Row flares over police
probe into girl’s murder
by David Skentelbery
A BITTER row appears to be developing between police and the parents of murdered Warrington teenager Shafilea Ahmed.
Cheshire Police have hit back at claims they excluded the parents from their investigation into the murder, They also say they are pursuing lines of inquiry “inextricably linked” with matters that led to the arrest of Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed over the disappearance of their daughter Shafilea.
Shafilea, from Liverpool Road, Great Sankey, was 17 when she vanished last September.
Six months later her body was found on a river bank in Cumbria and police said she had been murdered.
They believe she may have been the victim of an “honour killing” after refusing an arranged marriage.
Mr and Mrs Ahmed were arrested shortly before Christmas on suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping of their daughter. They were given police bail until a week ago when police said it would no longer be appropriate to keep them on bail.
Since then the couple have offered a ?5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of their daughter’s killer – and their solicitor, Milton Firman, has hinted that they may consider suing the police for wrongful arrest.
He claims they felt they had been “deliberately excluded” from the investigation.
But police say they have fully involved Mr and Mr Ahmed in the investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Geraint Jones, who is heading the inquiry, said: “Since the outset of the investigation into Shafilea’s disappearance last September we have maintained constant contact with Mr and Mrs Ahmed. You no doubt appreciate the sensitivities involved with family liaison in murder investigations where family members are under active investigation. We have continually sought to ensure Mr and Mrs Ahmed have been fully informed of the progress of the investigation, both prior to the recovery of Shafilea’s body and at all times since and we will continue to do so.
“In the initial stages of the missing person enquiry, the Cheshire Constabulary repeatedly approached Mr and Mrs Ahmed requesting their participation at press conferences and to voice media appeals.
“These requests were constantly declined. At this stage I do not consider there is any merit in further press appeals for further witnesses to come forward. Indeed the investigation is still actively engaged in following numerous lines of enquiry generated from previous appeals.
“The recovery of Shafilea’s body in February has raised a significant number of further enquiries that are inextricably linked with the matters that led to the arrest of Mr and Mrs Ahmed. It would be wholly inappropriate to involve Mr and Mrs Ahmed of progression of such enquiries at this time”
Mr Firman, speaking before the latest police statement, said: “My clients are very angry at the way they have been treated, simply because the police jumped to a conclusion based on an ethnic stereotype. They are angry at the lack of communication between the police and themselves.
“The result of this is that at the moment, there is not only no evidence against them, but also no indication of anyone else who is under serious suspicion.
“We are months into this investigation and we are no further on.
“I think it is fair to say it might have been better had the police worked with the parents from the beginning. The priority always has been, and will remain, finding the killers of Shafilea.”
Pictures show tragic Shafilea and her father, Iftikhar.
Peace centre is top of
the class for teachers!
by Gary Skentelbery
SEVEN school teachers from around the world are working with youngsters at Warrington’s pioneering peace centre – now considered one of the top 10 places international volunteers choose to work.
The teachers from America, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Sussia, Switzerland, Russia, Finland and Australia are helping to run anti-bullying workshops with children from over 30 schools in Warrington.
The workshops have been funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Warrington Council’s education department with support from Coca Cola, Walkers Crisps and Asda, who are providing refreshments for around 1,200 youngsters who are taking part in the workshops.
Wendy Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim was killed along with three-year-old Johnathan Ball during the IRA bomb attack on Warrington 11 years ago, said: “The Peace Centre is now listed as one of the “top 10” places people want to come a work through the International Voluntary Service.
“The anti bullying workshops are proving extremely popular with local schools. They are currently an annual event but we hope they will soon be able to take place twice a year.”
The teachers involved are Kelly Maynard – America, Chris Camp – Belgium, Asa Bergwall – Sweden, Serge Miserez – Switzerland, Natalia Klybchenko – Russia, Tanja Herrala – Finland and Annette Schneider – Australia, who are all spending two weeks at the peace centre.
The teachers work with youngsters in special work shops promoting the anti-bullying theme.
When the current workshops end more than 8,000 children from around the North West will have taken part in activities at the peace centre, which Colin and Wendy Parry campaigned for as a living memorial to the victims of the Warrington bombing.
retires after 12 years
by staff reporter
A WARRINGTON Homewatch co-ordinator, who is retiring from the post after 12 years, is encouraging other people to set up a scheme in their area.
Pat Forrest, 68, took over the role from her husband, Alan, after he passed away.
He had been one of the first co-ordinators to start a Homewatch scheme in Warrington in the mid 1980s.
“You get to know your local neighbours,” said Pat. “We know we’re all there for each other and we look out for strange vehicles, or unfamiliar people and take care of each other’s houses when people are on holiday.”
Pat is stepping down from co-ordinator to deputy co-ordinator for a close in the Cinnamon Brow area of Warrington.
She said: “If anyone wants to be a co-ordinator where they live, I would say go for it. The police have always supported me by passing on messages to inform members of what’s going on. And if you see something that’s out of the ordinary, you pre-warn everybody.
“Being a member of a Homewatch scheme makes you more vigilant when you are out and about, but it’s not about being in people’s pockets.”
Homewatch manager for Warrington Police, Bernie Woods, presented a certificate and a bouquet of flowers to Pat as a thank you for her commitment to the scheme during the last 12 years.
She said: “Pat has been an extremely good local co-ordinator, up-dating and informing police regularly about activity in the area. I wish the whole town had Homewatch because it is a big deterrent to thieves. We’re trying to get back to community spirit where people have an awareness of who lives in their area.”
Bernie added: “If you are a member of an active Homewatch group, you could be entitled to a discount on your home insurance. We need more people to join Homewatch as it’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of each other.”
For more information, or to start a Homewatch scheme, contact Bernie Woods, c/o Warrington Police, Charles Stewart House, 55 Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1NE. Tel: 01244 613862.
Picture shows Pat (left) receiving her certificate from Bernie Woods.
A multi-million ?
boost for learning
by staff reporter
A PIONEERING multi-million pound partnership has been forged to boost services for people with severe learning disabilities.
Warrington Borough Council and War
rington Primary Care Trust (PCT) joined forces at Walton Hall to sign a formal partnership arrangement, which sees them combine the two services for people with severe learning disabilities.
The two partners currently spend around ?12 million per year on services for people with learning disabilities and their families. The signing of the new partnership means that funding is “pooled” and targeted to allow more effective and efficient use of the money.
The moves comes as part of Warrington’s commitment to the Health Act (1999), introduced to give authorities and primary care trusts new flexibilities. It is also part of the town’s commitment to modernising services, following the government’s white paper ‘Valuing People – a new strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’.
Coun Colin Froggatt, the council’s executive member for Social Services and Health Promotion, said: “By using a holistic approach to the provision of health and social care services, this partnership is looking to continue to drive forward improvements for people with learning disabilities. The aim is to help people live fulfilled and independent lives by continuing to find ways for them and their families with a range of support options. This partnership will go a long way to helping us do that.”
Tim Deeprose, Warrington PCT’s director of modernisation, explained: “In the last couple of years, we have seen a number of very positive partnerships developing between people with learning disabilities, their families and service providers in the statutory and voluntary sectors. It is fantastic that they are all working together to improve services and offer a greater range and choice of support. The PCT and Council have a shared vision that more individualised, person-centred, knowledgeable, competent and joined-up services can be achieved through the better use of the financial and human resources currently available.
“This formal partnership arrangement between Warrington PCT and Warrington Borough Council provides the legal framework to underpin this work and will help us to tackle this challenging agenda in the future.”
Thousands expected at
Disability Awareness Day
by staff reporter
THE 13th annual Disability Awareness Day takes place at Walton Hall Gardens, Warrington tomorrow (Sunday).
More than 280 exhibition stands taken by voluntary, statutory and commercial organisations will showcase the range of goods and services available to disabled people.
In addition, there will displays of sporting activities, the arts, family entertainment and children’s entertainment.
Thousands of people – abled bodied as well as disabled – are expected to attend the event.
Co-ordinator Dave Thompson said the aim of the day was to spotlight services available to enable disabled people to be as independent as possible.
Equipment and aids would be on show and there would be an opportunity to see what disabled could do in the fields of sport, arts and entertainment.
He said: “This is an independent living exhibition and family fun day rolled into one.”
Mr Thompson said the most important event would be the launch of the Positive Action Awards North West, which aimed to promote good practice in the region in relations to employment and services that offered equality for disabled people.
Main sponsors of the event are the North West Development Agency.