Early 2012 articles

Child offenders 'dumped in prison' as cuts erode social care
Thousands of children are being imprisoned for minor offences such as playground fights as support services are cut, says Centre for Social Justice think tank

Mark Townsend, home affairs editor

The Observer, Sunday 15 January 2012

Thousands of children are being "needlessly dumped in prison" because of continuing cuts to traditional support services, according to a thinktank with close ties to senior Conservatives.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) warns that a worrying dynamic has developed in which courts and prisons are effectively being used to "parent children". A report published tomorrow, utilising input from senior police officers, magistrates and youth justice officials, calls for a dramatic cut in the 5,000 children currently given custodial sentences a year, claiming too many are imprisoned for relatively minor offences.

Among the cases highlighted is that of one child who was imprisoned in a police cell after throwing a bowl of cereal at his care worker before jumping out of a window and climbing back inside.

The report concludes that the imprisonment of young people between the ages of 10 and 17 in England and Wales is too high and should be restricted to the "critical few" guilty of serious crimes and posing a serious public threat.

Instead, too many youngsters are appearing before youth courts for trivial reasons with some effectively prohibited from certain types of future employment following minor incidents such as "playground fights". The biggest concern, however, is the way the youth justice system is increasingly expected to sweep up cases that other departments, such as social services, are failing to address.

the local community clubbed together to buy a tent for a man temporarily made homeless
By Richard Alleyne 6:41PM GMT 12 Jan 2012

But the good deed back fired when the real society intervened and the police took the tent away.

It was later found broken and dumped near waste bins.

Members of the We Are Witney Community Group, a charity in the Oxfordshire town which is part of the Prime Minister's constituency, jumped to the rescue after local man Justin Hicks, was made homeless.

The town's people had been supplementing Mr Hicks' diet and giving him clothes while he slept in a disused and roofless shed as he waits on the local council's housing list.

They then raised £60 to buy him a tent and sleeping bag while he looked for the permanent home

But just a week later police community support officers took it down after a complaint from the owner of the land.

It was found damaged beyond repair nearby.

Richard MacKenzie, the funder of the community group, said he was furious at the turn of events.

"We got together as a community without any prompting or coercing – we just did it," he said.

"It is an example of Big Society in David Cameron's doorstep.

"It's all been taken away by the police community support officers – people who are meant to support the community not destroy it."

Mr Hicks, who is originally from Witney, became homeless in the summer after a relationship breakdown.

He is on the local council's housing list but has been sleeping rough until a place is found.

He said that he was very grateful to the people of Witney especially Mr MacKenzie who he considered a "brother".

select for full story Thursday 19 January 2012 hemel today
Popular police support worker gets promotion
Published on Sunday 15 January 2012 17:00

A POPULAR police community support officer will become a full-time police officer from Monday.

Steve Patton, 26, has been a PCSO in Berkhamsted for the past 51/2 years, but will now move onto new horizons.

He will join the intervention police team in Watford, tackling 999 calls from across Herts.

The plucky PC, who lives in Hemel Hempstead, said he has wanted to get his new job since he was about five years old.

He is not afraid of being hurt either: “I think any job is dangerous,” he said

By Wayne Bontoft Published on Tuesday 17 January 2012 12:35
RESIDENTS of Northampton will be ‘too scared to leave their homes’
if the number of Police Community Support Officers serving in the town is reduced, the leaders of Northampton Borough Council have been warned.

Before Christmas, the leaders of the council announced plans to scrap the £100,000 the authority pays each year to provide PCSOs in the town.

During a meeting of the council last night, St James resident Graham Croucher warned that if the plan was followed through, it would leave residents too terrified to go out at night.

He said: “The PCSOs do a fantastic job in our area. If you withdraw the funding for them we’ll end up with a cesspool of crime and violence on our streets.

“Our residents are scared about what’s going to happen and if you’ve got any conscience, you’ll think very carefully about this.”

He was backed by both Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition members on the council who opposed the planned cut.

Councillor Terry Wire (Lab, St James) said: “The public are against this move and I think it’s appalling.

“The people of Northampton have no confidence in what you’re going to do and I think it’s the wrong move. It’s an appalling decision.”

Councillor Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem, Delapre & Briar Hill) added: “The people of Northampton know this is wrong and they know they can’t trust the Conservatives any more when it comes to public safety.”

But the Conservative leaders of the council said that difficult decisions had to be made about the council’s finances and argued it was the police’s job to fund PCSOs, rather than the councils.

The leader of the authority, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) also repeated calls he has made over the past few weeks for the police to fund the PCSO posts from their savings.

He said: “None of us stood for council to make difficult decisions like these, but they come with the responsibility of taking office and we have to balance the council’s books.

“The police authority has an underspend of £2.7 million and they should be looking at funding policing.”

select for full story A Police Community Support Officer has put up a notice at the Eastern European Supermarket on St James Street, Lynn appealing for information on the Muder of Latvian teenager Alisa Dmitrijeva. Whose body was found in woods at Sandringham on New Years day.

Published on Friday 13 January 2012 10:05 by Lynn News
POLICE investigating the murder of teenager Alisa Dmitrijeva
say they have received a flood of calls from people wanting to help.

Detectives launched their appeal for information earlier this week and are now putting up posters in different languages around Lynn and Wisbech in a bid to get help from the Eastern European community.

Alisa’s body was discovered on the Sandringham estate on New Year’s Day, three months after she was reported missing by her grandmother on September 6.

The 17-year-old, of Railway Road, Wisbech, was found by a dog walker in an isolated woodland off King’s Avenue, which runs between Anmer and Sandringham. Police were able to identify her using her palm print scan, which was verified using DNA from her leg bone.

The man leading the inquiry, Det Chief Insp Jes Fry, says he is pleased with the response to the appeal so far but they still want to know more about her movements on the last day of August.

Alisa was last seen getting into a green Lexus with two men in Friars Street, Lynn, just after midnight on August 31. They told police they later dropped her off at Asda in Wisbech.

Police have also received a further sighting of Alisa in Lynn 45 minutes after Friars Street.

Police will not say if the men in the Lexus have been re-interviewed.

Det Chief Insp Fry said: “We are unable to comment on who we have or haven’t spoken with in terms of this inquiry.”

Officers in Lynn and Wisbech have started to put up posters around both towns.

The inquiry is trying to build up a picture of Alisa’s movements prior to her disappearance on August 31.

Police are appealing for sightings of Alisa between noon on August 30 and midnight on September 6.

The posters contain Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian translations of the appeal.

Det Chief Insp Fry said: “We are continuing to appeal to the public – we have taken steps to reach the Lithuanian and Latvian communities through posters, websites, already established local contacts and local officers and would continue to encourage people from those communities to engage with us.”

Should the Police Censor What Press Photographers Photograph on Public Streets?
select for full story HUFF POST 12/1/2012 It's a very worrying question, with an extremely worrying answer coming from some members of the police force and even more so from Police Community Support Officers. Having several friends in the police, I know for a fact that nowhere in their training does it state that officers should censor this country's free press.

Photo > (Right)   A Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) puts her hand up to cover the lens of Nicholas Razzell, stopping him from taking pictures. The Old Bailey. 4 January 2012.

As long as members of the press aren't breaking police cordons, or on private property after being asked to leave, the police (and I include PCSOs in this) have no power, nor rights to interfere with a photographer going about doing their job of gathering news. In fact, our country goes to war to help people being oppressed by various regimes, yet we find on occasion that we are being oppressed much closer to home, not by fundamentalists or dictators, but by our own police services up and down the county.

Sadly the court case at the Old Bailey, where two of the racist murderers of Stephen Lawrence were finally jailed, illustrated just how ill-informed some members of the police and PCSOs are. Just what is the motivation to stop a story like this being covered? Did these officers in question want to protect the racist murderers from the photographers' cameras or not allow the same cameras to record the dignified Lawrence family after the verdict? This behaviour is absolutely baffling.

The prevention of crime is key
Published on Monday 16 January 2012 09:42 by Yorkshire Post

EVERY Home Secretary is judged by the extent to which crime rises – or falls – on their watch. Theresa May, the current postholder, is no different, hence her robust words about protecting front-line police posts. However, the top Tory needs to remember that preventative measures are as important as those statistics detailing crime numbers.

It is why successive Home Secretaries have prioritised policies to improve community policing – they know that basing officers in schools can be an effective way of promoting a culture of respect. Equally vital is work to help serial offenders come to terms with their drug or alcohol addiction.

Yet, if Bob Dyson, the acting head of South Yorkshire Police, is to be believed, this valuable work could unravel because local councils can no longer afford, in these austere times, to fund police community support officers which were launched in a blaze of publicity by Tony Blair before responsibility for long-term funding passed to town halls.

It does not end here. Mr Dyson has also indicated that road safety schemes, critical to cutting accident levels on the region’s roads, may be at risk. Likewise the work of anti-hooliganism officers whose expertise is vital to ensuring that law-abiding football fans can follow their favourite team safely – it would be lamentable, given the strides taken to eradicate violence at matches, if cuts allowed trouble-makers to prosper again.

Of course, Mr Dyson’s comments need to be placed in a wider context. He is setting out a “worst case” scenario, and a convincing case to protect discretionary services in South Yorkshire, ahead of those crucial council meetings which will determine budgets, and spending priorities, for the 2012-13 financial year.

It will not be straight-forward, given how these councils have seen their Government grants reduced. They are also under Ministerial pressure not to increase council tax bills. Precepts paid to local police authorities can only go so far. As such, perhaps Mr Dyson should consider challenging Mrs May to set out her priorities. He

Published on Monday 16 January 2012 14:14 sunderland Echo
A YOB sprayed an off-duty police community support officer with a fire extinguisher
as he messed about on the Metro.

Liam Colin Mitchinson squirted water at the woman during a drunken prank, a court heard.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court that the woman felt something on her back and turned round to see the 22-year-old firing water at her.

Mitchinson and a friend got off at the Stadium of Light stop but the incident was captured on CCTV.

When he was interviewed by police, hapless Mitchinson agreed he was on the Metro, but had been drunk and couldn’t remember why he launched his foolish stunt.

Mr Anderson added: “He regretted what he had done, but was drunk and could not really remember it.”

Mitchinson, of Euston Court, Carley Hill, pleaded guilty to assault after the offence on August 22.

Defending, Trish Mytton said her client did not know his victim was an off-duty police community support officer and had set the fire extinguisher off as a joke.

“I have watched the CCTV with him and it is quite clear that him and his associate think they are being extremely funny, but it is clear that they are not,” she said.

“They can be seen squirting the water up into the air and chuckling to themselves and thinking they are funny, when they are not.

“Ironically, there are several Metro staff there who seem not to notice.”

She added that Mitchinson had been a regular offender from 2008 to early 2010, but was now settling down, had a young child and was living with the baby and his partner.

Sentencing him, District Judge Roger Elsey branded his actions as “childish” and ordered to complete 60 hours of unpaid work, pay £40 compensation to his victim and £40 towards court costs.

Published on Saturday 7 January 2012 07:00 Littlehampton Gazette
LITTLEHAMPTON’S neighbourhood policing chief has expressed relief
and gratitude at the community’s reaction in the wake of the alleged murder of a Lithuanian man.

Police feared there could be a negative reaction against people from eastern Europe living and working in the town following the stabbing to death of Bronius Juras, 38, of Bayford Road, Littlehampton, at a party in Beach Road on the night of Christmas Day.

But the possible tensions never developed in the days following the tragic incident, said Insp Nick Bowman, who heads up the neighbourhood policing team in Arun “If there had been an undercurrent of general fear of knife crime, particularly linked to the eastern European community, that could have had the potential to come out as a result of this incident, but it has not come out and there have been no further tensions.”

Mr Juras’ brother, Vaides Juras (33), of Beach Road, has been charged with murder (see below).

Insp Bowman admitted the case had presented the police with significant challenges in the days following Mr Juras’ death, from a single stab wound to the heart.

“It’s an incident that is certainly very rare and has a huge impact on any local community. We had extra patrols in the immediate vicinity to give that reassurance to the community.

“While the court case has yet to happen, we believe that this took place among people who knew each other and was not a random attack, but an isolated, terrible sequence of events that happened at a party. It could happen at any party if anything went wrong.”

Asked about concerns about people possessing knives, Insp Bowman added: “As far as I am aware, people from eastern Europe are no more likely to carry knives than anyone else in our community.”

A police community support officer originally from Poland and now based at Bognor had proved invaluable in establishing links between detectives working on the case and the eastern Europeans involved, said Insp Bowman. Through him they were able to provide the police with vital information. Translators were also brought in to help with interviews.

“The family involved in this case could be described as being settled in the community. They do speak English, they have jobs. It is tragic that this family has been affected in this way,” said Insp Bowman.

9 January 2012 BBC NEWS
Westminster PCSO numbers 'cut two thirds'
select for full story Some 200 Police Community Support Officers are to be removed from the streets of Westminster, BBC London has learned.

The cutback - two thirds of the borough's total PCSO force - includes 50 from safer neighbourhood teams.

Oxford Street's team of 20 PCSOs will be cut to three.

One of London Mayor Boris Johnson's deputies insisted the PCSOs would remain available for other areas of crime fighting.

Details of the cut were revealed in a letter from Det Supt Penelope Banham, which read: "With effect from mid-January, each ward will now have three dedicated PCSOs attached to it.

"Those wards that previously enjoyed an enhanced status will revert to the standard level of staffing of three PCSOs."

'Crime will rise'

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, said: "We were given to understand that safer neighbourhood teams would be protected from the reductions.

"We are now seeing many of the wards in Westminster - including the West End which has its own pressures - will be losing numbers."

A trader on Church Street Market said it would be "absolutely terrible".

He added: "If they cut the police then crime will rise."

The falling numbers come despite Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing, telling the BBC last year: "Some of the wards have six PCSOs and they are protected [from cuts] too."

Speaking after the cuts were revealed, he said: "People would say that [numbers are falling] if they only see half the picture - if they don't see the fact that these PCSOs will


PEOPLE are being given the chance to nominate someone from their community for the Hertfordshire Police Authority's Safer Neighbourhood Awards.

Borehamwood Times 9 Jan 2012 The awards are split into four categories including the Community Safety Citizen’s Award, which is given to members of the public who have helped towards the safety and reassurance of their community.

There are also awards for Neighbourhood Police Officer of the year, Police Community Support Officer of the year and Neighbourhood Policing Team of the year.

There will be heats in all four categories in each of the county’s ten boroughs or districts.

Winners of these heats will then be invited to the final in May where winners for the whole county will be announced.

The closing date for nominations is January 27 and forms can be found on Hertfordshire Police Authority’s website.

5 January 2012 BBC NEWS
No criminal charges for Humberside PCSO who hit boy
A police community support officer (PCSO) who struck a 15-year-old boy in the face will not face prosecution.

The officer hit Liam Watters last year at a Grimsby community centre in an incident caught on CCTV.

Humberside Police launched an internal misconduct investigation and found the "officer's conduct fell below the required standard".

Liam's mother said she intended to appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The incident took place at the Nunsthorpe Respect Funhouse centre on 31 October 2011.

'Halloween joke'

The investigation was launched when CCTV footage was passed to a local newspaper.

In a copy of the report by Humberside Police's Professional Standards Branch, seen by the BBC, the force said: "The allegation relating to Authority, Respect and Courtesy by striking the complainant on the cheek is upheld."

The report said that Liam was hit "to the face cheek as part of a joke involving Halloween and the wearing of facemasks".

"The PCSO has been given strong advice about his role and the boundaries to be considered when building professional relationships."

Liam said: "I'll never speak to them again. Lost loads of respect for them. You're meant to look up to them and take them as a role model, but now I can't."

Sale of lost and found items helps west Cumbria youth schemes
By Chris Story

Published at 08:56, Saturday, 07 January 2012

select for full story Missing property handed in to Cumbria’s police stations have given a boost to two west Cumbrian community projects.

Photo right: PCSO Alan Willison presents a cheque for £250 to the Moor Row Playground volunteers, raised through selling unclaimed items

Unclaimed items handed in at counters across the county are sold after a certain length of time.

And the money generated from their sales is allocated specifically to supporting youth projects as part of the force’s efforts to keep young people occupied.

Frizington Community Group and Moor Row Playground Fund have now each been handed cheques for £250 to support their work.

They earned their cash after police community support officers (PCSOs) Jackie Rafferty and Alan Willison, who cover the Cleator Moor and Frizington areas, applied to the chief constable’s property fund.

PCSO Rafferty said: “It is a great pleasure for us to be able to help our communities in this way.

“We both have great relationships with the groups and in some instances have assisted in the creation of them.

“The Frizington Community Group will greatly benefit with the money provided. It will help to pay for go towards benches and picnic tables for the park as part of the refurbishment project which will ultimately improve Frizington.”

Representatives of both groups say they have been delighted to receive the support from police and the help they get from PCSOs.

PCSO Willison added: “We often try to help in other ways by attending events or fundraisers.

“To be able to give something tangible to these groups, gives us a great sense of achievement and we will continue to assist in anyway we can.

“The Moor Row Playground

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