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New unit tackles digital criminals 23/05/2019

CUMBRIA CONSTABULARY and Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall, have launched a new Cyber and Digital Crime Unit to deal with the growing world of online offending.

The commissioner and constabulary have invested in additional specialist services to deter digital criminals – and help the victims they target.

In another example of the unseen policing going on behind the scenes every day to tackle offending and protect people, the dedicated digital experts are providing an improved police service to both individuals and businesses.

The unit, based at Cumbria Constabulary headquarters, near Penrith, is up-and-running following a pledge by Peter McCall to increase funding to fight cyber crime.

This followed a rise - backed by the majority of the public who were surveyed last year - in the police precept of the council tax bill in Cumbria, the part that pays for policing.

Newly recruited staff and officers who are experts in their field have taken up positions in the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit.

The unit delivers an improved force-level capability to investigate and pursue offenders and help businesses and people protect themselves from attack.

Crimes tackled by the unit include online sex crimes such as sharing, viewing and downloading indecent images, including where there is sexual abuse of a child.

It covers offences such as hacking, digital fraud and online exploitation.

The unit also forensically examines digital devices seized during police investigations.

Behind the scenes, these types of crimes can involve long and complex investigations, including detailed examination of digital equipment.

Offenders often do not live in county boundaries, providing a new challenge to police.

With changes in society and technology, the number of these types of crimes continue to grow – so the unit are placed to deal with an increasing problem.

National referrals of this type of crime have risen massively in the past five years and these are often passed to local forces.

So far this year Cumbria Constabulary have received more than 50 referrals of cases which must be investigated.

Criminals carrying out cyber-enabled or cyber-dependent crimes have received prison sentences totalling more than 60 years following work by Cumbria officers in the last year.

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood leads the new unit. He said,  “We are delighted to show the public what their council tax is paying for – an improved service to protect anybody who uses a digital device.

“In this day and age, that includes most of us. If you shop online, use social media or use email to communicate you could fall victim to an online criminal if you do not take care.

“Cyber criminals can hide behind their screens.

“But their actions can have a huge impact on businesses, individuals, vulnerable members of society and children.

“This new team is crucial in order to prevent people from entering the world of cyber criminality by providing early intervention and diversion, protect our communities by providing good, up to date and simple advice to reduce the risk of becoming a victim, prepare ourselves to effectively deal with cybercrime or a significant cyber-attack and finally, we will be in a much better position to pursue those who commit cybercrime and bring them to justice.”

Mr McCall said, “It is great news that Cumbria Constabulary have been able to use the additional funding raised through council tax precept to fund this new cyber unit. 

“Increasingly, we are more likely to be a victim of crime through our online activities than at any other time.

“This is why it is essential to invest in this area, to ensure that we have the technology in place to tackle this difficult and growing crime.

“Traditionally cybercrime is not an offence that people may think of as a ‘day-to-day’ policing matter.

“The digital world is a dangerous world and the modern threats and risks of online criminals, as they hide behind their screens, faceless and anonymous, has significantly increased.

“Offences such as internet fraud, online grooming, cyber stalking and child sexual exploitation, where criminals focus on the most vulnerable as an easy target, are happening here in Cumbria.

“Being able to invest in additional specialist services and increase the number of cybercrime experts within the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, will help and support us in staying one step ahead of online crime.

“People often ask me about increasing police presence ‘on the beat’.

“I agree that this is an important priority and the additional 25 officers within the neighbourhood community teams have had a big impact and made a real difference.

“In addition, I will often refer to the unseen element of policing, of which our Cyber and Digital Crime Unit is an excellent example.

“The large number of policing hours invested into specialist cybercrime cases may not be as visible, but is none the less, just as important.”

DI Harwood added, “The specialist officers and staff are in place to tackle and deter crime in what is becoming a busier and more demanding area of policing.

“One of the challenges in policing is keeping up with changing trends in crime.

“And cybercrime is something that has become more of a threat as people become more familiar with using computers and other devices for day-to-day life.

“Criminals will also exploit any new method available to commit their offences – and we need to keep one step ahead of them.

“We work hard together with our partners to highlight the threat and to prevent people from falling victim.

“We would urge people to be vigilant of all the threats that exist online and to protect themselves as best they can.”

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BSIA welcomes new forensic science compliance 23/05/2019

FROM OCTOBER 2017, it is mandatory that law enforcement agencies disclose to the Courts if forensic evidence they’re relying on in a prosecution is compliant with the Forensic Science Regulator’s Codes of Practice[1] (Codes), the risk being that non-compliant products or services will be ruled inadmissible.

This has serious implications not just for the police service but the security industry also, whether users, buyers or suppliers of forensic products and services. For example, a Company that contracts with a supplier of forensic spray systems that is not compliant with the codes, could find that any resultant forensic evidence is ruled inadmissible in Court, reducing their deterrent value.

In 2012, the Government abolished the Forensic Science Service, which was the main provider of forensic services to the Courts, leaving it open for commercial companies to fill the resultant void. However, following the collapse of several high-profile Court cases, including the Randox Laboratory2, which is now subject to a criminal investigation, the Regulator is seeking statutory powers to be able to ban sub-standard providers.

In her annual report3, the Forensic Science Regulator, Gillian Tully, said: “Without statutory backing for my role, a number of small and microbusinesses have chosen, for financial reasons, not to move towards gaining accreditation and those that have met the quality standards have not yet been fully rewarded through the contracting process.  

“Those not moving towards compliance should be in no doubt that their products and services will gradually receive fewer commissions and their Practitioners will face more challenges in Court.”

The Asset and Property Marking Section of the BSIA welcomes the drive for increased quality. It is absolutely right that suppliers of forensic products and services have to be independently accredited as being compliant, to  prevent and reduce the risk miscarriages of justice, wasting police time and public money, resulting in the reduced credibility and reputation of the forensic security sector.

Mike Reddington, chief executive, BSIA, said: “Our role is not only to promote our Members products and services but also encourage them to operate to the highest possible standards. Consequently, we applaud the Forensic Science Regulator’s drive for quality and confirm where relevant, all members of the BSIA are compliant, or are working toward compliance with the code for sound commercial reasons.”

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Home Secretary gives security update 23/05/2019

THE HOME Secretary, Sajid Javid, has provided an update on the UK’s approach to counter-terrorism and safeguarding national security.

In a speech at New Scotland Yard, home to the headquarters of counter-terrorism policing in the UK, the Home Secretary reasserted the UK’s leading international role in countering terrorism and keeping people safe from emerging threats.

Introduced by the head of counter-terrorism policing, Neil Basu, the Home Secretary spoke to counter-terrorism experts and senior members of the security community, where he highlighted the importance of cooperation in protecting national and international security.

He said, "From terrorism, to crime, to hostile state activity, we are facing international problems, that require an international response.

"More than any other country on Earth, the UK has a coherent, connected approach to intelligence and security and when threats do appear, the world turns to the UK for leadership, support and action.

"As these threats become more global we all rely on an international system of defence, policing, security and intelligence. A safety net that is based upon cooperation, and unity."

The Home Secretary also spoke about the new powers in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.

The Act created an offence of entering or remaining in an area that has been designated by the Home Secretary, making it illegal for a UK national or resident to travel to or remain there without a legitimate reason, such as providing humanitarian aid. The offence attracts a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

The Home Secretary said, "Today I can announce that I’ve asked my officials to work closely with CT policing and intelligence agencies to urgently review the case for exercising this power in relation to Syria, with a particular focus on Idlib and the North East.

"So anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice."

Speaking about international security partnerships, the Home Secretary also commented that he has agreed with his German counterpart, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK and Germany will intensify cooperation and swiftly conclude any necessary bilateral security arrangements.

He also announced that the annual Five Country Ministerial – a major meeting of the Five Eyes security partners consisting of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – would take place later this year in Manchester.

He said, "We will take forward an agenda with our allies on emerging threats – from drones to cyber, and many of the issues that I’ve talked about today.

"As the only European member of the world’s foremost intelligence alliance, the UK is the hub of a truly global intelligence and security network.

Additionally, the Home Secretary announced that Jonathan Hall QC has been appointed as the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

The Home Secretary spoke about the current terrorist threats facing the UK and praised the work of the police and MI5 in response.

He said, “Each and every day, our security services fight against terror – from large international terrorist groups, to radicalised individuals.

“In the past two years, they have foiled 19 major terrorist plots – 14 of them Islamist, and five of them motivated by extreme right-wing ideologies.

“But those are just the headline figures. For each attack prevented, there are dozens more that never have the chance to begin in the first place.

“This country is under the protection of the finest police, security, intelligence and armed forces in the world, many of them working here in New Scotland Yard.

“Your excellent work, hand-in-glove with MI5, does more to keep us safe than most of the public will ever know.”

Speaking about the country’s defences against hostile state activity, the Home Secretary said that the UK has used existing immigration powers, such as revocation of visas or exclusion, in dozens of cases in response to protect the country.

The Home Secretary also set out the possibility of new legislation to respond to the threats posed by hostile states. Following the attack in Salisbury, the Prime Minister announced that the Home Office would consider whether new counter-espionage powers are necessary.

The review is considering all legislation which maybe relevant to all forms of hostile state activity directed against the UK, both in the UK and overseas. The Official Secrets Acts are part of the existing legislation that is being looked at as part of that review.

The Home Secretary said, “We have to ensure that we have the necessary powers to meet current and evolving threats to the UK, both domestically and overseas.

“Getting this right and having the right powers and resources in place for countering hostile states must be a post-Brexit priority so I can announce today that we are preparing the way for an Espionage Bill.

“This will bring together new and modernised powers, giving our security services the legal authority they need to tackle this threat.”

This comes in addition to a new power to stop, question, search and detain an individual at a port or border area to determine whether they are, or have been, involved in hostile state activity which was introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act and which will come into force later this year.

Concluding his speech, the Home Secretary hailed the UK’s strength and unity as what sets the country apart from its adversaries.

He said, “The United Kingdom has a combination of strength and unity that sets us apart from our friends and enemies alike.

“Those enemies range from entire states to lone individuals. “They seek to humiliate us, to destroy our democracy and undermine our values, to sow the seeds of division but they all have one thing in common.

“They know, deep down, that they cannot beat us because from every challenge, we have emerged stronger, determined, unafraid and most importantly of all, united.”

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Half of Brits share their password 23/05/2019

LAST YEAR, 17 million UK residents fell victim to cybercrime and with the number of websites, apps, and social accounts continuing to grow, it can be difficult to remember individual passwords for them all.

Mobile phone insurance provider, Insurance2go, polled the British public to find out how safe and secure their passwords are, and who they are trusting with these vital pieces of information.

When it comes to keeping online passwords private, half (50%) of the nation confessed to sharing at least one password with someone else, putting their online logins at risk. A fifth (21%) admitted to trusting a family member with their log in details however, only 15% confessed to sharing a password with a partner.

When it comes to sharing logins, the top three people Brits are trusting with their passwords are:

  • A family member(s) (21%)
  • A partner(s) (15%)
  • A colleague (9%)

The insight also reveals that 11 million Brits*, that's 21% of the nation, only use between one to three password variations for all their online accounts or profiles, 8% use the same password for everything and over a quarter (28%) use between four to six.

Aaron Nolan, Cybersecurity specialist from Spector said, “Password Security is a fundamental matter, and that should not be taken lightly. Over 80% of hacking-related incidents use either weak or stolen passwords, so this is often one of the first things a Cyber Criminal will try to use against you.

“Having a similar password for your accounts and sharing it with others is not a wise choice. If a criminal is targeting you, and they discover one password, they’ll easily be able to guess the others, so make sure to have a substantial difference between each one you use, and don’t share them all with others. The easiest way to go about it is to use a tool like a password manager, which will facilitate the task of remembering all of them.”

Lorraine, sales and marketing director, said, “Browsing the internet is an everyday occurrence for many of us and the need to create logins for different websites and accounts is becoming increasingly popular. From your online bank account to your social media pages, it’s important to make sure you have a strong password which doesn’t leave you open to cybercriminals who are after your personal information.

“We advise that you never share your online passwords with others, but if needed, keep a hidden notepad away from your computer with password hints that only yourself or immediate family would be able to guess in case of emergency.”

For tips and tricks on how to keep your online accounts secure please visit:


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Security upgrades at Thames Water 23/05/2019

THE UK'S largest water and waste company has awarded two multi-million-pound perimeter protection contracts to security fencing systems manufacturer Zaun.

Thames Water Utilities extended its Security and Emergency Measures Direction (SEMD) framework agreement with Zaun for the supply and installation of security fencing and gates for a further two years as part of the current Asset Management Programme, AMP6, to enable the award of the latest contracts.

The first contract is for the design of perimeter protection for seven sites that have been awarded through the Costain Atkins and Black & Veatch eight20 joint venture.

Thames Water has awarded the second contract to Zaun to supply and install around 11km of perimeter protection for four of the seven sites.

Jon Lorimer at Thames Water said, “Securing the perimeter is a key part of our plan to deliver safe drinking water to our nine million customers.”

Zaun will supply its ArmaWeave woven mesh fencing system, which will be installed by subsidiary Binns Fencing, around the perimeters and various compounds and buildings.

ArmaWeave – which is unique to Zaun, as is the ability to rake it – one of Zaun’s most intruder-resistant products, is produced on the world’s largest mesh weaving machine at the company’s West Midlands manufacturing base.

Lorimer said, “Zaun’s expertise and experience in designing and installing unique solutions with ArmaWeave, not least for Thames Water, has enabled us to deliver the securest solution possible.”

The two contracts to date form a multi-million-pound package.  The work is part of the AMP6 programme to bring Thames Water’s estate up to Defra standards and fully prepare for any security eventuality.

Zaun sales and marketing director Chris Plimley said: “Thames and eight20 are leading the way in the utilities sector in toughening their security so we're delighted to continue to help them upgrade their estate with the very best integrated perimeter protection systems on the market.”

Thames Water manages more than 4,500 sites that require security to protect the water supply to over 14 million people.

Accidental pollution, the safety hazard of sewage, the potential for theft and even mindless vandalism all mean site safety and security is paramount.

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Cyber criminals face new EU sanctions 23/05/2019

FOREIGN SECRETARY Jeremy Hunt welcomes new EU cyber sanctions regime pushed for by the UK.

Cyber attackers around the world could now face EU sanctions, thanks to a new regime pushed for by the UK and its partners.

The new sanctions regime, which was signed off on 17 May in Brussels, sends a clear message to hostile actors everywhere that the UK, and the EU, will impose tough consequences for cyber-attacks.

Over the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in the scale and severity of malicious cyber activity globally. The UK has been clear that it will not tolerate malicious cyber activity of this nature.

The UK, alongside a coalition of Member States, has been at the forefront of driving the new approach forward.

The sanctions regime will involve travel bans and asset freezes against those we know have been responsible for these actions.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, "This is decisive action to deter future cyber-attacks. For too long now, hostile actors have been threatening the EU’s security through disrupting critical infrastructure, attempts to undermine democracy and stealing commercial secrets and money running to billions of Euros. We must now look to impose travel bans and asset freezes against those we know have been responsible for this.

"The UK and its allies have been unafraid to call out those who have conducted cyber-attacks with the intent to damage and destroy our institutions and societies. But we have been clear that more must be done to deter future attacks by hostile state and non-state actors.

"Our message to governments, regimes and criminal gangs prepared to carry out cyber-attacks is clear: together, the international community will take all necessary steps to uphold the rule of law and the rules based international system which keeps our societies safe."

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NFCC calls for change to sprinkler regulations 21/05/2019

THIS YEAR the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) national sprinkler campaign will run from 19-24 May and is calling on the government to make changes to legislation to keep people safer in their homes.

Research carried out by NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network investigated how effective and reliable sprinkler systems are.

The findings showed that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions, demonstrating very high reliability.

In addition, sprinkler systems are highly effective when they do operate;  extinguishing or containing the fire on 99% of occasions. This research also demonstrated that in both converted and purpose built flats, sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires.

NFCC has since conducted further research on fatalities, injuries and building damage in fires where sprinklers were activated - these latest findings support previous research and will be launched during the week.

Terry McDermott, NFCC lead for sprinklers, said, “The evidence clearly speaks for itself; our research proves that sprinklers are both effective and provide strong fire safety protections as part of a fire safety package.

“Wales and Scotland already recognise this and have implemented measures to make communities safer from fire; we want to see these measures mirrored in England and Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency.

"Fire does not discriminate and is just as dangerous in England as it is in the rest of the UK, we want to see people offered the same protection in England as in other parts of the UK.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness of how sprinklers work and the benefits of having sprinklers fitted.

In addition, the campaign will highlight the disparity in building regulations across the UK. Sprinkler laws in Wales and Scotland offer more protection than in England and Northern Ireland meaning their communities have more fire protection.

Australian fire and rescue services will also be supporting NFCC sprinkler week, and sprinkler campaigns are also being held in America and Canada by the National Fire Protection Association.

NFCC is asking people to support the campaign by following the hashtag #ThinkSprinkler on social media to raise awareness on sprinklers.

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Call for a firefighter in every room 21/05/2019

CHESHIRE FIRE and Rescue Service (CFRS) is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) 2019 National Sprinkler Week campaign. The campaign runs from 19-24 May.

The NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) carried out research to investigate the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems. They found that sprinkler systems operate on 94 per cent of occasions, demonstrating very high reliability. Furthermore it is evident that when they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99 per cent of occasions and are thus very effective. The evidence also demonstrated that in both converted and purpose built flats, sprinklers are 100 per cent effective in controlling fires.

There is disparity in building regulations in regard to sprinklers in the UK. Sprinkler laws in Wales and Scotland are much less lenient than in England which means that their communities have more fire protection.

NFCC lead for sprinklers, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer Terry McDermott, said, “The evidence speaks for itself. Our research proves that sprinklers are very effective and provide strong fire safety protection as part of a fire safety package. 

“Wales and Scotland recognise this and have implemented measures to make their communities safer from fire; we want to see the same changes in England and Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency. Fire does not discriminate and is just as dangerous in England as it is in the rest of the UK.”

There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers to be fitted. In commercial environments, businesses could get back to normal in a relatively short space of time after a fire. It is a well-known fact that many businesses that suffer from significant fires and fire damage never return to operation. Sprinklers can safeguard against that and significantly improve business continuity. In the home, sprinklers save lives and also reduce the number of serious burns and injury cases and the amount of damage caused by house fires. When sprinklers are installed a fire is almost always contained to the room it started in, preventing it spreading throughout the property, so sprinklers reduce the risk to lives and properties.

“Fire is indiscriminate,” explained CFRS area manager and protection lead Lee Shears, “It destroys lives, homes, families, businesses and history that cannot be replaced. Every year people are needlessly killed and seriously injured in fires. Every year people are made homeless as a result of fire. Every year businesses collapse and people lose their livelihoods as a result of fire. Fire deaths (including firefighter deaths) have been almost eliminated and lives and properties can be saved with this simplest of additions.”

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FBU demands overhaul of services 21/05/2019

THE NEXT Labour government must deliver an overhaul of fire and rescue services, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has demanded.

After years of cuts to services, the Labour-affiliated union’s annual conference voted for sweeping changes to the fire and rescue service and a new regime of investment in fire safety.

Firefighters voted to demand that the next Labour government implement:

  • UK-wide standards and structures, including minimum response times and a commitment to 5 firefighters on every fire engine
  • Investment in a new generation of firefighters and fire safety officers, after the loss of 1 in 5 firefighter jobs and 1 in 4 fire safety officers since 2010
  • A statutory duty for firefighters to respond to flooding in England, as in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • An end to Police and Crime Commissioner takeovers of fire and rescue services and the end to the privatisation of training facilities and control rooms

Union delegates voted for the measures today at its annual conference in Blackpool. Firefighters also called for sweeping changes to their working conditions, free cancer screenings, and a review of their pensions.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“Tory governments have made firefighters’ lives a misery for the last decade, not to mention the risk to public safety overseen by this government. That has to end when Jeremy Corbyn enters Downing Street.

“We have faith that the next Labour government will support our firefighters and deliver the change needed to keep the public safe. All that we ask for is a safer, fairer, well-resourced and accountable fire and rescue service. A service that is publicly owned and delivers for the many.”

Shadow Fire Minister Karen Lee addressed FBU conference today, while Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will address the conference tomorrow.

Karen Lee MP, Shadow Fire Minister, said:

“With the Government in chaos, we are building on the 2017 manifesto. We cannot rest on our laurels, and the damage caused by sustained austerity over the past 9 years must be rectified. This includes addressing the long overdue pay rise, ensuring fire services receive the resources they need and fixing broken fire regulations.”

The FBU holds a seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). The union was an affiliate to the Labour party from the 1920’s until 2004 when a bitter pay dispute with the then Blair government led the union to disaffiliate. It re-affiliated in 2015 after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The Labour leader and shadow chancellor John McDonnell co-founded the union’s parliamentary group, and McDonnell, who has chaired the group, has been a staunch supporter of the FBU’s many campaigns and a regular speaker at its conference. Karen Lee MP, the Shadow Fire Minister, is Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) to John McDonnell.

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Surrey firefighters lobby MPs for funding 21/05/2019

FIREFIGHTERS DECAMPED to Westminster to meet with MPs, securing the support of Shadow Fire Minister Karen Lee, Joe Steven and Graham Morris, who spent time discussing the planned cuts and pledged to campaign for fairer funding for the service.

The lobby of Parliament follows the news that cuts to fire cover at night will disproportionately affect the area’s elderly and vulnerable residents.

Despite inviting all MPs for the areas which will be affected by the proposed cuts, including Michael Gove and Philip Hammond, no Surrey Conservative MPs attended the meeting. This is despite over 10,000 Surrey residents signing a petition calling on the council to scrap the planned cuts. Firefighters are deeply disappointed by the lack of support from Surrey MPs for their campaign to keep safe fire cover in the county at night.

FBU Surrey Brigade secretary Lee Belsten said, “It is greatly disappointing that Surrey MPs refused to meet with firefighters to discuss the impending cuts. They are choosing to ignore Surrey firefighters and over 10,000 residents voicing their concerns for the elderly and vulnerable residents in their constituencies.

“Surrey firefighters are already struggling to keep the public safe after years of cuts to the fire service. Our service needs investment and we’re grateful for MPs like Karen Lee pledging to campaign for fairer funding.”

45% of those killed in Surrey fires were 70 or older between 2008 and 2018, despite only making up 14% of the population. Seven of the 16 killed in fires had mobility issues that affected their ability to escape the fire between 2006 and 2012.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has already experienced brutal cuts, with 131 firefighter positions slashed between 2010 and 2018 – a 17% reduction in the workforce. Proposals to cut a further 70 firefighters would lead to a total 22% reduction since 2010.

The cuts would also see drastic reductions to fire cover at night, resulting in a significant slowing of emergency response times. Last year, 75% of fire deaths occurred on the nightshift between 18:00 and 09:00. Egham, Painshill and Banstead fire stations closed at 18:00, while fire cover at Guildford, Woking, Camberley, and Spelthorne would be halved during the same period.

The latest revelations follow a December 2018 report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) voicing “serious concerns” about the service’s effectiveness and efficiency in keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.

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