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  1. An Austrian football fan has been fined 100 Euros (£85) for calling a police officer “dude”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/12/football-fan-fined-calling-police-officer-dude
  2. Lydia Lauro seduced colleague and used his login to look up confidential reports to trace witness in boyfriend’s murder trial https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/10/police-worker-jailed-over-plot-to-leak-trial-witnesss-identity
  3. An Austrian football fan has been fined 100 Euros (£85) for calling a police officer “dude”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/12/football-fan-fined-calling-police-officer-dude
  4. Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38904430?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-hereford-worcester-38302430&link_location=live-reporting-story Image copyright Google Maps Image caption A silver Honda estate failed to stop after the collision on the junction of Oat Street and Cowl Street (generic junction photo above) A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a hit-and-run in which a police officer was injured. A silver Honda estate failed to stop after the collision on the junction of Oat Street and Cowl Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, at 13:20 GMT on Tuesday. The officer was taken to hospital with minor leg and head injuries and the abandoned vehicle was found in Longford Close, Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. A 46-year-old Evesham man was arrested. Read more news for Herefordshire and Worcestershire A 49-year-old woman from the Evesham area was later arrested on suspicion of obstructing police, a spokesman said
  5. Ilford turned into 'war zone' as police storm town centre and find injured man in car http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/ilford-turned-into-war-zone-as-police-storm-town-centre-and-find-injured-man-in-car-a3458801.html
  6. Commuter films moment an innocent woman breaks her LEG after an aggressive police dog pushes her onto train tracks http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4179646/Woman-breaks-LEG-police-dog-pushes-tracks.html Probably why we have the "stay behind the yellow lines" - best not to get too close to police dogs and don't go round them on the platform side!
  7. Modernisation requires debate over what forces should prioritise in face of changing crime, says Sara Thornton https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/13/police-need-to-drop-boss-knows-best-leadership-says-met-contender
  8. 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
  9. Chief Bakes

    BBC: Search for MH370 suspended

    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
  10. The building served as Manchester's central fire station for 80 years http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/former-police-officers-firefighters-invited-12455011
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. This section of the forum is for you to post any non UK Police related stories. Please note that due to copyright restrictions you must only include the title, the first line of the article and a link to the original article. Articles from the BBC can be posted in full, but must also include a link to the original article. So before posting an article from a newspaper please check to see if it is available from the BBC instead. We are allowed to post a limited number of Police Oracle articles, in full, each month. Therefore, if you want to share a Police Oracle story, please only include the first line of the article and a link to the original article. All news articles will be hidden until moderator approval is given. Before posting in the News area can I please request that you: . post the story (for BBC news articles only) or the first line of the article (all other sources) and not just a link. Not everybody is able to follow a link so can't therefore see your story. .ensure you include a link and cite the source of your news story - we do not own the copyright and MUST credit the source. I'd also like to remind police officers, PCSOs, police staff and police volunteers not to release any information whatsoever that is not already in the public domain. "In the public domain" means the information has already been widely circulated on TV and/or radio, in the mainstream press, or on public access internet news sites. Note that on occasion, information which has previously been published in the mainstream may for legal reasons be subject to reporting restrictions at a later time; such information must not be reproduced here on the forum. Doing so may jeopardise ongoing police investigations and/or legal proceedings and may result in prosecutions for example under the Data Protection Act or Official Secrets Act. When replying to news articles please remember that everyone is (under the UK legal system) innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Thank you for your cooperation.
  17. 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
  18. Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38330110 NHS hospitals in England are so full that a shortage of beds is putting patients at an increased risk of infection, according to a report. An analysis of bed occupancy rates by the Nuffield Trust reveals that more than 95% of beds in hospitals were used every day last winter. Hospitals try not to exceed 85% so that they can clean beds between patients and deal with sudden admissions rises. NHS England said plans were in hand for maximising hospital beds this winter. Previous research has linked a shortage of beds to long delays in emergency departments and higher infection rates. Hospitals aim to avoid high bed occupancy rates to ensure that emergency patients can be admitted quickly. They also don't want patients to be moved around or placed on inappropriate wards to make room for other patients, and they need to have some slack in the system when numbers of admissions rise very quickly. Controlling infections and keeping everything clean can also be a problem if hospitals are too full. Emergency beds The Nuffield Trust analysis of hospitals in England shows that last winter the pressures on the system made sticking to a target of 85% of beds occupied almost impossible. On average, more than 95% of beds were occupied every day. On the single busiest day, more than 4,300 extra beds - which are used when the system is under intense pressure - were opened, equivalent to more than seven extra hospitals. One factor was the number of patients who were medically well enough to leave hospital, but couldn't be discharged because of delays in setting up ongoing care. The report also found that on one day in January 2016: four out of 10 hospital trusts had more than 98% of hospital beds in use one in seven hospital trusts reported they didn't have a single spare bed more than 4,000 emergency beds had to be opened 'Real threat' Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust said: "With such high levels of bed occupancy linked to higher infection rates and longer waits in A&E, these pressures pose a real threat to the smooth running of hospitals and, ultimately, to patient safety. "What's more, the NHS is going into this winter in an even worse position than it was a year ago, with record deficits, worse performance against the A&E target, far more trolley waits, record delayed discharges from hospital, and fewer people getting the help they need with social care. "When you add into that mix the sort of intense pressure on beds we've demonstrated hospitals experienced last winter, patients' care is bound to suffer." An NHS England spokesman said: "This report looking back to last year points to the steps the NHS takes each winter to maximise bed availability, and plans are well in hand for this winter too."
  19. source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38336977 Image copyright Reuters Image caption Theresa May shares a joke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Parliament President Martin Schulz Theresa May has told EU leaders that she wants an early deal on what Brexit means for the status of Britons in Europe and EU citizens in the UK. The prime minister's comments came as she updated fellow leaders on the UK's plans for leaving the European Union. There has been concern in other countries about the status of their nationals in the UK after Brexit. Meanwhile, EU leaders said negotiations over the UK's exit would be approached in "a spirit of trust and unity". Mrs May attended a European Council summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday, but then left without answering any questions on the UK's break with the EU. However, Irish PM Enda Kenny revealed what Mrs May had told them, saying: "She would like to have the question of UK citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with in the early part of discussions that take place." Mr Kenny also said the Irish Republic would not sign a bilateral deal with the UK and the UK had to agree its future relationship with the EU first. EU leaders discuss Brexit without May Brexit trade deal 'could take 10 years' Brexit uncertainty risks 'City exodus' Brexit: All you need to know After Mrs May's departure, the 27 other EU leaders met informally for 20 minutes to discuss their approach to Brexit negotiations. They agreed that European Commission official Michel Barnier will lead talks for the EU - although MEPs are said to want a greater say. European Council president Donald Tusk said the "short, informal meeting" had "reconfirmed our principles, meaning the indivisibility of the four freedoms, the balance of rights and obligations and the rule 'no negotiations without notification'". European Parliament president Martin Schulz has warned that negotiations could be vetoed if MEPs are not fully involved. Downing Street has played down suggestions that a Brexit trade deal could take 10 years to complete, after Britain's ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, suggested that others in Europe believed this could be the case. Image copyright AFP Image caption Mrs May said EU leaders had also discussed "the appalling situation in Syria". "Ivan is there to report the views of others, he is doing the job of an ambassador. He was representing what others are saying to him," the Press Association news agency quoted a source as saying. Downing Street indicated that it would be possible to complete a "divorce deal" and a new trade agreement with the EU within the timetabled two years of the UK invoking Article 50 - the formal start of the process of leaving. Meanwhile, reports suggest that Britain could face a £50bn bill to leave the EU, including payments to cover pension liabilities for EU staff. However, Downing Street said the UK would meet its obligations while in the EU, but any financial settlement after that would be a matter for negotiation. At the summit, the leaders discussed controlling mass migration into Europe, the EU's relationship with Ukraine, co-operation with Nato and economic matters. Syria aid Mrs May said they had also discussed "the appalling situation in Syria". "We heard from the mayor of eastern Aleppo, he had one plea for us - to allow the safe evacuation of the people in the city," she said. "President Assad and his backers - Russia and Iran - bear responsibility for the tragedy in Aleppo, they must now allow the United Nations to ensure the safe evacuation of the civilians who are left there." She announced that the UK is to provide £20m of further aid for the most vulnerable in Aleppo. International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: "People must also be allowed to leave the city safely without risk to life or limb or gross violations of their human rights, and in accordance with international law. "It is paramount that aid agencies now get the unfettered, secure access they need to save lives inside east Aleppo."
  20. Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38337109 Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Obama meeting Mr Putin at the UN in New York in 2015 US President Barack Obama has vowed to take action against Russia for its alleged interference in the US presidential election campaign. "We need to take action and we will," he told US radio station NPR. Russia stands accused by the US of hacking the emails of the Democratic Party and a key Hillary Clinton aide, which the Kremlin strongly denies. Republican president-elect Donald Trump has also dismissed the claim as "ridiculous" and politically motivated. The intelligence agencies say they have overwhelming evidence that Russian hackers linked to the Kremlin were behind the hacks. And on Thursday, a White House spokesman said President Vladimir Putin was involved in the cyber-attacks. Hours later, Mr Obama said: "I think there's no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact on the integrity of our elections, that we need to take action and we will, at a time and a place of our own choosing. "Some of it may be explicit and publicised. Some of it may not be. "Mr Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it." Image copyright Reuters Image caption John Podesta, who led the Clinton campaign, was hacked and his emails posted on Wikileaks It is not clear what action the US intends to take, with Mr Obama leaving office on 20 January. The disclosure of emails was embarrassing to the Democratic Party at a crucial point in the election campaign. Hacking: Truth or treason? 18 revelations from Wikileaks emails How would a thawing US-Russia relationship work? The CIA has concluded that Russia's motivation was to sway the election in favour of Mr Trump, but no evidence has been made public. Mr Trump has accused the Democrats of fabricating Russian involvement to hide their embarrassment at the election defeat. He has also long expressed admiration for Mr Putin, and his pick for secretary of state - oil tycoon Rex Tillerson, who has worked closely with the Russian leader - has raised concerns. Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday: "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" However, the Obama administration in October directly accused Russia of hacking US political sites and email accounts with the aim of interfering with the upcoming election. A headache for Trump - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington Democrats have struggled to grasp why Hillary Clinton lost. Could it be the spread of "fake news"? A poor Democratic ground game in Midwestern states? FBI Director James Comey's last-minute letter to Congress about new Clinton emails? Anything but acknowledge that Donald Trump turned out to be the more effective candidate with a more appealing message (at least in the states that mattered). Russian government hackers are the latest culprit - or scapegoat, depending on one's perspective. They're a tempting target, however, given the latest accounts of intrigue from intelligence community sources. A wily Vladimir Putin overseeing damaging leaks makes for a deliciously villainous plot. Of course those campaign emails, while certainly an annoyance to Democrats, likely weren't enough to tilt the election. But that doesn't mean these revelations won't be a headache for a president-elect who bristles when challenged. Now he's feuding with his own intelligence services and lashing out on Twitter, virtually guaranteeing more leaks. A congressional investigation seems likely. There's even talk of a Russian sanctions bill ending up on President Trump's desk. Mrs Clinton's loss still stings, but for forlorn Democrats seeing Mr Trump squirm would be a salve for open wounds.
  21. 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?
  22. 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
  23. S Korea lawmakers vote to impeach leader 9 December 2016 From the section Asia South Korean parliament has voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. The National Assembly motion passed by 234 votes to 56, meaning some members of Ms Park's ruling Saenuri party voted to impeach her. Ms Park's authority now passes to Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn. She has been embroiled in a political scandal that led thousands of Koreans to take to the streets in recent weeks demanding her removal from power. At the heart of the crisis is the relationship between Ms Park and her close confidante, Choi Soon-sil, who stands accused of using her connections to gain influence and financial benefits. Prosecutors say Ms Park had a "considerable" role in the alleged corruption, which she has denied and over the last few weeks she has repeatedly apologised for her role in scandal. 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
  24. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38143777 It is one of the most dragged-out divorces in corporate history but it seems that BT and Openreach will definitely go their separate ways. Talks between BT and regulator Ofcom to find a voluntary solution to the problem seem to have broken down. Ofcom has now begun the formal process of forcing a legal split. The big question is what will it all mean for consumers. Why do the two need to split? Image copyright PA The argument for separation centres around whether the firm that provides the vast majority of the UK's broadband infrastructure (Openreach) should be part of the same parent group as one of the UK's leading internet service provides (BT). Rivals have long argued that this is bad for competition and the consumer. TalkTalk's Dido Harding was one of the first to welcome Ofcom's new tough stance: "Openreach has been letting consumers down for far too long, unable to meet promises of even minor improvements and becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons." Ofcom agrees and, now too, does the government: "We've been clear that we need a more independent Openreach. It needs to offer genuinely fair and equal access to the country's telecoms infrastructure to BT's competitors," said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This is the best way to ensure consumers get the service they need, and the country gets the digital infrastructure it needs," he added. I live in a rural broadband notspot - how would a split improve life for me? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Many farmers are crying out for faster internet connectivity, says the National Farmers' Union Slow and non-existent broadband is still an issue in remote areas and most agree that is unacceptable in an age where telecoms are as important as gas, electricity and water. Openreach has been criticised for the slow rollout of rural broadband and for failing to offer radical new technologies. But, on the flipside, there are no large queues of other operators lining up to fix the problem, which is expensive and technically challenging. The Countryside and Landowners' Alliance pointed out that any split must make sure that the work Openreach is doing to close the digital divide can continue unhindered. "Any formal break between BT and Openreach must not lose sight of the goal to deliver broadband to rural areas. Ofcom must make it clear that the conditions of the separation include guarantees for future investment to further support rural digital connectivity," it said in a statement. Will a split lead to better, cheaper broadband? What consumers really need, according to Andrew Ferguson, founder of the broadband news website ThinkBroadband, is "fibre to the home with gigabit speeds for £20 to £35 per month". Fibre-to-the-home technology offers faster speeds than the majority of current broadband connections, which are known as "fibre to the cabinet", meaning the final connection to homes is delivered over slower copper wire. Mr Ferguson told the BBC that no-one currently knows whether a legal separation will deliver this faster option. "The split has the potential to be very transformational and start the UK down a path of 95% fibre-to-the-premises coverage in 10 years, but that was a possibility yesterday too. The key is whether the split means more money will be available and if a fibre-to-the-premises (home) product is adopted by operators like Sky and TalkTalk," he said. "The hope is that by reducing the influence of BT Group on Openreach, it would be likely to invest more in faster broadband technology that allows more providers, such as Sky and TalkTalk as well as BT, to offer a better service to their customers." But, he added, there is a counter-argument that an independent Openreach could create "a stock market that gets jittery which means that Openreach is starved of capital and struggles to meet what its critics have said are already unambitious rollout targets". Most agree that a separation of BT and Openreach would not alone solve the UK's broadband problems. Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, said: "Ofcom needs to act across the board to ensure competition and service improvements. This includes universal service obligations, quality of service requirements on regulated products and automatic compensation when providers fail to deliver. Some believe that the real problem with the UK's broadband is that the copper network simply does not offer the bandwidth and reliability to support our increasingly data-rich needs. Founder of Mimosa Networks, Jaime Fink thinks it is time to consider other technologies: "Openreach and other UK service providers must change their approach and look at new technologies that can profitably deliver a superfast sustainable broadband network." He pointed to the US where new entrants such as Google and Facebook have shaken up the market with fixed wireless solutions, which are less expensive than fibre. Will a split improve customer service? Image copyright Thinkstockk Image caption Broadband customers do not deal directly with Openreach at the moment You have a broadband fault but it is taking weeks to fix. Sound familiar? One of the biggest arguments in favour of a split is that Openreach has just not provided adequate levels of customer service. Critics say this is because it is not a customer-facing firm so all complaints are channelled via a customer's ISP, giving it no incentive to get on with repairs. "Millions of people have suffered woeful levels of service from Openreach, so these reforms must lead to significant improvements for customers who have been let down for too long," said Which's Alex Neill, managing director of Home and Legal. But will a separation deliver this? It may depend on how the separation looks, thinks Ovum analyst Matthew Howett. "The improvements in quality and availability of service that Ofcom hopes legal separation will bring about will likely to be delivered much sooner if BT can get on and deliver them today as a result of a voluntary agreement, rather than wait for a lengthy and uncertain process to run its course at the EU level," he told the BBC. In order to start the legal separation, Ofcom must now prepare a formal notification to the European Commission to start the process. Mr Howett believes that the door is still open for a voluntary agreement from BT. "In many ways that would be a better outcome than a forced legal separation, not least because the EU route is uncertain, untested and likely to take much longer to achieve. It is also of course made more complex by the decision from Britain to leave the EU."
  25. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-37934011 Seven homes have been evacuated after a large sinkhole opened up behind a row of houses in North Yorkshire. Fire crews were called out to Magdalen's Road, Ripon at 22:30 GMT on Wednesday and found a hole measuring about 20m (66ft) by 10m (33ft). The depth of the hole, in the back gardens of two properties, is estimated to be about 9m (30ft) deep. No injuries have been reported, with the area cordoned off. More on this story and other news in North Yorkshire Frances O'Neil, who discovered the sink hole in her garden, said: "I was just going to go down the steps that lead to my garden and realised there were no steps and the ground was moving. "I turned back around, grabbed hold of a metal pole and pulled myself up and back into the house." Image caption The hole stretches close to the back door of a house Ben Bramley, who lives in one of the affected houses, said: "I was a bit drowsy and my missus gave me a shout to say something was happening in the back garden and it sounded like a little landslip. "I went outside and it was all dusty, my neighbour was out there in a dressing gown and it was a real mess." Structural experts were called in to help survey the scene. Image caption Firefighters and structural engineers have been assessing the scene Mr Bramley added: "It's quite traumatic.. it's very close to our back door and the house as you can imagine is uninhabitable at the moment. "The fire brigade and contractors were saying that it's likely to be structurally unsafe for a period of time, so we would need to move out. We might even be officially homeless." Ben Cairns, NYFRS station manager, said: "The area is well-known for gypsum deposits, so it's not the first time we have encountered this - although this particular sinkhole does appear to be quite large." The fire service said the residents of four of the affected homes will not be able to return to their properties any time soon. Image copyright Google Image caption The hole appeared in the back gardens of two homes on Magdalen's Road, Ripon In 2014, a 100-year-old detached house in an adjoining street was demolished after a 25ft-wide sinkhole opened. The British Geological Survey said Ripon lies in one of the most susceptible areas of the UK for sinkholes because of its "Permian gypsum deposits", which can dissolve more quickly than surrounding limestone. Image caption The sinkhole is in two back gardens Eamon Parkin, a landlord at the nearby Magdalen's pub, said he had noticed a visible change in the area's landscape over the last few years. He said: "Growing up here, I know that it's a problem in Ripon and these things do happen, but where will it happen next? "If you look over to where the park is, the land is changing over there. It used to be nice and flat, but now you can see a difference in the structure of the land."
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