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Found 122 results

  1. Faults with Police Scotland's body-worn video camera system are increasing at a time when the force is considering a national rollout, the BBC understands. More than 300 issues were logged including the assigning of devices to officers and downloading of footage. Numbers are low but data obtained by the BBC shows some officers called the system "inoperative" and "unusable". Police Scotland said most problems had been with the force's own computers, not the cameras. Ch Insp Nick Topping added that the number of reported defects were low considering the devices had been deployed "tens of thousands of times across four years". Body-worn cameras were trialled for 18 months in Aberdeen before the scheme was subsequently rolled out across the Moray and Aberdeenshire divisions in 2012. Smaller and lighter than a mobile phone, the devices are worn on the upper body and are typically used during city centre patrols, events and drug searches. A freedom of information request revealed the force has 385 cameras deployed across its divisions, with an additional 49 set aside for the FoCUS team which polices football matches. A 2014 review showed that early guilty pleas were obtained in 91% of cases where the camera footage formed part of the evidence, allowing 697 officers to be on the streets rather than in the courts. Half of these guilty pleas were also submitted at "first calling" meaning officers did not have to prepare additional paperwork for the Crown Office. Police Scotland officers also stated that the cameras helped de-escalate potentially dangerous situations involving aggressive individuals. But, at a time when Police Scotland is conducting a "scoping exercise"regarding a nationwide deployment of these cameras, data obtained by BBC Scotland revealed the number of faults reported with the body-worn camera system doubled over a three-year period. View the detailed fault report data here. In total officers logged 302 faults in the force's IT portal since 2013, with the number of issues doubling from 57 in 2014, to 120 in 2016. Deployed up to 50,000 times annually, it has been claimed the number of reported incidents each year indicate a failure rate of only 0.03%. However, the number of reports could actually be greater as the force said individuals may have reported the issue directly to a colleague rather than using the IT portal. The force's portal also has no specific search field for camera-related reports, meaning BBC Scotland had to provide a list of specific terms with which to search their system. 'Unusable' system The bulk of the problems logged related not to the cameras themselves, but officers being unable to log the cameras in and out. The majority of issues came from stations in Aberdeen and Banff where the number of reports quadrupled and trebled respectively between 2014 and 2016. A Police Scotland document which outlines the operating procedures for the cameras states that "the units will only function if they have been assigned using the 'My Witness' software to an officer". One officer in Stonehaven reported: "The BWV [Body Worn Video] system is not recognising any BWV cameras which renders the system unusable. "Footage cannot be downloaded and the cameras cannot be allocated to officers." Another officer in Inverurie reported a similar issue logging out cameras and stated: "This is an officer safety issue as we cannot issue BWV cameras until this is fixed". One officer in Aberdeen reported errors with eight "faulty" cameras; other officers in Banff, Lossiemouth, Forres, Huntly, Torry, and Aboyne reported none of their cameras could be used. The data obtained by BBC Scotland also revealed other issues including downloading and locating footage, the charging of devices, broken camera mounts, and one camera which was found by officers to be recording audio at all times even when it was not activated to record. However, Ch Insp Topping said the impact of the reported faults was marginal, and that the majority of the issues were down to user error or computers rather than the cameras themselves. He said: "Our computers run 24/7...so sometimes what happens is a computer needs a reboot". "And that's why there's been some recorded issues because we've asked officers to make sure they record any issues." However, the increase in reports, and the revelation that the same issues are repeatedly encountered by the same officers, suggest a reboot may not always be the solution. One officer reported that "the body worn video system based at Fraserburgh Police Office is inoperative". The officer said: "All cameras are in the charging base but none are registering as being there and no footage can be accessed. "We have re-set the system but still nothing." Infrastructural and funding challenges Ch Insp Topping added that many of the devices were now more than four years old. He said: "So they're coming to the end of their lifetime cycle, and we're in the process of refreshing a number at the moment because the battery for some is not holding a charge. "So the actual issues with the BWVs has been minor because we've deployed these tens of thousands of times across four years." But Andrea MacDonald, chairwoman of the Scottish Police Federation, said there were concerns over a national deployment of the system, as well as its integration with the rest of the criminal justice system. She said: "[We] are largely supportive of anything that could help our members welfare and to protect them and the public...however what concerns us just now is that we have serious issues with our IT infrastructure, and we just don't think it's capable of supporting body-worn cameras at the present time. "And the finances required will be a large sum of money which again, in the current cash-strapped situation, we're concerned that the service don't have the funding for it." Sir Stephen House, the force's former chief constable, told the Scottish Police Authority in June 2015 that "the cost would be more than several million pounds to roll out body worn cameras across the force and the money was not available at the present time". The adoption of the devices by the Metropolitan Police last October is costing the London force approximately £1m a year. And at a time of a £200m financial gap, Police Scotland confirmed no new cameras have been purchased since April 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39730665
  2. A California man has been arrested after attacking a crime prevention robot in a car park, police say. The Knightscope machine was on patrol outside the Silicon Valley company that created it when the alleged attacker approached, witnesses say. The 300lb (136kg) robot raised the alarm after it was allegedly knocked over by 41-year-old Jason Sylvain. He said he was an engineer who wanted to "test" the machine, said a Knightscope representative. Mr Sylvain has been charged with public intoxication in the 19 April incident. The robot suffered a few scratches, but has "recuperated" and is back on patrol, said Knightscope. The latest on robots Scary robots that want to be useful The robot that wants to go to university "It did what it was designed to do," said company spokesman Stacy Dean Stephens. Alarms on the 5ft (150cm) tall robot, which is known as K5, sounded after it was knocked down, said Knightscope. A company employee went outside to stall the man until Mountain View police could arrive. A police spokeswoman said they were dispatched to the car park after a report of a prowler. They said Mr Sylvain "appeared confused, had red, glassy eyes and a strong odour of alcohol emitted from him". One local man told ABC News it was not a fair fight. "I think this is a pretty pathetic incident because it shows how spineless the drunk guys in Silicon Valley really are because they attack a victim who doesn't even have any arms," said Eamonn Callon. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39725535
  3. The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said a violent incident in Glasgow raised questions about whether officers can protect the public. SPF chairwoman Andrea MacDonald said it was "deeply worrying" that no armed officers were dispatched. The attacker in Thursday's incident injured two people before inflicting fatal injuries on himself. Police Scotland has insisted that the incident did not require the presence of armed officers. One of the victims of the attack was reported to be in a stable condition in hospital with injuries to his shoulder and arm. The other victim, a community warden, was allowed home after treatment. Ms MacDonald said: "Had the assailant been intent on harming large numbers of the public, he could have done so with impunity and the police would have been largely powerless to stop him. "Whilst not detracting in any way from the courage of the police officers who attended, the fact no armed officers were dispatched to a man attacking others with knives and an axe should be deeply worrying. "Glasgow is a city with an almost permanent armed police presence but they were not dispatched and they did not attend." She added: "This lays bare the myth that the service adequately risk-assesses incidents prior to deploying resources and that as a service we are capable of protecting the public from spontaneous incidents of extreme violence." The SPF annual conference - last month - heard calls for all officers to carry Tasers and for there to be an increase in the number of armed officers. Police Scotland has rejected these calls and stressed the value of retaining a largely unarmed police service. Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: "Police Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, prides itself in being an unarmed service with access to specialist firearms support whenever required. "Yesterday's incident in Glasgow city centre was a dynamic and fast-moving incident. Local officers responded rapidly and contained and dealt with it quickly. "This was not a random attack. It was planned and targeted, and armed officers were not required to attend on this occasion." Detectives have appealed for information about what they said was a "targeted" and pre-planned attack. The incident has been referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-39604233
  4. Click is in Chicago where the police are using tech to predict the location and perpetrators of future crimes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08msdc2/click-precrime
  5. A North Yorkshire fire crew attending a 999 call was sent to the wrong address by a control room based more than 400 miles away. The Harrogate crew was wrongly sent two and half miles from where it should have been by call operators working in Cornwall. North Yorkshire and Cornwall fire and rescue services share control room operations at peak periods. The North Yorkshire service confirmed an investigation is under way. It said crews attending the business park fire at Killinghall, near Harrogate, were delayed 10 minutes as a result of the mix-up, but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said fire engines were 17 minutes late. Simon Wall, chairman of North Yorkshire FBU, said: "The delay could have been catastrophic if it had been a house fire." Wednesday's call was handled by the Critical Control Centre in Tolvaddon, Cornwall,. Mr Wall said "collaborating with Cornwall means there is a massive lack of local knowledge". He added: "The collaboration between control centres is what the government wants and we accept that, but an incident like this is unacceptable. "Something has gone desperately wrong." North Yorkshire and Cornwall control room collaboration Launched: August 2016 Cost: £3.6m Cornwall base: Tolvaddon - handles about 10,500 emergency calls per year North Yorkshire base: Northallerton - handles about 15,000 emergency calls per year Aim: Exchanging control rooms at peak times Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said: "When it is busy other control rooms in the region are likely to be busy, so "by choosing to work with North Yorkshire we are in a better position to be able to have our emergency calls answered during busy times". North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Cornwall's Control Room will be able to seamlessly receive calls and dispatch resources on behalf North Yorkshire (and vice versa), during busy periods." Owen Hayward, North Yorkshire Assistant Chief Fire Officer, confirmed an investigation is under way with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. He said: "We are not yet sure if someone gave us the wrong postcode or something went wrong in the control room." No-one was available for comment from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39614096
  6. The sun may be shining on the Killarney lakes this week, but the Garda Síochána is operating under a cloud. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) began its annual conference in County Kerry at a difficult time for the Republic of Ireland's police force. This week will also see the Dáil (Irish parliament) debate a vote of confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan. Issues of pay and conditions usually dominate the AGSI gathering: In December, members voted overwhelmingly to accept an independent labour court offer. Timeline of Garda controversies Public unease This year, delegates gather at a time when there is great public unease about the force's culture and leadership. Earlier this month, the government announced a "root-and-branch" review of how the Garda carries out its work after a number of worrying revelations. In March, it emerged that gardaí recorded nearly one million more roadside alcohol tests than had actually been carried out in a five-year period to 2016 - almost twice the real figure. Senior officers conceded it was likely some of the 937,000 tests were simply made up by members of the force. Commissioner O'Sullivan said the bogus breath tests were due to incompetence at best, and deception at worst. At the same news conference, senior officers revealed that about 14,700 people convicted in the courts were prosecuted without a fixed-charge notice first being issued. Gardaí, who have apologised to those affected, now have to appeal against all those convictions and have the court-imposed penalties removed. The state has to cover all costs, estimated to run into millions of euro. It is not the first time Garda numbers have been called into question. Last September, the Central Statistics Office said that gardaí were not recording up to one in six of crimes on their computer system, which meant, either intentionally or unintentionally, inflating their crime detection rate. 'An ethical matter'' The Policing Authority, an independent body that oversees the performance of the Garda Síochana, says the road traffic offences and breathalyser controversy "is not just an academic, statistical matter, it is an ethical one". It also says the controversy raises serious questions of integrity for the Garda Síochana organisation and, combined with previous issues regarding inflated activity levels, erodes confidence in the credibility of Garda data generally. All of this is also happening at a time when there is a question mark over the future of Commissioner O'Sullivan. Even before the latest controversies, she was already under pressure over her alleged involvement in a campaign to smear a garda whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe, with the false allegation that he was a child sex abuser. She strongly denies the charge, which will be investigated by a sworn public inquiry headed by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton. On Wednesday at 16:30 BST, Sinn Féin is to table a motion of no confidence in her leadership of the force, with a vote the following day. 'Huge question mark' She can only be sacked by the government, or by the Policing Authority, but if the Dáil passes such a motion there has to be a huge question mark over her stewardship of the Garda Siochana. Much will depend on what way the main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, votes. It has said it cannot express confidence in the commissioner until credible explanations are given for the latest roadside controversies. The party, which supports the minority government in motions of government confidence and on budgetary matters, is to put down its own motion seeking more powers for the Policing Authority. 'Under a cloud It is calling for the authority to be asked to assess whether it has confidence in Commissioner O'Sullivan's capacity to restore confidence in the force. That looks very like Fianna Fáil looking for a way not to support the Sinn Féin motion. So, the expectation must be that the Dáil will not vote that it has no confidence in Commissioner O'Sullivan, which is not quite the same thing as saying it has confidence in her. Whichever way the vote goes, the Garda Síochána will remain a force under a cloud until the whistleblowers issues and the "root and branch" review are dealt with. And it is likely the AGSI at its conference next year, wherever that might be, will be dealing the fall-out of similar controversies. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39555772
  7. Police sent to investigate an incident at a supermarket were dispatched in the wrong city more than 140 miles away. A door had been damaged at Tesco in Aberdeen's Great Western Road, but officers were instead sent to Glasgow's Great Western Road Tesco store. More than three hours after the initial call on 3 April, officers were sent to the correct store. The closure of the Police Scotland control room and call centre in Aberdeen happened last month. Non emergency calls are now handled at centres in Glasgow, Motherwell and Midlothian. And emergency calls are passed via central service centre responders to the North Area Control Room in Dundee for dispatch. 'Further information' Supt Matt Richards, of Police Scotland's Contact Command Control Division, said: "A call was received at around 5.30am in relation to damage caused to a door on Great Western Road which had taken place overnight. "The call was graded appropriately based on the initial information provided and allocated to officers. "After receiving further information about the location of the store, officers in Aberdeen were in attendance by 8.50am that morning. "Enquiries into the incident are currently ongoing." The Scottish Police Authority previously said Aberdeen's emergency control room would only be closed when it was safe to do so. The move is part of Police Scotland's cost-cutting plan to centralise control rooms. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-39567057 Ooops!
  8. A national campaign, led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, has released a film featuring celebrities talking about how they faced their own mental health problems. Rapper Professor Green, cricketer Freddie Flintoff, comedian Ruby Wax and others say admitting their problems for the first time made them realise they were not alone. But for many, asking for help can be much harder. "We didn't really know what we were being sent to," Dan Farnworth, a paramedic in the north-west, says. "The next thing I knew, a child was just placed into my arms." It was 2015, and Dan had just been sent to a 999 call that would change his life. "When we arrived we knocked on the front door, but we couldn't get in. We didn't know what had happened inside," the 31-year-old told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. It quickly became apparent the call involved the murder of a young child. "All of a sudden this little girl was just placed in my arms," Dan, a father-of-four, says. "I just remember looking at her. I remember thinking she looked like one of my own children. She had the same colour hair as one of my children. "I just felt like I froze. It was scary. It is the worst thing I have ever seen in 12 years of doing this job." Flashbacks That night, the horror of what Dan had witnessed began to dawn on him. He finished his shift early and went home, but couldn't sleep. He soon realised something more serious was wrong. "I started having nightmares and flashbacks," he says. "My mind started filling in the gaps, seeing things happen that I hadn't actually seen. "It was awful. I had flashbacks during the day and I was becoming like a recluse and not talking to people at work." In the days and weeks that followed, Dan says he became "a different person". "I realised something was wrong but didn't know where to turn. It was like I was in a deep dark hole, I was scared and drinking and smoking more heavily." Dan says he was struggling to deal with his mental health problems, but feared being honest with his employers might have seen him lose his job. He had always wanted to work in the emergency services. Starting in the ambulance control room answering 999 calls, he then spent time dispatching the air ambulance, before finally applying for a job as an emergency medical technician. He had been on the road since 2010. "I was actually scared that by opening up and talking about what was going on, someone would turn round and say 'this job isn't for you'." 'Put the kettle on' Eventually Dan reached out to his friend and fellow paramedic Rich Morton. Dan says he typed out a text message, telling Rich what had been going on. However, he deleted it before he could send it. He re-wrote the message, but again deleted it. He wrote the message for a third time, and this time pressed send. Dan was so scared of what his friend would say that he hid his mobile phone under a pillow. "He texted me straight back, saying 'put the kettle on, I'm coming over'," he says now. "That text message was the first day of the rest of my life." Dan was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was signed off work for five months. He says he was offered "unbelievable" support from his GP and received counselling. According to the charity Mind, he is not alone in working in the emergency services and suffering mental health problems. The charity says nearly 90% of blue light staff have reported stress and poor mental health at work. Emergency workers are twice as likely to identify problems at work as the main cause of those mental health problems as the general workforce, Mind says. Dan and Rich have since started their own charity, called Our Blue Light, aimed at improving the mental health of blue light services workers. And through their involvement with Mind, Dan and Rich have also rubbed shoulders with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Marathon challenge Last year, the three royals launched a new campaign called Heads Together, aimed at ending the stigma surrounding mental health. On Wednesday, Heads Together released a series of films to encourage "a national conversation" about mental health. Celebrities including cricketer Freddie Flintoff, comedian Ruby Wax and ex-Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell have released films about their mental health struggles. In a statement, the royals said: "We have seen time and time again that shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations. "When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgement and prejudice around these issues begin to fall." The royals say attitudes towards mental health are now "at tipping point." As for Dan, Prince Harry had a more specific challenge. "He told me we should run the London Marathon," Dan says, "so we started running the very next day." "Stigmas still exist and [mental health] is a taboo subject," Dan says. "People think mental health is a big issue, but I'm Dan, I'm 31 years old with a job and a family and my life is normal. But I have a mental health problem." Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39432297
  9. A planned 3,000-person drinking trip on inflatable dinghies on a city centre river has been criticised by police. The River Tyne Booze Cruise is based on the Finnish Kaljakellunta, meaning "beer floating". This is "what England needs", organisers said. They said alcohol quantities would be "regulated". Northumbria Police said they were concerned about people drinking a "significant amount of alcohol" in vessels that were not "appropriate". "The River Tyne is not a countryside stream," a spokesman said. "The current is strong, there is a lot of debris and a number of vessels use the waterway every single day. "A rubber dinghy is not an appropriate vessel to be used on this river and if people were to fall overboard then they could find themselves in real danger." The force said it would speak to the organisers. One, Kieran Chapman, said it was "more of a social drink not a night out in town getting mortal". "People will be searched before they go on to the river to make sure that they're not drinking five litres of vodka," he said. The event's Facebook page recommends participants wear armbands and life jackets and stay on their vessel at all times "to eliminate accidents". The July event, lasting three-and-a-half hours, is due to begin in Newburn and finish on the quayside. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-39418982
  10. An attempted murder inquiry has been launched after a driver reversed, dragging a police officer down the street. The incident happened in the Sighthill area of Glasgow at about 13:00 on Tuesday. The officer had been speaking to the driver of a red Vauxhall Astra when he suddenly threw the car into reverse. He then got out of his car in Alford Street and fled on foot. The police officer was unhurt. A Police Scotland spokesman said: "The officer did not require medical treatment and resumed duty following the incident. The man in the car then ran off. "Police are following a positive line of inquiry." The Scottish Police Federation has been made aware of the incident. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-39433018 Sounds bad, but I understand the police officer was left shaken but unhurt.
  11. A device which exploded in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland has been described as an attempt to kill police. A device exploded Tuesday at around 2030hrs in close proximity to officers on patrol. "They" have not gone away unfortunately. BBC News NI: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39350435
  12. New London Police and Crime plan to provide extra PC in each ward 1 hour ago From the section London An extra police constable will be added to every ward in London under plans unveiled by the city's mayor. Each borough will also focus on priorities set for their local area while there will be improved support for victims, Sadiq Khan said. Mr Khan said the plan "restores real neighbourhood policing" and "puts victims... at the heart of what we do". The Conservatives accused the mayor of having "noble intentions" but "a distinct lack of detail". Each of the 629 wards currently has one dedicated PC and one police community support officer (PCSO). Under the plan at least one more officer will be assigned to work in every area by the end of 2017 to "provide greater visibility, contact and reassurance in communities". Other ideas set out by Mr Khan include: Appointing London's first independent Victims' Commissioner to improve support given to victims More specialist firearms officers to protect against potential terror attacks More officers working in London school's to help protect children Improving training for police officers on the handling of cases of sexual and domestic abuse Launching an online hate crime hub to provide a dedicated response to web-based hate crimes The Met will also no longer be given fixed crime reduction targets but focus on how well they tackle set local priorities in each borough. Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for Policing and Crime, said the plan "enables the police... to make the biggest difference we can with the resources we have." But Conservative London Assembly member Steve O'Connell said the change "to borough-specific targets will make it difficult to assess progress across London as a whole". "We will have to wait and see what impact this plan has in real terms on our streets," he said LINK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-39327263
  13. Reality Check: Did the government protect police funding? 1 hour ago From the section UK Share The claim: Failing police forces have "no excuse" because their budgets have been protected. Reality Check verdict: Overall the police budget in England and Wales has been protected in real terms, but not every individual force will feel the benefit because the money is being targeted at specialist areas of policing. This relatively small funding boost comes off the back of five years of deep cuts. In 2015, the government announced that overall police budgets would be protected. This meant the amount of money the police receive from the government would increase each year in line with inflation for the following five years. The Minister for Policing, Brandon Lewis, flagged this in response to a report by the independent inspector of police forces, which found a "worrying" variation in the quality of policing across England and Wales, despite improvements overall. Police funding in Scotland is devolved and Northern Ireland has different funding arrangements so they were not included in the report. 'No excuse' The report was compiled by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Mr Lewis said: "This Government has protected police funding, through the 2015 Spending Review. "There can be no excuse for any force that fails to deliver on its obligations - those identified as inadequate or requiring improvement must take HMIC's findings very seriously and I expect to see rapid improvements." The inspectorate had warned that some police forces were "struggling to respond to shrinking resources". It is true to say that the overall policing budget was protected in real terms in 2015 but this figure disguises some regional variation. Part of the £900m extra funding over the following five years is going on specific areas of policing like cybercrime and tackling child sexual exploitation which are often dealt with regionally, so not every individual force will see the benefit of this uplift. Austerity cuts A Home Office statement at the time of the announcement said that it would provide funding to maintain individual police force budgets at current cash levels. Not every police force will necessarily receive enough money to keep up with inflation. Spending on policing had been rising steadily for at least 15 years until austerity cuts began to kick in from 2010. It rose particularly rapidly in the 10 years to this date, going up by more than 30%. Following the 2008 crash and the swathe of cuts to public spending that followed, the part of police forces' budgets that are paid for by central government shrunk by 22% on average. Click to see content: Police_funding Before the 2015 announcement there was already regional variation. This is in large part because of the two main ways policing is funded: through a grant from central government and council tax. Different areas rely to different extents on the central government grant; for example last year Northumbria and the West Midlands police forces raised 12% of their revenue through council tax while Surrey raised almost half (49%) of its revenue in this way. This often corresponds to how well-off an area is - generally poorer areas have lower tax takes and rely more on government grants. As these grants have reduced, a larger proportion of budgets is coming from council tax. Since the grant was cut by the same percentage around the country, areas that lean most heavily on central government money, and are the least able to raise money through council tax, will have felt those cuts most sharply. Lean years You can see this in the real-term reductions to funding in different police forces. Between 2010 and 2016 Northumbria suffered a 23% cut while in Surrey it was only 12%. The areas that raised funding by the smallest amount during the previous good years have also experienced the biggest cuts in the lean years. However, it is also worth noting that the variation in quality raised in the HMIC report does not correspond directly to how much budgets have been cut. Bedfordshire, the only force to be rated inadequate, experienced a cut over the last five years that was about average for the country - a 17% fall compared with a fall of 18% across England and Wales. Durham, the only force to be rated outstanding, suffered an above average 20% cut. Demographic differences Of course, simply comparing budget cuts to performance does not take account of demographic differences and crime levels. So while it is true to say that policing is being protected at least to some extent, this comes off the back of five years of deep cuts - cuts which feel larger relative to large increases in spending in the preceding years. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39144620
  14. Elections to be held in Northern Ireland on 2 March 16 January 2017 From the section Northern Ireland Northern Ireland will go to the polls on 2 March to elect a new Assembly after the power-sharing executive collapsed over a botched green energy scheme. Stormont was plunged into crisis after the resignation of Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister last week. The catalyst was the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which is likely to cost taxpayers £490m. View the full article
  15. Nigerian jet 'kills at least 50' civilians in accidental attack 17 January 2017 From the section Africa A Nigerian air force jet has accidentally killed and injured many civilians in the north-east of the country, the military has said. International aid agency MSF says at least 50 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the incident. Aid workers are among the casualties - the Red Cross says six of its workers are confirmed dead. The attack took place near Nigeria's border with Cameroon where the army has been fighting Boko Haram militants. Army spokesman Maj-Gen Lucky Irabor said the jet's pilot mistakenly believed he was attacking insurgents. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a message expressing his dismay at the loss of life. View the full article
  16. Search for MH370 suspended 17 January 2017 From the section Asia Search for Malaysian plane MH370 that disappeared in 2014 with 239 on board is suspended This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. If you want to receive Breaking News alerts via email, or on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App then details on how to do so are available on this help page. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. View the full article
  17. Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world. In 2014 there were just six gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. What is the secret? If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%. There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too - and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons. That's not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed. The law restricts the number of gun shops. In most of Japan's 40 or so prefectures there can be no more than three, and you can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges you bought on your last visit. Police must be notified where the gun and the ammunition are stored - and they must be stored separately under lock and key. Police will also inspect guns once a year. And after three years your licence runs out, at which point you have to attend the course and pass the tests again. This helps explain why mass shootings in Japan are extremely rare. When mass killings occur, the killer most often wields a knife. The current gun control law was introduced in 1958, but the idea behind the policy dates back centuries. "Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws," says Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence and the author of Gun Baby Gun. "They are the first nation to impose gun laws in the whole world and I think it laid down a bedrock saying that guns really don't play a part in civilian society." People were being rewarded for giving up firearms as far back as 1685, a policy Overton describes as "perhaps the first ever gun buyback initiative". The result is a very low level of gun ownership - 0.6 guns per 100 people in 2007, according to the Small Arms Survey, compared to 6.2 in England and Wales and 88.8 in the US. "The moment you have guns in society, you will have gun violence but I think it's about the quantity," says Overton. "If you have very few guns in society, you will almost inevitably have low levels of violence." Japanese police officers rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts - all are expected to become a black belt in judo. They spend more time practising kendo (fighting with bamboo swords) than learning how to use firearms. "The response to violence is never violence, it's always to de-escalate it. Only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide [in 2015]," says journalist Anthony Berteaux. "What most Japanese police will do is get huge futons and essentially roll up a person who is being violent or drunk into a little burrito and carry them back to the station to calm them down." Overton contrasts this with the American model, which he says has been "to militarise the police". "If you have too many police pulling out guns at the first instance of crime, you lead to a miniature arms race between police and criminals," he says. To underline the taboo attached to inappropriate use of weapons, an officer who used his gun to kill himself was charged posthumously with a criminal offence. He carried out the act while on duty - policemen never carry weapons off-duty, leaving them at the station when they finish their shift. The care police take with firearms is mirrored in the self-defence forces. Journalist Jake Adelstein once attended a shooting practice, which ended with the gathering up of the bullet casings - and there was great concern when one turned out to be missing. "One bullet shell was unaccounted for - one shell had fallen behind one of the targets - and nobody was allowed to leave the facilities until they found the shell," he says. There is no clamour in Japan for gun regulations to be relaxed, says Berteaux. "A lot of it stems from this post-war sentiment of pacifism that the war was horrible and we can never have that again," he explains. "People assume that peace is always going to exist and when you have a culture like that you don't really feel the need to arm yourself or have an object that disrupts that peace." In fact, moves to expand the role of Japan's self-defence forces in foreign peacekeeping operations have caused concern in some quarters. "It is unknown territory," says political science professor Koichi Nakano. "Maybe the government will try to normalise occasional death in the self-defence force and perhaps even try to glorify the exercise of weapons?" According to Iain Overton, the "almost taboo level of rejection" of guns in Japan means that the country is "edging towards a perfect place" - though he points out that Iceland also achieves a very low rate of gun crime, despite a much higher level of gun ownership. Henrietta Moore of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London applauds the Japanese for not viewing gun ownership as "a civil liberty", and rejecting the idea of firearms as "something you use to defend your property against others". But for Japanese gangsters the tight gun control laws are a problem. Yakuza gun crime has sharply declined in the last 15 years, but those who continue to carry firearms have to find ingenious ways of smuggling them into the country. "The criminals pack the guns inside of a tuna so it looks like a frozen tuna," says retired police officer Tahei Ogawa. "But we have discovered cases where they have actually hidden a gun inside." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38365729 Probably too late for the police in the UK and US to take this approach, but certainly an interesting article.
  18. Jerusalem 'lorry attack' injures 15 8 January 2017 From the section Middle East Police in Jerusalem have shot a suspected terrorist who rammed a lorry into a group of pedestrians, injuring at least 15, reports say. The attack occurred on a popular promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem. "It is a terrorist attack, a ramming attack," a police spokeswoman said on Israel Radio, which reported that bodies were "strewn on the street". The attack comes weeks after 12 people died in a lorry attack in Berlin. View the full article
  19. Israel PM backs pardon for soldier 4 January 2017 From the section Middle East Israeli PM Netanyahu calls for pardon of soldier convicted of manslaughter for the killing of wounded Palestinian This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. If you want to receive Breaking News alerts via email, or on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App then details on how to do so are available on this help page. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. View the full article
  20. Five arrests after fatal hit-and-run 1 January 2017 From the section UK Five men arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after girl aged 12 killed in Oldham hit-and-run This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. If you want to receive Breaking News alerts via email, or on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App then details on how to do so are available on this help page. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. View the full article
  21. US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attacks 29 December 2016 From the section US & Canada The US has expelled 35 Russian diplomats as punishment for alleged interference into the presidential election. It will also close two Russian compounds used for intelligence-gathering, in Maryland and New York, as part of a raft of retaliatory measures. President Barack Obama had vowed action against Russia amid US accusations it directed hacks against the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton's campaign. Russia has denied any involvement. View the full article
  22. US police investigating a murder have tussled with Amazon over access to data gathered by one of its Echo speakers. The voice-controlled device was found near to a hot tub where the victim was found dead amid signs of a struggle. According to court filings, Amazon was issued with two search warrants but refused to share information sent by the smart device to its servers. However, the police said a detective found a way to extract data from the device itself. The accused killer has yet to be put on trial and it is not clear whether the information ultimately proved useful to the investigation. Blood spots Details of the case were first reported by the Information news site. But it dates back to November 2015, when the suspect, James Bates, called the Bentonville, Arkansas police department to say he had found the body of a friend, Victor Collins, face down in water. The court records say one of deceased's eyes and lips appeared to be swollen and suspected blood spots were found around the rim of the hot tub. Detectives say they learned that music had been streamed to the back patio at the time of death, which they thought might have been controlled via the Echo's smart assistant Alexa. The "always on" machine makes recordings of audio it hears from a fraction of a second before it detects a wake word - either Alexa or Amazon - until it judges the command to be over. This audio is then transmitted to Amazon's computer servers, which interpret the request and tell it how to respond. Although no recordings are meant to be made at other times, the device often becomes activated when it misinterprets speech as being its wake command. Any captured audio might therefore have identified who was active in the early hours of the morning when the alleged murder is thought to have taken place, as well as what was said. Mr Bates claims to have been asleep at the time. 'Overbroad demands' The case has echoes of Apple's refusal to help the FBI bypass the security code of an iPhone used by a gunman in 2015. In that case, the authorities said they were also able to ultimately extract information without the tech firm's co-operation. "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," a spokesman for the company told the BBC. "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course." He added that utterances are not stored by Echo devices, and the associated audio is only accessible via the cloud and can be deleted by the relevant account holder. The Bentonville police department said it was also able to extract data from Mr Collins' LG smartphone. But it added that it had been unable to access Mr Bates' Huawei Nexus handset because it had been "encrypted at the chipset level" and was protected by a passcode lock. However, the court papers indicate that the property's smart water meter may have yielded the most useful evidence. The police say it showed that 140 gallons (636 litres) of water was used around the time of the alleged killing. They suggest this was down to Mr Bates using a garden hose to wash away evidence from his porch before he alerted them to the death. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38450658
  23. Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov 'wounded' in gun attack in Turkey 19 December 2016 From the section Europe The Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, has been shot and seriously injured while visiting an art gallery, Turkish media report. Several other people were reportedly also injured in the attack, a day after protests in Turkey over Russia's military intervention in Syria. View the full article
  24. Four hundred people killed themselves shortly after being released from police custody in England and Wales in the last seven years, a report says. The Equality and Human Rights Commission blamed many of these suicides on "serious gaps" in the care of detained people. Christina Barnes, the EHRC's policy head, called on the NHS to share mental health records with the police. The government said suicides were down but that each death was a "failure". The commission examined data from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) from April 2009 to the end of March 2016. 'Preventable' deaths "There's a lack of accountability and responsibility for these individuals," Ms Barnes told BBC One's Breakfast programme. She said people were "being released without any sort of care or support around them" because police were unaware whether a person had mental health difficulties. Half of those who committed suicide had known mental health issues but were not given support that "could have helped prevented their deaths", she said. "We'd like to see basic pieces of information from the NHS being shared with police so they can be made aware of existing conditions," Ms Barnes said. Durham's Chief Constable, Michael Barton, said that the police had changed its approach to post-custody care but that the deaths were "unacceptably high". Speaking on Breakfast, he said "everybody who is released is now released on a care plan" and that he is "really optimistic" numbers will continue to fall. 'Social exclusion' The report shows there were 400 "apparent suicides" of people who had been detained at police stations during the seven-year period to March 2016. Almost all of the "hidden deaths" included in the statistics occurred within 48 hours of release from custody, although a small number, which happened outside that timeframe, were also among the total. Of those who died, 128 (32%) had been arrested over allegations of sexual abuse. The commission said: "Sexual offences, especially in relation to children, are particularly taboo and lead many offenders to feel high levels of shame and experience high levels of social exclusion." A further 83 people (21%) who had been investigated over crimes of violence took their own lives; 44 (11%) had faced breach of the peace or criminal damage allegations, and 38 (10%) had been in custody on suspicion of driving offences. Image captionThe EHRC's Christina Barnes said police officers have "limited access" to mental health records The underlying trend over the seven years was upwards, although the number of deaths last year - 60 - was the lowest it had been since 2011/12. The Home Office highlighted the fact that there were 10 fewer deaths than in the previous year - down from 70 in 2014/15 - but said it was not "complacent" and had launched an independent review to identify "areas for improvement." A spokeswoman added: "Every death in or following police custody represents a failure and has the potential to dramatically undermine the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. "Over recent years police forces have worked closely with NHS England to improve the quality and provision of custody health services and build better local partnerships. In 2014, Michael Parkes, from Daventry, Northamptonshire, hanged himself a couple of days after being questioned by police on suspicion of sexual offences. Mr Parkes had been caught by an internet "paedophile hunter" having arranged to meet someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl. A separate case, highlighted in the EHRC report, concerned a young person who had been caught in possession of cannabis while on a family holiday. He killed himself after being later wrongly issued with a further summons at his home address. The Home Office said it would "consider all of the findings in detail when the report is published." But the commission called on ministers to set up an "inter-agency summit" to tackle the issue. David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "When the state detains people, it also has a very high level of responsibility to ensure they are safely rehabilitated back into their communities, particularly those who may be vulnerable. "Our report reveals a fractured state of post-detention care that is potentially leading to hundreds of deaths." The commission said all apparent suicides within two days of release should be referred to the IPCC. As a "minimum requirement" it said custody health care staff should have "prompt access" to NHS records. Its report also looked at cases of prisoners who had died within 28 days after being released. However, these statistics were thought to be less reliable than the police data, showing 66 non-natural deaths over five years, most of which were from a drug overdose. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38266191 Is it a good idea to give the police access to this basic information from the NHS, or is it to much on top of all their other responsibilities? Should the NHS have a presence in every custody block instead, or perhaps at least a couple per force, maybe in a control room?
  25. Islamic State fighters 're-enter ancient Palmyra' in Syria 10 December 2016 From the section Middle East Islamic State group fighters have re-entered Palmyra, nine months after losing the ancient Syrian desert city, activists say. IS held Palmyra and its nearby ruins for 10 months before it was recaptured by Syrian government forces in March. But the jihadist group launched an offensive earlier this week. "IS entered Palmyra on Saturday and now occupies its north-west," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "There is also fighting with the army in the city centre," he added. IS destroyed a number of monuments during its 10-month occupation of the Unesco World Heritage site and the adjacent city of Tadmur. Two 2,000-year-old temples, an arch and funerary towers were left in ruins. The jihadist group, which has also demolished several pre-Islamic sites in neighbouring Iraq, believes that such structures are idolatrous. While some treasured monuments were destroyed, much of the historic site was left undamaged. The city was reclaimed with the support of air strikes by the Russian air force. IS subsequently lost large amounts of territory across Syria and Iraq. View the full article