News (Daily)

Private police force hired for small town (PeaceKeepers can fill this void)

Private security firm paid to fill void left by police cuts

Frinton-on-Sea residents pay more than £100 per year to be covered by a scheme that provides a hotline to on-duty private security guards patrolling the coastal town

AGS Security manager Stephen Beardsley (left) and his colleague Darren stand in front of one of their patrol vehicles

AGS Security manager Stephen Beardsley (left) and his colleague Darren stand in front of one of their patrol vehicles  Photo: East News Press Agency
Bosses of a private security firm behind paid-for patrols in an Essex town claim they are having to fill the void left by vast police cuts.

Security company AGS runs the service in Frinton-on-Sea, every night between 7pm and 7am.

More than 300 worried householders have signed up to pay more than £100 per year to be covered by the scheme, which provides a hotline to on-duty guards patrolling the coastal town.

Last week it emerged the jam-making Essex village of Tiptree is also set to splash out on private security patrols.

But concerns have been raised that private patrols will usher in a two-tier system of policing across the UK.

Former soldier Stephen Beardsley is head of the company and insists he and his staff are far from vigilantes and are only concerned with keeping people safe.

He said: “We are like Ronseal. We do exactly what it says on the tin.

“We have no powers – no more than the average citizen’s arrest – but for us, we are about being a deterrent.

“We want to make our presence felt to deter people from doing what they are going out to do.”

The beach on Frinton-on-Sea  Photo: Alamy

The firm’s patrols are carried out by three men split between two vehicles.

Police force hires private firm to guard crime scenes

Each ‘officer’ is uniformed and wears a body camera. They carry no weapons as it is illegal for anyone but police officers and Army personnel to be armed.

He added: “We are organised, professional and always work within the law.”

However, Mr Beardsley, 50, knows his company – which charges £2 per week for its services – has not been universally welcomed.

He added: “It is a job for the police and we have a fantastic police force, but they are so over-stretched it’s unbelievable.

Plans to allow private companies a role in policing have been defended by senior officers.  Photo: ALAMY

“It must be demoralising for them to be stuck in doing paper work, fearing for their jobs. I feel sorry for them.

“But there is no getting away from it, private security security will be part of the norm in years to come.”

The idea to carry out the private patrols first came to the former soldier – who provided private security for model Sophie Anderton for six years and fought Somali pirates off the East Africa coast – in 2014.

At the time, AGS had been tasked with protecting the equipment and materials being used in a £36 million sea wall overhaul in nearby Holland-on-Sea.

“We did a good job down there. Nothing went missing,” he added.

“We were driving around the area at the time and there are a lot of private roads.

“People we coming out saying: ‘It’s good to have you around,’ but we were telling them we won’t be here forever unfortunately.

“So they started saying they would like to pay keep us around and that got me thinking.

“I knew it was something which was done in London, except it was more at individual houses than streets or areas.”

He added: “I knew if I was going to do it, I wanted to make it affordable to most people – that’s why I settled on £2-a-week.”

At the moment, there are about 300 paying customers in Frinton

The team aim to cover every street in the town five times a night.

Since they began patrols in September, Mr Beardsley believes several would-be burglars have been stopped and problems with teen antisocial behaviour have been tackled.

The team was also first on scene when a car overturned and five people were helped from the car and suffered only minor injuries.

The team aim to cover every street in the town five times a night  Photo: AlamyWhen customers sign up, they are given a welcome pack which includes a card with a hotline number to the patrolling officers, who Mr Beardsley says will be “no more than a few minutes away”.

He added: “If we are called to something which needs the police, we call Essex Police on either 999 or 101, depending on what has happened.”

Customers are also told directly, if there is a genuine emergency, they should call the police on 999 rather than use the AGS hotline.

Essex Police has announced £60million in cuts which will have to take place over the next five years and force bosses have openly said they cannot guarantee resources will be sent to low level crime reports.

Frinton’s town council already pays for six dedicated PCSOs but they have no transport and often have to rely on buses or bicycles to get around.

Frinton town councillor Terry Allen said the town is split over the patrols.

He said: “There is a niche for private security, as long as they do a good job.

“But the concern is that this is something for the police.”

Mark Smith, of the Essex Police Federation, said the move could sound the death knell for local policing.

He said: “We as police officers should be doing this, but let’s be honest, it’s going to go more and more towards that.

“You can’t take the amount of officers out of police we have seen and expect it to stay the same.

“You don’t get more for less, you always get less for less.

“It could mean the death of local policing.”

Essex Police has seen its officers numbers drop from 3,600 in 2010, to 2,900 currently.

Forces consider G4S to handle 999 calls in East Midlands (again #peacekeepers can do this work)

Three police forces are considering outsourcing their control rooms to private security firm G4S.

The Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire forces have asked G4S to carry out a feasibility study to see what it might be able to offer.

But Unison, the union for civilian staff, says it is “very concerned” about the move.

One current police employee said it was “disgusting to try to turn a profit out of policing”.

Leicestershire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Phil Kay said: “The approach has been made to allow the three forces to gain information about what G4S might be able to offer in terms of service delivery, in areas such as contact management [999 and 101 call handling].”

He stressed that “no commitment” has been made at this stage.

‘Justice not for sale’

Lincolnshire Police was the first force to outsource staff to G4S, in April 2012.

John Shaw, of G4S, said: “The improvements we’ve made at the control room in Lincolnshire have reduced response times and increased caller satisfaction, meaning Lincolnshire Police now has one of the top performing control rooms in the country.

“We’re looking at how Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire may be able to achieve the same improvements.”

However, Unison’s Dave Ratchford said: “Putting policing in the hands of multinationals like G4S is a step towards a very worrying future.”

“Justice is not and never, ever should be for sale,” he added.

One police employee, who did not want to be named, told the BBC he was “very concerned”.

“Privatisation is false economics and should never be applied to front-line public services. It is disgusting that we should have businesses trying to turn a profit out of policing,” he said.

MPs could be forced to debate a no-confidence vote in David Cameron #peacekeepers

MPs could be forced to debate a no-confidence vote in the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

petition, which accuses him of causing “devastation for the poorest in society for the last 5 years”, is closing in on the 100,000 signatures required for a parliamentary debate.


It adds: “We cannot afford another 5 years of Tory rule, with the recent welfare reform that will cause nothing but immense poverty in the UK.”

Petitions that pass 10,000 signatures receive a response from the Government, while any petition attracting more than 100,000 names is considered for debate in Westminster Hall, the overflow room for parliamentary debate.

However the Government has yet to respond to the petition, despite it easily passing the 10,000 threshold with more than 97,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

The petition, started by Kelly Teeboon in July, is likely to reach the required 100,000 target within the six-month time limit.

Mr Cameron introduced the e-petition initiative when he entered Downing Street in 2010 in a bid to boost democracy and transparency.

A similar petition calling for adebate on a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was rejected by MPs earlier this year, despite it attracting more than 220,000 signatures.

Chief constable warns against ‘drift towards police state’ #peacekeepers

The battle against extremism could lead to a “drift towards a police state” in which officers are turned into “thought police”, one of Britain’s most senior chief constables has warned.

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, said police were being left to decide what is acceptable free speech as the efforts against radicalisation and a severe threat of terrorist attack intensify.

It is politicians, academics and others in civil society who have to define what counts as extremist ideas, he says.

Fahy serves as chief constable of Greater Manchester police and also has national counter-terrorism roles. He is vice-chair of the police’s terrorism committee and national lead on Prevent, the counter radicalisation strategy.

He stressed he supported new counter-terrorism measures unveiled by the government last week, including bans on alleged extremist speakers from colleges.

Fahy said government, academics and civil society needed to decide where the line fell between free speech and extremism. Otherwise, he warned, it would be decided by the security establishment, so-called “securocrats”, including the security services, government and senior police chiefs like Fahy.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fahy said: “If these issues [defining extremism] are left to securocrats then there is a danger of a drift to a police state”. He added: “I am a securocrat, it’s people like me, in the security services, people with a narrow responsibility for counter-terrorism. It is better for that to be defined by wider society and not securocrats.”

Fahy said officers were also having to decide issues such as when do anti-gay or anti-women’s rights sentiments cross the line, as well as when radical Islam veers into extremism: “There is a danger of us being turned into a thought police,” he said. “This securocrat says we do not want to be in the space of policing thought or police defining what is extremism.”

Fahy cited the example of protests this summer outside a Manchester beauty shop which sells Israeli products. It was targeted during protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza, where many civilians were killed. The shop complained after pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters gathered outside to vent their passionately held views. Fahy said police ended up trying to decide in the midst of protests what was extremist: “It is better for others in society to have that debate and not to have public order commanders decide that on the street, outside a shop.”


However, the chief constable also said universities and colleges had to improve their efforts identifying extremist speakers on campuses, to spare police having to decide: “If schools and universities do not step up, it leaves a gap, where police are asked to intervene. Institutions should have policies in place identifying who is vulnerable, to keep the police out of schools and education.”

Fahy said concerns about academic freedom should not stop schools and colleges playing their part to counter extremism. He said schools and colleges would report youngsters vulnerable to gangs or serious self-harm, but claimed there was a reluctance to report youngsters at risk of radicalisation: “We are talking about vulnerable people going out to become a Jihadi bride, which is sexual exploitation and rape.

“The police service does not want to be in school or on university campuses controlling thought, but the best way to avoid this is for such institutions to have procedures to know the messages which are being promoted and for student bodies to have policies on whether preaching hatred towards homosexuality, allowing segregated meetings or advocating violent action overseas is acceptable or not.”

Fahy said the Prevent programme had seen police officers visiting venues due to hold meetings to ensure they knew who was speaking, about extremists radicalising or brainwashing people.

Under the Conservative-led coalition government, there has been increased focus on countering extremist thought and rhetoric, even if espoused by non-violent groups, based on the theory it helps people to be radicalised and then move on to supporting terrorism or wanting to carry out violent acts. The theory is disputed.


Fahy said elected politicians and civic society needed to ask and answer questions about free speech’s limits: “When does anti-Israeli protest become antisemitic? How far is it OK to challenge homosexuality, women’s rights? How far is it OK to advocate violent action abroad?”

He added: “These are difficult issues for Muslims and the Catholic church … Extremism is not just about Muslims, there are a lot of rightwing extremists.”He gave another example about the opposition some fundamentalist Christians have to homosexuality: “If that speaker, says all homosexuals are sinful, are mentally defective and need reprogramming and are threat to society, is that preaching hatred?”

Fahy said police had agonised over the definition and he accepted the definition can change.

For instance the preaching of hate speech against homosexuals could today be deemed unacceptable.

But as recently as the 1986, a previous Greater Manchester chief constable, James Anderton, was attacked for being homophobic after saying HIV patients were “swirling around in a human cesspool of their own making”.

Fahy said the debate about what is and what isn’t extremism needs to be publicly heard as do arguments against extremism, so the young are not just exposed to views on the internet which have been linked to the phenomenon of self-radicalisation: “That’s the big change in the last two or three years. While before worried about preachers of hate, now the young are brainwashed on the internet in their bedrooms.”

The Conservative-led coalition’s counter-terrorism policy, Contest, was unveiled in 2011 and tried to link non-violent extremist idea to terrorist violence: “Some terrorist ideologies draw on and make use of extremist ideas which are espoused and circulated by apparently non-violent organisations, very often operating within the law … But preventing radicalisation must mean challenging extremist ideas that are conducive to terrorism and also part of a terrorist narrative. Challenge may mean simply ensuring that extremist ideas are subject to open debate.”

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Theresa May denied conflict of interest giving G4S £200 million policing contract #peacekeepers

Home Secretary Theresa May has rejected an accusation of a conflict of interest in Lincolnshire Police’s decision to award a £200m contract to G4S.

At the Police Federation conference, Mrs May was asked about Tom Winsor, a partner of a law firm which advised the security company on the deal.

In 2010, Mr Winsor was appointed by the government to author an independent report on police reform.

Mrs May told the conference there was no overlap between Mr Winsor’s roles.

In February, Lincolnshire Police agreed a deal to pay G4S £200m over 10 years to deliver a range of services, including human resources, finance and IT.

Mr Winsor, whose review proposed changes in how the police are paid, is a partner at White and Case but the firm said he played no part in its work advising G4S.

Before joining the firm Mr Winsor spent five years as a rail regulator.

‘Vested interest’

The home secretary was asked about his appointment by delegate Sarah Adams at the conference in Bournemouth.

Ms Adams said: “When you appointed Tom Winsor to carry out your independent review of policy, did you know that the law firm Tom Winsor is part of, which is White and Case, was negotiating the multi-million groundbreaking deal for G4S with Lincolnshire Police?

“How can it be fair and independent if there’s a vested interest?”

Mrs May said: “Tom Winsor did his review entirely independently. He did not do that review as part of the firm – he did it as an individual.

“You might not like all the answers that came out of the Winsor Review but there is a process whereby the federation’s voice will be heard in response to these proposals.”

‘No contact’

Barry Young, chairman of Lincolnshire Police Authority, agreed there had been no conflict of interest.

He said: “My understanding is the work he’s done for the government in relation to his report on pay and conditions was as Tom Winsor and not the firm White and Case. I see no conflict of interest whatsoever.”

A spokesperson for White and Case said: “The firm rejects any suggestion of a conflict of interest between Tom Winsor’s independent police pay review and any of the firm’s clients.

“The police pay review was undertaken by Mr Winsor in his personal capacity and who was appointed, in such capacity as an impartial reviewer, by the home secretary.”

A spokesperson for G4S said: “There has been absolutely no conflict of interest: Mr Winsor has not been involved in any capacity with the legal team which advised us on our contract with Lincolnshire Police.

“Furthermore no member of the G4S policing team has even had contact with Mr Winsor.”

The little talked about, ongoing Coup in Portugal

In its most recent election, parties of the left — anti-austerity, anti-business, mistrustful of the euro and other extra-national institutions — gained a parliamentary majority, which gives them the right to form a government.

But the president, whose permission is necessary for the process to go forward, said nope, that’s not going to happen, thus setting off a constitutional crisis that might be a sign of things to come in the eurozone. Here’s a brief excerpt from a longer must-read article by the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal’s anti-euro Left banned from power

Portugal has entered dangerous political waters. For the first time since the creation of Europe’s monetary union, a member state has taken the explicit step of forbidding eurosceptic parties from taking office on the grounds of national interest.Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika.

He deemed it too risky to let the Left Bloc or the Communists come close to power, insisting that conservatives should soldier on as a minority in order to satisfy Brussels and appease foreign financial markets.

Democracy must take second place to the higher imperative of euro rules and membership.

“In 40 years of democracy, no government in Portugal has ever depended on the support of anti-European forces, that is to say forces that campaigned to abrogate the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, as well as to dismantle monetary union and take Portugal out of the euro, in addition to wanting the dissolution of NATO,” said Mr Cavaco Silva.

“This is the worst moment for a radical change to the foundations of our democracy. After we carried out an onerous programme of financial assistance, entailing heavy sacrifices, it is my duty, within my constitutional powers, to do everything possible to prevent false signals being sent to financial institutions, investors and markets,” he said.

Mr Cavaco Silva argued that the great majority of the Portuguese people did not vote for parties that want a return to the escudo or that advocate a traumatic showdown with Brussels.

This is true, but he skipped over the other core message from the elections held three weeks ago: that they also voted for an end to wage cuts and Troika austerity. The combined parties of the Left won 50.7pc of the vote. Led by the Socialists, they control the Assembleia.

The conservative premier, Pedro Passos Coelho, came first and therefore gets first shot at forming a government, but his Right-wing coalition as a whole secured just 38.5pc of the vote. It lost 28 seats.

The Socialist leader, Antonio Costa, has reacted with fury, damning the president’s action as a “grave mistake” that threatens to engulf the country in a political firestorm.

Mr Costa vowed to press ahead with his plans to form a triple-Left coalition, and warned that the Right-wing rump government will face an immediate vote of no confidence.

The point of this series of posts is that debt works the same way for countries as for families: Borrow too much and life becomes unmanageable.

For Portugal, as for most eurozone and indeed most developed world countries, the borrowing binge of the past 30 years has left no palatable solutions. Staying the present course means continued austerity, which in turn means a long slow descent into poverty for most citizens, who understandably want to avoid this fate. But installing an anti-austerity (and therefore anti-euro) government means a Greek-style crisis that accelerates the slide to Third World status. And that’s pretty much it as far as national-level options go.

No surprise, then, that European voters are skewing both far-right and far-left. While Portugal is bringing communists into the government, France, for instance, is going the other way. SeeFrench far-right Le Pen family set for regional power wins: poll.

This means several things. First, the euro crisis is about to enter a new, even more dangerous stage in which democracy — already diminished by the beating Greece took when it defied Germany and the IMF — might soon be banned in favor of solidarity. Put simply, the eurozone might become a de facto dictatorship in which elections, when they’re held at all, don’t matter.

Second, while there are no national solutions to the eurozone debt crisis because member countries no longer control their own currencies, there is a regional fix, which is to aggressively devalue the euro. That will partially satisfy the left by making money easier and (presumably) growth faster, as exports to the rest of the world pick up. Coupled with immigration restrictions to placate the right, a major devaluation might calm things down for a while.

Which is why over-indebted countries from time immemorial have used devaluation to get out from under past mistakes. At a certain point it becomes the only way to prevent a revolution.

But of course it’s only a temporary fix. Devaluing the euro by, say, 50% would send its over-leveraged trading partners into crisis, forcing them (not that they need much prodding since they’ve got basically the same problems as Europe) to devalue in turn. Until, as Jim Rickardslikes to say, they figure out that the one thing they can all devalue against is gold.

Cambridgeshire Police to Skype victims of crime rather than visit home

Police are telling victims of crime to speak to them via Skype instead of seeing them in person in a new cost-cutting move.

The scheme – believed to be the first in the country – is being trialed in Peterborough, where the force faces huge budget cuts.

Until now, people who rang 101 to speak to police were offered an appointment with an officer at their home.

But under the trial members of the public will be invited to go to the station or speak to an officer on the phone – or on a video call via Skype.

Cambridgeshire police claimed the Skype scheme would make their service more efficient and cost-effective.

A spokeswoman said calls would be dealt with “on a case-by-case” basis and officers will still carry out home visits where necessary.

“We understand people have busy lives and this service will provide flexibility, with appointments from 8am to 10pm seven days a week.

“This initiative will bring the police more in line with other services, such as doctors’ surgeries, and as with the health service our emergency response will be there when required.

“It will allow officers, who use a large proportion of their time travelling across the city to and from appointments, more time to patrol their neighbourhoods.

“Also, by using modern technology such as Skype, we are increasing our efficiency and ensuring we are able to respond to people in a shorter time frame.”


Shaun Ryan, from Cambridgeshire Police Federation, said the force was “embracing new ways of using technology to save cost.”

“There are a lot of people who don’t have the time to come and see the police.

“Resources being as they are we need to be looking at how we best tailor our service within those budgets that we are going to have to be working towards.

“If it is something that a member of the public is happy with then I can’t see much of a problem.

“There will be people who will be more than happy to speak to someone like that on Skype. We will have to wait and see if it works.”


“This is one of the many examples of the Constabulary using technology to offer additional engagement options to the public.

“The use of Skype might be preferable to some people whilst it will also reduce the amount of time officers spend travelling.

“Offering these options can provide advantages for both the public and the police.”


Last year Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins predicted that the public will start using Skype to contact police.

In 2013 Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire Olly Martins also suggested the public could get in touch with the force via Skype.

But neither of those forces have yet implemented the measure.

Police forces across the country have been told to expect 25 to 40 per cent reductions in funding in November’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Latest on Chilcot farce

The chairman of a British public inquiry into the Iraq War that has been running for seven years said on Thursday he expected to publish his report mid-2016, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to speed up the process.

The inquiry aims to shed light on every aspect of Britain’s involvement with Iraq from 2001 to 2009, from the build-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to the withdrawal of combat troops, and to identify lessons that can be learnt.

The Iraq War, and in particular the role of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in leading the nation into it, are still live political issues in Britain and the inquiry has come under repeated criticism from lawmakers and relatives of those killed over how long it has taken.

“My colleagues and I estimate that we will be able to complete the text of our report in the week commencing 18 April 2016. At that point, national security checking of its contents … can begin,” John Chilcot said in a letter to Cameron published on the inquiry’s website.

Chilcot said due to the length of the report – more than 2 million words – it would then take many weeks to prepare for printing, making publication in June or July most likely.

Cameron welcomed that there was now “a clear end in sight” for the inquiry, but said he was disappointed Chilcot did not believe it would logistically be possible to publish the report until next summer.

“I recognise that you have a significant task, but would welcome any further steps you can take to expedite the final stages of the inquiry,” he said in a letter to Chilcot released by his office.

More resources will be provided to the inquiry team if it allows the report to be published sooner, Cameron said, adding that the government planned to take no longer than two weeks to complete the national security checking process.

Publication has been held up by so-called “Maxwellisation”, a confidential process in which people who are to be criticised in the report are given advance copies so that they have a chance to defend themselves.

On Sunday, U.S. network CNN aired an interview with Blair in which he apologised for what he described as mistakes in planning and intelligence before the war, with media accusing him of trying to pre-empt the report’s criticism.

Reg Keys, whose 20-year-old son Thomas was killed in Iraq, said seven years was too long.

“We, the families, believe that Sir John allowed this ridiculous Maxwellisation process to run on far too long,” he told the BBC. “It went on for two years when six months would have been fine.

“All we will get now is a watered down version of all the criticisms that Sir John put to these civil servants and senior politicians.”

Iceland have now jailed 26 bankers

In a story not reported on at all by any Western mainstream media source, Iceland just sentenced another five high level bankers to prison for directly contributing to the collapse of the country’s economy in 2008.

This brings the total to 26 bankers now behind bars in Iceland, with most being CEOs of large financial institutions, rather than low level traders.

Most of those jailed will serve terms of two to five years, according to a report by Iceland Magazine, which notes that three executives at Landsbankinn and two at Kaupþing, along with one prominent investor, have been prosecuted.

Their crimes include market manipulation, embezzlement, and breach of fiduciary duties. Their market manipulation destroyed the country’s economy and to this day Iceland is still having to repay the global loan sharks at the IMF, as well as governments of other countries, which kept the nation operating.

The article explains that the prosecutions have been possible because rather than protect and reward the very institutions responsible for the collapse, and the gangsters that run them, the Icelandic government let them fail, and then created a financial supervisory authority to strictly oversee the banks.

Iceland’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimmson noted:

“Why are the banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail out banks is a theory that you allow bankers enjoy for their own profit, their success, and then let ordinary people bear their failure through taxes and austerity. ?People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.”

The President added:

“We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing in Europe.”

While the country’s economy is far from what it once was, it has stabilized and is in a position to recover.

Meanwhile, the governments of the US and Europe bailed out most of those responsible for playing a direct role in the financial crisis that crippled the global economy.

In the US, Congress gave American banks a $700 billion TARP bailout at the expense of taxpayers.

Not one banker in the US has even been charged with a crime relating to the financial collapse, there is still virtually no regulation of the banks, and they are pulling in a near record $160 billion in annual profits, all from “money” created out of thin air.

The banksters continue to be protected, at all levels, and the effects of their criminal actions continue to worsen every day. Another financial catastrophe is a certainty.