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New centre opens to help children at risk of neglect and abuse

New centre to help vulnerable children Credit: ITV news

A new child protection centre opens in Reading today. It's called MASH - which stands for the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and is based at the Civic Offices. Police, social workers, and health experts will be based there and will work together to help protect vulnerable young people who may be at risk.

The centre will act as a central point to collect and analyse safeguarding data known to separate organisations. This pooled information will then be used to identify risk and needs and inform safeguarding decisions about children and young people.

MASH works to assess risks earlier and more quickly so helping children and families access the right services at the right time and prevent the escalation of problems.

Reading's Lead Councillor for Children's Services, Cllr Jan Gavin said: "We have had a MASH in Reading since 2012, but this enhanced facility will allow partners to work even more closely together to identify risks to children and young people and act quickly to ensure effective safeguarding measures are in place. Safeguarding children and young people is a top priority for the Council and its partners and I am pleased that the MASH will be used to strengthen the measures we are taking together to tackle child protection issues."

Bee decline could affect what we eat

Experts say more species are needed to pollinate the food we eat

It's estimated a third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees - and we're not just talking honey. Their role is so important in our food chain that their contribution is worth £650 million to our economy. But experts are warning we need to act now to ensure that continues.

As bees transport pollen from flower to colony they accidentally pollinate all sorts of fruit and vegetables, which end up on our plates. But despite having 200 species here in the UK - only a couple pollinate our crops. Experts say we need to ensure other types are pollinating too, by making the right food and nesting resources available - whether on farmland, or in towns and cities. Ecologists at Reading University have compared it to a game of football.

"You might have all your stars playing on the field currently but you need to have a very strong squad on the bench so if your key player were unable to play for some reason you would need a good substitute to take up that role and that's exactly why we need to focus our efforts on conserving all the bee species that are available to us, and not just focus on the ones that are pollinating crops now."

– Deepa Senapathi, Ecologist, Reading University
Bees are worth £650 to our economy by pollinating the food we eat

The bees we rely on to pollinate crops for us now may not be around in the future because of changes in the climate, or a change in crops that grow on farmland. The University of Reading campus is a green space - full of flowers and plants. And that's what scientists are encouraging - that our urban spots have plenty of parks and gardens, or even balconies, where the right flowers and plants will attract different types of bees.

Deepa Senapathi is encouraging more species to pollinate our crops

"Pollination services in the UK are valued at £650 million per year and that was a figure from three years ago so that figure is only likely to go up so in terms of the econmomic services they provide bees are really important so you wouldn't want the economy to be hit we wouldn't be able to have the good quality strawberries and apples that we enjoy now so it impacts quality of life in very basic ways."

– Deepa Senapathi, Ecologist, Reading University


Man dies in caravan fire

Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

A man's died after a caravan fire in Reading early this morning.

Police and paramedics rushed to the scene in Linden Road in Whitley after the fire broke out just before 6am but the mobile home had burned to the ground.

Forensic officers have been combing the scene for clues after police confirmed the cause of the blaze, which happened on a driveway outside a house, was unknown.

Foul play has not been ruled out.

Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

"That caravan is always parked there, but we don't really know who it belongs to. I thought it was a bit strange because yesterday afternoon I saw it had been moved and then in the evening it was back and a woman was out cleaning it. I heard some noise outside this morning quite early and went to the window and the whole caravan was all ablaze, in fact it really was a monstrous blaze with lots of smoke."

– Neighbour James Breadmore
Police cordon off the scene of the fire in Whitley Credit: INS

"We were called to a fire in Linden Road in Reading, Berks., at 6am today. A man was declared deceased at the scene. His next of kin are yet to be informed and he cause of the fire is yet to established."

– A spokesman for Thames Valley Police

Girl aged 15 due in court on attempted murder charge

The stabbing incident happened in Reading on Sunday

A 15-year-old girl has been charged with attempted murder after a boy aged 16 was stabbed in the chest. It happened at around midday on Sunday 7th June on Granville Road in the Southcote area of Reading.

The 15-year-old girl has been remanded in custody and is due to appear before magistrates this morning charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of possession of a knife blade/ sharp pointed article in a public place.

Girl, 15, in custody after boy, 16, stabbed in Reading

A 16-year-old boy is in a serious condition in hospital after being stabbed in Reading on Sunday. Thames Valley Police were called to Granville Road in the Southcote area of Reading just after midday yesterday.

A 15-year-old girl has been arrested. Our reporter Mel Bloor sent this report from the scene.

“I would like to reassure the local community that we believe this is an isolated incident. We are investigating the circumstances fully. If anyone has information about this I would ask them to contact police by calling 101.

Officers remain on the scene and anyone with concerns can contact the police.”

– Det Insp Mark Spencer, Reading CID, Thames Valley Police


16-year-old boy stabbed in Reading

At 12.06pm yesterday police were called to an incident in Gainsborough Road, Reading.

A 16-year-old boy from Reading had been stabbed. He was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition.

Police arrested a 15-year-old girl on suspicion of GBH with intent nearby. She remains in police custody.

“I would like to reassure the local community that we believe this is an isolated incident. We are investigating the circumstances fully. If anyone has information about this I would ask them to contact police by calling 101. Officers remain on the scene and anyone with concerns can contact the police.”

– Det Insp Mark Spencer from Reading CID

Half of taxis in Reading fail spot checks

Taxis in Reading under scrutiny Credit: ITV news

Spot checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in Reading found that half had defects or failed to comply with the terms of their licences. Forty-nine vehicles were checked during a joint operation involving Reading Borough Council, Thames Valley Police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. Twenty-five of the vehicles were not in full compliance with their licences, including six which had serious faults and had to be repaired before the vehicles could operate again.

Eighteen problems were found with black cabs, including faults with fire extinguishers, lights and bodywork while six issues were found with the private hire operators, including faults with fire extinguishers, worn tyres and a licence plate not fixed. Five serious faults found on the Hackney Carriages included two worn steering joints, one chassis fracture and worn tyre, one break fault and one fuel leak.

Councillor Paul Gittings said: "These regular checks on Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles act as a reminder to operators they need to ensure their vehicles are well maintained and adhere to the conditions of their licences. They also give passengers some reassurance that the vehicles they travel in are checked to make sure they are safe and in good condition."

New help for teenagers in Reading to deal with stress and depression

Advice booklet for teenagers Credit: Reading Borough Council

Secondary school children in Reading are being given a booklet to help them learn about mental health issues. The pocket sized book offers tips and advice on dealing with things like exam stress, depression and body image issues.

A BOOKLET outlining help and advice for mental health issues is being given to every secondary school pupil in the Borough. It's been funded by Public Health and is being distributed via secondary schools and is also available online at

Advice offered on stress, anxiety and exam nerves Credit: Reading Borough Council

Lead Councillor for Children's Services, Jan Gavin said

"This booklet has been issued in time for the exam season, but young people - in common with the rest of us - can suffer from stress and other mental health issues at any time. It has been produced with the input of young people and gives genuinely helpful advice on what to do and where to get help if you are a young person with questions about mental health."

To accompany the booklet, a special text number and email service is available until the end of the school summer term for young people to contact if they have any questions or concerns about mental health. Queries will be answered within 48 hours by a specialist in young people's health and wellbeing. Text 07537 414757 or email

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