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Cheshire PCC advertises for £25,000 youth ambassador
Cheshire's police and crime commissioner is advertising for a £25,000-a-year youth ambassador. John Dwyer said he wanted to appoint someone with experience of working with young people to give youngsters a voice in policing. The salary for the three-year post will come out of Mr Dwyer's budget. The Cheshire PCC office said it was not the same position as Paris Brown's controversial role as Kent youth PCC, a post from which she resigned. Miss Brown, 17, the UK's first youth PCC, resigned on 9 April after a furore over offensive messages she had posted on Twitter between the ages of 14 and 16. A spokeswoman for the Cheshire PCC office said: "It differs from the youth police and crime commissioner in that we are inviting applicants with three A-levels or equivalent, and with three years' experience of working with young people, so there is no age limit." She said candidates would be vetted carefully, including a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) screening and social media check. Mr Dwyer said: "My role as commissioner is to be the bridge between the public and the police and it's important that our young people are not left out of that partnership. "[The youth ambassador] is aimed at preventing young people from becoming victims of crime or to deter them from committing crime," he said. "Twenty-three per cent of Cheshire's population are under the age of 18. It is important that they also have a say in the governance of policing." He added: "The youth ambassador will work alongside the police, schools and young people's organisations to help keep [young people] safe from harm, drug and alcohol abuse and in other areas such as internet safety." Applications for the post close on 3 May.
G4S claims improved Lincolnshire 999 call answer times
The private company which took over the running of some parts of Lincolnshire Police force last year claims it has improved emergency call-handling times. About 550 civilian staff - two-thirds of the total - transferred to G4S on 1 April 2012 when the £200m, 10-year contract came into effect. G4S said for April 2011-12, 89% of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds. This went up to 93% for April 2012-13. The company also said it had exceeded its first year savings' target. John Shaw, managing director for G4S policing support services, said: "Hopefully the service people get from the police is as good as it was, if not better." He said G4S had initially promised to save £2.8m in the first year but it had actually saved £3.7m. Alan Hardwick, Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said there was "room for manoeuvre" when it came to considering an extension of the G4S contract. "All the targets are being met, it [the contract] is saving us money and that's saving the people of Lincolnshire money. "We're looking to the future and if G4S can help with [other areas] within the present contract, it would be foolish indeed not to listen." But Peter Savage, regional organiser for union Unison said G4S was concerned with profit and not policing. "I think the problems that arise from this process are exactly the same, whoever you privatised it to," said Mr Savage. "The primary concern of any private company isn't to serve Lincolnshire, it is to give money back to the shareholders." A plan by Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire police forces to outsource services to G4S collapsed in January after the respective police and crime commissioners rejected the proposal.
EU crime optouts 'could damage UK crime fighting'
Government plans to opt out of 130 European Union police and criminal justice measures could weaken the UK's ability to fight crime, peers say. The House of Lords EU committee said ministers failed to make "a convincing case" for repatriating the powers. Home Secretary Theresa May says some of the joint measures are defunct . Opting out would include leaving the European Arrest Warrant, which is used to speed up the extradition of criminal suspects between member states. Ministers must decide by the end of May 2014 whether the UK should completely accept or reject 130 joint arrangements. Ministers say they want to opt out of the package because the UK does not need to be bound by them - but then negotiate to rejoin individual measures where it is in the national interest to do so. The most important and powerful of the measures is the European Arrest Warrant. Other measures that could be ditched include arrangements to speed up sharing suspects' DNA profiles and fingerprints and joint working in specific areas such as terrorism, human trafficking or football hooliganism. The peers said that while the UK could theoretically make alternative arrangements with EU states, they would be legally more complicated, expensive and less effective, thereby weakening the hand of British police. The committee said: "In light of the evidence we have received, we conclude that the government have not made a convincing case for exercising the opt-out and that opting out would have significant adverse negative repercussions for the internal security of the UK and the administration of criminal justice in the UK, as well as reducing its influence over this area of EU policy." Committee member Lord Hannay said: "Cross-border co-operation on policing and criminal justice matters is an essential element in tackling security threats such as terrorism and organised crime in the 21st Century and we need to ensure that the UK police and law enforcement agencies continue to have the tools they need to increase these increasing threats." Mrs May told MPs last October that the government did not need to be bound by the measures because while some were useful, others were entirely defunct. The committee said they had asked ministers for a list of the defunct measures, but so far had only been given three. A Home Office spokesman said: "Discussions about which measures we may seek to opt back in to are ongoing but we have made it very clear that any decision will be guided by what is in our national interest. "We have made a commitment to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before we take a final decision to opt out. That vote will take place in good time before May 2014." But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused Theresa May of a "shameful dereliction" of her duty in an attempt to appease Conservative Eurosceptics. Ms Cooper said: "At a time when cross-border crime is a growing problem and cross-border security threats remain significant, it is completely irresponsible for Theresa May to be making it harder for the police to co-operate with forces abroad." Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Danny Alexander said: "I am are clear that any final package will have to ensure the UK's continued participation in all the key measures which are important for public safety." He said these included the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency.
Hertfordshire PCC offers £75,000 wage for press adviser
A police and crime commissioner has been accused of wasting Hertfordshire taxpayers' money by recruiting a public relations expert. David Lloyd wants to hire a director of communications and engagement, who could earn more than £75,000 . He said the wage was in line with senior police pay grades. The Taxpayers' Alliance described the salary as "massive" and "disappointing". Spokeswoman Eleanor McGrath said: "It's very disappointing that the newly-elected Police Commissioner is advertising for a PR guru on a massive taxpayer-funded salary. "Local residents expect the Commissioner to hold the police to account in a way that delivers value for taxpayers' money. "If Mr Lloyd is so concerned about his image then he should focus on cutting out wasteful and unnecessary spending." The salary for the public relations is £66,312 - £75,786. Mr Lloyd is paid £75,000. He said: "As a directly-elected representative for the whole of Hertfordshire, the Police and Crime Commissioner has very different requirements to the previous police authority and the current constabulary alone. "This new role has been advertised to reflect the new remit, which encompasses a broad range of policing and crime issues, as well as extensive public engagement with the people and communities I represent." The post has been independently assessed by employment experts Hay Group and the firm has approved the salary scale in line with Hertfordshire senior police staff grades, he said. The director of communications and engagement will be expected to create and implement a strategy to support the new policies and the police and crime plan. "This is not something I can do alone - there are many channels of communication to utilise, including the many news media outlets and ever-growing social media," Mr Lloyd said.
'Bulger killers' images': Two receive suspended sentences
Two men who published photographs on Twitter and Facebook said to show the killers of James Bulger have received suspended jail sentences. Neil Harkins, of East Yorkshire, and Dean Liddle, of Sunderland, received nine-month sentences, suspended for 15 months, for being in contempt of court. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were convicted of murdering two-year-old James in Merseyside in February 1993. There is a global ban on publishing anything revealing their identities. Venables and Thompson were jailed for life following the murder, but were released in 2001 and given new identities. A High Court injunction prohibits the publication of any images or information claiming to identify or locate the pair- even if it is not actually them. The order also covers material published on the internet. The sentencing at London's High Court followed action by Attorney General Dominic Grieve against Liddle, 28, and Harkins, 35, who admitted to posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook respectively in February - two days after the 20th anniversary of the murder. The court heard Liddle, and Harkins, who is from Bridlington, had published images that purported to depict Venables and Thompson as adults. The judges, Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Tugendhat, acknowledged that both men removed the offending pictures quickly and had apologised. Sir John said: "In the view of the court, their [Harkins' and Liddle's] conduct has to be judged on the basis that they knew what they were doing was wrong, and it was no excuse that others were doing it. "Vigilantism has no place in a civilised country and it is for the purpose of deterring such conduct that we must have particular regard." He added: "The social media can reach many people - as this case shows - and therefore the conduct of anyone publishing such information, whether it be on social media or elsewhere on the internet, has that very serious consequence." Mr Grieve said it was in the public interest to enforce the injunction banning the killers' identification as it mitigated the "very real risk of serious physical harm or death" to any person who might be identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, as Venables or Thompson. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's PM programme, Mr Grieve stressed it was essential that such injunctions were respected online. "You are as bound in social media by the law as anybody else in mainstream publishing," he said. "That principle is very well established already, but I think it's important to get that message home and today has helped me in doing that." Earlier, Melanie Cumberland, counsel for the attorney general, told the court Harkins' post on Facebook had come to light after a concerned member of the public alerted the police. After being contacted by the treasury solicitor's office, he had immediately taken it down and apologized by email, she said. Harkins had also written a letter of apology explaining that, as a parent, he had been upset by the killing of James Bulger. But his post was shared by 24,000 people, the court heard. Liddle, a graphic designer, who had posted on Twitter using the name "Opinionated Dad", had some 915 followers. His post was up for about an hour in the early hours of the morning, before being removed, Ms Cumberland told the court. His tweet was seen by someone at the attorney general's office who subsequently wrote to him. Liddle later said in a letter that he said he had not realised how serious the situation was, the court heard. Ms Cumberland said the anniversary of James's death had led to photos and information being posted online by numerous individuals and shared hundreds, if not thousands, of times. The attorney general was currently considering whether to prosecute other individuals, she added. It is the first time the attorney general has issued contempt proceedings over the use of social media, although people have been fined for breaking the law on Twitter or Facebook in several high-profile cases. Venables and Thompson were 10 years old when they abducted two-year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside before torturing and killing him. Venables was jailed for two years in July 2010 after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children. He has been refused parole.?