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Report finds easy access to drugs and high levels of violence in many prisons

Inmates at HMP Bedford claimed it was easier to get drugs than clothes or bedsheets. Credit: ITV Anglia News

Justice Secretary Liz Truss has today presented her strategy for prison reform after a string of warnings about the state of jails in England and Wales.

In the report inmates at HMP Bedford claimed it was easier to get drugs than clothes or bedsheets.

While nearly half of prisoners at HMP Chelmsford in Essex said it was "easy" to get drugs, while the jail had also seen rising levels of violence.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said in his annual report that too many jails have become "unacceptably violent and dangerous places."


Bedford commuters face major disruptions

Thameslink services between Bedford and London St Pancras International were affected. Credit: PA

Over-running engineering work has caused major disruption to commuters from Bedford.

Thameslink services between Bedford and London St Pancras International were affected.

Two of the four lines were closed, resulting in trains being cancelled or delayed, with disruption expected to continue until noon.

Some East Midlands trains were also affected.

The problem was with a tunnel near West Hampstead in north-west London.

Thameslink's owner, Govia Thameslink Railway, is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union over the role of conductors at its Southern franchise.

"If GTR'S parent company weren't hoarding £100 million in profits, that money could be invested in more engineers and more regular maintenance, which would help us avoid these regular, catastrophic infrastructure failures."

– Mick Cash, RMT union

"We are doing all we can to reduce the disruption this causes, complete the work and return services to normal as quickly and safely as possible."

– Network Rail spokesman

Bedford MP's motion to strip Sir Philip Green of knighthood approved

MPs approved a motion to strip Sir Philip Green of his knighthood. Credit: PA

MPs have unanimously approved a motion put forward by Bedford MP Richard Fuller recommending ex-BHS boss Sir Philip Green should be stripped of his knighthood.

Mr Fuller suggested the retail tycoon had failed "to find his moral compass" in not addressing the store's pension deficit over the summer.

Following the debate in the House of Commons, MPs backed the his motion unopposed, meaning no full vote was needed.

They have asked the Honours Forfeiture Committee to ensure Sir Philip's knighthood is "cancelled and annulled".

Richard Fuller said the ex-BHS boss failed

The unprecedented decision is non-binding, although Downing Street indicated it believes the independent committee may have a decision to make in the future.

The Government also called on Sir Philip to "quickly" remedy the BHS pension scheme deficit, with investigations under way into the conduct of BHS directors and the management of the pension scheme.

BHS went into administration with a £571 million pension scheme deficit shortly after being sold for £1 by Sir Philip to Dominic Chappell.

Police appeal after man bitten by dog in Bedford

Police are appealing for information after a man was bitten by a dog in a Bedford Park.

The dog, which is described as a white and black Staffordshire bull terrier, was off its leash when it ran towards a man and bit him in the ankle.

It happened on a recreation ground near Cranbourne Close at 7.30am on Friday (14 October).

Officers are keen to trace the dog's owner. He's described as white and he spoke with an eastern European accent.


CCTV released after theft from elderly woman in Bedford

And elderly's woman's purse and passport were stolen while she was shopping. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

Police have released CCTV images of two people they'd like to speak following a theft from an elderly woman in Bedford.

The woman's purse, passport and bank book were stolen while she was shopping at the Iceland supermarket on Midland Road.

It happened at around midday on 30 September.

Officers are appealing for witnesses.

Police appeal for missing 15-year old

15-year-old Theo Cranfield Credit: Bedfordshire police

Bedfordshire police are appealing for help in finding a missing teenage boy who hasn’t been seen since last week.

15-year-old Theo Cranfield has been missing from his home in Spalding since last Thursday, 29 September. He was seen in Bedfordshire on Monday, 3 October but has not been seen since.

It is believed that he is in the Bedford area.

Woman fined for cycling in Bedford town centre

A Bedford woman has been issued a fine of £125 after cycling through the main pedestrian area of Bedford town centre and failing to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice of £75.

Ms Blackaby failed to pay the Public Space Protection Order and was prosecuted after failing to attend Bedford Magistrates Court. She was ordered to pay a total cost of £125.

The Public Space Protection Order restricts cyclists from riding bikes through the main pedestrian area of Bedford Town Centre between 9am and 6pm.

"Cycling is a great way to get active and help the environment; however, cyclists must act in a safe and appropriate manner at all times and respect the laws that are in place for everyone’s safety."

– Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services
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