Errors mean workers have been wrongly branded as criminals when applying for new jobs. In other cases applicants have been left waiting a year or more for their checks to be processed – meaning they cannot take up their jobs.
Over the last three years, delays have led to payouts of more than £1million at taxpayers’ expense.
Individuals were paid thousands of pounds in lump sums for lost earnings because they could not begin their employment.
Now police tsar wants a spin doctor: Commissioner who spent £700 on chauffeur for two journeys offers £30,000 job
Cumbria PCC wants someone to give advice on how to handle the media
Richard Rhodes offering job for someone to 'manage reputational risks'
Comes after he reported members of staff to police over a newspaper leak
Allegedly revealed his expensive taxpayer-funded trips in a hired Mercedes
By Steve Doughty PUBLISHED:00:33, 26 April 2013| UPDATED:07:57, 26 April 2013
The Police and Crime Commissioner who spent £700 on two journeys in a chauffeur-driven car is to hire a spin doctor to ‘manage reputational risks’.
Cumbria PCC Richard Rhodes has offered a salary of nearly £600 a week for someone to carry out duties which will include giving advice on ‘how to handle the media in order to maintain public perception’.
The job offer comes after the commissioner reported four members of staff to the police for telling a local newspaper about his expensive taxpayer-funded trips in a hired Mercedes.
Three of the staff members were arrested while a fourth has been questioned.
MPs have condemned the arrests as an outrage against democracy and a threat to freedom of speech, and Prime Minister David Cameron has promised an inquiry.
The three, who have not been named but who include two police staff members, face serious charges and possible jail sentences if charged with crimes and found guilty. They have been bailed until 24 May.
Now in an extraordinary move Mr Rhodes has advertised for a permanent staff member to ‘raise the perception’ of himself among the public.
The Cumbria PCC website is offering a salary of up to £30,633 for a ‘communications and engagement officer’ whose job will include ‘raising the public perception of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and managing any reputational risks.’
A master bombmaker trained by al Qaeda was handed five life sentences today and told he may never be released unless he gives up extremism.
Paul Cheston Lindsay Watling 26 April 2013
Irfan Naseer, 31, was a ringleader of a terror cell that planned an attack “worse than 7/7”. He was one of 11 Islamist extremists being sentenced at Woolwich crown court for preparing acts of terrorism. Naseer plotted a campaign of suicide attacks involving at least eight rucksack bombs to be detonated in crowded places.
Police have called it the most significant terror threat since the 2006 transatlantic bomb plot.
The chemistry graduate from Birmingham used his skills to become a bombmaker and explosives expert. He travelled with fellow ringleader Irfan Khalid to Pakistan for terrorist training and met at least one extremely high-ranking al Qaeda operative.
Sentencing Naseer, Mr Justice Henriques described him as “dangerous, devious and highly manipulative.”
The judge sentenced him to a life term on each of the five charges of preparing acts of terrorism. A jury had found him guilty earlier this year on a unanimous verdict.
Mr Justice Henriques said he must serve a minimum 18 years but added: “You must not expect to be released at that time. Your release will be considered by the Parole Board and may not be until many years later, particularly if you continue to pursue your present ideals.”
Naseer’s “beliefs were at the far end of extreme,” the judge added. “Naseer was the leader, driving force and the man in charge and must take sole responsibility for sending four other young men to Pakistan for training in terrorism.
“Nothing was going to stop you short of intervention by the authorities. You planned mass murder.”
The court heard that Naseer and his gang were planning “another 9/11” and their plot had been “blessed” by the al Qaeda leadership.
Apart from learning bombmaking at the terrorist training camp, he was taught to use a rocket launcher, other weapons, and poison, and learned fieldcraft.
The court also heard how he duped Muslims in Birmingham into donating up to £39,000 which they believed would be going to the Muslim Aid charity, but was instead spent on terrorism.
Police must treat 17-year-olds in custody as children, court rules
Home Office says it will cost £20m to ensure older teenagers get support of parent or 'appropriate adult'
Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent The Guardian, Thursday 25 April 2013
Seventeen-year-olds must be treated as children when held in police custody, the high court has ruled.
The decision will transform the way older teenagers are handled when arrested. The Home Office, which resisted any change to the law, estimated it will cost £20m to ensure that parents or an "appropriate adult" are called in to provide support.
The parents of two 17-year-olds who killed themselves after being arrested have supported the campaign to change the law by the charity Just For Kids Law.
The home secretary, Theresa May, has been ordered to redraft the code governing detention of teenagers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Handing down judgment, Lord Justice Moses said: "This case demonstrates how vulnerable a 17-year-old may be. Treated as an adult, he receives no explanation as to how important it is to obtain the assistance of a lawyer.
"It is difficult to imagine a more striking case where the rights of both child and parent under article 8 [of the European convention on human rights, guaranteeing family life] are engaged than when a child is in custody on suspicion of committing a serious offence and needs help from someone with whom he is familiar and whom he trusts in redressing the imbalance between child and authority."
The director of Just for Kids Law, Shauneen Lambe, called on the Home Office to issue immediate guidance to police forces to change their policy.
She added: "The judgment makes me proud. Proud of the 17-year-old who stood up and said: 'I am prepared to take this to court because I think it is not fair.' Proud to be a citizen of a country whose judges are prepared to tell the home secretary that she is wrong when she is. And proud that because of all the hard work of so many, this country will now be a better place for all 17-year-olds."
According to the National Appropriate Adult Network, 75,000 17-year-olds are held in police custody in the UK every year. It disputed the Home Office's estimate of a £20m cost, insisting that a largely voluntary service supporting 17-year-olds in custody would cost £1.5m at most.
MPs criticise police inquiry into leak of commissioner's chauffeur bill
Lib Dem Tim Farron says it is 'wrong to seek to silence whistleblowers', as third arrest made in Cumbrian investigation
Helen Pidd, northern editor The Guardian, Thursday 18 April 2013
MPs have expressed concern over the arrest of three people in connection with a leak to the press about the Cumbrian crime commissioner's £700 chauffeur bill.
On Thursday police made the third arrest in their investigation, holding a 54-year-old man from Penrith on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
A Cumbria police spokeswoman confirmed that the investigation began following a complaint from the office of Richard Rhodes, who has been police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Cumbria since November.
Last week two police employees were arrested on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office. They are currently suspended from the constabulary. The third suspect is not an employee of the force.
Tim Farron, president of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in the south Lakes, said: "Politicians of all colours regularly praise whistleblowers, and it is wrong to seek to silence whistleblowers in this case. Details of the expenses of public officials ought to be publicly available anyway, we shouldn't have to rely on leaks to find these things out.
"This information was in the public interest, and I'm sure could have been accessed by a simple FOI request. Most councils publish this information on a regular basis so why not the police commissioner? To arrest these staff members is high-handed, a threat to free speech and a very dangerous precedent."
Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland in west Cumbria, wrote to the home secretary, Theresa May, on Thursday asking her to investigate what he said appeared to be "indefensible" behaviour on Rhodes's part.
He wrote: "It is widely reported that these arrests followed a complaint from the police and crime commissioner's own office to the chief constable. If true, this is clearly indefensible. Such an act would not only damage the office of the Cumbria police and crime commissioner beyond repair but, more importantly, damage the reputation of the Cumbria constabulary.
"As a matter of urgency, I ask that you determine the facts of this case as quickly as possible so that these matters can be resolved beyond doubt."
Reed told the Guardian: "This is a gravely serious matter which shakes public confidence in the police."
Policeman who tried to censor local paper for criticising a councillor: Officer phoned newsroom and visited editor over article on 'controversial' figure
By Keith Gladdis PUBLISHED:00:05, 15 April 2013| UPDATED:00:05, 15 April 2013
A police sergeant has been accused of attempting to censor stories in a local newspaper about a ‘controversial’ town councillor.
Paul Beale challenged the weekly paper over its ‘editorial policy’ after the councillor was upset by a critical article.
The officer telephoned the newspaper and later visited its offices where he spoke to an editor about its style of reporting.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said the incident was a direct consequence of the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards.
He said: ‘It’s outrageous that a police sergeant should think it is part of his role to question the editorial policy of a newspaper. But is not surprising given the attitude of some politicians and police to the Press. Since the Leveson Inquiry, people think it is fair game to try to interfere with legitimate reporting by newspapers.’
The New Milton Advertiser described Tory councillor Goff Beck as ‘controversial’ and revealed he had been accused of making homophobic remarks to an openly gay colleague. It also said he had been reprimanded for bullying a female councillor
Mr Beale, of Hampshire Police, initially telephoned staff at the newspaper to say Mr Beck, 80, was ‘not happy’ with the article, adding: ‘To be fair, he has got a point.’
Days later he visited the newsroom and said the councillor was dissatisfied that the story had ‘raked over previous stuff’.
Mr Beale told the newspaper he did not want to be made out as a ‘guardian’ to Councillor Beck but added: ‘He feels his credibility as a person of good standing is being undermined.’
But the actions of the police officer were condemned last night.
Conservative MP Conor Burns, a member of the Commons culture select committee, said: ‘It’s not the role of the police to take it upon themselves to question editors of newspapers about any particular line they take in a story. To do so steps way beyond the legitimate role of the police.’
Padraig Reidy, of the freedom of speech campaign group Index on Censorship, said: ‘It’s not the sort of thing that should happen in any democratic country. It’s political policing.’ Mr Satchwell added: ‘Hopefully, before it’s too late, people at the top of politics and policing will wake up to what is happening in what is supposed to be one of the most revered democratic countries in the world.’
The New Milton Advertiser ran the article about Mr Beck, who was also a member of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, last October. It didn’t complain about the approach by Mr Beale at the time but a resident subsequently raised the issue with the police
Whistleblowers probe: My duty to investigate leak, says chief constable
Last updated at 14:37, Thursday, 18 April 2013 News and Star
Cumbria's chief constable says it is his duty to investigate any alleged unlawful disclosure of information from the county force.
This would ensure communities could have trust and confidence in the way the county was policed, added Bernard Lawson.
His comments - in a statement issued this morning - are the latest twist in the inquiry into the leaking of some of Cumbria crime commissioner Richard Rhodes' expenses details.
Mr Lawson - who said he was well aware of community concerns "over recently reported allegations of information being unlawfully leaked to the local press" - added a file would be prepared "for the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] to consider the appropriateness of criminal charges.”
Under-fire Mr Rhodes has asked Mr Lawson to urgently review the investigation into how the financial details were leaked.
Mr Rhodes insists he does not have the power to "instigate or influence an operational policing investigation".
But in a statement said: “I have not had any involvement or input into how the constabulary has dealt with this matter.
"However, I am mindful that one of my key principles is to scrutinise the constabulary and as a result of complaints raised I have asked the chief constable to review as a matter of urgency the scale and nature of the investigation.” Read the full statement here.
Mr Rhodes spoke as the Home Secretary was urged to intervene in the Cumbria police commissioner expenses whistleblowing row.
The demand came as police yesterday afternoon (Thursday) revealed they had arrested a THIRD person as part of their inquiry.
A 54-year-old man, from Penrith - who is not a Cumbria police employee - was arrested during the morning (Thursday) on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. He has since been released on bail until May 24.
“The investigation is still at an early stage however police are not expecting to make any further arrests at this time," said a statement.
Copeland's Labour MP Jamie Reed today (Thursday) wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to "investigate the alleged conduct of the office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cumbria."
That was the result of staff working for commissioner Richard Rhodes today being forced to admit they sparked the criminal investigation into a leak concerning his expenses.
Two members of police staff were originally arrested – and a third suspended – after details of Mr Rhodes’ £700 bill for chauffeured Mercedes trips were revealed earlier this month. Those arrested are also on bail until May 24.
Mr Rhodes’ office had yesterday (Wednesday) denied his involvement in launching the investigation into who had leaked the details, saying it was a probe by Cumbria police.
But when later quizzed again by the News & Star and told that Cumbria police said they had become involved after a complaint from the commissioner’s office, a spokeswoman confirmed they had raised “concerns”.
Penryn PCSO honoured for dedication and 'infectious positivity'
4:20pm Thursday 18th April 2013 in Falmouth/Penryn By Greg Fountain, Reporter/Photographer.
The police officer charged with patrolling Penryn’s streets has been awarded for his dedication and “infectious positivity”.
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Lewis Vague was given a commander’s certificate by Superintendent Julie Fielding at the commander’s award ceremony in Bodmin earlier this month.
Supt Fielding commended Lewis on taking responsibility for the policing of Penryn and embracing “a higher level of responsibility.”
She said his award was in recognition of a string of good results achieved in the town, ranging from two property closures under antisocial behaviour legislation to organising proactive search warrants and helping other officers tackle crime and disorder.
His appearance in the Packet in January this year for helping a man who had collapsed in the street after suffering an epileptic fit was also applauded.
“PCSO Vague is highly motivated, enthusiastic and a credit to his community,” said Supt Fielding, “for his exceptional performance, I have pleasure in awarding him a commander’s certificate.”
Lewis said he had been nominated for the award by his sergeant and had no idea he was going to get it.
“It was a real pleasure. I was delighted to receive it really,” he said.
Calls for police commissioner investigation over arrests
A Labour MP calls for the Home Secretary to investigate the conduct of Richard Rhodes, police and crime commissioner of Cumbria, after a third alleged "whistleblower" is arrested.
Channel 4 18 April 2013
A police investigation was launched after details of two trips made by Mr Rhodes in a chauffeur-driven limousine at a cost of around £700 were leaked to the local press.
Last week two civilian police workers were arrested and suspended from their jobs. Both are on police bail until 25 May. A third member of staff was interviewed voluntarily and is also suspended.
On Thursday officers searched a property in Penrith and arrested a 54-year-old man on suspicion of peverting the course of justice.
In a letter to the Home Secretary Theresa May, Labour MP Jamie Reed asked for an investigation into the alleged conduct of the office of the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Cumbria.
Mr Reed cited allegations that the police investigation had been launched following a complaint made by the commissioner's office to the chief constable:
"If true, this is clearly indefensible. Such an act would not only damage the office of the Cumbria police and crime commissioner beyond repair, but more importantly, damage the reputation of the Cumbria constabulary."
But Mr Rhodes later issued a statement saying he had no "involvement or input" into how the police had dealt with the matter, adding "I am mindful that one of my key principles is to scrutinise the constabulary and as a result of complaints raised I have asked the chief constable to review as a matter of urgency the scale and nature of the investigation."
Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP for South Lakes, described the arrests as a "threat to free speech and a very dangerous precedent", saying:
"Details of the expenses of public officials ought to be publicly available anyway, we shouldn't have to rely on leaks to find these things out.
"Most councils publish this information on a regular basis so why not the police commissioner?"
In a statement Stuart Edwards, chief executive of the Cumbria office of the police and crime commissioner, said the decision to hire a driver was taken in response to the commissioner's heavy workload:
"As a result of the long hours the commissioner was working it was decided for personal safety reasons that support would be provided in terms of a driver for some evening functions with long and late return journeys."
The statement added that the journeys involved had been between one and a half and two hours long and went on: "When the commissioner was appraised of the cost he immediately stopped the practice of hiring drivers. The commissioner has personally reiumbursed the full cost of the journeys."
Appearing before the home affairs select committee, Theresa May told MPs that she would be looking into a claim in Thursday's Times that over half of PCCs were failing to publish their expenses, budgets, contracts and tenders as required by law.
Yesterday, these four wannabe jihadists from Luton were jailed for a total of 44 years.
By Richard Littlejohn PUBLISHED:22:55, 18 April 2013
They had planned to send a remote-controlled toy car packed with explosives under the gates of a Territorial Army base.
Woolwich Crown Court was told that the antics of this home-grown terror cell read like the script of the satirical movie Four Lions. Their mug-shots resemble that 'Comedy Terrorist' who gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.
They went on military-style manoeuvres in the countryside, where they were spotted jogging in formation and using logs as pretend weapons.
Ringleader Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed suggested sky-diving, horse-riding and paragliding would be 'good jihad training' and thought bungee-jumping would be a great way to overcome his fear of heights.
This stuff is straight from the You Couldn't Make It Up files. Bring on the bouncy castle.
It would be all too easy to laugh out loud at this Islamist version of The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. After all, their deranged terror plot was a long way from fruition.
The court heard that they'd got their ideas from an online Al Qaeda fanzine called Inspire, which sounds like a jihadist's version of When Saturday Comes.
Defending counsel for one of the four said their plans were 'generalised, ill-formed and never settled' and dismissed the toy car bomb as 'completely unfeasible'.
Certainly, on the surface it all seems a bit Fantasy Island. But then start picking away at the superficial idiocy and it turns out they were deadly serious. And I mean, deadly.
Ahmed had spent a week at an Al Qaeda camp in Pakistan, but was sent home because his Arabic wasn't good enough.
His co-conspirator Zahid Iqbal acted as a 'facilitator' for would-be jihadists to travel to Pakistan for terrorism training.
This tends to suggest that far from being 'unfeasible' and therefore, by implication, non-threatening, their intentions were murderous. We're not talking a fortnight at Butlin's in Skeggy.
Predictably, the local BBC news interviewed neighbours who attested that these were nice, family boys who kept themselves to themselves.
That chap from the Luton mosque, who they always wheel out when the English Defence League are in town, admitted that Ahmed (or it may have been Iqbal) had shown 'extremist' tendencies but said he didn't think it was his job to report his suspicions to the Old Bill.
So it's as well that someone did alert the authorities, otherwise we could be looking at a re-run of the July 7 London Transport attacks somewhere down the line.
Just because they come across as a bunch of clowns, it doesn't mean they're not capable of pulling off another 'spectacular'.
Those responsible for the murder and maiming of bus and Tube passengers in 2005 also underwent some kind of farcical 'training' in the countryside. If memory serves, it was white-water-rafting in Snowdonia.
It is to the eternal credit of the security services that we haven't experienced a similar atrocity since. But as the old cliche has it, the terrorists only have to get lucky once, etc.
We simply have to look across the Atlantic this week to realise what could have happened had this hapless gang of losers from Luton ever got lucky.
Three people were killed and 170 injured by two bombs planted at the Boston Marathon in Massachusetts. Those responsible are said to have taken their bomb-making instructions from the same Al Qaeda 'cookbook' as the Luton cell.
Inevitably, parallels have been drawn with the 9/11 attacks. But in execution the Boston bombing was reminiscent of the kind of terrorist outrages perpetrated in Britain, first by Irish republicans and latterly by Al Qaeda affiliates.
I can't have been the only person to reflect, in a shame-faced fashion, that when the IRA were regularly blowing up men, women and children in London, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester and Warrington, they were being bankrolled in part by misguided, sentimental sympathisers in the Irish-American community in Boston.
Police commissioner urges public to challenge criminal behaviour
Hertfordshire PCC David Lloyd says too many people fail to intervene when they see crimes being committed
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 April 2013 14.02 BST
A police and crime commissioner has called for the public to intervene more when they witness crimes being committed.
Hertfordshire's PCC, David Lloyd, said a fall in citizens' arrests left society at risk and added too many people failed to intervene because they thought it was "only the job of the police".
In his first annual lecture at the University of Hertfordshire, Lloyd said cases like the murder of Gary Newlove, who was beaten to death when he went to confront a gang of youths who were vandalising his car, should not be seen as a reason not to intervene.
The commissioner also backed the rights of homeowners to protect their properties and families if they were threatened by criminals.
Discussing the tragic death of Newlove in 2007, he said: "How should we respond to incidents of this type? Is this a justification for us never to intervene in any situation for fear that the same fate may befall us? I would argue no.
"We often bemoan the health and safety culture that supposedly restricts us from clearing snow for fear of being sued or for endless signs stating the blindingly obvious. Surely, we do not want to apply that overly cautious and restrictive health and safety culture to the way that we live our own lives. Couldn't we consider intervening more or just speaking out and challenging bad and criminal behaviour?"
Lloyd said evidence showed that citizens' arrests have declined by half over the past 10 years, fuelled by fear of the consequences and a lack of police support.
The commissioner went on: "I am not saying that everyone should intervene in every instance.
"People should have regard for their own safety and should not put themselves into positions of high risk, but I fear that too many of us have reverted to a default response of not intervening, thinking that it is only the job of the police. Even worse, there is a tendency to turn a blind eye and not even bother to report things to the police."
The commissioner said a rise in special constables, Neighbourhood Watch and other volunteers represented a shift from the "passive to the active" in tackling crime.
Lloyd said there should be a "presumption that the rights of the intruder are reduced once they enter someone's property".
He added: "This is not a call for vigilantism but just that someone who takes the premeditated step to burgle someone's house or steal someone's car needs to accept that the owner can rightly take steps to protect their property and to protect themselves and their family."
PCSO had to leap to safety as getaway man drove dangerously on Plymouth street
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 Plymouth Herald By STUART ABEL Court Reporter
A MAN forced a police community support officer to jump out of the way while acting as a getaway driver following a robbery, a court heard.
Peter Bailey, aged 28, admitted driving dangerously while helping his neighbour escape after she had snatched a woman's handbag, Plymouth Crown Court was told
Bailey also pleaded guilty to assisting an offender to escape.
Emma Hingston, aged 32, has already admitted robbery. She admitted taking the handbag from a 60-year-old in Glen Park Avenue, Mutley, on January 2.
Hingston then left in a Volkswagen Golf with Bailey at the wheel.
Magistrates were told at a previous hearing that PCSO Chris Kinski tried to stop the car in Mount Gould Road.
But prosecutors said he was forced to dive out of the way when the Golf failed to stop.
The Golf was then involved in a collision with another vehicle.
Bailey denied being involved in the robbery, a plea which was accepted at the latest hearing by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Ali Rafati, for Bailey, said he denied that he had clipped PCSO Kinski with his wing mirror as he drove away.
Bailey and Hingston, both of Pier Street, West Hoe, will remain in custody until they are sentenced together on May 17
Arrested, staff who blew the whistle on police tsar expenses: Storm as three face quiz after telling Press about commissioner's £700 trips in chauffeur-driven Merc
Man, 47, and woman, 50, held after 'leaking' Richard Rhodes’ expenses
Cumbria crime commissioner took Mercedes on two trips with his wife
By Martin Robinson PUBLISHED:09:40, 18 April 2013| UPDATED:11:53, 19 April 2013
Three whistleblowers have been arrested after details of chauffeur- driven journeys taken by a newly-elected police tsar were leaked to the Press.
Cumbria Police’s decision to launch a probe into the exposure of the £700 trips – made by its Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes – has provoked a major political row.
Last night two police staff and another man were arrested as part of the inquiry into ‘disclosure of personal information’.
Another police worker was suspended after agreeing to a voluntary interview.
The investigation began after Mr Rhodes’ office responded to the publishing of his expenses bill for two trips in a Mercedes by ‘raising concerns’ with police.
Last night MPs queued up to protest that the arrests stifled freedom of speech and set a ‘dangerous precedent’.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the police had been ‘heavy-handed’ and that whistleblowers should be protected.
South Lakes MP Tim Farron added: ‘It is wrong to seek to silence whistleblowers in this case. Details of the expenses of public officials ought to be publicly available anyway, we shouldn’t have to rely on leaks to find these things out.
‘This information was in the public interest. Most councils publish this information on a regular basis so why not the police commissioner?
To arrest these staff members is high-handed, a threat to free speech and a very dangerous precedent.’
The row over Mr Rhodes’ expenses began last week when the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald published details of the trips made by him in a hired Mercedes with a driver.
In one, Mr Rhodes and his wife travelled 25 miles for a dinner with the Archbishop of York at a hotel.
Mr Rhodes, a churchwarden, billed the public £313 for the journey, which was not listed among his official engagements.
The second journey from his office in Penrith to another hotel, the Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, covered 28 miles in each direction and cost taxpayers £385.
The retired headmaster – who is paid £65,000 as commissioner – paid back the money after the newspaper exposed his expenses.
Yes suspects are sometimes innocent - but secret arrests are not the answer
Senior judges support a blanket ban on naming defendants, but public must understand there can be smoke without fire
Joshua Rozenberg guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 April 2013
Senior judges have expressed support for a new system of secret arrests. The proposed blanket ban on naming suspects is supported by chief constables but opposed by the government's law reform advisers.
Responding to a consultation paper, the judges also suggest that suspects should be allowed to claim damages from newspapers that identify them.
Allowing all defendants anonymity between arrest and charge, subject only to rare exceptions, would amount to a major change in the criminal justice system of England and Wales.
Such a reform is likely to be strongly challenged by news organisations. But there are signs that it is being introduced already.
Support for secret arrests comes in a paper written by Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Tugendhat. Though dated 4 March, it has just been released in line with judicial practice.
The paper reflects the views of the president of the Queen's bench division Sir John Thomas, the senior presiding judge Lord Justice Gross, the chairman of the sentencing council Lord Justice Leveson and "other senior judges". The lord chief justice, Lord Judge, is not identified as a supporter.
It was issued in response to a consultation paper on contempt of court published by the Law Commission last November. This noted the difficulty that media organisations had in finding out from the police whether or not an individual had been arrested. Once an arrest is made, a case is "active" under contempt laws and there are limits on what can be published about the suspect.
New Age travellers camp to be built with £1 million public money
A woodland beauty spot is to be turned into what is believed to be the first official purpose built New Age travellers camp in Britain
By Richard Gray and Agencies 9:00PM BST 09 Apr 2013
The site at Haldon Hill, near Exeter, Devon, has been used illegally by travellers for 12 years, but is now to be revamped using £1.11 million of taxpayer’s money.
The proposal will replace the existing ramshackle camp with 15 official plots for “new travellers” under plans approved by Teignbridge District Council.
Communal allotments, a children’s play area and composting bins will all be installed at the site as part of the project.
Parking for visitors along with new sanitation will also be installed while the camp will have a permanent site manager.
It has been given approval under a Government initiative announced last year to provide £60 million of funding for new official gypsy and traveller sites.
The new site in Haldon Hill has met with a mixed reaction from the local community, with many welcoming news that the site is to be cleaned up.
Although the site has been illegal since it was first occupied in August 2001, it has been tolerated by the Teignbridge District Council, the local planning authority and Devon County Council, which owns the land.
Councillor Philip Vogel, Teignbridge District Council’s executive spokesman for housing and planning, said: This has not been an easy journey for any of us some difficult decisions have been made along the way but we needed to arrive at a compromise - something that would achieve the best outcome for everyone involved.
"Put simply, the site could not stay as it was. Residents did not have access to suitable sanitation, the encampment was unauthorised and it was having a negative impact on the surrounding environment and the wider Haldon community.
"Like authorities up and down the country, we need to provide sites that are suitable for gypsy and travellers. This site will go some way towards addressing that need.”
The camp currently houses over 25 families, consisting of around 50 people in total, and has no running water, electricity or sanitation. Around a dozen children live on the site.
Eastern European gangs in Paris are on their way here
WHEN you read that hundreds of staff at the Louvre museum in Paris stopped work this week it would be easy to roll your eyes at those workshy French, grabbing any opportunity to strike. Easy but wrong.
By: Stephen Pollard Published: Fri, April 12, 2013
The staff who walked out on Wednesday were not trying to avoid work. Quite the opposite. They were trying to force the authorities to act over a danger that is rife in Paris and that is, if we do not watch out, about to explode here too.
Romanian gangs are now operating across Paris. They pickpocket, steal and harass. They can also be violent. And they are turning the Louvre, one of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet - it had 10 million visitors last year - into something approaching a no-go area.
The museum staff were protesting that the authorities are doing next to nothing and their inaction is fuelling the gangs' appetite. What is happening in Paris matters to us because the opening of our borders next January to Romanian (and Bulgarian) immigrants will give open house to these gangs.
As things stand, for all the hot air from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, there will be nothing to stop every Romanian crook under the sun from hopping across the Channel looking for rich British pickings.
What is happening in Paris today will be happening in British cities next year. They are criminals and have their craft down to a fine art. Kids, who get free access, are sent in to the museum and start pickpocketing visitors or simply grabbing their bags.
As one of the protesting staff put it: "The children are tough and very well organised. They stop at nothing to get what they want and work in gangs. If they are kicked out they return the next day. They are very aggressive towards staff."
Chilling spectre of a secret police force
By Daily Mail Comment PUBLISHED:23:29, 10 April 2013
Of all Lord Justice Leveson’s insidiously wrong-headed proposals to rein in the freedom of the Press, banning the naming of suspects arrested by police is surely among the most sinister.
True, his motive is to protect innocent people, mistakenly arrested and later released without charge.
But the risks to justice and liberty are so glaring that it’s a wonder anyone could entertain the idea for a moment without dismissing it as a travesty.
How deeply disturbing, therefore, that many of our most senior judges have endorsed Leveson’s plan in its entirety.
Only in ‘exceptional’ cases, they say, should the identities of those arrested be released. Meanwhile, they suggest changing the law to impose penalties on anyone who publishes a suspect’s name.
It may sound absurdly alarmist to remind readers that the Nazis operated by seizing people in the middle of the night, never to be heard of again.
But isn’t the truth that secrecy would allow the police (who, let’s face it, have not been unknown to have malign motives) to lift people, living on their own, without anyone’s knowledge?
Where a guilty suspect is concerned, there’s also a clear danger that witnesses’ evidence will never be heard
By Shona Sibary PUBLISHED:00:27, 11 April 2013| UPDATED:10:35, 12 April 2013
All I wanted was a bit of helpful advice on how to get my three-year-old, Dolly, through the night without nappies.
As a freelance journalist, I don’t have time to go to toddler groups or coffee mornings.
And working from home means I rarely see another human being during the day. Where better to look, I thought, than Mumsnet? This is the site, surely, where some mother, somewhere, will have an opinion on the matter.
And, indeed, they did. There were hundreds of comments discussing the benefits of 'lifting' (that’s plonking your kid on the loo at midnight) and Terry sheets with plastic backing
The topic was, to my horror, me. And the comments were not just in response to articles I’ve written in the Mail either. That would be far too restrained for the majority of the delightful Mumsnet community.
This was a sustained, vicious online beating. No less than 415 posts annihilating Shona Sibary. Nothing was off limits. They started with my 'funny' eyes and 'troubling' personality, then moved swiftly on to my husband (ugly, ageing) and my children (exploited, abused).
I could just envisage this coven of poisonous women — huddled over their Hobnobs and steaming mugs of tea, dressed in ubiquitous Boden — each furiously typing ever more nasty and unpalatable drops of bile to pop into their bubbling cauldron.
Who in their right mind would seek parenting advice from this lot? It’d be like asking a gang of sneering playground bullies to help do up your shoelaces.
But the fact that many of those posters on Mumsnet — the 'leading' network site for parents — are more likely to gang up on women than help them out has finally come to wider public attention following Amanda Holden’s blistering attack on them this week for being 'negative, judgmental and encouraging guilt' among mothers.
She hit out at the site for turning on her for going back to work three weeks after giving birth at the age of 42 last year.
According to many forum members, her decision to return to the judging chair of Britain’s Got Talent so soon after coming close to death while having her second child was a selfish choice driven by ruthless ambition and fear of losing her slot on the show.
Now, isn’t that sisterly and supportive? But it’s precisely this kind of vitriol that a hard core of Mumsnetters have become famous for.
Launched in 2000, the idea for Mumsnet came about when Carrie Longton, a TV producer, and Justine Roberts, sports journalist and liberalista wife of The Guardian’s deputy editor Ian Katz, met at an antenatal class and realised the best source of information for parents was other parents.
Since then, the site has morphed from a mere information-sharing forum into a formidable political force, which attracts 35,000 postings a day.
When it speaks, MPs listen. At a party in 2010 to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Gordon Brown, then Labour Prime Minister, said: 'Mumsnet is one of the great British institutions.'
Indeed, many will argue that the site is now dominated by a Muswell Hill super-mob: Left-wing, feminist, North London yummy mummies, militantly banging on about state education while buying themselves the best of everything that money can buy.
Tellingly, Justine Roberts’s own mother Elizabeth said of her daughter in an interview: 'Her school reports all complained she messed about . . . she was the ringleader of a very noisy gang, and in a way she still is.' A very noisy gang indeed. In fact, it’s a veritable battleground, with militant mothers queuing up to pit their egos against each other.
Some of the most poisonous postings first came to light in 2006 when a debate over the merits of childcare guru Gina Ford almost caused the site to close
Youth crime commissioner Paris Brown stands down over Twitter row
Brown apologises for writing comments on social networking sites that she admits 'have offended many people'
Vikram Dodd guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 9 April 2013
Britain's first youth crime commissioner resigned from the £15,000-a-year post today, less than a week after her appointment was announced because of a row over her Twitter postings.
Paris Brown, 17, from Sheerness in Kent, said bravado had led to her statements on Twitter, which had offended many people. She said she was resigning from her post as the youth police and crime commissioner for Kent after police announced they were investigating whether her comments amounted to a criminal offence.
Critics claimed the comments were racist, homophobic and condoned violence and drug-taking. Brown pleaded to be left alone now that she was standing down.
Ann Barnes, the police and crime commissioner for Kent, admitted the tweets of her chief youth aide had not been vetted before the appointment, but said the role, which had been one of her main manifesto commitments, was a good idea and she would look for another candidate.
In a statement, Brown said: "I accept that I have made comments on social networking sites which have offended many people. I am really sorry for any offence caused.
"I strongly reiterate that I am not racist or homophobic. I have fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites. I hope this may stand as a learning experience for many other young people.
"I now feel that in the interests of everyone concerned – in particular the young people of Kent who I feel will benefit enormously from the role of a youth commissioner – that I should stand down as I feel that the recent media furore will continue and hamper my ability to perform the job to the level required.
"I ask for the time and space to recover from what has been a very difficult time and to allow me to move on."
The tweets, posted when Brown was aged 14 to 16, have now been deleted from her Twitter account.
Barnes said the idea of a youth crime commissioner was a good one "to reduce the gap between younger people and the authorities, particularly the police".
Barnes said: "I was not recruiting an angel, and I was not recruiting a police officer. I was recruiting a young person, warts and all. I think it would have been absolutely impossible to have found a young person who had not made a silly, foolish or even perhaps a deeply offensive comment
A gang of bogus charity collectors who stole at least £26,000 from thousands of generous Brits were today jailed for a total of more than nine years.
By Alex Ward PUBLISHED: 18:09, 8 April 2013
Ringleader Gordon Coe, Pauline Hunt, Susan Christians, husband and wife Kim and Ben Chapman duped unsuspecting donators by shaking fundraising tins for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
But instead of giving the cash to help needy cancer patients, they pocketed the money.
For three years the con artists toured pubs and clubs across the south of England with fake charity tins and ID badges and urged revellers to donate money.
Thousands of people dug deep in the belief they were helping pay for vital palliative care nurses for dying cancer patients.
Instead, it was a sickening scam to fund the group's lavish lifestyle, a court heard.
All but one of them lived off benefits, unable to work, but still flew off on holidays together in the Dominican Republic, Tenerife and Greece.
Prosecutor Nicholas Tucker estimated the fivesome, led by Coe, pocketed more than £26,000, based on 260 trips yielding an average £100 each. But more than £40,000 of unaccounted for money was also found in their bank accounts.
A judge today jailed them for at least a year each and Coe to four years, to deter others from ‘even thinking about such a scheme’.
Judge Derwent Hope, Honorary Recorder of Southampton, said the gang had shown ‘little or no remorse’ for scamming a ‘wonderful charity’.
He said: ‘This is a shocking case of fraud in which the public and a charity have been abused.
‘No one will ever know the true loss to the Marie Curie fund.I am satisfied they are a wonderful charity who bring relief to terminally ill people and their families, while properly accounting what they receive from generous donors.
‘That is why at the heart of this case there has been a massive breach of trust from each one of you, not just to the members of the public you targeted in public houses but also the Marie Curie fund you defrauded
My top five prison tips for Chris Huhne
Jonathan Aitken may have sent the disgraced minister a book of psalms, but the real commandment is 'thou shalt not grass'
Eric Allison guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 9 April 2013
Do not be surprised that Chris Huhne, the former energy secretary, jailed last month for perverting the course of justice, has told former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken he finds imprisonment "fascinating".
As a former journalist, Huhne ought to be a student of human nature, in which case he will be finding prison a fertile ground for study. To use the now defunct News of the World's motto, "all human life is there".
As well as writing to Huhne, Aitken has sent him a book of psalms to help him through his penal journey. Aitken, of course, is himself an ex-con, jailed in 1999, also for perverting the course of justice. (As was Jeffrey Archer. It seems the crime of choice for politicos.) This ex-old lag can also offer a few, perhaps more practical, tips to Huhne.
1. If he hasn't already done so, he should find himself a "minder". Not for protection from physical attack – that was never likely. He needs someone more like a "Fletcher", of Porridge fame; an old sweat who has run the course and distance a few times and can point Huhne in the right direction.
2. He should remember to show humility. Prisons are full of massive egos and there are no shortage of cons wanting to take them down a peg or two. Politicians are an opinionated lot, used to making themselves heard. Huhne should try to keep his views to himself and listen and learn.
3. He should not be afraid to join in some of the "scams" that are part and parcel of prison life. Jails are run on rules, most of them pointless, and successful breaches add lustre to what are usually long, dull days. I am not suggesting he takes any of the drugs or alcohol, which will certainly be on offer at Leyhill, the open nick where he has landed. But participation in minor infringements will be appreciated by his fellow travellers and make him feel like one of the boys.
4. As a literate man, Huhne will almost certainly find himself in demand as a letter-writer/form filler-in. A large percentage of prisoners have a reading and writing level below that of a child of 10. Much of my time in jail was spent helping such people and it stood me in good stead. Perhaps Huhne could become a mentor on the reading programme, run by the Shannon Trust, which has taught thousands of prisoners to read and write?
5. Last, but not least, Huhne will observe serious breaches of prison rules – and indeed criminal laws – on a daily basis. He should hear all, see all and say nowt. The number one rule for a successful stay in prison is thou shalt not grass.
Published on 18/03/2013 11:08 Northampton Chronicle
A trial is to be launched in Northamptonshire to extend the powers of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), police confirmed today.
As first revealed by the Chronicle & Echo last week, the extended powers will allow 23 PCSOs in Kettering to issue fixed penalty notices and arrange the removal of vehicles causing obstruction.
The trial will be run from April, Northamptonshire Police have said.
Chief Constable Adrian Lee said: “PCSOs are a hugely valuable part of the Northamptonshire Police team and work extremely hard getting to know and support their local communities. They play a crucial role in increasing the visibility of policing across the county and building the confidence of local people.
“Communities in turn regularly tell us how much they appreciate their PCSOs and the difference they make.
“They have, however, told us about examples where having greater powers would enable the PCSO to deliver a more complete service.
“With parking obstructions regularly identified as a local priority, PCSOs themselves were keen to increase their powers in this area.”
The powers are designated under the Road Traffic Regulation Act, sections 95-96, and are delegated to each PCSO individually by the Chief Constable. The new powers are in addition to their existing ones, which include powers to issue fixed penalty notices for littering, requiring people under 18 to surrender alcohol and powers to seize drugs
PCSOs Matthew Beynon and Steve Lewis join the Neath and Dulais valley beats
Monday, April 01, 2013. South Wales Evening Post
HE has gone from listening to people's problems to getting out there and doing something about them.
Matthew Beynon was a police civilian employee for about 12 years, most of them spent manning the front desks at police stations around the area. Now the 32-year-old has swapped a desk job for a beat job by becoming PCSO for the Dulais Valley
Matthew is one of a wave of new faces appearing in the Neath area, which also includes PCSO Steve Lewis who has left a busy patch in Swansea for the more rural Resolven.
Both have already been given a warm welcome in their respective communities. "I have had several different roles over the past 12 years, mainly working on the front desks in numerous stations," said Matthew, who is from the Neath area.
"It's nice to develop my role and try to solve people's problems rather than just take note of them. It's a chance for me to get involved with the community and develop things."
Matthew covers the Crynant, Seven Sisters and Banwen areas.
"I absolutely love it," he said. "I spend most of my day walking the area and I'm really enjoying the community spirit."
Meanwhile, 39-year-old Steve is getting to know his new Resolven beat after transferring from Swansea's Eastside.
"It's a lot more rural," he said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge, getting my face and my name known and walking around there as much as I can.
Community Speedwatch for Lyme Regis and surrounding villages
11:04am Friday 29th March 2013 Adrianne Maslen
LYME Regis Police are appealing for the community’s help to tackle speeding vehicles in known hotspots.
The Community Speedwatch scheme has been rolled out across Dorset and volunteers are needed to help get it started in Lyme and surrounding villages.
Lyme Regis Safer Neighbourhood Team is hoping to recruit a team of up to 20 volunteers in each community.
PCSO Luke White said: “Speeding vehicles is an issue which is consistently raised by members of the public as an issue in the community.
“We, along with the Road Safety team camera vans target numerous areas to try and tackle this issue.
“However, with your help we can have a greater presence and bigger impact.”
Police trialled Community Speedwatch in Chideock in 2010, where locals worked in teams of three or four to target vehicles speeding through the village on the A35.
A pool of volunteers, organised by a co-ordinator, can be trained by the police to use a speed measuring device, and the details of any speeding vehicles recorded by the volunteers.
These details are then forwarded to the police and letters are sent to the registered keepers of the vehicles warning them about their speed
“This scheme has now been expanded to all areas of Dorset, and this is your opportunity to get involved,” said PCSO White.
“The cost of setting up a Community Speedwatch scheme in your area is minimal. “The kit costs just under £300, including a speed gun, pop up signs, high-viz jackets, clicker to count cars, and the forms to record vehicle details.
“The kits can either be bought outright, in which case they will be yours for ever, or in the very near future, the Association of Dorset Watches will be purchasing a number of kits which will be available for hire by schemes.