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‘Crisis’ in barrister numbers as average wait for rape victims exceeds five years | Politics News

There is a “crisis” in the number of barristers available for rape and serious sexual offence (RASSO) cases, a new survey has shown.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said 64% of prosecutors and 66% of defence barristers will not reapply to work on RASSO court lists going forward due to the low legal aid fees they are paid and the impact on their wellbeing.

Politics live: Cameron holds ‘very important’ meeting over detained British man

The figures come as the average wait for a bailed rape trial to conclude from the day of an alleged offence hit around five and a half years – including an average wait of 18 months from someone being charged until the end of the trial.

The CBA said many cases were now waiting longer than 18 months, with members telling them of court dates being set for the end of 2026, despite the charges happening in 2022.

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Chair of the organisation, Tana Adkin KC, said barristers were “committed to do everything [they] can to address the backlog and continue providing the highest quality advocacy whilst ensuring the vulnerable, complainants and the accused alike are heard”.

But, she said, without “urgent intervention” from the government, the delays will only continue to grow, adding: “Our ability to deliver what government wants, what courts require and the public expects is currently unsustainable.”

More on Ministry Of Justice

According to figures from the CBA, there has been a 30% fall in income for barristers over the past 20 years, with some specialist criminal barristers taking home an average of £12,000 a year after expenses in their first three years at the bar.

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Why did barristers go on strike over fees?

Following strike action in 2022, the government increased legal aid fees by 15% – but the CBA argued this was the bare minimum recommended in an independent review of charges, and higher pay was needed to keep people in the profession, with swathes of young barristers quitting the courts.

Now, according to the survey, barristers will be walking away from RASSO cases altogether, which represent nearly 9,800 cases in the current backlog of over 66,000 in crown court – up 226% from the historic low of 3,005 at the end of 2018.

A total of six out of 10 of the 780 barristers who responded to the survey cited poor legal aid fees as the reason for refusing to take on RASSO cases in the future, while half pointed to poor well-being as a result of the challenging work.

“Doing nothing to increase RASSO fees is not an option unless we want to accept that rape and serious sexual offence trials will continue to be delayed for years, repeatedly postponed on the day because there is no barrister to prosecute or defend,” added Ms Adkin.

“The human cost for victims of these crimes as well as innocent defendants is beyond financial measure.”

Sky News has contacted the Ministry of Justice for a response.

Victims of epilepsy drug valproate and vaginal mesh should get compensation, government told | UK News

The government is being told to urgently set up a financial package to help patients damaged by epilepsy drug valproate and vaginal mesh.

Calculations for the cost of the package amount to half a billion pounds – just for the initial payments, according to a report by the Patient Safety Commissioner for England, Dr Henrietta Hughes.

Previously, the government rejected calls for such a scheme, but Dr Hughes’s report says that position “is unsustainable” and “is causing immense anxiety for harmed patients”.

Based on the needs identified by patients in a survey, valproate victims would need an initial payment of £100,000 per patient, and vaginal mesh victims would need £20,000.

Because more mesh victims answered the survey, this amounts to an average of £25,000, for an estimated 20,000 claimants, adding up to half a billion pounds.

Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.

However, there would then be a secondary payout based on assessments of future needs.

Dr Hughes told Sky News: “The need for redress is now. I want the government to get on with it, to set up a scheme for patients and start making payments in 2025.”

The report says: “The purpose of the Interim Scheme is to offer patients an initial, fixed sum in recognition of the avoidable harm they have suffered as a result of system‑wide healthcare and regulatory failures.

“The purpose of the Main Scheme is to recognise that the system-wide healthcare and regulatory failures caused different levels of harm to each patient.

“Consequently, the Main Scheme will require a more individualised approach with greater evidential requirements that will require more time to develop.”

Ultimately, this could also mean even larger sums of money.

Primodos not included

Dr Hughes was asked by the Department of Health to explain how to meet the needs of patients who have suffered “avoidable harm” identified by Baroness Cumberlege in her review into mesh, valproate and Primodos published in 2020.

However, controversially, Dr Hughes was told by the government not to look at a scheme for children allegedly damaged by Primodos.

Dr Hughes told Sky News: “I wanted to include the Primodos families and I was told that the government didn’t want them included.

“I said right from the start that if you have an independent review, the government should accept all the recommendations. Cumberlege recommended redress for victims of Primodos and I believe the same.”

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Primodos was a drug given to women as a pregnancy test in the 1960s and 1970s which is alleged to have caused multiple forms of malformations to the foetus in the womb. The manufacturer, Bayer, has always denied a causal link between the drug and birth defects.

Valproate is an epilepsy drug that can cause what is called Valproate Syndrome in children born to women using the drug, which includes distinct facial dysmorphism, congenital anomalies, developmental delay and autism.

Pelvic Mesh implants were given to women to support internal organs after childbirth or a hysterectomy – but have left an estimated 10,000 people with disabilities as the mesh cut into their organs and nerves.

Patricia Alexander. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
Patricia Alexander

Patricia Alexander, 46, took valproate during both her pregnancies, not knowing it would cause her daughter and son to have autism and life-long learning difficulties.

She told Sky News: “We’re talking about reminding them how to use the toilet properly, washing their hands, drying their hands, having a wash, brushing their teeth… things like this that children would have learned when they’re very small, we’re still having to do every day.”

Her daughter Amelie is 14 and her son Joseph is now 23, but he still needs warning about cars when crossing the road.

Patricia added: “Our biggest worry is what will happen to children when the time comes that we’re not here to look after them.”

It is more than six years since Sky News revealed how regulators knew back in the 1970s that Valproate posed a risk, but for years chose not to tell patients.

Patricia Alexander and son Joseph. Still from report by Jason Farrell Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
Patricia Alexander and son Joseph

‘Huge step forward’

Emma Murphy, founder of valproate support group INFACT, told Sky News this report was “a huge step forward,” adding: “The report outlines a number of options and ways the government could now implement redress but this does mean our families are again having to wait for the government to decide what to do.

“INFACT strongly urge the government to act upon this report that they requested and deliver justice to Britain’s valproate children, just like they did with Thalidomide babies.”

Sky News has also campaigned for years for recognition of the harms caused by mesh implants.

Natasha Brown. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
Mesh victim Natasha Brown speaks to Sky’s Jason Farrell

Mesh victim Natasha Brown described the pain as “like there is a piece of wood, a pencil, wedged in there.”

She now walks with a crutch, has had to give up her cleaning business, and is dependent on her two young daughters.

She said: “I don’t want them to be my carers. It’s really hard when you’re cooking tea and you have to get your 12-year-old to lift something out of the oven for you, and seeing my neighbours take them on long walks or taking them kayaking, and all I get is the photographs at the end.

“I want to be doing that. I’m only 49. I’m supposed to be doing those things for them, and with them. It has taken our lives away, and that’s wrong.”

Natasha Brown. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
Ms Brown now walks with a crutch due to the pain she suffers

‘Gaslit for years’

Kath Sansom, founder of campaign group Sling The Mesh, said: “While we are pleased that this report validates the suffering of thousands of women – many who have lost jobs, pensions, homes, partners, and live in constant pain – there are also concerning elements to it.

“Most notably, the initial sum of £25,000 for mesh is disappointingly low. We hope second-stage payments for women directly harmed will compensate for that.

“All women harmed by pelvic mesh trusted they were having a gold standard surgery, with little to no warning of risks from their surgeon, and as a result experienced irreversible, life-altering complications.

“Many were then gaslit for years, and, just like the post office scandal, told they were the only ones suffering, forcing them to suffer in silence.

“Finally, our hearts go out to the Primodos families who have been campaigning since the 1960s and 70s, who have no positive financial redress news at all in this report.”

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From February 2022: Epilepsy drug victim: ‘Government hid this’

Marie Lyon from the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy tests said: “The PSC has failed to engage with our families to ensure their patient safety needs are met.

“For more than five decades, our families have had sole responsibility of both the physical and mental health of their children. Shameful.”

Women’s health minister Maria Caulfield said: “Our sympathies remain with those affected by sodium valproate and pelvic mesh and we are focused on improving how the system listens to patients and healthcare professionals, as well as introducing measures to make medicines and devices safer.

“I am hugely grateful to the Patient Safety Commissioner and her team for their work on this important issue.

“The government is carefully considering the Patient Safety Commissioner’s recommendations and will respond to the report fully, in due course.”

Family of one of Brianna Ghey’s killers ‘truly sorry’ as victim’s mum calls for ‘compassion’ | UK News

The family of Scarlett Jenkinson – who has been jailed for 22 years for murdering Brianna Ghey – have said they are “truly sorry”.

The killers, both 16, who were named for the first time on Friday, had denied murder and blamed each other for the attack, which was described as “horrific” by detectives.

Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were 15 when they carried out their “disturbing” plan to murder her in a “frenzied and ferocious” attack with a hunting knife.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe. Pic: Cheshire Police

Jenkinson was jailed for at least 22 years and Ratcliffe for a minimum of 20 years. They will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18.

Read more:
Father disagrees with decision to name killers

How teenagers ‘thirsty for death’ plotted murder

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Moment Brianna Ghey’s killers arrested

In a statement given exclusively to the Warrington Guardian, the family of Jenkinson said: “All of our thoughts are for Brianna and her family.

“The last 12 months have been beyond our worst nightmares as we have come to realise the brutal truth of Scarlett’s actions.

“We agree with the jury’s verdict, the judge’s sentence and the decision to name the culprits.

“Our lives are in turmoil, but our immediate focus is to make sure that we don’t do anything against the wishes of Brianna’s family.

“We offer our sincere thanks to Esther Ghey for her incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family. Her compassion is overwhelming and we are forever grateful.

“To all of Brianna’s family and friends, our community and everyone else that has been affected by this horror, we are truly sorry.”

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Brianna was stabbed with a hunting knife 28 times in her head, neck, chest and back after being lured to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on the afternoon of 11 February last year.

Jenkinson, whose parents are teachers and lives close to the park in Culcheth, had been asked to leave her school, Culcheth High, over giving cannabis-laced gummy sweets to another pupil and joined Brianna’s school, Birchwood High, in October 2022 and quickly became “obsessed” with her.

Brianna Ghey
Pic:Cheshire Police 
Issued by Cheshire Police
Brianna Ghey. Pic: Cheshire Police

After the teenage killers were convicted, Esther Ghey called for “empathy and compassion” for their families as “they too have lost a child” and “must live the rest of their lives knowing what their child has done”.

Trial judge Mrs Justice Yip warned that anyone tempted to direct “vitriol or malice” towards the defendants’ families would be “acting against the express wishes” of Ms Ghey.

Families of Nottingham attack victims ‘let down’ after killer sentenced – ‘you have blood on your hands’ | UK News

The families of the three victims killed by Valdo Calocane in Nottingham have spoken out after a judge ordered he be detained at a high-security hospital “very probably” for the rest of his life.

The mother of 19-year-old Barnaby Webber told Nottinghamshire Police “you have blood on your hands”, as she spoke outside the court on Thursday.

In a series of missed opportunities to prevent the killings, Calocane had previously been detained in hospital four times, and a warrant for his arrest had been issued months before his deadly rampage.

Undated handout photo issued by Nottinghamshire Police of Valdo Calocane. Prosecutors have accepted Calocane's pleas of not guilty to murder and guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to mental illness, for the murders of Grace O'Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates, and the attempted murder of three others, in a spate of attacks in Nottingham on June 13 2023. Issue date: Tuesday January 23, 2024.
Valdo Calocane. Pic: Nottinghamshire Police

Emma Webber added: “True justice has not been served today. We as a devastated family have been let down by multiple agency failings and ineffectiveness.”

James Coates, son of victim Ian Coates, said the killer had “got away with murder”.

Ian Coates son, James,  making a statement alongside relatives of the victims, outside Nottingham Crown Court
Pic: PA
James Coates. Pic: PA

He added that Calocane had “made a mockery of the system” and if he had not been stopped it “could have been one of the most catastrophic attacks this country has ever seen”.

He blamed the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the health service for his father’s death, saying they failed.

More on Nottingham Attacks

“All we can hope is that in due course some sort of justice will be served,” he said.

Father of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, described the last few days as “absolute hell”.

Grace O'Malley-Kumar's father Dr Sanjoy Kumar and brother James outside court
Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s father, Dr Sanjoy Kumar and brother James outside court

He said the family will “never come to terms” with her loss and how she died saying Grace was a “gift to us, she was a gift to the country”.

Dr Kumar said the family never questioned Calocane’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, but pointed to a “lack of toxicology [reports]” and “contemporaneous mental health assessments” during the case.

He said there were “missed opportunities” to “divert [Calocane’s] lethal calls” that will “forever play on our minds”.

Prosecutors accepted 32-year-old Calocane’s guilty pleas to manslaughter, not murder, on the basis of diminished responsibility. He also admitted three counts of attempted murder after hitting three pedestrians in a van he stole from Mr Coates.

Calocane repeatedly stabbed teenagers Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar with a dagger as they walked home after a night out to celebrate the end of their exams.

He also knifed school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, to death as he made his way to work at Huntingdon Academy in the early hours of 13 June last year.

Barnaby Webber, Grace O'Malley-Kumar, Ian Coates
School caretaker Ian Coates, and students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, were stabbed to death. Pic: Family handouts

‘Foolishly’ trusted in the system

On the CPS, Ms Webber said the agency “did not consult us as has been reported – instead we have been rushed, hastened and railroaded”.

“We were presented with a fait accompli that the decision had been made to accept manslaughter charges,” she said.

“At no point during the previous five-and-a-half-months were we given any indication that this could conclude in anything other than murder.

“We trusted in our system, foolishly as it turns out.

“We do not dispute that the murderer is mentally unwell and has been for a number of years.

“However the pre-mediated planning, the collection of lethal weapons, hiding in the shadows and brutality of the attacks are that of an individual who knew exactly what he was doing. He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway.”

CPS explains manslaughter decision

The chief crown prosecutor for the East Midlands, Janine McKinney, said Calocane was assessed by three expert psychiatrists, all of whom said his actions were influenced by paranoid schizophrenia.

The condition had a “significant impact” on his actions and “impaired his ability to exercise self-control”, she said.

It gave him a legal right to put forward a partial defence to murder and offer manslaughter pleas, Ms McKinney added.

On reviewing the evidence, the CPS concluded “there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction for murder, but there was for manslaughter and attempted murder”, Ms McKinney explained.

“That is why we accepted the pleas.”

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Domestic abuse victims to receive ‘flee funds’ to escape abusive partners | UK News

Hundreds of domestic abuse survivors will receive cash payments of £2,500 each to help them flee their tormentors, under a new initiative.

The £2m scheme, which launches this month, is described as a “lifeline” for women who can’t flee – or are forced to return to – abusive relationships because they cannot afford essentials.

A successful pilot of the scheme last year, saw 600 victims given £250 or £500. A review found 80% of applicants used it to flee to a safe location, as well as buy food, clothing, nappies and security cameras.

The new scheme funded by the Home Office and delivered by Women’s Aid charities, will see these “flee funds” rolled out across England and Wales, and offers an additional £2,500 payment to pay for a rental deposit or bills.

The safeguarding minister, Laura Farris, told Sky News: “The most common reasons preventing people leaving a relationship are a lack of money, the strong fear of reprisals or being found in the future and concern about their kids – can you take them with you, how are you going to pay for everything?

“The point of this cash injection is to give them the security and confidence to make that first move to leave the relationship, and then a more substantial amount to get back on their feet, as they pay for those first few months of rental accommodation and look for a job.

“No government has done this before. Of course, we’re going to have to see how it works and it may be that we need to increase funding.”

Laura Farris
Laura Farris said no government has implemented a scheme like this before

Read more: Domestic abusers will be tagged on leaving prison to protect victims
Domestic abuse victims put at risk after data breaches revealed their locations

Labour also backed the scheme, but shadow home office minister Alex Davies-Jones said it was “against a backdrop of total failure” given prosecutions for domestic abusers have halved since 2015 despite a rise in reported cases.

There were 2.1 million victims of domestic abuse in the year to March 2023. Domestic abuse charities report calls to helplines last year were well above pre-pandemic levels – blaming the cost of living.

‘I came here because I was scared’

Sky News visited a small refuge for South Asian, Turkish and Iranian women in London, run by the Ashiana charity. They had fled violent relationships and most were ineligible for any public funds.

One, a woman in her thirties who was forced to leave her daughter behind, had slept in a church for several nights after fleeing her violent husband. She is now training to be a beautician, and hopes to leave the refuge this year.

Domestic abuse
One woman told Sky News she slept in a church before going to a refuge

“I came here because I was scared,” she said. “My husband was beating me; he was hurting me, and I couldn’t find any help.

“It was really scary, it was a new country and I couldn’t speak English. I didn’t know anything”.

She needed specialist support, but said the payment scheme “is a very good idea, being able to buy things I need gives me confidence”.

‘A lifeline for many victims’

Ms Farris said when the prime minister had promised, in a weekend interview, to tighten the benefit system to pay for tax cuts “he’s not talking about victims of domestic violence who have made the life-changing decision to leave their abuser”.

Nicole Jacobs, domestic abuse commissioner for England Wales, said cash payments have never been tried nationally, because domestic violence crossed different government departments.

Domestic abuse
The scheme could become a lifeline for many victims of domestic abuse

She said it would be “a lifeline for many victims” but said they must reach “those who face the most difficult barriers to support”.

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “When we worked on the pilot of the fund in May last year, we saw immediately the impact this was having on survivors – over 75% of applicants used their grant to replace or purchase essential goods for themselves or their children, after they had fled their abuser with nothing to their name.”

Labour peers are trying to amend the Victims and Prisoners Bill, currently in parliament, to ban police and other authorities passing on data about domestic violence victims to immigration control.

Domestic abuse victims put at risk after data breaches revealed their locations to alleged abusers | UK News

Domestic abuse victims have been put at risk after data breaches meant their locations were disclosed to their alleged abusers, the UK Information Commissioner has said.

The breaches have taken place at organisations including a law firm, a housing association, an NHS trust, a police service, a government department and local councils.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued reprimands to seven organisations for data breaches affecting domestic abuse victims since June 2022, with four of those cases related to inappropriate disclosure of the victim’s safe address to alleged perpetrators.

In one case, a family had to be immediately moved to emergency accommodation.

In another, an organisation gave the home address of two adopted children to their birth father, who was in prison on three counts of raping their mother.

Organisations had also revealed the identities of women seeking information about their partners to those partners.

There was also a breach in which an unredacted assessment report about children at risk of harm was sent to their mother’s ex-partners.

The people they trusted exposed them to further risk

John Edwards, the UK Information Commissioner, has called on organisations to handle personal information properly to avoid putting vulnerable people at further risk.

Mr Edwards said: “These families reached out for help to escape unimaginable violence, to protect them from harm and to seek support to move forward from dangerous situations. But the very people that they trusted to help, exposed them to further risk.”

He called on organisations to handle personal information properly and stressed that “getting the basics right is simple” through training, double checking records and contact details and restricting access to information.

A lack of staff training and failing to have robust procedures in place to handle personal information safely were among the various reasons for the breaches.

Mr Edwards continued: “This is a pattern that must stop. Organisations should be doing everything necessary to protect the personal information in their care.

“The reprimands issued in the past year make clear that mistakes were made and that organisations must resolve the issues that lead to these breaches in the first place.”

He added: “Protecting the information rights of victims of domestic abuse is a priority area for my office, and we will be providing further support and advice to help keep people safe.”

Read more:
Domestic abuse victim shares image of ‘horrific’ injuries
Domestic abusers to be tagged after leaving prison

‘A data breach can be a matter of life or death’

Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, said: “It takes a huge amount of bravery for victims and survivors of domestic abuse to come forward, and many go to extreme lengths to protect themselves from the perpetrator. To then be exposed to further harm due to poor data handling is a serious setback.

“That seven organisations have breached victims’ data in the past two years, with some sharing their address with the perpetrator, is extremely dangerous. For victims of domestic abuse, a data breach can be a matter of life or death.”

Kelly Andrews, the chief executive of Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid, said: “In the most serious cases lives are at risk.

“We encourage organisations to read the guidance and ensure staff are trained in handling confidential and sensitive data to better protect victims and prevent further harm.”

The ICO revised its approach to public sector enforcement last year. It aims to reduce the impact of fines on the public by working more closely with the public sector, encouraging compliance with data protection law to prevent harms before they happen.

The reprimands give instructions to the organisations on how to improve their data protection practices.

Domestic abusers will be electronically tagged on leaving prison under government pilot to protect victims | Politics News

Domestic abusers will be forced to wear electronic tags on leaving prison or risk being sent back to detention under a pilot scheme launched by the government to protect victims.

Up to 500 people will be made to wear the devices, which can monitor their whereabouts, enforce a curfew and ban them from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home.

The pilot will launch in the East and West Midlands before it is rolled out across England and Wales next year, the Ministry of Justice said.

Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, welcomed the pilot as a “positive step forwards in protecting victims”.

“By blocking perpetrators from contacting victims, the Unwanted Prisoner Contact scheme sets an important standard that the criminal justice system will not be used to further domestic abuse, making a difference for survivors’ safety, recovery, and freedom from abuse,” she said.

“For too long, the onus has been on victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves from harm.”

Shapps appointment ‘so depressing’ – politics latest

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “Survivors of domestic abuse show great strength and bravery in coming forward, and it is right that every tool is used to protect them from further harm.

“The tagging of prison leavers at risk of committing further domestic abuse is a further protection we are introducing to help victims rebuild their lives and feel safe in their communities.”

But Labour’s shadow justice secretary Steve Reed said the government had a “shameful record of ignoring domestic abuse”.

“This pilot is a pathetic effort to stem the rising tide of violence against women and girls that has skyrocketed on their watch,” he said.

“They’ve stood idly by as domestic violence has more than doubled since 2015 yet the number of prosecutions has plummeted by half.”

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Officer ‘took advantage’ of woman

The development coincides with a special report by Sky News that revealed a police officer was able to take advantage of a domestic abuse survivor by having sex with her in a women’s refuge while on duty.

Shannon Mulhall was distressed and vulnerable when she called the police and was taken to the refuge – but when she arrived, one of the officers sent to protect her stripped naked and made sexual advances towards her.

Disgraced Humberside Police officer PC Simon Miller now faces years in jail after admitting the improper exercise of policing powers.

He becomes the latest in a line of police officers who have eroded public trust in the police through their actions.

Read more:
‘Chilling’ surge in use of tech to control abuse victims
Failures leave ‘potential victims at risk’

In a move that seeks to address the public’s concerns, the government announced on Thursday that it would give police more powers to sack rogue officers.

Police officers who are found guilty of gross misconduct will face automatic dismissal while those who fail vetting checks can also be fired.

The move comes following a series of scandals engulfing the police, including the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens and the unmasking of former police constable David Carrick as a serial abuser and rapist.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley, who had been pushing for changes to police regulations to make it easier to sack rogue officers, welcomed the development.

“I’m grateful to the government for recognising the need for substantial change that will empower chief officers in our fight to uphold the highest standards and restore confidence in policing,” he said.

Nottingham attacks: Victims’ families tell vigil crowd to ‘hold no hate’ | UK News

The mother of one of the Nottingham attack victims has paid tribute to her “beautiful boy” as thousands gathered for a city centre vigil.

Emma Webber said the killer was a “monstrous individual” but told the crowd: “He is just a person. Please hold no hate that relates to any colour, sex or religion.”

Holding a photo of Barnaby, and with his younger brother next to her, she added: “My beautiful, beautiful boy – you have mine, your dad and your brother’s heart forever.”

Families of victims speak at vigil – as it happened

The sons of school caretaker Ian Coates wore football shirts with “RIP Dad” on the back as they spoke publicly for the first time.

“It feels like he’s touched a lot of hearts over the years, more than what we assumed and knew that he had,” said James Coates.

“So it’s been really nice and heartwarming to see the messages, and people come out and talk about how he was when they were younger and how he’s helped them… some beautiful comments.”

Ian Coates sons during a vigil in Old Market Square

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Ian Coates’s sons pay tribute

Mr Coates described his father as “an avid fisherman who loved his family, and he also loved Nottingham Forest”.

He promised to support the other grieving families – “anything they need from us, we are here for them”, he said.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s mother also gave an emotional speech and said her 19-year-old “treasure” was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

“She wanted very few things in life, she wanted to be a doctor, she wanted to play hockey with her pals, she wanted to have fun,” said Dr Sinead O’Malley.

“All they were doing was walking home. They were just walking home after a night out,” she added. “This person must face justice. It is truly unfair.”

There was a minute's silence at the vigil in the city centre
There was a minute’s silence at the vigil – and later some applause

Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates
Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates

Grace’s younger brother, James, described her as like a “best friend” and urged the crowd to “cherish all the moments with your loved ones because you never know when it will end”.

Her father also spoke, fighting back tears at times as he said his family, like the Webbers, had suddenly “become three”.

“Imagine a world of just love and no violence. Just imagine that world,” he added.

Read more:
School caretaker ‘selfless man’ and ‘brilliant bloke’

Timeline of how attacks unfolded

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Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s mother: ‘Say prayers for my baby girl’

There was a minute’s silence in the city’s Old Market Square and – at the request of Barnaby’s mum – a moment of applause.

Tributes were also paid by the headteacher of Mr Coates’s school and the vice-chancellor of Nottingham University.

Meanwhile, police have been given another 36 hours to question the suspect in the attacks and have revealed he used to be a university student in the city.

Detectives are remaining open minded about the motive.

The 31-year-old suspect was tasered and arrested on suspicion of murder after Tuesday morning’s killings.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19, were found stabbed to death in Ilkeston Road at around 4am.

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Man caught on CCTV trying to enter homeless shelter

Nottingham incident map

Ian Coates, 65, was also found dead from stab wounds in Magdala Road, with his van stolen and used to run people over in Nottingham city centre.

One person was left in a critical condition after that attack.

Video from the same morning also shows a man believed to be the suspect trying to climb into a window of a homeless shelter before being pushed out.

More than 400 victims forced into marriage in UK over past year | UK News

More than 400 victims were forced into marriage in the UK over the last year, data shared with Sky News reveals.

A leading charity which aims to end honour-based abuse in the UK is calling on the government to recognise and adopt their new definition of the crime, as data shows offences in England and Wales rose for a second consecutive year.

In new data shared exclusively with Sky News, charity Karma Nirvana said they supported more than 2,500 victims of honour-based abuse within the last year, 417 of them were forced into marriage and at least 82 children in the UK were threatened with being wed.

A new, clear and detailed definition of the issue is being shared with the government on Friday in the hope the Home Office recognise and adopt it, with the minister for safeguarding saying they “will consider whether there needs to be a change”.

Natasha Rattu, executive director of Karma Nirvana, told Sky News: “A clear definition for honour-based abuse is needed because the issues are so hidden and are often misidentified.

“It’s really vitally important that those who are on the front line have an opportunity to identify it, such as police officers, social workers and health professionals, so they can offer the best support.”

The charity also claims policing around this issue has “regressed over the last nine years” since an inspection was carried out in 2015.

It found that only three police forces out of 43 were equipped to deal with honour-based abuse offences – they are now demanding re-inspections of police forces across the country.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, the minister for safeguarding, Sarah Dines, said the government is “working hard at pace” to tackle the issue.

Ms Dines said: “I’m always concerned if people say they’re not trained enough, and I want there to be more training.”

She spoke to Sky News while at Heathrow Airport where Border Force and police were taking a proactive approach to raising awareness of honour-based abuse and forced marriage with passengers leaving and arriving into the UK.

On recognising the charity’s definition she said: “At the moment the strategy definition might not be helpful, we will consider whether there needs to be a change, but at the moment we do have definitions of domestic abuse and honour-based abuse is just part of the whole strategy that we’re doing to try and improve things for vulnerable people.”

‘I was essentially under house arrest’

Aisha, not her real name, spoke to Sky News about her story of abuse in the name of honour.

The moment her parents found out she had a white boyfriend in South Wales, life was never the same.

“I was essentially under house arrest. I was trapped in the house, couldn’t go anywhere and there was no end in sight. I think that was the biggest psychological hurdle because when will it end? It was terrifying.”

Read more:
Raising marriage age in England and Wales is ‘huge leap forward’ in tackling ‘hidden abuse’
Why is Scotland’s gender recognition reform bill controversial?

At the age of 22, Aisha’s parents took her back to India on false pretences. They claimed her grandma was unwell, but in fact, they wanted to force her into a marriage with a man she had never met.

“I was threatened with violence from the local mujahideens. My dad told me, quite plainly, if they knew what I had done, they’d shoot me. My dad was violent as well whilst we were there because he was giving me an ultimatum to fall in line and to do as I was told.”

She added: “My mother had insinuated that there could be even worse retributions, fatal.”

When Aisha returned to the UK after marrying against her will, she managed to escape the constant coercive control of her parents.

Like thousands of women across the country, she is now a survivor of honour-based abuse and forced marriage – some aren’t so lucky.

Shafilea Ahmed – killed by her own parents

2023 marks 20 years since the murder of Shafilea Ahmed.

Shafilea Ahmed
Shafilea Ahmed was murdered 20 years ago for refusing an arranged marriage
Shafilea Ahmed
Shafilea Ahmed’s parents

She was killed in her own home, by her own parents for bringing shame upon her family, refusing an arranged marriage and rejecting the traditional values of her family.

Her brutal death sparked a national conversation around honour-based abuse, but even today far too many victims fall through the cracks.

It’s hoped the new definition could be the beginning to ending this injustice.

Metropolitan Police officer found guilty of rape after admitting accessing victim’s details through police computer | UK News

A former Metropolitan Police officer has been found guilty of rape.

Ireland Murdock, 26, had previously admitted to putting his victim’s name through a police computer after the attack.

He was convicted of rape on Monday following a trial at Inner London Crown Court and will be sentenced later this month.

The court heard Murdock raped a woman while he was off-duty on 25 September 2021.

He was arrested after the victim reported the incident to the police the following January.

After the woman made the report, Murdock searched for her name on a police system and accessed a restricted crime report relating to her, the jury heard.

Murdock was dismissed from the force in July 2022 after he admitted searching the victim’s name.

Read more on Sky News:
Mother and partner found guilty over death of two-year-old girl
Two men and a woman arrested after woman found dead in flat

Chief Superintendent Andy Carter, who is in charge of policing for the Central North Basic Command Unit, said: “Murdock committed an absolutely atrocious offence, and caused his victim a lot of pain and fear. He betrayed everything we stand for and I am disgusted by his actions.”

He thanked the victim for her “courage and bravery in coming forward”.

Mr Carter said the officer was suspended as soon as the allegations were made against him, and he was dismissed at the “earliest opportunity”.

“We are determined to have a Met that the public can trust, with officers that people feel confident to approach. When someone fails to meet these standards, we will take action to remove them from our organisation,” he added.

Murdock has now been placed on the barred list held by the College of Policing, meaning he can never return to the service.