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Police continue probe into Leicester textile industry

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed it has received information about allegations of modern slavery and exploitation in Leicester's textile industry.

It said it is looking at the information and working with organisations including Leicestershire Police, HM Revenue & Customs, Leicester City Council, the Health and Safety Executive and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

Woman using a sowing machine
Getty Images

A spokesman for the agency said their "primary focus" was protecting vulnerable people and that visits to a number of businesses in Leicester are "likely to continue".

"The NCA does not intend to give a running commentary on our activity, but once our assessment is complete we will look to engage with partners to deliver a response at the appropriate level," the spokesman added.

A HSE spokeswoman said it had inspected 10 sites. She said one business was issued an improvement notice and officers will "take enforcement action where necessary".

The fashion brand Boohoo, that has suppliers in Leicester, has today ordered an independent review of its UK supply chain following reports of poor working conditions at a factory in the city.

Man sexually abused stepdaughters while they slept

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

A man who sexually abused his stepdaughters while they slept has been jailed for eight years and nine months.

Leicestershire Police said the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, carried out the offences between April 2018 and February 2020, when the victims were aged between nine and 12.

Leicestershire Police emblem

Police said they arrested the man in April when he was suspected of downloading indecent images of children.

His phone and computer were examined and revealed footage of him abusing his stepchildren.

At Leicester Crown Court on Monday, he pleaded guilty to:

  • Four counts of sexual assault of a child under 13
  • Three counts of voyeurism
  • Three counts of taking indecent photographs of a child
  • Three counts of making indecent photographs of a child
  • Possessing an extreme pornographic image

In addition to the jail term, the man was put on the sex offenders register for life, and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order and restraining order.

Det Con Carolyn Boyce - from Leicestershire Police - said: “This individual was in a position of trust and was someone the girls saw as a father figure.

"He abused that trust for his own sexual gratification."

Boohoo orders review after Leicester factory claims

PA Media

Boohoo has launched a review its UK supply chain after a series of allegations over the conditions at factories where its clothes are made.

The board said it was "shocked and appalled" by a Sunday Times report which claimed workers at a Leicester factory were paid £3.50 an hour and offered no protection from coronavirus.

Boohoo advert

The company has appointed Alison Levitt QC to look into the supply chain in the UK and promised to "rebuild the reputation of the textile manufacturing industry in Leicester".

In a statement, Boohoo management said: "We take extremely seriously all allegations of malpractice, poor working conditions, and underpayment of workers.

"The group will not tolerate any incidence of non-compliance with its code of conduct or any mistreatment of workers, and will not hesitate to terminate relationships with any supplier who does not comply."

Next dropped Boohoo clothes from its websites last week, while Asos and Zalando followed suit on Tuesday.

The company's share price dropped from 385p on Friday to 260p late yesterday.

Today's weather for the East Midlands

BBC Weather

Today is expected to be a largely cloudy and dull day with occasional patchy light rain or drizzle that may get heavier later.

Raindrops on a plant

Tonight, it will remain cloudy with further outbreaks of rain through the night.

Leicester lockdown: 'Infection rate drops' in city

David Pittam

BBC News Online

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the number of new coronavirus cases in Leicester has dropped.

He told the House of Commons the seven-day infection rate had fallen from 135 to 117 cases per 100,000 people.

The MP added last week's decision to impose the country's first local lockdown had been a "difficult but vital" one.

Matt Hancock

Today's weather for the East Midlands

BBC Weather

A dry start, but cloud will soon thicken and outbreaks of rain will gradually spread from the west, becoming heavy at times this afternoon.

Church Broughton
Mark Hallam

Tonight, it will remain wet with further outbreaks of rain which may be heavy at times.

Kasabian frontman quits 'to get life back on track'

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan has left the band to focus on "getting his life back on track", a statement on behalf of the group says.

The singer had performed alongside fellow Leicester musicians guitarist Sergio Pizzorno and bassist Chris Edwards since 1997.

The band had been due to play a sell-out homecoming gig in Victoria Park last month but had to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tom Meighan

A statement released by the band said Meighan's decision to leave Kasabian was by "mutual consent".

It added: "Tom has struggled with personal issues that have affected his behaviour for quite some time and now wants to concentrate all his energies on getting his life back on track."

Meighan has thanked fans for their "love and support".

In a post on Twitter, he said: "I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing well. I'm in a really good place now. Thanks for all your love and support."

He added: "I'll be seeing you all very soon."

Today's weather for the East Midlands

BBC Weather

It will be rather windy today with sunny spells, but with a few scattered showers at times.

Sunrise in north Nottinghamshire

It will become largely dry later and this should remain into the evening where we should see late sunny spells.

Covid-19 data monitored in case of Leicester visits

Allen Cook

BBC News

A close eye's being kept on coronavirus test data in the West Midlands in case residents in Leicester visited friends and relatives across the border and spread the virus, the region's mayor has said.

Police officers wearing protective masks patrol along a street in Leicester

The East Midlands city became subject to the UK's first local lockdown on Monday following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

At a regional briefing this afternoon, mayor Andy Street responded to concerns there might have been visits to the West Midlands by people from Leicester before the lockdown.

"The encouragement to every person in Leicester is not to travel outside the city but we will be able through the data to see how it looks here."

"The Coventry data is particularly good at the moment and I know the team there will be monitoring it like a hawk and, if there are any local incidents, they can be addressed quickly."

Mayor and minister dispute data over Leicester lockdown

Amy Orton

Local Democracy Reporter

A minister and Leicester's mayor have blamed each other for the city's renewed coronavirus lockdown.

Restrictions have been brought back after 944 people tested positive in the last two weeks.

Health Minister Nadine Dorries rejected the idea the government waited too long, saying they had been working with the authority for a "number of weeks".

Leicester station

"They had information on the data from 11 June, but there was kind of a local disparity in that I don't think that there was a willingness to accept the data," she said.

"If we look at Bradford who are number two on the list, they've had the same data and the same information and the actions which Bradford have taken in terms of dealing with the spike in their area.

"They immediately kicked into action, they put a huge number of community measures in place."

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Health minister Nadine Dorries
PA Media/EPA

But Sir Peter Soulsby said: "It is simply not true to say we have had access to this vital data at the time we needed it.

"We have only in the last few days received postcode data and we have been asking for it for weeks.

"The government should be able to prove the trail of emails, if that were the case, but it will not be able to."

Confusion over service station 'divided by lockdown'

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

Confusion over the Leicester lockdown boundary zone has extended to a service station on the M1.

The zone, drawn up by Leicestershire County Council, has been branded "stupid" by residents living on a street where some houses are in lockdown and others are not.

Leicestershire County Council

When asked by BBC Radio Leicester if situations like this could have been avoided, council leader Nick Rushton said: "No, you have to put a line somewhere and there are some areas that are like that.

"Look at Leicester Forest East service station - one side is in, one side is out, it's just unfortunate.

"The rules are if you arrive on the south, on the side in the restriction zone, you're not supposed to cross the bridge to go over to the other side."

Leicester Forest East Service Station

This has been disputed by Welcome Break, which runs the service station.

A spokesperson said both sides of Leicester Forest East service station were open and customers can walk across the bridge.

"In line with guidance from the Department for Transport and Public Health England, Leicester Forest East - north and south - currently remain open as we provide an essential service for drivers," the spokesperson added.

Bradgate Park urges lockdown residents not to visit

Liam Barnes

BBC News

One of Leicestershire's most popular parks has asked residents from the city's locked-down areas not to travel to visit the beauty spot over the weekend.

Bradgate Park Trust said it's not changing its opening hours ahead of this weekend, but advised people living in Leicester and other affected areas not to come and to pay attention to the latest government advice.

More police will be out in force in Leicester this weekend to ensure local lockdown procedures are followed.

Deer Bradgate Park
PA Media

The Leicester lockdown

How local lockdowns will work, Leicester’s is likely to be the first of many.
In Germany fences have gone up to keep people in their homes and stop the spread of Coronavirus, while some people in Melbourne are being threatened with fines or imprisonment for travelling to other states. Could that happen in the UK?

The new lockdown in Leicester is likely to be the first of many, so how should local lockdowns work and when should they be introduced? David Aaronovitch asks the experts:

Amy Orton – local democracy reporter at the Leicester Mercury/ Leicestershire Online 
Dr Nathalie MacDermott – Kings College London
Damien McGuinness – the BBC’s Berlin correspondent
Alex Thomas – Programme director, The Institute for Government 
Greg Fell - The Association of Directors of Public Health/ Sheffield City Council Director of Public Health
Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller – health psychologist at the University of Sheffield 

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Joe Kent
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

Leicester to have more police on duty than New Year’s Eve

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

Leicestershire Police says it will have more officers on duty this weekend than they would for a typical New Year's Eve - traditionally one of the force's busiest days.

There will be an operation dedicated to policing the city lockdown and supporting the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants in the areas not included.

People are being asked to plan their days and to abide by any new operating rules.

Leicestershire Police van

Temporary assistant chief constable Kerry Smith said: "We want people to be able to enjoy themselves but to do so responsibly, having respect for others and socialising safely.

"We will be continuing our approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to do the right thing.

"Of course, we have the option of enforcement open to us which we will use where appropriate."

Today's weather for the East Midlands

BBC Weather

It will be a dry start to the day with some early brightness, but cloud will thicken through the morning bringing a few outbreaks of rain.

Sunshine through the flowers

The showery rain will gradually peter out to leave a largely dry night but a few more sharp showers could develop during the early hours of Saturday.

North of England dominates top 10 for new infections

Daniel Wainwright

BBC England Data Unit

After Leicester, parts of Yorkshire and the north-west of England have recorded the highest rates of new coronavirus infections, according to new data.

However, all but two of the top 10 areas for rates of infection in the week ending 28 June saw a fall compared with the week before, Public Health England reported.

Leicester, however, remains far ahead of the others, with three times as many new cases per 100,000 people as Bradford.

Bedford, the only top 10 place other than Leicester not in the north, has seen its rate of new cases fall by half in a week.

The new data combines two sets of coronavirus tests - those done in hospitals and involving care workers and previously unpublished local figures on tests outside of hospitals.

Chart showing rates of new cases by area

Boohoo 'putting workers at risk of coronavirus'


Boohoo has defended its business practices after a workers' rights group said the online fashion retailer was putting workers at Leicester factories supplying the group at risk of coronavirus.

The allegations came after a more stringent lockdown was imposed on the city following a local flare-up in cases.

Celebrities endorsing boohoo brand
Getty Images

Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns for workers' rights, said it had received reports of "workers being forced to come into work while sick with Covid-19, workers wishing to isolate being denied pay [and] factories operating illegally throughout lockdown".

In a statement, Boohoo said: "The Boohoo group will not tolerate any incidence of non-compliance especially in relation to the treatment of workers within our supply chain.

"We have terminated relationships with suppliers where evidence of this is found."

The group said it would investigate the allegations and take any necessary action.

Leicester schoolchildren kept at home in local lockdown

School pupils in Leicester are being kept at home once again, after the city was made subject to the UK's first local lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered schools in the city to close to all but a small number of pupils following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Magda Raszowska and her daughter
Magda Raszowska said it was "like going back to March"

He said although children were at low risk of serious harm from Covid-19, they can spread the infection.

Schools had been allowed to welcome back some year groups from 1 June.

The tighter restrictions are also affecting schools outside the lockdown area, with pupils told to stay away if they live within the affected area.

'No obvious source' of Leicester Covid-19 outbreak

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

As mentioned earlier, a report by Public Health England (PHE) found there is no obvious source for a spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester.

The preliminary investigation said the increase could partly be due to a "growth in availability of testing" in Leicester.

Coronavirus testing in Leicester

It confirmed a concentration of new cases in the North Evington ward of the city.

The report said hospitals in Leicester were currently treating 80 patients with Covid-19, 10 of whom required ventilation.

Patient numbers had "decreased rapidly" since a surge in early April but new admissions had "remained steady" at between six and 10 per day throughout June.