News headlines: Crash data scam, police brutality and a battery revolution

Five days until the polling stations open, and Saturday's political coverage largely consists of the extremely well-worn discussion over whether Labour will make some sort of pact with the SNP, and what that would mean for the country at large.

Arguments about whether Labour is offering the Nationalists a "deal or no deal", can be found in the Sun and the Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Mail has a Jackie magazine style "pictorial love story" mock-up between Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon which may amuse many, but not the politicians concerned probably.

Image caption John Humphrys was lost for words at a Midlands' car wash

Elsewhere, some papers examine the campaign itself: its tone, what it means for the country and where it is leading.

The presenter of the BBC Radio 4's Today programme John Humphrys writes in the Daily Telegraph that the election has been the "most bloodless" he has witnessed in five decades of reporting.

Humphrys recalls an encounter at a Birmingham car wash. He asked a young woman there who she would would vote for, and she was surprised that there was an election going on and struggled to see what difference it would make.

"I tried to explain, but I'm not absolutely sure I managed to persuade myself," he writes.

Humphrys adds that he has not become a believer in Russell Brand's "voting changes nothing" theory, but he was struggling to explain to the non-voter what exactly was going on.

"There was only one honest answer: damned if I know," he adds.

Columnist Hugo Rifkind in the Times looks forward to days of "zombie politicians" who haven't slept for days in the run up to the election, during the count and in the potentially fraught aftermath.

"They're going to be borderline delirious and frankly weird," he writes.

Coalition talks could further exacerbate this tiredness, he says, remembering 2010's shouty exchange between Sky News's Adam Boulton ("who had been standing live on College Green for most of an entire trembling, exhausted week") and Alistair Campbell.

"And that was just... the stuff we got to see. Behind closed doors imagine. Just imagine," he expands.

And prolonged negotiations could well be ahead, says another article in the paper.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The election and its opinion polls has been a nightmare for the number crunchers

Election analyst Stephen Fisher of Oxford University points out that even a 3 to 3.5% lead for the Conservative party would not necessarily be enough to give them a majority over Labour and the SNP combined.

The Times adds that cabinet secretary sir Jeremy Heywood is preparing a suite of rooms in Whitehall for use by parties in coalition talks, starting on Friday.

Veteran pollster Peter Kellner says that the uncertainty of the election has been added to by analysts having to consider more complex multi-party results.

"About 200 seats matter this time: twice the normal number.

"These are the seats that may change hands or stay with their current party only narrowly."

Prof John Curtice, a veteran election watcher, tells the Independent that although the Tories have enjoyed a good week, the average of current polls puts them just one percentile point ahead of Labour.

Such a happenstance, Prof Curtice explains could still mean Labour ending the night as the largest party due to its strength in smaller urban seats, which have lower voter turnouts.

The Guardian's data editor Alberto Nardelli supports this view.

"As things stand, the arithmetic is to the advantage of Miliband.

"This is because the sum of the 'anti-Tory' bloc - those parties that have said they would vote a Tory government down - currently adds up to 329 seats: a majority.

"Tallying up all the possible sources of support for a Cameron-led government yields 315 votes," he adds.


Cash for Crash

Not all Saturday's press is politics however, and the Daily Mail leads on a police investigation into how the details of people who have had car crashes has ended up in the hands of claim handling companies.

The paper explains that some "cash for crash" firms buy the data illegally from insurance workers, then cold call people.

It adds: "The trade in 'referral fees' between insurers, lawyers and claims firms has been outlawed.

"Experts say that, by creaming off huge fees, claims firms drive up motor insurance premiums by an average of £93 a year."

The Mail says three employees of the insurance firm LV= have been arrested on suspicion of an alleged plot to sell confidential data.

LV= tells the paper they work closely with the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and had alerted it to suspicious activity.

The Mail adds that two former employees of insurers Aviva are due before a court charged with similar allegations.

A driver who had his details sold to a rogue firm in another case tells the Mail, "They were harassing me and just would not take no for an answer. They had clearly been sold all my personal details including my address and mobile phone number."

One householder reported being contacted 470 times by such a company, the paper adds.


Fragmented cohesion

The Independent's non-political lead is on concerns that more than 3,000 police officers are currently being investigated for alleged violence against members of the public.

"Almost all of the officers under investigation for alleged violence... are still on the beat, with just 2% suspended or put on restricted duties," writes Paul Gallagher, the journalist who investigated the story for the paper.

Gallagher adds that while UK police enjoy much better relations with ethnic minorities than their US counterparts, black and Asian people are still much more likely to make a complaint of brutality against them in Britain.

Image copyright Getty Images

Almost half of the 3,082 officers under investigation work for the Met or the West Midlands Police.

Birmingham community activist Tippa Naphtali tells the paper: "Some officers have it in their heads that any black person, regardless of size, is going to be violent and their response coincides with that in terms of levels of brutality or restraint they use."

A Met spokeswoman tells the Independent that the force, "Treats each occasion when an allegation is made about a member of its staff extremely seriously and will fully investigate each incident.

"The Commissioner has recognised that there remains a risk that the MPS is still institutionally racist in some of what it does because there remain elements of disproportionality, despite significant progress over many years."

The paper's editorial notes: "Police face great challenges, headed by a mix of budget cuts, fragmented community cohesion and the growth of gang culture.

"We also recognise the under-reported and under-appreciated fact that Britain is getting safer, the crime rate having largely fallen for 20 years."

It says positive discrimination - which it says it rarely supports - should be used in this case to help forces recruit more black and Asian officers, because of the racial imbalance between the profile of some forces and the areas they are policing.


The future

The Times leads with a technology story, reporting on what it says could be a "revolution" in how household energy is supplied.

It says a new battery launched in the United states by the Tesla company could save householders hundreds of pounds per year, by collecting and storing solar power and cheap off-peak electricity.

The wall-mounted units link to roof panels and garden turbines, plus they tap into a house's electricity supply where they will "suck cheap electricity from the grid in the middle of the night for use in peak daytime hours."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Elon Musk

Energy researcher Sam Wilkinson tells the Times "this is the future". He expects to see devices such as Tesla's Powerall become "far more common" in homes, with other companies entering the market and prices falling soon.

The paper writes: "The case for using a household battery in Britain is strong... because energy tariffs in the UK fall heavily in favour of households that generate and use their own electricity."

Tesla's device will become available in Britain at the end of the year, and other similar energy storers - including one being tested by Gloucestershire firm Ecotricity - are expected on the market soon.

In an accompanying article, the Times profiles Elon Musk, the South African billionaire behind Tesla, who combines interests in electric cars, cargo-carrying space rockets and is developing a plan to colonise Mars.

Mr Musk, who is worth $12.6bn, is also said to be developing a mass rapid transit system that would propel people at 760mph on "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an airhockey table".


Glory days

Sunday morning will see one of the biggest boxing events ever, when America's Floyd Mayweather takes on Filipino Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight bout in Las Vegas. They will compete for the biggest purse ever offered in boxing.

Much of the coverage in the press focuses on the differences in character and style between the unbeaten Mayweather, whose flashy lifestyle and convictions for domestic violence have attracted criticism, and the smaller, veteran Pacquiao, who is a politician in his home country.

The Daily Star reports that seats to see the bout have been changing hands for up to £400,000 per pair - a 10,000% mark-up on their face value.

In a fight that has more zeros after its statistics than any other, the Star continues that £10m worth of bets have been laid already in the UK alone, with one man staking £200,000 on Mayweather.

Mayweather has already challenged fighters to come forward and set up his next bout, the paper adds, with respondents including Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother who shot to fame for battering her rioter son on camera, and British boxer Robin Deakin, who has only won one contest in 52.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao give each other the traditional eyeballing after the weigh-in for the most lucrative boxing contest ever

Steve Bunce, the Independent's boxing correspondent, says the money is going with the defensively minded Mayweather.

"Boxing can slowly ruin even the purest of fighters and Mayweather has brilliantly avoided unnecessary conflict during his unbeaten career of 47 fights, which includes 18 years of world title fights and championship belts at five different weights," he notes.

But he says there are doubts over the 38-year-old American's continued stamina, and it is possible that the more direct Pacquiao might be able to get close enough to land a telling blow.

The Guardian says the fight, six years in the making and with a £300m prize fund to split between the two boxers, recalls the sport's glory days of Mohammed Ali.

It quotes Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach on the tough background of his man.

He recalled a time when the 36-year-old Filipino sold doughnuts for a nickel more than he bought them, to survive, slept in a cardboard box, but kept boxing and turned professional at 14.

"Look at the man he is today," Roach says.

Mayweather counters, "My mentality has always been the same: line 'em up, and I'll knock 'em down like bowlin' pins."

The Guardian says he is treated "like a messiah" by his huge entourage, "from the man whose job during sparring is to insert chewing gum in his employer's mouth when he rests, to the guy who washes his 38 luxury cars."

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