers around an estimated £250,000.

“It costs Croydon council money both in terms of paying compensation to people who have lost their money and not getting their parking tickets and also to call out engineers to open the meters, remove the paper and fix the machines,” he said.

“Essentially what is happening is that people are putting their money into the parking meter to get a ticket and losing their money.”

The council received around 4,000 calls a month from drivers who lost out after machines were attacked in a two mile zone around Croydon.

The court heard Goncalves had a terrible criminal record and has racked up convictions for dishonesty dating back to 2009 for fraud by false representation and theft by employee.

He has also been convicted of burglary and notched up a further conviction for stealing from parking metres in 2013.

William Pope, defending, said the restaurant worker had overcome an alcohol addiction that he had been battling at that time.

Ms Recorder Alison Levitt QC handed the crook a three month sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered him to carry out 50 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months.

“I accept that in June, for the two occasions, no money has actually been stolen because you were only convicted of attempted theft but the jury found that you attempted to steal the money,” she said.

Goncalves, of Croydon, was convicted of two charges of attempted theft and two charges of damaging property.

He was acquitted of seven charges of attempted theft and seven charges of damaging property.

select for full details Jane Kennedy warns government approach will lead to more victims of crime
Merseyside police commissioner Jane Kennedy says cuts will lead to loss of hundreds of police jobs.
By Alan Weston 23 March, 2015

Merseyside’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) has warned that hundreds of police jobs will be lost if government cuts continue.

Jane Kennedy said she was taking the unusual step of making public an “official sensitive” document to make people aware of what was being considered.

She added that the government’s approach was “an act of deliberate vandalism” that would lead to more victims of crime.

The Commissioner spoke out after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) required Merseyside Police to forecast future workforce numbers, assuming that cuts of 4% are applied to the government’s grant funding year on year until 2019.

In April 2010 Merseyside Police had 7,276 police officers, staff and PCSOs. By 2019, there would be 4,444, a reduction of almost 3,000.

The Force’s forecasts reveal that the workforce will shrink by 40%, requiring hundreds of redundancies beginning April 2016, if the budget is to remain in balance.

By that time, a total of 2,832 jobs will have been cut from Merseyside Police.

Chief Constable Sir Jon Murphy said the “brunt of the cuts” would be borne by support staff and PCSOs.

Ms Kennedy said: “This is the first time I have seen the full extent of projected cuts over the next four years.

“It is clear to me that if the cuts continue at the current level the service that will be delivered will be not be effective and will not be able to match the expectations of the public.

“The crude predictions required by HMIC show that the force may have to cut over half of the 1,840 support jobs such as call handlers, court case preparation staff and other absolutely essential posts that keep the police officers on the streets where they are needed.

“Those essential roles will have to be performed by police officers, exactly the opposite of what the force has been striving to achieve over the last few years as they have increased efficiency. It will mean even fewer officers available to police our streets.”

She added: “After the budget was announced I looked to see what hope there was that the police force that serves Merseyside would be protected from further austerity measures. There is no indication that any such protection will be given.

“I am calling upon the government to make clear what changes they will make to enable me to secure an effective and efficient police force here. Ministers are talking about wholesale restructuring of police services with regional and national ‘forces’ becoming more important and local ‘forces’ being reduced so that all they are able to tackle is ‘local’ crime.

select for full details Revealed: How London's most corrupt police officer was snared by bug in car
Senior officers have spoken for the first time about how they trapped London’s most corrupt policeman.
By Paul Cheston 23 March, 2015

Mesut Karakas was jailed for 13 years in 2010 for attempting to kidnap a bank manager in front of his family and force him to hand over cash.

But the bug revealed every detail of the plot and police moved in on his gang before they arrived at the bank manager’s house.

They were even heard discussing TV series The Wire and the “golden rule” not to openly talk about their plans.

Five years on, Detective Superintendent Chris Robson of the Directorate of Professional Standards — dubbed the Met’s “ghost squad” — remains baffled as to why Karakas went bad.

“He was a uniformed officer, a beat officer, and he moved around a couple of stations ending at Greenwich,” said Mr Robson. “There was nothing about him. I would not say he was a truly exceptional officer — pretty much your average police officer.”

He added: “It’s a very difficult set of circumstances to explain and I think it is something which will puzzle me for the rest of my service.”

By 24, Karakas had served four years as a Pc but was already suspected of links to two major drug dealers and Turkish organised crime in London. Doubts were raised in 2007 when there were suspicions he had injured himself with scissors to frame a suspect.

Then he and his gang launched a serious baseball attack on a man outside a pub in Islington. The following day Karakas took down details of the investigation from the police computer and bribes and threats were made to the victim to drop the charges.

Mr Robson said: “When (allegations) are made it’s extremely important they are taken seriously so we employed a number of covert tactics and part (of that) was planting a probe in Karakas’s car — a listening device.”

They spoke of what they would do to the bank manager and his family — “will the female scream?” — and set aside 90 minutes to make him co-operate in full. The five men planned to stage a roadworks scene near the victim’s home as a distraction for the kidnap.

select for full details M11 motorcyclist who went 148mph with a passenger
Paul Roberts, 43, of Malkin Drive Lane, Harlow, was filmed by an Essex Police motorcyclist as he rode south on the M11 and was today fined £400 and banned from driving for 15 months.
By ric Brown 3193 30 Mar, 2015

He admitted the offence and appeared for sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court today (March 30). He was also ordered to do 120 hours community service, told to take an extended re-test and to pay £60 in costs.

Sgt Nick Edwards, of the Essex Police Motorcycle Unit, said: "The levels of harm to which Paul Roberts subjected himself, his pillion passenger, the public and my officer are just beyond comprehension."

Hina Shamim killed in crash caused by BMW 'travelling at high speed' with five children on board
talented young student killed in a “high speed” horror crash outside a university campus in south-west London.
By John Dunne 2 Apr, 2015

Hina Shamim, 21, described by friends as “the most charming and lovely girl in the world”, was struck by a high powered BMW M3 car as she was crossing the road to Kingston University library.

Hina, known to friends as Hyena, was to celebrate her 22nd birthday next month and was putting the final touches on her dissertation for the sports science course she was set to graduate in this year.

The student is said to have been thrown to the ground before the car smashed head-on into a bus and span back onto the pavement, pinning her against a wall in the crash last night.

Today friends paid tribute to her. Shabaz Shah, 20, a fellow student said: “She was the loveliest person you could ever meet. she loved life and was always in the gym or studying. She was the best person and we all loved her.”

Six people in the car, a man and five children including two boys aged four and a girl aged eight, were taken to hospital for injuries though none were said to be serious.

Police arrested the 34-year-old driver of the car on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Emergency teams declared a “major incident” with at least 15 ambulances and police vehicles sent to Penrhyn Road outside Kingston University’s main campus at 9pm last night.

select for full details The 12,400 mile superhighway from Britain to America
Plans proposed for VERY ambitious road across Russia.
By Will Stewart 24 Mar, 2015

Britain could be linked with America by road as part of an ambitious project to create the world's longest superhighway spanning half the circumference of the globe.

Proposals have been put forward to build the mega route stretching about 12,400 miles from the western edge of Russia to the Bering Strait where the country nudges Alaska.

Linking into existing road networks in Europe and Asia, for the first time it would allow travellers a proper highway to drive all way from the UK to the United States.

A Trans-Siberian rail link as well as oil and gas pipes would run alongside the highway, and plans have been mooted already for a rail tunnel connecting the far flung Russian region of Chukotka - where football tycoon Roman Abramovich once served as governor - and Alaska.

While roads exist across much of Russia some are of dismal quality, especially in the east of the country.

Among these is the notorious Road of Bones built by Stalin's political prisoners.

This new scheme is seen as a way of turning Russia into a global transportation hub, a bridge between Europe, Asia and North America, so revitalising the Russian economy and attracting new tourism.

select for full details Highways Agency replacement launches next week
Highways England, the Government-owned company which replaces the Highways Agency, officially launches next week.
By Fleet News 27 Mar, 2015

The company will invest £11 billion in delivering a raft of improvements on England’s motorways and major A roads making roads even safer, improving traffic flow and reducing congestion.

Graham Dalton, chief executive of Highways England said: "The launch of Highways England is an incredibly significant moment for those who rely on England’s motorways and major A roads.

“As well as delivering the biggest investment in major roads since the 1970s, there will be fundamental changes to the way motorways and major A roads are maintained and operated.

"We will be focusing on customers, providing better travel information before and during journeys, improving safety and reducing the impact of roadworks.

“Highways England is the organisation that will meet this challenge. We are committed to a strategic road network in England that is far safer, more free-flowing and more integrated and supports economic growth across the country.”

Highways England will be responsible for 4,300 miles of network, including 16,000 structures, which connect communities and its customers, such as logistics and freight companies, industries, walkers, cyclists and equestrians, who travel 85 billion miles every year.

The delivery plan, published today, is the detailed response to the Government’s road investment strategy, a long-term approach to improving England’s major roads.

It shows how success will be measured against the performance specification set by Government and how the organisation will be transformed to perform more efficiently and deliver five strategic outcomes: supporting economic growth, a safe and serviceable network, a more free-flowing network, an improved environment and a more accessible and integrated network.

Oversight of Highways England will come from the Office of Rail and Road, formerly Office of Rail Regulation, who will monitor the performance and efficiency of the company and Transport Focus who will act as the watchdog for road users

select for full details Come see the cops at Costa: Officers manning local coffee shop
 Hundreds of police stations have closed in wake of 20% budget cuts
  Police 'contact point' has opened in a Planet Organic in north London
 Officers had no desk and no way of logging on to police national computer
 No offences reported to them on two nights and they had no official forms

By Amanda Perthen 14 Feb, 2015

Casually sipping a juice drink – with his high-visibility vest beside him on a table – a police officer chats to a colleague in the cafe of a health food store.

It is in a burglary hot spot and a short distance from the scene of the 2011 Tottenham riots.

But they are not two constables taking a break after pounding the beat. They are sitting in what passes for a police station in the constituency of Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone.

Last week the delighted Liberal Democrat MP announced the opening of the police 'contact point' in her local branch of Planet Organic as 'great news'.

It is intended to replace the police station in Muswell Hill, which closed in 2013 after more than a century of service to the community.

The new facility is supposed to offer all the services that would normally be provided by a police station, including receiving crime reports, giving advice to victims, processing witness statements and handling driving licences and insurance documents provided by motorists after accidents

But when The Mail on Sunday reporters observed the 'contact point' over two evenings last week, the police officers had no desk, no private area where they could speak to members of the public in confidence, no means of logging on to the police national computer, and they appeared not to have official forms.

In the entire time the officers were there, not one offence was reported to them. Their only 'customer' during the first two-hour session was a passer-by who recognised one of the PCs from a dog-attack inquiry a year ago and popped in for a chat. As she left the store, the woman remarked to her husband: 'If they spent two hours walking the streets it might be more useful.'

This is the reality of policing in 2015 as forces struggle to cope with a 20 per cent budget cut imposed by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Hundreds of police stations have closed, with the public offered a part-time service – dismissed by critics as a 'cops in shops' gimmick.

The officers deployed at the Muswell Hill branch of Planet Organic relieved their boredom by perusing the shelves of antioxidant vegetable juice, vegan tofu and sea salt bathing crystals, or trying out the store's 'reverse osmosis de-ionising' water filter.

One told an undercover reporter: 'If we weren't here, we would either be on the beat or visiting people at home, following up crime incidents that have been reported.'

The contact point is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 6pm and 8pm, and on Saturdays between 1pm and 3pm. Campaigners say it should be a matter of shame for Ministers that the local police station, which closed two years ago and is being sold to developers, has been replaced by two PCs occupying borrowed space in the high street for just six hours a week.

select for full details Amanda Knox not guilty
American reveals her 'joy' at court decision over Meredith murder.
By Sam Rkaina 28 March, 2015

Amanda Knox has spoken of her joy after she was acquitted of the murder of tragic British woman Meredith Kercher.

Speaking through tears at a press conference outside her home, the American told how she was grateful that Italy's highest court had quashed the guilty verdicts against her and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

She said: "I'm still absorbing the present moment, which is full of joy."

The decision by Italy's supreme Court of Cassation brings an end to an eight-year legal battle that began with the death of Meredith in 2007.

Ms Knox said she was thankful: "for the justice I've received and for the support I've had from everyone - from my family, from my friends, to strangers. I'm so grateful to have my life back."

When asked about Ms Kercher, she said: "Meredith was my friend. She deserved so much in this life. I'm the lucky one."

Both Ms Knox, who was awaiting the verdict in her US hometown of Seattle, and Mr Sollecito have long maintained their innocence.

The supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court, and declined to order another trial.

The decision means the judges, after thoroughly examining the case, concluded that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence. Their reasoning will be released within 90 days.

"I personally feel overjoyed that the truth has won out, that she is innocent," said David Marriott, a spokesman for Knox, calling the verdict "unexpected."

Lawyers for Knox's ex-boyfriend made a final appeal to Italy's top criminal court today, urging it to overturn the pair's murder conviction for the 2007 murder of Knox's room-mate.

Attorney Giulia Bongiorno dissected the decision of an appeal court in Florence last year to show what she said were numerous errors of fact and logic that resulted in prison sentences of 28-and-a-half years for Knox and 25 years for Raffaele Sollecito

Judges at the Court of Cassation in Rome started deliberating shortly after noon.

A decision to confirm the convictions could have resulted in an extradition request from Italy for Knox, who is currently living in the US. She had vowed to never willingly return to Italy.

In her closing arguments, Ms Bongiorno said even Knox's original statement to police - which was never entered as evidence and was later changed - exonerated her client.

Amanda Knox: Timeline of events since death of Meredith Kercher

Knox, who along with Ms Kercher had been studying in the university town of Perugia, initially accused a Congolese bar owner of the murder.

She also told investigators she was home the night Ms Kercher was killed and had to cover her ears to drown out her screams.

Ms Bongiorno said she believed Knox's statement was coerced, but that even if the high court chooses to consider it, Sollecito figures nowhere in her story.

"My heart is crying because I think she was pressured by an intermediary," Ms Bongiorno said, apparently referring to the person who served as Knox's unofficial translator during police questioning. But within that statement, Ms Bongiorno added, Knox "rules out Sollecito".

Ms Kercher, 21, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in the apartment she shared with Knox and two other students. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.

select for full details Cardboard coppers causing a stir at police station closing its doors to public
FORGET plastic policemen, these cardboard coppers have caused a stir at Christchurch police station.
By Katie Clark 26 Feb, 2015

Their eye-catching appearance in a ground floor window at the Barrack Road station comes just days before the station is closed to the public on Sunday.

Dorset Police announced last week that Christchurch was among eight police stations to close their doors to the public for good.

Counter provision at Winton, Ferndown, Wareham, Shaftesbury and Dorchester will also come to a halt.

The news came as latest figures show fear of crime is rising among residents in Christchurch despite the number of recorded incidents falling.

But Cllr Bernie Davis, portfolio holder for community, insisted the borough would always have a police presence.

Cllr Davis, who is a retired police officer, told the Daily Echo: “Safer Neighbourhood Teams will remain in Christchurch. There will always be their presence in the town, even if the police station goes.

“There is some talk it could go to the Civic Offices or the Fire Station.

“But this will only happen when there is a decision on the Bargates development.”

The decision was described by Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill as “one of the most challenging faced by Dorset Police” since he was elected.

The closures will save £300,000, the equivalent of six front line officers or 10 Police Community Support Officers.

Mr Underhill added: “I know that six front office counters are six too many, but we have to meet our cuts somewhere when we are losing 20 per cent of our budget.”

Surveys indicate that three-quarters of the public prefer to contact Dorset Police by telephone and improvements have already been made to the 101 non-emergency service.

Work is also underway to develop the Dorset Police website.

select for full details Interactive kiosks will be installed outside Halton police stations to offer contact point for residents

INNOVATIVE interactive kiosks offering a contact point with police for residents are due to be installed at stations in Runcorn and Widnes after a successful trial.

By John McDougall 13 Apr, 2015
Cheshire police last year began trialling new interactive kiosks across the county as contact points for residents to gain help, advice and to report crimes.

Following the initial trial’s success, police have installed contact points outside several police stations across Cheshire and further kiosks are set to be installed in both Runcorn and Widnes.

Cheshire Police And Crime Commissioner John Dwyer said: “As part of the ‘We’re Here’ commitments to the people of Cheshire, contact points ensure that the constabulary is delivering on its commitment to support communities by being accessible in many different ways.

“I stated in my Police And Crime Plan that I would support new technology and introduce as many ways as possible for people to contact the police.

“Contact points are an important extension to the services currently offered to members of the public.”

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Mark Roberts added that features the kiosks offer include a direct telephone line, web chat abilities and the opportunity for call takers to use a video link to the person using the contact point.

He added that the kiosks allow members of the public to access police services ‘easily and conveniently’.

ACC Roberts said: “The current police contact points have already proved to be a valuable addition to the service we currently provide and have been used to report a wide range of incidents including road traffic collisions and anti-social behaviour.

“In addition, for those members of the public who just want to find out some information relating to a policing matter, the contact points have a searchable frequently asked questions database that provides a whole wealth of information about how to report crimes, victim services and security advice.”

select for full details 100 Essex jobs to be axed as probation service to replace humans with machines
Around 100 Essex probation officers are set to lose their jobs when Sodexo Justice Services, which runs Essex Community Rehabilitation Company, is set to replace them with ATM-style kiosks.
By Simon Murfitt1 10 April, 2015

No official statement on the Essex branch has been made but it is reported that around 30 per cent of the 320 members of staff at the Witham-based centre are set to go when the changes come in September.

Most of the losses are expected to be back office admin support staff.

Sodexo took over the Essex branch when 70 per cent of the country's probation services were privatised in February.

The move is expected to come with a complete restructuring of the Essex Community Rehabilitation Company, with a new head office based in Chelmsford and other local offender management centres, where the kiosks will be situated.

The machines will use fingerprint recognition technology to check identities and allow offenders to report in, give and receive information and request face-to-face meetings with probation officers.

Offenders are to be allowed to report into probation using the kiosks as a reward for good compliance with the early stages of their supervision order or prison release licence.

Ian Lawrence, General Secretary of probation union NAPO, said the union was 'angry and disappointed' at the news.

"Probation staff have been through hell over the last 18 months dealing with Grayling's (Chris Grayling, justice secretary) so called reforms and now many of them are facing redundancy and job insecurity," he said.

"When we met with Sodexo earlier this year they told us there would be no reductions in workforce. The use of call centres and machines instead of highly skilled staff is downright dangerous and will put the public at risk."

Sainsbury's in Cambridge now host to mini 'police station' for shoppers
Shoppers at a Sainsbury's in Cambridge can now report crimes to officers after a mini 'police station' was set up in the store.
By Raymond Brown 25 Feb, 2015

The Coldham's Lane supermarket is now host to the latest 'Police Contact Point' after it was officially opened yesterday by Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Residents can now do their shopping and 'shop' a criminal at the same time because the new force facility will be regularly staffed by the city's neighbourhood policing team. It will also be staffed by Sir Graham's outreach worker, Beka Avery.

During Sir Graham's election campaign he vowed to represent the concerns of residents and Ms Avery will be on hand to hear the views of the public and provide advice and guidance on police and crime issues.

The contact points are the brainchild of Sir Graham who was elected to the £70,000-a-year post in 2012.

Sir Graham said: "The idea of the Police Contact Point is to be a highly visible and easily accessible way for the public to raise any issues or concerns either with my outreach worker or with the local policing team. Having a contact point like this in such a popular location makes it easier for people to discuss local issues. This is about listening to the public and further increasing the time our officers spend out in their communities."

He told the News: "Feedback from the public has been extremely positive. They tell me they think this is a good idea and are pleased to stop and chat."

The store has more than 30,000 shoppers pass through its doors every week and they can now chat to police officers after stocking up on groceries.

Steve Archer, deputy manager at the store said: "We are very pleased to host this Police Contact Point in our busy store. The store is a focal point of the community with around 33,000 customers each week and providing additional community services such as this is something that Sainsbury's are delighted to be a part of."

Insp Matt Johnson, who manages the local policing team, said "We know that people want to see officers out in their communities as much as possible and having a regular Contact Point at such a busy location allows more people to drop by and talk to their local team. My team will be on hand to support people with any policing issue they may have and also to hear about what concerns people have in their community."

This is fourth 'Police Contact Point' in Cambridgeshire after Sir Graham Bright opened one in Tesco store in Barford Road, St Neots earlier this month.

Other contact points have been opened at Peterborough's Sainsbury's and Wisbech Tesco.

A303 to become a 'mile a minute expressway' under new Highways Agency proposals
Drivers will get new "mini-motorways" as part of a £15billion overhaul of the nation's highways.
By Stephen DO 21 Mar, 2015

Busy A-roads will be revamped – with roundabouts and traffic lights stripped out – to cut delays.

A strategy drawn up by the Highways Agency to be presented to Parliament seen by the Daily Mail outlines new slip roads to make roads flow, as well as the banning of slow moving vehicles such as tractors and bicycles.

The first group of nine expressways is expected to include the A303 and A30 from the junction with the M3 in Hampshire to Exeter. A dual carriageway is planned for "the entire A303 from the M3 to the M5 at Taunton", as well as a tunnel at Stonehenge.

The strategy document says: "Our ambition for the next 25 years is to revolutionise our roads. Our busiest A-Roads will become expressways, providing improved standards of performance, with technology to manage traffic and mile-a-minute speeds.

"Users of motorways know they can expect a broadly consistent standard from the whole of their road, and that this ensures they have a safe, free-moving journey.

"The same is not true of A-roads, where piecemeal upgrades have often resulted in inconsistency and substandard stretches of the road that are often less safe and a regular cause of congestion.

'By 2040, we want to have transformed the most important of these routes into expressways: A-roads that can be relied upon to be as well-designed as motorways and which are able to offer the same standard of journey to users."

They will be built so that "traffic on the main road can pass over or under roundabouts without stopping".

The Highways Agency has presented the Road Investment Strategy to Parliament ahead of it being transformed on April 1 into the new private sector roads operator called Highways England. A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'The move is part of a radical package of road reform that is expected to save the taxpayer at least £2.6billion over the next ten years.'

Motorway fraudsters target drivers in 26 incidents
drivers asked for money and given worthless gold-coloured rings as surety.
By Rahul Vashisht 20 Mar, 2015

Motorway drivers are advised to be cautious following 26 reports of fraud over five days.

In each incident motorists were flagged down by people who then asked them for money, for reasons ranging from needing to buy petrol to a relative dying.

Some of these men were well-dressed and wearing suits, and in some cases gold-coloured rings were offered by the offenders as a surety. However when tested the rings turned out to be worthless.

Three motorways were targeted, the M4, M25 and M40.

The offenders were often parked in areas which put themselves and other road users at risk.

Seven incidents were reported to have taken place on January 31 and February 4, with five incidents on February 1 and February 3. Two incidents were reported on February 2.

Inspector Colin Clark, from the Joint Operations Unit for Roads Policing said: "Thames Valley Police takes all reports seriously and takes appropriate action against anyone found to be offending."

Relaxed parking regime criticised
new rules could take effect within weeks and include the banning of CCTV cameras that automatically issue parking fines.
By Press Assoc 6 Mar, 2015

New parking regulations, which include over-staying drivers getting 10 minutes' grace before they can be hit with a fine, have been "rushed through" and could make roads less safe, a local authority leader has said.

Part of the Deregulation Bill, the new rules could take effect within weeks and include the banning of CCTV cameras that automatically issue parking fines except in certain areas.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "We are ending the war on motorists"
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the measures would deliver "a fairer deal for motorists".

But Local Government Association chairman David Sparks said: "Many councils already allow grace periods of 10 minutes for drivers who overstay their parking ticket.

"Equally, councils know parking restrictions cannot be used to make a profit, but are there to stop chaos on our roads.

"We are concerned that the Government has rushed through today's announcement and failed to fully consult councils on the detail of the regulation.

"Beyond the headlines, what is particularly worrying is the detail of these proposals which could make roads less safe for vulnerable pedestrians and inconvenience millions of motorists and commuters."

He went on: "We have serious concerns about the decision to ban the use of CCTV on zebra crossings and bus routes.

"This decision could endanger vulnerable road users such as children, blind or disabled people and create delays for millions of bus users."

The new rules will apply to cars parked in a pay-and-display bays or other spaces with time limits. Other measures include a right for residents and local firms to demand that their council reviews parking in their area.

CCTV camera cars that automatically issue parking fines are to be made illegal, except in sensitive areas such as near schools and in bus lanes.

There will be an end to fines at out-of-order parking meters when there is no alternative way to pay.

Guidance will also reinforce that councils cannot use parking to make a profit.

Mr Pickles said: " For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.

"Over-zealous parking enforcement undermines our town centres and costs councils more in the long term.

"Our measures not only bring big benefits for high streets, motorists and local authorities - they put common sense back into parking."

Driver jailed for using 'laser jammer' to avoid being caught by speed cameras
Nigel Stephenson, 65, was charged with perverting the course of justice after officers discovered the device while searching his Jaguar.
By Dave Higgens 24 Feb, 2015

Police have warned drivers against fitting speed camera jamming devices onto their cars after a motorist was jailed for using a laser blocker on his Jaguar.

Nigel Stephenson was arrested after cops recorded error codes when he drove his car past police mobile speed cameras.

When officers examined his Jaguar, they discovered the laser jammer fitted to the front of the vehicle and he was charged with two offences of perverting the course of justice.

Stephenson, 65, of Steeton, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, was sentenced to two months in prison at Bradford Crown Court for perverting the course of justice and banned from driving for six months.

He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

In the first instance an officer operating a camera on the A59 Harrogate to Skipton road on August 4, last year, picked up an error code and detected audible feedback from his equipment when it was directed towards Stephenson's white Jaguar.

Four days later, the same thing happened as Stephenson drove his Jaguar along the A629 at Crosshills near Keighley.

Both incidents were captured on video by cops and Stephenson was arrested, a spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said.

Pete Price: the fight goes on for those hit by Joint Enterprise law
Jimmy McGovern is among those to highlight this controversial law.
By Pete Price 20 Feb, 2015

The fight goes on, but if you were the mother of a child in jail, because of Joint Enterprise, you would fight until you got justice.

The other week, a group of mums whose sons were jailed for murders they said they did not commit, were demonstrating in Liverpool against the law that convicted them.

Joint Enterprise is when a group of people who were present during a crime were prosecuted, even if they were not directly involved.

The purpose of the demonstration was to get the public to support the cause and sign a petition to cancel this law.

A while ago, one of the mothers' friends wrote to Jimmy McGovern for help. When he looked into it, he was so shocked and angry at the injustice of Joint Enterprise.

A young man incarcerated for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The more Jimmy looked into it, the more frustrated he became.

After a long journey, he wrote the BBC drama, Common, which has won awards and got the nation talking. There is so much injustice tied up with this draconian law, that goes back to the days of gentlemen duelling.

There were many such stories, so this award-winning writer distilled all of them into a dramatic narrative that gives a compelling testimony to this unjust doctrine.

Common as a piece of drama gave a balanced view on this law. Jimmy and Colin McKeown, from LA Productions, worked together to make sure this drama was seen by so many.

They’ve just won the Royal Television Society Best Single Drama, the Best Scriptwriter and now the other week another accolade, Broadcast Award - Best Single Drama. They don’t create these stories for television to win awards, although they are very flattered when their work is recognised by the industry.

As Colin says, very proudly, every time an award is given it adds to the credibility of the show’s treatment of the subject matter they are highlighting, By the way, when Jimmy received the RTS Award, he gave it away to Jordan Cunliffe’s mum, Jan, who is fighting to get her son released from prison.

New drug-driving laws are a 'stunt' says traffic lawyer
traffic lawyer says the new law won't help and says it is a stunt. .
By Jim Connolly, Catherine Burns 2 Mar, 2015

A new law has come into force in England and Wales to help police catch drug drivers.

It is now illegal to drive with certain levels of some drugs in your body. The list includes eight illegal and eight prescription drugs.

Officers will have new kit to test for cocaine and cannabis at the roadside, but will have to go back to police stations to test for other substances.

But a traffic lawyer says the new law won't help and says it is a stunt.

Nick Freeman describes himself as a "criminal defence lawyer, an author and a commentator" but the tabloids prefer to call him Mr Loophole. He's defended several celebrities and footballers in driving cases.

Newsbeat asked him how easy it is to get people off on drug-driving cases. The police won't like his answer.

"Unfortunately it's extremely easy," he says. "I have never lost a case of driving while unfit through drugs.

"The statistics show that if you're charged with it, you have a 50% chance of acquittal.

"Because it's so hard to secure a conviction, the police don't want to waste their time and money arresting people, when they think the best chance they have is a one in two chance of getting a conviction."

Valentine's Day shopper tackled Solihull store raider
Wayne Edmunds gets bravery award after bringing down thief as he nipped out to buy fiancée present.
By Brett Gibbons 2 Feb, 2015

A man who popped out to buy his fiancée a Valentine’s Day present and ended up tackling a supermarket thief has been commended for his bravery.

Wayne Edmunds, a self-employed plumber from Solihull, had nipped into the Tesco store in Knowle on February 14 last year when he heard a shout from a cashier that a man had stolen money from the till.

Mr Edmunds, 49, joined forces with another customer to tackle the thief and detain him until police arrived.

The man was arrested and charged and appeared before court.

Mr Edmunds was presented with a Chief Constable’s Good Citizen Award to honour his bravery.

He said: “I had called at Tesco to buy a bottle of wine when I heard a shout from the staff member. It was just a natural reaction to grab the man and I, together with another man, held him on the ground until police arrived. I was happy to help out and pleased no-one was hurt.”

Sgt Dave Saunders, from Solihull Police, added: “The actions of Wayne and the other member of the public were brave and even though the offender became violent and struggled with them, they managed to hold on to him until police arrived, despite not knowing if he had any weapons or accomplices.

Reveller sprayed with CS gas gets £21k payout from Essex Police
Essex Police agreed the out-of-court settlement with Alan Lethbridge, who says he has suffered mental health problems since being sprayed in September 2009.
By Piers Meyler 2 Feb, 2015

The incident was caught on camera by photographers who had rushed to the High Street to capture images of the blaze.

Mr Lethbridge, 34, from Harold Hill, near Romford, said: "My life has been turned upside down. After the incident I got diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The year after that, the doctor diagnosed me with depression and the last five years have been the worst of my life.

"It has been a complete and utter nightmare for me and my family. I've been ill so I have not been able to work a lot of the time.

"I've been trying to get work but it's just that nothing has seemed to be going together."

Two police officers, who used CS gas to restrain Mr Lethbridge after the dispute, were cleared following an investigation in 2010. A further investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded there was no misconduct.

Mr Lethbridge's own conviction for assaulting a paramedic who went to his aid was quashed at appeal in 2010.

The former builder said: "I got cleared of all charges and of any wrongdoing whatsoever and I got sort of attacked by the police.

"Although they admitted liability after five years of fighting, I still haven't even got an apology.

"I just want to start living normally. I've been stuck in this flat for five years with this condition. I just want to get my life back.

"I've bought a van and I've got a job with a logistics firm."

The Sugar Hut fire caused extensive damage and the club was closed for almost a year.

Crews fought the flames as they tore through the 500-year-old Grade II listed building, which would later become a regular feature on ITV2's Towie.

Mr Lethbridge was jailed for a year for violent disorder in 2003. He said: "I've been on anti-depressants and through three or four sets of different counselling and nothing has helped.

"I have had to just cope with it and live with it.

"Ten years ago I got quite a bad criminal record but it doesn't matter what happened then, no one deserves what happened to me.

"One thing has led to another and my head has not been the same since."

Map shows £15 billion plan to turn Britain into giant motorway
The roads are part of a £15billion overhaul of the nation’s highways being planned by the government.
By Tariq Tahir 21 Mar, 2015

Up to 18 busy A-roads will be revamped, with roundabouts and traffic lights stripped out, to cut delays.

There will also be up to 400 miles of ‘smart motorways’ where hard shoulders are used at peak times to reduce jams.

Details have been presented Highways Agency presented to Parliament and also include new slip roads to make the traffic flow and banning slow moving vehicles such as tractors and bicycles.

The strategy document says: ‘Our ambition for the next 25 years is to revolutionise our roads.

’Our busiest A-Roads will become expressways, providing improved standards of performance, with technology to manage traffic and mile-a-minute speeds.

‘Users of motorways know they can expect a broadly consistent standard from the whole of their road, and that this ensures they have a safe, free-moving journey.’

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said ‘we are investing £15billion in the biggest upgrade to England’s strategic roads in a generation’.

Crown Censure for Highways Agency following traffic officer’s death
Date:8 January 2015 H S E

The Highways Agency was today (8 Jan) issued with a Crown Censure – the equivalent of a criminal prosecution – for safety failings after an experienced Traffic Officer was struck and killed by a car that went out of control on the M25.

Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, from Gravesend in Kent, was deployed with a colleague to an incident on the M25, between junctions 4 and 5 clockwise, on 25 September 2012. They were faced with a car that had spun around after heavy rain, ending up pointing in the wrong direction in a live lane on the motorway.

Mr Walmsley and his partner had towed the vehicle to the hard shoulder and the pair, along with the car’s driver who was unhurt, were awaiting a recovery vehicle.

Mr Walmsley then walked down the hard shoulder, and was using his phone, to keep his eye out for the truck when a second car went out of control on the same bend, skidded across the carriageway and hit him. He died at the scene. The driver was subsequently convicted of causing death by careless driving.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated, took the decision to deliver a Censure after identifying failures in the Highways Agency’s quarterly supervision checks at the Dartford outstation.

HSE found that despite the introduction in July 2011 by the Highways Agency of formal quarterly supervision checks of Traffic Officers by a team manager, these quarterly supervision checks were not carried out with Mr Walmsley between August 2011 and the date of his death. While the Highways Agency had in place other health and safety training and policies, including informal supervisory checks, more than half the traffic officers based at the Dartford depot had also not undergone any quarterly supervision checks.

HSE said the Highways Agency therefore did not provide the necessary supervision to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees.

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