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  1. Image caption A BBC freedom of information application found 19 officers from Avon and Somerset Police have a criminal record A police force has been criticised for employing officers who have broken the law. A BBC freedom of information (FOI) application found 19 officers from Avon and Somerset Police have a criminal record. The force said the suitability of those convicted of an offence to keep their job would always be reviewed. Steven Smith, who was assaulted by an officer from Avon and Somerset, said he wanted a change in the law. The force said nine of the convictions came before the individuals joined the constabulary, while 10 were committed by serving officers. The force, which employs 2,771 officers, said the offences included burglary, assault and deception. Image caption Steven Smith was assaulted by an Avon and Somerset police officer in 2014 PC Mark Foster was convicted of assault after placing Steven Smith in a hold outside a Bristol pub in 2014. He was found guilty of assault at Bristol Crown Court in 2016 but the judge said he would still be "an asset to the force". Following a police misconduct hearing, PC Foster was permitted to keep his job. Mr Smith thinks the force should not employ anyone with a criminal record. 'Excessive force' "If it's violence or excessive force I do think maybe a law change could be a good idea," he said. Avon and Somerset Police said: "When officers are charged with offences, they will be subject to open and transparent court procedures and could then face internal misconduct processes. "The suitability of those convicted of an offence to remain employed by the constabulary will always be reviewed and the circumstances relating to their conviction will be taken into consideration when a decision is made." The Police Federation said officers were "human", adding "does one mistake mean that they're no longer a value to society?" In 2012, figures released by 33 of the 43 forces in England and Wales after FOI requests, found more than 900 serving police officers and community support officers had a criminal record. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-48498333
  2. Image copyright Spindrift Image caption Sgt Simpson called for backup after a man pulled out a machete A police sergeant has told a court of his fear as a machete was swung at him on a Dumbarton street. Brian Simpson, 44, said he had never been threatened in that way during a 19-year police career. He told a jury the incident began after he was called to reports of a man acting suspiciously. At the High Court in Glasgow, 31-year-old Craig Brown denies attempting to murder Sgt Simpson in September last year. Describing the weapon, Sgt Simpson said: "There was absolutely no need to be walking about the streets with it. "If that had struck me, it would have caused significant injuries." Armed response unit He told the court he had initially approached the man and asked if he was OK. The man had asked him: "Are you an armed response unit?" "It was an unusual question," Sgt Simpson added. "I said no. He then stated: 'Well, you better get one'. "I knew exactly what he meant as he then withdrew a long machete from his right trouser leg. "He immediately held it out...in an aggressive, threatening manner." 'Fled scene' Sgt Simpson used his incapacitant spray with no success before calling for back up. He said: "I was scared. I was there by myself in front of someone telling me to get firearms officers." Sgt Simpson described how the man was "chopping down" on the car he retreated behind and smashed a window. But the man fled when other officers arrived. "He could have killed me," the officer added. The trial, before Lord Clark, continues. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-48121481
  3. Image caption "I spent all my life working - I've never asked for anything," says Robin Thomas A former police officer who struggles to walk after health problems says he cannot understand why he was denied a blue badge for disabled parking. Robin Thomas, 80, has had a heart attack, two mini strokes and a seizure but said Bridgend council turned him down as he does not claim benefits. Age Cymru is now calling for a more consistent and compassionate approach when allocating blue badges. The council said it had followed Welsh Government guidelines. Some people automatically qualify for a blue badge based on criteria such as being in receipt of personal independent payments (PIP) or disability living allowance. However, councils can also give out discretionary blue badges to people who struggle to walk. 'I stumble along' Mr Thomas, who is from Maesteg and worked for South Wales Police for 35 years, said he had recovered well from open heart surgery and an operation to unblock a neck artery, but his mobility was poor. When he was assessed by the council for a badge, Mr Thomas was asked if he claimed benefits. He was also asked to walk less than 10ft across an office, which he said was not a fair way to test his mobility. Image copyright Family photo Image caption Robin Thomas worked for South Wales Police for 35 years "I can get about but I'm very slow on my feet... When I walk I tend to stumble along... the further I go I tend to trip on kerbs or off the steps," he said. "I don't claim benefits and never have done. They told me I didn't have enough points because I don't claim benefits which let me down." Mr Thomas said he would use the blue badge to go swimming at Maesteg pool for his health. At the moment, his daughter has to drop him off as there is nowhere to park close by. "I spent all my life working - I've never asked for anything," he added. Image caption Valerie Billingham, from Age Cymru, says there is a lot of variation between different areas Valerie Billingham, policy and campaigns manager at Age Cymru, said the system of linking eligibility criteria with welfare benefits was ineffective, because many older people did not claim benefits even if they might be entitled to them. She said there was a lot of variation between different councils in how they applied the criteria. "For a lot of people the blue badge means the difference between staying at home and getting out and living a full and active life," she added. The charity is now calling for more consistency and compassion in the way the criteria is applied across Wales. The Welsh Government said it had developed "best practice guidance" in partnership with health professionals for councils and the Welsh Local Government Association said councils recognised the importance of the scheme to those with limited mobility. A Bridgend council spokesman said it had followed the guidelines. He added: "Blue badges are provided to those who are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty walking. "If Mr Thomas feels he has been assessed unfairly, we would happily review his application." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-47975700 Cant see why this ex officer cant have a blue badge after reading this story .
  4. Image copyright PA Image caption The four men flew into Luton Airport on Wednesday Counter-terror police have arrested four men on suspicion of being members of a banned organisation hours after they flew into the country. The four Sri Lankan nationals arrived at Luton Airport on 10 April and were arrested by police the next day. The Metropolitan Police said the men were stopped under the Terrorism Act 2000 and arrested under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The four remain in custody at a police station in Bedfordshire. Membership of a proscribed organisation is contrary to section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-47916797
  5. Image copyright PA Image caption About 40,000 vehicles a day are expected to be affected by the charge The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has come into force in central London. Drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are being charged to enter the congestion zone area at any time. Transport for London (TfL) hopes the move will reduce the number of polluting cars in the capital, and estimates about 40,000 vehicles will be affected every day. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was "important we make progress" in tackling the capital's toxic air. However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said many small firms were "very worried about the future of their businesses" as a result of the "additional cost burden". Media captionLondon's ULEZ: What you need to know Most vehicles which are not compliant will have to pay £12.50 for entering the area each day, in addition to the congestion charge. Vehicles can be checked using TfL's online checker but broadly speaking, those which are non-compliant are: Motorbikes that do not meet Euro 3 standards (pre-2007 vehicles) Petrol cars and vans that do not meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles pre-2006) Diesel cars and vans that do not meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles pre-2015) Buses, coaches and lorries will need to meet or exceed the Euro 6 standards or pay £100 a day Anybody who does not pay the charge will face a fine of £160, although a first offence may result in only a warning letter. The ULEZ is set to be expanded to cover the entire area between the North and South Circular roads in 2021. London's ULEZ: How does it compare? What does air pollution do to our bodies? ULEZ: The politics of pollution TfL estimates the initial scheme will lead to a reduction in toxic emissions from road transport by about 45% in two years. Mr Khan said London's air pollution was a "public health emergency" and it was the "poorest Londoners that suffer the worst quality air". Media captionAir pollution: what are the effects on humans? Analysis Tom Edwards, BBC London transport correspondent A very damp misty morning in London and most people probably won't notice anything has changed. But London has taken a big step in trying to clean up its air. Given the go-ahead in 2013 by the previous mayor Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan brought the ULEZ forward a year and is planning to expand it in 2021. City hall says the ULEZ has already changed behaviour, with a fall in vehicles in central London and a rise in compliant vehicles ahead of launch. The plan is that London's air will be compliant with legal limits by 2025. Other cities are talking about diesel bans but London has taken the radical step that puts it in the vanguard of clean-air schemes. Other cities are watching closely. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Sandra Green from the Clear Air Parents Network said the scheme was a "really big step forward". "Air pollution caused by traffic, caused by individual cars - is causing problems for health for the next generation... and it's about time we did something about it," she said. Figures from City Hall show more than 60% of all vehicles driving through the charging zone in March were already compliant with the new restrictions. Nearly 27,000 non-compliant vehicles have been taken off the roads in the last two months, and there has been an 11% drop in the total number of cars entering central London. However, some drivers have spoken about their anger that governments had previously recommended buying diesel cars which are now being targeted by the charge. Jim Parker, managing director at car recovery company Boleyn, said the charge was "really unfair". "It's not just us, it is across the industry - everybody that owns a van or a truck and earns a living with it," he said. "We've had a local business, where the margins are so tight, they've now had to cease trading because they can't get a retrofit kit and they can't afford new vehicles." London pollution 'stunts lung capacity' Reality Check: What should owners of old diesels do? Go Ultra Low, an electric vehicle campaign backed by the government, said: "There has never been a better time for drivers to consider making the switch to electric." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47815117
  6. Image copyright Alamy Image caption Mark Kennedy (left) in his police uniform and (right) in his undercover days, when he used the name Mark Stone A woman who found out her partner was a policeman paid to spy on her group of activists has said she is the victim of a "conspiracy to rape". Rosa and another woman have spoken of feeling betrayed after falling in love with men who turned out to be spies. An ongoing public inquiry into undercover policing has seen several women get apologies and compensation. Police said officers who had long-term sexual relationships with their targets "abused their positions". "If you put all these things together, you have a team of officers conspiring to rape," said Rosa - not her real name - who told BBC Wales Investigates she discovered the man she thought was her long-term partner was a paid police spy. "They know there was no informed consent. "It's the whole gang of them, and there's no other way of terming it for me than a gang. "You've got mentors, you've got handlers a whole backroom team of people monitoring - and directing it would seem - their relationships, their activities." Image caption Det Con Jim Boyling, who had a relationship with a woman he was spying on For the first time Rosa, and another woman - both from Wales - have revealed on camera the full story of how they became involved in intimate relationships which seemed genuine, but were in fact charades as police forces infiltrated groups they thought needed monitoring. BBC Wales Investigates has spoken to people and groups across the country coming to terms with finding out the men who posed as friends, fellow campaigners and in some cases lovers, were living a lie. In 2000, Rosa spent three months in South Africa looking for Jim Sutton, the man she was in love with. The trouble was that man did not really exist. Rosa met him in a London pub while she was a political activist in a group called Reclaim the Streets. The pair fell for each other quickly, to the extent that Rosa wanted to call the relationship off. Woman wants undercover officer prosecuted Police knew undercover officer was having sexual relationship Spy cops report 'will take eight years' Machynlleth woman on her life with undercover policeman "It was too intense for me… I felt like I could forget to breathe. He seemed to be my life partner, he seemed to be some kind of blueprint I didn't even know I was looking for," she added. They were together for 10 months, but the man who called himself Jim Sutton was not who he claimed to be. He was an undercover policeman. Rosa said she and Jim were talking about having children, and moving to Wales, where she had family. Then Jim stunned her by saying he wanted to go travelling - on his own - to "sort his head out". He left, saying his plan was to go to Turkey, Syria and then South Africa. After months missing, Jim got back in touch. Rosa started her own detective work, and could find no trace of the family he said he had. So she headed to South Africa, to find him. Image copyright "Rosa" Image caption Jim Boyling, who used the name Jim Sutton while working as an undercover policeman "I was walking round South Africa just saying 'excuse me have you seen this person?'. I was in torture, I needed answers." She found no trace of him, and returned to the UK. Her search continued though, and clues led her to south London, and the offices of the secret police unit Jim worked for. Just two days later he re-appeared. "I was in the fiction section - if you made a film out of this you'd say this is not realistic - and in he walked," she added. Rosa believes his reappearance was no coincidence. She believes she had triggered a response from the police and Jim had been sent to find out how much she knew. The encounter forced Jim to confess he had been living a lie. He was not Jim Sutton, he was police officer Jim Boyling. Rosa said he told her he actually empathised with activists like her and was not spying on them but was instead working on a separate, criminal investigation. She said this was another lie and said she was deceived for a second time - but that deception only came to light after she and Jim were married and had two children together. Media captionTwo women had long-term relationships with men only to learn they were undercover officers Rosa said she was so damaged that she found it easy to believe Jim. "The idea that my partner had never existed and was played by an actor, sent in by the state in order to spy on me as a peaceful green activist, was ludicrous and shook everything I believe in, so he was telling me stuff I knew, that I thought I knew," she added. There was no happy ending however. Rosa said Jim was controlling and manipulative - allegations he denies - and eventually she fled to a women's refuge in Wales and the couple divorced. Mark Stone and his partner of six years Lisa were on holiday in Italy in 2010 when she opened the glove compartment of his van looking for a pair of sunglasses. What she found inside would begin a process which dismantled undercover policing in the UK. It was a passport. The picture in it was the Mark she knew but the name next to it said his surname was Kennedy, not Stone. It also said he had children. Image copyright "Lisa" Image caption Mark Kennedy with 'Lisa' during their relationship, when he called himself Mark Stone What Lisa did not know was that the man she knew as Mark Stone was an undercover policeman and had been paid to spy on her group of environmental activists. His covert deployment had just finished and he had handed back all his false documents - including his passport. It was a stroke of bad luck for him, and the Metropolitan Police, that she found the real one. Like Rosa, Lisa said the violation of trust by Mark and his employers feels like rape. "It's been difficult for me to think of it in those words [rape] but I actually think that was what it was when it comes down to it. "And the thing that also makes me feel even more violated, most violated, is that this deception, this relationship, this abuse wasn't just being perpetrated by one person. It wasn't just between myself and Mark, it was the whole police department." Lisa, a committed environmental activist, met Mark in 2004. A willing participant in protests, he told her he was a professional climber. Although there were moments when Lisa had her suspicions, such as never meeting his parents, his stories about his difficult upbringing which left him with a frosty relationship with his family eased any concerns. On top of that, she was in love. "He wasn't just somebody who was fleetingly in and out of my life. He was somebody I did everything with. I really did think we had a future together. This was somebody I was planning my life with," she said. In 2009, Mark suddenly left. He was gone for three months, with Lisa fearing he had had some sort of breakdown. Then, out of the blue, he returned. Their reunion led to the holiday in Italy, and the discovery of the fake passport. Image copyright "Lisa" Image caption Undercover policeman Mark Kennedy on holiday with his partner Lisa and a friend began to investigate to find out who Mark really was and discovered he was married, had two children and lived in Ireland. Armed with this knowledge, Lisa and her fellow activists confronted Mark. In the face of the evidence, he had to admit who he really was. "He was in tears and I was in tears," recalled Lisa. "It was a hugely difficult and emotional evening. It's a very difficult memory to be thinking about." The confirmation that Mark Kennedy was a police spy was the first step in the undercover policing network in England and Wales collapsing. Dozens of undercover officers were unmasked, and when it emerged that police had even spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, the teenager murdered in London in 1993, Theresa May - then Home Secretary - ordered a public inquiry. 'Some officers abused their positions' The Metropolitan Police told BBC Wales Investigates: "The Metropolitan Police Service has made clear its position on long-term, sexual relationships some undercover officers are known to have entered into with women in the past. These relationships were wrong and should not have happened. "Undercover policing is a lawful and important tactic that takes dangerous offenders off the streets and helps protect communities, but cases such as these demonstrate that some officers abused their positions." Image copyright "Lisa" Image caption Policeman Mark Kennedy at the Glastonbury Festival during the time he was working undercover Mark Kennedy and Jim Boyling both declined interviews with BBC Wales Investigates. In a statement in April 2018, Jim said his relationship with Rosa was genuine, and did not come about because she was a person of interest to the police. "I trust a more accurate picture of police covert operations may emerge from the Undercover Policing Inquiry, including perhaps the testimony of others who formed genuine relationships during the course of a deployment lasting several years," he said. Mark, speaking to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire in 2012, insisted his relationship with Lisa was built on genuine affection, and denied filing reports about her to the police. "I know that the relationship we had - outside of what the names were - was probably one of the most loving experiences I've ever had," he said. In 2018 the Met admitted that Mark's handler and line manager knew about and approved him having a sexual relationship with another activist. Jim was sacked by the Met for gross misconduct because of his relationship with Rosa. The disciplinary panel said: "The system of control and governance over officers like DC Boyling was severely lacking." But despite apologies from the police and compensation, Rosa and Lisa say their sense of betrayal remains. "When people have had bereavement, you need to know what happened to a loved one before you can move on. In this case it almost feels as if there was a bereavement but I haven't just found out my partner has died, I found out he never existed in the first place," said Lisa. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-47240670
  7. Image copyright BSG Image caption Blacklist campaign: Workers across the UK are still demanding justice A secret police document has revealed how the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch helped the illegal blacklisting of trade unionists - preventing them from getting jobs because of their political views. In one case, detectives suggested one individual was a terrorist, despite the claim being wrong. The illegal practice - exposed ten years ago - involved major construction firms accessing secret files on 3,000 workers and their union activities. But until now, little has been known about the police's role, other than a Scotland Yard admission it had been involved. Image copyright MPS Part of the secret report underpinning that admission has now been disclosed, after initially being classified as so secret it was for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's eyes only. The report - codenamed Operation Reuben - found "numerous areas of concern" with "inappropriate contact of Special Branch officers with private organisations", including with one of the two blacklisting groups, the Economic League and the Consulting Association. Blacklisting: How it worked Blacklisting began with the Economic League in 1919 which shared records on left-wing activists with industry to keep them out of the workplace It was closed in 1993 after a Parliamentary inquiry. The Consulting Association sprang up to replace it The Information Commissioner's Office raided The Consulting Association in 2009, revealing for the first time the scale of the operation - triggering legal action that continues to this day In 2016 eight major construction firms offered settlements to end legal action: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Keir, Lang O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci Image caption Mark Jenner: Gathered intelligence on 300 workers in the late 1990s The Reuben investigators found no systematic records of the relationships - but one sharing incident from 1978 had been recorded after a senior officer intervened. On that occasion, a trade union activist had applied for a job making educational videos with a company linked to the construction industry. The company passed the individual's name to the Economic League to be checked - which in turn contacted the police for any further intelligence "due to the perceived risk of involvement in education". "The receiving officer's initial inquiries revealed a potential link to [redacted] which in his opinion had not been resolved satisfactorily... he returned to EL asking for any further information, stressing the matter's importance due to the possible link to terrorism. "This was recorded as fact by the EL representative." EL then passed this on to the prospective employer - ending the candidate's chance of getting a job. Image copyright BSG Image caption Campaign: Some cases settled but more legal action is coming The applicant appears to have learned that they had been "blacked by the security people". One of their relatives was a retired senior police officer who demanded an investigation - and that appears to explain why the incident remained recorded. One major blacklisting allegation is that an officer called Mark Jenner collected information after he infiltrated the construction union UCATT between 1995 and 2000. The report says that Jenner, who used the alias Cassidy, provided information on 300 people - and 16 of those appeared in the illegal blacklist database. Operation Reuben said it found no evidence to prove that Jenner directly provided that intelligence - but it added it could not rule out other officers doing so. Roy Bentham, joint secretary of Blacklist Support Group, said that many questions remain unanswered. "The police are supposed to uphold law and order, not spy on perfectly democratic organisations such as trade unions," said Mr Bentham. "Blacklisting is a national scandal and confirmation that the police colluded with this shameful and unlawful activity is beyond the pale." Police admit role in blacklisting workers New action over construction 'blacklist' Imran Khan QC, lawyer for the Blacklist Support Group, said that the onus was now on the undercover policing inquiry to dig deep. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the internal report into blacklisting had established that "certain conduct" amounted to improper sharing of information under the law as it stands today. "Allegations about police involvement with the 'blacklist' will be fully explored during the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI)," said the spokesman. "The Metropolitan Police Service will await the conclusions of the UCPI before considering any appropriate next steps." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47457330
  8. Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption One of the many knives seized by police in London this year Dozens of knife offenders in London will be tagged with GPS devices upon release from jail, Sadiq Khan has said. The Mayor of London announced the project as part of his public health approach to tackle "unacceptably high" levels of violent crime in the city. Last year nearly 80 people were stabbed to death in London. The trial will target 100 offenders across the four London boroughs worst hit by knife crime - Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon and Southwark. Those deemed most likely to reoffend will have their movements automatically checked against locations of reported crime and matches will be shared with police. Mr Khan said the causes of violent crime were "extremely complex". Trackers will be fitted to offenders leaving prison for crimes such as knife possession, wounding and grievous bodily harm under the plan to be launched on 18 February. The latest measures are part of the Violence Reduction Unit which aims to mirror an approach successfully used in Glasgow to get police, housing, health and care workers to work together to tackle violence. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47195857
  9. A police officer who allegedly failed to pass on images of a suspected acid attacker is under investigation. The Met Police detective was investigating an acid attack in March 2017 in north London in which a woman suffered hand and leg injuries. The officer obtained CCTV footage of the incident but allegedly did not circulate it until 20 months later. The suspect was identified as Xeneral Webster, who went on to commit a second attack, killing a 47-year-old woman. Image copyright Thames Valley Police Image caption Xeneral Webster was jailed for the manslaughter of Joanne Rand who died after being splashed with acid In June 2017, during an argument with a man in High Wycombe, Webster took out a bottle of acid which splashed 47-year-old bystander Joanne Rand head-to-toe. She died of her injuries 11 days later. Webster was jailed for 17 years for Ms Rand's manslaughter in July. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating the police officer in a gross misconduct case, for alleged breaches of professional standards relating to his duties and responsibilities. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47044322 Not good if the officer did not circulate it until 20 months later.
  10. Image copyright Sgt Chris Harris/Norfolk Police Image caption Police saw the car driving erratically on the A11 at Wymondham Police said they were "shocked" to find a car being driven erratically on a major road was missing a front tyre. The driver was stopped on the A11 near Wymondham, Norfolk, by officers in the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team (NSRAPT) on Saturday. The vehicle was missing its front right-hand tyre. After giving a breathalyser reading of more than three times the drink-drive limit, the driver was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-47019387 Skip Twitter post by @NSRAPT
  11. Four people, including two firefighters, have been killed after an explosion caused a huge fire at a bakery in the French capital, Paris, officials say. Cars were wrecked and other buildings were damaged by the blast on Rue de Trévise in the 9th Arrondissement. A gas leak is said to have caused the explosion around 09:00 (08:00 GMT). Paris and other cities have been bracing themselves for new anti-government protests. Some 80,000 police officers due to be on duty on Saturday as "yellow vest" demonstrators keep up their pressure protest, even though the Paris explosion is not thought to be connected with the demonstrations. What happened? The Hubert bakery at No 6 Rue de Trévise was not due to be open at the time of the blast, Le Parisien newspaper reports. A gas leak had been reported in the building and firefighters had been on their way to deal with it when the explosion occurred. Image copyright AFP Image caption Firefighters were reportedly hurt in the blast Helicopters landed on the nearby Place de l'Opéra to evacuate the injured, Reuters news agency reports. A passing journalist, Emily Molli, described the force of the blast and vast extent of the damage. Skip Twitter post by @MomesMolli End of Twitter post by @MomesMolli Skip Twitter post 2 End of Twitter post 2 by @MomesMolli A resident named Killian was asleep when the explosion blew in his windows. Everybody in the building came downstairs, he said, and he could hear screaming. The blast also destroyed a theatre, he told French news channel BFMTV. "I was sleeping and woke up by the blast wave," Claire Sallavuard told AFP news agency. "All the windows in the apartment exploded, doors were blown off their hinges, I had to walk on the door to leave the room, all the kids were panicking, they couldn't get out of their room." Image copyright EPA Image caption At least 20 people were hurt Paula Nagui, a receptionist at the nearby Diva Hotel, said there had been an "enormous blast" that shattered all the windows. Anxious guests had received assurances that it was not a terror attack, she told Le Parisien. Why such heavy security for the protests? For the ninth Saturday in a row, demonstrators are turning out to criticise the government's policies in a mass phenomenon which began with a protest over tax on vehicle fuel on 17 November. Called the "yellow vests" because of the colour of the high-visibility vests they wear symbolically, they have disrupted traffic on roads and in towns across France, and their marches have descended into some of the worst rioting France has seen in decades. Who are the 'gilets jaunes'? Les gilets jaunes: The full story Yellow vests could be seen gathering outside the finance ministry in Paris on Saturday. Image copyright AFP Image caption Protesters have gathered outside the French finance ministry Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests. Ten deaths have been linked to the unrest, all but one in traffic accidents, the tenth being an elderly woman hit in the face by a tear gas grenade in her flat in Marseille. More than 1,500 people among the demonstrators have been injured, 53 of them seriously. Nearly 1,100 members of the security forces were also hurt, French TV reported on 5 January. As of 6 January, 5,339 people had been taken into custody and 152 had been sent to prison, the justice ministry told L'Express newspaper. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46849633
  12. Mayor of London With three months to go until the launch of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the central London Congestion Charge Zone, the Mayor of London is urging London’s drivers and business owners who drive in the zone to check whether their vehicles comply with new emissions standards designed to tackle the capital’s toxic air. The ULEZ will come into effect in the current central London Congestion Charge Zone on 8 April and will replace the current Toxicity Charge. Vehicles will need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge (£12.50 for cars, vans and motorcycles, £100 for buses, coaches and lorries) to travel within the zone.

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