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select for full details Laugh away, Jeremy Clarkson, but we 'traffic wombles' play a vital role
Cuts to other emergency services mean a Highways England traffic officer like me may well be first on the scene if there’s an accident
By ANON HATO   19 November, 2016
When I am asked what I do for a living, there tends to be a blank look when I reply Highways England traffic officer. Mention the word womble, however, and people start to get the picture.

Or at least they think they do. Traffic womble is a nickname invented by dear Jeremy Clarkson (thank you, Mr Clarkson), who would rather we didn’t exist at all.

Contrary to the nickname we do not pick up litter. You will find us wielding brooms on occasion, but only to clear the carriageway of debris after accidents.

Cuts within the other emergency services are making our role increasingly important. If you are unfortunate enough to crash , we may well be the first to get to you. As long as no one is hurt and there are no accusations, we can deal with many accidents without assistance from the police, fire or ambulance service, freeing them up for other duties.

When you’ve been sat in a queue for an hour and reach the front to see our black and yellow Battenberg four-by-fours parked behind one car on the hard shoulder, you might be tempted to think there was no real reason for the tailback.

What you don’t see is that half an hour earlier there were three cars spread across the carriageway, one facing the wrong direction, another buried in the barrier. You don’t see the oil spillage that had to be cleared up and assessed before we could reopen the lane or the barrier that had to be repaired. You don’t see the fleet of police cars, fire engines and ambulances that initially attended.

You just see us, those jobsworthy wombles, making you late for that meeting. We’ve never quite shaken off that image in the 12 years since the creation of the Traffic Officer Service.

In reality our priority at such a big incident is to make the scene safe and fully reopen the road as soon as possible.

We stop traffic to clear obstructions, tow broken-down vehicles (our cars and straps can tow a fully loaded HGV), use cones and signs to close lanes and whole carriageways, and remove abandoned vehicles from the hard shoulder. You’ll often find us walking around asking how long things are going to take and trying to get vehicles moved if they don’t need to be blocking lanes.

Ask any traffic officer what they consider to be their main role, and they will say to keep the traffic flowing. We don’t close roads unless we really have to. Quite often I find myself being introduced as a traffic womble by friends and family - but I don’t really mind. You’ll even find a quite a few affectionately dotted around our outstations and control rooms.

I don’t even mind being shouted and sworn at by passing traffic. But sometimes the lack of recognition and respect for what we do is demoralising. Earlier this year a traffic officer was killed and his crewmate seriously injured when a car lost control and struck them while they were dealing with an incident on the hard shoulder. Our job can be very dangerous – we mitigate those dangers to the best of our abilities, but we cannot control every car that passes.

select for full details
Terrified driver who was decapitated in crash made an EIGHT-MINUTE 999 call as his Skoda sped along M40 motorway
at 119mph after car's cruise control 'got stuck'.
By Stephanie Linning   25 November, 2016
Kaushal Gandhi, 32, died when his Skoda Octavia crashed into a lorry
In the minutes before the crash, Mr Gandhi spoke to a 999 call handler.

A driver phoned 999 as his car sped down a motorway at 119mph after the cruise control locked, an inquest heard.

Kaushal Gandhi, 32, of Harrow, Middlesex, desperately tried to stop the out-of-control Skoda Octavia before it crashed into a parked lorry, killing him instantly.

In the eight minutes leading up to the collision, Mr Gandhi told the call handler that the cruise control had become stuck and he could not stop the car accelerating

A recording of the panicked phone call was played to a coroner in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, today.

The inquest heard company director Mr Gandhi, described as a 'meticulous' driver, speaking to the Thames Valley Police call handler as passed Junction 2 of the M40.

He said: 'My car is not coming out of cruise control...It is not letting me stop. It (the speedometer) shows 70mph but I think I am going much faster than this.'

The call handler replied: 'Can you try to control the car's speed using your gears?'

Mr Gandhi said: 'I am trying. It is not stopping at neutral.'

select for full details He tried to turn off the engine by pressing the start-stop button before continuing: 'I have kept pressing the button but all it makes is a noise, my speed is increasing.

'I think what has happened was I tried to change the mode on the car, because I was on the sports mode. I pressed a button to come onto the normal mode and then it is not allowing me to do anything.'

Mr Gandhi later said his speed had 'just gone 77mph' before the call handler asked if he had tried using the handbrake.

The driver said: 'I haven't tried it because at this speed I am not sure what will happen. I am in the middle lane right now, there is no traffic.. Do you want me to try the hand brake?'

The call handler, who was then seeking advice from a colleague, got no response to a question and the crash then happened. The coroner heard that the phone connection was lost moments after Mr Gandhi was heard saying: 'I am just going to check that, one second... '

The call handler was then heard saying: 'Are you still there? Hello, operator, I've lost the line.'

The Skoda crashed into a lorry parked in a lay-by after the M40 merged into the A40 shortly after 3am on February 2.

Witness Robert Hague, who phoned emergency services, told the inquest the car was 'almost completely embedded in the lorry' and the roof was 'peeled back'.

Lorry driver Emma Parrot told the inquest she was thrown from her bunk with the force of the impact, adding: 'I realised immediately that anyone in the white car was unlikely to have survived.' Martin Clatworthy, a vehicle data examiner and safety safety specialist for Volkswagen, the makers of Skoda, told the inquest that in the five seconds before the crash, the vehicle was travelling at 116mph and the accelerator pedal was fully depressed. He added there was no braking recorded.


Kaushal Gandhi (KG): 'My car is not coming out of the cruise control. 'I have just passed the exit of the M40 towards Slough. It is not letting me stop. It (the speedometer) shows 70mph but I think I am going much faster than this.'
Call handler (CH): 'Can you slow to a stop by braking? Can you try to control the car’s speed using your gears?'
KG: 'I am trying. It is not stopping at neutral. 'I have kept pressing the button but all it makes is a noise. 'My speed is increasing. I think what has happened was I tried to change the mode on the car, because I was on the sports mode. I pressed a button to come onto the normal mode and then it is not allowing me to do anything.' 'It is just gone 77mph right now.'
The call taker was then heard asking if he had tried pulling on the handbrake.
KG: 'I haven’t tried it because at this speed I am not sure what will happen. I am in the middle lane right now, there is no traffic. Do you want me to try the hand brake?'
The coroner heard that the phone connection was lost moments after Mr Gandhi was heard saying: 'I am just going to check that, one second... '
CH: 'Are you still there? Hello, operator, I’ve lost the line.'

select for full details Boy threw himself into motorway traffic after row with parents
Fifteen year old died on M6 motorway after argument over text messages
By Phoebe WESTON   23 November, 2016
Parents were left horrified after their teenage son jumped out of their car and ran into traffic on the M6 motorway near Skelmersdale.

Iain Thornton, aged 15, was airlifted to hospital but tragically died from his injuries.

The family had been arguing over text messages on Iain’s mobile phone.

Coroner Ms Anita Bhardwaj said; “It must be awful for the parents to deal with - I don’t know where they begin.”

An inquest heard how the family could not restrain 15-year-old Iain Thornton who ran down the slip road by Charnock Richard services and was hit by an oncoming car.

Iain was airlifted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where he died later that afternoon on August 30, as a result of head injuries sustained from the collision.

Sergeant Lee Campbell of the Lancashire Road Policing Unit said: “Iain was travelling in his family vehicle with his mother, father and brother Russ on the way back from a holiday in Scotland.” While in the car, Iain’s parents, who live in Gloucester, found text messages on Iain’s phone which suggested he had been self-harming, the court sitting at Gerald Majella Courthouse heard.

This led to an argument when Iain’s mother Fiona said she thought Iain “should not hang out with these people”, Sergeant Campbell said.

John Thornton, Iain’s father, decided to stop at Charnock Richard Services in order to allow the family to calm down.

Iain opened the car door as it was still moving and ran down the slip road onto the M6 where he was struck by a Jaguar going south. the crash, which happened at around 1.45pm, was witnessed by both Iain’s parents and his brother Russ, as well as numerous other witnesses.

The teenager was airlifted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He died later that day with his family at his bedside.

“No one was at fault in terms of other vehicles,” said Sergeant Campbell, saying that the Jaguar was travelling within the 70mph speed limit and could not have avoided the collision.

The parents did not know that Iain was self-harming, but when police checked his phone they found a message to a friend saying “I may as well kill myself”.

The 15-year-old had made arrangements with friends at the weekend and had no intention of wanting to commit suicide, said Sergeant Campbell.

Coroner Ms Anita Bhardwaj said Iain did not mean to take his own life but it was “an impulsive act on his part”.

select for full details top judge urges tougher community service as alternative to prison
Lord chief justice says he hopes ‘problem-solving courts’ scheme is expanded and warns of shortage of high court judges.
By Owen Bowcott   22 November, 2016
Fewer criminals should be jailed and tougher community punishments developed as an alternative to imprisonment, the lord chief justice has urged.

Appearing before MPs on the justice select committee on Monday, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd also warned there was a shortage of high court judges partially because of cuts in their pension rights and that up to 40 would need to be recruited by over the next few years.

The most senior judge in England and Wales welcomed the introduction of US-style “problem-solving courts”, whereby offenders are brought back regularly to have their sentences and progress reviewed by a judge after conviction.

Thomas said there had been a “pause in the government’s thinking” but hoped the scheme would be expanded. “There’s an awful lot we can do to avoid sending certain people to prison provided that the orders are properly carried out by the probation and rehabilitation companies,” he said.

“The prison population is very, very high at the moment. Whether it will continue to rise is always difficult to tell. There are worries that it will. I don’t know whether we can dispense with more [offenders] by really tough, and I do mean tough, community penalties. So I would like to see that done first.”

His comments come as jails in England and Wales endure a turbulent period. This month thousands of prison officers staged a walkout amid claims the system was “in meltdown” after a rise in violence and self-harm incidents in jails. There are more than 85,000 people in prison in England and Wales.

Thomas said the latest survey of morale among the judiciary showed serious concerns, reflecting resentment over cuts in the value of judges’ pensions and changes to their working practices.

An employment tribunal is hearing a claim by more than 200 judges who allege that they have been the subject of discrimination because newly appointed judges have been given less generous pension provision.

The lord chief justice said that on recruitment, judges take a “huge salary cut” from their work as barristers in private practice. High court judges are paid about £180,000 a year.

select for full details China 56-car pile-up on icy motorway kills 17
A motorway pile-up involving 56 vehicles has killed 17 people in China, according to Chinese state media.
By BBC NEWS   22 November, 2016
The crash happened on Monday morning on an icy road in North China's province of Shanxi.

An additional 37 people were injured when the vehicles collided during snowy and rainy weather on the Beijing-Kunming expressway.

Images from the scene showed lorries that had been completely crushed by the impact.

One truck was thrown through the air, landing on the vehicles in front of it, while others dangled off the side of the road, above a sharp drop to the ground below.

Cranes were brought to the scene as rescuers tried to work through the wreckage.

State media has since reported that all the injured are in a stable condition.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 250,000 people die in traffic accidents every year across China, though official government statistics report a far lower number.

M3 smart motorway: Highways bosses say schemes are NOT to generate revenue despite huge surge in speeding fines
Surrey and Hampshire drivers take note - the M3 is becoming a smart motorway in a £174 million project through 2017
By Charlotte Neal   18 November, 2016
select for full details Police statistics reveal thousands of drivers are being caught speeding on Britain's network of new "smart motorways" every single week.

But highways chiefs say the new-style motorways are not intended to generate revenue, claiming speed cameras are solely for safety purposes.

figures show on some stretches converted to "smart motorway", the number of tickets handed out has increased 25 times

Highways England is currently converting a 13.4-mile stretch of the M3 through Surrey and into north-east Hampshire into smart motoway.

The £174m project has been ongoing for the best part of two years and will this weekend see the Woodlands Lane M3 bridge near Windlesham demolished.

The BBC's One Show asked 12 police forces how many speeding tickets and fines had been issued on major smart motorway stretches, including the M1, M25, M4, M42 and M6.

During 2010/11, just 2,023 tickets were dished out. However, this figure soared to 52,516 during 2014/15.

On the M25, between junction 16 and junction 23 (the M40 to the A1), 3,240 tickets were given in 2014/15.

How did we get started with Smart Motorways anyway?

The technique was first used in the UK on the M42 motorway in the West Midlands in 2006. A higher speed limit of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) was trialed on the southbound carriageway between junctions 4 and 3A from 2008 (a 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) increase on the previous maximum permissible speed).

In 2007 plans were announced to extend the scheme to two sections of the M6 near Birmingham (4-5 and 8a-10) by 2011 for £150 million. The emergency refuges were to be extended to every 800 metres (0.50 mi) on the roll out. A study into the use of ATM on the M1, M4, M20 and M25 motorways was also announced, however the Department for Transport had decided to proceed with a scheme to widen sections of the M25. A £2 billion contract was announced to extend the scheme to sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M60 and M62 in February 2010 with a further announcement by the new government in October 2010. In March 2012 the government indicated that was considering a trial of higher 80 mph speed limit on some Managed Motorways although proposals for higher speeds on motorways were met with caution on a number of grounds by both motoring and road safety organisations.

someone asked on the facebook page "is it possible to sign up for traffic officer job vacancies alerts as and when they become available?"
are you interested in joining Highways Agency Traffic Officers?
select for full details By Traffic Womble 25 Nov, 2016
There were several replies from subscribers to the page, including one who quoted https://recruitme and this is a H.A page that comprises many good specimen questions previously asked by people looking to join H.A.

For quick access just click on the photo of our two budding HATOs seen right, this will take you to the current H.A vacancies page

If you can't quickly get the hang of it then use the FAQ page quoted above

and if you want to check in with the top HATO facebook page then just click on the FB logo seen to the left!

there are many stories and images on the FB page of interest to HATOs!

select for full details Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair jailed for life for Jo Cox murder
Unemployed gardener, 53, given whole-life sentence for murder of MP that judge said was inspired by white supremacism
By Ian Cobain   23 November, 2016
An extreme rightwing terrorist has been sentenced to prison for the rest of his life for the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox after a seven-day Old Bailey trial in which he made no effort to defend himself.

Thomas Mair repeatedly shot and stabbed Cox in an attack during the EU referendum campaign in June. While attacking her he was saying: “This is for Britain”, “keep Britain independent”, and “Britain first”, the court heard. The judge said Mair would have to serve a whole-life sentence due to the “exceptional seriousness” of the offence: a murder committed to advance a cause associated with Nazism.

Mr Justice Wilkie refused Mair’s request to address the court, saying he had already had opportunities to explain himself, and had not done so.

Cox, the judge told Mair, was not only a “passionate, open-hearted, inclusive and generous” person, but a true patriot. He, on the other hand “affected to be a patriot”.

“It is evident from your internet searches that your inspiration is not love of country or your fellow citizens, it is an admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic white supremacist creeds,” Wilkie said. “Our parents’ generation made huge sacrifices to defeat those ideas and values in the second world war. What you did … betrays those sacrifices.”

Mair had “betrayed the quintessence of our country, its adherence to parliamentary democracy”. By not having the courage to admit his crime, the judge added, he had forced the prosecution to prove their case in detail, which “no doubt deliberately”had increased the anguish of his victim’s family. Mair struck on 16 June after Cox got out of a car in Birstall, a small market town in West Yorkshire that was part of her Batley and Spen constituency. He shot her twice in the head and once in the chest with a sawn-off .22 hunting rifle before stabbing her 15 times.

The MP died shortly afterwards in the back of an ambulance, despite emergency surgery. She was 41, and the mother of two children, then aged five and three.

Croydon tram going three times speed limit when it derailed, investigators say
Interim Rail Accident Investigation Branch report on crash that killed seven people says tram was well in excess of 12mph limit
By Gwyn Topham 16 Nov, 2016
A tram that derailed in Croydon, killing seven people, was travelling at more than three times the speed limit when it overturned on a sharp bend, according to investigators.

Data from the black box recorder showed that the tram was travelling at a speed of approximately 43mph when it entered the curve, having slowed only slightly and too late from the 50mph it was travelling at in a tunnel just before.

The interim report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) says that there was no apparent defect in either the tram’s brakes or the track. It was dark and raining heavily at the time of the incident.

select for full details AMERICA's PRIVATE PRISONS UNDER TRUMP?
The U.S incarceration industry was having a tough time. Then Trump got elected.
By James Surowiecki   28 November, 2016
Going into Election Day, few industries seemed in worse shape than America’s private prisons.

U.S Prison populations, which had been rising for decades, were falling. In 2014, Corrections Corporation of America, the biggest private-prison company in the U.S., lost its contract to run Idaho’s largest prison, after lawsuits relating to understaffing and violence that had earned the place the nickname Gladiator School. There were press exposés of shocking conditions in the industry and signs of a policy shift toward it. In April, Hillary Clinton said, “We should end private prisons.” In August, the Justice Department said that private federal prisons were less safe and less secure than government-run ones. The same month, the department announced that it would phase out the use of private prisons at the federal level. Although most of the private-prison industry operates on the state level (immigrant-detention centers are its other big business), the news sent C.C.A.’s stock down by thirty-five per cent.

Donald Trump’s victory changed all that: within days, C.C.A.’s stock had jumped forty-seven per cent. His faith in privatization is no secret, and prison companies aren’t the only ones rubbing their hands. The stock price of for-profit schools has also rocketed. Still, the outlook for private prisons is particularly rosy, because many Trump policies work to their benefit. The Justice Department’s plan to phase out private prisons will likely be scrapped, and a growing bipartisan movement for prison and sentencing reform is about to run up against a President who campaigned as a defender of “law and order.”

Above all, Trump’s hard-line position on immigration seems certain to fill detention centers, one of the biggest money spinners for private-prison operators.

The boom in private prisons in the past two decades was part of a broader privatization trend, fuelled by a belief in the superior efficiency of the private sector. But privatizing prisons makes little economic or political sense. Some studies find private prisons to be less cost-effective than government ones, some more, and further studies suggest that any savings are likely the result of cutting corners. In a study of prisons in nine states, Chris Petrella, a lecturer at Bates College, found that private ones avoid taking sick and elderly inmates, since health care is a huge expense for prisons. They employ a younger, less well trained, and less well paid workforce and have higher inmate-to-guard ratios, all of which saves money but also makes prisons more dangerous. When you consider that the government still spends money monitoring private prisons, and that it’s stuck running the parts of the system that private companies thought were money losers, the case that private prisons save money looks shaky.

Fake police car driver who drew on signage in pen charged with traffic offences
Woman was driving without a licence and driving a car deemed unroadworthy but markings did not fall foul of any laws
By Joshua Robertson 22 Nov, 2016
The car was white and the word “police” was spelled out in blue lettering. But everything else about the vehicle making its way through Perth traffic screamed to the real police that this was not one of their own.

The “signage” on the unregistered Hyundai, hand-drawn in blue felt pen and complete with police-like checked squares, drew officers’ attention after reported sightings of the car around the Western Australian capital on Monday met mirth online.

However, the crude markings did not fall foul of laws against impersonating police, nor indeed any other laws, a police spokesperson told the West Australian.

More relevant was the yellow sticker on the car deeming it unroadworthy and the fact the 33-year-old woman behind the wheel had no driver’s licence, according to police.

select for full details Dramatic footage of 'spectacular' campervan crash as dangerous driver swerves across busy M6
the dramatic footage of David Whitehead, out of control and speeding at 80mph on the M6, was captured on another motorist’s dashcam.
By Jeremy Armstrong   13 November, 2016
A camper van driver who was filmed weaving dangerously back and forth across a busy motorway before spectacularly crashing has been jailed.

the dramatic footage of David Whitehead, out of control and speeding at 80mph on the M6, was captured on another motorist’s dashcam.

A dashboard-mounted camera captures the vehicle moving left, then right, then left again, before crashing into the central reservation between the northbound and southbound carriageways.

The vehicle flips upside down before coming to rest on its side across the hard shoulder. Miraculously, no one is seriously injured in the incident.

But Whitehead is seen climbing out of the driver's seat and crawling around on all fours as passing motorists rush to help.

After the crash, and having climbed out of his vehicle, Whitehead was seen to throw something into bushes. However, a police investigation was unable to determine what that was.

Carlisle crown court heard Whitehead had been "on some medication at the time" which may have had an impact on his ability to drive. "The impact of it is that you were clearly in a completely unfit state to be able to control this vehicle," said Recorder Philip Curran.

"When you were taken to the hospital police wanted to establish what was in your blood. You refused to give them a sample of blood for analysis."

The court was told Whitehead had two other convictions for failing to provide a specimen.

Recorder Curran added: "It seems to me having watched that evidence this is a very serious case indeed of dangerous driving.

"It is just by good fortune you didn't collide with other vehicles. The risks were indeed great.

The judge said only an immediate jail term could be imposed.

He concluded: "If anyone is to review the sentence they ought to watch a very graphic piece of evidence from the recording device on the front of the car - one of the vehicles that had just come on to the motorway."

Police received a host of concerned calls from members of the public who saw the camper van travelling southbound on April 8 this year. The driver, of Parkinson Street, Burnley, was jailed for 12 months and also given a three-year driving ban.

select for full details Prison guard warns lags run the jails now as she admits officers have lost control in crisis
Former warder Kelly Smith claims it is only a matter of time before a prison officer is killed on the job
By Patrick Hill   19 November, 2016
An inmate faced up to a prison officer and bragged: “We run the jails now.”

The shocking moment drove it home to former warder Kelly Smith, 33, that she and her ­colleagues had lost control – and Britain’s jails were in crisis. Kelly, who has since left, made the revelation days after 10,000 officers went on strike and MPs were outraged by online shots of lags wolfing steaks, taking drugs and guzzling booze.

Sickened by disgraceful failures of the system, she said: “It is so dangerous now – it is only a matter of time before a prison officer is killed. They are being put at risk every day.”

Kelly feels compelled to speak out about how staff were ­ordered to ignore ­contraband mobiles because there were no ­resources to deal with them.

Drugs including heroin, cocaine and Spice are rife but a jail she worked in had just a single sniffer dog – which it had to share with six other institutions. She said CCTV to stop smuggling had not worked for a decade.

Kelly left the service in July after 15 years. She said: “It’s become ­ridiculous. Prisoners can do what they want. There aren’t enough staff to stop them. They’re running it, not the staff. You press an alarm and there are no staff there to come and help you.

“The service is being cut everywhere and the governors are ignoring what’s going on while the prisons are going to s***. Staff are being pushed to their limit and they can’t cope.”

Over her career Kelly, who worked at Maidstone, Rochester and Cookham Wood jails, witnessed repeated ­cutbacks and growing red tape which made the job increasingly difficult.

She said: “When I first started, it was a career and I was proud to say I worked in the Prison Service . But the other day I spoke to a girl who told me she was thinking of taking a job there. I said, ‘Please don’t!’

“When I was at Rochester I was told to ignore seeing phones. They said to me, ‘You have to just let it slide.’

“Maidstone is rife with drugs, ­especially Spice, and there’s also a problem with heroin and cocaine.

“We used to have enough staff and dogs to keep drugs out but it is easy to get them in now.

“A lot of it gets thrown in over the wall and walking around the prison the smell of drugs is everywhere. Staff know exactly what is going on but they don’t have the resources to stop it.

A police community support officer (PCSO) from Essex has become the first in the county to train to become an On-Call firefighter, alongside her role in the police force.
By Essex TV   12 November, 2016
PCSO Angi Greneski completed her training in September and now provides firefighter support for both Saffron Walden and Halstead.

The exploration of collaborative working between Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) began in 2014, when both services wanted to push boundaries to achieve innovation within the blue light services.

Over two years of careful planning have meant that processes around the dual role arrangement are now clear and benefit both services.

On-Call firefighters must be able to get to their fire station within five minutes of being paged, which is why Angi provides firefighter cover at Saffron Walden during her working hours and Halstead when she is at home.

Although Angi provides 120 hours of On-Call availability a week to ECFRS and is released from Essex Police duties to attend fire calls, her full time employment still rests within her Essex Police contract.

The introduction of the dual role arrangement comes at a time when ECFRS is increasing its number of On-Call firefighters, and this collaboration could help achieve recruitment targets.

Although Angi is the first PCSO to provide joint services in this way, the concept of trading police personnel with fire services has already been taking place through other work, with ECFRS assisting Essex Police on jobs such as missing people searches and entering homes with people collapsed behind doors.

Adam Eckley, Acting Chief Fire Officer, said: “We’re delighted that Angi has become an On-Call firefighter for the Service. This is testament to our commitment to working closer with our emergency service partners to keep our communities safe.

“On-Call firefighters play a vital role, both within Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and within their communities.

“It is a rewarding and challenging role. On-Call firefighters not only attend incidents they also get involved in a wide range of community safety activities including visiting schools and helping people stay safe in their homes by fitting smoke alarms and providing advice as part of our free home safety visit schemes.

Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex Police, said: “Angi’s determination to use her skills to serve the people of Essex is an inspiration but also demonstrates the steps we’re taking with the fire service to work better together. With parish safety volunteers providing advice to our communities and joint working in schools talking to young people about safety, Angi’s commitment to public service is another example of how we’re working to put the public first.”

Highways England polishes off Spaghetti Junction works
Highways England has completed maintenance works on Spaghetti Junction and the A38(M) in Birmingham a month ahead of schedule.
By Chris Ames 7 Nov, 2016
The Government-owned company said it had worked around the clock to complete the scheme as quickly as possible and worked closely with Birmingham City Council to plan the roadworks to minimise disruption.

The works involved repairing damaged concrete caused by water seeping into the structure, with new waterproofing material installed designed to protect the structure for the next 20 years.

Highways England said motorists will also benefit from smoother journeys following the installation of new tarmac.

Cake of the month
T.Os presented with cake on changing rota
By Anon HATO 16 Nov, 2016
A couple of T.Os changing rota have had the surprise of their year on being presented with a marvellous cake.

Transfers to different outstations or rotas can largely go unnoticed but these two T.Os were obviously well appreciated this month for sure!

Can you imagine their surprise when on their last day on one rota they came in to see this?

Drug dealers who forced a motorway to close have been jailed
An intelligence-led operation which included a high speed car chase, clouds of heroin, closure of the M6 motorway and retrieval of class A drugs has ended in conviction for two of the vehicle occupants.
By Helen Kreft   14 November, 2016
On July 18 at around 2.40am, following a report that the occupants of an Audi S3 vehicle were believed to be involved in the trafficking and or distribution of Class A drugs on a regional level, officers sighted the suspect vehicle, on the A449 at Penkridge.

While following the vehicle along the M6 south towards Walsall, the driver of the Audi, began to drive dangerously at speeds in excess of 120mph, weaving in between lanes, including the hard shoulder to undertake slower moving vehicles.

Officers from the Central Motorway Police Group, following in an unmarked car, requested the vehicle to stop. The Audi failed to stop, and the occupants threw packaging out of the window, which emitted clouds of brown dust, while travelling at speeds in excess of 100mph. The vehicle was eventually stopped, and the occupants detained.

Officers closed the M6 South, which resulted in the eventual recovery of 34.2 grams of heroin which had a purity of 58 per cent.

Not only did the driving of the Audi put other road users at risk, it caused maximum disruption to road users, who had suffered hours of delay after enduring a 24-hour motorway closure at Junction 13, following a large lorry fire. All road traffic was held for a further 30 minutes while the motorway was closed to locate the material thrown by the offenders from the Audi.

On November 11, at Birmingham Crown Court, Kasar Jehangir, 24, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and received 36 months. He had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to dangerous driving and had already received an 11 month sentence.

Adil Aftab , 22, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and received 36 months. A 22-year-old man, a rear passenger in the vehicle, and who was originally arrested at the scene was acquitted of all charges. The high powered car is now the subject of a proceeds of crime seizure order. Constable Anthony McKenzie of the Central Motorway Police Group said: "This was a significant and time consuming operation that working with our colleagues in Staffordshire Police, we were able to bring to a successful conclusion today. Drug dealing wherever it happens, will not be tolerated and the professionalism of our highly trained pursuit officers enabled us to safely disrupt a significant supply chain into Staffordshire.

"Those convicted today put many lives at risk with their dangerous high speed driving, showing their total disregard for other road users."

Superintendent Elliot Sharrard-Williams of Staffordshire Police said: "We will not tolerate drug dealing in Staffordshire. Our colleagues at CMPG pursued the vehicle and not only safely brought the occupants into custody, but enabled a significant amount of heroin to be recovered.

select for full details Churchgoing granddad-of-28 drives the wrong way down motorway after drinking super-strength stout
then screams ‘JESUS CHRIST’ and wets himself when pulled over on the M32
By Ellie Cambridge   4 November, 2016
Hencle Green, 76, caused chaos as he ploughed headlong into rush-hour commuters trying to a busy city centre.

A CHURCHGOING granddad-of-28 drove the wrong way down a motorway after drinking super-strength beer before performing a three-point turn and walking into the road.

He was pulled to safety by a police officer as he shouted “Jesus Christ”, before wetting himself. Hencle Green, 76, caused chaos as he ploughed headlong into rush-hour commuters trying to a busy city centre.

Father-of-seven Green, who had drank a bottle of the 7.5 per cent strength Jamaican-made beer Dragon Stout, went down the M32 in Bristol against oncoming traffic.

He narrowly missed dozens of cars – including PC Mathew Shutt whose marked police car missed the pensioner by just two feet.

PC Shutt turned on his blue lights and sirens but to his “absolute horror” Green continued to drive towards Bristol city centre.

He stopped and did a three-point turn on the carriageway before stopping on a slip road and walking into the road. As PC Shutt dragged him to safety Green screamed “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ!”, before wetting himself.

A roadside test found he was more than twice the legal alcohol limit.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen of breath.

Judge Michael Longman jailed him at Bristol Crown Court for four months and banned him from driving for five years.

He said: “This was an example of extremely dangerous driving caused by excessive drinking. “Nobody wants to send a man of your years and good character to prison.

“Such was the danger that you caused it seems this must be marked by immediate imprisonment.”

Green told police he had the Dragon Stout at the Three Blackbirds pub where he had dinner, before heading out in his Hyundai MPV at 8pm and driving towards the city.

Sam Jones, prosecuting, said: “The police officer pulled across traffic, got out and approached the defendant who was walking aimlessly across the carriageway, and dragged him to a place of safety on the hard shoulder.

select for full details Newly promoted science teacher threw herself off motorway viaduct after being swamped with so much work she was only sleeping three hours a night
She suffered severe stress due to extra tasks being piled upon her
Her hair began to fall out and her skin broke out in rashes due to stress

By Hannah Al-Othman   11 November, 2016
A newly-promoted science teacher jumped to her death from a M62 motorway viaduct after being overloaded with so much work at school she could only sleep for three hours a night, an inquest heard today.

Laurian Bold, 31, had taken on a new role as Assistant Head of Department, and suffered severe stress due to extra tasks being piled upon her, the inquest heard.

Her hair began to fall out, her skin broke out in rashes and she sought help and medication from a psychotherapist as she struggled to cope in her new post at Hollingworth Academy.

Miss Bold handed in her resignation when she returned to work following a period off sick due to severe anxiety, but just a day after giving the school notice she jumped to her death.

She pulled her car over onto the hard shoulder of the M62 motorway on the morning of February 26, clambered onto the barrier and disappeared over the side.

The 'bright and energetic' young teacher died from multiple injuries.

At the hearing in Heywood, her mother Gabrielle Bold, 54, of Ashton-under-Lyne, criticised staff at the school in Rochdale, claiming they should have done more to help Laurian.

She said: 'I personally feel there were not enough hours in the day to cover all the roles she had.

'Her mind was in overdrive she couldn't rest and there were times she was unable to concentrate.

'Prior to this she was a thoughtful woman, caring, clever and intellectual.

'At one point she believed she was going to prison and was in such a distressed state believing someone was going to take her away.

'As Laurian's parents we were concerned her illness was not being taken seriously by school. I believe that by their actions, Hollingworth Academy have caused Laurian's condition and ultimately her death.'

She told the hearing that her daughter had been coping well until she had been promoted, but in her new role she was getting as little at three hours sleep each night.

'Up to the day Laurian got the Assistant Head of Department post, she was happy in her personal life and was physically and mentally well. She had been performing well as a teacher and her students were getting excellent results,' her mother said. 'But by a few weeks later, she was suffering with severe anxiety secondary to work related stress, getting on average three hours of sleep each night.

'I cannot understand why senior staff at Hollingworth Academy considered it reasonable or acceptable to have Laurian fulfill the role of Assistant Head of Department on top of all of her other roles.

'In not assessing and managing this as a risk, I believe that the Academy was responsible for causing Laurian to suffer from work related stress from which she developed severe anxiety.

'I believe that as her employer, they have failed in their duty of care to Laurian under Health and Safety legislation.'

the M25 turns 30 years old
Britain's busiest motorway is 30 years old.
By Tom Powell   28 Oct, 2016
The M25 divides opinion, with many praising the 117-mile ring road for boosting economic growth and creating more links with the rest of the country.

select for full details But others claim all it has done is attract more and more traffic, while the relentless traffic jams have earned it a reputation as the nation's largest car park. The M25 was designed to carry up to 100,000 vehicles each day, but nearly double that use the motorway today.

A Royal Commission first suggested a ring road for London in 1905, but the first part of the M25 did not open until September 1975.

The final 13-mile section was opened by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher on October 29 1986.

There was talk of the M25 being only two lanes wide at one stage but it opened with three lanes in each direction, with various widening schemes introduced as the years went on.

A 2013 AA poll of more than 23,500 drivers found that the motorway was the most hated in Britain. AA spokesman Jack Cousens said: "The M25 is an important strategic road, but it is subject of much derision from the public.

"We wish the M25 a happy anniversary, but hope that within the next 30 years answers are found to the eternal problems of congestion."

Most of the capital's roads are managed by Transport for London, but the M25 is under the remit of Highways England (HE), which manages the country's motorways and major roads.

Drivers could face major delays over the coming years during work to expand Heathrow airport.

The M25 will be required to run underneath the third runway - either by digging a tunnel or constructing the runway on a slope over the road.

A HE report published by the Department for Transport warned of a "substantial risk of excessive customer frustration" during what could be a "prolonged period of disruption" for drivers.

This weekend also marks the 25th anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at the Dartford Crossing, which was opened by the Queen on October 30 1991.

Under the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Act of 1988, toll paying should have stopped when the crossing had been paid for - a date deemed as March 31 2002.

But charges have been kept on under a separate year-2000 Transport Act with the funds raised going to the Treasury where they are ring-fenced for transport purposes.

Highways England has proposed building a multi-billion-pound road tunnel under the Thames east of Gravesend in a bid to reduce pressure on the Dartford Crossing.

the state is being humiliated inside Britain’s prisons
This month in HMP Bedford, inmates took control of several wings and posted their jeering triumph via an illicit phone on YouTube.
By Ian Acheson   18 November, 2016
The next morning, two prisoners escaped from HMP Pentonville. Pictures from inside HMP Guys Marsh yesterday confirm a jail, as reported by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, effectively out of control.

select for full details And this is only the tip of a ghastly iceberg. Rates of suicide, homicide and serious assaults are soaring. The safety crisis inside prisons is acute and threatens us all unless there is decisive action and leadership.

Active leadership was something in noticeably short supply when I led a recent independent review of prison extremism for Michael Gove. We found the National Offender Management Service (Noms), responsible for managing prisons and probation, was an unloved, unlovely bureaucratic monster, dangerously out of touch with its operational heartland on an issue of national security importance. It had an almost paranoid, defensive headquarters culture that elevated many people to senior positions without operational experience of running prisons. It was untroubled by regular scrutiny because the system of prisons inspection, ably led by Peter Clarke, is geared towards individual jails. We encountered so much passivity, evasiveness, political correctness and inertia around the threat posed by Islamist extremism that we coined the phrase "institutional timidity" to describe it. Clearly, Noms has to go. As an arm’s length comfort blanket for ministers, it is wearing dangerously thin. A centralised and ineffectual bureaucracy is at odds with the notion of operational independence for Governors in their prisons. The money saved by axing this expensive managerial indulgence could be spent on badly needed front line operational staff. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons should become a fully-fledged regulator with legal powers to enforce decent minimum standards for prisoners instead of standing by impotently while prison bosses cherry pick from their report recommendations or ignore them entirely.

But the safety crisis in prisons isn’t just a consequence of poor senior leadership at Noms (although you do have to ask what they were doing implementing disastrous austerity cuts to prison staff numbers, surely in the full knowledge of the consequences). There has been a collapse in the vital esprit de corps of the prison service. The decline in status and authority of prison officers is almost as sharp as the drop in numbers.

When I was a prison officer, there were sufficient numbers of experienced staff around me that I learned my "jailcraft" from them, and knew that in the event of an incident, backup would be almost instantaneous. It is impossible to underestimate how important this foundation is for a healthy prison. Without order, control and stability, nothing else hopeful is possible in prisons. I had the time and confidence to speak with prisoners, to understand and respond to their problems and develop a relationship with them which would keep both of us safe and assist with their rehabilitation. I wasn’t watching my back, I was doing my job.

Since then, rampant, often fatuous managerialism has combined with staff cuts to reduce the work of a prison officer to that of a fearful turnkey. It is appalling that prison officers now speak about retreating to "places of safety" inside prisons. It is completely unacceptable that staff have no time to meaningfully engage with prisoners in the interests of "driving out inefficiency". It is outrageous that serious violence against prison staff has become in effect normalised.

The additional recruitment that Liz Truss has announced is a welcome first step. Yet even though we give our prison staff one of the shortest training periods of any service in Western Europe, this will still take far too much time to have an impact even in prioritised prisons. So too will an endless and expensive public enquiry into the state of prisons. Rome is burning now.

Hero police dog killed on motorway chasing burglary suspect
A police dog was killed on the M6 motorway this morning while chasing a suspect
By Lancashire Evening Post 8 Nov, 2016
Officers were called to an address on Southworth Road, Newton-le-Willows, at around 4am to reports of intruders at a premises.
As part of the search of the area, PD Ghost, a German Shepherd who would have been four years-old on November 19, and his handler, Constable Dave Bartley, were deployed to try and trace any offenders. Sadly, PD Ghost was found on the M6 motorway a short while later. He had died after suffering traumatic injuries after being hit by a vehicle. PD Ghost, had been a serving police dog for nearly four years, and worked with Constable Bartley on numerous jobs including one recently whilst off duty where a man was detained for theft of a car in the St Helens area. On one of their last shifts together PD Ghost and his handler, Constable Bartley, located a man who was hiding in a wooded area after a report of an incident in Norris Green and located a cash box from a taxi driver after it had been stolen from the cab. Earlier this year Constable Bartley and Ghost were called to the area around Mather Avenue after reports of an aggravated burglary. Ghost managed to track a balaclava which had been buried under the roots of a tree and as a result of the DNA found on the balaclava two men were arrested. Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I feel desperately sorry for PD Ghost’s handler and for the whole team who worked with him. “They should be proud of the commitment Ghost gave. He was part of the police family and I have no doubt will be sorely missed.”

Funding for new M4 Bristol junction study
The government has approved funding for a feasibility study into a new motorway junction in a bid to ease congestion
By BBC NEWS 9 Nov, 2016
The Department for Transport has allocated £500,000 to investigate linking the M4 at Bristol with the A4174 ring road.
Campaigners claim a new 18a junction is needed to reduce the amount of traffic on the M32 heading for the M4. Work on the study is due to be completed in 2018.

The study will be led jointly by South Gloucestershire Council and Highways England.

In a statement the council said: "A key aim of the scheme is to ease congestion in this part of South Gloucestershire and provide better access to employment hubs such as the Emersons Green Enterprise Area, home to the Bristol and Bath Science Park."

select for full details Man with a brain tumour killed when he ran across A3(M) motorway after his behaviour became 'erratic'
a German man who came to the UK to visit friends ran was killed when he ran across a motorway after a brain tumour he was suffering from caused him to behave "erratically and out of control", an inquest has heard.
By Daily Telegraph   8 November, 2016
Alexander Kaiser, from the Westerwald region of Germany, had flown to the UK on June 5 after suffering stress in his relationship with his partner of 10 years.

But after friend Sue Duplain had picked the 35-year-old up from Heathrow airport he began to behave "bizarrely" including repeatedly asking her to give him high-fives, trying to escape from the garden of their home in Horndean, Hampshire, and asking for a beer before throwing it away. her husband, Andrew, said they had called the NHS number 111 but had not been given any advice on what to do.

He said: "They really couldn't do much. The way he was talking it was clear he wasn't in control, he couldn't be trusted, he needed to be locked up to be fair."

Later that evening, as Mrs Duplain was driving work colleague Mr Kaiser to the hotel where he was staying, he grabbed the steering wheel forcing her to stop on the hard shoulder of the A3(M) near Clanfield where he jumped out of the car.

She told the Portsmouth inquest: "There was no warning whatsoever. He had got his phone, his passport, keys, wallet and everything and was stuffing everything between my knees. I screamed at him and swore at him and said 'Are you trying to kill the both of us?'." Mrs Duplain said that she then returned home and picked up her husband and returned to the motorway, finding him waving his jacket at passing cars.

She said that he did not recognise them but they persuaded him to get into the car where he lay on the back seat kicking at the windows forcing her to stop the vehicle again.

Mr Kaiser got out of the car and ran across the motorway and was struck by a Volkswagen Polo being driven on the northbound carriageway. He died from severe head injuries at the scene.

Mrs Duplain said: "I said to Andy 'He's going to get killed' and then I heard him being hit by the car."

Mrs Duplain said that she later found out from Mr Kaiser's family that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, was signed off sick but had carried on working.

select for full details Motorway death inquest: Psychiatrist 'could not foresee' that Marion Munns would jump from bridge
A PSYCHIATRIST has told an inquest how she could not foresee that one of her patients would jump to her death from a Hampshire motorway bridge.
By Michael Carr   26 Oct, 2016
The inquest into the death of Marion Munns, a retired nurse, who plunged from a bridge on to the M27 motorway, heard how a psychiatrist from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust believed that the 74-year-old would not take her own life.

As reported Mrs Munns had previously been admitted to the Western Community Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, for three months in 2014 for depression and had returned home after showing improvement - but her condition deteriorated again the following year.

Winchester Coroner's Court heard evidence from psychiatrist Dr Vicky Osmond-Hicks who took over the care for Mrs Munns in February 2015.

She said saw her that month Mrs Munns was "doing well" and had no "significant mental disorder" or with any signs of depression.

In August Dr Osmond-Hicks was alerted to the mental decline of Mrs Munns, following concerns by her family who spoke to Mrs Munns GP Dr Louisa Egbe.

Dr Osmond-Hicks had a telephone conversation with Mrs Munns and said she showed no signs of depression and was "bright and cheerful" and told her she felt she did not need to be seen.

However her concerns grew after she spoke to the daughter of Mrs Munns Angela Mote, and then she then saw her face-to-face four days later, where Mrs Munns once again denied any symptoms of depression.

In September Mrs Munns daughter Angela Mote got in touch and emailed concerns about her mother, Dr Osmond-Hicks then tried to contact Mrs Munns who was not at home.

When she finally spoke to Mrs Munns she negotiated an increase in anti-psychotic drug risperidone and explained home visits would be twice a week.

However the inquest also heard Dr-Osmond-Hicks did not put anything on the risk register when the family of Mrs Munns spoke of their concerns. A further appointment with Mrs Munns was made on September 11, where she denied her symptoms once more.

The inquest heard that there was a fax containing important information about resperidone dosage, but it was not received by Dr Egbe despite Dr Osmond-Hicks claiming she sent it.

Osmond-Hicks admitted that she should have seen her face-to-face immediately following the concerns raised by family, and this is something she has changed in her practice, she also admitted she should have updated a risk assessment.

Dr Osmond-Hicks said: "This came as a massive shock even with hindsight the biggest predictor of self harm we use is previous self harm so we always ask about previous self harm but this is not something I was concerned about.

"Also she was not 100 per cent well but at no point when I saw her was she deemed high risk or extremely unwell, her presentation was not right but it was not indicative of a very concerning situation."

select for full details Virgin is recruiting new staff directly from prisons
Virgin Trains is to hold regular recruitment fairs in prisons after doubling the number of ex-convicts it employs.
By Simon Robb   12 November, 2016
The West Coast mainline operator ran a recruitment fair at Addiewell Prison, West Lothian, this week. And more will be held in other prisons across the UK every three months.

Virgin Trains employed 12 people with convictions in 2014 as part of the contract awarded by the Department for Transport. It now has 27 ex-offenders recruited through the programme.

Virgin Trains has established partnerships with HM Prison Service, the Scottish Prison Service and private prison operators – all of whom work with inmates who are nearing the end of their sentence and need jobs.

Kathryn Wildman said Virgin Trains had incorporated prison jobs fairs into its normal recruitment programme after they proved successful in finding talented candidates. She said: ‘We started this process three years ago with relatively modest ambitions. But we’ve been really pleased with the calibre of candidates we’ve managed to attract through prison recruitment events and our wider ex-offenders programme and so we’ve decided to incorporate these into our regular calendar of recruitment events.

‘This isn’t just about helping society and giving people a chance to turn their lives around. It’s hiring the best people no matter what their background is.’

The train operator has been actively recruiting people with criminal convictions since 2013 when founder Sir Richard Branson challenged Virgin businesses and the wider business community to help reduce re-offending. Scotland’s Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said: ‘We are working with the public sector, including the Scottish Prison Service, and private businesses to make it easier for people with convictions to find employment.

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