Wednesday, May 30, 2007

KILBURN SRB SCANDAL HITS KEN LIVINGSTONE


After reading an evaluation into Kilburn Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) published in 2005, and now available online [Sean Baine January 2005] here at TheBigRetort one former board member couldn't resist stifling an almighty Told-Yeh-So.

This regeneration Programme supported a number of projects over a period of six years, but after the big bucks were exhausted, what did they actually achieve?

By 'they' one means those members of the Board charged with caring for the money that was filtered their way. And there was loads...

The report’s author, Sean Baine (on whom more later), claims that ‘to ascertain this fully would require in depth evaluations of each project which was not possible within the scope of this evaluation’. Which is just another way of saying I was not commissioned to look. Or, rather, I was commissioned not to look.

Not the only item of note left out of the Baine Re-evaluation – members of the Kilburn SRB (who funded the report) were accused of using public funds for their own self-interest. One local best described them ‘as pigs at the trough’.

But here, I too must declare an interest…. as the community representative (and reporter) that the Board dismissed.

When I called for the creation of a Register of Members’ Interests, I had just joined the Board in November 2002. I quickly discovered that many sitting on it were in fact gaining financially in one way or another. By March the following year, a register was still not in place - and this after millions of pounds (sterling) was allocated. As a result of emailing Board members, who were reluctant to create a register (one accused me of ‘cyber bullying’)I was ‘axed’ (See Kilburn Times, June 11, 2003, p1.) Ironically, the meeting at which I was dismissed had been called to discuss setting up the register. Board members questioned why I had sent the e-mails instead of airing my views through the meeting. (A bit of a chicken and egg situation I know.)

The story takes a bizarre turn… The Board in its paranoid state accused me of being an undercover journalist who had come to write a story about it. I had declared my credentials prior to being voted in and was puzzled by the 'accusation'. Also it would have been highly unlikely to get any story published if it had been acquired by deception... Unless it revealed wrongdoing. However, a local vicar, a beneficiary of funds and a board member (not unusual on Kilburn SRB) had steadfastly refused to declare his business interests - and fuelled much of what followed. (I already knew from Company's House files that amongst appointments held by the reverend was a company styled “beauty parlour”.)

Three private sector members of the Board received funds; Nicholas Kent’s Tricycle Theatre, £30,000 to produce a community safety video, the building frontage where Parvad Ahmed’s Shamrat restaurant was extensively refurbished, in addition, St Mary’s Church, Kilburn, represented on the board by Rev Andrew Cain received £19,000 for computer equipment following SRB 'bids'.

But the funds trickling down the Kilburn High Road to SRB member projects and/or businesses and the amounts acquired were by no means seen as unusual by the London Development Agency. Although Paul Owen of the Kilburn Times [kilburntimes.co.uk] did not report it at the time the funds were in excess of those above and still, a local government source who did not wish to be named (do they ever?) said "If businesses on the board were barred from accessing funding, it would be a disincentive for them to join."

Disincentive? Like Judas board members knew the value of 30 pieces of silver.

But what about the Kilburn SRB Programme, what was it aimed at, and, more importantly, did it represent value for money?

I believe the answer to at least one (if not all) of the above questions represents an own goal to the London Devlopment Agency. Unfortunately value for money was yet another item that the Baine Re-evaluation could not access. ‘This would involve looking at the unit costs of particular programmes and projects i.e. the cost of individual outputs. However this is very difficult to calculate…” etc.

What guff! And why?

In words of plain speak the author (more on his services in a later posting) did not 'consider it useful' to carry out any specific value for money calculations. Why not? This was one of the main items of interest for those local community groups who did not manage to ‘pig out at the trough’. (Kilburn had an agreed allocation of £6,598,800 and the potential financial gain in the wrong hands was therefore enormous.)

Such was the turmoil surrounding the Kilburn 'project' that an experienced manager from the London Development Agency was appointed as Programme Manager - Alan Dorricott. So this then was the LDA managing its own spend, with its very own Rottweiler, but without delivering bite (or rather value). Something that the George Baine report failed in its entirety to 'access'.

But, to be fair to all concerned, was there a blue flashing light on the horizon?

The report rightly claims that towards the end of 2002 complaints started to emerge from 'a small number' of local residents. One individual approached me after my being voted onto the board. Charlie's complaints, as with others, initially centred around the ‘spend’ that covered many aspects of SRB expenditure. However, an attempt at getting a sympathetic ear from the board members proved impossible, made an ill man even graver, and so he would sit ever-present at meetings, silent, waiting to be 'heard'. And never was.

Another complainant, Graham Bacon, seemed particularly hot under the collar. But he was also more vociferous than Charlie. And the more he was sidelined the further entrenched in his accusations he became... His voice grew ever louder. Something the board moved to defend itself against. (Bacon was reported to police. Programme manager Alan Dorricott was himself a former senior policeman. However, no charges were ever brought against Bacon and his character remained unblemished by any board-directed accusations. Soon others would join the voice of this marginalized 'crank'.)
But back to the report (which is also back to Bacon actually)…

Baine claims that ‘actual civil and criminal legal proceedings and complaints to the district Auditor’ were brought, which is partially true. The claims were brought by Bacon against board members or, specifically, Dorricott. But it remained a civil matter only.

Why should the report suggest criminal proceedings when it is clear there were none?

Author Sean Baine (sometimes he uses the first name George) displays his great aptitude for bias when he adds more whitewash to the blemish,‘evaluation has not examined the issues raised by the complainants nor come to any conclusions about their validity.’ Which is about where Kilburn-based Baine should have left it. However, instead he goes on to dig himself into the Kilburn High like a well-practised navvy. ‘However they created an atmosphere that was damaging to NCK and, particularly, to plans to have greater involvement by the local community,' he adds. 'Individual members of the Board felt threatened and under attack while individual staff members felt harassed. The effect of the actions of the individual residents, and the manner in which they acted, could only be detrimental to the working of NCK and any future promotion of Kilburn as a distinct entity.’

Now if that isn’t coming to any conclusions then what is?

The report continues… “Community involvement in the programme was always problematic. This was compounded by the actions of a few individuals in the area who brought complaints against board members and programme staff which affected both morale and commitment to the programme.” However, the biggest giggle in this roll-out-the-same-old-barrel-of-laughs comes under the label ‘COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION’.

“Community involvement and capacity building is a pre-requisite of the sustainable regeneration of the area. We will involve the community under each programme theme, ensure that every project adds capacity to the local community and that the community itself plays a lead role in project appraisal and delivery.” Sean Baine ends his report with a worthy and fitting statement… ‘the sum did not equal more than the parts’. (Not really a reference to what he was paid to deliver, but what he managed to deliver perhaps.)

Well done George from all @TheBigRetort.

[Footnote....The SRB Board later voted that a Register of Members’ Interests was needed. And that it should remain closed to the public (and press). Further reading of this sordid tale continues below...]


Mayor of London PQT, 14 October 2003, Report of Proceedings - Economy, Environment and Regeneration.

Participant
I wondered what the Mayor and London Assembly members would think of an SRB that did not set up a register of members' interests until its sixth year of operation and then kept it secret; that did not hold annual general meetings open to the public, contrary to its own rules; that dismissed a duly elected member of the public without having the powers to do so and then took the powers retrospectively?

Toby Harris
Do you want to give us a hint as to which SRB partnership it might be?

Participant
Personally, I am from the Kilburn and Bromley [actually 'Brondesbury'] Residents Association Group and I think you can work it out.

Ken Livingstone
You need to tell us because there are literally hundreds of SRBs.

Participant
The Kilburn SRB does not hold annual general meetings, it has dismissed a community representative without having the power to do so, it refuses to divulge accounts of activities that it has funded and it has given the majority of its grants to individuals and organisations connected with board members.

Ken Livingstone
I will ask the London Development Agency to look into it and report back to me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

BLOGGERS4LABOUR

Recently discovered that my blog "jpmorganreport.blogspot.com" was appearing on a Google search and flagging me as a "bloggers4labour" member. This was news to me as I have never promoted my political leanings in any post on my weblog.

Andrew Regan, creator of "bloggers4labour", responded to my puzzlement by creating even more:

"I check all blogs before submission and have definitely never seen yours before - either way, it's not in our database. It's possible that one of our 450+ bloggers has referred to you in the past: as we syndicate their posts, it's just possible that the name/URL of your blog has briefly appeared on our from page/recent posts page, but then hundreds/thousands of other blogs would be in the same boat." [A good point that needs further investigation surely.]

Regan claimed that there was 'no evidence anyone is claiming you to be a Labour blogger, and if anyone is getting that impression, that's a case of Google's results being misinterpreted.'

But is it? Can Google be blamed for being Labour's Big Brother?

The answer may be rather more benign... Following concerns, reported only to Bloggers4Labour, the connection is no longer on its site.

It is perhaps noteable that a former Labour councillor had responded to a posting made on another blog I have visited with a local flavour, and it is his website that points to his own (Labour) blog, which is connected to, yes, you've guessed, "Bloggers4Labour".

So beware who answers your non-party political posts.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

UNKNOWN WHITE MALE

Unknown White Male is an extraordinary film that allegedly follows a man in the hours and months of his amnesia as he turns his back on attempts to piece his shattered life together. However, as the remarkable story gained pace, it was quickly accompanied by doubt.

Following the film’s release various statements were made regarding why medical treatment ceased. In a website posting the film’s executive producer claimed... “…Doug himself decided to stop seeing doctors as they couldn't offer him anything except contradictory speculation.”
GQ Magazine asked why he was not still seeing doctors - apparently he had seen six – Bruce, who owns a Panamanian plantation, responded: ‘Mainly because I was (a student) under school insurance before. And now I’m not.’ (A statement that itself contradicts the ‘contradictory speculation’ claim above.)

The filmmakers also claim that Coney Island Hospital was filling up - it was the 4th July holiday. Doctors we talking about sending Bruce "upstate to a mental institution… he knew he didn’t want to end up there, so he tried the telephone number for the last time…”
A statement at variance with that which Brian Palmer, of Coney Island Hospital, told me, he claims Doug Bruce was treated first in the medical ER and was later moved to the Psych ER where, significantly, all medical laboratory tests proved negative. CT scan uncovered a pituitary tumour, ‘but this was not felt to be (and I believe still is not felt to be) the cause of his memory loss.’ There was no suggestion of transferral to an upstate mental institution. .

But why did Bruce leave the Manhattan apartment that day (fugue state or not) with the phone number of the one person who could identify him inside a book? [In psychology, a fugue state, also known as a 'psychogenic fugue' or 'dissociative fugue', is a state of mind where a person experiences a dissociative break in identity and attempts to run away from some perceived threat, usually himself.]

Brian Palmer unwittingly provides one potential motivating factor: “…he would not have been discharged had someone not come forward, (and) identified him, etc....”

In other words with no number in the book - and presumably no girlfriend to identify him - the “unknown white male” would have been kept in the hospital.

HBO network is said to have pulled out of co-funding a film on the grounds that the story was "less than credible". The Daily Mail labelled the film a hoax. In New York, Michel Gondry, director of the memory-loss movie Eternal Sunshine, said that he had doubts. (Reports that the central character was on the NY party scene hamming up his forgetfulness did not help. Apparently Bruce would hand attractive women a card with his domain name "unknownwhitemale" printed on it.)

Rumours escalated… was it Memorex?

In fact amnesia and Manhattan had always been neighbours. A play premiered at the Manahattan Theatre Club in October 2000. “Fuddy Meers starts off just as just another normal (special) day for Claire. She wakes up and greets the morning. Her husband brings her a cup of coffee, and patiently explains that she suffers from a form of psychogenic amnesia that erases her memory every night when she goes to sleep.” The author’s first play, it is also known as autobiographical amnesia. It is related to trauma or general psychological disorientation. The rarity of cases leaves some doubt as to whether or not it is a real phenomenon.

Sound familiar? The play’s genesis started with a news report that the author saw about a book on neurological disorders, one of the most interesting being a specific form of amnesia where everything is erased during sleep. He speculated: "what is it like to wake up and not recognize the bed you're in, the clothes you're wearing, the people around you?"
But the subject of memory loss does not end there for Manhattan-based Doug Bruce...
”The nightmare begins in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan. As you take stock of the situation you realize that you have no clothes and no money, and worse still, your memory seems to have been replaced with an unyielding dense fog.” [Amnesia”, by Thomas M Disch, is an interactive electronic detective mystery.]
Among those found missing after the September 11th attacks in NY was a sidewalk vendor who turned up six days later in a Manhattan hospital suffering from amnesia. Amnesia was also a play by the Surveillance Camera Players in NY.
Amnesia and Manhattan, a heady mix… also darkly glamorous and contagiously hip as any cocktail bar… Amnesia is one of Manhatten's coolest nightspots.

To be sure, Manhattan was soaked in memory-loss… But there is further compelling evidence that challenges Doug Bruce’s version of events – the F Train did not run into Coney Island that day.
Coney Island (Stillwell Avenue) Terminal underwent a complete rebuilding programme in 2001 that did not officially complete until May 29, 2005. [The BMT Culver Line (F) was cut back in September 2002. The D, Q, N or F trains usually ran into Stillwell Avenue (the last stop). But the day Bruce claims he awoke on the F train it stopped 40 blocks from Coney Island, at Avenue X. See WIKIPEDIA.]

In the postings of just two commuters who were affected by the Coney Island works:
“After what seemed like hours, but was really about 45 minutes, I got to the final stop on the F train's line. From there I had to take a shuttle bus, because the track work in that area prevents the F from going all the way to Coney Island." [July 13, 2003 Posted by justin.]

[Garratt Murray blog on the Fourth of July celebrations at Coney Island.]
"...grabbed the F train all the way to Avenue X... Then we skipped the shuttle-bus and instead walked the seemingly 40 blocks to Coney Island." Canarsie Courier reported on July 3, 2003. “DIRECTIONS: Due to reconstruction of the Stillwell Avenue Terminal, the W train is the only subway line operating into Coney Island. F trains terminate at Avenue X...”

Rupert Murray, director of Unknown White Male. “I didn’t need to push him to reconstruct anything after his amnesia as he could recall virtually everything from that day in July 2003 onwards, in terrifying, photographic detail.”

So if an unknown white male woke out of his amnesia on the F Train headed to Coney Island - recalling 'virtually everything from that day...in terrifying, photographic detail' - he was either wrong, or lying.

There are other oddities...

Doug Bruce claims that he was born in Nigeria to a Scottish father. My own findings reveal that Douglas Ivan Bruce was born on 2nd November 1967 on the banks of the Seine. The birth was actually registered at the British Consul-General to Paris the day after Douglas was born.
[Home of French actor Gerard Depardieu, Neuilly-Sur-Seine is a North West suburb of Paris near Bois de Bologne. Neuilly is now the Ternes neighbourhood in the Paris 17th arrondisment. Paris was enlarged in 1860 by annexing part of the neighbouring communes. His mother is recorded as Marguerite Loraine Du Bouzet. His (Scottish?) father Andrew Ivan Bruce worked at the time as a tyre sales manager for Dunlop and Hertz in Ikega, Nigeria from 1975-1980. It was here that his son attended school for ex-pats for one year only. The family home was recorded at 21 Avenue du Parc St James 92200 Neuilly Paris. Currently the address of a Gérant de Bouzet, whose activity is ‘service forestier’ and a likely family member. The family actually descends from the French aristocracy. Coincidentally 'Scottish' father “Ivan” was himself born abroad in Budapest in 1937. This birth is also a British Embassy Consular registration but was not recorded in registers at the Family Records Centre until 1950, thirteen years after Ivan's birth. Ivan's father too was born at Bratislava in 1913. The family's paternal Scottish ancestry seems to date back another generation to Ivan's grandfather who was born at Neilston in Scotland in 1874.]

On or shortly after his eighth birthday Douglas was sent to board at St Edmunds in Canterbury, England. His father Ivan had been there before him. He was a bright ‘if not exceptional’ student, but at the senior school he is said to have become ‘a bit of a tearaway’. He passed his A-levels and went on to London University, but left after just one year. (Possibly the reason why his father had no recollection of what his son studied. The University, due to a narrow interpretation of the Data Protections Act, refuses to 'confirm or deny' that he attended.)

It seems fair to say that the majority of Douglas Bruce's academic qualifications ended at the gates of St Edmunds where his father had also attended from 1953-56. Jock Asbury-Bailey, former teacher and historian, had heard of the story but did not immediately recollect ‘Douglas’ with Unknown White Male. (Douglas attended the school from 1976-1985, however, the school heard nothing more from him after he left. (It still retains an address in Marbella for his father.)

Douglas was thought ‘bright enough’ and achieved 11 O Levels, and three A levels, though the latter were ‘less better than the school had hoped’. Apparently he later applied to Universities in Edinburgh and at Asten (Birmingham) though it is questionable if he would have been accepted at either due to his grades. He had hoped to do business studies with French. However, apparently whilst he received an A for his oral French, his written French brought him only a C.

Jock described Douglas as a pleasant young man, ‘rarely at a loss for words.’ He played squash, and was in the Second 11 hockey team. ‘But did not stretch much further than that in sports.’

Boy Douglas was also involved in a young enterprise scheme with the help of local businesses and became a school under monitor responsible for discipline and routine things, looking after more junior boys. He attended the school for 9 years, four of them spent in the juniors and the rest in seniors.

By the age of 17, in his final year, he was secretary of the Forum (debating) Society. He was, Jock claims fondly, ‘A very chatty, easy to get along with person.’ In his early days not only was he number 7 at squash but ‘drama’ was noted amongst his interests. (He played a shepherd in one production but 'did not stretch much further'.)

It was following the short stint at London University that Douglas, possibly in his late teens, headed across the Channel. It was in Paris that he claimed he worked as stockbroker. (It is difficult understand how he did so without the requisite qualifications. He refuses to say where he worked. The Du Bouzet name may have opened doors left shut to many... There is a brokerage firm Patrick Du Bouzet, SA in Paris, a subsidiary of the Banque National Paris Group. Are these 'connections'? The address on his birth certificate matches the home of the Comte du Bouzet, which suggests the Unknown White Male is a known aristocrat.)

He had been very close to his French mother ‘Loraine’ (Du Bouzet) who died of cancer when he was aged 23. At the time his sisters did not remember seeing him cry or hearing him discuss his feelings and this was felt to be a possible motivating factor to his later retrograde amnesia, though doctors do not concur. By the time he was 30, in 1997, he had we are told ‘made a considerable sum of money’ and two years later decided to move to New York. In August 2001, he enrolled in a 4-year course at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. The play Fuddy Meers performed nearby ten months earlier in October 2000. Despite the memory loss, he obtained a BFA in 2005 on graduation. Douglas Bruce is now a commercial photographer working in NY.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

LEWISHAM SCAM-CAM



John Paul Morgan

-v- Transport for London ("the Authority")

Tuesday, 19th June, 2007 at 12.00pm


DRIVERS BEWARE.... A Penalty charge notice issued by Transport for London (Contravention code 31, Entering and stopping in a box junction when prohibited) contains two pictures which allegedly show a vehicle stopped in the box - mine. In the 12 seconds it was allegedly there, the light from its headlights could have been to the moon and back nine times - but it was afternoon and they were off.

So could this be why TfL has variously demanded fines somewhere between £50-£150?

With little memory of events, I decided to revisit the scene. This time, just to make certain, I went on foot. After a few minutes I realised that I was not the only driver being legally mugged (no other word for it really) but one of many caught by a Transport for London's 'scam-cam'.

Did you know that 95% of foreign vehicles are not pursued for a traffic offence? (The reason why many of them happily sit in a yellow junction box I suppose.)

And, contrary to why the yellow box junction was sited there in the first place, traffic has slowed?

A Transport for London (TfL) study has revealed, far from easing congestion, camera-regulated yellow boxes are reducing the flow of traffic - severely. Since their inception in 2004, 100,000 drivers have been fined £100 each. The camera box junctions were intended to reduce congestion. However, the penalty for crossing the line without a way out has made many drivers too cautious. The average number of cars passing through camera junctions every hour fell by 150, or four per cent. Cars blocking traffic fell by 23 per cent. Jeroen Weimar of TfL told the Times. "We are concerned by the results because the justification for the cameras was that they would improve traffic flow." TfL said that it would continue monitoring and attempt to improve traffic flow, removing cameras if necessary.

It remains to be seen if this has any baring on the camera-covered yellow box junction at Goldsmith's College.

Watch this space....

YOU'RE NICKED - IS IT A FAIR COP?

There's a warning from police in Lewisham about a door to door scam that's already fooled several residents. A young woman knocks on doors and claims she's locked herself out and needs cash for a cab or a locksmith. Police say many people are falling for it because she's smartly dressed and sometimes even has children with her. Residents in Brockley, Hither Green and Ladywell have all parted with sums ranging from 20 to 100 pounds in cash.
06 November 2006 (time1068.com)

THE CON ARTIST speck

The young woman who stood on my neighbour’s doorstep claimed that she had been ‘locked out’. She desperately needed to get to her sister, a nurse, only then could she grab a spare set of keys and 'return the money later'. Or so she told my gullible neighbour.

Although Mary (not her real name) did not recognise the woman she immediately empathised. She had just withdrawn some money from the bank, a £50 note, and the woman who apparently lived directly opposite said that this would be fine. But, later that evening and well into the next day and the next the young woman never returned.

My neighbour it later transpired had been conned... In fact the mysterious woman did not live opposite and never had any intention of returning the fifty pounds.

Surprisingly police at Lewisham did not investigate the 'theft', and neither was the incident recorded as a crime - and like a little Houdini the con artist vanished. But Mary was not her only victim...

In fact the scoundrel had been knitting the wool over kind old eyes for quite some time, octogenarian Mary was no exception, and the 'perp' (already known to police amongst the wanted) was hooked to deception along with several other substances.

I heard determined footsteps just behind me. I had just returned with my daughter. The woman smiled briefly and suddenly turned into Mary’s pathway. I hung back… There was something in the smile, the body language… she was I realised trying too hard to ‘seem’ casual. I had never seen her on Mary’s step before. And Mary, as the cons who were preying on her knew, could be quite forgetful....

‘What makes you think it’s the same woman?’ came the officious police response after I had dialled the Nines.

She fitted the description given to me by Mary and other neighbours.

But this must have appeared unconvincing to the person at the other end of the phone as the voice appeared doubtful. Fortunately though, it was then that a familiar figure appeared through the glass at my door. ‘She’s here,’ I whispered.

The young woman was slim... and looked quite desperate. She claimed that she had been 'locked out' of the house next door where her sister had been living. (In fact I wanted to tell her that it was Mary's house, the one she had lived in for decades, only leaving briefly when the Germans dropped a bomb on it during the 2nd World War. I also wanted to tell her that Mary had been a doctor and had been seconded to the War Office checking the bomb damage our boys were doing to the Germans, a kind of quid pro quo I guess, but it would not have made a blind bit of difference to this woman. She was part of a later generation known as the Must Gets. (Mary's dad rebuilt the house in Brockley that Hitler bombed and it remains a fine example of a postwar Victorian repro.)

‘Locked out.’ Bexleheath.’ ‘Sister.’ ‘Money.’ I listened to her familiar mantra, along with the police who were no doubt recording on the other end of the phone. Apparently she needed to use the phone - desperately - so I hung up on the police. Heeding the warning that they had given me, 'If she tries to leave don't stop her!'

The phone number she gave belonged to a mobile that was switched off, naturally. But it was money she needed... Only then could she get a taxi to her sister in the hospital. Later that evening she would return it to me. A predicament (through sobs) that was ‘all a bit embarrassing really.’

‘Would fifty pounds do?’ I asked, with the barest trace of irony.

This must have impacted because she immediately stopped crying and nodded. I told her that I was out of money. It wasn't true but I was buying time, waiting for that familiar sound of the sirens. I said that my wife would be back any minute and that she would have cash on her. Unfortunately it was at this point that my five year old piped up, ‘Mummy doesn’t come back ‘til the evening.’ Remembering the police instruction not to stop her if she tried to leave I parried. ‘She thinks the dark afternoons are evenings.’ A ruse that must have made sense.

Unfortunately the best laid plans can also be defeated by elders too… Mary had been down to Lewisham shopping centre and was carrying two bags as she trundled past me. Our seemingly ten-minute game of cat-and-mouse was up. I finally admitted to the woman that I was not going to giver her anything.

‘Because you conned that old lady behind you out of fifty quid!’

Mary confirmed this as she cried, ‘That’s her! She’s the one who stole my money! You naughty girl!’

The con woman seemed reluctant to wait for the police. In fact she took off like a bat out of hell. Suddenly she raced down the pathway screaming at dear old Mary. ‘Shut up, you old bag!’

‘Charming!’ was Mary’s response.

However, just when you need them most... our friends in blue serge arrived. (Actually they don't dress like that anymore but mostly wear stab vests and Day-Glo.) In fact they were in shirtsleeves and their blue-flashing lights appeared from both ends of the street.

‘Well, perhaps you’ll speak to the police instead,’ I said. Finally, after many months of deception, the con had herself been conned.

The following is taken from the Metropolitan Police website...

Conwoman handed an ASBO

27-year-old Pamela Fay was sentenced at Greenwich Magistrates Court on 6 December after she was found guilty of deceiving an 89-year-old woman of money.
The victim recognised Fay as the same person who had knocked on her door on two occasions, whilst pretending to be distressed and in need of money for things like cab or train fares.
Fay admitted two counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of attempting to obtain property by deception. She was sentenced to an eight week suspended sentence and ordered to attend drug treatment sessions.
Eight other counts of deception will be taken into consideration.
Additionally Fay was issued an ASBO with conditions not to approach any member of the public, anywhere and ask for money.
Police Sergeant David Deuchar from the Lewisham Borough, Ladywell Safer Neighbourhood Team said: "Officers from the Ladywell SN teamworked closely with Lewisham Council to secure this ASBO. Fay preyed on the good nature of the public to feed her drugs habit and she committed offences across Lewisham Borough. This case is a fine example of response team officers, CID and Safer Neighbourhood Teams working together to tackle this type of crime."

[Italics mine and meant to convey a fine example of incredulity.]

WAITROSE: PENSIONER 'BAG FOR INFINITY' SCANDAL

Under the shadow of Brexit, Waitrose is named the ’priciest’ store...  An attempt at Waitrose Bromley store today to charge a vulne...