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A BIRMINGHAM man will appear at court this morning (Monday 14 August) in connection with the death of his elderly mother.

Unemployed Darren Hammond, aged 41 from Ebrook Road, Sutton Coldfield will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court charged with murder.

Hamond was arrested on suspicion of murder on Saturday the woman’s body was found at an address in Sutton Coldfield.

Concerns were raised after the 81-year-old woman had not been seen for some time. Officers, calling for a safe and well check, made the discovery.

Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield, from force CID, said: “Although formal identification is yet to take place we are confident the deceased is Beryl Hammond who lived at the address in Ebrook Road where her body was discovered.

“I am seeking witnesses to Beryl’s last known movements and also those of her son, Darren Hammond, to help us understand more about the circumstances of her death. I would like to hear from anyone who had contact with or saw Beryl or Darren in recent months, even if you do not believe the contact to have been significant.

“The investigation continues and I again appeal for anyone who has any information they believe would assist the case to come forward.”

West Midlands Trains Ltd

RAIL passengers are to get more frequent services with new trains and extra seats as a result of a near £1 billion investment in the West Midlands network.

The cash injection is part of a deal announced this week that will see West Midlands Trains Ltd run the region’s rail services under a new franchise from December onwards.

Through Tamworth this will directly affect the West Coast Mainline (Tamworth Lower Level) services between Crewe and London.  It will also indirectly affect users of the Upper Level as your connections at Birmingham New Street may change.

Our neighbours in Lichfield will see and extension of services from Lichfield City to Lichfield Trent Valley to provide 4 services per hour Monday to Saturday by December 2018 and on Sundays by May 2021 and earlier and later services between Birmingham and Lichfield.

County-wide, there will no longer be direct service between Stoke-on-Trent and London as trains from Crewe will go direct to Stafford.

If you are anywhere else, follow this link to the Department for Transport website to find out what changes are coming your way. A full map of the affected area can be seen below.

West Midlands Trains Limited is a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd.

Trains running only in the West Midlands area will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and West Midlands Rail (WMR), a consortium of 16 local councils.

A package of improvements has been built into the franchise agreement aimed at providing more services and more space for passengers and to stimulate and support further economic growth and jobs across the region.

It is the first time that West Midlands authorities have had such a level of influence in setting out what a train company needs to deliver for local passengers.Rail MapBenefits include:

  • 20,000 extra seats for rush hour passengers in Birmingham.
  • 100 new carriages on the Cross City line
  • 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill line
  • Compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes
  • Free Wi-Fi on all main line services
  • A roll out of smart ticketing and live passenger information
  • Trains and stations branded in a locally specified West Midlands Railway livery

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today’s announcement is an important step towards that.

“Having the ability to use our local knowledge and understanding to shape what West Midlands Trains will deliver for passengers and businesses has been a real game changer.

“When it comes to our local train services we have not had this level of local influence and management before and it fits with the wider powers and responsibilities currently being transferred from Whitehall to the West Midlands.

“The result of this influence is that we will see West Midlands Trains deliver more of the services that passengers want including earlier and later weekday services and more trains on Sundays.

“I believe this deal for the West Midlands will not only improve people’s journeys but keep our economy growing and we look forward to working with West Midlands Trains in making that happen.”

Under the franchise agreement West Midlands Trains will run local rail services in the West Midlands from December this year until March 2026.

As well as increased frequencies the deal will see major investment in new trains with local services branded under a new West Midlands Railway livery.

The 100 new carriages for the Cross City line, the busiest route on the West Midlands network, will be of a design that offers increased space to carry more passengers and wider doors for quicker access.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, chair of WMR and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said:

“We have spent many months working closely with the DfT on developing a franchise deal that can bring tangible improvements for passengers, particularly in terms of the frequency and capacity of their services.

“It’s important to remember that tens of thousands of people rely on this local network to not only get to work each day but to undertake wider business trips and enjoy the cultural and leisure attractions of our region.

“This deal, together with the significant transport infrastructure set to be built in the West Midlands, will help ensure we have efficient train services that connect with the rest of the wider bus and tram network and, of course, the forthcoming high speed rail line. That will underpin economic growth and the new jobs being created in our region.”

Other benefits for passengers in the franchise deal include:

  • More trains between Birmingham and Shrewsbury with two services per hour from December 2018.
  • A regular two trains per hour service between Birmingham and Rugeley via the Chase Line from December 2018
  •  A new, direct hourly service between Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent from December 2018 providing much needed additional capacity
  •  An extension of Cross-City line services from Longbridge to Bromsgrove
  • A new hourly shuttle between Leamington Spa and Coventry serving the new station at Kenilworth
  •  Two morning and two evening rush hour direct services between Walsall and London from December 2018, helping to unlock economic growth in the region
  •  More Sunday services on the Cross-City line with the number of trains per hour between Longbridge and Birmingham doubling from two per hour to four in December 2018, and then increasing to six in May 2021
  • Increased Sunday services on the Snow Hill line with the number of trains per hour between Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction increasing from two to six
  •  A new Sunday service between Birmingham and Shrewsbury from December 2018, and a second train per hour introduced in May 2021

Cllr Mark Winnington, vice chair of WMR and Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, added:

“All successful economies have a fast and efficient transport network at their heart.

“The deal announced today can help ensure we have a network that can better support the regional economy while delivering services that are focussed on the real needs of passengers.

“We are particularly pleased that our local services will carry their own West Midlands Railway livery as we felt it was important to have a distinct brand and identity for the regional network.”

The franchise covers services across the West Midlands, as well as trains from London Euston to Crewe and from Liverpool to Birmingham.

The deal will, for the first time, see passengers entitled to 25 per cent compensation if their train is delayed by more than 15 minutes. They already receive 50 per cent of their money back for delays of half an hour and full compensation if it is more than an hour.

Around £60m will be invested on station improvements across the franchise area delivering 1,000 new car park spaces, 2,500 cycle parking spaces, a cycle hire scheme, new and refurbished waiting rooms and more seats at stations. There will also be improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people.

Feasibility studies will be undertaken for the development of new stations in the West Midlands and there will be plans to limit the impact of delays caused by leaves on the line in the autumn, including through the introduction of new modern trains.

Officers from CMPG and their HGV

ALMOST 100 motorists were caught using their mobile phone at the wheel during a police crackdown on distracted driving.

Motorway cops used an unmarked HGV cab to monitor the West Midlands network as part of a pre-planned operation – and even found one driver with their feet on the dashboard while using cruise control!

A total of 95 unsuspecting drivers were captured using their phone – an offence that now carries tougher new penalties of a £200 fine and six penalty points.

CMPG Patrol Vehicle and HGV

CMPG Patrol Vehicle and HGV. Credit: West Midlands Police

Officers also caught a further 54 motorists committing traffic offences with the majority for not being in proper control of a vehicle or not wearing a seatbelt.

Central Motorway Police Group co-ordinated the three-week operation with the support of Highways England on routes including the M6, M5 and M42 during June.

Superintendent Dean Hatton said: “It is disappointing that drivers are willing to put their own and others safety at risk by not fully concentrating on the road; being distracted by looking at your phone for a matter of seconds can have catastrophic and life-changing consequences.

“It is not only the tougher penalties which can see you lose your licence, but the ever-lasting guilt if you cause a fatal crash by not focussing on the road.”

The unmarked cab allowed officers to be at the same level as lorry drivers to spot those breaking the law; and look down on motorists in cars or other light vehicles.

An officer alongside the driver is able to spot offenders and record footage for evidence. Marked and unmarked vehicles were used alongside the cab to help pull over drivers and look for motoring offences.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie said: “The overwhelming majority of the public are fed-up with seeing people driving whilst using their phone. This tough action sends a strong message that the police will catch and prosecute drivers breaking the law.

“Studies have found that motorists who talk on their handheld phone while driving are four times more like to crash.Missing a call won’t kill you, an accident quite possibly could.”

Armed police officers.

FIREARMS officers have been a familiar sight in recent weeks as armed cops were deployed on the streets to reassure the public following the terror attacks.

West Midlands Police’s own armed units worked alongside colleagues from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary on permanent postings at more than 20 strategic sites.

In Staffordshire the public would have also seen armed officers on high visibility patrols around the streets and at local attractions such as Drayton Manor Park and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Those high-visibility teams have been stepped down with the lowering of the UK’s terror threat − but the force’s firearms officers remain on mobile patrol and standby 24/7 to protect the public against the threat of gun or knife crime.

Similar Armed officers are also on permanent 24/7 patrol in Staffordshire, as well as surrounding Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire

Chief Inspector Danny Delaney from West Midlands Police’s Firearms Unit, said: “Rest assured we have Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) patrolling the West Midlands around the clock to keep people safe.

“They are not high-visibility units; they get about in unmarked police vehicles and it’s likely most people will have been passed by one our ARVs at some stage without realising there were armed police on board.

“These officers are trained to the highest standard and are on hand and equipped to swiftly respond to any emerging incidents should the need arise.”

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson made a vow to bolster the force’s firearms reserves − and in the last 12 months the number of armed front-line officers has increased by a third.

In fact, there are now more armed police employed by West Midlands Police than at any time in the past.

Firearms officers must pass a demanding 10-week course that not only tests physical and technical attributes but also temperament, mental toughness and extreme-pressure decision making.

Chief Insp Delaney, added: “It’s a tough physical and mental challenge because, unashamedly, we only want the most competent firearms officers on the streets of the West Midlands protecting the public. And I have to be 100 per cent confident in the ability of each and every one of them.

“Success in our eyes is to resolve a situation without having to reach for a weapon − but there will sometimes be occasions where this is necessary and absolutely the right thing to do to protect the public.”

Find out what it takes to become a West Midlands Police firearms officer with this series of short films following candidates through training on this link.

999 call on iphone

WEST MIDLANDS Police is asking people to use the 999 service responsibly during the current heightened security state and only dial it for real emergencies.

Last night the national security state was raised to critical, this means that not only does an attack remain highly likely but a further attack may be imminent.

As a result emergency resources will be stretched and members of the public are reminded to only dial 999 if there is a threat to life or a genuine crime in progress and police attendance is immediately required.

Examples of genuine emergencies include where there is a threat to life, where there is on-going violence or if offenders are still at or near to the scene or if there has been an injury road traffic collision.

Any suspicious activity should still immediately be reported to 999 or the via the National Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

Non-emergency calls and enquiries should be directed to the 101 non-emergency number. This should be used to report a crime or anti-social behaviour which does not need an emergency response. For example, it could be used to report a crime that has already happened, seek crime prevention advice or make police aware of local policing issues.

Every year West Midlands Police receives more than two million telephone calls, including nearly 700,000 emergency calls, many of which are not genuine emergencies.

Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner, Head of Force contact said: “We are asking the public to just think before calling the police at this critical time. At the moment our officers and staff are juggling a huge number of demands and we ask people to be patient and bear with us. Of course any suspicious behaviour or emergency should still be reported on 999 but we have limited resources and still get time wasting calls.

“Recent examples of misusing the 999 system include calls about a shop not offering a refund, a picnic taking place in a park and spilled paint.

“We are averaging between 4-5,000 calls a day in total and we need to assess each and every one so please think before dialling.”

Police cell block

A MAN has been arrested following a disturbance near a vigil in Birmingham city centre this evening (Wednesday 23 May 2017).

The 39-year-old Birmingham man – who is known to police and is thought to have a history of mental ill-health – was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

The event was being held in support of the victims of yesterday’s Manchester terror attack.

Superintendent Andy Parsons, responsible for policing in the west of Birmingham, said: “Officers spotted the man acting suspiciously and spoke to him. At this point they have arrested him.

“The man was carrying a bag, and as a precaution, Victoria Square where the vigil was being held was cleared for around 15 minutes.

“A small axe was recovered along with a large stick.

“We will be interviewing the man to understand his intentions after mental health experts have assessed his condition.

“I’d like to thank people for the calm and collected way in which they responded to the incident. The professionalism of our officers who responded to the incident is also commendable and indicative of British policing.”

The charity Mind is available around the clock to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. Visit their website for advice and support including information for loved ones: www.mind.org.uk

Fake UGG boots store

A MAN who sold fake Ugg boots from a Birmingham shopping centre − conning shoppers in the run up to Christmas − has been hit with a court fine after being convicted of trademark violations.

cott Sutton opened a unit in The Pavillions on Christmas Eve 2014 and lured customers in with branding identical to that used by the iconic Aussie bootmaker, plus an eye-catching 70 per cent discount offer.

He sold pairs at £50 each − all cash purchases as Sutton rejected card payments − during a four-day sales spree before officers acted on concerns raised by a city centre PCSO to move in and close the shop down.

Enquiries were made with Ugg ’s brand protection and legal advisors − who confirmed the store wasn’t legitimate − and officers traced several customers tricked into believing the boots were genuine.They included one 15-year-old girl who parted with her Christmas cash after being told by a sales assistant the boots were genuine but could be sold at knock-down prices as “they weren’t made at the real Ugg factory”.

Sutton, formerly of Newfield Road in Hagley, was behind the till on 27 December 2014 when police swooped and in interview claimed he hadn’t committed a criminal offence and that it was a matter for trading standards.

However, West Midlands Police investigators eventually secured three charges of unauthorised trademark use against the 49-year-old.

Sutton admitted the offences and at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday (May 2) was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £980 in costs; he faces being jailed for three months if he fails to pay the fine.

PC Min Patel, from Birmingham Police’s Investigations Team, said: “It was a brazen fraud: he rented a unit in one of Birmingham’s most prestigious shopping centres and placed Ugg signage in windows and above the door to add further credibility to the deception.

“The packaging was professional and Ugg labels had been stitched onto the boots…most customers were left convinced this was a reputable business.

“Some shoppers may have suspected the boots were fake but were happy to part with their money for the name and not the quality.

“However, many customers felt ripped off that they had spent £50 or £100 on fake goods − and many of the purchases were Christmas presents for friends and family.

“Shoppers should always be wary about offers that appear too good to be true, both when shopping in the high street or online. Many of Sutton’s victims were upset at being conned…I hope the action taken by West Midlands Police shows frauds of this type won’t be tolerated.”

Police seized £7,000 in cash from Sutton’s car while 100 pairs of Ugg boot fakes were recovered from the Pavillions store.

In interview, Sutton denied giving shoppers the suggestion the boots were genuine as that would “insult their intelligence”.

He refused to name the supplier and said he was “out to prove a point” to trading standards having previously had a greetings card shop closed down by them.

Staffordshire Police Insignia in Tamworth

A MAN has died following a collision on Belgrave Middleway just after 11.40pm last night (Sunday).

The man was struck by a dark coloured Ford Mondeo as it travelled along the west bound carriageway of the road. The car was being pursued from Short Heath Road in Erdington after the driver failed to stop for police.

The pursuit was started by response officers but was then continued by specialist traffic officers. It was abandoned when the car went through a red light shortly before the collision occurred.

Paramedics were called to assist but tragically nothing could be done to save the 45-year-old pedestrian and he died at the scene. Specialist officers are supporting his family.

The Mondeo fled the scene and police are still searching for the driver. He is being urged to give himself up.

Belgrave Middleway has been closed in both directions between Bristol Road and Haden Circus while emergency services and collision reconstruction experts establish the circumstances of the incident. Motorists are being asked to avoid the area until the road is re-opened later today.

The force’s Professional Standards Department has informed the IPCC as is normal procedure in a collision where a police vehicle is involved.

Anyone who witnessed what happened is asked to call the Collision Investigation Unit on 101.

Our thoughts are with all involved at this terrible time.

west midlands counter terrorism unit (CTU)

AFTER the horrendous incident in London yesterday, West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit have issues a statement to the public.

Police have also confirmed that arrests were made at an address in Birmingham late last night, and that this was connected to the Westminster incident.

This statement says:

Following the terrible incidents in London yesterday, our thoughts are with those who have been affected.

Overnight our colleagues from the Metropolitan Police have searched a number of addresses across the country and have made a number of arrests in connection with the incident, including addresses in Birmingham.

The arrests and searches were intelligence led and there was no immediate risk to public safety. We would like to reassure our communities that we have extra officers out on patrol throughout the next few days to offer reassurance and address any concerns you may have. We are keen to stress that this additional security is not based on any new or emerging intelligence.

communities defeat terrorismThe security threat level nationally remains unchanged at Severe meaning an attack is highly likely. As ever the public are urged to remain alert and not alarmed. Everyone is advised to be vigilant and to report any concerns to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, always dial 999.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on counter terrorism for the force, said: Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life – Let us decide if it is important.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.

“Our policing tactics and security measures are being reviewed on a daily basis – we, along with our partners, are working around the clock to keep Birmingham and our other cities as safe as can be.”

Mobile phone in hand whilst driving

MORE than 250 drivers in the West Midlands were hit with new heavier fines for using mobile phones behind the wheel during a week-long clampdown.

Offenders included 30 truckers, a driving instructor, and a man accessing mobile banking while travelling on the M5 with a phone in one hand and a bank statement in the other.

All of the 261 distracted drivers caught during the 1-8 March campaign have been handed £200 fines and six points on their licence.

It means if they’re caught again they facing being banned from the roads through the ‘totting-up’ process.

Inspector Sion Hathaway, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “It’s disappointing that despite all the publicity around tougher new punishments, and the dangers of distracted driving, many people are still putting lives at risk by using phones at the wheel.

“It’s shocking so many HGV drivers were among those we caught: these are professional drivers, ones that should be setting high standards, yet we found 30 truckers phoning, texting or using the internet while driving.

“We used our unmarked police HGV cab during the operation which enabled us to look right into truckers’ cabs and catch any trying to discretely use mobile devices. They’ve been reported to the regional Traffic Commissioner, who oversees regulation of the haulage trade, and could face a suspension.

“A driving instructor was also among those fined. He was found using a mobile when his full attention should have been on his learner driver.

“Motorists should not need the risk of a £200 fine and six points to stop using phones: the possibility of causing a crash, one that could result in devastating consequences, should be deterrent enough.”

Around half of the distracted drivers were caught on the M5 and M6 with the others pulled over on urban roads in the West Midlands.

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who brought in the original ban on driving while on a mobile phone back in 2003, added: “These tougher penalties are welcomed by all sensible road users as driving while using a handheld mobile phone is potentially lethal.

“This is about saving lives. Studies have found that motorists who talk on their handheld phone while driving are four times more like to crash. Statistics also show that in just five years there were more than 3,000 accidents involving a driver on the phone.

“But I want it to go further: I’d like to see local groups benefit from the higher fines. It is only right the fines from reckless drivers help pay to keep our roads safe.”

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