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  1. Updates from Monday 24 November 2014
  2. More updates from 08:00 on Tuesday

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Good evening

    Local Live has finished for today. We'll be back with you from 08:00 tomorrow with more news, sport, travel and weather.

  2. Coming up on TV

    Mary Rhodes

    Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    At least 132 children are either being sexually exploited or are at risk of being groomed in Birmingham.

    A report today calls for compulsory lessons about the dangers of exploitation for all children by the time they are 10 years old. Bob Hockenhull reports for Midlands Today.

    Tune in to BBC One at 18:30.

  3. Fire on M6

    Highways Agency tweets: #M6 N/B is currently blocked at J7 due to a vehicle fire - Emergency services on scene, hope to get lanes open soon

  4. Motorway delays

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    Drivers are being warned one lane is closed and there is heavy traffic on the M6 northbound because of a vehicle fire by J7, for the A34 in Great Barr.

    An earlier accident on the M42 northbound between J5 for Solihull and J6 for Birmingham Airport has led to heavy traffic there, despite all lanes having reopened.

    The latest information is available from BBC Travel.

  5. 'Adequate funding needed'

    Rob Willoughby added: "A crucial step is to make sure every child is given a face-to-face interview when they return, to identify and help resolve the issues that made them run away in the first place.

    "Because of the high numbers involved, it is vital that adequate funding is made available.

    "More broadly, we need a national register of missing children to help us identify and track those at risk, and we need more work in schools to make sure children understand the risks of grooming and sexual exploitation."

  6. Children's Society's reaction

    Rob Willoughby, area director for The Children's Society in the West Midlands, said of today's report: "Children are at far greater risk of sexual exploitation if they run away from home.

    "So we agree with the report that more needs to be done to support the hundreds of young people who run away or go missing in Birmingham each year."

  7. Report's recommendations

    Jo Black

    BBC News

    Today's report into how the council tackles CSE included 19 recommendations.

    • An idea that all front-line staff and managers of case loads in Chandelier's Social Care attend training on CSE
    • CSE awareness features as part of induction training for all new councillors
    • For all current councillors there is compulsory awareness training
    • Ensuring a clear process for reporting and developing a whistleblowing process to empower licence holders and taxi drivers to be proactive in reporting concerns
  8. Ages of vulnerable children

    Susana Mendonca

    BBC West Midlands political reporter

    The city council report says Birmingham is actively dealing with 83 children who were identified as most at risk of being exploited.

    It said they were mostly aged between 14 and 17 but there was one below 13.

    It noted there had been some improvements for the council in this area including referrals, which had increased by 50% in one year.

  9. 'Groomed over his Xbox'

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    In one case highlighted in today's report, a primary school boy was groomed via his Xbox by two would-be abusers who arranged to meet him in a hotel room.

    His mother was able to alert police before the meeting took place, the report said.

  10. News on the hour

    Rob Mayor

    Journalist, BBC WM

    A report from Birmingham City Council's education scrutiny committee has recommended children as young as nine get taught about the dangers of sexual exploitation.

    More on this and other stories in our 17:00 bulletin.

  11. 'More effective action needed'

    Jo Black

    BBC News

    It added: "Systems to support agencies in identifying children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation are in place.

    "However, there is no evidence to demonstrate that the multi agency response is appropriately robust and that children and young people are suitably protected as a result.

    "In some cases seen where young people have been at risk of sexual exploitation, effective action has not taken place to ensure that these children are adequately protected."

  12. Background to CSE report

    Jo Black

    BBC News

    The background to today's report is a children's social care service which has been under-performing for some time. The council says it is improving but still faces difficult challenges.

    An Ofsted report in May 2014 said: "There is a lack of strategic planning and co-ordination for children and young people who go missing from education, home and care or who are at risk of sexual exploitation."

  13. Smartphone danger

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    Councillor Brigid Jones said 19 recommendations made by the committee were accepted by the council, including one to promote online safety - particularly around smartphone tracking.

    The council heard evidence "social apps" could be used to identify a potential victim's location and manufacture an "accidental" meeting with them.

    Girl holds an iPad

    There were also reports of perpetrators broadcasting messages over bluetooth in busy public places in the hope of making contact with a potential target.

    "By looking around and seeing who seems to be smiling about it and responding, the groomer would tailor his responses and then maybe go and introduce themselves," it said.

  14. Plan to stop abuse at hotels

    Mrs Ward said the council planned to use its licensing powers to better tackle CSE.

    She said there were plans to educate taxi drivers who might "unwittingly" transport victims and help hotel chains to stop their rooms being used as venues for abuse.

  15. Victims 'of all backgrounds'

    Councillor Anita Ward, head of the scrutiny committee which produced the report, said CSE was not limited to a single community.

    She said victims of exploitation had come from all ethnic backgrounds.

    Child neglect generic

    "Some of the most harrowing evidence we heard was actually...where young Asian girls were the victims," she said.

    "Please don't paint this as one community who prey on another."

  16. News on the hour

    BBC WM

    In the 16:00 news bulletin: A report has found 132 young people in Birmingham are suffering or vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

    It found 83 children in the most at-risk category. Our reporter Jo Black says there aren't too many surprises in the report.

  17. Tackling the perpetrators

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    Councillor Brigid Jones said the council's recent injunctions had been a change in approach, with the authority shifting its focus from victims to suspected perpetrators.

    Omar Ahmed

    Omar Ahmed (pictured), 27, was one of the men who was banned from contact with girls not personally associated to them and whom a judge ruled could be named.

  18. Exploitation 'society's problem'

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    Brigid Jones, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for children and young people, said the authority was requesting £123m over the next three years (£41m per year) to fund its plans to improve the children's services department.

    She said the council planned to work with other agencies, including police and schools, to improve its tackling of CSE.

    But she said the issue was not solely the responsibility of councils. "It's all of society," she said. "Particularly our approach to young women and how we treat them."

  19. Victims 'don't think they're exploited'

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    Councillor Anita Ward, head of the scrutiny committee which produced the report, said the council hoped to introduce CSE education from year six.

    Part of the problem, she said, was victims often do not regard themselves as being exploited.

    Distressed boy

    "We want to instil what a healthy relationship is," she said.

  20. 'Act as a wake-up call'

    Birmingham City Council said it hoped the report would act as a "wake-up call" to professionals and children, who "may not consider themselves victims".

  21. News on the hour

    Rob Mayor

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Four NHS staff from the West Midlands have arrived in Sierra Leone to treat Ebola patients.

    We hear from one of them, Tom Waters, a critical care paramedic with West Midlands Ambulance Service, at 15:00. Listen live.

  22. 'Hidden nature' of abuse

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    The council said it was working on a wider review of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Birmingham.

    "This will help increase understanding," the report said, "although given the hidden nature of this crime it will still not show the whole picture."

    The report said West Midlands Police had told the council "every ward in the city has got risks and potential and every area has a story around CSE: victim, offender or location."

  23. Children in gangs 'most at risk'

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    Children in care or involved in gangs in Birmingham are most at risk of being exploited, according to the city council report published this afternoon.

    Birmingham Council House

    Last week Birmingham City Council became the first authority to use civil injunctions in a bid to block child sex exploitation. Read the full story.

  24. 'Serious exploitation problem'

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    The council's report, described as a "health check" rather than inquiry, found good practice in general but said there were "a few cases where appropriate action had not been taken".

    It also acknowledged the full extent of the problem could be worse than the 132 young people to which it referred.

    With figures based on data collected in September, the report acknowledged a "serious CSE problem" in Birmingham but said the "totality of the problem" was unclear based on available information.

  25. BreakingBreaking News

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    A report has found 132 young people in Birmingham are suffering or vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

    The findings, published after a year-long investigation by the city council, says children in care or involved in gangs are most at risk of being exploited.

    The front page of the report

    Of 83 children identified as most at risk, 39 were white British, 40 were from black and minority ethnic groups and there was no data on four of the young people's backgrounds. Eighty girls and three boys were identified.

  26. Vow on Christmas attraction

    Jennifer Scott

    BBC Local Live

    Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has vowed to act after the Christmas attraction he helped to create was forced to close because of complaints.

    Laurence at the park

    The TV designer apologised on Twitter for his silence over reaction to The Magical Journey, near Sutton Coldfield, saying he had been away.

    He said it was "time for sleeves to be rolled up" at the park, which was branded a "rip-off" by some visitors.

  27. Post update

    The Birmingham South Response team said their call to the explosion in West Heath was a "career first" for all the members of last night's team. They tweeted this picture of the damage.

    The scene of the blast
  28. Travellers on former hospital site

    via Facebook

    The Stirchley Facebook page posts that travellers have moved onto the old Selly Oak hospital site.

    West Midlands Police confirmed officers were called at around 20:20 on Friday night to reports of 10 vehicles pulling up including caravans and that the group remained there today.

    A spokeswoman said advice had been given to the landowner but it was now up to them to take steps to evict the travellers.

  29. Coming up on TV

    Joanne Malin

    Presenter, Midlands Today

    On BBC One at 13:30, we speak to Tariq Jahan, the man who helped to quell the riots in Birmingham three years ago.

    He says the authorities need to educate young people to get involved in positive aid work to help Syria rather than travelling to fight.

  30. Video: Frosty facts

    Did you have to scrape your car's windscreen this morning? BBC Weather's Philip Avery has this handy two-minute guide to the different types of frost we get.

    Philip Avery

    He says sub-zero temperatures don't necessarily guarantee an icy windscreen.

  31. Father of seven

    More on the man suspected of fundraising for a militant group.

    The man, who was not identified, complained the measure was "degrading and inhuman", but a judge dismissed his claim.

    Mr Justice Ouseley, who heard evidence at a hearing in October, said the man was a married father of seven who lived in Birmingham.

  32. News on the hour

    Steve Hermon

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Police have arrested two men who were injured in an explosion in Birmingham last night.

    Pauline Worrall lives next door and she says parts of the flat are now in her front garden. Hear more from her in our 12:00 bulletin.

  33. Man loses rights claim

    Jennifer Scott

    BBC Local Live

    A Somali man from Birmingham suspected of fundraising for Islamist militant group al-Shabab has lost a High Court human rights fight.

    The man, who has not been identified, was made the subject of a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure by the Home Office after MI5 assessed him as posing a risk.

  34. Political week in 60 seconds

    Sunday Politics

    Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, has written to the prime minister calling for the police inquiry into an alleged Westminster abuse ring to be widened.

    Tom Watson MP

    It follows new allegations that at least one child may have been murdered. The rest of the past political week is reviewed in 60 seconds here.

  35. Albion lose at Chelsea

    BBC Sport

    West Bromwich Albion were reduced to 10 men inside the first half before they went to down to a 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    Claudio Yacob

    Jose Mourinho's men opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the table courtesy of goals from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard while the Baggies's central midfielder Claudio Yacob received his marching orders for a two-footed challenge of Costa.

  36. News on the hour

    Steve Hermon

    Journalist, BBC WM

    A four-hour strike by NHS staff has come to an end.

    Midwives, ambulance staff and other health workers walked out at 07:00 because the government has decided not to accept a recommendation to give them a 1% pay rise.

    More on this and other stories in our 11:00 bulletin.

  37. Witness sought in sex assault inquiry

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    A man with dwarfism known only as Kevin is being sought as a witness by West Midlands Police after a woman was sexually assaulted in Birmingham city centre.


    The 25-year-old victim had been out on Broad Street with friends and left Walkabout with Kevin at about 04:00 on Sunday 19 October. The pair were stopped by a man who spoke to Kevin before going off with the woman, leaving Kevin alone.

    It is believed she was then attacked in a building off Broad Street.

  38. Oldbury death crash arrest

    Clare Lissaman

    BBC News Online

    A man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after a fatal crash on Sunday in Oldbury.

    A Ford Ka and VW Passat collided on Wolverhampton Road at 09:20. The driver of the Ka was declared dead at the scene.

  39. Damage caused by blast

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    The hazardous area response team at West Midlands Ambulance Service captured this picture of the scene after the explosion at a flat in West Heath last night, which gives you some idea of the extent of the damage.

    The scene of the gas explosion
  40. Crook's jail term cut

    Birmingham Mail

    One of the criminals behind a £19 million money laundering scam - who had an eye-catching 'ARO6ANT' number plate on his flashy Mercedes - has had his jail term cut by top judges.

  41. News on the hour

    Steve Hermon

    Journalist, BBC WM

    West Midlands Ambulance Service says it is only responding to genuine emergencies during a four-hour strike this morning.

    We hear from Mark Gough, from the service, in our 10:00 bulletin.

  42. Boys charged in robbery inquiry

    Trystan Jones

    BBC News

    Two boys have been charged with firearms offences after an investigation into a string of robberies across Tipton.

    Four people handed over cash and mobile phones after being threatened with what appeared to be a handgun in separate encounters, police said.

  43. Men's burn injuries

    Clare Lissaman

    BBC News Online

    Two men injured in a blast at a flat in West Heath on Sunday night have been arrested.

    West Midlands Ambulance Service says a man in his 30s was treated for burns to his arm, head and back.

    The younger man, aged 27, was treated for burns to his back, neck, hands and arms.

  44. 'Un-magical' Christmas land closes

    Tom Richardson

    BBC News Online

    A Christmas attraction designed by celebrity Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has closed after one day due to hundreds of complaints.

    Magical Journey website

    Some customers branded The Magical Journey, which opened on Saturday, a "rip-off" and "unfinished".

    The attraction at the Belfry, near Sutton Coldfield, had been billed as a "snow-covered winter wonderland".

  45. News on the hour

    Steve Hermon

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Two men who were injured during an explosion in Birmingham have been arrested.

    In our 09:00 bulletin, we speak to Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden, who says he has spoken to another man who had to be treated for shock.

  46. Chilly start

    Sara Blizzard

    Weather Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    It's starting cold with a widespread ground and air frost in rural locations. The weather will turn dry and sunny and will feel quite chilly with very light winds. A maximum temperature of 8C (46F).

    There's more information about the rest of the week here.

  47. 'Like a war zone'

    Michelle Dawes

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Pauline Worrall lives directly across the road from the scene of the gas explosion and tells me bits of window and wood hit her house "like missiles".

    Pauline Worrall outside her house

    She says: "It was like a bomb had gone off. I know it sounds daft, but I thought I was under attack. It was like a war zone."

  48. BreakingBlast 'may be linked to drug production'

    Ch Insp Sean Russell, from West Midlands Police, says: "We want to make it clear that there is no ongoing threat to people living in the local community.

    "This was an isolated explosion and work is continuing to identify what caused it.

    "One line of inquiry is that it may have been linked to the production of illegal drugs."

  49. BreakingBreaking News

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    West Midlands Police has just told us the two men taken to hospital with burns after the gas explosion in West Heath - a 27-year-old and a man in his 30s - have been arrested on suspicion of causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

    The pair remain in hospital this morning and their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

    They will be spoken to by detectives when they have recovered.

  50. Gas explosion aftermath

    Michelle Dawes

    Journalist, BBC WM

    I've been down to the scene of a gas explosion in West Heath, Birmingham, for BBC WM. Two men are in Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with serious burns.

    The scene after the gas explosion
  51. Crash on M6

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    An accident near J10 of the M6 by Wolverhampton means there are delays on the southbound carriageway, one lane is closed and there is queuing traffic.

    Tailbacks go to J12 and travel time is about 40 minutes, warns BBC Travel.

  52. Men seriously hurt in gas blast

    Clare Lissaman

    BBC News Online

    Two men have been seriously injured in an explosion at a flat in south Birmingham.

    The cause is not yet known but police say emergency gas engineers were sent to the scene on Aldersmead Road, West Heath.

    Aldersmead Road blast

    The men were inside the property and were "seriously injured" in the blast at about 20:00 on Sunday, says West Midlands Police. Officers have sealed off Aldersmead Road "until the situation is resolved".

  53. Good morning

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    It's the first day I've had to scrape ice off my windscreen for a while, but after a cold start I'm back in the BBC WM newsroom bringing you today's news, sport, travel and weather.

    Let us know what you think about these updates throughout the day over email, Twitter or Facebook.