Live updates

Divers search for woman who went missing more than 18 months ago in Bedford

Sonica Hans was last seen on Boxing Day in 2012. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

Police diving teams have spent the morning searching a river in Bedford - more than 18 months after a 35-year-old woman went missing.

Sonica Hans was last seen on Boxing Day in 2012 and someone matching her description was captured on CCTV near the Swan Hotel on The Embankment at about 2:00pm in the afternoon.

She has not been in contact with her family and friends since.

Advertisement

Two woman bitten during Bedford dog attack

Two women have been bitten by a Staffordshire bull terrier during a dog attack in Bedford.

The incident happened on Tuesday July 29 at around 7.15pm in St Andrews Road. The two friends were walking their dogs together when a woman walking a black Staffordshire bull terrier approached them from the opposite direction.

The Staffordshire bull terrier started pulling at the lead and the woman let go. The dog then ran along St Andrews Road and attacked the victim’s Labrador.

The two women tried to free the dog but the Staffordshire bull terrier then bit both of them. Two men heard the noise from the street and were able to free the Labrador by kicking the other dog before the owner of the Staffordshire bullterrier left the area.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who may have information about the offender who is described as being a white woman with blond hair who was wearing black leggings and a floral dress or long top.

If you have information relating to this incident, contact PC Sugden, in confidence, on the non-emergency101 number, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers,anonymously, on 0800 555 111,or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

26-year-old man kidnapped and assaulted in Bedford

Police in Bedford are appealing for information after a 26-year-old man was kidnapped and assaulted on Wednesday.

The incident happened between 5.30pm and 6pm when four men knocked at the victim’s front door in Eastville Road.

He went out to speak with the men and walked around the corner when he was pushed from behind and forced into a silver VW car.

The men assaulted him and demanded he contact his family to arrange for cash to be handed over before driving to Renhold where they pulled him from the car.

The victim managed to escape and flag down a motorist who called for help.

The first offender is described as a man with an Asian appearance, 35 years old, 6’2” tall, wearing a polo top and had a French crop style haircut.

The second offender is also described as a man with an Asian appearance, 5’9” tall, approximately 19 years old, wearing a Nike tracksuit.

The third and fourth offenders are both described as black men.

DC Surinder Ram, investigating, would like to urge anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone who can help trace the silver VW car used by the offenders to come forward and contact the police.

“We have charged a man in connection with this offence but this is still an on-going investigation and as the incident happened in daylight hours people who were making their way home from work could still hold vital information about those involved which could help this investigation.

“It is also possible that other pedestrians or road users may have noticed the silver VW car parked close to Eastville Road or parked in the Renhold area. I would urge these people to come forward as they may be able to help us trace this vehicle.”

– DC Surinder Ram, Bedfordshire Police

16-month prison sentence for benefits cheat from Bedford who claimed nearly £140,000

A man from Bedford has started a 16-month jail sentence after being convicted of stealing almost £140,000 in benefits over 14 years.

Alas Miah, of Brereton Road and formerly of The Avenue, Bedford, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court on Thursday, 31 July after admitting seven offences relating to benefit fraud spanning 14 years from 1998 to 2012.

In total, he had claimed £137,572 in Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance that he was not entitled to.

Miah must serve at least half the sentence in prison and the rest on licence in the community. If he reoffends he will serve the full sentence. He will also have to repay all the money he stole from taxpayers.

“This was a deliberate fraud committed over a long period of time which cost taxpayers a huge sum. Mr Miah was respected in his local community but through his own greed must now serve time in prison as a criminal and may well find his assets confiscated by the court.

“Once again, a vigilant member of the public has helped our investigators to stop a serious fraud and this case shows that no matter how long it takes, eventually the fraudsters will be caught and can expect to find themselves in prison.”

– Councillor Shan Hunt, Executive Member for Revenue and Benefits

Advertisement

Shadow chancellor warns of interest rate rises

Ed Balls speaking in Bedford

Homeowners are facing a "real risk" of premature interest rate rises, shadow chancellor Ed Balls warned today, as he branded David Cameron the "you've never had it so good" Prime Minister.

Mr Balls, speaking in Bedford, accused Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne of complacency over economic recovery, and warned that their failure to build more homes might force the Bank of England to accelerate interest rate rises.

Ed Balls speaking in Bedford

Despite the loudly acclaimed return of UK GDP to pre-crash levels last week, most people remain worse off under the coalition after the biggest real-terms fall in wages for more than a century, he said.

And he claimed Conservatives were planning "another tax cut for millionaires" if they win next year's general election, after Mr Cameron's policy guru Oliver Letwin was recorded suggesting that a discussion on flat-rate taxes "will no doubt open up" when the public finances improve. A flat rate for income tax could force the 20p basic rate paid by millions of ordinary workers as high as 31p, he warned.

Ed Balls speaking in Bedford

Speaking in Bedford, where Harold Macmillan famously declared that "most of our people have never had it so good", Mr Balls said that the recovery produced by Mr Cameron was far from the boom which Britain enjoyed under the earlier Conservative PM.

Here is our business correspondent Matthew Hudson's interview with Mr Balls after his speech:

The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls visits Bedford to set out Labour's economic plans for the future

The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is in Bedford today to set out Labour's economic plans for the future.

Mr Balls will use his speech in the marginal Conservative seat to say that working people are now worse off than they were five years ago.

He says average wages after inflation are down by more than £1600 pounds a year since 2010.

Appeal for hammer attack witnesses

Police in Bedford are appealing for witnesses after a 37-year-old man was robbed and hit over the head with a hammer.

It happened just after 1pm on Friday afternoon when the man was followed into an alleyway that connects Maitland Street and Battison Street.

The victim was taken to hospital for stitches to his head.

Work to demolish town hall nearly complete

Work to demolish the town hall office block in Bedford is almost complete.

The demolition of Bedford's town hall office block is nearly finished.

It will make way for a new multi-million pound public square and riverside development.

People can now keep an eye on how the work is going thanks to a webcam overlooking the building.

It is available on the council's website.

Work to demolish the town hall office block in Bedford is almost complete.
Load more updates