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select for full details Campaigners rubbish Highways England's efforts to clear motorway litter
Campaigners say Highways England is failing to keep roads clean, even though it collected 200,000 sacks of rubbish each year.
By SKY NEWS 9 Aug, 2017, Enda Brady reporting
Anti-litter campaigners are urging officials to do more to clean up the country's motorways - despite Highways England picking up 200,000 sacks of rubbish from the roads last year.

Highways England focuses on 25 priority litter hotspots on the road network and they are regularly cleaned.

One recent spruce-up of a stretch of the M11 motorway, between junction nine and junction six, resulted in 958 bags of rubbish being collected.

But some campaigners feel nowhere near enough effort is being put in. John Read, the founder of Clean Up Britain, said: "The reality of the situation is that the whole entire network is a litter hotspot.

"They need to do what they are statutorily required to do in law, which is to keep clean and clear the litter from all England's motorways.

"This is a real problem for us in this country because we rely heavily on tourism.

"At this time of year people come from overseas, arriving at our Channel ports and driving around the country.

"And they just see a terrible sight, which is litter festooning the verges and the lanes of England and this is something that needs to be done."

select for full details Prison officer 'fears for staff' at riot-hit Erlestoke
A former prison officer at a riot-hit jail says he fears for the young, inexperienced staff still working there.
By BBC NEWS 9 Aug, 2017
Keith Conway said he took early retirement from Wiltshire's HMP Erlestoke in 2016 because he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

The government "needs to start getting discipline back into prisons", he said.

The Prison Service says it is taking "decisive action" to tackle the jail's "long-standing challenges".

A lack of experienced staff, which "remained a concern", contributed to violence at the Category C prison near Devizes in 2016, a report following the disturbance found.

It also said drug use was a "blight" leading to "frequent life-threatening emergencies".

Just days later after it was published, fresh violence broke out with five prison officers seriously injured.

Mr Conway, who had 28 years' experience as a prison officer, said there was "no respect" within the prison, with inmates knowing there were too few staff to cope.

"I was frightened, you didn't know what you were walking into. Staff were getting injured and their mental health was going," he said.

"I fear for those people who are still there and I take my hat off to them for what they are doing."

He added it was too much to expect new officers aged 20 or 21 years old to "tell a man of 40 doing a life sentence what to do".

Conservative MP Robert Neill, the chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, said the Prison Service had been "cut too far".

While crediting the government for recruiting more staff, he admitted "we are shedding experienced officers at the same time".

Mark Fairhurst from the Prison Officers Association added: "We're not prepared to put up with this violence any more. Things have got to change." A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said staff recruitment and drug testing had increased to improve conditions.

select for full details Four in 10 police stations have closed to the public in just four years
The number of police stations open to the public has almost halved in seven years, according to new figures.
By Evening Standard 7 Aug, 2017, Robin De Peyer reporting
Nearly 400 front counters have been shut across England and Wales, a Freedom of Information request by the Mail on Sunday found.

Figures from 31 out of 43 forces showed a fall from 901 open counters in 2010 to 510 as of March this year - a decrease of around 43 per cent.

It comes amid political pressure on the Government over the reduction in the number of police officers and the rise in violent crime reported to forces.

A similar request last month found the Metropolitan Police sold off almost £1 billion in London property in the last five years, including 24 police stations.

The Met told the Mail on Sunday the number of London police stations, which it defines as operational buildings with a front counter, had halved from 148 in 2010 to 73 in 2017.

Other major forces cutting public counters include West Midlands Police, which closed 29 over the period, and Greater Manchester Police, which also slashed numbers in half from 22 to 11.

The paper also said Derbyshire Police saw the biggest reduction, with the number of front counters open to the public falling 84 per cent from 25 to four.

It also cites Hertfordshire, a county with a population of nearly 1.2 million people, as having three fully operational police stations with front counters, compared with 10 seven years ago.

The force's website shows there are three stations open to the public daily, two others with a reduced counter service and 15 with no public access.

Stations with cells also closed at a rate of 45 per cent since 2010, falling from 282 to 155 across the 31 force areas.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs Council said: "Police are now far more accessible to the public online and by phone.

select for full details Seven years after it left our screens, The Bill is back
UKTV channel Drama plans to air every single episode, from the beginning, starting Monday, August 14 at 12 noon.
By Yahoo News 12 Aug, 2017, Morgan Jeffery reporting
Even with a new episode airing daily, it'll still take more than six years for the channel to make its way through its phenomenal catalogue of 2,421 episodes.

Digital Spy spoke to cast members from across the quintessential British cop show's epic 26-year-run to reflect on its origins, its longevity, how The Bill weathered change and whether it has a future.

"OK, Carver – let's do it!"

The Bill was originally conceived by writer Geoff McQueen as a one-off drama, with the one-hour Woodentop airing as part of the anthology drama strand Storyboard on August 16, 1983.

Woodentop – named for a term given to uniform officers by plain-clothes detectives – charted a day on the job for PC Jim Carver (Mark Wingett) and also starred Trudie Goodwin as WPC June Ackland, with both attached to the fictional Sun Hill police station.

Mark Wingett: "The way that I was cast was I was in a play which was at the Royal Court, with five cast members, and four of us ended up in that original pilot. [The casting director] came to see the show and I was the one who got Carver – stroke of luck. We were just jobbing actors and this was just one of those jobs.

"I thought it'd be very interesting to play someone who's quite straight, a policeman, because I didn't get those roles. It was a month's job – two weeks rehearsal, two weeks filming – and that was it. It was fun, but I thought I'd get on with things and do other stuff.

"Little did I know that by playing a policeman for a month, I'd be doing it for 21 years.

"It was a very hot summer. Trudie and I and Bob Pugh [playing Det. Ins. Galloway], once swam across the Thames and back, because it was so hot."

Trudie Goodwin: "We went for a swim in the lunch-hour... and that's the main thing I remember about that rehearsal period, actually! I do remember it being very good fun."

ITV's top brass were impressed with Woodentop and commissioned a full series following Sun Hill's coppers. Retitled The Bill, the series sought to replicate the pilot's 'Day in the Life' feel by ensuring that a police officer featured in every single scene.

Eric Richard (Sergeant Bob Cryer): "You could not have a scene that did not have a police officer in it. Going back to Carver and his alarm clock going off, it was always a day in the life of a police officer. And that was unique, and a big hook for the audience."

Trudie Goodwin: "It was a really good idea for a one-hour play. But I had absolutely no idea it was going to go beyond that hour."

26 series, 2,400 episodes and a whole lot of awards

Few could have predicted the enormous success that The Bill would enjoy. Woodentop was followed by thousands more episodes across a run of almost three decades.

select for full details Highways England Supports Training Exercise
Highways England joined together with the emergency services including West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance service for a special training exercise in Birmingham.
By Fleet Point 14 Aug, 2017, Kyle Lindsay reporting
The event took place on Friday night on a closed section of the A38(M) in Birmingham for a ‘real-time’ incident involving a HGV, double-decker bus, a van and four cars.

The training scenario was a road-traffic collision. To add an extra dimension to the incident, the van and one of the cars was on its side and on its roof.

The exercise – organised by West Midlands Fire Service – took place in a closed section of the carriageway which was utilised for the exercise as part of on-going repair work by Highways England at Spaghetti Junction.

Highways England has been working closely with the emergency services for the past couple of months to stage the exercise.

Highways England emergency planning officer, Frank Bird, said: “This was a really useful training exercise for us and our partners to test responses to a challenging incident.

We continue to work closely with the emergency services across the West Midlands and we’re pleased to be able to help by utilising an existing closure on the road to help support their training programme.”

Watch commander Andy Wagner of West Midlands Fire Service, who planned and organised the exercise, said: “We’re extremely grateful to everyone who helped make Friday night’s exercise as realistic as possible, including Highways England for ensuring we had use of the A38(M).

“We aim to get to life-risk emergencies in five minutes or less, and then put in place an assertive, safe and effective plan to resolve the incident.

This scenario drew on the wide range of skills and resources that would be needed in such challenging circumstances. It was a great opportunity to test and perfect how several agencies work together.”

The incident also posed a challenge to paramedics called to the scene to treat nine ‘casualties’ in the form of actors that replicated wounds similar to those that would be experienced in real-life.

West Midlands Ambulance Service hazardous area response team manager, James Price, said: “The exercise on Friday night was a great opportunity to test our skills and joint-agency team work at a multi-vehicle collision.

“Routine exercises like this take place across the West Midlands region regularly and are important as they enable us to test our ability to deal with large scale incidents.

Thanks to Highways England and West Midlands Fire Service for organising the exercise.”

Met police to use facial recognition software at Notting Hill carnival
Police will use facial recognition software to scan the faces of tens of thousands of revellers at this year’s Notting Hill carnival even though civil liberties groups believe such an action would be discriminatory.
By Yahoo News 5 Aug, 2017, Vikram Dodd reporting
The Metropolitan police has described the planned deployment as a pilot project intended to look for suspected troublemakers to keep those attending safe.

select for full details But critics say the use of real-time biometric tracking has no basis in law and that the plan to deploy it during the carnival is institutionally racist, as it targets Britain’s main annual African-Caribbean celebration.

The Notting Hill carnival is the biggest annual public order test for the Met, attracting crowds of up to 1 million people. Police at the two-day west London event will use the facial recognition system and match faces in the crowd against databases of people they suspect will cause trouble, comparing them with images of people previously arrested or under bail conditions to keep away from the event.

Last year’s carnival led to 45 officers being assaulted and eight were spat at, requiring them to take medication in case of infection. There were also 454 arrests, the highest number in a decade.

In a statement explaining its plans, the Met said: “The technology involves the use of overt cameras which scan the faces of those passing by and flag up potential matches against a database of custody images. The database will be populated with images of individuals who are forbidden from attending carnival, as well as individuals wanted by police.”

The Met trialled the system last year, but it failed to pick out any suspects. Facial recognition technology is improving rapidly and the force believes it has the potential to provide a powerful new tool to law enforcement. Only images that come up as a match with a wanted offender will be retained by police, the Met said.

However, as the technology improves and costs come down, it may be the next big battleground between the rights of the individual and power held by the state in the name of public safety.

Martha Spurrier, the director of Liberty, said: “This intrusive biometric surveillance has no place at the Notting Hill carnival. There is no basis in law for facial recognition, no transparency around its use and we’ve had no public or parliamentary debate about whether this technology could ever be lawful in a democracy.

Highways England has launched its inaugural regional roadshow
select for full details mobile "chatty van" on tour of the east of England, allowing people to find out how they will be affected by essential maintenance over the coming year.
By P R__Week 9 Aug, 2017, Paul Bignell
The mobile visitor centre features displays and presentations about roadworks and road safety in the area.

It gives local people the chance to speak to staff who will be coming to their area to explain how they will be affected by maintenance and work delivered through the Roads Investment Strategy.

The mobile centre is set to visit at least 17 different locations by the end of this month (August).

Highways England said the idea to tour the region came after the success of a similar exhibition that engaged with the public about the new A14 Cambridge-to-Huntingdon road earlier this year.

It is an attempt by the government body to "better engage with drivers, so we can hear their comments, allay their concerns and answer any questions", according to Aran Nugent, capital delivery team leader at Highways England.

He told PRWeek: "This mobile exhibition offers us an excellent opportunity to speak to people directly within the communities we will be working in and around; to explain the work we are doing and the benefits it will bring for them, their town and this region."

Nugent added: "Our colleagues on the A14 scheme have successfully deployed a similar 'chatty van' to boost their engagement with local communities, so we are keen to build on this success to see road users in our region better informed of all our roadworks that will affect them.

"We will evaluate the success of the mobile visitor exhibition through our work with stakeholders, the number of visitors, and the feedback we get from those who came along to talk to us."

He described the scale of work planned for the region: "We will be delivering a total of £77m worth of maintenance and improvements across the East of England by March 2018 to improve safety and journeys for drivers."

This is in addition to major improvements being delivered through the Roads Investment Strategy, which will see £3bn invested in the East of England, according to the Highways England official.

select for full details Penwortham man thanks drivers who rescued him from M6 motorway ordeal
By Lancashire Post 16 Aug, 2017, Daria Neklesa reporting
A chauffeur has told how he was rescued by kind-hearted strangers after his car broke-down across two lanes of the M6. Cliff Catterall, from Penwortham was driving from a job at Manchester Airport at around 6pm on August 10 when his BMW 7 series began to suffer from a mechanical failure.

The 68-year-old tried to make his way over to the hard-shoulder but says his car "locked" before he could make it to safety.

But the self employed driver, who runs runs his company Executive Travel, was amazed when more than 20 people stopped to offer him help.

Cliff said: "I took somebody to the airport and on my way back I started to suffer from engine problems.

"I headed over to the hard shoulder but on my way the car just stopped.

It completely locked up and I was straddled across lanes one and two.

"It was an extremely busy time of day - there were cars and wagons in all the lanes.

"If you've ever been on the motorway at that time you'll know how noisy it is and there were so many cars passing - it was very frightening.

"It seemed to go on for hours but the whole thing must have only lasted around 20 mins.

"A wagon pulled up behind and protected me from being hit by passing cars.

"Another vehicle also stopped and asked me what had happened.

The driver then tied a rope to my car and dragged me over to the hard shoulder. "Highways England came out to assist and my breakdown company were out within 20 mins. They were all exceptional.

Hepatitis B vaccine to be restricted in UK owing to global shortage
Public Health England applies emergency measures to protect those at highest risk after manufacturing problems hit supply.
By Guardian News 7 Aug, 2017, Nicola Slawson reporting
The measures, which mean that only the most vulnerable will receive the vaccine while others will have to wait, are expected to continue until 2018.

select for full details Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver, which is spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids.

The risk of catching hepatitis B in the UK is very low, but the vaccine is usually offered to individuals who are at specific risk of being exposed to body fluids from an infected person.

This includes babies born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B, the sexual partners of infected individuals and a range of other groups such as men who have sex with men, healthcare workers and intravenous drug users. It is also recommended for anyone undertaking activities such as getting a tattoo overseas.

The recently announced addition of hepatitis B protection to the routine childhood immunisation programme at two, three and four months will go ahead as the combined vaccine is not affected by the shortage.

A PHE spokeswoman said: “The manufacturers are getting more stock in but there has been an issue for a while so that’s why we have put this prioritisation guidance into place. We know that the Hepatitis B vaccine takes a long time and is quite difficult to manufacture.

“We will make sure those who really need the vaccine will get it, and those who are less at risk should get it at a later date. It’s important to note that we are a very low risk country for hepatitis B, and the most at risk group are babies.

“The most common route of transmission is when a baby is born to a mother who has it but the paediatric vaccine is not affected by the shortage.”

Individuals can reduce their risk of contracting hepatitis B by avoiding unprotected sex and injecting drugs, by not sharing needles when injecting, by avoiding having tattoos, piercings or acupuncture when overseas and by avoiding medical or dental care in high-prevalence countries.

The spokeswoman said: “We think there will be shortages until early 2018 so we are urging people to make sure they are taking the right precautions while the shortage is ongoing.”

select for full details Man jailed for life for setting fire to busy Clapham gay bar a second time
A man has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar for the second time.
By Evening Standard 7 Aug, 2017, Tom Powell reporting
Jason Fossett, of Norwood, piled rubbish against the fire exit of the Two Brewers in Clapham before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court – saying he could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

Fossett was seen by the pub’s manager loitering outside in the alleyway moments before the fire was started.

The fire was spotted in its early stages, which prevented further damage to the pub and potential injuries.

The arsonist was then traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, as well as a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack.

Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

PC Paul Waterman said: "Fossett is clearly a dangerous character who deliberately went out of his way to set fire to the bar in a carefully calculated attack. "It was sheer luck that the fire was spotted in its early stages to prevent any further damage or anyone sustaining any injuries.

"By working with my colleagues in Lambeth CID and with the cooperation and assistance of staff from the Two Brewers, we ensured that Fossett was brought to justice and has been put behind bars.

"I hope Fossett uses his time behind bars to reflect o

select for full details Mother-of-two jailed for leading police on 120mph car chase
a speeding motorist has been jailed after leading police on a car chase where she exceeded 120mph, with the judge branding it as the worst case of dangerous driving he had ever seen.
By Daily Telegraph 4 Aug, 2017
Megan Nolan, 24, hit the high speeds on the motorway in order to evade capture, and only stopped when her VW Scirocco car engine blew.

The mother-of-two from Wythenshawe, Manchester, was jailed for a year after a judge at Manchester Crown Court told her it was the worst he had seen in his 15 year career.

Judge Martin Rudland told the uninsured driver that her driving was "selfish and ludicrous", and to not send her to custody would be "wildly wrong".

Nolan, who planned to take a job as a teaching assistant in September, had been out drinking with friends in Bury on June 4 this year before making her way home at around 1am, where her speeding caught the attention of a Greater Manchester Police patrol on the M60 who gave chase to the vehicle.

The vehicle lost her after she ploughed through two red lights into oncoming traffic, but a second police patrol caught up to her again rejoining the motorway, and made attempts to get her to stop.

She had pleaded guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving and driving without insurance.

In CCTV played to the court, Nolan's black 16 plate Volkswagen can be seen weaving between the light traffic on the motorway, before coming off at Wythenshawe and leading the police round residential areas at speeds exceeding 70mph.

She ran multiple red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road before her engine began smoking and she had no option but to abandon her vehicle after over 20 minutes of police pursuit.

When watching the footage back, Nolan had her head in her hands and began to cry, looking at her mother who was in the public gallery.

Prosecuting, Andrew Mackintosh, told the court: "The dangerous driving was caught on CCTV and there is two sections of footage from two separate police cars.

"The first spotted a car driving on the M60 at 1.15am on the morning of Sunday the 4 June this year.

select for full details People who need the police are giving up calling 101 because of waits of up to THREE HOURS
Nearly a QUARTER of all calls to the 101 police line in Greater Manchester were abandoned in June, with callers waiting an average of more than 12 minutes before giving up
By Jennifer Williams 31 Jul, 2017
Frustrated members of the public are spending up to three and three-quarter hours waiting for 101 police calls to be answered.

Nearly one in four calls transferred to the number last month were abandoned as the service struggles to keep up with demand.

Councillors are now warning that residents have given up reporting anti-social behaviour and suspected hate crime after finding they can’t get through on the number, which is designed to be a less urgent alternative to 999.

Police have admitted the delays, the scale of which has been revealed by a Manchester Evening News Freedom of Information request, are partly due to short-staffing.

The FOI reveals that while the overall number of calls transferred to the service’s call handlers in June - 66,537 - was actually slightly down on May, a massive 23pc of them were abandoned, up from 17pc the month before.

Callers waited an average 12 minutes and 7 seconds before giving up, but the most determined caller held on for just over three and three quarter hours.

Higher Blackley councillor John Farrell said his constituents had increasingly given up reporting a spate of low-level incidents around Victoria Avenue and Rochdale Road - including teenagers throwing coins at cars and people being intimidated by gangs in Plant Hill park.

But he said the problem had become self-fulfilling, since the police would only send extra officers if the number of reported incidents showed they were needed.

“We’ve been having particular issues with anti social behaviour and off-road biking and we are constantly told by the police that the scarce resources they have are based on reported crime, which means people telling 101,” he said.

“The only way we are going to get the extra officers in our area is if the reported crime in our area shows up as needing it.

“But people keep telling us they are not ringing it anymore because they have given up on getting through or anything happening if they do.”

He said that if GMP wanted people to use 101, they would now face a ‘massive confidence building issue’ to get people using it again.

One member of the public contacted the M.E.N. to tell how she had witnessed what she thought was a theft from a homeless person in the city centre. However she wasn’t sure quite what had happened - and since the woman appeared to know the ma

select for full details PCSO reported her police officer colleague over alleged aftershave theft
Gail Starr denies having 'grudge' with PC Mohammed Larbi Lachiri who is accused of stealing a £72 bottle of Giorgio Armani from Llandudno
By Gareth WYN-WILLIAMS 20 Jul, 2017
A PCSO who reported a police officer, accused of stealing aftershave, has denied claims she was motivated by a personal grudge.

PC Mohammed Larbi Lachiri is alleged to have stolen a a £72 bottle of Giorgio Armani from Debenham’s in Llandudno.

Lachiri, 49, of Graham Avenue, Prestatyn, who is standing trial at Caernarfon, does not deny walking out of the store with the item, but says he did so without realising, blaming “personal stresses” at the time and that he’d “forgot” he still had the aftershave in his hand.

The alleged theft took place on December 14 and was initially being treated as a civil matter by the store and had not been reported to the police, the court heard.

But Gail Starr, a serving police community support officer, referred the matter to her employers on December 18 after identifying Lachiri from CCTV footage during a routine visit to the store.

Ms Starr told the court that she was asked by Debenhams’ loss prevention supervisor, Daniel Welland, to review the footage.

Both already knew each other due to Welland’s previous stint as a special constable.

The jury also heard that Ms Starr had been Lachiri’s landlord for around nine and a half years but were in dispute over unpaid rent at the time of the incident, with her having already reported the dispute to her supervisors.

She denied suggestions by Lachiri’s defence, that she had acted inappropriately in reporting the alleged theft, insisting it was her “professional duty” to do so.

Ms Starr also denied being aware that Debenhams had treated the incident as a civil matter.

The court heard that Lachiri had signed an agreement with Debenhams staff that he would not return to the store or Llandudno Park for an indefinite period of time.

CCTV footage of the incident was played in court.

select for full details Inside a prison riot: Fridges, beds and pool balls turned into missiles as inmates take over jail wings
Prison officers are having to deal with more riots taking place across the country as inmates are getting smarter - hiding themselves from cameras - and more confident they can gain control over a diminished work force
By Claire Carter 4 Aug, 2017
As the shout of "flak" rings out, snooker balls, doors and parts of dismantled bed frames scream through the air towards them.

Underfoot the floor has been covered with fairy liquid and cooking oil, making it impossible to stay upright as makeshift barricades of pool tables and doors block their path.

And as they clamber towards a hooded prison officer being beaten by inmates, prisoners start to rain down a volley of blows on their heads and bodies, unleashing vicious kicks.

This is the job of a tornado response prison officer - trained to bring rioting prisoners under control as they completely take over wings and aim to smash up everything in their path.

Some responses can take up to eight hours, as prison officers desperately try to regain control from dozens of prisoners intent on destroying everything in sight.

Dave Todd is a tornado trained prison officer. He has attended numerous riots up and down the country. He has been punched, kicked, had pool balls and doors thrown at him and had to wrestle with prisoners to get them under control.

"Prisoners in that situation will often not want to stand toe to toe with you," said Dave. They will have weapons they can use at length, they will have bed frames they will try to stab you with and they will throw long metal bars at you.

"They will often throw lots and lots of pool balls. When things are flying at us we shout 'flak' to warn each other.

"It is scary."

This week tornado officers were called to several prisons because of rioting inmates as the Prison Governors Association has warned of a "complete decline" in UK jails.

Riots broke out on two days running at the Mount in Hertfordshire as inmates smashed windows and were seen with weapons. The category C mens prison has reportedly struggled with staff shortages. Disturbances also erupted at Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire where one prison officer reportedly suffered a broken jaw .

In his 26 years as a prison officer, Dave has noticed the number of riots increase and fewer be resolved by negotiation - a factor he predicts will only get worse as the prison service continues to be squeezed and prisons understaffed.

"I think more riots are likely. The prisoners know if they want to take a wing they can. There could be six prison officers with a wing of 160 prisoners. If you are not offering a full regime the prisoners get fed up with spending too much time in their cells, not getting education or work. Then they riot.

select for full details Sturgeon officially opens £500m central Scotland motorway project
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially opened the £500m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project, which the Scottish Government says is saving motorists up to 20 minutes on journey times.
By Highways Magazine 17 Aug, 2017
The project, including the new seven-mile stretch of the M8 motorway, aims to tackle congestion problems in central Scotland.

All roads under the project were opened to traffic in the spring, albeit with some finishing and snagging works due to be completed next month.

Transport Scotland said its analysis shows that journey times are significantly improved, with vehicles now travelling along the M8 at an average speed of almost 70mph, even during the busiest periods.

It said improved road safety through the reduction of traffic on local roads is set to result in a predicted cut of more than 100 accidents per year, and accident savings of more than £118m over a 30-year period.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The M8 is a vital link in the central belt and this newly completed section will help connect people to business, leisure and education opportunities and also creates a better environment for companies to do business.

‘Businesses are already reporting a journey time saving of up to 20 minutes travel between Scotland’s biggest cities and a similar saving for those using Raith junction.

These improvements and additional road capacity will ensure our economy has room to grow.

‘With the completion of this project, and three others others – the Queensferry Crossing, the first section of the A9 dualling and the Aberdeen bypass – by next spring, more than 250km of new roads will have been completed in the last 10 years – representing a total investment in construction of £2.81bn.’ Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Congratulations to Transport Scotland and its partners for delivering such an extensive project which will have a huge, lasting impact for travel across the country and beyond.’

select for full details Prisons in crisis due to ‘perverse’ government overhaul
President of Prison Governors Association says members have been left devastated at decline of their service
By Nadia Khomami 2 Aug, 2017
The president of the Prison Governors Association (PGA) has said prisons in England and Wales are in crisis due to a “perverse” government overhaul and a “toxic mix” of pressures.

In an open letter published as riot officers were called to a prison for a second day, Andrea Albutt launched a scathing attack on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), saying the PGA had been left “devastated at the complete decline of our service” and that the recent increase in indiscipline among prisoners was of grave concern.

The government has said it has taken immediate action to increase prison officer numbers, while creating a body to drive through its set of changes.

However, Albutt said governors had told her that they had seen nothing tangible come from the MoJ to ease the burden on prisons, leaving governors facing “unacceptable stress and anxiety”.

“We know many prisons are in crisis and I deliberately use that term, because it can’t be dressed up in any other way,” she said.

The governor warned that an unforeseen rise in prisoners had left the estate with “virtually no headroom” in spaces, while seasonal pressures were adding strain to limited staffing levels.

Data released last week by the MoJ showed there were 26,643 assaults in prisons in the year to March, including a record 7,159 attacks on staff, equating to 20 a day.

Specialist teams were called into HMP The Mount in Hertfordshire, which has struggled with severe staff shortages, two days in a row after prisoners reportedly seized control of part of a wing, while there was an incident at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire involving prisoners.

select for full details Government orders crackdown on car and van hire rentals
Ministers have expressed concern at how easily extremists can hire vans and cars in the wake of the Barcelona attack
By Jonathan Mitchell 20 Aug, 2017
British drivers will face extra checks when renting cars and vans to ensure they are not extremists in the wake of string of deadly terror attacks using vehicles.

Ministers are ordering the crackdown amid growing concern over how easily extremists are renting vehicles and using them to mow down pedestrians in attacks.

It comes after 14 people were killed when terrorists ploughed into passersby in Barcelona and seaside town of Cambrils on Thursday.

This year in the UK, vehicles have been at the centre of deadly attacks on Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park. The incidents sparked suggestions van rental could be subject to more stringent checks, while officers appealed for vehicle hire and haulage firms with suspicions about rental attempts to come forward.

Ministers are proposing rental companies share drivers' data with the Government so it could be checked against a terror watch list before a vehicle is released for hire.

Toby Poston, director of external relations at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), told the Sunday Telegraph: "The industry is looking at ways to share data with the authorities in as real time as possible so it can be cross-referenced with counter-terrorism watch lists."

A Government spokeswoman confirmed that the Department for Transport is working with the police and the vehicle rental industry to look at tightening up regulations.

"The threat from terrorism is changing and so must our response," she said. "That is why we are reviewing our counter-terrorism strategy and powers and why we have ploughed extra resources into counter-terrorism.

"The Department for Transport is also working with the police and the vehicle rental industry to explore what more can be done to prevent the malicious use of hire vehicles.

"This includes looking at what more rental companies could do before an individual can hire a vehicle."

The potential for large vehicles to inflict mass casualties was laid bare in horrifying fashion in July last year when a lorry drove through crowds gathered to celebrate Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores of others.

select for full details Shocking high-speed RAMMING battle between takeaway robbers and police

both try to smash each other off the road - leaving the officers' car 'out of the game'

By Liz Dunphy 16 Aug, 2017

A shocking, high-speed ramming battle between criminals fleeing a pizza takeaway robbery and police was filmed as both try to smash each other off the road - leaving the officers' car 'out of the game.'

The raiders, in a stolen Audi RS6 raced through narrow streets in Chemsley Wood near Birmingham Airport as they were pursued by tenacious motorway police in a BMW.

The dramatic footage was captured by an officer's dash cam, the Birmingham Mail reports. During the chase, the Audi suddenly stopped and it appeared that the gang would co-operate with police.

But instead the driver reversed at speed and rammed the police car, crushing the bonnet and smashing both lights.

Another police car and the rammed vehicle chased the gang but the criminal's car stops and rams the police vehicles violently again, sending clouds of fumes and dust into the air.

'We've been rammed, get the helicoptrer and the dog please,' an officer in the rammed police vehicle says as he radios for back-up.

During the chase that followed, police attempted to perform a 'tactical contact technique' to to disable the gang's car.

But the fleeing criminals responded by ramming the police vehicle again.

The vehicles smashed into each other violently as they chased along beside each other before the police vehicle pulled over because their car was a 'write off'.

The gang initially escaped the chase and police helicopter crew and dog handlers joined the search for them.

The getaway car was abandoned in Clent Way, Bartley Green, where Simon Phillips, 38, and 33-year-old Terry McMahon were found by officers hiding in a hedge.

Adrian Peach, 29, and 38-year-old Dennis Carr were seen hiding in the foyer of a block of flats and arrested in nearby Bucknall Crescent.

An angle grinder was found in the Audi and clothes used during the raid found dumped in the flats’ communal entrance.

All four admitted conspiracy to commit burglary.

The four escapees were jailed for a total of almost 30 years.

Undercover police officers on bikes deployed on London's roads to catch motorists endangering cyclists
Plain clothes officers wearing video cameras will be sent out to accident black spots in a bid to crackdown on drivers who drive too close to cyclists or cut them up.
select for full details By Hatty Collier 22 Jul, 2017
Scotland Yard has launched the programme to focus on motorists driving dangerously but will also pull up cyclists who misbehave, with one senior officer warning: “We can’t be everywhere, but we could be anywhere.”

The Met said: “Cycle Safety Team officers from the Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command will go to any location, at any time, on any borough, based on intelligence and complaints, to ensure drivers properly obey the rules of the road.”

The officers, riding unmarked bikes donated by BMW, will target three common driving offences including tailgating cyclists, turning across their path and unsafe overtaking or close passes.

“If officers encounter a driver committing any of these offences, they will identify them to a nearby, marked police motorcycle rider who will stop and engage with them,” the Met added.

“In line with any police roadside stop, the driver will be required to provide evidence of insurance, a driving licence, pass a roadside eyesight test and have their vehicle checked for roadworthiness.”

The driver will be reminded of the Highway Code rules regarding the offences and professional drivers will be reported and may have to appear in court, as will motorists guilty of “particularly bad driving”.

Sergeant Andy Osborne, Cycle Safety Team, said: "We want all road users to obey the Highway Code. This tactic is about education and encouraging motorists who do not comply with the rules of the road to start doing so - for everyone's safety and protection - theirs included.

These men from Basildon led cops on a high speed chase after refusing to stop in Brentwood
Nicholas Tshibangu and Shakeem Brissett, both from Basildon, were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday (August 15).
By Essex Chronicle 17 Aug, 2017
Two men have been jailed after speeding away from police officers on the M25 at Brentwood and leading them on a high speed pursuit.

select for full details Police had signalled for the men to pull over when they sped away.

Tshibangu, 22, was found guilty of dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, possession of cocaine and perverting the course of justice by giving a fake name and address. He was jailed for 16 months, disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to take an extended re-test.

Brissett, 21, was found guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was jailed for four and half years.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Jack Etheridge, of Operation Raptor West, said : "Even in custody Tshibangu believed he could fool police by giving incorrect details – he thought wrong.

"Further checks revealed he was disqualified from driving and was in possession of cocaine."

Officers were in patrol of the M25 in Brentwood at around 1pm on Thursday, May 23, when they signalled to a green Ford Focus to pull over.

Ignoring this, the car sped off, weaving in between lanes with police in pursuit.

The vehicle was then abandoned on the M11 slip road with both men running off towards Hobbs Cross.

Brissett was found dumping a number of items including more than a kilo's worth of sealed crack cocaine into a stream while Tshibangu was found hiding on a porch.

Both men were arrested at the scene and brought into police custody before Tshibangu gave fake credentials.

DC Ehteridge added: "Tshibangu and Brissett went to extreme lengths to avoid arrest by driving dangerously at speed along a busy motorway.

"They abandoned their vehicle and ran off before trying to hide and dump their possessions.

"If you deal drugs in our county it will only be a matter of time before we find you and bring you to justice - Tshibangu and Brissett thought they could avoid justice and now they've been locked in a prison cell."

select for full details Policing is not in danger of breaking
It is broke. I fear permanently broke.
By Ben Lacey 20 Jul, 2017
Ask most members of the public about the police and the answer is the same. It is an irrelevance. It is a reporting agency. Somewhere to go to get a number for an insurance claim. It is a waste of time calling them if you are being assaulted, stolen from or conned. The best you can hope for is that eventually some disinterested and unsmiling uniform will attend and take details. And, these enraged members of the public will add, 'we are paying through the nose for this ‘service’.

I have heard many people talk of employing local security companies to patrol their streets. That way, at least, they will have some protection. Who can blame them?

One of the most important cornerstones of policing has been to deal with prevention. To deal with the fear of crime. The police officer walking the beat. The police station in every community. The police officer arriving promptly to a call. The problem with prevention is that to the eyes of profiteers it is an expensive luxury. To these people, living in crime free environments, having to pay to cite a police station in some urban morass is totally unfair. Why should they have to pay for the sense of security of others. In a government made up of such people; In a government that is shoehorned by such people, it was always inevitable that policing would lose this cornerstone in their bid to cut public expenditure.

There are many who quite rightly point out that it was not only this current government that has attacked the police. That is true. The Labour government has done its fair share in messing with law enforcement. But it is this conservative government that has done the fatal damage we see today. They have been quite clinical in their actions. A continuous attack on the service by a tame and partnered press. A contortion of the facts as regards crime figures and skewed reporting. And of course, a continuous line of placid head nodding senior officers, who have not only failed to stand up for the service, but have actively stopped others from doing so. This government has done a very effective hatchet job on what was once a proud public service.

But they are not done yet. The end goal is to privatise most of the police service. And we can expect little in the shape of support from the public in combatting this. They have grown weary and disappointed in their police, or rather lack of police. To them the assurance of a uniform patrolling their streets like the good old days is quite a tempting offer. The fact that some company makes a profit out of that service matters little. At the end of the day they get back that sense that someone is dealing with their fear of crime.

But what about those areas where profit margins would not make financial sense to these money types? What about the crime riddled inner cities? Well companies won’t bid for such areas. A bit like certain private enterprises have done with their foray into the NHS. Only focusing on the profitable at the expense of the unprofitable. But of course when you have such powerful bedfellows in the media working with your government, all you have to do is skew the reporting and any crime will simply cease to exist to those outside of these areas. The only people who will know the true story will be those trying to exist within it.

I say that most of the police will be privatised. Some aspects of the service will be kept under the direct control of the Government. These will be responsible for enforcing the government’s will. In some respects, I am more concerned about this than anything else.

That is all……

select for full details Two jailed after snatching £40k of mobiles from phone shop during machete and sledge hammer raid
Jack Thompson and Kyle Meighan struck at the store in Bury New Road, Sedgley Park, Prestwich
By Neal Keeling 1 Aug, 2017
two raiders who robbed a phone shop armed with a machete and sledge hammer have been jailed.

Jack Thompson and Kyle Meighan struck at the store in Bury New Road, Sedgley Park, Prestwich, forcing terrified staff to empty a stockroom before fleeing with £40,000 worth of mobile phones

At Manchester Minsull Street Crown Court, Thompson, 20, of Bradley Avenue, Salford, was jailed for six years four months.

Meighan, 22, of Chancel Avenue, Salford, was sentenced to five years four months. Both had pleaded guilty to robbery.

Meighan, who covered his face with a red motorcycle helmet was armed with a sledge hammer, whilst Thompson was wearing a balaclava and was armed with a machete.

After the raid they got in to a red Ford Focus Estate, which they had parked on Vine Street, Prestwich before driving away.

Further enquires led police to Cowling Street, Salford, where they recovered the getaway car along with clothes and weapons used during the robbery.

Officers then attended an address on Kersal Hall Avenue where the stolen phones were recovered.

Robert O’Brien from GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “These men terrified innocent shoppers and staff who were just going about their daily business.

select for full details NHS payout over Peter Franklin M20 bridge-jump death
The widow of a mentally-ill man who killed himself after asking for help five times in one day, has received a £20,000 payout from two NHS trusts.
By BBC NEWS (KENT) 16 Aug, 2017
Peter Franklin attended A&E five times on 19 August 2013 but was sent home. He then jumped off a motorway bridge.

Lawyers said he also sought help twice that day from mental health teams.

Mr Franklin died "in a state of despair". Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS, and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership have both apologised.

A lawyer for the family, Nick Fairweather, said the case had been settled and both trusts had admitted failings.

Mr Franklin's widow, Lynne Franklin, of Meopham, said she now wanted to campaign in her husband's name and memory to improve mental health provision.

She has called for a psychiatric liaison officer to be made available at all A&E units to help the emergency services and anyone who presents with mental illness.

Mrs Franklin said she believed that had such an officer been in place to help her husband, who died aged 67, he would still be alive today.

Instead he jumped off a bridge on to the M20 in Kent.

His daughter, Katie Franklin, said the family's pain would never go away.

"I had a conversation with my sister the other day and I said, 'You guys are so lucky you've had your dad walk you down the aisle.

"'You've had your dad see your children, his grandchildren, be born and grow up a little bit. That's all been ripped away from me.'"

select for full details Drug dealer read hundreds of books in jail to learn how to carry out £1m tax scam
Mubbashir Alam Aslam swotted up on business from behind bars after being sent down for dealing heroin
By Andrew Bardsley 1 Aug, 2017
A drug dealer who read hundreds of books in jail to learn how to carry out an elaborate £1m tax scam has been ordered to pay back nearly £400,000 of his ill-gotten gains.

Mubbashir Alam Aslam swotted up on business from behind bars after being sent down for dealing heroin.

Days after he was released, the 42-year-old set up fake clothing companies and began cheating HM Revenue and Customs out of VAT refunds with fake receipts.

Aslam, who set up six bogus businesses, spent the cash extravagantly on drugs and gambling at casinos.

He was caged for five years in 2014 following a probe into the scam.

Aslam, recently released from prison, has now been told he must pay back £398,214 he has stashed in various bank accounts.

A Manchester Crown Court Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was told he benefited from his criminality to the tune of £1,053,586.

Aslam, of Maldon Street, Rochdale , has three months to pay back the sum, or he'll be sent back to prison for four years, Judge Jinder Singh Boora ruled.

The court heard he read ‘hundreds of books on business’ while serving time for drug dealing.

On his release, in 2007, he started setting up fake companies.

He recruited two girlfriends to front his bogus enterprises and stole the identities of friends - including his own brother-in-law - appointing them as directors without their knowledge.

select for full details Scottish Liberal Democrats offer Scottish Government support to end short prison sentences
The Lib Dem commitment follows calls by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang for more use of community sentences
By Jenni Davidson 1 Aug, 2017
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have offered the Scottish Government their support to put an end short prison sentences of less than 12 months.

Party leader Willie Rennie promised his party would give the Scottish Government a majority should it bring forward legislation to abolish short-term prison sentences.

Rennie criticised the SNP for “sitting on their hands” following a government consultation on short-term prison sentences nearly two years ago and he called on the Scottish Government to end “the pointless punitive approach” that sees offenders locked up for short periods.

The Lib Dem commitment comes after HM Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang called for an end to short jail sentences because they don’t prevent reoffending.

Strang told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Sunday: “I think we are locking up too many people in prison in Scotland…

“The evidence is very clear that if you’re wanting to reduce crime, then you don’t send people to prison for a short time.”

Strang pointed out that there is a high rate of reoffending following short prison terms of less than 12 months, with over half of those reconvicted within one year of release.

He added: “I would have though one purpose of the criminal justice system is to prevent future crimes, to reduce reoffending, and the evidence is very clear that if you send someone to prison, then the damage that that does leads to them reoffending more than if you had given them an alternative sentence by the court.

“So I think we should be doing much more in the way of community sentences, community disposals, whether a fine, whether a community payback order, where someone is repairing some of the damage that they’re done and making a positive contribution to the community that they’ve come from.”

Following Strang’s comments, Rennie said that the Liberal Democrats had always stood for “progressive and sensible penal reform”.

There would always be some for whom prison is the only option, he said, and there should be “meaningful training and education” for them as well as support when they are released, which would represent “a good start” towards “long overdue penal reform”.

However, Rennie also pointed out that four prisons in Scotland were running at over 100 per cent occupancy in 2016 and a third of people behind bars are on short term sentences.

“The Scottish Government launched a consultation over a year ago to explore options to strengthen the presumption against short term sentences and despite bodies such as HMIPS supporting the end to the practice the SNP are sitting on their hands,” he said.

“It is time to end the pointless punitive approach and be led by what works for offenders and communities, bringing our justice system firmly into the 21st century.”

With the Lib Dem support, there is a clear majority in the Scottish Parliament in favour of abolishing short-term sentences.

In their manifesto for last year’s Scottish Parliament election, the Greens also promised to get rid of prison sentences of less than 12 months, while Labour had called for a limit on sentences below six months.

Sally West was assaulted while doing her job in Skegness
Outrage as policewoman is assaulted as she makes arrest, onlookers film incident but don't step in to help
By Paul Whitelam 19 Jul, 2017
A police officer was assaulted as she arrested a street drinker in Skegness - and onlookers filmed the incident but did not step in to help her.

Community Beat Manager Sally West said people "stood by watching and filming" while she dealt with the incident, which happened at or before Tuesday, July 18.

She posted this on Twitter at about 1pm on Tuesday, July 18: "Been assaulted whilst arresting drunk and disorderly. People just stood by watching and filming!! #dissapointed##+"

The incident came as officers enforced a dispersal order running in Skegness that allows them to move on drinkers and trouble-makers for a set period.

The bobby said she was not badly hurt in the incident - she later said: "Thanks for concerns. Nothing serious thankfully" - but there has been a shocked reaction to the incident.

Acting Chief Inspector Colin Haigh took to Twitter to say he was disappointed at the lack of assistance from the public during the assault in Lumley Square.

He tweeted: "Tackling crime and ASB is a police/community partnership. I'm disappointed people chose to film rather than help an officer in trouble."

Police in Skegness are using dispersal orders in the town to move on street drinkers following complaints from traders and residents.

The Mayor of Skegness, Councillor Danny Brookes, said: "I am really pleased that the police are taking a stand against street drinkers.

"More and more are coming to Skegness and it's not good for a holiday town.

"But to assault a police officer, man or woman, who is trying to make it a better place, is disgraceful.

"I'm absolutely disgusted that when there's someone in trouble like this police officer, people filmed what was happening rather than help her.

"They should hang their heads in shame."

Barry Robinson, 59, who runs the Lite Bites Cafe, in Roman Bank, Skegness, said: "The police have a job to do"

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