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Summary

  1. Updates on Thursday, 13 April 2017
  2. HMIC has 'serious concerns' over Bedfordshire Police
  3. Chinese community in Milton Keynes want more police protection
  4. Virgin Trains East Coast staff to stage 48-hour strike
  5. Woodland wedding venue attacked by arsonists

Live Reporting

By Sarah Jenkins

All times stated are UK

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That's all for today

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

Thanks for your company.

We'll be back after the long weekend on Tuesday with live updates of news, weather, travel and sport - but any breaking news will be posted here for you.

We hope you have a lovely extended break, and for anyone working, give yourself a pat on the back!

Hitchin bird
BBC

Infant's stolen birthday presents returned

A five-year-old boy, who thought he would never see his presents again after they were stolen, has had them returned.

Jayden Wijemunige celebrated his birthday on 21 March, and the presents were stolen from the boot of his dad's car sometime between Monday, 3 April and Wednesday, 5 April.

The car was parked on Monklands in Letchworth.

The presents were found dumped in a front garden on Icknield Way by a passer-by who called the police.

Det Sgt O’Toole said: "He was clearly over the moon to receive his presents back and I would like to publicly thank the member of the public who saw the dumped boxes and alerted police."

Jayden Wijemunige and his presents
Herts Police

Manjula and Watsala Wijemunige, his parents, said: "Jayden was so sure that police were going to get him his presents back, but we realised it might not happen. 

"However, we are so pleased that they did and we can’t thank them enough for making our son smile again. He is a very happy boy now."

Woodland wedding venue fire - more pics

As you can see, there's nothing left of the treehouse and the tree whose trunk it was built around is scorched.

A trailer with a canister forms part of the police inquiry.

Lila's Wood tree showing scorched trunk
Lila's Wood
Trailer with canister
Lila's Wood

Hertfordshire county council backs Crossrail 2

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Hertfordshire County Council is among 40 local authorities backing a call for ministers to rally behind the Crossrail 2 project, which they say is "crucial". 

The line would run from Surrey to Hertfordshire, with the exact route still to be decided. 

A letter to the transport secretary says mainline stations in London like Euston will buckle under the strain of overcrowding and the benefits of HS2 will be lost in chaotic transport connections if Crossrail 2 doesn't go ahead.

Wedding venue victim of arson

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

A wedding venue has been targeted by arsonists just days before their wedding season kicks off.

Hertfordshire Police are investigating the incident which took place at Lila's Wood in Hastoe, near Tring,

The venue specialises in woodland weddings, but last night their centrepiece - a large treehouse - was set alight.

Offenders gained entry to the venue by damaging a surrounding fence.

It took firefighters three hours to control the blaze.

Lila's Wood treehouse before fire
Marie Kent Photography

Owner Faye Messenger said: "This is devastating for us, it's been our labour of love for the past three years.

"We created this space not only as wedding venue, but for local people like Brownies, Scouts and schools to enjoy.

"We would like to re-build what was there before and if anyone in the local community would like to help, we would greatly appreciate it."

Treehouse after
Sharon Grufferty

Det Sgt Victoria Coleman said: "This mindless act caused significant damage to property and had the potential to put people’s lives in danger. 

"Thankfully no one was hurt, but it could have easily been a different story with very serious consequences."

Severe accident: M25 Buckinghamshire anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Buckinghamshire anti-clockwise severe accident, before J16 for M40 affecting J19 for M25.

M25 Buckinghamshire - Queuing traffic on M25 anticlockwise before J16 M40, because of an accident involving car and a lorry earlier on. All lanes have been re-opened. Congestion to J19, M25 (Watford).

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

Grandmother thanks community for her new bike

Sophie Sulehria

BBC Three Counties Radio

An 89-year-old grandmother from Berkhamsted says she's been overwhelmed by support after her bike was stolen last week.

Mary Hampton
BBC

Mary Hampton had left the bike unlocked outside Waitrose in the town last Thursday.

In just 24 hours after it became known she'd lost it, the community had clubbed together to get her a new bike and a lock.

"It was an old-looking bike, I didn't think anybody would be going to steal it," she said.

"One bad action happened, but think of the wonderful kindness and caring that's come from it."

Severe accident: M1 Hertfordshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Hertfordshire northbound severe accident, between J9 for A5 and J10 for M1 affecting J6A for M25.

M1 Hertfordshire - Severe delays, one lane closed and queuing traffic on M1 northbound between J9, A5 (Redbourn) and J10, M1 (Luton Airport Spur Road), because of an accident. Congestion to J6a M25.

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

Severe disruption: M25 Greater London clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London clockwise severe disruption, between J25 for A10 and J26 for A121.

M25 Greater London - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M25 clockwise between J25, A10 (Enfield) and J26, A121 (Waltham Abbey), because of a broken down van.

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

Motorist performs handbrake turn and drives wrong way on M1

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

Police are trying to trace the driver of a van who performed a handbrake turn before driving the wrong way on the M1.

On Sunday, 2 April at 02:49 officers signalled for the white Citroen Berlingo van (registration - X641 WRM) to pull over in Grove Mill Lane, Rickmansworth, as the vehicle had no MOT or insurance.

Hertfordshire Police said the driver failed to stop which led officers on a pursuit along the A414 before the van turned around and traveled in the opposite direction along the dual carriageway.

For safety reasons, police withdrew from the pursuit.

Van driving wrong way on M1
Hertfordshire Police

Shortly after, police re-established the pursuit, following the van to J8 of the M1.

The van then performed a handbrake turn and drove the wrong way on the northbound carriageway.

Once again officers withdrew from the pursuit for safety reasons.

CCTV later showed the van exiting the M1 at J5 for Watford.

Sgt James Bessant said: "This is an example of extremely dangerous driving and the driver’s reckless actions put members of the public at unnecessary risk.

"If you think you may know the identity of that person, or you have any further information to share with us, please call us on our non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference C1/17/1707."

Bouncer bitten in suspected race attack

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Police in Luton are appealing for witnesses after a doorman was bitten in a suspected race hate crime.

Flame nightclub
Google

The bouncer was verbally abused, bitten and had punches thrown towards him at Flame nightclub in Wellington Street at around 02:45 on Sunday. 

A 22-year-old Luton man has been arrested and bailed.

Afternoon weather: Cloudy but dry

BBC Weather

It will turn cloudier through the afternoon but it should stay mainly dry throughout. 

The best of any brightness will be across southern areas with light winds throughout. 

Maximum temperature: 12C (54F).

For the full forecast where you are visit BBC Weather.

Bird in Hitchin
BBC

Police spot driver with no insurance

Severe accident: M40 Buckinghamshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M40 Buckinghamshire northbound severe accident, between J1A for M25 and J1 for A40.

M40 Buckinghamshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M40 northbound between J1a M25 and J1, A40 (Denham Roundabout), because of an accident.

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

Travel: All lanes now open on M1 southbound

BBC News Travel

All lanes have now re-opened on the southbound M1 in Bedfordshire following an collision this morning involving a lorry and a van between J13 (A421) and J12 (A5120).

The hard shoulder remains closed due to barrier damage.

View more on twitter

Number of trespasses on railway tracks at 'all-time high'

Sarah Lee

BBC South

Across Britain, one person trespasses on the railway every hour, according to new data.

Figures from Network Rail and British Transport Police show an increase in the number of people risking their lives on the rail network by trespassing on the tracks in the south-east region.

The data, which looks at trends over the last five years, shows trespass incidents are at all-time high in the region, while nationally one person trespasses every hour:

Tresspass
ALAMY

Number of trespass incidents in the last five years:

Reading: 

2012: 98

2013: 94

2014: 94

2015: 109

2016: 127

Number of young people under the age of 18 who came to the attention of BTP in 2016 while trespassing: 

Berkshire: 7

Buckinghamshire: 4

Hampshire: 14

Oxfordshire: 2

24 Hours in Police Custody nominated for BAFTA

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The Channel 4 documentary 24 Hours in Police Custody, which follows Bedfordshire Police, has been nominated for a BAFTA.

The series, produced by Garden Productions, has been nominated in the Factual Series category.

The team is currently filming with Bedfordshire Police for another series.

View more on twitter

Severe disruption: M1 Bedfordshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Bedfordshire northbound severe disruption, at J10 for M1.

M1 Bedfordshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M1 northbound at J10, M1 (Luton Airport Spur Road), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Free as a bird

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

Free range chickens will get their first taste of a bit more freedom today - as a ban on keeping poultry out in the open has been lifted.

Back in December, owners across England were told they had to keep their birds inside to protect them from an infectious strain of bird flu.

The government has since carried out a new assessment to evaluate the risk of poultry becoming infected by wild birds and has now relaxed the safety measures.

The BBC's Stuart Ratcliffe watched one flock's release:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Travel: Delays M1 southbound

BBC News Travel

There are still delays on the southbound M1 in Bedfordshire due to an earlier collision involving a lorry and a van between J13 for the A421 and J12 for the A5120.  

View more on twitter

HMIC 'satisfied' with most aspects of Hertfordshire Police

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

Government inspectors have revealed they are "satisfied" with most aspects of Hertfordshire Police, after the force acted quickly to rectify issues raised in a report.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said it is "pleased" by the force's approach to tackling anti-social behaviour, preventing crime and tackling serious and organised crime.

But inspector Zoe Billingham expressed her concerns about the force's approach to investigating crime, suggesting improvement is needed in how it engages with victims,

In a closing statement Ms Billingham said: "I am generally satisfied with the service that the force provides, and I am reassured that it is taking action to address the specific areas of concern that I have described."

The Police and Crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, has "welcomed" the annual assessment.

He said: "Whilst some areas of improvement were identified in previous inspections, the inspector has told me she was pleased by the constabulary’s response in dealing with the issues.  

"As a result I expect the re-inspection to show that Hertfordshire’s performance has returned to its normal high standard."

M1 link road to open today

Ben Nye

BBC Three Counties Radio

The new Woodside Link road is being opened in Bedfordshire today.

The road will connect the Woodside Industrial Estate in Dunstable with the new J11A on the M1 - but that junction isn't ready to open yet, and neither is the A5-M1 Dunstable bypass, so it will just serve local traffic in Houghton Regis for now.

Woodside link map
Central Bedfordshire Council

The Woodside Link is one part of a bigger project to ease traffic congestion across Dunstable and the road's development has been overseen by Central Bedfordshire Council.

The M1 junction 11A and the bypass are being managed by the Highways Agency, which has denied it is running late. 

A spokesman said it was fully on course to open as planned before the end of June.

Virgin Trains East Coast staff to stage 48-hour strike

Phil Mawson

BBC News

Staff on Virgin Trains East Coast - which run rail services through Stevenage - are to stage a 48-hour strike in a row over the role of guards and jobs, the RMT union has announced.

Virgin East Coast train
PA

The stoppage, on 28 and 29 April, follows recent strikes by three other train operators in rows over staffing.

The union said it wanted "explicit clarification" from Virgin on the future role of guards.

Virgin, which operates services between London, north-east England and Scotland, has yet to comment.

Chinese community in Milton Keynes want more police protection

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

The Chinese community in Milton Keynes is demanding police do more to protect them, following the murder of a woman in the town.

Hang Yin Leung, 64, (pictured) died in hospital after a gang of men forced their way into her home in January. 

Hang Yin Leung
Leung family

In a letter to the chief constable of Thames Valley Police, Samuel Wong, from the Chinese Christian Church, said: "This crime has greatly shaken the Chinese community and caused a huge concern among Chinese people.

"Apart from this recent crime, a growing number of similar crimes against Chinese people have also been reported in Milton Keynes over the last few years. 

"We feel we have been let down by the authorities and a lot of the time when incidents happen it seems that we're only left with a crime number so it's very inadequate."

Thames Valley Police has said there's no evidence the Chinese community is being targeted. The force said so far this year there have been eight burglaries within that community which equates to 4% of offences.

Chief constable Francis Habgood said: "We are also not currently in receipt of any information which has identified any specific risks to the Chinese community."  

Police force 'disappointed' at HMIC comments

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Earlier we told you that the Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has said it had "serious concerns" about Bedfordshire Police, saying planned improvements would take too long.

Jon Boutcher
BBC

Chief constable Jon Boutcher has said it is "disappointing" that the comments "fail to acknowledge the huge amount of positive work being carried out to rebuild and restructure" the force.

"It is for the force to change the opinion of the HMIC and we are doing everything possible to do that," he said.

He said that amongst other things, it had "invested heavily" in creating a team dedicated to investigating domestic abuse and serious sexual offences, and in the Cyber Hub, which tackles online and internet crime.

It has also merged its Child Sexual Exploitation team with its Missing Persons unit to enhance the way it protects young, vulnerable people from harm.

"We also have the on-going challenge of being a rurally-funded force with complex crime challenges such as guns, gangs and terrorism more usually seen by a large metropolitan force," he said.

"I am the first to acknowledge that the force has some way to go to, however it is important to recognise we are on a positive journey.

"Indeed the performance data in the recent HMIC reports put Bedfordshire in line with other forces.

"We will continue to work hard for our communities, it is they whose judgement is most important and more and more local organisations and groups are acknowledging the progress and improvements in the force."

HMIC has 'serious concerns' over Bedfordshire Police

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Government inspectors have heavily criticised Bedfordshire Police - saying plans to improve the force will take too long.

Bedfordshire Police
Google

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has released their annual Peel Assessment reports, combining all the inspections in 2016, with an updated view on each force.

It says Hertfordshire Constabulary acted quickly to rectify issues raised and Thames Valley Police is praised for a good level of service.

But in a statement posted online, inspector Zoe Billingham said: "I have some very serious concerns about many aspects of the overall performance of Bedfordshire Police. 

"In view of this, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable about the improvements that are needed.

"I continue to be very concerned that the people of Bedfordshire are not being well served by their police force. 

"The force has struggled to balance the need to protect the most vulnerable with maintaining a preventative policing presence throughout the county.

"I am disappointed that, despite repeated assurances that it would do so, beyond isolated pockets of good practice, the force had still not put in place effective and consistent preventative community-policing across the force area."

You can read the full statement on the HMIC website.

We have contacted Bedfordshire Police for a response.

Travel: Long delays on the M1

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

There are long delays on the southbound M1 in Bedfordshire due to a collision involving a lorry and a van between J13 for the A421 and J12 for the A5120.

We understand that two lanes remain closed - we'll bring you more when we get it.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Train delays remain following Hendon fire

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Train services from Bedford and Luton into London are still facing disruption this morning following last night's building fire close to the railway line at Hendon.

The M1 was also closed following the blaze at a builder's merchants, which also involved gas canisters.

Thameslink and East Midlands say the lines have reopened, but due to the length of time that lines were blocked, trains and train crew were displaced.

Disruption is expected until midday. 

View more on twitter

Detective in 'toy monkey' racism claim

Toby Wadey

BBC South

A detective who allegedly placed a toy monkey on a black colleague's desk has been accused of gross misconduct.

Det Sgt Andrew Mottau is alleged to have told the woman to make him cups of tea "when the black monkey starts to sing", Thames Valley Police said.

He is also accused of making racist remarks and asking her to "embrace" the monkey in the period between 15 August and 15 September 2016.

A four-day misconduct hearing will start in Oxford on 24 April.

Thames Valley Police HQ in Oxford
LOW CARBON OXFORD

Thursday's weather: Early sunshine before it clouds over

Sara Thornton

BBC Weather

There'll be some sunshine, but make the most of it, as cloud will increase as we go through the afternoon. 

The cool north westerly wind may bring a little drizzle much later on, but mostly we've got a dry day ahead of us.

Top temperature: 12C (54F).

Watch my full regional forecast here:

Welcome back to live updates from Beds, Herts and Bucks

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Good morning and welcome to another day of live updates from Beds, Herts and Bucks. We'll be here from now until 18:00 bringing you the very latest news, sport, weather and travel.

Today marks the last day before the long Easter weekend, with more than 20 million cars expected to be on the roads and more than 200 rail engineering works taking place over the period.

Apparently the busiest day for what is always called "the great getaway" is today, and there are already travel problems on Thameslink services and the M1. We'll bring you the latest news as we get it.

But first, as always, there'll be a full regional weather forecast.

Weather Watchers picture
BBC

If you want to get in touch, you can do it by emailFacebook or Twitter.  

Severe accident: M25 Hertfordshire clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Hertfordshire clockwise severe accident, between J18 for A404 and J19 for M25 affecting J16 for M40.

M25 Hertfordshire - Two lanes closed and queuing traffic for five miles on M25 clockwise between J18, A404 (Chorleywood) and J19, M25 (Watford), because of an accident involving two cars. Travel time is around 55 minute. Congestion to J16 M40.

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

Severe disruption: M25 Hertfordshire clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Hertfordshire clockwise severe disruption, between J24 for A111 and J25 for A10.

M25 Hertfordshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M25 clockwise between J24, A111 (Potters Bar) and J25, A10 (Enfield), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Severe accident: M1 Hertfordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Hertfordshire southbound severe accident, between J5 for A41 and J4 for A41 Edgware Way affecting J6 for A405 North Watford.

M1 Hertfordshire - Two lanes closed and queuing traffic on M1 London-bound between J5, A41 (Watford) and J4 A41 Edgware Way, because of an accident. Congestion to J6, A405 (North Watford).

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

Severe accident: M1 Bedfordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Bedfordshire southbound severe accident, between J13 for A421 and J12 for A5120.

M1 Bedfordshire - Two lanes closed, queuing traffic and long delays on M1 southbound between J13, A421 (Bedford) and J12, A5120 (Flitwick), because of an accident involving two vans, recovery work and a spillage on the road. Travel time is 15 minutes.

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

Goodbye

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

That's it from all of us here at Local Live for Beds, Bucks and Herts. 

We'll be back from 08:00 on Thursday with more news, sport, travel and weather. 

But before we go, look who we spotted while looking through the BBC Weather Watchers pictures

Dog and bluebells
BBC

See you tomorrow!

Weather: Much colder overnight and sunny spells tomorrow

BBC Weather

This evening will be rather cloudy with the chance of a few spots of light rain. Skies will clear later, leaving low overnight temperatures of 3C - that's 37F.

Weather graphic
BBC

Tomorrow will start chilly but it will be mainly dry with sunny spells and the odd isolated shower. Highs of 12C, that's 54F.

BBC Weather has more local forecasts.