Pervert Targets Teenage Girls On Canvey

(Echo) – A PERVERT is being hunted by police after he twice targeted schoolgirls on Canvey.

The man approached both girls, aged 15, as they walked alone.

He stopped one at Castle Point Golf Course, in Somnes Avenue, but she managed to run away. The man gave chase, but she was able to give him the slip.

The second girl was approached in Thorney Bay Road.

The man pulled over in a grey hatchback and asked her to get in.

When she declined he said “OK”, but ominously said he would see her tomorrow. He then gave up and drove away.

The culprit is aged between 40 and 50, with long scruffy shoulder-length grey and brown hair.

PC Sam Baldwin, of Canvey police, said: “They have been linked because the same description has been given, which is why it’s a concern.

“We just want to make sure that people keep their eyes open.”

The first incident happened at about 4.45pm on Monday March 1, the second at about 8.10pm on Tuesday, March 16.

Yet police only revealed what had happened yesterday.

Anyone with information should call PC Christian Howell at Canvey police station on 0300 3334444 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Lord Hanningfield Faces Court Over Expenses

LORD HANNINGFIELD will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court court today accused of theft by false accounting.

The charges relate to his claims for House of Lords allowances.

The prosecution, at a court a short distance from Parliament, is the first to result from the Westminster expenses scandal.

The peer denies any wrongdoing; but, if found guilty, could face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

He faces six charges of false accounting, relating to claims for overnight allowances from the House of Lords between 2006 and 2009, when records allegedly show he was in fact driven to his home near Chelmsford.

Hanningfield was suspended from the parliamentary Conservative Party and stood down as leader of Essex County Council.

He said he was “extremely disappointed” to be charged and insisted all his expenses claims were made in good faith.

The charges were announced by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer following a nine-month investigation triggered by the leak of expenses details to The Daily Telegraph.

True Scale Of Violent Crime Rise Revealed

(Telegraph) – THE TRUE SCALE of how violent crime has grown under Labour has been disclosed by Whitehall officials.

Violent attacks are estimated to be 44 per cent higher than they were in 1998 after research on the way police record them allowed comparisons for the first time.

The study, by the independent House of Commons Library, shows violence against the person increased from 618,417 to 887,942 last year.

The devastating review comes despite repeated claims by the Government that violent crime has come down substantially since it took power.

It is the first time such a trend in police recorded crime can be made because a change was made in counting rules in 2002 which ministers have always insisted meant figures before that date were not, therefore, comparable.

Instead, they have always used a separate the separate British Crime Survey which suggests violence has dropped by more than 40 per cent since 1998.

The Tories, who requested the new research, said the findings make a mockery of such claims and reinforce the public’s fear that violence is in fact rising.

Statisticians in the Commons Library have used a previous Home Office estimate on the effect of the change in counting rules to estimate the impact on previous figures, had those rules been in place then.

Just last week, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said violent crime had dropped by 1.5 million offences under Labour before attempting to blame a growing fear of crime on the Tories for “ramping up” public panic.

One criminologist accused the Government of “scheming and manipulation” who knew it was in their interests to avoid historical comparisons.

The figures will also be a boost for the Conservatives who were accused by the head of the Statistics Authority of damaging public trust with their use of statistics on violent crime.

Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the authority, warned Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, that comparisons of police information on violent attacks between the late 1990s and 2008-9 were “likely to mislead the public” as it omitted Home Office warnings that the figures for periods before 2002 were not comparable.

However, that comparison can now be made and shows recorded crime has continued to rise sharply in the last decade.

The row centres on the implementation of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2002 which aimed to harmonise the way police recorded offences.

Prior to that date, officers had more discretion to decided whether a crime had been committed and the system left the possibility of offences not being recorded.

The change put the onus on recording the basis of whether the victim believed an offence had occurred, which led to an almost immediate increase in crime figures.

The research by the Commons Library uses an estimate by the Home Office that the change is likely to have resulted in a 23 per cent increase in recorded violent crime.

On that basis, it estimates the official figure in 1998/99 of 502,778 would in fact have been 618,417 had the new counting rules been in force.

Recorded violence in 2008/09 was 903,993 but 15,500 offences have been subtracted as they were recorded by the British Transport Police, whose figures were not included in 1998/99, resulting in the 887,942 figure.

It is in stark contrast with the British Crime Survey, which questions more than 40,000 people, which reports violent crime has dropped from 3.5 million to 2.1 million over the same period.

The BCS also does not include certain offence, including murder and other homicides and offences committed by under 16-year-olds.

Mr Grayling said: “This new analysis confirms that the level of violent crime actually reported to police officers in police stations up and down the country is much higher than it was a decade ago.

“This just serves to underline the scale of the challenge the country faces in fixing our broken society.

“Over the past couple of weeks we have seen a series of horrendous violent crimes committed around the country. Whatever the statistical debates it is absolutely clear that we have deep rooted problems that just have to be tackled.”

David Green, criminologist and director of Civitas, said the Government had a reputation for “scheming and manipulation”, adding: “I think the Government knew perfectly well in 2002/03 that it would be very helpful to say ‘sorry we cannot go back beyond this date’ because they did not want a consistent historical series.”

Mr Green, who was a member of a Home Office Crime Statistics Review Group, which in 2006 recommended improvements in the collection of the crime figures, added: “It is very revealing and fits intuitively with what many people feel and what many people have been saying, if anecdotal.

“For people to feel that violent crime is going up and to be told they are suffering from moral panic has always been of some concern.”

In a major speech on crime last week, Mr Brown said: “Crime is falling. Fact. Down by more than a third since 1997. Fact. That’s 6 million fewer crimes each year. Fact. Almost 1 million fewer homes burgled. Fact. Almost 1 and a half million fewer violent crimes. Fact.”

He went on to claim the Conservatives had “cultivated” fears by abusing official statistics and claiming society was broken.

He insisted that crime had come down under Labour but his own Government’s figures show some forms of offences, including violence, were still on the rise.

But figures last November showed that the number of violent attacks committed by strangers had hit its highest level for at least a decade, now standing at the equivalent of 2,896 people every day. Strangers are responsible for half of all violent crime.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said: “Chris Grayling has tried to get cover for his dodgy use of crime statistics and has failed.

“As Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, states, the British Crime Survey is widely regarded as the most accurate way of recording crime levels,

“This clearly shows a reduction in violent crime of 41 per cent since 1997.”

Canvey Co-Op Robbed By Man Holding Knife

(BBC) – A CO-OP STORE on Canvey has been robbed by a man carrying a knife.

The robbery took place at the shop, in Linden Way, at about 0820 GMT on Friday when a man approached a sales assistant and demanded money.

The man, who held a knife at his side, was given money and left the store, turning left towards Long Road.

He is described as white, in his late teens or early 20s, about 6ft (1.83m) tall and of large build. He was wearing blue jeans and white trainers.

He was also wearing a navy blue hoodie with the word Lambretta in white lettering on the front.

Anyone with information is asked to call Essex Police on 0300 333 4444; or Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.

James Bulger Killer Jon Venables ‘Accused Of Serious Sex Offence’

(Telegraph) – JON VENABLES, the killer of James Bulger, was recalled to prison because of “extremely serious allegations”, according to Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary.

The 27-year-old was returned to prison on Tuesday, nine years after he was released on licence with a new identity after serving eight years for the murder of the toddler on Merseyside in 1993.

A report in The Sun claims Venables is alleged to have committed a sexual offence, in contrast to earlier claims of a fight at work.

Ministers have not said exactly why he was returned to jail, but reports have claimed he has enjoyed nights out in Liverpool under his new identity.

Mr Straw said the recall to custody involved some “extremely serious allegations” as he prepared to meet the dead boy’s mother, Denise Fergus.

Venables and Thompson were aged 10 when they abducted James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside and killed him on a railway line, on February 13, 1993. They became Britain’s youngest murderers.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice, Mr Straw said: “I was unable to give further details of the reasons for Jon Venables’ return to custody, because it was not in the public interest to do so.

“Our motivation throughout has been solely to ensure that some extremely serious allegations are properly investigated and that justice is done.”

Mrs Fergus, who will not be told why Venables is back in jail, told the Daily Mail she was angry and accused authorities of breaking a promise to keep her informed.

She told the paper: “Why can’t the government be honest and tell us what he’s done? It’s wrong – as James’s mother, I have a right to know.”

She said she was denied information about Venables’ case during a meeting with a Probation Service officer.

“I threw question after question at her, but she blocked every one,” she told the newspaper.

Venables has reportedly made several trips to the city where he murdered the toddler since being released, despite a ban on him doing so as a condition of his release in 2001.

He is said to have visited nightclubs and a pop concert in Liverpool and even watched Premier League side Everton at Goodison Park.

The killer is also reported to have worked as a nightclub bouncer.

There are fears that his recall could see his new identity being discovered because of fellow prisoners’ suspicions about special treatment.

Bulger’s body was found by children playing on a freight railway line 200 yards from Walton Lane police station, Liverpool, and more than two miles from the Strand shopping centre.

Days later Venables and Thompson were arrested in connection with the murder of James, and later charged. They were the youngest to be charged with murder in the 20th century.

In November that year, they were convicted following a 17-day trial at Preston Crown Court and ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the normal substitute sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile.

Details have also emerged of Venables’ trips to the seaside during his period of detention.

A former member of staff at the Fylde Farm School at Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire, which used to be an “approved school” for young offenders, said Venables was taken to Blackpool Pleasure Beach along with other teenagers.

The former worker claims Venables was able to study for GCSEs and enjoy illicit alcohol in the farm grounds.

One In Ten Drug Offenders Is A Child

(Telegraph) – ONE IN TEN drug offenders are children, double the number when Labour first came to power, figures show.

More than 100 youngsters aged under 18 are convicted of drug offences every week, raising concerns of a new generation of criminals.

It comes as separate figures show the equivalent of 35 children a day need hospital treatment for substance abuse, including illegal drugs.

A total of 6,370 teenagers and other children were guilty of drug offences in 2008 compared with 2,749 in 1998.

It is the equivalent of around a tenth of the total 52,664 drug convictions for that year, figures obtained by the Conservatives show.

Almost 13,000 children aged under 16 were admitted to hospital last year for substance abuse, which includes illegal drugs as well as other substances such as glue.

That was a 25 per cent rise since 1998/99 and includes 1,172 aged under ten.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “I just can’t understand how Gordon Brown can be so complacent about the social problems in Britain today.

“What clearer sign can there be of a broken society than thousands of children receiving hospital treatment for substance abuse. More and more children are also facing prosecution for drugs offences.”

A Home Office study yesterday found one in six hardened drug-abusing offenders go on to commit at least five more crimes a year.

One offender was responsible for 42 crimes, the statistics on drug misusing offenders showed.

Overall, 20,934 offenders known to take Class A drugs committed 54,462 offences in 2008/09.

Separate sentencing statistics from the Ministry of Justice found one in seven people caught with a knife or offensive weapons are let off with a caution.

In 2009, some 12,874 offenders were cautioned or sentenced for possession of a bladed article, but only 3,016 were sent to prison.

Some 1,873 were let off with a caution.

However, the figures overall showed a downward trend in the proportion being handed cautions.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Knife offenders should not escape justice with a mere slap on the wrist. Under a Conservative government, if you are caught with a knife you should expect to go to prison.”

Store Manager Hit During Island Robbery

(BBC) – THE MANAGER of a convenience store in Essex was taken to hospital after he was hit in the face and on the head during a robbery by three men.

The victim, who is 62, was at the back of Freshway in Third Avenue, Canvey Island, at about 1255 GMT yesterday when he was confronted by the men.

They hit him and snatched a white carrier bag containing the shop’s takings.

They climbed over a fence into Northwick Primary School.

They then ran out on to Second Avenue.

All three were white, wearing hoodies – hooded tops – and were in the 20 to 30 age range, police said.

One was slim, the second was medium build and carried a cream cloth bag, and the third was larger build than the other two.

The amount stolen is not yet known.

Det Sgt Julie Gowen said: “These men used an unnecessary degree of force on their victim.

“I appeal to anyone who may have seen them making off or who has information that could lead to their arrest to call the police.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0300 333 4444, or Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555 111.