Pair Of Penguins Returned To Zoo Two Months After Being Stolen

By Connor Parker

Two penguins have been rescued and returned to a zoo after being stolen two months ago.

Police were tipped off about the missing pair of Humboldt birds after they were spotted in Strelley Village, Nottinghamshire on Wednesday.

A 23-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of burglary and theft and the penguins were returned to their rightful home.

Sergeant Andrew Browning said: “My first thought was this is one for the books, and one to tell the grandkids, because there’s no way we thought we would go down there and actually find two penguins.

“It was an unusual one. Even when we went down to custody it made everyone laugh, particularly the custody sergeant who was booking us in. It was a real off-the-wall find.”

Nottinghamshire Police declined to say which zoo the animals had been taken from.

Humboldt Penguins originate from South America and are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.



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Commons Speaker Bercow Could Be 'Denied Peerage' In Unprecedented Move

By Nadine White

Having unleashed the anger of ministers for what they argue to be “bias” during Commons debates on Brexit, speaker John Bercow could be denied a peerage when he retires.

This move would break a tradition dating back 230 years that former Speakers are automatically offered a seat in the House of Lords.

Last week, Bercow broke from parliamentary precedent to allow votes to take place on amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

A Cabinet source reportedly said: “It’s a good job peerage nominations are in our gift.

“I’m sure we’ll be thinking carefully about which individuals we would choose to elevate to the House of Lords.

“I can’t imagine we would look favourably on those who’ve cheated centuries of procedure.”

Last week, Bercow faced a backlash from Conservative MPs after selecting a proposal from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve, which attempts to speed up the process for the Government to reveal what it will do next if Theresa May’s deal is rejected.

Grieve’s amendment was tabled against a Government motion detailing the timetable for the Brexit deal debate, which Tory MPs argued was “unamendable”.

However, Bercow stood by his decision to allow a vote on the amendment – which was ultimately approved by 308 votes to 297, majority 11 – amid personal criticism and calls for him to go from Tory MPs during more than 60 minutes of points of order.

The Speaker also did not confirm that his decision was taken with agreement from the Commons clerk Sir David Natzler following questions by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.

This comes after Leadsom accused John Bercow of being biased against the government.

The Speaker sharply criticised Theresa May for deciding to cancel a vote on her Brexit deal.

He accused the prime minister of being “deeply discourteous” for not asking the permission of MPs.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Leadsom said it was a “challenge” dealing with Bercow.

“He’s made his views on Brexit on the record, and the problem with that of course is that the chair’s impartiality is absolutely essential,” she said.

Asked whether she believed his position was “tainted”, she replied: “He’s made his views known on Brexit.”

In October, the Speaker reportedly informed friends of his intention to stand this summer, following a published report that condemned a culture in Parliament in which abusive behaviour was “tolerated and covered up.”

Bercow, himself, has also faced allegations of bullying – which he has denied.

The tradition of retiring Speakers sees them stand down as MPs at the same time, triggering a by-election in their constituency.

Following this, they are then recommended for a peerage sit in the Lords as a cross-bencher.



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Pharmacists Warn Of Medicine 'Shortage' In The Wake Of Brexit Uncertainty

By Nadine White

Pharmacists are warning of a shortage in many common medicines with some having to pay increased prices for them.

As a result, patients are complaining of delays in getting access to drugs such as painkillers, anti-depressants and blood pressure medication.

There has been a big rise in the number of drugs on the “shortage of supply” list for England, the BBC has found.

This leaves many people concerned that uncertainly about Brexit will make the situation worse.

Jody Butler, Pharmacist for Pari-chem, told ITV Anglia: “At the moment there is an issue with drug supply, probably more so than at any point in my past career.

“Brexit is one of the issues that might be playing into that but obviously the drug market is a complicated one and they’ll be multiple factors.

“We are running out of several quite basic drugs, which obviously is causing complications for the patients, delays in getting patients treatment and costing time for pharmacies and GPs.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has instructed manufacturers of both branded and generic drugs to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies, to enable people to access their medications.

Gareth Jones, from the National Pharmacy Association, told the BBC: “Uncertainty over Brexit appears to be a significant factor”, adding that patients do not seem to be panicking about getting their medicines after a possible no-deal Brexit, but thinks there could be an element of “unconscious stockpiling”.

There are 80 medicines in such short supply that the Department of Health has agreed to pay a premium for them – an increase of over 50% since October.

While most people will be able to get their prescriptions filled as normal, those who specifically need one of the drugs that is short supply will bear the brunt of this crisis.

Some pharmacists are sending patients back to their GPs to ask for a different medicine or dosage.

Others are giving as much of a drug as they can spare and sending people away with IOU slips which they can show upon revisiting for the remainder.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) keeps track of which drugs are in such short supply and for which ones the NHS has agreed to intermittently fork out a higher amount.

A BBC analysis of this data has revealed that the number of medications on the list has grown six-fold in three years.

The government stresses that two million prescription items are dispensed in England every day, and the vast majority of medicines are not in short supply.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with industry and partners to ensure patients receive the medicines they need and pharmacies are reimbursed fairly.”



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Ministers Accused Of 'Robbing Peter To Pay Paul' As Spending Watchdog Brands NHS Finances 'Unsustainable'

By Jasmin Gray

Theresa May announcing the NHS long term plan earlier this month

Tory ministers have been accused of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” after parliament’s spending watchdog branded NHS finances “unsustainable”, warning they could derail the recently announced long-term plan.

In its annual report on the health service, the National Audit Office (NAO) found that by offsetting surpluses and deficits in spending, the NHS was effectively hiding regional differences in finances and patient experience.

The probe revealed that while the health service almost achieved financial balance in 2017/18, NHS trusts racked up a combined deficit of £991m – much of which was accounted for by just 10 trusts.

The government handed out £3.2bn in loans to support trusts unable to afford staff costs and pay suppliers – an increase of almost half a billion on 2016/17. It is a sign “that the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse”, the NAO said.

Meanwhile, waiting times continued to slip, with just 88% of A&E patients seen within four hours in 2017/18 against a target of 95%.

According to NAO estimates, it would also cost £700m to reduce waiting lists for non-urgent treatments – up from 2.5 million patients in 2012/13 to 4.1 million – even back to levels seen in March 2018.

However, the watchdog warned that the NHS long-term funding settlement announced by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month, which will see an additional £20bn a year pumped into the health service by 2023/24, must not be used to exclusively deal with short-term pressures – a mistake that has been made in the past.

“There is a risk that the extra funding will not be used effectively due to staff shortages as more money may be used to pay expensive agency staff or will go unspent as individual healthcare providers may not be able to recruit the staff to deliver additional activity,” the report read.

It will also be “very difficult to make the NHS sustainable” without a long-term funding settlement for social care, it added.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Tory ministers were “robbing to Peter to pay Paul by moving money designated for longer-term investment into day-to-day spending”, accusing the Conservative Party of imposing “the biggest cash squeeze in history” on the NHS.

But NAO’s auditor general Amyas Morse went on to call the long-term settlement “a positive and welcome development”, saying that if the funding is spent wisely “we can expect to see a less turbulent financial context than the last few years”.

Meanwhile, an NHS England spokesperson said it agreed with the NAO that the long term plan “is a prudent and practical route-map for improving health and care.”

A spokesperson for the government added: “The long-term plan, backed by a significant funding increase of £20.5 billion a year by 2023/24, rightly sets out that putting the NHS back onto a sustainable financial path is a key priority, and is essential to allowing the NHS to deliver further improvements in care.”



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Whitehall Chiefs 'Told To Prepare For Snap General Election' Over Brexit Deadlock

By Jasmin Gray

Whitehall chiefs have been ordered to draw up contingency plans for a snap General Election, it has been reported.

With parliament in a state of deadlock over Brexit, head of the civil service Sir Mark Sedwill met with government department heads this week to make sure they were ready for the possibility of an unexpected poll,
Second Brexit Referendum Impossible In Next 12 Months, Government Document Claims

  • Boris Johnson Blames Low Wages On ‘Unlimited Pools’ Of Foreign Workers
  • Via::


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    Blank Payslips For US Federal Workers As Shutdown Drags On

    By Isabel Togoh

    Some 800,000 public sector workers in the US missed their first payday of the year on Friday as the government shutdown continues.

    Employees posted pictures of their blank payslips on Twitter and vented their frustration as the stand-off entered its 21st day and is set to become the longest shutdown in US history over the weekend.

    Government workers are scaling back spending, cancelling trips, applying for unemployment benefits and taking out loans to stay afloat, while some are trying to land second jobs.

    Some Democrats seized on the empty payslips as a way to renew criticism of President Donald Trump, who triggered the shutdown over his demands for funding for a border wall.

    Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia tweeted: “It should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. But thanks to Trump, many are actually getting pay stubs like this. He’s treating them like the countless contractors he stiffed throughout his business career.”

    Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying at home without pay.

    Government contractors, who have been placed indefinitely on unpaid leave, do not get compensated for lost hours.

    The typical federal employee makes $37 (£29) an hour, which translates into $1,480 (£1,153) a week, according to the US Labour Department’s data.

    Many workers live payslip to payslip, despite the strong economy and the ultra-low unemployment rate, and would struggle if their wages or salaries were interrupted. A Federal Reserve survey in May found that 40% of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to make a 400 dollar (£311) emergency payment.



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    Two British People Among Tourists Injured In Cuba Bus Crash Which Left 7 Dead

    By Isabel Togoh

    Seven people have died and five are in critical condition after a bus carrying local travellers and tourists, including British visitors, crashed in eastern Cuba.

    Two British tourists were injured while onboard with local travellers and visitors from the Netherlands, France, Mexico and Canada.

    The vehicle crashed on a road between the cities of Baracoa and Guantanamo.

    A spokeswoman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “We continue to seek further information from the Cuban authorities following a road traffic accident, and are ready to assist any British people who require our help.

    “We are currently providing assistance to two British nationals who were injured on the bus.”

    The driver told Radio Guantanamo he lost control on the wet and winding road.

    Cuban highways are poorly lit, narrow and rutted with huge potholes. There were 750 deaths and 7,999 injuries in 11,187 accidents last year in the country of 11 million.

    Thursday’s wreck was the fourth major bus accident in a month.



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    Theresa May Allies Preparing Last-Ditch Plan To Avoid Irish Backstop

    By Paul Waugh

    Allies of Theresa May are drafting a last-ditch plan to rescue her Brexit deal, by offering Tory and DUP MPs a way to avoid being tied indefinitely to EU rules.

    Ahead of next Tuesday’s crunch Commons vote, backbench MPs are expected to table a new amendment that more clearly prevents the controversial Northern Irish ‘backstop’ from ever being used.

    The amendment would strengthen and update a fresh legislative move adopted this week by ministers to allow the UK parliament alternatives to the ‘backstop’, which seeks to keep the UK locked into European customs rules to avoid border controls in Ulster.

    The prime minister is hoping that fresh guarantees and clarifications from Brussels next Monday will help persuade some of her restive Tory MPs to support her proposals for quitting the EU.

    But a fresh legal effort on the backstop, which would effectively override the Withdrawal Agreement, is seen as a further way to swing support of Brexiteers.

    The “amendment to an amendment” would seek to toughen up the language in a bid by backbenchers Hugo Swire and Richard Graham to help May get her deal through.

    The Swire-Graham amendment, which gives MPs a fresh vote on the backstop in March 2020, was dismissed by the DUP last month as “tinkering”, and by Tory MP Steve Baker as “flimsy rubbish”.

    But to win over critics, the wording of their amendment could be substantially strengthened, possibly by removing any option to endorse the “backstop” or by giving MPs the right to say it would “never” come into force.

    Nikki da Costa, former No. 10 director of legislative affairs, told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that the idea of a new amendment – which would not be tabled by the government – could help May win more backing.

    Referring to Swire’s amendment, she said: “The government find it to be very acceptable. My hunch is people are already saying, the DUP said, I think Steve Baker said, this isn’t really worth enough.

    “But maybe you might look at that and you go ‘I’ll add an amendment to that’. The government can’t do that bit or have their hands on it because there will be bits where the EU might cry out against that.

    “But I might look at that and add something else and then maybe you are edging towards being able to pass something which says ‘here’s the recipe guys, EU look at that, see what you can do’.”

    On some estimates, the PM is facing the prospect of a rebellion by up to 80 of her backbenchers on Tuesday, but government whips believe the figure will be lower.

    The fresh amendment would at least give May the chance to tell Brussels that parliament has come to a view, even if it breaches international obligations. The Swire amendment already raises the prospect of the government ending up in a legal battle with the EU.

    On Friday Jean-Claude Juncker signalled that he could offer May help in her attempt to garner support for her deal from MPs. Speaking from Romania for the start of the country’s six-month presidency of the European council, he said: “We, the commission and I, are in touch on a constant basis with No. 10 Downing Street and we will see what happens between now and Tuesday.

    “We will see what the British legislature decides to do with the texts that have been put forward. I still hope that here will be a deal. I do not like the prospect of a no deal, which would be a disaster, I think, for our British friends and for the continent of Europeans. And every effort needs to be made between now and Tuesday afternoon perhaps to ensure that this important issue can be resolved satisfactorily.”

    Juncker is due to send a letter on Monday offering reassurances to MPs that the Irish backstop would keep the UK in a customs union only temporarily.

    Asked about the assurances in the letter, he said: “What we have said very clearly in council and commission, in full harmony, was that there can be no renegotiation, there can be clarification. But that’s all we are discussing with Downing Street what these clarifications might amount to, that should not confused with a renegotiation with regards to the backstop. Aside from these remarks I think it would be unwise to go into the ongoing discussions.”



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    Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick 'Not Far Away' From Backing PM's Brexit Deal

    By Rachel Wearmouth

    Labour Jim Fitzpatrick in the Commons on Friday

    Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick has said he is “not far away” from voting for Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday.

    The former minister, whose Poplar and Limehouse constituents voted 67% for remain, said the “danger of no deal is still there” and the PM’s plan was “the only real alternative on the table”.

    Fitzpatrick used a speech in the Commons on Friday to warn “time is running out” as he branded a so-called “people’s vote” on the deal “code for reversing original decision”.

    “Some colleagues on my side have said nothing has changed since the government pulled the vote in December and I disagree,” he said, as MPs continued their lengthy debate on May’s withdrawal agreement.

    The London MP expressed doubts about Labour’s policy of demanding a general election, saying it would mean delaying Article 50 and “perhaps” another referendum.

    “The amount of time, energy and money that we have already spent on Brexit could be duplicated,” he said.

    He added: “Labour’s six tests [for Brexit] were useful as a challenge but like Gordon Brown’s five tests for the Euro were never meant to be met in my view.”

    He also said furious rows between Tory MPs and Speaker John Bercow, as well as remainer MPs such as Anna Soubry being subjected to abuse outside parliament demonstrated “just how toxic this issue is and it has to end”.

    He said: “We need to make a decision. We need to move the country on and move forward.”

    He also dismissed many “dire forecasts” for the economy post-Brexit, adding: “Doing nothing could be just as bad.”

    The Poplar and Limehouse MP said: “I’m talking myself into supporting the Prime Minister’s deal next Tuesday against no deal and against further delay.

    “I’m not quite there yet but I’m not far away.

    “It seems the House isn’t yet there at all but at some point we need to recognise the danger of no deal is still there and the only real alternative on the table is the Prime Minister’s deal.”

    May’s deal is expected to be defeated on January 15, with the vote delayed from December in a bid to convince more MPs to offer their support.

    The government holds out hopes that some Labour MPs could be convinced to back her after she offered a number of concessions on environmental protections and workers’ rights.

    Fellow Labour MP Mike Gapes later claimed his party was in a “bizarre position” over Brexit, noting: “According to the brief from the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) this week we’re going for a sensible Brexit – whatever that is.

    “The reality is all over the country we know there is no such thing as a jobs-first Brexit, it is entirely about mitigating the damage.”

    Gapes said he did not believe any government would have negotiated “anything very different” to what Theresa May has negotiated with the EU, adding: “There’s no socialist Brexit, there’s no jobs-first Brexit, there’s no better Brexit.”

    He warned May’s deal offered a “blindfold Brexit” and he expected it to be rejected, adding he wants Article 50 revoked.



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    Government Will Fight Crowdfunded Legal Challenge To Voter ID Plans

    By Rachel Wearmouth

    Labour's Cat Smith has backed the challenge

    Today my legal challenge to the government’s voter ID plans was issued in the High Court.

    Don’t let 2019 be the year the Tories shut down democracy.

    I can’t do this by myself, anything you donate could help make the difference:

    — Neil Coughlan (@NeilCoughlan5) January 11, 2019

    The government will fight a legal challenge to controversial plans to force voters to bring photo ID with them to cast their ballots.

    Essex man Neil Coughlan, who is 64 and doesn’t have photo ID, will formally request a judicial review on Friday as he believes the government shake-up is discriminatory.

    He raised more than £20,000 online and hired a team of lawyers at Leigh Day solicitors after ministers used secondary legislation to push through a series of pilot projects.

    Five English councils asked for voter ID at elections in May 2018 and 11 are due to hold a range of checks in the 2019 elections.

    In 2016 there were 44 allegations of impersonation – casting a vote in someone else’s name – up from 21 in 2014.

    Since then, the government has said rolling out voter ID requirement was the “common-sense next step” in electoral security.

    The government has said it will defend the proceedings by Coughlan and that councils will offer residents alternative forms of ID free of charge so people can vote.

    Shadow minister for voter engagement, Labour MP Cat Smith, said her party backed the challenge as she felt forcing through voter ID amounted to “closing down democracy”.

    She said: “This case is about defending everyone’s right to vote, and we applaud Neil for standing up against the government’s unnecessary, undemocratic and unpopular plans.

    “After the fiasco we saw at last year’s local elections, with hundreds of legitimate voters turned away from polling stations, it’s a disgrace that the Tories are ploughing on with proposals that could be unlawful.”

    Coughlan’s case will say that the Representation of the People Act 2000 blocks ministers from introducing the pilot projects as they restricted voting rights.

    His lawyers will argue case seeks any change to voting and testing of Voter ID requirements are lawful should only be legal if a new law is debated and voted on in parliament.

    Coughlan has previously told reporters he wants “to stand up against a government that is taking our democracy down a very dangerous path.”

    A Cabinet Office spokesman told HuffPost UK: “Local authorities will provide voters with alternative methods of ID free of charge, to ensure that everyone eligible to vote has the opportunity to.”



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    As Meghan Markle Backs Smart Works, Here Are 5 More Ways To Help Women in 2019

    By Natasha Hinde

    The Duchess of Sussex has become patron of four organisations reflecting causes and issues close to her heart, including a charity supporting women.

    That charity is is working hard to change this. Its goal is to help more women and girls access sport, enabling them to live healthier and uninhibited lives.



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    London Bridge Pavements Were ‘Wide Open’ Before Terror Attack, Lawyer Says

    By Nicola Slawson

    A lawyer has criticised the lack of action before the London Bridge terror attack, saying pavements were “wide open” despite a similar atrocity three months earlier.

    Eight people were killed when three men ploughed into pedestrians in a white van on the bridge, before launching a frenzied knife attack in nearby Borough market with 12in (30cm) ceramic knives on 3 June 2017.

    The victims were Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, as well as Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

    The attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police at the scene.

    The incident came just three months after Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a hired car before stabbing a police officer to death.

    Ahead of a full inquest at the Old Bailey starting on 7 May, Gareth Patterson QC, who is representing six families of victims, set out his key concerns, which include the lack of barriers on the bridge at the time of the attack and the ease of which the attackers were able to rent the van they used.

    Patterson was speaking following a final pre-inquest hearing updating chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC on the preparations and police investigation.

    He said: “The pavements of London Bridge were wide open, despite what happened at Westminster.”

    In the autumn, the Westminster inquest was told that no consideration was given at the time to putting up barriers in between the two attacks.

    Yet within a day of the London Bridge atrocity, work began to put up barriers, Patterson said.

    Barriers have been put up on London Bridge following the attack.

    One of the victims on the bridge was Archibald, who was walking on the pavement with her fiancé, having just had a meal, when she was knocked down and killed almost instantly.

    Patterson also said there was an “apparent failure to have any sort of regulation or security checks by rental businesses where they are renting out powerful vehicles which can be used as lethal weapons”.

    “We have had them used in terrorist attack after terrorist attack.”

    The lawyer pointed out that rental vehicles were also used to cause carnage in Nice and Berlin.

    The barrister said Butt was under investigation by security services yet was still able to plan and carry out the attack with his accomplices.

    He said it was a “very troubling and a significant issue” which he plans to pursue at the inquest.

    The van used in the attack.

    During the hearing, Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the coroner, said: “We understand the families have concerns about the lack of barriers on the bridge, this attack coming after the Westminster attack.

    “We can assure (them) this is a topic which will be pursued.”

    Patterson responded: “I’m grateful appropriate witnesses will be called, and equally the vehicle rental issue.

    “The issues that arose in Westminster seemed to have resulted in absolutely nothing by way of additional measures on rentals by people preparing attacks.”

    Hough said the counter-terrorism police had taken 2,701 statements and seized “vast” amounts of CCTV footage of the attacks and the terrorists’ movements.

    Other evidence included body-worn video from police officers and videos from members of the public caught up in the carnage.

    Hough said extensive work had been done by forensic experts on the attackers’ vehicle, the knives used and petrol bombs found in the aftermath.



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    Volunteer Police Officers Being Used To 'Fill The Void' Left By Austerity Cuts, Critics Claim

    By Nadine White

    Volunteer police constables are being used to “fill the void” created by austerity cuts to emergency services, it has been claimed.

    A number of police forces across the UK are advertising for more special constables to help fight crime, including within major crimes units dealing with murders and sexual assaults.

    Essex Police are the latest to come under fire after a recruitment drive calling for civilians to come forward for the unpaid roles, which will see successful applicants serve alongside full-time paid police officers.

    The role of special constables has been described as a “ray of light” in times of austerity and “chronic underfunding” by Steve Taylor, chair of the Essex Police Federation.

    He said: “It isn’t a question of taking a job over from a regular officer, it’s supporting busy roles regular officers have to do.”

    An anonymous Twitter user, who claims to be a special constable, defended the measure and wrote: “Essex Police are surely just offering special constable ‘specialisms’ within those crime investigation depts.

    “Not like they’re asking local vicar to ‘pop down to the murder we can’t get to’ (Also, Essex lowest budget per population I believe).”

    come on now @NickFerrariLBC Essex police are surely just offering special constable ‘specialisms’ within those crime investigation depts. Not like they’re asking local vicar to ‘pop down to the murder we can’t get to’ (Also, Essex lowest budget per population I believe)

    — Special-Regs (@Anon_Special) January 11, 2019

    However, Essex Labour councillor Michael Lilley was one of a number of officials to criticise the recruitment drive, describing it as “the first step by this Tory government in privatising the police service”.

    He told HuffPost UK: “Using volunteers to fill the void left by the austerity cuts, is not the way to put the public’s confidence back in the way that serious crime is investigated.

    “Even though special constables are brilliant at policing and they are helping making a difference, I feel this is a step too far.

    “If a crime needs a detective then does that mean police have to ring up volunteers to see if they can come in and help work on a case?”

    Lilley added that Essex police is one of the lowest funded country, despite having one of the biggest counties. “You cannot blame the Essex Police for doing whatever it takes to help solve crime but it needs government funding to replace the 600 officers the service lost since 2010,” he said.

    Councillor Dave Harris said: “I think it is disgraceful. Detectives should be trained to a high standard.

    “It all comes down to cuts, it is disgusting – that thin blue line has become even thinner. My residents are sick to their back teeth of calling police and there being no one there to answer.”

    However, the force’s assistant chief constable, Nick Downing, said the move was “not about policing on the cheap or lowering the status of detectives.”

    He defended the move, saying: “I am very proud of the outstanding work that our detectives do and they are an integral part of our workforce, investigating the most serious, complex and harrowing of crimes.

    “Special constables are also a key part of our policing family. The recruitment of Special constables offers people a fantastic opportunity to experience life on the frontline without making the commitment to joining as a full-time regular.”

    Other forces are also recruiting volunteers, including West Midlands, North Yorkshire, Kent and the Metropolitan Police.

    On the Met’s site, it outlines the unpredictable and hazardous nature of the role.

    “Each time you sign on, you could find yourself involved in anything from responding to 999 emergency calls to going out on patrol, making house-to-house enquiries or presenting evidence in court,” it reads.

    Special constables are also advised of their eligibility to apply for criminal injuries compensation for injuries received on duty.

    To successfully occupy this position, the candidate must first pass competency and fitness tests and then a thorough vetting process will begin.

    Once cleared, 20 days of classroom based training must be completed before beginning.

    Essex Police currently has the fastest growing Special Constabulary in England and Wales. Its current number of officers stands at 3,019, latest figures show – 475 of which are special constables.



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    Cristiano Ronaldo Asked To Provide DNA Sample After Rape Allegation

    By Sara C Nelson

    Cristiano Ronaldo has always maintained the encounter was consensual

    Cristiano Ronaldo is being asked by police in the US to provide a DNA sample in an ongoing investigation of a woman’s allegation that he raped her in his Las Vegas hotel penthouse in 2009, the football star’s lawyer has said.

    Peter S Christiansen downplayed the development, denied the rape allegation and provided no additional details.

    He did not immediately confirm a Wall Street Journal report citing an unnamed law enforcement source saying that Las Vegas police obtained a warrant that was sent to Italy to obtain a DNA sample from the 33-year-old Ronaldo, who plays for the Turin-based club Juventus.

    “Mr Ronaldo has always maintained, as he does today, that what occurred in Las Vegas in 2009 was consensual in nature, so it is not surprising that DNA would be present, nor that the police would make this very standard request as part of their investigation,” Christiansen said.

    Las Vegas police had no further comment, said Officer Laura Meltzer, a department spokeswoman.

    The police case was closed in 2009 when the alleged victim, Kathryn Mayorga, declined to name her alleged assailant.

    The police investigation was reopened at Mayorga’s request last August, shortly before the former model and schoolteacher filed a civil lawsuit in state court claiming that Ronaldo raped her and that she had been paid $375,000 to keep it secret.

    Mayorga has given consent through her lawyers to make her name public.

    Ronaldo has not been served with the lawsuit, Christiansen said.

    The lawsuit and the criminal police investigation are on separate legal tracks.

    Mayorga’s lawyers, Leslie Mark Stovall and Larissa Drohobyczer, have no information about the police probe, Drohobyczer said.



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