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M6 toll 'pay-as-you-go' motorway 10th anniversary
I T V   9 DEC 2013
It is 10 years since the opening of the M6 toll 'pay-as-you-go' motorway.

When the road first opened to drivers on December 9 2003 it cost £3.00 to travel the 27-mile route. In 2013, it now costs motorists travelling in cars £5.50 to use the M6 toll.

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Coach crash prevention system tracks drivers' eyes
Leo Kelion   10 DEC 2013
select for full details Coach drivers' eye movements and blinks are to be tracked by computers as part of a test to see whether the tech could be used to prevent accidents on long distance trips.

Five firms have each fitted the product to two coaches as part of a trial taking place across continental Europe.

Seeing Machines' Fatigue Monitoring System is already used by miners.

However, one expert cautioned it was unclear whether it would improve safety in the coach industry.

The Australian firm's product uses special cameras installed inside a vehicle to monitor the driver's gaze.

If it detects they are distracted or taking "microsleeps" - naps that can last less than a second and take place without the person's knowledge - it activates a vibration motor built into their seat.

In addition it triggers an alarm in the co-driver's sleeping compartment to alert them to the fact they should take over control of the vehicle.

The patented technology uses invisible infrared light to detect the driver's eyes in the dark without distracting them, and can be used even if they are wearing glasses

"Coach accidents aren't that frequent, but when they do happen they are so catastrophic that they make the [newspaper] front pages and in a lot of cases it is almost the end of the coach company involved as no-one wants to ride with them anymore," Ken Kroeger told the BBC.

"The way the technology works is that it tracks your head position and your eye aperture.

"If you turn your head beyond a certain angle for a specified duration while moving over a certain speed, it will remind you your eyes should be on the road.

"Then for fatigue it looks at the frequency of blinking, the velocity of the eyelid when it's opening and the duration of the eye closure to determine if it's a microsleep."

Seeing Machines has teamed up with the coach operator Royal Beuk to hold the trial.

The Dutch firm has installed the tech on two of its vehicles and has recruited a further four coach firms to do likewise.

Over the winter months the vehicles will travel from the Netherlands to ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Then, in the summer, they will travel to southern parts of France, Italy and Spain


PCSOs soon able to fine cyclists without lights *or* reflectors
Carlton Reid on Bike Biz 10 DEC 2013
Lords pass Bill giving police community support officers new powers to fine cyclists. Gov't amendment expands powers even further.

A new clause inserted by the Government into the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill will give police community support officers (PCSOs) in England and Wales expansive new powers to stop and fine cyclists who do not have lights on their bikes. But not just lights. PCSOs will also be able to stop and fine cyclists if they don't have reflectors on their bicycles, including on the pedals. Clipless pedals don't have reflectors fitted to them, but to be street legal all bicycles used at night will need to have a rear reflector and two reflectors on each pedal.

PCSOs will also get new powers to give out on-the-spot fines to cyclists having more than one person on a bike; cyclists who fail to comply with traffic directions; and cyclists who blow reds. PCSOs will also be able to fine drivers parking in school zones and other motoring offences.

While the Government seems unable to do much to protect cyclists' safety on the roads with legislation that would actually make a difference it has spent time on a clause that could be used to harass cyclists who may be highly visible, with hundreds of pounds worth of lights but who don't have pedal reflectors worth pennies.


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Staffordshire Police to recruit eight PCSOs
The Sentinel 9 DEC 2013
STAFFORDSHIRE Police is recruiting eight new Police Community Support Officers.

The force is looking for applicants to join local policing teams across the county as PCSOs.

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: "I want the very best people to join us in serving the communities and we have created an online application process to help us find the very best candidates.

"The PCSO is very much part of the force family and their work is really valued by both the communities they serve and the police officers they work closely with.

"The role of a PCSO can be challenging but also very rewarding and I'm looking for people with a real passion for working with people and who have the determination to deliver the very best service."

Anyone wishing to apply should go to the force's website to complete the online application process before midday on December 20.

Mr Cunningham added: "We have some challenging questions in the online process to help us select those suitable to progress to interview, so it's important those interested take the time to answer the questions fully."


Plymouth passengers in dramatic coach crash on motorway
Plymouth Herald   9 DEC 2013
select for full details A PASSENGER has praised the actions of an “heroic” bus driver who brought a coach to a safe stop when it was involved in a motorway crash.

Retired Sid Myers, from Staddiscombe, was travelling on the National Express service from London to Plymouth yesterday evening when the crash happened.

The bus, operated by Roselyn Coaches, collided with a car on the M4 westbound, around 11 miles past Bristol.

Mr Myers said: “We left Victoria at around 4pm, I was sat on the back of the coach in the centre.

“We were well into the journey so everyone was quite dozy or gazing out the window.

“We were in the central lane and there was a sudden bang to the front of the coach.

“The coach went off to the left, then righted itself and went back to the centre.

“We seemed to swerve across all three lanes at this point.

“The driver was fighting like mad and he did a fantastic job to control the vehicle - the bus felt like it was going to tip at one point.”

The bus came to a stop on the hard shoulder, but a car was jammed between the coach and a crash barrier.

Mr Myers said: “The driver was very shaken up, apparently the car had changed lanes and hit the front of the bus.

“Shaken passengers were taken off and stood for a short while at the side.

“Police and ambulance soon arrived and passengers got back on the stationary coach for an hour and a half until another vehicle arrived.

“We were taken to Exeter and then onto yet another coach, arriving in Plymouth two and a half hours late.

“But thankfully there were no injuries, apart from shock.”


TV psychic Derek Acorah charged with careless driving
Adam Withnall   9 DEC 2013
select for full details The TV psychic Derek Acorah has been charged with careless driving and failing to complete a breathalyser test after his red Nissan sports car crashed into a Ford KA.

The 63-year-old medium, best known for starring in the Living TV show Most Haunted, has been bailed after the incident at 6.15pm in Southport, Merseyside, on Saturday.

Two other people involved in the crash, the 52-year-old female driver of the KA and her 21-year-old male passenger, were taken to hospital with what were described as “whiplash-type” injuries.

The driver told the Mirror: “We were traveling at around 30mph and it felt like we were hit head on. The car spun round about 45 degrees.

“Fortunately we were not seriously injured but we felt really shook up.

“As soon as he got out of the car I recognised Derek Acorah and then other drivers who had seen the crash came over to try and help.”

Merseyside Police said Mr Acorah had been charged under his real name, Derek Johnson. A spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: “Derek Johnson, aged 63, from Scarisbrick, Southport has been charged with careless driving and failing to supply a specimen of breath for analysis.”

He has been released on bail and is due to appear at Sefton Magistrates Court on 30 December.

Most Haunted made headlines in March this year when an episode shown at teatime was found to have breached Ofcom’s broadcasting code. The episode included Mr Acorah being “possessed” by a child said to have been whipped and a woman the show claimed was responsible for the death of a child.

The programme claimed to carry out a live séance with Michael Jackson in 2009 – and was subsequently voted the worst TV show of that year in a poll of more than 9,000 viewers.


Free Training For Motorway Driving
h e a r t   2 DEC 2013
select for full details Somerset Road Safety is offering free, 90 minute motorway lessons, targeted at newly qualified drivers between the ages of 17 and 24.

‘Up to Speed’ is Somerset Road Safety’s latest innovative project and is aimed at making newly qualified drivers safer on the motorway.

Learners are not allowed to drive on the motorway, meaning that newly qualified drivers often lack the knowledge and experience of motorway driving when they first pass their test.

Drivers must attend a free, hour-long workshop prior to the practical lesson to learn the rules of motorway.

Drivers will then be accompanied by an approved driving instructor for a 90 minute practical driving lesson on the motorway covering joining the motorway, overtaking manoeuvres, lane discipline, approaching a junction and leaving the motorway.

Cabinet Member Harvey Siggs, said:

“Driving on the motorway can be a daunting experience and this is a fantastic opportunity for newly qualified drivers to learn the fundamentals of motorway driving and build confidence with an approved driving instructor by their side..

I would encourage all drivers that qualify for this course to book themselves on to it to increase their knowledge and experience”.

Terry Beale, Manger of Somerset Road Safety, said:

“The current regulations prohibit learner drivers from gaining valuable experience on major high speed roads. Our aim is to give young drivers additional skills to drive on the motorway safely. This course will go some way to giving them the confidence and experience to avoid the dangers of driving on high speed roads.”

To book your place visit: www.somersetroadsafety.org


Review raises questions over Gwent Police's fall in crime
Jonathan Evans 10 DEC 2013
select for full details An internal review into Gwent Police's crime figures found half of the 50 incidents it looked at were incorrectly recorded by officers.

The enquiry was ordered after police and crime commissioner, Ian Johnston, accused former chief constable Carmel Napier of manipulating the force’s crime figures.

The claim came after Gwent Police recorded the largest fall in crime in England and Wales for the year 2011-12.

Mrs Napier, who controversially quit in June after an order from Mr Johnston to ‘retire or be removed’, has denied the claims.

A spokesman for Gwent Police said steps are now being taken "to improve the ease by which officers can gain access to the guidance they need" - but admitted up to half of incidents looked at during the review period had not been recorded in line with Home Office regulations.

The internal review was published this week and will be put to members of the police and crime panel on Friday.Despite stating that some crimes haven’t been recorded correctly, the review adds that people ‘can have confidence in Gwent Police’s crime figures’.

The report says: “There was no evidence of widespread or overt desire not to record incidents as crimes.

“However, there was evidence to show that officers had not recorded all crimes in line with the relevant Home Office counting rules (HOCR).

“The reasons for this primarily revolved around misinterpretations of the rules as well as a desire to support the wishes of the victim.

“Given the importance of the HOCR and their interpretation, they should be more prominently available with interpretations and guidance clearly visible.

“Further consideration needs to be given to the migration to officer closure as envisaged with the introduction of Niche later this year

“It is not clear yet that the key messages are now embedded or that the understanding is mature enough to proceed this way.

“A similar review should be undertaken on a quarterly basis led by either the force crime manager or the contact centre manager.”

The report added that new chief constable, Jeff Farrar, needs to reiterate his strong support and guidance to officers on the difference between thoroughly investigating an incident, seeking to support the wishes of the victim and the administrative requirements to comply with the HOCR.


Police launch 'Badvent' calendar with wanted criminals lurking behind every door
Lucy Osborne 9 DEC 2013
select for full details A police force's 'badvent calendar', which reveals the faces of suspected criminals in the run-up to Christmas, was hailed as an original and eye-catching way of fighting crime.

But despite its positive reception from the public, Nottinghamshire Police have been banned from using the term, after their own staff complained it was offensive to Christians.

Police bosses have now been forced to rename its 'Badvent' calendars to the far less catchy 'Festive Crime Calendar'.

The Nottinghamshire Police initiative - in which the name and face of a different wanted person is released from behind an online 'closed door' every day until December 25 - received an 'overwhelmingly positive' reception from the public.

But several of its own staff complained the calendar, which appears on the police's website and features a large photograph of a snowman wearing a policeman's helmet, was in 'poor taste'.

It is believed many of the objections were on religious grounds. Staff reportedly suggested it was disrespectful to Christians who traditionally use advent calendars to count down the days until the nativity of Jesus on December 25.

The online advent calendar shows a snowman with a carrot for a nose that is wearing Nottinghamshire police tape across its body.

The tongue-in-cheek initiative was set up as a way of catching people's attention online and 'getting wanted people into their memories'.

If and when suspects are caught, people who visit the website will see their pictures disappear from the calendar.

The 'badvent calendar' has already been used by police in Bristol, Thames Valley and Oxford in previous years - where it was a success and the name remained the same.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said today: 'The Force is always looking for new ways to engage with the public to help reduce crime and arrest offenders.

'Traditional methods of getting crime reduction messages out can no longer be relied upon as a way of capturing the public's attention and using events such as the run up to Christmas to raise awareness of outstanding offenders is a way of doing this

'The response from the media and the public to our calendar has been overwhelmingly positive with only one person expressing concern via social media.

'However, following several complaints from our own officers and staff who felt it was in poor taste, the decision was taken to change its name to a Festive Crime Calendar.'

The suspects who appear in the calendar are wanted for questioning in connection with alleged offences, have failed to appear in court, or been recalled to prison for breaching the terms of their release.

Behind the first door was Jamil Miah, who is wanted in connection with a serious assault in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, last year.

When it launched the calendar last week, the police force said: 'This year Nottinghamshire Police is issuing a twist on the festive tradition - a Badvent calendar.

'Instead of seasonal images and chocolates each door of the calendar will reveal a person wanted by the police.

'The calendar forms part of our Alliance Against Violence campaign - a zero tolerance approach to violent crime. By publishing details of those who are wanted targets, have failed to appear in court or who have been recalled to prison we are hoping to make Nottinghamshire a safer place.'

Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society, defended the calendar.

He said: 'People who take their Christianity seriously may well find the use of an advent calendar for that purpose might be a little bit shocking.

'But I think advent calendars rather lost their meaning when Cadburys starting putting chocolate in them and cartoon characters on them.

'Most people don't associate advent calendars with their true purpose anymore. I think they have completely lost their meaning and to use it in this way is, I don't think, any worse than the way chocolate manufacturers use it to sell their sweets.


Gwent police which boasted largest fall in crime 'failed to report dozens of incidents'
Alice Philipson 11 DEC 2013
select for full details A police force which boasted the largest fall in crime in England and Wales failed to record dozens of incidents, a report found.

An investigation into Gwent Police's figures discovered half the reported crimes it looked at were incorrectly recorded by officers.

It comes months after Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston accused former Chief Constable Carmel Napier of manipulating the force's crime figures.

Mrs Napier strongly denied this but quit in June after an order from Mr Johnston to "retire or be removed".

Gwent Police recorded the largest fall in crime in England and Wales for the year 2011-12.

But the review looked at 50 incidents over a 10-day period in July 2013 where it appeared a crime was committed but had not been recorded.

It was discovered 25 incidents had not been recorded in line with the Home Office counting rules and National Crime Recording Standards.

An internal review said: "There was evidence to show that officers had not recorded all crimes in line with the relevant Home Office counting rules.

"The reasons for this primarily revolved around misinterpretations of the rules as well as a desire to support the wishes of the victim."

Crime figures will now be monitored quarterly to give the public accurate crime figures for the force area.

The report called on new Chief Constable Jeff Farrar to advise officers on the difference between thoroughly investigating an incident, seeking to support the wishes of the victim and the administrative requirements to comply with the Home Office rules.

The review added: "It will be necessary to develop guidance for all officers as well as easy to use guides on the broad principles of recording crime.

But it concluded: "The fact that there is no evidence of overt influence on crime recording is significant and the people of Gwent, the police and crime commissioner and chief constable can have confidence in Gwent Police's crime figures."

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith said the report still left a lot of unanswered questions.

He said: "The public need confidence in police data, but there have been real concerns from all quarters about figures that were being celebrated just a few months ago.




55th Birthday of Britain’s first motorway which opened in Preston in 1958
Blog Preston   5 DEC 2013
select for full details Today, 5th December 2013, is the 55th birthday of the first British motorway which was opened in Preston in 1958 by The Rt. Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P., the current Prime Minister of the time.

As well as being officially the M6 this eight and one quarter mile stretch was originally known as the M6 Preston By-pass.

This was the beginning of a new era of motoring in Britain and hailed as the answer to the traffic congestion which Preston had been suffering from for quite some time

The by-pass was inaugurated by the Rt. Hon. Hugh Molson, M.P., joint parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Transport and aviation on the 12th June 1956.

However, before the construction of the by-pass could commence, a great deal of preparatory work was required, such as damage limitation to the environment and assessment of the various terranean conditions.

It was truly amazing then that in the full length of the by-pass only one farmhouse and three other dwellings were directly affected.

The construction of the motorway had not been without its difficulties though, and in due course solutions had to be found for ensuing problems.

One of the main setbacks was the continuous rainfall in the autumn of 1956 when the land conditions of sandy clay sub-soil made it virtually impossible for the contractors to use the heavy earth moving machinery.

Consequently all major earthworks were postponed until the following spring of 1957.

Following a spell of good weather the heavy rains came again and washed away a great amount of the excavated material which would have normally been used to create necessary embankments.

The result was that it all had to be tipped away and new material was imported to complete the job. The main interchange at Samlesbury was to be the only one at that time between the two extremes of the by-pass.

It was decided that a single bridge spanning the River Ribble was to carry both directions of traffic being the full 112 feet width of the by-pass.




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