select for full details ‘Ridiculous’ £9m divorce earns sister prison term
A ‘RIDICULOUS’ £9.4million divorce row has led to jail terms for a brother and sister — with a combined age of almost 150.
By Joel Taylor 7 Nov, 2018

Property tycoon John Hart, 83, was sentenced to 14 months earlier this year for failing to co-operate with his former air hostess ex-wife, Karen, 62.

Now his sister, Susan Byrne, 65, has been handed a three-month sentence for contempt for defying court orders out of ‘misplaced loyalty’ to her older brother.

‘In my opinion, this is a ridiculous situation which is brought about by a steadfast refusal to obey court orders,’ said Judge Stephen Wildblood.

The epic battle, which has already swallowed up £1million in legal fees, was triggered when Mr Hart was ordered to pay his ex-wife £3.5million by a divorce judge.

The ‘proud and canny’ self-made businessman kept £5.9million of the marital pot, but was told to hand over his £1.6million property business to his ex.

Mrs Hart (pictured) gained a court possession order for the business in 2015 but found it had been ‘stripped’ of almost all the records needed to run it.

Hart was jailed in May after failing to fully comply with an order to hand over the documents. The judge said the pensioner ‘was of blameless character’ but had shown ‘no remorse at all’ and had thrown away ‘some of the money which he holds so dear’ in legal fees.

Yesterday the high court judge sentenced his sister for failing to hand Mrs Hart the records. The ‘highly respected and respectable’ Byrne acted ‘out of her sense of misplaced loyalty to the elder brother who has protected her and cared for her from a very early age,’ he said.

Byrne has 21 days to appeal before the sentence comes into effect.

The Harts wed in 1987 and had two children. They enjoyed a ‘lavish lifestyle’, with homes in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, Miami and Spain.

Prison officer jailed for smuggling £10,000 of drugs
Claire Bennett, 44, also leaked prison intelligence to inmates at HM Young Offender Institution in Aylesbury.
By BBC NEWS 8 Nov, 2018

A prison officer who smuggled in £10,000 of drugs has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

select for full details At Aylesbury Crown Court, Bennett, of Hailsham, East Sussex, admitted misconduct in a public office and offences relating to supplying drugs to prisoners.

Thames Valley Police said her conduct "compromised safety" at the prison.

Bennett, of Sandbanks Close, admitted one count of misconduct in a public office, one count of supplying a controlled drug of class B, one count of possessing a controlled drug of class B and one count of conveying a list 'A' prohibited article into/out of a prison.

PC Maureen Moore, from the Thames Valley Police prison investigation team, said the officer's actions "jeopardised the safe running of the wings".

She added: "Bennett knowingly brought drugs into the prison which causes danger and violence to both prisoners and officers alike.

"Her conduct severely compromised the safety of staff and visitors to the prison."

Prisons minister Rory Stewart MP said he was "pleased" to see Bennett receive a "significant sentence".

He added: "Corrupt and criminal activity like this undermines a whole prison and puts our hard-working staff at risk."

Government reveals second new prison in England to be privately run
HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire and HMP Wellingborough will be built using public capital
By Jamie Grierson 6 Nov, 2018

Two new jails announced by the government are to be privately run, it has emerged, as the role of profit-making prisons comes under increased scrutiny after the crisis at the formerly G4S-operated HMP Birmingham.

select for full details In a parliamentary written answer, the prisons minister, Rory Stewart, confirmed that HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire will be privately run.

the MoJ previously said a new jail – HMP Wellingborough – would be privately run. Both prisons will be built using public capital.

In August, ministers were forced to take the operation of HMP Birmingham away from G4S while public sector officials attempted to restore order to the prison. High levels of violence, drug use and self-harm had prompted the chief inspector of prisons to issue an urgent notification process to the justice secretary. This is the most severe course of action available to the inspector.

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, who tabled a written question asking if the new prisons would be privately run, said: “Just how bad does it have to get until the government ends its obsession with the private sector running huge swathes of our justice system in order to make a quick profit?

“This summer two flagship justice privatisations ran aground, with HMP Birmingham brought back under public control and the government forced to end the private probation contracts early. But the Tories refuse to learn the lessons.

“There are very real fears that corners will be cut as the private contractors running these new prisons put profits first. Public accountability is also likely to be undermined as the private companies, hiding behind the cloak of commercial confidentiality, have no requirement to publish staffing levels for example.

'Deaths in Walton prison will fall'
A recent spate of deaths in under pressure Walton prison has raised concern - but Mersey Care CEO Joe Rafferty says things will change
By Jonathan Humphries 11 Nov, 2018
select for full details
The boss of Mersey Care health trust predicted deaths in Walton prison 'will fall' after a new regime took over.

HMP Liverpool was rocked by a spate of three deaths in four weeks, including 40-year-old Damien Anderson, who died within 48 hours of arriving at the jail last month.

The tragic run also included 47-year-old Ian Galtress, who also died in October, and 36-year-old Paul Jones, who died on September 26.

The Ministry of Justice has now launched an investigation which will be completed by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman(PPO).

Responsibility for health care at the prison has was handed to Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in April, after three years under Lancashire Care Foundation Trust (LCFT).

LCFT had in turn taken over from the disgraced Liverpool Community Health Trust (LCH) after a scathing investigation by Dr Bill Kirkup unveiled shocking failings by LCH bosses.

The Kirkup report found lives were "likely to have been lost" at the prison between 2010 and 2014 due to catastrophic failings at a trust riven by cost-cutting and a "bullying culture."

Dr Kirkup's report, commissioned by watchdog NHS Improvement, identified 19 deaths in HMP Liverpool where the trust had failed to learn lessons.

Bristol University students face £100 noisy party fine
students at the University of Bristol who keep their neighbours awake with noise now face a £100 fine.
By BBC NEWS 18 Oct, 2018

City residents have complained of parties in shared houses affecting whole streets due to the volume.

select for full details Under the university's scheme, each student in a property could be fined if wrongdoing was uncovered.

Repeat offenders face fines of up to £250, and a charge of £50 to attend anti-social behaviour impact awareness sessions.

Students sign a contract agreeing to adhere to a code of conduct when they enrol, including penalties for "breaches of local rules and regulations".

First-year economics student Ben, who did not wish to give his surname, described the fines as "a bit steep and a strong deterrent".

He said: "You can understand the locals perspectives and I would hate the noise, but if you are living in a student area like Redland or Cotham you should expect it."

First-year biochemistry student Luca Colby added: "If you are planning a party you should warn your neighbours first, but keeping them up all night with noise isn't on."

Students get welcome packs on community living, including how to be considerate neighbours.

The university holds campaigns aimed at first and second-year students to help them integrate as they move into private rented accommodation.

Money raised from fines goes back into a community fund for activities which encourage students to positively engage with their neighbours.

select for full details Police could suspend 101 non-emergency number
Bedfordshire Police suspended the service this week to cope with a spike in calls
By Lizzie Dearden 10 Nov, 2018

Police forces across the country could start suspending the non-emergency 101 service to cope with an influx of calls, it has been warned.

Bedfordshire Police announced a “suspension” of 101 after a spike in 999 calls last week, in what could be the first move of its kind.

But The Independent has learned there is no requirement for police forces to inform authorities or the public if they take the same decision.

Suspensions of 101 are not formally recorded by either the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) or the Home Office, meaning that the scale of the practice is unknown.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, called for full monitoring to be brought in amid a rise in violent crime.

“I can see more forces starting to suspend 101, and I think they should if it means we can prioritise the here-and-now emergencies,” he told The Independent.

“I think they will be forced into that position. The sad reality is that there are officers across the country not answering 999 calls in the time they should because there are simply not enough resources going round.”

select for full details Children in prison aren’t coping
Most young people in English jails feel isolated and take drugs to deal with stress, grief and anger – it’s a ticking time-bomb
By Mark Johnson 7 Nov, 2018

Children’s jails are places we all wish didn’t exist. In this country we lock children up at 10, the minimum legal age for criminal responsibility. In secure children’s homes, young offender institutions and secure training centres, children are detained for committing crime but also for their own protection from abuse. This means some are detained having done nothing wrong. They can be locked up for any amount of time, including for the majority of their childhood.

Recently, User Voice, the organisation I founded, gave some of them an opportunity to tell the world about their lives. We spoke to 200 out of the approximately 1,000 children in jails, through focus groups, interviews and surveys. These voices are rarely heard, so this is probably the most in-depth consultation of incarcerated 10- to 17-year-olds in recent history.

What they told us made me angry and fearful for their futures. These vulnerable children are seriously stressed. Eighty-five per cent said they had taken drugs, of whom a large proportion told us this was to cope and to alleviate stress, grief and anger.

“Isn’t that why all people take drugs, to suppress feelings and escape the world? It’s an easy way to cope with reality,” one child explained. For all the stories of good practice and standout staff, there were many, many more of torturous loneliness.

“I have been let down in the care system so many times it’s hard to trust,” was the all-too-common refrain. “It’s OK if you’ve got small problems,” said another boy, seemingly resigned to dealing with his issues on his own. They are far from isolated examples. These children don’t believe adults will help them: three-quarters said they didn’t trust any professional involved in their so-called care. “Can’t go anywhere for help because all they will do is write stuff down and use it against you,” one child told us.

select for full details Public confidence in police damaged by cuts, report warns
MPs say forces in England and Wales are making fewer arrests, ‘severely denting’ trust
By Rajeev Syal 7 Nov, 2018

Public confidence in the ability of police officers to do their jobs has been “severely dented” as forces struggle to cope with dwindling resources, parliament’s spending watchdog has warned.

The public accounts select committee concluded police are taking longer to charge suspects, fewer arrests are being made and the number of patrol officers has been stripped back.

Cuts in funding and reductions of about one-fifth to staffing levels have left forces under “increasing strain”, according to a cross-party report released on Wednesday.

The report highlighted how police are dealing with more non crime-related incidents, at a time when violent and sexual offending is on the rise.

It comes amid a heated debate over why crime is rising. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has led Labour politicians this week in claiming funding cuts are a major factor in the rise in knife attacks across the UK. Government ministers, in contrast, have blamed a change in the “nature of crime”.

The report said: “Forces are struggling to deliver an effective service: it is taking longer to charge offences, they are making fewer arrests, they are doing less neighbourhood policing and public satisfaction is declining.”

The committee cited figures showing the proportion of crimes resulting in a charge or summons dropped from 15% in March 2015 to 9% in March 2018.

Police are carrying out less proactive work, including fewer breathalyser tests, motoring fixed penalties and convictions for drug trafficking and possession, the report said.

MPs also levelled criticism at the Home Office, accusing the department of failing to show “strategic leadership” of the policing system and having only a “limited understanding” of the resources needed by forces.

“The police’s main duties are to protect the public and prevent crime,” the report said. “But only about a quarter of the emergency and priority incidents that the police respond to are crime-related.”

select for full details 'My friend had his skull cracked open'
Harrowing reality of UK jails REVEALED by ex-guard
By Ciaran McGrath 10 Nov, 2018

A FORMER prison officer has offered a harrowing insight into the violence which he said was rife inside Britain's jails – and which he said was driving experienced staff out of the service, to be replaced by raw recruits

His comments came a week after official figures showed a 27 percent rise in assaults on staff compared with last year. The man – who spoke to on condition of anonymity – spent almost a decade in the profession before eventually deciding enough was enough. He said: "Underfunding of the prison service has been ever present since I joined it.

"The training the officers get is adequate but more about report writing than the hard front line stuff.

"The control and restraint that used to be so effective is being weeded out to be replaced by less physical restraint - something called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR).”

He stressed staff on the frontline did their best on a daily basis – but felt they were not given sufficient backing by their managers.

He added: "The funding levels are critical, equipment used by officers are generally not fit for purpose.

"They introduced uniformed boots that were promised to be as good as Magnums, turned out to be cheap Chinese knock-offs that hurt most officers' feet.

"The general public don't understand what goes on behind those gates, how violent life inside a prison is for everyone.

"It's not like it's in the press a lot unless something bad happens such as a murder inside or a riot.

"Due to this, prisons are not discussed at all.

"Assaults on staff have been at a record high and I have been subjected to these over my time working in prisons.

select for full details Prisons to deliver trailblazing £6m rough sleeping initiative
Three prisons will pilot a trailblazing new scheme that will help ex-offenders stay off the streets and away from crime, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced today.
By MOJ announcement 8 Nov, 2018

Leeds, Pentonville and Bristol prisons have been chosen to spearhead the £6 million pilot programme aimed at helping vulnerable ex-prisoners find and stay in stable accommodation.

Research shows that those who are homeless or in temporary accommodation are significantly more likely to reoffend within a year than those with a stable place to live.

The pilots are aimed specifically at prisoners serving short sentences who are at high risk of returning to prison. This represents the latest in a series of measures aimed at breaking the cycle of reoffending, from improving prisoners’ employment prospects to reinforcing family ties.

The sites will pilot a new partnership approach between prisons, local authorities, probation staff, charities and others who will work together to provide the support prisoners need when they are released – such as signing up for benefits – but will primarily be focused on finding them suitable accommodation.

select for full details Female prison officer, 27, accused of relationship with young inmate
A PRISON officer has appeared in court accused of entering into a relationship with a serving prisoner at a men’s Young Offenders Institution.
By Charlotte Bowe 9 Nov, 2018

Stacey Louise Sutherland, 27, faces a single charge of misconduct in a public office at HMP Deerbolt, in Barnard Castle, which holds young adults age 18 to 21.

The alleged offence relates to a six-week period between April 2018 and May 2018.

Miss Sutherland, of Marshall Street, Barnard Castle, County Durham, appeared in Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning for a short hearing.

District Judge Tim Capstick addressed the 27-year-old and told her she will receive unconditional bail ahead of her next court appearance at Teesside Crown Court on December 6.

Misconduct in a public office offence under review Law Commission

Misconduct in a public office is a common law offence: it is not defined in any statute. It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The offence requires that: a public officer acting as such; wilfully neglects to perform his or her duty and/or wilfully misconducts him or herself; to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder; without reasonable excuse or justification.

The offence is widely considered to be ill-defined and has been subject to recent criticism by the Government, the Court of Appeal, the press and legal academics.

In general terms, those consultees who responded to the background paper agreed with us that the law is in need of reform, in order to ensure that public officials are appropriately held to account for misconduct committed in connection with their official duties. Consultees also indicated that our review of the law and its problems was comprehensive.

What is misconduct in a public office? Clive Coleman

Misconduct in a public office is an ancient common law offence, created by judges, which can be traced back to the 13th century.

Applying it to the 21st century news media involved the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) striking a balance between the freedom of the press to probe and find out what is happening on the one hand, and protecting and maintaining impartial and incorrupt public services on the other.

It has always been a difficult balance.

For many years some journalists have paid public officials for information.

In 2003 Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the Sun, told a committee of MPs that News International had paid the police for stories.

select for full details Rapist Bradley Tout has six months added to prison sentence for fleeing court
A RAPIST who escaped from court after being convicted, has had six months added to his seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
By Ryan Merrifield 9 Nov, 2018

Bradley Tout was accused of “cowardice” by Judge James Tindal after he jumped the dock at Worcester Crown Court last month and remained on the run for several days.

The 20-year-old, of Durham Road, Ronkswood, was sentenced in his absence the following day before handing himself into police the following week.

Tout raped a 16-year-old girl in his car, while parked near Warndon Villages on December 27, 2018, after she had already been raped by Kulin Odedra in the same car on the same night.

Speaking in court today (November 9), where Tout, appearing via video link, pleaded guilty to a charge of escaping lawful custody, Judge Tindall said the defendant escaped out of “fear” because he “didn’t expect he was going to get convicted”.

“This was an opportunistic spur of the moment escape,” he said.

Referring to the rape, the judge went on to say: “This was an incredibly serious case as reflected in the sentencing to seven and a half years.

“The reality is you raped a girl in a vulnerable position, having been raped by someone else.

“The choices she made after, she possibly felt she needed to make as she had just been raped.”

Judge Tindal said while he accepted Tout was “genuinely surprised and genuinely panicked” at being convicted and so had not planned the escape, “it is always serious when someone runs away from justice”.

Paul Whitfield, prosecuting, said Tout had been brought to the police station by his parents after “around four days” on the run.

“When interviewed, he considered he was innocent of the crime he was convicted,” he said.

“He heard he was going to be held in custody overnight [prior to the sentencing], and he panicked and ran.

“He was in turmoil and knew he shouldn’t have done it. He wouldn’t say where he had been or what he had been doing in his absence.”

Mr Whitfield added that, on handing himself in, Tout was aware he faced a lengthy prison sentence.

Abigail Nixon, defending, said her client escaped out of fear and while a member of security staff was injured, Tout did not commit any assaults.

“To be fair to Mr Tout, no one got near him,” she said. “He was long gone.”

She said he has autism and as a result he has “difficulties dealing with normal social environments”.

“He has limited understanding of every day circumstances,” she added.

Judge Tindal sentenced Tout to six months in prison to run consecutively with the seven-and-a-half years for rape.

select for full details MOJ opens up about reality of youth prison
The comms team at the Ministry of Justice decided that honesty was the best policy when trying to recruit youth custody officers, by being open about the challenges of the work, in a campaign that has boosted recruitment.
By Jonathan Owen 8 Nov, 2018

Their brief was to increase the number of people applying for youth custody prison officer posts, with a specific aim of helping fill vacancies at five different sites in the Youth Custody Service (YCS).

A key aim was to create a pipeline of candidates who were highly motivated to work with young people.

Typically most staff working in youth custody have come from retail or customer service backgrounds, with just one in seven identifying working with young people as a motivating factor in their career choice.

The YCS was set up last year, as part of reforms to the youth justice system, amid warnings from Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, that youth custody centres were so unsafe that a "tragedy" was "inevitable."

And last November a report by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons stated that staffing shortages in youth custody were resulting in young people being locked in cells for more than 22 hours a day.

Working with younger offenders has its own challenges that might be different, but are no less difficult than working with adult prisoners, according to the MoJ.

Against this background, the government department’s ‘See the truth. See the potential’ recruitment campaign took the approach of facing up to the difficulties of working with challenging and vulnerable young people.

The campaign was launched in April this year and highlighted some key facts as a way of showing the challenges of working in youth custody.

These included the fact that 38 per cent of young people in custody have been in care, one in three suffer from mental health issues, and half of the 15- to 17-year-olds in youth custody have the numeracy and literacy levels expected of primary schoolchildren.

Specialist channels were used to target those with a background in working with children, or an interest in social care, including volunteers in children’s sports and charities.

An opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life, the commitment by the YCS to putting children and young people at the heart of all that they do, and having a career with excellent training and opportunities for development, were the key messages.

select for full details Fifteen children as young as 12 and six adults 'from Vietnam' are found hiding shipment of sparkling water
A driver is being hauled before the courts after more than 20 migrants were found trying to enter the UK in a refrigerated lorry.
By Amie Gordon 7 Nov, 2018

The group, believed to be 21 Vietnamese migrants including 15 children as young as 12, were concealed in a shipment of sparkling water at the Port of Newhaven.

They were detained at the East Sussex port on Thursday, the same day that 13 migrants were spotted being let out of a lorry forty miles north of the port in Kent.

A Romanian man believed to be the driver has been charged with assisting unlawful entry into the UK.

The lorry was stopped on its arrival from Dieppe in France and the children have been transferred to the care of social services.

An 18-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman found on the lorry have been removed from the UK.

Four other adults are in immigration detention centres while their cases are assessed.