In the wake of a massive rise in reported hate crimes such as racist attacks and taunts following the outcome of the EU referendum in June 2016, a London local government body has launched a specialised helpline for its residents to report incidents and crimes of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.
Harrow Council, in north-east Greater London, had set up the service after several people in the borough of Harrow came forward to report ‘low level’ incidences of verbal racial abuse, which the council’s iHarrow portal stated was “causing distress amongst community members” in the borough of 215,000, one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse among London’s 32 borough areas. The council also expressed concerns that while Harrow escaped the worst of the spike in hate-motivated incidents in the wake of Brexit, much of these crimes were going unreported to the police.
The new hotline, 0800 138 1625, which is free to call and runs 24 hours a day, was set up by the council in tandem with the Stop Hate UK service. The service is also being promoted across the borough to encourage people to speak about hate crimes affecting them, their families, friends and communities.
People who witness others being personally attacked or having their property attacked because of their disability, race, religion, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity and where it is not an emergency can call the helpline in strict confidence. People whose first language is not English can arrange for a translator to return their call within five working days by simply leaving their contact details.
VIJAY SHAH via Ace Worldwide News Group/Dogan News Agency/Hurriyet
As Turkey still reels from several bombings in Istanbul and Ankara and an attempted coup by a faction of the armed forces last Friday, more tragedy struck today as a number of ‘unknown assailants’ opened fire on a group of police officers in the Maçka district of Trabzon province in northern Turkey, which borders the Black Sea. Two officers were reported killed, according to the English-language version of the newspaper Hürriyet, via Ace Worldwide News Group and local news organisation, the Doğan News Agency.
The police officers were conducting road checks when the gunmen opened fire on them from a nearby forest. Two officers were killed on the spot and five other officers and a passing civilian were injured. Extra police and ambulances were drafted in. Locals angered by the atrocity and spurred on by the recent failed coup, took up arms and proceeded to the forest to find the killers. Clashes were reported, however there is no word as to the fate of the gunmen.
Last Friday, a coup was instigated by members of the Turkish army opposed to the government of president Tayyip Recep Erdogan. While the president was on holiday in the Mediterranean port of Marmaris, soldiers and army officers were seen driving tanks down main streets in Ankara, the country’s capital, and road blocks were set up in Istanbul. An F-16 bomber plane even aimed gunfire at the Turkish parliament. The rebellion was quickly put down, with around 200 people killed and more than a 1,000 injured. Since then, Erdogan has vowed to flush the ‘virus’ of rebellion out of the armed forces and police. Thousands have been arrested or dismissed from their posts, with some senior army officers fleeing to nearby Greece.
It is not known if the Maçka attackers were connected to the coup, or to Kurdish rebels or Daesh, both of whom have a history of launching fatal attacks on Turkish soil. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) usually launch attacks on army or police attachments and patrols, but their attacks are largely confined to the Turkish part of Kurdistan.
Drugs are horrible substances. Whether legal or illegal, recreational narcotics usually cause harm to the body, damaging the user from the inside and out. So instead of sniffing that line or hitting that pipe, why not tuck into some Mauritian-style dhal puri instead. You’ll look a million rupees, and you won’t have to worry about the police pulling you over and busting you for illicit dhal puri possession.
For those who have never encountered the awesomeness that is dhal puri, let me explain. This is a snack popular on the island of Mauritius and an unforgettable part of my island’s culinary landscape. It is unleavened bread (rather like a chapati or thick tortilla) filled with lentils and spices, and often consumed as street food. Also known as ‘dhol/dhall puri’, this food goes great with a dollop of ‘zasar’ (pickle).
Bomb disposal squads were called into the airport on Saturday to investigate an item left in a bin on the airport’s premises at the North Terminal. The terminal was shut down and evacuated and a controlled explosion was carried out on the item, later identified as a gun.
British airports are on high alert after the killing of around 130 people by three teams of gunmen armed with guns and explosive devices in the centre of Paris on Friday afternoon. Two or three bombs exploded near the Stade de France where a football friendly was taken. People were also massacred at a concert and while dining at a Cambodian restaurant and at local bars. Several of the gunmen are believed to have entered France via road from Belgium with contraband weapons possibly smuggled in from the Balkans.
Alongside the weapon at Gatwick, police also found personal items possibly linked to the French citizen, who is now in custody. Sussex Police said that the items were removed to be forensically examined and that the viability of the weapon, whether it was live or decommissioned, has not yet been established by their ballistics team.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the French national, a man whose details have not been given in the Crawley News report, has in fact two guns on his person. He was said to have walked up to a check in desk operated by budget airline EasyJet. This has not yet been confirmed officially though.
The report does identify the man as being of 41 years of age and originating from Vendôme, a small ton in central France, around 100 kilometres from Paris. He has been charged with firearms offences. Airport officials say the French citizen had not passed through any passport or security checks.
Detective Superintendent Nick May said: “The man is being interviewed as we try to determine the circumstances of the incident, but at this time it is too early to say what his intentions, if any, were.
“However, given the events in Paris on Friday evening, there is heightened awareness around any such incident and it is best that we treat the matter in all seriousness.
“We are aware that there is concern about what has happened in France, but the general threat level remains the same and people should be aware as usual of anyone acting suspiciously and report any concerns immediately.”
Police attended the incident at 9.30 am local time and the North Terminal was evacuated about an hour later, the Crawley News reports.
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “Following a full and thorough search by the Police, we are now able to re-open our North Terminal to passengers. Passengers should check with their airlines for information about their journey.
“Our priority is always the safety and welfare of our passengers and extra Gatwick staff are on hand to assist those who have experienced significant disruption to their journey today.
“We are working with our airlines to return North Terminal to usual operations. South Terminal is operating as normal.”
The French capital is in mourning today after a coordinated attack by terrorists said to be allied with the so-called Islamic State on bars, restaurants and the Stade de France left around 150 people dead. Most of the fatalities occurred at a Cambodian restaurant where terrorists armed with AK-47s gunned down diners and tourists as they dined. Suicide bombs were also set off at one of Paris‘ largest stadia, the Stade de France, where a football match between France and Germany was taking place. Gunmen also targetted a death metal concert, shooting at concert goers as they fled screaming.
The news has sent ripples of shock and disgust throughout the world, and social media posts urged people to pray for Paris and France, as well as the victims. Another 180 people have been hospitalised, many of them with serious injuries.
Indian news service Rediff.com reports that sets of terrorists, some carrying guns and others wearing bombs strapped to vests, attacked seven sites around central Paris. One of these is believed to be the Avenue de la Republique, popular with tourists and packed as Paris gears up for the Christmas season.
Rediff reported that the worst carnage took place on yesterday night (Friday 14th November) as gunmen stormed a concert where am American death metal band were performing. Dozens of fans were taken hostage, and the terrorists were reported as hurling grenades at panicked concertgoers as they tried to flee the venue. The Parisian gendarmerie later stormed the Bataclan concert hall building, killing three attackers, reeling in horror at the bloody scenes that unfolded before them last night. Pictures taken after the siege show police securing the road just outside the Bataclan and establishing a perimeter.
The prosecutor of Paris, Francois Molins, said that five attackers have been killed. Other reports said six militants had been taken down, but no-one has yet determined how many took part in the atrocities or if any gunmen are still at large.
In five other shootings, it was reported that 38 were murdered. These took place in the 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts) of Paris, an area comparable to outlying parts of central London. Two explosions occurred outside the Stade de France, where the France vs. Germany match was in attendance by the country’s president Francois Hollande. Reports of casualties at the stadium have not yet been confirmed by police or the prosecutor’s office, but spectators were seen vacating the stadium in droves.
It is not yet known who exactly was behind the attacks, but the president believes that IS were responsible. Some reports claim that IS have claimed responsibility, hours after British IS member Mohammed al-Emwazi, popularly known as ‘Jihadi John’ was allegedly killed in a drone rocket strike in Raqqah, Syria.
Following the attacks, Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency, the first in many years and today also instituted a three-day period of mourning for the many who lost their lives going about their daily business. President Hollande also ordered the closing of France’s borders to prevent any remaining gunmen from fleeing. Paris has gone into virtual shutdown with the city’s Metro train service as well as schools, universities and government building closed down today.
Hollande who was led to safety as the Stade de France attack unfolded, spoke on French television to say that the country would stand firm and united.
“This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us,” he said. “We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”
He later visited the Bataclan hall, and said that France would wage a ‘merciless’ fight against terrorist forces. Thousands of police, paramedics and doctors were put on immediate emergency duty and all leave of absence was cancelled. Around 1,500 army reinforcements were brought into Paris and hospitals were getting ready for the influx of injured.
IS have claimed responsibility, saying that the attacks were in revenge for Western and Arab state-led strikes against their operatives in Syria. They have lauded the atrocity as an ‘act of war’.
All sporting fixtures in Paris have been cancelled.
Several cities including London, Melbourne in Australia, New York and Dublin, Ireland have lit up buildings in the colours of the French tricouleur in solidarity with Paris.
UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a telegram stating that the Paris teror attacks are against all of humanity. Governments, including those from the UK and US have also expressed their horror at the atrocities.
In a sombre ceremony of remembrance, wreaths were laid at a memorial to the fallen officers situated at Forest Gatepolice station on Romford Road in the north of the borough, in the east of London. Attended by local dignitaries and serving police personnel, the memorial, known as the Operation Valour stone, commemorates the 23 police officers who gave their lives for their country in WWI. The officers were members of the old ‘K Division’ which was made up of policemen from what is now Newham and the neighbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham. The Forest Gate memorial established by Operation Valour was laid a year ago.
The K Division of the Metropolitan Police, the police force that covers most of London, was established in the wake of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 which was the beginnings of a city-wide policing service. Over the next seventeen years, new divisions were created, of which the K Division covered the old county borough of West Ham. The other divisions were also assigned alphabetical letters, with A (Westminster), B (Chelsea), C (Mayfair and Soho), D (Marylebone), E (Holborn), F (Kensington), G (Kings Cross), H (Stepney), L (Lambeth), M (Southwark), N (Islington), P (Peckham), R (Greenwich), S (Hampstead), T (Hammersmith) and V (Wandsworth). These were then followed by extra divisions added in 1865, W covering Clapham, X for Willesden, Y for Holloway and J for Bethnal Green.
As with many other occupations and millions of other men during the First World War, policemen were conscripted to fight against the enemy and many never returned from the battlefields of Belgium and France.
At the ceremony, wreaths were laid by the borough of Newham’s police commissioner Cmdr. Tony Nash, the deputy mayor Cllr. Lester Hudson, council member for Forest Gate Cllr. Unmesh Desai, who is also the Cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour and representing the police themselves, PC Imran Uddin, the youngest serving officer in Newham.
Out of the 281 police from the K Division who enlisted to fight, 22 died in combat. The 23rd officer was killed by an explosion at a munitions factory in Newham’s southern district of Silvertown in 1917.
At the ceremony, Cllr. Hudson said: “This memorial stone allows residents (of Newham) to pay their respects as well as giving officers a strong everyday connection to their fallen colleagues”, the Newham Mag quoted.
The Operation Valour memorial, which is carved from simple white marble, bears two inscriptions, one of which reads: “The Glorious Dead – ‘K’ Division’ – The Great War – 1914-1918” and then lists the names and ranks of the fallen police officers in alphabetical order of surname. It was laid last year (2014) as part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of hostilities in 1914.
“Fallen police officers remembered” – The Newham Mag [Issue 322], Newham Council, (14th August 2015)
If ever you find yourself pulled over while driving and served a speeding ticket, or a police officer confiscates your Prosecco outside your local pub because they think you look out of it, the following fact may well give you a small amount of consolation the next time you run into the ‘po-po’.
According to the Facts In Your FaceTwitter account, the world’s most often arrested individual is a Mr. Henry Earl. He has been detained by police and sent to jail more than 1,500 times since 1970, mostly for public intoxication, in other words, being completely drunk…trolleyed…smashed…legless….sizzerped…on the streets.
Earl, who is also known by the alias James Brown, is a 64-year-old resident of the city of Lexington, Kentucky state, USA. Sadly his drinking addiction has seen him booked over 900 times alone in the past thirteen years, but the upside is that he has achieved a sort of cult status. There is even a website dedicate to his in-and-out-of-prison stats, named “What’s up with Henry Earl?”
“He likes to get drunk a lot. And he gets busted a lot. As in “900+ times in the last 13 years” a lot. He spends roughly twice as much of his life in jail as out. His rap sheet is pages and pages long. Henry would surely take the gold in any Boozer Olympics competition.” – Wee’s News.
Earl has so far spent 4,618 days inside for 1,030 catalogued offences. His average time spent in jail per year is 243 days, and in an average week, this gentleman will be eating cold porridge for 4.5 days and tasting sweet freedom instead for only two days. He has sadly spent several Christmases, Thanksgivings and birthdays behind bars.
Not much is known about him, but his first arrest was in July 1970 at the age of 20 for carrying a weapon. He is believed to be homeless and one local who has spoken with Earl believes that he has mental health issues and criticised the level of mental healthcare in the United States. Local officers have been accused of constantly picking on Earl and seeing him as an easy arrest, although they say he is detained for his own safety. Earl himself had often provoked matters by hurling people’s drinks onto police cars to score a ‘free ride’ to the cells. He has allegedly even asked local shopkeepers in the town of 300,000 to call the police even though he had not committed any crime. He is renowned for his bubbly personality, fierce independent streak and many tales to those who take the time to listen to him.
He often visited local fast food restaurants and would dance and tell jokes in order to get some money for a meal or alcohol fix. People likened him to the suave crooner James Brown, whose name Earl unofficially adopted. He is also beleived to have served in his homeland’s armed forces and was said to have survived a near-fatal head wound from an explosive device while going through a secret tunnel during the Vietnam War. Many of Lexington’s inhabitants and even some of the police officers have a high regard and fondness for Henry Earl and see him as a quirky local institution. One person who often encountered him at a local shelter, Ginny Ramsey, a co-founder of Lexington’s Catholic Action Center, told CNN: “You can’t help but love him, I tell you.
“He’s as honest as the day is long. With Henry Earl, you’re going to hear the truth.”
His cult status has won him a few thousand fans around the world, and a massive headache for the police force serving Fayette County, where Mr. Earl earns most of his infractions. The county jail, as is normal for American correctional facilities and police forces, posts ‘mugshots’ of their offenders. They apparently have tonnes of pictures of Henry. His impressive arrest tally forced Fayette County jailers to ask the owner of the popular sharing website Fark to cease linking to their offender databases as the thousands of visits were causing their servers to crash.
He now has his own theme song, fan videos and even a Firefox browser extension. You can also follow his status via RSS feeds.
In 2009, he was nearly successfully free from the demon drink in an alcohol recovery programme he was placed onto by the courts, but hit the bottle again after five months and a few days short of his graduation from the course, which would have entitled him to a home and food stamps. Currently he is still in jail, but the Lexington Catholic Action Center are trying to help Earl with his booze addiction and stop him from ever returning to the slammer again.
The man, who was not identified in the Eastern Daily Pressnews report, took it upon himself to dress up as a British soldier, complete with camouflaged uniform and carrying around what appeared to be a rifle. He was videotaped walking around the streets of Norwich nonchalantly with the realistic toy gun, causing worried locals to call the police, who responded immediately. Police forces across the UK are already being placed on high alert due to fears of terrorism, and there were concerns that the fundraiser might have been a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist.
Norfolk county police reported receiving three calls from the public about a ‘young man believed to be carrying a firearm’ according to the Eastern Daily Press report. The calls came in at around 8.30 am local time. Armed officers and a helicopter were immediately called out to Norwich’s city centre in search for the mysterious ‘gunman’ and scoured the streets for around six hours before eventually tracking him down at around 2:00 pm. Marked police vehicles were also stationed around the city’s market, Bank Plain and Colegate areas, as well as later at the University College of the Arts, and the Territorial Army base.
The unfortunate fundraiser was described by the newspaper as feeling “embarrassed and apologetic” when police finally tracked him down. Officers gave him a stern warning for putting his life in danger by wearing the military attire and also confiscated his imitation ‘rifle’, which he had painted to look more lifelike.
Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, leading the operation, said: “He had dressed up for fundraising or charity but members of the public were concerned for their safety.
“Public safety is paramount and we take all reports of firearms seriously.”
A taxi driver passing along Barrack Street saw the man walking around with his gun and began filming. In the forty-second video, the man is strolling down a busy main road. As the cabbie drives closer to the fundraiser, his rifle is seen by his side, while dressed in full combat gear and rucksack. He appears to be indistinguishable from an actual soldier. He was reported in a local news video as heading along Barrack Street in the direction of Norwich’s Puppet Theatre.
The driver, who shot the footage with his mobile phone, told local media: “I saw a man in the full combat clothing carrying a rifle in his right hand. I wasn’t sure if it was an imitation but I thought it was a bit strange.”
Dale Buck, a resident from Norwich’s Spixworth area, saw him close to the Whitefriars district around that time too. He said: “I was turning into the car park when I saw him. He was in full UK military clothes with a helmet, bag and he was carrying a rifle.
“The rifle was swinging by his side so I knew he wasn’t a genuine soldier.”
The man was let off with a warning and allowed to go on his way, with no charges being brought against him. The unlucky fundraiser is not the first resident of the town to get into trouble with the law for wearing controversial fancy dress. Weeks earlier, a local teenager who was spotted walking around town armed with a machete turned out to be a film student making a horror movie. The machete turned out to be a plastic one splattered with fake blood, which was only discovered after an armed police operation swooped on the student while he was acting out a scene on the Mousehold Heath.
Red Nose Day is a charitable initiative by the Comic Relief charity that takes place every March and was launched in 1988. People are encouraged to wear red plastic noses and take part in fun events at school and work to raise money for charities in the UK and in Africa.
An OAP dog owner out walking his companion on a green in Mitcham, south London suffered a fractured wrist and rib after being shoved to the ground by a group of youths as he tried to protect his dog from being attacked by one of them, the BBC reports today.
The unidentified 76-year-old victim had been walking his dog in Mitcham’s Cricket Green yesterday (Friday 6 March) at about 4 pm GMT when the attack occurred. Local police said that the man got into a confrontation with four other park users, one of whom pushed him to the ground. The younger man had first attempted to kick the victim’s dog, before turning on the victim as he stood up for his pet. The elder’s injuries required hospital treatment, the BBC says.
Local police officer Det Con Jamie McIntosh said: “This was an unprovoked and cowardly attack on an elderly man who was out walking his dog alone.
“As a result of the incident the victim has been left frightened and confused.“
“It would have been very busy around the Cricket Green at the time of the attack and there would have been a significant amount of traffic along the A239 (motorway/highway). I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the attack or anyone with any information to come forward and assist us with our investigating.”
Police said that the victim described the gang as being made up of two men and two women, all described as of ‘black’ ethnicity and in their early twenties. All of the group were said to be wearing dark clothing. The man who assaulted the pensioner was described as being 5 foot 11 inches (1.80 metres) tall with short black hair.
The Mitcham dogwalker has now been discharged from medical treatment. Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack. Anyone with information on the attackers or the crime can call the Merton CID (police criminal investigations team) on 0208 649 3057 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.