Failings at Birmingham prison reflect broader crisis, Tory Government is warned

From The Guardian: The Ministry of Justice has been warned that failings at a privately run Birmingham prison reflect a broader prison crisis, as overcrowding and dwindling resources lead to increases in violence, drug use and self-harm in jails across England and Wales.

HMP Birmingham was dramatically taken from the control of outsourcing giant G4S and returned to public governance on Monday after a damning inspection that uncovered rife drug abuse, violence and filthy conditions at the jail.

Earlier this year, the high number of deaths at the prison, including suicides and drug overdoses, came under scrutiny.

A 14-hour riot involving at least 500 prisoners in December 2016 has been cited as a pivotal point in the jail’s deterioration, although a separate investigation published on Monday revealed problems at the jail had been escalating for months prior to the disturbance.

Chronic staff shortages contributed in part to a breakdown in authority and increasing instability ultimately led to prisoners policing themselves, the investigation found.

Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secetary, called for a temporary ban on further privatisation of the justice sector. “Once again we see the dangerous consequences of the ever-greater privatisation of our justice system,” he said.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory government flouting human rights over Grenfell-style cladding

From The Observer: The Tory government is breaching fundamental obligations to protect its citizens’ right to life by failing to address the systemic problems that led to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the UK’s human rights watchdog has warned.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) outlining its concerns about the continued use of combustible cladding in existing buildings and advising the department of its responsibilities under human rights laws to protect lives.

The watchdog has yet to receive a response from the department, which in June launched a consultation into the use of cladding, believed to be a key factor in the Grenfell disaster.

The commission said it was concerned that the consultation omits any reference to the government’s duty to protect lives under article 2 of the European convention on human rights and schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Increase in abuse directed at women wearing the niqab or hijab after Boris Johnson comments

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].

[Read article on Independent website…]

Tory Government ‘ignoring Grenfell warning signs’, say firefighters’ leaders

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.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

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.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Rise in knife crime shines spotlight on youth services cuts

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.

[Read full article on YMCA website…]

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.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Police cuts ‘likely contributed’ to rise in violent crime, leaked report reveals

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.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“Cut youth services and violent crime will rise – is that really so hard to see?”

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?

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Cuts to youth services lead to rise in crime warn councils

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.

[Read full article on Localgov…]

Failing private probation firms given £277m public bailout

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.

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Former senior Met Police officer blames Theresa May for rising violent crime

Footage from Sky News: Former Met Police senior investigating officer Peter Kirkham tells it like it is about rising crime on Sky News…

The Tories Hate This Interview

This interview will never be shown on TV again

Posted by BBC London Calling "Unofficial" on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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Found: The strongest evidence so far that fracking can harm people

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.

[Read full article on Yahoo! News…]

Police numbers to fall to 1970s levels as more than 15,000 officers face sack

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.

[Read full article on Daily Mirror website…]

Boris Johnson is furious about a police station being closed under a policy he introduced

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.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

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