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  1. 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
  2. Thousands of police officers are expected to assemble in London for the funeral of the PC murdered in the Westminster terror attack. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/pc-keith-palmer-funeral-5000-police-officers-set-to-line-streets-to-remember-heroic-westminster-a3510976.html Anyone from PoliceUK going to London tomorrow? I understand officers across the U.K. are being asked to partake in a two minutes silence, at 2pm, at the front of their police stations (where possible).
  3. Thousands of police officers are expected to assemble in London for the funeral of the PC murdered in the Westminster terror attack. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/pc-keith-palmer-funeral-5000-police-officers-set-to-line-streets-to-remember-heroic-westminster-a3510976.html Anyone from Police Specials going to London tomorrow? I understand officers across the U.K. are being asked to partake in a two minutes silence, at 2pm, at the front of their police stations (where possible).
  4. Police officers have started using a car-sharing club which could cut costs and the size of its own fleet, The Scotsman has learned. http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/police-start-using-car-sharing-club-vehicles-to-cut-costs-1-4409251 Interesting move, hopefully it works out cheaper!
  5. The number of ambulances called out to police custody suites in London more than doubled, from 2,374 to 5,018, in the past four years, a rise that critics say exposes the shortage of nurses to assess and treat detainees. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/01/met-police-shortage-nurses-ambulance-call-outs
  6. 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
  7. 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
  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. 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
  11. father complained Mother's Day was 'ruined' after a police officer confiscated flowers that had been picked by his daughters. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4352570/Angry-father-films-police-officer-confiscating-daffodils.html Sent from my Moto G (4) using the Police Community App
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. The website running a fundraising campaign to raise money for the family of murdered policeman Pc Keith Palmer is refusing to waive its five per cent fee, The Telegraph can disclose. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/24/justgiving-pockets-30000-fund-raise-money-family-pc-keith-palmer/ I'm in two minds about this - it is quite a lot of money (although they have donated £10,000 of their fee) However it presumably costs a lot of money to keep such a service up and running, especially at times of high demand, plus keep it secure too. On top of that, their website (and similar ones) have made giving to charity easier.
  15. Police in a Berkshire town have said they will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £100. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/10/police-tell-town-will-not-chase-shoplifters-steal-less-100/
  16. Robot police were once sci-fi fantasy, but soon the real thing will be patrolling the streets of Dubai. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/03/20/real-life-robocops-will-soon-replace-human-police/
  17. A police helicopter base serving Cambridgeshire is closing - but residents will now see fixed wing aircraft chasing criminals for the first time. http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/criminals-chased-police-aeroplanes-cambridgeshire-12758419
  18. A police helicopter base serving Cambridgeshire is closing - but residents will now see fixed wing aircraft chasing criminals for the first time. http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/criminals-chased-police-aeroplanes-cambridgeshire-12758419
  19. Students at Cardiff University had their group chat interrupted by a police officer as he sent a selfie using Facebook Messenger http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/16/police-officer-goes-viral-sending-selfie-group-chat-helping/
  20. PC Kelly Ellis is one of an increasing number of UK police officers who are undertaking firearms training. Her friends have dubbed her Lara Croft - after the Tomb Raider action hero - but she says the training is the hardest thing she has ever done. Over three months, Dominic Casciani - reporting for the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme - had unique access to some of the new recruits being assessed in Cheshire. 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-39260906
  21. Spanish Police have released striking pictures of a huge weapons haul seized from an organised crime group. It includes over 10,000 assault rifles, machine guns, pistols, revolvers, and 400 shells and grenades. The guns and ammunition were seized in January during an operation against firearms trafficking. Investigators also found an illegal workshop with machinery to manipulate and reactivate weapons, near Bilbao. Five people were arrested. Cash amounting to 80,000 euros (£70,000 / $85,000) was seized. The operation involved counter-terror police from Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Gerona. Europol, which supported the investigation, said the firearms were sold in Spain, France and Belgium. It said some of the weapons were deactivated, but did not comply with established standards. Criminals acquired the arsenal largely through auctions and other legal channels before reactivating it. The gang had been using a sports shop as a front for its distribution centre - which in reality sold firearms, weapon components and ammunition. A look inside Europol How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime Why US liberals are now buying guns too Police said the weapons would have had an easy journey onto the black market, and into the hands of terrorists or organised crime groups. Europol said firearms traffickers exploit legal loopholes and legislative differences between EU countries to divert guns from legal suppliers. Reactivating deactivated weapons is one of Europe's main sources of illegal guns. The agency said it had seen a significant increase in the number being supplied to criminals since 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39264664 Impressive haul! Good work there.
  22. Police in a Berkshire town have said they will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £100. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/10/police-tell-town-will-not-chase-shoplifters-steal-less-100/
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. Police Scotland has outlined plans to cut officer numbers by 400 as part of its 10-year policing plan. Chief Constable Phil Gormley said recruitment levels would remain unchanged in the current year, but would begin to slow between 2018-20. He said resources would be re-directed to frontline operations, amid big financial challenges. Last December, the spending watchdog said Scotland's police service was facing a £188m funding gap by 2020-21. Mr Gormley said officer numbers had been at historic highs but said some staff had been used for corporate, rather than community roles. As part of a new strategy, Policing 2026, he said police officers would be released from corporate and backroom roles, with priority given to frontline operations and a more visible community presence. Some corporate roles will also be cut. Mr Gormley said that changing technology meant that not everyone involved in fighting crime would be a serving police officer. And he added that the workforce would be given new training to fight cybercrime. Fighting cybercrime Andrew Flanagan, chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, said action must be taken but said police officer recruitment would only be cut if approved by the SPA. He told a press conference at the launch of the new strategy: "We are anticipating a small reduction in police officer numbers through to 2020. "It would be around 400, but that would come towards the end of the period, rather than early on. "We expect police officer numbers to remain at their current level through the coming year and only gradually reduce thereafter." He added: "I must stress - we will not reduce police officer numbers until we see these productivity gains coming through. "So, actually, we are anticipating the amount of operational policing will actually increase through the period through to 2020." As part of the new strategy, people across Scotland are being invited to give their views on how Police Scotland should be shaped over the next 10 years in a 10-week consultation. Police Scotland has pointed out that patterns of crime are changing - often enabled by new technologies. The population profile is also ageing and becoming more diverse and the duty to protect the vulnerable is becoming ever more complex. It said the police service must adapt and develop its capacity and capability to maximise public safety and remain operationally and financially sustainable. Add most value The force said the new strategy would create a workforce of police officers and staff who are focused on where they can add most value to protecting and serving the public. It suggested that technology and new ways of working would lead to greater productivity and more time tackling crime and addressing issues around vulnerability. The workforce mix would also evolve as new skills and capabilities were developed. The strategy would recognise that police are dealing increasingly with vulnerable people who need medical or social care rather than law enforcement officers. Key areas in the new strategy: Prevention - tackling crime, inequality and critical problems facing communities Protection - based on threat, risk and harm Communities - focused on localism, diversity and the virtual world Knowledge - informing the development of better services Innovation - becoming a dynamic, adaptable and sustainable service Mr Flanagan and Mr Gormley announced the consultation in Edinburgh. Mr Flanagan said: "The SPA and Police Scotland have spent many months assessing the changing nature of communities and their demands on policing as well as analysing the changing nature of crime. "From a position of strength, we need to ensure that Police Scotland adapts to these changes and has the range of skills and capacity to deal with growing demand and that we do so in a financially-sustainable way." 'Must transform' He added: "Policing is a vital public service and it is essential that we listen to those we wish to serve to ensure we meet their expectations. "Through this consultation we are asking for everyone to provide their views on the approach outlined today and I would urge as many people as possible to take part." Mr Gormley said: "Policing in Scotland has gone through significant transition; it is proudly one of the oldest public services in the world. "Now the service must transform to realise and release the full benefits of being a single organisation. "Local policing will remain at the heart of what we do, supported by a wide range of specialist capabilities. "In an ever-changing world, people will continue to turn to the police service for a myriad of reasons, which means it's never been more important to understand our demand, both current and future, in order to be able deliver a service which is relevant, has legitimacy and above all maintains the trust and confidence of the public." Officers on the beat Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said Police Scotland must "embrace new approaches" and said the Scottish government had provided an enhanced £61m reform budget for 2017-18 to support the changes. "While our Programme for Government is clear about the need to consider the right mix of skills and not just overall numbers, the public will always be interested in the number of police officers on the beat," he said. "We will pay particular attention to these issues before approval of the final strategy. In all circumstances, I would expect to see the number of police officers remaining significantly above the number we inherited in 2007. "Indeed, our enhanced funding gives police the platform to invest in the wider workforce, technology and other resources to keep communities safe." He added: " I urge all those with an interest to have their say on this next phase of policing in Scotland." Anyone who wants to contribute to the consultation should submit their comments by 8 May. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39097972
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