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Pilot Scheme To Put Mental Health Nurses In Police Stations

Pilot Scheme To Put Mental Health Nurses In Police Stations

A £25m pilot scheme aimed at reducing reoffending by mentally ill criminals will place mental health nurses in police stations and courts.

Police officers spend an estimated 15% to 25% of their time dealing with mental health problems – the equivalent of around 26,000 officers.

But the pilot, which is to be tested in 10 areas across England, will mean that people with mental health problems will be treated “as early as possible”.

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said identifying people with mental health needs who come into contact with the criminal justice system at the earliest possible stage will help to “divert” them away from offending again.

He said that “too often” criminals with mental health problems, learning difficulties or substance misuse issues are only diagnosed once they reach prison.

The majority of people who end up in prison have a mental health problem, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability, and one in four has a severe mental health illness such as depression or psychosis, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.

Minister Norman Lamb (front) at a police station

Minister Norman Lamb (front) at a police station

According to the Mental Health Foundation, more than 70% of the prison population has two or more mental health disorders and the suicide rate in prisons is almost 15 times higher than in the general population

Over the next year, the money will be used to join up police and courts systems with mental health services in Merseyside, London, Avon and Wiltshire, Leicester, Sussex, Dorset, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Coventry, south Essex and Wakefield.

Mentally ill people, as well as those with substance abuse problems and learning disabilities, will be assessed when they come into contact with police.

The information will be shared with officers and the courts system to ensure charging and sentencing decisions take into consideration a person’s health needs, the spokeswoman said.

It will also mean treatment is given sooner which will help stop reoffending, she added.

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “All too often, the way our criminal justice system deals with people with mental health problems leads to poor outcomes for individuals, frustration from police officers, magistrates and others, and such a waste of resources as people are needlessly sent to prison through a failure to respond to some of the underlying issues in their lives.”

“We welcome this initiative, which has the potential to stop people going unnecessarily to prison, reduce reoffending rates and save millions in taxpayers’ money.”

If the pilot is successful, the measure will be rolled out across the rest of the country by 2017.
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Ramblers May Lose Rights Under New Rules

Ramblers May Lose Rights Under New Rules

Homeowners will be given the right to stop ramblers crossing over their land and instead divert them onto a different route.

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, wants to help people whose properties have been accessed by the public because they are considered historic “rights of way”.

That currently happens after a path has had “unhindered public use” for 20 years.

But now families will be able to ask for a public path to be diverted so that it goes around a garden or farmyard rather than straight through it.

It comes after one group of 12 residents fought their local council for over two decades.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “We’re simplifying rights of way regulations and working with interested groups, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Ramblers Association to find a solution that makes it easier for landowners to divert rights of way without affecting walkers’ enjoyment of the countryside.”

The 12 residents, campaigning in Dorset, say the changes do not go far enough.

The row emerged as a result of the Deregulation Bill that would have made it easier for ramblers to use public rights of way.

Walkers would no longer have had to apply to the environment secretary, but just to councils.

However, the minister’s intervention gives homeowners the right to request a diversion – with a presumption in law in their favour.

The National Farmers’ Union is backing the move.

“Farmyards are often full of large machines and farmers have a constant fear that accidents could happen,” said Andrew Clark, head of policy at the NFU.

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Polar Vortex Fallout To Sweep Into UK

Polar Vortex Fallout To Sweep Into UK

The break-up of the big chill in the US will drop more rain onto already swollen rivers and saturated ground.

More heavy rain and wind is on on the way at the end of the week as the fallout from the the blast of freezing polar air battering the US hits the UK.

weather map

More rain is on the way to some parts of Britain in the coming dayas

A weather system forming part of the record-breaking polar vortex that has affected half of America is heading across the Atlantic, warming as it comes.

The Met Office had already extended its severe weather alert until Thursday morning, warning of more floods as saturated ground and swollen rivers in the south of England and Wales may not cope with more rain.

But further heavy falls will be swept in when the US weather system reaches the UK on Friday.

Sky’s US Correspondent Dominic Waghorn said the worst of the big freeze in America should now be over, with temperatures set to rise.

“That’s good news for Americans but not necessarily for the rest of us,” he said.

“Meteorologists warn that when a polar vortex breaks up it scatters its forces literally to the four winds, meaning that the extreme weather experienced here this week could be flung as far afield as Europe.”

The Met Office has its lowest warning in place, forecasting “periods of heavy rain” in the south west of England and Wales on Wednesday into Thursday.

Between 30-40mm of rain is expected to fall in the wettest spots.

A Met Office spokesman said: “The public should be aware of the potential for further flooding, especially in the areas which have been affected recently.

“Given current sensitive hydrological conditions, there is a risk of further surface water flooding in Wales, and both river and surface water flooding in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.”

There are no longer any severe flood warnings in force from the Environment Agency, but there are 114 flood warnings in place across the country.

flood map

An Environment Agency map showing the alerts and warnings

A further 195 low-level flood alerts are also in force.

Paul Mustow, flood risk manager at the EA, said: “The risk of flooding continues this week, with communities in the South West and South East urged to stay safe and sign up to free flood warnings.”

Seven people have died and more than 1,700 homes and businesses have been flooded in England since the beginning of the Christmas period, with around 550 properties flooded since the new year.

Some 140 properties have been flooded in Wales.

Flood defences protected 220,000 properties over the Christmas period and another 800,000 were protected during the coastal flooding in early December.

High winds over Christmas also left 250,000 homes without power, with some families waiting days for electricity to be restored.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said on Tuesday the Government was working closely with local councils, the insurance industry and others to ensure that people could quickly get the help they need.
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Pave Hawk Helicopter Crashed In Norfolk, England,

Pave Hawk Helicopter Crashed In Norfolk, England,

Four people were killed when USAF Pave-Hawk helicopter crashed on a routine low fly training mission on the north Norfolk coast, police have said.

The helicopter is an HH-60G Pave Hawk, based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, a spokesman for the USAF confirmed.

The helicopter crashed in a bird sanctuary raising suggestions that it could have been brought down by a bird strike – a regular hazard for aircraft.

Emergency services are at the scene in the Cley area with a 1,200ft (400m) area cordoned off.

Police have said residents can stay in their homes but pedestrians and motorists are being diverted away as there is live ammunition on board, which could pose a threat to the public.

RAF Lakenheath said: “We can confirm that one of our HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters was involved in an incident during a training mission outside Cley-Next-The-Sea.”

Witness Michael Girling said: “I saw it go down. At first I thought it had landed on the beach but then realised it had ditched in the marsh.

“I actually saw it go down but I did not see it ditch. It went down in the nature reserve. There are flashing lights everywhere. No one is allowed anywhere near the area.”

Another witness Brian Egan said he saw two military choppers carrying out low flying manoeuvres. They were flying extremely low considering it was night. They do exercises around here.

“Later I heard there had been an accident and a helicopter had ditched.”

Pave-Hawk helicopters are used by the US military for special operations in war zones. They are not heavily armed but are equipped with rapid fire machine guns and are used in special operations.

There was speculation on Tuesday night that a bird strike could have been responsible for bringing the aircraft down as the aircraft crashed in a nature reserve. Paul Beaver, a pilot, told Sky news: ‘It’s a wonderful place for waterfowl it could have been a bird strike, night time birds do fly there.’

The role of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters is to conduct rescue operations in hostile environments to recover isolated soldiers during wartime.

They are also used for civilian search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, disaster responses and humanitarian assistance.

The Pave Hawk is a modified version of the Army Black Hawk helicopter and has upgraded communications and navigation technology making it ideal for rescue missions.

They are designed for night-time low-level operations and have an automatic flight control system, night vision goggles, lighting and an infrared system. The Pave Hawk was used after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 and in the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Today, Pave Hawks continue to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Prince Harry qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander at Wattisham Airfield, based in Suffolk. He carried out months of training at the base ahead of his assessment in July last year.

Emergency services have cordoned off a 400 metre area around the crash site on the north Norfolk coast.

Six appliances from Norfolk Fire Service are currently in attendance, including four pumps, a water carrier and an environmental protection unit.

A spokesman said the first unit arrived at the scene at 19:53 GMT.

It was initially thought the aircraft had ditched in the North Sea.

A spokesman for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution said: “We were asked for three lifeboats to respond.

“Crews from Wells, Sheringham and Cromer were launched at the request of the coastguard but were stood down when it was confirmed that the aircraft had come down over land.”

The base is a Royal Air Force station near Mildenhall, Suffolk. It hosts US Air Force units and personnel.

Cley is a picturesque village, one mile east of Blakeney and four miles north of Holt, on the main coast road between Wells and Sheringham.

Well known for its windmill and church, the village has a nature reserve famous as a birdwatching site.

The area is popular with walkers and tourists, who enjoy the views and wildlife.

Richard Kelham, chairman of Cley Parish Council, said: “It looks as though the military helicopter has come down in the middle of the bird reserve. The incident is very sad and there is a 400m cordon surrounding the area.”

Locals reported hearing helicopters performing manoeuvres overhead late at night over the last few days.

Police said they had arrived on the scene around 8pm, after being called by the fire service.

The RNLI said three of its boats were called out at about 7.45pm but were called back

Some residents have reported hearing F-15 aircraft searching overhead.

Cley Marshes is cordoned off and the coastal road is also closed.

Cley artist Rachel Lockwood, from the village’s Pinkfoot Gallery, said : “We had never seen so many police cars and fire engines so went to have a look.

“The beach road to Cley is sealed off. There are lots of fire engines near the Dun Cow pub at Salthouse. A helicopter is hovering over the marsh with a light beaming down.

“Someone said it was a helicopter down, and a coastguard told us to clear the area, saying something about ammunition.

“A guy at Salthouse said he had heard a lot of helicopter manoeuvres at night recently.
“If it is down on the marsh it might be difficult to find because of the flooding after the sea surge.
“There are police cars at Cley and Salthouse car parks, but you cannot see any fire or wreckage.”
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Blue Monday – Is January 6 really the most depressing day of the year?

Blue Monday – Is January 6 really the most depressing day of the year?

The first Monday back to work sees more divorces and miserable tweets than any other day of the year.

First there was bargain-friendly Black Friday, and now there’s Blue Monday – the most miserable day of the year.

According to researchers who have analysed more than 2 million tweets over the past three years, the first Monday back from work in the New Year is the day when people post the most negative tweets.

There was almost five times the average number of tweets mentioning guilt, as people abandon their new year’s resolutions as they return to the daily grind.

Tweets complaining about the gloomy January weather were six times higher than usual, according to a drinks company who commissioned the research.

As if the mood wasn’t low enough, the first day back to work will see solicitors start more divorce proceedings than any other day of the year. According to Divorce Depot.co.uk, 1.8 million couples will have argued at some point over the festive period.

Topics that couples disagree over most include finances, drinking too much, disagreements with the in-laws and chores.

Meanwhile, as people re-think their relationships in the New Year, extra-marital dating site IllicitEncounters.com sees a 25 per cent rise in activity after the festive break.

Those longing for happier days will have to wait until Valentine’s Day, as researchers  in a separate study say the happiest days of the year are Christmas Eve and Day, followed by New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and the first sunny weekend of the year.

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Cameron’s Pledge To Guarantee State Pensions

Cameron’s Pledge To Guarantee State Pensions

David Cameron has fired the starting gun for the next general election by promising a cash boost to taxpayers and the elderly.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Conservative leader has pledged to raise pensions by a minimum of 2.5% each year up to 2020.

He also said he wanted to cut the top rate of income tax.

The Prime Minister pledged to continue guaranteed rises in the basic state pension by retaining the “triple lock” system if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.

Mr Cameron also sought to reassure older voters that their pay-outs would continue to rise in line with the higher of inflation, wages or 2.5% at least until 2020.

Pensioners are facing a post-election squeeze on benefits such as winter fuel payments, bus passes, TV licences and prescriptions as MPs try to provide for an ageing population.

But Mr Cameron insisted that pensions would not be hit by continued austerity measures.

“A Conservative government will offer pensioners a more secure future by pledging today that we will carry on using the triple lock after the next election to protect the basic state pension,” he said.

“We can only afford to do this because we are taking difficult decisions to cut the deficit and get spending under control as part of our long-term economic plan.”

“I want to do everything we can to help people who have worked hard and done the right thing.”

The basic state pension will be around £440 a year higher from April than if it had been increased in line with average earnings since 2011-12, Downing Street said.

Mr Cameron has already indicated that the state pension would be the only spending exempt from a new cap on overall welfare spending.

Alex Salmond wants to hold a TV debate with Mr Cameron

Alex Salmond wants to hold a TV debate with Mr Cameron

The Sunday Times interview comes as a poll carried out by Lord Ashcroft reveals more than a third of people who voted Conservative in the last General Election say they would not vote for the party in the next election.

The former Tory Party deputy chairman’s findings revealed around half of the ‘defectors’ had switched allegiance to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), with a fifth aligning themselves with Labour or the Lib Dems and a third undecided.

Mr Cameron has also come under renewed pressure to commit to a head-to-head TV debate with Alex Salmond over the referendum on Scottish independence.

The PM has steadfastly refused Mr Salmond’s challenge but an SNP poll found over three-fifths of people in Scotland and over half of people in the rest of the UK want to see a public debate.

In a new letter to Number 10, Mr Salmond told Mr Cameron that his New Year plea to Scots to stay in the UK undermined this argument.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged action to close a legal loophole used to exploit cheap foreign labour if his party wins in 2015.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, he said he wanted to address “understandable” public fears over lifting work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians, conceding some UK nationals “lose out” as a result of new arrivals.
Mr Miliband said the key was ending the country’s “chronic dependency on low-skill, low-wage labour”.
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House Prices ‘Jumped’ 1.4% In December

House Prices ‘Jumped’ 1.4% In December

House prices in the UK rose by the biggest amount in more than four years in December, according to mortgage lender Nationwide.

It measured a 1.4% increase in the month – its best performance since August 2009 – leaving annual growth in the year to December at 8.4%.

The surge, Nationwide calculated, raised the average house price to £175,826, but London continues to outperform the rest of the country.

Prices in the capital are now 14% above their 2007 peak, with the price of a typical London home at £345,186.

The North of England remains the weakest performing region, although each region achieved growth in the three months to the end of December.

The latest data will further fuel concerns that the second phase of the Government’s Help To Buy scheme is only likely to raise prices – but it appears it is helping the construction industry that was hammered by the financial crisis.

Official figures have shown that new home-building boosted Britain’s construction industry in December.

It reported its second-fastest month of growth in more than six years – although it was slightly lower than the previous month.

Construction PMI fell to 62.1 in December from November’s reading of 62.6, the index’s highest level since August 2007.

And the upward trend looks set to continue. The number of people attempting to get on the property ladder using the Government’s Help To Buy scheme has trebled in the last two months.

In November, figures showed in the first month of the scheme’s launch more than 2,000 people had put in offers on homes and applied for a Help To Buy mortgage.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the scheme led to 6,000 extra mortgage applications between October and December.

Separate figures from the Bank  of England showed the number of mortgage approvals at their highest level since January 2008 with almost 71,000 loans handed out in November.
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Man Dies Driving A Scooter Into The River, Due To Storms

Man Dies Driving A Scooter Into The River, Due To Storms

A man who died when his mobility scooter fell into a swollen river has become the third person to die as a result of the latest bout of storms.

Thames Valley Police were called to Osney Lock, Oxford, at 6.30pm on Saturday after receiving a report that the man had been seen to fall into the River Thames after driving his scooter along a flooded pathway.

Police said the 47-year-old man, from the Oxford area, was pronounced dead at the scene after being recovered from the lock.

It came as forecasters warned gusts of up to 70mph are set to hit western Britain creating a further risk of flooding.

Two others have died in the storms. A 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve.

And a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.

More than 200 homes have already been flooded along the west of the UK from Cornwall to Scotland, with miles of coastline battered and roads left under water.

The devastation left in wake of the stormiest December since 1969 has prompted David Cameron to pledge that lessons will be learned.

A new warning has been issued by the Met Office saying that high winds from 3am on Monday along the coast of Scotland, Wales and southwest England could result in waves of up to 10 metres high.

A yellow warning has been issued for the west Britain

A yellow warning has been issued for the west Britain

In response, Aberystwyth University said it was putting plans in place to evacuate students from seafront halls on Sunday night.

Aberystwyth was one of the worst affected places on Friday when the bad weather caused widespread damage in coastal areas and damaged rail lines in north Wales.

Sky News’s weather producer Joanne Robinson said that waves are expected to reach heights of 7-10 metres around the coasts of western Scotland, Wales and southwest England.

Southern and western parts of Ireland could see waves higher than that while the English Channel would see 3-7 metre high waves.

She said: “There’ll be an on-going risk of flooding, with concerns for some coastal areas again tomorrow.”

“The winds will continue to pick up over the next 24 hours, bringing gusts up to 70mph in exposed parts of the south and west on Monday.”

“Along with the strong winds tomorrow, there will be large waves for southern and western parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The waves could reach 10m in some spots bringing the risk of flooding at high tide.”

The Met Office has also issued yellow warnings for rain in the south of England and snow in the north of England and southern Scotland on Sunday.

Tewkesbury is underwater, again, due to floods

Tewkesbury is underwater, again, due to floods

Up to 40mm of rain could fall on higher ground on Sunday and there are more warnings of flooding and travel disruption.

Among the weather related disruption is a landslip near Ockley which is preventing Southern Trains travelling between Horsham and Dorking.

Repairs mean the line is not expected to open until early February.

The Environment Agency has been warning that the south and west coasts of England and the Severn estuary are at risk of coastal flooding into next week.

The warnings come as searches resumed in south Devon for missing 18-year-old university student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home in Newton Ferrers, near Plymouth, on Thursday to take photographs of the weather.

Harry Martin

Harry Martin

Prayers were said at the Sunday service in Mr Martin’s local church.

There are currently 69 flood warnings and 214 flood alerts in place in England and Wales. Ten flood warnings and 16 flood alerts are in place in Scotland.

The government has come under criticism for planning to cut the number of jobs in the Environment Agency, which has the responsibility for flood protection.

David Cameron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “You are going to see record levels of spending on flood defences. We’ve guaranteed that, right out into 2020, so they can really plan right out into the future.”

“Local authorities have had to make difficult decisions. The Environment Agency does have to make sure it controls its budgets carefully but we are making sure they invest in the front line.”

“Huge sympathy to anyone who has had their house flooded. Anyone who has had a house or an office flooded knows it is absolutely dreadful.”

“There are always lessons to learn. I think we’re doing a lot more things better.”

Meanwhile, the RAC has warned motorists to make sure their vehicles are ready for what they are calling ‘manic Monday’.

They are expecting it to be one of their busiest days of the year as many people return to work after an extended break.

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Next Raises Profit Forecast After Strong Xmas

Next Raises Profit Forecast After Strong Xmas

Next expects to make an annual profit of as much as £700m on the back of the festive season.

Britain’s second largest clothing retailer said that sales over the fourth quarter were “significantly ahead of expectations” and it has raised its full-year profit forecast to between £684m and £700m.

The company, which has a policy of not discounting before Christmas, saw retail sales from the November 1 until December 24 up 7.7%.

Total sales for the period rose 11.9%, compared with a rise of 4.3% in the third quarter.

Its web-based operation, Next Directory, performed particularly well with sales up 21%.

The company attributed this to increased confidence in online deliveries with orders being placed right up to the weekend before Christmas.

However, it cautioned that the strength shown would be unlikely to continue through the first half of the new financial year because wages are still not growing.

Next, which has more than 500 stores across the UK and Ireland and around 200 stores in more than 30 countries around the world, is to issue a special dividend of 50p per share from surplus cash which will be paid to shareholders on February 3.

It expects to generate a further surplus of £300m in the coming year which it will distribute in a similar way or via buybacks – a way of increasing the value of outstanding shares by reducing the number of shares in the market – depending on the share price.

The share price hit an all-time high on Friday and looks set to overtake Marks & Spencer as Britain’s number one clothing retailer.

Its fortunes are in stark contrast to high-street rival Debenhams, which has been forced to slash prices after issuing a profits warning following poor Christmas sales.

Shares in the department store chain plunged after it disclosed profits of nearly £30m lower than last year.

The chief financial officer quit the retailer just 48 hours after it issued the warning.

All eyes will now turn to Marks & Spencer which reports its results for the festive season next Thursday.

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Rail Overcrowding May Lead To First Class Being Scrapped

Rail Overcrowding May Lead To First Class Being Scrapped

First class rail travel could be scrapped on busy commuter routes under plans that would see train companies being paid to provide extra standard class seats.

The Government said it was considering such a move to ease overcrowding and confirmed it was in talks with a number of operators about ideas including financial incentives for train firms with busy commuter routes who ditch their first class offering.

The plans emerged as rail fares in the UK rose by an average 3.1% – sparking one charity to warn of a potential return to cars for commuters as it would make more financial sense.

Campaign groups and rail unions have all pointed out that fares are rising far faster than wages, despite a Government policy decision to limit increases, at a time of freezes in fuel duty.

The 3.1% rise is for regulated fares which include season tickets. The increase on unregulated fares, typically off-peak leisure tickets, is not capped.

But a number of these fares, including some on the East Coast route, are going up by less than 3.1%.

The overall price rise in tickets – regulated and unregulated – is 2.8%.

The regulated fare increase pushes some commuters into the £5,000-a-year “club”, with annual season tickets to London from Deal and Dover Priory costing £5,012.

The rise also means some annual season tickets will break the £4,000 mark, with a Basingstoke-London annual fare now costing £4,076.

The Department for Transport said fare increases would help fund £38bn of investment in the rail network over the next five years.

But shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said the fare rise was “a continuation of David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis”.

Campaign group Railfuture said: “This latest fare rise comes after 10 years of inflation-busting fare increases, meaning that our trains are easily the most expensive in Europe.”

FiguresCom show that UK commuters are spending far more of their salaries on rail fares than some European passengers.

The Action for Rail group said it had compared UK average earnings with season tickets covering similar commuter routes across Europe.

Many UK commuters were paying almost 15% of their salary towards a season ticket, compared with less than 5% in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

According to a report by the Campaign for Better Transport, rail fares are rising so fast that by 2018 the Government will be making “a profit from passengers”.

By 2018, fares revenue will cover 103% of the operating costs of the railways, up from 80% in 2009, said the report by consultants Credo.

It added that by 2018 the Government’s share of funding the railways will have fallen to just 20%, down from 38% in 2009.

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