Recruitment drive as Herts police commissioner backs police community support officers

by Victoria Oliphant 17 June 2014

Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has backed the county’s police community support officers and has asked its police force to go ahead with recruitment.

Over the next few months, Hertfordshire Constabulary aims to recruit around 80 new PCSOs.

Commissioner David Lloyd said: “I believe that Hertfordshire’s PCSOs do a superb job. They are the first port of call for people who are experiencing problems with anti-social behaviour or non-serious crime, or those who just want some friendly police advice.

“Our PCSOs are out and about every day in every neighbourhood across the county – their faces are well-known and they are trusted in their communities. I’ve met a lot of PCSOs and they all tell me it’s a great job with immense satisfaction. They feel they are really making a difference to communities and people’s lives.”

If you are interesting in becoming a PCSO, visit Herts Police Careers

 'Raped by my police officer husband'
Reveal Magazine 13 June 2014
Nicola Richardson, 33, was repeatedly attacked by the man she should have been able to trust

"When I met Wayne Scott, he was a police officer and I was working as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO). For three years, every time our paths crossed, he made me laugh out loud.

Aside from his great, quirky sense of humour, I looked up to Wayne. Confident, charismatic and dedicated to the force, he made me want to train as an officer too.

In April 2006, we started working in the same police station and I was excited when Wayne asked me out. For our first date, he took me to the zoo because he remembered my love of animals. 'How sweet,' I thought.

A few months later we moved in together and, inspired by his commitment, I started my police officer training. But I soon realised, that Wayne, 37, was anything but simply 'sweet'.

For one thing, he had an extremely high sex drive. He badgered me day and night with constant demands to go to bed. One day, following an argument, he said: 'Let's have break-up sex.' Still angry, I pushed him away, but he persisted and we ended up having sex before I even realised what was happening.

I thought it was a one-off but his behaviour became more disturbing. On another evening, I was too tired for sex, but when I pushed him away, he forced himself on me anyway as I repeatedly cried, 'No!'

Afterwards he said: 'I thought we were role-playing.'

When it crossed my mind that I might have been raped, I told myself it was my fault. 'Wayne's a police officer, he knows the law better than anyone,' I thought.

Looking back, I should have left while I still could, but despite the abuse I was in love with him. And then, in December 2006, I fell pregnant. I was devastated when I miscarried at 10 weeks, but Wayne was supportive and it brought us closer. The assaults even stopped – for a while.

Two years later I fell pregnant again and gave birth in early 2009 to a gorgeous baby girl. By the end of the year, I discovered I was expecting our second baby.

Wayne's sex drive was as high as ever, but looking after a toddler while pregnant zapped me of all energy. That didn't stop him though. I was seven months gone when he raped me in our bedroom. I begged him to stop but it made no difference at all.

 Jailed: Paedophiles who took pictures of naked children at Bournemouth Air Festival
by Alex Winter 19 June 2014
A paedophile who took photographs of a naked child on Bournemouth beach has been jailed for six months.

Philip Taylor was one of two men arrested during the town’s annual air festival in 2012 after a police community support officer spotted him snapping images of a young girl playing by the sea.

His co-defendant, Mark Smith, 54, of Chitlee Manor, Liphook, Hampshire, was found guilty of four counts of making indecent images of a child, four of possessing indecent images of children, and breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) imposed in 2007 following a three-day trial.

He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment on May 30 this year.

But 55-year-old Taylor of Summerwood Lane, Nottingham, admitted 20 charges relating to the possession and making of indecent photographs in November 2013, and has just been sentenced at Dorchester Crown Court.

Timothy Bradbury, who prosecuted during Smith’s trial, said both men were spotted by a PCSO standing together on the beach in Bournemouth on August 30, 2012.

He told the court that, as the officer approached the men, Taylor was taking photographs of a young naked child.

“There was nothing to indicate that she was anything to do with him," said Mr Bradbury.

“The PCSO asked him to stop what he was doing.

His camera was taken off him, and officers scrolled through to look at the images. It was apparent that there were number of images of naked children [on the camera], and from the context it was evident those pictures had been taken that day.”

 Apple iPhone ‘kill switch’ slashes robberies
A ‘kill switch’ added to iPhones has cut crime and should be mandatory on all smartphones, US prosecutors said.

Since Apple added the option to its ‘Find My iPhone’ app, robberies involving the company’s products have dropped 19 per cent in New York in the first five months of this year.

However, those involving rival Samsung soared by 40 per cent.

‘The statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches,’ New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said.

Tech hub San Francisco also saw Apple-related robberies drop 38 per cent, while those involving Samsung devices increased 12 per cent.

Meanwhile, London saw robberies involving iPhones and iPads drop 24 per cent, compared with a three per cent rise for Samsung.

San Francisco district attorney George Gascon called for legislation ‘at all levels’ to make anti-theft solutions mandatory.

Microsoft plans to offer ‘theft-deterent features’ as an update for phones running Windows 8.

Apple introduced the ‘activation lock’ and ‘delete phone’ options last September

 Southend PCSO Julie’s bike lock foils sex suspect’s escape
by Helen Barnett 13 June 2014
A QUICK-THINKING PCSO helped police snare a suspected sex attacker by chaining his getaway bike to park railings with a new lock.

The suspect thought he had given a police helicopter and pursuing officers the slip when he returned to pick up the bike he had used to get to Southchurch Hall Park, Southend.

But supersleuth Julie McFadden knew he would return to it, so borrowed a bike lock to scupper his attempts to escape.

She lay in wait with other officers to capture him as he frantically tried to unlock his bike.

Julie, 46, who has been a police community support officer for seven years, said: “He got the biggest shock. He thought he had got away, but then he had a puzzled look on his face. Hewas looking up the road and back at his bike wondering who had locked his bike up.

“It was a bit of creativity and it’s quite funny. There was a police helicopter flying around and officers on the roads, yet something so simple managed to apprehend him.”

Police were called to reports a man was exposing himself in an area off Park Lane on Sunday.

PCs Ben Lever and Rebecca Wells were first on the scene and tried to arrest him, but he ran off.

A major search began, but Julie had another plan and police pretended to call off the search in the hope the man would return for the bike. Hours later, he did and after a chase through an alleyway he was caught

Julie added: “It was neighbourhood policing at its best. We had support from all of Essex Police and it was real teamwork.”

Ms McFadden was praised by her bosses for her actions. Chief Insp Simon Anslow, district commander for Southend, said: “Our wonderful PCSO solved it.

“She was able to come up with this idea and it worked fantastically.

“She demonstrates that police are part of the community. Her positive work can increase the public’s confidence in our service as well as reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.”

 Work carried out by volunteers, police officers and PCSOs across Wiltshire and Swindon recognised
by Katie Bond 9th June 2014
A SOUTH MARSTON PCSO and the Swindon town centre Neighbourhood Policing Team have been honoured at a special awards ceremony.

Work carried out by volunteers, police officers and PCSOs across Wiltshire and Swindon was recognised at the first Neighbourhood Policing Awards presentation in Devizes.

The awards were set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson.

Mr Macpherson had been due to address the invited audience and present the awards, but he is recovering in the Royal United Hospital in Bath after suffering a heart attack a week ago while on an official engagement in Trowbridge.

In his absence, the awards were presented by the Chief Constable Pat Geenty.

Mr Geenty was a member of the judging panel together with Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott, Swindon Council chief executive Gavin Jones, High Sheriff Peter Addington and Mr Macpherson.

Kieran Kilgallen, chief executive of the Office of the PCC, told the gathering: “If Angus was here today I am sure he would be telling you just what an important part volunteers play within the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon.

“Volunteering is something which Angus holds dear and being a volunteer himself, in his very limited spare time, he knows how fulfilling such work can be.

 Somerton PCSO to go in police reshuffle but neighbourhood beat sergeant says frontline services will not be affected
by WG MGoodchild 19 June 2014
SOMERTON is likely to lose one of its six community support officers in a policing restructure.

PCSO Carole Brown is likely to move from her current base at Somerton Police Station to Yeovil, according to Somerton neighbourhood beat sergeant Dean Hamilton.

But Mr Hamilton reassured Somerton and Langport residents that frontline services in the towns and surrounding villages will not suffer as a result of the move.

He said: “I have every confidence in the future of policing in the area and I do not believe the impact of this change will be felt on the front line.”

The move is part of a complete restructure of the police force across the Somerset East police district – although details of the changes have yet to be officially revealed by Avon and Somerset Police Constabulary.

Police spokesman Simon Whitby said: “The whole of Somerset East will be part of the new operating model, which will involve a complete restructuring of the way the police force is organised and managed.

“Looking at the master plan, it seems there will be a number of moves around the area and this will include some movement of PCSOs.”

Mr Hamilton said he has been told that the changes will be implemented until the end of the year as part of a trial assessment.

He will be presenting news of the new operating model to South Somerset District Council at its meeting of its area north committee in July.

He will also be discussing the shake-up with town and parish councils in the area – including Somerton Town Council and Langport Town Council – where he intends to reassure residents that frontline services in the Somerton and Langport area will not be negatively affected by the changes. He said: “It is my understanding that we will lose one of our PCSOs.

“But the point that has to be made here is that this will not mean a reduced service on the front line.

I believe the purpose of these changes is to bring more cover to the areas in which it is most needed – to get more staff in the right place at the right time.”

He said his own beat area may also be increased to include areas like Frome, but added: “The plans are still being finalised and what my involvement in other areas will be has not yet been confirmed. If staff operate across a larger area they will be available to more people.”

Last month, the constabulary announced that Somerton Police Station was among a list of premises earmarked for closure.

 £325 fine for Maldon man who told PCSO and traffic warden to f-off in parking ticket row
by Will Watkinson 27 May 2014
A MALDON man's foul-mouthed tirade against a PCSO and a traffic warden over a parking ticket he got whilst shopping in Poundstretcher has landed him in court.

Clinton Smith, 24, who parked in a taxi rank space so he could go into the discount store in Maldon High Street on April 30, launched a volley of abuse at PCSO Gladman and traffic warden Stuart Phillips who issued the ticket.

Smith pleaded guilty to two charges of using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Chelmsford Magistrates' court on Thursday, May 15.

PCSO Gladman had indicated to a passenger who was in the vehicle while Smith went into Poundstretcher that the car had to be moved, but she did not acknowledge him and so the warden put a ticket on the window.

Unemployed labourer Smith, of Queen Street, lost his temper when he left the shop to find the ticket on his Mini Cooper.

Prosecutor Angela Hughes told the court: "Mr Smith said to the warden 'you're not going to give me a f****** ticket are you? I've only been in there a few minutes'.

"He also said to the officer that 'if we were in London I would have killed you' and 'F*** off you four-eyed ****'.

Immediately after the incident Smith went to Maldon police station to admit that he had abused the two officers, where he was interviewed and charged. Jo Pomfrey, defending Smith, said: "The defendant was feeling extremely unwell that day and the defendant admits that he lost his temper and there was a PCSO present and did swear on one occasion."

 Suicide Sergeant Louise Gibson 'Hanged Herself Over Husband's Affair with PCSO'
by Samantha Payne 17 June 2014
A police sergeant hanged herself out of despair after finding out about her PC husband's affair with a junior colleague, it has been claimed.

Louise Gibson, 43, was found hanged in an area of woodland near Little Kingshill, Buckinghamshire on 15 May – four days after she went missing from her parents' home.

Thames Valley Police released a statement and said the cause of the mother-of-three's death was "unexplained".

But a friend of Gibson's, who did not want to be named, said the force knew "full well" the cause behind her tragic death.

"She was devastated. All the police officers in the area knew about the affair," she told The Sun.

"I can't work out why it took her own force four days to find her.

"Even after she was found her bosses put out a ridiculous statement about the reason for her death being unexplained. They knew full well why she killed herself.

"She is said to have phoned a colleague saying she felt people were turning against her — but she had done nothing wrong."

Gibson, originally from Macclesfield, joined the police in 1996 as a probationary constable before working her way up to the rank of sergeant.

She was also preparing to become an inspector, however a meeting was reportedly held over her welfare before she vanished last month.

The 43-year-old went to stay with her parents in Buckinghamshire where she had lived with her husband, 40-year-old John Gibson, and their daughter Ellie.

But she disappeared and a huge search was mounted by worried colleagues. A public appeal was also launched.

Hundreds of colleagues attended her funeral last week, as an internal inquiry continues to be carried out within Thames Valley Police.

Her daughter Bethany Pettit, 24, one of two chidlren from her first marriage, said her mother was let down by Thames Valley Police, who left her working with her husband in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire after he was said to be having an affair with a police community support officer.

Pettit says she is also planning to take personal legal action against her mother's husband, PC Gibson, and said that her family felt "very angry".

 Police Under Pressure – TV review
by Sam Wollaston 24 June, 2014
East Sheffield is close to boiling point. Seven hundred Roma families from Slovakia have moved in and the established communities are angry. "They nick everything," says one man. "You'd be surprised yeah, I was walking down the street and I seen one of them and he had my clothes on." Did he really though, sir? "I think they're the most dirtiest and pathetic people I've seen in my life, they're like rats," he goes on.

"Well that's your opinion which obviously you're entitled to," says Debs Parker, community patrol officer with the South Yorkshire Police, the force with the unenviable task of attempting to keep the peace around here. They're Police Under Pressure (BBC2), not just because of the new community tensions and some of the highest crime rates in the country, but also because of savage knife attacks by the government on their budgets, unattainable targets, and a reputation already in shreds.

An emergency call comes in. There's a disturbance in the Page Hall area – about 100 people, some fighting. Debs goes in. A hundred people turns out to be somewhere between 10 and 15, and they're talking, not fighting. There's an irony there, that social behaviour is seen by some as antisocial behaviour. But then it's easy to come over all bleeding-heart liberal and there's-an-irony-there; I know that if there were 10 to 15 people talking loudly outside my house on a hot summer evening, I'd be cross too. But I hope I'd go out and ask them, politely, if they'd bleeding shut the eff up, rather than calling in the feds.

There's more irony, I'm afraid. Anger against new arrivals from eastern Europe has brought together the two more established communities of the area, white British and Asian, who have previously had issues between themselves. Maybe that's a way of bringing peace to groups that are presently hostile, and could be used elsewhere: Iraq, say, right now. Ship in 700 American (go on then, British too) families, to unite Sunnis and Shias. Though it might be hard to find volunteers. And actually, unity via hatred is not a nice kind of unity.

 'Polish neo-Nazis' storm Tottenham music festival
by Robin De Peyer 23 June 2014
A man was stabbed as dozens of 'Polish neo-Nazis' stormed a free music event sparking violent clashes in a north London park, witnesses said.

Flares, rocks and glass bottles were thrown during an "unprovoked attack" in Tottenham on Saturday night.

A 24-year-old man Polish man was knifed during the violence after a neo-Nazi group disrupted a free Music Day festival of around 150 people in Markfield Park. Anti-fascist campaigners said up to 40 neo-Nazis had planned an event of their own nearby but stormed the family music event.

Video footage of the clashes show a single female police officer at the scene as thugs hurl missiles, light fires and hurl abuse.

Witness Oz Katerji, a journalist, tweeted: "About 150 of us were having a party in Markfield Park in Tottenham, Neo-nazi polish fascists turn up, full scale riot operation.

"Unprovoked assault at a licensed event, children present, maybe about 10-20 skins turned up and started a riot," he added.

Haringey Green Party claimed the attack was carried out by members of the Zjednoczeni Emigranci (ZE) fascist group, which is alleged to have ties to football hooliganism and neo-Nazism in Poland.

A statement from the Greens said: "Taking the peaceful community event by surprise, ZE launched an unprovoked attack, hurling verbal abuse at locals, intimidating the children and families that were present, before turning to physical violence. Footage from the community event shows ZE launching rocks and flares at the crowd." Police confirmed a man was taken to hospital with stab wounds but said his condition is not believed to be serious. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the stabbing.

A Polish man from Surrey has been charged with racially and religiously aggravated common assault and has been bailed to appear in court in July. Another man, aged 22, was arrested for racially aggravated common assault after a man's kippah was pushed from his head, according to police.

 £620 penalty for disabled driver, 86, who parked at top of Ely's Forehill
Written by JORDAN DAY 17 June 2014
A disabled driver who parked his vehicle on a “dangerous” bend in Ely has been ordered to pay more than £600 in fines and court costs.

86-year-old Lawrence Lindsell was caught parked at the top of Forehill by local PCSO Maria Robinson on November 28 last year.

His vehicle was positioned on the double yellow lines outside David Green Hairdressing with the blue badge on display – but he was issued with a fixed penalty notice as PCSO Robinson insists parking at the top of the hill is dangerous.

Lindsell, of St Johns Road, Ely, contested the parking ticket – which would have seen him being fined £30 if he had paid it within 28 days – and as a result the case went before the courts.

The case was heard at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Friday and Lindsell, who did not attend, was found guilty in his absence of causing an unnecessary obstruction of a road.

Magistrates fined him £200, ordered him to pay £400 court costs and Lindsell must pay a £20 victim surcharge.

Speaking to Ely News after sentencing, PCSO Robinson said: “Drivers need to start realising that they will be punished if they breach parking laws in the Ely area.

“The top of Forehill is a dangerous bend which is why we will not tolerate people parking there anymore.

“Those who park at the top of the road force motorists to have to drive on the wrong side of the road around a corner. Obviously this is very dangerous and could easily result in a collision.

“Anyone caught parking dangerously like this will be issued with a fixed penalty notice and the reality is it can end up costing you a lot of money.”

 Hundreds of jobs to go at Essex Police and more stations to close in next two years
by Echo News 21 May 2014
HUNDREDS of jobs will be cut at Essex Police and more stations will close in the next two years.

Another 200 officers, 100 PCSOs and hundreds of police staff positions are at risk due to Government cuts.

At the same time, the force has to invest in infrastructure amid claims a number of police buildings are no longer fit for purpose.

The revelations come a day after Essex Police announced major restructuring which will see:

  • The force move 500 officers from response hubs and specialist teams into neighbourhood and local policing

  • 60 specialist posts cut

  • Essex Police working with £78million less a year by 2016 than it had in 2010.

A recruitment drive was also launched yesterday.

The cuts will help save £3million.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh has not yet revealed which stations will be next on the growing list of closures, or where specifically the additional officer cuts will come from. He said: “The number of officers is going to reduce.

“Over the next three years we expect it to go to 3,000.

“We will put resources where they are most needed.

“I am a supporter of the PCSO model and we want to build on what PCSOs can do, but the number will go down to 250.”

 Police will not attend some crimes as cuts hit
Lancashire Evening Post 14 May 2014
Police Federation bosses today said they feared changes to how police handle crime could dent the public’s confidence in the force.

Lancashire Police now no longer deploys Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) resources to routine vehicle crime and routine criminal damage.

And it has changed the way it deals with lost property, minor thefts and non-domestic burglaries, dealing with some victims of crime over the phone instead of in person.

The changes come as the constabulary faces a major task of slashing its budget due to budget cuts.

Attendance to non-domestic burglaries and minor theft is now “dependant on a number of factors” and the force says “victims are spoken with and the action that is appropriate to be taken given the circumstances is explained by officers”.

The police say the approach supports “meeting the challenges presented by shrinking budgets” but say they know people “wish to report incidents and crime in a way that suits them such as online or over the telephone.”

The force has already identified £60m of the required savings, and have already taken £40m out of the budget, with a further £20m being taken out in this financial year (2014 -2015). It still needs to find about £19m to meet the savings target by 2017/18.

Federation chairman Rachel Baines said: “Quite often there’s a whole section of society whose only contact with the police is when they are a victim of minor crime.

“You can’t take 700 police officers out and carry on doing what you did before.

“It’s the thin end of the wedge. It’s not just about public safety, it’s public confidence.

“The officers want to provide the same level of service but they can’t.

“It’s government policy, the chief constable has got no option but to reduce the budget.

“The cuts have got to come from somewhere. The cuts are starting to show, they are only just being felt. Quite often there’s a whole section of society whose only contact with the police is when they are a victim of minor crime.”

Paul Hansen, 35, of Lyndhurst Drive, Cottam, Preston, was left angry and frustrated after he contacted police when his moped was stolen and after recovering the vehicle himself was told the police couldn’t send a CSI team out because of budget cuts.

The moped, which Mr Hansen was restoring, was stolen from outside his house and after reporting it to the police he found it himself, smashed up by the canal. Mr Hansen said the motor was “blatantly covered in fingerprints.”

He said he had no complaints about the officer he dealt with but slammed the fact the police wouldn’t come out as “pathetic.”

 Theresa May urged to investigate police request for blogger to remove tweets
by Mark Tran 14 May 2014
Jenny Jones, the Green party's sole peer, has asked Theresa May, the home secretary, to investigate Cambridgeshire police after two of its officers visited a blogger who tweeted "fact checks" about Ukip policies.

In a letter to May, Jones said the incident raised interesting questions about how to deal with relatively new crimes committed on social media and how police react to them.

"In this case, the police themselves have admitted that nothing illegal took place, yet they visited the blogger anyway," writes Jones. "For me, this suggests a recklessness in the face of competing police resources, time and energy, not to mention a potential infringement of the blogger's civil liberties."

She urged May to start "a short investigation into the procedures of Cambridgeshire police, that allowed two officers to visit someone after a complaint that did not contain a justifiable reason for the visit".

Second, Jones said Home Office advice should be written and circulated as quickly as possible to all forces, outlining what is and what is not illegal on social media.

The chief constable of Cambridgeshire police, Simon Parr, has already admitted that the force should not have become involved, and has asked for an internal review into the incident. "I believe in this instance police attendance was not required and I have asked for our approach to this sort of incident to be reviewed to ensure we do not get involved unless there is clear evidence that an offence may have been committed," said Parr.

Parr's comments followed a visit last weekend by two police officers to Michael Abberton, a Green party member. He said he was asked to delete some of his tweets, in particular a retweet of a faked poster giving 10 reasons to vote for Ukip, including scrapping paid maternity leave and raising income tax for the poorest 88% of Britons.

The police visit was prompted by a complaint from a Ukip councillor who was unhappy about the tweets. Police said they made inquiries "as to whether any offences had been committed under the Representation of the People Act but none were revealed and no further action was taken".

Ukip complained that Abberton was impersonating and misrepresenting the party.

 Online antisocial behaviour complaints 'becoming a real problem for police'
Head of College of Policing says half of daily complaints about antisocial behaviour relate to online activity
by Alan Travis 24 June, 2014
Complaints from the public about abuse, threats or antisocial behaviour on Facebook, Twitter or other social media are becoming a significant part of the daily reports received by frontline police, a senior officer has said.

Ch Con Alex Marshall, the head of the College of Policing, has said that it is becoming a real problem, with as many as half the daily complaints by the public about low-level antisocial behaviour now relating to activity that happens online. He added that soon every police investigation will include an online element.

Marshall has warned that many police officers are still trying to understand the point at which insults on social media become a crime. About 6,000 officers are currently undergoing training by the college in how to deal with online offences.

Marshall told the BBC's Law in Action programme: "As people have moved their shopping online, they've also moved their insults, their abuse and their threats online, so I see that it won't be long before pretty much every investigation that the police conduct will have an online element to it.

"It's a real problem for people working on the frontline of policing, and they deal with this every day. So in a typical day where perhaps they deal with a dozen calls, they might expect that at least half of them, whether around antisocial behaviour or abuse or threats of assault, may well be related to social media – Facebook, Twitter, or other forms."

He indicated that many of the complaints police received related to very low-level behaviour, which might include somebody being "unfriended" on Facebook, and he acknowledged that frontline officers could not deal with "every bit of nonsense and disagreement" that happens on social media

 Businessman found not guilty of installing laser jammer device on sports car
A WEALTHY businessman accused of perverting the course of justice by using a 'laser jammer' device in his car to avoid speed enforcement traps has been found not guilty by a jury.

Eric Craggs claimed he was unaware that the device had been fitted to his Aston Martin following a garage service and told Teesside Crown Court that he had only requested equipment to alert him of speed cameras ahead.

His defence team had also attempted to argue that no crime had been committed and therefore he could not be guilty of the charge.

The court had heard how a Cleveland police officer, PC Lorraine Williams, had twice attempted to register the speed of Mr Craggs' vehicle on separate occasions when it was being driven in Central Avenue, Billingham.

However both times her speed gun failed to work and displayed an 'error' message. The officer became suspicious when a rectangle shaped object was seen attached to the front number plate of the 68-year-old's car and it was eventually seized by police.

Mr Craggs, of Junction Road, Norton Stockton, was asked about an invoice he received for the equipment fitted to his car.

He said in his evidence to the court: “It doesn't say "laser jamming system", it doesn't say "this is illegal”.

“I had no intention of that [a jamming device] being fitted whatsoever.”

The smartly dressed defendant, who made his fortune in personalised number plates, nodded in acknowledgement to members of the jury as they left court and thanked them for the verdict.

He was embraced by his tearful partner on leaving the dock, but declined an opportunity to comment to waiting reporters.

Addressing the issue of costs, Recorder William Lowe said he believed it would be wrong, having heard all of the evidence, to infer that Mr Craggs' had brought the prosecution on himself.

He said he was prepared to award Mr Craggs' his fixed costs from the case, although further enquiries needed to be made.

Had the jury returned a guilty verdict he would have been one of the first motorists in the country to be convicted after a trial for such an offence

  PCSO praised for problem-solving skills
By The Northern Echo 30th april 2014
DARLINGTON PSCO Chris Weighill was presented with a Chief Constable’s commendation for problem-solving. PCSO Weighill received his framed citation from Darlington’s Chief Superintendent Graham Hall.

Darlington policing teams cover the area covered by Darlington Borough Council. They do this from three main police stations, Firthmoor section office covering the wards of Lingfield, Bank Top, Lascelles, Eastbourne, Park East, Middleton St George and Hurworth.

  the New Zealand TV forensic series in which road accidents are analysed
By Really UK June 2014
Even though the media commonly refers to road crashes like these as accidents, the police do not for the reason that the word 'accident' suggests that it was no one's fault.

The truth is that every crash has a cause or causes that are usually related to human factors. To quote the former head of the Waitemata SCU (the unit featured in the series): "There is no such thing as an accident".

Check your Cable TV stations for this programme, it is most definitely of interest to PCSOs

 Social media 'at least half' of calls passed to front-line police
by Keith Moore 24 June 2014
Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing, said the number of crimes arising from social media represented "a real problem".

He said it was a particular problem for officers who deal with low-level crimes.

About 6,000 officers were being trained to deal with online offences, he said.

He said the police and public were still trying to understand when online insults became a crime.

Mr Marshall told BBC Radio 4's Law in Action: "As people have moved their shopping online and their communications online, they've also moved their insults, their abuse and their threats online, so I see that it won't be long before pretty much every investigation that the police conduct will have an online element to it.

"It's a real problem for people working on the front line of policing, and they deal with this every day.

"So in a typical day where perhaps they deal with a dozen calls, they might expect that at least half of them, whether around antisocial behaviour or abuse or threats of assault may well relate to social media, Facebook, Twitter or other forms."

A number of front-line police officers from different parts of the country spoken to by the BBC agreed with Mr Marshall's assertion that a significant amount of the calls they were asked to respond to were now related to social media, including death threats, bullying and harassment.

Det Con Roger Pegram, from Greater Manchester Police, said the way offences were committed had changed a lot since he joined the force 14 years ago.

"These are traditional offences," he said.

"You don't need to actually front someone up face-to-face in the street to threaten them.

"This can all be done from the comfort of your own home, a coffee shop with wi-fi, and these people can commit crime anywhere to anybody."

One officer, who did not wish to be named, said while there were serious complaints worthy of further investigation, many related incidents not considered crimes in the era before social media.

 Bristol City Council could be stopped from using its cctv camera car to enforce some parking restrictions
by Steve Mellen 22 June 2014
Eric Pickles has told a national newspaper that councils will be banned from using cctv cameras and so-called "spy cars" to enforce the rules in an attempt to stop what the government views as "over-zealous" enforcement.

Mr Pickles told the Daily Telegraph that the government was taking the action to combat what he said was the abuse of cctv technology, turning it into a "cash cow".

He said: "CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit."

Councils would be allowed to continue using cctv - either fixed cameras or in cars - to enforce parking restrictions on bus lanes, red routes and outside schools under the new rules, which are expected to be introduced in the autumn.

The cctv changes are part of several motorist-friendly moves the government are working on, one of the others being offering a 25% discount for drivers who appeal against a parking ticket but lose.

What do you think - should the government be intervening in the delicate area of local parking rules?

 Crashing truck into brick wall near Calne saved others, say police
by Anne Moore 18 June 2014
Police have praised a Chippenham driver who crashed through a bridge wall at Ratford last night to avoid on-coming traffic.

The man in his 20s driving a truck ended upside down in the river after crashing on the single track road which leads to Bremhill at around 5pm.

He was lucky to escape with a few cuts and bruises.

Police, who closed the Calne A4 road at the turning to Ratford for several hours, said his quick-thinking prevented anyone else from being involved in the accident.

Calne PCSO Mark Cook said: “I shot out of Calne Police Station and thankfully he was out of the vehicle, but we didn’t know that at the time.

"Apart from minor cuts and bruises he was uninjured.

“It’s a little single track road, but it’s quite a busy road because it’s used as a cut through for vehicles coming from Chippenham to Calne.

“He was coming down the hill, he applied his brakes but they wouldn’t respond.

"He veered left because there was an oncoming vehicle and as he went left he went too far and hit the bridge.

“It was the lesser of two evils. It was either hit the oncoming vehicle or go left.

"If his brakes were working then he would have been fine. Speed wasn’t a factor in this.

 Traffic officer delivers baby boy on M6 slip road in Staffordshire
by The Sentinel 20 June 2014
A HIGHWAYS Agency traffic officer got the surprise of his life when he pulled over to help a car that had stopped on a slip road and ended up delivering a baby boy.

Mike Fletcher and his colleague Daryl Corbett were on a night shift on Tuesday when they received a call from the regional control centre shortly after 3am saying the ambulance service had reported a woman in labouron the M6 near Cannock.

As they headed to the scene they spotted a car that had stopped in the live lane of the junction 12 exit slip road and pulled over to help.

While Daryl put up signs and cones to protect the car, Mike headed over and came face to face with a frantic father-to-be who informed them his wife was having a baby on the back seat.

 100 danger prisoners are let out every day in the UK
by Anil Dawar 20 May 2014
The news comes amid a growing row over the justice system after three criminals escaped in under a fortnight.

A record number of days out were granted to violent convicts last year, Ministry of Justice statistics reveal.

They show 1,600 inmates serving life or indeterminate sentences were awarded over 90,000 day release passes – double the number for 2009.

One in eight were later found to have breached the terms of their release by going on the run, committing crimes or returning late.

Peter Cuthbertson, of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “These are horrifying figures. They show the extent to which day passes are being massively overused for hardened criminals.

“This undermines punishments for serious offences and puts the public at very great risk.”

The shock figures come two days after convicted killer Arnold Pickering and armed robber Thomas Moffett fled prison on day release.

It was the fourth time Pickering, 44, had escaped jail.

He and armed robber Moffett, 51, left HMP Kennet in Liverpool on Saturday morning and were due back at 4.30pm.

The hunt was called off yesterday after Moffett was arrested in Blackburn, and Pickering was found in Oldham.

It came two weeks after armed robber Michael “Skull Cracker” Wheatley, fled from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, on temporary release.

Wheatley, 55, was serving 13 life sentences for a string of bank raids.

He was arrested four days later in London and charged with raiding a building society while at large.

MoJ figures show an 11 per cent increase in inmates given temporary release since 2009 to 11,211.

Release licences have soared 23 per cent to 529,350 – including 49,000 for 1,043 inmates jailed indefinitely for public protection.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are tearing up the system as it exists at moment. Serious offenders will be subject to a much stricter risk assessment.”

Peter McParlin, head of the Prison Officers Association, said: “Twenty prisons have closed in the last three years and staff numbers have reduced by 6,000 since 2010.

“There is immense pressure on the system.

 Ban on CCTV parking fines for unwitting motorists
The Government will make it illegal from the Autumn to use CCTV cameras to enforce on-street parking ending the plague of parking tickets by post!
by Christopher Hope 21 June 2014
Councils are to be banned from using CCTV cameras and “spy cars” to enforce parking restrictions in an effort to stop “over-zealous” enforcement, ministers will announce.

Drivers will be encouraged to appeal against more parking tickets, with the introduction of a 25 per cent discount for those who try to overturn a fine but fail.

Ministers are trying to ease the policing of parking, as they believe it often makes driving to shops too difficult and forces people to go out of town or online. Hundreds of thousands of drivers are caught by cameras each year.

The ban on CCTV, both fixed cameras and so-called “Orwellian spy cars”, will become law through the Deregulation Bill this autumn

Cameras will only be used to enforce parking rules in bus lanes, on red routes - on which drivers are not allowed to stop - and outside schools.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, said there would be no more “over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post”. But councils warned that they would have less money to invest in road repairs and subsidised bus travel.

The CCTV ban is one of a series of measures designed to help shops and drivers and give communities a greater say on parking

On one hand, ministers want to allow councils to enforce parking rules, but they are concerned about being seen to be fleecing drivers.

Nine million parking fines are issued every year in England, a big increase on a decade ago. There has also been a rise following legislation in 2004 in the use of CCTV, for which one in four English local authorities - 71 councils - has permission. More than £310 million is thought to have been raised in fines through cameras from 2008 to 2013.

 40 drivers will be contacted by police after they used a motorway lane with a red 'X' signal
by Emma Flanagan 17 June 2014
Police are tracking down more than 40 motorists who flouted the motorway rule about driving down a lane with a red X over it.

Greater Manchester Police are planning to warn drivers that using lanes which are marked as closed can cause accidents and endanger lives.

The crackdown comes after police tried to deal with an accident on the M60 Eccles Interchange.

Police were responding to an incident after a 46-year-old man was injured in a two-car collision on Tuesday June 10.

Officers recorded the registration of every driver who ignored the red X sign and caused further congestion.

It is an offence to drive in a motorway lane with a red ‘X’ signal. It is displayed because of an incident or obstruction. People caught doing so risk three penalty points and a £1,000 fine.

Sergeant John Brennan, from the Road Policing Unit at Eccles, said: “With the impending M60 improvements it is imperative that people pay attention and comply with the signs at all time. You never know what might be around the corner and a motorway is not the place to be taking risks.”

 Girl, 16, injured in motorway bridge fall
By Hannah Al-Othman, Reporter 16 June 2014
A GIRL was taken to hospital after falling from a motorway bridge over the A56.

The girl, who was said to be around 16-years-old, fell between thirty and forty feet into oncoming traffic, but motorists managed to stop before hitting her.

The teenager had been spotted on the bridge with a group of around five or six youths, and it is believed she may have slipped and fallen onto the motorway.

The incident happened at around 8pm on Saturday night.

Lorry driver Gary Leach had to pull to a halt after seeing her fall.

He said: “I was just approaching the bridge, and being a wagon driver I’m used to kids throwing things off bridges.

“I was watching all the kids on the bridge and thought they’d throw something.

“I saw five or six kids running away, which is normal procedure when they’ve thrown concrete or something off a bridge.

“I saw her fall, it happened so quickly.

“The kids started running, and the man driving in front of me managed to stop with smoke coming off his tyres.

“Two of her friends, two lads, came down the embankment

“She was obviously knocked out and I think her legs were broken. They took her away in an ambulance, police and paramedics were there within five minutes.”