Month: September 2019

Can The Seahawks Get Back To The Super Bowl

201211811411993Lost divisional round OFFENSE RATINGDEFENSE RATING 2013116101139108Won Super Bowl 2015116117115109— 2014104138122128Lost Super Bowl YEARPASSINGRUSHINGPASSINGRUSHINGPLAYOFFS The Seattle Seahawks came into 2015 as championship favorites, having put up one of the best two-year runs in NFL history, with a bid for back-to-back titles undone by one of the most shocking twist endings in Super Bowl history. But things went downhill in a hurry. Seattle lost four of its first six games; then won two in a row, against the foundering 49ers and Cowboys; and in Week 10 dropped a crucial home game against the Cardinals that effectively killed any chance of a third consecutive NFC West crown. It was mid-November and the Seahawks were unlikely to make the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl.You can’t keep a good fish-eating bird of prey down, though. After three straight wins, including an impressive 38-7 dismantling of Minnesota on the road on Sunday, the Seahawks look like they’re rounding back into form — and are nearly back in their familiar perch atop our NFL Elo ratings. Elo even gives Seattle a healthy 83 percent shot at making the playoffs now. But making the playoffs and regaining the preseason championship favorite designation are two very different things, and reasons why the latter will be much more difficult for Seattle can be found both on the field and in the NFL’s playoff format.Russell Wilson is back!First, some good news: Seattle’s offense is showing signs of life. Since Week 11, QB Russell Wilson’s aerial attack has led the NFL by a mile in passing expected points added (EPA) per dropback — the difference between the No. 1 Seahawks and No. 2 Bengals is bigger than the gap between Cincinnati and the No. 19 Titans — after ranking 21st through Week 10. It helps that the three defenses Seattle has played — the 49ers, Steelers and Vikings — have mediocre EPA ratings against the pass, but the ways in which the passing game has improved are also encouraging.One puzzling thing about Seattle’s early-season passing woes is that they came despite the addition of Jimmy Graham — a tight end so productive with New Orleans that he wanted to be called a wide receiver. Graham had led all NFL TEs in receiving yards over the preceding three seasons and was expected to add a new dimension to the Seahawks’ offense.Thing is, Graham wasn’t associated with especially efficient short passing for New Orleans, doing most of his damage on seam routes and other deeper patterns. He was 17th among the league’s 32 qualifying1Minimum 80 targets. tight ends in yards per target on passes of 10 yards or fewer from 2012 to 2014; Saints QB Drew Brees ranked only 16th in Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) when tossing short to TEs.2Compared to his third-place ranking in passes of all yards, to all positions, over the same span. In Seattle this season, the same trends have manifested. The Seahawks have been great when Wilson throws the ball more than 10 yards downfield, but they ranked only 15th in per-dropback EPA on shorter routes during the season’s first 10 weeks, with Wilson also suffering the league’s worst sack rate.3Hence, their 21st overall ranking — they were good at deep passing but mediocre on short targets and allowed sacks at a frequency that would impress even David Carr. Graham ranks 17th once again in yards per target on short passes, and Wilson ranks 23rd in QBR on short passes to TEs.So perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Seahawks’ short passing attack saw the opposite of adverse effects when Graham was injured for the season against the Steelers in Week 12. Or perhaps football is an incredibly complicated sport with a small sample of games each season, and it’s difficult to filter signal from noise in any individual player’s statistical footprint. Either way, Wilson and the Seahawks have finally found their passing rhythm of late and since Week 11 have had the league’s most efficient passing offense on both short and long routes, with Wilson being sacked 40 percent less often.It’s a good thing that the passing game is picking up. Seattle’s rushing EPA per play is down quite a bit from last year’s ridiculously efficient output, and the team’s defense has been on the downturn from its typical dominant form.Not the same SeahawksWe can trace Seattle’s evolution over the course of the Russell Wilson Era using the team grades I developed here, which place per-play EPA in a given category on a scale where the league average is 100 and one standard deviation in performance is +/- 15 points: Because passing is more important than rushing in today’s NFL, it won’t take much of an aerial improvement for the Seahawks to compensate for their decline in the ground game this season. However, the team’s defensive drop-off is more concerning. In 2013, Seattle defended the pass about as well as any team ever has, but it’s steadily become more mortal over time. The Seahawks now rank 14th — decent but not great — at defending short4Again, defined as pass attempts of 10 or fewer air yards. passes (they ranked second in 2013 and 2014) and a below-average 18th against deep ones (first in 2013 and 2014). Add in a commensurate drop in rush defense (to 10th this year) and the Seahawks — while still better than average on D — are no longer the fearsome defensive leviathan they built a reputation as over the past few seasons.As I mentioned earlier, even given all that, the Seahawks have still mustered nearly the best Elo rating in the league. But Elo also pegs Seattle’s chance of winning the Super Bowl at a mere 6 percent, far below the chances of their peers atop the Elo food chain. Even Denver and Cincinnati, inferior clubs according to Elo, have double-digit Super Bowl probabilities. The reason is simple: The teams ahead of Seattle have either already clinched their division (Carolina) or are overwhelmingly likely to do so.Seattle, meanwhile, almost certainly has a wild card date in its future. That means the Seahawks will need to win one more playoff game than most of their fellow title contenders. (Carolina and New England are practically guaranteed first-round byes; Arizona is highly likely to earn the same; and Denver and Cincinnati are nearly a toss-up to grab the remaining slot.) And as a likely No. 5 or 6 seed, Seattle will have to do it on the road. The reality of an extra single-elimination test slices into Seattle’s Super Bowl probability considerably.Assuming that the Seahawks do make the playoffs, though, they’ll be on everyone’s list of dark-horse Super Bowl candidates — and nobody’s list of preferred postseason opponents. They may not be in their typical role as title favorites, but all it might take to change that are sustained improvements in the passing game and a first-round playoff victory. read more

What Happened To The Seahawks Rushing Game

The Seattle Seahawks are at a pivotal point of their season, in 2nd place in the NFC West with a record of 5-3 going into their Thursday night game against the Arizona Cardinals this week. Their big question mark: what’s happened to their running game? In the video above, Neil Paine outlines how a lack of a rushing attack may hamstring the team if it makes the playoffs.

NFL Coaches Yell At Refs Because It Freakin Works

In the first quarter of a scoreless 2016 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos faced third-and-6 from their own 44-yard line. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ran a 15-yard out, breaking toward the Broncos’ sideline. He did not catch Manning’s wobbly throw, but there was contact on the play, and Denver’s players and coaching staff appealed to the official for a pass interference call on Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. They got one, and the Broncos got a first down, scoring the game’s opening touchdown four plays later.On the ensuing drive, the Patriots faced third-and-3 at their own 27-yard line. Rob Gronkowski ran a wheel route up the Broncos’ sideline with T.J. Ward in coverage. As the Patriots tight end turned to look back for the ball, the defender made contact and shoved him, preventing a catch. Both Gronk and Tom Brady yelled for a penalty. The flag did not come, and the Patriots were forced to punt.Similar plays led to different outcomes that benefited the team on the sideline closest to the on-field action. Most NFL refs would likely say they are immune any sideline bias. “If I make a call because a coach is screaming at me on one side of the field and it’s wrong, that’s a bad day for me,” former NFL official Scott Green told us. (The NFL declined to comment.)But as it turns out, a sideline bias in the NFL is real, and it’s spectacular. To prove it, we looked at the rates at which refs call the NFL’s most severe penalties, including defensive pass interference, aggressive infractions like personal fouls and unnecessary roughness, and offensive holding calls, based on where the offensive team ran its play.1Some of this research was published in March in Economic Inquiry.For three common penalties, the direction of the play — that is, whether it’s run toward the offensive or defensive team’s sideline — makes a significant difference. In other words, refs make more defensive pass interference calls on the offensive team’s sideline but more offensive holding calls on the defensive team’s sideline. What’s more, these differences aren’t uniform across the field — the effect only shows up on plays run, roughly, between the 32-yard lines, the same space where coaches and players are allowed to stand during play.The following graphs show the penalty rates per 1,000 plays for defensive pass interference and aggressive defensive penalties, which include unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, and horse-collar tackles.2The data includes regular-season games between 2010 and 2014, and uses coin-toss information provided by Football Outsiders and play-by-play data from Armchair Analysis. To estimate penalty rates, we used a model of penalty outcomes that depends on yard line and which sideline (offensive or defensive team’s) the play was closer to. Additional methodological details can be found here. Refs throw flags for defensive infractions at significantly higher rates when plays are run in the direction of the offensive team’s sideline; near midfield, defensive penalties are called about 50 percent more often on the offensive team’s sideline than the defensive team’s. Close to the end zone, where the sidelines are supposed to be free of coaches and players, these differences are negligible.For offensive flags, that association is reversed, at least on holding penalties.3Offensive pass interference calls didn’t vary by proximity to either team’s sideline. Here’s the rate of holding calls made on outside run plays, which shows how the defensive team’s sideline can help draw flags on the offense. Around midfield, offensive holding gets called about 35 percent more often on plays run at the defensive team’s sideline. So what could be causing this phenomenon?Refs are faced with a near-impossible task. They make judgment calls in real time, relying on just their eyes and their experience. Deprived of the advantages, like instant replay, that we enjoy from the couch, refs have less information to help them resist the normal subconscious urge to draw on external cues for assistance in making borderline calls. In psychology terms, this process is called cue learning. It’s why we laugh longer in the presence of other humans laughing,4Which, in turn, is the reason that many TV comedies use a laugh track. why we eat more in the presence of overweight company, and why our judgment of persuasive speeches is influenced by the audience’s reaction.The most common cue in sports is crowd noise, and because crowd noise almost always supports the home team, the way the fans sway the referees is the No. 1 driver of home-field advantage in sports. And one notable experiment suggests that how loud a crowd is helps refs decide whether an interaction should be penalized. A pair of German researchers showed actual referees old video clips of possible soccer infractions, with crowd noise played at high or low volume. Refs looking at the exact same interactions were more likely to hand out a yellow card when they heard a lot of crowd noise than when the volume was low.It follows, then, that screaming and hat-throwing football personnel may also have an effect on referee choices. In football, this sideline bias even seems to supersede refs’ tendency to support the home team: The differences in the penalty rates from sideline to sideline are several times larger than the differences in penalty rates between the home and away teams.That bias can affect the outcome even when officials have time to confer. In a 2015 playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford threw a third-and-1 pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Officials initially called defensive pass interference on the Cowboys’ Anthony Hitchens.But the flag occurred right in front of the Cowboys sideline. This led to some confusion. It also led to a helmetless Dez Bryant yelling at the official.After conferring with each other, the officials picked up the flag, a decision that Mike Pereira, Fox Sports’ rules analyst and the NFL’s former vice president of officiating, said was incorrect. Brian Burke of Advanced Football Analytics calculates that when the official picked up the flag, the Lions’ chances of winning that game dropped by 12 percentage points.Dallas won 24-20.Check out our latest NFL playoff predictions. read more

Logan Stieber returning to Ohio State as a coach

OSU’s Logan Stieber (right) wrestles with North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack in a 141-pound semifinal during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 20 in St. Louis.Credit: Courtesy of TNSOhio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan announced that Logan Stieber will be returning to the Steelwood Training Center after the Olympic Trials in April.Only this time, the most decorated wrestler in OSU history will be setting up residence as a member of the coaching staff.The addition of Stieber will now give a total of six national titles, seven NCAA finals appearances and 11 All-American honors to the coaching staff for the Buckeyes.Stieber earned four national championships, 119 victories and a Hodge Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding wrestler during his career with the Scarlet and Gray. All of those marks were firsts by an OSU wrestler.“I am very excited to be joining the Buckeye staff next year,” Stieber said in a press release. “I love Ohio State, so it’s a dream come true that I can start my coaching career here as well as pursue my Olympic dreams.”After enjoying incredible success while in high school at Monroeville High School, where he won four state titles, Stieber came to OSU and helped the Buckeyes earn their first team title in the team’s 94-year existence in the 2014-15 season.Ryan expressed his excitement for the return of Stieber to OSU and what the return means for the team.“Logan has been a tremendous example here as a student-athlete,” Ryan said in the release. “He completed one of the most illustrious careers in both Ohio high school history and NCAA history by winning four Big Ten and NCAA championships while leading the Buckeyes to our first team title.”Ryan said Stieber’s contributions to the Buckeyes have been more than anyone else in the program’s history, and he expects him to be a great influence to the wrestlers he will coach.“I am excited for the current and future student-athletes that will have the opportunity to learn from Logan,” Ryan said.Ryan also made a note of the importance of volunteer coach Ross Thatcher had on the victory, expressing how much of a powerhouse he believes his coaching staff is.“(Thatcher) had a tremendous influence on bringing our first NCAA team title to Ohio State as well as he mentored our upper weights, especially Nick Heflin and Kyle Snyder,” Ryan said.The Scarlet and Gray wrestling facility will now boast an Olympian (Tervel Dlagnev), a World champion (sophomore Kyle Snyder) and a four-time NCAA champion (Stieber).Those accolades just so happen to make the wrestling room for the Buckeyes the only one with these kind of credentials in the NCAA.After winning a national championship last year and getting off to a 6-2 start this year, it would appear the Buckeyes are looking to build a collegiate dynasty in wrestling with the addition of Stieber, along with the experience of other coaches.After finishing second in the 165-pound class at the U.S. Senior Nationals, Stieber will be attending the U.S. Olympic Team Trials from April 8 to 10 in the hopes of joining the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Stieber’s younger brother, Hunter, is also a member of the OSU team, but, as he is currently a redshirt senior, he will not be coached by his brother. read more

Weekly football predictions Week 3

Justin Zwick Last week: 3-1 Overall: 6-1 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa Last week’s college football schedule was chock full of marquee matchups, from Ohio State-Miami to Oklahoma-Florida State to Michigan-Notre Dame to Alabama-Penn State. The height of competition was no challenge for James Laurinaitis, however, as the former Buckeye linebacker correctly predicted the winner for all four contests. Laurinaitis moved to within one game of leader Justin Zwick, who used a 3-1 week to push his first-place standing to 6-1 overall. Defending champion Quinn Pitcock, who celebrated his 27th birthday this week, is tied for second with Laurinaitis at 5-2. THIS WEEK’S GAMES: Ohio @ No. 2 Ohio State Notre Dame @ Michigan State No. 9 Iowa @ No. 24 Arizona Quinn Pitcock Last week: 2-2 Overall: 5-2 Picks: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa Zack Meisel Last week: 2-2 Overall: 3-4 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa Dallas Lauderdale Last week: 3-1 Overall: 4-3 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa James Laurinaitis Last week: 4-0 Overall: 5-2 Picks: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa read more

Mens Hockey No 15 Ohio State to face rival No 17 Michigan

Ohio State’s junior-forward Mason Jobst (26) steals the puck away from Notre Dame’s sophomore forward Mike O’Leary (19) during a Big Ten conference matchup at the Schottenstein Center on November 3, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. OSU lost 1-4. Credit: Alex Hulvalchick | For the LanternThe No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team (6-3-3, 1-3-0-0 in Big Ten) will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, after an off week to face off against No. 17 Michigan (6-4-2, 2-2-2-1 in Big Ten) in a battle between one of the nation’s best offenses and the Buckeyes’ shutdown defense.The Wolverines are tied for third in the nation in scoring offense at 3.83 goals per game, which includes putting in 11 goals in a series against then-No. 4 Minnesota. That series ended in an 5-4 overtime win and a 6-6 shootout loss for Michigan. Minnesota ranks in the top 10 in scoring defense, allowing only 2.29 goals per game.The Buckeyes match the impressive offensive numbers with a scoring defense that is also tied for third in the country, allowing only two goals per game. Head coach Steve Rohlik said  the success is more about his own team performing well than preparing specifically for the opponent.“It’s about our detail, it’s five-man defense five-man offense and that’s what we’ve been stressing all year,” Rohlik said. “It’s about how we play and what we do, we know how good they are, we know what they can do, and again it’s about us going out there and executing our game plan.”Senior forward Tony Calderone is Michigan’s most powerful scorer this season, netting 10 goals on just 44 shots, good for fifth in the NCAA. Michigan’s key playmaker all year has been sophomore forward Cooper Marody, who is fourth in the nation with 20 points, and tied for second with 16 assists.“They can beat you with a lot of different guys and certainly guys like [Calderone] have been putting points up on the board, again I think it’s just about our team defense, it’s not about one guy, it’s about our five guys on the ice,” Rohlik said.Michigan changed head coaches for the first time in 33 years this offseason with the retirement of former NHL player Red Berenson. Berenson led the Wolverines to 11 NCAA Final Fours and two national championships. He was replaced by Mel Pearson, who was Berenson’s assistant coach from 1987-2011.“As a young coach being able to stand there and look down at a legendary Hall-of-Famer in Red, it’s almost like every game you walk away going ‘that’s unbelievable,’” Rohlik said. “Certainly Red’s missed … but Mel’s doing a heck of a job up there.”The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry transcends every sport, and hockey is no exception. Most games within this matchup are filled with big hits and trash talking. In a game last season, the bad blood escalated into a massive fight after an 8-6 Michigan victory last season.Michigan has won 11 of the 18 matchups against Ohio State in the past five seasons, but the Buckeyes have won five of the past eight meetings against their rivals.“We don’t like those guys and we know that they don’t like us,” junior forward Dakota Joshua said. “I think it’s really cut throat and we really take those games to another level.”Joshua is one of five Ohio State players born in Michigan, and he said there is an added intensity to perform in his home state.“Switching over sides, coming down to Ohio State was a big deal, and going back to Michigan there’s always some extra pride, extra chip on your shoulder that you want to stick it to them and prove them wrong.”This weekend series is the first of two the teams will share this season. With both teams teetering on the edge of the USCHO rankings week after week, these games may mean more than ever when when determining which teams make the NCAA tournament at the end of the year.Puck drop is set at 6:30 p.m. Friday and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Friday game will be shown live on Big Ten Network. read more

Womens Hockey No 9 Ohio State drops third straight against Bemidji State

Ohio State junior forward Sara Saekkinen (25) drives the puck down the ice in their game against Minnesota on Jan 26. Credit: Cori Wade | For The LanternIt was the first night of senior weekend for Ohio State, but the evening belonged to Bemidji State and redshirt sophomore goalie Lauren Bench, whose 44 saves allowed a Beavers’ comeback victory in Columbus.Bemidji State women’s hockey (11-16-2, 8-9-2 WCHA) upset No. 9 Ohio State (17-12, 11-10 WCHA) 3-2 on the road Friday night, turning a 2-0 first period deficit into a 3-2 win for its third straight season defeat against the Buckeyes.“They’re similar to us.” Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “They grind it out, they play relentless. I don’t know how to break that down philosophically, but they do have our number this year, that’s for sure.”Ohio State dominated the puck for most of the night, putting 46 shots on net, with Bench saving all but two of them.Bench made 22 saves in the third period alone, as Ohio State mounted an urgent offensive front that tried to regain the 2-0 lead they built in the first period on goals from senior forward Madison Field and senior defenseman Lauren Boyle.Junior forward Abby Halluska scored her second goal in as many games against the Buckeyes to put the Beavers on the board and slice the Ohio State lead in half three minutes into the second period.Her breakaway goal off a Buckeye turnover was Halluska’s fifth of the year, and marked a palpable shift in momentum for a Beavers offense that had been outshot 13-5 in the first period and had scored only 54 goals coming into the series.Bemidji State did not let up, as the game-tying strike was provided by Bemidji State sophomore forward Lydia Passolt eight minutes into the second, which took the air out of the Friday night Buckeyes home crowd.Much like their last meeting on Nov. 10, which also saw goals from Halluska and Field, the Beavers and Buckeyes entered the game’s final period knotted at two apiece. Bemidji State completed the comeback with a long-range slap shot that snuck past Ohio State sophomore goalie Lynsey Wallace for her sixth goal of the season, giving the Beavers a 3-2 lead three minutes into the third period.Wallace replaced freshman goalie Andrea Branedli, who Muzerall said is participating in an international tournament with her native Switzerland National Hockey Team. Braendli was named NCAA No. 2 Star of the Week after two straight shutout performances the past weekend at St. Cloud State.Bemidji State was 0-9-1 before getting its first two season wins against the Buckeyes in November, but now claim wins against No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State in back-to-back weekends.Bench made 27 saves in the Beavers’ upset against Wisconsin this past Friday, which Muzerall said helped build her confidence, as she entered this series with the second-lowest save percentage in the WCHA at .914.Ohio State has lost three straight against Bemidji State, despite outshooting them 119-78, which Ohio State redshirt junior Jincy Dunne said is becoming indicative of the Buckeyes’ shortcomings on offense.“That seems to be a common theme in a lot of our losses we’ve had,” Dunne said. “We’ve just got to find a way to get the puck in the net.”Dunne added that the festivities of Saturday’s senior night may add some fuel on the fire for the Buckeyes.“I think it will be more emotional just because we love our seniors,” Dunne said. “Especially because this could potentially be our last home game. We don’t know yet.”Bemidji State will hope to make it four in a row against the Buckeyes on Saturday night with a season sweep. If it wins, it would be Ohio State’s seventh loss in nine games.The Buckeyes are facing a must-win situation, as they stand at No. 9 and would likely drop from the polls with another loss, which would keep them out of the eight-team NCAA Tournament. read more

2000yearold Roman road revealed by building work in Rochester

first_imgAward-winning conservationist and developer Mark Lucas and his son ZacCredit:SWNS The section, measuring four metres by  metres, has had a glass frame placed on top to allow visitors to view the ancient craftsmanship.Mr Lucas added: “This is probably one of my most challenging projects and certainly one of the most enjoyable.”I have just sold it, but looking around at the work that has gone into it, I sometimes wish I had kept hold of it.”His son Zac, 19, is following in his father’s footsteps in property development and restoration.He said: “It’s the first project I have done with my dad and it’s definitely something to be proud of.”Now I can’t wait to move on to the next one.” Award-winning conservationist and developer Mark Lucas and his son Zac Mr Lucas said: “We started to clear away layers of debris, grime, dirt and grease until we got to the stonework in a corner of the cellar.”And then to our amazement there was more stretching to the other side of the room.”To think the Romans came here in 43 AD and it is still in pristine condition.”We did not need to repoint any of the brickwork.”Just a bit of the brick had chipped away and we were able to fill it with very light chalk and lime.”The Archaeological Society has confirmed the artefact dated back to Roman times but has so far been unable to pinpoint it down to a year.center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Building work in a busy town centre has revealed a pristine section of a Roman road, dating back almost 2,000 years.Award-winning conservationist and developer Mark Lucas and his son Zac bought the unit to renovate and convert into a shop – without knowing for certain the road was there.The pair were tipped off about the potentially historic find at the bottom of the five-storey Grade II listed building by the previous owner, and have now been able to reveal the section of road.The unit sits on an ancient Roman road in Rochester, Kent, which once took legions of soldiers from the coast to London.last_img read more

Police warn of zerotolerance approach to killer clowns ahead of Halloween

first_imgFor those who enjoy ghouls, ghosts and all things ghastly, Halloween is the perfect time of year.But for many the recent spate of so-called killer clown attacks has taken the innocent fun out of festivities and has reduced the annual occasion to one of genuine terror. Some police forces have warned of a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour around HalloweenCredit:Mercury Press Show more We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour – during #Halloween or any other time. Stick to the right side of the law this weekend.— Bedfordshire Police (@bedspolice) October 27, 2016 Police forces are now so concerned about incidents that they have warned anyone considering dressing up to deliberately scare people that they face possible prosecution and a criminal record.Incidents of anti-social behaviour, including clown attacks, are expected to spike over the weekend as people gather to celebrate Halloween which falls on Monday this year.The so-called killer clown craze is thought to have originated in the United States when, thanks to horror films such as Stephen King’s It, the traditional figures of childish slapstick, took on a more sinister edge. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Earlier this month a string of disturbing incidents across the country saw people in clown outfits, sometimes armed with weapons, jumping out on unsuspecting members of the public to deliberately scare them.In one of the most serious cases a 26-year-old man in North Yorkshire was attacked in his home and stabbed by a gang wearing clown masks.In Suffolk two teenage girls were confronted by a man disguised as a clown and brandishing a knife and while in London a woman was chased through the streets by a clown carrying a machete.And earlier this week in Portsmouth a man was stabbed by a gang after confronting a girl who had been wearing a killer clown outfit. The Metropolitan Police, the country’s largest police force has also issued a stark warning to anyone using Halloween as an excuse to spread genuine fear.A spokesman said: “Whilst the number of these [killer clown] incidents which are considered crimes is low, it is important that those who are out and about during Halloween understand that intentionally causing fear, alarm or distress is considered a criminal offence under the public order act.“We will be working closely with our partners to detect and respond to any incidents.” Such is the climate of fear that now surrounds the clown phenomenon, that the NSPCC reported it had more than 120 calls in a single week from children worried about being attacked.One teenager even reported that she had been threatened with rape by someone with a clown profile on a social media site.The incidents have prompted police forces to increase patrols on Saturday night to deter such behaviour, with some warning they would take a “zero-tolerance” approach to anti-social behaviour.Some pubs have even stated that they will bar entry to anyone wearing a clown costume.center_img Police in County Durham seized two clown masks and a knife from two 12-year-old boys Credit:Peterlee Police/PA Bedfordshire Police has warned anyone thinking of donning a clown costume for sinister purposes that they could end up being arrested and charged with a public order offence that could carry a six month prison sentence.Chief Inspector Jeff Carter said: “While many people enjoy and celebrate Halloween safely and without causing any trouble, unfortunately some people see it as an excuse for anti-social behaviour.“We will not tolerate anyone inflicting harm on others over Halloween, whether that is by intimidating and threatening them, or causing criminal damage. This behaviour will be taken seriously and you do risk a criminal record.” The killer clown craze is thought to have started in the USA Police in County Durham seized two clown masks and a knife from two 12-year-old boys  The killer clown craze is thought to have started in the USACredit:PA Chief Constable, Mike Barton, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Crime Operations said officers across the country had been dealing with an increasing number of killer clown reports.He said: “While some might view this as funny, the act of frightening or threatening others may be enough to warrant public order criminal offences.”Dressing as a clown to deliberately intimidate someone could be prosecuted under Section 4 or 5 of the Public Order Act, which cover causing a person harassment, alarm or distress and could lead to six months imprisonment.As well as killer clown incidents, the other American import, that some believe has blighted Halloween is the emergence of trick or treating, in which householders are invited to give callers sweets or face a mischievous forfeit.A favourite punishment dished out is for a person to have eggs and flour thrown at their house, although in some cases the vandalism has been more serious.In order to deter such behaviour, police forces have urged shopkeepers not to sell eggs and flour to unaccompanied teenagers. Some police forces have warned of a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour around Halloweenlast_img read more

Prince Harry leaves children laughing with tale of how his fingers arent

first_imgThe collars are matched with underground wiring which sends out a beep when cows roam too close to it, emitting a small current if they attempt to cross.”You don’t want to wear it?” joked the Prince, as he was talked through the technology by John Phillips, grazing and landscape project officer at City of London’s Epping Forest. “It’s so nice to have it unfenced,” Prince Harry told him. “That’s the way it should be. That’s the way it has to be.” Told some of the cattle go on to be sold as beef at the local shop, Prince Harry said:  The prince told children it was down to them to conserve their local woodland and stop it being built on The Prince then moved on to interrogating primary school children about their educational conservation activities, including pond dipping, investigating tree health and creating art out of material in the forest. He awarded one group, from High Beech School an A* for their centipede made out of wood.Nkimo, nine, said: “He said it was lovely that we came out of the classroom.”At one point, he made the schoolgirls laugh by pulling an exaggerated sad face.Kate Masters, heritage school officer, explained: “He said his own daffodils had come out a bit too early so wouldn’t last. He wasn’t happy about that.”The Prince told another group that it was brilliant to “run around outside, especially in the mud”, adding: “When I was at school I never got to do any of this stuff.”He told boys from Walker Primary School  “Everybody takes places like this for granted. You don’t see what it [the forest’s ecosystem] is doing so you don’t think about it.”There are a lot of people who want to make money by building buildings [on land like this], but it’s going to be up to you guys to protect it, your generation.”Dawud, 11, said: “He was telling us we have to be kind because if we don’t look after it who will? It made me feel inspired.”Ethan, ten, said  that it made him feel “under pressure”, adding: “It encouraged me.”I thought he would be really posh but he’s more laid back than I thought he would be” The Prince planted a tree and unveiled a plaque at the Field Studies Centre to dedicate Epping Forest to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy The Prince planted a tree and unveiled a plaque at the Field Studies Centre to dedicate Epping Forest to the Queen’s Commonwealth CanopyCredit:John Stillwell/PA Wire He also met a future Invictus Games competitor, who trained as a forest keeper thanks to Help For Heroes and impressed the Prince with his change of career.The Prince spent Wednesday morning at the Wood Pasture Restoration Project which is part of conservation initiative The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).Wearing a warm grey jumper and sturdy boots, he was introduced to a pair of longhorn cattle, mother and daughter Lucky and Ragamuffin, who were wearing £250 satellite collars to keep them in the forest, where fences are not permitted. The prince told children it was down to them to conserve their local woodland and stop it being built onCredit:John Stillwell/PA Wire The Prince went on to watch tree surgeons maintaining the ancient oaks, using chainsaws above him in the treetops. There, he met Sam Hobbs, a 26-year-old forest keeper who is studying countryside and wildlife management thanks to Help For Heroes.After two tours in Afghanistan with the Parachute regiment, he suffered a nerve injury while on exercise in the Falklands in 2012 and had his left leg amputated below the knee. The prince asked children about their educational conservation activitiescenter_img He now hopes to join the next Invictus Games, telling an impressed Prince Harry he can already do a 13 second 100m on a prosthetic leg and plays wheelchair basketball.”That’s quite rapid,” Prince Harry replied.Hearing about Mr Hobbs’ change in career, he told him: “I know nothing stops you, you’re a paratrooper.”Speaking of the transition from forces to civilian life in general, he added: “We have to remember that when you leave the force you have to somehow integrate yourself in society. You need to appreciate you’re not invincible.”We could do better to prepare people for that. You’ve been looked after by the army for so many years, and you have got to somehow reintegrate yourself in society.”Prince Harry then moved to a second engagement, where he met staff at Happy Loppers, a project for adults with special educational needs who undertake habitat management work at the forest. “I’ve been told how important your work here is,” he said, praising the “good fresh air” away from the road. Prince Harry concluded his visit by planting a new tree close to the Queen’s Oak Tree, under which Queen Victoria made a public address when she opened Epping Forest in 1882, dedicating it to “the use and enjoyment of my people for all time”. “So it’s the most local beef you could imagine? That’s the dream, isn’t it?”More and more people nowadays want to know about traceability.” The Prince of Wales is famous for his green fingers, but his talents in the garden may have skipped a generation, it appears.For Prince Harry has told schoolchildren of his garden disappointment, after his spring daffodils came up too early.On a visit to Epping Forest, where he was shown around the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project, he told children it was down to them to conserve their local woodland and stop it being built on.  Show more The prince asked children about their educational conservation activitiesCredit:John Stillwell/PA Wire Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Avoidable deaths of at least seven babies at NHS trust where midwives

first_imgHe accused the trust of pushing women to a natural birth when it was not safe, and of failing to learn from repeated mistakes.The trust said it had made improvements and that its mortality rates are in line with the national average.Dr Edwin Borman, medical director, said: “When I look at the perinatal mortality rate at our trust compared to the rest of the NHS, we are at an equivalent level to the rest of the country,” he said.”In the case of foetal heart rate monitoring, we have identified a number of cases where learning has not been fully implemented. We’ve put systems in place to make improvements.The trust has asked anyone concerned about their maternity services to contact them on 01743 261691. Two months later, Kyle Hall died aged just four days. An inquest found the failure to listen to his heart rate contributed to the death.Four months on, Graham Scott Holmes-Smith was born stillborn. The trust later acknowledged that the baby would have been likely to have been born alive if his heart rate had been properly monitored. The same failing was implicated in the death of Ivy Morris in May 2016.Her mother, Tamsin said that if the trust had learned from earlier failings, her daughter would be alive today.The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust delivers about 4,700 babies each year.Its maternity services were severely criticised last year in an official report following the death of baby Kate Stanton-Davies in 2009.It took seven years for an investigation into the death which established that the trust’s failings contributed to their daughter’s death.The report found a “lack of a safety culture” at the trust in 2009, saying the trust had not held any staff accountable for the failures, nor learned lessons.A separate analysis of all NHS trusts in England last year rated Shrewsbury and Telford as one of the worst in the country when it came to learning from mistakes and incidents.Last night James Titcombe, who uncovered a string of deaths and an attempted cover-up at Morecambe Bay, after the death of his baby son Joshuan in 2008, said the situation at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital trust appeared to show clear parallels with the first scandal. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Credit:PA An investigation has been ordered into the avoidable deaths of at least seven babies at one NHS trust.Mothers said their children had died because midwives “couldn’t be bothered” to fulfil basic monitoring tasks, or to act on warnings that babies were in danger.The Health Secretary has ordered an investigation into a string of deaths at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS trust.A failure to properly monitor the baby was a factor in five of the deaths, coroners have found.In total nine babies died between September 2014 and May 2016, the BBC reported.Seven were found to be avoidable, while two more were never properly investigated, families say. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Graham Scott Holmes-Smith – 2015. The trust failed to properly monitor the foetal heart rate during labour Ivy Morris – 2016. Ivy was born 10 days after Graham but died four months later in May 2016. The coroner ruled her death could have been prevented if appropriate monitoring of the heart rate had taken place during labour Pippa Griffiths – 2016. An inquest concluded one-day old Pippa’s death could have been prevented if an infection had been spotted earlier Families have raised questions about two further deaths over the period. They say there was no investigation into the death of Jack Stephen Burn in 2015, who died within days of Oliver Smale, or of Sophiya Hotchkiss in 2014.The same trust saw the avoidable death of a baby in 2013. The coroner concluded Jenson Christopher Barnett’s death could have been avoided if forceps delivery or Caesarean section had taken place.Jeremy Hunt has now asked NHS England and NHS Improvement to review a series of deaths and other incidents at the trust, to ensure they were properly investigated.Kelly Jones, said her daughters Ella and Lola were stillborn in September 2014 because midwives “couldn’t be bothered to do their job” and failed to listen to her warnings.The mother of two said she repeatedly told staff that she was in pain and needed proper assessment.But medics failed to act in time.  A letter from the trust says their investiagion found “both babies had died from severe hypoxic ischemia (oxygen starvation to the brain) contributed to by delay in recognising deterioration in the foetal heart traces and missed opportunites for earlier delivery.” Many of the avoidable deaths involve a failure to properly monitor heart rates.Last night safety campaigner James Titcombe, whose child died in the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal, in 2008, said the disclosures suggested history was being repeated, with the NHS failing to learn crucial lessons.The avoidable deaths which are known about between 2014 and 2016 involve: Ella and Lola Greene – 2014. The twins were stillborn after the trust failed to properly read and interpret their heart rates Oliver Smale – 2015. He died after his shoulders became stuck during a natural birth after his mother was refused a y Caesarean section Kye Hall – 2015. His death was “caused or contributed” to by the trust, said the coroner, who failed to classify his mother as a high risk pregnancy or to listen to his heart beatlast_img read more

Teachers graduating without the skills needed to teach P7 maths

first_imgNicola Sturgeon insists education is her top priorityCredit:PA Nicola Sturgeon and her education minister John Swinney are under pressure over educationCredit:Getty Halla Price, a trainee in her final year at Moray House, told MSPs: “In terms of numeracy, we spent a lot of time going over ideas of activities we could do.”However, there wasn’t enough focus on the teachers themselves having the skills to teach numeracy other than a maths audit we completed ourselves in second year, which did very little in all honesty to improve our own knowledge and mathematical understanding.”I do not believe that everyone graduating from Moray House this year has the sufficient skills in numeracy to be able to teach it to 11-year-olds at a reasonable standard.”William MacLeod, who is on a postgraduate course to become a secondary technology teacher, said literacy was dealt with in a single week. sturgeon swinney He added: “I think literacy I would have less of an issue with, because literacy is being worked on throughout when we are doing essays, etc. nicola sturgeoncenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “I would have more of an issue with numeracy because there is less chance for the university lecturers to see that we are numerate. Going back to the basics on these would be helpful.”The committee’s evidence session came after almost 700 trainees, teachers and other school staff responded to its questionnaire on recruitment and retention, with issues such as workload, stress levels and morale raised in the responses.The convener James Dornan said the committee had written to the General Teaching Council for Scotland for “urgent assurances” on issues raised by the trainees. They also raised concerns about gaps in training in areas such as additional support needs, behaviour management and online safety.The Scottish Conservatives said the evidence cast more doubt on the effectiveness of Scotland’s teacher training programme.Liz Smith, the party’s education spokesman, added: “The evidence heard this morning has once again laid bare the SNP’s terrible record on education.“With literacy rates plummeting under this SNP Government we now discover that trainee teachers are receiving the bare minimum in training when it comes to improving reading and writing skills.“Trainees also told us that there was virtually no training on additional support needs despite the fact that nearly a quarter of Scottish pupils are requiring that support, and that there has been no support to help children stay safe online.”The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), released on Tuesday, looked at performance in school years P4, P7 and S2, focusing on literacy in 2016. It found 49 per cent of S2 pupils performed very well or well in writing last year, compared with 55 per cent in 2014 and 64 per cent in 2012. P4 and P7 pupils also saw a drop in performance.The survey focused on numeracy in 2015 and found a drop in performance among P4 pupils, with 66 per cent performing well, compared with 69 per cent in 2013 and 76 per cent in 2011. Trainee primary teachers are graduating without the skills they need to teach maths to primary seven pupils, MSPs were told yesterday.The time devoted to the basics of literacy and numeracy on teacher training courses was among a raft of concerns outlined by trainee teachers to Holyrood’s education committee.One student said only one week of his university course was given over to literacy, while another described a lack of focus on ensuring teachers have the skills to teach numeracy.The Conservatives said the evidence was further proof of the SNP’s “terrible record on education”.The concerns were raised the day after official Scottish Government figures revealed that fewer than half of 13 and 14-year-old Scottish pupils can write well, while the proportion who are functionally illiterate has more than doubled.last_img read more

Benedict Cumberbatch to play Romany Gypsy bareknuckle fighter in upcoming film

first_imgHis father Frank is unlike any character I’ve played beforeBenedict Cumberbatch Benedict Cumberbatch has landed a new film role as a Romany Gypsy bare-knuckle fighter after claiming he couldn’t escape “class-typing”. The Oscar nominee, 41, has been cast in Gypsy Boy, the film adaptation of Mikey Walsh’s best-selling memoirs.The autobiography, along with its sequel Gypsy Boy: On The Run, chronicled Walsh’s experiences growing up and, knowing that he was gay, running away from the Romany community of champion bare-knuckle fighters in England in the 1980s and 1990s. Cumberbatch will play Mikey’s father, Frank, who places a pair of golden gloves on a chain around his son’s neck when he is born in the hope that he will maintain the family’s fighting reputation.Speaking about the role, he said it was “unlike any character I’ve played before”. “I was immediately drawn to Mikey’s courageous and heart-breaking story,” he said. “He’s a complex man torn between tradition and his love for a son struggling to come to terms with an identity that’s completely at odds with Frank and his culture.”It’s a tension that threatens to tear everyone in their family and that community apart.”It comes after Cumberbatch, who was educated at Harrow, said he was typecast due to his background. In an interview in 2011 with the Radio Times, he said: “Being a posh actor in England you cannot escape the class-typing from whatever side you look at it. Show more Casting is currently under way to find a young actor to play Mikey opposite Cumberbatch.Filmmaker Morgan Matthews will be directing the movie, financed by BBC Films.”I fell in love with this story as soon as I heard Mikey speaking about his childhood on the radio a few years ago,” he said.”Mikey’s extraordinary life touches upon the universal subjects of identity, love, conflict, courage and sacrifice – set within a brutal and extreme yet paradoxically beautiful and intoxicating hidden world.”I’m so excited to have Benedict on board – it’s a dream to be able to work with him.”Production on the film is due to start next summer. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “I realised from quite early on that, although I wasn’t trying to make a class specialty of it, I was playing slightly asexual, sociopathic intellectuals.”last_img read more

Choppers Brexit Podcast Episode 33 Our odds of a deal on trade

first_imgSign upView sample Brexit minister Steve Baker has told Chopper’s Brexit Podcast that the UK’s odds of succeeding in trade talks with the EU have ‘dramatically improved’ following Wednesday’s joint report from negotiators. The draft negotiating guidelines for the second phase of talks have been set out and Mr Baker told The Telegraph’s Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope that they indicated the EU was open to agreeing a ‘good quality, deep and special partnership’ after Brexit.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Brexit BulletinAn essential briefing on the day’s politics news – free and direct to your inbox each afternoon Any transition period should not last longer than the end of December 2020, according to the jointly agreed guidelines.Mr Baker outlined why he didn’t think the loss of Damian Green from Theresa May’s cabinet would impact progress towards Brexit, saying that ‘I think politicians across Europe, if they’re objective about the reality of dealing with flawed human beings, will know that sometimes people have to either resign or be sacked’. He added he thought the PM had dealt with these things in a ‘perfectly proper way.’  Also in this week’s Christmas Special podcast edition, the Managing Director of British Sugar, Paul Kenward, explains why his company sees Brexit as an opportunity for increased global trade. Plus, our panel of Telegraph experts looks back on the ups and downs of 2017, and ahead to the next phase of the talks.last_img read more

Live streaming nearly as popular among nurseryage children as teenagers

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Live streaming is nearly as popular among nursery-age children as teenagers, figures show.Research by Internet Matters, which educates parents about their children’s online behaviour, found that nearly as many children aged four to five are livestreaming their own content as those aged 14 to 16.Among the youngest children, 13 per cent are using livestreaming apps to film and post content online, while among teenagers the figure is 17 per cent. Overall almost one in three children aged between six and 10 post live content “sometimes”, the survey found. The research, which involved interviewing 2,000 parents, found that children were less likely to vlog or livestream as they reached their older teenage years as they became more image conscious and busy with other activities.YouTube was the most popular platform for children use to broadcast content, followed by Facebook Live and Instagram Live.Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist who works with Internet Matters, said: “Live-streaming is another example of how kids have moved their lives online and are increasingly using digital platforms as a way of crowdsourcing their identity. “Instead of exploring a passion to become a singer or dancer by putting on a performance for the family, kids can log on to different platforms and feel as though they have a ready-made audience.”Last month research published by children’s charity Barnardo’s showed that children are at risk of grooming on livestreaming sites.Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Our research shows that children use livestreaming apps that are not appropriate for their ages so tech giants need to ensure they put robust age-verification rules in place.” read more

Instagram taking over from TripAdvisor for restaurant reviews as people trust pictures

“But the most helpful thing for me is to look it up on Instagram – I do it all the time. It’s a visual thing so you know what you’re getting.” “Clerkenwell Boy”, an anonymous food reviewer with over 180,000 followers, mainly posts his food reviews on Instagram.He said he uses TripAdvisor “to sort by worst reviews to see what’s the worst that could happen” but thinks Instagram is “a great way to get a sense of the vibe of a place and most popular dishes to order. It also has the advantage of being really up to date.” Instagram is superceding TripAdvisor as a source of restaurant reviews because customers prefer looking at pictures to reading text, chefs and influencers have said.Many say they do not trust the restaurant reviewing website because of worries about the prominence of fake reviews – and they would rather see inside the restaurant with their own eyes.Prominent Instagrammer Felicity Spector, who has over 60,000 followers on the platform, says she uses the “geotag” function, which lets users look at all posts tagged in the restaurant.She told The Telegraph: “I use geotagging all the time, it’s one of those thing where you look at somewhere and can’t tell what the food is then it’s really helpful.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––”It either raises your expectations or you know not to bother, I am someone who wants to know what they’re going to get.”I never look at TripAdvisor, I wouldn’t even bother. It’s just not very helpful is it – they’re really badly written, they don’t say anything that’s helpful. It’s often about their journey time or something. I look at blogs and reviews by people I have heard of and respect their opinions. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A spokesperson for TripAdvisor commented; ““Comparing Instagram to TripAdvisor is like comparing apples to oranges. Millennials aren’t using Instagram in the same way or for the same purpose as they use TripAdvisor, and often they are using both.”When someone looking for a restaurant comes to TripAdvisor, they are typically at the point where they are ready to make a final decision on where to eat, and that’s because we offer a lot more tools that help millennials find the perfect restaurant than apps like Instagram.”The continued growth in our traffic – now at 456 million unique users per month – bears that out. In fact, more than half of TripAdvisor’s traffic now comes from smartphones, which actually skews to a younger and more millennial audience.” Alex Head, Founder of Social Pantry and the recently opened Soane’s Kitchen at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery agreed, saying: “I can’t remember the last time I turned to TripAdvisor for advice, it’s just not on my radar these days.”Instagram is without a doubt my go-to platform for inspiration. The peer-to-peer recommendations shared by friends and influencers is an instant motivator for making me visit a restaurant. It provides an honest overview that I can access via an app I use daily.”Some say that while TripAdvisor shows users the most popular restaurants in an area, Instagram can help you get off the beaten track.Ollie Templeton, Head Chef & Co-Founder of Carousel explained: “Instagram is a pretty useful tool to find places to eat, I recently used Geo Tags to find the best little outside restaurant in Palermo which I wouldn’t have been able to find using TripAdvisor.”I think as you decide who to follow you organically find new interesting places, or old gems in small towns somewhere in the world because someone you follow has been there.” read more

The real life story of a British Narcos agent who infiltrated Colombias

A former UK customs agent who masterminded the seizure of £3bn worth of cocaine while working undercover in South America, has claimed that a lack of intelligence on the ground means the UK government can no longer track the flow of cocaine out of Colombia and onto the streets of the UK.Tom Chandler, a former member of a top-secret team at Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise, infiltrated Colombia’s most notorious drug cartels and ran a network of 50 informants, many of whom were based in the country’s air and seaports.In a new book about his work, Narco Wars, Chandler tells the story of his work and team of agents for the first time and how he braved threats to his life as he battled to stem the flow of drugs onto the UK’s streets.During his four years in Colombia he oversaw the seizure of 290 tonnes of drugs worth £3 billion, and helped secure the arrest of 300 drug traffickers, stemming the flow of class A drugs onto UK streets.But because of changes to the rules governing how law enforcement agencies handle informants abroad, running an informal network became too complicated, says Chandler (not his real name). When he left Colombia in 1998 Chandler’s team of informants were identifying several shipments of cocaine each week, and generating five or six seizures every month.“They were passing us a constant flow of rich intelligence about major cartels and criminal groups in the UK, Europe and Colombia, how they operated, their latest transport methods and planned shipments,” he says.But when the Serious Organised Crime Agency took over drug operations from customs and excise in 2006 they wanted a “clean slate” and the informant network was dismantled, he says. A Colombian policeman on a raid of a cocaine lab Show more A year before he left Colombia he was told that the cartel was becoming suspicious of him and he had to scale back his contacts with informants and take a circuitous route to travel from his base in Bogotá to the coastal city of Cartagena, where most of the smuggling took place. “It was a real loss of intelligence. The mafia still controls the airport at Bogotá and they could be putting drugs or even semtex on the planes and the UK authorities would not have a clue about it,” he says.He says this loss of intelligence has led to an increase in the amount of drugs flowing onto UK streets, with the number of drug users steadily increasing over recent years.“When I started working for customs and excise the government made drug trafficking a top national priority. But today, the flow of cocaine onto the UK streets is as high as it was when I started. The wheel has turned full circle,” he says. But it was his four years in Colombia as part of an elite but secretive team attempting to stop the flow of cocaine into the UK that put him in the gravest danger.Posing as an embassy official, he arrived in Colombia in 1994, just a few months after notorious mafia kingpin Pablo Escobar, immortalised in the Netflix show Narcos, was killed and the brutal Cali cartel took over control of Colombia’s cocaine production.The UK authorities wanted to keep the team’s activities under the radar, says Chandler. The National Crime Agency (NCA), the government agency which investigates organised crime, said it worked closely with authorities in Colombia and pointed to a number of recent successes, such as the arrest of four men in January who attempted to smuggle half a ton of cocaine into the UK on a private jet.Two British men and a Spanish national were each sentenced to 24 years in prison for their part in the crime. Another Spanish national was sentenced to 20 years.And in June a member of Heathrow ground staff was jailed for 13 years for his part in helping smuggle cocaine from Bogotá.An NCA spokesman said: “We have very significant partnerships with law enforcement across South America to counter the drugs trade at home and abroad. We work with a number of Colombian departments including the Colombian National Police and the office of the Attorney General of Colombia.”This activity is focused on reducing the threat to the UK from the cocaine trade in Colombia and the region, as well as disrupting money laundering and other criminal economies linked to drugs trafficking and other organised crime.”Chandler spent three decades as an investigator for HM Customs & Excise, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and its successor, the NCA. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “There have been loads of TV programmes about the work of US agencies but the British had a very different approach. Everything was kept secret – we were an elite group of investigators who tackled top-level crime,” he says.In September 1996 180 kg of cocaine was smuggled onto a British Airways flight from Bogotá and was seized by customs officials at Heathrow thanks to intelligence from one of Chandler’s informants.Worth £27m, this was the largest ever cocaine seizure at Heathrow but Jasper, a customs sniffer dog, took the glory for the find.“The US Drug Enforcement Administration had more than 100 agents in Colombia, they were armed and had a huge presence with lots of money and security. We were just two people at the beginning, although later I built the team up to five. We were tiny and didn’t have huge infrastructure, support or money,” says Chandler. His wife and son already had bodyguards and were driven around in an armoured car. But his son never went out on his own and when the family returned to the UK it took him a few months to get used to his freedom, he says.Now, Chandler believes the government has taken its eye off the ball in terms of fighting the “war on drugs”, with cocaine consumption in the UK rocketing.“Today, the rise in acquisitive crime such as robberies and thefts and the stabbings we see on the streets of London are directly linked to the drugs trade,” he says.A National Crime Agency spokesman said: “We have very significant partnerships with law enforcement across South America to counter the drugs trade at home and abroad. We work with a number of Colombian departments including the Colombian National Police and the office of the Attorney General of Colombia. This activity is focused on reducing the threat to the UK from the cocaine trade in Colombia and the region, as well as disrupting money laundering and other criminal economies linked to drugs trafficking and other organised crime.” Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  “The first reason for the secrecy was to protect us as we didn’t want the world to know we were out there. But we also wanted to protect our methods,” he adds.The British agents relied on old-fashioned spy “tradecraft” to protect their operations, learning evasive driving techniques, counter surveillance and agent recruitment.The Cali cartel was a sophisticated operation, with its own network of informants and intelligence networks to monitor official communications.Chandler feared that he could be unmasked as an agent at any time and returned to the UK when he realised that the pressure he was under had become overwhelming.“I trusted my UK team but it was hard to trust people in the Colombian agencies. The cartel tapped our telephones and had informants everywhere. When I came back to the UK it took a while to slip back into normal life. I was always watching out to see if anyone was following me,” he says. A Colombian policeman on a raid of a cocaine labCredit:Tom Chandler read more

Swansea University Vice Chancellor suspended pending ongoing investigation

A leading university Vice Chancellor and three other employees have been suspended pending an investigation.Professor Richard B Davies has held the top role at Swansea university since 2003, but an email sent to staff yesterday said that during an internal investigation he had been suspended.The 72-year-old Vice Chancellor earns £252,000 a year and had announced his intention to retire at the end of the current academic year.It is not yet known what the investigation is looking into, but the enquiries have not yet been completed.A spokesperson for The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales said: “We can confirm that we are currently engaging with Swansea University in our role as Wales’s higher education regulator, but we cannot discuss any further details about the matter at this time.”As part of the same investigation, the dean of the school of management, Professor Marc Clement, has also been suspended, as have two other members of staff from the school. “The vice-chancellor has been suspended while the investigation is ongoing, as have the dean of the school of management and two other members of staff at the school,” he said.”Given that this is an ongoing process, it would not be appropriate for me to give any more detail at this stage, but I can assure you that the matters under investigation do not concern the academic performance of the University or its financial wellbeing.”I would like to reassure you that the senior management team, heads of college, professional services directors of the university and myself are all working closely together to make sure the university continues to thrive and to conclude this very difficult matter.”Prof Davies, who was brought up in west Wales, studied engineering at Cambridge before receiving a PhD from the University of Bristol.Llanelli-born Prof Clement has held several senior academic positions and was appointed dean of the school of management in 2015.A university spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that the Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies and Professor Marc Clement have been suspended, pending the outcome of on an internal investigation.”We are not making any further comment at this stage.”  L-R: Professor Richard B Davies, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, Hillary Clinton and Professor Elwen Evans QC, unveil a commemorative plaque on a rock at Swansea University Bay Campus.Credit:Dimitris Legakis / Athena Picture Agency Ltd  L-R: Professor Richard B Davies, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, Hillary Clinton and Professor Elwen Evans QC, unveil a commemorative plaque on a rock at Swansea University Bay Campus. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. One university insider said: “This came as a complete and utter shock. I have no idea what has happened.”In an email, staff were told by registrar Andrew Rhodes that it was a “very difficult matter” but that it did not concern “the academic performance of the university or its financial wellbeing”. read more

More than 18B approved for the Public Security Ministry

The Committee of Supplies of the National Assembly on Thursday, approved in excess of $18B to fund the capital and current expenditures for the Ministry of Public Security and its related agencies in 2018.Ministry of Public Security, Khemraj RamjattanUnder its capital projects, more than $3B will be expended while current expenditure will be valued in excess of $15B.Of the allocated sums the $1,175,314 will be expended for the purposes of policy Development and Administration under Public Security Ministry. This will see donations to several associated agencies, among them the Guyana Road Safety Council and the Parole Board.According to a release from the Department of Public Information (DPI) Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said that the approved sums will also allow for increased intelligence capacity through the Crime and Security Intelligence funding, establishment of a wider intelligence network and the employment of five security analysts in the Planning Unit of the Guyana Police Force.He said further that more than $13M will be paid to various organisations to which the Guyana Police Force are associated, among them INTERPOL and the Association of Caribbean Police Commissioners.Capital expenditures will see the acquisition and installation of a new surveillance system, acquisition of land and water transport equipment coupled with the completion, rehabilitation and construction of several Police stations.Meanwhile there will be the continued construction of a modern state-of-the-art prison at Mazaruni to house an additional 400 prisoners and the Guyana Fire Service will be the recipient of New ambulances and tenders.Ramjattan informed the Committee of Supply that contracted employees at the Ministry are projected to be reduced, from 244 currently to 160, in 2018 as Government will be migrating them to the fixed pensionable establishment.The Minister also indicated a projected reduction in the cost of ration for inmates of the various prisons given an increased output of poultry and other agricultural produce at various prison locations.Budget 2018 valued in excess of $257B was read on Monday, November 27 and contentiously debated for over a period of seven days. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related$160M for Police Intelligence in 2018December 15, 2017In “latest news”Security Plan: Rohee says Ramjattan given “basket to fetch water”July 14, 2015In “Politics”Patterson’s excuse for annulling Prison contract reflects either ‘gross incompetence or a cover up’- PPP/COctober 2, 2017In “latest news” read more

Sheriff StreetMandela Avenue Road Enhancement Project to commence this month –

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related20km/h speed limit at construction zones along Sheriff – MandelaFebruary 28, 2019In “latest news”Part of Sheriff Street to be closed on Sunday- MPIOctober 11, 2018In “Business”Several main thoroughfares to be closed for road worksAugust 8, 2019In “Business” The Government has announced that it will be forging ahead with the US$31.03M Sheriff Street-Mandela Avenue Road Enhancement Project and works are scheduled to commence this month, March 2018.In December 2017, a contract was awarded to Sinohydro Corporation Ltd., with funding from the Inter-American Bank (IDB). Works for the two-year project includes the relocation of utilities, lane and shoulder improvements, placement of sidewalks and paved shoulders, traffic signals, traffic Signs, streetlights, drainage, a pedestrian overhead walkway, culverts, bridges and a Roundabout.The Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI)  in a release, today, stated that during the period of construction, residents living close to the road, road users, and the wider community may be inconvenienced by traffic delays, dust, as well as general construction activities.“The Ministry wishes to emphasise that these impacts will be temporary and will be constantly monitored to ensure their minimisation. The Ministry advises that persons take all necessary precautions.“Furthermore, the Ministry wishes to thank the general public for its cooperation as it strives for the development of public infrastructure in Guyana”, the statement added. read more