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  1. UK threat level raised to highest level 23 May 2017 From the section UK UK terror threat level raised to highest level of 'critical', meaning further attack may be imminent, prime minister says This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. If you want to receive Breaking News alerts via email, or on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App then details on how to do so are available on this help page. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. View the full article
  2. Manchester bomber named by police 23 May 2017 From the section UK Salman Abedi, 22, named by police as suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured 59 at Manchester Arena This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. If you want to receive Breaking News alerts via email, or on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App then details on how to do so are available on this help page. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. View the full article
  3. Manchester Arena blast: 22 dead and 59 hurt 23 May 2017 From the section Manchester Image copyright Peter Byrne Twenty-two people, including children, are now known to have been killed and 59 injured in a suspected terror attack at Manchester Arena. The blast happened at 22:35 BST on Monday at the end of a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande. Greater Manchester Police said the lone male attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated. Relatives are using social media to hunt for missing loved ones. Police have set up an emergency telephone number in response to the attack. It is: 0161 856 9400. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was "a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable". The prime minister is to chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee at around 09:00 BST. The explosion happened in the arena's foyer shortly after the concert ended, close to the entrance to Victoria train and tram station. The station has been closed and all trains cancelled. View the full article
  4. Police respond to Manchester Arena blast reports 22 May 2017 From the section Manchester Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWatch: Concert goers flee Manchester ArenaPolice are responding to a "serious incident" in Manchester amid reports of an "explosion" following a pop concert. Witnesses reported hearing a "huge bang" following an Ariana Grande gig at Manchester Arena. Network Rail said train lines out of Manchester Victoria station, which is close to the concert venue, were blocked. Greater Manchester Police tweeted to urge people to stay away from the area. View the full article
  5. General election 2017: May defends revised social care plans 22 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Theresa May has defended making changes to the Tories' social care manifesto pledge as critics called it a "manifesto meltdown". The PM told the BBC "nothing has changed" and claimed rival parties had been "trying to scare" elderly people. Her announcement that an overall cap on costs would be included in the Tories' offer followed criticism of the policy, first announced on Thursday. She said the size of the cap would be the subject of a consultation. BBC Election Live: Rolling text and video updates Simon Jack: Biggest wealth tax ever? Reality check: Who could social care changes affect? Labour and the Lib Dems said the policy was "in meltdown". Since the publication of the Conservative manifesto last week, much of the attention has focused on reforms to the way care for elderly and vulnerable adults is funded. The manifesto did not mention an overall cap on costs, instead proposing a £100,000 "floor" beyond which people's assets would be protected. Speaking to activists in Wales earlier, the PM said the package would now include an "absolute limit" on the money people would have to pay, triggering accusations of a U-turn on the manifesto announcement. In her BBC interview, Mrs May denied this and said the principle the policy was based on "remains absolutely the same". The whole package will be put out to consultation, she said, adding that people were "worried" by the Labour Party saying they could have to sell their homes under the reforms. "What we have put in the manifesto is that we will have a consultation and the principles on which our social care policy will be based," she said. "That I think is the right thing to do." View the full article
  6. General election: Theresa May changes social care plans 22 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright Science Photo Library Theresa May has said proposed changes to social care funding will include an option for an "absolute limit" on the money people will have to pay. The Conservatives ruled out a cap on total costs in last week's manifesto, instead saying no-one would see their assets fall below £100,000. The PM said the plan was "sensible" and would stop the system from collapse. But she said she wanted to address "shameful" fears that people would be forced to sell their family home. She told activists in Wales that the Conservatives were "determined the fix the system" and the consultation on the plans, if the party wins the election, would consider a cap among the options. BBC Election Live: Rolling text and video updates Simon Jack: Biggest intergenerational redistribution ever? Reality check: Who could social care changes affect? "We will make sure nobody has to sell their family home to pay for care," she said. "We will make sure there's an absolute limit on what people need to pay. And you will never have to go below £100,000 of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family" Mrs May said she had not "changed the basic principles" set out in the manifesto, saying the plans would still give people "peace of mind" about the care available, but was now clarifying the details. But Former Chancellor George Osborne, now editor of the Evening Standard, said it was a U-turn. Currently, people living in residential care can ask their local authority to pay their bill and recover the money from the sale of their family home after they die. The Conservatives' plan would extend this right to those receiving care in their own homes, who would have to pay until they were down to their last £100,000. Image copyright ForMed Films Under the Conservative plans nobody with assets of less than £100,000 would have to pay for social care. Currently anyone with assets of over £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their residential care and the value of their home can be taken into account. But that is not the case if you receive care in your own home. Under the Tory plans the value of your home may in future be factored in, although the money would not be taken from your estate until after your death. This means some people fear they will not be able to pass their homes down to their children. Why many will pay more for care The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said Conservative sources had earlier been dismissing the prospect of any rethink over the plans, insisting there would be "no rowing back". He said he had been told that while there would be a consultation, this had always been planned and it would only examine "the finer detail" of the policy. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had accused the Conservatives of "forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes," labelling the policy a "dementia tax". The Lib Dems, meanwhile, had said nine out of 10 homes would be eligible to be sold under the new regime, citing Land Registry house sale figures. Calling for a "national movement" against the policy, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said it was a "callous blow for people who have dementia and other long-term conditions, like multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, and of course their families. "It is not just a massive mistake but a cruel attack on vulnerable people the length and breadth of this country." The Conservatives had attempted to fight back online, with a paid-for ad on Google which pop up when users of the search engine type in the words "dementia tax". The ad reads "The so-called 'dementia tax' - Get the real facts - conservatives.com, together with a link to an explainer about the party's social care policies on its website. View the full article
  7. General election 2017: New warning over social care plans 22 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright Science Photo Library Tory plans to change how social care is funded in England could be derailed by councils, a former minister has warned. The party wants to include the value of someone's home when deciding how much they must pay towards care at home - but allow them to pay after they die. The Conservatives say the changes ensure fairness across the generations. But Sir Steve Webb, the ex-Lib Dem pensions minister, says there is already a "lottery" in the way councils use existing deferred payment schemes. Currently, people living in residential care can ask their local authority to pay their bill and recover the money from sale of their family home after they die. The Conservatives' plan would extend this right to those receiving care in their own homes, who would have to pay until they were down to their last £100,000. Reality check: Who could social care changes affect? Tory opposition to social care plans But Sir Steve, who is now policy director for pensions specialist Royal London, said Freedom of Information responses showed a wide variation in the number of deferred payment arrangements set up. Some councils in England had not signed any agreements to let people defer their payments, while in other areas more than 100 agreements had been signed. 'Shaky foundations' Sir Steve said: "It is clear that there is already a lottery as to whether people facing significant care costs can exercise their legal right to defer their payments under the existing system. "The government will need to investigate very quickly why the present system is not working properly, otherwise there is a danger of building a new system on very shaky foundations." The councils who had entered into the most agreements were Southampton City Council with 331, followed by Essex County Council with 208 and Middlesbrough Council with 165. In contrast, 10 authorities - Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, Haringey, Lewisham, Lambeth, Ealing, Blackburn with Darwen, and Luton - said they had not issued any. How would the Tory social care plans work? Image copyright ForMed Films Under the Conservative plans nobody with assets of less than £100,000 would have to pay for social care. Currently anyone with assets of over £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their residential care and the value of their home can be taken into account. But that is not the case if you receive care in your own home. Under the Tory plans the value of your home may in future be factored in, although the money would not be taken from your estate until after your death. This means some people fear they will not be able to pass their homes down to their children. Why many will pay more for care Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said the Tories would not "look again" at the proposed changes, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the "broad thrust" was right. Conservative former business minister Lord Willetts said the plan was "one of the bravest, most serious and most important" features of the Conservative manifesto. He told Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4 the proposal meant social care for older people would be financed by pensioners with "substantial assets" instead of younger people "struggling to make ends meet". Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Conservatives of "forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes," labelling the policy a "dementia tax". Lord Wood, former advisor to Ed Miliband, said the problem with the Tory plan is that "it's not a long term system solution because it abandons the principle of social insurance". The Lib Dems, meanwhile, said nine out of 10 homes would be eligible to be sold under the new regime, citing Land Registry house sale figures. Calling for a "national movement" against the policy, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "Every elderly person that needs care should receive it in the best place for them and not be fearful of those mounting, limitless costs." View the full article
  8. Tories 'won't look again' at social care plans 21 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Damian Green has said the Tories will not rethink plans to fund social care in England, amid warnings they will go down badly with core Tory voters. The Work and Pensions Secretary said: "We have set out the policy, which we are not going to look at again." The Tory manifesto says elderly people requiring care in their own homes would have to meet the cost - but would be allowed to keep £100,000. But a Tory think tank says it could be the "biggest stealth tax in history". View the full article
  9. General election 2017: Labour steps up push for pensioner vote 20 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright Getty Images Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to protect pensioners from Conservative "attacks" on their income as he steps up his push for older voters. The Labour leader claims pensioners will be £330 a year worse off under the plans set out in the Tory manifesto. Labour is promising to protect the winter fuel allowance, the "triple lock" guaranteeing annual 2.5% pension rises and other benefits. The Conservatives accused Mr Corbyn of running a "scare campaign". Election campaign latest Tory opposition to social care plans But a spokesman said the "genuinely terrifying thing" was the prospect of Mr Corbyn in Downing Street and in charge of Brexit negotiations. "The biggest threat to every generation in this country is getting Brexit wrong. "Get Brexit wrong and we get everything wrong - from looking after our elderly to paying for our children's education." It comes as Conservative activists warned Theresa May risked losing votes among elderly people in the party's heartlands over her plan to shake-up social care. Mrs May has said the policy will protect elderly people from the fear that they will lose all their savings to pay for care. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Theresa May arrives in Ealing to give a speech to supporters But some activists have warned it is causing anxiety among elderly voters, who fear they will not be able to pass on their homes to their children when they die. Under the Conservative plan, elderly people requiring care in their own homes would have to meet the cost - but would be allowed to keep £100,000. The value of their homes may be included in that, but the money would not be taken from their estate until after their death. Jeremy Corbyn has spent the past two days accusing Mrs May of stirring up a "war between the generations" by playing off old against young - and of planning an "attack" on pensioners if she wins power. He said: "Not satisfied with plunging our social care system into crisis, Theresa May's nasty party has promised more attacks on older people: scrapping the triple-lock on state pensions, removing the winter fuel allowance and asset stripping the ill by forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes. "Labour will protect the winter fuel allowance and triple-lock on state pensions to deliver a secure and dignified retirement for all, and spend an extra £45bn on the NHS and social care over five years, so that older people can get the care they deserve." In a campaign speech on Saturday, the Labour leader claimed his message was "getting through" to voters, after two opinion polls suggested he had narrowed the large Conservative lead ahead of the election on 8 June. View the full article
  10. Theresa May faces Tory opposition to social care plans 20 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright iStock Tory plans to shake-up the funding of social care in England are likely to go down badly with the party's core voters, Theresa May has been warned. The Tory manifesto says elderly people requiring care in their own homes would have to meet the cost - but would be allowed to keep £100,000. Mrs May says the changes will secure the social care system and ensure fairness "across the generations". But a Tory think tank says it could be the "biggest stealth tax in history". Election campaign latest Tory care plan: Why many will pay more John Stanley, of the Bow Group, told BBC News: "The impact on the core vote will be awful - what I call the 'Tory Shire'. "Those shire Tories who work hard, play the game, live life by the rules. They're going to wake up Monday around the family copy of the Daily Mail asking themselves what on earth has just happened." Under the Conservative plans, set out in its general election manifesto, nobody who has assets of less than £100,000 will have to pay for care, which can include everything from help with daily tasks, such as washing and dressing, through to round-the-clock support. Anxiety Currently anyone with assets of over £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their care. If you are in a care home or nursing home, the value of your house can be taken into account. But that is not the case if you receive care in your own home. Under the Tory plans the value of your home may be factored in, although the money will not be taken from your estate until after death. Some Conservative activists say the policy has not been properly thought through and is causing anxiety among elderly voters. Image copyright Conservative Party Image caption Sarah Wollaston has raised concerns about the impact of the proposed changes A Conservative candidate, who did not want to be named, told the BBC they had asked party bosses to explain how homes will be valued, when savings are taken into account, and what happens to people who live in shared accommodation. There are also concerns that it will have an unfair impact on people living in the North and Midlands, where property prices are lower - and that some people may find they can't go afford to return home after hospital treatment. Conservative candidate Sarah Wollaston told BBC News: "If you are somebody who has quite a large asset in your home but you might be living on a very fixed low income - that might make it very difficult for you to go home if you couldn't afford special care. "I think it's very important that there is a period of grace to help them safely get home from hospital." Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Conservatives of "forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes," labelling the policy a "dementia tax". Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said "elderly people the length of Britain will shudder at these care cost proposals". View the full article
  11. Theresa May says Labour can't be trusted on defence after Trident row 20 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mrs May has been addressing supporters in Ealing, west London Theresa May has said a shadow cabinet row over Trident shows Labour cannot be "trusted" to defend the country. The PM claimed a Labour government would not be "unequivocally committed to the nuclear deterrent". Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith rebuked her colleague Emily Thornberry for suggesting Trident could be subject to a review, if Labour won power. Jeremy Corbyn said Labour's manifesto was "very clear" and the party was committed to Trident's renewal. What is Trident? Corbyn and Trident: A matter of principle But Mrs May said: "They would not be able to defend this country. A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could not be trusted with the defence of our country." The Conservatives said it showed Labour had a "chaotic and divided team" who would make "a mess ... of our Brexit negotiations". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionJeremy Corbyn says the party is committed to Trident, as well as multi-lateral disarmamentLabour's manifesto included support for renewing Trident, even though Mr Corbyn is a long-standing opponent of nuclear weapons. The Commons backed the renewal of Trident in 2016, by 472 votes to 117, approving the manufacture of four replacement submarines. Labour was split over the issue, with 140 of its 230 MPs going against their leader and backing the motion in a free vote. The issue resurfaced on Friday following an interview with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry on LBC radio, in which she said she was "sceptical" about Trident. When asked to confirm that it would remain Labour policy after a defence review, she added: "Well no, of course not, if you are going to have a review, you have to have a review." Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionMs Griffith said Labour was "absolutely committed" to Trident But shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith told BBC Newsnight: "With all due respect, Emily is not the shadow defence secretary. I am." She said the party was "fully committed" to having a nuclear deterrent and that the defence review would look at how a Labour government would spend money. "What it is not about is actually questioning whether we would have a Trident nuclear deterrent because we settled that last year," she added. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Asked if Ms Thornberry was wrong, Ms Griffith went on: "Indeed. Last year we looked at it, in particular, at the national policy forum and it was decided that we would keep the nuclear deterrent." BBC political correspondent Mark Lobel said Ms Thornberry's team had since said there was no difference between the two shadow ministers in terms of party policy and she had been expressing her personal view about Trident's viability and costs. Cyber security Mr Corbyn, campaigning in Birmingham ahead of the 8 June election, told reporters: "The manifesto makes it very clear that the Labour Party has come to a decision and is committed to Trident. "We're also going to look at the real security needs of this country on other areas such as cyber security, which I think the attack on our NHS last week proved there needs to be some serious re-examination of our defences against those kind of attacks." Pressed again, he said: "I've just made it clear and included in our manifesto is an absolute commitment which is given by party and which is given by me that we will also pursue multilateral disarmament through the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and that is a position that has been held for a long time by the party." Labour's backing for Trident was agreed by a vote at its party conference but Mr Corbyn has previously suggested the party would carry out a strategic defence review if it won power and that Trident would be part of that. View the full article
  12. Labour's Emily Thornberry 'wrong' over Trident review 20 May 2017 From the section UK Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionMs Griffith said Labour was "absolutely committed" to Trident Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was "wrong" to suggest Labour might drop its commitment to the UK's nuclear deterrent, the party's defence secretary has said. Nia Griffith told BBC Newsnight it was "already settled" that Trident would remain if the party came into power. Ms Thornberry had suggested support for the missile system could not be guaranteed following a defence review. Tory MP Bob Neill said Labour wanted to put the UK's "security at risk". Labour's manifesto - launched on Tuesday - included support for the nuclear deterrent. What is Trident? Corbyn and Trident: A matter of principle Speaking on LBC radio, Ms Thornberry had said she was "sceptical" about Trident. When asked to confirm that it would remain as Labour policy after a defence review, she added: "Well no, of course not, if you are going to have a review, you have to have a review." Image caption Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry says she is "sceptical" about Trident The shadow foreign secretary said the UK needed to keep updating its defence policy and make sure any war would be "fought on 21st century terms". But Ms Griffith said Labour's defence policy was her responsibility and not Ms Thornberry's. Speaking on BBC's Newsnight she said the party was "fully committed" to having a nuclear deterrent and that the defence review would look at how a Labour government would spend money. "What it is not about is actually questioning whether we would have a Trident nuclear deterrent because we settled that last year," she added. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Asked if Ms Thornberry was wrong, Ms Griffith went on: "Indeed. Last year we looked at it, in particular, at the national policy forum and it was decided that we would keep the nuclear deterrent." The shadow defence secretary also distanced herself from Jeremy Corbyn's stance on the potential use of nuclear weapons and the commitment to the Nato principle of mutual defence. The Labour leader - a long-standing opponent of nuclear weapons - has previously said he would never launch a "first strike" attack as prime minister. He has also said he would not "automatically" send UK troops to support a fellow Nato member which came under attack. Ms Griffith said for the nuclear deterrent to be effective it was necessary that "you are prepared to use it", including a first strike policy if required. She also said Labour was "fully signed up" to Article 5 of the Nato treaty - which commits member states to collective defence. She told Newsnight there would be diplomatic processes but "ultimately you have to back up your defence and your support" of Nato allies. Mr Neill said: "Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry want to disarm Britain and put our security at risk. Corbyn's coalition of chaos would scrap Trident, abandon our allies and would rather talk to Daesh [so-called Islamic State] than strike its barbaric leader." View the full article
  13. Violet-Grace Youens death: Driver Aidan McAteer jailed 19 May 2017 From the section Liverpool Image copyright Merseyside Police Image caption Driver Aidan McAteer, left. and passenger Dean Brennan, right, ran past Violet-Grace Youens as she lay injured on the ground A man has been jailed for the hit-and-run death of a four-year-old girl who was struck by his speeding car when it mounted a pavement in Merseyside. Violet-Grace Youens died after Aidan McAteer's car struck her on Prescot Road, St Helens, on 24 March. McAteer, 23, fled to Amsterdam but later pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court. He was given a jail sentence of nine years and four months. Violet-Grace's grandmother Angela French was seriously injured in the crash and remains in hospital. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe family of a four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens have released a video of herThe four-year-old's family wore violet ribbons and heart badges for the court hearing. Reading a personal statement in court, Glenn Youens said he cuddled his daughter's teddy bear, which "still smells of her", every night and reads bedtime stories to her ashes. "I cry myself to sleep. I miss her so much," he said. Image copyright Family photo Image caption The donation of Violet-Grace's organs had saved two other lives, her family said Dean Brennan, 27, a passenger in the car, had pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and assisting an offender. He was jailed for six years and eight months. Both men were given driving bans for when they leave jail. McAteer was banned for 10 years, while Brennan received a six-year ban. The court heard the Ford Fiesta, which had been stolen from a community worker who works with young offenders, travelled at speeds of about 80mph in a 30mph zone after passing a police car on a roundabout. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionViolet Youens hit-and-run death: Driver captured running from sceneIt was driven through two red lights before McAteer, who did not have a driving licence, lost control on Prescot Road and hit a kerb, then crashed into Mrs French who had her granddaughter in her arms. The car then hit a lamppost and the defendants, both from Prescot, got out and ran past Violet-Grace as she lay injured on the ground. 'Desperately injured' CCTV footage played in court showed them running down a nearby street after the crash. Sentencing, Judge Denis Watson QC, said: "You must have seen Mrs French and Violet lying desperately injured on the road. "Yet neither of you stopped, neither of you did anything to summon help, neither of you gave them a moment's thought or gave them any assistance at all. "Your thoughts were for yourself, your escape and of avoiding responsibility for what happened." Image copyright Family handout Image caption Violet Grace's grandmother, Angela French, 55, was also hit by the car Following the crash, McAteer's mother Alicia made a public appeal to her son to return home. The next day he was arrested at Manchester Airport and questioned by detectives. Brennan, meanwhile, admitted obtaining McAteer's passport and giving it to him. Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said McAteer told police after the crash he had decided to clear his head and "go to Amsterdam for a few days and smoke some weed". 'Absolutely devastated' He told police he only found out days later a child had been involved in the crash. McAteer's defence lawyer Lloyd Morgan, said his client was "wracked with guilt, shame and horror over his actions... which caused all involved such pain and heartache." After her death, Violet-Grace's family said the donation of her organs had saved two other lives. Her mother Rebecca Youens spoke outside court paying tribute to her "funny, vibrant and caring" daughter, adding: "No sentence passed is ever going to bring Violet back and we are absolutely devastated." View the full article
  14. Thousands of police on the beat without current background checks By Victoria Gould BBC Online 19 May 2017 From the section England Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Media Image caption Peter Bunyan would have been rejected as a potential PCSO under the current vetting policy Thousands of police officers across the UK have not had up-to-date background checks to ensure they are suitable to serve. Figures reveal 90% of officers employed by one force have not been vetted in line with current policy. Vetting aims to help prevent corruption in the police by checking an officer or potential officer's background. Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said forces "need to address this matter urgently". Responding to a request from the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, Northumbria Police admitted almost 3,000 or nine out of ten of its officers still had not been vetted in line with the most recent policy. Sex-on-the-job PCSO 'would have been rejected' Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police Image caption Peter Bunyan was dismissed from Devon and Cornwall Police Peter Bunyan was a PCSO employed by Devon and Cornwall Police. He was jailed for misconduct in 2013 after a court heard he used the police database as a "dating agency" and turned down his police radio on shifts while he had sex with women. He was employed in 2003, three years before Devon and Cornwall Police set up its Central Force Vetting Unit, and nine years before the Association of Chief Police Officers' National Vetting Policy was introduced. A subsequent investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that if Bunyan had gone through the current vetting policy used by the force "he would have been rejected". But by the end of 2016 there were still 62 PCSOs employed by Devon and Cornwall Police who had not been through the vetting process and 181 police officers. Devon and Cornwall Police said it was working hard to tackle the delays and had reduced the backlog to 73 police officers and 55 PCSOs. Mr Cunningham said the "unacceptable" backlog was down to a lack of resources and needs to be given "higher priority". He said: "I think it is simply a question of volume outstripping the supply of people to do the tasks. "There is no doubt that forces who have not vetted or re-vetted large numbers of their staff are subject to a vulnerability." Out of 48 police forces in England and Wales, 17 responded in full to the Freedom of Information Request. Around 14,000 police officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had not undergone up-to-date checks. Reducing backlog Vetting aims to help prevent corruption in the police service by checking an officer or potential officer's background. The process, which can take several months, looks at an individual's finances, employment history and family associations, as well as a detailed search for any convictions. Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are also affected by the delays. Chief Constable Martin Jelley, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, said forces were "working hard to reduce any backlog". The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it was disappointed to see such huge backlogs in vetting. Its chairman Steve White said: "Police officers are privy to an enormous amount of confidential data and information. "What we can't risk is the prospect of dishonest people abusing that position and being able to access this information or exploit situations for their own ends." The figures show the number of officers still waiting to be vetted under the current policy at the end of 2016. Northumbria Police said there was "a planned programme of retrospective vetting for all officers and staff, who are not vetted at the 2012 standards due to start". View the full article
  15. Conservative manifesto: Firms to pay more to hire migrant workers 17 May 2017 From the section Election 2017 Image copyright PA The Tories will promise further measures to curb immigration in their manifesto, the BBC understands. Firms will be asked to pay more to hire migrant workers and they in turn will be asked to pay more to use the NHS. Theresa May will make a commitment to bringing immigration down to the tens of thousands target, that has been missed since 2010. She will warn that "when immigration is too fast and too high, it is difficult to build a cohesive society". The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that the prime minister would put forward an "uncompromising" message that immigration is too high and will come down under her leadership. The manifesto, which will be published on Wednesday, will promise to "bear down on immigration from outside the EU" across all visa routes. The prime minister will commit the government to reduce and control immigration from Europe after Brexit and sources say she is "clear this means the end of freedom of movement". Skills charge She will announce extra costs for employers who choose to hire non-EU immigrants in skilled jobs by doubling the charge known as the Skills Charge. The revenue will go into skills training for UK workers. Non-EU migrants will also have to pay more to use the NHS. The manifesto will also rule out removing students from the immigration statistics. The Immigration Skills Charge, which was introduced in April 2017, is levied on companies that employ migrants in skilled areas. It applies to immigrants from outside the European Economic Area and is currently set at £1,000 per employee per year, with a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations. Under the Conservative proposals, it will double to £2,000 per employee per year. The plan to stick with the net migration target has caused controversy, with critics saying that it will be nearly impossible to meet without doing damage to the economy. An editorial in Wednesday's Evening Standard, whose editor is the former Chancellor George Osborne, suggested that in private ministers were dismissive of the target believing it was unrealistic. The article says the target, set by David Cameron when the Tories were in opposition, should be abandoned, View the full article