2012 Prison Officer Articles

Smash-and-grab raider sues police after he is injured fleeing crime scene on stolen bike
select for full story Justin Davenport and Josh Loeb 07 December 2012
A smash and grab raider is suing Scotland Yard after he was injured in an ambush by police as he fled from a robbery on a stolen motorcyle.

Dean Cole, 24, was part of a gang that terrorised 46 stores in the West End, stealing goods worth £1 million.

Cole was riding a high-powered stolen bike with an accomplice when undercover police swooped on the gang as they tried to flee from a raid on Chanel in Mayfair in August last year.

His bike was rammed by an unmarked police vehicle in Old Bond Street and there were reports at the time that the motorcyclist had suffered a broken leg.

Cole is thought to have caught his leg in the spinning wheel of the bike as it crashed to the ground.

Now solicitors have submitted a claim for damages against the Metropolitan Police, claiming the actions of police officers caused his injuries.

This week Southwark crown court heard Cole’s injuries were still so severe that he may be unfit to appear in court next month when the gang are sentenced. A woman who answered the door at Cole’s home in Holloway refused to say whether he was available for comment, only asking: “How did you know that he lives here?”

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said Cole looked “fine” when he saw him recently and claimed that he was not hobbling on crutches on that occasion.

The ambush came after officers from a specialist police squad targeting smash and grab raiders staked out stores in the West End for 100 nights. Detectives from Westminster’s Crime Squad lay in wait for the gang which hit the West End with lightning raids, making it impossible for police to pursue them.

Raiders roared into London’s smartest streets and smashed their way into stores including Christian Dior, Anya Hindmarch, Loewe, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Jimmy Choo and Apple in Covent Garden.

Armed with sledgehammers and crowbars they broke through plate glass windows and shutters to steal handbags, jewellery, computers, iPads and fashion accessories.

They escaped by driving through London’s streets at up to 100mph — police estimated it took them just four minutes to travel from the West End to Islington, where they were based.

Amsterdam to create 'scum villages'
Amsterdam is to create "Scum villages" where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with "minimal services" under constant police supervision.
select for full story By Bruno Waterfield 4:05PM GMT 03 Dec 2012
Holland's capital already has a special hit squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six month course in how to behave.

Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's Labour mayor, has tabled the £810,000 plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often leads to law abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.

"This is the world turned upside down," the mayor said at the weekend.

The project also involves setting up a special hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities The new punishment housing camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together."

Whilst denying that the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", a spokesman for the city mayor stressed that the special residential units would aim to enforce good behaviour.

"The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said.

The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam's famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.

There are already several small-scale trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for persistent offenders, living under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.

Under the new policy, from January next year, victims will no longer have to move to escape their tormentors, who will be moved to the new units.

A team of district "harassment directors" have already been appointed to spot signals of problems and to gather reports of nuisance tenants.

The Dutch Parool newspaper observed that the policy was not a new one. In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless.

Fears of 'cronyism' as police commissioners appoint deputies
Newly-elected police and crime commissioners have been accused of “cronyism”, following claims some had appointed friends as their deputies.
By Hannah Furness 9:54AM GMT 07 Dec 2012
Sixteen police and crime commissioners are now believed to have appointed their own friends, former colleagues and contacts as deputies on salaries up to £65,000.

One is reported to be planning to hire 17 people to assist him at taxpayers’ expense, including four assistant commissioners.

While the PCCs were elected by the public last month, the role of a deputy commissioner is not subject to a democratic vote and does not have to be advertised.

It can therefore be filled by any individual appointed by the new commissioner. A panel of councillors can scrutinise the decision but has no power of veto.

The system has led to fears commissioners are already appointing their allies and friends and has led to accusations of “cronyism”. As many as 16 of the 41 PCCs in England and Wales intended to appoint deputies on salaries totalling at least £468,000, reports said.

One, independent West Mercia commissioner Bill Longmore, is reported to have intended to appoint his campaign manager as a deputy.

select for full story John Campion, a Conservative councillor scrutinising the prospective appointment as part of a panel told the Times he would be “very surprised” if the public felt “somebody should be handed a £50,000-a-year job without any competition whatsoever just because he happened to be the winning candidate’s election campaigner”.

He added there would be “uproar” if a council or the NHS did the same, along with accusations of “cronyism”.

“Your first major decision is a backroom deal that can be seen as you putting one of your buddies in a highly paid job,” he said.

Other PCCs also intend to appoint their own deputies.

Adam Simmonds, Conservative commissioner in Northamptonshire, is reported to be hoping to appoint 17 staff, including his election campaign agent.

Matthew Grove, commissioner in Humberside, will recommend the appointment of a Tory colleague, while Labour’s Bob Jones will pay deputy Yvonne Mosquito £65,000 per year for a 32-hour week.

The starting salary of a police constable has now been cut to £19,000 per annum.

Jon Collins, from independent think tank Police Foundation, last night told the newspaper: “Commissioners need to be as open and transparent as they can be about how they chose people for the role, why that person is best suited for the role and what they hope they will achieve by appointing them to the role.”

Bill Longmore, West Mercia PCC, said: “I am aware the appointment of Deputy PCCs is a controversial issue nationally but I have no doubt that one is needed.

Folkestone prison officer Daniel McKenzie jailed for smuggling drugs to inmates at HMP Elmley
by Paul Hooper 6 DEC 2012
select for full story A prison hostage negotiator caught smuggling cannabis to inmates at a Kent jail has told his former colleagues: "I have broke your trust and bond... and brought a bad name for the service I loved."

Prison officer Daniel McKenzie, 27, has been jailed for five years and four months today after admitting four drug offences involving class A and B drugs.

But McKenzie, pictured left, pleaded with the authorities NOT to make him serve his time at Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey, where he was a guard for two years.

Judge James O'Mahony told him: "What you did subverts the whole purpose of prison. You betrayed your trust... and you did it for money."

In a letter, McKenzie, of Cheriton Road, Folkestone, claimed he did it because of threats from prisoners.

But the judge rejected that as "ridiculous", saying he had "supplemented his income" by smuggling drugs into prison for cash.

"You did what you did for money," he added.

Canterbury Crown Court heard he had been given £500 to bring in cannabis, worth just £250, to HMP Elmley and then lied about what he did with the money.

At first, he claimed he burned the cash and the drugs - then he claimed he had used it to buy clothes for his five-year-old son.

In a letter sent to the judge, McKenzie wrote: "I feel sick to my stomach that I have done this. I wanted to protect my family.

"I have never been in trouble before and loved my job as a prison officer. I had just become a hostage negotiator and wanted to have a long and prosperous career.

"I will always carry the burden of what I have done. In one way I have protected my family but in another I have hurt them just as much."

McKenzie – who turned to selling houses after being kicked out of the prison service – admitted he should have reported the pressure he was facing.

He added: "I never wanted to put my colleagues in the prison at risk or let them down, inside the walls the officers all look out for each other but I feel that I broke their trust and bond."

Bride jailed for downloading terror magazine
A newly-married sister of two convicted terrorists was jailed for a year today for keeping al-Qaeda terrorist material on her mobile phone.
By Tom Whitehead, Security Editor 1:49PM GMT 06 Dec 2012
Ruksana Begum, 22, who has a first class accountancy degree, had been married just a month when police discovered copies of the banned Inspire magazine on her phone.

But the woman, who a judge described as “intelligent and articulate”, will be out within a month because of time spent on remand.

The Old Bailey heard how her two brothers Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah, pleaded guilty to a plot to blow up the Stock Exchange and were sentenced this year to 12 and 16 years jail in February.

Mohammed Chowdhury, who was jailed for 13 years for the same December 2010 plot, asked to marry her but she had never met him.

Sentencing her, Mr Justice Fulford accepted she only downloaded the material to see what had driven her brothers to terrorism.

Begum married a man in June and moved to London with her new husband.

She pleaded guilty last month to having material which was likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

This was two editions of al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine on a micro SD memory card in her mobile.

Begum, of the Provost Estate, Islington, north London, appeared with only her eyes visible beneath a black veil to be sentenced after being remanded in Holloway prison.

Kate Wilkinson, prosecuting, said: "These items contained both instructional and ideological material."

The terrorist material included instructions on remote control detonation, handgun training and how to ignite forest fires.

Hossein Zahir, defending, said Begum downloaded the material a few weeks before because she wanted to understand why her brothers had taken the path they had.

He said: "She was confident that her brothers were innocent and they would be acquitted. Then they pleaded guilty

New police chief asks for no more budget cuts
Published on Wednesday 5 December 2012 11:35 Wigan Today
WIGAN’S newly elected Police Commissioner has met with his Police and Crime panel for the first time and called on the government to stop further cuts to the policing budget.
Tony Lloyd, who became Greater Manchester’s first PCC last month, discussed his first police and crime plan, which will be published early next year, at the meeting as well as the proposed cuts to the policing budget.

select for full story The panel, which scrutinises and holds the commissioner to account, is made up of the nine local authority leaders, including Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith, and the Salford elected mayor, plus two independent members.

At the meeting, Commissioner Lloyd, said: “I’m delighted to be here and very much welcome the opportunity to talk to you all as it’s important that we work together to keep crime falling across Greater Manchester.”

The ten council leaders were also urged to come together to fight against child sex exploitation.

Mr Lloyd, added: “Child sex exploitation is an issue that challenges us all which is why I invite all ten councils to sit down with me so we can share best practice in tackling this issue.”

The commissioner has wasted no time in calling on the government to commit itself to no further cuts to policing budgets.

Following a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May, the former Manchester Central MP, said: “Whilst in parliament, I asked the Prime Minister if he would guarantee that there would be no further cuts to policing budgets.

“He failed to answer my question, so today along with other fellow commissioners, the Home Secretary was asked if she would give that guarantee.

“It was clear to me before the election that the safety of communities across Greater Manchester was under threat with the reckless 20 per cent government cuts we have suffered.

“The prospect of further disproportionate cuts to Greater Manchester is worrying and I pledged at the election to oppose these cuts. The Home Secretary must listen to the 2.5 million people I represent who want to see our police cutting crime, not the government cutting our police.” Tony Lloyd stepped down from his House of Commons role to stand in the PCC elections.

Man locked up for rabbit river toss
select for full story 4 Dec 2012 Belfast Telegraph
A youth has been sentenced to four months' detention for throwing a homeless man's rabbit into a river.

The animal's owner, John Byrne, had been begging on Dublin's O'Connell Bridge when his pet Barney was snatched from his arms and callously thrown into the River Liffey.

The 37-year-old risked his life by jumping in after his beloved pet and giving him the kiss of life before both were rescued by firefighters.

Gary Kearney pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to animal cruelty and torture.

The 20-year-old, who is originally from Crumlin, also admitted breach of the peace during the incident on July 3, 2011.

Sentencing Kearney, Judge Bryan Smyth said it was a serious matter.

Outside the court, Mr Byrne, who has been living on the streets for 23 years, said he was in shock when he saw his pet swimming around in circles, looking up at him.

"I wasn't going to leave him there," he said. "I had to get him, I had to jump in to get him. Barney died in my arms. I got him under the bridge and gave him the kiss of life."

Within days he was given a Compassionate Citizen Award for going above and beyond the call of duty to help an animal in need.

182 magistrate trials between January and March have collapsed due to lack of interpreter

In one case in Ipswich this year, a court was reduced to using Google Translate

Magistrates have filed 5,000 complaints against private firm Applied Language Solutions
select for full article By Daniel Martin, Whitehall Correspondent PUBLISHED:00:30, 24 November 2012| UPDATED:00:30, 24 November 2012
Dozens of trials have been abandoned because of a 'catastrophic' shortage of interpreters which has forced courts to rely on Google Translate, MPs have been told.

Ken Clarke's shambolic outsourcing of legal translation services is blamed for putting public safety at risk after suspects were released back on to the streets when interpreters failed to turn up.

The National Audit Office has found that between January and March this year, 182 trials in magistrates courts, and an unknown number in crown courts, have collapsed.

In one case in Ipswich in March, the failure of a Lithuanian interpreter to appear meant that Google Translate, a comparatively crude and time-consuming online translation service, had to be used.

A trial is declared 'ineffective' if it has to be abandoned on day one. It is then rescheduled at huge cost to taxpayers, with some defendants having to be freed on bail in the meantime.

The total of 182 does not include other delays caused by the interpreter shortage, such as trials having to be adjourned day after day. Magistrates, solicitors and translators warn that inadequate standards of interpretation could lead to miscarriages of justice and make British courts the 'laughing stock' of the world.

Courts across England used to rely on local interpreters but in January this year the former Justice Secretary controversially handed a monopoly on translating to a private firm, Applied Language Solutions.

Magistrates have lodged more than 5,000 complaints against the firm after it failed to send interpreters to a fifth of trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or translators who are simply incompetent. In one case the defendant's wife acted as an interpreter.

In another, ALS sent a Romanian to translate instead of a Roma speaker. The full depth of the scandal emerged in submissions to a justice select committee inquiry.

MPs were told that a murder trial went ahead with a beautician translating, even though she did not understand the words 'friction' or 'deterioration'.

Standards were allegedly so lax at the firm that a director of another translation company was able to sign up his cat Masha as an ALS translator – and the cat was offered jobs.

Many police forces also use ALS and in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, three Hungarians had to be released on bail as an interpreter could not be found.

Mr Clarke's reforms were supposed to save £18million a year, but a minister admitted in the summer that there will be no savings this year.

A spokesman for Capita, which took over the running of ALS earlier this year, said performance had improved, with more than 95 per cent of bookings now being filled and complaints down.

How France sees the same amount of taxis now, that they had in 1924 and how aspirin can only be sold in Chemists and nowhere else
[EXTRACT] By Simon Heffer PUBLISHED: 22:02, 23 November 2012
Historically, the French have despised the disciplines of the free market, dismissing them rudely as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ — one of the worst insults they can deploy.

However, it is the elimination of market mechanisms from so many aspects of French life that makes it such a wasteful, inefficient and, frankly, corrupt country.

Mr Sarkozy, briefly, planned to change this. He commissioned a progressive socialist, Jacques Attali, to draw up a list of essential reforms that would make France more competitive and efficient.

In January 2008, Mr Attali delivered a list of 316 proposals.

The fate of two of these sensible suggestions symbolised the futility of the whole exercise.

First, take the example of Mr Attali’s idea that the number of licensed taxis should be increased

The number had remained the same since 1924. But taxi drivers, furious that more licences would mean less work for each of them, called a strike which paralysed the city as other public transport services came out in sympathy. The idea was swiftly abandoned.

Second, reform of the way proprietary medicine was dispensed was proposed to break the monopoly enjoyed by pharmacists.

Indeed, it is impossible to buy minor drugs such as aspirin in a supermarket in France. Thus Mr Attali proposed that any shop should be allowed to sell over-the-counter drugs.

A strike by pharmacists put an end to that.

There was little more success with the other 314 proposals, most of which never left the drawing-board.

'Your conduct amounts to every parent's nightmare,' Judge Peter Rook QC
By Arthur Martin PUBLISHED: 16:51, 23 November 2012
A paedophile who was spared jail after molesting a five-year-old girl went on to rape a child by posing as a babysitter on the internet.

Red Saunders, 23, raped a girl of eight and sexually assaulted another seven-year-old girl after tricking two families into believing he was a legitimate babysitter.

He was hired through Gumtree, a popular online classifieds noticeboard, after using his brother’s name to pose as a child minder.

The parents of the girls had no idea he had been banned from working with children in 2005 for molesting a five-year-old girl while working as a playgroup organiser at a gym.

When they asked Saunders to provide a document to show he had been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau, he claimed it was ‘on its way’.

Following his arrest, police found a terrifying ‘abduction diary’ in which he described how to kidnap girls, abuse them, kill them and dispose of their bodies

A prison officer feared she was about to be killed when a gunman demanded a prisoner in her custody be freed, Woolwich Crown court has heard.
22 Nov 2012 BBC NEWS
Kim Lockwood said she had a gun held to her head at West Suffolk Hospital, where she was escorting Highpoint prisoner Andrew Farndon in January. He was uncuffed and fled the scene.

Garry Cowan, 44, from Thamesmead, denies possessing a replica handgun with intent to cause fear of violence and assisting an offender to escape.

The court heard how Farndon, who had been jailed for grievous bodily harm for fracturing his victim's skull in a hammer attack, was taken to the hospital's accident and emergency ward after suffering a knife wound to his shoulder.

'Sorry miss'

Ms Lockwood told the jury she felt a gun being pressed against her head moments after stepping out of a taxi used to travel from the prison in Stradishall.

Giving evidence behind a screen, Ms Lockwood said: "As we got out of the car I could obviously feel what I realised was the gun at my head.

"I was looking at Mr Farndon. He started saying 'I'm sorry miss, let me go'.

"At first, that it was a training thing work had set up... but very quickly it went out of my head."

She said she alerted her colleague Chris Matson, who held the keys to the handcuffs but had remained in the car unaware of the events unfolding outside.

"The gunman said he had 10 seconds to get the cuffs off or he was going to shoot us," Ms Lockwood said.

"He (Mr Matson) was struggling to get the keys out because he was shaking at the same time."

Asked by the prosecution what she feared may happen, she said: "That I was going to die."

Although initially unable to provide police with a description, Ms Lockwood later picked out a man she believed was the gunman from photographs shown to her by officers, the court heard.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Francis McGrath said: "Is it possible you recognised Mr Cowan ... and leapt to the conclusion he was the gunman?"

"No, not all," Ms Lockwood replied

School bring in proofreaders to check teachers' spelling
A team of proofreaders is being drafted in by a school to correct reports written by teachers before they are sent out to parents
The experts will correct grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes – a job usually done by schools themselves.

By Fred Attewill - 21st November, 2012
They will each be paid £14.02 an hour for up to three weeks’ work a year to make sure reports written about pupils by the dozens of full-time staff are up to scratch.

Critics said it was a ‘sad reflection on teachers who cannot write English’.

Former head teacher Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘It is very rare to find teachers who are not making mistakes in grammar and punctuation.

'These days it is common to find reports littered with errors.’

The proofreaders are being recruited by Northgate High School in Ipswich.

They will also be ‘tactfully suggesting strategies’ to help teachers who make frequent mistakes.

Head teacher David Hutton said: ‘Making a final quality check prior to publication merely indicates the high level of professionalism we strive to achieve.'

select for full article Drug dealer rammed woman's car on M5 motorway over unpaid £2,000 debt
Saturday, November 24, 2012, The Bristol Post
A drug dealer repeatedly rammed a woman’s car on the motorway while his accomplice aimed a rifle at her after she failed to pay a drug debt.

Jordan Small followed the woman at high speed on the M5 in Bristol after she left Weston-super-Mare without paying for her cannabis. While he did so, his accomplice Craig Hailstone pointed an air rifle at the vehicle, terrifying the occupants.

The shaken woman finally pulled over and paid up but her £2,000 vehicle had been written off.

At Bristol Crown Court Small, 21, of Madam Lane, Worle, Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply and dangerous driving.

Hailstone, 20, of Tavistock Road, Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm.

Judge Julian Lambert jailed Small for 28 months and banned him from driving for three years.

Hailstone was given a nine-month sentence in a young offender’s institution suspended for two years.

He was also given 240 hours unpaid work, a six-month tagged curfew and had to agree to not take any drugs or contact Small for two years.

Kirsty Real, prosecuting, said a woman had driven to Weston to pay off a £200 cannabis debt and had met Small in a supermarket car park.

“She then left and had not given him the money,” Miss Real said.

Both defendants then pursued her on the M5 in Mr Small’s van and pulled up alongside her, telling her to pull over.

“When she failed to do so the van was used to ram her vehicle from behind and on the side on several occasions,” Miss Real said.

“Mr Hailstone then produced a rifle that he aimed at the car.

“The woman’s friend told her not to stop because they had a gun.

“She pulled over onto the hard shoulder near junction 20 at Clevedon and the van crossed the path of a motorcycle in order to ram her car and caused it to spin.

“She managed to drive it back on the motorway but because of the damage the car was limited in speed.

THREE prisons in Doncaster are to be privatised, the Government has announced.
South Yorkshire Times 18 Nov 2012
Moorland, Lindholme and Hatfield will all be run by private firms – although controversial security firm G4S, which was heavily criticised for its handling of the Olympic Games security contract in the summer – has now been ruled out of the running.

Three companies – Sodexo, Serco and a MTC/Amey consortium – remain in the bidding process for the three South Yorkshire jails.

But the move has been met with criticism from prison officer leaders who have called for further consultation over the plan.

Public and Commercial Services general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The privatisation of our prison service ought to be a national scandal, and that this has happened without any public debate is shameful. It is morally reprehensible that companies are profiting from locking people up and we urgently need an independent review to look at the impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”

His words were echoed by Armthorpe parish councillor and former prison officer Tony Brown who said: “It is just a cost-cutting exercise which destroys prison officers’ morale.

“It is all about saving money but, in doing so, prison officers are being reduced to the status of mere security guards.

“It used to be a career – but not any more, there’s no longevity in the industry.”

The union remains concerned about the future of public prisons, as justice minister Chris Grayling has made clear further privatisation was likely and non-custodial functions could be outsourced.

There are already 13 other private prisons in the UK, holding 15 per cent of the prison population – a worldwide record, beating even the USA, where private prisons account for nine per cent of prisoners.

The Ministry of Justice said the prisons competition process had produced a ‘compelling package of reforms’ which it hoped would save £450m over the next six years.

select for full story Teenager who killed best friend in car crash jailed
A teenager who killed her best friend after crashing her car into a tree while “showing off” has been jailed for six months, as their grieving families have to be separated by police in court.
By Hannah Furness 12:44PM GMT 15 Nov 2012

Naomi Jones, now 19, admitted killing her best friend Elysia Ashworth, 17, as a court heard she drove “unacceptably fast” while approaching a blind bend.

She was today jailed for six months, as a judge noted there may have been an “element of showing off to your friends in the car and those following''.

Jones, who wept as she gave evidence to the court, claimed she had been left “completely devastated” by the death of her friend, whom she had known since they were 13.

Miss Ashworth’s family, who had written to the judge to express their feelings of injustice that their daughter's life had ended while Jones's would continue, were separated from the defendant’s parents by a uniformed police officer.

The pair had regularly enjoyed sleepovers at each other's houses, with Jones going on holiday to Cyprus with Miss Ashworth's family three years ago, the court heard

select for full story Lincolnshire Echo 15 Nov 2012
Officers at Lincoln Prison have vowed to fight to save their jobs and say they would consider a major protest if ministers close the jail.
Around 200 members of staff at the Greetwell Road site say they are in limbo and have demanded immediate answers from the Ministry of Justice
The Echo revealed at the start of the month how a review of the 140-year-old site is being carried out in Whitehall.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling may decide to downgrade the prison from a category B to a category C service or shut it altogether.

Should this happen, it may be replaced with an immigration centre.

Paul Wray, branch chairman of the Prison Officers Association at HMP Lincoln told the Echo: "We are in complete limbo.

"We have set up our own petition alongside that of the Lincolnshire Echo – who we thank for its support.

"If that doesn't prove successful then we will have to start thinking about protests.

"We haven't planned anything yet but we are determined to fight very hard for our jobs.

"Lincoln needs a prison at the end of the day.

"It is the uncertainty over our future that is the most annoying thing.

"Many of the prison officers have families and not knowing whether you are going to have a job in a few months time makes for very nervous times – it isn't fair.

"We have a new management team here and we want to keep our jobs."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice again refused to reveal any more details about its review into the prison's future this week.

Now, Mr Wray has urged the Ministry of Justice to make its final decision as soon as possible.

"We just have to know what is going on," added Mr Wray.

"We need answers as soon as possible.

"We want to know what is going on, how many days or weeks we have left and whether we need to start thinking about other jobs or developing skills in something completely different.

"Potentially prison officers, who may not have a job soon, are currently missing out on other opportunities.

"The problem we face, and we are realistic enough to know this, is that the public sector is cutting jobs left, right and centre."

Mr Wray hopes the petition, that will be in Lincoln city centre for people to sign on Saturday, attracts thousands of signatures.

select for full story There is a risk that the £66bn invested in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group by the government may never be recovered, a parliamentary committee has warned
16 November 2012 BBC NEWS
In a report into the sale of Northern Rock, the Public Accounts Committee said the sale of the bank in 2011 was "fortunate", and Lloyds and RBS may not be sold "for many years".

It noted that taxpayers were set to lose £2bn on Northern Rock's rescue.

A Treasury aide said it aimed, "to get the best possible value for taxpayers".

"This government is putting right the catastrophic regulatory failings of the last decade that led to the biggest bank bailout in the world," the Treasury aide added

The government currently owns 40% of Lloyds, and 82% of RBS.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said his sources in RBS said it was possible that some shares in RBS could be sold in 2014 but that it was unlikely any shares in Lloyds would be sold before 2015.

Harriet Harman leads boycott over Starbucks tax avoidance
select for full story Can people power force multinationals to start paying reasonable taxes? And who will a boycott really hurt?
Fri 16 Nov 2012. THE WEEK
HARRIET HARMAN, deputy leader of the Labour Party, announced last night on Question Time that she is going to take unilateral action over the failure of the multinational companies to pay their taxes – she's going to boycott Starbucks and buy her morning cappuccino elsewhere.

Harman's decision follows the pitiful appearance on Monday of Starbucks, Amazon and Google executives before the Commons public accounts committee – a public spending watchdog – chaired by Labour MP Margaret Hodge.

To the disbelief of cross-party MPs, Starbucks' chief financial officer Troy Alstead explained that Starbucks paid almost no tax in the UK because it made no money here. As The Guardian's sketch writer Simon Hoggart observed: "Year after year, the business failed. Yet somehow it survived, and the UK boss was even promoted! What a charity Starbucks is!"

Harman's boycott bandwagon already has momentum. The bosses of John Lewis and Dixons have both called on the Treasury to plug the tax loopholes that leave their stores at a disadvantage. Andy Street, MD at John Lewis, says the chain could be driven out of business because Amazon is able to undercut it, so much does it save in taxes. Sebastian James, CEO at Dixons, tweeted yesterday: "I agree with Andy Street: retailers making profits in the UK should pay tax in the UK."

People power could yet force the big three companies – and others who pay virtually no tax on huge profits in the UK – to volunteer to pay more to the Treasury for moral reasons.

select to play video
September 2012 video, recommended

Former Conservative politician Lord McAlpine has commenced legal action against a long list of organisations and individuals who wrongly linked him to a paedophile ring after coming to a £185,000 settlement with the BBC.
16 November 2012 The Independent
select for full story Lawyers representing the peer said action is being prepared against ITV's This Morning and a large number of Twitter users - including the wife of the Commons speaker - who identified him in connection with false sex abuse claims.
It comes after the BBC agreed a libel payout with Lord McAlpine after airing a botched Newsnight investigation into child abuse at a North Wales care home.

The terms of the agreement will be announced in court in a few days' time, according to RMPI LLP, the solicitors to the former Conservative Party treasurer.

The BBC said the settlement was comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made.

Lord McAlpine said he was "delighted" to have reached a quick and early settlement.

"I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account in reaching agreement with the BBC," he added.

"We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me."

The peer said the damage of the Newsnight report "can't be repaired" and he now has to live with the legacy of suspicion.

Ofcom yesterday revealed it is investigating the broadcast, which led to the resignation of BBC director-general George Entwistle and has further fuelled the crisis which has gripped the corporation since the Jimmy Savile scandal broke.

The regulator has also launched a probe into ITV1's This Morning after presenter Phillip Schofield brandished a list of names of alleged abusers which he had found on the internet and handed it to the Prime Minister during a live interview, asking if he would investigate them. The stunt provoked fury last week, and ITV said that disciplinary action had been taken.

Lord McAlpine was mistakenly implicated by Newsnight's November 2 broadcast in a paedophile ring that targeted children at a care home in Wrexham.

select for full story Train guard jailed over death of teenager Georgia Varley
Christopher McGee imprisoned for five years after signalling for train to leave platform as girl leaned against carriage, Thursday 15 November 2012
A railway guard convicted of the manslaughter of a teenager after he signalled for a train to move as she was leaning against the carriage has been jailed for five years.

Christopher McGee, 45, gave the signal for the driver to depart as Georgia Varley, 16, was leaning drunk against the window from the platform.

He had been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence by a unanimous jury at Liverpool crown court on Wednesday after a two-week trial.

McGee, who had worked as a guard for Merseyrail since 1992, showed no emotion as the sentence was passed on Thursday.

Mr Justice Holroyde told him: "Georgia's life was ended in a dreadful way at the age of just 16 by your gross negligence.

"You did not intend to kill or even injure her, but you displayed an appalling disregard for her safety, and she paid for your criminal negligence with her life."

The judge said aggravating features of the crime were McGee's "years of service and training".

"You must have known that a passenger who falls between the train and the platform is likely to be killed," he told the defendant. "As the guard of the train, you were in complete control of the movement of the train. That control carries with it the direct and personal responsibility for the safety of passengers.

"Much has been made on your behalf during this trial of how intoxicated Georgia was, but that did not relieve you of the duty of care which you owed to her.

"You alone determined whether the train remained stationary or began to move. Your decision and your action determined whether Georgia Varley was safe from risk."

The judge said McGee's negligence "can be measured in seconds" and "must be viewed against a background of more than 20 years' conscientious service on the railways".

He was told McGee had received a police caution in 2009 for growing nine cannabis plants at his home in Wallasey, Wirral.

School tells parents not to post snaps of their kids on Facebook..for fear of attracting paedos
select for full story FURIOUS parents have hit out at a headteacher who warned them not to post holiday snaps of their children wearing swimwear on social media sites — in case they become “useful” material for paedophiles.
15 Nov 2012 THE SUN
The headteacher at Anlaby Acre Heads Primary School in Hull, East Yorks has written to all parents stressing the potential dangers of sites including Facebook and Twitter. The letter from Rachel Robinson asks parents to “consider the clothes worn” by children in holiday, dance class and swimming gala photos before posting them online because they can be easily shared.

In the letter, Mrs Robinson warns: “When you are innocently updating your status with the highs and lows of the day you don’t always know who is watching.”

But while the safeguarding board has defended the letter as informative, parents at the school have slammed the decision, branding it “offensive”.

One parent who asked not be named, who has a seven-year-old son at the school, said: “I think this is an example of the world gone mad.

“It’s up to us what we post on our personal Facebook pages.

“The letter is quite scary and could worry parents unnecessarily but it also talks to parents like they are children.”

Another mother, whose five-year-son attends the school, said: “I found it absurd being told by school what you can and can’t post on social media.

“I’ve got holiday pictures of my kids on Facebook and a lot of my friends have got pictures of their kids on, too. Does it mean we have to take them down?”

The letter also warns parents their own security setting on sites such as Facebook are no substitute for responsible use because there are IT “whizz-kids” out there.

Parents have also been requested not to make any comment about the school, staff or pupils on any social media sites.

In a statement Mrs Robinson said: “Ensuring that children are safe and protected on the internet is just as important as teaching them to walk and talk.

“The letter is not telling parents what to do but presenting them with issues to consider when using the internet and social networking sites.”

She added: “Safeguarding children is everyone’s business and ensuring parents are aware of the dangers of social media sites is one way we can all help protect our children.”

the "last stand of the thin blue line".
A retired police inspector has set up a new organisation to campaign for officers to be given industrial rights, saying it was the "last stand of the thin blue line". Clacton Gazette 12 Nov 2012
Tony Munday, who spent more than 30 years with the Hertfordshire force, said the growing numbers of police community support officers and Highways Agency traffic officers "act as a blueprint for future privatisation" of the police service, but he insisted Police Choice was not calling for strikes, adding that it simply wanted "greater safeguards for the role of the police in society to serve the public".

Along with the armed forces and prison officers, the police are banned in law from taking industrial action and Home Secretary Theresa May has said the issue is "off the table", adding: "Keeping our communities safe is simply too important."

But Mr Munday, co-chairman of Police Choice, said: "The British public have largely been kept in the dark about the real risks posed to policing by consent through the introduction of we believe is a privatisation of the police service, accelerated under this current Government. Both the introduction of more PCSOs on the street, and Highways Agency traffic officers on our roads, act as a blueprint for future privatisation.

select for full story N.I. Officers stage protest at prison closure plans
12th November 2012 in News By N - Letter
PRISON officers are to stage a rally at Stormont next Monday to protest against plans to shut Magilligan jail.

Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association in Northern Ireland said senior members of the national executive committee in London would also be attending.

A petition is to be handed over to the Justice Minister David Ford.

Magilligan, which opened in May 1972 on the site of a former army base, is due to close in 2018 and be replaced with a new medium security prison nearer Belfast. Land close to the top security Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim is believed to be one option being considered as a site.

There are about 350 prison officers based at Magilligan which houses an estimated 500 low to medium risk male prisoners, the majority of whom have less than six years to serve.

Closure will have a major financial impact on the nearest town, Limavady.

Mr Spratt said: “We believe Magilligan has played a valuable role in the penal and justice system. Shutting is part of a long term plan by the authorities to have the prison system here privatised.”

select for full story Published on Monday 12 November 2012 03:15 by Yorkshire Evening Post
Prison staff are joining forces with fundraising rugby stars to tackle the Leeds Abbey Dash.
Around 60 staff from HMP Leeds will join Leeds Rhinos legends Keith Senior and Barrie McDermott for the 10k race to raise cash for muscular dystrophy charity Joining Jack.

Four prisoners will also join the group for the run on Sunday, November 18.

The head of resettlement at HMP Leeds, Mark Hudson, said: “The camaraderie every week is exactly the same as in any other big workplace. A prison is what it is but some good news stories do exist.

“Staff and prisoners often come together to support nominated charities.

“With the Leeds Abbey Dash being one of the UK’s most popular 10k road races, attracting a field of 9,000 runners, the decision for staff to run for Joining Jack was an easy one to make.

“I wanted to encourage as many staff as possible to take part. On the start line in Leeds on Sunday morning, we will have 70 runners, including four prisoners, all proud to be wearing the Joining Jack logo on their chests.”

Prisoner Stephen Rawlinson said: “We like to give stuff back and get involved. It is exciting to feel a part of something and serve the community.”

Craig Huby and Danny Orr from Castleford Tigers, Matt James from Wakefield Wildcats, Hull FC captain Andy Lynch and former Leeds Rhinos player Ikram Butt have also been recruited for the run.

Joining Jack raises awareness and money to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and is run by former Castleford Tigers player Andy Johnson, whose son Jack suffers from the disease.

Barrie McDermott, who played for Leeds Rhinos between 1995 and 2006 and now has a career as a youth coach and TV pundit, said

select for full story A drink-driver from Manchester who killed an aspiring model after driving the wrong way down the M62 motorway has been jailed for eight years.
Ewan Palmer 13 Nov 2012
Wilfred Museka admitted causing the death of Rebecca Caine, 20, from Leeds, by dangerous driving, after they were invloved in a head-on collision on 16 September. Three others were hurt in the crash.

Zimbawbwe-born Museka, of Clayton, was also banned from driving for eight years at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court. Following the crash, it was revealed Museka was more than twice the drink-drive limit when he hit the Leeds City College business student.

The defendant, who has a previous conviction for drink-driving and other motoring offences, was also found to only have only a provisional and not a full UK licence, and had obtained insurance for the vehicle fraudulently.

On 16 September 2012 Museka, who was driving a black Renault Megane, joined the M62 by driving the wrong way along the exit slip road.

He continued to drive the wrong way along the eastbound carriageway for about half a mile before crashing into Caine's Chevrolet Matiz, kiling her instantly.

Museka, who gained political asylum after arriving in the UK in 2000, had been to a family party in Manchester.

Caine's family issued a statement in which they paid tribute to the 20-year-old and denounced the "total waste of a beautiful life".

The family added: "As you can imagine our lives are shattered and our hearts are broken into pieces.

"She was a beautiful girl with her whole life ahead of her. She was embarking on a modelling career and would be finishing her final year of her business degree at Leeds University.

Aixam Coupe S: The car you can drive at 16... but at 28mph
It might not impress Jeremy Clarkson and co on Top Gear but this car will go down a treat in the schoolyard.
By Hayden Smith - 13th November, 2012

select for full story
The Aixam Coupe S can be driven by 16-year-olds on a moped licence (Picture: SWNS)

It might not impress Jeremy Clarkson and co on Top Gear but it will go down a treat in the schoolyard.

The Aixam Coupe S looks like a compact city car, and at £9,999 it certainly costs as much.

It is classed as a ‘light quadricycle’ and can be driven by 16-year-olds.

With a top speed of 45kph (28mph) it puts the brakes on would-be boy racers but it beats the school bus and can be driven with a moped licence.

To qualify as a quadricycle, it also weighs less than 350kg (55st).

The bad news is that teenagers might struggle to pay the £2,200-a-year insurance for the car, which features a 400cc diesel engine.

Made by a French manufacturer based in Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, it will be launched in Britain at Motorcycle Live on November 24 at the NEC in Birmingham.

‘We believe that the young rider market for scooters and mopeds has been contracting lately,’ said Justin Bond, Aixam’s UK manager.

‘That is due to the difficulty in convincing parents of the safety issues surrounding mopeds and scooters. This will offer a safer method of transport.’.

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Four prison officers badly injured after being slashed and stabbed with broken glass by crazed inmate
select to read entire article

By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED:17:10, 8 November 2012| UPDATED:17:39, 8 November 2012
Four prison officers have been badly injured after being slashed and stabbed with broken glass by a crazed inmate.

The wardens were set upon by the prisoner who is said to have 'flipped' as he was being taken out of his cell for lunch at Birmingham's Winson Green Prison on Wednesday afternoon.

One officer was stabbed five times by the prisoner on the jail's health care unit - while another man was slashed on his arm.

select to read entire article
Winson Green prison in Birmingham where four prison officers have been badly injured after being slashed and stabbed with broken glass by an inmate
A third male suffered leg wounds and a fourth sustained an injury to their hand after being attacked with the 'improvised weapon', police said.

Two of the prison officers yesterday remained in a stable condition in hospital while the other pair were released following treatment.

Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, from West Midlands Police, said: 'Police were called by the ambulance service at 12.48pm on Wednesday to a report of four prison officers being assaulted at HMP Birmingham.

'Initial inquiries suggest that the four were injured by an improvised weapon.

The four men were taken to hospital. Two remain in hospital in a stable condition.

'Detectives have launched an investigation into the assault and we are working closely with the prison.

'A prisoner has been transferred to a mental health facility while inquiries continue.'

Glyn Travis, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said: 'We understand four officers have been attacked - one very seriously.

The scale of unpaid tax now outstrips the entire deficit
select for full story A roll call of corporate rogues who are milking the country
Seumas Milne The Guardian, Tuesday 30 October 2012
'Only the little people pay taxes," the late American corporate tax evader Leona Helmsley famously declared. That's certainly the spirit of David Cameron and George Osborne's Britain. Five years into the crisis, the British economy has just edged out of its third downturn, but construction is still reeling from government cuts and most people's living standards are falling.

Those at the sharp end are being hit hardest: from cuts to disability and housing benefits, tax credits and the educational maintenance allowance and now increases in council tax while NHS waiting lists are lengthening, food banks are mushrooming across the country and charities report sharp increases in the number of children going hungry. All this to pay for the collapse in corporate investment and tax revenues triggered by the greatest crash since the 30s.

At the other end of the spectrum though, things are going swimmingly. The richest 1,000 people in Britain have seen their wealth increase by £155bn since the crisis began – more than enough to pay off the whole government deficit of £119bn at a stroke. Anyone earning over £1m a year can look forward to a £42,000 tax cut in the spring, while firms have been rewarded with a 2% cut in corporation tax to 24%.

Not that many of them pay anything like that, even now. The scale of tax avoidance by high-street brand multinationals has now become clear, in no small part thanks to campaigning groups such as UK Uncut. Asda, Google, Apple, eBay, Ikea, Starbucks, Vodafone: all pay minimal tax on massive UK revenues, mostly by diverting profits earned in Britain to their parent companies, or lower tax jurisdictions via royalty and service payments or transfer pricing.

Four US companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google and Starbucks – have paid just £30m tax on sales of £3.1bn over the last four years, according to a Guardian analysis. Apple is estimated to have avoided over £550m in tax on more than £2bn worth of underlying profits in Britain by channelling business through Ireland, according to a Sunday Times analysis, while Starbucks has paid no corporation tax in Britain for the last three years.

The Tory MP and tax lawyer Charlie Elphicke estimates 19 US-owned multinationals are paying an effective tax rate of 3% on British profits, instead of the standard rate of 26%. It's all entirely legal, of course. But taken together with the multiple individual tax scams of the elite, this roll call of corporate infamy has become an intolerable scandal, when taxes are rising and jobs, benefits and pay being cut for the majority.

Not only that, but collecting the taxes that these companies have wriggled out of would go a long way to shrinking the deficit for which working- and middle-class Britain's living standards are being sacrificed. The total tax gap between what's owed and collected has been estimated by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK at £120bn a year: £25bn in legal tax avoidance, £70bn in fraudulent tax evasion and £25bn in late payments.

Revenue and Customs' own last guess of £35bn has been widely recognised as a serious underestimate. But even allowing for the fact that it would never be possible to close the entire gap, those figures give a sense of what resources could be mobilised with a determined crackdown. Set them, for instance, against the £83bn in cuts planned for this parliament (including £18bn in welfare) – or the £1.2bn estimated annual benefit fraud bill – and you get a sense of what's at stake.

Cameron and Osborne wring their hands at the "moral repugnance" of "aggressive avoidance", but are doing nothing serious about it whatever. They've been toying with a general "anti-abuse" principle. But it would only catch a handful of the kind of personal dodges the comedian Jimmy Carr signed up to, not the massive profit-shuffling corporate giants have been dining off.

Meanwhile, ministers are absurdly slashing the tax inspection workforce, and even introducing a new incentive for British multinationals to move their operations inbusiness to overseas tax havens. The scheme would, accountants KPMG have been advising clients, offer an "effective UK tax rate of 5.5%" from 2014 (and cut British tax revenues into the bargain).

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