Police investigate possible hate crime over anti-Islam letters

Police are investigating a possible hate crime after reports that anti-Islam letters were posted across the country.

West Yorkshire police confirmed they had received about six reports of letters advertising “Punish a Muslim Day”.

They had received a couple of letters for further analysis to determine the full circumstances and their possible origin.

A police spokesman said: “Counter-terrorism policing north-east are coordinating the investigation at this time and will consider any potential links to existing inquiries.

“Anyone with any concerns about a communication they may have received should contact their local police force.”

Social media users in London and Birmingham also reported receiving the letters.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said it was not yet clear whether any criminal allegations relating to the letters had been reported in the capital.

Iman Atta, the director of anti-Muslim hate monitoring service Tell MAMA, said: “This has caused quite a lot of fear within the community.

“They are asking if they are safe, if their children are safe to play outdoors. We have told them to keep calm, and to phone the police if they receive one of these letters.”

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Marx bicentenary to be marked by exhibitions, books – and pub crawls

Renewed interest in philosopher fires celebrations of 200 years since his birth on 5 May 1818

A Marx Memorial Library flag is flown at a May Day rally in London.






A Marx Memorial Library flag is flown at a May Day rally in London.
Photograph: Alamy

A spectre is haunting Europe in 2018 – to borrow from one of his catchier one-liners – the spectre of Karl Marx himself. Two hundred years after the philosopher’s birth, a small industry is gathering pace, from plans for major events in Trier, the city on the Moselle where he was born, to a new tour of the Manchester streets that he and Friedrich Engels walked as they discussed the condition of the city’s emerging working class. The bicentenary on 5 May will be marked with exhibitions, lectures, conferences, histories and novels.

The books are starting to pile up. Last month saw a new edition of Marxism – a Graphic Guide, a collaboration by philosophy lecturer Rupert Woodfin and comic book artist Oscar Zárate, while titles by heavyweight specialists on Marxism are on the way. They include a reprint of literary theorist Terry Eagleton’s bestselling Why Marx Was Right, along with a new edition of The Communist Manifesto – which starts with the “spectre” quotation – including an introduction by the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Marx’s ideas, running through the Russian revolution to the present day, will be the focus of Marx and Marxism, a new book by one of Britain’s foremost historians of socialism, Gregory Claeys. The influence of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn – as well as factors such as reduced employment prospects and a desire to challenge austerity – are credited by Claeys as helping to engender a renewed interest in Marx, particularly among the young.

Marxism: A Graphic Guide



Marxism: A Graphic Guide. Photograph: Book jacket

“Marx’s prose may seem somewhat obtuse to modern readers,” Claeys said. “But Marx’s central premise – that the most obvious and extreme forms of oppression and exploitation can be removed from everyday life – retains a robustness and daring paralleled by no other thinkers in the modern period.”

Fact is accompanied by fiction. The Murder of Warren Street by Oxford university historian Marc Mulholland, published at the end of May, promises to tell the story of villain Emmanuel Barthélemy (“the man who wanted to kill Marx”).

Marx Returns, due out on 23 February and written by Jason Barker, is billed as combining historical fiction, psychological mystery, philosophy and extracts from Marx’s and Engels’s collected works to reimagine the life and times of Marx.

Among a plethora of gatherings and conferences being organised by the various families of the left, one of the most eagerly awaited is Marx 200, a major conference due to take place at Soas University of London and organised by the Marx Memorial Library.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell – arguably Britain’s best-known Marxist – will speak on the theme of “Into the 21st century: Marxism as a force for change today” alongside guests from around the world, including Sitaram Yechury, the general secretary of the Communist party of India (Marxist), and Luo Wendong, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

John McDonnell.



John McDonnell. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Meirian Jump, archivist at the memorial library, said interest had increased in Marxism in the past couple of years, while numbers attending lectures on Marxism and conducting research in the library’s reading room have risen in recent months.

“In the autumn our venue reached capacity and we had to turn people away from our lectures celebrating 150 years since the publication of Das Kapital,” Jump said. “It was noticeable that a large number of those queuing outside Marx House were young people and students.”

Away from the political calls to arms or Marxist think-ins, exhibitions include the Karl and Eleanor Marx Treasures Gallery, from May to early August at the British Library. The display aims to explore the role that the British Museum reading room, a predecessor institution of the British Library, played in the life and work of Marx and his daughter, a writer and political activist in her own right.

Items on display will include correspondence by Marx, his family and Friedrich Engels, covering both personal and political affairs, as well as rare copies of first editions of Marx’s writings, several of which he donated to the library. Among these is a copy of the first French translation of Das Kapital, believed to feature annotations in Marx’s own hand.

To the likely chagrin of committed Marxists and eurosceptics, the distinctly un-Marxist figure of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will open a series of exhibitions in Trier. Visitors will be able to view a new permanent exhibition at the Karl-Marx-Haus Museum, and a bronze figure of Marx donated by China.

Those unable to make the trip might instead consider the Marx 200th birthday walking tour in Manchester, where Engels lived on and off for almost 30 years and was visited by Marx.

“We’ve been doing Marx-themed walks for a while. He and Engels were great drinkers so we did one based on the pubs they used to go to, and there was a great response,” said Ed Glinert of New Manchester Walks.

“You get a real range of people. I took the Chinese consul around one time, for example. We don’t get too many Americans, though.”

As for what Marx would make of it all, Claeys asserted he had “a fine, robust sense of humour” and would certainly have mocked many who have taken up his name over the past 150 years.

“He would, I think, be a ‘deep green’ thinker who would advocate sustainable development, an end to planned obsolescence and production based on the profit rather than global human need,” he said.

The best signs from the Women’s March in London – in pictures

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London house prices: south and west see some of biggest drops

House prices in “prime” central London appear to be stabilising, while areas in the south and west of the capital such as Wandsworth and Richmond are now under increasing pressure, according to estate agent Savills.

The company is predicting that average property values in central London’s top-end enclaves such as Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Holland Park will record no growth for the next two years following three years of decline.

However, Savills said there were signs parts of the market “may be bottoming out” and the prime markets of south and west London could bear the brunt of Brexit uncertainty and concerns regarding future interest rate rises. This market is defined as running from Battersea through Clapham and Wandsworth to the south, and Fulham, Barnes and Richmond to the west.

Typical prices in prime central London ended 2017 down 4% for the year as a whole, but prime south and west London experienced a bigger annual fall of 4.2%. Within this segment of the market, Fulham was named by Savills as the area that recorded the steepest falls.

Prices in Fulham fell by 4.6% in 2017 and were down more than 14% on their 2014 peak, said the company.

It means average values in Fulham, which passed the £1,000 per square foot mark in 2013, have fallen back to £890, well below Chelsea’s £1,600 average.

While studio flats in Fulham start at around £285,000 and large family houses can easily command a price of £5m-plus, according to property website Rightmove, Savills claimed the price falls “effectively reposition Fulham as a value location for those looking to make their equity stretch further than in prime central London”.

The top-end areas of south and west London were “coming under increasing pressure from fragile buyer sentiment” with purchasers feeling the constraints of tighter mortgage affordability rules, as well as unease around the Brexit process and its potential impact on employment, particularly in the financial and business services sector, said the company.

Savills has already predicted average UK prices – both prime and non-prime – would rise by 1% in 2018, which would mean property values falling in real terms.

Many commentators have pencilled in UK price growth at around that level this year. Another estate agent, Knight Frank, has also predicted price growth across the UK of 1%.

Of the two big lenders that operate price indices, Nationwide has said it expected property values to be “broadly flat in 2018, with perhaps a marginal gain of around 1%”, while Halifax has predicted UK growth in the range of 0% to 3%.

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