The X Factor’s Sam Bailey: I’m no Johnny Cash – I won’t play for prisoners
M E T R O 18 DEC 2013
select for full details Exclusive: X Factor winner Sam Bailey won’t be doing a Johnny Cash by entertaining the lags.

The 36-year-old former prison officer said she was happy to go back to jail to say ‘hi’ now she is famous but that’s where the party ends.

‘I probably will go back and visit them but I can’t see myself doing a Johnny Cash,’ she told Guilty Pleasures, referring to the late jailbird’s famous gig for the prisoners in California’s San Quentin jail in 1958. But the mum-of-two from Leicestershire, said witnessing ‘extreme’ events behind bars gave her the courage to succeed.

‘Seeing somebody change is always a good thing,’ she said. ‘Extreme things are best kept within the prison walls.’

‘The patting on the back moment is when you help save somebody or you deal with someone who is not coping very well and you bring them out of that hole and that’s a real rewarding job for anybody. You have to forget that these people are there for certain crimes but you can’t judge them.

‘When you see them come out the other side, that is the most rewarding thing. I have seen so many rewarding things in my life, those have prepared me for this. So I am quite street wise.’

Away from her old job, she is thinking big and has vowed to conquer the States in the charts.

‘I am a big fan of America, I remember when I was about 12, all I wanted for Christmas was an American flag to put up in my room.

‘Everything American, I used to talk American,’ she said. ‘I like the idea of the proms, the school thing because school for me was pretty boring compared to in America. It’s all so extravagant. I really wanted to be an American.

‘To just go out there and be able to sing and have the same sort of recognition over there would be amazing but one step at a time. I need to crack the UK before America.’

X Factor winner Sam Bailey announces UK tour dates with Beyonce
Lydia Smith 19 DEC 2013
select for full details X Factor winner Sam Bailey will support Run The World star Beyonce on her upcoming tour - and a date has been set.

Mother-of-two Sam will perform ahead of Queen Bey on February 24 2014, on the UK leg of her Mrs Carter tour.

The former prison officer was crowned the UK's 10th X Factor winner, after the public picked her over teenage songster Nicholas McDonald.

She has won a recording contract, as well as the chance to support Beyonce next year.

Talking to Digital Spy, Sam said she would love to be on stage with Beyonce - even if it was "just for a minute."

She said: "My daughter will come and watch it, but my son probably won't because he's only 4 and it might be a bit too loud for him.

"Can you imagine on the Beyoncé tour Tom sitting there playing Angry Birds on the tablet with his headphones on? It's not going to look very good, is it?"

The star broke down after she received news she had won The X Factor.

However, it was no surprise after all - as Caroline Flack revealed on The Xtra Factor that Sam won 8 out of the 10 live show votes.

The other two shows were won by runner-up Nicholas McDonald, on the weeks when he sang She's The One and Someone Like You

No charges for prison officers accused of assaulting Michael Adebolajo
The Guardian 19 DEC 2013
select for full details Five prison officers accused of assaulting Woolwich murderer Michael Adebolajo have no case to answer.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) said on Thursday that the officers will face no criminal charges over the incident at high-security prison Belmarsh, during which the 29-year-old Adebolajo, who killed soldier Lee Rigby, had his front teeth knocked out.

However the POA said it was "disappointed" that the officers remain suspended from work.

The National Offender Management Service, the executive agency of the Ministry of Justice that runs probation and custody services, plans to carry out its own internal investigation.

The POA's general secretary, Steve Gillan, welcomed the decision not to prosecute the group. "This is the correct decision," he said. "My members have carried out their duties in a thoroughly professional manner and should never have been suspended or referred to the police in the first instance.

"They and their families have been under an enormous amount of pressure since the allegations emerged in July 2013 and that is something that should never have occurred."

PM vows to 'clip wings' of court
Press Assoc 13 DEC 2013
select for full details Prisoners "damn well shouldn't" be given the right to vote David Cameron said today as he called for the European Court of Human Rights to have its wings clipped.

The Prime Minister underlined his opposition to the bid by a group of convicts and insisted the final decision must lie with Parliament, not in Europe.

The ECHR - which has ruled Britain's blanket ban on votes for those behind bars is a breach of their human rights - has announced it is reopening 2,281 compensation claims by UK prisoners.

Quizzed by workers about the move during a tour of the Tetley tea factory in Stockton-on-Tees, he said: "If Parliament decides that prisoners should not get the vote then I think they damn well shouldn't."

He added: " It should be a national decision taken in our Parliament."

Mr Cameron said the court's powers must be restricted, telling workers "we need to clip its wings".

Mr Cameron said tougher controls on freedom of movement within the European Union will be needed in the future and suggested restrictions could be placed on new member states until they reached a similar level of wealth as the UK.

"We're putting in very tough measures and controls but I think in the future we will need to go further.

"When other countries join the European Union we should be insisting on longer transitions and perhaps even saying until you reach a proper share of an average European Union GDP you can't have freedom of movement.

"The reason for that is if you look at migration between Britain and Germany or France and Germany, countries of pretty even GDP, the movements are pretty much balanced.

"Its only when you have a real imbalance when you have a poor country and a much wealthier country that you get these vast movements."

select for full details

G4S and Serco lose tagging contract
Belfast Telegraph 12 DEC 2013
Private security giants G4S and Serco are set to lose contracts for electronically tagging criminals to rival firm Capita following an overcharging scandal.

Electronic monitoring will be handed to Capita on an interim basis at the end of the financial year , Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said.

Capita is in the running to take on the contracts permanently later in 2014, Mr Grayling added.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened a criminal investigation after it emerged G4S and Serco overcharged the Government for tagging offenders, some of whom were found to be dead, back in prison or overseas.

In a written statement, Mr Grayling said: "We have signed a contract with Capita to take over the management of the existing electronic monitoring services on an interim basis.

"This will mean that management of these services, which are now operated by G4S and Serco, will transition to Capita by the end of the current financial year.

"Under these arrangements, Capita will be using the systems and equipment of G4S and Serco, but the two companies will no longer have a direct role in delivering the service on the ground."

G4S and Serco both withdrew from competition for future tagging contracts, which were due to expire at the end of March.

During the interim period, Capita will be subcontracting tagging equipment from G4S and Serco but will take on full responsibility for supply if it wins the contract. Other preferred bidders include Buddi, Astrium and Telefonica

Mr Grayling said: " This signals a fresh start for electronic monitoring that brings us a step closer to introducing the most advanced tagging system in the world.

"Monitoring the movements of dangerous and repeat offenders will be vital in cutting crime, creating a safer society with fewer victims and offering greater protection and reassurance to the public."

An audit by big four accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, launched in May, alleged that overcharging began at least as far back as the start of the current contracts in 2005.

Mr Grayling told the two firms that an independent forensic audit was required to look at, among other areas, internal email trails between executives to establish what happened.

More than 2,500 prisoners to have phones, computer screens and showers in their cells
Sara Smyth 12 DEC 2013
select for full details Prisoners in newly-built jails will have phones and computer terminals in their cells so they are able to contact relatives, arrange activities and order meals.

The feature will be rolled out in the newest prisons in the UK in order to improve the quality of prisoner accommodation.

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) published today, in-cell phones and computer terminals have already been installed in HMP Thameside.

The report recommended new prisons contain ‘terminals to book activities and order meals’.

It added: ‘In-cell telephones, as well as allowing prisoners to maintain family contact (important for successful rehabilitation), also contribute to prisoner safety,’ the report said.

The phones will be used in new prisons throughout England and Wales, where more than 2,500 prisoners are housed.

The Government’s spending watchdog said the facilities built by National Offender Management Service provide ‘a good standard of accommodation for prisoners.’

The report said that the new forms of communication had been welcomed by prisoners in focus groups.

‘Prisoners generally recognised the improvement in accommodation, as has the independent inspectorate,' it added.

More than 90 per cent of cells have built-in showers and in all new buildings have attached toilets.

The report, which looked at value for money across the prison system, said the measures were introduced because they saved funds.

Removing the need to unlock prisoners to wash helps to reduce staff costs, while in-cell telephones reduce the need to set up queues for communal phones or watch prisoners out of their cells.

Elsewhere the report said more foreign prisoners should be removed from the country after the number of deportations fell by 14 per cent since 2009.

It added: 'Removing more prisoners would allow the Agency to reduce prison capacity. This could happen if the Home Office prioritised cases better, improved case administration and used the foreign national offender-only prisons, that the Agency has created, more effectively.'

Drugs in prisons :Supply and remand
Economist 7 DEC 2013
select for full details INMATES at Oakwood prison in Staffordshire say drugs are easier to obtain than soap.

Inspectors at Brixton prison in London said in August that cannabis use was so widespread that officers’ uniforms stank of skunk.

Demand for drugs in prisons is high. Thanks in part to technology, the supply can readily meet it.

Drugs enter prisons in a variety of ways.

Offenders released on temporary licences smuggle in contraband, as do some staff.

Visitors conceal drugs wrapped in cling film in body orifices (known as “plugging” or “crutching”) or in babies’ nappies, then slip them to prisoners in cups of tea or crisp packets.

Drugs are thrown over prison walls concealed in tennis balls or even in dead pigeons.

Some arrive by post: not all letters are scanned.

When one jail allowed inmates to receive Christmas cards, a surge in drugs ensued.

One ex-offender got her sister to buy heroin and send it sewn into the hem of a towel.

The prison drug market does not run on cash. Small sales are generally paid for with tobacco or other items from the canteen, bought with prisoners’ limited earnings or with money sent from outside: drugs tend to sell in prison for about four times the street price.

Large transactions are usually co-ordinated externally.

Technology makes that easier.

Mobile banking apps mean convict dealers can manage payments made outside the prison before doling out drugs.

Satellite maps on smartphones facilitate the placement of a package flung over the walls.

Prisoners are not supposed to have mobile phones, but these are smuggled in, too.

Drug testing and treatment programmes have not eradicated drugs in prison, but they have shaped the trade.

Prescription drugs and heroin, which clears the body quickly, are favoured to get around random mandatory drug tests.

Drug addicts are given heroin substitutes such as methadone and Subutex, a brand of the opioid buprenorphine; these can be traded.

An ex-prisoner who was a heroin addict says the methadone dose was too low anyway. She .....

Killer sues prison for right to have sex with wife
Edinburgh News 8 DEC 2013
select for full details A CONVICTED murderer who was jailed for life is suing for the right to have sex with his wife in prison after being granted legal aid to fund a court battle.

Kevin Gibson was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years for killing his friend, Timothy Wallace, and dumping his body in a suitcase in the Water of Leith in 2003.

The 33-year-old claims that the Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) refusal to allow conjugal visits breaches his human rights.

David Hines, of the National Victims’ Association, said: “When prisoners commit murder, they have forfeited their human rights and are lucky to be alive in jail.

“We need to stop this nonsense about giving rights to prisoners and not to victims.

“This particular case is absolutely outrageous and proves that the entire legal process is geared towards the needs of murderers.

“It is completely immoral that prisoners have access to more legal aid and medical treatment than the victims and their families.

“Someone needs to step in and stop this injustice.”

Gibson is serving his sentence at Addiewell Prison, West Lothian.

He rekindled his relationship with former girlfriend Louise Kennedy while behind bars, and the pair were married last year at a service inside the jail.

They applied for legal aid to fight for their “human right” to a family life this summer.

The couple argue they are entitled to either free IVF treatment or conjugal visits so that they can have a child.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) confirmed that the couple have been awarded taxpayers’ money to fund “advice and assistance” so their lawyers, Taylor & Kelly, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, can begin to prepare a case.

A SLAB spokesman said: “When considering the grounds for approving a legal aid application of this kind, we look at whether there are fundamental human rights issues that have not been heard before in a Scottish court.

“The background of applicants is not a part of the process to test how the case sits with European Court of Human Rights provisions.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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