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Prison officers say 3m investment in security ‘no replacement for staff’

The Prison Officers Association has told Sky News equipment is “no replacement for staff,” as the Government unveils a 3m investment in new technology to protect prison guards. The investment comes amid an increase in violence against prison officers and disturbances inside jails. Two million pounds will be spent on 5,600 body-worn cameras which will be made available to prison guards in England and Wales, following the successful roll-out of the cameras among 22,000 Metropolitan Police officers last October. Plans announced by the Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah also include 1m for new police-style handcuffs and restraints, which will reduce the need for staff to use physical holds to control aggressive prisoners. Four prisons – HMP Wealstun, HMP Risley, HMP Preston and HMP Hull – will also trial PAVA incapacitant spray, similar to pepper spray, to boost officer safety.

Image: Two prison officers were seriously injured last year at Wormwood Scrubs in west London

Mr Gyimah said: “Prison officers do an incredibly hard job . Assaults on prison officers are up 34% in the last year . Of course prison officers have got to be professional at all times but where these cameras could make a real difference is with prosecutions and also deterring assaults against prison officers.

“I am absolutely determined to tackle head-on the issues that undermine the safety and security of our prisons and to ensure our dedicated officers have the tools they need to do the job.” The Prison Officers Association welcomed the introduction of the new safety measures, but told Sky News the central issue remains the number of guards. In a statement, the union said: “Whilst we welcome protective measures such as PAVA spray and body worn cameras nothing can replace correct and safe staffing levels.

“The 30% cut to staff since 2010 and the increase in violence and riots during that period still has to be addressed and equipment is no replacement for staff.” The Government says 1,290 extra prison officers have been recruited, but admits that number is below its own target of 2,500. Former convict John Hirst told Sky News there needs to be a more widespread reform of the prison system.

He said: “What they need to do is improve conditions . Some of the prisons are still Victorian and they still use Victorian prison rules. “If you keep dehumanising prisoners when you put them into the system in the first place, how do you think they are going to behave?”

The Government says 10m has already been given to priority prisons to ramp up additional security measures including 24-hour patrol dogs, CCTV cameras, mobile phone detection technology and metal detectors.

Security guards jailed for role in 7 million Heathrow Airport heist

Two security guards have been jailed after staging a 7 million fake robbery from their own cash-in-transit van outside Heathrow Airport. One of the pair was found several hours later tied up and left by a roadside, with the van abandoned and the cash missing in a bid to make it look like the two men were victims. Loomis employees Mohammad Siddique, 32, and Ranjeev Singh, 40, were each jailed for six-and-a-half years after they were found guilty of conspiracy to steal at Kingston Crown Court earlier in October.

Another man, Rafaqat Hussain, who helped Siddique and Singh organise the heist, and was said to be “at the heart of the conspiracy”, was sentenced for 10 years and three months after pleading guilty in September to helping stage the robbery, launder the money and commit burglary. The money has never been recovered. During the trial, prosecutor Sandip Patel QC said the “audacious theft” was worthy of a Hollywood script and “carefully planned and executed”.

“It was an audacious theft carefully planned and executed and you may think it would make a Hollywood movie script, they would call it the ‘Heathrow Heist’ if anyone wanted to write a script about it.”

How the heist unfolded

On March 14, a security van was loaded with 26 bags of cash belonging to Credit Suisse at the BA cargo depot at Heathrow Airport. Siddique drove it out of the security gates of the depot with Singh in the passenger seat. He then stopped the vehicle to allow Singh to take what was claimed to be a toilet break.

Siddique then drove off with the 7million in cash. Singh waited inside the toilet block for some time before raising the alarm. He claimed he could not contact anyone earlier as he had left his mobile phone in the vehicle.

The security van was later found abandoned with its engine still running in West View, Feltham, while Siddique was found a few hours later tied up and left by a roadside. When questioned by police he said he had been contacted weeks before the robbery by an unknown man at his home. He claimed the man threatened to burn his home down and forced him to take part in the plan.

Mobile phones revealed conspiracy links

Although Singh claimed he left his mobile phone in the van before it was driven off, it emerged he had a second phone all along, stored in his jacket pocket, which he used to speak to Siddique while he was in the toilet. Mobile phone data was also presented by the prosecution to the court to show that Siddique had been in contact with his co-conspirators on the day of the heist and was directly involved. Secret recordings made by a device planted by police in Hussain’s car caught him admitting “I had all the cash, 7 million” and also heard him boast that he could buy any car he wanted with the stolen cash.

He said: “Mate it was a job, I f****** robbed 7 million.

“I want to lie low, I could buy a Ferrari, I want to chill for about six months, buy a couple of houses, flip them and make a bit of money.”

Sentencing the pair at Kingston Crown Court, Judge Stephen John told Siddique and Singh they “must now pay the price” after playing “for high stakes”. He called the staged robbery “a sophisticated operation which involved meticulous planning and execution”, in which Siddique and Singh “played (their) parts to perfection”. The court heard there are more people involved in the case that have not been identified.

Prosecutor Sandip Patel QC said someone with inside information would have been involved, Hussain knew that Siddique and Singh had been “assigned the Credit Suisse run well before they were officially told at around 7.15am that morning” after calling Siddique at 5.42am to make it clear that would be the day of the heist. A further man, Garry Carrod, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary. He and Hussain, along with Hussain’s wife Razvana Zeib, both of Chadwick Road, Slough, organised a house they wanted to buy with their share of the 7 million to be ransacked in an attempt to bring down the price.

An 88-year-old woman was selling the house to fund a place in a care home, but after it was flooded and vandalised, with windows broken, her failure to tell insurers she was not living there at the time of the burglary meant they failed to pay out. Carrod, 34, from Taplow, Buckinghamshire, has 74 previous convictions, including one for conspiracy to steal vehicles with Hussain, who has 64 previous offences to his name. Hussain’s wife Zeib, 35, will be sentenced at a later date after she plead guilty to conspiracy to money launder and commit burglary.

‘Sacked’ Tesco security guard stages 20 hour rooftop protest in Reading

A former security guard who claims he was sacked from his local Tesco1 after being falsely accused of stealing has spent hours protesting on the store’s roof. Adama Jammeh, 46, from Reading, climbed onto the girders above the checkouts in the Tesco Extra on Thursday night. By 2pm on Friday, he had been up there for more than 20 hours.

The store was evacuated just after 6pm on Thursday after Mr Jammeh, a father-of-two was spotted climbing up to the celing rafters. He has been protesting outside the store for six months

He has been protesting just outside of the Reading West Tesco store since he was fired six months ago. According to the Reading Chronicle, the ex-watchman was the subject of a year-long investigation by Thames Valley Police after he was accused of stealing electronics by Tesco and contractor Total Security Services . Although he was cleared by police, Mr Jammeh said Tesco refused to apologise and reinstate him in his old role.

He has been seen carrying signs reading “Total Security Services LTD & Tesco lied about me” and demanding Tesco CEO Dave Lewis come to the store and explain why he has been fired.

In a Facebook live stream, Mr Jammeh said: “I’ve been protesting here for six months . The Tesco CEO needs to come here and explain to me why I lost my job.

“They told a tribunal they caught me stealing . But why were the police not called ? How come I wasn’t arrested ? There was no evidence.

“I’ve got kids . This affected my whole family.. .

My wife, my mum, my kids: everyone.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident at our Reading West Extra store and are assisting police with the matter.”

A TSS spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident involving a former employee of Total Security Services and are assisting police and Tesco in this matter.”

Thames Valley Police said the incident is ongoing.

References

  1. ^ Tesco (standard.co.uk)