Detectives investigating the abduction and rape of two women in linked attacks have released an image of a suspect.
The first victim was taken in Chingford, north London, at about 00:30 BST on Thursday, while the second was targeted 12 hours later in Edgware.
Both women, in their 20s, escaped following a struggle in Osborne Road, Watford, at about 14:30.
A man, 33, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape. The hunt for the rapist continues.
The Met Police has released images of a suspect attempting to book a hotel room in the Watford area at about 13:00 on Thursday. When one was unavailable, he left the premises.
The suspect is described as white, of muscular build, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with a bald head or shaved blond hair and a light-coloured short beard.
He is described as having a distinctive tattoo of the word “bobbie” on his stomach.
He was believed to have been driving a silver or grey-coloured Ford S-Max people carrier, with false registration plates.
Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin urged the public to come forward and report any unfamiliar parked cars matching its description.
She warned people not to approach the suspect and to call 999.
“Our investigation into these appalling crimes is making good process but we urgently need the help of the public to identify and trace this man.
“It is vitally important we catch this man, and while stranger attacks of this nature are thankfully rare, we would urge people to remain vigilant.”
Climate activists gathered to mark the end of protests that caused 11 days of disruption across London.
More than 1,100 people have been arrested since campaigners from Extinction Rebellion first blocked traffic in the capital on 15 April.
On the final day of action, protesters blocked roads, climbed on a train and glued themselves together in London’s financial district.
Hundreds of people met in Hyde Park for a “closing ceremony”.
Campaigners sat on the grass next to Speaker’s Corner – widely considered London’s home of free speech – singing and listening to musicians.
Transport for London said all roads are open around Marble Arch.
Skeena Rathor, of Extinction Rebellion, welcomed the “rebels” to the ceremony and described the crowd as “beautiful beings”, adding: “This is our pause ceremony.
“Welcome to the beginning of our pause.”
She invited the crowd to “begin a process of reflection”, adding: “Thank you for what you have done this week. It is enormous. It is beyond words.”
The crowd cheered and clapped when a speaker said “the police were amazing” during the days of blockades.
“We will leave the physical locations but a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world,” event organisers said on their Facebook page.
“We would like to thank Londoners for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth.
“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”
Extinction Rebellion is urging the government to “tell the truth” about the scale of the climate crisis. It wants the UK to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and a Citizens’ Assembly set up to oversee the changes needed to achieve this.
On Thursday, 26 people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass outside the Stock Exchange and on Fleet Street, bringing the total number of arrests up to 1,130 since the protests began on 15 April, the Met Police said.
Four people stood on top of a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train while another glued herself to a train.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway, the British Transport Police said.
Meanwhile, Dame Emma Thompson, who joined the activists on Saturday, has defended flying from Los Angeles to London to take part.
The actress said it was “very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying” but she was “in the very fortunate position of being able to offset my carbon footprint”.
More than 10,000 police officers have been deployed during the action.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the protests had been a “huge challenge for our over-stretched and under-resourced Metropolitan Police”.
The Met said on Wednesday it had imposed new conditions under the Public Order Act on the protest area in Marble Arch, making it a criminal offence to protest outside a designated area or incite others to protest outside of it.
The conditions will remain in force until Saturday.
Protests by Extinction Rebellion’s seemingly inexhaustible army of activists made plenty of headlines last week.
They say politicians are out of touch with climate reality. But what do they want, and can ministers realistically make it happen?
Let’s consider XR’s three core demands: for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress; and to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
- If Mrs May regularly referred to a “climate crisis” or “climate emergency”, that might fill their wish that the government should “tell the truth”.
- A citizens’ assembly looks unlikely, especially during the current constitutional mayhem of Brexit.
- And the third objective of cutting CO2 emissions to almost zero by 2025 is surely unachievable.
So, if not all this, then what?
This weekend, I asked environmentalists on Twitter for their suggestions about what ministers can do to show XR they mean business.
Here – in no particular order – is my summary of some of the responses, with my own micro-analysis along the way.
Heathrow expansion – Just cancel it, many said: impose a graduated tax on frequent fliers instead
This would be a huge symbolic step. Aviation forms a small proportion of UK emissions – but this would denote that ministers accept that climate change cannot be stopped by constantly fuelling a demand for growth.
Home insulation – One said insulating the UK’s draughty housing stock should become a National Infrastructure Priority – similar to upgrading the rail network
This would be a big victory for protesters. The Treasury don’t like subsidising property owners to improve the value of their houses – but there are few other plausible solutions big enough to tackle a vast problem.
Make electric cars work, others tweeted. They say the Department for Transport is failing to deliver a charging network
This is vitally important. The government is committed to zero emissions cars anyway, as part of its long-term climate plans. But ministers have been relying on the market to provide a charging network. And it hasn’t.
I recently borrowed an electric car for a trial visit into deepest Dorset. Both local charging stations malfunctioned, so I plugged into my sister-in-law’s house. It blew her electrics. Sorry, Jane.
How about getting farmers to cut emissions? UK farming has barely reduced emissions and some experts want widespread re-wilding so trees can capture CO2
This farming challenge can’t be ducked. The government knows farmers have to cut emissions faster, but it’s keen to protect them from economic damage. At least there’s more policy flexibility with Brexit.
Stop tax breaks to North Sea oil and gas – and ban fracking, others said
If the ministers adopted this suggestion, it would show they were willing to put climate protection ahead of concerns over tax-raising and balance of payments.
A tough ask for the Treasury, but one protesters say must be met if ministers really are serious about the climate.
Bring back onshore wind, they say: it’s cheap and effective
Another policy that would show ministers are putting the climate before politics. Onshore wind farms are popular with the public at large but ministers rejected them after a fusillade of protests from constituents.
Make it the duty of business to reduce emissions and protect nature, it was suggested
The Bank of England governor Mark Carney seems already to be tip-toeing in this direction with his warnings to banks and firms about the risks of climate change. But how far can the present system change without breaking?
Get a move on, came another call. Many said if we really want to tackle climate change we should be going as fast as we can, not setting arbitrary target dates like 2050
This is a tricky one. Governments like to deal in hard numbers and targets, not “try your best” aphorisms. Even in the relatively climate-conscious nations those numbers aren’t always hit.
And how about ending consumerist capitalism?
My correspondents are divided on this.
Some think the current political system can deliver the investment needed for a carbon neutral economy, if ministers put the right policies in place urgently.
Other say only the overthrow of capitalism will protect the planet. The debate surely needs to be had, given the severity of the crisis in nature.
So what does the government say?
It says it is taking the climate protests seriously and rightly points out that it’s been an international leader with its Climate Change Act.
It will shortly consider whether to shift the UK’s long-term climate target to virtually zero emissions by 2050 – that’s tougher than the current 80% reduction by 2050. It admits that it’s falling short of its medium-term climate targets.
Will the changes I’ve outlined here be enough to satisfy XR? Maybe not – but they might weaken the movement by seducing some of their less ardent supporters.
Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin
The most deprived council areas of England have seen more cuts than their better-off neighbours, according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He was speaking following the launch of his party’s local election campaign. So, what do the figures show?
Councils receive their money from a mix of central government grants and money raised locally through taxes and charges.
The proportion varies because richer areas can raise more tax from properties and businesses, while poorer councils rely more on central government funding.
A council’s “core spending power” is how much money it has to spend from all these income sources.
More deprived councils generally end up with higher spending power per household because they get more money from central government to reflect the higher costs of providing services such as social care.
Labour said it looked at the spending power of the 10 most deprived council areas, according to an official ranking published every few years by the government – most recently in 2015.
- Kingston upon Hull
- Tower Hamlets
Our analysis found that, across England, the average [median] cut to spending power was £297 per household. That is to say, half of councils had bigger cuts than that and half smaller.
And there was a big range of cuts.
For example, the London Borough of Hackney’s spending power per household fell by £1,432, compared with only £1.78 per household in Wokingham in Berkshire.
Only the Isles of Scilly had increased its spending power – by £350 per household.
BBC analysis suggests that all 10 listed areas saw higher than average cuts and for nine of them, that cut was at least twice the average.
Five of the most deprived councils had cuts of more than three times the average.
Most of the areas seeing the biggest overall cuts were in London, followed by other urban centres like Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
They were also mainly areas with relatively high levels of deprivation, while many of the areas with the smallest cuts were in the less deprived parts of England.
This picture is backed up by research last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank, which looked at all councils in England and found that those in more deprived areas face slightly larger cuts, on average, than those in richer areas.
A study by Mia Gray and Anna Barford at the University of Cambridge also found that “more deprived areas tend to correlate with bigger cuts in service spending”, while in the less deprived areas, service spending cuts tend to be smaller.
Labour v Tory
Labour also claimed that the government had protected Conservative-controlled councils more, while Labour-run areas had faced the biggest cuts.
It’s broadly true that many Labour-controlled areas have faced bigger cuts than Conservative-controlled ones.
But their calculations – which did not adjust for the type of council – understated the cuts to Tory authorities.
Different councils have different responsibilities – some easier to cut than others. And some people live in areas where a small district council provides some of their services, while a bigger county council pays for others.
Take Horsham, which Labour names in its press release as one of the few councils to have more spending power per household this year than it did in 2010.
Horsham is a district council which looks after services like bins, planning, parking and housing.
But people living in Horsham will have their social care, education and public health services provided by the county council, West Sussex.
To understand the cuts faced by a household in this area, you have to consider both councils together.
Horsham residents – who Labour said had seen an increase in spending power – have actually faced overall cuts of £75 per household once you factor in cuts to services provided by West Sussex County Council.
That is still a small cut compared with many parts of the country, but adding in the county council does change the picture somewhat.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Our methodology and how we present our research corresponds to how official figures are presented.”
It’s also true that many Labour-controlled councils started with considerably higher spending power, and still had higher spending power than their Conservative-controlled neighbours this year, despite having faced bigger cuts.
This higher overall spending power reflects the fact that many of the most deprived council areas are Labour controlled, and those areas are allocated more money because of their higher needs.
Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that councils in England had more money to spend this year.
A Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We are providing local authorities with access to £46.4bn this financial year to meet the needs of their residents and the most deprived areas have access to substantially more funding than the least.”
English councils’ spending power is set to rise by £1.3bn in the current financial year – but only provided they increase council tax by the maximum allowed.
That is a slightly bigger rise than in recent years, but it still means they have 4% less money to spend per household on average than they did in 2015.
Since 2010, council spending power, including funding from central government and local taxes, has fallen by almost 30%.
Additional reporting by the BBC England Data Unit.
A teenage climate change activist has urged British politicians to “listen to the scientists” on climate change.
Greta Thunberg, 16, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she did not expect to change their minds single-handedly, saying: “We need to do that together.”
The Swedish teenager, who inspired the school climate strikes movement, is expected to meet party leaders later.
She also praised the work of Extinction Rebellion, as climate change protests continued into their second week.
Miss Thunberg said her message for politicians was: “Listen to the science, listen to the scientists. Invite them to talk.
“I am just speaking on behalf of them, I’m trying to say what they’ve been saying for decades,” she said.
The teenager sparked an international youth movement after she staged a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament in August last year.
Since then she has met Pope Francis and addressed the European Parliament. Speaking about her newfound fame, she said: “It’s unbelievable, I can’t really take it in.”
The interview comes as Extinction Rebellion activists took over part of the Natural History Museum on Monday.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began in central London a week ago.
Miss Thunberg, who spoke to the crowds in Marble Arch on Sunday, told the BBC that disruptive action “definitely has a lot of impact”.
Asked whether it was necessary, she said: “As long as it’s non-violent, I think that could definitely make a difference.”
‘No point in anything’
Miss Thunberg said she first heard about climate change aged about eight years old. “I was just very moved,” she said.
“When I was 11 I became very depressed,” she added. “It had a lot to do with the climate and ecological crisis. I thought everything was just so wrong and nothing was happening and there’s no point in anything.”
After realising she could make a difference, she said she promised herself that “I was going to do something good with my life”.
The teenager also admitted that, when she first told her parents of her plan to miss school every Friday, they “weren’t very fond of that idea”.
In the wide-ranging BBC interview, Miss Thunberg said that having Asperger’s had helped her in life: “It makes me different, and being different is a gift I would say. It also makes me see things from outside the box.
“I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike for instance.”
Asked what she would say if she met US President Donald Trump, she said: “I can’t really say anything to him that he hasn’t heard before.
“Obviously he’s not listening to the science and to what we have to say so I wouldn’t be able to change his mind.”
In 2017, Mr Trump announced the US would withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on tackling climate change.
Buckingham Palace is expected to announce on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump will make a state visit to the UK in early June.
The president was promised the visit by Prime Minister Theresa May after he was elected in 2016 – but no date was set.
Downing Street did not comment on the matter when contacted by the BBC.
President Trump and the first lady, Melania, visited the UK in July 2018 for a two-day working visit.
During the 2018 trip, the president met Mrs May at Chequers and the Queen at Windsor Castle before heading to Scotland, where he owns the Turnberry golf course.
The president’s last trip to the UK was marked by demonstrations around the UK.
In London, thousands of protestors took to the streets to voice their concerns about the visit.
And in Scotland, people showed their displeasure both in Edinburgh and at Turnberry.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council estimated that the police operation for the president’s 2018 visit cost nearly £18m.
It said 10,000 officers from across the country were needed to cover the occasion.
What is a state visit?
A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state and is normally at the invitation of the Queen, who acts on advice from the government.
State visits are grand occasions, but they are not just ceremonial affairs. They have political purpose and are used by the government of the day to further what it sees as Britain’s national interests.
Once the location and dates are confirmed, the government, the visiting government and the royal household will agree on a detailed schedule.
So what is involved?
The Queen acts as the official host for the duration of the trip, and visitors usually stay at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.
There is usually a state banquet, and a visit to – and speeches at – the Houses of Parliament may be included. The Speaker of the House of Commons is one of three “key holders” to Westminster Hall, and as such, effectively holds a veto over who addresses Parliament.
The Queen usually receives one or two heads of state a year. She has hosted 109 state visits since becoming monarch in 1952.
The official website of the Queen and the Royal Family has a full list of all state visits since then, including details of how the ceremonies unfold.