Tagged: police

There’s a storm brewing …

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from the Guardian on line

Steve White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.”
Steve White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.” Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Police will be forced to adopt a “paramilitary” style of enforcement if the government inflicts big budget cuts on them, the head of the police officers’ organisation has warned.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation, said his 123,000 members, from police constables to inspectors, fear a move towards a more violent style of policing as they try to keep law and order with even fewer officers than now.

White told the Guardian that more cuts would be devastating: “You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.”

White…

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Cleveland Police leave sorry note after raiding wrong Edinburgh flat

Police have been left red-faced after breaking down the door of the wrong home during an early-morning raid – leaving a handwritten note to apologise.

The botched operation, which took place at 7.30am on Wednesday, saw eight officers from the North East of England and Edinburgh storm a flat in Pennywell Road, in the Scottish capital, after the family there left for work.

But after drilling a hole in the front door to remove the lock and force entry into the home, it quickly became apparent that they had mixed up names and targeted the wrong person.

Incredibly, it is the second time confused officers have wrongly linked the family to a serious assault in the North East of England.

 Father-of-two Alistair McPhail said his son had been questioned by Police Scotland back in August in relation to the offence, but had been cleared after only 25 minutes when officers became convinced the 21-year-old insurance worker was innocent.

Mr McPhail, 52, said:

“It’s like the Keystone Cops. They were apparently there for four hours trying to gain entry.

“It’s ridiculous that they have time to do this. I told them, ‘Next time you fancy a jolly in Edinburgh go and see the Castle and leave my flat alone’.

“Is this how they do policing now?

“I’m not going to let this lie. I’m going to have to make a complaint. My son is going to have to because he has his career to worry about.

“I’m really sorry for the person who was assaulted, but that doesn’t justify them coming up and doing this.

“All I want is my door back to how it was – it’s all scratched and battered.

“I just want people to realise that you can be completely law abiding and go about your life, but there’s nothing to stop the police coming in your house anyway.”

After the unsuccessful operation, embarrassed officers left a handwritten note in the McPhails’ living room asking them to “please accept our sincere apologies for this inconvenience”.

The letter also listed 
telephone numbers to contact if the family wished to make a claim for the damage inflicted on their door.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said:

“The officers acted upon the information that was available to them at the time. It wasn’t made apparent until today that the person at the address was unconnected to the investigation.

“Police officers from the Edinburgh area attended the address to support Cleveland officers who were carrying out the warrant.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 04 Apr 2015

Wasting police time – a new role for the Jobcentre ?

> The following was forwarded by email and is reproduced with permission.

Hi,I  enjoy reading your blog, I felt i had to write to someone to express my astonishment at the actions of Killingworth (North Tyneside)  job centre.

My son has just been sanctioned by them. He asked for a hardship form to get some kind of help.

I know he shouldn’t have done but in filling it in he said he might have to resort to shoplifting to survive !

Very much to my surprise at about 6.30pm tonight was a loud knock on the the door my partner answered to be confronted by 2 policemen.They asked for my son by name, they asked if he had written those things on the from.

He said he had because he was very annoyed with being sanctioned, they asked if he was intending to go shoplifting, he said no, they both laughed at the stupidity of the situation, apologized for disturbing us and left.

I just cannot think why the job centre informed the police as no crime was commited, just them being vindictive i think!

Anyway got that off my chest and keep up the good work!!
best regards,John

> John added that I have contacted my MP Alan Campbell and his assistant spoke to my son and they are taking it up with the jobcentre, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

I often think I’m immune to being suprised when it comes to the behaviour of some Jobcentre staff, but the fact that someone actually took it upon themselves to contact the police and make a complaint…I think anyone with any sense would see a comment like that for what it was – an expression of frustration, and surely they must have heard similar sentiments many times.

Perhaps it was the fact it was in writing that caused them to take this action. I guess the moral is, say it but don’t put it in writing.

I just hope the police get back to the complainant and caution them about wasting police time.

Sunderland : landlord savagely beat dad in front of his family over unpaid rent

> Yet another peril of living in rented accommodation…

A drink and drug-fuelled landlord and his friend have been jailed after savagely attacking a dad in a row over unpaid rent.

Peter Jones, 52, and Robert Angus, 48, pushed the victim to the ground before repeatedly kicking and stamping on him in his own front garden, knocking out three of his teeth.

The attack happened on August 29, when landlord Jones, who had taken a concoction of alcohol and drugs, turned up at a property in search of rent money with Angus.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Jones – who has eight previous convictions including for football hooliganism at Newcastle’s Central train station – and Angus, turned up at a couple’s home at Fairgreen Close, Sunderland, at about 9pm.

After being refused permission to enter the house by the woman, Angus then manhandled her at the front door.

He husband, who was upstairs with their eight-year-old son, then came to his wife’s aid by throwing a punch at one of the men before being dragged outside into the garden of the property and attacked.

Prosecutor Mr Bunch told the court:

“The victim was repeatedly kicked and punched and stamped on outside his home. Their eight-year-old son was present and witnessed some of the attack.

“There was heavy contact blood staining on both of the defendants shoes and scientists revealed that both men had taken part.

“Police were called and they attended scene. The defendants had then left the house, but returned an hour later after one had left behind a mobile phone.

“Police were notified by a neighbour and the men were arrested after showing clear signs they had been in a fight.

“Jones was found in possession of a white powder later found to be an amphetamine.”

The court was told that in police interviews, Jones, of Benfleet Avenue, Townend Farm, Sunderland, said he had consumed 10 pints of beer and some of the white powder and claimed that the tenants owed him £1,500 in rent.

Angus, of Colombo Road, Castletown, Sunderland, made no reply to police questioning.

Michael Bunch, added:

“The victim suffered a swollen and bloody nose and wounded left cheek and jaw. He also lost his front three upper teeth and now struggles to eat certain foods, as he has had a bridge fitted for support.

“He has also received cartilage damage to his upper left chest and now requires physiotherapy. The family have since moved from the property.”

In a statement read out in court the victim said:

“This was an unprovoked attack. They assaulted my wife and my son watched some of what happened.”

Defence barrister Thomas Laffey, defending Jones, said:

“He pleaded guilty at the plea and case management hearing so should be given full credit.

“He rented out the property where the incident occurred and his sister looked after it and collects the rent. The money simply began to not get paid, despite his sister sending texts stating what they owed. He admits that he made an extremely irresponsible decision by going to sort the matter out himself after consuming alcohol and drugs.

“He now resides with his current partner and her daughter, his main concern is that his partner won’t be able to manage the rent if he loses his liberty.”

Defence barrister David Callan, defending Angus, said:

“In general Mr Angus is not a man of violence.

“He went on an ill-considered venture which he did for his friend. He has worked all of his life and has had health problems including a heart attack, which left some brain damage.

“He is a 48-year-old man in poor health and and who pleaded guilty at the first plea and case management hearing.”

Judge Simon Hickey sentenced Jones to 18 months’ imprisonment and Angus to 15 months’ imprisonment for assault causing actual bodily harm.

Jones was also charged for possession of a Class B drug and both men were given restraining orders.

Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 Feb 2015

Northumbria Police officers will have to be lost if budget is slashed any more

Further funding cuts could cripple policing on Tyneside and take bobbies off the beat.

That is the claim of Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) who says the force has been squeezed to the limit.

Vera Baird has today revealed the highs and lows of her first two years in office after being voted in as our area’s first elected police boss.

And in the first of a two part interview the Labour commissioner tells how the cuts in central Government funding have left the force with nothing left to save.

Now as she moves into the second half of her first term in the post Mrs Baird says she’s proud of what she and the force have achieved so far, and she is determined to continues to do all she can to meet the public’s policing priorities.

But the PCC warned that any further budget cuts could threaten the commitment to maintaining the number of cops working on the frontline.

She said:

“The concern about money is huge. We have rung out every last penny from everything we can without taking cops off the frontline. In the neighbourhood has got to be where they stay. If there are any further cuts we will do out best not to touch the frontline. But where we go next is a mystery.”

At the start of this year Northumbria Police announced that it was being forced into a major re-structure after learning that a new wave of central government funding cuts mean the force will be required to save an additional £46m by March 2017.

This came on top of a previous rationalisation of the force following the coalition Government’s austerity measures.

In order to balance the books in January Chief Constable Sue Sim announced to closure and sale of 25 police buildings, including 12 police stations. Neighbourhood officers in the areas affected will instead work from cheaper buildings, such as leisure centres, which can be shared with other organisations.

Northumbria will also reduce its number of ‘area commands’ from six to three, and plans to slash 200 senior officer and 230 civilian staff posts from the payroll.

Mrs Baird says she is confident the plans put in place will enable the force to continue policing effectively. But she admits money is tight.

The Chief Constable is a very good business woman as well as being a very good police officer,” she said. “It’s absolutely essential that cops stay out in the neighbourhood, It’s good for the community and they are a massive source of intelligence

“What they need is a place to clock in, a place to keep their weaponry secure and they need a base where they are available to the public.

“Crime has changed over the years. We now have cyber crime and there is an increase in reporting of things like rape. At the moment we are managing. We are coping but it is obviously a challenge. But we can’t allow crime to go on. Cutting costs has to be about doing stuff smarter.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  10 Nov 2014

North East Police and councils have been granted more than 22,000 warrants allowing them to intercept communications, including tapping phones

Police have used controversial anti-terror powers to fight crime across the North.

Thousands of ‘RIPA’ undercover warrants – which grant the power to trawl through telephone records – were used by Durham, Northumbria, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cleveland police.

The warrants, issued under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), entitle public bodies to intercept communications in a bid to expose crime and have been used by North East councils and other public bodies as well as the police.

Figures released by the government show 22,154 RIPA warrants were issued to police forces in the North in 2013 – with Durham police leading the way with 6,218 warrants.

Northumbria Police was granted 6,211, North Yorkshire police made 4058 successful applications, Cleveland received 2957 and the Cumbria force was granted 2,710.

RIPA was introduced as a weapon against terrorism and economic crime but its use has been criticised – with some likening it to the encroachment of a police state.

It requires only that the request be approved by a police officer of Superintendent rank or above, giving forces the right to sign off their own warrants without having to go before a judge.

Civil rights group Liberty hit out after the figures were revealed, with legal director James Welch saying RiIPA was “massively overused”.

Councils routinely use RIPA warrants for issues involving rogue traders and underage sale of alcohol and tobacco as well as taxi cab regulation and checking out businesses employing minors.

Police forces use them for more in-depth issues including the investigation of drug and paedophile rings, human trafficking and other forms of serious crimes.

Ripa was used by Cleveland police to snare a drugs gang which was jailed in May for 177 years, collectively.

Detectives were able to seize drugs worth £824,686 and £127,966 cash.

Codenamed Operation Cobweb, it was Cleveland police’s biggest ever drugs bust.

RIPA warrants issued up to March 2013 allowed officers to snare the 22-strong gang, with Middlesbrough’s top judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC praising police for their use of RIPA legislation.

York City Council and Redcar and Cleveland Council led the way for local authorities in the North, using the powers with 80 and 69 warrants granted respectively.

Redcar and Cleveland is host to the anti-fraud organisation Scambusters which the council said contributes to its high numbers.

Newcastle City Council was absent from the list while Northumberland County Council had just three warrants issued.

In August last year in Northumberland, warrants were used to track down through social media accounts an illegal 16-year-old tattoo artist. She was banned and her equipment was seized.

Warrants were also used to bust a phone scam that conned 400 residents across the UK after a Redcar pensioner was tricked into buying unnecessary anti-virus software.

Operation Hognose was launched when the pensioner told council officials he had fallen victim to what is known globally as the ‘Microsoft scam.’

Scammer Mohammed Khalid Jamil, of Luton, Bedfordshire, was handed a suspended jail sentence and £5,000 fine during a March 29 hearing at York Crown Court, after Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s trading standards passed the case to the National Trading Standards e-Crime Centre.

The conman was ordered to pay £13,929 costs as well as £5,665 in compensation to 41 victims.

The council said it had not used RIPA warrants to tap phones.

The police forces said they used the powers “only when deemed necessary and in order to detect crime and keep people safe.”

James Welch, Legal Director of Liberty, hit criticised the figures and said the legislation is over used by forces across the UK.

He said:

“The police and other public bodies massively overuse their power to get information from our phone and internet service providers – over half a million times last year.

This overuse is hardly surprising when there’s no requirement for prior authorisation from a judge. You can work out a lot about a person from knowing who they phone or which internet sites they visit. People don’t realise how badly their privacy is compromised by this power.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review into claims Ripa is being misused.

Police forces on RIPA powers

All of the police forces we contacted said they used RIPA powers only when necessary.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria police said they would be ‘unlikely’ to discuss their use of the measures.

Our ultimate aim is the safety of the public and this is one of many ways we can gather information to help deal with those people causing most harm in our communities.

“It’s important for the public to have confidence that such methods are appropriate and proportionate.

“The public can be reassured applications for RIPA authority are made only when deemed necessary and in order to detect crime and keep people safe,” she said.

“RIPA authority is not entered into lightly and rigorous processes are in place leading to it being granted.

“They have to be absolutely satisfied that it is necessary to prevent and detect crime and that its level of intrusion is proportionate with the nature of the enquiry being carried out.

“Northumbria Police is inspected each year by the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office to ensure correct procedures and processes are being followed.

“The number of authorisations made is comparable with our neighbouring forces and is part of a package of tools available to officers.”

Temporary Superintendent Rob O’Connor, of Cumbria police, said:

Cumbria Constabulary where necessary for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or preventing disorder, will use the power given to them by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to obtain and disclose communications data and conduct surveillance. Police use of RIPA is subject to guidance and strict codes of practice.

“RIPA is a very useful investigative tool in order to prevent crime and disorder. The intelligence and evidence obtained enables us to make the correct decisions in terms of public safety and the prosecution of criminals. It has been used on many occasions to great effect to bring offenders to justice.

“Cumbria Constabulary’s use of RIPA is subject of oversight and regular inspections by the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office and the Office of Surveillance Commissioner.”

Chief Superintendent Rob Coulson, of Durham Police, said:

“The powers RIPA provides are massively important to policing in our force area. RIPA is only used when absolutely necessary, how and when we use it is strictly governed.

“RIPA enables us to investigate serious crime and has played a key role in apprehending organised criminals and other serious offenders who have been making life miserable for the residents of County Durham and Darlington. There are many examples of this in the last year alone.

“Whilst Durham is generally a safe place to live we have to accept that these criminals exist and the powers provided through RIPA is a vital tool in the fight against them. We will continue to use the powers RIPA provides to follow, monitor, disrupt and capture offenders such as drug dealers, prolific thieves and sexual predators on a regular basis.

“In doing this can I reassure you that as a force we scrutinise our use of these powers and as with all Forces we are annually inspected by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, an independent body.”

A spokeswoman for Cleveland police said the force used RIPA powers to monitor serious organised crime and said the use of RIPA in Operation Cobweb was acknowledged by a judge as an excellent example of usage.

North Yorkshire Police did not comment.

Source –  Sunday Sun,  02 Nov 2014

County Durham and Darlington Fire Service looking to cut staff and review services to save £3.6m

A North-East fire service is proposing to cut staff and review services to fill a £3.6m funding gap.

Spennymoor Fire Station could be operated by part-time firefighters under the plans being considered by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority.

The number of full-time staff in Darlington could also be reduced, while police and ambulance crews could share some County Durham fire stations.

Unveiling the authority’s strategic plan for 2015/16 to 2017/18, Susan Johnson, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that there were no plans to close fire stations or reduce the number of appliances.

She added:
“The five proposals that we are consulting on include working with partner organisations and using our current resources in different ways to make £3.6m of savings within the service during the next three years to meet the reductions in the government funding that we receive.

“We have begun this consultation early to provide an extended period of time to speak to and canvass the opinion of everyone affected, from MPs to people living and working in our area.”

The service has already had to find £3.5m of savings over the last three years.

 The five proposals include:

– Sharing Barnard Castle Fire Station with police, ambulance and mountain rescue staff; Stanhope and Crook with the police and Sedgefield with the ambulance service.

– Training firefighters to deal with medical emergencies, including heart attacks, bleeding, breathing difficulties, trauma and strokes.

– Reviewing the staffing of the aerial ladder platform appliance in Darlington, including the possible use of retained staff.

– Reviewing the number of emergency response officers – who respond in cars to take charge of major incidents – employed by the service.

– Changing the staffing at Spennymoor Fire Station for the first responding appliance to retained only, rather than full-time during the day and retained at night and over weekends.

Tony Curry, Durham secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the union was still digesting the consultation document and would respond to the authority formally in due course.

However, he added:
“The FBU always has grave concerns about reductions in the number of firefighters and the cover they provide.”

To view the three-year strategic plan document , visit http://www.ddfire.gov.uk/service-plans where there is a link to the consultation questions at http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk//three_year_strategic_plan15-16_17-18

For a hard copy of the document, call 0845-3058383. The consultation will run until December 1.

Source –  Northern Echo,  01 Sept 2014

South Shields candidate’s election leaflet probed by police

An election candidate has been interviewed by police over allegations of campaign irregularities.

 Colin Campbell was an independent candidate for South Tyneside Council’s Cleadon Park ward in South Shields at May’s local elections.

He polled 376 votes, losing to Labour’s Coun Jim Foreman, with 726 votes, and independent June Elsom, in third place, with 673 votes.

But Mrs Elsom, wife of Cleadon Park councillor George Elsom, subsequently made a complaint to the police regarding “lies and factual inaccuracies” in a leaflet Mr Campbell put out.

She also questioned the legality of a poster Mr Campbell put on display in a newsagent’s shop at The Nook during the campaign challenging his opponents to donate their attendance allowances to a local school.

Two detectives subsequently called at Mr Campbell’s home in Cleadon Meadows, Cleadon Village, to make him aware of the complaints.

No formal action has been taken, but Mr Campbell has labelled the allegations “vindictive and petty”.

Mrs Elsom, of Parkshiel, South Shields, said she raised concerns with police because of the “personal nature” of the statements Mr Campbell made in his election literature, labelling some of his comments “misogynist”.

Mr Campbell said: “I had a home visit from two detectives who do election complaints. Apparently, I had made an election misdemeanour.

“I put a flyer in a newsagent’s window at The Nook. It said I would be giving my allowance of £1,000 a month to Ridgeway Primary School and asked whether June Elsom and Jim Foreman would do the same.

“It was claimed that was bribing the public.

“Apparently, I didn’t say at the bottom of the leaflet who it was promoted and printed by, which is a legal requirement.

“The detective said giving me some advice for the future would be enough and that the bribery claim did not stand up.

“I regard contacting the police over this as just petty and vindictive.”

Mrs Elsom said: “There were two elements to the complaint.

“There were false and inaccurate statements, and there was the inference that, if I was elected I would do what George told me to do, which I regarded as completely misogynist.

“It suggests that I don’t have a mind of my own. The inaccuracies included his statement that George was the leader of UKIP in South Tyneside, which he has never been.

“They were personal statements made by a person I don’t even know. No one should have a right to do that.”

Mr Campell denied he was a mysogynist, saying he was merely questioning how independent a husband and wife councillor team would be.

A spokesman for the police confirmed that Mr Campbell had been spoken to and that no further action is to be taken.

This is the second time police have been asked to investigate events during last May’s election in South Tyneside.

Police also investigated a complaint by Coun George Elsom that Labour leaders in South Tyneside used town hall resources to promote the party’s local election campaign.

Police confirmed last week that they would not be taking any further action after an investigation.

Source – Shields Gazette,  15 July 2014

Starving British children are looking for food in rubbish bins

Mike Sivier's blog

Who said it could never happen here? Children are starving on the streets of Britain as the Tory-led Coalition's hate policies bite ever-more-deeply into the poor [Image: Stoke Sentinel]. Who said it could never happen here? Children are starving on the streets of Britain as the Tory-led Coalition’s hate policies bite ever-more-deeply into the poor [Image: Stoke Sentinel]. British children are sifting through bins left outside houses in search of scraps of food because they are starving, it has been revealed.

But Tories and their supporters in rich London won’t have to look at them – because they are in Labour-held Stoke-on-Trent.

The Stoke Sentinel reported that “Youngsters have been searching through bins in the Hollings Street and Brocksford Street area of Fenton before eating any leftovers.”

It said, “Dozens of hungry families are referred to Fenton’s food bank for help every week.”

What’s really sad about this story is that some of the people interviewed seemed to think the problem was with the mess left behind by these children – youngsters who are, remember, so hungry that they…

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