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WPC murder case stalls over national security

A suspect in the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London will not be prosecuted because important evidence is being withheld on national security grounds. Police said they were unable to charge the man without being able to present the “key material” in court. WPC Fletcher died after being shot in the back while she was policing a demonstration against the then-Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 1984. The shot was fired from the embassy in St James’s Square. The suspect was held in November 2015 in southeast England in what police described as a “significant turning point”
in the inquiry. The Metropolitan Police said: “We believe our investigation has identified enough material to identify those responsible for WPC Fletcher’s murder if it could be presented to a court. “However the key material has not been made available for use in court in evidential form for reasons of national security.

“Therefore, without this material and following a review of all the evidence that was available to prosecutors, the Crown Prosecution Service – who we worked closely with throughout – have informed us that there is insufficient admissible evidence to charge the man.” It added: “Our judgment is that this concludes what was by far the best opportunity to solve this tragic case and provide a degree of closure for the victims and their families. “This investigation will never be closed but the likelihood of finding further evidence, in Libya or elsewhere, is low.”

A statement from WPC Fletcher’s family said: “We understand that some available evidence could not be used in court but are satisfied that the Metropolitan Police has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of justice in Yvonne’s case. “The family would like to thank the Met for its continued hard work and diligence and also for always keeping us informed at every turn. “We are deeply disappointed and frustrated that a prosecution cannot proceed at this time.

“We had hoped that the latest turn of events would finally lead to some closure for the family.” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Her murder remains as shocking and senseless as the day it occurred and I understand that the decision will be deeply disappointing and frustrating for all her family, friends and colleagues.” The shooting was followed by a 10-day siege of the building before 30 of those inside were deported back to Libya.

Details of the identity of the man who has been released have not been made public.

Universities to hire security guards to patrol student streets in crackdown on rowdy parties

Security guards will patrol Fallowfield in a bid to keep rowdy student parties in check, the M.E.N . can reveal. University bosses are paying for patrols in the student suburb during the final few weeks of the summer term.

The visible guardians will be equipped with body worn audio and video recording devices and will be tasked with clamping down on noisy parties and nuisance behaviour.

Residents in Fallowfield1 and Withington2 have issued numerous complaints about anti-social behaviour. And patrol staff first hit the streets last year as part of a pilot scheme during key dates in the first academic term, including Freshers Week and Halloween.

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While they don’t have powers to enter student homes or issue fines, uni staff say they’ve helped offer reassurance to residents, deal amicably with disputes, and act as professional witnesses , gathering evidence of anti-social behaviour and presenting it to campus bosses. The pilot – backed by both Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University – proved successful as dozens of noisy student homes were warned to quieten down or face further action.

Bottles left in the street after a house party in Fallowfield

Now campus bosses have agreed to fund a second patrol scheme to take place during the last week of term. The G4S guards will return to the area between May 24 and June 11, following feedback from students, residents and the student unions. In a joint statement, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester said: The pilot was developed with Manchester City Council and utilised their accredited security provider, G4S.

Following evaluation of the pilot, which included taking feedback from student and non-student residents and both Students Unions, the two universities have agreed to fund a second night patrol pilot between May 24 and June 11, 2017.

A decision about any further continuation of the patrols will be made by the universities over the summer.

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Council officers visited 64 properties in the first few weeks of the term last year, handing out warnings to residents over noise complaints. Students living at a property in Old Moat were handed a noise abatement notice forcing them to stop their anti-social behaviour or face further action. The notices can lead to equipment being seized, exclusion from university, or even prosecution.

Residents who welcomed the action said it would benefit both students and other residents. The universities previously stated that they are committed to maintaining positive relationships between students and residents. Almost 400 properties were visited by university, police and council staff during 2015 to warn students to be considerate of their neighbours.

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Fallowfield and students

References

  1. ^ Fallowfield (www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Withington (www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk)

Election candidates warned of security risks

Most candidates running in the General Election will have little in the way of enhanced protection during the campaign unless they raise specific concerns with the police, security sources have told Sky News. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) says it is writing to all of the country’s MPs and setting out crucial security advice and guidance in the run-up to 8 June. Although there is no direct intelligence of election-related threats, there is an increasing sense of nervousness among authorities in the wake of the terror attack in Westminster and last week’s shooting of police officers in Paris ahead of the French presidential elections. The NPCC, which represents all 43 police forces in England and Wales, said: “Where particular concerns are raised local police will work with constituency offices to review security and put in place appropriate measures.

“This vigilance message applies to all of the candidates and their team members who will be out campaigning over the coming weeks.”

Image: Dr Lisa Cameron MP says she is taking ‘sensible precautions’ after receiving death threats

Security surrounding the Prime Minister and other senior political figures has been visibly enhanced since the Westminster attack. Theresa May has signalled her determination to join the campaign trail and canvass in local communities. Although this brings extra risks, the Prime Minister will at least have added protection . Most other candidates will not. The MP for East Kilbride, Lisa Cameron, was subjected to death threats last year . She said they had spurred her into making sure she and her colleagues take “sensible precautions” as they begin their campaigns.

“There are vulnerabilities and you have to be able to be aware and acknowledge that, once you’ve got that insight you can be aware of risk management,” she said. “Given the incidents that have occurred, those types of interactions are going to have to be done in a way to minimise risk . You can’t totally eradicate risk but it should never stop MPs or candidates engaging with constituents.”

The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency last year led to a reappraisal of security. Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, has also suffered death threats in the past year – and said there was always an element of risk in an open democracy but that extremists should not be allowed to win. She said: “We have been given extra advice on carrying lone worker devices when we are out and about, and yes, that risk increases when we are out in the constituency. “One of the things about democracy is about being in touch directly with people.”

Former Scotland Yard firearms officer Roger Gray said the recent events in Westminster and Paris will certainly have focused the minds of the police and security officials as the UK’s election gets under way. He added: “What we saw just a few weeks ago was dreadful but it’s very difficult to calculate for . One thing we do have in the run-up to the election is heightened awareness, so if something happens it won’t be a complete bolt from the blue as that was . And the public will be vital in helping the authorities track any potential risk.”

Chief constables are currently liaising with politicians who have had threats in the past, and all candidates are being urged to ensure police know about their planned events.