The articles on this page are either produced by the operator of the website, from national publishers or Government departments. Where the information is from an external source all information on the origins of the article will appear under the title.

ROAD JOURNEY PLANNING

This article shows sources of information for road travel within the UK and some adjacent countries.
These may prove useful over the holiday period, especially during the current bad weather.

Check route

The Transport Direct online journey planner * : www.transportdirect.info

The AA route planner : www.theaa.com

Check the latest traffic conditions *

Live updates : www.highways.gov.uk/traffic

Traffic England automated telephone line ( real time ): 08700 660 115

Traffic Radio : www.trafficradio.org.uk (recommend set radio button to "Streaming MP3" )

Check the weather forecast *

Severe weather conditions that disrupt roads and motorways : www.highways.gov.uk ( homepage )

Meteorological Office for weather conditions : www.metoffice.gov.uk

Flood warning information : www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floodwarning


Highways Agency Information Line *

Available 24 hours per day every day. Information on traffic conditions, major incidents and signs.

Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30

e-mail : ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk


Road Travel in Scotland

Traffic Scotland : http://trafficscotland.org/

Road Travel in Northern Ireland

Traffic Watch Northern Ireland : http://www.trafficwatchni.com

Road Travel in Wales

Traffic Wales : http://www.traffic-wales.com

Road Travel in the Republic of Ireland

National Road Authority : http://www.nra.ie/

Road Travel in France

Motorways : http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/homepage.html

Road travel conditions : http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/diri/Accueil.do?langue=en


Reporting problems that you see *

Debris on the road,etc

Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30

e-mail : ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk

This information was sourced from the Highways Agency - "Think Ahead Move Ahead" booklet which is free from motorway service area's or by calling the Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30

This information will also be placed within the Travel section of this website.

(22nd December 2010)


STOLEN CABLES
Category: theft

The following article describes how one company is trying to combat against thieves stealing their property. Initially you may think, so what, they are a big company and have enough money to pay for a replacement.

The article describes how communities are "cut-off from the rest of the world". You may then say, people now have mobiles. The only thing is; mobile phone companies use the BT network to inter-link their aerial masts to the rest of their network.

Then there is how technology is helping terminally ill people to stay at home. Sophisticated medical monitoring equipment connected to the home patient can then be monitored by hospital staff via a broadband link. Remove the cable and there is no link.

CCTV, emergency road side telephones and mobiles masts on or near motorways -  are reliant on cables, remove these and any seriously injured drivers and passengers resulting from a road traffic accident may not get medical treatment in time to survive.

If you see a theft of a cable call 999 or CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.


FINGERING THE CULPRITS
(BT Today - in house magazine dated August 2010)

Picture the scene : in the dead of night, a gang cuts and hauls away a stretch of BT copper cable from underground. To them, it's a quick profit - but to the local community, its nothing short of a disaster.
By cutting that cable, the thieves cut off a community from vital services such as making 999 emergency calls; companies and homes lose their broadband and phones so work and home life is affected. It's ripple effect whose impact on BT and its customers simply cannot be calculated, accoding to Mark Hughes, Managing

Director for BT Security. He says combating metal theft for BT is a growing challenge, despite a dedicated team. "Metal theft was once a specialist crime, carried out by a small number of people, but it is being fuelled by the rising cost of copper, which can now bring around £5,000 per tonne. It's estimated that metal theft across all industries costs the whole of the UK £770 million as year, as a a company. it;s a major issue for us."

The impact on BT's customer service - and even on its brand - could be dire if the problem was not tackled head-on. A new and exciting deterrent is also being used this year - and it could also help the police in creating successful cases against defendants in court.

Mark said "Thanks to the joint efforts of the companies security teams, we now have the national licence for SmartWater. Cables are permanently marked with the SmartWater solution which uniquely identifies the exact location of where a cable has been laid. This is a considerable deterrent to theives, because it makes the cable extremely traceable and stops them selling it on. And of course, in court cases, it could provide invaluable evidence."

More than 220 people were arrested for metal theft from BT last year, but the fight against this community-hitting crime continues apace.

"There are technological routes we can go down, but there is no single solution to this problem," said Mark. "Our message is two fold : one, if you come across anything that you suspect is BT cable, we are happy to help in identification and support any subsequent enquiries; and two, we are more than willing to share intelligence in support of joint operations in crime areas and hot spots."

SmartWater

This is a water based solution. When thieves cut a cable they face being sprayed with an invisible liquid which can only be seen with specialist equipment. So there will be evidence of their crime on their skin and clothing. A member of the BT Security said "property coded with SmartWater has its own forensic fingerprint that police can identify and trace back to the owner. It gives the police robust evidence they can act on. From now on, any criminal who targets the BT network risks being invisibly tagged with SmartWater...police will then be able to trace them back to the scene of the crime."

SmartWater website: www.smartwater.com

A booklet on identification of BT cables can be obtained from the British Metals Recycling Association website : http://www.recyclemetals.org/useful_links

Further Information

The UK Home Office has recently provided grants to Neighbourhoods around the country to allow them to purchase the SmartWater technology for use in peoples homes. So even thieves who break into peoples homes will able to be traced. One such area is in the London Borough of Enfield, I wonder what one ?

(22nd December 2010)


 

FOR WOMEN, CYBER CRIMES ARE ALL TOO REAL
(IPS, December 2010 author Zofeen Ebrahim )
www.ipsnews.net
Category:Cybercrime

KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov 25 , 2010 (IPS) - The Grade 10 student was first drugged, and then four men raped her. The group then apparently tried to extort money from her family. When the family filed a complaint with the police instead, the extortionists in October then posted a cellphone video of her whole ordeal on the Internet.

The crime is horrific enough to catch the attention of anyone, as is the act of uploading a video of it on the World Wide Web. But what is also making rights advocates sit up here in Pakistan is the fact that the victim's family had actually come forward to report the crime.

After all, says stalking victim-turned-activist Fariha Akhtar, "We prefer being abused and harassed than being 'dishonoured' in the eyes of society". That is why, she says, women have become easy targets for cyber crimes in this male-dominated South Asian society.

In the last few years, Pakistan has been catching up with the rest of the world in getting wired, which has not only opened up the country to more business opportunities, but has also livened up social communications among families and friends.

But technology has aided the commitment of crimes as well, with many of these directed towards women. According to special public prosecutor Nighat Dad, women have become victims of cyber pornography and 'morphed' or 'photoshopped' lewd photos of them that are uploaded onto the Net or passed around through mobile phones.

There are no hard figures to come by for this, though, in part because the victims are too ashamed to lodge a formal complaint.

Akhtar also explains, "Since technology is considered a guy thing, they are given more opportunities to toy with it, leaving women with very limited knowledge to even stay safe while using it, combined with the orders to keep silent should they experience abuse."

Indeed, the Islamabad-based think tank Institute of Policy Studies says there were 412 recorded cases of cyber crime in 2007 to 2009 alone. Yet not one of those is apparently regarding violence against a woman. Says the institute: "(Violence) against women and even their pornographic presentation do not have a mention in the list of cyber crimes in Pakistan."

And yet the cyber crimes may not even be as cruel as what happened to the Grade 10 student for it to affect female victims deeply.

Three years ago, for example, then 27-year-old Zara (not her real name) thought she had it all. A business graduate, she had just been promoted in the telecommunications company where she worked and had a doting fiancé by her side.

But then a male colleague posted photos of Zara purportedly in the nude on the company website. Recalls her sister: "Her life came crumbling down."

The culprit was eventually caught, and he admitted to having photoshopped Zara's photographs to appear she was naked. He said he wanted to teach her a lesson for "not sharing some data" with him.

"Her boss implored her not to resign," says Zara's sister. "But she could not continue in that company knowing her co-workers had seen those pictures. Word spread and her fiancé broke off the engagement."

Experts in the field say that developing countries like Pakistan are more vulnerable to cyber crimes than other nations. Shahzad Ahmad of Bytes For All (B4A), which works towards Internet governance and rights, says the main reason for this is the "non-existent legal structures".

While there used to be a Prevention of Electronic Crime Ordinance, this lapsed in November 2009. So, Akhtar says, even if cyber criminals are caught, there is no way of prosecuting them. "At least not for the cyber aspect of their crime," she says.

Ahmad also says the judiciary is incapable of appreciating the "intricacies of such crimes".

Akhtar concedes that authorities have at least started tackling harassment through mobile telephones to some extent. But she says that while counselling a girl whose fake profiles were continuously being created on Facebook, she found out that the state agency she had referred the victim to had its website hacked.

"It left me wondering if they would be of any help," she says of the National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes.

Akhtar says the typical profile of a cyber criminal is usually someone who knows the victim or victims with whom he or she had had some altercation. She adds that in majority of the cases she has come across, the perpetrator is male.

She remembers only one case where the cyber harassers turned out to be females: "They were a group of young girls from of the upmarket schools in Karachi."

She and other rights activists are now closely watching the Grade 10 student's case, which has led to a spate of media reports of similar incidents.

Akhtar, who got involved in TakeBacktheTech campaign launched in 2009, has been "blogging, tweeting, (and) writing articles in local tech magazines on safe and secure use of ICTs (information and communication technology)". She also offers help and guidance to cyber crime victims through the use of the same ICTs.

Authorities and activists like Akhtar may have their hands full for years to come. Mobile phones have already reached the most remote villages in Pakistan, where there are now 100 million mobile phone users, says the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. There are also 18 million Internet users so far in this country of 175 million people.

(17th December 2010)


 

STALKERS USE GPS AND MOBILE APPS TO TRACK VICTIMS
(Metro, dated 9th December 2010 author Fred Attewell)
www.metro.co.uk
Category:Stalking

Stalkers are using GPS technology to follow their victims, prosecutors have revealed.

Their tactics, already seen in the US, involve using websites and mobile apps to pinpoint a victim's location throughout the day via their mobile phones.

Cases have occurred in London and the south-east, part of a growing trend of cyber-stalking, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

'What we are coming to appreciate is how the cyber element has increased so substantially,' said Nazir Afzal, the CPS director responsible for stalking and harassment cases.

'Cyber-stalking is now exceeding stalking in the traditional ways. It is inflicting misery and we are determined not to stand by and let it happen,' he added.

In September, the CPS warned stalkers could be barred from targeting their victims on Facebook and other social networking sites in a crackdown on harassment.

Prosecutors should issue restraining orders that could include orders 'not to display any material relating to the victim on social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter', the CPS guidance said.

Stalking should be treated as a priority, said home secretary Theresa May. 'Many victims suffer in silence and fear for years - this has to stop,' she added.


 

GPS STALKING PREVENTION

For good or bad technology is advancing on a daily basis and what advice is given today may not be relevant tommorrow.

After searching the internet for what precautions to take when dealing with stalking involving mobile phones and GPS only a few sensisble results were found.

Advice from the USA (www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm)

Some websites advertise a service to pinpoint the physical location of any cell phones (including those with location tracking disabled) using triangulation of signals to cell towers. Regardless of what these websites promise, it is extremely unlikely that anyone other than law enforcement agents and telecommunications companies have the ability to track the location of cell phones in the U.S. unless the phones have location tracking enabled or special software installed. Most of the time, a stalker would need physical access to your phone to install software in order to use location tracking devices. At a minimum, a stalker (or even the police) would need to know a victim's phone number in order to track his or her location through the phone.

If your stalker somehow learns your phone number, change your number by contacting your carrier. For maximum security, replace the phone entirely (especially recommended if your stalker gets physical access to your phone).

Smartphone Tracking Software (http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/phone-stalking.htm/printable)

Even if you're cautious about what information you reveal about yourself, it's possible you could be stalked by tracking software installed on your smartphone. Commercial tracking software for smartphones can serve good purposes, like keeping track of your kids or monitoring delivery employees. Unfortunately, some people have chosen to use the software for uninvited tracking activities.

Anyone can purchase commercial mobile phone tracking software. The software boasts such features as reading text messages, listening to phone calls and tracking the phone's location on a map using its GPS. When installed on a smartphone, the software runs stealthily with no hint to the phone's user that it's gathering and sending this information.

The companies that sell smartphone-spying software post disclaimers that it's the responsibility of the user to obey laws and monitor people only with their consent. But what happens when someone disregards the law? The only thing a stalker has to do to install the software is to have access to your smartphone. Then, he / she can quickly install tracking software, Trojan horses or other malicious code. Even if you have a passcode set on your smartphone, a savvy stalker may know a way to bypass it and gain the access he or she needs.

So, you're keeping your personal information private, and you don't let your smartphone out of your sight.

Are you safe? If your phone's software has a digital vulnerability, maybe not. In early 2009, Dan Dearing of Trust Digital demonstrated a "Midnight Raid Attack," showing how an iPhone SMS vulnerability could be used to steal data from your iPhone while you're sleeping [source: Mills]. A stalker could learn about your smartphone's digital vulnerabilities and take control of your smartphone without you ever knowing.



SECURITY TIPS

 

- Always keep your Mobile (smartphone) with you or locked in a secure location.
- Don't let anybody "play" with your mobile. Even if it is "the next best thing since sliced bread".
- Set a password (passcode ) for your mobile and configure the phone to prevent bypassing that code.
- Know your mobiles security weaknesses, and keep track of the latest news about your mobile in case a new weakness is discovered.
- Take action to prevent someone from exploiting those security weaknesses on your mobile.
- Don't load "Apps" of other software from unknown sources onto your mobile (however tempting or cute ), they could be contaminated with malicious or tracking software.
- Do not leave your bluetooth facility switched on. Tracking software can be loaded via that method.
- If you are suspicious that your mobile has been compromised contact the manufacturer for guidance. Sometimes a factory or system reset will erase the unwanted software. Remember, carrying out a factory reset will remove all of your personal files as well ( photo's, phone lists, address books, everything ), so ensure that personal data is backed up first.
- Remember, malicious or tracking software may be invisible on your mobile ( it may not have an associated Icon ).

Note : No specific mobile or Smartphone make or model has been mentioned within this article as potentially any with a GPS facility can be compromised. Not just the more expensive ones.

FURTHER INFORMATION AND HELP

National Stalking Helpline:
Website : www.stalkinghelpline.org
email: advice@stalkinghelpline.org
Telephone: 0300 636 0300

Protection against Stalking :
Website: www.protectionagainststalking.org/
email: info@protectionagainststalking.org

Network for Surviving Stalking
Website : www.nss.org.uk/

Suzy Lamplugh Trust ( Personal Safety )
Website: www.suzylamplugh.org/

IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 999


(17th December 2010)


 

RAPE CRISIS WEBSITE SET UP FOR LONDON ASSAULT VICTIMS
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
Category:Rape
Category:Assault

A website has been launched to bring together information about the four rape crisis centres in London.

www.rapecrisislondon.org/

Mayor Boris Johnson said he hoped it would help women who had been sexually assaulted to "easily access the support and information they need".

In an election pledge in 2008, he promised to open three centres and increase funding to the city's only existing service, in Croydon.

Other centres have been founded in north, east and west London.

And an additional £25,000 is to be given to the service in south London.

"Nobody should feel isolated when coping with the terrible aftermath of sexual abuse, which can take years to overcome," said Mr Johnson.

'Good news'
 
"Reported rapes have risen by 29% this year, but this is just the tip of the iceberg as many of these crimes go unreported, leaving the true scale of these abuses alarmingly hard to uncover."

The centres were set up to help females aged 14 and over who have experienced sexual abuse, and offer one-to-one counselling, group therapy and various other methods of support.

Jennette Arnold, Labour's London Assembly member for the north-east of the city and a long-time campaigner over violence against women, described the rape crisis service as "good news".

"Large credit has to go to the campaigners and members of the assembly who have tried to make sure the mayor keeps his promise in this vital and under-funded area," she said.

"We will now have to be constantly vigilant that the huge government cuts to council and Home Office budgets don't pull the rug out from under the centres when City Hall funding comes to an end in a couple of years."


(10th December 2010)


 

TWO WOMEN A WEEK KILLED BY PARTNERS
(Evening Standard, dated 9th December 2010 author Kiran Randhawa )
www.thisislondon.co.uk
Category:Domestic violence

The number of women killed by a violent partner has soared by more than 40 per cent in the last year, figures reveal today.

They show that up to two women die at the hands of their husband or boyfriend every week, with the number of deaths rising from 72 in 2008 to 102 last year.

Today's figures collated by domestic violence charity Refuge, also show more than one in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives and that one in three local authorities provides no refuge or specialist support.

Currently, about £3.5 million a year is pumped into services, such as emergency refuges, to help those at risk rebuild their lives. But the spending could be slashed because of government-imposed cuts to councils meaning vital services that have helped hundreds of thousands of violence and sex abuse victims in London are under threat.

London Councils, which represents the capital's 33 local authorities, has provided a grant to 36 organisations that have helped women and children.
Although it has recently indicated the current levels of funding will remain, it is re-assessing the scheme and making its final decision next week.

Charity Refuge and cosmetics company Avon today handed in an 8,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street calling for specialist domestic violence services to be saved.

The two were joined by Sheryl Gascoigne — who suffered abuse at the hands of footballer Paul Gascoigne.

The move comes on the second anniversary of the death of Maria Stubbings, from Chelmsford.
She was killed by her ex-boyfriend Marc Chivers, who had previously been given a 15-year sentence for killing a former partner.

Chivers, who assaulted the 50-year-old in July 2008, strangled her with a dog lead days after she told police that December that she feared for her safety. Two years on, the Independent Police Complaints Commission published its report into the "serious failings" which led to the mother-of-two's death.

It said human error was to blame and ordered Essex Police to review handling of domestic violence calls.

Her brother Manuel Fernandez said: "I am deeply disappointed that the IPCC report and its recommendations fail to come even close to achieving positive long-term change. A few tickings off and a recommendation to change international law does not cut it."

Celia Peachey, Ms Stubbings' daughter, said: "My mum repeatedly went to the police for help. She told them she was in danger. They turned their back on her."

Ms Gascoigne added: "As a survivor of domestic violence I want to ensure every woman, no matter where she lives, can access support and safety."

Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge said: "Every woman has a basic human right to live free from violence and fear."

Refuge - for women and children against domestic violence : http://www.refuge.org.uk/

(10th December 2010)


 

ANONYMOUS RECRUITS WIKILEAKS "DATA ARMY"
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
Category:Cybercrime

The data war between companies that have refused to do business with Wikileaks and the online activists keen to defend it is getting more intense.

The tool through which attacks are carried out against websites perceived to be anti-Wikileaks has now been downloaded more than 31,000 times.

Security experts warned people to avoid joining the voluntary botnet.

Targets of the loose-knit group Anonymous have so far included Visa, Mastercard and Paypal. Amazon is expected to be among firms targeted next using the Anonymous attack tool known as LOIC. When a person installs the tool on their PC it enrols the machine into a voluntary botnet which then bombards target sites with data.

Motivation
 
Anonymous member Coldblood told the BBC that he did not understand how firms such as Visa and Mastercard have decided that Wikileaks is illegal.

"We feel that they have bowed to government pressure. They say Wikileaks broke their terms and conditions but they accept payments from groups such as the Klu Klux Klan," he told the BBC.

He said that he has not personally taken part in the recent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks but explained the motives of those who have. "Everyone is aware that they are illegal but they feel that it is a worthy cause and the possible outcome outweighs the risk," he said.

He said such attacks were only one tactic in its fight to keep the information being distributed by Wikileaks available.

In a twist to the story it has emerged that Amazon, which last week refused to host Wikileaks, is selling a Kindle version of the documents Wikileaks has leaked.

Anonymous have named the online retailer as its next target.

Earlier attacks against Visa and Mastercard knocked the official websites of the two offline for a while and resulted in problems for some credit card holders.

The attacks have been relatively small so far mustering less then 10 gigabits per second of traffic, said Paul Sop, chief technology officer at Prolexic which helps firms to defend themselves against the type of attack being employed by Anonymous.

"What's really wreaking havoc with these enterprises is how often the attackers can rotate the attack vectors," he said. "We see the attack complexity being more devastating as the mitigation technologies enterprises use can't filter out all these permutations."

Defending against an attack typically involves analysis to work out which ones are being employed. A tactic that may not work well in this case, he said.  "These Anonymous attacks are like riding a bull, they can change wildly and at a moment's notice," said Mr Sop.

Carole Thierault, a security researcher at Sophos, warned against getting involved with the Anonymous campaign. "No-one, no matter how much you want to take part, should do this," she said. "It is very risky, and most probably illegal."

Ms Thierault said downloading and installing the LOIC attack tool was very risky. "No-one should download unknown code on to their system," she said. "You're giving access to your computer to a complete stranger."

Coinciding ideals
 
Anonymous is taking action against sites it deems to be hampering the work of Wikileaks As well as releasing the attack tool, the Anonymous group has also been active in helping to create mirror sites. To date there are over one thousand sites offering exact copies of the content on Wikileaks.

It is also ensuring the information is available on dark nets, heavily encrypted layers of the internet via which information can be extracted while remaining untraceable.

The DDoS attacks are the latest battle in a wider fight known as Operation Payback, which targets firms Anonymous sees as "misusing the internet".

Past targets include the music industry and law firms associated with the attempt to bring music pirates to book.

The new-found attention on Anonymous has led the group to publish its manifesto.

In it, it denies that it is a group of hackers.

"Anonymous is not an organisation...and it most certainly is not a group of hackers," it said.

"Anonymous is an online living consciousness, comprised of different individuals with, at times, coinciding ideals and goals."

It also keen to distance itself from Coldblood, who it said is not a spokesperson for the group.

(9th December 2010)


 


BID TO JAIL JURORS WHO SURF IN COURT
(
Computeractive, dated 9th December 2010 author Dinah Greek)
www.computeractive.co.uk

Judges want to be able to jail jurors who use the internet to do research on a defendant or give updates on proceedings during the trial.

Jurors who use social-networking sites and the internet during a trial could face up to two years in jail, the UK's top judge has warned.

Speaking at the Judicial Studies Board in Belfast, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, also said if this issue wasn't dealt with it could lead to the end of the jury system.

"The misuse of the internet represents a threat to the jury system which depends on evidence provided in court which the defendant can challenge. We seem ... to assume that the occasions when jurors go to the internet for information are rare.

Lord Judge was addressing concerns raised earlier by Lord Mcdonald that some people were misusing the internet while on jury service; going online to look for further information that could potentially be misleading or false, or posting messages about trials on sites such as Twitter.

One such case was reported by The Sun earlier this year. Although jurors are not meant to discuss a case outside of the jury room, a 29-year-old woman juror discussed whether the jury thought the defendant was guilty or not in messages sent via her mobile phone to Facebook.

Calling for tougher warnings to be given to jurors, Lord Judge asked if tweets and online messages sent from a courtroom should be banned under the Contempt of Court Act. He pointed out that tape recordings already were.

If online messages are banned under law, a juror found guilty of this, could be punished by up to two years' imprisonment.

"Why is Twitter any different? This question has yet to be decided, and the decision may have a considerable impact on our processes," said Lord Judge.

He also pointed out that failing to address this issue could lead to more mistrials resulting in huge financial costs, delays and emotional trauma for witnesses, victims and defendants.

(9th December 2010)


 

FSA ALERT ON SHARE FRAUD
(The Guardian, dated 7th December 2010 author Mark King )
www.guardian.co.uk
Category:Fraud

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued an alert on share fraud, warning almost 50,000 people that they could have been targeted by fraudsters. With the average boiler room victim losing £20,000, the FSA said millions of pounds are at risk of being invested in the scam.

The FSA has recovered a "master list" of names, addresses and telephone numbers used by boiler room fraudsters. The 49,387 individuals on the list may have been contacted out of the blue and offered worthless shares, the FSA said.

Boiler room operatives usually contact investors by telephone to con them into buying overpriced shares or shares that do not even exist. The fraudsters are unauthorised and usually based overseas, operating fake UK addresses and phone lines routed abroad.

The greatest concentration of targets is in London, although there are a significant number based in Scotland and the south east of England. The list is thought to still be in use by fraudsters operating in the UK and abroad, and is likely to have been circulated between different boiler room networks.

The FSA is writing to every person on the list to let them know they on it and to advise them how to avoid being scammed. Any one who thinks they may have been targeted by a boiler room scam should call the FSA's customer contact centre on 0845 606 1234.

Margaret Cole, the FSA's managing director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "So far this year we have contacted 95,000 people across the UK to warn them about the risks of investing via boiler room fraudsters.

"This latest list is the biggest we've ever recovered and we are contacting every single person on it in the hope we can stop people losing money. Even if only one in 10 we contact heed our warning it could mean around £96m is not invested in these scams.

"Boiler room fraudsters often sound like the real deal so it's easy to be drawn in by their professional and high pressure sales tactics. In reality, the shares are worthless or don't exist and the money is lost forever."

The FSA said it recovered the list from its intelligence work with counterparts in the US, Homeland Security Investigations and the US Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

The FSA's alert contains tips to help consumers to avoid becoming share fraud victims. Consumers should:


• hang up the telephone if they receive an out of the blue call offering them shares;

• check the FSA Register to see if the person selling shares is authorised to do so;

• call the company back using the details on the FSA Register to verify their identity;

• make additional checks to confirm that they are dealing with an authorised or registered firm and have the correct contact details, such as checking on the firm's website, with directory inquiries or Companies House;

• report any company that cold calls them to sell shares to the FSA or the police.


The FSA estimates that the cost of boiler room fraud in the UK is around £200m every year. In 2010 to date, the FSA has received around 4,000 from people who have been contacted by boiler rooms, but it is estimated only 10% of victims report the crime.

Financial Services Agency : www.fsa.gov.uk/
US Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement : http://www.ice.gov/
US Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) : http://www.irs.gov/

(9th December 2010)


 

US - STYLE GUNSHOT SENSORS INSTALLED IN BIRMINGHAM
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
Category:Detection

Sensors used in the US to detect gunshots being discharged have been installed in areas of Birmingham with a high number of firearms incidents.

It is the first time the Shotspotter Gunshot Location System - which can pick up gunshots within a 25m (82ft) radius - has been deployed in the UK. West Midlands Police said the sensors had been placed high up on buildings in north-west areas of the city. The £150,000 system records an audio clip and sends police a GPS location.

A police officer trained to listen to the clips then makes a judgement on what they have heard before deploying officers.

The system, funded by the Home Office through Birmingham Safer Partnerships, has an 85% accuracy rate, Ch Supt Chris McKeogh said.

It can tell if multiple shots were fired, or if they were fired from a stationary or moving location, the number of weapons used and in which order they were fired, according to the manufacturers.

The system has been introduced in more than 50 US cities since 1995.

"The sound waves a bullet produces has a particular signature, if you like, and that should be recognisable to our force control room officers that have been trained up to listen," Mr McKeogh said.

"Shots, or a shot, being fired outside have the best chance (of being detected).

"Inside, or with a silencer, the ability is not so good, understandably."

The system, called Project Safe and Sound, will be active from Thursday. It is being used in the West and Central local policing unit, which covers areas including Handsworth and Aston.

Figures show the unit has the highest rate of gun crime in the force area.

A police report said this justified the use of the system, which it said was not targeting people in black and Asian communities.

Overall, the number of firearm incidents recorded in Birmingham has gone down since 2007/8.

The sensors have been placed on buildings owned by the council, some schools and private businesses.

'No surveillance issue'
 
Police will not elaborate on exactly where they are or what they look like. Because the sensors record decibels and not voices, there is no surveillance issue, the force has said.

Mr McKeogh said members of the neighbourhoods concerned had been consulted since the inception of the project some 18 months ago after West Midlands officers saw the system at work in the US.

Last month the force agreed to remove so-called spy cameras installed in parts of Birmingham with large Muslim populations after being criticised for not properly consulting residents.

Raj Rattu, a member of Handsworth residents' group and part of the force's Trust and Confidence group, said he was reassured by the approach the force had adopted for the gunshot sensors project.

He said 400 residents attended one meeting, where "mixed views" were expressed.

"Some are for it, some are against it, and we understand police are caught in a dilemma.

"We want guns off our streets and gun crime is falling, but we are reassuring residents that the areas are safe and we're working with the police."

The project will be reviewed after six months and again after a year.
###Birmingham gun crime

2007/08 - 589 firearms incidents
2009/10 - 440 incidents, 60 involving firearm discharge
2010 to date - 295 incidents, 59 involving firearm discharge
Source: West Midlands Police Authority


 

Additional information

From the Shotspotter company website : www.shotspotter.com/

Company data :

65 Installations
50 U.S. Locations
3 International Locations
12 Coverage Expansions
151  Sq. Miles Covered
1M+ Citizens Protected
260+ Gunshot Survivors Located*
97 Average Gunshots Detected Per Day

Approximate count of gunshot survivors treated by responders using ShotSpotter data since 2005.


(9th December 2010)



POLICE URGE "REGISTER YOUR MOBILE THIS XMAS"
( Merseyside Police, 7th December 2010 )
www.merseyside.police.uk
Category:Crime prevention

Merseyside Police is urging mobile phone owners in Merseyside to register their phones this Christmas on the National Mobile Property Register (NMPR) and is giving members of the public the chance to win an Apple iPad when they do.

The NMPR database is an on-line property search, used by the police service to search for any identifiable item of property they have recovered. Once a phone or other valuable electrical item is registered, officers are able to look up it's unique registration or IMEI number, view its registered owners details, find out if it has been reported stolen by the police anywhere in the UK, the insurance company and in the case of a mobile phone, which network it is on. Ultimately it will mean that you improve your chances of getting your phone back if its lost or stolen.

In the run up to Christmas, officers will be visiting every area across the Merseyside area to offer members of the public the opportunity to register their mobile phones via the Merseyside police website.

Chief Inspector Shaun Holland ( Merseyside Police ) explains: "Nowadays mobile phones are used for more than just making phone calls, in effect people have their whole lives are on them - family pictures, important emails, schedules and contact details. We realise that if your phone is lost or stolen it can have a big impact on your lives.

"We want as many people as possible to get their phones registered on the database this Christmas. It's simple and free to do, and means that if a mobile phone is found, or if we stop someone with a mobile phone that we believe does not to belong to them, we can quickly check it on the database, and return it to the rightful owner.

"We hope that by encouraging more and more people to register their phones, the message will get back to those who are thinking about stealing a phone, that it's just not worth it."


 

Why don't you register ?

This is just one example of a Police Force trying to encourage residents to be more conscious of looking after their own property, but this facility is open to all UK residents.

Go to the IMMOBILISE website and register your property : http://www.immobilise.com/
To obtain you mobiles IMEI number, press *#06# will provide 15 digit code.

(9th December 2010)


 

ANONYMOUS MASTERCARD ATTACK "HITS PAYMENTS"
(bbc.co.uk, dated 8th December 2010)
Category:Hacking

Web attacks on the Mastercard site have disrupted payments, the BBC has learnt.

The site is among several targeted by the Anonymous group of hackers, who have pledged to pursue firms that have withdrawn services from Wikileaks.

Mastercard, which stopped processing payments to the whistle-blowing site, said the attack had had "no impact" on people's ability to use their cards.

But the BBC has been contacted by a payment firm that said its customers had "a complete loss of service".

In particular, it said that an authentication service for online payments known as Mastercard's SecureCode, had been disrupted. Other readers have also said that have had problems with online payments. The scale of the problems is still unclear.

Mastercard has not responded to the claims.

Earlier, Doyel Maitra of the firm, said: "Mastercard is experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website - Mastercard.com - but this remains accessible.

"We are working to restore normal speed of service. There is no impact whatsoever on Mastercard or Maestro cardholders' ability to use their cards for secure transactions."

False account
 
Anonymous, which claimed to have carried out the attack, is a loose-knit group of hacktivists, with links to the notorious message board 4chan.

It said that it has hit several targets, including the website of the prosecutors who are acting in a legal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

PayPal, which has stopped processing donations to Wikileaks, has also been targeted.

The firm originally said Wikileaks' account had violated its terms of services.

But the online payment firm has since said that it stopped payments following a request from the US government, a claim denied by the US State Department.

"On 27 November the State Department, the US government, basically wrote a letter saying that the Wikileaks activities were deemed illegal in the United States," PayPal's Osama Bedier told the Le Web conference in France.

"And as a result our policy group had to make the decision of suspending their account.

"It's honestly, just pretty straight forward from our perspective and there's not much more to it than that," he said.

Other firms that have distanced themselves from the site have also been hit in the recent spate of attacks including the Swiss bank, PostFinance, which closed the account of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The bank said Mr Assange had provided false information when opening his account.

Swamp site
 
Security experts said the sites had been targeted by a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), which swamp a site with so many page requests that it becomes overwhelmed and drops offline.

Paul Mutton of security frim Netcraft said that 1,600 computers were involved in flooding the site with spoof requests.

Access to Mastercard's site is still intermittent.

Noa Bar Yosef, a senior analyst at security firm Imperva said the attacks were "very focused".

"It is recruiting people from within their own network. They are actually asking supporters to download a piece of code, the DDoSing malware, and upon a wake-up call the computer engages in the denial of service," he said.

Before the Mastercard attack, a member of Anonymous, who calls himself Coldblood, told the BBC that "multiple things" were being done to target companies that had stopped working with Wikileaks or which were perceived to have attacked the site.

"Websites that are bowing down to government pressure have become targets," he said.

"As an organisation we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means."

"We feel that Wikileaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people vs. the government," he said.

Some of the early DDoS hits failed to take sites offline, although that was not the point of the attacks, according to Coldblood.

"The idea is not to wipe them off but to give the companies a wake-up call," he said. "Companies will notice the increase in traffic and an increase in traffic means increase in costs associated with running a website."

DDoS attacks are illegal in many countries, including the UK.

Coldblood admitted that such attacks "may hurt people trying to get to these sites" but said it was "the only effective way to tell these companies that us, the people, are displeased".

Anonymous is also helping to create hundreds of mirror sites for Wikileaks, after its US domain name provider withdrew its services.

Coldblood said that the group was beginning to wind down the DDoS attacks so that it could concentrate on using "other methods which are more focused on supporting Wikileaks and making sure the Internet stays a free and open place".

(9th December 2010)


 

FREE SOFT DRINKS FOR DESIGNATED DRIVERS THIS CHRISTMAS
(Department of Transport, dated 1st December 2010 )
http://nds.coi.gov.uk/
Category:Safety

Designated drivers will be rewarded in thousands of pubs across the country as part of the THINK! Christmas drink drive campaign, launched today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

In addition to running radio advertising, posters in pub washrooms and online search activity, THINK! has teamed up with Coca-Cola's Designated Driver campaign to offer drivers free soft drinks in more than 8,000 participating venues across Britain as part of the Driver Friendly campaign.

Mike Penning said: "Drivers should be in no doubt that if they get behind the wheel after drinking this Christmas, they risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence."

"Christmas should be a time for a celebration not a night in the cells. That is why we have teamed up with Coca-Cola and pub chains this Christmas to reward designated drivers as well as reminding drivers of the consequences of getting a drink drive conviction."

"Last year 380 people were killed in accidents where the driver was over the limit. That is why our message is clear: don't drink and drive."

ACPO lead on roads policing, Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said:

"This year we are using information from the public to target those areas where drink driving is a particular problem and so the chances of getting caught are greater than ever.

"If the police stop a driver, and there is any suspicion that they have been drinking, then they will be asked to provide a breath test and drivers should be in no doubt that if they are found to be over the limit they will be brought before the courts.

"Many drivers don't realise that alcohol stays in the system for a number of hours, and that they could still be over the limit the next morning when driving to work or dropping the children off at school. That is why we are asking drivers to be safe, not sorry, this Christmas."

Jon Woods, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland said:

"With Christmas just around the corner, our consumers are gearing up to celebrate. We know how much they enjoy the festive period and we don't want to dampen their spirits.

"This Christmas we're proud to be partnering with the Government's THINK! initiative to help raise awareness of responsible drinking. By rewarding those drivers who choose not to drink with a free Coke or diet Coke, we can encourage people to do the right thing while still enjoying a great night out. It's a different approach to responsible drinking but our consumers love it."

Designated drivers should ask at the bar about how to take advantage of the buy one soft drink, get one free offer at participating pubs.

The THINK! drink drive radio advertising campaign will run from 1st December 2010 to 1st January 2011 and posters will appear in pub washrooms from 6th December to 2nd January.
Notes to editors
The total Drink Drive campaign budget for financial year 10/11 is £550,000


For latest road casualty figures please see Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2009: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/rrcgb2009


To listen to the ads visit: http://think.dft.gov.uk/think/mediacentre/237144/drinkdriving


If venues are interested in getting involved in the Driver Friendly campaign, they should contact us at: think@23red.com



Additional information

 

From Department of Transport webpage :
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/rrcgb2009

General overview and trends in reported road casualties

This article reviews the main trends in the number of reported road accident casualties in Great Britain in 2009 compared with recent years. In 2009:

There were a total of 222,146 reported casualties of all severities, 4 per cent lower than in 2008. 2,222 people were killed, 12 per cent lower than in 2008, 24,690 were seriously injured (down 5 per cent) and 195,234 were slightly injured (down 4 per cent).

The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road user, with a fall of 16 per cent for car occupants, 13 per cent for pedestrians, 10 per cent for pedal cyclists and 4 per cent for motorcyclists.
Compared with the 1994-98 average, in 2009:

 The number killed was 38 per cent lower;
 The number of reported killed or seriously injured casualties was 44 per cent lower;
 The number of children killed or seriously injured was 61 per cent lower; and 
 The slight casualty rate was 37 per cent lower.
 In contrast traffic rose by an estimated 15 per cent over this period.

Drinking and driving

In 2009, it was estimated that 11,990 reported casualties (5 per cent of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit.
 
The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents was 380 in 2009 (17 per cent of all road fatalities), a decrease of 20 fatalities compared to the final 2008 estimate.
 
The provisional number of killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2009 was 1,860, 8 per cent below the final 2008 estimate.

Comment

It is good news that there have been a drop in the number of fatalities. Then again, how do you explain that to a child who has had their Brother, Sister or Parent killed by a speeding or drunk motorist ?


(9th December 2010)


 

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Category:Travel safety

This time of year is traditionally the time when people start to think about where they are going on holiday the following year. So I thought I would produce an article that may persuade you to investigate your destination a bit further before making that booking; or more knowledgeable and streetwise before you get there.

The following is a link ( http://www.uaware.org.uk/page6.htm ) that takes you to a new facility on this website that provides some information on crime and travel that tourist may experience at their destination. It is not comprehensive, it doesn't cover countries like Spain, France and the USA as most people have their own stories of their experiences. Perhaps even more so now as we arrange our own itinaries.

Hopefully, I am "teaching a grandmother to suck eggs", but here are a few tips :

- Take out adequate holiday insurance ( US requires higher cover ) .

- Get a European health card ( formerly E111 ), for European travel ( in addition to insurance ).

- Register your travel plans and passport on the UK Foreign Office "Locate" website :
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/staying-safe/Locate/

- For UK citizens travelling to the US you must register on their ESTA system
(http://london.usembassy.gov/dhs/esta_info.html )

- Check what vacinations and supportive drugs are required for your destination : http://www.fco.gov.uk

- Make a note of the Embassy address and telephone number of country where you are visiting : http://www.fco.gov.uk

- Check out what crimes and scams are common at your destination : http://www.fco.gov.uk

- Make a note of your passport number, leave those details with family members.

- Make a note of your debit and credit card details and take away on holiday with you, keep seperate from actual cards. Or, register with a "card security" company like Sentinel (fee applies) - http://www.sentinelgold.co.uk/

- Make a note of your mobile phone IMEI number and mobile service providers overseas accessible telephone number (not their 0800, 0845 type number ). So if it is stolen whilst you are away you can lock your phones service so you don't find a large bill on your return.

- Do not carry your passport around with you on day trips. Get it locked away in the hotel safe ( get a receipt ) or safety deposit box.

- Check out a travellers website (ie. tripadviser ).

- Get a comprehensive guide book.
Have a nice holiday !


As an example. the following are some problems being experienced in two typical destinations.



DUTCH POLICE USE "DECOY JEWS" TO STOP ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS
(The Telegraph, dated 22nd June 2010 author Bruno Waterfield)
www.telegraph.co.uk
Category:Prejudice
 
Dutch police are to use "decoy Jews", by dressing law enforcers in Jewish religious dress such as skullcaps, in an effort to catch anti-Semitic attackers.

Lodewijk Asscher, Amsterdam's mayor, has ordered the new decoy strategy to cut the number of verbal and physical attacks on Jews, amid fears that anti-Semitic "hate crime" is on the rise. "Jews in at least six Amsterdam neighbourhoods often cannot cross the street wearing a skullcap without being insulted, spat at or even attacked," according to local reports.

Amsterdam police already disguise officers as "decoy prostitutes, decoy gays and decoy grannies" in operations to deter street muggings and attacks on homosexuals or the city's red light district.

Police in the Dutch city of Gouda have claimed the use of officers disguised as apparently frail old age pensioners has helped cut street crime.

"If we receive several reports of street robbery in a certain location, we send out the granny. That soon quietens things down," said a spokesman.

Secret television recordings by the Jewish broadcasting company, Joodse Omroep, broadcast at the weekend, have shocked Amsterdam, a city which prides itself on liberalism and which is home to the Anne Frank museum.

The footage showed young men, often of immigrant origin, shouting and making Nazi salutes at a rabbi when he visited different areas of the Dutch capital.


 

MEXICAN POLICE CHIEF WHO TOOK THE JOB MEN DIDN'T WANT IS SHOT DEAD
(Evening Standard, dated 2nd December 2010 author Rashid Razaq )
www.thisislondon.co.uk

A Mexican woman police chief who vowed to take on drug cartels has been shot dead after only two months in the job.

Hermila Garcia, 36, was killed by several gunmen as she drove to work in the town of Meoqui, outside Chihuahua city in the north of the country.

Ms Garcia, who did not carry weapons or have bodyguards, was one of a small but increasing number of women to take on top police jobs because men have been too afraid of reprisals by criminal gangs.

"La Jefa" — the chief — as she was known, was fond of saying: "If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything", when asked why she had no security.

A lawyer by profession and unmarried, Ms Garcia was commended for her bravery as she pledged to tackle the drug wars that have claimed almost 30,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and deployed 45,000 soldiers to fight the cartels.

Her murder has been interpreted as a warning to other women such as 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia, a student who became the police chief of Praxedis, in the Juaraez valley in the same state.

Yesterday, gunmen ambushed the police chief of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state's largest city, which is separated from El Paso in Texas by the Rio Grande. It has been reduced to a state of near-anarchy by cartels battling for control of the drugs trade. Alvaro Gilberto Torres Ramirez, 41, was killed in his car.

About 7,200 people have died in drug violence since January 2008 in Chihuahua as Mexico's most notorious trafficker Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman made a push to control the city and its lucrative smuggling routes. Police captured another gang leader last weekend who they said has confessed to ordering most of the recent killings in Ciudad Juarez. Arturo Gallegos Castrellon is alleged to be the leader of the Aztecas gang, whose members work as hired killers for the Juarez drug cartel.

Gallegos had ordered 80 per cent of the murders in Juarez over the past 15 months. "He is in charge of the whole organization of Los Aztecas in Ciudad Juarez," said Luis Cardenas Palomino, the local police chief. "All the instructions for the murders committed in Ciudad Juarez pass through him."

Despite the arrest of thousands of gang members in Chihuahua, the crackdown on cartels has provoked a wave of violent crime, as jobless young men fight over kidnappings, drugs, extortion rackets and prostitution.

 
(5th December 2010)


 

HOW TO AVOID SCAMS THIS CHRISTMAS
(computeractive, dated 30th November 2010 author Dinah Greek )
http://www.computeractive.co.uk
Category:Scams

Christmas is a boom time for online shopping and, sadly, that makes it a lucrative period for criminals. Even legitimate traders can act in ways that are misleading in the rush to make profits. In this article we will take a look at the most common scams so you can be wary of dodgy dealers trying to dig their claws into your cash.

The fake shop

One common scam is a bogus website offering popular gifts that are in short supply. The most obvious giveaway of the scam is the product being sold for far less than elsewhere. The websites are usually badly designed and text may contain poor grammar.

But not all criminals use cheapness as a ploy. Some make their sites look as authentic as possible, and it's increasingly common to find sites that replicate the look and feel of the website of a legitimate retailer. On these sites, prices are not the hook: there will be no fantastic bargains but they might promise to deliver a product you can't find anywhere else.

It's worth asking a simple question: if you can't get an item from a major retailer on the high street, why would its online store, or an online store you have never heard of, have the product in stock? Big-brand manufacturers are very strict about their distribution networks and major retailers will not restrict popular products to online-only sales.

The free gift card

A recent Facebook page offered a 'free $1,000 Best Buy gift card' to the first 20,000 people who signed up for what appeared to be a fan page for the retailer Best Buy. But the page was a scam and unrelated to the real Best Buy.

To apply for the gift card users had to provide personal details, which the criminals could then use. Security firm Mcafee says this scam is likely to become more common.

The email confirmation

Phishing emails are another common trick. An email arrives claiming to be from a big shop saying you placed an order and your credit card was declined. The email gives a link to a website that looks like the retailer's, where you are asked to type in your details again. But the site is a fake, set up by a fraudster. People who type their card details into bogus sites are at real risk of fraud.

The first question to ask is whether you have indeed ordered anything from that retailer. If not, delete the email. If you have, type the retailer's website address directly into a web browser and log into your account to check.

If it shows a genuine problem look up the company's phone number on the same site and call it.

The dodgy auction

Be careful on auction websites, especially while looking for high-priced items or must-have gadgets. Another common ploy is the selling of 'unwanted' items that the bogus seller has 'managed to get hold of' just before Christmas. But these items will either be counterfeit or won't exist at all - and you will be out of pocket and out of presents.

The fake e-card

Millions of emailed greetings cards are sent at Christmas, but there are also emails that contain untoward links.

These take unwary PC users to sites that download malicious software onto their computer. This is then used to steal personal information such as bank and card details. Be careful even if you think you know the sender of a card - their email account may have been hacked and address book filleted for a list of names.

The heartfelt plea

Fraudsters love to pull on the heart-strings. Emails asking for donations to charities or good causes during Christmas are common. Again these will have links directing the user to bogus sites set up to steal personal details.

If you want to donate online, go to your chosen charity's website by typing in the web address directly into your web browser.

The misleading ad

Aside from wholly criminal enterprises, there are genuine retailers who can be less than honest at times. Misleading ads are outlawed in the UK but they still occasionally appear, both in print and online. If an advert looks interesting, read the fine print carefully so you don't mistakenly buy the wrong item or deal.

It is not uncommon for customers to be offered rebates or special discounts at this time of the year. Again, check out the small print carefully. One trick is to set a strict deadline to send in a receipt or statement that is difficult or even impossible to meet - something we have found less well-known mobile ph one websites doing.

Our verdict

You can get some great bargains online - you just need to follow some basic rules. It's always good to be cautious when shopping on the web at any time of the year, but at Christmas it's worth being more vigilant.

The usual warning applies: if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is, and be wary of 'special offer' emails.

If you haven't heard of a site, take a few minutes to check it out with an internet search on the name. If you find reports of complaints, shop elsewhere.

Websites with '.co.uk' addresses are not necessarily based in the UK. British retailers must list a UK address on their websites. If a site doesn't, then do not use it. If you are intentionally buying from abroad, try to stick to sites from the European Union, where consumer law will protect you

Read our article on fake sites for more : http://www.computeractive.co.uk/2259566

(1st December 2010)


 

WEB SAFETY SITE LAUNCHES
(computeractive, dated 25th November 2010 author Dinah Greek)
www.computeractive.co.uk
Category:Internet

Nominet has launched an educational website to help people stay safe online and drive business.

The not-for-profit organisation responsible for the .uk domain names said the Knowthenet.org.uk site will provide "practical" advice, information and video content for consumers and business users.

For example, the site will carry information security scares, scams and news of the latest dangerous software. Nominet said research it had carried out showed online safety in all areas was an area of major concern for many people.

"In September this year, there were 31,000 Google searches for 'Internet safety', 60,500 searches for 'cyber bullying' and 34,000 searches for 'computer virus'," Nominet said.

"Security risks are also growing, with almost 80,000 people falling victim to internet fraud in the first nine months of 2010 - a 10 per cent jump on last year."

The organisation also said that the library of material on the site covering online safety included a range of topics from password choice and phishing scams to privacy settings on social networks.

Phil Kingsland, Nominet's marketing and communications director, said: "Information is only a click away on the internet. The challenge is that often people don't always know what to trust, or where to go.

"Free, impartial advice is hard to come by. We've launched the Knowthenet.org.uk site to bridge this knowledge gap, addressing concerns and offering impartial, useful advice which gives people the confidence and know-how to do more online."

The site will also point users to other trusted internet resources such as GetSafeOnline and Identitytheft.org.uk for more detailed information.

Nominet said the front page of the website will be updated several times a week with short posts that will provide practical advice for consumers and businesses as media stories break and major new online developments occur. It said people can also follow the site via updates on Twitter, comment on stories and suggest additional topics.

www.knowthenet.org.uk

(1st December 2010)


 

LOSSES FROM ONLINE FRAUD CONTINUE TO RISE
(www.computeractive, dated 10th November 2010 author Dinah Greek)
Category:Fraud

More people are having to bear the loss if they have been a victim of online fraud and identity theft, according to security company Verisign.

The company's latest Online Fraud Barometer found that although the number of victims has remained stable in the past six months, the amounts being taken through online cons is higher and fewer people are being fully recompensed by the banks.

The bi-annual assessment of the UK online fraud landscape found that one in 10 who used the internet had fallen victim to cyber criminals in the past 12 months. The average amount lost to online fraud is now £697 per victim, compared to an average of £352 in March 2010. But there are growing numbers of people who have lost more than £1,000.

Worryingly, although the Banking Code of Practice is meant to protect people from online fraud, the number of victims who have been fully reimbursed fell by six per cent; from 88 to 82 per cent, since March.

"We don't know why people are not getting fully reimbursed by the banks, and this is a question for them. But the number of people who have complained of this has risen in the last six months," a Verisign representative said.

However, consumers may be partly to blame for the rise. The study found that British web users' security diligence when it comes to interacting with businesses online has decreased.

In the search for a bargain the number of people who will only shop from trusted sites with enhanced security, has dropped two percentage points to 80 per cent. The number of victims also varies by region.

Those based in Northern Ireland are the most likely to be defrauded online , with 16 per cent stating that they have been a victim of online ID fraud in the last 12 months, compared with five per cent in March this year.

Scots are regionally the least likely to fall victim to online fraudsters, with only six per cent claiming to have been defrauded in the past year, a significant drop from the 14 per cent recorded in March.

The Welsh are becoming more careless with fewer people claiming to shop solely from sites with enhanced safety measures: down to 69 per cent from 81 per cent six months ago and 85 per cent a year ago

Matthew Bruun for Verisign Authentication (now owned by Symantec), stated: "While the rest of the country is working its way out of recession, the latest Verisign Authentication Online Fraud Barometer shows how lucrative online fraud has become for cyber crooks.

"It's vital for consumers to appreciate how skillful these criminals are and take the appropriate measures to protect themselves online. Before inputting any personal details on a website - whether it's their address, date of birth, or credit card information - consumers must take the time to check a site's security policies and credentials.

"Look out for security certificates and seals and don't let security standards slip, or they could be in for a nasty surprise."

(1st December 2010)


 

1.9 MILLION REPORT CYBER STALKING
(Computeractive, dated 11th November 2010 author Dinah Greek )
http://www.computeractive.co.uk
Category:Stalking

A team of researchers at the University of Bedfordshire are investigating the real extent of cyber stalking.

More than one million women and nearly the same number of men (900,000) are reporting stalking incidents in the UK every year according to the British Crime Survey.

Although the Crown Prosecution Service has released new guidance for prosecutors on how to handle this problem, it is believed that the problem is exacerbated by modern communications technologies. However, to date no research has been carried out.

The Electronic Communication Harassment Observation (Echo) survey has been commissioned by a charity, the Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS). It will try to ascertain how many people are stalked or harassed online.

Dr Emma Short, the project leader at University of Bedfordshire told Computeractive that some incidents may not be 'true' stalking but ignorance.

"There is a difference between a delusional or dangerous individual and someone behaving badly. A lot of what goes happens in social-networking sites and chat rooms is offensive, because people are not certain of what is appropriate behaviour," she explained.

The researchers want people who have been stalked, harassed or threatened online, including by email, mobile phone, on internet chatrooms or social-networking sites to fill in an online questionnaire.

"For stalkers, the internet and mobile phones are just convenient tools of their trade. But we are also concerned how what may have started off as merely inappropriate behaviour, could escalate into something more dangerous," said Dr Short.

The researchers have received initial funding for a year and all answers are treated confidentially. Results will be published on the NSS website.

Network for surviving stalking website : http://www.nssadvice.org/
Network for surviving stalking quesationnaire page : http://www.nssadvice.org/survey/

(1st December 2010)



IDENTITY FRAUD COSTS UK £2.7 BILLION EVERY YEAR
(National Fraud Authority, dated 18th October 2010)
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/nfa/
Category:Fraud

New figures from the National Fraud Authority [NFA] estimate that every year in the UK identity fraud costs more than £2.7billion and affects over 1.8million people. [18 October 2010]
At least £1.9billion of this is the amount gained by the fraudster. That means that on average, fraudsters gain over £1,000 from every stolen identity.

Stolen identities are used by fraudsters to obtain a wide variety of goods, services and benefits in the victims' name; to fraudulently open bank accounts and to commit other frauds.

Criminals also use false or stolen identities to help them commit a wide range of crimes, from evading detection by law enforcement to enabling people trafficking and terrorism.

These figures come from the first ever UK ID Crime Strategic Threat Assessment which was completed by the NFA in conjunction with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The £2.7billion does not include loss from newly created fake identities.

Dr Bernard Herdan, Chief Executive, National Fraud Authority said: "Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and this issue demands a co-ordinated response across Government and the private sector. The work we've undertaken has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the issue of identity crime. We are now working actively with our partners to improve the UK's response to identity related crime and help reduce its devastating impact."

Losses from identity theft and false identities don't just affect the individual, but also hit the public and private sectors. The NFA will be working closely with others to co-ordinate the response to reduce the impact of this criminality on the public purse.

Criminals often look to fraudulently obtain genuine documents such as birth certificates, passports and driving licences. However, they also look for other information which helps steal your identity such as utility bills; online passwords; account numbers; and personal identity information which many people still put on social networking sites.

As part of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, the NFA is reminding individuals and businesses how important it is to take responsibility for protecting their own identity. In very serious cases, it can take you 200 hours to repair the damage done to your identity by these criminals - in working hours, that's equivalent to a year's annual leave.

Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, provides some simple steps everyone can take to help keep their identity safe.

- Don't throw out anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding it first.
- Check your bank and credit card statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the financial institution concerned.
- If you're expecting a statement and it doesn't arrive, tell your bank or credit card company.
- Get regular copies of your credit report from a credit reference agency.
- Make sure your computer has up to date anti virus software installed.
- Make sure you use all the privacy settings available on social networking sites - but don't put too much personal information up there.
- If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.
- Don't ignore bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven't bought or services you haven't asked for, contact the company immediately.
- When you register to vote, tick the box to say you don't want to be included in the edited electoral register - that means your details can't be sold on.

Don't stay silent. For more advice or to report a fraud, visit www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040. By working together and speaking out against fraud we can make the UK more hostile to fraudsters.

(1st December 2010)




FRAUD LEVELS RISE IN THE UK
(Computeractive, dated 28th October 2010 author Dinah Greek )
http://www.computeractive.co.uk
Category:Fraud 

Identity fraud is one of the UK's fastest growing crimes and is already costing the country an estimated £2.7bn, according to new figures from the National Fraud Authority (NFA).

With levels of the crime up by almost 10 per cent during the first nine months of this year according to Cifas, the UK's fraud prevention service, around 1.8 million people a year are now affected and the average loss per person is about £1,000.

At the launch of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week yesterday, Neil Munroe of credit reference agency, Equifax, said: "ID crime can run deep and is not just about plundering someone's bank account.

That is usually the easiest crime where the consumer can get redress. But if someone wants to pretend to be you, it can be very difficult, especially for online transactions where there is no paperwork, for the victim to prove they are not the criminal."

The NFA said that it typically takes victims of identity fraud as long as 200 man hours to "repair the damage".

The figures released by the NFA were compiled in conjunction with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for the UK's first ever ID Crime Strategic Threat Assessment.

It said of the £2.7bn costs, which do not include loss from newly created fake identities, the criminals get away with around £1.9bn.

Criminals often look to get a person's genuine documents such as birth certificates, passports and driving licences. However, they also look for other information such as utility bills; online passwords; account numbers; and personal identity information which many people still put on social networking sites.

The stolen identities are then used by fraudsters to obtain a wide variety of goods, services and benefits in the victims' name such as fraudulently opening bank accounts.

But the NFA warned that a victim's details can be used in other ways including evading detection from the law, enabling people trafficking and to carry out acts of terrorism

Dr Bernard Herdan, NRA chief executive said: "Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and this issue demands a co-ordinated response across Government and the private sector.

The work we've undertaken has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the issue of identity crime. We are now working actively with our partners to improve the UK's response to identity-related crime and help reduce its devastating impact."

Cifas said that its Digital Thieves report showed steps that consumers can take, but has called for more commitment from both Government, the private and the public sector to combat the crime.

National Fraud Authority : http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/nfa/Pages/default.aspx

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau : http://www.nfib.police.uk/

(1st December 2010)



CEOP POLICY CHIEF SAYS POLICE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MINDSET OF CHILD ABUSERS TO FORGE A SAFER WEB
(Computeractive, dated 28th October author Dinah Greek )
http://www.computeractive.co.uk
Category:CEOP 

Police officers must learn more about the psychology of child abusers in order to recognise potential risks and intervene earlier, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

Speaking at a Westminster E-Forum debate on building a safer internet, Alex Nagle, head of policy at Ceop, said an organisation that is designed to protect children needs to move beyond traditional policing methods to understand the mindset of abusers.

"We need to understand them so we can disrupt their intentions. We need to do something nifty," said Mr Nagle.

During his speech he showed a clip of Simon Thomas, who was jailed in 2006 for abusing children. The video shows video Thomas, a minister with the United Reform Church, talking about how he approached children in internet chat rooms with a sexual motive in mind.

Mr Nagle pointed out how normal Thomas appeared and said the fact he had gained the trust of society showed it was not easy to spot child abusers unless you could understand their motives.

This alone, however, would not be sufficient to forge a safer online environment, Mr Nagle warned. He said parents and children need to change their approach to the online world and recognise that laws and regulations cannot keep people safe.

"I don't see how you can tame something that is not alive and is just a tool. It's about people's behaviour. We do need to explain to adults about parental controls and we need to protect children, but there is no silver bullet," he said.

He added that it was "unhelpful" to talk about "digital citizenship" and "e-safety", saying there was no need to add "unnecessary prefixes" to the traditional values people adhere to when communicating face to face.

Mr Nagle also addressed the proposed merger of Ceop with the National Crime Agency, which led to the resignation of Jim Gamble, Ceop's chief executive, last week. He said that Mr Gamble may have been a "controversial figure", but everything he had done was in the best interests of children.

However, he said within Ceop there was a "fear" that the organisation would become the "poor relation" if merged with a national police agency.

"When the chief constable of the National Crime Agency is appointed and is faced with a serious threat, such as another terrorist attack, he will have to divert resources; and rightly. As an independent organisation Ceop would not have to face that," he said.

He said discussions with Government were still ongoing but he wanted to "recapture" some of Ceop's earlier strategy, specifically with regard to understanding the motives and methods of abusers.

CEOP website : http://www.ceop.police.uk/

Background to the National Crime Agency on the Home Office website : http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/press-releases/radical-reforms-police

(1st December 2010)


BARGAINS FUND SERIOUS CRIME
(SOCA, dated 23rd November 2010)
http://www.soca.gov.uk
Category:Fakes

Serious and organised criminals are increasingly involved in the trading of counterfeit goods, the charity Crimestoppers has warned.

The products themselves - including luxury goods, toys, DVDs and CDs and even power tools - may seem to be the real deal. They can also seem a bargain, especially in the run up to Christmas. However many are potentially dangerous, and the money they bring in supports other serious organised crime that can impact on all our communities.

SOCA has teamed up with Crimestoppers to promote the Fakes Fund Crime campaign and squash the myth that counterfeiting is a harmless enterprise. In reality it is often run by international, highly organised and extremely profitable crime networks which are also involved in weapons trafficking, prostitution, drug smuggling and people smuggling. A recent review suggested that the criminal gain from counterfeiting in the UK was worth £1.3 billion every year.

Crimestoppers is asking the public to get in touch with information about anyone who is making and selling fakes. Lord Ashcroft, KCMG, Founder and Chair of Crimestoppers, said: "I would strongly urge anyone with any information about counterfeiting to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use our online anonymous form on www.crimestoppers-uk.org. With the public's help we can make big steps in cracking down on this type of crime."

A recent You Gov survey found that 24 per cent of adults have knowingly bought a fake DVD, yet 56 per cent said they would not buy a product they knew was fake and could fund crimes such as human trafficking.

James Brokenshire, the Minister for Crime Prevention, said: "Human trafficking and drug smuggling are appalling crimes where people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. It is clear from these figures that the public can be unaware of the link between buying fake goods and more serious organised criminal activity."

SOCA's Andy Baker said: "Counterfeiting is too often seen as have-a-go entrepreneurship when in reality there is a link to serious organised crime impacting on communities. We want this Crimestoppers campaign to help people understand that connection and know that through their own actions they can influence what happens on their doorsteps."

The campaign has the support of a number of other high profile partner agencies including the Home Office, Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Bank of England, the Film Distributors Association (FDA), and The Pentland Group which represents brand names including Lacoste.

For more information about counterfeiting and how to spot a fake, visit the Fakes Fund Crime campaign website.

For more about Crimestoppers, or to make an anonymous report, visit their website.



Editors comments

It is hard to believe that the diminutive Chinese character walking around the local Morrison's and B&Q car parks selling counterfeit DVD's is part of a crime organisation, but he is. He will get arrested, get warned or charged; but the financiers...the heads of the gangs just open up shop somewhere else. The money they make will be used to rent or purchase houses ( perhaps next door to you ) where they will grow cannabis or process other drugs. They will then sell the drugs to your Children or Grandchildren. Will you enjoy that dodgy film now ?

 

(1st December 2010)


 

COMPUTER EXPERT HACKED VICTIMS' WEBCAMS
(The Guardian, dated 25th November 2010 author )
http://www.guardian.co.uk
Category:Hacking

A computer hacker who took control of his victims' webcams was jailed for 18 months yesterday.Matthew Anderson, 33, was a key member of an international gang who abused his skills as a computer security expert to target businesses and individuals with spam containing hidden viruses.

He accessed highly personal data and photographs in a sophisticated email scam from his mother's front room, taking control of some victim's webcams remotely to see inside their homes, at one point boasting to a friend that he made a teenage girl cry by doing so.

Files he saved on his own computer included webcam images of a girl in school uniform, a family photograph of a mother and her newborn baby in hospital and intimate pictures of a sexual nature.

Anderson, who admitted an offence under the Computer Misuse Act, appeared at Southwark crown court in central London.

Sentencing, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said Anderson's offending was on an "almost unimaginable scale". "Whilst you may not have been engaged in fraud, it is fair to say that in an age in which computers play such an important part in the lives of so many people and businesses, an offence of thi nature inevitably raises great concern and consternation," he said.

He added: "Conduct of this kind must be deterred. Plainly only a custodial sentence is justified for an offence of this nature."

Anderson, from Keith, Banffshire, Scotland, also saved CVs, wills and confidential medical reports Rivlin said Anderson would have faced a jail sentence twice as long had he committed the offences under the most recent law, the Police and Justice Act 2006.

Anderson, who told another friend his scam would "hit the news big time", was caught after an investigation by Scotland Yard and authorities in Finland into a gang writing computer viruses to order.

Investigators discovered that the so-called m00p group was infecting computers using viruses attached to unsolicited commercial emails. Davies said they were "at the cutting edge of international viral emails of this sort", describing Anderson as being "part of the top-end international hacking community".

Simon Ward, defending, said in court that Anderson joined online chatrooms after being left housebound by panic attacks in his early 20s. He said he had been motivated by "the feeling of power that comes from the knowledge that you have control over something that others don't know you have the control of".

He said Anderson had been a "foolish young man" but had now matured and had the support of his partner, who sat in the public gallery for the hearing.

Anderson was told he would serve half of his 18-month sentence, and was ordered to pay £5,000 costs. The judge commended the "major" police investigation in court, saying it was "conducted to the highest standard".

In October, Anderson pleaded guilty to one charge of causing unauthorised modifications to the contents of computers between September 2005 and June 2006. The offence was committed when Anderson was on bail for attacking the computer systems of the British National Party and the Countryside Alliance.

(1st December 2010)


 

SUPER VIRUS A TARGET FOR CYBER TERRORISTS
(Sky News, dated 25th November 2010 author Sam Kiley)
www.news.sky.com
Category:Cybercrime

A super virus that was used to disrupt Iran's nuclear programme has been traded on the black market and could be used by terrorists, according to Sky News sources.

Senior cyber-security figures have said the Stuxnet worm - the first to have been used to damage targets in the real world - could be used to attack any physical target which relies on computers.

The list of vulnerable installations is almost endless - they include power stations, food distribution networks, hospitals, traffic lights and even dams.

A senior IT security source said: "We have hard evidence that the virus is in the hands of bad guys - we can't say any more than that but these people are highly motivated and highly skilled with a lot of money behind them.

"And they have realised that this kind of virus could be a devastating tool."

Will Gilpin, an IT security consultant to the UK Government said: "You could shut down the police 999 system.

"You could shut down hospital systems and equipment.

"You could shut down power stations, you could shut down the transport network across the United Kingdom."

Now experts warn that the West is extremely vulnerable to similar attacks by criminal gangs seeking blackmail payouts or more likely by terrorist groups.

Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary with the US Department of Homeland Security, said: "They could shut down power systems, dams, almost any sophisticated industrial process that requires a control software. Which is practically everything."

There has been a rise in cyber attacks in recent years.

On April 8, 15% of all internet traffic was routed through China for 18 minutes in a mysterious incident the Chinese authorities have denied any part in.

The Royal Navy's website was shut down on November 5, allegedly by a Romanian hacker.

In October, the UK Government declared cyber warfare to be a "tier 1" threat to national security.

But experts say a more co-ordinated effort is needed to tackle attacks, along the lines of the Cyber Command agency set up in the US this year.

US Homeland Security website : http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm

(26th November 2010)


 

FOURFOLD LEAP IN DIRECT DEBIT THEFT
(Daily Mail, dated 19th November 2010 author Sean Poulter)
www.dailymail.co.uk
Category:Fraud

Victims failing to check their bank statements.

Criminals are increasingly opting to siphon cash from bank customers' accounts by stealing their direct debit details, research reveals.

Theft via direct debit currently accounts for 10.6 per cent of identity fraud cases - surging from just 0.01 per cent in 2001.

The number of fraudsters accessing victims' bank accounts directly to set up regular payments has leapt by 288 per cent in the last four years.

Criminals appear to have switched to direct debit fraud because the chip and PIN security regime has made stealing from plastic cards much more difficult.

They are able to get away with the scam because so many people fail to regularly check their bank statements.

So far this year, an estimated 26,000 victims have found that fraudsters were taking direct debit payments from their accounts.

An average of £540 goes missing before the scam is seen and stopped.

The problem is predicted to grow to 41,000 cases a year by 2013 - a 57 per cent rise. The figures, from insurance firm LV=, are based on a survey of 2,000 Britons by the Centre for Economics and Business Research think-tank.

Criminals use stolen bank details to set up direct debits to pay for goods and services they will benefit from, such as mobile phone accounts, pay TV or gym memberships.

Some arrange for payments to accounts from which cash can be siphoned off through ATMs.

They obtain the details in the same way they would with other types of identity fraud.

Common methods include redirecting a victim's post or gaining online banking details via 'phishing' scams.
Direct debit fraud appears to be booming as many companies - such as energy firms - now offer discounts and other incentives to encourage their customers to pay bills using the method - meaning more bank details are in circulation.

The proliferation of online services also means fraudsters are able to set up contracts and other agreements without the need for stringent ID checks.

Fortunately under the banks' direct debit guarantee system, victims will get their money back.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: 'Most of us are aware of the need to protect card details.

'But the rise in fraudsters setting up direct debits in victims' names proves the need for everyone to regularly check bank statements and ensure they're not paying out for someone else's mobile phone or any other direct debit they don't recognise.

But BACS - the Bankers' Automated Clearing Services - which handles direct debit on behalf of banks, said: 'Instances of direct debit fraud are very low, particularly when compared with methods such as cheque or card.

'There is no empirical evidence within the industry to show this type of fraud is increasing.

'If a customer believes funds have been taken incorrectly, they should contact their bank immediately.'

(26th November 2010)


 

THE DAY THE NET WAS HIJACKED BY CHINA
(Daily Mail, dated 19th November 2010 author Mail Foreign Service)
www.dailymail.co.uk
Category:Hacking
Category:Cybercrime

A security report to the U.S. Congress says the operation gave the Chinese a window to snoop on encrypted messages, gather information and disrupt international communications.
Yesterday, the Pentagon was stepping up its cyber security 'to address any potential current and future liability'.

Without pointing the finger of blame directly at Beijing the report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the hijacking might have been malicious.

Larry Wortzel, who sits on the commission, said: 'We don't know what was done with the data when they got it.
'When I see things like that, I ask who might be interested with all the communications traffic from the entire Department of Defence and federal government?
 
'It's probably not a graduate student at Shanghai University. What could you do if you had the stream of email traffic for 18 minutes to and from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff?
 
'If you were a pretty knowledgeable intelligence service, you would get the internet addresses of everybody that communicated.'

'And then you could essentially engineer a fake email and if someone opened an attachment, you would then insert a virus into the whole system.'

The hijacking - the biggest in the history of the internet - is being blamed on China Telecom, a state-owned communications firm.

It rejected the claim that it had taken over internet traffic and the Chinese government strongly denied what it called irresponsible allegations.

'China will never do anything to harm other countries' national security, either in real or virtual worlds,' said Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

The security commission's report said: 'Evidence related to this incident does not clearly indicate whether it was perpetrated intentionally and, if so, to what ends. However, computer security researchers have noted that the capability could enable severe malicious activities.'

China has previously been accused of trying to censor the BBC website and earlier this year Google threatened to pull its operations out of the country, claiming it was the victim of cyber snooping.

Last year, a spy network based in China hacked into computers in 103 countries, including in the private office of the Dalai Lama, to steal classified documents from government and private organisations.

Ministers have also been warned China could shut down Britain with a cyber attack using BT's new £10billion network. Parts of the system, which were installed by a telecoms firm linked to China's army, could be used to halt supplies of power, water and food, the intelligence services said.

(28th November 2010)


SOCA HUNT BOGUS "COMPUTER SECURITY" FIRMS
(Press Association, dated 15th November 2010)
Category:Hackers

Hackers are tricking internet users into buying anti-virus protection and then stealing their banking details, security experts have warned.

The malicious software allows conmen to infiltrate computers.

Investigators fear criminal gangs are pocketing millions of pounds in the scam, which sees them posing as legitimate IT companies and cold-calling victims.

The software can be downloaded for about £30 - but it allows the hackers to steal personal details and combine it with credit card information from the sale to commit further crimes.

Sharon Lemon, who is responsible for fighting cyber crime at the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), said the con was "big business".

She said: "In recent cases, we have seen gangs employing 300 to 400 people to run their operations and using call centre-scale set ups to target victims en masse."

Ms Lemon said some gangs even fork out tens of thousands of pounds a month to pay other web companies to advertise the fake software.

The warning came at the start of an internet security awareness week organised by GetSafeOnline.org, which is supported by Government bodies, police and private companies.

One in four adult web users in Britain have been approached by someone offering to check their computer for viruses, according to research by the group.

Tony Neate, of GetSafeOnline.org, said: "Web users should ignore cold calls from companies offering free virus checks and be very cautious of any on-screen pop ups.

"Most reputable IT providers do not approach customers in this way."

Government minister Baroness Neville-Jones said it was "encouraging" to see web users were more security-aware, but warned criminals will use "increasingly sophisticated methods to take advantage where they can".

Last month, computer security expert Matthew Anderson, 33, of Drummuir, Aberdeenshire, admitted being a key member of an international hacking group involved in a similar scam.

(26th November 2010)


 

FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS "STOP. THINK. CONNECT."
(Webroot Blog, dated October 2010 author Andrew Brandt )
www.blog.webroot.com
Category:Cybercrime

Background ( Editor )

The following was written on the Webroot blog site as part of their contribution to the US Cyber Security Awareness month. Webroot is another security software company, but is much smaller than the main three ( Norton, McAfee and Kaspersky ). If I remember correctly, their original product dealt with "spyware" ( the forerunner of keyloggers ) identification and blocking. About 10 years ago their original products were bordering on shareware with vey low prices. They are now on sale in PC World at prices comparable with the larger companies. That's their background, but as with similar product we do not recommend them one way or another ( Disclaimer ).

The US Cyber Security Awareness month was during October, so I am a little late. The safe surfing precautions suggested apply no matter the month ! "STOP. THINK. CONNECT."

By the way, some of the spelling may look incorrect, this is not an error on my part. It is the way they do it over there !?


Article

Today's the official kickoff for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the organizations supporting the event, including the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and dozens of corporate citizens including Webroot, want you to protect your computer and your personal information. So they've come up with a three word campaign slogan they hope will become conventional wisdom for every Internet user: Stop. Think. Connect. Think of it as the 21st century equivalent of looking both ways before crossing the street.

In my case, they're preaching to the choir. For years, I've advocated that people treat everything they see online critically, and to scrutinize information before acting on it. That's because the army of criminals who commit fraud and theft over the Internet on a daily basis rely on you to not stop, not think, and to click links or open files immediately, without regard to the consequences of your actions. That's how most people infect themselves. If you stop and think before you connect, you can prevent most of these infections yourself, simply by exercising a little restraint.

It's hard to think of a major cybercrime outbreak over the past year that hasn't relied, to some extent, on the naivete of its targets. Security professionals call these tricks "social engineering," but that's just a geeky term for criminal skullduggery that's as common offline as online. The ruse almost always tries to invoke an adrenaline-fueled need for an immediate response — usually out of fear, greed, or panic — on the part of a victim. The victim ends up in a mental state where they are likely to make rash, impulsive decisions. And they do.

Putting the brakes on social engineering tricks usually takes all the steam out of them. To that end, I'd like to show you examples of five of the most common cyberscams that lead to the loss of personal information or sensitive data. Hopefully, if you know what to expect, you'll simply walk away from the encounters unscathed.


Scam #1: Your computer is infected (not yet)

We've detailed in depth the lengths that some scam artists will go to convince you to hand over money willingly. The biggest criminal enterprise in this regard is the rogue antivirus product. Through deceit and trickery, the criminals behind rogue security products make an exceptional living for themselves by selling literally nothing to hapless victims.

The scam: Convince the victim that their computer is infected. Open popup windows with fake warning messages; hijack search engine results to launch bogus "antivirus scans"; place benign "malware" files on the victim's computer; convince the victim to download and run a malicious executable, then refuse to remove the executable unless the victim pays an exhorbitant "license fee."

How to avoid it: Most of these scams come from deliberately manipulated search results: You click the link and you're sucked in — but it's not too late. The minute you see a fakealert, stop everything you're doing, kill the browser (use the Alt-F4 key combination if you need to), and perform a full scan with the legitimate antivirus product of your choice.

Scam #2: Someone you know sends you a message with a link

Ask anyone who uses social media, and they'll tell you that nobody scrutinizes the links passed around by friends, until someone stumbles upon a drive-by download or a worm. Koobface is the archetypical example of malware that abuses the bond of interpersonal relationships in order to spread.

The scam: Send a social network user's friends a brief message with a short URL. Make the short URL point to a page that convinces the user to download and run a "codec" or a "Flash update" program. When the victim runs the "codec" installer, infect the victim's computer with a wide array of malicious programs, including keyloggers, rogue AV installers, and downloaders. Then hijack the victim's own social network account(s) to continue the spread of the worm.

How to avoid it: Stop and think. Most shortlink services have a feature that lets you preview where the shortlink will go; Use it. If you've never heard of the Web site, check the true destination domain against a reputation service, such as Webroot's Brightcloud. And don't be the first one among your friends to click a link.

Scam #3: Someone you don't know sends you a message with a link and/or an attached file

Even though you weren't expecting anything, you receive an email from DHL informing you that a package destined for your address is being held at the local facility, and an attached shipping manifest will permit you to claim the package. Oops, that manifest is actually the installer for a keylogger, or a downloader, or some other undesirable junk.

The scam: Create a downloader or a keylogger, and give it an icon so it looks like a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or a text file. Compress the file into a .zip archive. Spam out the file to 24 brajillion people, with a poorly worded sob story, a business contract, or an order confirmation message, and wait for the valuable data to come flooding back.

How to avoid it: Stop and think, then don't click. Whether it's a message that claims to be from the IRS; from a shipping company like DHL, UPS or FedEx; from a Web store like Amazon or iTunes; or from someone supposedly sending a resume, apartment application, or some other misdirected form, never, ever open those files, especially if they have a .exe extension. Uncheck the "Hide file extensions for known file types" option (instructions at the end of this post).

Scam #4: You receive an "invitation" to a service from a stranger

Juanita Uzmayo wants to be your friend on Yahoo. Frank Schmedlebeck wants to connect on LinkedIn. Sexy Beast has sent you a message on Facebook. Click here to…uh oh.

The scam: Set up a drive-by download site, Canadian Pharmacy page, or phishing page. Look at one of the automated messages sent out by a multitude of online services, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, or an instant messaging service. Duplicate the format and wording of that message, but instead of hotlinking to the service, tag the message with links to your malicious page instead.

How to avoid it: Without clicking anything, move the mouse over the link in your email message, then look at the Status Bar (along the bottom edge of the browser window) to see exactly where the link leads. If the message claims to come from one company, but the URL points to a domain you've never heard of, don't click the link. See how easy that is? If you're curious, check the domain against Brightcloud's reputation database. Don't have a Status Bar visible? Turn it on now. Click View -> Status Bar in most browsers.

Scam #5: Offer the victim something of value, steal credentials instead

Want 1600 points on Xbox Live? How about early access to the latest beta test for World of Warcraft? Maybe you're interested in getting free stuff for your Habbo Hotel account. Do you want to know who is blocking you on MSN Messenger? Join our club, log into Steam, and get a free game. Just enter your username and password here, and we'll send you your points/access/whatever in four to six weeks.

The scam: Create a Web page which uses the site graphics and design used by a legitimate company. Make outrageous, impossible-to-keep promises on the page. Stick a username and password field on the page. Program the page to submit any usernames and passwords that people enter into the form to you, and not to the real company the page claims to represent. Spam the world with links to the page. Profit.

How to avoid it: Stop, then think about it, and do not follow the link. TANSTAAFL, gamer boy. Does the page say "Blizzard" but the domain name in the URL contain 110mb.com, surge8.com, altervista.org, or t35.com? Those are legit, free Web hosting services, abused by cheapskate script kiddies, who set up temporary pages on those services in order to scam foolish people. There is no mechanism that can permit you to see who has blocked your IM account on MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, or anywhere else. Nobody's going to give you anything for free. Provide your credentials, and you're just going to lose control of your account (and probably that rare armor the mob dropped during the raid you participated in last week).

Of course, these aren't the only scams in the world perpetrated against victims, only some of the most common. If something seems fishy, trust your gut and stop what you're doing. Don't worry about losing your place in the browser; It's easy to retrace your steps, but hard to clean up an infected PC.

Webroot's UK website : http://www.webroot.co.uk
US Stay safe online (National Cyber Security Alliance) website : http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam

(26th November 2010)


 

MINISTER LAUNCHES ADVICE IN NEW DRIVE AGAINST EVICTING SQUATTERS
(Evening Standard, dated 8th November 2010 author Nicholas Cecil)
www.thisislondon.co.uk
Category:Eviction

Ministers launched a "fightback" against squatters today, issuing advice to homeowners on how to deal with the threat.

Housing minister Grant Shapps published a series of guidelines showing how to get people evicted if they invade a property.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is keen to go further and strengthen the law to give homeowners greater protection against squatters. But the Evening Standard understands officials in his department have warned this could take time and be complicated.

The Government is determined to act after a series of high-profile cases in the capital. Today Mr Shapps condemned website the Advisory Service for Squatters, and launched an official guide for property owners.

He said: "Squatting is anti-social, undesirable, and unfair on homeowners. This government is not prepared to stand that situation continuing, and in particular we're keen to provide better advice for people who find that they are victims."

Criticising the website, he added: "People will be as shocked as I was to discover that this ministry of squatters' exists to act as an estate agent, helping people to take over other people's properties. But unlike the authors of this site, I'm on the side of the legitimate, law-abiding homeowners who have to jump through hoops just to get back into their own properties.

"That's why today I'm publishing advice making clear how the law is on their side."

It states that anyone looking to remove squatters from their home can apply for an interim possession order. This requires them to leave within 24 hours, or face committing a criminal offence which can carry up to six months' imprisonment.

It is also an offence for the squatter to return to the property within 12 months of the interim possession order being issued. Householders can then apply for a final order of possession, legally returning the property to its owner.

The Advisory Service for Squatters rejected Mr Shapps's criticism, saying: "We don't operate as an estate agent. We help people to stay within the law."

Katharine Hibbert, a former squatter who reportedly works informally for the advisory service, accused Mr Shapps of scaremongering and insisted squatters "do not and cannot invade homes". She told the BBC that the service advised homeless people to look for abandoned buildings which were likely to remain empty for some time.

Mr Shapps published the guide weeks after a businessman was left homeless for a fortnight when 10 squatters claiming to be students invaded his £700,000 house. Connan Gupta, 40, returned from a holiday to find the squatters — believed to be Italians — at his five-bedroom home in Camberwell.

What you can do if it happens

Q: What can I do if my home has been taken over by squatters?
A: Call the police, who may make an arrest under the Criminal Law Act 1977. It may be an offence for a trespasser to fail to leave having been required to do so by a displaced residential occupier or a protected intending occupier.

Q: What should I do if a squatter has damaged or stolen my property?
A: If a squatter damages your property while entering or once inside the property, they may be guilty of criminal damage. Call the police.

Q: Do squatters' rights really exist?
A: The notion arises from the Criminal Law Act 1977 which says landlords commit an offence if they use violence or intimidation to evict legitimate tenants. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made it clear this offence does not apply to a displaced residential occupier or a protected intending occupier.

Q: Can squatters take ownership of the property if they stay for a certain amount of time?
A: Yes, but they would have to occupy the property without the permission of the existing owner for 10 years or more.

Q: How can you remove squatters if the police will not evict them?
A: An interim possession order makes it possible to regain possession. If the correct procedure is followed, an IPO can usually be obtained from the courts within a few days.

Q: Do squatters have to leave?
A: They must leave within 24 hours of service of the IPO, or they can be arrested and face prosecution.

(15th November 2010)




MET SEIZES £1m IN CRIME ASSETS FROM FUGITIVES
(Evening Standard, dated 8th November 2010 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co,uk
Category:Confiscation 

A Met police team that pursues crime fugitives who fail to pay asset confiscation orders has seized more than £1 million in six months.

The six-strong asset confiscation enforcement squad targets criminals who go on the run after being ordered to pay back fortunes acquired through crime. The recovery of the sum is seen as a small but significant success in the battle to recover cash from villains.

The squad has also resulted in criminals serving an extra 6,000 days in jail for default sentences after they claimed they could not pay. Last week a major cocaine dealer was ordered to serve an extra 2,555 days in jail by a London court after failing to pay a £3.2 million asset confiscation order.

Dutch-born Peter Versluis was extradited to the UK after he was held at Madrid airport. He went on the run after escaping from jail in 2005 two days before he was ordered to repay £3.2 million. On his arrest he owed a total of £4.6 million because of interest.

Detective Superintendent Janice McClean, who heads the asset confiscation squad, said: "This is £1million that is now not buying guns, drugs, and enforcing protection rackets among the gangs and cheats of London." While many detectives in London are trained in techniques to seize cash from criminals, the ACE team is the only group targeting convicted villains who refuse to pay. In the past, requests to pay asset confiscation orders would be sent by court officials, and usually they went unpaid.

About 100 criminals are wanted by Scotland Yard for failing to re-pay cash acquired through crime.

(15th November 2010)




TIPS FOR CHOOSING A SECURE PASSWORD
http://uk.norton.com/

 

Passwords are an essential component to your (online) daily life. We use them to check our online mail, bank accounts, purchase items, etc. But how secure are your passwords? Do you, like many, use the same easy-to-guess password everywhere you go? Unless you arm yourself with the right passwords, you might as well have none at all. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you stay secure.

Choose Strong Passwords

Want to take a guess at the most popular passwords? According to the Imperva Application Defense Center, ( http://www.imperva.com) it's the numbers "123456" or the word "password" itself. This means that any cybercriminal who's looking to hack into your account will likely start there. Why send them an open invitation?

Sure, everyone likes passwords that are easy to remember. But you wouldn't leave your home open and unlocked simply because that's easier to do than remembering to keep your keys with you. Strong passwords, just like strong locks, deter criminals. Use them.

Tip: Consider mixing a series of letters and numbers, both lower and uppercase. Special characters like asterisks can help as well if they're permissible. The longer the series, the more secure your password will be. Try for at least eight characters minimum, if possible.

Use Different Passwords

A strong password won't be very effective if you use the same one everywhere and someone gains access to it. Don't think it can't happen. Prying eyes are everywhere. Malware in the form of keystroke loggers can steal your current passwords without you realizing it.

Having a variety of strong passwords is an important key to remaining secure online. Should someone find or guess one of yours, it would be far better if it only unlocks one site rather than everything you have online.

Tip: Variety is the spice of life! Choose different passwords for every site you visit. Never use the same password for your separate bank or credit card accounts.

Never Reveal Your Passwords

You know that email you just received from your "credit card company"—the one asking you to type in your password to check something? It's completely bogus. The same applies to any other similar emails. No matter how convincing they may seem, ignore them.

These are nothing more than phishing emails, and they're one reason why you have a delete button. Feel free to use it.

Tip: Stay sharp. Don't be duped into revealing a password. Any company that would really need this information already has it. And should you find yourself in a situation where you must legitimately reveal a password—such as taking your computer in for repair—make sure you change the password afterwards.

Change Your Passwords Regularly

After months of trying, you've finally memorized that nonsensical series of letters and numbers. Congrats! Now it's time to change your passwords. Is this to make your life difficult? No. It's to make stealing your private information more difficult.

Tip: Occasionally swapping out your strong passwords isn't fun. But it's much easier than trying to put your life back together after someone has stolen your identity. Make things as hard as you can for cybercriminals. They'll seek out easier targets—not you.

Their Advertisement ( Editors note )!

Well Norton have provided their advice, so I suppose that it only fair to allow them to have a paragraph on advertising their product. Norton is one of the market leaders for security software, but as is standard practice on this website we cannot recommend them one way or another (disclaimer).

Norton contd.

As we've discussed, choosing the right passwords can be essential for keeping your private life just that—private. To make the entire process easier, consider using Norton 360.

Norton 360 stores your passwords automatically and securely—all while blocking any keystroke loggers or other spyware that could steal your information. You'll stay safe without the headache of memorizing countless passwords.

(15th November 2010)


 

CAUGHT FISHING

Over the last few weeks my trusty internet providers "SPAM" filter has managed to protect me from several attempts to steal my banking details. I hasten to add that I do not bank with any of the banks that the Phishers were  trying get at. Then again, if it had been my bank that had been quoted in the e-mail I would have telephoned my bank direct to see if I was suffering from any problems. I would NOT have used the "convenient" press button linking me to the bogus bank website provided by the originator of the e-mail.

The senders e-mail accounts also look genuine, but they are just aliases. The actual accounts are ones that can be openned quickly and then abandoned (gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc), provided by innocent internet companies.

The bogus bank website would look virtually the same as the genuine article. It's only existence is to get you to enter your bank account details, passwords and security check details. The transaction would then fail leaving you thinking that the banks system has failed. The phishing criminals would then be free to raid your bank account.

Sometimes these "convenient" buttons direct your computer to malicious software, such as key-loggers. This has virtually the same effect as the bogus website. They exist to obtain your bank details and passwords.

Prevention is relatively simple. DO NOT OPEN PHISHING E-MAILS & ENSURE that you have security software loaded and up to date on your computer or laptop.

The following are actual examples of phishing e-mails that were sent to me. I have removed the "convenient" press button and link to prevent spreading problems.


Subject : Alert: HSBC Online Notification
Dated : Friday, 12 November, 2010 11:05
From: "Customer Security Alert" <security@hsbcbank.com>

HSBC Secure E-mail Alert

Dear HSBC Customer:

Due to several Failed attempts to Access to your HSBC® Online Account

We temporary deactivated your Account for your protection

You have to Reactivate Your HSBC® Online Account within the next 24 Hours in Order to Continue using it .

Please Click here to Reactive your account

Sincerely,

HSBC® Customer Service

Code #BA905242


Subject : Dear Customer- Please Read Carefully.
Dated : Monday, 25 October, 2010 7:10
From: "HSBC Bank UK" customerservice@hsbc-online.co.uk

Dear Customer,

Due to the recent upgrade of online banking services at HSBC,
all customers are required to update online service details to the new secure system.
This is a mandatory maintenance exercise for you as an online banking customer.

Click Here to Log On and Update Your Information.

Failure to update your information will prevent further access to your account online.
Regards,

Colette Nugent
Head of Customer Communications.


Subject: Incoming Transaction Notice - Latest information.
Dated: Sunday, 24 October, 2010 6:00
From: "HSBC Personal Banking" ltinternet-banking@mail.com

Dear Customer,

This e-mail has been sent to you by HSBC Transfer Unit department

Claro A. Salvo  made an online funds transfer to your account online.
The details of this transaction is shown below.

Amount - 6800.00 (GBP)
Time and Date - 23 October 2010 at 09:05pm
Description - Payment

To view this transaction and your current balance, please click on the link below:

Click Here To Current Balance.

Best Regards,

Colette Nugent.
Head of Customer Communications.


Subject: Customer Alert: Unauthorized Access To Your Online Account
Dated : Thursday, 21 October, 2010 13:32
From: "HSBC Security Alert" <security@hsbcbank.com>

Dear Value Customer

We have notice unauthorized access to your Internet Banking user ID.


You are strictly advised to LOG ON to amend any possible findings to avoid account suspension


Thank you.

Issued for UK use only | © HSBC Bank plc 2002 - 2010


Subject: Withdrawal Transaction Notification on Account
Dated 12 October 2010.Wednesday, 13 October, 2010 7:28
From: "Alliance and Leicester PLC" ltinternet-relay@services.co.uk


Dear Valued Customer,

Alliance&Leicester Online Banking: Transaction Alert Service (Alliance&Leicester-Alert)

You are hereby notified of the following Debit (DR) transaction on your Alliance&Leicester Bank Account.

Transaction Details

Description: Cash Withdrawal by Terry A. Pellington.

Transaction Amount: GBP2,000.00 DR

Transaction Location:  Westminster London BRANCH SW1H 0HW

Transaction Date: 12/10/2010

Transaction Time: 3:05 PM

Value Date: 12/10/2010

To view this transaction and your current balance, please click on the link below:

Click Here To Current Balance.


Best Regards,

The Internet Banking Team at HSBC.
(0x3d.0x38.0x4e.0xcf)


Subject: Errors Dectected On Your Account.
Dated:Thursday, 7 October, 2010 6:07
From: "HSBC Personal Banking" internet-banking@mail.com

Dear Customer,

HSBC Internet Banking Security Team

The security of your identity and personal webmail account
information is extremely important. Because of unusual number
of invalid login attempts to you Speakeasy account online, we had to
believe that there might be some security problem with your account.

Click on the link below to log-in and begin using your updated
HSBC Online Account to avoid service interruption.

Click Next To Upgrade Your Security Level.


Best Regards,

HSBCOnline.
Copyright© 2010


 

Subject : Your Halifax Account Has Been Suspended For Your Security
Dated: Thursday, 30 September, 2010 19:55
From: "Halifax" <Security.Alert@hbosplc.com


Dear Halifax Customer

We notice too many incorrect login attempts, your halifax account has been suspended for your security.

This has been done to secure your account and to protect your private information.

We implore you to click on the below verification box to amend any possible findings

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter

We apologize for any inconvenience

Thank you.




Subject: Internet Banking Alerts requires your attention
Dated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2010 8:08
From: "Santander" suspiciousemails@santander.co.uk

 

 Dear Alliance & Leicester® Customer,

We have been unable to send alerts to the e-mail address you
specified when you set up your Internet Banking Alerts
preferences. Please visit Manage Alerts to make the necessary
changes to your e-mail address so that we may resume your
alerts service.
Click here to proceed

Please do not respond to this e-mail, this e-mail box
Is not equipped to handle customer inquiries.

Sincerely,

Alliance & Leicester® Customer Care Department



Title: Important Message From Halifax Customer Security
Dated: Monday, 27 September, 2010 18:07
From: "Halifax" <Security.Alert@hbosplc.com

Account Lock !

Dear Halifax Customer

Due to the number of incorrect login attempts, your halifax account has been lock for your security.

This has been done to secure your account and to protect your private information.

We implore you to click on the below verification box to amend any possible findings

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter

We apologize for any inconvenience

Thank you.

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH1 1YZ.




Subject: Unauthorized Access To Your Internet Banking USER ID
Dated : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010 12:36
From: "HSBC Security Alert" hsbc.security@hsbcbank.com

Dear Customer,

Membership Confirmation.

We have notice unauthorized access to your Internet Banking user ID.

You are strictly advised to LOG ON to amend any possible findings to avoid account

Issued for UK use only  |  © HSBC Bank plc 2002 - 2010



(15th November 2010)



999 CREWS FAIL TO MEET RESPONSE TARGETS IN TWO THIRDS OF LONDON
(Evening Standard, dated 11th November 2010 author Kiran Randhawa )
www.thisislondon.co.uk

Medics are failing to respond to 999 calls within government-set time limits in two thirds of London, figures reveal today.

 

Ambulances and other emergency vehicles are taking too long to arrive at the scene of life-threatening cases. Seventy-five per cent of the most serious calls should be dealt with within eight minutes, according to official targets.

But the new figures show that London Ambulance Service is failing to do this in 20 of 31 areas in the capital.

The targets, which have been credited with saving the lives of almost 20,000 heart attack victims since they were introduced in 2001, are in danger of being scrapped under government plans which will see the biggest overhaul of the NHS since its inception.

GMB union regional officer Dave Powell said the figures may be due to LAS using A&E support staff to attend emergency calls rather than paramedics.

He said: "LAS is using these support staff to go in ambulances more and more often. Sometimes they are getting to the most serious calls, which they are not trained to deal with, and then they are calling out paramedics.

"That means two crews are dealing with one case, taking that vital crew away from dealing with other potentially life-threatening cases."

The figures are based on response times to "category A" calls - the most urgent cases - in September. In August, LAS only failed to meet the eight minute target in seven boroughs.

The decline in standards coincides with a scheme under which lone paramedics are sent without an ambulance to the "vast majority" of 999 calls. An ambulance will only be called if the paramedic deems it necessary.

The pilot, which started in September, is designed to ease pressure on A&E departments and will see more patients treated at the scene of accidents or at home. The figures are contained in a report that shows LAS response times from April to September. In September, it only responded to 74 per cent of category A calls within eight minutes.

LAS operations director Richard Webber said the missed target was due to a seven per cent rise in demand on the 999 system compared with the month before. The target had been met for the financial year so far, he added.

Emegency call

Areas that miss the target of dealing with 75% of serious calls within eight minutes :

Barnet : 67%
Bexley : 68%
Redbridge : 68%
Ealing : 69%
Haringey : 69%
Brent : 70%
Islington : 70%
Waltham Forest : 70%
Wandsworth : 71%
Bromley : 72%
Newham : 72%
Enfield : 73%
Barking and Dagenham : 73%
City and Hackney : 73%
Havering : 73%
Croydon : 73%
Hammersmith and Fulham : 73%
Harrow : 73%
Hounslow : 73%
Richmond and Twickenham : 73%



Comment

 

Rather than appearing to place blame on emergency crews. Perhaps some background investigation should have been made into all the reason behind the delays.

I would suggest that one of the major culprits would be long term road works. Some of which seem to isolate whole geographic areas at a time. The A12 at Gants Hill, Essex is one such mess. Another was in Enfield, North London which affected its General Hospital; it appeared that at one time all access roads were restricted and controlled by temporary lights. Perhaps local councils, TfL and utility companies fully liaise with emergency services on the affects road works have on call out times. It's called risk management !!!!

Lastly, to all drivers. Flashing blue lights and sirens indicate that an emergency vehicle is trying to get somewhere fast to help someone in distress. Ensure that you are always aware of what is going on behind you by regularly looking in your rear view mirror. To help you to hear the siren, can I recommend that you also do not wear headphones whilst driving. Oh sorry, I am kind of repeating what is already described in the Highway Code, init !


(12th November 2010)


 

REPORTS TO CEOP CONTINUE TO GROW
(Police Oracle dated 5th November 2010 )
www.policeoracle.com

Centre claims that "scale and nature" of threat to children means education must continue to be a priority.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has received nearly 900 more reports of suspect activity than last year, latest figures from the organisation show.

Statistics released today reveal that CEOP had more than 6,291 reports in the past 12 months - a quarter of which related to grooming and a further 25 per cent to the possession and distribution of images. Nearly 10 per cent involved direct sexual abuse.

Of concern, there also appears to be an increasing trend of explicit "self taken" images by children and young people - and the centre has launched a two-week campaign on Facebook raising awareness of the dangers of uploading uninhibited pictures.

Other trends identified include a rise in the number of investigations referred to CEOP relating to women who sexually abuse children and a clear indication that Vietnamese children now make up the largest group of youngsters being trafficked into the UK - mainly to illegally cultivate cannabis.

While four out of every ten reports to CEOP come from the public, a statement from the centre said that the overall rise is due to industry sources such as online moderators, website hosts and mobile phone companies among others.

Jim Gamble, the outgoing Chief Executive of CEOP, said that the figures demonstrated the importance of the centre's ongoing safety programme for children.

Mr Gamble emphasised: "The scale and nature of reports received by our child protection specialists demonstrate that there is a need to educate and inform young people about the risk of posting inappropriate pictures of themselves online.

"Unfortunately we have seen cases where these photos and videos have ended up in the wrong hands of those collecting child abuse images," he added.

Mr Gamble concluded: "The risk to children and young people can only be met with an holistic approach to the problem, combining child protection expertise, education, law enforcement and industry, which CEOP continues to provide."

( 12th November 2010 )


 

THE NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE
(Police Oracle dated 2nd November 2010 - extract )
www.policeoracle.com

Note : This article has been edited. The full article can be found at :
http://www.policeoracle.com/news/In-Depth-The-National-Police-Air-Service_27734.html

Having eyes in the sky has always been a crucial asset in the modern Police Service - from providing a robust response to situations including pursuits to helping detect missing persons, the aircraft is a vital piece of equipment in the toolkit.

But the dire state of public finances, which was laid bare in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review, has prompted a rethink of the policing landscape. And the provision of how air support is structured and run has been a prime candidate for change following the setting up of a review by ACPO last year.

Last week, proposals for a new National Police Air Service were unveiled following a briefing in London. In a break with the current status quo of Forces having local capabilities, ACPO is now suggesting that cutting back the numbers of aircraft and bases by a third, and introducing a single capability covering the whole England and Wales, is the most efficient way forward.

Under the plans, responsibility for the aircraft would be taken on by the NPIA - later passing to the National Crime Agency when it comes online in 2012 - with British Transport Police taking the lead on operational deployment. It has been confirmed that BTP is looking at creating points of aircraft dispatch in its London and Birmingham control rooms and senior officers are confident BTP is well positioned to take on the role as it is an established national body.
With the project at an early stage, precise details - such as how communications will work in practice - have not been made clear. While Chief Constable Alex Marshall, the ACPO Lead on Air Support, has pledged that 97 per cent of the population will be reached within 20 minutes, it has not yet been released how calls for urgent assistance will be dealt with except that requests will be taken at Force level and passed to the BTP to make the arrangements to get the relevant crews airborne.

In addition, the proposed reductions in aircraft and bases have also been a cause for concern for some senior officers who are worried that a like-for-like service may be impossible given the scale of the cutbacks that are being made. The proposals would mean that the current 29 bases and 33 aircraft would be reduced to 20 bases and 23 operational aircraft with a further three held as spares.


While the creation of the new service is being hailed as a step forward for efficiency and cost savings - an overall saving £15 million will be shaved off the air support budget - South Yorkshire Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes fears the plans in their current form would not provide an adequate service to Sheffield.

He believes plans to withdraw the aircraft from the city must be reconsidered if in the urban conurbation is to receive an acceptable standard of service.

"The report hides the deficiencies of the proposed service within generalised response times to the Force as a whole, but it is the areas of highest crime, densest population and the major sports stadia which receive the poorest service," he added.

CC Hughes said he had "consistently supported" the creation of a National Police Air Service but believes the current proposals would be unfair and unpopular.

"Unfortunately the plans as presented do not provide an adequate service and treats Sheffield very poorly by comparison with Leeds, Bradford and Manchester," he added.

Despite the concerns, former Surrey Chief Bob Quick believes that issues of coverage and communications can be resolved if procedures are well rehearsed. He also points out that there has been informal collaboration among Forces on air support issues for some years, and these have operated successfully.

"Helicopters from the Met have provided support to the Home Counties and Sussex and Surrey have worked together," he told PoliceOracle.com. "The aim now is to move to a national service where the assets can be pooled and used accordingly.

"It does make sense for BTP to take responsibility for dispatch as they are the only Force that is fully developed nationally - the difference will be that a request for air support currently only goes through a single control room, but I don't see any reason why the new system should be unduly cumbersome."

Police authorities still need to ratify the proposal, but there is little doubt that the National Police Air Service is likely to become operational within the two-year timeframe drawn up by ACPO.

If there is ever an initiative that needs to be right first time, however, it is air support. While creating the new national unit may be a compelling case to save money, this will be cold comfort to ground units if they are let down when assistance is most required.

(12th November 2010)


 

SAFER TRANSPORT AT NIGHT
( Met Police dated 1st November 2010)
http://met.police.uk/
 
Illegal cab drivers caught red handed as Safer Transport Command officers continue to tackle touting in London.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cab Enforcement Unit, part of the Transport for London (TfL) funded Safer Transport Command (STC), made more than 100 arrests.

As part of the Operation Safer Travel at Night (STaN), officers from the Cab Enforcement Unit, Safer Transport Teams and TfL, increased night-time patrols over three weekends. These took place between 23 September and 9 October to deter, detect and apprehend illegal cab drivers, also known as touts, and to help people get home safely.

This operation coincided with the STaN marketing campaign, which aims to make people, in particular young women travelling at night, aware of the dangers of using unbooked minicabs picked up off the street.

Officers tackled touting involving both licensed and unlicensed drivers in student areas across London, successfully deterring and arresting illegal cab drivers, and acquiring valuable intelligence.

The operation covered every borough in the capital, as the Cab Enforcement and Safer Transport Teams engaged with thousands of Londoners, and in particular students. The officers provided safer travel information and encouraged them to book minicabs as well as reminding them that only black cabs can be stopped and picked up off the street without being booked.

To support the enforcement and in advance of the darker and colder nights ahead, the MPS and TfL have also put together a short YouTube video, providing safer travel information for Londoners.

For tips on making sure your minicab is legal and keeping safe visit the MPS You Tube channel .

Chief Superintendent Royle, Safer Transport Command, said: "Unbooked minicabs are uninsured for carrying passengers and not only do they undermine the legitimate cab trade but are a danger of the capital's night life.

"The Safer Transport Command regularly carries out major operations to tackle touting and this increased enforcement activity was to remind students, particularly those new to London, about the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs.

"The safety of the public is paramount and I would advise anyone not to get into any minicab that they have not booked and always book it through a licensed operator."

Steve Burton, TfL's Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, said: "These operations are a priority for us and these arrests should serve as a clear reminder to touts that the Safer Transport Command is out there and will take action.

"However as part of our efforts to crackdown on illegal cab activity we also need Londoners to stop taking unbooked minicabs and remember that only black cabs can be hailed in the street or picked up at a rank without booking."


 

Additional Note

With the festive season fastly approaching and more people heeding to the sensisble "don't drink and drive" ethos, care needs to be taken in respect of modes of transport.

- If going out as a group, allocate a dedicated driver. Treat them to orange juice and little else ! you will probably have more opportunities to celebrate the season, so share the responsibility.

- If relying on cabs or taxis, only use registered companies or black cabs. Check out the Transport for London website : http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/findaride/default.aspx ; before you travel and get a cab or taxi company's contact details. Keep the details in your purse or wallet !

(12th November 2010 )


 

NEW GUIDANCE TO TACKLE PAYMENT CARD FRAUD
( Tayside Police 29th October 2010 )
www.tayside.police.uk
 
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) and Visa Europe have announced that new guidance has been issued to assist frontline officers to assist in tackling payment card fraud.

The guidance, originally developed by Visa Europe and Grampian Police, identifies the types of equipment used to commit payment card fraud, the law in respect of these offences and how to best preserve evidence in cases of payment card fraud.

Figures from Financial Fraud Action UK show that total fraud losses on UK cards fell by 28% in 2009 demonstrating that collaboration between the financial sector and the police, combined with the success of initiatives such as 'chip and PIN' and 'Verified by Visa' are having a significant impact on payment card fraud.

The new guide will be issued to officers across Scotland to increase awareness of how payment card fraud is committed and ensure those responsible are identified and caught.

Kevin Smith, Senior Vice President of Visa Europe Fraud Management said: "This is a fantastic idea and shows our commitment to working with Law Enforcement and in particular front line officers to ensure they have the knowledge and resource to help fight payment card crime."

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Wilson (Tayside Police) the ACPOS Strategic Lead for Financial and Business Crime added: "We welcome the opportunity to work with Visa Europe in targeting serious and organised crime. The guidance will afford increased knowledge to front line officers throughout Scotland and increase their ability to target those involved in this type of criminality."

(12th November 2010 )


 

TRAINEE DETECTIVES STUDY FACEBOOK
(Multiple news websites, dated 31st October 2010 )
 
Detectives will be taught how to track down killers and other criminals on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, senior officers have said.

Sweeping changes have been made to training for thousands of student investigators to bring their work into the 21st century.

They include new information on how to track down suspects through social networking sites, where wanted people may reveal valuable clues.

Updated training exercises also examine how to gather the best information from computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Senior officers have been forced to keep pace with the rapidly evolving online world to gather intelligence on suspects from street gangs to fraudsters. Earlier this year escaped prisoner Craig Lynch mocked police with clues about his whereabouts on Facebook during four months on the run. In London, detectives are examining posts on Facebook and Twitter relating to the murder of 17-year-old Marvin Henry during a suspected fight between rival gangs.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Gargan, acting head of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), said updated training is vital.

He said: "This programme is a vital part of the career pathway for detectives and the new training covers sensitive areas of policing where limited guidance existed previously. These improvements are exactly what detectives need to tackle the challenges and complexities of modern policing effectively.

"The changes underline the importance to having a national agency to provide guidance and train detectives to a single high standard so they can work on investigations in any part of the country and give their colleagues and the public the best quality service in fighting crime."

Around 3,500 student detectives take the initial crime investigator's development programme each year.

The revised training also includes new guidance on how best to investigate honour-based violence, record evidence of domestic abuse and tackle rape. There is material linking to a national collection of footprints made by specific shoes as well as how to collect financial information.

(12th November 2010)


 

PUBLIC PROTECTION UNDERMINED BY RE-OFFENDING RATES
(The Guardian dated 27th October 2010 author Alan Travis)
www.guardian.co.uk

A total of 196 convicted violent or sex offenders have been charged with a further offence of murder, rape or other serious crime while under the supervision of the probation service, according to Ministry of Justice figures published today.

The figure includes 14 offenders ranked as medium or high risk who have been charged with a murder or rape after leaving prison in the past year.

The official figures also show that the number of registered sex offenders in England and Wales rose by more than 2,500 in 2009/10 to 34,939.

A total of 1,116 registered sex and violent offenders were returned to prison for breaching the terms of their release licences - 300 fewer than the previous year. Another 89 were sent back to prison for breaching the terms of a sex offences prevention order.

The annual figures appear to be a further blow to public confidence in the probation service in a week when the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, has said he hopes an element of "payment by results" can be brought in as a way of finding more effective rehabilitative sentences.

The debate over the quality of supervision by the probation and police services of released prisoners has been dominated by cases such as that of Daniel Sonnex, who tortured and murdered two French research students, Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, in London when he should have been recalled to prison.

Ministry of Justice officials point out that the figure of 196 convicted violent or sexual offenders who have been charged with further offences has been inflated this year by including level one offenders - the lowest level - on the sex offenders register for the first time.

There were 31 level two offenders - the intermediate level - convicted of further offences and three level three offenders - the highest level, known as the "critical few", which involves the most intensive forms of supervision on release from prison, including specialised accommodation.

The 31 who committed further serious offences this year compares with 48 last year, but some changes in counting methods are involved in those figures.

The Ministry of Justice said that a serious case review was held for 14 of the level two and level three offenders who went on to commit another serious offence. The figures did not include level 1 offenders who triggered a serious case review.

Serious case reviews, triggered when the further offence involves a murder or rape, are carried out under the multi-agency public protection arrangements, known as Mappas, which bring together the police, probation, and prison services.

The Ministry of Justice figures show that 48,338 violent and sexual offenders were eligible for supervision under the Mappa arrangements on 31 March this year. This figure includes 34,939 sex offenders. The remainder were violent or other dangerous offenders assessed to pose a risk of harm to the public.

Crispin Blunt, the Prisons and Probation Minister, said the probation service and the police delivered a robust system that effectively monitored potentially unpredictable and dangerous behaviour by Mappa offenders.

"The risk of further offences can never be eliminated entirely which is why Mappa is a critical tool in protecting the public and reducing serious reoffending," he said. "The number of individuals who reoffend seriously has historically been a very small percentage of those offenders managed under Mappa."

Paul West, the Public Protection spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "The staged roll-out of the child sex offender disclosure scheme has significantly enhanced our ability to protect families from potential harm and has provided another critical layer that empowers parents, carers and guardians to take active steps to protect their children.

"While the reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated, we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum."

(12th November 2010)


 

COLD CASE RAPE SUCCESS 21 YEARS ON
(Police Oracle, dated 27th October 2010)
www.policeoracle.com

Forensic advances aid Kent and Essex officers to solve 1989 rape case…...

Senior investigators who used the latest DNA profiling technology during their investigation into a 21-year-old rape case have spoken of their satisfaction after their efforts helped secure a conviction.

Stanley Alan Daniels, 57 and formerly of Blackbull Road in Folkstone, was sentenced to six years for the rape of a woman in Sandgate in Kent in 1989 after pleading guilty before Maidstone Crown Court.

The woman, who was 18 years old at the time, was walking on the promenade on Sandgate Esplanade when a man wearing a balaclava approached her and threatened her with a knife.

The man, now known to be Daniels, pulled the victim to the ground near the sea wall and raped her. He then ran away and the woman ran to a nearby phone box and called 999.

The case was re-opened last year by the Cold Case Investigation Team of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, who sent samples taken from the victim 21 years ago for forensic analysis.

The Forensic Science Service re-examined the samples using the low copy number technique and produced a strong DNA profile that was a one in a billion match with Daniels. This was linked to another crime scene where he had been identified as the offender.

The Crown Prosecution Service was able to build a compelling case around the DNA profile and statements from the victim and other witnesses.

After sentencing, Det Insp Dave Withers from the Cold Case Investigation Team said: "Just because something could not be detected 15 or 20 years ago doesn't mean it can't be detected now. Nearly all of our cold cases are solved due to advances in forensic science.

"It is really rewarding for the whole team when we get a success like this one," he added.

Daniels is already serving a nine-year sentence for another stranger rape he committed in Folkstone in March 2005. The two custodial sentences will run consecutively.

(12th November 2010)


 

NOVEL USE OF THE ASBO
(Northants Police, dated 25th October 2010)
www.northants.police.uk
 
Northamptonshire Police has used a new tactic in tackling vehicle crime and those people who repeatedly commit this type of crime.

For the first time in the Force's history officers have successfully sought an Anti-Social Behaviour Order against a 15-year-old boy preventing him from touching or entering a vehicle without the permission of the owner in Northampton for the next two years.

If he breaches this condition he faces being summonsed to return to court and the prospect of potentially being sent to prison.

Detective Inspector Stuart Hitchon from the Vechicle Crime Team, said: "This is the first time we have obtained a condition of this kind in Northamptonshire.

"This boy pleaded guilty to a series of vehicle crimes that took place in the summer and we felt this was an appropriate course of action."

DI Hitchon manages a dedicated Vehicle Crime Team based at Campbell Square Police Station that is responsible for tackling those people who either steal motor vehicles or items from them.

He added: "We are determined to tackle those people who commit vehicle crime with whatever tools are available to us, and so far this year we have seen a 35 per cent drop in vehicle crime in Northampton, Daventry and South Northants.

"We want the message to be clear, we are committed to tackling offenders and if you commit vehicle crime you could end up with an ASBO as well as a criminal conviction."

(12th November 2010)


 

NEW TECHNOLOGY AIDS RAPE ENQUIRY
(Police Oracle, dated 13th October 2010)
www.policeoracle.com

Detectives are using an innovative animated e-fit in a bid to catch a rapist who attacked a student in Withington.

It is the first time Greater Manchester Police has used the technology. Designed by scientists at the University of Central Lancashire, the software expands and contracts the e-fit image to help potential witnesses build up a better picture of the offender's face.

Shortly after 4.20am on Friday 24 September 2010, police were called to Atwood Road, Withington. They found a 18 year old student who had been subjected to a serious sexual assault and raped.

The offender is described as Asian, of fat or large build. He spoke with an English accent and had a shaved head with dark eyebrows.

Police are now linking this incident with an attack on an 18-year-old woman who had been out with friends on Saturday 12 December 2009.

The victim in this case was outside the Abbey National on Barlow Moor Road in the early hours of the morning when a man pulled up beside her in a red car and she got in believing it to be a taxi. On this occasion the driver spoke to the victims father on the phone explaining he would drive her home. The father also believed the offender was a taxi driver

The man did not drive her home, instead he took her to the junction of Cundiff Road and Hardy Lane where he attacked and raped her.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Marsh, of the major incident team, said: "This is the first time GMP has used the evo-fit and anything new that will help us crack cases as serious as this can only be good for the victims of crime.

"It uses a new facial composite system that means we can animate the face to give it a range of shapes and sizes. The idea is that it gives a more realistic impression of an offender than a traditional e-fit.

"I want to once again stress that the offender is not specifically targeting students ,both attacks have been against lone women walking home very early in the morning in secluded areas.

"That said, there is understandable concern among students so we have recently discussed the matter with the university and the student bodies to provide reassurance. We are jointly doing all we can and to reiterate our common sense advice to women and girls.

"Our advice remains the same - please don't walk home on your own, arrange for a licenced taxi to drop you off outside your house.

"There are dedicated officers patrolling the area to deter offenders and keep students safe and I would ask if anyone has seen anything that seemed suspicious, no matter how small or insignificant to please call us.

"We are determined to find the man responsible and if you recognise this man or believe he is a relative or friend or work colleague then please call us."

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 4711 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If any of the local community has any concerns, please contact the Didsbury Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0161 856 4973 or if you see an officer in the street please stop and speak to them.

In tandem with this enquiry Greater Manchester Police have launched Operation Safe Return to tackle student-related crime and officers will continue to patrol student areas via foot, bicycle and vehicle.


 

Additional information

EvoFIT is a new facial composite system for victims and witnesses to construct a likeness of a criminal's face.

EvoFIT has been 10 years in development and has involved several government research grants and dozens of different research experiments. The approach is theoretically better, with witnesses selecting whole faces to allow a composite to be 'evolved' over time; identification is better too. It was developed by Professor Peter Hancock at the University of Stirling, Professor Vicki Bruce at Newcastle University and Dr Charlie Frowd at the University of Central Lancashire with funding from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The latest version of the EvoFIT uses external feature blurring (de-emphasis of the hair, ears and neck) and holistic tools (to change the age, weight and other overall properties of the face).  Both carefully designed laboratory research and police field trials support a correct naming rate from EvoFIT in the region of 25% following the construction of a two day old memory of a face (the normal minimum in policework).  This success rate is likely to be considerably higher if an animated composite is used as part of a public appeal for information.

It is not essential for victims or witnesses to describe facial features; instead they are shown sets of complete faces and indicate which ones look like the person in question. The system also has the ability to change the age, weight and other aspects of a face, further improving the likeness.

The approach differs from the traditional 'feature' systems and opens up the technology to many more people. The potential benefactors include children, the elderly and even those with learning difficulties.

EvoFIT, which has already been successfully tested by the Lancashire and Derbyshire police, is now being launched to police forces across the UK. Dr Frowd explained that the main benefit of his system is the way in which facial reconstructions or 'composites' are produced.

Vickie Burgin, Derbyshire Constabulary's principal forensic services officer, said: "During the past three months we've been trialling the new system.  We have found that the finished images are very impressive and lifelike and the response from investigating officers is very positive.

"We've been working closely with Dr Charlie Frowd for the continued development of the system by giving operational feedback to ensure the product is fit for purpose. To date results are indicating positive outcomes in one out of every three images produced."
 
Funds have recently been provided to commercialise EvoFIT and product training and customer support is now being provided. EvoFIT is being released as freeware to the UK police, thus allowing the police to have free access to the technology.

The 'Beast' of Bozeat

EvoFIT was first used in a criminal investigation with Northants police as part of Operation Mallard. The case involved a series of sexual offences carried out by a Caucasian male believed to be in his late twenties in Southern England (all of which have been linked by DNA evidence). The construction of an EvoFIT was carried out in the normal way by the selection of shapes and textures using an updated hairstyle. Three generations (phases) of faces were required to produce "The Beast of Bozeat". The final image was a good likeness to the assailant.


(12th November 2010)


 

POLICE TO FLOOD STREETS IN DRIVE ON KNIFE CRIME
(London Evening Standard, dated 29th October 2010 author Justin Davenport )
www.thisislondon.co.uk

Thousands of police are to take to London streets in the run-up to Christmas in a blitz on knife crime and anti-social behaviour.

The drive, called Operation Autumn Nights, will deploy thousands of officers to tackle knife attacks and robbery. Normally designed to drive down street crime around Halloween, it will be extended to the end of December following a spate of teenage murders in the capital.

Undercover patrols will watch crime hotspots, metal detectors will be used to check for knives at transport hubs and the Met's two helicopters will monitor gangs gathering outside schools and in parks.

The move comes amid mounting concern over the toll of teenage murders in London. Two young people have been shot dead in the capital in the past seven days.

In a parallel initiative over the next few days 1,500 officers and PCSOs are being drafted onto buses across London in the run-up to Bonfire Night. All leave for the Met's Safer Neighbourhood teams in 624 wards has been cancelled for this weekend and November 5 and 6.

Commander David Zinzan said: "We hope the public will notice a difference on the streets with a big increase in the presence of uniform officers.

"Historically we get an increase in anti-social behaviour around this time of year. The officers on the buses make it difficult for yobs to travel on buses and will reassure the public.

"The operation will tackle robbery and knife crime. The teenage homicides are of great concern to us.

"We have seized 10,000 knives from the streets since May 2008 and we believe this has saved a significant number of injuries if not deaths.

"But while we can do the enforcement bit other people have a role to play. Families, communities and carers need to know who their kids are with and what they are doing and they should look out for knife carrying."

So far this year 17 teenagers have been killed, compared with 15 all last year.

(7th November 2010)


 

MET CHIEF SIR PAUL STEPHENSON "TRYING TO CON" PUBLIC
(BBC.CO.UK dated 28th October 2010)

A Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) member has accused Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson of "trying to con" the public over the impact of cuts.

Liberal Democrat Dee Doocey said it was "blindingly clear" that decisions had already been made regarding changes to safer neighbourhood policing in London.

Sir Paul said the future of the teams was not "pickled in aspic" and their structure was being reviewed. There are 624 safer neighbourhood teams in London. Sir Paul stressed he would try to maintain the "operational capability" of the teams.

The Met's budget will be affected by the 4% cut in Ministry of Justice spending on policing each year for the next four years.

The teams are made up of one sergeant, two constables and three community support officers, who deal with issues raised by local residents.

Impact 'blindingly clear'
 
Recently, in a letter to councillors, Barnet borough commander Det Ch Supt Neil Basu said the cuts meant teams may shrink in size and that police station front counters could close.

He also said the neighbourhood units could be asked to work across ward and borough boundaries.

Mrs Doocey told Sir Paul: "Frankly I think you are trying to con us commissioner, I really do.

"It is absolutely blindingly clear that these changes, a lot of them, have already been decided upon."

Sir Paul said the funding cuts would not be an "excuse" to "walk away" from safer neighbourhood units.

He said: "There is no attempt to con or mislead anybody, certainly not this authority, and we need to have a thorough consultation.

"The one thing we should not do is throw away the benefits of this programme that we have had over a number of years and I will not do that."

Mrs Doocey later apologised after she was admonished by the MPA chairman Kit Malthouse for using "unparliamentary language".

Earlier, Sir Paul said that overall the Spending Review had been "slightly better than we were anticipating".

(7th November 2010)


 

NO TERROR ARRESTS IN STOP-SEARCHES
(Freepress, dated 28th October 2010, attributed to "Press Association 2010"
www.freepressseries.co.uk

No-one stopped and searched by police under controversial anti-terror powers was arrested for a terrorism-related offence, figures show.

A total of 101,248 stop and searches were made under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in 2009/10, but only one in every 200 led to an arrest and none of these were terror-related, the figures released by the Home Office show.

Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review of the controversial stop and search powers earlier this year, saying she wanted to correct "mistakes" made by the Labour government which, she said, was allowed to "ride roughshod" over civil liberties.

Across Great Britain, 506 arrests were made after people were stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 0.5% of the 101,248 stop and searches, compared with 10% of stops carried out using non-terror powers.

But the use of the stop and search powers fell by 60% compared with 2008/09, the figures show.

Anti-terrorism chiefs ordered an escalation in the use of the powers after the failed bomb attack against the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London's Haymarket in 2007, which resulted in more than a quarter of a million people being searched in 2008/09 - the highest on record and more than twice the level of the previous year.

But after a public outcry over the use of searches, which have a disproportionate effect upon minority groups, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson ordered them to be scaled back in London.

The powers allow officers to stop anyone in a specified area without the need for reasonable suspicion.

The review of the Government's counter-terrorism policy, which will report shortly, is being carried out by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ken Macdonald, who led changes in the way terrorists are prosecuted. It involves police, spies, public officials and campaigners and will focus on control orders, stop-and-search, pre-charge detention, deportation of terror suspects and the use of surveillance by local authorities.

The number of terrorism arrests also fell last year, down to 173 from 190 in 2008/09, separate figures showed. But the majority of the 52 charged were charged with offences that had nothing to do with terrorism.


 

TERRORISM STOP AND SEARCH DRAWS TOTAL BLANK
("I" dated 29th October 2010, author Robert Verkalk [extract] )

Four out of five searches were made in the Metropolitan Police area, with almost a fifth being made by British Transport Police. Overall, 59% of people stopped described themselves as white, 17% as Asian or Asian British, 10% a Black or Black British and 2% as of mixed ethnicity. The use of stop and search powers fell by 60% compared with 2008/9.

Since the 11th September terror attacks, 261 suspects have been charged under terrorism legislation, of which 199 were prosecuted and 127 eventually convicted. A further seven are awaiting completion of their trials.

(7th November 2010)


 

iPHONE BUG LETS THIEVES MAKE CALLS
(Metro, dated 27th October 2010 author Aidan Radnedge)
www.metro.co.uk

An iPhone bug has been discovered that allows thieves to make calls without entering passcodes.

A way to bypass the device's locking system by pressing a series of buttons was being spread across technology websites yesterday.

Manufacturer Apple was under pressure to update its software and fix the error.

The hack was discovered by a Brazillian iPhone owner, who posted instructions online along with a video of him carrying out the procedure to call a friend.

Following the formula allows anyone without a passcode to make calls, look through the handset's contact book and call history and listen to voicemails.

It also means phone thieves or unauthorsied users can look through the device owner's photos. But they are denied access to other iPhone apps such as internet browsing, emails, text messages and maps. The bug affects handsets using the latest 4.1 iPhone software.

The next software update, the iOS 4.2 beta programme, will fix the problem, according to reports, but it is nt due for release until next month.

In August 2008, a similar iPhone bug was discovered that did allow unauthorised users to make use of other apps on the device.

And in August last year, experts revealed how hackers could use modified text messages to hijack the handsets or disconnect them from telecommunications networks. Apple quickly released a software "patch" to repair the problem.

The Californian company was last night unavailable for comment on the latest security lapse.

(7th November 2010)


 

HALF OF OFFENDERS RISK ASSESSMENTS FAIL
(Evening Standard, dated 26th October 2010 author Martin Bentham )
www.thisislondon.co.uk

The risk that released offenders pose to the public in London is not properly assessed in half of the cases, a report warns today.

Among the problems highlighted are the failure of probation staff to take into account offenders behaviour in prison or to fully investigate the nature of their previous offences. Police intelligence on crimes commiteed overseas is being overlooked in some cases, while probation staff sometimes fail to consult experts to gain a full picture of the potential threat.

The report, by Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges, was compiled after the murder of French students Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez at their New Cross bedsit in 2008.

One of the student's killers, 23 year old Dano Sonnex, was free to carry out the murders - in which the students received hundreds of stab wounds before their flat was set on fire - because of blunders by London Probation Trust staff which had prevented his earlier recall to prison.

Today's report , which follows a highly critical follow-up report on London Probation last year, says significant progress has been made. It concludes that 74% of London Probation's overall work on public protection is now carried out satisfactorily, compared with just 54% last year, and says that the service is to be "commended" for the improvements. The report warns, however, that significant flaws still remain in both "risk of harm" assessments, which measures the threat posed by offenders, and "risk management plans", which set out how they should be supervised.

"Only one in two risk of harm assessments were completed to a sufficient level of quality (52% ) and only 37% of risk management plans were sufficient," says the report.

Weaknesses identified include staff failing to share details of the risk management plan with others involved in monitoring offenders, as well as "insufficient management involvement" in "risk assessment and planning and child safeguarding issues".

Other "aspects of practice" are described as being "of particularly variable quality", including decisions on reviewing an offender's risk after an incident and when to recall offenders to prison for breaching their license conditions. The report highlights concerns about the supervision of some of the most dangerous freed offenders, saying that "effective monitoring" was "evident in too few cases".

Mr Bridges said London Probation Trust was "getting there" and he had "found demonstrable improvement in public protection work". But he added: " There is room for further improvement". The report is based on inspections in areas across London, including Lewisham, Greenwich, Camden and Islington and Ealing.

(7th November 2010)


 

POLICE CUTS "MAY HARM THE PUBLIC
(Metro , dated 26th October 2010 author Fred Attewell)
www.metro.co.uk

Frontline police services could suffer in many parts of Britain in the wake of government budget cuts, a forces watchdog has warned. Fewer than one in five police authorities - responsible  for setting spending priorities - are well prepared to ensure value for money for their forces as the purse strings are tightened, inspectors found. There was "a real concern" authorities will struggle to protect "public facing police services that the public rely upon 24/7", revealed a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. Public -facing services inlcude officers on the beat, HMIC added. Insp Zoe Billingham said: "HMIC have real concerns about how police authorities will change their approach to deal with the cuts while minimising reductions to public services." But the Association of Police Authorities insited they had made more than £1.5 billion in efficiency improvements between 2004 and 208. Chairman Rob Garnham said: "Police authorities are ready to deal with the difficult financial environment.


 

POLICE CHIEF WARNS OF THINNER BLUE LINE IN NEIGHBOURHOODS
(London Evening Standard, dated 26th October 2010 author Pippa Crerar)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

Residents could see a dramatic decline in local policing under plans set out by a London police chief today.

Barnet commander Neil Basu revealed proposals to reduce the size of safe neighbourhood teams and allow them to work across ward and borough boundaries.

The plans could leave local people with a smaller police presence in their area as teams are drafted in to attend emergencies elsewhere.

Mr Basu also said that police staion front couners would be reviewed, raising the prospect of closures.

He warned: " We will have to move more resource into areas where levels of crime and anti-social behaviour are the worst, ad be flexible about moving people around until these problems are effectively dealt with."

London borough commanders are carrying out belt tightening exercises ahead of their funding settlement early next year. The Met has made cuts of 16% but senior officers believe they will have to go futher.

Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls warned the Mayor and the coalition were taking "big risks" with the public's safety.

He said: " London now faces a double whammy of cuts to policing. On top of the Mayor's cuts, the coalition government's spending review imposes 20% cuts in central governments funding for policing. That could mean thousands fewer police officers and PCSO's across the capital."


(7th November 2010) 


 

RECORDED CRIME RATES DROP BY 8%
(Metro dated 22nd October 2010 author John Higginson )
www.metro.co.uk

The number of crimes reported to police has fallen by 8% in the past year, while the chances of necoming a victim of crime have hit a 30 year low, official figures and British Crime Survey statistics fell - by 8% and 4% respectively.

The risk of becoming a victim of crime fell to 21.5% in the 12 months to June, according to the BCS - the lowest figure since 1980.

However, police said recorded sexual offences rose by 8%. It is unclear whether that increase is because more victims are coming forward.

Reported incidents of criminal damage  were down 17%, offences against vehicles fell 16% and domestic burglary dropped by 8%.

Hoem Secretary Theresa May said: " Victims of crime know that while any reduction in crime is welcomed, statistics only present a partial picture. There are still too many offences which ruin lives, whether they are recorded or not, and that means more needs to be done to bring down crime."

The statistics came a day after the governments spending review outlined plans to cut the Police budget by up to 20%, raising fears the number of officers could fallby up to 20,000.

Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls described the statistics as a "tribute" to police and local services.

He said: " We need to keep crime coming down but I am very concerned about whether this progress can be maintained. By failing to protect funding for the police in the spending review, the home secretary is taking huge risks with the public's safety, crime and national security."

(7th November 2010)


 

£2.7 BILLION COST OF IDENTITY CRIME
(Metro dated 18th October 2010, author Tariq Tahir )
www.metro.co.uk

Nearly 2 million people fall victim to identity fraud a year, costing the country £2.7 billion, new figures show.

Each victim is stung for an average of £1000 in credit or benefits, according to a report by the National Fraud Authority.

Their stolen identities are also used to commit other crimes, ranging from evading police to people trafficking and terrorism.

In the most serious cases, it can take victims more than 200 hours - the equivalent of a year's annual leave - to resolve the problems caused by identity fraud.

NFA chief executive Bernard Herdan said the crime often had a "devastating impact" on it's victims.

He added "Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and this issuedemands a co-ordinated response across government and the private sector."

The figures have been compiled by the NFA to coincide with National Fraud Identity Prevention Week and seek for the first time to give a picture of the extent of the problem.

The NFA estimates 1.8 million people have their identities stolen, although most are not aware of it.

According to a seperate from CIFAS, Britains fraud prevention service, the number of people who actually discover they have fallne victim to fraudsters is 79,871 - 10% up on the same period last year.

However, just half of us check bills and financial statements against receipts or check before responding to emails or calls, CIFAS says.

BBC sports presenter John Inverdale became the victim of identity fraud when his mail with credit card details was illegally redirected.

"It became more worrying when I started to receive credit card statements in my name from organisations that I had never heard of," he said. "Although I resolved the situation in the end, it was extremely stressful."

(7th November 2010)


 

CYBER TERROR THREAT TO 2012 GAMES
(London Evening Standard, dated 18th October 2010 authors Joe Murphy and Nicholas Cecil)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

The London Olympics were today named as a top target for terrorist attacks and the growing threat of cyber warfare.

In an unprecedented step, the new national Security Stragety singles out the 2012 Games as being at major risk. As well as the fear of bombings, the document reveals that the Beijing Olympics were hit by 12 million computer attacks a day in an attaempt to disrupt or defraud the event.

"It is only two years until we host the Olympics," warns a draft of the National Security Strategy seen by the Evening Standard before its publication this afternoon. The strategy, drwan up by Foreign Secretary William Hague, will form the background for tomorrow's Strategic Defence Review.

The draft says: " This will be the first time a Games has been mounted in an environment of a high terrorist threat and though robust preparations are being made, we must not underestimate that challenged." The security strategy leaves no doubt of the immense task facing MI5 and the Metropolitan Police to keep athletes and spectators safe during the Games.

On the cyber threat, which could come from criminal gangs or enemies of the state, it says: "The Olympics, for example, represent a huge vulberability." Resources are being diverted fro the first time to counter the danger posed by cyber attackers. Wednesday's comprehensive spending review is expected to confirm tha £65 million will go to security chiefs to build up defencses against attackers seeking to hijack computers to steal secrets, damage the economy or paralyse national services.

The changes inidcate deep cuts in conventional military spending to be unveiled tommorrow by the Prime Minister. As revealed by the Standard last week, the MOD's £37 billion budget will be cut by 8% with the RAF and the Royal Navy bearing the brunt.

"our Armed Forces are the backbone of our defence," says the National Security Strategy. "But their efforts have to be complemented by other tools which help us to achieve our international objectives and deal with all security risks." The security strategy report reveals that around 20 foreign espionage networks are currently operating against the UK's interests. In the new ranking of threats to the national security and safety, cyber dangers are promoted to the top league while conventional attack by another country is relegated to the third tier. The reason is the sheer volume of attacks mounted on a daily basis and the importance of computer networks to modern life.

The strategy reveals that by 2015 there will be more networked devices in the world than humans. "The risks emanating from our growing dependence on it are huge," warns the report.

"like terrorism, this is not simply a risk for the future. Government,the private sector and citizens are under sustained cyber attack today from both hostile states and criminals."

Intelligence sources say Chinese spies are the greatest single source of serious cyber threats, using advanced computer hacking to penetrated government departments and firms to steal secrets and valuable industrial technology.

Organised criminals use email "worms" to try to get bank account details from home and office computers.
Russia is known to hae developed computer attacks that could paralyse a country's industry by overwhelming the internet with "data-bombs".

Q&A - Growing online threat

What is cyber crime ?

Dozens of different disruptive techniques, from crashing websites to infiltrating systems to monitor emails. Crimes such as phishing, where hackers create an electronic copy of a site's log in page to get information, have soared. Another is known as denial of service, which bombards a website with so many hts that it crashes.

How serious is the threat ?

Extremely serious, say experts. Recently a plot to electronically infiltrate and blow up a nuclear power plant in Iran was uncovered marking the first move into "physical" cyber attacks. Dozens of sites and government departments have already been hit. The intellectual Property Office was attacked at the weekend and forced to take its site offline.

Why is it such a problem ?

Disruption to services ranging from online banking and shopping sites can catastrophic. "Cyber security is no longer just a defence issue, but something that is critical to the economy and national interest," said Greg Day of computer security firm McAfee.

Who is behind it ?

Often gangs, who profit from sending junk email using computers they electronically hijack. Hacking is now being used in government to government attacks. Recent figures show that UK government networks received more than 20,000 malicious emails a month.

(7th November 2010)


 

THE WORST CAR RENTAL RIP OFF - AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
(The Sunday Times - Ingear supplement, dated 17th October 2010 author Chris Haslem )
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

Note: This piece was appended to an article written by Rod Liddle on his "exploits" in dealing with a car rental company. I have removed the company name as I suspect the problems are industry wide.
Before you take up any mentioned solution in this article ensure that is okay for your personal circumstances.

Rod Liddle isn't the only one complaining. According to the UK European Consumer Centre (UKECC), complaints about car-hire rip offs were up by 30% in the first five months of this year, with agencies in Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain named as the worst offenders.

Last year, the consumer safety body Eurotest carried out covert inspections of 60 car-renatl aganecies in Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Croatia and Turkey. The worst car on offer was a Nissan Micra rented from "Company A" on the Greek island of Santorini. The report cites "numerous serious defects, such as two distorted rims on the front axle, a badly damaged tyre sied wall and a missing wheel nut on the rear right tyre. Together with poor service across the board last place was the only ranking possible for this agency".

It's not only your personal safety that's at risk - your wallet could also be seriously hurt. Dents and scratches mysteriously appear after cars have been returned, fullfuel tanks are suddenly found to be half empty and hidden insurance charges appear on credit card bills. Here arereal people's stories of the rental agencies favourite tricks - and the best strategies for avoiding them.

The excess rip-off

With "Company A" you will pay an excess of E900 for collision damage and E1700 for theft; similarly with Company B and Company C. So the smart thing is to reduce that risk to zero by purchasing extra insurance, right ? We looked at the cost of renting a hatchback for a week from Pisa airport. The car rental cost £147 with Company A and £164 with Company B. Adding the extra insurance cost £21 and £16.68 per day respectively  - bought the prices to £294 and £280 respectively.

Solution : get your excess cover from a third-party provider. For the example given an annual policy for Europe would cost £49 and reduces your excess liability to zero.

The full/empty con:

You pay for a full tank of fuel on the collection and return the car empty, in a ploy that pays the renter twice: first, your're paying hugely inflated fuel costs, and second, hardly anyone ever returns the car empty. Company D, a Spanish rental outfit, is said to one of the worst offenders. Mike Brinsley was charged £101 for a tank of fuel that he says would have cost £39 at the nearest petrol station.

Solution : insist on returning the car with a full tank.


The top up trick :

You return the car with a full tank, but the rental company charges you for a top-up. You swear the tank was full. It says otherwise, and simply takes your money.

Solution : When Dave Matthews received a £48 fuel charge from Company B, he sent back a digital photo showing both the fuel guage and the GPS unit, thus confirming both a full tank and his exact location at the rental depot. He has since got his money back.

The mystery scratch scam:

According to UKECC, post-hire damage charges are our main source of complaint. When Gavin Stanfield returned his Company A rental, the office was closed, so, as agreed, he posted the keys in the key safe deposit box. Two days later, Company A told him that the car had been damaged over the weekend by someone reversing it into a concrete bollard. "They charged my credit card £260, which I never got back," he said.

Solution : When collecting the car, you should carry out a fingertip examination before signing the paperwork. If the cars is in a gloomy spot, making it hard to inspect, insist it is moved into better light. WHen returning the car, avoid unattended drop-offs at all costs. Even comprhensive time-stamped photography won't help, as rental terms and conditions state : " You remain responsible for the vehicle until it has been expected by us".

(7th November 2010)


 

MET BUYS THE BILL'S KIT TO FOIL CRIMINALS
(The Sunday Times, dated 17th October 2010 author Miles Goslett )
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

The Metropolitan Police force has quietly snapped up almost the entire wardrobe of the The Bill to prevent criminals acquiring the uniforms and impersonating officers.

The London force will be paying thousands of pounds to the makers of Britains longest running television crime series for many items that the ITV show later discarded.

Other clothes from the production - including 72 police caps and hats, 97 shirts - have been kept by the Met to distribute to its frontline staff.

The uniforms were acquired after the show as axed in August. It had been running for 27 years.

The series, which helped launch the careers of stars such as Keira Knightly and Robert Carlyle, prided itself on its realism and, uniquely, had permission from the Met to cast actors in real uniforms and even stab-proff vests bearing the force's insignia.

However, whenITV announced in March that The Bill was to be dropped, senior officers at the Met feared that the show's clothing could fall into the wrong hands.

Criminal gangs are willing to pay hundreds of pounds for an authentic police uniform. Such clothing can be purchased from specialist suppliers that operate without restriction on the internet, some as far afield as Australia.

According to documents obtained under the freedom of information laws, the Met decided that securing every police related item from Talkback Thames, the company beind The Bill, was the only way to avoid a mishap and guarantee public safety.

To prevent anything being put up for sale on the open market, a substantial part of the show's costume department - which was updated over the lifetime of The Bill to reflect changes in uniform and communications equipment - was earmarked to be sold to the Met.

On August 25, two months after the programme's final scenes were filmed, Met employee's collected a consignment of clothes from the production offices in Merton, South London, where the fictonal Sun Hill police station was based.

One batch of items - which weighed more than 880lbs - had been worn by actors and was therefore sent to be recycled. However, the Met claims that a second batch of clothing - including the caps, shirts, 93 pairs of trousers, 29 body armour jackets and 84 "Nato unlined pullovers" - remained unused and will be issued to serving officers in due course.

Last month it was reported that the force was facing up to financially straitened times by asking trainee recruits to work unpaid for up to 18 months before being given a job.

This weekend the Met declined to confirm the cost of obtaining the clothes from The Bill, but previously published figures put the standard price of a police uniform in 2004 at £765 plus VAT.

Criminals posing as police officers are considered an increasing problem among Britain's forces.

Under section 90 of the Police Act 1996, anyone impersonating an officer or wearing a police uniform "calculated to deceive" can be prosecuted and fined up to £1000.

In one incident last year more than 100 stolen police uniforms were seized by officers in Stretford, Greater Manchester. All the uniforms had Metropolitan Police badges sewn onto them. They were used by two men claiming to be drug enforcement officers who targeted dealers and confiscated their supplies.

Some police forces have also reported a rise in "distraction" burglaries, which target the elderly by people pretending to be police officers.

In 2008 Stephen Downing, of Milford, Derbyshire, was ordered to pay the maximum fine, plus costs, after being found guilty of wearing a former police issue jacket and giving the impression of being an officer. He was also waering a Derbyshire constabulary armed response vehicle badge bought on the internet and given to him as a present.

(7th November 2010)


 

BOGUS CAR-HIRE FIRM DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS
(Sunday Times Travel supplement, dated 17th October 2010 author Chris Haslam )
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

A London based online car-hire agancy run by a Latvian entrepreneur is defrauding customers of thousands of pounds by taking rental payments upfront and then defaulting on the deal.

The Suncar website offers "red hot deals", with prices from as low as £8 per day. Fees are paid in advance in excahnge for a rental voucher to be presented at the counter of Suncar's "partner" car-hire companies - and that's when it all goes wrong.

Emma Weatherall, who prepaid with Suncar "because it was a lot cheaper", arrieved in Alicante to be told that if she wanted a car, she would have to pay again. In  Malaga. Lucy Wearing was told her prepaid booking would not be honoured because Suncar owed the car-hire company £60,000, and when Ken Rowe arrived in Turkey, he was told the same story. "The car-hire company demanded a further payment, as it had received nothing from Suncar," he said. None of the above has got their money back from Suncar.

Predictably, there is no postal address on the Suncar website, and our calls to the company went unanswered, as did those to Suncar's parent company, Decode Car Hire, based in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Decode's direcot, Dainis Kanopa, who last year declared the Riga-based Selected Autorent bankrupt, defaulting on dozens of prepaid bookings, also owns the car-hire website Rubbe Car Rental and is linked to Car-Rent-Malaga.com.

Unlike other areas of the travel industry in which customers are urged to look for Atol, Aito or Abta membership before booking - the online care hire trade is entirely unregulated, allowing unscrupulous operators to purchase of the shelf web platforms and start trading.

With both Decode car hire and Suncar still taking bookings, Brian Simpson MEP, chairman of the European Parliaments transport and tourism committee, said it was time the loopholes were closed. "We need to have strong laws in place across Europe to protect consumers and clearly guarantee that if they pay for car hire, then they get a car," he said.

Meanwhile City of London Trading Standards confirmed that a "multi-agency investigation" in Decode Car Hire and Suncar was under way, but refused to disclose specific details of the operation, advising victims to contact Consumer Direct, Action Fraud and their credit-card company, where Section 75 refunds could be applicable.

(7th October 2010)


 

CRIME FIGHTERS OR SOCIAL WORKERS ? THE CLUES ARE IN 24HRS ON TWITTER
(The Times dated 15th October 2010 author Russell Jenkins )
www.thetimes.co.uk

If Peter Fahy was trying to impress upon politians how mind-numbingly tediosd can be the challenges faced by officers on an average shift, he succeeded admirably. The Cheif Constable of Greater Manchester offered a real time insight yesterday into the daily life of an urban police force by publishing on Twitter a summary of every incident in a 24-hour period.

At 7.05am the "gmp 24" feed revealed that officers had responded to a report of a "piece of wood on the carriageway on the M62 near Rochdale". Call 412 of the day was from a woman who asked for help to sue the Benefits Agency because she had no money. This was followed by a complaint that a man had shouted "you're gorgeous" to a passing female.

These stood out among a blizzard of domestic and neighbour disputes, often fuelled by alcohol and drug abuse. Typically the feed records at 1021, "domestic incident in Rochdale", and at 1022, "problem with homeless male in city centre".

The tweeted incidents poured in at the rate of 120 an hour, ranging from industrial accidents, vehicle obstruction and suspicious activity to accidental 999s, missing teenagers and even some "real" police work - burglaries, car thefts and sexual assaults.

It is the first time that a British force has employed the social networking site in this way. Mr Fahy wanted to get across to the public and politicians that police work often has more in common with social work than with Hrcule Poirot. His favourite was a horsewoman who phoned to tell officers that she had ridden over a bridge into a park and now the horse was refusing to leave.

On an average day the force takes 7000 calls, prompting about 2000 logged incidents, Yesterday was typical. There had been54 arrests in the 2 hours between midday and 2pm, with 120 people taken into custody.

Mr Fahy emphasised that a single apparently insignificant line on the Twitter feed could represent an enormous amount of work for his officers in terms of follow-up and investigation.

He is anxious to impress upon politicians the time-consuming nature of police work before the Comprehensive Spending Review. There is concern that the force could lose 25% of its budget, representing 3,100 jobs - although Mr Fahy acknowledges that some money could be saved on equipment, cars and buildings.

The feed proved a mesmeric attraction for Twitter followers, who tweeted in their appreciation. It even spawned copycats, which drew a swift helth warning from police press officers. The feed was due to run until 5am today (15th October 2010).

The gmp tweets were sent through various addresses, including @gmp_1, @gmp_2 and @gmp_3. The @gmp_0 address , however was hijacked by a prankster who invented a variety of spoof calls, including the old chestnut : "Someone's nicked all of the police tiolets. We have nothing to go on".

(7th November 2010)


 

TOP 10 DO'S AND DON'T OF SOCIAL NETWORKING
(V3.CO.UK dated 9th October 2010, authors Iain Thomson and Shuan Nichols )
http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news

This article has been shortened by the Editor of this website. For the full 6 page article : http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2271264/top-dos-ts-social-networking?page=1

Social networking can be a great boon. It can entice customers, reconnect old friends and help with a myriad of problems. It can also destroy reputations, trash relationships and lead to heartbreak. Tread wisely.

DO

Special mention : Keep aware of privacy tools
 
Check the social networking sites terms and conditions. According to the authors they make very disturbing reading.

Social networking sites can be very poor on privacy controls. After all, if the entire raison d'être of using the site is the sharing of information then wither privacy?

You the user should decide your own privacy settings, either by using embedded tools or by simply restricting what you share. It is well worth spending a few minutes just checking out the latest privacy settings and options to make sure that your information is protected.

Social networking is still very much an evolving field and, if you want to keep safe, you have to make sure you're keeping pace with that evolution.


5. Know who your friends are
 
On one hand you don't want to be exposing your information, and that of your friends, to whatever weirdo just so happens to send out a friend request, but there's also the matter of connections that are not obvious which may prove embarrassing.

Strangers are one thing, but what about co-workers or superiors at the company who may not approve of things like party photos or status updates grumbling or gossiping about work? If you're the sort of person who likes to post these things, you want to make sure certain people aren't viewing your news feed.

Another potential source of trouble could be jealous former partners. Obviously information on how you're moving on and who you're seeing may not be information you want a jealous ex to have.


If you've been on social networking sites you've probably come across this. Someone you've never heard of asks to be your friend, usually with an attractive picture attached. If you accept them you get a torrent of updates on games, other applications and advertising spam.

 

4. Password awareness

Firstly, you should never use the same password for your social network as you do for your key accounts.

Social networking password protection is still a way behind other applications, and if you lose control of a social networking account you'll want to minimise the effect of a lost password.

Ideally have a different password for every account you use, but in the real world that's just not possible.

Secondly, be savvy about where you access your social networking sites from and make sure you don't leave yourself logged in or give criminals the chance to use your account. There is are increasing numbers of people getting caught out by this, either by accessing sites from a friend's computer and leaving accounts wide open, or in using public terminals which are loaded with key-logging software.

Ideally you should only access your key accounts on a computer you know and are sure is secure. I'd sooner hand my money to passers-by than try to do online banking in an internet cafe in the Ukraine.

Just because a site has a Facebook, Twitter or MySpace logo doesn't mean that your information is safe. Any time a page asks for your account information, always be sure to check out the URL and be certain that it is in fact the social networking site it claims to be.

If you're not sure of a site, do not enter your account information. Missing out on a silly video is a lot better than having your account information harvested and used to spam or even steal money from your friends and family.


3. Education, education, education

If you're a manager or small business owner, it's a good idea to lay out a policy and guidelines to employees about what sort of behaviour is and isn't appropriate at work, and what sort of company information should be shared and what should stay off Facebook.

It's even more serious for children. The internet can be a dangerous place, and kids need to know how to protect their information and what sort of situations they have to avoid. You don't chuck a kid in a swimming pool and expect it to swim, and you certainly shouldn't let kids loose on the internet without advice and training.

We used to say about email that you shouldn't disclose anything you wouldn't be happy to see on the front page of your local newspaper. Now people post up amazing details on their own broadsheets and a little education can prevent a multitude of woes.

From a corporate standpoint, education is an absolute must. Employees must realise that if they include their employer in social networking posts they are liable.

There have been too many regrettable incidents of people being fired for posting work information online and, while there is a case for this sometimes, a clear explanation of what's acceptable is a must for any company.

Social networking can drive a lot of business to a company if it's done right. Done badly, you can kiss your customers goodbye.

 

2. Question applications

We're kind of at a point in social networking security where we were with email attachments around a decade ago; they're just starting to get really dangerous.

We're seeing increasing reports of bogus applications showing up on Facebook and, given the amount of personal data most people seem to store on there, that's a major security risk for identity theft.

We've all got a little too used to giving applications full rein over our data by clicking a simple OK button, and I worry that we are becoming too trusting.

Recently on Facebook we've seen a big increase in spam from friends along the lines of 'Check out this interesting/funny/exploitative clip'. The first time I saw this I clicked on the link out of a vague sense of interest.

The next screen asks you to download an application that can access personal data, which as far as I'm concerned is a red flag waved by a scarlet woman on a puce background.

Whenever you install an application on Facebook, you are giving that application access to your profile data. If an application looks to be a bit odd or shady, you should definitely think twice about installing it and giving access to your information. We are rapidly approaching a point where installing an unknown Facebook application can be just as dangerous as installing a strange piece of software on your desktop PC.

1. Protect information

Users absolutely must know how to use Facebook's privacy controls and how to safeguard the information they put online.

I got a new phone and downloaded the Facebook application and synced in. In doing so I downloaded the mobile numbers of many friends, which was useful in some respects. But I'm willing to bet a lot of those people didn't think the company would be playing for free with their data.

Personal information is money and power these days. Advertisers want to know what to sell you, researchers want to find out about you and occasionally someone wants to rob from you.

Any personal information that's not absolutely essential should be withheld from apps, and don't be too free and easy with anything you put online.


DON'T


Special mention : Cyber-stalking

When does curiosity turn into an unhealthy interest? Well, if you have to ask yourself that question you've probably gone too far already.

A big part of Facebook is making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. But sometimes you fall out of touch with people for a reason. If you see someone you recognise, send them a friend request. If they don't accept, leave it alone.

If they do accept, a simple hello message is enough. No need to go through every single photo or posting and comment on it. Even with friends, you can sometimes come on a bit too heavy.

The internet, and social networking sites in particular, are a gold mine to the stalker set. That goes double for bullies, as we're seeing with tragic consequences. Social networks have enabled a large amount of nasty behaviour.

Laws are coming in slowly to handle the problem, but from an IT administrator's point of view any employee using work hardware for this sort of stuff should be out the door so fast their feet won't touch the ground.

5. Drink and type
 

We can all think of postings on social networks that inspire the thought 'What were they drinking when they wrote that?' Thankfully most social networks include a delete feature, but for some that comes too late and merely adds a fresh horror to the morning-after hangover.

There have been attempts to find a technical fix for this problem, notably on handsets. In that case you had to solve a puzzle before you could text. The problem with these types of solutions is that, like the child proof caps on Aspirin bottles, too often you can't get past them sober, let alone drunk.

Part of growing up is knowing your limits and having the restraint to put the phone away after you know you've had too many. Unlike those staggering, late night text messages, however, what you put up on Facebook or Twitter is available for everyone in your network to see.

In many cases this can just be embarrassing. But if you use your profile to manage business connections or have co-workers and managers as your friends, it can also put the hurt on your very livelihood.

 

4. Hammer friends with updates

We all have one friend who does this. While most people are good for one update every day or two, this person feels like they're falling behind if they go more than an hour without updating their status. They have to share what they're eating for every meal and what they're going to do that night.

Just as bad are the overly proud parents. A photo of your kids at Christmas or playing sports here and there is OK, but three or four photos and 'look how cute my kid is' status updates a week is just irritating.

A big part of the problem is that so many people in the Facebook demographic are becoming first time parents, and we know that few people are more irritating than first time parents.

3. Photo's

A picture tells a thousand words, which is why you should be very careful of posting any online.

It may not matter how many pages you have on your CV about your work as a sober citizen of note if your employer checks out your Facebook page and sees you half naked having jello shots on various parts of your anatomy. You wouldn't stick such photos up over your desk, so why on earth would you make them available to everyone?

This is big business now. I got a press release this week from a firm offering a social networking screening programme to employers and universities, which was quite open about the fact that they routinely check applicants' social networking pages to get a better idea of who they are. More than a few people I suspect have lost out on big opportunities due to an ill-advised photo.

This goes for posting photos of other people too. I have a lovely shot of a former technology magazine editor in an Amsterdam café with a suspicious home-made cigarette in her (grinning) mouth and, while it's a great shot, I wouldn't post it online.

Those who have moved to Facebook from other sites such as MySpace probably need to take care and make sure their old accounts are either cancelled or locked down. Your Facebook account may be well-managed and lacking any embarrassing content, but what about that old MySpace page from five or six years ago?

By and large most of the photos you put online can be accessed by the general public. A good rule of thumb is to assume that every photo you put up on the web can be accessed by a stranger and judge your content accordingly.

2. Follow strange links

The new scams making the rounds don't even require you to install an application or repost a link. Perhaps you've seen them from your own friends.

The updates look like videos or news articles and say things like 'shocking video' or 'crazy story'. When you click on the link, you get another window which then links you to a different page.


In the process, however, the page has tricked you into 'liking' the article and re-posting the information onto your friends list. In the meantime, the person behind the scam is making money from traffic to the third-party site.

In short, if you see a link that looks suspicious, don't follow it and advise the person behind it to delete the post.

We've been banging on about this for years now but the exploits keep on working - your browser is the primary source for malware infections and links are the third martini that leads to a regrettable incident.

You should no more click on an unreliable link than you should open an email attachment from an unknown source. It's that simple.

Even legitimate web pages can carry malware infected data and, with the increasing number of zero-day flaws, even a fully patched browser will not protect you. Look at the entire URL string at the very least before clicking.

1. Mistake private for public

This is the fundamental point of this piece on social networking. Nowadays, and increasingly if Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has his way, your online persona is a major part of how people view you and this takes some managing.

Social networking started out as a way of getting to know people, but our online personas are now so open that they significantly affect how people view us.

We now have the ability to put the most detailed and personal information about our lives online, and have them seen by millions. It's a lot of responsibility, and one that too many people aren't going to take seriously.

The inability to distinguish between a private message and a public posting has already resulted in the loss of jobs, marriages and a great deal of dignity.

It may seem like a trivial matter, but it's shocking to see how many people can't distinguish between a personal message and a wall post. This can have disastrous effects on the sender and the recipient.

There's also the matter of status updates. We touched on knowing who your friends are earlier in this list. It's also important to remember that your friends can see your status updates. Don't post an update unless you're OK with everyone on your list reading it.


(14th October 2010)


 

FLIP-FLOPS, LOLLIPOPS AND COFFEE : CAMDEN'S LATEST WEAPONS IN FIGHT AGAINST BINGE DRINKING
( Evening Standard dated 12th October 2010, author Kiran Randhawa )
www.thisislondon.co.uk

Drunken revellers in Camden Town are being given condoms, biscuits and lollipops at the public's expense to avoid alcohol-related harm during a night out.

Under the scheme, branded "a pointless gimmick" by critics, the inebriated will also be offered tea, coffee and squash to sober up, while women in high heels will be given flip-flops to stop them falling over.

The trial, running until the new year, would cost tens of thousands of pounds every year if adopted permanently. Its organisers, Camden council, Camden police and NHS Camden, say it will help cut the number of drunken incidents every weekend.

But the TaxPayers'Alliance said: "Binge drinkers already costs taxpayers millions every year and should not be rewarded for their behaviour with treats. This scheme does nothing to increase individual responsibility or tackle what is a growing social problem.

"It is a horrendous waste of both taxpayers' money and precious police resources, which should be allocated to the front line and not this sort of pointless gimmick."

Camden council said the offer of drinks and food "can stop people shouting, make them less aggressive and prevent post-alcohol hunger".

Foil blankets will also be dispensed, along with advice on alcohol, drug and sexual health issues.Abdul Hai, Camden's Cabinet member for community safety, said: "We are spending just a few hundred pounds each weekend to ensure that people who come to our area can enjoy themselves and get home safely."

Savings have been made by easing pressure on other public services in the two weeks the scheme has been running, he added.

It is run from a marquee on Fridays and Saturdays, from 8.30pm to 4am.

Last year paramedics responded to 3,453 alcohol-related call-outs in the area, the second-highest figure in the country.

A £30,000 scheme in Torquay in 2008 saw drunken women given flip-flops.


 

But !


 


FLIP-FLOP INJURIES COST NHS £40 MILLION TO TREAT EVERY YEAR
(www.mirror.co.uk dated 29th July 2010 author Danny Buckland )

Injuries caused by flip-flops are costing the NHS an astonishing £40million every year.

The casual sandals leave up to 200,000 people nursing foot and ankle problems from falls that need medical treatment.

Flip-flops have become a fashion item, with increased everyday use over uneven pavements seeing the huge rise in accidents. Wearers can suffer twisted ankles, stubbed toes, strained calf muscles and sore tendons as the body struggles to cope with their flat shape.

Experts believe regular use can also lead to shin splints and joint problems. So, with more than 15 million regular users in Britain, the cost to the NHS could soar.

Mike O'Neill, of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, said "With flip-flops, people land on the outside and roll the foot inwards putting all the pressure on the big toe.

"This constant rolling puts pressure on the ankle joint, causing it to weaken. The lack of support also causes pain in the tendons on the inside of the foot and lower leg."

Flip-flops are one of the most popular shoes among women, particularly in the summer.

(13th October 2010)


 

RUSSIA DETAINS SUSPECT IN CARDING, ONLINE FRAUD SCHEME
( COMPUTERWORLD , dated 5th October 2010 author Jeremy Kirk )
www.computerworld.com

Russian authorities have detained a Ukrainian national who oversaw a group that manufactured fraudulent payment cards and identity documents, according to the country's Interior Ministry on Monday.

The group -- whose members also included Russian and Armenian nationals -- stole money from the accounts of 17 Russian credit organizations as well as foreign banks, causing more than $660,225 in damages.

Authorities seized 100 fraudulent cards, computer equipment and an "encoder," which can replicate the magnetic stripe information of a legitimate card onto a fraudulent one. The frauds occurred between January and June, the ministry said.

The Interior Ministry did not say if the action was related to a wide-ranging sting operation in the U.S., U.K and Ukraine last week related to the use of the Zeus banking malware. An Interior Ministry official was unable to provide further information today.

Authorities in those countries arrested more than 100 people, charging them with offenses ranging from money laundering to passport fraud to conspiracy. Many of those arrested were so-called "money mules," who agree to receive stolen funds into bank accounts and then subsequently wire the money to their superiors in the gang.

The action, however, was probably not related to the Zeus stings, since the Zeus gangs are not known for "carding," or the capturing of credit card details for the purposes of making fraudulent payment cards, said Alex Gostev, chief security expert for security software vendor Kaspersky Lab.

Also, the ministry statement mentions clauses 187 and 159 of the Russian criminal code, which refers to forging payment documents and credit cards and property theft respectively, said Timur Tsoriev, head of Kaspersky's technology PR group. It doesn't mention clause 273, which covers the creation and spreading of malware, he said.

Russia's actions should be applauded, wrote Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"While there are really not enough details to proclaim this to be Zeus, it's still praiseworthy action by the Russian government against criminals who are harming American interests over the Internet," Warner wrote.

( 9th October 2010 )


 

FAKE BROWSER WARNINGS DUPE USERS INTO DOWNLOADING "SCAREWARE"
( COMPUTERWORLD, dated 5th October 2010 author Gregg Keizer )
www.computerworld.com

Makers of phony security software spoof anti-malware alerts in IE, Firefox and Chrome.

Scammers are spoofing the anti-malware warnings of popular browsers to dupe Windows users into downloading fake security software, Symantec said Monday.

Several malicious Web sites are displaying phony versions of the alerts that Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox present when users encounter pages suspected of hosting attack code, said Symantec researcher Parveen Vashishtha in a post to the firm's blog.

Rather than simply warn users that the page they're about to visit may be dangerous -- as do the legitimate alerts -- the sham versions also include a prominent message that suggests downloading a browser security update.

In reality, no browser offers its users security updates from its anti-malware warning screen.

Anyone who accepts the update actually downloads bogus software, often called "scareware" because it bombards users with endless fictitious infection warnings until people pay $40 to $50 to buy the useless program.

Even the cautious can be nailed by these sites. Users who refuse the mock updates are assaulted by a multi-exploit toolkit that includes attack code for 10 different vulnerabilities in Windows, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer and Java. Windows PCs that have been kept up-to-date with bug patches will be immune from the exploit kit, however.

"Malware authors are employing innovative social engineering tricks to fool users -- it's as simple as that," said Vashishtha.

The strategy that Symantec pointed out isn't new. A month ago, Microsoft's malware protection center warned that fake antivirus scammers were putting up bogus alerts in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

"The similarity between the fake warning pages [and the real things] is so accurate that it can trick even highly trained eyes," Microsoft said in early September.

It's no surprise that scareware dealers are constantly looking for new ways to con users into downloading their good-for-nothing software: It's a serious business.

According to the FBI, rogue security makers have made at least $150 million by duping the public.

Little wonder, then, that the fake security software industry is huge. During the 12 months from 1st July , 2008, to 30th June, 2009, more than 250 different phony programs tried to get on more than 43 million machines worldwide, Symantec said in a report issued last October.

(9th October 2010)


 

SECURITY CONCERNS PROMPT DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (USA) TO SUSPEND WEB-BASED OVERSEAS VOTING
( COMPUTERWORLD, dated 6th October 2010 author Jaikumar Vijayan, edited for uaware.org.uk )
www.computerworld.com

Security issues have prompted election officials in the District of Columbia to suspend a service that aimed to allow overseas voters to cast their ballots via the Web in the November elections.

The vulnerabilities in Washington's new Digital Vote by Mail system were discovered during public testing last week by several security researchers.

Details of the flaws were not immediately available. However, one of them, discovered by a researcher at the University of Michigan, was so serious that it allowed the researcher to take complete control of the system hosting the Web application and tweak it so users who voted would hear a rendition of "Hail to the Victors," a University of Michigan fight song, said one observer of the tests.

A statement on the District of Columbia's Board of Elections and Ethics Web site offered no specific details on the issues that were uncovered. It merely noted that the "current iteration of the ballot return feature" did not meet required security and file integrity standards and was therefore being suspended.

Overseas voters will still be able to use the system to download their blank ballots, print them out, mark them and send them back by mail. They also have the option of sending a copy of their marked ballot back to their precinct by e-mail or fax.

Washington's new digital voting system is designed to make it easier for overseas U.S., military personnel and other citizens to vote in elections. The system is one of many that are being implemented around the country in response to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009.

One of the provisions under MOVE requires election officials to provide a Web-based application for delivering ballots to overseas voters. The goal is to allow registered voters who are based overseas to log into a Web site, identify themselves using a previously provided PIN and to download the ballots for their precincts.

Under MOVE, voters are then allowed to print out the ballots, mark them and send them back by mail. They also have the option of sending a copy of their marked ballot back via e-mail or fax.

A third option allows them to use the Web application to digitally mark their ballot and send it back via the same application; this is the method that has now been suspended by election officials as a result of the security concerns.

Jeremy Epstein, a senior computer scientist at SRI International and one of those who have reviewed the design of the system, said on Tuesday that he is familiar with the testing conducted last week by University of Michigan researchers.

While he would not comment on the specifics of the testing, he said that one of the flaws allowed a researcher to take over the system and modify it so it would play the fight song.

The tests confirmed long-standing concerns about the vulnerability of Web based voting systems to issues such as denial-of-service attacks, Web redirection attacks and client-side attacks, designed to manipulate the manner in which ballots are marked, he said.

Epstein was one of several signatories to a letter sent to a D.C. council member last month expressing concern over the use of the Web system for returning marked ballots. The letter noted concern over the fact that the system had never been tested before, or certified for use by any agency.

David Jefferson, chairman of Verified Voting, and a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said that when he was testing the new system last week, he discovered a serious problem when the Web application was accessed via Apple's Safari browser on a Mac OS system. Ballots that are properly downloaded and marked using the built-in PDF viewer in Safari automatically go back to their original blank state when saved and submitted, he said.

In a real election, it would mean that a voter had cast a blank ballot, most likely without even realizing it, he said. "Every Macintosh Safari user, except those who had configured their browser to use Adobe Reader, would believe they had voted, [but] what they had submitted would be a blank ballot," Jefferson said.


 

Editor comments

It just goes to show that even computer specialists have problems in maintaining security on their systems. Let's hope that no future electoral reform in the UK includes this type of system for a future voting option. You never know, some ambitious Salesman may try to sell the "faulty" system to the UK ( it does happen )!


Link to original article : http://cwflyris.computerworld.com/t/6842315/753476122/327084/0/

(9th October 2010)


 

CO-HABITEES "LESS LIKELY TO BE BURGLED
( www.guardian.co.uk , 3rd October 2010 )

People in long-term relationships who live apart are almost three times as likely to be burgled as couples who share a home, according to one insurer.

A survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Halifax Home Insurance and carried out between July and August found that 23% of people in relationships longer than two years and living separately have suffered a break-in. But just 8% of couples who live together said they had been burgled.

On a national scale, this would mean 980,000 couples with separate homes were victims of a burglary, costing them a combined £2.6bn over the past five years. According to insurance claims data from Halifax, the average claim for a break-in is £2,687.

A spokesman for Halifax Home Insurance said: "Couples adopting this lifestyle are putting themselves at significant risk of burglary, as they leave their respective homes unoccupied for 40 evening hours per week while staying at their partner's house.

"In light of the findings we would urge these couples to ensure they have adequate home insurance cover in place for both homes, and advise that they take all of the necessary security precautions to protect their properties."

But he added that insurance premiums would not be affected because the number of occupants at a property was already factored into assessments.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 1,640 (82%) said they were in a relationship. Of these, 91 (5.6%) said they had been together for more than two years but did not live with their partner, up from 3.9% 10 years ago.

The research also uncovered reasons why people delay the seminal moving in moment: nearly two-thirds of couples aged under 25 did not want to rush into sharing a home, while half of people aged over 35 said they shared too many possessions to fit under one roof.

People in the countryside also appear more reluctant to move in with their partners than city dwellers. People in relationships living in rural areas are together 22 months before they live with one another, compared to 19.5 months for urban residents.

Couples in the West Midlands and Birmingham average just 18 months before living together, while the Welsh keep their partners waiting 26 months.

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, said: "A valued sense of independence appears to be the main reason that couples are now taking longer to move in together. However, we would advise people to make sure their own properties are fully secure if regularly staying away from home."

Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers' Association recommended people install security measures, such as a burglar alarm or lights, to keep their homes safe. He also said they should contact their insurer if their properties are unoccupied for a long period of time as some home contents insurance policies only allow up to 30 days of vacancy.


 

Editors Comment

In short, if you leave your home empty for any period of time, criminals notice ! I wonder how much that they paid for this survey ?

If you leave your home empty for any reason for a period of time ensure that it appears occupied. Use a timer to switch lights on and off during the day.

(8th October 2010)


 

BEWARE THEFT ON HOLIDAYS ABROAD
( www.guardian.co.uk , dated 4th October 2010 )

Thieves have stolen an estimated £1.7bn of possessions from Britons holidaying abroad in the last five years, it has been revealed.

Some 11 per cent of British adults have been the victim of theft while on breaks overseas, a survey by Sainsbury's Travel Insurance found. Yet only 51 per cent of those who had something stolen reported the incident to local police, the poll of 2,000 British adults showed.

The average value of the stolen items was £326 per person, with five per cent of victims being robbed of valuables worth more than £1,000. Men have been more likely than women to be victims of theft with the most common form of theft being pickpocketing (21 per cent), followed by theft from a car (17 per cent) and bag snatching (16 per cent). Also, 15 per cent of victims had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

As many as 35 per cent of victims had cash stolen, while 15 per cent lost their camera to thieves and 14 per cent had their mobile phone taken.

(8th October 2010


 

HERTS USE POCA TO DISRUPT THE CRIMINALS
(www.herts.police.uk 7th October 2010 )

Six people have been arrested by Hertfordshire Constabulary following a week-long crackdown under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002).

Operation Payback, which began last week, saw a series of warrants executed across the county to disrupt those individuals believed to be committing fraud or money laundering offences.

Run by the Constabulary's Economic Crime Unit, the operation also had assistance from the Force's specialist RAID team who helped to conduct the raids and the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Dog Unit's 'Cash Dog', who was ready to sniff out any hidden cash, firearms or drugs.

On Wednesday, September 29, officers working in partnership with the UK Border Agency executed a warrant at an address in St Albans Road, Watford. As a result, a 43-year-old man from Watford was arrested on suspicion of fraud. He has now been police bailed until January 2011. Two other men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offence and are being dealt with by the UK Border Agency.

On Friday, October 1, officers attended a property in the Phillipers, Watford, in connection with a fraud offence. A 45-year-old man from Watford was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and has been police bailed until the beginning of November.

Two people were also arrested today (October 5) in connection with a credit card fraud. A 43-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, both from Elstree, have been bailed until January 2011.

Detective Superintendent Jane Swinburne said: "Operation Payback demonstrates our ongoing commitment to using our powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to prevent people from benefiting from crime and preying on innocent people.

"We carry out operations of this nature all-year round to weed out those negative role models in our society who think it is acceptable to profit from crime and steal from hardworking, law abiding citizens. With our powers, we are not only stopping them, but taking away their assets to reoffend in the future as well as compensating victims."

Jane continued: "I would encourage members of the public to play their part in stopping those people in their communities who live off the proceeds of crime, by reporting them to the police and allowing us to take action.

Hertfordshire also allow the public the opportunity to "Click" on the Make Criminals Pay page on www.herts.police.uk and fill in the secure form where they can give information anonymously and with confidence. This is an alternative to contacting Crimestoppers or the local Safer Neighbourhood Team who can use your information to build an intelligence picture and stop criminals from benefiting from crime."

(8th October 2010)


 

FAILING POLICE CHIEFS FACE SACK
( www.policeoracle.co.uk 7th October 2010 )
 
Chief Constables who fail to fulfil their primary role of cutting crime will soon find themselves out of a job, Home Secretary Theresa May has emphasised.

In a hard-hitting speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Minister said that the principal business of the police had to be the prevention of crime, despite an apparent belief among some senior officers that this was not the case.

She maintained that crime reduction should be "the only test of a Force" and said the public would be able to make this abundantly clear when they voted for the first Directly Elected Police and Crime Commissioners in two years' time.

Ms May said: "Earlier this year, when I scrapped the last remaining police targets, I told commanding officers: 'I couldn't be any clearer about your mission - it isn't a 30-point plan, it is to cut crime.

"One Chief Constable, who has since retired, told the media that they only spent about a third of their time dealing with crime and the job wasn't as simple as 'just catching criminals.'

"I couldn't be clearer - cutting crime is the only test of a Police Force. And when people have power to hold the police to account through elections, any commissioner or chief constable who doesn't cut crime will find themselves looking for a new job."

Ms May reiterated her claim that officers had become "detached and distant from the people they serve" and that the new model of local accountability would promote re-engagement.

During her speech, Ms May went on the offensive over Labour's record on policing, pledging to "tear up the disastrous Licensing Act" and create an alternative to complex control orders.

She also pledged help for victims of crime, giving rape crisis centre long-term funding, as well as reviewing counter-terrorism law, pledging tough action again "preachers of hate".

( 8th October 2010 )

 


 

THEIR WORTH IT ! or THEIR WORTH IT ?

A couple of weeks ago the BBC Panorama programme disclosed the numbers of Civil Servants who were being paid more than the UK Prime Minister. There were over 34,500 of them ! This website only covers area's of law and order. The UK Judges account for 2321 who are being paid more than the PM. There are 191 senior police officers being paid more than the PM and this accounts for almost £24 million.

The table below shows the Chief Constables salaries for each of the 52 local constabularies in the UK. Against each Chief Constable is shown the number of Police Officers, Admin staff and PCSO under their command. If these were converted into commercial organisations they would be classed as quite large and their Chief Executve Officers would probably be paid correspondingly more.

Sources :

England and Wales Police staffing figures (2009/10) : http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb1410.pdf

Scottish Police staffing figures (2008/9) : http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/925/0078646.pdf

Northern Ireland staffing figures (01/09/2010) : http://www.psni.police.uk/index/updates/updates_statistics/updates_strength_of_police_service_statistics.htm

Senior Civil Servants pay ( BBC - Panorama ) : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ty5db

 

 Organisation

Description

Pay_2009/10

 Officers_2010

 Other_staff_2010 Headcount

 PCSO

ENGLAND

 .

.

 .

.

.

 Avon and Somerset

Chief Constable

 £151,095

3294

 1871

430

Bedfordshire

Chief Constable

£146,376

1231

 826

116

Cambridgeshire

Chief Constable

£142,139

1443

 1038

209

Cheshire

Chief Constable

£135,660

2122

 1471

237

Cleveland

Chief Constable

£130,093

1667

 711

193

Cumbria

Chief Constable

£126,810

1166

 794

111

Derbyshire

Chief Constable

£135,660

2048

 1225

181

Devon and Cornwall

Chief Constable

£147,456

3520

 1766

363

Dorset

Chief Constable

£129,759

1485

 1027

164

Durham

Chief Constable

£129,759

1480

 881

175

Essex

 Chief Constable

£144,510

3567

 2075

445

Gloustershire 

 Chief Constable

£126,810

1309

 729

148

Greater Manchester

 Chief Constable

£181,949

7960

 3927

842

Hampshire

 Chief Constable

£150399

3657

 2271

347

Hertfordshire

 Chief Constable

£145,337

2069

 1481

262

 Humberside

 Chief Constable

£140,000

2057

 1415

317

 Kent

 Chief Constable

£147,456

3748

 2381

387

 Lancashire

 Chief Constable

£147,456

3562

 1957

428

 Leicestershire

 Chief Constable

£135,660

2308

 1151

233

Lincolnshire

 Chief Constable

£126,810

 1171

879

149

 London, City of

Commissioner

 ?

844

 310

52

Merseyside

Chief Constable

£153,351

4442

 2117

468

Metropolitan Police

Commissioner

£269,000

32879

 14179

4645

Norfolk

Chief Constable

£129,158

1643

 1072

275

Northamptonshire

Chief Constable

£129,759

1346

 1161

164

Northumbria

Chief Constable

£156,625

4121

 2010

438

North Yorkshire

Chief Constable

£129,759

1466

 1158

198

Nottinghamshire

Chief Constable

£151,000

2386

 1566

268

South Yorkshire

Chief Constable

£144,510

2945

 2304

328

Staffordshire

Chief Constable

£130,800

2120

 1315

237

Suffolk

 Chief Constable

£125,111

1224

 922

173

Surrey 

 Chief Constable

£147,416

1835

 1829

224

Sussex

 Chief Constable

£144,510

3205

 2139

377

Thames Valley

 Chief Constable

£156,303

4370

 2930

500

Warwickshire

 Chief Constable

£126,810

939

 765

138

 West Mercia

 Chief Constable

£135,660

2349

 1715

279

 West Midlands

 Chief Constable

£176,943

8537

 3667

811

 West Yorkshire

 Chief Constable

£217,956

5737

 3539

763

 Wiltshire

 Chief Constable

£129,759

1172

 833

126

_

 _

_

 _

_

_

WALES

 _

_

 _

_

_

Dyfed-Powys Police

 Chief Constable

£126,810

 1181

692

83

Gwent Police

 Chief Constable

£129,759

 1423

810

143

North Wales

 Chief Constable

£129,759

 1585

876

157

South Wales

 Chief Constable

£144,510

 3056

1810

335

_

 _

_

 _

_

_

SCOTLAND

 _

_

 _

_

_

Central Scotland Police

 Chief Constable

£123,858

 853

352

?

Dunfries and Galloway Constabulary

 Chief Constable

£123,858

 511

293

?

Fife Constabulary

 Chief Constable

£122,500

 1082

543

?

Grampian Police

 Chief Constable

£129,759

 1557

851

?

Lothian and Borders Constabulary

 Chief Constable

£135,000

 3007

1320

?

Northern Constabulary

 Chief Constable

£123,858

 785

417

?

Strathclyde Police

 Chief Constable

£173,994

 8410

2748

?

Tayside Police

 Chief Constable

£126,810

 1220

588

?

_

 _

_

 _

_

_

NORTHERN IRELAND

 _

_

 _

_

_

Northern Ireland, Police Service of

 Chief Constable

£202,500

 8235

2266

n/a - Aug_2010

 

(6th October 2010)


 

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TOYS IN SAFETY ALERT
(Daily Express dated 1st October 2010, author Nathan Rao )
www.dailyexpress.co.uk

Children's toymaker Fisher-Price has announced a recall of hundreds of thousands of toys and high chairs sold in the UK amid fears for youngsters' safety.

The firm is urging customers who bought a number of products with inflatable balls and certai high chairs to stop using them and return them to the shop where they were bought.

The recall comes after 14 reports of problems in the US, leaving seven children needing stitches. These were also reports of valves on the balls coming loose and becoming a choking hazard, and potential dangers with pegs on the chairs.

Choking

The affected chairs, of which 72,763 were sold in the UK, carry the names Basic Healthy Care Cow and Moon, Flutterbye Dream, Aquarium Healthy Care and Link Delux Healthy Care.

A further 165,000 products sold in Britain that were subjected to the recall include the :
Baby Payzone Crawl and Cruise Playground
Baby Playzone crawl and slide arcade
Baby Gynastics Play wall
Ocean Wonders kick and crawl aquarium
1-2-3 Tetherball
Bat and Ball score goal

All of the items were sold between July 2001 and July 2008.

The 6,107 Little People Wheelies Stand n Py Rampway toys sold between April and September this year also recalled after reports that the wheels on the cars could come off, again posing a choking hazard.

A spokeswoman for Fisher-Price said "We want to reassure parents that our products are overwhelmingly safe. We operate in a highly regulated industry and we test our products at many stages during development and production. Our product engineers have many years of experience in designing safe toys. In additon, we monitor parents safety-related reports over time. If we see an issue with a product at any point, even after many have been sold and used safely, we take appropriate action. Our actions reflect our continuing commitment to the safety of our products"

The spokeswoman added : " Hundreds of millions of our products are used safely every day and we believe these simple fixes will continue that excellent record.

Fisher-Price has set up a consumer helpline on 0800 0320 615 for those seeking more information about the recall.

MOTHERS WARNED OVER SLEEP AIDS
(Daily Express dated 1st October 2010, author Nathan Rao )

Babies sleep safety aids have been pulled from British stores after they were linked with infants' deaths. Mothers were last night urged not to put their babies in "Sleep positioners" after US health organisations warned they could lead to suffocation.

Mothercare, Tesco and Kiddicare were yesterday taking the products off the UK market. Most of the devices have bolsters at each side of a thin mat and wedges to raise the baby's head. They are claimed to help keep babies on their backs and reduce risk of conditions including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

But the US Food and Drug Administration warned on Wednesday that the positioners had been linked with 12 baby deaths in America in 13 years. Most of the babies died after rolling on to their stomachs and suffocating, or becoming trapped between the device and a cot.

Mothercare said it was pulling three positioners, Head 'n' Back, Resting Up and Snuggle Nest; "while we review the situation".

Tesco said it stocked one make, Summer Infant. It was available only online and would be removed "as a precaution".

Kiddicare said it would stop selling positioners and in its Peterborough shop

The UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it had no adverse reports on baby positioners but would "keep them under review".


Editors comment

 

Mothers should check with their own Doctor and / or Health Visitor about the use of any products with their baby.

(1st October 2010)


 

E - CRIME POLICE ARREST 19 OVER ONLINE BANK THEFT
(bbc.co.uk dated 29th September 2010)

Nineteen people suspected of stealing millions from online bank accounts have been arrested by police.Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit raided a string of addresses across London on Monday.

The suspects are alleged to be part of a gang that has stolen at least £6m in the past three months.

Police say that the international plotters used malicious code to capture bank log-in details that were held on personal computers. The 15 men and four women arrested in Monday's dawn operation are aged between 23 and 47 and are being held at various police stations in London.

Detectives are questioning them on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and offences under the Computer

Misuse Act. Two of those held were also arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm.

International plot

Detectives say that thousands of computers are suspected to have been targeted by a gang who were using a trojan programme dubbed "ZeuS".

A trojan is a piece of "malware" that can appear as an ordinary application which is innocently or unintentionally installed by a user. Once in place, it secretly gathers information on the machine - and passes it back to its creator.

Detectives said that the gang had harvested log-in details operated by a range of major banks. Once the gang had the personal details, they transferred cash into accounts set up solely to gather the money before it was laundered onwards.

Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson of the Metropolitan Police said it was likely that the amount known to have been stolen would "increase considerably" as the investigation continues.

"We believe we have disrupted a highly organised criminal network, which has used sophisticated methods to siphon large amounts of cash from many innocent people's accounts, causing immense personal anxiety and significant financial harm - which of course banks have had to repay at considerable cost to the economy," he said.

"Online banking customers must make sure their security systems are up to date and be alert to any unusual or additional security features requested which is at variance with their normal log-on experience."Greater public awareness and education will make it harder for personal details to be compromised and for this type of fraud to be carried out."

DCI Wilson said that the operation had been helped by the "virtual task force" of police officers, computer experts and banking representatives who had shared intelligence and the latest research into online banking fraud.


 

Further Information

Met Police e-crimes unit webpages : http://www.met.police.uk/pceu/

Multi organisation / agency online security advice : http://www.getsafeonline.org/

Computer / laptop security can cost from £0 (yes, zero pounds - check with your braoadband supplier). That will help protect you and your family from online related fraud. Always ensure that you source your security software from a reputable source, otherwise you may just be getting software that is already infected.

Extract from "The Independent" website dated 29th Sep September 2010 (www.independent.co.uk)

Experts believe thousands of computers have been infected with malicious computer codes including zeus. It is a "trojan" virus that hides on machines, bypassing security software before capturing and transmitting log-on information, passwords and other data.

Last year £59.7 million was lost to online banking fraud, according to Financial Fraud Action UK. Another £440 million was lost to credit card fraud.

Online banking customers can protect themselves by keeping their anti-virus software up to date and setting fire walls to the highest level.

The online operations of four banks, HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank and Lloyds TSB, were allegedly targeted between 13th October 2009 and 28th September 2010, according to the charges.

(29th September 2010)


 

FACEBOOK AND BEBO CHILD SEX ABUSE POSTMAN JAILED
(bbc.co.uk, dated 24th September 2010 )

A postman from Cornwall who used social-networking websites to abuse hundreds of children has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Michael Williams admitted inciting sexual activity, grooming and distributing indecent images.

The 29-year-old, from Penryn, approached children on Facebook and Bebo, Truro Crown Court heard.

He groomed them, asked some to perform sex acts over a webcam and arranged to meet others before abusing them.

The court heard the grooming and abuse took place between 2004 and 2009. He also pleaded guilty to voyeurism and possessing indecent images.

In addition to the prison sentence - half of which must be served and the rest suspended - Williams was ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life.
Williams admitted 27 charges and asked for another four to be taken into consideraton which reflected a further 460 known victims.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they had identified about 500 victims but believed hundreds were too scared to come forward and the actual total could be nearer 1,000.

Sheer hell
 
After creating at least eight fake online profiles, Williams targeted youngsters he met on his post round in his hometown, on school runs as a taxi driver, and in his role as secretary of Falmouth Town Football Club.

He sometimes posed as a teenager online and also dyed his hair different colours to disguise his identity.

He convinced some victims to meet him in parks, on beaches and at his home.

Sentencing, Judge Paul Darlow said the "deceit and corruption" shown by Williams had damaged hundreds of children by lulling them into a false sense of security.

Taken into Account offences can be admitted by an accused to avoid legal action at a later date.

Det Insp Simon Snell of Devon and Cornwall Police said Williams' victims had been "through sheer hell". He said: "Depravity and corrosive are probably the words I would use against Michael Williams.

"He preyed on young people. He is dangerous and will remain so until he has had the correct treatment." He added that the accused's crimes had "completely devastated" people in Penryn. "To have this kind of activity taking place in their community has been extremely distressing," he said.

Facebook said it was "deeply concerned" by the case. A spokesman said: "The case serves as a painful reminder that everyone must use extreme caution when talking to or meeting people they only know via the internet."

The company has recently launched a £5m campaign aimed at improving safety for users.


 

Background

Police found thousands of indecent images on his computer and it is also believed he would secretly film children as they undressed on nearby beaches.

The charges he admitted included:

Three counts of grooming children over the internet
Eight counts of sexual activity with a child aged between 13 and 15
Nine counts of causing or inciting a child over 13 to engage in sexual activity
Four counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity
One count of voyeurism
Two counts of making or possessing indecent images
At the hearing, the defendant also asked for four other offences to be taken into consideration.

Further information

Ensure that the children in your family are aware of the dangers of using social websites. A good place to seek information is the SAFE website operated by the Metropolitan Police :
http://www.safe.met.police.uk/

(24th September 2010)


 

WE'VE LEFT THE STREETS FREE FOR YOBS, POLICE ADMIT
(Metro, dated 23rd September 2010, Ross McGuinness)
www.metro.co.uk

Decades of police 'retreating from the streets' has led to the force tolerating anti-social behaviour, according to a leading officer.

Sir Denis O'Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said tackling the problem was often not seen as 'real police work' and would not bring down target-driven crime statistics.

Revealing that more than 26 incidents of anti-social behaviour take place every minute, he said the effect of taking officers off the beat in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s was still being felt today.

'It was badly done. It was a mistake, a strategic error as they might say in military terms,' he said.

'That retreat from the streets has, in some senses, undermined their connection with the public, and allowed some of these things to gather momentum.'

Sir Denis added that spending cuts should not prevent sufficient numbers of police walking the beat to cut down on anti-social behaviour.

A joint study published today by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Ipsos Mori and Cardiff University suggests there were about 14million incidents of anti-social behaviour last year.

About 3.5million calls to police - 45 per cent of all calls - related to anti-social behaviour.

A poll of more than 5,600 people who contacted police about anti- social behaviour found 71 per cent were 'repeat victims', according to the report. Sir Denis said: 'The public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime.

'For them, it's just a sliding scale of grief.'

He said there had been a 'degree of normalisation' around anti-social behaviour, such as dropping litter, drunken behaviour and vandalism, which should not be accepted.

In today's report on rethinking the policing of anti-social behaviour, Sir Denis writes: 'The truth is that, despite its high public profile in recent years, anti-social behaviour does not have the same status as "crime" for the police.'

Home secretary Theresa May, who signalled the end of anti-social behaviour orders earlier this year, said: 'This report yet again shows that for too long this problem has been sidelined and victims have been let down.'

(24th September 2010)


 

SQUATTERS TOOK OVER MY HOUSE AS I WALKED DOGS
( Metro, dated 23rd September 2010, author Fred Atwell )
www.metro.co.uk

George Pope felt unwell while taking his dogs for a walk so decided to sleep over at a friend's house. When he felt better, he returned to his home of four years to find his belongings strewn outside.

The 72-year-old tried to open the door when a stranger said: 'This is our property and we intend to stay.'

Mr Pope, a retired car worker who needs a stick to walk, called police and the council but was told they were unable to remove the 'squatters'.

The family - who are believed to be from Lithuania - are apparently themselves victims, having paid a bogus estate agent £3,000 to live in the property for six months.

'Police told me it looked like a civil matter. But these people were using my home, my gas, my electricity. It's disgraceful,' said the council tenant from Barking, Essex.

'This was a highly unusual situation,' said Barking and Dagenham Council. 'We are working with the police who are investigating the events that led to Mr Pope's home being sublet illegally.'


The squatters have since left, the council said yesterday, but Mr Pope believes his washing machine and cooker have been stolen and his wiring tampered with. Squatters have since moved into the house next door. Mr Pope said he was now afraid to leave the house empty.

One family in his street is talking about cancelling their holiday.


 

Editors Comments

Perhaps it's time to cancel the outdated squatters rights laws. If someone can be arrested for stealing a mobile phone from your home, surely "stealing" a home needs to be dealt with as a criminal rather than civil offence ! Then again in the future it maybe just classed as anti-social behaviour.

When you go out, no matter for how long ALWAYS ensure that all of your external doors and windows are closed and securely locked. Even if it is just to walk your dog.

(24th September 2010)


 

LEEDS TAXI LICENCE SHAKE UP MOVE
Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 23rd September 2010 author David Marsh )
www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk

Drivers applying for a taxi or private hire licence in Leeds face a testing time.
Licensing bosses two years ago introduced a policy requiring taxi and mini-cab drivers to pass specially-developed qualifications to get a licence.

Now the system is under review and people in the city are being urged to have their say over whether it should be necessary for drivers to have the qualifications.

Level two National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQ) related to the trade were developed by GoSkills, the skills council for passenger transport.

They cover a range of subjects including customer service, health and safety, trade regulations, driving standards and dealing with special needs such as disability.

In September 2008 the Leeds Licensing and Regulatory Panel decided that all taxi and private hire drivers - new applicants and existing licence holders - should achieve a VRQ and NVQ appropriate to the trade.

Under the current arrangements, new applicants for licences have to attain the qualifications within 12 months of the licence being granted, with existing licence holders given until the end of December 2011 to gain them

The latest figures indicate that 60 per cent of licence holders have enrolled on the NVQ programme, with 43 per cent achieving the qualification.

Government Train to Gain grants, that helped cover the £500 cost of the training, recently came to an end.

Licensing officials say there may come a time when drivers will have to
pay the fee themselves, but in the meantime they are trying to find grants from elsewhere.

John Mulcahy, head of licensing and registration, said: "It is important that we gauge the views of the people in our city as well as that of the trade.

(24th September 2010)


 

LONDON CAB SEX ATTACKS "INCREASE BY 54%"
(bbc.co.uk, dated 23rd September 2010)

Londoners are being warned of the dangers of using illegal minicabs as figures show a 54% increase in cab-related sex attacks in the past year.

In 2009/2010 143 such offences were reported to police compared with 93 for the previous year.

Overall cab-related sexual offences have fallen 20% since the city's Safer Travel at Night campaign began in 2002.

New female students in particular are being told not to use taxis that have not been booked.
Transport for London started the Safer Travel at Night campaign eight years ago in an attempt to drive down the number of people attacked by illegal minicab drivers.

Figures for cab-related sex assaults, which include black cabs, reached an all-time low of 93 in 2008/2009.

A dedicated team set up last year to deal with these offences has so far resulted in more than 100 arrests.

Kulveer Ranger, the mayor's Transport Advisor, said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the dangers of getting into an unbooked minicab.

"I urge Londoners, particularly female passengers and especially those students flocking to the capital to study, to please ensure they only ever get into a booked minicab."

Minicabs should only be booked through a licensed operator and when the vehicle arrives passengers should ask the driver to confirm their details before getting in.

Only black cabs can be stopped and picked up off the street without being booked.

Using a minicab that is not booked through a licensed operator is illegal.

Booking a taxi ensures a record of the journey, driver and vehicle is kept and can be accessed if necessary.


 

Further information

Transport for London , London taxi and minicab advice :

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/findaride/default.aspx

(24th September 2010)


 

ONE MONTH TO SAVE THE UK POLICE SERVICE
( PoliceOracle.com, dated 13th September 2010 )
 
Police Federation Chairman says we have a month to prevent the police service from impending meltdown…....

Following a press conference held by the Police Federation of England and Wales on Friday, Chairman Paul McKeever has written the following open letter to PoliceOracle.com.

In it he issues a warning to the government that draconian cuts to budgets of 25 per cent or more will mean Forces losing capabilities and cause crime to rise.

Ultimately, he believes that it could be "Christmas for criminals" if the reductions are sanctioned…"It has struck me that many people seem unaware that although the Governments Comprehensive Spending

Review is published on the October 20, budgets are actually starting to be set now in some government departments. The Treasury 'Star Chamber' that will sit and decide departmental budgets is chaired by George Osborne (Con) the Chancellor, with Danny Alexander (Lib Dem) First Secretary to the Treasury, sitting as his deputy. William Hague, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin will all be full members of the 'Star Chamber'. As each minister agrees their departments budget with the Treasury that minister then joins 'The Star Chamber' to sit in judgement on their peers who are yet to set their budgets. So if you are a ministerthere is an incentive to settle your budget early.

It is thought that the Home Office won't agree their budget with the Treasury until towards the end of this month, or maybe even later at the Conservative Conference at the start of October. Either way, there is little time left to persuade and influence in relation to the cuts.

So, it looks like those that care about the British way of policing have got a month to save the public from impending peril and to prevent the police service from facing meltdown

The questions and points that haven't yet been put or asked are:

The first duty of any government is the protection of its citizens

Any government that fails in their duty is unfit to govern

Why isn't the police service being given priority treatment by the government in the same way that the NHS and Education departments have been prioritised? We recognise the government has got to make cuts but they have clearly decided that some areas are more important than others. So why does it appear they care so little about crime and anti-social behaviour when it is given such a high priority by the public? Is the government badly advised, or out of touch with the world ordinary people live in? We think they're badly advised.

Public Safety is at real risk due to the proposed 25 per cent - 40 per cent cuts. Those at greatest risk will be the most vulnerable in society.

The government risks putting the public at substantially greater risk of experiencing violent crime, anti-social behaviour, a rise in crime generally and a dramatically reduced policing service. This position is compounded by the apparent desire of Ken Clarke, Justice Minister, to empty the prisons and deal with serious criminals through the failing community service orders.

There are examples emerging across the country that indicate the size of what is to come if nothing changes. Mersey-side Police is set to lose 800 officers, Kent Police 500. Dr Tim Brain has estimated the police service will lose 60,000 if the cuts are implemented.

Police professionals throughout England and Wales recognise that if the cuts go ahead at the proposed level many forces will be offering a very basic service and some forces might actually fail. There is no doubt that the public will be put at much greater risk. Yet very few members of ACPO appear ready to question the cuts. It appears they are following the same line as the story about the Kings new clothes.

However, we know privately that many chief officers are talking about what amounts to the destruction of the British Police Service as we know it.

The government appears to unwittingly be creating a very volatile mix that can be described as "Christmas for criminals"

Nick Herbert, the Police Minister is a man who we like and respect but the government seems to believe completely the very poor advice emanating from some think tanks, chief constables and business gurus about how savings can be made without any detrimental effect on policing. Those of us who work in the real world rather than within think tanks, no matter how brilliant the minds employed there, recognise the risks.

Therefore, it is our duty to do something about it because ACPO, a private limited company, won't. The Police Federation doesn't want to see a government with good intentions sunk through the absence of any-one telling them of the peril they face. We are police officers, we are expected to tell the truth and we will do that. ACPO's extraordinary 'solution' to the conundrum of budget reductions is simple but crude and totally unrealistic; reduce costs by destroying the pay and conditions of police officers (but not ACPO officers). How the CABAL within ACPO, the so called leaders of the service could show such disregard for their own officers is beyond belief, especially when they seem intent on ensuring those holding ACPO rank won't experience any of the pain their own officers will be facing.

I fear that if the government doesn't step back from the precipice they will be answering some very difficult questions from their constituents in the next few years as the consequences of their actions start to bite them very hard indeed.

It's one month to save the police, or it will be Christmas for criminals"

Paul McKeever


 

Editors Comment

This is a personal view and not a political or union view. Front line Police and their direct support services ( Forenisic, Scene of Crime Officers, etc ) should be classed as sacrosanct when considering budget cuts.

The problem is with the county administrations. Each county constabulary has its own HQ, training school, procurement unit, Human Resources ( Personnel ), Pay Group , Pensions Group. Then there are the civilian quango's such as the 30 or so local Police authorities. Then there is the hierarchy of the Police; why do you need Chief Superintendent overseeing a safety website for Children ? Then there are the local initiatives ( Virtual Neighbourhood in Leicester and Crime Prevention signing for the Deaf in Gwent ) to name two great idea's operating in one constabulary that could easily be used across the whole country.

For example, the case of procurement. A UK Police uniform is just a police uniform ( apart from the local badges ), buy them centrally at a bulk discount. A police patrol car is a white car with stripes and a county badge. Lease them centrally and get a bulk discount. If the driving school BSM managed to get a discount in the past from Vauxhall and now from Fiat I am sure that a national police procurement unit could save a bob or two ( excuse the pun ).

The Police are on a national pay rate, so why do you need over 33 seperate pay units ? The same goes for pensions groups.

Each county constabulary has its own website, all different, no standardisation, most from different suppliers. Note, large IT companies calculate their charges with at least a 43% profit margin. In addition, they are also inefficient for the user (ie. the public ). Try to do similar keyword searches on each of the websites, you don't get similar answers !

Hampshire Constabulary are paying for multi-million pound HQ to be built in Southampton. That money could have been set aside to protect jobs. All you will hear in response is that the 2 monetary amounts are different ( current vs Capital account ). No, it all comes from one budget paid for by taxes.
Another example of waste is the Police service for the London Borough of Enfield. It chooses to have it's patrol and reponse cars based at one location on a private industrial estate whilst the majority of police stations in the borough are closed after hours and are "rent free". How many extra officers would that pay for or keep employed ?

Another example of waste is in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary HQ. A nice modern complex built on a hill outside of Bristol. The only thing is the access road on the hill is so steep that when it snows it is impassable. No one can get in or out. So they bought their very own snow plough! There is that capital account budget again.

We also have the current politically correct policing ethos...asking residents what their priorities are. In short it is quite simple. Police should act as a deterent, react when a crime occurs, solve the crime when it has occurred. Just three area's that apply to all members of society. The amount of money that must be wasted each year carrying out that exercise nationwide must be ridiculous, especially when you consider the minority of residents that take any notice.

Lastly, there are around 150,000 police officers nationwide and over 70,000 non-police staff ! Sadly there will be job cuts, but it doesn't need to be front line and not at the expected speed of reduction.

The telephone company BT reduced its staffing over a period of 20 years from 240,000 to 120,000. It's initial move was to remove the 30 or so geographic boundaries, centralise control of it's back room people ( HR, pay, pensions etc ) and functionalise and again centralise its main operational area's of its business. Then over a period of time it reduced its staffing numbers either through voluntarily redundancy or by natural wastage ( a clinical term for retirements, deaths, resignations and firing ).

So if a commercial organisation took a sensible slow route to staffing reductions, why are there rumours about a potential mass cull of OUR POLICE.

(16th September 2010)


 

CARE FOR THE ELDERLY
( Doing the e-mail rounds, dated "recently" author Anon )

Let's put the Pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. 

- This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
  
- They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

- They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

- Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

- A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.   

- They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

- They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education.

- Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request. 

- Private, secure rooms for all, with an  exercise outdoor yard, with  gardens.

- Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.

- There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

Conversely

- The "criminals" would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised.
- Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week.
- Live in a tiny room and pay £900.00 per month and have no hope of ever getting out.  
- When suffering from ill health, be left unattended in a hospital corridor for 8 hours ( Sorry, I had to add that one....Editor)

Justice for all we say.


 

Editors Note

I put this in for a lighter note, but reading it again, now I don't know.

(16th September 2010) 


 

FRAUDSTER USING HOSPITALS NAME
http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk, dated 28th June 2010 , author Hospital Press & PR Office )

The Royal Marsden has been made aware of fraudsters using its name in an email scam. Anyone receiving an email  from "David Mills" claiming that he is a Doctor at The Royal Marsden should be suspicious.

How the scam works

Even though the email address would normally indicate that the email has originated from The Royal Marsden, this is not the case. A technique known as email spoofing allows people to make an email appear that it has come from a trusted source.

This following is taken from the Wikipedia article on email spoofing:

E-mail spoofing is a term used to describe (usually fraudulent) e-mail activity in which the sender address and other parts of the e-mail header are altered to appear as though the e-mail originated from a different source. E-mail spoofing is a technique commonly used for spam e-mail and phishing to hide the origin of an e-mail message. By changing certain properties of the e-mail, such as the From, Return-Path and Reply-To fields (which can be found in the message header), ill-intentioned users can make the e-mail appear to be from someone other than the actual sender. The result is that, although the e-mail appears to come from the address indicated in the From field (found in the e-mail headers), it actually comes from another source.

Contents of the email


The email looks like it has been sent from a "David Mills" (bogus/false character) and has the following contents:

I am a medical doctor from the well known hospital in London the Royal Marsden NHS Trust, specialist t in cancer treatment during my time as a medical Doctor I have seen patient come and go after begin  treated  for various diseases and are happy to return to their respected family well and happy ,I have worked here for the past 12 years, and currently have a patient from Dubai royal family Mr. ##### ( name removed just in case individual exists) who is suffering from prostate cancer  and has been with us for the past 9 months and he is on life support machine ever since, and currently  have few months to live probably weeks ,and since he has  been here his  bill has been paid via bank transfers  neither his family nor friends have checked on his  account payments and his well begin.

Futher more through my investigation I have come  to realize that there is a lot of family turmoil and No one is interested on the outcome of his health because of family fraud and he currently has a united  kingdom   account with a total sum of ?14miillonpounds ,with no next of kin attached to this large sum of money. And this money is just setting here attached to no one .and there is No improvement on his health, Because of my position in the NHS  I cannot do this myself ,

So I am soliciting your assistance to act as the next of kin to these funds, without alarming anyone just between you and myself? I got prove of him in the hospital here in the UK, so be rest assured this not scam or game but a real plea for your assistance

Yours sincerely

David mills

 

Alerting the public


The Royal Marsden is in no way connected with the fraudsters sending these emails. They are using our name, not our actual IT systems. They may not even be based in the UK.

We are grateful to the members of the public who alerted us to this scam. We hope that by publicising this deceit, fewer people will fall prey to the fraudsters.

If you do receive such an email, please forward to the Royal Marsden Hospital email address : patientcentre@rmh.nhs.uk.

DO NOT reply to the e-mail, report as SPAM.
DO NOT supply any personal details which the email asks for.


 

Further Information

The un-edited hospital article can be found on the following link :

http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/RMH/info/newsevents/pressreleases/pr28062010.htm

The scam was bought to the attention of "uaware.org.uk" through an article in the Evening Standard dated 14th September 2010.

(16th September 2010)


 

OUTBREAK : FAKE FEDEX TRACKING NUMBER EMAILS
(Sophos website, dated 26th August 2010 author Graham Cluley
www.sophos.com/pressoffice/

Cybercriminals have spammed out a widespread email attack, distributing malware in messages pretending to come from Fedex.

The emails, which have subject lines beginning "Fedex Tracking number" followed by a random reference number, pretend to come from named personnel inside "Fedex Support" and claim that the company was unable to deliver a package on the 27th of July ( dates may vary ).

The format of the e-mail may appear as follows :


 

From : "Fedex Support", #########@fedex.com>
To : ????
Subject : Fedex Tracking number N9938084

Dear ,

Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the 27th of July in time because the recipient's address is erroroneous. Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our office.

* This site is protected by copyright and trademark laws under US and International law. All rights reserved 1995 - 2010 Fedex


 


Other emails being sent in the attack use a subject line of "Fedex Invoice copy" and "Fedex Item Status", both followed by a random reference number.

Unlike many of the other Fedex-related malware attacks we have seen in the past, the emails carry the message about the failed delivery in the form of an image rather than text - possibly in an attempt to try and defeat more rudimentary anti-spam filters.


Attached to the emails is a file called "FEDEXInvoiceEE<random number>OP.zip" which Sophos detects as Troj/Invo-Zip. Inside the file is a Trojan horse called Troj/Mdrop-CVP, capable of infecting Windows computers.

Of course, Fedex has no connection with this malware campaign, beyond having its brandname tarnished by the hacking gang.

Make sure that you, your friends and your colleagues are wise to scams like this - and don't make the mistake of clicking on suspicious attachments.


 

Editors note

If you have not sent any packages, just delete the e-mail.

If you are not expecting a package from anyone ( they can change the format of the bogus e-mail ). Just ignore the e-mail. If a genuine company wants to deliver a parcel / package to you they will try again.

(16th September 2010)


 

FACEBOOK USERS FLEECED BY HACKERS
( The Sunday Times, dated 5th September 2010 author Jamie McGinnes, additonal reporting Sara Hashash and Asia Sherman )
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

Fraudsters are stealing the identities of Facebookers in order to get their cash.

Fraudsters are hacking into Facebook and conning British families out of hundreds of pounds.
The gangs break into the accounts of people on the social networking site and trick their friends and families into sending them money.

The FBI and other authorities believe the racket is a potential goldmine for criminals because Facebook users tend to trust messages they receive from "Friends".

The fraud came to light when The Sunday Times revealed recently how the parents of a gap-year student travelling in Colombia were persuaded to send cash via Western Union money transfer to a man who ssid he was a friend of their son.

This weekend it emerged that the same man has struck again - by targeting the family of an Edinburgh University graduate in Panama.

The scam, however, is far more widespread and is operating in Britain as well. A Nigerian-based fraudster who hacked into the Facebook account of a British ski instructor living in Chamonix, France, persuaded an Italian friend to wire money to England. The Italian believed his friend was in financial trouble and had lost her mobile phone and sent E1500 (£1250) to a Western Union post at a beauty salon in Moss Side, Manchester.

The Italian, a geologist, became suspicious when he received a message from his friends Facebook account complaing that she had not received the full sum because of poor excahnge rate and commission fees. He telephoned his friend and discovered he had been duped.

The salon where the money was sent is on Princess Road, on the the buiest routes into Manchester. When approached by a reporter last week,an Asian woman shop assistant confirmed that an order for the "Ski Instructor" had been wired to the store, but would not give a description of the fraudsters accomplicen who had collected the money. There is nothing to suggest any wrongdoing on her part. She said staff always asked for a driving licence or passport before handing over cash. She said " If they don't have ID they don't get it. If we think it's a forgery, we ring Western Union."

When she called Facebook about the scam last month, the "Sky Instructor" was told that her account had been accessed from Nigeria. Police in Manchester apparently advised her to report the crime in France.

The "Sky Instructor", whose family live in Bath, Somerset, said : " The only physical place where a crime was committed was in Manchester. If my bag had been stolen in Princess Road, would the police have told me to contact the French police?"

The FBI has raised concerns about similar sacms involving American citizens - including cases where fraudsters have posed as victims robbed in Wales and London.

Gordon Snow, assistant director of the bureau'scbercrime division, warned : "Users fall victim to the schemes due to a higher level of trust typically displayed while using social networking sites."

In July the parents of a teenager from South Wales, received internet messages purportedly from their son saying he had been jailed by corrupt Colombian soldiers and needed money to pay a "fine". A fraudster claiming to be a Canadian university researcher called Chris Davidson contacted them, saying he could help if they sent hime about £450.

Luckily the teenage son who had been out of contect on a long bus journey - got in touch with his parents and the scam was uncovered in time. However, another British family who contacted THE Sunday Times after reading the previous case were not so fortunate. For this individual his Facebook, Hotmail and Skype accounts were hacked into by someone apparently statying in the same hostel as him in Panama City and calling himself Christopher Davidson - although this time he said he was American.

Using information on Facebook and the victim's email account, the swindler told the 23 year old graduate's parents in London that he had been attacked by armed robbers and needed £300. The sum was sent, again via Western Union.

Panamanian police believe the conman looged onton the same computer the victim had been using at the Hostel Panama. Last week staff at the hostel said "Davidson" had claimed he was 24 and that he lived in Bogota in Colombia. Luis Quintero, the hostel's owner, said he was "nice, normal...there was no reason to suspect anything".

A spokeswoman for Facebook said:" We provide our users with robust reporting tools to report any content they are unsure of." Western Union did not respond to requests for comment.


 

Editors comment

If you use any computer in a public place (ie. Internet Cafe ) always consider it a security hazard. The default settings of any Microsoft Windows product is to save web pages including encrypted ones. This coupled with keylogging software ( used by hackers ) will allow criminals to obtain your details.

Nb : Minor changes have been made to the original article, by removing victims names.

(13th September 2010)


 

IPHONE SCAM STEAL BANK PINS
( Computer Active magazine, dated 19th August  - 1st September 2010 )

Criminals are targeting iPhone users with a Trojan that attempts to steal victims' bank details and other personal information, warned Bitdefender. The security firm said the scam advertises itself as a free jailbreaking program-software that unlocks the operating system used by the iPhone so users can download unauthorised software. Once the link is clicked, it opens the door for the Trojan to download. The hacker can then intercept the victim's visited sites and personal data.

Bitdefender : www.bitdefender.co.uk

(13th September 2010)


 

SITES TRICK US-BOUND TRAVELLERS
( Computer Active magazine, dated 19th August - 1st September 2010 author Dinah Greek )
www.computeractive.co.uk

The US Embassy is warning travellers to avoid unauthorised websites that charge users a fee to submit, or retrieve information about, the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta).

An Esta is a travel permit introduced in January 2009, that people in the UK wishing to visit the US need to apply for online. Applying for an Esta is currently free; although from 8 September the US will start charging a $14 (£9) administration charge.

But some of the unauthorised sites that Computeractive has found feature prominently in search results, and are charging people around $45 (£29) to submit an Esta application on behalf of the traveller. Others charge $49.50 (£32) for a downloadable PDF 'guide' on how to apply for an Esta.

Using these websites also means people are handing over sensitive personal information such as bank, passport and medical details to a company they know nothing about.

US Customs and Border Protection has called these sites "imposter government websites" and "fraudulent enterprises".

The US Embassy told us: "Travellers should be aware that unauthorised third parties have established websites, which charge visitors seeking to travel to the United States, for information about Esta and for submitting Esta applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of the traveller.

"These businesses and websites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the United States Government. We recommend that travellers use the official Esta website, or via the US London Embassy website."

Although some people who may not have an internet connection do find it easier to use a third party, such as a travel agent, to submit an Esta, an Embassy representative said there were "no benefits" to using an unauthorised site such as the ones we found.

"Esta is easy to do, and the vast majority of applicants (well over 99 per cent) get a positive response within minutes," he said.

Users of these sites also run the risk of identity theft because they have handed over personal details. They could also find themselves unable to enter the US as well.

In a statement on its website, US Customs advised people who had used one of these sites to reapply through official channels. It warned: "We have no way of knowing if the information passed through the unauthorised website to us is accurate. If it is not, you may have a problem when you arrive in the US."

USA Embassy (London) : http://london.usembassy.gov/

(13th September 2010)


 

OFT TARGETS SCAM CARD SITES
(computer Active magazine, dated 2nd - 15th July 2010 author Dinah Greek )

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has taken action against five websites it said were "tricking" people into buying European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs).

An EHIC is not a substitution for travel insurance but does allow people access to state-provided healthcare within the EU and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.

The websites supposedly offered a 'review and forward' service charging around £10 to apply for the cards although they can be obtained free through the NHS site. The OFT said while there is nothing illegal in charging for the service, it found the sites were misleading.

The consumer regulator said the websites' mimicked the EHIC brand leading many people to believe they were on the official EHIC site. Certain sites had bought sponsored search engine links and therefore featured prominently when consumers searched for the term 'EHIC'.

A search carried out by Computeractive found one of the sites still ranked higher than the NHS site in search results.

The OFT found that the websites: "ehic.org" , "thejwsgroup.com/ehicservice", "ehic.uk.com", "e111-online.com" and "ehiconline.com were in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. In certain cases the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations were breached. 

Heather Clayton, senior director of the OFT's Consumer Group, said: "While it is not unlawful to charge money for a reviewing and forwarding service, traders must be clear about the product or service they are offering, and not trick consumers into parting with money for services they don't want."

Ehiconline.com, has been suspended by its domain name registrar, e111-online.com, has voluntarily ceased trading and the other three have agreed not to engage in deceptive selling practices. But the OFT said it will now "actively monitor their activities and if the undertakings are breached it can take court action."

Other information : www.nhs.uk

(13th September 2010)


 

NET CLOSES ON SUPPORT SCAMS
( Computer Active magazine, dates 5th - 18th August 2010, authors Dinah Greek and Tom Royal )
www.computeractive.co.uk

A police crackdown has led to the closure of several websites linked to a scam offering unnecessary PC 'support'.

The Metropolitan police force's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeCU) closed 19 websites linked to the scam in April. This action was taken because of the belief that offences were being carried out under the Fraud Act.

Despite this action, the fraudsters continue to plague consumers. Emails from readers show many other sites offering dubious computer support are still active, or being created. The evidence that we have gained clearly shows fraudulent activity.

Victims of the scam receive a cold call from India. The callers say they have been alerted to the fact that the person's PC has been infected with malicious software. For more details of how the scam works, see the story on page 2 of this article.

Our latest investigation into this ongoing scam started when a member of our team received such a call at home from a company calling itself Click2support, which claimed to be a department of Microsoft. On subsequent calls that we recorded, our undercover reporter paid £89 for security software from this company, which Click2support said was worth £300.

However, our PC was virus-free and we discovered that the software Click2support installed is available free. The software manufacturer, Iobit, told us that it had never heard of Click2support. Iobit said it was not associated with the company and reserved "the right to take further legal actions against Click2support".

Click2support later claimed that our bank card payment had not arrived and asked us to pay again via Paypal. Transactions on the bank card used also suggest the fraudsters may have attempted to link it to another Paypal account.

Although we have traced emails from the company to an address in New Dehli, India, we have discovered that Click2support is 'owned' by a company called MIT Global Ltd, which has a registered address in Blackburn, Lancashire. Emails sent to MIT Global were answered by Click2support.

We contacted Blackburn Trading Standards, which is now investigating the company.
MIT Global denied claiming to be part of Microsoft and blamed its outsourced call centre for claiming to work for that company. We were told Mr Amjad Ali, the director of MIT Global, would call us but at the time of going to press this had not happened.


How the cold-call support scam works

The computer support scammers seem to change their names and website addresses almost daily, but the methods they use stay the same.

The scam begins when a cold-caller from an Indian call centre phones the victim at home, saying there is a problem with their home computer.

Sometimes the callers claim to be working for Microsoft. Often they claim to have received error reports sent by Windows. Neither is true.

Next they ask to prove that the computer is infected. Often - as shown in our video - they ask the victim to open the Event Viewer. This will always show harmless errors, but the caller claims they are the result of malicious attacks.

Other similar tricks involve asking the victim to display the Prefetch folder and claiming the files inside are infections.

Once the victim is convinced that their computer is infected, the company offers to fix it - for a fee, of course. In our investigation we were billed approximately £90 by bank card.

If the victim does pay, they are provided with software that is supposed to 'fix' the computer's problems. In our investigation all the software provided is available online at no cost.

If you receive one of these calls here's what to do

1. If you receive a cold call claiming there is a problem with your PC, simply hang up the phone.

2. If the calls persist, contact your telephone company. BT has a Nuisance Call Advice Line on 0800 661 441.

3. If you have paid for this kind of 'support' by credit or debit card cancel the card immediately and check for any further transactions that may have been made.

4. If you paid using a Paypal account, report the transaction to Paypal instead.

5. Anyone who has been defrauded should also contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and the police.


(13th September 2010)


 

SUPPORT SITE FOR VICTIMS OF CYBERCRIME SET TO CLOSE
( Computer Active magazine, dated 2nd - 15th September 2010, author Dinah Greek )
www.computeractive.co.uk

An independent organisation set up three years ago to help the victims of online crime will close next month due to lack of funds.

Over the years E-Victims has grown substantially and attracted support from individuals such as Lord Errol, privacy expert Dr Richard Clayton and Peter Robbins of the Internet Watch Foundation, but the organisers felt they could not sustain and develop the website as was needed.

Jennifer Perry, E-Victims' founder said: "Having worked with thousands of victims, I can say that the advice and expertise E-Victims.Org offered is needed more than ever.


"But although the demand for advice and support has increased substantially over the last few years, we have not been able to secure the ongoing funding needed to continue to run the charity."

With cybercrime growing, she singled out the government and internet industry in particular for criticism in the way victims of cybercrime are treated.

"E-Crime is the fastest growing area of crime. Everyone now knows someone who has had problems online. Online victims can suffer from multiple crimes, if they aren't given the right advice. For example, a victim of a job scam is also at high risk of identity theft or having their other online accounts compromised.

"The need for e-crime victim support is great, but the funding from the government and the Internet industry is negligible," she said.

Howard Lamb from the Federation of Copyright Theft (Fact), former police officer with the then National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and member of the E-Victims advisory council said: "E-Victims will be sadly missed. They have made a huge effort to assist individuals who have been a victim in the 'e' world. I have directed people to E-Victims and they have all received sound advice that is not available elsewhere."

Mrs Perry said the site will remain live but will not be updated and new cases will not be taken on. However, she will be working with the Network for Surviving Stalking which has taken on E-victims work online harrassment.

Network for surviving stalking : www.nss.org.uk
E victims website (live, but not updated ) : www.e-victims.org
Get safe online : WWW.getsafeonline.org

(13th September 2010)


 

EASTENDERS SPARKS LONDON FIRE BRIGADE WARNING
(www.bbc.co.uk , dated 9th September 2010 )

As millions prepare to watch EastEnders pub the Queen Vic go up in flames the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has said that too many people die in real fires.

Decades of brawls and bust-ups in the fictional pub come to an end during Thursday evening's show on BBC1. But new figures reveal fires killed 50 people in London last year - a rise of 20%. The number of fires was also up.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson urged the public to get a fire alarm and make an escape plan. EastEnders writers have refused to say whether anyone dies in the disaster.

Speaking ahead of the episode, Commissioner Dobson said: "EastEnders is set to show how dramatic and distressing fire can be, but while we quickly forget about the latest television plot, the devastation of a serious house fire can stay with us for years.

Fires 'avoidable'
 
"If everyone gets a smoke alarm, checks it regularly and also makes an escape plan we can make a real difference and prevent deaths."

The LFB said most accidental fires could be avoided if people were more aware of how to protect themselves.

It warns over half of fires in the home start in the kitchen, often caused by cookers or pans left unattended.  Many people also die from fires that begin when they fall asleep while smoking.

London Fire Brigade : http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/

(13th September 2010)


 

GWENT POLICE LEADS IN DEAF COMMUNICATION
(
Gwent Police, dated 29th August 2010 )
http://www.gwent.police.uk


Gwent Police has been recognised for its efforts toward achieving a society in which Deaf and deafblind people have full access by being shortlisted for a Signature Award.

Signature, the charity that champions excellence in communications with deaf people, has announced the shortlists for the national categories in the Signature Annual Awards 2010. The winners of the awards will be announced in a presentation ceremony in November.

Gwent Police has been shortlisted for an organisational achievement award for its efforts to produce a crime prevention DVD for deaf people to use. It was developed and produced in partnership with the British Deaf Association and its content is signed, narrated and subtitled. The DVD has been launched in the media and through a series of launches in Deaf Clubs throughout Gwent.

The DVD which was part funded by ACPO, has been sent to all police forces in England and Wales. As well as producing the DVD, Gwent Police also have an emergency SMS text service; have introduced Deaf PACT meetings where deaf people are encouraged to raise local issues they would like the police to address.

All new student police officers and police community support officers receive deaf awareness training delivered by Deaf trainers. The organisation also currently has seven staff members who are BSL qualified to Intermediate level and six who are going on to Advanced level next year.

Chief Inspector Bill Fitzpatrick, Gwent Police said:

"Over the last three years, we have worked hard to make significant improvements in services provided to Deaf and hard of hearing people and to improve our communications and accessibility to all members of our communities. It is heartening to be recognised in such a way. We will endeavour to keep improving and to continue to be innovative in our efforts,"

Signature Chief Executive Jim Edwards said: "We've been thrilled by the variety of nominations across all of the Signature Annual Awards categories this year.

All of the nominations are truly remarkable and speak volumes for the amazing work happening all over the UK. It will be hard to pick our winners as they all deserve so much credit"

( 13th September 2010 )


 

CONSUMERS URGED TO "WISE UP" TO FRAUDSTERS
( City of London Police / National Fraud Unit , dated 9th Spetember 2010 )
http://www.cityoflondon.police.uk


City of London Police officers have teamed up with a pair of suspicious-looking characters in an innovative move to raise awareness of fraud. The dodgy duo, Jim and Bert, are the faces of a new campaign to educate people about the manipulative tricks fraudsters use to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

Fraud is a growing trend and the campaign, called 'Wise Up!' uses professional actors to bring 'Jim' and 'Bert' to life. The pair, using a mix of street theatre and comedy to get across a serious message, has already proved popular with the public.

Det Supt Bob Wishart, from City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate said: "The light-hearted approach of the 'Jim' and 'Bert' characters has been proving a real hit with the crowds. People are being entertained but they are also taking home serious fraud prevention advice that could save them or one of their relatives from becoming a future victim of fraud.

"As the National Lead Force for fraud we see many devastating cases where people who aren't wise to the manipulative tricks criminals use, have been defrauded. They have had their lives destroyed, often losing life savings, homes and even livelihoods. This campaign highlights these 'tricks of the trade' in the hope that people will 'Wise Up' to the real life 'Jim's' and 'Bert's' of this world, whose sole aim is to profit from crime no matter the cost to their victims."

It's estimated fraud costs the UK £30 billion annually with £3.5 billion lost to individual victims(1). The top five mass marketing frauds are:

1.Holiday club scams: £1.17 billion
2.High risk investment scams: £490 million
3.Pyramid schemes: £420 million
4.West African letter or advance fee '419' scams: £340 million
5.Foreign lottery scams: £260 million(1)
Watch out for Jim and Bert - they will be touting for business on the City streets during the next week. Afterwards they will hand out 'bags' of fraud prevention advice.

Tips on safeguarding yourself against real life 'Jim's and 'Bert's'

•Don't stay silent. If you have been targeted by a fraudster and lost money, contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk or on 0300 123 2040
•Remember - if you haven't entered a competition, you won't have won a prize.
•Never send money to strangers.
•Never give out personal details or financial information to strangers.
•Never return a call to strangers or unfamiliar phone numbers.
•If someone is legitimate they won't pressure you and they won't mind you checking them out.
•Look out for bad spelling and grammar they are often a sign of a fraudulent organisation.
•Ask questions. If someone is elusive about answering, break off contact.
•Don't commit straight away - talk to someone you trust first.
•Remember websites can be faked too, and someone may claim to work for a well-known company. Always check the real company's details against the ones you have been given, and ring them direct if you are in doubt.
(1) Annual Fraud Indicator, National Fraud Authority 2010

(13th September 2010)


 

DO YOU LIVE IN A TOP 20 HOME THEFT HOTSPOT ?
(moneysupermarket.com , dated 6th August 2010 )

Homeowners are being urged to be more vigilant when it comes to security, after the Association of British Insurers revealed 80,000 domestic burglary claims totalling £84 million were made last summer alone.

Research carried out by moneysupermarket.com has identified the top 20 hotspots for home theft insurance claims.
Although London households are the most likely to make a claim on their home insurance policy for theft, a Manchester postcode holds the top spot for the highest number of theft claims.

Moneysupermarket.com analysed over 1.1 million home insurance enquiries made on the site during 2009. Its research revealed that half of the top 20 postcodes that are most likely to make a claim for theft are in London - an increase of 100 per cent on 2008.

Manchester, Leeds and Bristol are all close behind, having 2 claims postcode areas each featured within the top 20, with Chorlton-Cum-Hardy in Manchester taking the overall top spot in the UK. Blackheath (SE3) and Hammersmith (W6) are the most 'at-risk' postcode districts in London for theft-related insurance claims.

Below is a list of the top 20:

The 20 UK postcode districts most likely to claim for theft on their home insurance:

 Postcode

Town

County/City

 Percentage

 M21

Chorlton-cum-Hardy

 Manchester

8.65%

SE3

Blackheath

London

8.17%

W6

Hammersmith

London

8.06%

N4

Finsbury Park

London

7.94%

LS8

Roundhay

Leeds

7.88%

NG6

Bestwood Village, Bulwell, Old Basford

Nottinghamshire

7.82%

M22

Wythenshawe, Northenden

Manchester

7.82%

W4

Chiswick, Gunnersbury, Turnham Green

London

7.74%

LS15

Austhorpe

Leeds

7.71%

SW11

Battersea

London

7.66%

N19

 Upper Holloway, Archway

London

7.62%

SL9 

 Gerrards Cross, Horn Hill

South Bucks

7.59%

SE1

 Southwark

London

7.55%

BS7

 Bishopston

Bristol

7.53%

BR3

 Beckenham

Greater London

7.49%

 BD10

 Apperley Bridge

Bradford

7.46%

 SE23

 Forest Hill, Honour Oak

London

7.43%

 N13

 Enfield

London

7.42%

 SW2

 Brixton

London

7.27%

BS6

 Redland, Montpelier

Bristol

7.27%

Results based on 1.13 million home insurance quotes on moneysupermarket.com for twelve months (full year 2009)

Percentage related to households affected by theft or burglary in that postcode district

Julie Owens, head of home insurance at moneysupermarket.com said: 'Home is where the heart is and there's no denying that having it burgled is an emotional and frightening experience.

"Major cities like London and Manchester and affluent areas are a target for criminals and the research highlights a broad mix of areas across the North and South of the UK so it is clear that no matter where you live, there is always a risk your home could become a victim of theft and it is therefore vital you have adequate home insurance cover in place, something many people still do not do'.

According to Owens, most insurers take on a blanket approach when it comes to calculating your annual premium. This means that even if your house has never been affected by crime or floods, your premium could be affected if the postcode that you live in has been affected in the past.

She says that this type of practice needs to change, as, if insurers were to evaluate houses on a case-by-case basis, then homeowners would receive potentially more competitive quotes based on their individual circumstances.

Top tips

Below are our top tips on how to keep your home safe from thieves:

- Keep all items of value away from windows. This will ensure that anything of value is kept out of sight from an opportunistic thief.

- Ensure that you lock all windows and doors before leaving the house. This might sound a bit of a no brainer, but by neglecting this simple measure you are effectively leaving the door wide open for thieves to come in and out. It will also make it more difficult for you to make a claim as there will be no signs of a forced entry.
 
- Regularly check the state of your locks. It's easy to forget that locks do not have an unlimited lifespan. If your lock has seen better days then this could make it easier for a thief to break in, so replace any older weaker locks with new ones. This could also drive down the cost of your premiums.

- Don't leave items of high value lying around the house. If a thief does enter your property they aren't going to want to stick around for long, so will grab anything in site that may be of value to them. By storing away high value items such as jewellery, laptops, cameras and MP3's, they are more likely to walk away empty-handed.

- Install a good home security system. An approved and professionally maintained alarm will not only make your home more secure but it could also make your premiums lower. Some insurers will offer a security discount if you have an alarm or other professionally maintained security system installed.

- Time your lights. Set your lights to come on a various intervals when you are away to make your home appear occupied.

- Cancel any unnecessary deliveries. Make sure milk or newspapers won't be delivered you are away. You should also ask a neighbour or someone you trust to open and close curtains and collect mail for you until you return.

- Don't leave keys in obvious places. Thieves may watch your property before breaking in and if they can see that you hide your keys under a door mat, this will give them an easy way in. Also beware of 'hook and crook' thieves who will hook your keys through a letterbox if they are left close enough to your door.

- Install security lighting. Not only will this make your property safe for your visitors it will also put off any potential thieves - they are less likely to hang around your property if they are in full view of everyone.

(11th September 2010)


85,000 PREPAYMENT ELECTRICITY CUSTOMERS SCAMMED
(The Daily Telegraph, dated 7th September 2010, author Harry Wallop )
www.telegraph.co.uk

At least 85,000 electricity customers have been conned into handing over £25 to illegal doorstep sellers, in what has been described as the biggest scam ever to hit the industry.

Well over £2 million has been illegally obtained from customers, who thought they were signing up to a special discount. The scam has hit prepayment customers who pay for their electricity in advance through a key, or card, they put into their meters.

One in every 42 prepayment customers has suffered from the scam.

Energy UK, the trade body that represents the major suppliers, along with Consumer Focus, the watchdog, have warned all the 3.5 million households with a prepayment meter to be vigilant.

It is understood that criminal gangs are behind the scam. They employ door-to-door salesman offering householders £50 worth of credit on their electricity meters for £25. Once the customer has accepted the offer, the salesman uses a card or key to top up their meter, which appears to be correctly credited.

However, the energy company can tell the credit has been obtained from an illegal source, and the vast majority of customers have found later on, when they next go to top up their card, they need to pay - the full £50 - for the electricity again. Only a "handful" of the most vulnerable customers have been let off having to repay the full amount.

Mike O'Connor, the chief executive of Consumer Focus, said: "This despicable scam is putting cash in the pockets of criminals and defrauding thousands of people who are already hard pressed in this economic climate. Consumers must be on the alert for anyone who comes to their doorstep claiming to sell electricity credit. Any customer worried that they may have been affected should call their energy supplier or Consumer Direct to seek advice."

Those who have information are being urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Christine McGourty, director at Energy UK, which represents all the leading energy companies, said: "This a serious and widespread scam and we're launching the Top-Up Safe campaign to urge customers to steer clear of the criminals behind it. Just like when you buy something fake online - like a ticket for a football match or a music concert - you're the one who'll end up losing out in the end.

"Energy companies can detect the fraud and you'll end up paying twice for your electricity, first to the criminal and then again to your energy company, who can always detect when electricity has been used, but not paid for through the proper channels. It's essential that you only top-up your electricity meter from recognised PayPoint or Pay zone shops or The Post Office."

It is understood the scam has been running since at least June, with all customers of all the major energy companies affected.

The Police, both on a local and a national level, have been working with the energy companies but no arrests have been made.

(8th September 2010)


 

THIEVES JAM CAR LOCKING SIGNALS
(The Sunday Times, Ingear supplement, dated 5th September 2010)

Police are warning of a new type of crime that has led to a surge in thefts from cars. Theives have worked out a way to interfere with cars central locking systems, enabling them to block the "Plipper" signal from the remote that opens and locks doors. When the owner is out of sight they steal any valuables left inside or in the boot.

The technique is thought to have resulted in hundreds of vehicles being broken into over the past 2 months. Police say many car owners have become complacent because of the increasing high tech anti-theft systems on many modern cars and don't check to make sure the doors are locked.

The crime relies on the fact that many central locking systems are now operated by a plipper that connects to the car on a radio frequency. The signal locks or unlocks the doors an some cases activates an alarm. The weakness exploited by thieves is that other devices using similar radio frequencies can be bought off the shelf in high street shops or on the internet. In the interests of security, The Sunday Times is not going to specify which devices they are. By using them to broadcast a signal while somebody is trying to lock their car, thieves can jam the signal from the plipper so that the car remains unlocked.

Because the car does not receive the signal, the indicator lights will not flash as they are supposed to, confirming the doors are locked. Thieves raly on the fact that car owners are often distracted or carrying shopping and fail to notice. Indeed, some drivers operate the plipper with their back to the car while walking away. As long as drivers do not notice, the thief can open the doors and boot as soon as the owner is out of sight, helping themselves to the car's contents.

The technique has left many victims baffled. Carrie Been, the director of a merchandise company, was leaving for work last month when she noticed the door of her Renault Megane Scenic was not properly closed. "When I got closer, I could see that the glove box and the storage spaces under the seats were wide open," said Benn, 41. "I hadn't left it like that and I was sure that I had locked it." Benn saw another car further down the road from her home in North London with its door ajar. Across two streets of about 50 cars, 10 were left in the same state - but with no signs of any break-in.

Anoop Shetty, 35, a doctor, contacted The Sunday Times after a mobile phone was stolen from his car outside his homw in Islington, North London. "I had fitted a baby seat in the back of my Volkswagen Passat, locked the car with the remote plipper and then went out for a few hours," said Shetty. "When I came back, my Wife noticed that the door was ajar and the phone was missing from the glovebox. What made me really suspicious is that the same thing happened to a friend'scar outside the house a few months before when some money was stolen."

Victims sometimes do not claim on their insurance because, without proof that the car has been broken into, some policies may not cover them. Police admit they don't know exactly how many people have been targeted. " We are conscious of an increase in the number of people reporting this to the Police, " says Detective Inspector Mark Hooper, head of the vehicle crime unit at the Association of Cheif Police Officers. "It's and ongoing concern. We have heard of situactions where three, four or five houses have all had their cars stolen from overnight and no one can explain how because they are confident they locked the car but no damge was done. It's very difficult to detect, so we don't know the scale of this. Often we have people who return to their car, find something stolen and say thate they think they locked their car but they cannot be sure."

Police are warning drivers to make sure that they listen for the tell-tale clunk or wait for the indicators to flash, to ensure that the car is locked.

Thatcham, which works with Police and car makes to research and test security systems, says the crime is spreading across the country, particularly in cities. It claims that some devices could broadcast continuously, meaning that if left hidden in a bush, they could jam plipper signals for up to 50 metres - effectively taking out a whole street.

It is also advising car owners to make sure that they lock their cars by waiting to see the indicators flash. "People just aren't being vigilant," said Mike Briggs, Thatcham's vehicle security manager. " They walk away and expect their cars to have locked - especially in noisier areas where you wouldn't have heard the clunk anyway."

(8th September 2010) 


 

YOU HAVE A NICE LAPTOP - "KEEP IT".... THAT WAY !

If you own a laptop you are probably enjoying it's flexibility. You can take it between rooms in your home, access the internet via your home wireless. Take it to school, college, university, holiday or work; they are truely portable. The only thing is, they are also great things to easily steal. What would you do if your laptop was stolen ? There are the family photo's, the family financial accounts, your final piece of course work or some business confidential data. What would you do if you lost all of that ?

The following suggestions don't just apply to domestic users, but also business users as well.


The laptop itself

Make a note of your laptops make, model and serial number and keep the details safe. Then if you laptop is stolen you will have details to report to the Police.

Make a note of your computers "Physical Address" ( also known as MAC address, NOT IP Address ). Serial numbers on laptops can be rubbed or scratched off, Physical Addresses are very expensive to change ( entailing a need to purchase a new computer motherboard). The Physical Address is the exclusive numerical name of a laptop that is used when it accesses a network and is directly associated with the ethernet port. Check your laptops operating systems instructions / help screen on how to obtain the "Physical Address".

Make a note of the software "licence number's" or "Product ID's". If your laptop is stolen and you get a replacement you may be able to obtain a replacement download of the applications from the developer (ie. Microsoft ) if you have the appropriate information.


When away from home

When you carry your laptop around outside home or business, don't make it obvious that you are carrying one. Laptop bags are a target, use a normal looking bag and put your laptop in a purpose made neoprene cover for protection.

Shoulder straps for office bags can easily be cut from your shoulder and the bag snatched. Consider buying a bag with steel wire hidden in the strap ( yes they do make them ) or a replacement strap (£12 - £18).

If you leave your laptop in an unfamilier office or surroundings you should attempt to lock it to an immovable object ( desk leg, chair, pipework etc ) using a "Kensington" lock. Your laptop costs probably in excess of £400, a "Kensington" lock costs about £10.

If you leave your laptop in a hotel you should lock it away in a room laptop safe ( if available ). Or attempt to lock it to an immovable object ( desk leg, chair, pipework etc ) using a "Kensington" lock.

If you leave your laptop in your car, lock it away, out of sight in your cars boot (trunk). You could even use a "Kensington" lock to attach it to a mounting point within the boot for added protection. ENSURE THAT YOU LOCK YOUR CAR CORRECTLY ( See article on car plipper [alarm remote] problems ).

Back-up storage

Back up your laptops data ( photo's, documents, data files, etc ) to a stand alone hard drive. They cost from £50. A less expensive option is a password protected USB memory stick which can be used to store document files ( these become less "financially efficient" for the larger memory sizes when compared to hard drives).
Laptops and computers and application software ( Wordprocessing, spreadsheets, etc ) can eventually be replaced. Your own work on which you have spent time creating cannot be replaced ( family photo's ). Never leave your laptop and back-up device together, even at home, in case of a break-in.

Passwords

Activate the passwords on your laptop. This will reduce the ease which a thief can use your laptop if it is stolen. There are three main types of password.
The Bios password once activated will stop the laptop from working from power up, literally nothing will work if the password is not entered correctly. It is very important to make a note of the Bios password and to keep it in a safe place. Loss of a Bios password is almost impossible to rectify. Work on the Bios password needs to be carried out by a competent person.
The next level is the Windows password. This will stop Windows from loading beyond a password screen. Again keep the password in a safe place. Work on the Window password needs to be carried out by a competent person.
The final level is the application password and is applied directly to documents or spreadsheet etc. Again it is most important to keep a note of the password in a safe place. Failure to do so will stop you from accessing your own files.

- Passwords ideally should be 8 characters in length and be alpha-numeric ( at least 2 numbers ).
- Don't use family or pet names.
- Don't use the same password for every device that you want to secure.
- Don't use banking passwords or PIN numbers.
- Keep passwords details in a safe place, but not with your computer or back-up device.
- When entering your password into your laptop in a public space ( ie. WiFi hotspot ) ensure that you are not being overlooked.

Encryption

Typically this is more for the business user than the domestic user. Documents, spreadsheets etc will be stored in a dedicated portion ( Directory ) of the hard drive. The encryption software would then be activated to change the make up of each file within that Directory. This is done by replacing every letter or character ( of a document for example ) with a code. So to read an encrypted document a key ( password ) is required to convert the code back into normal text. The setting up of this facility needs to be carried out by a competent person and back-ups of important data should be carried out prior ro implementation.

There is no 100% guarantee that by carrying out any of these suggestions will prevent or reduce any loss, but it is better than doing nothing at all.

By the way, in this article I have automatically assumed that your laptop already has security software already loaded, operating and up to date !

(8th September 2010)

 


 

"I AM SO IMPORTANT THAT I DON'T CARE IF I TEXT ON MY MOBILE WHILST DRIVING !"

This story is a bit old in relation to when the video was first produced, but it did appear on GMTV during week commencing 30th August 2010. As you will see the video was developed with Gwent Police. An extract of the film is meant to be one of the most viewed items on Utube.

You can view the video clip on either one of these links (warning, the scenes are upsetting ) :

Guardian Newspaper feed : http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/sep/03/gwent-road-safety-film

Internet Archive : http://www.archive.org/details/Cow-UkTextingPsa

There is a reason for there being a law restricting the use of mobiles whilst driving. The video clip makes that reason explicitly clear.


 

DEATH BY TEXTING - POLICE FILM RACKS UP 1.5 MILLION HITS ONLINE
(
http://www.gwent.police.uk dated 26th August 2009)

The hard-hitting film made by Gwent Police and Tredegar Comprehensive School in South Wales which shows the devastating consequences of texting while driving has now been viewed over 1.5 million times on You Tube.

The 30-minute film shows an horrific road crash caused by a teenage girl who texts her friend while she's at the wheel. It is a deliberately graphic and realistic depiction of the harrowing and life-changing consequences of road crashes caused by people who have been texting on their mobile phone.

Web users across the world have been passing on links to the You Tube film and discussing its content in online blogs and forums. The film's popularity has soared since last week and it's now become a global viral phenomenon. This morning Gwent Police Chief Constable Mick Giannasi told ITV's GMTV programme that far too many people are dying on British roads in crashes caused by drivers who are distracted by text messaging.

Last week Fox TV News in the US discussed the value of using shock tactics like this to engage drivers illegally using mobile phones. The US media giant also showed clips of the film during a news piece relating to a Bill currently going though the Senate which would require each state to ban texting and driving within two years.

Gwent's Chief Constable, Mick Giannasi, who also leads on roads policing issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said he was delighted that the film had been viewed by so many people:
"The messages contained in the film are as relevant to the people of Tennessee as they are to the residents of Tredegar. Texting and driving can have tragic consequences and the more this film is viewed,  the better. Young people think they can text on auto-pilot because they do it so instinctively - for that reason we need to use strong imagery to get them to sit up and take notice. All drivers must be made aware of the potentially dreadful consequences of texting while they're driving".

The films writer and director Peter Watkins-Hughes said:
"Texting whilst driving is a fairly new behaviour and this film aims to encourage people to modify their behaviour, making it socially unacceptable in the way that drink driving is a social taboo. The film is hitting home because it has a hard edge and it taps into something that lots of people do but know they shouldn't. If we can get one person to change their behaviour then it will have been worthwhile".

The film 'Cow' was made with the help of Blaenau Gwent Education, Gwent Police Shrievalty Trust, the International Film School at the University of Wales Newport and Legal & General.


 

Additonal information

Chief Inspector John Pavett from Gwent Police Roads Policing Unit hopes the serious message in this film will hit home to viewers:

"Making and receiving calls and texting whilst driving is still happening on roads not just in Gwent but all over the country.  Seeing a scenario, like the one Cassie goes through, played out right before your eyes makes you realise how extremely dangerous it can be and what devastating consequences it can have. "I hope that after watching this film motorists will think twice before picking up their mobile phone when behind the wheel and realise that a quick reply to a text message or answering a phone call is never worth putting theirs and other people's lives at risk."

If you would like more information about the film, please contact us at :

corporate.communications@gwent.pnn.police.uk

If you have been affected by the issues in this film you can get support and advice by contacting the BrakeCare helpline for road crash victims and their carers.

BrakeCare can be contacted by calling 0845 603 8570 or emailing brakecare@brake.org.uk.

(2nd September 2010)


 

SLIGHT OF HAND

The following are some examples of how someone can steal or abuse the details of your credit or debit card. Some examples are from the USA ( with chip and pin) and other parts of the world that do not have chip and pin security ( they rely on the old paper method ). These criminals use slight of hand and distraction to get your information. They also hit when you least expect it; when you are relaxing ( having a meal or are on holiday etc ).

Scene 1*
   
A friend went to the local gym and placed his belongings in the locker. After the workout and a shower, he came out, saw the locker open, and thought to himself, 'Funny, I thought I locked the locker. He dressed and just flipped the wallet to make sure all was in order. Everything looked okay - all cards were in place.

A few weeks later his credit card bill came - a whooping bill of $14,000! He called the credit card company and started yelling at them, saying that he did not make the transactions. Customer care personnel verified that there was no Mistake in the system and asked if his card had been stolen.'No,' he said, but then took out his wallet, pulled out the credit card, and yep - you guessed it - a switch had been made.

An expired similar credit card from the same bank was in the wallet. The thief broke into his locker at the gym and switched cards.

Verdict: The credit card issuer said since he did not report the card missing earlier, he would have to pay the amount owed to them. How much did he have to pay for items he did not buy? $9,000!

Why were there no calls made to verify the amount swiped? Small amounts rarely trigger a 'warning bell' with some credit card companies. It just so happens that all the small amounts added up to big one!

   
Scene 2*

A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the meal came, he signed it and the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card along. Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or pocket. Funny enough, though, he actually took a look at the card and, lo and behold, it was the expired card of another person. He called the waitress and she looked perplexed.

She took it back, apologised, and hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man. All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real card. No exchange of words nothing! She took it and came back to the man with an apology.


Verdict: Make sure the credit cards in your wallet are yours, Check the name on the card every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of time. Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at it,"assuming" that it has to be theirs.
   
   
FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, DEVELOP THE HABIT OF CHECKING YOUR CREDIT CARD EACH TIME IT IS RETURNED TO YOU AFTER A TRANSACTION!   

Scene 3
*
   
Yesterday I went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that I had called in. I paid by using my Visa Check Card which, of course, is linked directly to my current account. The man behind the counter took my card, swiped it, then laid it on the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing. I noticed the phone because it is the same model I have, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.Then I heard a click that sounded like my phone sounds when I take a picture. He then gave me back my card but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking: I wondered what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on. It then dawned on me: the only thing there was my credit card, so now I'm paying close attention to what he is doing. He set his phone on the counter, leaving it open. About two seconds later, I heard the chime that tells you that the picture has been saved. Now I'm standing there struggling with the fact that this

person just took a picture of my credit card. Yes, he played it off well, because had we not had the same kind of phone, I probably would never have known what happened. Needless to say, I immediately cancelled that card as I was walking out of the pizza parlor.
   
All I am saying is, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever you are using your credit card take caution and don't be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing when you use your card. Be aware of phones, because many have a camera phone these days.


Scene 4

A year ago my adult "kids" arranged a holiday in the USA. The only trouble was, they arranged the flight for the early hours of a Friday morning from Heathrow Airport. So that we would not get caught in the M25 roadworks we decided to stay overnight in a well known hotel along Bath Road near the airport. So we drove to the hotel the evening before. The check-in was unusually a little protracted. I had one of those hotel loyalty cards and got a free room on points, but I did have to "swipe" my credit card for extra's. I was even able to choose a "free gift". Things were strange at that point as the receptionist had to go to the admin office for the required gift form. Strangely, he also took my credit card with him. I did not perceive any problems as I got the card back within seconds. The rooms were good, we all had meal and a restful sleep. Even better, no flight delays the next day and they were off.

That Sunday I did my regular check on my bank and credit card account and discovered 3 odd transactions on the credit card. The total amounted to £600, in stores in Manchester. I raised the issue with my bank and the card was cancelled. Luckily I was not financially inconvenienced. We then started to analyse how someone would have got my credit card details as it had not been lost or out of my possession. Then it "clicked",  the hotel on Friday. The receptionist was probably expecting me to be out of the country for a couple of weeks and not able to check my account for any fraudulent transactions. But how can you prove that was the case !

Don't let anyone walk away for any period of time with your credit or debit card. Keep it in sight all of the time regardless of how reputable the establishment is.

The examples marked with * were distributed on a general warning e-mail circulation.

(29th August 2010)


 

POLICING ON TWO WHEELS WITH CCTV
( http://www.essex.police.uk 22nd August 2010 )
 
Cameras on board their BMW bikes and on their helmets give Essex Police motorcyclists a helping hand in catching and educating offenders breaking the law on the roads of Essex.

The new countywide unit deals with crashes, accidents and other incidents on the frontline and uses the cameras to capture footage which may later help bring offenders to justice at court.

Officers can also use the cameras to play back the footage and show motorists how their driving could be putting their safety and the safety of other road users at risk.

The team of nine full-time motorcyclists works to reduce the number of casualties on the roads of Essex and help keep the county moving by responding to incidents more quickly than other vehicles are able to.

Their good work is currently being highlighted in channel Five series Emergency Bikers.During the series, which started last month, officers can be seen dealing with an overturned car in Southend and working with commercial vehicles as part of Operation Mermaid, a national initiative launched to raise driving standards and ensure vehicles are mechanically safe.

Sgt Mick Green of road policing said: "We are very pleased to have the camera crew with us and to be sharing the good work of the unit with the people of Essex. "Having a bespoke unit like this gives the motorcyclists the opportunity to get out on the county's roads and do casualty reduction work. The team is very passionate and enthusiastic about reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads."

The series also follows the West Midlands Ambulance Service biker paramedics in Birmingham as they deal with heart attacks, car crashes and drug overdoses.

(29th AUGUST 2010)


 

HERTFORDSHIRE POLICE GO DIRECT ON THE WEB
( http://www.herts.police.uk/ 23rd August 2010 )
 
An Internet-based messaging system will enable residents and Hertfordshire-based workers to sign up to receive news and information about their local police service, from their local police.

Hertfordshire Constabulary's new 'Community Messaging' is launched countywide this week and uses the award-winning Online Watch Link (OWL) to send regular news to anyone with a Hertfordshire home, or work, postal address.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Miller said: "We're expanding to the whole of Hertfordshire a nationally-recognised system that's been really successful in communicating with Neighbourhood Watch members. We see Community Messaging as a fast, straight forward and accurate way to give people direct information about how we are policing the county and about policing in their own neighbourhoods.

"Living or working in such a safe county, you may not feel the need for more information about policing but you may be interested to hear about a local issue that's been dealt with, such as reducing dangerous driving near a local school, or about offensive graffiti that's been cleared up or even to hear about opportunities in your area to meet and chat to one of your Neighbourhood officers."

He added: "This is an exciting opportunity for us to reach the communities we serve and we hope that lots of you will sign up and try out the service."

You will receive one or two messages a fortnight after signing up, which can be done simply by inputting your name, address and contact details on line at 'Community Messaging - Hear it Direct from Us' on www.herts.police.uk . There may be additional messages on occasion, if an important issue arises that we need to tell you about, but you will not be inundated with emails from the police.

(29th AUGUST 2010)


 

ELECTRONIC CRIME TASK FORCE LAUNCHED
(http://www.soca.gov.uk 24th August 2010 )
 

United States Secret Service agents will soon be working in the UK alongside SOCA officers on transnational cyber crime investigations.

SOCA's eCrime department now hosts the UK Electronic Crime Task Force, and two USSS agents will be based here from early 2011.

The worldwide web has increased the potential range and speed of many types of crime. The aim of the task force is to increase collaborative working between law enforcement, industry and academia, pooling resources and expertise to provide unique harm-reduction opportunities.

Bill Hughes, SOCA Director General, said:"The creation of the task force is a natural progression for a long-established and highly successful working partnership between the two agencies."

SOCA has previously conducted many joint operations with the USSS. Intelligence sharing led to the conviction of a founder member of Darkmarket - a notorious online criminal forum for trading compromised personal information.

The USSS has set up 28 task forces across America. An Italian task force was also established recently.

(29th August 2010)


 

TRUST NO ONE - SOUND ADVICE IN AN AGE OF FRAUD
( Evening Standard, dated 26th August, author Clive Zietman )
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/

It was Agatha Christie who said that where larege sums of money are involved, it is advisable to trust no one. She was right. At the moment fraud is booming in the UK and there are good reasons for this. In an economic crisis, what had been concealed is unearthed during investigations by liquidators and the police. Added to which, certain types of fraud tend to thrive when the financial going gets tough. So what is going on ?

Ponzi Schemes

Charles Ponzi gave his name to this scam nearly 90 years agao. Bernie Madoff simply followed in his footsteps. In short, a Ponzi schem is an investment business that seems ( and is ) too good to be true. It pays out improbable returns that suck in fresh money which in turn is used to perpetuate the myth. When investors call in their money in times of crisis ( as happened with Bernie ), the bubble bursts.

Advance fee fraud

When banks refuse to lend , those in need of funds might turn to "alternative" sources. Enter the ebullient advance fee fraud. He will offer remarkable terms with the small proviso that a modest arrangement fee is paid in advance. The source of funds is usually opaque. Needless to say, the victim pays the up-front fee but the mega-funding is never forthcoming.

Mortgage fraud

Mortgage fraud flourishes when property prices are rising. During boom years no one worries about flimsy criteria and half truths about income and valuation. But when the repossessions start, uncomfortable truths emerge about the basis on which the money was originally lent. The more sophisticated mortgage frauds go well beyond the activities of dodgy valuers. The schemes that emerged in the Nineties after the boom of the Eighties will be matched by schemes emerging now.

Unscrupulous Liquidators

As the Roman poet Juvenal said : "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ?" Who will guard the guards? Liquidators and administrators have a huge amount of power and control over the assets of the deceased company. With the rising number of corporate failures and personal bankruptcies comes an inevitably greater workload for insolvency practitioners. The vast majority are straight but there are a few rotten eggs who are perfectly placed to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing, charge excessively and allow undervalue sales.

Employee fraud

Another feature of a downturn is employee disenchantment whereby underpaid workers might be tempted to filch from the company. At the lowest level, these involve fiddling expenses or stealing the firms time by surfing the net rather than working. But in extreme cases an inside job can detroy a business when perpetrated by, say, a finance director. Employers should be wary of employees who display territorial behaviour, who turn up early and leave late - most suspicious of all are the ones who never go on holiday. The classic example is the employee who rules the roost in his or her part of the firm and can steal the company's mone without being easily detected.

Identity theft

In the good old days, rogues who hit upon hard times would steal a car of burgle a house to get some jewellery. Inthis day and age it is far cleaner and safer to steal an identity and this takes many guises. Rather than candlesticks, burglars will opt for passports with which they can make fake loan applications. Similarly, the modern car thief buys a car, creates a fals identity for the car with a bit of desktop publishing, sells the car cheap on eBay and then, using a spare set of keys, drives off with it after the sale. He then repeats the exercise again and again.


Desperate times lead to desperate measures but we live in an age where the big-ticket dishonest money is not made by selling stolen electrical equipment down the pub. It is made by acquiring a chain of pubs when laundering the ill-gotten gains from a multi-million pound Ponzi scheme.
That at least is a crime worth going to prison for. From the fraudsters perspective, the worst that will happen is that he will end up at Ford open prison, play a bit of Scrabble, make some new contacts and leave early when he fakes the symptoms of Alzheimer's, which he then forgets he ever had.

(29th August 2010)


 

 

POLICE TRIALS PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS TO IDENTIFY FUTURE CRIME
(Computerweekly.com, dated 28th July 2010, author Warwick Ashford)

UK police forces have begun trials of futuristic software designed to forecast the time and place of future crimes.

The Criminal Reduction Utilising Statistical History (Crush) system uses predictive analytics to process data such as crime reports, intelligence briefings and behaviour profiles to identify crime hot spots.

The system was developed by IBM, which has invested more than $11bn in developing its predictive analytics technology for helping businesses use data to develop proactive growth strategies.

In July 2009, IBM signed a $1.2bn deal to acquire Chicago-based predictive analytics software company SPSS to boost its capabilities in the field.

According to IBM, the system is designed to enhance and improve the efficiency of existing practises by looking for patterns to work out what is likely to happen next.

Crush is being tested secretly in the UK after a successful trial in the US, where police say the system was crucial to reducing crime by 31%, according to The Guardian (The Observer ).

Police involved in the trial in Tennessee say the system improves morale by increasing arrest rates and helping officers feel they are making a difference.

IBM plans to enhance the system's capabilities by enabling Crush to sample data from a wider range of sources, such as CCTV cameras and social networking sites.



CRIME SOFTWARE MAY HELP POLICE PREDICT VIOLENT OFFENCES
(The Observer, dated 25th July 2010, author Tony Thompson) - ( Summary )

 

Two British police forces have begun trials of a sophisticated computer software package which aims to boost their efficiency by predicting where and when future crimes will take place. The names of the two UK forces using the software have not been revealed.

The system, known as Crush (Criminal Reduction Utilising Statistical History) evaluates patterns of past and present incidents, then combines the information with a range of data including crime reports, intelligence briefings, offender behaviour profiles and even weather forecasts. This is used to identify potential hot spots and flashpoints, so police forces can allocate resources to areas where particular crimes are most likely to occur.

The technology, which belongs to a fast-growing field known as "predictive analytics", is being tested secretly in the UK following a successful long-term trial in Memphis, Tennessee, where the police department credits Crush as the key factor behind a 31% reduction in overall crime and a 15% fall in violent crime. The system has also been credited with improving morale among officers of the Memphis police by boosting arrest rates and helping them to feel as if they are "making a difference".

Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice began using predictive analytics to assess the data held within its Offender Assessment System and help predict which prisoners due for release were most likely to reoffend based on circumstances such as accommodation, education, relationships, financial management and income, lifestyle and associates, drug and alcohol misuse, emotional well-being, behaviour and attitudes.

In Florida, the US Department of Justice recently began using the same software to help predict which young delinquents were likely to go on to become repeat offenders, placing those flagged up by the computer system into specific prevention and education programmes aimed at ensuring they remained on the straight and narrow.

Critics say the use of such technology is an affront to human rights and could destroy centuries of legal precedent, leading to a generation who are innocent only until predicted guilty. While supporters point out that at present, such analysis and decisions are made by individuals prone to making mistakes and unable to take into consideration the wealth of information a computer can deal with.

According to Mark Cleverley, head of government strategy at IBM,

- Crush simply enhances and improves the efficiency of existing practices.
- What the technology does is what police officers have always done, sometimes purely on instinct - looking for patterns to work out what is likely to happen next. What is different is the scale on which the system operates and the speed at which the analysis takes place."
- the company is now refining the system to enable it to sample data from an even wider range of sources and process the results faster.
- At some point in the future we hope to include analysis of feeds from CCTV cameras and public sources from the internet such as Facebook posts.


 

Editors note

This is not a crystal ball. These pieces of software are meant to have been around for years. It appears that they originally started being used by the financial institutions and we all know what mess they got into. It will not give you exact answers ( you wouldn't win the pools or the lottery ). The software is a giant number cruncher that provides possible outcomes based on prior historical information. Therefore, junk in = junk out, no matter how good the PA system is ! I just hope that it is not used to ascertain future Police numbers.

In an example given in another Computerworld article they described how a Predictive Analytics "tool" (PA) helped save a company money.

Center Parcs is one example of a PA user that benefited to the sum of £2m during the first year of implementation. The provider of holiday villages always used to undertake two bulk marketing mailings to its customers each year. But after rolling out DataDistilleries' PA tools in 2002 as part of an overhaul of its marketing function, it introduced more frequent campaigns targeted only at those customers it believed were most likely to respond.

In the first year alone, the move enabled the company to cut mailing costs by more than 50%, saving it £1m. It was also able to boost revenues by the same amount as a result of increasing occupancy rates and of selling guests a wider range of sports and leisure facilities.

Going back to financial institutions; PA's most common application is to analyse whether customers pose a potential credit or insurance risk and/or to establish whether they are attempting to undertake fraudulent activity.

(3rd August 2010)


 

SCAMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

ONLINE SCAMS TARGET LONELY HEARTS WITH TROOPS' PHOTOS
(CNN, dated 28th July 2010, authors : Abbie Boudreau, Emily Probst and Jessi Joseph)
www.editions.cnn.com

Jasonville, Indiana (CNN) -- Last Christmas, Stacey Chapman hung a stocking, anxiously awaiting the homecoming of the all-American soldier she had met online and planned to marry.

But he never came home. After some research, Chapman discovered the 20-year-old blond in fatigues pictured in the online dating profile, Spc. Brian Browning, had died in Iraq three years ago. And the man she had been e-mailing and chatting with for the last six months, who went by the name "Christain Browning," was really a scammer posing as an American soldier.

"He made me believe he was falling for me, that he was completely in love with me, that he was a soldier over there defending our country," said Chapman, a recently separated mother of two. "I think I had a big red flag on me that said, 'very lonely, very vulnerable.'"

Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, told CNN his division has received hundreds of complaints of scammers using the photos of U.S. soldiers in dating and social websites in the last year. CNN has learned the scammers have used photos of both living and dead troops, including high-ranking Army officials and even generals assigned to the Pentagon.

Many of the soldiers are fighting overseas, unaware that their photos -- stolen off the web -- are being used unless they're contacted by the duped victims. But often, as in the case of Stacey Chapman, the impostor uses a variation on the soldier's name, making the real soldier hard to find.

A broken-hearted Chapman lost more than $1,200 that she sent via Western Union for what she thought was his plane ticket home. And while the financial hit hurt, it didn't compare to the emotional toll.

SIU blog: Scammers, be gone

"What a lowlife he was, trying to actually portray a soldier that had died in the war," Chapman said. "I had fallen for him, and he had ran with it and taken me for not only my money, (but) my heart."

Grey said the military can't do anything to stop the scam because U.S. soldiers aren't the perpetrators. The best solution, he said, is to get the word out.

Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham, a military blogger and active-duty soldier, is doing just that. Grisham receives up to 10 emails a day from victims duped by the scammers. Through his blog, www.soldiersperspective.us, he warns unsuspecting victims and soldiers and tracks the scammers, who he said are likely based in western Africa.

Grisham said the scheme often starts out small. After capturing the attention of a woman online with a fake profile of a man in uniform, the scam artist teases the victim with chocolates, flowers and teddy bears. Soon after sending the gifts, the impostor starts asking for money to pay for Internet or phone service. From there, the money requests grow.

"Love is such a powerful emotion. Loyalty or patriotism is a very powerful emotion. And people do a lot of stupid stuff in the name of love and in the name of patriotism," Grisham said.

CNN contacted the Browning family in Astoria, Oregon, after learning that the photo of their fallen son had been used in the online romance scam. Spc. Brian Browning's father, Perry Browning, didn't take the news lightly.

"It makes me madder now more than anything, because some scumbag is using my son's good name and honor to pillage women," Browning said.

Browning's father had a message for Stacey Chapman, the woman who planned to marry his "son." The real Brian Browning was a loving son and a caring and funny character, he said.

"She fell in love with a nice picture of a young man. My son was a worthy person. He was worth falling in love with," Browning said. Chapman is "every much a victim in this as my son Brian was," he added.

"This guy is just trying to make a buck off of everybody's heart. Crappy B####d," he said.

For more information : www.soldiersperspective.us

(3rd August 2010)


 

OUTDATED WiFi SECURITY LEAVES THOUSANDS AT HACKERS' MERCY
(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd August 2010, author Mark Prigg)

A third of London households have wifi networks that can be hacked into with ease, it was claimed today.

A study of more than 11,000 households in 13 boroughs found that almost 30 per cent used outdated security, known as WEP. Experts today warned this could be cracked in seconds, leaving owners and their data vulnerable.

"Using weak wifi security like WEP is the digital equivalent of locking your front door but with a sign saying, 'The key is under the mat, help yourselves'," said Tom Fry of security firm Garlik, which conducted the study.

The WEP standard has been replaced with more secure systems, but many users have failed to upgrade. "Until recently most manufacturers supplied wireless routers that used this low-security option by default," added Mr Fry. "A lot of people are still using the older routers at home."

He spent weeks monitoring networks and assessing their security. Only 65 per cent of households were found to have the most secure setting for their home wifi networks, known as WPA. "People are opening themselves up to a lot of problems," he warned. "The Digital Economy Bill means they are responsible for the connection. So if someone hacks my home wifi and does something illegal, I could be liable."

People are also at risk of having their passwords compromised. "If a hacker gains access to your network, it is relatively easy to capture all data going through it. Your email and bank passwords could be captured.

"We strongly encourage people to check the setting on their routers. If your router can't use a setting called WPA it's worth asking your service provider for a new router, or buying one that can support it."

Staying safe

- Set your router to the highest security setting possible, ideally one known as WPA2. If your router will only support WEP, contact your internet service provider and ask them to upgrade your router.

- Ensure the password for your home network is not obvious or weak (e.g. cat, dog). Use a complex mixture of letters, numbers and special characters such as *, @, !.

- Change your router password from the default setting. Often people are unaware that almost all routers are sent out to homes with exactly the same, widely known password and log in details.

(3rd AUGUST 2010)


 OPERATION STORM DRIVES DOWN CRIME IN GREATER MANCHESTER
(http://www.gmp.police.uk/ dated 27th July 2010)

Greater Manchester Police arrested 969 burglars, robbers and thieves last week (19 to 24 July) in its first summer clampdown on offenders across the county.

High impact enforcement activity on all divisions across the Force saw officers making more than 193 raids on properties of suspected criminals and 29 stolen vehicles were identified.

The crackdown was part of Operation Storm that was set up a year ago to support divisions in reducing burglaries, robberies and car theft. Since then it has helped to make 3,169 arrests.

The year has also seen a 15 per cent reduction in burglary, 19.5 per cent reduction in vehicle crime and 15.5 per cent reduction in robberies. This has meant that there has been 12,376 fewer people falling victim to personal theft crimes between April 2009 and March this year when compared to the previous 12 months.

As part of the crackdown officers have been serving warrants, checking offenders are complying with bail and curfew conditions and visiting persistent criminals and those recently released from prison to check on their activities.

Officers from local burglary, robbery and car crime teams have been supported by neighbourhood policing teams and specialist officers from the mounted, dog, tactical aid and road policing units in this latest clean-up. Court Enforcement Officers have also been arresting offenders for non-payment of fines.

PCSOs have been visiting hundreds of homes in crime hotspot areas to give crime reduction advice and warning motorists using at-risk car parks to remove valuables and lock vehicles.

They have also been visiting supermarkets, shopping centres and other public places to help people register their valuables on Immobilise.com to increase their chances of having recovered stolen property returned to them.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: "We made a commitment a year ago through Operation Storm to ensure that thieves in our county were brought to account for their crimes.

"Through targeting them in their homes, in our communities and on the streets we have made significant progress in reducing all forms of theft and helped offenders make the choice between going straight or going straight to prison.

"I can assure law-abiding and law-breaking citizens that it does not end here. We will continue to work to reduce burglary, robbery and vehicle crime and bring offenders to justice over the coming months.

"I urge residents to play their part in the fight against these criminals by refusing to buy goods they suspect have been stolen and reporting their suspicions to us either directly on 0161 872 5050 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

(29th July 2010)


 

THE METROPOLITAN POLICE HAS UNVEILED ITS FIRST EVER YOUTH WEBSITE
(bbc.co.uk , dated 29th July 2010)

Called 'Safe', it is aimed at 11 to 16 years olds and gives information about issues ranging from bullying and drugs to gangs and knife crime.There are also links to support organisations and a dedicated page for teachers.

Ch Supt Adrian Hanstock, who oversaw the project, said: "Safe is a website designed in partnership with young people, for young people." He added: "Young people can be as many as three times more likely to be the victim of a street robbery than any other age group, so Safe is just one way we can give them advice on how to keep safe."

On the contacts section on the new site young people can also find the name of their local safer schools police officer, who work with secondary schools.

The "Safe" website : http://www.safe.met.police.uk/

For the Metropolitan Police article on the "Safe" website :

http://cms.met.police.uk/news/publicity_campaigns/new_metropolitan_police_service_website_aims_to_keep_young_people_safe 


 

What else is there to help kids ?

The Sharp System

This is a scheme set up for schools across the UK, and stands for 'School Help Advice Reporting Page'. Many schools have signed up to it allowing their pupils to confidentially report any problems that they have inside and outside of school - and

not just crimes. This website has a link from the "Safe" website.

http://www.thesharpsystem.com

For details of what area's are covered, click on the "live systems" tab.

(29th July 2010)


 

Articles dated prior to 29th July 2010 were originally shown on the "threeroadsinenfield.org" website. 


 

HOLIDAY SNIPPET

FOREIGN OFFICE WARNING ON MALDIVES
(The Sunday Times, dated 25th July 2010)

The Foreign Office has issued an advisory to tourists travelling to the Maldives, where a deepening political crisis has led to violenct street protests. The archipelago in the Indian Ocean has been gripped by a bitter power struggle between the president and the opposition-led national parliament since June. Street demonstrations in the capital, Male, last week injured at least nine police officers and six civilians. The Foreign Office is warning visitors that " social unrest is possible and there is a risk demonstrations might become violent. You should exercise caution and avoid any large political gatherings".


 

Editors Note

Check the Foreign Office website before booking holidays and before leaving to check if there are any problems in the country where you are visiting.

Foriegn Office : www.fco.gov.uk

In addition, it is recommended that you register your travel arrangements with the Foreign Office using the "Locate" facility. Then if something serious happens within the country where you are visiting the local Embassy or Consulate is aware of your location to offer help. You also record your passport details on their website, so if you loose it they will have your details readily at hand. You only need to register once, then update the page for each visit. The facility is voluntary, its up to you.

Locate registration : https://www.locate.fco.gov.uk/locateportal/

( You can access "Locate" from the Foreign Office website by typing in "Locate" into the search box.)

(27th July 2010)


 

ROGUE HOLIDAY FIRMS GOING UNDETECTED
(The Sunday Times, Travel Supplement, dated 25th July 2010, author Chris Haslam)
www.sunday-times.co.uk

The recent collapse of Goldtrail has left holidaymakers nervously checking their holiday documents for proof that their travel company is protected in the event of going bust. Goldtrail was Atol protected, but the Sunday Times can reveal that some unscrupulous operators are falsely claiming membership of bonded protection schemes.

Checking that a travel agency or tour operator is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) or Air Travel Organisers Licensing (Atol) should be straightforward - companies display the relevant logos on brochures and on websites - but there is little to prevent an unbonded company using the logo.

One such outfit is the London-based ####, which specialises in live-aboard diving holidays. Customers booking through the website see an Atol logo on the home page and a footnote declaring the company to be an Atol licence holder. Yet we checked with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the administrators of the Atol scheme, we found that #### had never held an Atol licence, and despite having known since November 2009 that the logo was on illegal display, the CAA had failed to get it removed.

####'s director admitted that he had been displaying the logo and thus misleading customers since 2003, said the company has asked its website designers to take it off. "It's a complicated procedure because we have so many pages," he said, "but in about a week it will be gone".

Southwark Trading Standards, the local authority body responsible for the enforcement of a fair and safe trading environment within the borough, received a complaint about ####'s use of the Atol logo on 13th April of this year. It's response was as follows : " We take all complaints seriously but, regrettably, we cannot fully investigate every one we receive." "We're under resourced and over stretched, and travel agencies and tour operators are a long way down the list of priorities," said a source within the borough. "There could be hundreds of travel businesses trading on false guarantees." "The whole process of checking on rogue traders is a shambles," said Aito's chairman, Derek Moore. "It reinforces the need for consumers to check the bonafides of any travel company before using them as a holiday provider."

If you're in any doubt about the authenticity of a tour operator or travel agency's credentials, always check with the issuing authority.

For Atol visit : www.caa.co.uk
For Abta visit : www.abta.co.uk
For Aito visit : www.aito.co.uk

Note : The article has been slightly modified to remove the name of the tour company. The name has been replaced by ####.


 

Editors note

Holiday and other trip problems don't just occur abroad, they also happen in the UK. Here are a couple examples !

We had to take an early morning train from Paddington to the West Country. So we decided to stay in the Paddington area. The easiest way to make a booking was using Expedia. We found a 4 star hotel on their website, the pictures of the rooms looked good and the price was what we expected for central London. We did not get to the hotel until 8pm. It was not really a 4 star hotel, more of a 4 star guest house, but the public area was "designer". When we introduced ourselves at reception we were checked in ( we had prior paid via Expedia). We were then told that the hotel was experiencing plumbing problems and that we would be transfered to their equal quality Sister hotel nearby. The Sister hotel was a "poor relative", it was dingy, and the beds were of the camping variety. We returned to the reception and asked for a refund. The receptionist stated that she was unable to do so. She called the other 4* hotel and their receptionist stated that she was unable to do so as the manager had just left ! We eventually got the receptionist at our current location to complete a letter that stated that required a refund and that we did not stay in the hotel. The next day we complained directly to Expedia and requested a refund. We also stated that the hotel was not a 4* hotel and it was acting as a "honey pot" to attract visitors which were then relocated to the dingier establishment. In fact the 2 couples ahead of us at check-in were from the USA and Australia. We did find a hotel for that night and we also got a refund from Expedia, but who needs the hassle ?

The next description was for a business trip to Farnborough. I normally stay in a Holiday Inn hotel at this location, but on this occassion it was fully booked. The other main hotel in the area had vacancies according to its website. Again, like the example the rooms looked very nice, modern with widescreen LCD TV etc. I had never stayed there before and was a little put off by its appearance on arrival. It was strouded in scaffolding, the windows were bound in masking tape. On entering the reception area I was pleased to see it was clean and modern; as was the bar area and restaurant. I was still pertubed by the exterior of the hotel so I asked to see a room before I checked in. Lets put it this way, the room offered was not the same as that shown on their website ( this sentence is putting things very politely ). When I refused to check-in the proprietor was called for. He asked what the problem was as it was past the cancellation time and he was entitled to full payment. I just stated that he misrepresented his hotel on the website and I was going to raise a complaint with the local Trading Standards Office. That seemed to quell the situation. This hotel had been quality checked by "Visit Britain" so I sent them a message describing the shortfalls of the hotel. Visit Britain is a government agency (quango) and does not check hotels out themselves they sub-contract the work out. They don't even appear to have a proper process for dealing with complaints and forwarded my comments to their sub-contractor. The sub-contractors response was that they would take my comments in to account when they next visited the hotel. Visit Britain is meant to be an organisation that supports tourism; if it cannot ensure the quality of its inspections what will tourists think of their stays in below standard establishments and will they return ?

Luckily for this last trip I stayed in the newly openned Village Inn. It wasn't cheap, but on weekends its £59 / night. That may not be Travellodge prices, but the place does have a swimming pool and gym.


(27th July 2010)


 

STOLEN MOBILES LOOPHOLE CLOSED
(http://nds.coi.gov.uk dated 23rd July 2010)

A new deal to stop an estimated 100,000 stolen mobile phones, worth around £4 million, being sold to recycling companies has been announced by Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire.

The agreement aims to close a loophole which sees thousands of phones - worth an average of £40 each - sold to recyclers each year.

Currently 90 per cent of handsets reported stolen in the UK are blocked across all networks within 48 hours of reporting, making them useless in the UK to criminals trying to sell them on. However, blocked phones can still be used abroad and as the recycling industry exports many of the handsets it buys this has created a new market for stolen phones.

Companies who sign up to the new code of practice will work closely with police and check the details of every phone they are offered against the National Mobile Phone Register, a database of all phones reported stolen. If the handset has been reported as stolen the company will refuse to buy the phone and details of the phone and the person trying to sell it to them will be passed to police to investigate.

Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said: "Tackling crime effectively is not just a job for government alone, action at all levels of society is needed to make a real difference. This new agreement is a perfect example of what this approach can achieve.

"By joining forces with the police, the mobile phone industry is closing a multi-million pound loophole that has been exploited by criminals and the industry should be congratulated. Alongside the impressive work on blocking stolen phones, this code will make mobile phone theft an even less profitable crime."

Jack Wraith, chairman of the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum, said: "The industry welcomes this very important initiative on the part of the recyclers. It not only closes off an avenue used by criminals to gain from theft of mobile phones, it also demonstrates those recyclers who have signed up to the scheme are serious in their efforts to support the continuing battle against mobile phone theft."

Commander Simon Pountain, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "As a result of the hard work and commitment of the recycling and mobile phone industry, combined with the work of the Home Office and the police, there is now the possibility of detecting up to a further 100,000 offences countrywide.

"To date numerous arrests have taken place and stolen goods recovered. Significant offences such as robberies and burglaries have been solved through utilising this new system which has also led to arrests for murder. This is a great example of partnership working at its best for the benefit of the wider community."

Those companies that sign up will be endorsed by the industry so consumers can have confidence in the recycler they are dealing with. So far 20 mobile phone recyclers, representing 90 per cent of the industry, have committed to the agreement.

The code of practice, which has been developed by the Telecommunications Fraud Forum (TUFF), government and police, will be administered by TUFF who will monitor it to ensure it is being adhered to. Sanctions will be taken against companies that do not comply with it.

Further information

The recyclers who have signed up to code so far are: 20 - 20 Mobile, Anovo, Earthmobile Ltd, Eazyfone, EMC Recycle, Regenersis, Fone Hub, Greener Solution, Mazuma Mobile, Mobile Phone Exchange, Mobile Phone Recycling Organisation, Money for Your Phone, Redeem PLC, Royal Mail, RPC Recycle, SHP Solutions, West One Technology, Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media.

For more information about the code of practice go to www.stoprecycledstolenphones.co.uk

Other crime reduction initiatives to result from government and industry collaboration include:

- the Mobile Phone Industry Crime Reduction Charter, which resulted in handsets reported stolen being blocked with 48 hours across all UK networks;

- the creation of the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to help develop and roll out of best practice to police forces across the country as well as encouraging and supporting early engagement with the mobile phone industry: and

- the M-Commerce Best Practice Guidelines, launched in August 2009, where the mobile and banking industries came together to agree some basic principles to ensure that the roll out of this technology reduces the risk of crime.

- According to online due diligence specialists Recipero, which provide information to the National Mobile Phone Register, at least 100,000 handsets with an average value of £40 that have been reported stolen to the police by their rightful owner are recycled every year.

(27th July 2010)


 

POLICE NUMBERS - WHAT ARE THEY NOW ?

We have all recently heard that the current Government has asked all of its departments to check the feasibility of cuts of up to 40%. Sadly the UK Police Service is also included within those checks. The points is, what are their numbers now ?

Well the Home Office released a document on the 22nd July 2010 which shows the numbers of Police and others as of 31st March 2010. It appears that the document is part of an annual audit as figures for 2008 and 2009 are also available.

The Home Office document is made up of statistics , figures and graphs. There is no way that I can glamorise or make it more interesting than it is. I can only say that I have summarised a 26 page document into the following !

For further information see : http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/policeorg1.html

Main Points

- There were 143,734 full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers in the 43
police forces of England and Wales. (ie: FTE = 2 part time officers working a half week each = one officer )

- There were 37,066 female officers in the 43 police forces of England and Wales of the 144,235 officers in England and Wales, representing 25.7 per cent of the total.
The proportion of women in the more senior ranks of Chief Inspector and above was 14.3%.

- There were 6,642 FTE minority ethnic officers in the 43 forces of England and Wales, 4.6 per cent of the total police strength.The proportion of ethnic officers in the more senior ranks of Inspector and above was 3.28%.

- There were 79,596 FTE police staff numbers for the 43 forces of England and Wales
, an increase of 0.4 per cent compared to a year earlier.

- There were 16,918 FTE police community support officers in the 43 police forces of England and Wales, an increase of 2.5 per cent on the previous year.

- There were 244,497 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff working in the 43 police forces of England and Wales. Police officers accounted for 58.8% of this total, police community support officers 6.9%, traffic wardens 0.2%, designated officers 1.6% and other police staff 32.6%.

- There were 15,505 special constables providing a voluntary police resource to police forces and local communities in England and Wales. Special constables provide at least four hours a week to their force but do not have contracted hours, hence their numbers are shown here as headcount rather than full-time equivalent (FTE).

Across the country females accounted for 31.4% and minority ethnic groups 9.9% of special constables. The Metropolitan Police had the highest proportion of minority ethnic special constables (31.0%), followed by West Midlands (19.3%) and Leicestershire (17.1%).

- Police staff numbers (i.e. non-officer police employees, excluding PCSOs,
traffic wardens and designated officers) increased by 0.4% to 79,596 in
the year to 31 March 2010. Females accounted for 61.0% of this number. In addition, of the overall total 7.4% or 7,427 were minority ethnic staff.

Police numbers by rank and others (FTE) - England and Wales

ACPO ranks : 223
Chief Superintendents:  472
Superintendents : 1,023
Chief Inspectors : 1,966
Inspectors : 7,222
Sergeants : 22,852
Constables : 107,873
Total police ranks : 141,631
Police staff (exc PCSO, TW & DO S.38, 39) : 77,900
Police community support officers (PCSO) : 16,685
Traffic wardens (TW) : 407
Designated officers (DO S.38, S.39) : 3,809
Total police service strength : 240,431

Police numbers by rank and others - Metropolitan Police

ACPO ranks : 37
Chief Superintendents: 86
Superintendents : 217
Chief Inspectors : 475
Inspectors : 1,695
Sergeants : 6,069
Constables : 24,787
Total police ranks : 33,367 (FTE)

Police staff (exc PCSO, TW & DO S.38, 39) : 14,179
Police community support officers (PCSO) : 4,645
Traffic wardens (TW) : 249
Designated officers (DO S.38, S.39) : 325
Total Met Police service strength : 52,765

Remember, all figures quoted were as of 31st March 2010.

(26th July 2010)



 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about fish and chips. This then started to make me think about food hygiene.

In the past I have eaten in some awful places. One such place was in Valletta, Malta about 20 years ago. This establishment was opposite the Presidential Office. Most people sat and ate their meals outside on tables shaded under umbrella's. As we had young children we decided to eat inside, but the restaurant was in the basement. We were greeted at the entrance by a friendly waitress and taken to our table that was covered in a gingham oil cloth. The table, cutlery, floor etc were clean so we had no problem in making our decision to order something. The walls were covered in millitary memoribilia and pictures of men in WW11 uniforms, the place was almost a museum. Our food was delivered promptly and my steak was probably one of the best I have eaten which was washed down with a couple of bottles of Cisk ( the local beer ).

Before we left the restaurant I had to use the "facilities". To get to the toilet I had to walk past the kitchen. It was a box shaped about 6 feet square. In that space were 3 cooks frenetically cooking wearing dirty blood covered aprons, the walls were covered in grease and dirt and the fly screen at the entrance to the kitchen was filthy string. The toilet was equally attactive. The cistern was high wall mounted old fashioned cast iron type with a dirty piece of string acting as "the chain", the toilet bowl hadn't seen a brush for some time and I think the proprietor had not heard of bleach or toilet paper. I think by now you can visualise the scene !

Luckily none of us suffered any ill effects.

Over the last couple years the UK food health community have launched a food hygiene scheme that is easily understood by us the consumer. The scheme applies to all food outlets (restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, bakers and even schools ).

In the London Borough of Enfield there are 1537 establishments covered by food hygiene laws. The scores on the doors are there to make things simple for us the consumer.

Over the years I have eaten in most of the food outlets in Enfield. Some were okay, some were ( how can I say), did not agree with me.

It came as a surprise that two of the well established restaurants I frequented within the Borough were only assessed 1 and 2 star. Their food seemed ok, but each time I experienced what my GP would have described as food intolerance ! Not only that, a speciality food counter in one well known large supermarket only obtained a 2 star.

Remember, 3 stars and above are the acceptable hygiene standard to look out for. Premises are checked out by Food Hygiene Professionals, NOT food critics.

The tab on the menu to the left labelled "Enfield Food Hygiene" provides some more background, a list of the 3,4 and 5 star restaurants and cafes in the London Borough of Enfield. Finally a link to the website with scores on the doors for all London Boroughs.

(20th July 2010)


 

NATIONAL FRAUD REPORTING CENTRE ONLINE
( http://www.cityoflondon.police.uk, dated 12th July 2010)

National Fraud Authority and the City of London Police are today calling on everyone who believes they have been scammed, conned or defrauded to make a noise about fraud and report to www.actionfraud.org.uk.

Action Fraud is the UK's first national fraud reporting centre and today (Jul 12) became available across the country. It has had 15,000 web reports and calls in the last six months from members of the public who have decided to join the fight against fraud.

Victims are provided with a crime reference number and their fraud data is fed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), hosted by the City of London Police. Here it is analysed for trends in offending and then used to form the basis of criminal investigations and to gain a more complete picture of fraud.

Action Fraud also provides a wide range of information about how to protect yourself from becoming a victim. According to the National Fraud Authority, which runs Action Fraud, at least £3.5billion is lost by individuals to fraud every year. However, the actual figure is probably much higher as many victims of fraud never report it. Of the crime reports made, fraud loss has ranged from £6 to over £1million. The top five most commonly reported frauds in the last month were:

1. Online shopping and auction fraud
2. Advance fee frauds such as loan and psychic scams
3. Romance and dating frauds
4. Non-investment frauds such as miracle health and Internet dialler scams
5. Share sale fraud

The Head of Economic Crime at the City of London Police, Steve Head, said "For too long criminals have flourished in an environment where people have been reluctant to report when they have become a victim of fraud. We are now changing this culture, and in doing so turning the tide against the fraudsters who bring so much misery to so many lives."

"A national fraud reporting centre combined with the fully operational NFIB will revolutionise our efforts to combat fraud. Together they will help police forces catch fraudsters and help people to better protect themselves against the dangers of fraud.

Dr Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the National Fraud Authority "Fraud, of any value, is a serious crime that devastates lives and often funds more organised crime like drug smuggling and people trafficking. We're very pleased to see so many people speaking up, but we know there are many more victims out there. People often feel embarrassed, but they shouldn't. There are many types of fraud and anyone can become a victim. If you report it to www.actionfraud.org.uk you can help us fight the fraudsters and make the UK a more hostile environment for fraud. It takes all of us to work together to fight fraud - staying silent lets the criminals get away with it."

There are some simple rules everyone can all follow to help protect ourselves against fraud:

•If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
•If you didn't enter a lottery…you haven't won it
•Ask questions - If someone is legitimate they won't pressurise you or be elusive
•Be very wary about giving your personal information to strangers or providing money up front
•Always check the real company's details against the ones you have been given, and ring them direct if you are in doubt
•Don't stay silent. If you've been targeted by a fraudster and lost money, contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040

Originally rolled out on a region-by-region basis, Action Fraud is now available nationally and provides the single place for victims of fraud to report to or to get advice on protecting themselves. For more advice or to report a fraud, visit www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040

(13th JULY 2010)


 

STATUTORY CHARGING CHANGES IMMINENT
(www.policeoracle.com, dated 9th July 2010)

Government plans aimed at freeing officers from bureaucracy have been unfolding as preparations for proposed changes to the Statutory Charging scheme continue apace.

Under proposed police reform, ministers want discretion on charging for some less serious offences to revert to police custody staff rather than CPS lawyers.

Now it has been confirmed that officers involved in pilots of potential new charging arrangements, which have been underway in five forces around England since the beginning of May, are to give their first feedback later this month.

The government has said it wants to see changes by November - the reforms are likely to include officers being given back their discretion for the majority of summary only offences as well as some either way matters.

"Examining Statutory Charging is something that I suggested should be looked at in my first report," said Jan Berry, the Independent Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing Advocate. "In the vast majority of cases, I believe that custody officers should be able to make a decision about charging.

"This is particularly important now as CPS lawyers are not always available for face-to-face meetings - this has been causing some extremely frustrating delays and has been elongating even the most minor offences."

Introduced to build stronger cases as well as weeding out those without a decent prospect of conviction, Statutory Charging was first introduced in 2003. The regulations mean that CPS lawyers have to be involved in the 35 per cent of cases that make up the more serious and complex charging decisions.

While some officers voiced frustration with the sluggishness of the system - particularly with some suspects having to be granted bail to return for charging - the figures certainly suggested that the changes had made an impact.

From 2006-07 some 77 per cent of the 385,000 cases that had come before the courts were successfully prosecuted. And by 2009, more than 80 per cent of the 358,000 cases awaiting disposal resulted in a conviction.

Despite the success rate, however, concerns over bureaucracy have continued and there have been fears that CPS has become prone to cherry picking the cases most likely to secure a conviction and meet their targets.

The pilot projects taking place in parts of London, Essex, Thames Valley, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire were originally announced by ACPO and the CPS last year. They have taken on a new impetus with government plans.

The trials have returned charging discretion to officers for most summary only offences - irrespective of plea - although there are cases where the CPS still have jurisdiction.

"These exemptions include offences classified as hate crime and domestic violence as well as summary only terrorism offences," a CPS spokeswoman added. "They also cover offences that can only be instituted with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General.

"But custody staff involved in the pilots have jurisdiction in all Fraud Act 2006 offences and handling stolen goods cases where a guilty plea is anticipated."

The spokeswoman added that Home Secretary Theresa May had announced that the government now intended to bring in changes to Statutory Charging at the recent Police Federation and APA-ACPO conferences.

Although the proposed reforms have been given a cautious welcome from police professionals, some believe they still do not go far enough.

Jan Berry said that she would have liked to have seen all summary offences returned to police jurisdiction. And DC Peter Smyth, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, believes allowing the CPS to be involved with charging decisions should be the exception rather than the rule.

"Although we haven't yet seen the detail, I don't think the changes will go far enough," he added. "There are complex cases where you will need a lawyer to make a decision but generally custody staff should have discretion.

"Even in either way offences there are offences that we are quite capable of making a decision on - burglary and theft matters can be easy and straightforward."

However Supt Alan Green, serving with Greater Manchester Police in Oldham, believed that the modifications made to charging arrangements in the pilot schemes would help reduce bureaucracy if they were adopted.

"I think these developments are something that should be very much welcomed because they will hugely simplify matters," he said. "This is a good common sense measure that will help to relieve the administrative burden."

Despite only having been in power for a matter of weeks, rapid reform of the police would appear to be one of the new Coalition government's key priorities.

In the past month, Home Secretary Theresa May has already abolished the Stop forms while simultaneously overturning Labour's Policing Pledge and Confidence Target.

It is anticipated that changes to Statutory Charging will further help free up resources and fulfil a pledge to free up more officers for front line roles.

Many will argue that the pace of change needs to be rapid. With forces across the UK facing an unprecedented level of cuts following the crisis in public finances - and ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde warning officer numbers will shrink - protecting the front line will need every reclaimed hour of time

(13th July 2010)


 

HERTS "OPERATION SENTINEL" RESOUNDING SUCCESS
(www.policeoracle.com and www.herts.police.uk , dated 2nd July 2010)

Hertfordshire Constabulary's drive to tackle criminals and unsafe, uninsured drivers, celebrates its first year with over 1,000 arrests and over 1,500 unsafe vehicles taken off the road by the Intercept Teams alone.

Operation Sentinel, which launched in June 2009, involves not only the two Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Intercept Teams but every Road Policing vehicle, the 94 Neighbourhood Teams, the Special Constabulary and the Force Communications Room amongst others, in operating and processing ANPR cameras, data and arrests.

The Intercept Teams arrested 1,065 individuals and seized 1,577 vehicles between June 1 2009 and May 31 2010. In addition, other teams across the force have arrested hundreds of people using ANPR to identify them as 'wanted' for offences or the driver of an illegal vehicle.

"We have seen countless successes over the past twelve months with Operation Sentinel, which has undoubtedly contributed to keeping the county a safe place for road users and our residents," commented Chief Constable Frank Whiteley. "ANPR has proved itself an invaluable tool to modern policing, bringing hundreds of criminals including burglars, drug dealers and dangerous uninsured drivers to justice.

"I'd like to reassure our law-abiding local communities that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those criminals and dangerous, uninsured drivers who put others safety and well-being at risk."

Officers also tackle those who drive unsafely by talking on their mobile phones or not wearing a seatbelt, amongst other offences, with drivers facing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) and points on their licence.

(13TH JULY 2010)


 

HOW TO KEEP WINDOWS XP SP2 SAFER AFTER MICROSOFT STOPS PATCHING
( Computer World, dated 12th July 2010, author Gregg Keizer )
www.computerworld.com

Patches for the venerable service pack end Tuesday (13th July 2010), but you can help protect your PC until you get SP3. Maybe you didn't get the memo: Tomorrow marks the end of patches for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

And you're still running the nearly-six-year-old edition.

But XP SP2 won't shudder to a stop. Although Tuesday marks the support retirement of the service pack -- a date that some have called a "red alert" for people running SP2 -- that doesn't mean your copy of Windows will suddenly refuse to run.

It does mean that, after tomorrow, Microsoft will not offer any security patches, no matter how severe the vulnerability, no matter what part of Windows or associated component is involved. No more Windows patches -- and no more patches for Internet Explorer (IE), no patches for Windows Media Player, no patches for Outlook Express.

You can, of course, sidestep the whole problem by upgrading to Windows XP SP3, which will be supported until April 2014: Microsoft has posted a page that explains how to do that here. (Note: Because there is no SP3 for the 64-bit version of Windows XP, you'll continue to receive security updates if you're running SP2 of that edition.)

Among your options: Download and install SP3 via Windows Update, download a disk image for upgrading multiple machines or order a SP3 CD for $3.99.

In fact, you actually have four weeks to upgrade to SP3 before Microsoft releases the next likely XP patch on Aug. 10. There's little chance that Microsoft will issue an "out-of-band" emergency update before then.

But if you're committed to SP2, for whatever reason, and have no intention of upgrading anytime soon, there are steps you can take to make your PC more secure and your time on the Internet safer.

Dump Internet Explorer. After Tuesday, Microsoft won't be providing IE patches of any kind, for any version -- IE6, IE7 or even 2009's IE8 -- to people running Windows XP SP2.

But other browser makers aren't halting updates for their wares. Mozilla, Google, Apple and Opera will be shipping fixes for Windows XP versions of their Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera browsers for the foreseeable future.

More than a year ago, Mozilla debated whether to drop support for older editions of Windows, including Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP2. But the company decided against the move.

According to the system requirements for Firefox 4 Beta 1, the preview Mozilla released last week, the browser runs not only on Windows XP, but also Windows 2000. (Mozilla's systems requirement link for Firefox 4 currently takes you to the page for version 3.6.6, leading us to believe that the requirements will remain the same for Firefox 4, which is slated to ship in November 2010.)

And because Mozilla's policy is to continue supporting a browser with security updates for at least six months after the launch of its successor, moving to Firefox 4 down the road means that if the company ships Firefox 5, or whatever the next edition is called, a year later -- in November 2011 -- patches for it will be produced through May 2012 or later.

It's important to keep a browser up-to-date on patches because hackers continue to exploit browser vulnerabilities, particularly those in IE. They focus on IE bugs for a simple reason: Every Windows machine has it, and Microsoft's browser continues to be used by more people than any other.

Ironically, you may actual improve the security of your Windows XP SP2 machine if you dump IE. Patch third-party programs, especially browser plug-ins. According to most vulnerability experts, it's not your operating system that today's attackers target: It's non-Microsoft software, particularly browser plug-ins.

Antivirus vendors McAfee and Symantec have both reported huge surges in attacks exploiting bugs in Adobe's Reader, one of the most widely-installed plug-ins. McAfee, for example, said that exploits of Reader jumped 65% in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 2009's total.

Those kind of numbers mean you should be spending more time patching third-party products, less time worrying about the inevitable vulnerabilities in Windows XP SP2 that Microsoft will no longer fix.

But that's tough: Most non-Microsoft software lacks automatic updating. Adobe, for instance, only instituted auto-updating for its regularly-exploited Reader and Acrobat in April -- and requires users to manually switch it on -- but it still hasn't offered the same functionality for its just-as-often-attacked Flash Player plug-in.

Stay safer. Without patches for the operating system, it's even more important than ever to practice safe computing.

Install antivirus software or a multi-component security suite if you don't have one on the PC already. If you do, keep it up to date by regularly downloading new signatures. Several AV programs, including Microsoft's own Security Essentials, are free.

Also, keep the firewall turned on -- easily done since Windows XP SP2 was the first Microsoft OS that not only included a firewall, but enabled it by default.

And remember the wisest advice: Don't steer to sites you're not sure can be trusted, don't open e-mails and attachments you didn't expect to receive, and don't download software from questionable sources. We know, we know..., the same advice you've heard a hundred times.

Keep reading Microsoft's security bulletins. Just because your copy of Windows XP SP2 won't receive any more updates doesn't mean you should stop looking at the bulletins Microsoft publishes each Patch Tuesday.

Those bulletins may not strictly apply to XP SP2, but Microsoft often includes steps users can take to protect themselves if they're not able to deploy a patch. In the bulletins, that information is tucked under the subhead "Workarounds" beneath the information for each vulnerability.

The workarounds may include steps you can take with XP SP2 to deflect or hinder attacks. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

Microsoft's irregular security advisories -- generally issued as a prelude to an eventual patch -- also contain worthwhile information, including which Windows versions are affected, how attacks (if there are any at that point) are exploiting the bug and whether there are workarounds that can block or help block assaults.

Install Tuesday's patch. One of the four security updates slated for Tuesday applies to Windows XP SP2 -- the one that addresses the vulnerability a Google-employed security researcher revealed last month. You should, of course, grab it.


 

Editors Note

This is a pretty long article, but it is trying to get over an important point. When Microsoft stop supporting XP Service Pack 2 it will start to become vulnerable to hackers and believe me they will be hunting around like baying wolves after their prey.

If you do decide to convert to XP Service Pack 3 only get the upgrade from the Microsoft website.

(12th July 2010)


 

WHEN IN ENFIELD  ( or was it Rome ! )

Pick pockets and handbag theft. It has been reported in the local press over previous months that theives have been operating in the local supermarkets and Enfield Town. These crimes are still ocurring, so :

- Be aware of your surroundings and the people who are standing or walking near to you.
- Don't leave your purse or wallet unattended on counter tops in shops.
- Don't leave a handbag in a changing room while you look at yourself in a full length mirror.
- Don't leave your purse in your shopping bag on the hook near the handle on the shopping trolley.
- Don't have you wallet bulging in the back pocket of your jeans.
- When in a coffee shop, bar or restaurant keep your handbag in full view. Even when you are in a group.

So why did I mention Rome ? Well a couple of years ago  I went to Rome ( so what, you ask ). Whilst travelling around I had a backpack holding a bottle of water, camera and tourist map. My wallet was in a trouser pocket that was secured with a zip. After visiting St Peters Square we took the Rome "Tube" to our next tourist destination ( Spanish Steps ). Soon after getting on the train, I started to be tapped on the shoulder. On turning, one of the locals gestured that there was something wrong. On my initial view of the surroundings there did not seem to be a problem. On taking a second look I realised that there were several young small children standing around me and some other tourist types in the carriage, they were virtually invisible in the crowd. When I felt for my pocket I discovered that the zip had been openned and my wallet was almost removed. At the next station the platform was full of Police. Surprisingly nearly every Roman in that carriage shouted to the Police that there had been a problem and as a result those little criminals were arrested.

Don't be a pickpocket victim !

(12th June 2010, a repeat from 2008)


 

INTERPOL TURNS TO NET FOR INFO ON MOST-WANTED SUSPECTS
(ComputerWorld, dated 6th July 2010, author Peter Sayer)
www.computerworld.com

If you're on Facebook or MySpace then you're wanted by Interpol -- to help in a hunt for the international police organisation's most-wanted fugitives.

Interpol stepped up its search for 450 people convicted of, or suspected of, offenses including murder, drug trafficking and child sexual abuse on Monday, launching a public appeal for help on its Web site.

The search began in early May when investigators from around the world met at Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, to pool information on some of their most difficult cases. The catchily titled Operation Infra-Red 2010 (for International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest -- Red Notices) has helped, but not as much as Interpol would have liked. Two months after investigators began their exchanges, just 107 of the 450 targets have been arrested or located.

"What we are now left with are the cases where we have no new information on their whereabouts," said Operation Infra-Red coordinator Martin Cox, assistant director of Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit, in a press release posted at the organisation's Web site.

The operation is due to end on July 16, prompting Interpol to call on Internet users to join the hunt for the 343 suspects and criminals still at large. The organisation particularly wants social network users to help. "It's more likely that someone will recognise one of these fugitives from a social networking site or a chat room than spot them walking down the street," Cox said.

Interpol particularly wants information on the whereabouts of 26 suspects on its list. Some of those sought have been on the run since the 1990s.

Interpol member states taking part in Operation Infra-Red also have their own targets, with Bangladesh, Belarus and Lithuania listing the most suspects.

Some of those arrested to date had not flown far: Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia was arrested on May 26 in Argentina, where she was wanted for drug trafficking.

The arrest of suspected currency counterfeiter Mouamba Munanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the other hand, demonstrated Interpol's international reach: wanted by French and Bahraini police for money laundering and counterfeiting, Munanga was arrested in South Africa on June 16.


 

Additional information

Information on the whereabouts of the targets of Operation Infra-Red or any internationally-wanted persons can be sent to fugitive@interpol.int.

Information can also be given anonymously to national Crime Stoppers programmes or via www.csiworld.org.

Crimestoppers

http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Telephone : 0800 555 111

Who is Interpol ?

INTERPOL is the world's largest international police organisation, with 188 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organisations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.

INTERPOL aims to facilitate international police co-operation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries. Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. INTERPOL's constitution prohibits 'any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.

Interpol : http://www.interpol.int

(9th July 2010)


 

SUN, SEA AND SCAMS
(Get safe online website, dated 6th July 2010, author Tony Neate)
www.getsafeonline.org

High expectations come with those one or two weeks away that we all look forward to the whole year. But imagine if you not only lost all the money you've been putting away for that dream holiday, but you turned up in sunny Spain to find that not only does your holiday not exist, but that you had nowhere to stay and three young children screaming in the back seat of your rather hot hire car at the end of a long day?

Unfortunately, this has been the case for a few unlucky holiday makers caught out fraudsters.

Scams targeting tourists are not new - from bogus local 'policemen' to passport theft, fraudsters have long been aware of what easy targets holidaymakers make. However, with many of us now turning to the variety and convenience of the web to find our perfect holiday, the fraudsters are of course following.

The anonymity of the web makes it much easier for criminals to pull the wool over our eyes and to target significant numbers of people at any one time - they only need one to respond to make it worth their while.

Of course, most of us are lucky enough to book our holidays online with no problems at all. However, it's easy to get caught out, and for those that do, the effects can be devastating. Not only can you lose fairly substantial sums of money, the upset of having to turn around and go back home can put a real dampener on your summer.

Worryingly, the research we released today  reveals that over two-thirds of UK web users have never heard of the most common scams, and that around 1 in 3 are putting themselves at increased risk by not following basic anti-fraud measures, such as checking whether the operator is a member of a recognised travel authority, doing background checks and looking out for signs of a secure website.

If you're about to book that last minute getaway, check out our new Travel Essentials Checklist on the Getsafeonline.org website first. We've put this together with ABTA to help make holidays the relaxing experience they should be!


 

BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY SECURELY
( From the getsafeonline website )

How to make sure your dream holiday stays that way.

The web is a great place to find your perfect holiday, whether you're after value for money or that unique destination. However, where there is money to be made, the fraudsters are sure to try and cash in. Use the Get Safe Online Travel Essentials Checklist before booking your holiday and you can relax knowing you've made all the right checks.

What are the risks?

Bogus holiday scams - fraudsters using fake websites and email offers for holidays or villas that don't exist - you handover your deposit and never see it or the holiday again

Unreputable providers not providing properly secure web pages to make payments online

Lower quality holiday than what was promised on the website

Travel Essentials Checklist

Developed in collaboration with ABTA, The Travel Association, here is our Travel Essentials Checklist:

- Take your time & shop around - It's important you take your time with entering your holiday requirements onto a travel website, just as you would when booking face-to-face in a travel agency. Double check all details before entering your payment details. This will help ensure you're buying the holiday you want and that is 'right' for you, whilst protecting yourself and your money.

- Be vigilant - Check the track record of any holiday retailer unfamiliar to you. Don't reply to unsolicited bogus emails from retailers you don't recognise. Legitimate companies will never send an information request via a pop-up advert. If you don't recognise the sender, don't reply.

- Check for approval - Make sure you know that your holiday company is a member of a recognized travel authority, such as ABTA. Find out also whether it provides financial protection for your holiday. ABTA members have to sign up to a strict code of conduct which governs the relationship between you and the company. ABTA also has a consumer helpline if you have any queries about an ABTA Member, and an independent arbitration service if you have any complaints.

- Don't fall for fake competition scams - A common trick by fraudsters is an email or phone call claiming you have won part of a luxury holiday, but need to pay a small fee to secure it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

- If renting a private villa speak to the owner/agent directly via telephone; if the number isn't provided email and request it. Ask for references from other people who have visited the property and make contact with them directly.

- Do your research - Get the full address and find it on Google maps, and ask for a full contract which should set out all the terms and conditions of the rental, deposits, payment terms etc.

- Ensure the site is secure - On any web pages where you are entering personal or financial details, look for the signs that tell you if the site is secure. Look out for a padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window or for the payment pages to begin with 'https://'. It's also important to use your common sense and be wary if you suspect something is wrong. When making a payment to an individual use a secure payment site such as PayPal - never transfer the money directly into their bank account.

- Always log out of sites which have asked you to log-in or to register details.

- Keep your purchase records - Keep receipts of all online holiday or travel orders. Print off any confirmation pages and emails and keep them in case you are charged incorrectly.

- Monitor your payment - Be sure to check your credit card and bank statements carefully once the holiday is booked, and notify the bank as soon as possible if you notice anything is wrong.

- Don't advertise your home to thieves by posting details of your holiday dates on social networking sites; stating when you are going away highlights to everyone the fact your home will be empty for a significant amount of time.

- Trust your instincts - Five-star holiday at a two-star price? If something doesn't seem right, take additional steps to verify the offer and if still in doubt, stay away.


 Further Information

You have probably taken hours in choosing what country and resort to go to, why not spend another hour to ensure that you will not be fiddled when you book it !

Association of British Travel agents (ABTA) : www.abta.com
Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL financial flight protection ) : www.atol.org.uk
Association of Independent Tour Operators ( Aito ) : www.aito.co.uk

For Destination advice

Before you book; check out the destination for crime, unrest and UK Embassy locations etc.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) : www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo

Health advice before you travel : http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx

(9th July 2010)



HACKER BITES APPLE WITH ANOTHER ATTACK ON iTUNES
(Metro, dated 7th July 2010, author Fred Attewell)
www.metro.co.uk

A rogue app developer, Thuat Nguyen, has been hacking into hundreds of iTunes accounts - to buy his own apps and boost his ratings.

Vietnam-based Thuat Nguyen is thought to have used the accounts to purchase his own ripped-off Japanese Manga comic books - sending them to the top of the iTunes book chart. At one point, Nguyen's comics held 42 of the top 50 US chart places.

But rivals became suspicious of the sheer number of the copyright-breaching apps - knocked-off copies of famous titles - which featured simple, positive reviews, such as: 'Good, this story is very interesting.'

One account holder lost £920 in the scam, which has yet to be refunded, as Apple warned users to change their passwords.

The developer decided he could make money by boosting his apps' chart ratings, encouraging other users to buy them as well. 'People need to be careful about their passwords and always keep an eye on their recent account history,' Graham Cluley of internet security company Sophos told Metro.

The iTunes application has come under fire in recent weeks - and subjected to mass organised hacking attacks originating in China.

Detailed guides to hacking iTunes accounts have even been recently published online, undermining Apple's claims that its store is a moderated, secure marketplace.

Nguyen has now been banned from the store, said Apple, which told users to ask their banks for refunds. 'You should also change your iTunes password,' said a spokesman.

(9th July 2010)


 

SPY SYSTEM FOR AIRLINES TO TACKLE TERRORISM
(The Daily Telegraph, dtaed 28th June 2010, author David Millward)
www.telegraph.co.uk

Airline passengers could have their conversations and movements monitored under a European Union project aimed at tackling terrorism. Brussels is funding research at Reading University aimed at detecting suspicious behaviour on board aircraft.

A combination of cameras, microphones, explosive sniffers and a sophisticated computer system would give a pilot early warning of any danger. But the work will alarm civil liberties campaigners who fear the growth of the surveillance state.

The Reading team, headed by James Ferryman, has conducted trials of the camera system on a British Aerospace plane and the computer system on a mock Airbus.

Similar systems have been deployed at stations and airports around the world, using CCTV to gather information and software to analyse it.

The software looks out for unusual behaviour or events, such as a case being left unattended or an individual going against the crowd flow.

"What we are doing is extending technology already used at airports and railway stations and placing it on an aircraft," Mr Ferryman said.

Cameras dotted around an aircraft would look out for the abnormal, such as several passengers entering a lavatory at the same time or individuals seeming agitated.

One option would be to allocate some seats to passengers whose behaviour has already raised concern at the airport, so they could be monitored on board.

Microphones would eavesdrop, listening out for anything which could suggest terrorist behaviour. Inside the lavatories explosives sniffers would detect if a bomb was being assembled.

All this information would be analysed by computer and if it spotted something untoward, the flight deck would be told instantly.

The key to the work is developing software which can spot a genuine threat. "We want to avoid saying that nervous passengers are potential terrorists," Mr Ferryman said

According to researchers this technology would have thwarted the "underpants bomber" who tried to detonate an explosion on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit.

"It is known that the terrorist was acting nervously in the airport prior to boarding - this could have been picked up with the same automated CCTV technology - and that they spent time in the toilet assembling the components of the explosive," Mr Ferryman said.

Money for the research has come from the EU Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project. But the aviation industry would be expected to pay for its deployment.

The cost would inevitably be passed on to passengers but Mr Ferryman believes they would accept a small charge to thwart a terrorist threat.

"If I had to pay an extra £5 on an airline ticket and it would go towards a system which would make me safer, I would be happy to do it," he said.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We have no plans to instruct airlines to install this system on their planes."

The research alarmed Gus Hosein of campaign group Privacy International and a London School of Economics lecturer.  "This is getting out of control. An aeroplane is not a privacy free zone," he said.

(5th July 2010)


 

SECRET HOMING BEACON TRAPS iPAD THIEVES
(The Sunday Times, dated 27th June 2010, authors John Harlow and Jamie McGinnes)
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

When a pair of hapless burglars were arrested last week with a haul of stolen iPads it was not only marked an abrupt end to ther crime spree, buat also a turning point in the battle against thieves who target fashionable gadgets.

Software installed on the computers acted as a homing beacon that allowed police to track the criminals movements via GPS until they were caught.

The iPads were stolen from the residence of an Apple manager in Silicon Valley, who realised that the devices were sending out "find Me" location signals with the help of satellites 22,000 miles above California.

Unbeknown to the thieves, the Apple manager could sit on his lawn and follow his stolen goods in real time on a moving street map on his mobile phone. From the speed of travel, he could tell his iPads were probably in a vehicle, and so police in San Jose sent out squad cars in pursuit.

"The police were all for it; they were excited by the idea of tracking bad guys by satellite," said the manager, who declined to be named. "It is very cool."

With an officer at his shoulder, the Apple manager gave directions to the police patrol as an icon representing the stolen gadget moved around on a 3in map on his iPhone.

When they caught up with the vehicle, police retrieved computers and phones worth £14,000 in total.

Two men, one of who, had worked at the Apple executives home, are now facing burglary charges. The service that caught them, called Mobileme, is also available in Britain.

"This is not just about a gadget", said a San Jose police spokesman. "It's a prme example of how new technology can fight crime. Once thieves realise they cannot turn off a device, cannot shut it up or stop it talking to a satellite without destroying it, the risk outweighs the potential reward and its vaule drops through the floor.

Technology companies are seeking ways to dissuade muggers from targeting school children walking home with hundreds of pounds of gadgets including mobile phones and tablet computers.

American scientists created the Lojack system for expensive cars two decades ago, allowing stolen vehicles to be tracked by satellite and immobolised. It drove down so called "grand theft auto" rates dramatically during the 1990's.

Similar technology was offered to protect Hollywood celebrities and their families. Brue Willis reportedly declined an offer to LoJack his children with tiny chips fixed behind their teeth. "They would spit them out," he joked.

Instead, the technology has become popular among pet owners who track missing cats and dogs through £400 satellite chips built into collars.

Only now is this GPS-aided technology starting to appear in high end laptop compters and mobile phones in Europe.

One anti theft program available for PC's and Apple computers is GadgetTrak; it takes a photo of the user with a webcamwhen it is switched on and every half hour after that, sending the images to a secure place on the internet. If the device is reported stolen, police already have an image of the prime suspect.

Other programs track computers through GPs, although most can only update every 30 minutes rather than in real time - which can leave police struggling to catch up.

Experts believe that real-time services such as Apple's "find me" technology will become standard.

Tont Lock, director of British information technology analysts Freeform Dynamics, said that in the past, business computer users were more likely "remote wipe" lost PC'c to destroy their contents. However, wiping the hard disk is a drastic and costly option.

A spokesman for LoJack said : "Cheaper GPS programs may make some old crimes obsolete. We began with trucks and now we see it on laptops. One day chips will be fitted to everything from paintings to clothes".

(5th July 2010)


 

SILENCE IN THE STREET : SPY MIKES ARE LISTENING
(The Sunday Times, dated 20th June 2010, author Kevin Dowling )
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk

A network of "intelligent" listening devices that can monitor conversations and detect language or screams has been deployed for the first time to monitor a city centre in Britain.

The powerful microphones are connected to CCTV camera's, which zoom in on potential trouble spots identified by sound. They are anabling police to sweep streets in the centre of Coventry that have been plagued by drunken brawling.

The system, called Sigard, has been successfully testedd in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. No decision has been taken to install it permanently in those cities.

Police argue that Sigard is a valuable tool in dealing with antisocial behaviour, allowing officers to intervene early to break up fights. Campaigners say it is further evidence of a creeping surveillance society and runs against pledges by the coalition government to curb the use of CCTV and other monitoring devices.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, has promised that cameras would be "properly regulated", adding : " It is outrageous that decent law abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide".

Last week police suspended the use of a network of 200 automatic number plate recognition and CCTV cameras, some hidden, installed to monitor a Muslim area of Birmingham for potential terrorists.

Other surveillance systems that have been tested can detect unusual or suspicious movements suggesting someone could be about to commit a crime. One, fitted to aircraft seat backs, can pick up on nervous expressions on the faces of passengers who may be terrorists.

The scheme in Coventry has seven microphones covering two city-centre streets. The police have made them permanent after a nine month trial. Sigard, manufactured in Holland, is accurate up to 100 yards. It was designed by mimicking the hearing processes of the human ear.

The system can filter out background noise. The microphones detect suspect sounds, including trigger words spoken at normal volumes as well as angry or panicked exchanges before they become violent.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: "this new generation of cameras should wake up anyone who remains blissfully relaxed about our CCTV nation. We have already seen cameras targeted at minority residential communities without any legal basis or authorisation. The case for statutory regulation is now overwhelming".

The cameras linked to the microphones record any incident and the system alerts an operator in the control room who can send officers to intervene, sometimes before a punch is thrown. Tests have shown that on one in five occassions when there are angry exchanges, violence follows, on average within 30 seconds.

Other technology includes cameras linked to loudspeakers, allowing officers to shout warnings to louts and litterbugs. This has been used in Middlesborough.

The Sigard system could soon be extended, with a portable version due to go on sale by the end of this year. "It could be used in an unmarked police car to detect trigger words and record those conversations," said Derek van der Vorst, managing director of Sound Intelligence, its manufacturer.

Systems have been installed in 12 cities in Holland and on Public transport. It is also used in Dutch prisons and van der Vorst is in discussions with a numnber of British prison operators to have the systems installed.

A spokeswoman for Hacknet council in East London said that in trials there, microphones had been programmed to detect aggresive vocal tones and gunshots and each of the six sensors had correctlt detected about six events a night. She said it had not yet been decided whether to install Sigard permanently.

The trials in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow reached similar conclusions, but none of the councils would comment futhher.

(29th June 2010)


 

HOME SECRETARy'S SPEECH TO THE NATIONAL POLICING CONEFRENCE ON 29th JUNE 2010
(threeroadsinenfield, summarisation by Editor)

The following is a summary of the speech using the actual words that were prepared for the Home Secretary. As this was a "kind of script", those actually spoken may vary slightly. The Home Secretary delivered this speech on 29th June 2010 to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Association of Police Authorities National Conference in Manchester.
 
This summary consists of the salient points and not too much "window dressing". The full speech can be found on this webspage :

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/speeches/theresa-may-sp-NPC

THE SPEECH

Budgets

I stand before you today as a new Home Secretary in a new government and I am about to tell you something that no Home Secretary has ever said before.  I take no pleasure in that fact, because what I have to say is tough.

Our country has the worst budget deficit of any major economy.  The public finances are in the biggest mess that any of us have seen in our lifetimes.  And as you saw in the budget, that means the Coalition Government is going to have to take tough action.

Like almost all of my colleagues in the cabinet, I have to cut spending in my department.  The spending review has not begun yet, so we don't know the exact figures, but I must be clear.  We are not talking about a spending freeze, or a reduction of one or two per cent.  The cuts will be big, they will be tough to achieve, and cuts will fall on the police as they will on other important public services.


In the Home Office, I will be ruthless in cutting out waste, streamlining structures and improving efficiency.  But these practical measures can only go so far, and together we have to make sure that -  despite the cuts - policing must remain visible and available to the public.

Value for money

- we will honour the existing pay deal for police officers negotiated with my predecessors. And we will  stand by the deal for other police staff too.
 
- we have to be realistic about what we can afford, so we will also undertake a review of police terms and conditions.  Let me be crystal clear from the beginning: police officers and staff need to be ready, along with the rest of the public sector, to make sacrifices and accept pay restraint.  It cannot be right, for example, that police overtime has become institutionalised.  .
 
- I've said before that I don't want to run the police, and I don't - but there is no need to do everything 43 different ways.  

- does it really make sense to buy in police cars, uniforms and IT systems in 43 different ways?  Where central procurement is consistent with our desire to devolve responsibility and accountability downwards, and it saves money for the taxpayer, we will encourage it and facilitate it.

- Mergers - I understand the operational advantages of large forces, particularly in relation to the most serious forms of criminal activity.  But let's get one thing straight: this government believes strongly in building strong local communities and giving the people who live in these communities a major role in the planning and delivery of the public services they use.  In keeping with this belief in local democratic accountability, police force mergers will not be allowed to happen unless they are voluntary and unless they have the support of local communities.
 
- Sharing back office functions and procurement.  And, to that end, I welcome ACPO's offer to produce a national plan for the way the service does business. I'm eager to hear over the coming weeks from ACPO and the APA what progress has been made in putting together a project to meet the financial challenges of the future.

- National plan - to look at what other matters are best reserved and what essential functions - such as criminal justice units, call handling and training - can be delivered more cheaply and effectively with other forces or partners. And I want that plan to identify where collaboration can strengthen the police response to terrorism, organised criminality and threats to the public that cut across force boundaries.

- Outsourcing, and not just in areas like human resources and finance. Some forces have already shown substantial savings in things like custody management. The ACPO plan will need to look critically at the size of these functions and the number of officers deployed.

- Frontline availability should increase even as budgets contract. I acknowledge that increasing the visibility and productivity of officers, PCSOs and other staff is a major challenge. But I firmly believe that it is a challenge that chief constables can - and must - meet.

- Deployment and availability will be examined by HMIC in their value for money inspections later this year. And we will make sure that the review of remuneration and conditions of service recommends ways we can give chief constables more discretion over how to use their workforce flexibly and cost-effectively.

Liberating the police to get officers onto the beat

- 'Stop and account' form in its entirety and reduce the burden of the stop and search procedures will be scrapped by the end of the year. 

- To return charging decisions to the police for a broader range of minor offences. And I can announce today that there will be a phased rollout of the new arrangements from November. Essex, London, Thames Valley, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire have been testing these new charging arrangements. 

- I can also announce today that I am also scrapping the CONFIDENCE TARGET and the POLICING PLEDGE with immediate effect.

- The criminal justice system can waste officers' time, and I know that Nick Herbert, who is not only a minister in the Home Office but also the Ministry of Justice, is keen to hear your ideas about how to make it more efficient.

- We have to face the fact that some of this bureaucracy also stems from the forces themselves.  When times are tight, when we are removing red tape imposed by the Home Office, it simply cannot be right that this bureaucracy is reinstated at a local level.  Nor can it be right for remaining paperwork to be goldplated by forces.  So I call on all of you, chief constables and police authority members alike, to take the same, radical approach to cutting bureaucracy as we are taking in Whitehall.

- The announcements I have made today are by no means exhaustive, and I want to hear from you about what else we can do to help you do your jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Swapping bureaucratic accountability for democratic accountability

- Sweep away bureaucracy

- Can't sweep away the targets, initiatives and paperwork and leave nothing in their place. 

- The police, have to remain accountable. But they do not have to be accountable to bureaucrats in Whitehall - they should be accountable to the people they serve in their communities.

- It means a directly-elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing - and if necessary removing - the local chief constable.

- It means publishing accurate local crime data, so that maps can be produced showing exactly what crimes have been committed where.

- It means regular beat meetings for local communities to hold their neighbourhood policing teams to account. And I give you this assurance: none of these changes will compromise the foundation stone of British policing, your operational independence.

Summing up

That is the deal I am offering to you.  I haven't had time today to do more than outline some of its main principles.  In the next few months, Nick Herbert and I will be in listening mode - and I urge you to use this opportunity to tell us how you think that these general principles should best be implemented.

Later this summer, we will be bringing forward detailed proposals and introducing the necessary legislation to be implemented in this session of Parliament.  Some of you will no doubt argue that this timetable is too ambitious.  Some have suggested that what we should do is set up a Royal Commission to think about these matters for a couple of years.

Our vision is a bold one, with a totally redrawn national policing landscape: more collaboration between forces, a review into the role and remit of the NPIA, a border police force as part of a refocused Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and, of course, directly-elected individuals to deliver local accountability.

And I want you, the senior police officers, to think sensibly about a clearer and more transparent leadership role for ACPO in this landscape.

(1st July 2010)



POLICE TEAM SAVES RECORD NUMBER OF CHILDREN FROM WEB PAEDOPHLES
(London Evening Standard, dated 1st July 2010, author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

A record number of children were rescued from paedophiles prowling the internet last year, a specialist police unit said today.

 

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre said it safeguarded 278 youngsters over the past 12 months. The number was double those helped in the previous period by the unit and the most in one year since it was established in 2006.

Of the children, 47 were identified and found as a result of analysis of images and videos posted online by paedophiles.

Meanwhile 417 suspected child sex offenders were arrested for offences from possessing indecent images to rape.

Jim Gamble, who leads Ceop, said the unit also disrupted the activities of 96 networks sharing images of child abuse.

He said: "Ceop brings together cross-sector expertise and then delivers bespoke frontline services to a whole network of practitioners.

"That is real economy of scale and our results year on year show the very lasting and significant impact we are making."

Home Office crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said: "The Government is committed to protecting children and Ceop plays a vital role which means
more children are safeguarded, more offenders are apprehended and more professionals are trained."

The unit's annual review said work was continuing to build a virtual warehouse to store every child abuse image collected by Ceop. It is linked to international police databases and helps reduce duplication by investigators.

The report said long-term undercover inquiries into several international online paedophile networks were coming to a conclusion.

Ceop has enjoyed success tracking wanted offenders, with 16 out of the 20 individuals publicised traced over the past four years. It has also set up a network of more than 46,000 volunteers to give internet safety lessons.

Ceop has seen some success in introducing a "panic button" for websites, despite a public spat with online giant Facebook.

Investigators received more than 6,200 reports of suspicious activity online through the button, including grooming and fraud.


 

For further information : http://www.ceop.gov.uk/

Ceop is a unit within the Serious Organised Crime Agency (soca).

(2nd July 2010)


 

CRIME ON BUSES IN THE CAPITAL IS AT ITS LOWEST LEVEL FOR SIX YEARS
(Transport for London website, press release, dated 30th June 2010)
http://www.tfl.gov.uk

Today (30 June) the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that in 2009/10 there were 2,000 fewer offences than the previous year, a drop of eight per cent.

Despite a continued increase in bus passenger journeys over the last five years, the rate of crime per million passenger journeys has been halved (from 22 to 11).

Figures released today confirmed that over the last year:

- Bus vandalism went down by more than a third (37 per cent)
- Violence against the person offences dropped by ten per cent
- Robberies fell by eight per cent
- Continued investment in safety and security on the buses has been a key focus of the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL), and following the Mayor's election, an extra 440 police officers were recruited to police transport hubs.

Jointly funded by TfL and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the additional teams complement other dedicated transport policing squads working as part of the MPS Safer Transport Command to improve safety and security on public transport.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'When I became Mayor I pledged to make public transport safer, so it is extremely encouraging to hear that bus crime is now at its lowest level in six years. 'After my first year in office crime on buses fell by an extraordinary 18 per cent and this year's eight per cent reduction builds on that success. 'We will not cease in our efforts to make London's buses safer than ever.'

Additional police officers

David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: 'With only 11 crimes per million passenger journeys Londoners should be reassured that it is safer than ever to travel on the network and they are very unlikely to be a victim of crime when on our buses. 'It's encouraging to see that the Mayor's investment in additional visible transport policing and the combined efforts of the Safer Transport Command have had such a positive effect on bus crime and in return on the travelling experience of Londoners.'

Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse said: 'It's not rocket science - Boris's recruitment of 440 additional police officers to manage bus hubs has resulted in 2,000 fewer crimes. 'We still have a long way to go, but this is a good start and Londoners will feel safer as a result.'

Amazing partnership working

Chief Superintendent Joe Royle, MPS Safer Transport Command, said: 'We are working together with Transport for London and our policing partners to drive down crime and the fear of crime.

'This significant drop in bus-related crime is thanks to this amazing partnership working, and the intelligence-led policing capability of the Safer Transport Command and its Safer Transport Teams. 'Together we shall continue to tackle and further reduce bus-related crime and instil even more confidence in the public who use the transport network.'

Crime figures

- Statistics gathered by TfL and the MPS show for 2009/10 crimes committed on or around the bus network have been reduced by eight per cent compared to the year before.

- Total bus-related crme 2008/09 compared to 2009/10.

Burglary : 63 (86)
Criminal Damage : 2350 (3723)
Drugs : 693 (779)
Fraud / Forgery : 325 (387)
Other Notifiable offences : 276 (234)
Robbery : 2564 (2761)
Sexual Offences : 550 (535)
Theft and Handling : 11267 (10948)
Violence against the person : 6888 (7609)
TOTAL : 24976 (27062) = 8% decrease

Figures in brackets are for 2008/9. Figures outside brackets are for 2009/10

Summary

- There are now just 11 crimes per million bus passenger journeys compared to 12 crimes per million bus passenger journeys the year before.

- 2009/10 figures also show crime on the London Underground and DLR networks was down by four per cent, with just 13 crimes per million passenger journeys taken.

- Overall there are almost 2,000 Police Officers and PCSOs dedicated to the bus network in London.

- The MPS Safer Transport Command is primarily funded by TfL to fight crime on buses, tackle bike theft, illegal taxi touts and assist with the control of traffic congestion.

- There are 32 STTs covering every borough in the Capital. The teams also incorporate 32 hub teams, introduced by the Mayor last year. The teams patrol geographically defined areas identified to benefit from additional police.

- The STTs act as a visible deterrent to help reduce crime and antisocial behaviour on and around buses. They also enhance and work closely with existing Safer Neighbourhood Teams, Safer School Officers, British

Transport Police and local transport staff to ensure Londoners can move around the Capital more safely and confidently.

(30th June 2010)


 

FORCING POLICE RECRUITS TO WORK FOR NOTHING WILL DAMAGE MET'
(London Evening Standard, dated 24th June 2010, author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

A move to make police recruits in London work unpaid for the first year could damage the force, it was claimed today.

Scotland Yard is planning to save millions of pounds by scrapping the training school and making recruits work as unpaid special constables before they join up.

However, one Metropolitan Police Authority member said it would put many people off joining the force.

Jenny Jones, of the Green Party, said. "Many people just won't be able to afford to become a police officer. It would mean they would have to work part-time for the Met for the first 12 to 18 months. I think this will narrow the field of people who are able to join the force."

The Met plans to shift recruitment away from Hendon policing school and take new entrants directly from special constables who train on the job. At present, new recruits undergo 25 weeks of instruction. But volunteer specials, who spend a minimum of 300 hours a year on patrol, currently get 23 days' basic training.

Under the new scheme they would have to take a course in policing and the law as well as in patrol work.

The Met estimates the new system will save £20,000 for each appointment, leading to £12 million savings by 2012. However, the plan could face opposition at a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority today.

Ms Jones said: "The police authority has been asked to rubber-stamp what could be a move towards wholesale and possibly damaging changes to the Met. "The move has been conjured up by senior officers who are determined to cut costs at any price."

Met bosses claim that using the specials as a pool for recruitment will change the face of London policing. About 31 per cent of specials come from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared with 17 per cent of police recruits last year. The average age of a special is 32 compared with 28 for a normal police appointment.

The Mayor has ordered a major increase in the number of specials to help at the Olympics and wants to double the present number of 3,000 by 2012. At present, the Met is getting some 900 applications a month, partly as a result of the advertising campaign with the slogan, "Last night a DJ saved my life," to show how part-timers can make a difference.

(27th June 2010)




 

CYCLISTS RIG UP BOOBY-TRAPS IN "GUERRILLA WAR" AGAINST THIEVES
(London Evening Standard, dated 24th June 2010, author Ross Lydall)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

An insurance company said one Londoner claimed to have attached fishing line to his bike, in the hope that a thief would be thrown off when the wire tightens.

Another cyclist said he wired up his bike to his home burglar alarm, while a third said he had devised a system where moving his bike opened a gate that alerted a guard dog.

But the Environmental Transport Association, which runs ilovemybike.co.uk cycle insurance, warned cyclists that they risked prosecution if their "guerrilla tactics" ended up causing injury.

Andrew Davis, director of ilovemybike.co.uk, said the unusual measures emerged when cyclists called to obtain an insurance quote and were asked how they secured their bike.

He said: "We ask the question how secure is your cycle?' and one or two of them mention something that is out of the ordinary. The danger with wiring your bike up with fishing wire is that you would need quite a length before it works, and it might garotte a child.

"Personally I would go for a wicker basket on the front, or having masking tape over the manufacturer's name. The problem is that the gain you get from having a very expensive bike is not as much as people think.

"You are reducing [the time of] your commute but increasing your risk dramatically if you have to leave it on the street at the other end."

A total of 23,748 bikes are known to have been stolen in London in 2009/10 — up 27.8 per cent on the previous financial year. But the true figure could be double that as only abou half of stolen bikes are thought to be reported.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said he had never heard of cyclists using fishing line to safeguard their bikes. Police advice is to buy a decent lock — "preferably two".

This advice is endorsed by London cycling organisations. Barry Mason, of Southwark Cyclists, said: "We are really evangelical about using two good locks. All these gimmicks, like wiring your bike up to a burglar alarm, is all very funny. Two good locks or don't come crying to us."

Legitimate ways to protect your bike

- Always use two good locks to attach the bike to a immovable object. One lock around the frame and back wheel, a second round the frame and front wheel.

- Police advice is to spend 20% of the bikes value on locks and remember they don't last for life.

- Use different makes of locks and don't allow them to touch the ground which makes them easier to smash.

- face the lock to the ground to make it more awkward to pick.

- Cover branding with tape to disguise the value of the bike.

- Add baskets or racks to reduce the cycles "street cred".

- Lock bikes beside more valuable models and in well-lit, public places. Remove quick release parts such as saddles and panniers.

- Security mark the bike, register at www.immobilise.com and take a note of the serial number.

- Don't leave the bike in the same place each day. Check your home insurance policy and consider insurance.

(27th June 2010)


 
ELGAR £20 NOTE NO LONGER LEGAL TENDER
( The Telegraph, dated 8th March 2010, author Harry Wallop)
www.telegraph.co.uk

Have a look in your wallet: any £20 notes with the image of Edward Elgar on them will not be legal tender after June 30 this year.

Sir Edward Elgar's face on a £20 note will disappear from circulation after June 30
This means that shops no longer have to accept the notes, and it is up to banks whether they agree to swap notes after this date.

From July 1 only notes with the image of Adam Smith, the Scottish economist, will be legal tender. These notes came into circulation in March 2007.
About 10 per cent of all £20 notes in circulation - equating to 150 million notes, worth £3 billion - are the old versions featuring the English composer. They were introduced in June 1999 along with a view of the west face of Worcester Cathedral, replacing the previous series of notes featuring Michael Faraday, the physicist, and before that William Shakespeare.

The Adam Smith design was introduced to cut down on forgeries. The new £20 design included more of the printed words raised and a greater number of flecks that show bright red and green under an ultraviolet light.

Old notes will eventually be sent to one of the official Government incinerators, where they will burned alongside damaged notes. A small amount of thermoelectric power is generated by these sites, which also burn illegal tobacco seized by HM Revenue & Customs at British ports.

After June 30 if a bank or building society refuses to swap a note, consumers have the right to swap the notes at the Bank of England itself. The Bank promises that it will honour the face value of any note issued, even notes from before the Second World War.


Comment

The details of this change has been advertised since early this year. This is a last minute warning to remind readers to watch out for being offered these notes as change by traders or other individuals.

The Bank of England will always exchange its old notes.

For further information

Dept NEX
Bank of England
Threadneedle Street
London
EC2R 8AH

Telephone : 020 7601 4878
e-mail : enquiries@bankofengland.co.uk
Website page with specific information on withdrawl :
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/twentyv/index.htm

Bank of England : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/

(24th June 2010)


 
NUISANCE CALLERS TO FACE LARGER FINES
(Computer Active, dated 23rd March 2010, author : Dinah Greek)
www.computeractive.co.uk

Government takes tough stance against companies making silent or abandoned calls. Companies causing nuisance and distress by making silent or abandoned calls face fines of up to £2m.

Silent calls are generated by call centres that use automated calling systems (ACS). In some cases the system dials more numbers than there are staff available to speak to the person who picks up the phone, resulting in a silent or abandoned call.

The new penalty was introduced by the Government after research into how these calls affect people was carried out by Ofcom between October and December 2009.

The regulator found that 32 per cent of adults were "very concerned" by such calls. Ofcom also found that nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent) said they felt "very inconvenienced" by silent calls.

Consumer affairs minister Kevin Brennan said: "Consumers can be assured that the new fines are definitely more than a slap across the wrist for persistent offenders."

The framework for regulating silent and abandoned calls is set out in the Communications Act 2003 and the current penalty stands at £50,000.

This Act provides powers to Ofcom to take action against those who persistently misuse networks or services in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, but which falls short of a criminal offence.

Plans to increase the penalties for misuse of ACS were first set out in the Digital Britain Report and the new penalty will be amended as soon as possible by statutory instrument.

People can find out more information about dealing with nuisance phone calls on Ofcom's website or call its complaints line on 0300 123 3333.

Ofcom : http://www.ofcom.org.uk/
Digital Britain : http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/6216.aspx

(23rd June 2010)


 

OPERATION UTAH VISITS THURROCK SERVICES
(policeoracle.com, dated 18th June 2010)
 
7 Forces plus other agencies deploy offciers to major anti crime operation...

Twelve people were arrested and more than 30 vehicles were seized during a major police operation to improve road safety and detect travelling criminals.

Up to 200 officers were involved in the latest Operation Utah on Thursday, June 17 in which cars, vans and lorries were taken off main roads including the M25 and A13 for checks at Moto Services, Thurrock.

The operation was led by Essex Police and supported by officers from Kent, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire forces.

Fixed and mobile Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras were used to identify cars linked to crime or being driven without insurance and other valid documents.

The arrests were for a range of offences including the supply and possession of class A and B drugs, thefts of cars, theft from cars and having CS gas spray as an offensive weapon. Two people wanted for earlier offences were also arrested.

A total of 32 vehicles were seized for having no insurance, including a car borrowed by a family heading from the Southend area for a camping holiday in the West Country. The car was taken to a pound until it could be insured.

One man from London, who was taken to the services area for having no insurance, managed to arrange cover over his mobile telephone as he queued to be checked by officers. He managed to avoid having his car seized but was still given a £200 fixed penalty notice and six penalty points for not being insured at the time he was first seen by police.

Road policing officers, who specialise in commercial vehicle checks issued 87 mechanical prohibitions on lorries found to have serious faults. They also found 334 driver hours irregularities.

A total of £14,000 was collected in Fixed Penalty Notices for all motoring offences detected. Sixteen people were also reported for other motoring offences.

Other agencies including the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), HM Revenue and Customs and Essex County Council's road safety team were also involved in the operation.

HMRC investigated 17 people for benefits issues and two people were found to be illegally using red diesel in their vehicles. Two Customs seizures were also made.

Inspector Gerry Parker, who led the operation, said: "It was extremely successful and led to the detection of crimes and the arrest of people who were using our roads to commit crime. We have also helped to make the roads of Essex safer by removing uninsured and dangerous vehicles.

"The operation has also served to greatly to educate drivers and let them know that we will soon find them and fine them or take away their vehicles if they continue to break the law."

For more information : http://www.essex.police.uk/

(22nd June 2010)


 

GANG JAILED FOR PROLIFIC CHIP AND PIN SCAM
(bbc.co.uk, dated 21st June 2010)

A gang of chip-and-pin fraudsters has been jailed after carrying out one of the UK's "most prolific" scams. The gang modified chip-and-pin machines at petrol forecourts in Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Kent, Bristol and Sussex, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Ringleader Theogenes De Montford, 29, of Hayes, west London, was given a four-and-a-half year jail sentence. He admitted conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to possess articles for use in the course of fraud.

Rajakumar Thevathasan, 34, of Wimbledon, south London, Rashid Hassan, 26, of Anerley, south-east London, and Usman Mahmood, 26, of Streatham, south-west London, were each jailed for three-and-a-half years after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

The gang covertly installed devices in chip-and-pin readers that allowed them to clone cards used by customers and steal their money.

A small hole was burned in the back of the reader and a memory device and bluetooth reader inserted.

On other occasions sales staff at the garages were signed up to the scam. In total the nine-month fraud caused losses totalling £725,000. De Montford, a Sri Lankan national, will be deported upon his release.

When he was arrested his laptop was found to contain details for 35,000 cards, 7,000 of which came from just one garage in Maidstone, Kent. Garage franchise owner Amrik Kalsi saw business drop by 47% and his forecourt was subjected to a "campaign of vilification" because customers had money taken from their accounts after visiting it.

'Tip of the iceberg'
 
During a campaign described as "totally unjustified" by the judge, a Facebook group urged people not to use the forecourt and he suffered verbal abuse.

Adam Budworth, prosecuting, said: "He [De Montford] was perhaps one of the most prolific chip-and-pin fraudsters in the UK. "Since his arrest there has been a significant reduction in the number of chip-and-pin frauds in the UK." Mr Budworth added that the cases highlighted in court were "only the tip of the iceberg".

De Montford was a software engineering graduate and used his expertise to carry out the fraud, which could have netted millions of pounds. Recorder Nicholas Rhodes QC told him: "The motivating factor was greed and the huge profits you could make with your skills from this crime."

(22nd June 2010)


 

RECESSION CAUSES HUGE RISE IN IDENTITY FRAUD
(Computer Active, dated 4th February 2010, author : Dinah Greek )
www.computeractive.co.uk

Criminals are finding it easier to hijack people's accounts

The recession has led to a surge in identity theft, which has increased by nearly a third since 2008, according to the latest report from Cifas. The UK's Fraud Prevention Service's 2009 Fraud Trends report revealed that because banks and financial institutions are reluctant to lend, it is easier for criminals to hijack genuine accounts and drain these, and carry out other crimes by impersonating their victims.

Cifas said there were over 100,000 victims of ID fraud in the UK last year, with more than 24,000 victims of account takeover, when a criminal fraudulently uses another person's credit or debt card account.

They do this by gathering information about the intended victim - via phishing scams where the victim is tricked into giving the fraudster personal information such as bank or card details and passwords.

The criminals contact the victim's bank or credit card issuer, masquerading as the account holder, and arrange for funds to be transferred out of the account, or change the address on the account and ask for new or replacement cards and statements to be sent to the new address.

Peter Hurst, chief executive of Cifas, said: "It is well-known that a rise in fraud goes hand in hand with a recession. Fraudsters adapt their methods in response to changes in the economy, finding and exploiting areas of weakness. "

Research from identity protection firm CPP mirrored Cifas's findings.

CPP said it had found that account takeover regularly accounts for 40 per cent of all cases reported by customers of its fraud resolution service. Worryingly, 43 per cent of victims only became aware of the fraud when their bank contacted them.

Sarah Blaney, an identity fraud expert with CPP, said: "All a fraudster needs is a name, address and date of birth, so it's vital that account holders look after their personal information and check their statements regularly." "These alarming figures show that fraudsters are still exploiting the economic climate to hijack their victims' accounts to access cash and credit, and make fraudulent purchases in their names."We have seen a notable increase in account takeover, as criminals struggle to open up new fraudulent accounts and take the easier option by targeting existing ones."

"The proliferation of phishing e-mails, social engineering scams and malware are all designed to extract sensitive financial information from the cardholder in order to access the account and defraud the individual."

CIFAS : http://www.cifas.org.uk/
CIFA 2009 crime report :http://www.cifas.org.uk/default.asp?edit_id=969-57
CPP ID Protection : http://www.cpp.co.uk/


 

Additional Information ( three roads Editor )

CIFAS is the UK's Fraud Prevention Service with over 260 Member organisations spread across banking, credit cards, asset finance, retail credit, mail order, insurance, investment management, telecommunications, factoring and share dealing.  Members share information on frauds in the fight to prevent further fraud.  CIFAS is unique and was the first data sharing scheme of its type in the world. 

Other schemes modelled on CIFAS have been set up in Southern Africa and Germany.

(16th June 2010)

 


 

CLAMPDOWN ON SCAM SITES
( Computer Active, dated 18th-31st March 2010)
www.computeractive.co.uk

Website registration procedures could be tightened up in a bid to fight cybercrime.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has investigated the extent to which false or incomplete information provided when registering a domain name is enabling criminals to set up fraudulent websites.

A report from the not-for-profit organisation, which oversees the assignment of domain names, found that less than a quarter of people who have registered domain names have given fully accurate information. The details of 8% were totally untrue.

This means that when criminals set up websites as fronts for illegal activities such as phishing attacks or bogus online stores, the police often hit a dead end when trying to trace the fraudsters. In December last year (2009), the Metropolitan Polices Central e-Crime Unit shut down 1,219 scam websites but it is not known if it could track down the criminals behind them.

The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) said that it had worked closely with the FBI for 18 months and "identified the deficiencies in domain registration processes which are exploited by organised crime".

Soca has submitted suggested amendments and flagged up suspect domains to ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Agreement, which it believes could resolve lots of the issues.

For background information see : www.snpca.com/x1134


 

Background to article ( added by three roads Editor )

Modified extract from the "Executive Summary" of the Draft Report for the Study of the Accuracy of WHOIS Registrant Contact Information ( NORC at the University of Chicago for ICANN, dated 17th January 2010 )

WHOIS services are intended to provide free public access to information about the registrants of domain names. The information displayed is that obtained from the registrant at the time they registered the site, or the latest update of that information that they have provided to the registrar of their domain name.

There have been concerns about the accuracy of the information in WHOIS for some time, although the actual extent of the problems is not known. In 2005, a study which looked at the prevalence of missing or patently false information, and found that nearly 5% of WHOIS records in the top three website categories (.com.org. .net) had missing or patently false information in the registrant name and address fields. The extent to which information which appeared complete but was in fact inaccurate was not addressed.

This latest study was commissioned by ICANN in order to get a baseline measurement of what proportion of WHOIS records are accurate. The scope was limited to the quality of the information provided about the registrant (as opposed to the administrative or technical contact), since it is the registrant who has entered into a legal arrangement with the registrar for the domain name.

Under Registrar Accreditation Agreement Section 3.3.1.6, an accurate name and postal address of the registered name holder means there is reasonable evidence that the registrant data consists of the correct name and a valid postal mailing address for the current registered name holder. Adapting this for the study, there were three criteria to be met for any WHOIS record to be considered accurate:

1.Was the address of the registrant a valid mailing address?
2.Was the registrant named associated in some way with the given address?
3.When contacted, would the named registrant acknowledge that they were indeed the registrant of the domain name, and confirm all details given as correct and current?

An internationally representative sample of 1419 records was drawn from the top five generic top website names, covering .com, .org, .net. .info and .biz. The address for each selected case was checked against postal records and mapping data for deliverability, searches were conducted in phone listings and other records unrelated to WHOIS for a linkage between name and address, and contact was attempted with the named registrant using phone numbers obtained during the association process.

Using strict application of the criteria, only 23% of records were fully accurate. The full outcome is shown below.

No Failure

Met all three criteria fully - deliverable address, name linked to address, and registrant confirmed ownership and correctness of all details during interview

353 of the 1419 websites details checked ( 22.8% of total )

Minimal Failure

All criteria met but minor fault noted by registrant during interview; OR Name unable to be linked to address, but able to locate registrant and confirm ownership.

329 of the 1419 websites details checked ( 23.8% of total )

Limited Failure

Deliverable address, name linked and/or located, but unable to interview registrant to obtain confirmation.

365 of the 1419 websites details checked ( 24.6% of total )

Substantial Failure

Undeliverable address and/or unlinkable name, however registrant located. Unable to interview registrant to obtain confirmation; OR Deliverable address, but unable to link or even locate the registrant, removing any chance of interview.

286 of the 1419 websites details checked ( 20.9% of total )

Full Failure

Failed on all criteria - undeliverable address and unlinkable, missing, or patently false name, unable to locate to interview.

86 of the 1419 websites details checked ( 7.8% of total )

 


 

Editors Comment

At the time of the report there were meant to be 101,225,988 websites in operation of the type assessed around the Globe. If we use the percentages for those website categorised as "Substantial Failures" (20.9%) and "Full Failures" (7.8%) and class them as potentially "Dodgy" ( open for use as scam / criminal websites ), that equates to a possible 21,887,415 websites !

So in short, beware as to which website you provide personal information to.

The strange thing about the survey were the website numbers sampled by country. Remember the USA has a population of around 250 million and Japan has the highest Broadband density.

USA = 928 sampled, Canada = 77 sampled, UK = 71 sampled, Germany = 61 sampled, China = 49 sampled, Australia = 35 sampled, Japan = 35 sampled, Turkey = 23 sampled, France = 35 sampled, Spain = 31 sampled, Netherlands = 35, malaysia = 8, Russia = 10, Sweden = 13, Singapore = 5, Israel = 3

Further information

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers: http://www.icann.org/
Public Interest Registry (for .org websites ): http://www.pir.org/home
Whois : http://www.internic.net/whois.html

(16th June 2010)



 

LONELY HEARTS WARNED OF INTERNET DATING SCAMS
( Computer Active, dated 5th February 2010, author Dinah Greek)
www.compteractive.co.uk

Office of Fair Trading says fraudsters are exploiting dating websites to con users

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned of internet dating scams that can leave people heart-broken and out of pocket.

As part of its Scams Awareness month, the OFT said the increased potential to meet new people online is being exploited by scammers to con people out of their money.

Fraudsters generally target online singles columns and dating websites. The online profiles they create are fictitious and are usually accompanied with fake photographs.

In some cases fraudsters have strung people along for years, conning them out of huge sums of money and leaving them financially ruined.

Some of the most serious cases are being investigated by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). One recent case involved a British national who was kidnapped after travelling to West Africa after falling for a dating scam.

Sharon Lemon, Soca deputy director, said: "No-one should fear using the internet to meet people, but criminals will look for opportunities everywhere and the internet is no exception.

"There is plenty of good straightforward advice out there from sites like Get Safe Online. You don't have to become a victim."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warn the problem is prevalent in West Africa. The fraudsters assume the false identity of a foreign national working and living in West Africa.

In some instances the impostor has informed their foreign friend that they have been hospitalised or arrested and need money quickly. In other cases as with the one above, after being kidnapped the victim is held for ransom.

Fraudsters can even dupe people into acting as money mules or to handle stolen goods. Research carried out by The 3rd Man, an online card fraud monitoring company, found women using dating websites were particularly vulnerable to this scam.

The OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct said people should be sceptical and ask themselves simple questions. If someone asks for money be suspicious, even if you have been communicating for weeks.

The consumer advice agency said people should ask themselves: "Why am I the only person who can help them, when I have just met them?"

People who sign up to a dating agency should find out what they are paying for and what the agency promises to provide in return. And always meet in a public place and take a friend with you for support if you are unsure.

Heather Clayton, senior director of the OFT's Consumer group, said: "The internet is now an established way to meet and connect with new people, but those meeting on dating and other sites need to be on their guard against potential dating scams.

"All fraud is destructive but dating scammers are particularly ruthless as they abuse the emotional trust and attachments that people invest when looking to meet someone."

There is more information about Scamnesty on the Consumer Direct website, where people can also send any suspect email or online scams to the online Scamnesty bin.

www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty

(16th June 2010)


 

THE WIRE TECHNIQUES AND DECOY BIKES HELP TRAP CITY THEFT GANG
(Metro, date 14th June, author Ross Lydall)
www.metro.co.uk

Police used surveillance techniques from cult American TV crime series The Wire to convict members of one of London's most notorious bike theft gangs.

Decoy bikes - expensive models left poorly secured - were positioned at crimes "hotspots" while mobile phone numbers and internet addresses used to post stolen bikes on website Gumtree were covertly monitored.

After two leading members of a gang were arrested under Operation Beachball, not a single bike was reported stolen in the City of London for a fortnight. Previously almost 100 bikes had been taken in six weeks and police believe the gange was responsibe for more than 50% of bike thefts around the Square Mile.

At one stage the operation, by the City of London Police's crime squad, tied up 10 PC's, two detectives and a sergeant for almost a month. It highlights the efforts needed by the police to trap bike thieves red handed. Last week, Mayor Boris Johnson set up a 30 strong police "cycle taskforce".

The biggest problem is the near impossibility of tracing owners of stolen bikes as without victims of crime police have to release the suspects.

The operation resulted in the convictions of two criminals from Islington, Paul Duncliff, and accomplice Levi Cronin, both 22, while six others were charged seperately with other cycle thefts. Duncliff and Cronin were given six-month suspended jail sentences.

PC Dan Dankoff, from the City of London police's crime squad, said : "It was last July when we arrested them ( Duncliff and Cronin). We were getting hit quite hard with pedal cycle thefts. About 250 were being stolen in six months in the City, typically commuter type bikes worth about £500 each.

"We decided to do a pro-active operation and we were monitoring websites where we believed criminals were selling bikes. They are all associated with each other. Once you start to link it all in it's like a spider's web".

Police are encouraging cyclists to register their bike on the Immobilise national property register - www.immobilise.com .

However, they fear they have only scratched the surface of bike crime. They know gang members are given specialist tasks - one to spot, one to unlock and one to ride away the bike.

(15th June 2010)


 

NEIGHBOURS URGED TO REPORT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE
(bbc.co.uk, dated 14th June 2010)

Neighbours are being urged to report domestic violence rather than keep quiet in a new police advertisement. The Metropolitan Police's message, "You make the call, we'll make it stop", reminds people about the consequences of their choice to ignore abuse.

The advert "listens in" to a fight from a neighbour's lounge.

The messages will be broadcast on radio and TV during England's World Cup matches, as research shows a link between drinking and a rise in abuse.

The police said nearly one in five murders in London stemmed from domestic violence. The five-week campaign will also challenge the reasons members of the public and neighbours give for not intervening by calling 999.

The force chose to highlight the message now as a Home Office research carried out during the last World Cup showed there was a link between the high levels of alcohol consumption and emotional nature of the games and an increase in the prevalence of domestic violence incidents.

Commander David Zinzan said: "We can still investigate domestic violence crimes even if the victim does not want to tell police. "This new and powerful ad campaign acts as a reminder that we can all play a vital part in helping to deter domestic violence perpetrators, and help more victims, by reporting domestic violence at the first moment possible if we witness it."

The force's specialist domestic violence investigators in each borough will visit their top ten domestic violence perpetrators and high-risk offenders with teams on alert during match days.


Other Sources of information ( these and additional sources  of information have been added to the Links page )

BBC help information : http://www.bbc.co.uk/relationships/domestic_violence/whathh_index.shtml
Womens Aid : http://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Mens Advice : http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/mens_advice.php
Refuge ( for Women and Children ) : http://refuge.org.uk/

(14th June 2010)


 

MORE BA WOES WITH LOST LUGGAGE CLAIMS
( The Independent, dated 4th June 2010, author Martin Hickman )
www.theindpendent.co.uk

British Airways suffered another blow to its reputation today with claims that it loses more luggage than other airlines.

One in 3.8 BA passengers has had lost, delayed or damaged luggage in the past five years, according to a survey of 2,000 UK passengers by an insurance company.

Virgin Atlantic was second worst, with one in 8.3 having luggage problems. Emirates was third with one in nine affected, easyJet fourth with one in 11.1 and Ryanair fifth with one in 12.5. The survey, by insurers LV, showed that in the past five years, 29 per cent of passengers had experienced lost, damaged or delayed luggage after checking in.

Some 30 per cent of travellers waited three months or more to be compensated for their damaged luggage. A total of 38 per cent had to wait for between one week and a month, while just one in five was compensated for the damage within a week. Only 27 per cent were reunited with their lost luggage within 24 hours.

The figures were released as BA faces a fresh five-day walkout by cabin crew, due to begin tomorrow. BA claimed that the number of strikers was falling, while the Unite union said the dispute had cost the airline £112m and claimed it could lose as much as £1.4bn as passengers defected to other carriers.

BA dismissed the luggage survey as "complete rubbish". It said: "There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a quarter of BA passengers have experienced lost or delayed baggage over the last five years.

"The Association of European Airlines' figures show that our baggage performance has improved dramatically since the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 in March 2008."

The figures may have been skewed by British Airways' awful performance in 2006, when it lost more than one million pieces of luggage, making it the worst baggage handler in Europe. A report by the Air Transport Users Council revealed that BA lost 1,047,750 bags that year.

LV travel insurance's managing director, John O'Roarke, said: "The fact that a third of all travellers have had their baggage lost or damaged in the last five years is surprisingly high and should come as a warning to holidaymakers."

The worst offenders

British Airways (One in 3.8 passengers)

Virgin Atlantic (One in 8.3 passengers)

Emirates (One in 9.0 passengers)

EasyJet (One in 11.1 passengers)

Ryanair (One in 12.5 passengers)

Thomas Cook (One in 14.2 passengers)

Bmi (One in 16.6 passengers)

Bmibaby (One in 20 passengers)

 


 

EDITORS COMMENT

It is not just the airlines that are to blame. Passengers and airports (UK and overseas ) also need to take some responsibility.

Luggage should be labelled, don't just rely on the the destination labelled that are stuck on by the airline at check-in.Don't provide your full home address on your personal luggage label as that will provide information to potential theives that you are away on holiday. Your name, town and country are adequate, along with a mobile phone number that you are using on holiday. As a belt and brace precaution put the same details on a piece of A4 paper within the suitcase / luggage; to cover the eventuality of the external labels being ripped off ( normally along with the handle ).
You could also sign up to a company like Sentinal Gold. Their main aim is to look after Credit and Debit cards, but they also provide luggage labels with reference numbers for tracing lost items if found (http://www.sentinelgold.co.uk/). Note, luggage should also be labelled for travel on Eurostar.

If a piece of luggage is going to be stolen or tampered with, the most attractive piece will be the one without a lock on it. A reasonable combination lock that meets USA requirements ( and other countries ) will cost around £6. How much is the contents of your suitcase worth ? I recommend a combination lock as you can loose keys ( well I do ).

As for airports. Those of you that have been to the USA have probably experienced their odd way of dealing with luggage. You get off your plane, go through immigration, then a luggage carousel to pick up your bags, you then go through customs and agriculture controls. Then you have to give your bags back ! Then you have to find another luggage carousel that is normally in an uncontrolled / unsupervised area near the airport exit. If that situation doesn't provide an opportunity for luggage going missing I would like to know what does ? All this when you may have been on a 12 hour flight.

(14th June 2010)


 

DON'T COME HOME TO THE SCENE OF A CRIME
( Metro, dated 11th June 2010, author Laura Shannon )
www.metro.co.uk

In three out of ten burglaries no force is needed to access thr property, according to Crimestoppers.

Sun, sea and sand might bel all tha's on your mind when heading on holiday, but avoid returning to a headache by protecting your property.

Millions of Britons will be travelling abroad for their summer holidays this year, not including the 25,000 fans heading to the World Cup in South Africa, so ensure your belongings are locked away. You are ten times more likely to be burgeled if you don't have basic security, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Jonathan Cracknell, household underwriter at Aviva, says: "We would always encourage homwowners to protect their belongings from theft by fitting approved locks to all external doors and window". "While insurance can cover you for any loss or damage, it is far better not to have to go through the trauma of burglary in the first place". "However, specific locks on doors and windows aren't something that we insist on, unless you live in a particular high-risk theft area". Protecting your property in this way mean you can avoid a financial crisis if you discover an insurance claim is invalid because you didn't have the right locks on door or, worse, you didn't bother to lock the door at all.

A sturdy five-lver deadlock for your door to meet British Standard BS3621 is recommended by insurers. Ensure windows on the ground floor, or any window accessible from another platform such as a flat roof, are also fitted with locks.

Check your insurance policy isn't due to expire while you're away, too.

Nick Starling, ABI director of general insurance, said: " Having adequate home insurance protection for when your home is occupied is a must". "Length of absence only becomes a significant factor in buying a policy if your home is likely to be empty for a prolonged period". "What is of more importance is you heed any conditions the policy sets out on issues such as security to ensure you don't invalidate any potential claim".

Government statistics show 60% of burglaries don't succeed when a burglar alarm has been fitted, so it is worth buying one to reduce your chances of being targeted. Home insurance isn't overly expensve when you appreciate the net worth of what yo're protecting. Building insurance covers bricks and mortar but think about the value of everthing you keep within your four walls. That's where home contents insurance plays a vital role. "The home isurance market remains very competitive" adds Starling. "Shopping around can help you get a good price, while ensuring that you're not at the mercy of the unexpected".

But if you limit the likelihood of being burgled by getting someone you trust to help guard your home, hopefully you won't need to make a claim on your insurance. Little things such as having a friend open abd close the curtains in the morning and at night will give the impression someone is at home. If you are away for a matter of weeks, the Royal Mail provides a Keepsafe service, which retains your post for up to two months and delivers it when you return. Prices start from £8.95 for 17 days. This stops a build up of post in your letterbox -  a sign to theives you are away and the property is empty.

Setting up a neighbourhood watch area on your street is another idea. To do this contact the crime prevention  prevention co-ordinator at your local police station, who will give you information and help you set up a meeting with other interested people in your area.

Security tips ( source: More Than Insurance )

1. The most effective burlar alarms are easily seen from the street, amke a loud noise and are linked to a security service that monitors and responds when the alarm is activated. Ask your insurer for advice on the best types.

2. Find someone to park their car in your drive and draw your curtains at night, so your home looks lived in.

3. Don't leave spare keys outside - burglars know all the hiding places. Leave them with trusted friends or neighbours.

4. Don't annouce detailed holiday plans on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Most insurance companies won't penalise you for using the sites but homeowners should take a sensible approach to advertising holiday details.

(14th June 2010)


 

SOUTHBURY WARD SNT MONTHLY SURGERIES

The Southbury Ward Safer Neighbourhood team will be running surguries for residents at the following locations on a monthly basis. Details below :

FEBRUARY 23rd (Tuesday) @ Ayleycroft - 1800 -2000 hours
MARCH 19th (Friday) @ Moorfield Road o/s surgery - 0900 -1100 hours
APRIL 19th (Monday) @ Southbury Rd j/w Southbury avenue - 1000 - 1200 hours
MAY 8th (Saturday) outside Tescos , Eaton Road - 1100 - 1300 hours
JUNE 16th (Wednesday) @ Central Avenue, The Approach - 1800 - 2000 hours
JULY 13th (Tuesday) @ Monroe Crescent , Pembroke Avenue - 0900 - 1100 hours
AUGUST 12th (Thursday) outside Morrisons - 1800 -2000 hours
SEPTEMBER 15th (Wednesday) @ Lytchet Estate - 1800 - 2000 hours
OCTOBER 18th (Monday) outside Halfords - 1200 - 1400 hours
NOVEMBER 17th (Wednesady) @ Broadfield Square - 1600 - 1800 hours
DECEMBER 4th (Saturday) @ Fotheringham Road j/w Lincoln Rd - 1100 - 1300 hours

 



FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION TARGETS PRIVACY CONCERNS RELATED TO COPY MACHINES
(Computerworld.com ,dated 18th May 2010, author Grant Gross )

 

IDG News Service - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun contacting copy machine makers, resellers and office-supply stores about privacy concerns over the thousands of images that can potentially be stored on the machines' hard drives.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a letter to U.S. Representative Ed Markey, said the agency has been working to alert copy machine manufacturers and sellers of the privacy risks of the information that many copy machines store on their hard drives. The FTC is trying to "determine whether they are warning their customers about these risks ... and whether manufacturers and resellers are providing options for secure copying," Leibowitz wrote in a letter released Tuesday by Markey's office.

CBS News, in a report that aired April 19, said that nearly every copy machine built since 2002 stores documents copied, scanned and e-mailed by the machines on their hard drives. The report found sensitive health and law-enforcement investigation information on copy machines ready to be resold.

Markey, in an April 29 letter to the FTC, called for the agency to investigate privacy concerns related to copy machines. "I am concerned that these hard drives represent a treasure trove for thieves, leaving unwitting consumers vulnerable to identity theft as their Social Security numbers, birth certificates, medical records, bank records and other personal information are exposed to individuals who could easily extract the data from the digital copiers' hard drive and use it for criminal purposes," Markey wrote.

Leibowitz, in response, said the FTC is working with copy machine makers and sellers to provide "appropriate educational materials" to their clients. The FTC is also reviewing its own educational materials related to privacy and computer hard drives, and it will create new information for consumers and businesses on digital copy machines, Leibowitz said.

Copy machine maker Xerox has been talking about the privacy issue for several years, said Carl Langsenkamp, the company's vice president for global public relations. Xerox has held a series of security summits about copy machine security, and most of the company's multifunction machines have several security features built in, he said.

Xerox offers customers the option of removing the hard drive on machines before they are disposed of or turned in after a lease, he said. The company also offers a free image overwrite option that destroys information stored on hard drives on most machines, he said. "While many of our competitors either don't build these features into their products or them sell them for a fee, most of our products built in the past couple years offer these standard," Langsenkamp said. "We believe this is an industry best practice."

Xerox would also support stronger education efforts across the industry, although the company believes it offers several security features not available from other manufacturers, he said. Markey said he's pleased that the FTC is looking into the privacy concerns further. Most consumers are not aware of the privacy implications "when they place their tax returns, financial records and other personal information on the copier and hit the 'start' button," he said in a statement.

"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in this case, these images could cost consumers thousands of dollars if they were victims of identity theft. I look forward to continuing to work with the FTC as it proceeds with its important activities."

 


 

EDITORS COMMENT

You may think, what has something going on in the USA got to do with me ! Then my question in return will be, "where do you photocopy your bank / credit card statements, your gas or electricity bills, documentation to do with your pension, your building society savings transactions etc etc" ! Your probable response will be; my local sub Post Office, the local newsagent or the public library.

The designs and technology used in a photocopier in the USA will be the same as that used in the UK. The machines are manufactured by multi-national companies.

So lets move onto a potential scenario. In a little village called "Somewhere" the owner of the local sub Post Office wants to provide a new service to his customers. Out of the blue one day a salesman comes into his shop with an offer of providing the shop owner with a rental scheme for a photocopier. The rental is based on usage and there is a 50:50 split on the takings. The copier is maintained by the rental company at their cost and the only other outgoings is for paper. How could the owner of the sub Post Office loose ? All the customers in the village thought the photocopier was a great idea. They could copy personal information, before posting the originals onto  their bank or building society. The Post Office owner did not make much money out of the deal for the floor space used, but it did help the customers out.

Every month the salesman or one of his colleagues would arrive at the sub Post Office and check the usage meter within the machine ( the rental was based on these meter readings ), check the print toner and carry out some other checks which involved changing a little black box every month ( all rather technical the shop owner thought ).

Unbeknown to the shop owner the black box that was changed every month was the hard drive. The salesman and the rental company were bogus. All they wanted was the personal information that was innocently being photocopied by the Post Office customers. Potentially every customer who used that photocopier could have their identity stolen.

(10th June 2010)

 


 

DEATH MAPS PUT THE BRAKE ON RISK
(The Sunday Times - ingear supplement, dated 6th June 2010, author Kate Spicer )

Running a cursor over Ted Reilly's cyclist casualty maps, known colloquially as deaths maps, is a sobering experience. The first map appeared in February after months of number crunching by Reilly, a London cyclist "brassed off with what seemed the city's complacent attitude to road safety".

He developed a mapping system, fed by Stats19, the reports the police fill out for crashes that cause death or injury. The map of cycling casualties in London proved such a success that similar versions are now available for the whole of Britain.

The maps collate information from 2000-08. Clicking on the markers, red for death, blue for serious injury, brings up information about the accident. The truncated words speak of tragedy on the road. Click on a red marker in Holt, Norfolk and you get "21/1/05 Friday 9.33. Male turning right. Small goods vehicle." A red marker in Bethnal Green Road, east London "18/12/04 Saturday 23.56. Male going ahead. Car "A red marker on the A165 near Scarborough: "28/11/02 Thursday 7.10. Male going ahead right-hand bend. Two or more other vehicles."

Naturally you eye races to well known routes. And you quickly start imagining yourself in a collision with a bus or a heavy goods vehicle. The death map is being used by road safety campaigners and one local authority's planning engineers ( though Reilly keeps schtum on which one), presumably to identify what makes a road dangerous. For me,  though, it is a practical exercise in self-preservation. The first thing this map teaches, or reasserts, is the disproportionate danger of HGV's, particularly to women. This knowledge has long had me standing off from anything rumbling and spewing diesel fumes. Big things are the biggest killers of cyclists.

Collisions with HGV's, large goods vehicles, buses and coaches are much more likely to be lethal than those with a car. Common too, are incidents with "small goods vehicles" which I interpret with open prejudice as white van man. The death mpa's cluster of killing and maiming hotspots has encourage me to take slightly longer, but safer routes. Locally these are simple to work out, but when in strange places it's easy to find yourself in a flow of busy trafic approaching big roundabouts. The hope that the software Reilly used will create a route planner that avoids heavy traffic and curb road planning that is unsympathetic to cyclists.

Overtaking moving vehicles often seems a bit crazy, and if you look at the death map it's clear that it is. So is cycling up the inside of vehicles at junctions. Drivers moving left don't see you. Risk are multiplied at dusk and in the darkness.

The death map is grisly and a little depressing. But it's also useful because it brings home the risk you take each time you pedal into traffic. The best way to avoid becoming a red marker is to learn from the misfortunes of others.

See the death map at www.citybeast.co/londoncyclists.html
Go to www.trl.co.uk for number crunching by the Transport Research Laboratory

(10th June 2010)


 

CHINESE RESTAURANTS TOP OF THE MENU FOR FOOD POISONING
(The Independent, dated 29th May 2010, Author Martin Hickman )

Summary

Chinese
55% with under 3 stars in 5 star rating. Sample size : 491
Hundreds of Chinese eating places failed to score more than two out of five for hygiene.

Kebab
53%, sample size : 567
Many takeaways selling the Middle-eastern meat snack were dirty, found the survey.

Indian
48%, sample size : 453
Fewer than half of the restaurants and takeaways serving Indian foof met all legal requirements.

Fish
28%, sample size : 2053
Fish restaurants and chippies performed better, but still one quarter fared badly.

Italian
21%, sample size : 123
One of the better performers, with almost half of the premises rated four or five stars.

Mc Donald's
4%, sample size 312
The US burger giant had the highest proportion of 4 and 5 star scores, 84%.

KFC
1%, sample size 91
The cleanest, with one in 100 fried chicken outlets scoring badly, despite a recent court case.

Chinese restaurants and take aways have dirtier kitchens than eating places serving other styles of cooking, according to environmental officers. A national survey of hygiene ratings found that more than half of 491 Chinese outlets failed to meet all legal requirements aimed at preventing food poisoning among diners. Almost half of Indian restaurants and takeaways surveyed also scored poorly in the survey of different cuisines which was carried out for The Independent.

Similarly low ratings were given to kebab shops, while failings were found at a quarter of fish and chip shops and 1 in 5 Italian establishments. By contrast, corporate burger bars run by McDonalds and KFC chicken houses were found to be very clean.

Environmental health officers believe Chinese and Indian chefs struggle on hygiene because of "a combination of culture and language", according to Paul Hiscoe, a director of Transparency Data, which carried out the survey. They did not always understand food laws and often had difficulty understanding instructions from council officers, he said. Several Chinese and Indian restaurants have been prosecuted for rodent infestations and other serious problems in the past year. The cockroaches infected Tai Pan restaurant in Manchester, for instance, was fined £70,000 in December by a magistrate who described its standards of cleanliness as "absolutely outrageous", while in March the Bahar Tandoori on the Isle of Wight was fined £4000 for failing to properly disinfect and clean equipment, despite several warnings. Neither were included in the survey by the website scoresonthedoors.org.uk, displays the hygiene ratings of 105,000 food businesses. By law, all food outlets open to the public are inspected by environmental health officers, most of which hand out star ratings of between five and zero.

Transparency Data checked the ratings for businesses with the following words in their title : China, India, Italia, Kebab, fish, McDonalds and KFC. The search brought up 4,090 outlets.Of the 491 restaurants with "China" in the title, 33% were rated two star, meaning they needed to make more effort to hit all legal requirements designed to stop the spread of bacteria that cause stomach bugs.  Some 21% were one star, indicating poor compliance, while 1 in 10 received no stars, indicating they were  "very poor" with a general failure to meet legal standards.

Of the 567 places with "kebab" in the title, 53% scored fewer than 3 stars, while the figure for Indian restaurants and takeaways was 48%. McDonalds had 4% and KFC 1% in the three lowest tiers, and overwhelmingly scored 4 and 5 star ratings.

Despite its good performance, KFC was fined £11,000 this month after an inspector found a cockroach eating a chip at a central London branch - demonstrating that hygiene can vary within the same style or ownership.

The Food Standards Agency estimates around 850,000 people in the UK fall victim to food poisoning every year. But environmental health reports only became available five years ago with the introduction of freedom of information legislation. Among the problems that emerged were failings at some of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants. Two years ago, an analysis of 10 restaurant chains by The Independent revealed that one third of Yo! Sushi restaurants surveyed did not meet all legal standards. At the time, 8% of McDonald's and 6% of KFC branches scored under three stars, indicating both have significantly improved their hygiene in the past 2 years.

 



Further information

 

The star rating is not an award scheme, it only shows how well the business complied with food safety law at the time of the last inspection. Food Safety Officers always give advice and may take enforcement action where necessary, so it is possible that the business may have made efforts to improve since the unannounced visit, however the business will have to wait until their next planned inspection to be re-graded.

The star rating is based on three areas :

• Observed food handling practices
• Condition of the premises, including cleanliness
• Food safety management systems being used

If the premises have been inspected it will be allocated with one of the following assessment levels :

NO STARS = Poor ( Some major non-compliance with food safety law )
ONE STAR = Adequate ( Some non-compliance with food Safety law )
TWO STARS = Satisfactory ( Broadly compliant with food safety law )
THREE STARS = Good ( Some minor food safety matters to be addressed )
FOUR STARS = Very Good ( Fully compliant and confident in management of food safety )
FIVE STARS = Excellent ( Fully compliant and highly confident in management of food safety )

Even though the article above implies that the "scoresonthedoors" website covers the whole of the UK, the fact is that it doesn't ( to date 108 ). The majority of councils have not registered with that website and another 13 have registered with another (www.foodscores.co.uk). According to www.direct.gov.uk there are 435 councils. Remember, it is local council officers that assess the food outlet for food safety, the websites just advertise the findings.

The reason the "Scoresonthedoors" website did not have the recently fined London KFC within its data, is because it doesn't hold Westminster information on its system !

For your information the Hankridge Arms that I mentioned in an earlier article was assessed as being 4 stars ( see www.foodscores.co.uk ).

If you find more than a fly in your soup, or notice a cockroach enjoying the restaurants cuisine make a complaint to the local environmental office. You could end up saving someones life !

A food safety rating information organisation : www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk
Another food safety rating information organisation : www.foodscores.co.uk

(9th June 2010)


 

 

FISH AND CHIPS

This may seem a strange thing to place on this website, but we are approaching the Summer holidays and everyone wants good value for money. Over the decades our second favourite dish ( after curry ) has changed from being a cheap meal into something quite expensive.

My first experience of fish and chips was sitting in a push chair in Shoebury, Essex. The shop was not really a shop, it was someones front room, the counter was the window ledge on a bay window. The deep fryer was not using vegetable, corn or matzo oil but beef dripping. Ah, those were the days ! The fish and chips were excellent and for many years I walked from that shop via a grave yard to the caravan site where I holidayed in the late 50's and 60's. The meal all wrapped up in a recent newspaper. I could read and eat at the same time !

Coming up to the present day I cannot fully recommend one chippy in Southend on Sea. Even though most sea front restaurants sport a certificate of excellence from some association or another. In general the food quality is poor.

From the row of restauarants along the seafront at Westcliff where I was served a Birds Eye breaded piece of something to a piece of grey fleshed something perporting to be cod in a restaurant near the slot machine emporiums. It has taken me the last 8 years to find something near reasonable to eat in Southend. I have been visiting Southend for over 50 years and this is a sorry testimonial for for a town that should be at the forefront of one of our national dishes.

What is even more annoying are the Brown tourist signs in the West country advertising fish and chip shops as if they were ancient monuments. For example, there is a fish restuarant in Glastonbury with the brown signs showing how to get there. The owner was decked out in check trousers and pork-pie chefs hat. He looked the part, but the fish was not up to much. Again their walls were resplendent in certificates of quality for there area. The only thing is, they are the only chippy in town !

So what am I looking for in my favorite dish ? The flesh should be white, there should be nice big flakes of fish. The batter should be crispy and not dripping with oil and soaking the wrapping. I also do not expect any hint of chlorine smell ( the fish on the turn ). As for the chips, a light golden brown, slightly crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. The condiments, Sarcon's vinegar and sea salt. Hungry yet ?

So what about our local chippy's. We are a little short for choice, but luckily Georges in Southbury Road is good ( so I will use them as a benchmark ). My only criticism, why do I always have to wait for the chips ( always ) ? On the other hand there is another chippy in Ponders End covered with testimonials that I feel is at the other end of the spectrum. On one occassion they blamed the bad weather affecting the potatoe crop for making their chips appear a darker brown. I put it down to them re-heating the chips, but that is only an opinion.

Anyway, where do I recommend a good fish meal. Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say and these are just my opinions.

Southend on Sea

Kingfisher

Corner of Southchurch Road (A13) and Dalmatia Road
Perhaps not as good as Georges (Enfield Town), but I would say it is probably the best that Southend has to offer. The other surprise is that a take-away fish meal from them is nearly 50% cheaper than Enfield ? Perhaps its the business rates ?

Portsmouth

Ma Kellys - Turn off M27 junction 12 head towards Fareham on the A27. About 1 mile West of the Marriott Hotel. This place started off looking like an American diner, but over the years they have put some fishing memorabilia on the walls. I think the food is excellent and a good price. They serve wine and bottled real ale ( its good - but don't let them pour it). I have been going there for over 18 years and the quality has not changed. They also do an excellent breakfast.

Plymouth

Platters - this is in the Old Town about 100 yards from the point where the Mayflower sailed to the Americas. The place is intimate and eccentrically decorated, but don't let that put you off. The fish is excellent and fresh ( the fish market and docks are 150 yards away. I highly recommend their calamari ( try it with their chilli sauce ). Go there in the evening, during the day the place is full of loud tourists from the Mayflower Museum ( I am sure that you understand who I mean ).

Braunton ( near Barnstaple )

Squires in Braunton High Street. This place has a modern decor and has 2 floors and is kept very clean. The owners of the restaurant own most of the town and some of the locals take humberance at that, but don't be put off. Anyway, back to the food, it is very good.
A couple of the surprising things about the take-away shop. They do steamed salmon and they weigh their fried fish and charge according to their findings !

Taunton

Hankridge Arms ( a Hall and Woodhouse pub ). The building was once a farmhouse that was built in the 17th century. It is full of old wood beams and panelling. The dining area (you can also eat in the bar) has an inglenook fire place that has a blazing fire in Winter and Autumn, just don't be there when they light it. You will come out smelling like a kipper !

They have seasonal menu's which do change regularly and they do have daily specials. I cannot recommend any one thing as everything I have eaten there has been good. The prices are slightly higher than the Beefeater chain, but then again the food is so much better. The staff have always been friendly and offered an efficient service. The head chef is a bit surely and grunts a bit when complimented on his cooking. Then again he doesn't have to talk when his kitchen turns out such good grub.

They do good fish and chips too !

By the way, I have never been able to get into the nearby Harvester, it is always busy and the service is terrible ( colleague's comments ).

To get there, turn off the M5 at junction 25 and head towards Taunton City centre on the A358. As you drive down this dual carriageway you will notice a Sainsbury supermarket on the right. After about a half a mile you will reach a roundabout, turn right and follow the direction of Sainsburys. Before you reach the smaller roundabout for Sainsbury you should hopefully see the entrance to the Hankridge Arms car park on the right.

Hankridge Arms
Hankridge Way
Taunton
Somerset
TA1 2LR

Telephone : 01823 444405

http://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/

(17th May 2010)


 

LONDON'S MOST WANTED CRIMINALS WEBSITE LAUNCHED
BBC website, dated 17th May 2010

A website aimed at tracking London's most wanted crime suspects has been launched. The site, hosted by Crimestoppers, lists police appeals as well as pictures of wanted suspects.

Users can search by the type of crime or they can click on a London borough for a list of suspects in that area. Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin said: "This is a great tool that everyone can use to help make London even safer."

Community stand

He added: "The police work tirelessly to catch people who have committed, or are suspected of committing crimes, but we will always need the public's help."

Lord Ashcroft, founder and chairman of Crimestoppers, said: "We undoubtedly have one of the most exciting and vibrant capital cities in the world, so as a community we must take a stand against crime to help improve London even more.

"I strongly urge the public to take a look at London's Most Wanted site to see if you recognise any of the individuals and pass on information you may have about them to Crimestoppers."

Nationally, 21 people are arrested and charged every day and one person every nine days is charged with murder as a result of information passed to Crimestoppers.

Wanted webpages : http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/londonmostwanted/index.asp?OperationID=87

(17th MAY 2010)


 

 

PHONE "FAGIN" RAN £1m ROBBERY GANG
Metro dated 20th April 2010 ( no named author )

The mastermind behind a thieving ring was found with 600 mobiles and more than £55,000 in cash when police raided his home. Safaine Azzouz, 28, controlled teams of pick-pockets, burglars, street robbers and hotel thieves who stole hundreds of mobiles, digital camera's and laptops before handing them over to him to sell abroad. When officers raided his home in Finsbury Park, North London, they also found 67 high value digital camera's and 19 laptops. They estimated he made at least £1 million from his London wide empire. Azzouz who operated like Fagin in Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, was jailed for five years on Thursday after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges and concealing criminal property. In sentencing Azzouz at Blackfriars Crown Court, judge David Martino said he would have to repay his criminal earnings after a confiscation hearing takes place. Police estimated the value of the 600 mobiles to be about £120,000. The number of victims runs into thousands. A Police spokesman said "London and the surrounding area is a much safer place now that he is off the streets. Hundreds of phones were stolen from gigs and music festivals by his pickpockets who used the crowds as cover". He added: "Azzouz was a leader of a criminal network and the sum in excess of a million pounds shows that this was clearly an organised and systematic handling of stolen goods from burglaries and robberies.

End


 

Comment

Camera's, Mobile Phones and Laptops are not worth being injured for. But hard earned cash has been spent in their purchase. When walking the streets with these valuables keep them out of sight. As far as laptops are concerned that is pretty hard due to their size, especially when when they are in laptop bags. Several large companies recommend to their employee's not to use laptop bags, but to go for things like backpacks.
With our 21st century society everbody wants to be in constant contact with the "World", via Facebook and the like. The only thing is, WiFi hot spots are ( especially the free ones ) like watering holes for animals in the desert. Where there is a watering hole, there WILL be a predator !

For laptops - keep them backed up, make a note of serial, make and model numbers. Set up a Power-up password ( these tend to be a bit "stronger" than a Windows one).

For Mobile phones- make it hard for the thieves. Activate the phones password, make a note of the phones IMEI number and keep alternative records of your contacts / friends (just in case). The IMEI number can then be passed to your mobiles operator who will then be able to disable the phone. In the long run that may put criminals off stealing mobiles (perhaps).

To protect yourself financially you may want to consider single item or house contents insurance. For that to operate smoothly you do need to keep records of each items details ( serial numbers etc) in the event of a claim.


(16th May 2010)


 

ELECTION MANIFESTO'S 2010

Even though the website is currently suspended, I thought that the readership may be interested in the extracts from the three main party manifesto's. This is where they describe their ideas on "dealing with crime".  Click on the named tab within the Index on the left.

(Prior to Election 2010)

 


 

KEEP CARDS AND PIN SEPERATE

Last Wednesday morning I went to my local Post Office ( yes I still have one ). To my surprise it was relatively empty. So I took my postion in the queue behind the white privacy line. At the counter was an elderly lady carrying out her transaction. In a loud voice she requested "£300 cash please, off of my card". She then placed her debit card in the card reader and then entered her PIN number. It did not work, so the Cashier requested that she try again. The elderly lady did so, but it failed again. The lady then rumaged through her shopping bag and found a piece of paper, with that she carefully re-entered her PIN and her transaction went ahead.

Hopefully there were no opportunist theives nearby to take advantage of the situation that this lady had left open.

- A lone elderly lady
- £300 of cash in her shopping bag.
- A debit card and a piece of paper with the PIN number written on it in the same place (the shopping
bag).

If you have any elderly Brothers, Sisters, Parents or other relatives please pass on the following advice.

- Keep your monetary transactions confidential. Speak with less volume to the Cashier.
- Before you go to a Post Office, Bank or other institution where you can withdraw money. Remind yourself of any PIN number that may be required before leaving home.
- Probably one of the best ways to remember you PIN is to have it changed to a number that you can easily
remember (ie. the birth date of a family member ).

The least favourable options are the following :

- If you do need to take your PIN written down on a piece of paper keep it seperate from your Debit or Credit card ( perhaps in a coat or jacket pocket ). NOT in your purse, wallet or handbag with your cards.
- Again if you do need to carry a piece of paper with the PIN. Try to "camoflage" it by incorporating it
in a telephone number (ie: Bob Jones : 020 8366 xxxx; where xxxx is your PIN ). This should be amongst other telephone numbers, perhaps of family members.

Remember :

If your debit or credit cards are stolen and the thief has had access to your PIN your bank or other financial institution will place the blame of loss on the card holder. It will then be very unlikely that any compensation or refund will be forthcoming.

(16th APRIL 2010)


 

ANOTHER CREDIT CARD SCAM

I thought that I would publish this message as a warning on a credit card scam. It was forwarded by one of our local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, but the information has definitely done the rounds. The problem was first meant to have been observed in Wiltshire, this report was then meant to have been written up in Sussex, from there it was converted into a pdf ( portable document file ) by the British Transport Police Intelligence unit and finally the Met Police.
I have checked the integrity of the Sussex "link" (ie the Police Officer who was meant to have done the write-up does exist ), but he did not write the text. Wiltshire Police Fraud unit have stated that they no record of the offence. * 

The whole story has the feel of a hoax, in fact it is an urban legend that has been doing the rounds since 2006 (Washington Post, USA), but it does describe the devious way scammers work. The best advice to be taken from this story is : DON'T PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION DURING UNSOLICITED TELEPHONE CALLS OR UNKNOWN CALLERS TO YOUR HOME.

 


This has been passed on via another Force area through our own Fraud Department In Wiltshire Constabulary, and it is a very convincing SCAM. We have been asked to disseminate the information as widely and was quickly as we can through Neighbourhood Watch, School Safe and others.This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want. Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it. This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself. One of our employees was called on Wednesday from "VISA", and I was called on Thursday from "MasterCard". The scam works like this: Person calling says, "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your
VISA card which was issued by (name of bank) did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for £497.99 from a Marketing company based in London ?" When you say "No", the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company
we have been watching and the charges range from £297 to £497, just under the £500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?" You say "yes". The caller continues - "I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 0800 number listed on the back of your card (0800- VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works the caller then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card." He'll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers." There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card.

These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?" After you say, "No," the caller then thanks you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do", and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number .

But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of £497.99 was charged to our card. Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them . Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or MasterCard directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3

Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening .

 


... AND FINALLY

If you do receive such an unsolicited call, the safest course of action is to:

- Ask for the caller's name and department details and then terminate the call.

- Find a legitimate contact number for the company either in a bill or other official documentation or a telephone directory. (Don't use a contact number provided by the caller).

- Call the company and ask to speak to the original caller by name.

This strategy should effectively derail any scam attempts and also allow you to deal with the issue in the event that the call was actually legitimate.

A key factor regarding this scam is that it can only work if the scammer already has your credit card number and contact details. In other words, regardless of the success or failure of the scheme, your financial security has already been compromised. Thus, if you do receive a security code scam call like the one described, recognisng it as a scam and terminating the call is only part of the solution. Naturally, you should also immediately inform your credit card issuer that the security of your card may have been compromised and take any other steps necessary to protect yourself from credit card fraud and identity theft.

(12th APRIL 2010, *Minor changes 16th APRIL 2010)

 




POTHOLES

After that ice and snow we had at the beginning of the year it appears that most roads around the country have suffered. According to "The Times" ( Ingear 7th March 2010) Kent has had to commit an extra £4.5 million to deal with repairs; and during February 2010 it filled 20,500 potholes compared to 8,400 for the same period last year.

As a further comparison, during the milder winter of 2008-9 the country suffered from 968,195 potholes. The cost of repair for that year was £62.2 million. Local authorities then spent another £47 million on administering and settling claims for damage.

In all honesty it appears that the London Borough of Enfield has done a good job in getting the roads fixed. One of the worst sections of road was at the junction of the A10 and Bullsmoor Lane; TfL got that whole junction resurfaced in what appeared to be one night. If you know any different, and are still suffering from a rough ride report the damage to the council.

ENFIELD PLEADGES NO POTHOLE PRECEPT
London Borough of Enfield website - dated 17th March 2010

Enfield Council taxpayers will not have to pay a pothole tax said the authority's enviro chief.

Councillor Terry Neville, cabinet member for environment said: "London has been plagued by potholes since the winter weather, however because of our prudent use of resources we have found over £400,000 to pay for these emergency repairs. There will be no pothole tax in Enfield."

Cllr Neville was speaking following reports of a pothole plague in the media over the winter.The report said there up to 1.6 million craters across the country forcing one council to increase average bills by almost £5 to pay for road repairs.

Cllr Neville continued: "Enfield has an excellent reputation for road maintenance.  Last week we won London's most improved borough for transport partly due to the £50 million investment we have made in road and pavement maintenance in just four years."

Enfield Council won London's Most Improved Transport borough category at the London Transport Awards last week for its pro-active and sustainable approach to Highway Maintenance.The news comes after it was revealed Council contractors fixed over 9,000 potholes caused by the winter weather in just five weeks.

Crews of asphalters have been working flat out on emergency repairs to keep the borough moving. Stephen Skinner, head of highways services, said: "We have agreed a new process with our contractor to carry out rapid repairs to ensure that our roads are made safe for motorists to prevent potholes from expanding. If anyone sees a pothole they think is dangerous, they can report it to the council on 020 8379 1000

 


 

HOW TO SEEK REDRESS
Mostly based on an article from the Sunday Times - Ingear supplement, dated 7th March 2010

- If you see a bad pothole, note its location and report it to Enfield Council on : 020 8379 1000
Once it knows about a pothole. the council is duty bound to deal with it. Your report will make it easier for others to make a claim.

- If you have the misfortune to have an accident or cause damage to your vehicle as a result of a pothole, note the exact location and photograph the pothole and damage.

- If the damage costs more than £500 you may need agreement from the local authority before a repair goes ahaead.

- Keep all the paperwork that relates to repairs or personal treatment if you were injured.

- Get your wheels and tyres professionally checked after any incident. Alloy wheels may have suffered invisible fractures and tyre internal walls may have been torn; both of which may fail at speed.

Useful websites :

www.potholes.co.uk - an independent campaigning website with advice for making a claim

www.fixmystreet.com - a community site that reports problems to councils

www.fillthathole.org.uk - a site especially for cyclists

(12th APRIL 2010)

 


DODGY LOG BOOKS
( Based on information from The Sunday Times - Ingear supplement - dated 28th March 2010 )

People will experience this crime for a some years to come as 130,000 blank logbooks (V5) were stolen from the DVLA

Case study - a car purchaser was looking through a motoring magazine for their dream car and found it. The photograph showed a shiney metalic grey Audi A3 on sale for £9,100. All of the car guide (Parkers etc) showed a book price of twice tha amount. Not to be conned the purchaser ask to see the car's paperwork ( logbook = V5 ) and that appeared okay. They did a HPI background check, proving that it had not been damaged or stolen. That was okay, so the car was purchased and driven away.

A few days later the purchaser tried to renew the tax disc at their Port Office by presenting the logbook. The transaction was not allowed. So the Police were contacted. They carried out more in-depth checks which discovered the car was a clone. The car was confiscated and returned to the original owner. The purchaser lost the car and money.

How is it done ?

- Typically a gang steals a car usually by taking keys during a burglary.
- Then they steal the identity of an identical car; done by noting down the number plate of any car that matches the one stolen ( make , model, colour,engine size ).
- The gang then goes onto the internet and logs onto one of the many companies that perform vehicle background checks. Posing as a buyer and paying the appropriate fee the gang will be supplied with details of the stolen registration cars identity; the  VIN ( the cars chassis number ) and the engine number. These background checks were meant to help bonafide car purchasers confirm authenticity of vehicles they were interested in buying , but the system has "backfired" so to speak.
- The ill-gotten details are then physically transfered to the stolen car along with a "new" number plate.
- In addition, the ill-gotten details are added to a illegally obtained blank V5 log book.
- Voila, a cloned car !


HOW TO AVOID BEING HIT BY RINGERS
( The Sunday Times - Ingear supplement - dated 28th March 2010 )

Car cloning has two victims : the owner of the car whose identity is stolen, and the buyer of the clone vehicle. There's little you can do to prvent your car from being cloned, and the first you may know of it is when you receive parking or speeding tickets for which you are not responsible. If this happens, return them to the issuing authority, together with any documentary evidence that supports your case. Alert both the DVLA and the Police.

Buyers can reduce the risk of buying a clone car by taking the following precautions :

- Check all the paperwork: the clone car will usually have no service history, as this would reveal its true identity - on a fairly new car this can be a giveaway. Look for signs of service book tampering, such as missing pages or details that have been erased.

- Check the V5 registration document ( the logbook ). Although the stolen documents in circulation are blank ( allowing for the cloner to enter any information he wants) they all have a serial number. Look out for documents with the numbers ranging from BG8229501 to BG9999030 and BI2305501 to BI2800000, and call the Police if any are found.

- Take note of the logbooks serial number and call the DVLA vehicle checking service on 0300 790 6104 when you are away from the seller. It will tell you if the registration document is one that has been stolen.

- A vehicle provenance check, from HPI, for example, could be waste of time, unless you quote the serial number of the logbook, as you might simply be checking the details of a genuine car and not the one in front of you. However, we still recommend that you check the details on the V5 against the car, including the chassis number, or Vin. Also check the sellers name and address.

- Look closely at the tax disc as it will be either forged or altered to match the cars numberplate.

- Most clones will be sold privately and sellers will want to hide their identity, so be wary of those who give only a mobile phone number, and those who insist on bringing the car to you or are reluctant to invite you into their home - they may be using someone else's driveway to conduct the sale.

- Above all, remember that if a deal looks too good to to be true, it probably is.

(12th APRIL 2010)


 

ITS IN THE NUMBERS

They may be 2 small bits of plastic with numbers on, but they are all but simple. At MOT tests number (registration) plates are checked to make sure they comply with the Road Vehilces ( Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 as amended. It is essential that all vehicles carry the correct registered number and that the plates are secure and clearly visible.

These simple checks are carried out to ensure accurate eye witness accounts ( for accidents ), efficient traffic enforcement camera's operation and road user charging systems work as intended.

Registration plate checks apply to vehicles in all MOT tests classes which include motorbikes, cars and light goods vehicles. The only vehicles not affected are foreign registered, diplomatic and in-service military vehicles.

WHAT ARE THE MOT REQUIREMENTS ?

MOT Testers will carry out a complete visual inspection in respect of the condition of the plates and that the required dimensions are not obviously incorrect.

Basic Checks

- plates are present
- plates are secure
- plates show the correct registration
- the registration shown cannot be misread due to damage or deterioration
- the plate is not obscured ( by a tow bar for example )
- any feature that has the effect of changing the appearance or legibility of the characters.
- plates fitted to vehicles first used on or after 1st September 2001 are also required to display the BS AU 145d marking and the name and postcode of the plate supplier.

Number plate accepted format

- Vehicles first registered on or after 1st January 1973 must be the correct colour - white on the front and yellow on the rear with black characters
- characters must be of the correct font (style) and size.
- characters must not be in italics

Character Size ( after 1st September 2001 )

Height : 79mm
Width ( excluding number "1" ) : 50mm
Space between characters : 11mm
Space between groups of characters : 33mm
Top, bootom and side margins (minimum) : 11mm

Additonal checks

Dual purpose plates can be fitted to any age vehicle, but are only permitted to display acceptable symbol or flag  along with the registration number. These are the Euro symbol, with a GB identifier, Union flag, Scottish Saltaire, Cross of St George, or the Red Dragon each with their respective National identifiers. Other emblems, such as football team crests etc are not allowed.

Note: Motorists displaying national flags and identifiers will still be required to display the standard GB sticker when travelling in Europe.

Personlised registration plates

The regulations stipulate that the requirements are dependent on the date that the vehicle was first registered. Therefore, old style black and silver type registration plates which are permited on pre-1973 vehicles, are not permitted to be fitted to a vehicle first registered on or after 1st January 1973.

I think that this applies to the 2008 black Audi A3 with black and silver number plates that regularly travels along the A10 to the M25 junction then !


NEED TO REPLACE A NUMBER PLATE ?

If you need to replace a number plate for whatever reason, be it stolen or damaged. Even if you have the original at hand and it can be taken into the plate supplier, you will need to comply with the following requirement.

All number plate suppliers will need to see at least one document from each of the lists below. This will allow the number plate supplier to confirm your name, address and entitlement to the registration number.

All documents must be original, not copies -  THIS IS A LEGAL REQUIREMENT.

Documents to confirm your identity

One of the following:

- driving licence, whether or not issued in the United Kingdom (UK) (with or without a photo) - this is preferred because it's a secure, government-issued document showing both name and address
- a bill issued by your electricity, gas or water supplier, a landline telephone bill, or a council tax -

bill (current within the last six months) or rates bill (in Northern Ireland only)
- a bank or building society statement
- a passport, whether or not issued in the UK
- a national identity card issued by the government of a state or territory other than the UK
- a debit or credit card issued by a bank or building society
- a police warrant card
- an armed forces identity card

Documents to establish your entitlement to the registration number

One of the following:

- vehicle registration certificate (V5C or V5CNI) - these are the preferred documents
- the new keeper supplement (V5C/2 or V5C/2NI) of the registration certificate
- certificate of entitlement (V750)
- retention document (V778) (not applicable in Northern Ireland)
- vehicle licence renewal form (V11)
- temporary registration certificate (V379) (not applicable in Northern Ireland)
- authorisation certificate (V948) with an official stamp from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

(DVLA), Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) or Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)
- a letter of authorisation from a fleet operator (including lease or hire company) (not applicable in Northern Ireland) - the letter must quote the document reference number from the registration certificate, not the vehicle identification number

WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF YOU DISPLAY INCORRECT NUMBER PLATES ?

The Police can issue fixed penalty fines for illegally displayed number plates. Offenders could face a maximum fine of £1,000 and in some cases the number plate may be withdrawn.

Vehicles with illegally displayed number plates may fail the MOT test.

LASTLY

If you have legal number plates why not think about keeping them secure on your car and save money in the long run. Retro-secure your number plates with security screws. Criminals are known to steal number plates from bonafide vehicles to fit them on stolen cars. You are then left with the cost and bother of purchasing replacements.

Contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Policing team, you may get a set of screws free !

FOR MORE INFORMATION

http://www.direct.gov.uk/motoring

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) : http://www.vosa.gov.uk


(29th March 2010)




ONLINE FRAUD VICTIMS URGED TO CONTACT NEW AGENCY
( Computeractive, dated 11th March 2010, Written by Dinah Greek )  

Website : http://www.computeractive.co.uk

The deputy head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has advised victims of fraud to report these directly to a new agency rather than their local police force.

Detective Superintendent David Clarke said the agency, Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, was better equipped to handle reports of these crimes if it is not known who is behind them; especially if they are online or phone scams.

"Online crime is difficult for local forces to handle as they deal with individual complaints. This means they may not get to see the whole picture, how many victims there are and how much money is involved," he explained.

All calls to Action Fraud are logged. If the caller is the victim of a crime, a crime reference number is given. Even if a person has not lost money they can report the scam to the agency.

Although they may not be a victim of a crime and won't get a crime reference number, Action Fraud will give advice and help to all callers, said DS Clarke. People don't feel as if they are being fobbed off," he explained.

[ Editors Note : Action Fraud is the name of the website and Helpdesk ]

Computeractive was talking to DS Clarke about the spate of cold calls hitting the UK, where people are being told that their PC is infected with a virus or running slowly.

One reader told us he was advised by his local force to contact the Internet Watch Foundation. This organisation exists to tackle websites hosting images of child abuse, not cyber crime or fraud.

DS Clarke said the NFIB was aware of the cold call issue but it felt the problem was currently 'low level' as few reports had been made through Action Fraud.

However, we know some people who have received these phone calls have been so alarmed that their PC is infected they have handed over sums of money ranging from £65 to nearly £200. This is so the caller can 'fix' the 'problem'; the victim pays either for a code, which purportedly allows a 'technician' remote access to the PC to fix the problem, or to buy security software. But since the police are unaware how widespread the problem is, it is not being investigated.

We were told that if Action Fraud received more complaints the situation may change and an investigation launched. Scams reported to Action Fraud are collated by the NFIB. This new police unit run by the City of London Police, works closely with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Met's Police Central ecrime Unit, as well as other organisations such as the Office of Fair Trading and banks.It can build up a picture of an ongoing fraud, and hand on the details to the relevant police department if an investigation into a scam is going to be launched.

We would urge anyone who has received these calls or has been a victim of a recent online fraud to contact Action Fraud with as much information as possible; whether they have handed over money or not.

The telephone number for Action Fraud is 0300 123 2040.
The website for Action Fraud is http://www.actionfraud.org.uk

19th March 2010


 

CRIME UP 44% UNDER LABOUR
( Published by The Sun; dated 9th March 2010, Author: GRAEME WILSON, Deputy Political Editor )

Violent crime has rocketed by 44 PER CENT under Labour, independent figures revealed yesterday. The number of attacks has soared from 618,000 a year to just under 888,000 over the last decade.

The huge increase was uncovered in new research by the highly respected House of Commons Library. It follows a row over the way figures are tallied. The Government changed the way violent crime is measured eight years ago. That made it impossible to directly compare statistics before 2002 with those that followed.

Ministers claim violent crime has FALLEN by 41 per cent - the Tories say it has risen.

And last night independent Commons researchers said violent crime has got worse. Under the old system, the police recorded 502,778 instances in 1998-99.

But the library says that under the new system, the figure for 1998-99 would have been 618,417. By 2008-09, cops were recording 887,942 violent crimes under this new system, up 269,525 or 44 per cent.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "This confirms the level of violent crime is much higher." But a spokesman for Home Secretary Alan Johnson last night called the new figures "dodgy stats".

He added: "The British Crime Survey is widely recognised as the most accurate measure of crime recording. This clearly shows a 41 per cent reduction since 1997."

DNA matches from the national database help solve as few as one crime in every 1,300, new figures revealed yesterday.

(11th March 2010)


SAVE THE WHALES

About a week ago a friend of mine sent me an e-mail. The e-mail had been forwarded a few times. My friend asked the new recipients ( of which I was included ) to forward the thing on again to others that I knew. I refused.
The original e-mail was meant to have come from Greenpeace and it was trying to encourage people to lobby their politicians into persuading the US government into not removing their moratorium into hunting whales. In my mind a very just cause. In fact at the time of the e-mail Greenpeace were lobbying politicians who were attending a conference on that subject. The thing is, was the original e-mail genuine ? You could say, so what if it wasn't!

The following text in italics comes from the e-mail :

"I can't even believe that I have to write to you about this, but the situation couldn't be more urgent or serious. Right NOW, the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission is poised to support a deal that would be the biggest threat to whales since the moratorium to commercial whaling was established in 1986. According to the deal on the table now, even commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary would be permitted".

This is all very emotive stuff. Placed amongst the text were links to access further information, but equally they could be links to malware, viruses or offensive websites. All of which could be activated or accessed by a simple click on that "link". In another article with todays date on this website there is a description of how some hackers infected 13 million computers. As you can see, it is quite simple.

There have been several e-mails in the past which have tried to convince people to forwarded them on for the benefit of others. These bogus e-mails have ranged from letters from children suffering from cancer to warnings of ficticious PC viruses. They are really just modern day chain letters.

So how can you help save those fellow mammals ?

GREENPEACE UK WEBSITE : http://www.greenpeace.org.uk
GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE : http://www.greenpeace.org/international/
GREENPEACE AND WHALING : http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/whaling

Or you could start your own petition at the UK Prime Ministers website :

http://www.number10.gov.uk/communicate/e-petitions

Please remember the "threeroadsinenfield" website cannot be held responsible for the content of other website.

I just hope that I have not offended my friend.

(11th March 2010)



SPANISH POLICE ARREST RINGLEADERS WHO INFECTED 13 MILLION COMPUTERS WITH
CREDIT-CARD STEALING VIRUS
(Daily Mail website, dated 3rd March 2010, author Daily Mail Reporter)

Spanish police have arrested three men accused of masterminding one of the biggest computer crimes to date, which created a network of 13million virus-infected computers.

The virus, named the Mariposa botnet, stole credit card numbers and other personal details from infected machines. Mariposa had infected machines in 190 countries in homes, government agencies, schools, more than half of the world's 1,000 largest companies and at least 40 big financial institutions.

'It was so nasty, we thought "We have to turn this off. We have to cut off the head,"' said Chris Davis, CEO of Defence Intelligence Inc, which discovered the virus last year.

Defence Intelligence along with the Spanish firm Panda Security did not say how much money the hackers had stolen from their victims before the ring was shut down two days before Christmas last year. Security experts said the cost of removing malicious program from 13 million machines could run into tens of millions of pounds.

Mariposa was programmed to secretly take control of infected machines, recruiting them as 'slaves' in an army known as a 'botnet.' It would steal login credentials and record every key stroke on an infected computer and send the data to a 'command and control centre,' where the ringleaders stored it.

'Basically they were going after anything that would make them money,' Mr Davis said.

Mariposa initially spread by exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer Web browser. It also contaminated machines by infecting USB memory sticks and by sending out tainted links using Microsoft's MSN instant messaging software, he said.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company did not immediately have any comment.

The suspected ringleader, nicknamed "Netkairo" and "hamlet1917," was arrested last month, as were two alleged partners, "Ostiator" and "Johnyloleante," according to Panda Security. Panda Security Senior Research Advisor Pedro Bustamante said that one of the three was caught with 800,000 personal credentials when Spanish police arrested him.

In addition to collecting data, the three men rented out millions of enslaved machines to other hackers, according to Bustamante.

The Mariposa botnet is one of many such networks, the bulk of which are controlled by syndicates that authorities believe are based in eastern Europe, southeast Asia, China and Latin America. While authorities sometimes succeed in shutting them down, they rarely catch the criminals behind the networks.

'Mariposa's the biggest ever to be shut down, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. These things come up constantly,' said Mark Rasch, former head of the U.S. Department of Justice computer crimes unit.

He said he suspects there were more than three people behind Mariposa, and that any ringleaders who were not arrested could soon put the network back online. 


Editors footnote : Keep your Computer security up to date and regularly scan for viruses and other problems.

(11th March 2010)


NO FEE FOR ENTERING THE USA

In an article last year I mentioned that if you are going to book a holiday / business trip to the USA you need to register on the US imigration system called ESTA ( Electronic System for Travel Authorisation ). Depending on how you answer a series of questions defines if you will be allowed access to the US or not.

ESTA is a secure system ( ie. it brings up "https" and a padlock on you browser ), as you will need to provide personal Information on yourself. This information would also be of great interest to fraudsters and as a result there are many scaming websites on the internet purporting to be Esta.

NOTE : Fraudulent systems can also indicate that they are secure.

The following information describes one of these scams. Remember, some of these scam websites may not ask for any fee, they may just be after your personal details ( perhaps to steal your identity ).

READERS RANTS, SUNDAY TIMES TRAVEL SUPPLEMENT ( dated 28th February 2010 )

Rant : "In anticipation of transiting through America, I recently submitted an application through a website advertising ESTA ( Electronic System for Travel Authorisation ) visas and paid £25 per person. I got the website after googling "Esta". Although I got what appeared to be a genuine reference numbers, I checked on the official government site and they were not recognised. I have now applied again through the government site, and I accept this was my own fault. The loss of £50 is annoying, but of greater concern is that I have given my address, credit card and passport details to a fraudulent website." JB, London

The US Embassy replies : "Esta is free, and the only official website is cbp.gov/esta. The Department of Homeland Security is working with Google and other search engines to place this (official) website at the top of search results, but travellers must remember that commercial sitespay to be listed either at the top or as adverts that are sometimes placed above the website requested. We ( the US ) have applied for a trademark for the Esta logo and are taking measures to increase awareness of the legitimate site.
If anyone has used unauthorised site, we strongly suggest they reapply, because we have no way of knowing
if the information passed through the unauthorised website is accurate. If it is not, you may have a problem when you arrive in America. If you are a victim of a fraudulent enterprise, you should explain to your credit-card company or bank."

( 2nd March 2010 )



WORLD CUP TICKET SALES POLICED BY UK
( Police Oracle dated 14th February 2010)
 
World Cup Fraudsters to be targeted by new UK cyber-enforcement team...

Websites seling fake tickets for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa are to become part of the focus of a new cyber-enforcement team set up by the government to crack down on internet and email scams.

Similar scams, including those online, currently cost three million UK consumers £3.5bn a year, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and email is now the most common scam approach. An estimated 73% of adults have received a scam email in the past year.

The new cyber-enforcement team is being given £4.3m over three years to focus on these fraudulent emails, as well as on websites such as those that run scams where tickets sold for ­concerts, festivals, football matches and other events are either counterfeit or non-existent. It will also look at websites that dupe customers into making what appear to be bargain purchases, but where the consumer receives either nothing at all or counterfeit products, and will crack down on traders who try to hide their identities in order to avoid giving consumers redress.

"As they [the fraudsters] get more sophisticated, we need to stay one step ahead," said the consumer minister, Kevin Brennan. "Football fans will spend good money travelling to South Africa to support England in this year's World Cup. I don't want fraudsters ruining fans' chances of enjoying this huge sporting event. Our enforcers will crack down on fake websites and stop people being ripped off by these criminals."

The team, which will be made up of trading standards enforcers in every region of England, Scotland and Wales, will use "sophisticated technology to gather evidence to a criminal standard" and will make test purchases from ­websites that it suspects of acting ­unlawfully.

"We will trace the operators of ­websites and either take action or pass details to our international enforcement partners," said a spokesman for the OFT. "In certain circumstances, we will get websites taken down."

Last year, a number of websites claiming to sell tickets for the Reading, Leeds and V festivals - as well as the Beijing Olympics the previous year - shut down, leaving thousands of fans without tickets and significantly out of pocket.

Then in August, in the first Metropolitan Police operation of its kind, detectives from the Police Central e-crime Unit successfully took action against more than 100 websites selling football tickets illegally.

It followed this up in December by shutting down more than 1,200 websites claiming to sell cut-price designer goods such as Ugg boots and Tiffany jewellery.

The latest scam alert from the OFT comes just in time for Valentine's Day. It is warning people to be on their guard against "romance fraudsters" who target singles columns and dating websites to search for victims. These fraudsters create fictitious online profiles and send out unsolicited emails or letters, said the OFT, often with fake photographs, using the trust they build up to persuade their victims to part with large sums of money in frauds that can go on for years.

The government is setting up a complaints register where people can notify others of online scams. This is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

( 2nd March 2010 ) 



FLAG OF OUR NATION

I signed up to the following petition back in December 2009. In all honesty what a total waste of time. If it is down to the Chief Police Officers to make the decision, why didn't they ? In fact they could have made a decision that covered the whole country by discussing the situation at a ACPO ( Association of Chief Police Officers ) meeting or even a round robin e-mail !

As for the Union Flag being offensive. This is the flag of our Nation, NOT the flag of any political party.

Details of Petition:

"Armed police patrolling Heathrow Airport have been banned from wearing tiny Union Jack badges in support of British troops. Top brass claimed the tie-pin badges - which cost £1 with proceeds going to the Help for Heroes charity - were offensive. But one officer asked: "How can the Union Jack be offensive? "This ruling is even more absurd coming this weekend on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings. "We must be the only country ashamed to display our national flag." About 100 officers in the Metropolitan force's SO18 Aviation branch, which patrols Heathrow, bought the inch-square badges. I think personally ours must be the only Police Force that does not wear its national flag. This must end, they are the finest and they should have the union flag on their uniform as standard. Failing this allow them to wear the union flag voluntarily as these officers did, especially as it is for a very noble and just cause."

Deadline to sign up by: 18 December 2009 - Signatures: 8,435


The Government's response ( dated : 22nd February 2010 )

Thank you for your petition to the Prime Minister raising concerns about armed police officers wearing badges in support of the Help for Heroes charity.

The Chief Officer of each Police Force is responsible for all operational matters including police officers' uniform requirements and it is therefore a matter for the Chief Officer of the force concerned. 

We can confirm, however, that in this particular instance, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson decided to make an exception to the force's dress code to allow officers to wear the badge.

 


UK Prime Ministers petition page : http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/

( 2nd March 2010 ) 



SOUTHBURY WARD SURGERIES FOR 2010

Please feel free to come along and have a chat with the Southbury Safer Neighbourhood team about issues that are causing you concern. We will be available on :

FEBRUARY 23rd (Tuesday) @ Ayleycroft : 6 - 8pm
MARCH 19th (Friday) @ Moorfield Road o/s surgery : 9 -11am
APRIL 19th (Monday) @ Southbury Rd j/w Southbury avenue : 10am- noon MAY 8th (Saturday) outside Tescos , Eaton Road : 11am - 1pm
JUNE 16th (Wednesday) @ Central Avenue, The Approach : 6 - 8pm
JULY 13th (Tuesday) @ Monroe Crescent , Pembroke Avenue : 9 - 11am
AUGUST 12th (Thursday) outside Morrisons : 6 - 8 pm
SEPTEMBER 15th (Wednesday) @ Lytchet Estate : 6 - 8pm
OCTOBER 18th (Monday) outside Halfords : Noon - 2pm
NOVEMBER 17th (Wednesady) @ Broadfield Square : 4 - 6pm
DECEMBER 4th (Saturday) @ Fotheringham Road j/w Lincoln Rd :11am - 1pm

(19th February 2010)



THIS DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN IN SCOTLAND !

With all the things going on around the World much home grown news seems to be missed. The following article appears to be on of them. Sadly it is another example of parents ( 250 in this case ) either giving their children too much privacy or not understanding the facilities of computers and online chat rooms.



Police & Crown Comment On Conviction
(Police Oracle, dated 12th February 2010)

A student who used the internet to groom approximately 250 girls and boys for sex has been remanded in custody. On-line predator Andrew Byrne, 20, admitted a catalogue of abuse against children as young as eight, whom he found in chatrooms and social networking sites.He was caught as part of Operation Defender, the biggest investigation of its kind in Scotland.

At the High Court in Glasgow, he pled guilty to 32 charges, including having sex with three 13-year-old girls and a 14-year-old. He had convinced one of the 13-year-olds that he was "a teacher of sex".

And he was arrested just days after he applied for a placement which would have brought him into contact with more vulnerable kids at Yorkhill Children's Hospital in Glasgow. He also told police that he had sex with at least 20 under-age girls. He was first interviewed in connection with a missing 13-year-old girl whom he had been grooming in internet chats. When they told him they wanted to ask about a 13-year-old girl, he went through five other names before he mentioned the girl in question - giving the first clue to the scale of his sordid crimes.

Following guilty pleas submitted by Andrew Byrne, to charges relating to his sexual abuse of young teenagers and children, Central Scotland Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service issued statements.

Detective Inspector Charlie Mitchell said "Andrew Byrne was a prolific offender against young teens and children who he met on the internet using chat rooms. He had multiple victims, both boys and girls, who he groomed systematically over periods of time, committed offences against online and in some cases went on to meet and sexually abuse.

"Our priority during this operation has been to protect children, intervene to remove them from harm's way and take action against those who have targeted them both in the online environment and directly and physically. Byrne's victims were traced in Scotland, throughout the rest of the UK and abroad. This shows that the reach of the internet can easily be exploited, but also indicates that we are committed to dealing with this issue wherever it happens.

"Offenders such as Byrne exploit young people's use of the internet and social networking for their own sexual gratification. Our focus is on stopping that exploitation and raising awareness of the need for safety online amongst young people and parents.

"Following Operation Defender, a series of local internet safety seminars have taken place in each council area in the force and in liaison with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

"It is apparent there is a significant generation gap between young people and their parents and guardians over internet use. For many adults, the computer has effectively become a babysitter for their children and they believe as long as they're in the house on the computer, they are safe. Investigations like this clearly show that is not the case."

Speaking after the conviction, Michelle Macleod, Area Procurator Fiscal for Central Scotland, said "Today Andrew Byrne has been convicted of some of the most damaging and disturbing crimes that prosecutors ever encounter. While using the internet to seek out his young victims, he sought to abuse and exploit more than 20 children, without any regard to their age, all for the purpose of fulfilling his own sexual gratification.

"While the internet is undoubtedly a great tool for learning and social interaction, the public, and particularly the parents of children and teenagers, must be aware of the very real dangers posed by such

individuals. It is only through combined vigilance that we can protect children and reduce the risk of them falling victim to these online predators.

"We will continue to engage with communities, and work closely with the police and our specialist prosecutors in our National Sexual Crimes Unit, to ensure that those who seek to manipulate and take advantage of our vulnerable young people are prosecuted and brought to justice. "

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you or a member of your family come across or experience anything like described in this article please report it to the Police. If you stop your child in time before they are abused, that is fantastic, but please bear in mind that these violators pick on many children at a time. STOP THEM !

For prevention advice CEOP : http://www.ceop.gov.uk/
CHILDLINE : http://www.childline.org.uk

(17th February 2010)



 

 

THE GOOD OLD DAYS, FACT OR FICTION

Everytime you hear about comparisons between now and the past you hear the words "you reminice through rose coloured glasses" ! For example, there were outside toilets, bathing in tin baths by the fire, no refrigerators, rationing, warm beer, no computers, black and white TV's, no wine bars, sensible pub openning times, butter patters in Sainsbury's ! The list goes on.

So what about crime ? Obviously crime recording is much better now, but one assumes that only picks up the odd extra figure here and there. The Victorians were meant to have been great at recording things in ledgers. In the 19th Century you hear that people were transported to Australia for stealing bread to live, the likes of Burke and Hare were going around stealing bodies, Jack the Ripper creating havoc in the East End of London and criminals lifestyles were being depicted in art like the Rakes Progress ( though that was somewhat earlier - but you get my meaning).

YEAR

POP(million)

CRIME

YEAR

POP (million)

CRIME

1801

8.3

 ?

1931

37

 159,278

1811

10

 ?

1941

39

 305,114

1821

11

 ?

1951

41

 524,506

1831

12.5

 ?

1961

44

 806,900

1841

14

 ?

1971

46.4

 1,646,081

1851

16.8

 ?

1981

46.8

 2,963,764

1861

19.5

 ?

1991

47.88

 5,276,173

1871 21 ? 2001 49.45 5,525,024
1881 24 ? 2003 50.0 6,013,759
1891 27 ? 2006 50.7 5,427,558
1901 30 80,962 2011 51.97 ?
1911 34 97,171

1921

35

103,258

 

 

 

The population (POP) figures shown above are from the Office of National Statistics for England. The years shown are when a census took place. Apart from the more recent years of 2003, 2006 and 2011 ( 2011 has been added to show the estimated population growth). The year 2003 has been provided as that had the worst recorded crime levels of all time.

The crime figures are from www.statistics.gov.uk

We are led to believe that victims are more likely to report crimes now than in the past and this is down to more trust in the legal system. Thats a lot of trust for crime figures to have nearly doubled from 1981 or trebled from 1971. Bear in mind that the population of England has not even doubled since 1901, but crime has risen by 7400%.

You could say that much of the current recorded crime now is down to road crime ( speeding and the like ), but back in the good old days spitting was an offence ( due to TB and Spanish Flu ). Don't forget there were speeding horse and carts !

(12th February 2010)


UK PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 2010 - READY, STEADY..... ?

A UK Parliamentary general election will be held sometime between now and June 2010. Make sure you're registered to vote, as the election could be called at any time.

You may or may not agree with the operation of the UK Parliament,the current Government or the opposition; but if you don't vote your views will go un-noticed ! It's your right....Use it !

In addition, the Enfield Council elections will be held on 6th May 2010.

For further information call 020 8379 1000 and ask for the Enfield Electoral Services team.

Get yourself registered to vote : http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/

Electoral Commission : http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

(25th January 2010

 


  

 

ROLL-UP, ROLL-UP, SOMETHING FOR NOWT !!!

The Southbury Safer Neighbourhood Team have been busily delivering invitation letters to residents living at the Eastern end of Southbury Road ( near the cinema). The letter states : 

 


 Ponders End Police Station
214 High Street
Ponders End
EN3 4EZ

Dear Resident,

We are attempting to improve the security of properties in your area and we will be bringing the "Safe as Houses" van to your road on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th of February 2010 between 2pm and 8pm and on Saturday 27th February 2010 between 11am and 5pm.

Our aim is to provide residents with FREE security advice as well as the offer of a FREE home security surveys.

If you are not going to be available during these times and wish to take advantage of this opportunity please contact us on 0208 721 2763 or alternatively via email at southbury.snt@met.police.uk

Regards

Stuart Gill Police Sergeant 82Ye
Southbury Safer Neighbourhood Team

(19th February 2010)


 SOUTHBURY WARD CONSULTATIONS - FEBRUARY 2010

Come and tell THE SOUTHBURY SAFER NEIGHBOURHOOD TEAM your views about your area. Your view counts! They will be available on :

Friday 26th Feb 2010
Bush Hill Park library : 10am - Noon

Saturday 27th Feb
* Moorfield Rd - Main car park : 9 - 11.30am
*Outside Sainsbury's, Crown Rd : 1 - 2.30pm
*Outside Halfords, Crown Rd : 3 - 4.30pm
*Broadfield Square : 5 - 6pm
*Outside Gala Bingo, Dearsley : 8 - 9pm

Sunday 28th Feb 2010
*Outside Morrisons, Soutbury Rd : 9.30am - 1030am
*Outside Tesco's Southbury Rd : 11.30am - 1.30pm
*Southbury Avenue j/w Southbury Rd :2.30 - 4.30pm
*Fotherinham Road j/w Cross Road : 6 - 8pm

These days are an opportunity for you to come and express any concerns or problems which have arisen in your area or just to ask any general questions you may have.

(19th February 2010)


 

HIDE THOSE KEYS OUT OF SIGHT !

The Home Office and Met Police have for several months placed advertisements in Newspapers and on TV. The reason is given in the example below. I know of several people in other parts of London who have personally experienced this crime. They steal your car by breaking into your home. 



BURGLAR STOLE VEHICLES IN OVER 8 COUNTIES
(Police Oracle, dated 12th February 2010)
 
A car key burglar who stole high-performance vehicles worth more than half a million pounds across eight counties has been jailed following an extensive investigation by Surrey Police's Cross Border Crime Team.

The convicted individual (CI), a cage fighter from Barking in Essex, was sentenced to seven years at Guildford Crown Court on February 4 after pleading guilty to 17 offences over a seven month period. He was part of organised crime gang breaking into residential addresses at night and stealing car keys while the owners and their families were still asleep. He targeted homes with expensive cars such as BMWs, Audis and Range Rover Sports left out on the driveway.

Between December 2008 and June 2009 he struck at properties in Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley, Hampshire, Kent, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire stealing an estimated £538,000 worth of cars.

The investigation into the crimes, Operation Mercer, was run by Surrey Police's Cross Border Investigation Team who took the lead for the South East region due to the scale of the offending.

Officers believe the stolen vehicles were often left parked on residential streets in East London for a few days afterwards to establish whether they were fitted with any tracking devices. If they were not recovered by the authorities they would be collected, have their identities altered, and were then re-sold on the internet or exported to Europe.

The CI was caught after a lengthy investigation which linked him to a string of offences. Police were able to use Automatic Number Plate Readers (ANPR) to track his movements in and out of the county and evidence was also obtained from mobile phones used by CI and his associates.

In July 2009 a warrant was executed at his address in Barking and items seized included a number of laptops and documentation for vehicles. He was interviewed by Surrey detectives over a two-day period but refused to answer any questions.

Analysts were later able to produce detailed maps and charts of his criminal activity to demonstrate the scale of his offending.

The CI pleaded guilty to sixteen counts of burglary and one charge of going equipped to steal. Two other men suspected of being involved in the conspiracy are already serving prison sentences having been charged by other forces for attempted burglary and handling stolen vehicles.

The Cross Border Investigation Team was set up by Surrey Police as part of a long term strategy to combat criminals tempted into the county by its reputation for wealth and easy access to major transport links.

The team work closely with colleagues from neighbouring forces to share intelligence and target criminals who offend over a wide geographical area in a bid to try and evade detection.

Sentencing the CI to seven years, Judge Critchlow praised officers at Surrey Police for their "skilful investigation" resulting in his arrest and successful prosecution. He said: "This was serious organised crime for high value rewards. The offences were premeditated and involved professional planning and operation while the victims were home asleep."

A/Detective Inspector Dan Voller, of Surrey Police's Cross Border Investigation Team, said: " the CI and his associates travelled extensively in order to target homes in different counties but by co-ordinating our efforts with colleagues at neighbouring forces we were able to expose his network of crimes.

There is now an on-going financial investigation into this series of offences with a view of removing any benefit made from crime.

Surrey Police is reminding car owners to keep their car keys hidden from view and put vehicles in a garage overnight so they are out of sight from the road. Owners are also advised to take their car keys away with them if they travel or leave them with a trusted neighbour or friend.

(15th February 2010)

 


HERO

Today is the 1st anniversary of the death of a local hero, Nancy Tait.

After I placed a article on this website about the death of my Uncle through Asbestosis one of the websites readers sent me an e mail about this lady. He wrote :

"I write to celebrate the life of Nancy Tait, an Enfield lady. Following the death from mesothelioma of her husband she became an indefatigable opponents of this fibrous killer. She worked from her small charity in Bush Hill Park for sufferers from the disease. For her dedication she was appointed MBE in 1996, awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Southampton University in 1999 and in 2005 the Institution of Safety and Occupational Health conferred on her the Sypol Lifetime Achievement Award. Asbestos is a real danger and it can be found everywhere."

The battle that Mrs Tait undertook was not a short one. Her Husband died in 1968.

Driven by her own search for justice she campaigned for victims of asbestos diseases and helped more than 3,000 families pick their way through a legal and scientific labyrinth.

Her life ended in a series of victories to which she had made an enormous contributions: the banning of asbestos in 1999; work regulations in 2002 that accepted the dangers of downstream risk; and in 2005 the promise of better compensation payments for asbestos-related lung cancer. Not that she would have seen these as "victories". She knew only too well that asbestos-related deaths are still rising and that gaining compensation remains as fraught as ever. For many present and future casualties of asbestos, Tait's death and the recent closure of OEDA have come much too soon.*

The affect of her campaigning within the UK also echoed across the globe. The findings from her charity has been used as evidence in health claims in many other countries.

Nancy Tait, campaigner, born 12th February 1920 in Enfield; died 13th February 2009.

ASBESTOS IS STILL A KILLER

* Extract from Obituary in the Independent, dated 17th March 2009

13th February 2010.


STALKING

HARVEY NICOLS DEATH MOTHER SETS UP ANTI-STALKING LINE
(BBC website, dated 8th February 2010)

The mother of a Harvey Nichols shop assistant who was killed by an ex-boyfriend is helping to set up an advice line for victims of stalking.

Clare Bernal, 22, of Groombridge on the Kent/Sussex border, was shot dead by Michael Pech at the department store in Knightsbridge, London, in 2005.

Ms Bernal's mother, Tricia, is planning to launch a national helpline in April.

She told BBC Kent it was important that there was a helpline specifically dedicated to the victims of stalking.

The service will be run by Protection Against Stalking, formerly the CRT Trust, the charity Mrs Bernal helped to start in 2008, in collaboration with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Network for Surviving Stalking.

'Recognise danger'

Mrs Bernal said: "Clare would never have gone to a domestic violence helpline. She would never have seen herself as a victim of domestic abuse.

"It has to be specific to stalking so that anyone who feels at risk - men, women, teenagers - they know exactly what it is, stalking.

"Then they can be signposted and advised on how to deal with it, how to recognise the danger signs." She added: "We're setting it up with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Network for Surviving Stalking. We're hoping it's going to be set up by April. Interviewing is taking place at the moment."

At the time of the shooting, Pech was awaiting sentencing after admitting harassment. The former soldier stalked Ms Bernal after the end of their brief relationship earlier that year.

After killing Ms Bernal, who grew up in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.


ANOTHER STORY

During the late 1990's I attend a conference that was managed by BT. The aim of that conference was to come up with a concensus amongst telephone companies on how to deal with Nuisance calls. One of the guest speakers was a woman who had been a victim of a stalker during the early part of the 1990's. Since then the law has changed and victims do have more protection, but sadly that does not prevent the crime from occuring in the first place.

The following is a summary of what happened to that female guest speaker. I apologise if I do not do justice to what she suffered within my description.

The women in question worked in a city on the South coast. She had her own home and a partner. One morning whilst driving to work her car obtained a punctured tyre. When she  eventually got to work one of her male colleague's volunteered to take her car to a local tyre fitter for repair. She handed over her car keys ( her house keys were on the same fob ). An hour or so later her colleague returned all her keys and the tyre had been repaired.

Days later at home she started to discover that items of her clothing had disappeared. Then over the
following months her friends and family started to receive strange telephone calls. Then whilst she was out shopping or out socialising with friends this "colleague" would appear. Various other incidents occured over the following couple of years, including more items going missing from her home. She sought advice from the local Police, but they were unable to do anything as no direct crimes had been committed. They did advise that locks should be changed and this was carried out. The calls to her home, friends and family continued; but they became more threatening. Later her home was broken into.

During her presentation she described the pressure that she was going through and the affect that this was having on her relationship with her partner and her health. After these incidents continuing for some 2 years her partner left and some friends distanced themselves from her. In seeking some protection she left

her home and moved in with her parents. The calls continued. At this stage she contacted BT and they placed a permanent monitoring system on her parents telephone line. This tracked incoming telephone calls. These determined that the majority of the telephone calls were coming from telephone coin boxes about a half mile from the "colleagues" home. One of the calls was from the "colleagues" home address. With this telephone call information she went to her local Police. Again, due to the law at that time they were unable to arrest the "colleague", but they did visit him to discuss the matter.

The calls continued, but eventually the law changed. Her case was taken on and eventually the "colleague" was arrested and a restraining order was placed on him. Things were quiet for a while. Then the calls and various incidents started again. The Police at this stage started to "monitor" the situation and eventually the "colleague" was arrested, charged, tried and imprisoned for about a year.

When the "colleague" was released things were quiet for a short period, then he started again. He was arrested, charged, tried and imprisoned for 5 years.

Suming up she described how she had moved area, rebuilt her life and how determined she was in helping to prevent others from suffering the way she had.

Regardless of your gender, if you experience any form of intimidation as a result of Stalking seek advice. Do not suffer in silence.

Network for Surviving Stalking : http://www.nss.org.uk/

Protection against stalking : http://www.protectionagainststalking.org/

Suzy Lamplugh Trust : http://www.suzylamplugh.org/

(9th February 2010)


SOME WORDS OF WARNING

One night early in January this year a Man in his 70's climbed the stairs in his home to have a shower before bed. After 30 minutes his Wife had some concerns that he was taking a bit of time and entered the bathroom. She discovers her Husband lying on his side on the bathroom floor. He could not be roused so she called 999. At 9pm he was pronounced dead.

This is not the end of this Mans story or the start.

The Man started his employment as an apprentice electrician, he was called up for National Service and after that time he returned to his civilian trade. He remained in the electical trade for a further 35 years working for the same company.

Twenty years ago he started to have problems breathing. After various tests he was found to have shadows on part of one of his lungs. He was operated on and about 20% of a lung was removed. After a couple of months he was able to resume work. The Consultant who was involved in his treatment supplied him with a letter stating that the problem was due to pleural thickening * ( determined by tests of the tissue that had been removed ).

In his late 60's he started to experience breathing problems again, and after various tests he was diagnosed as having COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ). The new medical team who had come up with this diagnosis had been told of his previous treatment and findings. The Mans condition continued to deteriorate.

On Boxing Day 2006 he announced to his family that his condition was worsening and that his Consultant had told him to get his house in order as he had only 2 years to live.

During those two years his condition did worsen. He had an NHS Oxygen production machine installed in his home and 2 stand-by Oxygen cylinders installed in his garage. Everywhere he went he had to carry a portable Oxygen cylinder on his back. He had to be on Oxygen 24 hours per day.

To help with the application of the Oxygen and provide prescriptive advice the Man was allocated an "Oxygen Nurse". From the outset she stated that she would visit him every couple of months to check on his Oxygen intake and absorption. Three months before he died the nurse stated that home visits were no longer available due to budget cuts !

This Man had such a strong will and kept on joking and helping his family all through those last years. He kept on joking that he was going to prove the Doctors wrong; he did, he lived for 3 years !

The day after he died, at 7pm his 73 year old Wife fell half way down the stairs at home. She was knocked unsconcious and broke her collar bone. She was taken by ambulance to A&E and was finally admitted into a ward at 3am. She was discharged into the care of her Daughter the next day with the bone still protruding into the skin, but not breaking the skin. She was advised to return if the skin was broken. The Wife was unable to walk without help. No help was arranged, the Wife and Daughter were left to fend for themselves for a couple of days (the nearest family were 250 miles away in London). The Wife is still unable to walk, get in or out of bed or bathe.

Whilst the bereaved Wife was being soughted out the local Coroner decided that a post mortem should be carried out. Further delays ensued from this because of what they found and extra tests needed to be arranged. These results were not divulged and the body was not released for 8 days after the death. The findings were that the man died of a heart attack caused by heart disease; that had been caused by reduced Oxygen to the heart due to lung inefficiency. The lungs had pleural plaque ( thickening )*. Cause, probably ASBESTOS.

Social Services were informed of the Wifes problems a day after her accident, not by the hospital, but by her Daughter. The Daughter arranged for a nurse to visit in the morning and night; this had to be paid for out of their savings. Help in supplying a wheel chair was requested for the funeral; Social Services declined ( one was privately hired) . The Nursing agency asked Social Services for help in having an additional handrail installed for the Wifes and Nurses safety; they declined. When Social Services were asked what help the Wife was entitled to, their response was "go and ask the Citizens Advice Bureau".

The funeral finally went ahead 18 days after the Mans death. 19 days after the Wifes accident she was admitted into her local hospital ( on a Sunday ) to have her broken bone set. Social Services are still hesitating in providing any form of help or advice. The Wife and Daughter still have an inquest to look forward to in 9 months time.

Two months before the Man died, he and his Daughter sat down at their computer and completed a "Help Groups" online questionnaire about his symptoms and work history. He was eventually contacted by an "Ambulance Chaser" Solicitor. The Solicitor promised everything during the call, then "vanished" without returning the Mans future calls for assistance.

The repercussions of working on or near ASBESTOS are long lasting. They not only affect the suffering person, but also their family.


Definition : * Pleural thickening is generally a problem that happens after heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the lung (pleura) thickens and swells. If this gets worse, the lung itself can be squeezed, and can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.

British Lung Foundation : http://www.lunguk.org/

For Advice BEFORE working on or near Asbestos. Health and Safety Executive :
http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/hiddenkiller/index.htm

The Man was my Uncle.

(4th February 2010)
 

 


CAR BUYERS LOSE £13 MILLION IN CON
(Metro 1st February 2010 - author : Fred Attewill )

Criminal gangs have made at least £13 million by giving more than 11,000 stolen cars new identities in a log book scam, it was revealed yesterday.
They have cashed in on the theft of move that 100,000 blank DVLA log books known as V5 documents. Despite recovering 11,000 stolen cars involved in the scam in the last 2.5 years, Police have admitted it could take 100 years to deal with the fallout of the thefts.
The Association of Cheif Police Officers (ACPO) admiited it was not clear if innocent motorists who bought
stolen cars would be given any compensation.

The dodgy vehicles are either seized by the Police or returned to their original owners. Criminals have focused on stealing high-end marques, such as Mercedes or BMW's, which are then given new number plates and paperwork to match the same models of legitimate cars. They can then be sold for up to £15,000.

Detective Cheif Inspector Mark Hooper from ACPO, told the BBC 5 Live's Donal MacIntyre programme that stolen V5 documents were still being recovered. 'We're recovering about ten a week and we think there is easily more than 130,000 stolen blank documents out there still,' he admitted. 'It will keep me very busy, and my team very busy, fo about the next hundred or so years, I suspect'.

A list of the serial numbers of the stolen log books is available on the DVLA website. Police declined to comment on where or when the blan documents were taken.

Dude where's my car ?

For the second year running Hull has been named and shamed as the car theft capital of Britain. The least safest city for cars are ( in order of severity ) : Hull, Nottingham, Bradford, Manchester, Doncaster, London, Northampton, Sheffield, Oldham, Reading.

Car thefts in Britain fell about 20% in 2009, according to Government figures.


FURTHER INFORMATION

Direct Gov website advice subject summary

If you decide to buy a vehicle make sure the person selling it has the right to do so as the registration certificate isn't proof that they own the vehicle.

Make sure you have the registration certificate and it matches the vehicle's details. Check the registration certificate and satisfy yourself that it is real. By holding it up to the light you can see the DVLA watermark in it. You can also phone DVLA on 0300 790 6104 to check the registration certificate is real before you buy.

Be on the lookout for stolen registration certificates. DVLA has provided a range of serial numbers of known stolen registration certificates. If you find one that is in the range of :

BG8229501 to BG9999030
BI2305501 to BI2800000

Do not proceed with the sale and contact the police.

If you can't find a serial number or it looks like it has been altered or tampered with, or the vehicle is accompanied by only part of the registration certificate you should not go ahead with the sale.

Website :

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/BuyingAndSellingAVehicle/AdviceOnBuyingAndSellingAVehicle/DG_4022402


 EDITORS COMMENT

The motoring press was warning motorists of the circulation of stolen V5 documents nearly 3 years ago, both online and within their magazines. That information was based on information provided on the DVLA website.
If you are about to purchase any vehicle ensure that the V5 serial number does not fall within the ranges
shown above. In addition, check the Direct Gov and DVLA websites to ensure that no new bogus serial numbers are in circulation.

The number of cars stolen in the Southbury ward during 2009 = 56 *
The number of cars stolen in the Town ward during 2009 = 33 *

* based on data from the London Crime Map.

(2nd FEBRUARY 2010)


 UK PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 2010 - READY, STEADY..... ?

A UK Parliamentary general election will be held sometime between now and June 2010. Make sure you're registered to vote, as the election could be called at any time.

You may or may not agree with the operation of the UK Parliament,the current Government or the opposition; but if you don't vote your views will go un-noticed ! It's your right....Use it !

In addition, the Enfield Council elections will be held on 6th May 2010.

For further information call 020 8379 1000 and ask for the Enfield Electoral Services team.

Get yourself registered to vote : http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/

Electoral Commission : http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

(25th January 2010)


TWO OUT OF THREE CONSERVATIVE OFFICES BURGLED DURING CHRISTMAS PERIOD
( Author : Tom Waterhouse )
 
Two of Enfield's Conservative Associations had their offices broken into during the festive break. The Enfield North Conservative office on Baker Street and Edmonton Conservatives on West Way suffered the loss of campaign equipment for the forthcoming elections.

Both incidents have been reported to the police, with CCTV footage being reviewed and police forensics teams investigating. The main items stolen were a blimp bearing the name of the Edmonton candidate Andy Charalambous, and from the Baker Street office a computer containing Enfield North Conservatives' election campaign plans. The incidents occurred on Christmas Day and the early hours of Sunday 3rd/Monday 4th January respectively.

Nick de Bois, the Conservative candidate for Enfield North said, "Thankfully the computer they stole had so much security software it would be worthless to them, but it's disturbing to have your office broken into nonetheless." Mr. de Bois added that the police response had been very good, and that the theft would not affect the party's campaigning in January. Security has been significantly improved at both offices.

Mr. de Bois added, "Burglary, especially of people's homes, has been a rising problem in Enfield. We need a greater deterrent in the form of more police on the streets, and to make sure that when burglars are caught they're prosecuted and put in prison, not given a 'slap on the wrist' in the form of a caution."

Edmonton Conservative parliamentary candidate Andy Charalambous said, "It's very frustrating but it's not a problem compared to someone having their home burgled. I'm determined to see more police on the streets and more support given to victims of crime". Since the thefts Mr. Charalambous' office on West Way has been vandalised, with lights smashed and graffiti daubed on the outside walls. Mr. Charalambous added, "We will not let this stop us - it only makes us more determined to campaign for more police on the beat."

Mr. de Bois said that he would be seeking residents' views on burglary and other crimes via an online survey available at his website at www.nickdebois.com and would share the results with the Borough Police Commander.

For information on preventing burglary, visit www.direct.gov.uk/letskeepcrimedown

(12th January 2010)

 


HOME ALONE MOTHER "AGHAST" AT KNIFE TICKING-OFF OVER INTRUDERS

A Mother who was home alone with her Daughter was ticked off by police after waving a knife at a gang of teenagers leering through her kitchen window. The 23 year old Mother "aghast" that she was in the wrong after being spooked by yobs skulking around in her garden  at minight. Afraid for herself and Daughter, who was sleeping upstairs, she grabbed the knife and banged on a window to warn them off.
They fled when police arrived, but she was astonished to find herself being told off for carrying an
"offensive weapon". One of her family members said she was "utterly terrified" and was stepping up security at her Hertfordshire home, which she only moved into on Christmas Eve.

"My Niece was aghast when she was told the law did not allow her to defend herself at home," he said. "All she did was scream loudly and wave the knife to try to frighten them off. She was not looking to be a vigilante. But when the police explained to her that even if you're at home alone and you have an intruder, you're not allowed to protect yourself, she was bemused."

The young Mothers fiance was working away from home at the time of the scare. Hertfordshire police confirmed "words of advice" were given following Friday's incident. Victims' campaigner Norman Brennan said it was "a bit rich" for officers to reprimand her.

COMMENT

I suppose the Police could have thought that the Mother may have appeared to be goading or provoking the intruders, by waving a knife ! But you are allowed to protect yourself in your own home using reasonable force if attacked ( and anywhere else for that matter ). I place an emphasis on the word "Reasonable". A knife, baseball bat or lead pipe do not come under the category of reasonable. Then again, if you are a 8 stone female ( with no Kung Fu experience ) being confronted at home by a 20 stone male intruder; what do you do ? I suppose a wack with a hefty Bible is okay !

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the Nick Ferrari radio talk show on LBC. He was discussing the incident of the Businessman and his Brother beating up an intruder who they had caught in the street. The Businessman and his Wife and children had been tied up by the said intruder and his accomplices. You can obviously understand the mans fear and fury, but you are not allowed to seek vengeance after the event.
During the discussion a man called into the show who described an incident that had affected him. One
night, he and his Wife awoke to find an intruder walking between bedrooms where his children slept. During the cafuffle the intruder received a broken limb and some dislocations. The resident was a Royal Marine Commando home on leave ! The local Police Commander took it upon himself to charge the resident with grievous bodily harm on the intruder on the basis of using UNREASONABLE FORCE ! The basis of this charge was that the Marines hands were weapons. According to the Royal Marine it took 2 years for the charges to be dropped.

The paragraphs above in italics are based on an article from the Metro, dated 11th January 2010. The original author was Miles Erwin. The home alone Mother mentioned within the italics section is actually Myleene Klass ( age also changed ). The person described as a family member is actually her spokesman Jonathan Shalit. These details were changed to remove the "celebrity" aspect of the article.

(12th January 2010)

 


THE BURGLARS' CODE
(Daily Mail dated 2nd December 2009 - Author : Daily Mail Reporter)

Burglars are scribbing chalk marks outside homes to let fellow criminals know which properties to target. The symbols - dubbed "the Da Pinchi Code" - may indicate that a home is wealthy, has already been burgled or may have nothing worth stealing. Police have revealed the signs are being drawn outside sprawling homes in advance of them being targeted by criminal gangs. Detectives released information on the plot yesterday after a number of propertes across the affluent Tandridge district in Surrey were targeted in recent weeks. Residents have been warned to report any unusual markings on low rise walls, pavements or kerbs to police.

One home owner, who lives in the town of Caterham, said the symbols have caused panic among residents. A women in her 50's, who did not wish to be named, said: "It is very alarming to say the least. I have had friends targeted in this way and it has caused panic among residents in the area. It makes you feel extremely vulnerable that there are people out there intent on marking your card like this. I only hope the police can bring these people to book".

Inspector Elaine Burtenshaw, of Surrey Police, said: " This is a troubling development in Tanbridge and we want to sort it out quickly. We have thought carefull about whether to release this information to the public but the criminals using these symbols are already aware of them. We hope that explaining what these symbols mean will help stop them being used and bring those responsible to justice".

The meaning behind a number of the symbols has so far been worked out. They are used to alert fellow criminals.

- A symbol depicting the outline of a book = a vulnerable and "easily conned female" lives in the property.

- A symbol of two interlinked rectangles = householder is nervous and afraid.

- A plain cross = Property is a good target.

- A circle with a large cross through it = Nothing worth stealing.

- A rectangle with an opening in one of its sides; 3 small circles inside the rectangle and 2 others outside = already been burgled.

- A capital D with a keyhole drawn in it = burgling the house is too risky.

- A series of small circles = how wealthy a home is.

- Two right angled triangles, with adjacent tips touching, producing an inverted V = Alarmed House.

Inspector Burtenshaw added:" I cannot give you any specifics about where these are being used but we ask the public to work with us to catch those responsible.

Ed Note: This looks more like "Crook Circles" to me, get it "Crook Circles"...Crop Circles. Oh well, never mind!

(6th January 2010)


WARNING OVER "YELLOW PAGES" SCAM
(BBC Website - Monday, 4 January 2010)

Fraudsters posing as being from the Yellow Pages advertising directory have been cheating schools and colleges by offering them adverts online.

Westminster City Council has seized cheques totalling about £10,000 sent by educational institutions and businesses to "The Yellow Pages 24" company. The fraudsters charge up to £600 for adverts, with cheques sent to German bank accounts or W1 mailbox addresses.

The council has warned that the case could be just the "tip of the iceberg". Officers were alerted by complaints and recovered several cheques from the mailbox address in Oxford Street. Cheques recovered were from schools and businesses throughout the UK, including Lincolnshire, Kent, Somerset and Shropshire.

Sue Jones, trading standards service manager at the council, said:"The fraud is simple, yet has proved highly profitable. "Busy school staff would not suspect they're the victims of a widespread and systematic fraud as some advertise with Yellow Pages anyway, so when an invoice purporting to be from the company arrives they diligently pay the bill."

A spokesman for Yellow Pages said: "We don't hesitate to take legal action if necessary to protect our brand and safeguard our registered trade marks."

(6th January 2010)


HAPPY NEW YEAR - SOME SUGGESTED RESOLUTIONS

- Test your smoke alarm and replace old batteries
- Always ensure that patio doors are locked correctly
- Keep computer security software up to date.
- Regularly check bank and credit card statements for fraudulent transactions.
- Shred unwanted bank, credit card and utility statements.
- Check that the tread on your car tyres meet the legal depth.
- Why not at least think about having that free household security check by the Met Police Safer Neighbourhood Team !

(31st December 2009)