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Could Bethnal Green soon get an Oktoberfest?

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A bar owner hopes to start an Oktoberfest event in Bethnal Green after getting permission to turn a disused railway arch into a microbrewery.

Tower Hamlets Council has granted Vagabond Wines an alcohol licence for its Boxcar Brewery in the arch in Birkbeck Street.

The site will be the independent merchant’s seventh London premises.

Owner Stephen Finch told the licensing committee: “It will be a well-run operation and we will look to hire locally.

“Assuming things go well, we would like to eventually do something like a Bethnal Green Oktoberfest, within reason of course.”

Residents had complained the proposed closing times of 23:30 on weekdays and 00:30 on weekends were too late.

But, Mr Finch agreed to scale them back by half an hour to “address concerns”.

Could violence interrupters work in London?

Thomas Mackintosh

BBC London News

Violence Interrupters

A key to the success of Chicago's public health model has been through the work of a team of people known as Violence Interrupters.

They have been deployed on some of Chicago's most dangerous streets since the turn of the century as part of the city’s radical approach to tackling violent crime.

Carefully picked and trained, most have come from the hierarchy of Chicago’s fiercest gangs. Collectively they have served hundreds of years in prison and have similar backgrounds to the people they are now trying to reach.

Separate from police and law enforcement, they use their community contacts to identify high-risk situations and individuals and then work with them to interrupt conflicts before they turn deadly.

They do not aim to dismantle gangs or cliques but instead work with them in order to save lives.

Angalia Bianca
Alyssa Schukar

Angalia Bianca (pictured) was a member of the infamous Latin Kings gang for more than 30 years before becoming a violence interrupter seven years ago.

"It's all about buying time in most situations, trying to calm people down and talk them down from doing something they'll regret," she says.

"These guys out here aren't going to listen to police, but we have a reputation and a street cred.

"We used to live our lives out on the streets, gangbanging, committing crimes. We speak their language."

NHS pays out £35m due to unsafe hospitals

The NHS paid out £35 million in compensation last year due to hospitals being unsafe for staff to work in and dangerous for members of the public to visit.

Research by law firm Nockolds Solicitors found the average payout over the 2017/18 financial year was £158,219 but some trusts paid out more than £1 million each.

It said routine breaches of the duty of care the NHS owes to its staff and hospital visitors often get overlooked because of the focus on compensation for medical negligence.

The details come from freedom of information requests to all 232 trusts in England.

London's top hospital payouts:

  • Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (£1,009,306)
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (£672,579)
  • Barts Health NHS Trust (£632,306)

Seven trusts had no payouts last year, including Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Can Chicago's model cure violence in London?

Thomas Mackintosh

BBC London News

violence interrupters

Sadiq Khan has announced he is to tackle London's surge in violence by treating it as a disease.

Known as a public health approach, it originated on the streets of Chicago nearly 20 years ago and the idea comes from a scientist who spent years fighting infectious diseases in Africa and Asia.

In the 1990s, many major US cities had problems with violent deaths - Chicago often featured at the top of murder rates.

Dr Gary Slutkin looked at the data and noticed a number of similarities between the violence in Chicago and the epidemics he had just spent years trying to cure.

As an epidemiologist, he knew to look for three things before classing a disease as contagious; clustering, self-replication and epidemic waves.

Dr Slutkin concluded Chicago was facing an epidemic disease just as bad as he had witnessed in Uganda.

It's an approach which appears to have been a catalyst for the Mayor of London's latest bid to crackdown on violent crime in the capital.

Watch: Uber Eats drivers block streets in pay protest

Uber Eats drivers have staged protests over pay.

They were protesting changes to the payment structure, claiming rates for every delivery had been reduced without agreement.

Uber Eats say the changes were made "in response to feedback from courier" and "will help increase earnings during busy mealtimes."

Kyall Parnell: First 2018 murder investigation halted

Kyall Parnell
Met Police

A case into the first murder investigation to be launched in London this year has been discontinued, the Met Police has confirmed.

Kyall Parnell, 17, from Croydon, was one of four people to be fatally stabbed on New Year's Eve.

Although he died on 31 December, the investigation into his death didn't begin until the following morning.

One teenage boy, 16, was arrested on suspicion of murder but detectives are "satisfied" he acted in "self-defence".

The Met say Mr Parnell's family have been made aware of this and are being supported.

An inquest has been opened at Southwark Coroner's Court and adjourned until December.

Tulse Hill

Would you know when it's appropriate to call 999?

London ambulance

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is in danger of being "abused" by people calling ambulances in non-emergency situations, a doctor has said in response to a new poll about calling 999.

One in three people out of 1,000 Londoners who were polled said they would call an ambulance in a non-emergency situation because they did not know what else to do, according to a report by the London Assembly's health committee.

One in 10 people in the capital said they would call an emergency ambulance if their child got their hand stuck in a jam jar, while more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds would call an ambulance in a non-emergency situation if they had no other way to get someone to hospital.

Despite this, 56% of people said they strongly agreed with the statement "I know when to call an ambulance".

Dr Onkar Sahota, chairman of the London Assembly committee which is looking into the future of LAS, said people need a better understanding of the various ways to access healthcare.

"The 999 system can be abused by those with spurious issues but it also has to cover for problems in other parts of the healthcare system," he added.

"We all need to work together to make the best use of our precious ambulance service resources."

LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson added: "The latest poll of Londoners shows we need to remind people, of all ages, to use us wisely and only call 999 in a genuine emergency.

"We are delighted that the survey shows that the overwhelming majority of Londoners have confidence in us and think our staff do an excellent job."

'Worrying lack of detail' in Khan's anti-violence plan

London Assembly members have said there is a "worrying lack of detail" in the London mayor's new strategy for tackling violent crime.

Sadiq Khan has set up a Violence Reduction Unit to treat violence in the capital like a public health issue.

But Steve O’Connell, chairman of the Assembly's police and crime committee, voiced concerns about the initiative which "has been a long time coming".

“We commend the mayor for finally recognising that a broader approach which addresses the causes of violence is needed to halt the scourge of violent crime, in all its forms, that is blighting our city," he said.

"Communities need to be involved for this type of approach to work and London is very complex," Mr O'Connell added.

“However, there is a worrying lack of detail as to how this unit will operate across such a vast area as the whole of London.

"We will be keeping a close eye on whether this new plan has an impact on the ground and does not end up a missed opportunity.”

'Drug dealers only' parking space and signs put up by residents
A community activist says the "fairly amusing" signs worked and there was no dealing this Sunday after the signs went up.

Taxi drivers take congestion charge fight to City Hall

Taxi protest
Kathryn Oglesby

Taxi drivers across London who could face a daily congestion charge of £10.50 have taken their fight to the Mayor of London’s doorstep.

Cab drivers could soon no longer be exempt from paying the daily levy under proposals put forward by Transport for London (TfL).

The charge was introduced in 2003 and is imposed on drivers travelling through central London from 07:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday.

Campaigners, who are part of the Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB) protested outside of City Hall yesterday, where they called on Sadiq Khan to reverse these plans or make taxi operators pay the charge instead.

Yaseen Aslan, taxi driver and co-founder of IWGB, said: “We represent the majority of ethnic minority drivers and expect Sadiq Khan to go out of his way and help people like us.

“It is shocking we have to protest against a Labour mayor.

“We want more workers rights and to stop taxi companies exploiting drivers.

“We need more done to make sure our rights are not being abused.”

Mr Aslan said that taxi drivers have to work a minimum of 35 hours a week just to offset the costs they face before making any money - these include petrol, licencing and insurance costs.

If they had to pay a daily charge of £10.50 every day this would seriously impact upon their incomes.

Knives and alcohol sold to children in London


Shops in London are selling knives, alcohol and tobacco to children as young as 13.

Over 2,500 test purchases carried out by London Trading Standards (LTS) revealed the age-restricted items being sold to under-18s.

A total of 285 illegal sales were recorded, with 14% of shops selling knives and 12% selling alcohol. The Met Police said it was "unacceptable".

There have been 64 fatal stabbings in London since January.

Number of terror suspects on trial hits 10-year high

Armed officers

A total of 100 people were brought to trial charged with terrorism offences in the year ending 30 June 2018, Home Office statistics show.

Of those on trial 90 were convicted, making it the highest number of people tried and highest number of convictions since data began being collected in 2009.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said counter terrorism police are "working tirelessly to ensure that our investigations yield positive results at court."

“We’re not only successfully prosecuting more people than ever before, but we’re also jailing the most dangerous offenders for longer - helping to keep the public safe,” he said.

Met chief 'disappointed' by police pay rise

Cressida Dick

The head of the Metropolitan Police has criticised the government's refusal to increase police pay by 3%.

Police were given a 2% rise - even though an independent panel had recommended a 3% increase.

Cressida Dick said she was "disappointed" by the decision "to ignore the recommendations", which had impacted both morale and staffing.

It comes as a public spending watchdog called the government's approach to police funding "ineffective".

Thousands sign petition over nursery closure plans

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Thousands of parents are fighting plans to shut council-run nurseries and a specialist deaf unit in east London.

They say the closures of the three facilities would force women out of work and be “devastating” for disabled children.

More than 34,000 people have signed a petition against Tower Hamlets council’s proposal to shut Overland Nursery — which caters for children with special needs — next summer.

Mary Sambrook nursery in Wapping and John Smith nursery in Whitechapel are earmarked for closure later this year.

All three offer subsidised care to children under five and open for longer hours than most private nurseries — including during school holidays.

Niru Naidu said her son Milind, three, has autism and started at Overland a year ago.

The IT worker said: “Milind could only say one word when he started nursery and he went through speech therapy there.

“He talks and listens now and is a completely different child. He got the help he needed when he needed it. People from all over the world have signed the petition because they know how important early years care is.”

Fifth of London murders 'linked back to Merton'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A fifth of all murders in London can be linked back to Merton, according to a report published this week.

The report on knife crime has been put together by Neil Thurlow, head of Safer Merton.

Since 2016 there has been a 21% increase in knife crime in the borough at about 15 offences each month.

The highest level is seen in Figge’s Marsh and Cricket Green, accounting for 30% of all knife crime offences in the borough.

Colliers Wood and Pollards Hill are the see the third and fourth highest levels respectively.

But the increase in offences is less than half the increase that has been seen across London.

The report said: “Merton has not been unaffected by this increase [in 2018] in murder rate and knife crime.

“We have had one murder on borough, we have seen one ex-Merton young person killed in Camberwell and, through work undertaken by the youth offending team, they estimate that London’s murders can be linked back to Merton, in some way, in an alarming 20% of cases.”

It goes on to say that police cannot deal with the ‘pandemic’ of knife crime alone.

A ‘knife crime plan’ is set to be signed off by 14 September.

This will include how other organisations could contribute to weapon sweeps in the borough.

It will also include what front-line staff, like wardens and street cleaners, should do if they come across a weapon and whether training needs to be provided by the police for these groups.

The report is set to be discussed by Merton Council’s Joint Consultative Committee with Ethnic Minority Organisations on Tuesday.

Thames Magistrates' Court evacuated over 'suspect package'

Thameside Mags' Court
George Willis

Thames Magistrates' Court in east London has been evacuated while police deal with a reported suspect package.

The Met Police says it was called out to Bow Road at 11:11 and is carrying out checks.

Local road closures are in place while enquiries are ongoing, a spokesman for the Met has said.

2018 marks the centenary of the Metropolitan Police's unit, the Flying Squad.
The Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad has solved some of the most high-profile crimes in history.

Novichok attack: hotel residents urged to contact police

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Met Police

The leader of Tower Hamlets council has urged anyone who stayed at the Bow hotel where two alleged Russian hitmen plotted the Salisbury Novichok attack to contact police.

Police announced that two Russians, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were the main suspects behind the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

The men, believed to be from Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, spent two nights at the City Stay Hotel, next to Bow DLR Station, before allegedly carrying out the attempted hit on the ex-spy and his daughter.

Mayor John Biggs said residents will be “appalled” that deadly Novichok was brought into the borough but tests had found the hotel was safe.

“We should be reassured that following tests, experts deemed that the room was safe and that it posed no risk to the public,” he said.

“People in the East End will be appalled that these dangerous chemicals were brought into our community.

“I want to thank the police for their continued efforts to keep our community safe.”

He added: “We will continue to work closely with them to support them in any way we can and I would urge anyone who stayed in the hotel between 4 March and 4 May 2018 to contact the investigation team.”