Colors: Blue Color

People caught spitting at bus drivers or passengers are increasingly likely to be caught and face long jail sentences, transport and police bosses have warned.
 
The act of spitting has moved to potentially being life threatening for victims following the coronavirus outbreak as highlighted by the recent death of a London ticket collector following an attack.
 
Only last month a 43-year-old man from Northfield, Birmingham was jailed for 17 weeks for spitting at a bus driver after refusing to pay his fare.
 
And in June 2019 a 28-year-old was jailed to 14 weeks in prison after spitting at a driver in Erdington.
 
But new figures have revealed that during the year to March 31, 2020, while there was a fall in all other types of recorded crime on the West Midlands bus network, there was an increase in common assault incidents.
 
This increase was to a large extent accounted for by incidents of spitting, with male bus drivers frequently being the target. 10% of attacks have also been racially aggravated.
 
The Safer Travel Partnership, through which West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) collaborate to fight crime on buses, trains and trams, has been encouraging more drivers and passengers to report incidents.
  
Measures taken include:
 
Issuing DNA spit kits to all drivers meaning that vital DNA evidence is now gathered in more than half of incidents
A dedicated Safer Travel team officer dealing with incidents
Driver training to encourage reporting of incidents and to improve the quality of evidence gathered
Regular electronic bulletins to bus company staff highlighting incidents, arrests and successful prosecutions
Since the coronavirus outbreak the talk holes in driver screens have been covered to further protect staff
 
The DNA evidence, combined with security camera coverage - buses have up to 12 cameras on board - means there is a 75% chance of identifying attackers.
 
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Spitting is not only a vile act but one which can, as we saw in London, have fatal consequences in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
 
“I am pleased to say that we are getting results and that the courts are backing us with stiff sentences for those found guilty.
 
“The vast majority of people using our public transport are polite and law abiding. But we will do all we can to root out and deal with those who act in a violent and abhorrent way and make the transport network safe for both our frontline staff and passengers.”
 
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Spitting is one of the most disgusting forms of behaviour there is. Not only is spitting repulsive and contemptable, but with the coronavirus pandemic, this action is deliberately a life threatening attack.
 
“Evidence suggests that a significant number of these offences are racially provoked. There is never an excuse and we will do all we can to stamp it out.
 
“Tremendous progress has been made since spit kits were first introduced on our public transport in 2017 and the perpetrators of these horrible actions in many cases are identified and action is taken.
 
“Therefore my message to anyone who indulges in this vulgar form of attack in which spitting is so dangerous because of coronavirus, you will be found, you will be arrested and you will be prosecuted.”
 
David Bradford, managing director of National Express West Midlands: “Spitting is not only disgusting - it's a criminal offence. Our drivers and passengers should not be expected to tolerate it.

“We work very closely with the Safer Travel team, and we have spit kits on every bus. These give us irrefutable DNA evidence to help us track down offenders and secure convictions at court. In addition, we have CCTV all over our buses which give police crystal clear images of offenders.”  

 

Wolverhampton Art Gallery has used its collections to create a digital exhibition while closed during lockdown.

To the Sea, inspired by travel, showcases a selection of paintings and seascapes, including works by Edwin Butler Bayliss and Bilston-born painter William Harold Dudley that will help you escape to the coast – virtually.

Dudley’s art developed at a time when the influence of French Impressionism, the Newlyn School of artists, and the plein air technique of working outside drew many painters to the ocean.

He made regular visits to Polperro, Cornwall; depicting the village and coastline in a celebrated series that formed part of the original collection at Bilston Gallery. Previously exhibited in ‘Under Open Skies: The Life and Art of William Harold Dudley 1890-1949’, this display showcases Dudley’s art once more, alongside rarely-seen works from Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

Also, on display are oils and sketches from Bayliss that reveal an alternative side to “Poet Painter of the Black Country”, as well as maritime studies by the renowned Cornish painter Alfred Wallis and Vorticist artist Edward Wadsworth.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Harman Banger, said: “We understand that art is an escape for most so I am glad to see that we are working in a new way to ensure our collection is still reaching those who have an interest in art.

“We recognise our visitors are missing our cultural venues but we hope that through our digital platforms we can still inspire people and make art accessible.
“Over recent months many of us have had to change our holiday plans, so we hope this selection of artwork will help people escape to the coast – virtually at least.”

To view the collection visit: www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/tothesea.
 

Following the record-breaking efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, a nine-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy was inspired to follow suit by walking the distance of a marathon in his street.

The Sheffield-born school boy used a walking frame to walk about 50 metres a day having originally planned to complete I kilometre in his local park to raise money for charity,.

Instead, Tobias, who is also autistic and cannot stand or walk unaided walked 750m per day until he completed the 26-mile challenge.

Saying that heard about Captain Tom and that he wanted to raise £10,000 by doing what he described as a “ginormous challenge”, he raised a staggering target sum – and still counting – for his two favourite charities; Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he attends for regular treatment and Paces School, where he attends for conductive education, which emphasises on developing the children so that they can achieve as much independence as possible by following physiotherapy programmes as well as being educated at the same time.

His proud mother, Ruth, said: “When Tobias heard about Captain Tom’s challenge, he felt a kinship with him and decided to replace his sponsored walk with a marathon attempt instead.

He started on March 21, which was pretty much the time when the lockdown started and looked to finish by the end of May.

“Tobias”, she added, “is just thrilled at the response that he has got – and still getting”.

The plucky young boy wants to raise money towards the ‘A New Home for Paces’ to provide a new school with improved facilities.

A woman who is the first to wear a hijab whilst sitting as a deputy district judge in the UK has said that she hopes to be a “trailblazer”.

Raffia Arshad, a member of St Mary’s Chambers in Nottingham, recently received her letter of appointment as a judge for the Midlands circuit.

On her appointment, Raffia, 40, said: “I don’t just see it as a personal achievement, it’s much bigger than that”.

The joint heads of St. Mary’s Chambers said; “She (Raffia) has led the way for Muslim women to succeed in the law”.

Mother of three, Judge Arshad, from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, said: “I almost feel a little detached from it being me. It’s become more about making sure that I am inspiring other people, no matter what their background may be.

“It’s taken me a while to get to where I am now, but I have to say that I am incredibly pleased with what I have achieved.

“I also see this as a huge achievement for anyone from a diverse background”.

An expert in Islamic family law, Judge Arshad is, however concerned about a lack o diversity in the judiciary.

Scientific advisors to the UK government have warned of the risk of lifting the lockdown rules in England, as the UK begin the final weekend before rules change.

Professor John Edmunds said that it was a “political decision” to ease measures; Sir Jeremy Farrer said that the NHS test and tracking system should be “fully working”.

From Monday, schools will be reopened and up to six people will be able to meet in England, with other nations also easing their measures.

The government have said that it had followed the data and evidence at all times.

Sir Jeremy, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of Saga (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), said in a Tweet that Covid-19 is “spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England” and that NHS test and trace “has to be fully working and infection rates have to be lower”.

Sage has published of its confidential meetings which include minutes of 34 sessions, going back to January 22 and a series of scientific reports.

They show one Sage meeting, on April 23, which estimated that there would be only 1,000 cases per day by mid-May.

Instead, estimates by the Office for National Statistics suggest that there are currently 8,000 cases per day in England alone. Those figures do not include cases in care homes or hospitals.

The National Trust in the UK is set to reopen some of its gardens and parks in England and Northern Ireland from June 3.

Around 29 sites are due to open for people with pre-booked tickets, with more to follow in the coming weeks.

Only around a third of the usual number of visitors will be permitted in order to maintain social distancing.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a further easing of lockdown measures in England, while in Northern Ireland they have moved to reopen outdoor spaces.

All properties and car parks in Wales will remain closed, however, in line with Welsh lockdown rules.

The Trust said that most coastal and countryside car parks are already open, but some busier ones may need to be closed or pre-booked.

Hilary McGrady, the National Trust’s director general, said that the aim was to reopen gardens and parks “wherever possible”.

But she cautioned that “things will be very difficult, especially in the first instance”.

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) is also reopening its four gardens around England with a pre-booked ticketing system.