CALL TO CHECK MET POLICE’S USE OF RIPA – (REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT)
Following “serious concerns” about the Metropolitan Police’s use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to access the phone records of journalistsGLA member Joanne McCartney has called for the Met ethics committee to examine a random sample of past instances of RIPA use.
Speaking at the GLA police and crime committee she put the proposal to deputy mayor of London Stephen Greenhalgh who accepted it was a “helpful suggestion” which he would consider proposing to the ethics committee.
Her call followed revelations in both The Mail on Sunday and The Sun – neither of which has been named in a Labour group press release – that journalists working for them had their phone records accessed.
Following the meeting Joanne McCartney, who is Labour group police and crime spokesperson, said: “After revelations that the police have used this power to access the phone records of journalists, people will rightly want to know this power is not being abused.
“By examining a random sample of cases where RIPA was used the ethics committee could help to provide some reassurance that the Met’s use of this power is proportionate, consistent and within the law.
“Equally if there are cases where RIPA is found to have been misused, then they need to be bought to light and addressed as quickly as possible.” (Source: GLA Labour group press release)
FURTHER READING: MAIL ONLINE: (Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday): Police snooping scandal deepens over claims forces use controversial RIPA laws to access phone records from major networks as easily as using a ‘cash machine’
- Reports officers have been using anti-terrorism power for at least 10 years
- Suffolk Police confirmed using it to obtain records from reporter
- Investigation found EE, Vodafone and Three providing records automatically
- Comes as Boris Johnson backtracked on comments in support of police
- Mayor now claims it is ‘crucial’ journalists should protect their sourcesRipa means police only need permission from senior officer to search calls
An investigation has been launched into how it’s been used in all forces
PUBLISHED: 12:34, 11 October 2014 | UPDATED: 20:56, 11 October 2014
Sun makes official complaint over police use of RIPA against journalists
Paper says Met police’s use of anti-terror laws against political editor Tom Newton Dunn was an ‘assault on a free press’
Lisa O’Carroll theguardian.com, Monday 6 October 2014 11.19 BST
Fourth police force used RIPA against journalist, to bug reporter’s car, and it also seized agency phone records
William Turvill 14 October 2014 (Press Gazette)
Theresa May promises action to curb RIPA spying on journalists and extended periods on police bail
Press Gazette 15 October 2014
(Sources: GLA Labour group press release / The Grauniad / Mail on Sunday / The Sun / Press Gazette))
BANK ACCOUNT SCAM COSTS ELDERLY HOMEOWNER £38,000
A ruthless scam that left a vulnerable Thornton Heath homeowner almost £38,000 the poorer has ended in the conviction of a man who allowed his bank account to be used by rogue builders.
Admitting the offence at Croydon magistrates court the man, from Stevenage, was ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to the victim, legal costs of £5,335, and a fine of £675.
The court heard that in June last year a bank cashier became suspicious when the victim arranged the transfer of £25,000 for building work, and had also withdrawn £3,000 in cash.
Croydon’s trading standards team was notified and, on arriving at the victim’s address, found two contractors at work in the property.
The victim said that he had initially been cold called by a man offering to trim his garden hedge for £10. Returning the next day with another man, and saying that the bricks under the front window needed to be replaced and interior damp treated, he asked for, and received, £3,000 in cash.
The bricks were replaced, but to a very poor standard, and matters began to escalate as the victim was told that renovating the flat would cost between £60,000 and £80,000.
There began a series of cash payments from the victim to the builder, for various work including clearing drains, rubbish removal, house clearance and renovation work.
Over the course of a month, the victim paid the builder £37,800, £25,000 of which was a transfer into the bank account of the defendant.
In interview, the defendant told trading standards officers that he allowed the builder to use his company name in order to obtain discounts for building supplies, in return for two to three per cent of the total price paid by the victim.
He had also allowed his bank account to be used – the account into which the victim transferred the £25,000.
A surveyor’s report into the work undertaken concluded that a fair price would have been no more than £750 and it was so badly done that it left the property “in a similar or worse condition than it was previously”.
Attempts were made to trace the builder, but they proved unsuccessful.
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “This is a truly appalling case of heartless traders taking grossly unfair advantage of a vulnerable, elderly resident.
“That was compounded by the fact that the defendant was aiding and abetting the crime by allowing his bank account to be used to skim money from the victim while he raked off a tidy profit.
“It’s thanks to the partnership of our trading standards team and local banks that this case came to light – sadly, however, not before the victim had lost a substantial amount of his life savings.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
SWITCHING ON TO SAFER ELECTRICS
An electric blanket that had seen more than 40 years’ service was among a number of electrical appliances to be condemned at testing days organised by the council’s trading standards team.
Many of the failures were due to age, with several of the older blankets having no built-in safety features, making them potentially lethal. Modern blankets incorporate an overheat protection safety device that should disconnect the electrical supply in the event of a fault.
Safety experts advise that electric blankets should be checked on a regular basis by the manufacturer or specialist test company, and replaced after 10 years.
Residents from across the borough attended events in Selsdon and Thornton Heath. Always popular, the testing days this year saw 112 items taken along by owners seeking advice and reassurance.
This year’s list of appliances included: heated rollers, vacuum cleaners, kettles, irons, toasters and a sewing machine. Of the 112 items tested, 73 were electric blankets.
Overall, 52 per cent of blankets, and 59pc of other appliances, failed. The latter total however, was reduced to 23pc as the safety tester was able to carry out some minor repairs, such as changing plugs or replacing fuses.
Croydon residents whose blankets failed safety testing were given discount vouchers toward the cost of replacement blankets.
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “This is a popular service that’s particularly valued by some of our older residents who may have had appliances for many years and are not sure how safe they are.
“A fault in any of the items tested across the two days could have potentially lethal consequences, so it’s important that appliances are tested to make sure they’re safe to use.
“Testing at our event was free; while there may be a small charge at other times, set against the value of a life it’s a worthwhile outlay.”
Every person to submit an item for testing was given a trading standards crime prevention pack that included an advice booklet, door and cheque-book stickers, information bulletin, and a Know Your Rights! quiz. (Source: Croydon council press release)
GET THE FACTS ON EBOLA
Southwark council are continuing to provide the facts and information regarding Ebola for local people who might have concerns.
Cllr Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for public health, parks and leisure, said: “First of all, we are taking our lead from Public Health England, and that is that there has been no case of the disease being transmitted in the UK and the risk to the general public remains very low.
“But we understand the concerns of our local communities travelling to or returning from the affected countries including what to do if they feel ill after they come home.
“We have been taking measures to provide the right advice and information so we can increase people’s understanding and knowledge to keep themselves and their families safe.
“An up-to-date fact sheet on Ebola is available on our website, and guidance from Public Health England has been distributed to child care providers, schools and colleges around the borough.
“Local GPs and hospitals are also closely linked in with Public Health England and have been getting all the latest information.”
Information about Ebola can be found at Southwark.gov Ebola (Source: Southwark council press release)
LANDLORDS IN SOUTHWARK FACE SELECTIVE LICENSING
In a bid to tackle anti social behaviour and drive up standards in the borough’s private rental sector, Southwark council have launched a public consultation seeking local opinion on the subject.
A quarter of people in Southwark live in 28,500 privately rented homes. Southwark say they want to improve management and conditions in privately rented properties by:
Introducing a scheme which requires some landlords to license their property. “We propose to do this in particular areas first where there is more antisocial behaviour. “This is called selective licensing.
“Make all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have a licence no matter how small they are. “This is called additional licensing.”
In addition the council is consulting on the HMO standards which are applied in the borough.
Under the new scheme, landlords will be required to obtain a license for letting out a property in Southwark.
“The council hopes to bring about a culture within privately rented sector which improves the standards of properties let, improves the management of those properties and reduces the steady rise in anti-social behaviour often linked to poorly managed properties” said a statement..
“With 25 per cent of Southwark’s population residing in 28,000 privately managed properties and the Greater London Authority (GLA) predicting demand to rise to nearly 44,000 by 2025, improving the sector is particular pertinent for the council.”
Cllr Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are determined to raise standards in the borough’s private rental sector but we cannot do this without hearing the views of local people.
“No matter your experience, you can help us shape the future of Southwark’s growing private rental sector.
“Underpinning our proposals for a new license is serious issue of poorly managed properties which pave the way for anti-social behaviour and sub-standard living conditions. “As a council we believe that all residents, no matter their housing tenure, deserves a warm, dry and safe home.
“Both selective licensing and additional licensing gives us the opportunity to drive up standards and bring unscrupulous landlords to account.”
You can have your say via the consultation online. Go to: Southwark.gov Housing – Private landlords licensing consultation
The results of the consultation will be used to shape the council’s plans to introduce discretionary licensing in some of the borough’s privately managed properties. (Source: Southwark council press release)
CROYDON SCOOPS TOP PLANNING PRIZE
Croydon has been named planning authority of the year at the inaugural MIPIM UK Awards.
The council fought off competition from Southwark and Sunderland to win the award at last week’s gala ceremony held in London’s Olympia.
A team of judges selected the country’s best regeneration projects, acknowledging future projects in Britain, while paying tribute to the best schemes from the private rented sector.
Croydon was shortlisted after the panel said the council was an exemplar for how planning authorities should work across the UK.
The recent Farrell Review, a government-commissioned industry-wide review of architecture and the built environment, identified Croydon as one of only a handful of authorities practising successful “proactive planning”.
Cllr Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “I’d like to congratulate the council’s planning team for being recognised as the best in the country, which is a great achievement.
“This award is about proactive planning and we are committed to using planning as a way of improving our borough.
“We appreciate not everyone can be happy with every decision made, but we look to create the best outcomes for our borough, within the planning constraints set by government.
“Having good planning foundations in place are crucial if we are to attract developers to Croydon, and to deliver the future growth of our borough.”
For more information about the awards visit http://www.mipimuk-awards.co.uk/
(Source: Croydon council press release)