Men freed after ‘slavery’ raids in Bristol area.

Three men, all believed to be victims of slavery, have been rescued following a series of raids in the Bristol area.

Eight properties were raided following an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking by Avon and Somerset Police and partner agencies.

Two people have been arrested on suspicion of slavery offences.

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Modern slavery is happening around us and I am pleased [agencies] have worked together to tackle and disrupt this abhorrent network of criminality”

Sue Mountstevens
Police and Crime Commissioner
Police said the three victims, aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s, have been taken to a safe house and are being offered professional treatment and support.

A spokesman said a significant quantity of money was also seized in the operation.

‘Statement of intent’
The raids were carried out at three travellers’ sites, a business unit, a house in south Gloucestershire and a residential property in Bristol.

Police said five other people were also arrested on suspicion of offences including cannabis production, money laundering and handling stolen goods.

The investigation was launched at the start of November after an intelligence operation by CID officers.

Ch Supt Julian Moss, head of CID, said: “This is an ongoing and dynamic inquiry – our primary aim is to safeguard and protect vulnerable victims.

“Some of those affected will not view themselves as victims and, even if they do, may have been unable to speak to the police or any other authorities for a variety of reasons.

“Today’s operation is a very visible statement of our intent to protect people from this type of exploitation.”

South Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, the National Crime Agency and specialist charities, such as anti-trafficking organisation Unseen and the Red Cross have all been involved in the operation.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said the operation “clearly highlights the unacceptable and illegal crime of human trafficking”.

“It shows that modern slavery is happening around us and I am pleased that the police, local authorities, and Unseen UK have worked together to tackle and disrupt this abhorrent network of criminality,” she said.

Poverty Report Reveals Most Poor People Have Jobs

A shocking report has revealed that most people classed as living in poverty have jobs.

For the first time, there are more working families living in poverty in the UK than non-working ones.

The news comes from a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which said average incomes have plummeted below the poverty line for millions of households.

SEE ALSO: MPs to get £7,600 pay rise
Julia Unwin, the foundation’s chief executive, said: “Hard work is not working.”

Some 6.7 million working families live below the poverty line – an increase of 500,000 on last year – compared with a combined 6.3 million of retired families and the out-of-work.

Households have been hit by a sustained and “unprecedented” fall in living standards, a report for the organisation found.

Average incomes have fallen by 8% since their peak in 2008. As a result, around 2 million people have an income that while above today’s poverty line, would have been below the poverty line in 2008.

Of those in work, the number paid below the living wage rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012.

Half of working families in poverty have an adult paid below the living wage.

Unwin said the research showed that millions of people were moving in and out of work, but rarely out of poverty itself.

She said: “Hard work is not working. We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet.”

The JRF did find a number of positive changes, including an improvement in the labour market with falling unemployment and underemployment and, over the longer term, improvements in health and education outcomes.

Unemployment of young adults has peaked at 21%, and total unemployment has begun to fall.

But it found that job insecurity is increasingly common, with one in six members of the workforce claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance at some point in the last two years.

The largest group in poverty are working age adults without dependent children – 4.7 million people are in this situation, the highest on record.

There have also been major shifts in which groups are experiencing poverty, with the number of pensioners in poverty
at a 30-year low.

Peter Kenway, director at NPI and an author of the report, said: “Poorer members of society are under more pressure than at any time since the birth of the welfare state.

“The value of the safety net for working age adults is now sinking steadily. The support on offer to people who fall on hard times is increasingly threadbare, with benefit levels on a downward spiral.

“A strong safety net to catch those who fall is vital for social mobility – millions are saved by it every year even now – yet no leading politician will defend it.”

UK storm surge pitches homes into the North Sea

At 7pm on Thursday night, Steven Connelly was sitting at home with his wife Jackie. By 8pm, half of his house had disappeared into the sea, obliterated by the biggest storm surge to hit Britain in 60 years. “It’s devastating. We’re in a state of shock,” said Mr Connelly, 54, standing outside the now empty plot on the Hemsby cliffs he had called home for the past seven years. His was one of several houses in the Norfolk town washed into the North Sea or damaged beyond repair by the raging waters. Even the local lifeboat station, a sturdy brick building, was consumed by the violent surge, its fragments strewn across the beach on Friday. Hundreds of communities along Britain’s east coast were pounded by the storm surge on Thursday night, in which a deep depression coincided with spring tides to threaten sea defences. The worst affected areas were Boston, Lincolnshire, and the Humber Estuary, where between them 800 homes were flooded and thousands evacuated. But while the damage to property and business in these areas will take months to repair, fears of widespread catastrophe failed to materialise, suggesting the authorities are making significant advances in the centuries-old struggle against nature along Britain’s coastline. Some locals still remember the horror of the 1953 flood – the worst in living memory – when a massive storm surge swept over the east coast on a cold January night, killing 307 in England alone and leaving 1,000 sq km under water. Some 32,000 people were evacuated, in a disaster that put power and transport infrastructure out of action across a huge area. In this week’s flood, sea levels were even higher than 60 years ago. But the big difference in outcome – with no deaths reported as a direct result of the tidal surge and a fraction of the area flooded – was down to three main factors, according to the Environment Agency. Who’s going to come to Hemsby for a holiday if there’s no beach? – Jim Ward, Hemsby resident First, the 1953 tragedy prompted 60 years of investment in flood defences, which the agency estimated saved 1m homes from the deluge this week. The technology behind defensive design has greatly improved since the days of shingle or earth banks: it includes tonnes of sand pumped on to Lincolnshire’s beaches at an annual cost of £9m and rock imported from Norway to create protective reefs offshore. Phil Rothwell, head of flood risk at the Environment Agency, said the new defences largely “withstood the test”. Second, co-ordination between emergency services and government agencies is planned in detail and regularly rehearsed. The Environment Agency was able to warn 1m at-risk residents or businesses of imminent danger by telephone or email, while police carried out house calls on elderly or vulnerable residents. Finally, the Met Office’s forecasting power has advanced, with sophisticated modelling allowing it to track the surge precisely as it moved southwards. “We knew it was coming three or four days ago,” said Mr Rothwell. The Environment Agency, largely responsible for flood defences, spends about £600m a year on capital investment, supplemented by local funding. Every £1 of spending on defences saves £8 in terms of the potential costs of damage, the agency estimates. But for Hemsby, whose privately owned beach does not qualify for funding, improved defences elsewhere on the coast offer little consolation. Locals fear erosion of the town’s dwindling sands will deter tourists from its caravan parks, amusement arcades and restaurants. “Who’s going to come to Hemsby for a holiday if there’s no beach?” asked Jim Ward, a 70-year-old resident. “It would be the end.”

Tory MPs make gestures about my ‘bum and breasts’ in the Commons, claims Labour MP Read more:

Tory MPs have been accused of imitating ‘bums and breasts’ with their hands in the House of Commons.
Women speaking during debates face ‘utterly appalling’ behaviour from MPs opposite, a Labour claimed.
Sarah Champion condemned the ‘insidious’ culture in Parliament, which female MPs are forced to ignore.
The claims by one of the newest women MPs will again turn the spotlight on behaviour in the Commons, after MailOnline revealed letters written to the Speaker John Bercow complaing about the ‘morons, donkeys and tw**s’ heckling during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Miss Champion claimed some Conservatives were responsible for trying to degrade women during debates.
The first woman MP for Rotherham said the abuse across the Chamber was ‘awful’ and ‘really bad’ but admitted she did not know if Labour MPs did the same to female Tory MPs.
She told BBC Radio Sheffield: ‘Some Tories are very good at gesticulating about females’ assets.’
Asked by presenter Rony Robinson whether she was referring to hand gestures and remarks about her ‘bum and breasts’ she said: ‘Yes … I think it is utterly appalling, it’s deliberately trying to degrade people, it’s sexist and people ought to be pulled for it.’
Ms Champion said she had to ‘pretty much ignore it’ because responding would mean ‘you end up in a slagging match which I don’t think is helpful’.
Miss Champion was elected MP for Rotherham in November last year after Denis MacShane quit after being charged over expenses fraud.
She previously ran a Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester and before entering Parliament was chief executive of the Bluebell Wood Children’s Centre.
Miss Champion said she did not know if male Labour MPs behave in the same way ‘because I’m on the bench looking forward, but the Tories definitely do it to Labour women’.
Asked how she would react if her colleagues were acting in a similar way she said: ‘I would be utterly, utterly appalled and I would go and say something if I saw one of my Labour colleagues doing it.’
Abuse: MPs speaking in debates face heckling and ruse gestures from the benches opposite
Abuse: MPs speaking in debates face heckling and ruse gestures from the benches opposite
She said she had not informed Speaker John Bercow about her concerns: ‘This is the problem, it’s so insidious, it’s so part of the culture there … it’s overlooked rather than ignored, I would say.’
However, dozens of members of the public about the behaviour of heckling, insulting and guffawing MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions.

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Letters, emails and web messages repeatedly accuse MPs of behaving like football hooligans, naughty schoolchildren, ‘rowdy buffoons’, ‘morons’ and ‘braying donkeys’ who do not live in the real world.
It is claimed MPs behave like 19th century ‘public schoolboys’ who think they are still in the Bullingdon Club, the Oxford University dining society which counted Mr Cameron and George Osborne as members and is famed for smashing up restaurants.
Just on of the dozens of letters sent to Parliament about the behaviour of MPs during PMQs
Just on of the dozens of letters sent to Parliament about the behaviour of MPs during PMQs
Speaker John Bercow said he receives lots of letters about PMQs every week
This message was posted on the Parliament website
Speaker John Bercow said he receives lots of letters about PMQs every week
Most of the letters, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, raised concerns about the damage to Britain’s reputation overseas, the poor example set to young people and the effect it has on deterring people, especially women, from entering politics.
One of the most damning messages, posted on the Parliament website, said: ‘Get Cameron to answer the questions at Prime Minister’s Questions.
‘It’s beyond ridiculous. I hate you all with a colossal amount of passion anyway, but there is only so much piss you can take. Thanks a bunch you abhorrent t**ts.’
Some called for ‘red cards’, suspensions and even ‘fines’ to be imposed on MPs who refuse to be quiet.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls complained yesterday about a wall of noise from Tory MPs as he responded to the Autumn Statement.

Is Cameron right about immigration?

Just 18 months ago, London staged an opening ceremony for the Olympic Games that revelled in the multicultural nature of British society and celebrated the role of immigrants. Prime Minister David Cameron was in the audience, clapping along. In London about one in three residents was born overseas. If you count people like me, whose parents were immigrants, well over half the population of the UK capital must have roots abroad. The recent wave of 1m migrants to Britain from the newer EU member states in central and eastern Europe has integrated well. Indeed, it has become common to contrast the work ethic of young Polish immigrants with their relatively feckless British counterparts.

And yet now, according to his critics, Mr Cameron is assaulting the openness to immigration that has made Britain a dynamic and attractive society. Laszlo Andor, the EU’s employment commissioner, spoke for many when he suggested that the prime minister’s proposals to qualify the principle of free movement of people within the EU risks creating the perception that Britain is a “nasty” country.
However, the condemnation of the Cameron policy, while emotionally satisfying, ignores four fundamental points: the history of immigration; the limited and moderate nature of his proposals; the state of British politics; and wider political trends in Europe.
Take immigration first. Even in countries that have benefited hugely from immigration, open-door periods have always been followed by a tightening. The US let in almost 24m migrants from 1900 to 1920, before greatly restricting access to its shores. Britain encouraged migration from the Commonwealth in the 1950s, before tightening up in 1962. It is possible both to believe that those waves of immigration benefited the UK and the US – and to accept that open-door policies could not be maintained forever.
The accession of the new members to the EU has sparked a new wave of migration to Britain. Given the scale of that movement, the measures Mr Cameron has announced are – by the standards of previous crackdowns – strikingly mild. Immigrants will have to wait three months before claiming unemployment benefit and will not be eligible for housing benefit. People sleeping rough could be deported. Mr Cameron also suggests that if large, poor countries join the EU in future, new measures should be put in place to prevent further waves of mass migration – an idea that has already been adopted by the EU itself, in membership talks with Turkey. The suggestion that these mild measures represent a full-scale assault on freedom of movement within Europe is absurd.
Nonetheless, Mr Cameron’s critics charge that his immigration policy is driven by low politics rather than the national interest. It is certainly true that the prime minister is alarmed by the rise of the UK Independence party, which campaigns for withdrawal from the EU and against immigration – and which will spearhead the “Out” campaign when there is a referendum on EU membership in 2017. Some political pundits argue that Mr Cameron is playing into Ukip’s hands by stoking up fears of EU migrants. It would be better, they say, simply to boldly make the case for the benefits of immigration. It is doubtless satisfying to make this argument from the comfort of an armchair in Hampstead. But it is noticeable that few mainstream politicians – the people who actually have to persuade voters – think that this line is a winner. On the contrary, the nominally leftwing Labour party is attacking Mr Cameron for being too weak on welfare and EU immigration.
The notion that there are real public concerns about immigration that need to be addressed is reinforced by developments in the rest of Europe. Within hours of Mr Cameron’s article in the Financial Times, the French and German governments announced that they planned to take similar measures on temporary workers and on access to welfare benefits. Other European governments are also facing far-right political parties that are capitalising on popular hostility to immigration. The Freedom party in the Netherlands and the National Front in France could both top the polls in next year’s European parliament elections – which would be a revolutionary challenge to the establishment. In Hungary, home to Mr Andor, a nationalist government is undermining basic freedoms, while the openly racist Jobbik party surges in the polls – developments that are genuinely “nasty”.
If mainstream politicians loftily ignore the rise of far-right parties they will end up endangering the very freedoms that liberals rightly cherish. The moves that the British prime minister announced are not an assault on free movement of people in Europe. They are the kind of reforms that will be necessary if the principle is to survive.

NO: Politicians should refute the hysteria
Concern has become the weasel word of British public life. Politicians who cannot justify their policies with evidence resort to observing that voters are concerned and want something done. The debate about immigration, or what passes for one, has pushed this trend to postmodern extremes: any objective fact can be gainsaid by “concerns”, “perceptions” and other intangibles.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s FT column on Wednesday, which argued for restricting freedom of movement within the EU, was a classic of the genre. He used the C-word twice in the opening paragraph. He damned the previous Labour government’s decision to withhold controls on immigration from central and eastern Europe as a “monumental mistake”, which is a monumental assertion. At no point did he offer evidence that EU migration has harmed Britain’s economy overall, or hurt certain kinds of native workers, or created a problem of benefits tourism, or led to more vagrancy, or put undue pressure on public services and infrastructure, or sapped the economic life of the countries from where these migrants arrive.
Yet on this fact-free foundation rest not only his policies to limit migrants’ access to the welfare state, but Britain’s vaunted renegotiation of EU membership, a diplomatic project that looks likely to seek changes to free movement above all else. And Mr Cameron, remember, is a model of reason by the standards of his Conservative party, who would love him to go much further.
It takes some insouciance to look at this spectacle and not worry. Unless we are to smudge the line between representative democracy and the more direct version, we cannot believe that popular clamour alone is a good enough reason to pursue this or that policy. Politicians must at least attempt to summon an empirical case for the things they do. And if they do not, we should assume it is because they cannot.
This is just the principled objection to the government’s announcement. Even as a piece of realpolitik, the policy will fail. Its defenders argue that only by soothing public grievances about immigration can Britain avoid a great revolt over the issue one day: a surge of support for the far-right, for example, or a vote to leave the EU in the referendum pencilled in for 2017. This is always the huckster’s case for getting tough on migrants: if mainstream politicians do not do it, who knows what might happen? Better to buy off the anger before it turns ugly.
What is the evidence that this ever works? For three years the government has operated a severe annual limit on immigration, supported by wall-to-wall boasts of their toughness and some tawdry publicity stunts. It has achieved concrete results, namely a fall of one-third in net immigration. No government in recent decades has taken a more restrictive approach. And yet it has not put a dent in public concern over the issue, which is higher now than it was in 2010. According to Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham university, the proportion of voters who trust none of the mainstream parties on immigration is close to 50 per cent.
What more can ministers do to placate public opinion? An even lower limit on net migration than the one that is already irking business? A challenge to the basic principle – not just the details – of free movement in Europe? The reality is that there is not much scope for the government to make its immigration policy even harsher without leaving the EU.
In the long term, Mr Cameron will only aggravate public opinion on immigration by raising expectations that cannot be met. Whatever turns out to be the precise number of arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania, voters will regard it as too high. They will then rage at the prime minister who talked such a good game in November 2013, what with his benefit restrictions and promising to water down free movement.
From the Commonwealth arrivals of the post-1945 decades to the Albanian asylum-seekers of the late 1990s to the great wave of eastern Europeans after 2004, political panics about immigration follow a pattern. The public resents the influx. Sympathetic commentators tout the preposterous, bleating notion that they are “not allowed to talk about immigration”, despite rarely talking about anything else. Politicians try to calm things down by tightening policy and intensifying their rhetoric. And they fail.
There is another approach. Politicians could stick to the facts, which refute the hysteria about benefits tourism. They could celebrate free movement in the EU as a glory of the modern world that allows roughly 2m Britons to reside on the continent. And they could argue that, for a country trying to compete in a world economy, receiving lots of mainly young and industrious people might not be an utter catastrophe. They could call it the “global race” or something.

Social Services forcibly remove unborn child from woman by caesarean after she suffered mental health breakdown.

A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section because she had suffered a mental breakdown.
In what has been described as an unprecedented case, Essex social services obtained a High Court order that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child removed from her womb.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the council said it was acting in the best interests of the mother.

Social services are refusing to give the baby girl, who is now 15 months old, back to her mother, despite the woman claiming she has recovered.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is an Italian national who came to Britain in July last year to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport in Essex.

She is reported to have suffered a panic attack, which her relations believe was due to her failure to take regular medication for an existing bipolar condition.

She called the police, who took her to a psychiatric facility where she was restrained and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Essex social services then obtained a High Court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”, according to legal documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph.

The baby was born five weeks later after which the mother returned to Italy.

Brendan Fleming, the woman’s lawyer, told the newspaper: “I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job. I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.

“If there were concerns about the care of this child by an Italian mother, then the better plan would have been for the authorities here to have notified social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”

An Italian High Court judge has questioned whether British care proceedings should have been applied to the child of an Italian citizen.

The matter will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign.