From The Independent: The Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim violence, has reported an increase in incidents of abuse aimed at women wearing the niqab or hijab over the past week [since Boris Johnson‘s derogatory comments].
From Morning Star: Firefighters’ leaders have accused the government of ignoring the warning signs of Grenfell, as new figures showed a rise in incidents amid continued fire service cuts.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said that, despite mounting difficulties over the last year, the government continued to “starve” fire authorities of funding.
There were 564,827 incidents in England in the past year, an increase of more than 4,000.
Firefighters attended more than 167,000 fires, the most since 2011-12, said the FBU, adding that the long period of improvements in public safety has plateaued, with cuts the “most likely explanation” for the rise.
The union said that, since 2010, one in five firefighting jobs have been cut, including around 10,000 in Englan
FBU national officer Dave Green said: “These dreadful new figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears. Austerity cuts are now damaging public safety.”
From The Independent: Private probation companies are being bailed out for a second time as the Tory government prepares to scrap “catastrophic” contracts two years early.
From The Independent: The number of prison officers resigning from their jobs has more than doubled in the last two years amid soaring levels of violence and self-harm in UK jails, The Independent can reveal.
From The Independent: The government must overhaul its “mess” of a botched programme to privatise probation that is failing against every measure and may threaten public safety, MPs have said.
Met Police chief: It would be “naive” to think police cuts haven’t contributed to rise in violent crime
From The Independent: The head of the Metropolitan Police has said it would be “naive” to think cuts to the number of rank-and-file officers had failed to have an impact on the rising levels of violent crime.
From YMCA: Youth services have become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.
YMCA England & Wales, which supports 33,560 young people through youth work and youth services every year, today released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.
Young people in the West Midlands and the North West have been among the hardest hit, with local authorities in the West Midlands cutting spending by 71% since 2010/11, while the North West saw cuts of 68%. Local authorities in London, which have faced criticism following the rise in recent knife crime among young people, have cut spending on youth services by 59% since 2010/11.
Britain’s prison crisis caused by ‘poor political decisions’ by Conservatives and huge cuts, says former head of jails
From The Independent: The former head of the prison service has accused the Tory justice secretary, David Gauke, of attempting to shift blame for violence and disorder in British prisons from his own government to the spread of former legal highs among prisoners.
From The Guardian: Government cuts to the police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and have “likely contributed” to a rise in serious violent crime, leaked Home Office documents have revealed.
The documents cast doubt on claims by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, on Sunday that cuts to the police were not to blame for rising violence.
The row over funding for the police threatens to overshadow the government’s new anti-violence strategy. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 police budgets have been cut, and officer numbers have fallen by more than 20,000. Labour and the police have claimed funding reductions have jeopardised public safety.
Figures released in November showed a 20% annual rise in gun, knife and serious violent crime across England and Wales.
Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian… Another young person killed in the escalating epidemic of violence. The cause? Take your pick.
The right blames Theresa May for easing up on stop and search for weapons – though she knew there is no evidence that it catches or deters, while it fuels anti-police anger. Others suggest decriminalising drugs would destroy the trade that underpins this mayhem.
Unless you think nothing works, shutting down most youth services, including successful programmes to tackle gang violence, was always likely to ricochet back. Youth services went first in the post-2010 slash-and-burn of council budgets. The young poor were early targets for all benefits cuts: their education maintenance allowance went – up to £30 a week for 16- to 19-year-olds from lowest-income families to keep them in education, covering travel, lunches, books and pocket money. Their families lost child tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, and were often forced to move and move again.
Causes are always complex – but does anyone think those cuts had zero effect on young teenagers turning to gangs, drug-dealing and local identity wars, seeking a fleeting sense of respect as so much was taken away?
From Localgov: Government funding cuts have served to undermine years of work by local authorities in tackling youth crime, council chiefs warn.
In 2010/11 Whitehall funding for youth offending teams (YOTs) stood at £145m. By 2017/18 it had been slashed to £72m.
These cuts have been made despite evidence YOTs have been effective at preventing young people from getting involved in crime.
The latest Ministry of Justice figures reveal an 11% rise in offences involving knives or offensive weapons by young people, compared with a 10% reduction for adults since March 2012.
The LGA warned this increase is the result of cuts to YOTs and to the Government’s youth justice grant. This is made worse by funding gaps in other areas, such as children’s services, which are forcing councils to divert money away from preventative measures like YOTs.
From Private Eye: The Ministry of Justice gave a huge £277m bailout to the eight firms running Britain’s failing private probation companies in late July, without announcing the massive deal to either MPs or the public. This big reward for failure is over ten times the £22m bailout already given to the firms in May.
Inspectors have found poor services at the private firms, which have slashed staff and provision. In many cases ex-offenders are interviewed by probation staff over the phone rather than in person.
Footage from Sky News: Former Met Police senior investigating officer Peter Kirkham tells it like it is about rising crime on Sky News…
This interview will never be shown on TV again
Posted by BBC London Calling "Unofficial" on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
From Yahoo! News: Babies born within 1.9 miles of fracking sites are at greater risk of being born with low birth weight, researchers say – increasing the likelihood of infant mortality, ADHD and asthma.
Researchers led by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago analysed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013.
The researchers found no health effects in babies born further away than 1.9 miles from fracking sites – but the closer babies were, the more likely they were to be underweight.
From Daily Mirror: Police numbers will fall to levels last seen in the 1970s as more than 15,000 officers face the chop. Forces must make £800 million real terms cuts in their budgets by 2022, after Chancellor Philip Hammond failed to give them a penny more in Wednesday’s Budget.
From The Independent: Boris Johnson has said he was “very disappointed” and “mystified” by the planned closure of a police station in his constituency – despite it being shut as part of a policy he introduced as Mayor of London.
From The Guardian: Tory trade secretary Liam Fox sees no problem with chicken being washed in chlorine before being sold to the public. He supports post-Brexit food standards being lowered to facilitate a trade deal with the US.
The practice has been banned in the EU, which believes it encourages farmers to relax overall hygiene standards and pursue industrial rearing practices such as battery farms that are bad for animal welfare.
“Some US abattoirs and processing plants rely heavily on chlorination because their other hygiene standards are so poor that they would be illegal in Europe,” said Simon Dawson, a lecturer in food safety at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
From The Guardian: Pollutants released during fracking processes could pose a health risk to infants and children, according to researchers studying chemicals involved in shale gas operations.
In the UK, fracking is backed by the Tory Government and the first drilling in six years is expected to begin this week in the North Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton, despite staunch opposition from protesters.
However, other countries have banned the practice, including France, Ireland, and Germany, citing environmental concerns, with the Scottish parliament today backing the Scottish government’s ban.
Now scientists analysing studies looking into the presence of chemicals at fracking sites in the US say the presence of pollutants ranging from airborne particulates to heavy metals could affect the neurodevelopment of babies and children in the area.
From the Guardian: Councils have said the Tory government is failing to release funds to improve the fire safety of dozens of tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster despite promising that a lack of financial resources should not stand in the way of essential works.
From Daily Mirror: Shock figures show that 10,000 firefighter jobs have been lost in the last six years with a warning that the service has reached “breaking point.”