Man arrested in hunt for south-west London suspected rapist

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of rape after a teenage girl was attacked in south-west London.

Police received a report of an allegation of rape after 07:00 GMT near North Place, Colliers Wood.

Kadian Nelson, 26, had been urged to hand himself in to police “for his own safety” amid reports he was being hunted by groups of people.

The Met said a man was arrested following a call from a member of the public. He is in police custody.

The victim and her family have been informed of the arrest, which took place in Robinson Road, Tooting, at about 20:00.

A Section 60 order that was authorised for the entirety of the boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth, granting police additional stop and search powers as a result of fears of serious violence, remains in place.

The Met reminded people to be “mindful of sharing information via social media that could identify the alleged victim, or affect any potential future proceedings”.

Coronavirus: NI health trusts close to reducing routine surgery

Northern Ireland’s health trusts are getting close to substantially reducing routine surgery across the healthcare system, BBC News NI understands.

It is believed more staff have been told they will be moved to work in Covid wards and intensive care units.

The move is expected to have a massive knock-on effect on routine surgery.

All six of NI’s health trusts, including the NI Ambulance Service, have reported being under strain due to the extra pressures of the pandemic.

The Department of Health reported on Tuesday that six more people had died in Northern Ireland after contracting Covid-19.

It brings its death toll, based on a positive test result being recorded, to 730.

A further 570 positive cases have been recorded bringing the Department of Health’s total to 40,179.

My understanding is that today managers across the healthcare system were looking at those surge plans that include cancelling elective surgery across the system.

Only a couple of hours ago, it’s believed that staff at Craigavon Area Hospital were instructed to scale up the number of beds in its intensive care unit from six to 16 – that will have a massive impact on staff in the area and on the number of services they can provide across the system.

I have been speaking to a number of managers and what they said to me is that they are doing their very utmost to retain services but it is becoming increasingly hard.

They will try to retain cancer surgery as a priority.

But, as one manager put it, next week we will probably be working in a much different health environment.

In another development, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that testing of care home staff is to be increased from every fortnight to once a week.

The change is to be rolled out from next week to care homes across Northern Ireland.

There are currently outbreaks of Covid-19 in 117 care homes, up from 28 at the start of October.

Another 10 homes are dealing with a suspected outbreak, and incidents have been cleared in 245 homes.

Mr Swann said care homes remain on the front line in the battle against the virus and they should now make arrangements for the increased frequency in testing.

“I have asked officials to ensure this takes effect right across the sector as soon as possible,” he said.

“I do not underestimate the logistical challenges this will bring, but I have no doubt it is the right thing to do.”

Although the number of new cases in Northern Ireland has dropped in recent weeks, hospital admissions and inpatients are still rising as a result of the high infection rate.

The minister said the system is now dealing with the “serious consequences” of that.

“The more prevalent the virus is in our community, the greater the risk of it spreading into our care homes.”

Health trusts have been providing support for testing to the care home sector.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Northern Ireland:

Pub plans eased as takeaway beer sales now allowed

Pubs will be allowed to sell takeaway alcohol in a relaxation of planned lockdown rules in England.

Pre-ordered alcohol can be collected by customers as long as they do not enter the premises, legislation says.

They must order their drink via a website, phone or text message. Deliveries are also allowed.

Pub bosses hailed it as a small victory but said the rules should allow venues to sell drink in the same way as an off-licence.

Plans published at the weekend suggested that while restaurants could sell takeaway food, takeaway alcohol was to be banned.

“Takeaway alcohol from pubs if it is pre-ordered and customers don’t enter the premises is movement, but still not anywhere near enough,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.

“Supermarkets and off-licences can still sell alcohol, so this is grossly unfair on pubs with off-licences. It remains the case that to help pubs and brewers survive, and to stop up to 7.5 million pints from being wasted, the government needs to give pubs the same ability to sell off-licence alcohol as it did in the first lockdown.”

In the last lockdown, pubs in England had been allowed to sell takeaway pints and food, and were concerned that closure for a month would mean pouring millions of pints of ale down the drain as open kegs would go off.

“It is a welcome and helpful clarification that pubs and restaurants will be permitted to continue with off-licence sales of alcohol through delivery, as well as click and collect for pre-ordered sales,” said Kate Nichols of lobby group UK hospitality.

“This was a lifeline to many businesses in the first lockdown and it is good to see common sense prevail this time too – avoiding waste and providing a valuable community service – although we can see no reason why a pub could not operate as a retail outlet for pre-packaged food and drink as many did last time.”

The government has been approached for a comment.

Glitch caused self-isolation orders to be too long

More than 7,200 people in England were told to stop self-isolating on the wrong date by the Test and Trace scheme as a result of a software error.

The Department of Health said most of those affected had subsequently been contacted with the correct information.

People had been told to isolate for too long, rather than being told they could mix with others too soon, it added.

The mistake – which was first reported by Sky News – follows a series of other software-based Covid-19 foul-ups.

Last month, the BBC revealed how an oversight in the use of Microsoft’s Excel software led to nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases going unreported in England.

And on the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that a risk-score threshold used by the NHS Covid-19 app to trigger self-isolate alerts had been lowered weeks later than intended. In that case, officials are still carrying out checks to identify the “root cause”.

A total of 7,230 individuals were involved in the latest error.

Officials believe it resulted from an internal update to the system used by human contact tracers, who identify people believed to have recently been close to those diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The system is used to calculate how long the original person who tested positive should keep away from others. It also does the isolation calculation for those they had been in close proximity to, who are contacted via follow-up phone calls, emails and/or text messages.

It is completely separate to the automated contact tracing system used by the app.

The update was made on 22 October and affected a total of 7,230 people before the problem was rectified on 27 October.

Of those:

“We have reassessed the self-isolation periods for a number of people who were contact traced, following close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said.

Rape suspect Kadian Nelson urged to hand himself in

Police have urged a rape suspect to hand himself in “for his own safety” amid reports he is being hunted by groups of people.

Kadian Nelson, 26, is wanted in connection with an attack on a teenage girl in south-west London.

The Met Police, which earlier released an image of Mr Nelson, appealed for him to come forward.

Det Supt Owain Richards also urged those “attending various addresses” in a bid to find him to “go home”.

“Do not try to take the law into your own hands or you may end up doing something you regret and potentially face police action yourself,” he said.

Officers said the victim was reportedly assaulted shortly after 07:00 GMT near North Place, Colliers Wood.

Video shared on social media appears to show a girl being approached from behind before being forced into a side street by a man.

No arrests have been made.

Det Supt Richards said he recognised the attack was “shocking and distressing and emotions locally are running very high”.

But he urged the public to “allow us to do our jobs”.

“It is imperative that we follow the right processes as we investigate this incident as any interference could potentially affect proceedings further down the line.” he said.

A Section 60 stop and search order has been authorised for Merton and Wandsworth areas.

People have been warned to not share information via social media which could identify the girl or affect any future proceedings.

People smugglers who steered two boats of migrants jailed

Two men have been jailed for smuggling themselves and 23 other people across the Channel on two small boats.

Iraqi national Assad Abdul Latif Sayed Abdulghany, 30, and Iranian national Ali Azarkish, 23, were both sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment on Friday.

They had previously admitted assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.

Their convictions were secured at Canterbury Crown Court with the help of Border Force footage which showed the men in control of their vessels.

Abdulghany and Azarkish had their rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) intercepted at sea on 15 September.

Abdulghany had attempted the crossing with 16 others, including six children, while Azarkish tried to bring seven people to the UK.

In his interview, Abdulghany claimed to have paid £4,000 for the crossing, the Home Office said.

Azarkish said he was told it was €2,500 (£2,240) to be smuggled to the UK by boat, but that if he steered, the journey would be free.

On Thursday last week, two Iranian men were sentenced to 24 months for attempting to cross the Channel with 29 people on two boats.

A week ago, four people, including two children, died when the boat they were on sank off the coast of northern France.

Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney said: “The tragic events of last week reinforces how critical it is to end the viability of the small boats route.

“Preventing any further loss of life is my priority.”

All the jailed men will automatically be considered for deportation at the end of their sentences.

Leah Crouchers brother Haydon was begging for help

The brother of a missing teenager “was begging for help” before he died according to his mother, an inquest heard.

Haydon Croucher, 24, died on 16 November 2019, two days after being found hanged at his Milton Keynes flat.

His sister Leah, 19, has not been seen since 15 February 2019 despite extensive searches.

Tom Osborne, the senior coroner for Milton Keynes, recorded a verdict of suicide.

Mr Croucher’s mother Tracey Furness told the coroner at the time of his death he was “suffering with severe clinical depression and anxiety”.

She also said he had attempted to take his own life on two previous occasions.

Ms Furness told the inquest: “He did suffer with ill mental health and felt all emotions at their extreme.

“He needed help. He was begging for help. Hayden felt uncared for.”

Mr Croucher’s therapist Chantelle Tillison told Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court he told her he “felt hopeless and said he would be better off dead”.

She told the hearing that during the last of three sessions, on 16 October, Mr Croucher said he had “found it difficult to cope with no family support”.

She said she persuaded him to go with her to Milton Keynes Hospital for an assessment, but he was not admitted as he did not want an out-of-area psychiatric bed.

Earlier in the inquest Colin Garvey, a community psychiatric nurse with the Central and North West London NHS Trust, said a decision to discharge Mr Croucher had not been documented.

In his conclusion of suicide, Mr Osborne said he was “not satisfied an in-patient bed was discussed” for Mr Croucher.

“It needed to be recorded. It is the case of the old adage if it is not recorded it did not happen. I do not believe it was considered,” he said.

“There was no discharge plan in place and that has contributed to Haydon’s death.”

Mr Osborne described Mr Croucher as having been “a young man in crisis”.

Coronavirus: School PE allowed indoors with no cap on pupils

Schools will be allowed to deliver physical education indoors or outdoors and with no limit on student numbers, the education minister has said.

It comes after schools were told on Monday to hold sessions outside with no more than 15 students taking part.

On Tuesday, Education Minister Peter Weir said he had secured a legal change.

However he said the department still would “strongly advise” that schools limit PE to “non-contact sports”.

He thanked the Department of Health and Executive Office for their help in resolving the issue “so quickly”.

“The benefits of physical and sporting activities in schools are clear,” he added.

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Boss denies security penny pinching

The operators of Manchester Arena where 22 were killed in a terror attack have denied accusations of “penny pinching” and putting people’s lives at risk.

James Allen, arena manager, told the inquiry into the blast that he did not believe SMG had been “penny-pinching” on security prior to the terror attack.

Twenty-two people died in the bombing at the arena on 22 May 2017.

A lawyer acting on behalf of some of the bereaved families accused SMG of not paying for adequate security.

The inquiry heard how the risk level in the arena on the night of the blast was designated as low, despite the national threat level being classed as severe.

When asked by John Cooper QC if the arena risk level should have been higher, Mr Allen replied “Yes, possibly”.

The arena manager also conceded there would have been cost implications if the venue’s risk level had been elevated.

“SMG were far more interested in trying to get efficiency than making sure their security operation was fit for purpose,” Mr Cooper said.

“You’re penny pinchers, you skimp, you don’t pay for security properly and you put people’s lives at risk”.

Mr Allen rejected the assertions.

Adam Payter who is also representing some of the bereaved families, asked Mr Allen about documents written by Miriam Stone, the head of events at SMG.

The inquiry heard that due to the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016, she was asked by Mr Allen to save a proportion of the rising costs and make savings of £250 per event on staffing costs.

“Rather than considering increasing staff you were considering making budgetary savings?” Mr Payter said.

Mr Allen replied “Yes, potentially yes”.

The inquiry continues.

Covid: Teacher suspended after working with positive test

A supply teacher has been suspended after she continued to teach knowing she had tested positive for Covid-19

The woman taught five classes – totalling 150 children – at Kitchener Primary School in Canton, Cardiff. All have since had to self-isolate.

Head teacher Reena Patel delivered the “devastating news” in a video message to parents and carers on Monday.

Cardiff council said the individual had been suspended while an investigation is carried out.

Ms Patel said: “She carried on coming into school and she didn’t tell us that she was tested or that she had received the results. Unfortunately, I have only just found out.

“I am disappointed, I am angry, I am just absolutely devastated as to why people would not do the right thing.

“Your children are my priority and they always will be.”

The supply teacher, who worked at the school in lead-up to the half-term break, had tested positive a week earlier, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Ms Patel said: “If your child hasn’t developed symptoms before this time, it’s highly unlikely that they will.”

The school has not named the supply teacher.

A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “A supply teacher has tested positive for Covid-19 at Kitchener Primary School.

“Five members of staff and 150 of pupils are self-isolating following advice from Public Health Wales, after they were identified as close contacts of the confirmed case, and will return to school at the end of this week.

“We have been assured by the agency which manages the supply teacher’s contract, that the individual has been suspended while an investigation is carried out.

“The council will review the situation once their investigation has concluded and the results have been shared with us.”

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