Police have made a number of arrests in the first operation of its kind to tackle suspected fraudulent pension liberation schemes.
Original post: Arrests follow alleged pension fraud
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Police have made a number of arrests in the first operation of its kind to tackle suspected fraudulent pension liberation schemes.
Original post: Arrests follow alleged pension fraud
New York Daily News
Family of Utah soccer referee who died holds vigil
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader
(AP) The oldest daughter of the Utah soccer referee who died Saturday a week after a teenage player punched him in the head hopes to forgive the young man who did it but not yet. “I will, but not today; it's too soon,” said Johana Portillo, 26, speaking Sunday …
Referee punched in face by teen player dies
Family mourns Utah soccer referee's death
Police: US soccer referee punched by player dies
Robert Buckland calls for reporting restrictions to be imposed as controversy over ‘secret arrests’ grows
Reporting restrictions should be imposed to prevent the routine naming of suspects by police until they have been charged, a prominent Conservative MP has urged. As the debate over so-called “secret arrests” intensifies following the naming of Rolf Harris last week, Robert Buckland, a member of parliament’s influential joint committee on human rights, has called for media organisations that name individuals without seeking permission from magistrates to face punishment.
His comments come as Acpo, the Association of Chief Police Officers, is drafting fresh guidance for police forces which is likely to advise against confirming the identity of those who have been detained.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, has also called for the “arrest anonymity” to be enshrined in law but admits she is not in favour of jailing journalists or bloggers.
Buckland, a barrister and the MP for south Swindon, was a prominent supporter of a private member’s bill put forward by the Conservative MP Anna Soubry in June 2010 that would have criminalised the identification of anyone who had been arrested without first seeking official permission. It proposed a punishment of up to six months in prison. Soubry eventually withdrew her anonymity (arrested persons) bill when the government failed to support it.
“There is a case for conferring greater anonymity [on suspects],” says Buckland. “There should be reporting restrictions but there should also be a mechanism which would allow reporters to request that they are lifted.”
The media would have to make an application before magistrates if they wanted to make an application, Buckland proposes. Media practices have changed, he says, and in the past newspapers were more prepared to talk about an “18 year old man” being arrested rather than identifying suspects before charges are brought.
Buckland adds: “If you think about someone who might be wrongly accused … that [accusation] is going to be on Google for the rest of his life and he will never be able to get away from it.
“I don’t want to be too draconian, but there would have to be some sanction [to prevent newspapers naming those arrested without permission]. The need for some reform is pressing. I have had conversations with the attorney general [Dominic Grieve QC] about this.”
Crook also wants the law changed. “There should be a presumption that people have anonymity at the point of arrest,” she says. “And there should be a proper decision-making process if there’s a reason to reveal their identity.
“People are innocent until proven guilty. It has to have the force of law. I’m reluctant to attach a criminal sanction to it and I don’t want to see more people going to prison – journalists or anyone else. People’s lives have been blighted when they have been named and [subsequently never charged]. It’s not just high-profile cases.”
Following the coining of the phrase “secret courts” to describe the restricted evidence hearings sanctioned by the justice and security bill, the term “secret arrests” is gaining currency.
Few of those involved in the latest debate sparked by comments in Lord Justice Leveson’s report, however, are suggesting that the media should be formally banned from naming suspects arrested by the police.
Stricter enforcement by the attorney general of contempt of court powers has resulted in a series of prosecutions of newspapers and may have reduced the political pressure for fresh criminal sanctions against the media.
The speculation has arisen from continuing concerns over the impact of media reporting on cases such as that involving the retired Bristol teacher Christopher Jefferies.
Jefferies was vilified by the popular press after being erroneously arrested in December 2010 for the murder of 25-year-old Joanna Yeates, a tenant in the building he owned. His name, he claimed, was disclosed by police to newspapers.
In Leveson’s report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press, the appeal court judge suggested that guidance about releasing names needs to be strengthened.
“I think that it should be made abundantly clear,” he wrote, “that save in exceptional and clearly identified circumstances (for example, where there may be an immediate risk to the public), the names or identifying details of those who are arrested or suspected of a crime should not be released to the press nor the public.”
The Law Commission, which last November put out proposals on refining the contempt of court laws for consultation, did not agree. It called for “greater certainty and consistency” in the way that police forces released information about those arrested.
But, it proposed, suspects should generally be identifed following a media request. “We consider that such policy should establish that, generally, the names of arrestees will be released,” it said, “but that appropriate safeguards will need to be put in place to ensure that some names are withheld, for example, where it would lead to the unlawful identification of a complainant, where the arrestee is a youth or where an ongoing investigation may be hampered.”
Spurred on by the debate, Acpo decided it should clarify its current guidance which allows police forces to adopt different approaches on whether or not to identify those detained.
Andy Trotter, chief constable of British Transport Police and Acpo’s lead officer on media policy, told the Mail on Sunday earlier this month that there should be a presumption of not confirming identities: “We are suggesting that people who have been arrested should not be named and only the briefest of details should be given.” Acpo is drafting fresh guidance which will eventually have to be approved by the College of Policing and chief constables.
Two senior judges, Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Tugendhat, responding on behalf of the senior judiciary to the Law Commission’s consultation, recently endorsed Trotter’s and Leveson’s preference for withholding the identification of those arrested save in exceptional circumstances.
They commented: “If there were a policy that the police should consistently publish the fact that a person has been arrested, in many cases that information would attract substantial publicity, causing irremediable damage to the person’s reputation.”
The Home Office insists it is not involved in drafting the new Acpo guidelines and declined to comment on Leveson’s proposals on the grounds that it was not a “full-blown recommendation” in his report.
The free speech organisation Index on Censorship has expressed alarm at the prospect of “secret arrests” where officers decline to confirm identities of those detained. Its chief executive, Kirsty Hughes, says: “‘De facto anonymity for people who have been arrested would reverse the principle of open justice that we have in the UK and could lead to people being arrested and taken into custody without anyone knowing about it. Anonymity may be appropriate in certain circumstances, but sweeping powers for secrecy should not be the norm.”
Ken Radford, a former miner who was at the Battle of Orgreave, talks to Ann Czernik about how Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will not heal the wounds his family still feels from her policies
In 1984, Ken Radford was a young man who did not want much – just “a decent wage, food on the table, and a better standard of living” for his family and community in Oughton, South Yorkshire. Like his mates, and thousands of other miners across the country, he worried what would happen if the pits closed, and was drawn into a class war.
“Thatcher wanted to crush the miners. That was her goal, that’s all she wanted,” says Ken.
Thirty years on, this is the first time he’s spoken in depth about the strike. Ken and others like him never talk about it. It’s too hard, too painful, too raw still. “A lot of people talk in beer and they go home and sleep it off next morning,” Ken says.
For Ken, Orgreave brings back mixed emotions. He made good friends, good memories; he shook Arthur Scargill’s hand. But he says: “What them bastards did to us, it goes deep, lass. It really goes deep.”
During the strike, police put Ken’s village under surveillance. Men and women were regularly stopped from travelling and police boarded public transport, buses, stopping cars and vehicles going to power plants, coking and steel works. On 18 June 1984 police were directing the miners into Orgreave with smiles on their faces.
“That day at Orgreave was planned,” says Ken. “They guided the lads in, telling us ‘that’s where you go lads, go into that field there’. We didn’t realise at the time what was going to happen but we found out. They gave us shit. You’ve seen the pictures: lads in T-shirts. It was frightening.
“They cordoned us off, there were more police than normal and they were just going to town. They blocked off the gates down at the bottom. All of a sudden they were banging their shields and we knew what was coming. They were animals. I had a lot of respect for the police before but that day I could have killed them. They murdered us.”
Ken carried his haemophiliac father-in-law across the field to prevent him bleeding to death. “There was a war, the ranks just opened up, horses came and they just charged. I don’t know how many were injured, there were a lot of lads just covered in blood. It looked like a battlefield.”
But Ken remembers a better time. His wife stood by him, battling on the street. There was a sense of community, of cohesion. “There were more people together, people speaking.” They called him Red Ken and the name stuck for a few years. He wanted something done to save his community from poverty.
Today, he says the area wants flattening. His wife works at Meadowhall, the cavernous shopping centre between Sheffield and Rotherham built, ironically, on a former steel plant. Ken laughs: “That makes sense doesn’t it: knock down a rolling mill and build a shopping centre.”
He says of the traumatised landscape: “We need jobs and industry. There is always spare land round here. Every time I go to me mam’s, I go past pit head. It hurts. My kids have never seen a pit head. I keep saying I’m going to take them to Wakefield to the mining museum but I can’t do it.”
Ken has two daughters, one son and four grandchildren. He’s seen his lad, now 25, defeated by lack of work and opportunity since being laid off by a local engineering firm five years ago. Ken shakes his head . The social stopped his money because “they said he wasn’t proving he was looking for work – he’s been looking for years.”
His eldest daughter works for her sister-in law’s debt recovery business. His other daughter – on her own with two children since her husband left – works behind a bar.
During the strike, Ken was the poorest he’d ever been, but still remembers it being one of the best Christmases ever: “My wife got a fur coat out of it. I had a pair of real Italian leather shoes.” Help came from all over – often from unlikely sources. And half the time, miners couldn’t understand the descriptions on food on packets or the games that well-wishers sent.
Every child of striking families went to school in a parka because a factory sent a job lot. The fur coat came in handy when Ken was cutting up cloth and anything else he could find to keep his family warm. Now, he asks himself if it was worth it. “There’s times I start doubting, and I think ‘no, I took a stand’”. He clenches his fist. “It’s killing me that there are still people round here who say ‘Our lad hasn’t got a job. I don’t know what he’s going to do when I go’ – I say fight.”
Thirty years on, Ken says the hope, heart – and jobs – in this once-thriving community have gone, and the pubs are empty. “People would pop in after work. Late shift finished at 10pm – straight in for the last couple of pints. Days, you’d pop in for a couple of pints. It was a lad thing, we were just all lads. It were brilliant … That’s gone. Thatcher and her kind, they took it all away.”
The ‘advanced manufacturing plant’ on the site of the former coking plant will only provide a fraction of the number of old jobs and are predominantly highly skilled, postgraduate positions. Around the site, dozens of private, executive-style homes are being built in readiness – a million miles away from the high density, social housing and type of employment skills available in traditional mining villages.
As for Thatcher’s legacy, Ken says: “My lad’s out of work. He’s 25, he’s had three, maybe four years’ work in the past nine years. He’s a good lad. Thatcher destroyed him through no fault of his own … Thatcher took everything away – hope, everything – just for her own pride.”
Network Rail figures show delays down 50% from 2011 peak after concerted effort to stop thieves taking copper cables
The battle against the recent plague of metal theft may finally be being won by law enforcers – at least on the railways. Figures released by Network Rail show that incidents which affected rail services dropped by two-thirds over the last year.
Total delays caused by the problem fell by more than half in the year to March 2013 to around 2,700 hours – down from more than 6,000 hours of delays to trains at the peak in 2011.
While the cost to the industry was still put at almost £13m over the last year, it represents a significant decline in a crime that has caused widespread disruption and delays for rail passengers over the past few years.
Copper cable theft has been a particular problem, hitting telephone and broadband connections as well as causing rail delays. Despite an increasing police crackdown, thefts in recent weeks caused problems including an entire Lincolnshire village losing its communications and a new bridge in south Wales having to be closed after safety railings were stolen.
Network Rail said passengers were reaping the benefits of years of work to tackle the problem with partners in the railway and associated industries.
Neil Henry, the head of operations and performance at Network Rail, said the figures were a result of several factors, including the targeting of thieves and scrap dealers by the British transport police.
He said: “Our engineers are working with suppliers and other industries to make metal – particularly our cables – harder to steal and easier to identify and our teams around the network are introducing new ways of working to reduce delay and fix thefts more quickly. We believe the introduction of new laws following our work with other industries to explain the need for change to government will continue to help to stifle the market for stolen metal.”
The transport minister Norman Baker said: “The coalition government is strongly committed to tackling metal theft and it is heartening to see that the decisive action that has been taken is now paying off with major reductions in this kind of crime.”
A ban on paying cash for scrap metal came into force in December. Fines have been increased for dealers trading in stolen metal and police have been given new powers to close unlicensed scrap yards.
Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray of the British transport police said the reduced figures were “encouraging” but added: “We cannot, however, take our eye off the ball and will continue to develop initiatives and tactics to make life even more challenging for thieves and unscrupulous metal recyclers.”
There were 285 thefts that caused delays to rail services last year, down from 845 in 2011-12. The bill for passenger compensation for delayed trains fell to £5.8m from £12m in 2010-11.
The Scrap Metal Dealers act which comes into force in the autumn gives police powers to close unlicensed scrapyards, creates a register of dealers, and requires dealers to record ID from all sellers of metal.
A spike in commodity prices since 2008 made stealing metal an increasingly lucrative business.
Copper prices hit record highs in 2011, having trebled in the previous two years, and remained high until this year.
But recent falls in the price may dampen the appetite for illegal trade, although a report in the Wall Street Journal last week said suppliers were having to pay hefty premiums to source metals at short notice, despite a glut stockpiled in warehouses in Belgium and Malaysia.
If all mention of an arrest is banned, no one will know the suffering that follows. Do we really want that to happen?
We know that, in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, many dozens of journalists are under arrest. We also know that some – perhaps, over time, a majority – will not be charged. Neil Wallis, once of the News of the World, waited 20 miserable months for the Crime Prosecution Service to decide not to proceed. But now comes a macabre legal twist as some very senior judges, including Leveson, take up the case argued in that eponymous report.
How do you stop substantial press publicity – possibly causing “irremediable harm” – when someone is arrested? Why, by banning any mention of it until the person is charged and appears in court. No news equals no news. A brilliant solution, my lords. Mr Wallis and others could have their lives turned upside down for years under a shroud of enforced legal silence and then, at CPS whim, not be cleared because nobody (except their family, friends, workmates, employers) knew anything was wrong. The police can arrest with impunity. Nobody knows the suffering that follows because it can’t be mentioned. Secret justice rules from beginning to end. Now, what was that about irremediable harm again?
Police carry out a series of raids relating to the purchase of Rangers Football Club by Craig Whyte from Sir David Murray.
Read the original: Police raids over Rangers purchase
23% of Britain’s major employers keep workers on contracts that deny them the same conditions as regular employees
Almost a quarter of Britain’s major employers now recruit staff on zero-hours contracts that keep workers on standby and deny them regular hours.
According to government estimates, 23% of employers with more than 100 staff have adopted the flexible contract terms for at least some staff following a surge in the number of public sector services contracted out to private providers.
Labour MPs and unions have branded the contracts as a throwback to the Victorian era and say they are being used by employers trying to avoid agency-worker regulations, which entitle agency staff to the same basic terms and conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks.
The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study found that the proportion of firms with some workers on zero-hours contracts rose from 11% in 2004 to 23% in 2011.
The contracts have long been popular with retailers including Sainsbury’s, Poundland and Abercrombie & Fitch. Large charities and public sector organisations have also adopted the arrangements.
A sharp rise last year in the number of zero-hours contracts in the health sector was blamed by unions on the government’s privatisation of essential services, including radiology, which meant professional workers on such contracts found themselves tied to rotas that could be changed at 24 hours’ notice.
Employers say the contracts provide flexibility for workers juggling family commitments.
However, many of the jobs advertised demand a high degree of knowledge and onerous responsibilities.
In a recent case the security firm G4S advertised for custody detention officers to work alongside Lincolnshire police officers on zero-hours contracts to oversee the safety of people held in custody and, if necessary, restrain them.
Steve Evans, a spokesman for the Police Federation, said the deal, part of a partnership agreement signed last year, was an attempt to apply a business model to policing that kept a reserve group of workers employed on an ad-hoc basis.
He said: “This can obviously create some dangers. Things can change rapidly in a custody environment – legislation, training, equipment and policies and an individual’s experience and knowledge could quickly become out of date if they are not regularly working in the environment.”
Shadow policing minister David Hanson said: “The nature of the job is that the police can suddenly be busy handling a public order situation, so what checks are in the system to ensure staff are available?
“Any public-private partnerships must pass tough tests on value for money, on resilience and security, on transparency and accountability, and most of all on public trust. The public need to trust that policing is being done in the interests of justice, not the corporate balance sheet.”
G4S said zero-hours contracts allowed the company “to provide additional resilience to forces, and ensure they can respond effectively to peaks and troughs in demand, typically coinciding with major sporting events or music festivals”.
It said: “This pool of officers, less than 10% of the total number we employ, receive the same training as their colleagues on full-time contracts and their skills are kept up to date through regular work and training.
The Labour Research Department, which studies employment trends, said there were occasions when a no-strings-attached arrangement might suit workers, “such as sometimes occurs with bank nursing or supply teaching. But it is increasingly being used to replace proper secure employment with its associated guaranteed level of paid work and other benefits.”
It added: “Even worse, it can be applied in such a way that a worker, in order to have any chance of getting paid work, is obliged to be available for work at the whim of the employer and so cannot commit themselves to any other employment.”
Concerns that zero-hours contracts amount to an attack on the terms and conditions of low paid and younger workers were compounded yesterday by speculation that the government plans to cut the minimum wage following a review by the Low Pay Commission.
No 10 has hinted that the current minimum wage of £6.19 an hour could be cut alongside cuts in welfare benefits to ease the burden on employers while the economic situation remains weak.
Even in tough times, these one-sided agreements go too far
Not everyone on a zero-hours contract sits at home waiting for a call. Some employees can access a rota and sign up for as many hours as they want or are allowed. And once on the rota, the hours are secure. But either way, life on a zero-hours contract is a lottery.
It is shocking that figures show nearly a quarter of big employers use them. It is yet another signal, if one were needed, that the recession is hitting the low paid and the young more than we like to imagine.
In the catering and cleaning industries there are some employers who insist workers pay for their training and uniforms, and wait for a call to work on this ever more popular type of flexible contract.
It is not quite that bad in the newly privatised sections of the health and police services. The training is paid for, along with the uniform. But workers still cannot know from one day to the next how much work they will have.
Without an obligation to employ someone for even a minimum number of hours, employers have effectively indentured a member of staff, especially in areas of high unemployment. All the obligations are on one side of the contract. Yes, times are tough, but employers are going too far.
Armed police are on guard in Cyprus and strict capital controls are in place as banks prepare to reopen amid the crisis over an EU/IMF bailout.
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Protesters clash with police in Cyprus on Thursday as the country faces possible bankruptcy
See the original post here: Protesters in Cyprus clash with police after ECB ultimatum – video