But now it seems officials have listened to prisoners’ pleas as they are handing out witches’ wands, tarot cards and ceremonial robes to inmates who claim they are pagan.
Ministry of Justice officials have produced a 104-page guide entitled Faith and Pastoral Care for Prisoners which advises prison staff on how to help inmates of different faiths including witches and pagans.
The document circulated last month to prison staff suggests pagan prisoners may be able to have incense and special dress for worship following a risk assessment.
The official government guidance states: ‘Some pagans use tarot cards for meditation and guidance.
‘This may be allowed under the supervision of the pagan chaplain ... but only following a local risk assessment.’
It goes on to list permitted artefacts linked to paganism including ‘incense and holder (fragrances should, where possible, be appropriate to the season)’ and ‘hoodless robe (only to be used during private or corporate worship)’.
But prison staff draw the line at naked pagan worship, according to the document.
It states: ‘Most pagans wear ordinary dress for worship. ‘Some traditions, however, have special dress for worship (eg, hoodless robe ...) In prison, skyclad (naked) worship is not permitted.’
Looking for scapegoats is no answer to tragedy
While police failures undoubtedly played a part at Hillsborough, the root causes of the disaster go back decades
By DAVID AARONOVITCH 27 Apr, 2016
I didn’t give up two years of my life nor hear 500 witnesses nor have to answer 14 key questions before coming to a conclusion, as the jury in the Hillsborough inquest did. I lost no one that day in 1989 and, not being a grieving relative, I didn’t have to endure attempts by the authorities to implicate the dead in their own terrible asphyxiation. So some people will feel that I shouldn’t say what I am about to: which is that the verdict of unlawful killing delivered the day before yesterday bothers me. I am troubled that we are in danger of placing the blame for the actual catastrophe — as opposed to the subsequent cover-ups — conveniently on a very small group of people and in so doing obscuring some important truths.
The central blame figure most people have alighted upon is David Duckenfield, now 71 and retired, but then a not very experienced chief superintendent with South Yorkshire Police. He was in charge of the police operation at Hillsborough. After the disaster he lied about key decisions made during the course of that day and the effect of his lies was to transfer blame from his own shoulders and that of the authorities to the fans themselves.
But what we are talking about here is not what happened afterwards, but what happened before and on the day itself. And my argument is that Hillsborough was the terrible culmination of a series of social and institutional failures and prejudices. More, unless we understand how those failures combined to cause the 96 deaths, we are fated in some guise or another to repeat the mistakes.
Broadly I think there were three contributory factors and one aggravating one. First was the fact that by the 1980s Britain was a country of clapped-out and decaying infrastructure, its existence underpinned by a culture hostile to public investment and an inattention to what we now call “health and safety”. For two decades, from Aberfan to Hillsborough, we often proceeded to make changes only when prompted by catastrophe. In those years we witnessed a series of mega-accidents that can be hard to explain to younger people now. For example, the obvious combination of smoking in the vicinity of combustible material killed 31 people in the fire at King’s Cross Underground station in 1987. Just two years earlier the same combination had led to the deaths of 56 fans when an antiquated stand at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground caught fire.
Hillsborough itself, like most football grounds of the time, was an ageing relic of an era of discomfort. Also, like most grounds, its facilities, from toilets to catering, were rudimentary and its arrangements for getting fans in and out of the stands were pretty much the same as just after the Great War. On the largely open terraces full of standing fans there was a constant danger of crowd surges (being a fan myself I was caught in many of these). But in the early 1970s clubs began adding fences in front of the pitch, cutting off the obvious line of escape should something go wrong. And all of us knew it.
In 1981 overcrowding in the same Hillsborough stand saw dozens of Spurs fans injured, with many scaling the fences to escape. Despite this no fundamental modification took place. Furthermore the arrangements for an emergency turned out to be joke. On the day of the tragedy there was no defibrillator in the ground and at least one of the oxygen tanks was found to be empty.
The modern football ground is almost entirely a product of the Hillsborough disaster, because that’s what it took for the public to demand action and the authorities to take it.
But why were the fences there at all? The second factor was the violence that had crept into British fandom over the same two decades. At the time of Hillsborough English clubs were ending the fourth year of a ban from European football after the riot (by Liverpool fans, as it happens, but they could have belonged to almost any club) at the Heysel stadium in 1985 which led to the deaths of 39 supporters. When I went to Spurs matches in the 1970s and 1980s there was usually some “aggro” and almost always the chanted threat to visiting fans that they would get their “f***ing heads kicked in”. And although most fans had nothing to do with the hooliganism, there was, I am ashamed to say, a toleration of one’s own violent fringe. Drunkenness was a common problem. In those days, however, going to matches was about the only way a football lover could see the sport.
On the day of the tragedy there was no defibrillator on the site
The third factor followed partly on from the above. By 1989 the English football fan was pronounced, as a breed, to be scum. A presumption of guilt was made by politicians, authorities, the press and by many ordinary people. So fans — all fans — became, by default, a disliked and even pathologised group. Consequently their comfort, their conditions, their civil liberties even, were regarded as moot. They could be herded, coerced, smacked about a bit sometimes, and anything could be believed about them. And then, when the bodies came to be identified, it was discovered that they were just people after all. Dads, daughters, lovers, sons.
And fourth, Hillsborough helped to uncover just how unaccountable and defensive many of our public servants had become. Living, as a friend put it to me yesterday, “in a different, opaque, arrogant world of their own”. This was an era when the public served the public servant. And when things went wrong they fell back on lies and back-covering.
In the planning for Hillsborough Duckenfield may have exemplified some of these tendencies. But he was a creature of his time, not of this one. It is easy for us to forget, as we did years after 9/11, what the common thought was at the time. In the immediate aftermath of the Twin Towers atrocity we wanted the spooks to do everything they could to stop such attacks, and never mind how they went about it. When the world somehow carried on we rediscovered our scruples and hung our protectors and their extreme rendition tactics out to dry.
Right now a similar set of factors may be incubating another disaster akin to Hillsborough. It’ll be one part neglect and false parsimony, one part turning a deaf ear to the inconvenient, one part prejudice about a group (Muslims, Zionists, migrants), and one part deflecting blame. The true memorial to the victims of Hillsborough and all other tragedies lies in anticipating and erasing the conditions that allow them to take place and not in satisfying ourselves with scapegoats.
Twigg slams 'fools' representing South Yorkshire Police for putting families through 'torture'
Halton MP also calls for accountability over West Midlands Police 'sham' investigation
By Oliver Clay 29 Apr, 2016
Shockwaves continued this week following the bombshell inquest results into the deaths of 96 football fans including six from Runcorn and Widnes with Halton MP Derek Twigg damning those responsible for the tragedy and the aftermath’s debacle.
Mr Twigg, who was a Liverpool fan at the 1989 stadium disaster, spoke in Parliament to lay into ‘fools’ representing the police for putting victims’ families through ‘torture’, and also into the ‘complacency’ over the state of the ground.
Mr Twigg said South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable, who has been suspended since the speech, had apologised to fans in 2012, writing online that he was ‘profoundly sorry for the way the force failed’ and ‘doubly sorry for the injustice that followed’.
He said that despite that admission, police lawyers had persisted with the ‘same argument’ in the inquests.
Mr Twigg also called on Home Secretary Theresa May to make sure West Midlands Police (WMP), which carried out the initial probe into the disaster, is held accountable for its investigation branded by Mr Twigg as a ‘sham – complacent and a complete waste of time’.
Mrs May said the Operation Resolve and Independent Police Complaints Commission investigations will cover the actions of the West Midlands and South Yorkshire forces.
During his speech, Mr Twigg said his matchday programme from April 15, 1989, contained a comment from Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s then chairman that served to ‘underline the complacency and total disregard for the safety of football supporters’.
It referred to the Hillsborough stadium’s supposed safety credentials and said: “As you look around Hillsborough you will appreciate why it has been regarded for so long as the perfect venue for all kinds of important matches.”
Mrs May agreed that it showed ‘extraordinary complacency’.
Mr Twigg also thanked the Home Secretary for her statement and praised the ‘magnificent courage and steadfastness’ of victims’ families.
Mrs May said: “As I indicated in my statement, there were several questions that related not just to Sheffield Wednesday FC, but to the engineers who designed the stadium.
“The jury was very clear that there were problems with the design of the stadium and with the certification process.
|Inside Wandsworth prison: drug drones and demoralised staff|
The Guardian has been granted unprecedented access to two prisons to see the impact of funding cuts. In the first of two reports, Amelia Gentleman finds broken windows and bored inmates at the UK’s most overcrowded jail
By Amelia Gentleman 22 Feb, 2016
Ten days before Christmas, in the middle of the night, a drone crashed on to the asphalt courtyard that separates Wandsworth prison’s A-wing and the governor’s office near the estate’s outer perimeter. A white package measuring 20cm by 10cm by 10cm had been suspended from the drone with brown tape and string. It contained mobile phones and some drugs.
As soon as you enter Wandsworth prison, you notice that dozens of windows on this side of the four-storey A-wing have been smashed. This level of vandalism inside a prison is a bit startling, but it’s such a common problem that prison officers pay little attention to the scale of the damage until asked about it. Each cell window has three narrow transparent panels and most cells have at least one broken pane; prisoners have stuffed duvets and towels into the cavities, or patched them up with flattened milk cartons to keep out the January cold. The prison’s head of security believes that some prisoners are smashing holes in their windows in order to receive deliveries of drugs flown in by drones.
The drone that crashed in December was quite large and carried a camera to help its owner guide it to its destination. The flight was made at a time when the prison is most vulnerable, during the night hours when there are only seven prison officers on duty, responsible for the 1,600 prisoners locked in their cells. Since last February, the deliveries have become a fairly routine occurrence. Several other crashed drones have been discovered on the roof of the prison, similarly loaded with mobile phones and drugs.
Most striking is how unremarkable Wandsworth’s staff find these episodes. Running Wandsworth prison, the UK’s biggest and most overcrowded institution, is such a challenging job that drones, drug deliveries and broken windows are barely noteworthy incidents in the daily struggle to manage a vast Victorian building designed to house 963 men and currently squeezing in another 650. The last two years have been particularly bleak for Wandsworth, with 15 deaths in custody, seven of them self-inflicted, one murder of an inmate by his cellmate (who smashed the shared television on his head), and an excoriating inspection report that highlighted how overcrowding and “severe staffing shortages” compromised the prison’s ability to meet prisoners’ needs, leaving about a third of inmates routinely locked up for 23 hours a day.
The prison’s budget has been cut from about £30m in 2010 to £21m last year, and the number of staff per inmate has dropped by at least 15%. The prison’s new governor valiantly tries to make light of these cuts, suggesting there are some things his staff can do for free – smiling at prisoners, greeting them with a friendly hello – but he concedes that staff morale is probably hovering at around three and a half out of 10. (“Maybe four on a good day.”) The mood of the staff has been worsened by uncertainty about whether the prison is to close. The justice secretary, Michael Gove, has promised to shut “ageing and ineffective” Victorian prisons generally, but no indication has been given
Northumbria police boss condemns plans to replace cops with civilian volunteers
Northumbria Police Commissioner Vera Baird told MPs to think again over plans to give volunteers similar powers to police
By Jonathan Walker 28 Apr, 2016
Northumbria’s police boss has condemned plans to give thousands of unpaid volunteers powers similar to serving police officers, including the power to use CS spray on suspects or conduct strip searches.
Vera Baird, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, urged the Government to drop the plans.
And she said that the Government was attempting to use unpaid volunteers to plug a gap caused by police funding cuts which have forced police services to cut the number of officers.
She issued a warning when she came to the House of Commons to speak to MPs who were examining the Government’s Policing and Crime Bill.
This will allow chief constables to give more powers to volunteers known as Police Support Volunteers.
There are 9,000 of them working with forces across the country, for example by staffing the counter at police stations or by helping neighbourhood watch schemes on behalf of the police.
But the new law would allow them to exercise powers such as issuing on-the-spot fines, conduct searches or use “reasonable force” to keep people under control and more.
Only a small number of powers, including the power to arrest people, would be confined to police officers.
Mrs Baird told a Committee of MPs that this meant asking civilian volunteers to do the job that used to be carried out by police officers.
She said: “At a time when there have been such significant cuts to policing - in Northumbria we have lost 1,000 members of staff, plus almost 800 officers - bringing in volunteers with police powers is not going to be adding value, which is what volunteers are usually for. It is going to be the substitution of volunteers for people who have historically been contracted to do the job.”
And she warned: “They will be people who are not paid, who are not contracted, who have no disciplinary link over them, who have no processes to go through, who are supervised in what way we do not know, who will not be supervised or overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and yet who will be able to have every power except the core ones.
“For instance, they will be able to execute warrants on houses, which means they will be able to break into houses to execute a warrant. If this power is given, they will be able to detain people for 30 minutes . . . though they will merely be volunteers and not contracted.
“They may be able to caution people and to take down their first account of something they are accused of. Presumably they will be able to strip search people.”
Chief constables will decide whether or not to give volunteers these powers, but Mrs Baird said they would come under pressure to do so.
She said: “There is pressure on chief officers now because of the loss of staff - there is no doubt about that.”
And she used the 2010 manhunt for Raoul Moat, a Newcastle man who shot three people, as an example.
Police inspector drove van along pavement to force clubbers out of Croydon town centre
CHIEF Inspector drove a police van on to the pavement and toward a small group of clubbers in order to force them out of the town centre.
By Gareth Davies 27 Apr, 2016
Photos passed to the Advertiser show the vehicle being used to herd eight people out of Croydon High Street after they left a nightclub in the early hours of the morning.
The van is understood to have mounted the kerb near Lunar and, flanked by police officers, was driven about 130 feet along the pavement, forcing the clubbers away from the area.
Chief Inspector Peter McGarry, who was driving the van, said he had used an "approved public order technique".
Roy Seda, owner of Dice Bar, included the incident in a statement provided to the council ahead of the police's unsuccessful licence review hearing earlier this month.
He said the tactic was "terrible to watch" and could "incite tensions" among people whose crime was to stand outside a club and chat after a night out.
It will likely intensify criticism of the police's heavy-handed attitude towards the town's night time economy, which licensees say has discouraged people coming to Croydon.
Chief Insp McGarry, heavily involved in that approach, used the van to funnel the group, who appear to have been causing no trouble, away from High Street at 4.23am on March 27.
In his statement, Mr Seda said: "A recent police tactic is to drive a police van on the pavement, directly at customers, leaving the nightclub to make them move.
"This is terrible to watch and makes people really mad. I don't think police should do it. This, in my opinion can be a catalyst and can incite tensions."
The former special constable said the photos, which show the vehicle as it reaches Dice Bar, are indicative of the police's "aggressive" approach to moving customers out of the area as soon as clubs close.
Mr Seda, who helps his staff safely usher people home after they leave his venue, said customers are often met by police officers who "yell at them to clear the area, move and similar things, quite aggressively".
He said: "A large police presence on the High Street - 20 to 30 police officers - can be intimidating to people. Customers like to talk to their friends when leaving the venue. Imagine leaving a cinema to be confronted by 20 police officers telling you to 'Move!'. Your mood might just change.
"It is disappointing for me, as so much effort goes into creating an environment for customers to leave in a calm and relaxed state of mind. This police behaviour has become a bit of a 'thing' in Croydon town centre, and I believe this is partly responsible for such a drastic fall in footfall.
| From prisoner to Cambridge academic: 'life-changing' project unites students and convicts|
Two Cambridge academics have led a 'life-changing' project in a prison, which has seen a serving convict become a published academic.
By Adam Care 26 Apr, 2016
The prisoner, who for security reasons is known only as Gareth, now hopes to complete his studies in Cambridge following his release.
Last week the Learning Together initiative completed its second term at HMP Grendon in Buckinghamshire. The eight-week course has seen MPhil criminology students working alongside prisoners on equal terms, sharing the same study materials and working together in small group sessions.
Spice is rife in Lancaster Farms prison
The legal high Spice is rife at Lancaster Farms prison and up to three prisoners a day are collapsing after overdosing on it, claims an insider.
By The Visitor 28 Apr, 2016
The whistleblower who works at HMP Lancaster Farms said: “Spice is rife in the prison. A prisoner collapses due to taking spice every day. Parcels of it come over the wall into the prison every day. Prisoners find another vulnerable prisoner and test the spice by spiking their cigarette with it.
“There are emergencies time and time again, two or three times a day where prisoners are in a coma due to Spice. Some come round really quick but others don’t. I’m very concerned.”
Only two weeks ago on April 16, police were patrolling close to Lancaster prison when they came across two men in possession of drugs and other contraband. Both men were arrested and the items in their possession were seized. The whistleblower also claims the safety of staff is being compromised because there are not enough prison officers.
The person said: “There are volatile situations and fights break out.
“Our population is now an adult population, mainly murderers, rapists and paedophiles. The older generation don’t seem to be afraid of anything. “I have never been attacked but I have been threatened and it’s what could happen. A lot of the time there isn’t a prison officer available. I’m concerned for the safety of staff.
“There are safety issues and someone needs to sort this.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Governors use sniffer dogs, cell searches and mandatory drugs tests to find drugs in prison and punish those responsible.
“Staff at HMP Lancaster Farms also work with police to restrict the supply of drugs into the prison, and the Government has also passed laws that mean those smuggling packages face up to two years in prison. It is incorrect to say there are two or three incidences a day of prisoners overdosing on new psychoactive substances.
“However, it is clear more must be done, which is why the Justice Secretary has asked the Ministry of Justice to look at how we can make sure prisons have the right tools in place to tackle these problems.”
The Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed in a report that the number of prison officers in the north we
More than a dozen modern day 'car wash slaves' rescued by police in Cambridge area
Car washes in Cambridgeshire are the focus of a crackdown on modern day slavery as it is revealed more than a dozen people were rescued from a life of misery and hard labour by the force.
By Raymond Brown 28 Apr, 2016
The force is backing the Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland who is leading efforts to tackle slavery and human trafficking and is urging the public to reports of forced labour at car washes.
He issued a chilling warning that people traffickers are smuggling migrant slaves into Britain and forcing them to wash cars against their will.
Cambridgeshire police laid bare the horrors of human trafficking and servitude at car washes after a series of raids.
The News joined officers last year when they raided a car wash on the A14 to rescue workers living in what police described as "Dickensian conditions."
It was the fifth raid in the Cambridge area as part of Operation Puffin aimed at rescuing exploited workers who are mostly from Eastern Europe.
Chief Inspector James Southerland, area commander for South Cambridgeshire, said: "Cracking down on human trafficking remains to be a priority for the force and part of the work we do to tackle this issue is to raise awareness of the signs and educate people.
"Over the last year we have visited a number of hand car washes across the south of the county and managed to safeguard a number of people who were sadly being trafficked, living and working in very poor conditions and for very little pay.
"We know the exploitation of vulnerable people, many of whom simply want to make a better life for themselves in the UK, is still happening. We are committed to working with colleagues in partner agencies to protect vulnerable people and bring those who commit criminal offences against them to justice."
And Mr Hyland has urged drivers to boycott cheap car washes as they have become a hub for modern exploitation.
Motorists are urged to look out for the signs including poorly maintained equipment, a lack of protective clothing such as goggles and gloves and makeshift overnight accommodation at the site.
Mr Hyland said: "There are legitimate car washes, but there have been many cases in car washes up and down the country of exploitation and modern slavery.
"We are encountering modern-day slavery like this in our day-to-day life and it is in plain sight."
He told The Sunday Times: "If it is clear that it is not right, then of course we should boycott it. I also think we should go one step further and report it to the authorities.
"The workers may be in an open environment but are often in debt or feel vulnerable and do not feel free to leave. They get stuck somewhere and don't know how to get out of it.".
Sutton Coldfield doctor suing Met Police for false arrest
Rita Pal, a psychiatrist, says she was cuffed and driven 100 miles to London before charge later dropped.
By Jeanette Oldham 28 Apr, 2016
A highly respected medic and whistleblower is suing the Met Police over claims she was arrested on her doorstep, before being cuffed and driven 100 miles to a London police station.
Dr Rita Pal, a psychiatrist and medical journalist, says she was arrested by Met officers in December 2014 at her home in Sutton Coldfield on an unfounded suspicion of harassment.
In a writ lodged at London's High Court, Dr Pal's lawyers relate how she was handcuffed and placed in an unmarked police car before being driven to the capital.
She was later charged with an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act.
But she was cleared before Stratford Magistrates in August last year after the Crown Prosecution Service "offered no evidence".
Dr Pal is now suing the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Her lawyers also claim in the writ that the way she was handcuffed amounted to an assault.
The document describes Dr Pal as a writer specialising in "medico-political issues" and a "researcher on whistleblowing".
The Met's defence to the action was not available from the court and Dr Pal's claims have yet to be tested in evidence before a judge.
Lying BMW driver Ayesha Ahmed's life 'in ruins' over jail term for speeding scam, says sister
High-flying graduate now 'languishing in prison with crackheads'.
By James Cartledge 28 Apr, 2016
A graduate’s life was “in ruins” after she used a “Mr Fixit” in a failed bid to dodge speeding points, said her anguished sister.
Sbah Ahmed said high-flyer Ayesha told a “lie that spiralled out of control” after she was clocked twice in five minutes in her BMW.
The 27-year-old told police someone else was driving her car after handing over £450 to a man who claimed he could exploit a “legal loophole” to get her off.
But Ahmed was jailed for three months after police linked the false address she provided on prosecution forms to EIGHT other speeding offences.
Speaking of her sister’s shame, Sbah said the punishment was too severe as she was “languishing in prison with crackheads and violent criminals”.
Sbah, 37, said: “She made a terrible mistake and regrets what she’s done.
“The jail sentence is punishment enough – she doesn’t deserve to have her life ruined because of this stupid mistake.
“She acknowledges that she was stupid and shouldn’t have undertaken that course of action.
“But she had no criminal history – it was her first offence. “I don’t know how she heard of this person.
“She thought he was a motoring legal expert who could perhaps find a loophole.”
Ahmed, of Baptist End Road, Netherton, was driving home from her job as a wholesale company buyer when she was flashed twice in five minutes in nearby St Peter’s Road on July 30 last year.
The Coventry University graduate, who has a 2:1 in International Relations and Politics, was clocked doing 39 and 40mph in a 30mph zone.
Police rumbled her scam after growing suspicious because she had previously begged for leniency and claimed she was being followed at the time.
She never met the man she paid – handing the cash over via a third party – but claimed she fell victim to a crooked lawyer.
Ahmed denied perverting the course of justice but was unanimously convicted at Wolverhampton Crown Court after a trial.
Sbah, 37, said: “She’s terribly ashamed.
“The point of the sentence is to deter others, not to shame her and destroy her life.
“She’s made a stupid error which she regrets.
“It was a lie that spiralled out of control.
Romance between Winchester prison employee Sonya Knight and inmate reveals smuggling racket
AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the alleged smuggling of mobile phones into Winchester jail by prison officers, the Daily Echo can reveal.
By Andrew Napier 29 Apr, 2016
The probe comes after a prison worker narrowly avoided jail after forming an inappropriate relationship with an inmate.
Sonya Knight, 22, operations support officer, admitted the relationship but denied it was sexual, a court heard.
The inmate Jack McRae, on being transferred from Winchester Prison, told a duty governor about it and claimed they had kissed through a broken observational panel in his cell door. Knight told police that McRae had once tried to kiss her hand but she pulled away.
Knight also told police that two other prison officers had illegally supplied a phone of McRae, the court heard.
A Hampshire police spokesman said her allegation was being investigated.
“We are actively working in partnership with HMP Winchester to tackle the criminality associated with mobile phone possession and use by prisoners. This includes taking enforcement action against friends and family who supply, top-up and communicate with prisoners’ illicit mobile phones.
“There is an ongoing investigation in relation to the phones referenced in this misconduct in a public office case.”
Knight wept in the dock as the court yesterday heard that she had been “groomed” last autumn.
She was persuaded to communicate with McRae and bought a Samsung mobile phone to contact him, said James Kellam, prosecuting.
He said: “She knew McRae had access to a phone and did not pass the information on to the relevant people so the phone could be seized and McRae sanctioned.
“McRae was interested in the relationship becoming a romantic one and it’s possible what McRae was doing was, I hesitate to the use the word, grooming, but he was trying to create a situation where Knight would be obliged to do more favours for him of an illicit nature.”
David Reid, mitigating, said Knight knew it was “a naive error of judgement... a single foolish occasion of giving McRae her phone number".
He added: "From that point onwards her position was compromised. That took place at the end of October last year. She accepts that from then on she was open to pressure and towards the end of his time in Winchester that pressure was duly applied.
“If you read the text messages towards the end of December there is waning enthusiasm on her part. Several text messages from him saying ‘why won’t you communicate?’ When she does it is short and terse.
“There is an element of grooming in the sense that McRae realised what he was doing was manipulating the situation.
Charity calls for prison officers to receive training to spot ADHD
A charity has called for prison officers at young offenders' centres in Northern Ireland to have mandatory training to help spot and understand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
By Victoria O'Hara 26 Apr, 2016
It comes after ADD-NI said at least 70% of young people in Hydebank Young Offenders Unit have the behavioural disorder.
Sarah Salters from the charity says she believes a lot of the crimes committed by inmates are "impulsive acts" where the young person does not properly engage their brain beforehand.
"They carry out the act and it's too late," she said.
ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, but the impairing symptoms persist into adulthood in up to 70% of cases. Undiagnosed and untreated adults often have problems holding down a job or staying in a relationship.
According to the NHS website, common symptoms of ADHD include a short attention span, restlessness, constant fidgeting, over-activity and being impulsive.
In Sweden, where criminal, health and social care records are linked, researchers have found people convicted of crimes are much more likely to have ADHD than the rest of the population.
Estimates suggest between 7% and 40% of people in the criminal justice system may have it or other similar disorders, though many won't have a formal diagnosis.
Ms Salters has now called for prison officers to receive mandatory training to spot ADHD among young people in order to improve their understanding of the condition.
ADD-NI was established in 1997 as a support network for children, young people and the families of those affected by ADHD. Dr Matt McConkey, an expert in ADHD, said the figures are consistent with other young offenders centres across the UK.
He said assessing children who are involved in a first criminal offence would be a positive step in treating the condition at the earliest stage.
"Whenever you first enter the criminal justice system, that could be a unique opportunity to diagnose these children and follow on comprehensive treatment," he told the BBC.
He said having ADHD does not mean the child will automatically have a criminal record, however, early assessment could help reduce repeat offending.
Dr McConkey also supported the calls for prison officers to be trained in early recognition of the condition.
He added that both teachers and parents are becoming more aware in spotting the potential signs of ADHD and this provides better outcomes for the child.
Prison officer 'concerned' about Derby man Shalane Blackwood's health before his death, inquest told
A prison officer has told the inquest into the death of prison inmate Shalane Blackwood, from Derby, that there would be times when untrained staff would have to be on duty in the segregation unit of Nottingham Prison due to staff shortages.
By Martin Naylor 28 Apr, 2016
Paul Marriott said he also expressed concerns about Mr Blackwood's health in the run up to his death. The inquest into the death of Mr Blackwood, of Tobermory Way, Sinfin, continued on Thursday, after he was found collapsed in his cell on August 5 last year.
Yesterday, the jury heard a nurse had to perform medical assessments on Mr Blackwood through a small panel in his cell door because not enough guards were on duty.
Mr Marriott said he knew Mr Blackwood from previous times he had been in Nottingham Prison. He said: "He was very, very polite. A very decent lad, I remember he always called me 'sir' and I would tell him he didn't need to."
Mr Marriott said:"I believe his demeanour and mental health changed around the time he took a phone call (the month before his death). He came off the phone and ran through lots of cells. He was removing items from other cells, he had to be restrained by five officers, he showed a very high pain threshold, he was very aggressive, very strong."
Mr Marriott said he was one of the prison officers trained to work on the segregation unit but there would sometimes be staffing issues. He said: "I remember there was a period of time when the staff levels were not enough and the workload was very high."
Miss Haskey asked: "This is the time when Shalane was at the segregation ward?" Mr Marriott replied: "Yes. The staff were there but some of them were not segregation trained. They were prison officers but they had not gone through the segregation training process."
Mr Marriott said, in the lead up to his death, Mr Blackwood was displaying "bizarre" behaviour.
Miss Haskey asked:"Looking at things now, what do you think Shalane was getting?"
Thug filmed brutally kicking dog was let out of jail 'in error'
Jordan Smith was filmed beating his dog with a belt, and is now 'unlawfully at large' after he was released before his court date
By Charlotte Cox 29 Apr, 2016
A thug facing jail after brutally beating his pet dog is wanted by police after he was released from prison ‘in error’.
Shocking footage shows Jordan Smith, 20, kicking, and punching his Staffordshire Bull Terrier in his own yard as part of a three-month campaign of abuse.
The grotesque attacks - which included whippings with a belt - were witnessed by his neighbours in Heywood, who caught some of the horrific violence on camera.
Smith, of Middleton Road, was told at a hearing in February he could go to prison after admitting a charge of causing the animal unnecessary suffering.
But he is now ‘unlawfully at large’ after failing to turn up for sentencing at Bury magistrates on Thursday.
Smith’s solicitor Steve Connor told the court his client had been in prison until the morning of the hearing, but was released ‘in error’ from Forest Bank. He failed to appear in custody as a result.
When the alleged blunder was discovered, Mr Connor telephoned Smith, who promised to be at court ‘for 12.30pm’ - but never appeared. Mr Connor admitted it was a situation he had ‘never come across before’.
Prosecuting, Tim Chapman added: “There is an investigation ongoing as to how he has come to be released.”
As a result, magistrates ruled he was ‘unlawfully at large’. At an earlier hearing, Mark Harper, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court Smith was first spotted beating the 18-month-old dog by his then neighbours - a mum and son - in July last year.
Then in September, they saw Smith again striking the animal, first with the back of his hand before punching it several times in the stomach and aiming at least five kicks at him. Six days later they saw Smith kicking the animal at least four times before using a belt to whip his pet ‘nine times’.
They captured the attack on a mobile - but because only Smith was visible it could not he used by the RSPCA.
But on September 29, they filmed Smith punching and kicking the dog several times before throwing one of his boots at his neck.
Dog wardens attended Smith’s house on October 19 and the animal was taken away to be re-homed. Smith was issued a court summons.
The case was adjourned by magistrates for a pre-sentence report to be prepared. But he failed to turn up to the hearing in March and was later arrested.
Man jailed for murdering Yarmouth baby Ruby Spink refused early release because of prison chaos
A man jailed for murdering his girlfriend’s 11-month-old baby has lost a bid for an early chance of release after a judge heard of the havoc he has caused in prison.
By Kieran Lynch 29 Apr, 2016
Mitchell Childs, now 25, was only 16 years old when he murdered Ruby Spink, the daughter of his then partner, in Great Yarmouth in September 2007.
Childs was convicted of murder at Norwich Crown Court and jailed for at least 12 years in August 2008.
Childs applied for a review of his case, claiming his earliest release date should be brought forward because of the progress he has made behind bars.
He said he had been in denial at the time, but had since come to terms with what he did and accepted responsibility. He has completed numerous courses in prison and planned to continue to work hard, he said.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice Nicol said the turnaround was “encouraging”, but said that there was “another side” to the story.
Between August 2009 and March 2014, he had 18 adjudications against him for disciplinary offences in prison.
They included fighting, disobedience, using abusive words, absence without permission and assaulting other prisoners.
His behaviour had been so bad that he had to be moved to another jail, said the judge in today’s ruling.
More recently, he had sworn at and been rude to a tutor, been sacked from his job in the prison and failed two drug tests, he continued.
“He has a very poor adjudication record,” said the judge.
“His progress in custody, such as it has been, is still itself a work in progress.
“I cannot say of him that he has made exceptional progress so far. It follows that I cannot recommend any reduction in his minimum term.”
The decision means Childs will have to wait until he has served the full 12 years before he can even apply for release on licence.
Teen who went for breakfast instead of court after pushing PCSO down stairs is told to grow up
18-year-old who avoided jail after assaulting a PCSO failed to turn up for numerous probation appointments — and then went for breakfast when he should have been in court — has been told to grow up.
By Jason Evans 17 Apr, 2016
Ricky Polverino pushed the female officer down a steep flight of steps in Townhill in June last year, injuring her arm.
He was given a 12 month suspended sentence with a requirement to carry out unpaid work after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.
However Swansea Crown Court heard he had missed numerous work appointments, and had left the probation service in no doubt as to his attitude towards the order.
He was subsequently summonsed to court for breaching the conditions of his suspended sentence.
But after initially attending the court, the Penlan teen went off to a cafe for breakfast and was not around when his case was called before justices.
When he eventually returned to the court, he was taken into custody and spent three days behind bars.
Polverino, of Heol Cadifor, pleaded guilty to breaching the order when he appeared before judge Paul Thomas QC.
Victoria Thomas, for Polverino, described her client as an "immature 18-year-old", but the judge said he was acting more like a 12-year-old and needed to grow up.
The barrister said her client's time in custody since his unauthorised breakfast visit had been a "wake up call" for the teenager, adding it had "given him an insight into what awaits him if he misses any more appointments".
Violent schizophrenic missing from mental health unit 'tried to kill PCSO'
Police say a violent absconder from a mental health unit, who was last seen in Walthamstow, was originally sent to the facility after he attempted to murder a PCSO.
By Guardian 18 Apr, 2016
Detectives have renewed an appeal to trace Cornell Destouche, who disappeared on April 10 while on escorted leave from a unit in Hackney.
He was in a mini cab at the junction of The Drive and Churchill Road, Walthamstow, when he fled from the vehicle.
Destouche was convicted of attempted murder at Snaresbrook Crown Court in July 2014, for stabbing a Police Community Support Officer. He was detained under a mental health order.
The 25-year-old suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and requires daily medication to control this condition. He has not had this since he absconded.
Detective Inspector Paul Ridley, from Hackney CID, said: "A major investigation is underway to locate Cornell Destouche.
“I must re-iterate my earlier warning to the public - Destouche is a violent individual who could pose a threat if confronted.
“If you see him please do not approach or challenge him, but dial 999 immediately."
Destouche is described as black, of medium build, 5ft 11inches tall, with braided hair and a black beard.
He was last seen wearing a black and grey t-shirt, blue jacket, blue jeans and navy trainers and was carrying a grey rucksack.
DI Ridley added: "If you have information and wish to remain anonymous you can call Crimestoppers - you do not have to supply your details.
"All I require is an indication as to this man's whereabouts and I can assure you
‘Life means life’ fury as cop-killing triple-murderer let back on the streets
EXCLUSIVE: Murderer Nicholas Vernage told an accomplice: ‘All I want is to kill coppers’.
By The Sun 25 Apr, 2016
a TRIPLE murderer who stabbed one police officer to death and left another two for dead has received his first taste of freedom, The Sun can reveal.
Cop hater Nicholas Vernage was given five life sentences in 1992 for the murders of 41-year-old Sergeant Alan King, civilians Lorna Bogle and Javaid Iqbal, as well as the attempted murders of PCs John Jenkinson and Simon Castrey.
But less than three years after Home Secretary Theresa May promised police killers would serve a whole life tariff - Vernage has been back out on the streets.
The Sun can reveal how Vernage, now 51, was given an escorted visit into the community on March 17 from a medium secure psychiatric unit where he is being held.
He is now being given secret weekly visits to a nearby village from the undisclosed location where he is detained.
Vernage was moved to the psychiatric unit in December 2014 from Broadmoor where he was sent after being diagnosed with a severe personality disorder.
Criminal justice experts say Vernage' visits into the community - approved by a Ministry of Justice panel - will pave the way for him being released within the next year.
Sgt King’s widow Monica King last night described the decision to allow Vernage into the community as “disgusting.”
She said: “I clung to the fact that with five life sentences and a recommended minimum tariff of 25 years he would never come out. That was stupid of me.
Teambuilding on a whole new level
Former prison officer Chris Whiteley set up Challenge 4 Change after a decade of teaching PE in jails. He shows Lucy Roue the ropes.
By Lucy Roue 28 Apr, 2016
"Ninety nine per cent of people come physically overqualified to do this,” reassures Chris Whiteley, as I tentatively reach out for the next rope of the 35ft-high assault course.
Attached to a harness and swinging from a rickety rope bridge, I have come to explore the 19,000 sq ft indoor pursuits facility at Trafford Park.
Run as a charity, the Challenge 4 Change activity centre delivers innovative training to groups, providing personal development.
And with outcomes of improved problem solving, communication skills, teamwork and conflict resolution, it is easy to see why more corporate groups than ever are gracing the high walks – from Bruntwood to Blackburn Rovers.
The man behind this great concept is no stranger to the benefits of physical learning. A former professional rugby league player for Salford City Reds, and a long-serving prison officer, Whiteley has seen first hand the impact it can have.
“The sense of achievement people get from it is fantastic,” he says. “We reinforce that positive behaviour and it helps to build confidence and break down barriers.”
Full of enthusiasm and the sort of northern charm you would expect from a born and bred Wigan lad, the 49-year-old talks about his rugby career. “When I joined high school, the PE teacher said the sport was rugby – or you can go and play hockey with the girls.”
After signing professional aged 20, he enjoyed four good years at the club before deciding on a career in the prison service, with his first posting in Maidstone, Kent.
“I had just got married and was looking for some financial security, so this career was more appealing than sticking with the rugby.”
Cheekily, he adds: “There wasn’t much difference between rugby league and working in the service, I just wore different clothes. I was always quite a physical player and now I spend most days rolling around on the floor with prisoners who wanted to protest in the segregation unit.”
The father-of-one moved his family back up north four years later to teach PE in category C prison HMP Wymott, near Preston.
“In my first week I was asked to referee a football match between a team of prisoners from Liverpool against Manchester. There were 60 inmates on the wall bars watching, 10 on the field playing, and I was told thousands of pounds of bets were riding on it. I didn’t want a riot on my hands so I made sure it was a draw.”
On-the-run 'killer', who featured on America's Most Wanted after murders of wife and mother-in-law, hanged himself in UK jail when his true identity was discovered
Lovkesh Kumar left US in 2003 after being accused of the double murder
By Lydia Willgress 26 Apr, 2016
A suspected killer who featured on America's Most Wanted after he fled following the murder of two women hanged himself in his UK jail cell after his identity was discovered, an inquest heard.
Lovkesh Kumar left the United States in 2003 after being accused of the double murder of his wife Pooja and mother-in-law Nirja, who were both stabbed to death and chopped up in January that year.
The 42-year-old managed to slip into the UK as Sarbjit Singh in 2004 before living a life of petty crime.
He was finally jailed for drug offences more than five years later before his identity was uncovered after Interpol tipped off authorities about the earlier murder.
Kumar was found hanging in his cell at Wandsworth jail just three days after appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, where he was told he would face extradition to the US following the tip. An inquest is now being held into his death.
The coroner heard Kumar was accused of stabbing his wife and mother-in-law to death at the family home in California before cutting up their bodies with a butcher's knife in January 2003.
After arriving in Britain as Singh the following year, he spent the next decade serving a series of jail terms as he carried out a wave of crimes here including criminal damage and drug dealing.
He was eventually handed a 33-month prison sentence for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
His true identity as one of America's most wanted men was discovered only after Interpol got a tip-off.
DNA and fingerprints taken from the scene of the 2003 murders in Clovis, California were sent to Scotland Yard and a match was eventually made with Kumar. He later confirmed to a police officer that Kumar was his real name.
He was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard's extradition squad after he was sent to Westminster Magistrates' Court from Highpoint prison in Newmarket, Suffolk, in July 2014.
He was then transferred to Wandsworth jail in south London, Westminster Coroner's Court, sitting at the High Court, was told.
His body was found in his cell on September 6, 2014, three days after his first extradition hearing. Another one was scheduled to take place in November that year.
In a statement read to the inquest, prison officer Tom Carter said Kumar never gave the impression he was scared. He added: 'He was moved up to that cell and was content to my knowledge and never had any problems with his cell mate.
Dutch prisons are closing because the country is so safe — and no one really knows why
Something odd is happening in Holland..
By Chris Weller 26 Apr, 2016
Government documents recently obtained by Dutch newspaper The Telegraaf reveal five prisons are closing down in the Netherlands just three years after the government announced 19 others were closing.
Crime has been going down each year since 2004, and nobody can figure out exactly why.
In the Netherlands, the incarceration rate is just 69 per 100,000 people. This stands in stark contrast to the US, where the rate is 716 per 100,000 — the highest in the world. The US recidivism rate — that is, how often people who've been to prison end up going back — is 52%, according to 2013 data. The Netherlands' is closer to 40% and has been declining for over a decade.
The success of the Dutch model may lead one to the conclusion that the country's success results from measured steps toward prisoner rehabilitation. But there's little evidence suggesting prisons are rehabilitating criminals. Nor are any federal policies necessarily responsible for keeping people out of trouble.
Frank Weerman, a Dutch sociologist at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, says the decrease in heroin addiction rates through the 1990s might contribute to the low crime rates. He also credits the increased safety measures to secure stores and homes.
However, Weerman still hedges.
"I am not sure what exactly is the contribution of all this to the decline in prisoners in the Netherlands, but it probably has played a role," he says.
In reaching out to half a dozen Dutch experts, in fact, each of them forwarded me to someone else who they were certain could answer the question. The response was mostly head-scratching.
"Nobody really knows why crime rates are high or low, go up or down, but we do know that this has nothing to do with prisons!" says Arjen Boin, professor of institutions and governance at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
To be sure, crime rates in the Netherlands are going down. That's why the prisons are closing in the first place: It's become too expensive to keep them in operation when they're only running at partial capacity.
A 2010 study of one major Dutch prison found that offering basic rights, like healthcare and personal space, kept the prison running safely and smoothly. Guards also had electronic devices that monitored prisoner activity via ankle bracelets.