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Severe disruption: A1231 Tyne And Wear both ways

BBC News Travel

A1231 Tyne And Wear both ways severe disruption, between Ashmore Street and A1018 Hendon Road.

A1231 Tyne And Wear - A1231 White House Road in Sunderland closed in both directions between the Ashmore Street junction and the A1018 Hendon Road junction, because of a police investigation. Traffic is coping well. Diversion in operation - Via A690.

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

Alleged charity fraud exposed in litter pick

Local Democracy Reporting Service

James Harrison

A charity scam might have been uncovered thanks to a litter pick in Sunderland.

More than 200 collection bags apparently from Dreams Come True were found during the clean-up of footpaths around Herrington and Doxford Park last month.

But the charity has insisted all collections had stopped more than three years ago and claimed the bags appeared to be part of an attempted fraud.

They said in a statement: “We are saddened that there are individuals who are disguising themselves as part of the charity as their actions not only impact our ability to help our beneficiaries, but also litter local communities.”

Dreams Come True also said it has had reports of fake collection bags being found in Northumberland, Hampshire and Wales.

:Dreams Come True bags found during litter pick.

Sunderland councillor for St Chad, Dominic McDonough, who contacted the charity after the bags were found, said: “Dreams Come True works with sick and disabled children and those people who are using the charity's good name for criminal gain should hang their heads in shame.

“I just want to ensure that no residents are taken in by this scam and I hope that if we all work together we can catch the criminals responsible.”

City of London police said it had "found there were insufficient lines of enquiry for an investigation based in the UK", adding the "international nature of fraud poses difficulties in tracing payments and suspects".

Driver jailed for pedestrian death

An uninsured motorist whose "dangerous and reckless" driving killed a popular Newcastle businesswoman has been jailed.

Ranjit Grewal was out for a walk with her family in the Spital Tongues area of the city in April last year when she was hit by a car driven by Ionut Mihai.

The mother-of-three suffered serious injuries and died in hospital. Her husband and sister were also badly hurt.

Mihai, who was driving at nearly 50mph while attempting to overtake in a 30mph zone, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and driving while uninsured.

A judge at Newcastle Crown Court sentenced the 22-year-old, of Claremount South Avenue, Gateshead, to five years and three months.

Ranjit Grewal
Family photo

Sunderland bridges could offer hope to people considering suicide

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Chris Binding

Permanent "messages of hope" could be placed on bridges across Sunderland in a bid to prevent people from attempting suicide.

It comes after a teenager from the city, Paige Hunter, was recognised by Northumbria Police for trying to help people in despair by attaching handwritten notes to posts and railings on the Wearmouth Bridge reminding people that they’re not alone.

Councillor Dominic McDonough, who works for If You Care Share Foundation which focuses on suicide prevention, said making the messages permanent was a small thing that could make a "huge difference".

"When you put these messages up they’re absolutely fantastic but can disappear or be blown off," he said.

Wearmouth Bridge

A19 southbound lane closure over 'distressed' man

One lane is currently closed on the A19 southbound in the Hylton Grange Bridge area while police deal with a man in a distressed state.

Motorists are advised to drive with caution.

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Metro services between South Hylton and Park Lane resume

The short suspension on the Metro network has now come to an end.

Trains are running between South Hylton and Park Lane, but subject to delay.

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No trains South Hylton - Park Lane

No trains are running between South Hylton and Park Lane because of line obstruction.

Steagecoah services 8 and 20 are are accepting Metro tickets.

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Climate change: Newcastle professor says change is coming too late

Greenhouse gas emissions in the UK will be cut to almost zero by 2050, under the terms of a new government plan to tackle climate change.

Britain is the first major nation to propose this target - and it has been widely praised by green groups.

Head of engineering at Newcastle University, Professor Phil Taylor, says it's "necessary, feasible and cost-effective".

"But UK policy is still way off the mark and the foundations are not in place to be able to meet this target," he says.

"Even with all the evidence before us we are still opening new coal mines, extending Heathrow airport and pushing forward with fracking.

"We have unambitious building regulations, and our drive to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is too late."

Extinction Rebellion protest in London calling for action on climate change

Two held after trouble flares outside Chinese takeaway

Two men have been arrested after a fight broke out outside a takeaway, police said. Officers were called to Gateshead High Street just after 22:40 on Sunday after reports a 44-year-old man was attacked with a bottle. The victim had been in the takeaway when he got into an altercation with two men and trouble continued outside, a Northumbria Police spokesman said. The victim was taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries to his stomach and police are trying to trace other men involved in the fight.

Northumbria Police
Northumbria Police

Three to launch 5G service in August

Three will launch its first 5G network this August in London, before extending it to 25 other UK towns and cities - including Sunderland - before the end of the year.

It follows BT's EE and Vodafone in launching next generation 5G services in 2019.

Three said it would announce details of which handsets will be part of its mobile launch in July.

After London it plans to launch in: Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland.

Mobile phone
Getty Images

Date set for police and crime commissioner by-election

A date's been confirmed for when voters will go to the polls to choose the next Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dame Vera Baird is standing down from the role after being appointed as the new victims' commissioner.

She was the UK solicitor general and Labour MP for Redcar before becoming Northumbria's first PCC in 2012.

The vacancy has now been declared and the notice of election will be published on Thursday.

If it is contested, voting will be on 18 July with the result announced in Sunderland the following day.

Anyone who has not yet registered to vote should do so by 2 July.

Dame Vera Baird, who was appointed Northumbria's first PCC in 2012.

Brazen burglar treats himself to burger meal

A brazen burglar who treated himself to a Burger King meal with a stolen bank card has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Steven Spencer, 49, went on a mini-shopping spree just hours after raiding a home on St Luke’s Road, Sunderland, in March this year.

The thief sneaked into the property while the occupants were inside and took a wallet and purse. He then used the stolen cards to spend more than £100 on goods including clothes, beer and chocolate.

He also bought a meal deal at Burger King during his hour-long spending spree before the quick-fire transactions prompted a suspicious alert sent to the victim's bank.

Appearing at Newcastle Crown Court Spencer, of Front Road, Ford Estate, Sunderland, admitted two counts of burglary and three charges of fraud by false representation and was jailed.

Steven Spencer
Northumbria Police

Warning over fraudsters using TV licence emails

Northumbria Police is warning the public to be aware of TV Licensing phishing emails that are currently circulating. Officers have had reports that members of the public are receiving emails with links to a convincing-looking website.

It then requests that people enter their personal details. They are then contacted by fraudsters who claim to be from a department of the bank people are registered with.

TV Licensing have provided some further advice in relation to this issue on their website here.

Police chief 'refuses to apologise' to Irish journalists

Mike Barton has declined to apologise to two journalists after an investigation into the suspected theft of confidential documents was dropped.

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested in August 2018 over the suspected theft of files from the Police Ombudsman's office.

They had been involved in a documentary on the Loughinisland attack in 1994 in which six Catholic men were shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force.

The Durham police chief was brought in by the PSNI to investigate the leaking of documents.

On Monday, police confirmed the case against the journalists had been dropped, following a court ruling that the search warrants issued against them had been "inappropriate".

Mike Barton

Speaking today at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Mr Barton said: "I absolutely respect press freedom.

"But I do not - in my view and I have been corrected by the lord chief justice - I do not think it appropriate that secret documents that put people's lives at risk are put out there in the public domain - I think those discretions should be fettered."

Fast-charging station for electric cars opens in Sunderland

A new fast-charging station for electric cars has been officially opened in Wearside.

It can charge vehicles in about half an hour compared to eight hours at a standard charge point and it is powered from solar panels on its roof and wind energy.

At the moment, the charging station on West Wear Street, in Sunderland, is free to use but motorists will have to pay later in the year.

Fastned UK electric point
Sunderland City Council

Police appeal for help over Sunderland-Coventry disorder

Police investigating trouble at Sunderland's home game with Coventry in April have released images of four men they want to trace.

Eight arrests were made after the game on 13 April with a further five people having been ejected from the Stadium of Light over their behaviour.

Northumbria Police has now released images of men believed to be Coventry supporters who they want to speak to.

Montage of men police want to trace
Northumbria Police

BreakingNew Chief Constable for Durham Police named

Jo Farrell has been confirmed as Durham police's new Chief Constable, making her the first female chief in the force’s history.

The Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Panel unanimously approved her appointment. She was previously Deputy Chief Constable.

She will take over the role from the current Chief Constable Mike Barton when he retires at the end of this week.

Lucy Hovvels, chair of the panel, said: “The panel was impressed with the quality of the answers provided by Deputy Chief Constabulary Jo Farrell and the breadth of her experience and was, therefore, pleased to endorse her appointment.”

The appointment of Deputy Chief Constable Jo Farrell to the top job will be subject to a confirmation hearing next month
Durham Police

Spice Girls: Excitement builds in Sunderland

Fifty thousand Spice Girls fans are heading to the Stadium of Light tonight.The reunion tour is the first time the girls have performed together since the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony.

Roads around the stadium are now closed and the doors open at 17:00.

If you are going - you're reminded you can only take bags in that are smaller than an A4 piece of paper.

Tyne and Wear Metro have said that additional and late services will be running for those travelling to the concert.

Spice Girls reunion tour

Fire service remembers D-Day

The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service honours a firefighter who was also a war veteran.

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Emeli Sande 'honoured' to be Sunderland Uni chancellor

Singer-songwriter Emeli Sande has spoken of the "huge honour" of becoming Sunderland University's new chancellor.

Her parents met while studying at the then-polytechnic, and her birth in 1987 coincided with their graduation ceremony - so they could not attend.

She will be installed on 10 July and at her first ceremony as chancellor she will confer the academic award on them.

She said she was pleased to be involved with the university because of its work to try to "eliminate inequality in the education system".

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Police apologise over failings

Police have apologised to the family of a woman murdered by two convicted killers for failing to share information.

Failings by police and the probation service 'possibly contributed' to the death of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen Sunderland coroner Derek Winter said.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon, Northumbria Police’s safeguarding lead, said: "We have apologised to the family for failing to share information with the Probation Service and I do so again publically.

“This was an extremely tragic case in which Ms Nguyen was murdered by two manipulative and callous individuals, who are now in prison serving whole-life terms.

“We acknowledge the findings of the inquest and following this case we carried out a review of how we share information with the Probation Service.

"As a result, improvements have already been made, which includes introducing an enhanced electronic flagging system – with additional measures – to ensure all relevant information is identified and appropriately shared.

“I want to reassure the coroner, our partner agencies and the communities we serve that Northumbria Police is committed to ensuring we have systems in place to manage offenders through effective risk assessment and information sharing.”

Jordan Henderson line up for Freedom of Sunderland

Local Democracy Reporting Service

James Harrison

Ex-Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson is being lined up to be given the Freedom of the City.

The footballer captained Liverpool to Champions League glory on Saturday night in Madrid.

Now his home city of Sunderland could be about to give him another honour, which has in the past been awarded to the likes of Niall Quinn and Jimmy Montgomery.

The plans, which are still at an early stage, have been confirmed by council bosses.

Deputy leader Michael Mordey said Henderson has always been a "fantastic ambassador" for his home city, club and county.

Jordan Henderson of Liverpool applauds fans
ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Social media trespassers arrest warning

People who break into derelict or abandoned buildings to take photos for social media could be arrested, police warn.

A number of dedicated social media pages have been sharing pictures taken on private property.

Photos from inside the former General Hospital on Westgate Road in Newcastle were posted online last week.

Intruders also took pictures inside old nursing accommodation on the same site.

These buildings are closed to the public for a reason and many are structurally unsafe or contain hazardous materials, including asbestos. Those who force entry to these sites could be putting themselves at risk and so we are urging people to stop.

We are aware of some groups on social media that have been set up to show people inside these buildings. This could inspire other people to follow their lead but we want to make it clear that trespassing on these sites is illegal.

Neighbourhood Insp Alan DavisonNorthumbria Police

'Nothing can bring my sister back now'

Outside court following the conclusion of the inquest, Quyen Ngoc Nguyen's sister Quynh said the police and probation service "should have carried out procedures more strictly and earlier" to prevent her sibling's death.

She said: "It's too late for my family now. At least a better system can help other families to prevent other such tragedies.

"Nothing can bring my sister back now, the suffering from her death is unbearable and has hugely affected our family members physically and mentally.

"I was hoping that there would be some support for victims of crime, because we have to carry on with our lives, but we have had no support from anywhere over the last two years".

Freedom of Sunderland plan for Jordan Henderson

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could be awarded Sunderland's Freedom of the City after lifting the Champions League trophy.


The midfielder could be rewarded by his hometown after helping Liverpool beat Spurs 2-0 in Madrid on Saturday night.

The plan is being considered by Sunderland City Council.

Freedom of the City for Jordan Henderson is an idea that has been suggested by the majority Labour Group, which the council is now considering. He has always been a fantastic ambassador for his home city, his club and his country.

Michael MordeySunderland City Council deputy leader

Chief Constable's drug law disappointment

Durham Police's Chief Constable Mike Barton says he is disappointed there hasn't been more change in laws relating to drugs offences.

Mr Barton, who will retire this week after seven years, says he hopes legislation can be changed in the coming years.

He joined Durham Constabulary in 2008 as assistant chief constable and was promoted to deputy chief constable the following year.

Since taking up the role he has repeatedly called for debate over the approach to tackling drug addiction.

He recommended addicts be given free heroin and be supplied with clean needles in a safe environment known as a "consumption room".

PCC Ron Hogg, who shares his stance, has previously described Mr Barton as "foward-thinking" and praised his leadership as "unique and unequivocal".

Mike Barton
Durham Constabulary

Enforcement action 'may have moderated behaviour of Unwin'

Failings by police and the probation service "possibly contributed" to the death of a woman murdered by two convicted killers, a coroner has ruled.

Stephen Unwin and Wiliam McFall killed Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, 28, having met in prison while serving life terms for separate murders.

Sunderland coroner Derek Winter said breaches of Unwin's licence were not shared between police and probation.

If Northumbria Police had passed on information to probation about two incidents involving Unwin there would have been enforcement action, but short of recall as the threshold criteria had not been met.

At best such enforcement action may have moderated the behaviour of Unwin".

Derek WinterSunderland Coroner

Coroner concludes failures 'possibly contributed' to death

An inquest into the death of a mother at the hands of two convicted killers has concluded failure to tackle their breach of licence conditions "possibly contributed to her death".

Sunderland coroner Derek Winter heard killer Stephen Unwin was involved in a number of incidents after his release from prison for a previous murder.

Police had 26 pieces of intelligence about him between 2012 and 2017 but this was not shared with probation officers.

In August, 2017, Unwin raped and killed Quyen Ngoc Nguyen on Wearside.

The perpetrators of her murder were subject to life licence conditions, the known breaches of which were not acted upon in a sufficient, timely and co-ordinated manner, including a failure of information sharing, all of which were not causative but possibly contributed to her death".

Derek WinterSunderland coroner

Monitoring unit struggled under 'unmanageable workloads'

Peter Harris

BBC Look North

The inquest into the death of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen was told a Northumbria Police unit monitoring offenders struggled under 'unmanageable workloads' before a young mother was murdered.

The killers, Stephen Unwin, 40, and William McFall, 51, had been freed from prison on licence after previous murders.

Sunderland coroner Derek Winter was told Unwin got into further trouble with Northumbria Police after his release in 2012 but this was not passed on to probation officers.

Retired Det Ch Insp Jaqueline Coleman told the court a system of flags and markers highlighting incidents on offenders computer records was scrapped in 2015 because of the workloads issue and it was felt to be inefficient.

A streamlined version of the flagging system was brought back by Northumbria Police as part of a review after Ms Nguyen was killed.

The inquest also heard a warning note on Unwin's file giving information about his probation handlers had not been updated.

Quyen Ngoc Nguyen

Information not passed to probation officers

Quyen Ngoc Nguyen was tortured and dumped in a burning car at Shiney Row on Wearside in 2017.

Her killers, Stephen Unwin, 40, and William McFall, 51, (pictured below left and right) had been freed from prison on licence after previous murders.

Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter was told Unwin got into further trouble with Northumbria Police after his release in 2012 but this was not passed on to probation officers.

Stephen Unwin (left) and William McFall
Northumbria Police

The inquest, which started last week, heard Unwin was arrested after a disturbance in 2013 in which he threatened to burn a house down but was later treated as a witness.

He was separately alleged to have assaulted a teenager in 2015 and in 2017 a woman told police he sent her threatening Facebook messages saying he would "smash her jaw" and rape her.

One month later, in August, 2017, Unwin raped and murdered 28-year-old Ms Nguyen.

Killers were out on licence from prison

Peter Harris

BBC Look North

A coroner has said failures by police and probation could have contributed to the death of a mother.

Quyen Ngoc Nguyen was raped by Stephen Unwin in 2017 before he and William McFall dumped her body in a burning car on Wearside.

The inquest heard both men were out of prison on licence at the time and Unwin continued to get into trouble but police didn't pass information to probation officers.

Coroner to write to Justice Secretary

The coroner is writing to Secretary of State for Justice, Northumbria Police's chief constable and the probation service about the need for further training to help prevent future deaths.

He concludes by expressing sympathy to the family.