England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Leeds housing association boss joins Grenfell panel

PA Media

The boss of a housing association in West Yorkshire which supports black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been appointed as the third member of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel.

Grenfell Tower
Reuters/Henry Nicholls

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Leeds-based Unity Homes and Enterprise, will sit at hearings from 2 November, the Cabinet Office has confirmed.

On its website, Unity is described as a "modern, successful and visionary organisation that understands and represents the needs of all tenants of all ethnic backgrounds".

Last year, Mr Akbor was made an OBE for services to the community in Leeds.

The hearings into the Grenfell tragedy, which killed 72 people in June 2017, have been without a third expert since January, when an engineer resigned over links to the firm which manufactured the block's flammable cladding.

Confirming Mr Akbor's appointment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "He will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, as well as a crucial understanding of the issues at the heart of Phase 2 and an unwavering commitment to improving people's lives."

Mr Akbor will sit on the inquiry panel alongside chairman, Sir Martin Moore Bick, and architect Thouria Istephan.

Covid tier system: What is the tier lockdown system in England?

BBC News Health

Covid tier lockdown: What is the tier lockdown system in England?

A new three-tier system is being introduced in England to help control the spread of coronavirus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Regions will now be classified as either 'medium', 'high' or 'very high' and each tier has different lockdown rules.

London is currently classed as Tier One - medium.

This system does not apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. But what rules happen at what tier?

BBC Health Correspondent Laura Foster has a summary of the key points.

Video by Laura Foster, Terry Saunders and Mattea Bubalo

Met arrest 31 supected paedophiles

Officer with a seized computer
Met Police

The Met Police has arrested 31 suspected paedophiles in a targeted operation.

Officers from the Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation unit safeguarded 100 children during a "week of action" between 28 September and 3 October.

Over the same period, specialist officers seized more than 300 exhibits and executed 91 search warrants.

There is an "increased threat" of child abuse as people spend more time online, the force said.

Det Supt Helen Flanagan said: "We are committed to keeping young people safe, and bringing perpetrators of grooming and other child abuse and exploitation offences to justice."

Kevin Clarke inquest: Body cam footage of restraint released
Bodycam footage released by the Met shows Kevin Clarke being restrained by officers in a field in 2018.

Westminster sees substantial fall in reported crimes

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Piccadilly Circus during lockdown
Chris Roudette

Police have revealed there has been a drop of 20,000 reported crimes in Westminster – the highest reduction across London.

Usually vibrant and bustling with tourists, office workers and residents, the capital’s entertainment centre became a near ghost town during lockdown.

The lights went out in some of the country’s biggest cinemas and clubs, while pubs and restaurants had to shut their doors.

But as footfall disappeared, so too did the opportunities for pickpockets and thieves to swipe laptops and mobile phones from unsuspecting revellers on a night out.

According to the Met Police’s latest figures, the number of reported crimes in the borough of Westminster dropped by 20,000 compared with the rolling total in 2019.

Last year, 15,000 incidents were reported to police in the West End alone, with St James’ ward having the second highest number of incidents.

Speaking at a Westminster City Council committee on Thursday, Supt Mark Lawrence from the Met’s Central West Basic Command Unit, said the drop proved “what we’ve always said is the issues are not residents, necessarily. It is people coming into the borough as victims and as perpetrators.”

Lockdown saw a 58% drop for reported robberies, and knife crime fell by 56%. However there were more concerns about domestic abuse with “issues around job security & access to children and managing relationships” leading to calls to the police.

Supt Lawrence said there had been just 25 more offences reported in the last 20 weeks – fewer than he expected.

Westminster saw 159 covid related breaches – the second highest of any London borough.

Supt Lawrence said: “Initially at the start of the pandemic our view was we didn’t want to lose public confidence in policing so we didn’t want to be over zealous in the use of covid legislation."

However, he added that police "think the public expects us to be more proactive in our use of legislation" and “where people will not engage and where people will not comply then we will use our powers and arrest where we need to and use penalty notices where we need to.”

Khan faces questions over plans to move GLA offices

Picture of the City Hall building

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says a decision on whether to move the Greater London Authority out of their offices at City Hall will be made by the end of this month.

Mr Khan was taking questions from the oversight committee at the GLA, which is looking at his proposal to move their offices to the Crystal building in the Royal Docks from where they're currently situated by Tower Bridge.

It's a move the Mayor has previously said would save £11.1m a year in rent and charges.

The GLA's chief officer Mary Harpley says £60,000 has been spent so far evaluating the proposal to move. She says the move could potentially "save millions of pounds". She also said the final bill will be "a bit bigger than that prior to the decision to give the Mayor the advice he needs".

The Mayor also said he estimated the total cost of the saving would be £59 million as opposed to the £55 million over the next five years.

The Conservatives, challenged the accuracy of the figures on which these assumptions have been based.

Met and London councils work together to enforce Covid-19 laws

The Metropolitan Police is joining forces with boroughs across London to stop the public from flouting Covid-19 rules.

Officers will team up with council wardens and council officers to enforce the restrictions which came into effect on 14 September, and which include a ban on gatherings of more than six people.

The Met will carry on with its 4Es approach, namely educating, entertaining, explaining and encouraging Londoners to abide by the rules.

Police patrolling during lockdown

Local councils will be primarily responsible for the enforcement action relating to the closure of licensed premises and restricted access to public areas.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, leading the Met's response to the pandemic, said: “Londoners have made enormous sacrifices during the response to this virus and this partnership approach is designed to target those who continually flout the rules.

"It isn’t fair, and all of those who have tried hard to stop the spread of the virus rightly expect us to do something."

He also reminded people they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice or face arrest if they infringe the laws.

Grenfell Memorial: Ligaya Moore

Ligaya Moore had lived in Grenfell Tower for 40 years
"Her dream was to be here in London - she was living her dream" says the niece of Ligaya Moore, a widow, originally from the Philippines, who had lived in Grenfell Tower for 40 years. 

The first fortnight of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire has been set aside for tributes to the 72 people who died.

Radio 4's World at One reporter Luke Jones reflects on one of the lives that was lost in the fire in June 2017. 

(Photo: Ligaya Moore  Credit: PA)

Council working to 'identify risks' in other blocks

Council 'working closely' with London Fire Bridge to identify risks in other blocks
The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, which owns the Grenfell Tower block has said "when the public inquiry is held we will find out more about any design faults".

Councillor Nick Paget-Brown told Martha Kearney they were "working closely with the London Fire Brigade" to identify risks in other high rise buildings owned by the council.

When asked whether they would be fitting sprinklers in other blocks that currently don't have a system, Mr Paget-Brown said "we would need technical advice".

"My understanding of the technical design of a sprinkler system is that it needs to be embedded and therefore you might create additional hazards," he said.

(Photo: Burnt out building of Grenfell Tower.  Credit: AFP)

Two arrested over fatal stabbing outside flats

Patrick Gomes De'Almeida
Met Police

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after 25-year-old man was stabbed to death outside flats in south London.

Patrick Gomes De'Almeida was fatally injured in Morden just before 23:00 on Thursday. Another man was taken to hospital after being found with non-life-threatening wounds.

The Met said a 33-year-old man had been arrested at Heathrow Airport while a 28-year-old man was held in Croydon.

They have both been arrested on suspicion of murder, causing grievous bodily harm, aggravated burglary and kidnap and are being held in custody, the force added.

Tories launch petition to ‘save’ Bakerloo Line extension

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Proposed Bakerloo extension

Tories furious at the apparent shelving of plans to extend the Bakerloo Tube line to Lewisham have launched a petition urging Transport for London to reverse its decision on the project.

Greenwich councillor Charlie Davis on Monday called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to prioritise the extension, saying the decision to defer it was a “slap in the face” for residents in London’s south-east.

Mr Davis, who is also standing as a Conservative candidate for the London Assembly seat of Greenwich and Lewisham, made the call after the scheme was left off a list of TfL projects which the transport body has prioritised in its £5.7bn pitch for government funding.

He earlier this year wrote to transport secretary Grant Shapps regarding safeguarding the future of the extension. Mr Shapps responded last month that “the decision as to whether or not progress with the project will be for the mayor of London to take”.

Mr David said: “Lewisham is the only inner London Borough without a Tube station, and the failure of the mayor to prioritise the Bakerloo Line extension to the Borough is a slap in the face of long-suffering commuters."

A TfL spokesperson told the local democracy service last week that Covid-19 has had a “huge impact” on its finances, but denied the extension was “on hold”.

The spokesperson said TfL’s “immediate priority is safeguarding the route from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham” to “protect the route from future development”.

In a joint statement released last week, the leaders of Southwark and Lewisham councils said they were disappointed with the financial “game-playing” from the government over TfL’s funding.

Southwark leader Kieron Williams and Lewisham mayor Damien Egan said: “It is disappointing that government game-playing with TfL’s finances means that they are unable to request funding for their largest projects – including the Bakerloo line extension – at this time”.

Exhibition exploring history of dub music opens

Noting Hill Carnival

An exhibition celebrating the history of dub reggae music and culture in the capital has opened at the Museum of London.

Dub London: Bassline of a City examines how dub music has shaped London communities over the last 50 years, from its roots in Jamaican reggae to the influence it has on society today.

The exhibition features a bespoke record shop with a selection of 150 records available to listen to, historic and contemporary photography, and the speaker stack belonging to Channel One Sound System which has appeared at every Notting Hill Carnival since 1983.

Channel One Sound System

Curator Theresa Dhaliwal Davies explained that when they arrived in London the Windrush generation "faced racism, a lack of accommodation and no access to meaningful work" so the "importance of community meant retaining a feeling of ‘home’ through Caribbean music and culture".

"This led to introducing reggae and dub to London as sound systems which were set up at blues parties or ‘shabeens’ held in people’s homes in dense working-class areas of London, creating a protected space for people to express themselves.

"These parties paved the way for bigger sound systems, spilling into community centres, churches and outdoor spaces. All of this contributed to how dub reggae music and culture would influence London," she said.

Dub London: Bassline of a City runs until 31 January 2021 with tickets for the free exhibitionavailable on the Museum of London website.

Sound system

‘Modern policing reminds me of pre-Macpherson era’

Leroy Logan, a former superintendent in the Metropolitan police has said policing is moving back to where it was more than 20 years ago.

The former chairman of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust told Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur: "Things have gone backwards and so the look and feel of policing in my estimation reminds me of a pre-Macpherson era."

The Macpherson report, published in 1999, investigated the Metropolitan Police's response to the death of Stephen Lawrence six years earlier.

It concluded the investigation had been "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership".

Mr Logan, who retired from the Met in 2013 after 30 years of service, said the culture of the police had "been hijacked by an extremely aggressive and intolerant group of individuals".

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is also Britain's most senior police officer, has previously said that she does not believe the force is still institutionally racist.