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Head of frontline policing retires after 38 years

Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons,
Metropolitan Police

The Met Police's head of day-to-day policing will step down at the end of the month, after delaying his retirement to lead the force's reponse to coronavirus.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons leaves the force after nearly 38 years of service.

In February 2012, the Cambridge-educated officer was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.

Mr Simmons said: “I feel so deeply privileged to have had the opportunity to serve London in what I firmly believe is the best police force in the world.

“The organisation today is fundamentally different in so many respects to the one I joined and I am proud to have played a small part in the changes.

“However, the underpinning values that drew me to a career in policing hold true - compassion for victims, care for communities, a desire for justice, and a can-do attitude and strong team spirit."

Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Mark’s wealth of knowledge and experience in policing will be a great loss to the Met and to London.

"I want to thank him for his service and, on behalf of so many colleagues and friends within the Met and beyond, wish him every happiness in the future.”

Firefighters warn of spike in smoking-related fires

There has been a 20% increase of smoking-related fires in London homes, the city's fire brigade has warned.

Lit cigarette

There were 315 fires between 20 March and 22 July due to cigarettes not being disposed properly, London Fire Brigade said.

It compares to 260 in 2019 during the same period.

Deputy assistant commissioner Charlie Pugsley said: "Lots of people have been working from home and staying indoors more, which might explain why we have seen a spike in smoking-related fires."

On 28 May, four people were rescued and more than 100 residents escaped when a blaze ripped through a block of flats in Hadleigh Close, Bethnal Green.

Investigations revealed the fire was caused by the unsafe disposal of a cigarette.

Mr Pugsley added: "If you can’t quit, it’s always safer to go outside to smoke, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.”

Bow house blaze: Four engines at the scene

Firefighters are currently dealing with a house fire in east London.

Four engines were called to a property on Bruce Road in Bow at about 10:15.

The blaze has spread to a room on the third floor, said London Fire Brigade.

It is not known if there are any injuries.

Shots fired into south London home

Gaywood Close,

Detectives are appealing for information after shots were fired into a house in south west London.

The outside of a residential property in Gaywood Close, Streatham, was damaged by the shooting at 01:31 BST on Wednesday.

There were no reported injuries.

Trident detectives from the Specialist Crime Command are investigating.

So far no arrests have been made and enquiries continue.

John Boyega offers first look at Met Police officer role

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Star Wars actor John Boyega has offered fans a first glimpse at his starring role as police officer and anti-racism reformer Leroy Logan in Sir Steve McQueen's anthology series Small Axe.

The 28-year-old Londoner plays the real-life Met Police officer, who was motivated to reform the force from within after seeing his father assaulted by two officers.

Mr Logan was later awarded an MBE for his contribution to policing and retired in 2013 after 30 years' service. He is also a former chairman and founder of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust.

The series will feature six hour-long films telling five different stories, with the first told across two episodes, all set within London's west Indian community between the late 1960s and early 80s.

Boyega's episode is called Red, White And Blue, and sees him star alongside Prince of Persia's Steve Toussaint and newcomers Tyrone Huntley, Nathan Vidal and Jaden Oshenye.

Man admits manslaughter over wife's arson death

Denise Michelle Keane-Barnett-Simmons
Metropolitan Police

A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after his estranged wife died in arson attack after he allegedly spied on her with secret cameras.

Denise Michelle Keane-Barnett-Simmons, 36, died from burns and smoke inhalation in the fire at her home in Alric Avenue, Brent on 16 April.

Maureen Laigle, in her 60s, managed to escape the fire through a window.

Damien Simmons, 44, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murder at the Old Bailey on Friday.

He also pleaded not guilty to a charge of arson with intent to endanger life and a charge of voyeurism, but admitted disclosing private and sexual photographs with intent to cause distress.

It is alleged that, before the fire, Simmons had set up covert video cameras in the marital home to spy on his wife.

Prosecutor Louise Oakley said the pleas were "not acceptable" and said the matter needs to go to trial.

Defence counsel Judy Khan QC said: "Lack of intent and diminished responsibility are being looked into."

Judge Mrs Justice McGowan set a trial date at the same court for 21 September.

Trapped kitten named Dusty freed by firefighters

A "shaken and very thirsty" kitten was rescued by firefighters after it became trapped in a wall cavity at a shop in Balham.

London Fire Brigade said it was called to Balham High Road on 22 July to save the three-week-old animal.

Crews from Tooting fire station used a disc cutter and sabre saw to cut away parts of the wall in order to save the kitten - named Dusty - with the rescue taking about 50 minutes.

Rescued kitten being held by a firefighter
London Fire Brigade

Firefighter Matt Harrold, said: “When we got her out she was very shaken and thirsty, but after she was checked over and had a cuddle and a drink of water she calmed down.

“We would always encourage people to call the RSPCA in the first instance if they see an animal stuck or in distress.

“Firefighters love animals too and we are always happy to assist if our specialist equipment is required, as in this case.”

£1.5 billion utilities upgrade for the capital

Local Democracy Reporting Service

London gas, water and electric networks are set for an upgrade, as Sadiq Khan announced a £1.5 billion scheme to boost supplies.

The massive cash injection, launched will improve services, create jobs, and kickstart the capital’s recovery from coronavirus, the Mayor promised.

Britain’s biggest utilities companies – including gas supplier Cadent, cable company UK Power Networks and Thames Water – will be involved.

The industry heavy weights have been brought together on the scheme by the London Recovery Board.

Chaired by the Mayor and Southwark Council leader Peter John, the group is coordinating the capital’s response to Covid-19.

Individual utilities projects are yet to be finalised, and some may need regulatory approval before getting the green light.

But the investment will improve gas networks, boost water supply to north east boroughs, the City of London and Canary Wharf, and slash leakage by 20 per cent in five years.

The Recovery Board will also push for new jobs to be created, particularly targeting young and black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) Londoners, who have been worst in recent months.

Utility companies have not furloughed any staff during the coronavirus outbreak, and have, in fact, continued to hire.

Met Police: 'Focus on violence' behind disproportionate force on black people

Nick Ephgrave

The "disproptionate use of force" by the Met Police against black people is because officers are "focussing efforts on those who are involved in perpetrating violence," Scotland yard has said.

Metropolitan Police officers are four times more likely to use force against black people compared with the white population,according to official figures.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave told the BBC the police response could only be judged when taking into account "the types of crimes committed, the type of demographics of individuals involved in those crimes".

Mr Ephgrave said he was "worried" by the "disproportionality" in the use of force.

"But I’m also worried by the fact that young black men, are much more likely to be stabbed in the street, much more likely to be the victim of serious violence, much more likely to be the victim of gun crime, and much more likely to be the perpetrator," he said.

"We are trying to prevent young people from whatever background being injured and becoming victims of gun crime, knife crime and serious violence," he said.

"And we have to therefore focus our efforts on those who are involved in perpetrating that violence - and that's going to end up in disproportionate interactions.

"I take no pleasure in saying this, and it must be hard reading for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, but we do know that black men are disproportionately affected by these types of crimes. "If you simply look at disproportionality you're not seeing the full picture."

Watch the full interview tonight on BBC London at 18:30 BST on Thursday or catch up on iPlayer.

Man stabbed to death in residential west London street

Clements Court

A man has been stabbed to death on a residential west London street.

The victim, believed to be in his early 30s, was found suffering from stab wounds on Clements Court, Hounslow, at about 02.45 this morning.

Despite treatment from London Ambulance Service he was pronounced dead at the scene.

His next of kin have been informed.

One person has been arrested in connection with the investigation.

A crime scene is in place around the area. Enquiries continue.

'I kept telling them I couldn’t breathe'

'I kept telling them I couldn’t breathe'

Nathan Addae says he contemplated suicide after being knocked unconscious during an arrest for alleged taxi touting at Heathrow Airport.

During the incident in October 2013, Mr Addae said the police confirmed he was working on a pre-booked job. Despite this, he says he was arrested and handcuffed with his arms behind his back.

He said: "That's when I realised it was going to be a racial case."

Official figures show that Met Police are four times more likely to use force against black people compared with the white population.

The Met Police said "the causes of disproportionality are not straight forward and easy to understand".

A formal complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was made which "ultimately found there was no case to answer and Mr Addae's complaints were not upheld".

Read more here.

Met Police 'four times more likely' to use force on black people

Sam Francis

BBC News, London

Anaylsis of Met Police data shows officers were nearly four times more likely to use force against black people compared with the white population.

Restraint techniques - such as stirkes, wristlocks and groundpinning - were also three times more likely to be used on black people.

Serving and former officers in the Met have told the BBC this is down to "racial biases" among police.

But Scotland Yard said "the causes of disproportionality are not straight forward and easy to understand".

Using force is dangerous for both the police and the suspect. Police are more likely to end up injured than the target.

Last year 96 Met Officers were severely injured during use of force incidents - compared to 90 civilians.

Read more here.

data pic

Hackney mayor discusses rise in Covid-19 cases

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Philip Glanville
Local Democracy Reporting Service

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville has given an insight into the view from his position as directly elected leader of the borough, in a second wide ranging video interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It was announced shortly before the interview that the borough along with the City of London had the highest two-week rise in cases in London.

Responding to the issue, he said the "set of clusters" had been "identified by our public health tam".

"The most important thing is the core basic public health advice, which is if you have symptoms self-isolate, get a test and take part in contact tracing," he said.

He added that those "basics" were "still the best way to combat the virus".

Severe accident: A1199 London both ways

BBC News Travel

A1199 London both ways severe accident, from St Paul Church to A104 Balls Pond Road.

A1199 London - A1199 St Paul's Road in Canonbury blocked and queues in both directions from the St Paul Church junction to the A104 Balls Pond Road junction, because of an accident. Diversion in operation - affecting bus route 30.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Coronavirus: My pregnancy in a pandemic
Two women document their birth stories for the BBC, to show what it’s like to have a baby in a pandemic.