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By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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Homicides in England and Wales have soared by 14 percent in a year — and that is about the same rate as cuts to police numbers. Inevitably, there are calls for more officers on the streets.

The Office for National Statistics reported that there were 739 murder and manslaughter cases in the 12 months up to September 2018, excluding terrorist victims, compared with 649 in the previous year.

Violent crime was up by 19 percent while offences involving knives rose by eight percent to the highest level since 2011.

Official figures show police numbers are down by some 20,000 to 121,000, or 14 percent. They have dropped every year since 2009, when drastic cuts were introduced in government spending following the 2008 financial crisis.

Reduced police numbers have in turn led to a rise in officers taking time off to deal with health issues arising from overwork.

West Midlands Police Commissioner David Jamieson was among several high ranking officers who charged that the crime rises were “testament to the need for more funding”.

He said: “These figures highlight the government’s short-sighted approach by continuing to apply cuts to police forces’ funding at a time when pressures on policing are increasing.”

Fewer cops, more crime! Who’s surprised?

It’s the only illness that people laugh about, and I have it and it’s no joke!

Gout is a shooting pain in the foot caused by the body’s overproduction of uric acid; the acid forms crystals which lodge in the joints between bones, usually in the big toe. The result is an agonising and crippling swelling.

What’s supposed to be funny is that the uric acid is often the result of too much alcohol and/or red meat, thus the illness of rich people, so it’s their own fault and serves them right!

History is full of gout sufferers — King Henry VIII, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, even Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian tenor (how else did he reach those high notes!).

And cartoonists down the years have enjoyed picturing rich men with their swollen appendages propped up on footstools.

As to how agonising it is, here is a quote from a sufferer, an American army veteran: “I have been shot, beat up, stabbed and dropped out of a helicopter, but that’s nothing compared to the gout.”

Usually these attacks last three to 10 days and I cannot wait for mine to be over, if only to spare my friends the struggle not to smirk when I tell them about it.

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Surfing eBay, a man from Chester spotted a wrist watch and a leather jacket identical to two items stolen from his house a few days earlier.

He placed a successful bid for the two items and arranged to meet the seller and collect them.

But when the thief turned up, instead of an eager buyer, he found the police waiting for him.

James Longden, 30, was jailed for two years at Chester Magistrates’ Court. His victim was his next-door neighbour whose house he burgled when the man was at work.

There is much grumbling from customers about the automation of banking services. It seems it cuts both ways.

The Metro newspaper carried the following letter: “I worked for a pensions company and we were instructed to encourage people to check things online.

“We were so successful that seven years ago around one hundreds of us were made redundant.”

A couple of weeks ago this column told how Matthew Skeen ran up debts of £12,000 by taking short-term, high-cost loans.

They are often called payday loans because they are linked to repayment on pay days. But that doesn’t always happen.

The Financial Conduct Authority reported last week that people who borrowed a total of £1.3 billion had to pay back £2.1 billion, or £800 million more, in a year.

The average loan was £250 while the typical sum repaid was £413 or 65 percent more than the original sum.

The additional amount was made up of fees, including interest often charged at an annual rate of more than 100 percent.

When his wife left him, a middle-aged man celebrated by buying a new Mercedes and taking it out for an evening drive.

Putting his foot down, he roared past 80, 90, 100 miles per hour. But he hadn’t spotted a police car in a side road and was promptly flagged down.

The cop was weary and said, “It’s the end of a hard day and I don’t want to get into a lot of paperwork, so I will let you off if you can give me a good excuse for speeding.”

The driver: “It’s like this, officer. My nagging wife ran off with a policeman and I was frightened you were bringing her back.” “Good night, sir,” said the cop.



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