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Male prison guards forcibly stripped ‘incredibly vulnerable’ teenage girl inmate – report | UK News

An “incredibly vulnerable” girl held in a young offenders’ institution was pinned down and forcibly stripped by “multiple” male prison guards, according to a watchdog.

The teenager had been restrained and had her clothes removed on two occasions at YOI Wetherby in West Yorkshire, which holds some of the most “challenging” children in the country.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said he was “deeply shocked” by the findings, which were gathered from inspections over November and December last year.

Officers often have to intervene “multiple times at night” to stop girls trying to harm themselves, inspectors said, with the site having the “highest rate of self-harm of any prison in the country”.

The three girls held there account for more than half of the self-harm incidents in the past year, which had been the “key cause of use of force and assaults on staff”, Tuesday’s report added.

“We were deeply shocked to find adult male officers restraining and stripping an incredibly vulnerable girl not once but twice,” Mr Taylor said.

“While they no doubt acted to prevent serious harm, the presence of multiple men pinning her down and removing her clothes will have caused further trauma.”

According to justice officials, the officers were responding to a life-threatening situation and acted to prevent the girl from harming herself, with female staff not there as they had been assaulted earlier.

But the report added the institution had “no excuse” not to have female officers present, given how “predictable the behaviour of this particular girl was”.

“This is simply not acceptable,” it added.

Over the past 12 months, 24 children were strip-searched, with 12 of those taking place while they were being restrained at the prison, which holds 165 children.

Although prison bosses had recorded the decision to carry out a strip-search, “none had recorded the authority to use restraint”.

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Techniques that deliberately cause pain in a bid to restrain a child had been used nine times over the same period and were deemed “inappropriate” on each occasion by an independent review panel.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said restraint is used on children in “rare circumstances” when there is “no alternative to prevent serious harm to the child, other children or staff”.

“Custody should always be the last resort for children who commit crime and there has been an almost 70% decrease in the number of girls in youth custody since 2015, averaging just 12 girls in custody last year,” she added.

“This small number of girls have exceptionally complex needs and require specialised support, which is why YOI Wetherby is providing additional training to staff on self-harm and increasing opportunities for meaningful activity, education and personal development.”

Three found guilty of murdering vulnerable woman who was tortured, starved and beaten to death | UK News

Two women and a man have been found guilty of murdering a vulnerable woman who was tortured, starved and beaten to death.

Shakira Spencer died aged 35 after falling under the influence of her former neighbour Ashana Studholme, 38, her lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 44.

The defendants, from west London, “treated her like a slave”, scalded her feet and fed her only ketchup from sachets, the Old Bailey was told.

Ms Spencer went from being a “beautiful, happy, healthy” size 16 to a “gaunt and skeletal” size six shortly before her death, jurors heard.

Last September, her badly decomposed body was found after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat in Ealing, west London.

 Shakira Spencer, pictured in 2007, who was found dead in Ealing, west London on Sunday, 25 September
Shakira Spencer, pictured in 2007, was ‘gaunt and skeletal’ shortly before her death

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Mackenzie Crook’s missing sister-in-law Laurel Aldridge ‘very vulnerable’ after missing chemotherapy session | UK News

Sussex Police have issued new pictures of Mackenzie Crook’s missing sister-in-law – who missed a chemotherapy session and is considered “very vulnerable”.

Laurel Aldridge, 62, from Walberton near Arundel, has not been seen since leaving home on Tuesday morning.

Officers, while pursuing “multiple lines of enquiry”, are “concerned” and are urging local residents to check their outbuildings.

Crook, who starred in The Office and Detectorists, has said the family are “really worried” about Ms Aldridge, who he described as a “wonderful mother” and “usually very happy”.

Laurel Aldridge was wearing a turquoise fleece and maroon tartan scarf
Ms Aldridge was wearing a turquoise fleece and maroon tartan scarf
Ms Aldridge had a grey puffer jacket with her
She also had a grey puffer jacket with her

The new photographs show her wearing a turquoise fleece, maroon tartan scarf and brown hat. She also had a grey puffer jacket with her.

She is about five foot four, with grey/blonde highlighted hair, and sometimes wears glasses.

“She is considered to be very vulnerable and anyone with information of Laurel’s whereabouts is asked to report it to police,” the force said in an update.

Detective Sergeant Alan Fenn said he would be grateful if “residents in the Walberton and Slindon areas could check their outbuildings for any sightings of Laurel”.

He added: “Also, anyone who was in the Walberton area on Tuesday morning or has video footage of someone matching Laurel’s description is asked to report it to us.”

Crook said that his sister-in-law's disappearance was "very out of character"
Crook said his sister-in-law’s disappearance was ‘very out of character’

The local community is joining in the search, Crook has said. “A lot of people are looking in the local woodlands along the roads and stuff like that,” he told ITV.

Describing his sister-in-law’s disappearance as “very out of character”, he added that she had missed a chemotherapy session on the day she went missing.

“If I could appeal to everyone. Even if they checked before, check again in likely places where she might have crept in to lay down for the night.”

UK’s economic policies could cause ‘many more deaths’ than COVID – with government urged to protect the ‘most vulnerable’ | UK News

The government’s economic policies could be causing “many more deaths” than the COVID-19 pandemic, an academic has warned.

In the space of eight years, almost 335,000 more deaths than expected were recorded across England, Wales and Scotland, researchers have found.

The “not only shocking but shameful” statistic is thought to show the “damaging impact” of difficult economic situations caused by the government reducing public spending.

Experts at Glasgow University and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) looked at data on deaths in the three nations from 2012 until 2019.

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“This study shows that in the UK a great many more deaths are likely to have been caused by UK government economic policy than by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ruth Dundas, a professor of social epidemiology at the University of Glasgow and one of the authors of the report.

In its findings, the report stated there was now a “clear and urgent need… for such harmful policies to be reversed” and its authors urged the government to “implement measures to protect the most vulnerable in society”.

The research was carried out amid a “stalling of improvement overall” in mortality rates, with the number of deaths among the poorest members of society increasing since the early 2010s.

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Coffey’s NHS plan: Is it enough?

What did the study find?

From 2012, until 2019, 334,327 more people died than expected across England, Wales and Scotland, and more than half of them were men.

Among women, there were 77,173 excess deaths in England and Wales, as well as 6,564 in Scotland.

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the study found that previously improving mortality trends changed between 2011 and 2013 in Scotland and England.

This occurred after the Conservatives, under the leadership of David Cameron, came to power in 2010.

From that time until 2012, death rates among women living in the 20% most deprived areas of England increased by 3%, and they did the same between 2017 and 2019.

In the previous decade, this figured had decreased by around 14%.

In Scotland, the number of premature deaths among the poorest communities increased by 6-7% in the same time frames after declines of 10-20%.

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NHS data reveals A&E delays

‘These deaths did not have to happen’

Speaking about the research, Dr David Walsh, the lead author of the paper, said: “These figures are not only shocking but shameful.

“We must remember that these are more than just statistics: they represent hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been cut short, and hundreds of thousands of families who have had to deal with the grief and aftermath of those deaths.

“The tragic thing is that these deaths did not have to happen. In the words of the United Nations, in a society as wealthy as the UK, ‘poverty is a political choice’.”

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The government’s ‘plan for patients’

He urged the government to realise the “damaging impact of austerity” and respond with economic policies that improve life expectancy for everyone.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the “shocking” findings reinforces the “urgent” need for the government to “change course” from its current budget proposals, which have caused concern among many MPs.

“Reinforcing austerity, and imposing deep real terms cuts on welfare payments and on public services as a whole, would simply add to the human toll so starkly illustrated in this study,” he warned.

His comments come amid speculation that the government could cut benefits in a bid to reduce public spending.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak had promised to increase benefits in line with inflation, but current Prime Minister Liz Truss has said a decision on this policy “will be made in due course”.

With a failure to rule out a real-terms cut to benefits, concerns have been raised by Conservative MPs about the impact it may have on families already struggling due to the cost of living crisis.