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.

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- Test your smoke alarm and replace old batteries - replace unit if necessary, they are only £5 !
- Always ensure that uPVC 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.
- Reduce liklihood of skidding - check that the tread on your car tyres meet the legal depth.
- Always ensure that you home looks occupied, even when you are out. Use a timeswitch on a tablelamp so it lights up when dark.
- Why not at least think about having that free household security check by your local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team !



(FBI Website, dated 22nd December 2014)

Full article :

Today, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program released its third annual compilation of statistics from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), providing expanded data on more than 4.9 million criminal incidents reported to law enforcement in 2013.

The NIBRS, implemented to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement, captures details on each single crime incident-as well as on separate offenses within the same incident-including information on victims, known offenders, relationships between victims and offenders, arrestees, and property involved in the crimes. In this latest report, 6,328 NIBRS agencies-about a third of the more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program-reported 4,927,535 crime incidents involving 5,665,902 offenses, 5,980,569 victims, 4,517,902 known offenders, and 1,533,671 arrestees.

While these numbers are not yet nationally representative, the FBI is undertaking a number of efforts to educate law enforcement and others on the benefits of the NIBRS and to increase participation in the program. For example, we have partnered with the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics on the National Crime Statistics Exchange to assist states and agencies interested in submitting their crime data through the NIBRS.

As compared to UCR's traditional Summary Reporting System currently used in the annual Crime in the United States report-which is an aggregate monthly tally of crimes-the NIBRS is a more comprehensive accounting of crime occurring in a law enforcement agency's jurisdiction. When used to its full potential, the NIBRS can identify with precision when and where crime takes place, the form it takes, and the characteristics of its victims and perpetrators. Armed with this information, law enforcement agencies can better define and articulate the resources they need and then apply these resources where they'd be most effective.

When the UCR Program studied several years of NIBRS data to examine the effect of agencies switching to the system, most figures stayed the same-especially for the single-offense incidents-but slight increases occurred for agencies that had several multiple-offense incidents. For NIBRS submissions, all of the offenses in an incident were reported-not just the most serious one as is done in the Summary Reporting System. So when agencies switch to the NIBRS, it may seem like crime within their region has increased, but that perception of an increase is due to the greater level of reporting specificity in NIBRS data compared to that for summary data.

New in the NIBRS this year: This latest report includes information about new collection standards-and new data-including a revised rape definition, the addition of human trafficking offenses and gender and gender identity bias categories, and the revision of sexual orientation bias types and race and ethnicity categories.

Next year-at the request of the National Sheriffs' Association and the Animal Welfare Institute-an animal cruelty offense category will be added to the NIBRS and will include four separate types of abuse: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (dog fighting and cock fighting), and animal sexual abuse. This new category will be implemented during 2015, and data collection will begin January 2016.

Crime in the USA, compiled by the FBI

Link notes :

Offences Reported to Law Enforcement by State by City 100,000 and over in population :

(1st January 2015) 

(FBI Website, dated 24th December 2014)

Full article :

In April 2013, a Buffalo grand jury indicted 33-year-old Oscar Romero and other suspected members of the Loiza Boys gang, charging them with heroin and cocaine distribution. After nearly a year on the run, investigators received information that Romero had returned to the Buffalo area from Puerto Rico, and the FBI deployed a powerful weapon to help capture the fugitive-digital billboards.

The electronic billboards featuring Romero's face-along with the words "Wanted" and "Drug Charges" and a number to call-were posted in the Buffalo area on March 31, 2014. Four days later, Romero turned himself in.

"When our billboards went live, Oscar Romero had been a federal fugitive for just shy of a year," said Brian Boetig, special agent in charge of the FBI's Buffalo Division. "Our partnership with the local billboard company generated media attention and conversations throughout Romero's West Side neighborhood, which pressured him into safely surrendering."

Similar events have occurred around the country, thanks to the FBI's National Digital Billboard Initiative, which began in 2007 in Philadelphia when a graduate of the FBI's Citizens Academy-who happened to be an executive with Clear Channel Outdoor-offered to provide free space on the company's digital billboards to help catch criminals and rescue missing children.

Since then, the program has recorded impressive growth-and results. To date, the FBI has captured 53 individuals as a direct result of billboard publicity, and the Bureau now has access to more than 5,200 billboards nationwide made available by a number of companies. The billboard initiative is an excellent example of how law enforcement, the private sector, and the public can all work together to bring criminals to justice in today's information age.

"We view the partnership with the FBI as a model of public service," said Nancy Fletcher, president and CEO of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). "The billboard program makes a difference, using the latest technology on behalf of public safety."

The FBI has formal partnerships with OAAA, Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar Advertising Company, Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoor), Adams Outdoor Advertising, the Fairway Media Group, CEMUSA, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia. All these organizations-including other digital advertisers who informally support the program-have been critical to the success of numerous investigative efforts, because digital billboards are extremely effective in reaching the public with information about fugitives, missing persons, and public safety issues.

"The companies' willingness to assist us in bringing criminals to justice, as well as the speed in which they are able to publicize the information, is a tribute to their organizations," said Mike Kortan, assistant director for the FBI's Office of Public Affairs. "Their efforts have given us an added edge to identify, locate, and apprehend fugitives-and that, in turn, has helped to stop many criminals from further victimizing the public."

Because digital billboards can be quickly changed and updated, information about a kidnapped child, a bank robbery, or a matter of public safety can immediately be displayed. And messages can be targeted to specific geographic locations, which is important when time is of the essence.

And as the program expands, we are adding new formats. Fugitive information, for example, is now being displayed on digital bus shelters in Washington, D.C., and digital newsstands in New York City. "Thanks to our partnerships, the billboard initiative has been a tremendous success," Kortan said. "We look forward to its continued growth."

(1st January 2015) 

(Police Oracle, dated 11th December 2014 author Ian Weinfass) [Option 1]

Police may need to form partnerships with private companies in order to get the expertise they need to tackle the ever-growing threat of cyber crime, a report has suggested.

As forces try to grow their capacity in the area, they will find it harder to recruit talent who could otherwise work at top IT companies, security expert Carl Roberts told

He was speaking after a major survey found that law enforcement professionals believe that the time they spend tackling cyber crime will treble over the next three years, but that just 30 per cent say they currently have the skills and tools to do the job effectively.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has also repeatedly warned about gaps in the force's ability to prevent and investigate cyber crime.

PA Consulting carried out the latest study by speaking to 185 analysts from 48 law enforcement organisations.

Of those, one in three said that a lack of suitable IT and policies was holding them back from being able to share operational information.

Limited talent pool

Mr Roberts, co-author of a report based on the survey, said that forces could struggle to hire suitably skilled people in the area and may be better served looking to private companies or academia for help.

He told "Some national agencies have been looking at this for several years and now other agencies and the police are getting into this area too. They are all wanting people who are brilliant at exploiting data, who understand really complex things, and they are all going to be fishing in a very limited pool of resources to recruit those specialists. We're trying to say to police forces 'don't necessarily fall into the trap of thinking you can recruit people who just fall into your existing structures'.

"These are new graduates who could maybe get a job at Google or somewhere, so forces are going to have to think really carefully about how they're going to get those skills and it might not be the traditional recruitment methods, it may be partnerships with technology companies or using academia more."

He stressed: "We're not saying all the people in existing posts are not good at their jobs, but as the need for these data scientists grows in cyber that's probably not going to come through your traditional way of recruiting."

Mr Roberts pointed out that salaries are much higher in the private sector and that those gaining the skills to investigate online crime in the public sector could move on after a couple of years training and experience.

Change in law

The PA Consultancy survey, compiled in association with the Police National Analysis Working Group, found a patchy network for reporting and sharing data with duplication existing in many areas.

The reports' authors are also calling for legislative changes to enable better online investigations, but feel that it is up to police and other agencies to explain better about their gaps in capability.

"There is a need for that legislation but they're going to have to give much better examples of why they need it and explaining that this is not big brother and there will still be constraints on what can be done," he said.

Chief Constable Giles York, the national lead for Intelligence Analysis writes in a foreword to the report: "I am sure all colleagues will find the insights in this report very useful as they develop their response to the growing challenge of cybercrime."

As previously reported, the National Crime Agency has recruited a team of volunteers who are experts in niche areas such as cyber crime.

City of London Police, which leads nationally on fraud, recently recruited Paul Clements, a former senior banker at several major financial institutions, as its first direct entry superintendent.

(1st January 2015) 

(BT Website, dated 26th December 2014 author Gav Barang)

Full article [Option 1] :

Whether it is by phone, post or email, criminals worldwide are targeting the vulnerable. Find out how you can prevent being affected yourself - and make sure neighbours, friends and family know what to look out for.

As postal scams appear to be making a comeback in addition to the already prevalent problem of email and phone scams, it's more important than ever to make sure you as well as your friends and family know how to avoid being tricked.

If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is

We want to make you aware of scams and a great campaign known as Think Jessica - which aims to protect vulnerable customers who are targeted by criminals through the postal system and also by telephone.

Often the most vulnerable people in society - who may not have access to the internet or live alone - are targeted in these scams. Criminals do this by building up contacts or 'mailing lists' categorising elderly or vulnerable people. If they choose to respond or show any interest, they can be placed on another list to reflect this and sold across the world.

Once people are on this 'suckers list', they can be targeted with endless amounts of contacts via the post and phone promising prizes if a purchase or payment is made. Scammers are ruthless and calculating and will use whatever means to get into the mind of individuals and try to build up trust. The idea is to lure someone into a false sense of security - for example, scammers can pose as clairvoyants, turn people against their family and friends, and swear victims to secrecy.

The Think Jessica campaign

Jessica was a victim who became trapped in a delusional world created by criminals worldwide. The Think Jessica charity produces educational material aimed at those like Jessica who don't have internet access or any way of being educated about scams, how to make a report or find help.

Think Jessica is a campaign that highlights the dangers of replying to deceptive mail through the post or via phone calls - and is trying to get a condition recognised as Jessica Scam Syndrome (JSS).

People with JSS have been 'brainwashed' by scammers, who make them believe they have won the lottery or other types of winnings. The scammers often do this by pretending they are someone of authority such as a lottery official, solicitor - or even an FBI agent.

Once they've snared an individual, JSS victims don't have the thought process to understand they are beings scammed. JSS victims can then refuse or be unwilling to co-operate with family and friends - or actually pretend they've stopped the scams but carry on in secret.

Could Think Jessica help someone you know? To receive a free booklet send a loose 2nd class stamp to Think Jessica, PO Box 44 42, Chesterfield, S44 9AS.

To learn more about Think Jessica, visit

What you can do

Elderly people can fall victim more easily to scams as mental ability to assess risk can decline with age. Equally, elderly people want to retain control of their finances and independence.

Make sure people aware to be on their guard against targeted phone or post contacts. If they're unsure of the legitimacy, encourage them to discuss with a family member, friend or someone they trust. They should also know to be careful about sharing account numbers or personal details.

BT has useful information on our website that you can share with family and friends. Find out how to handle unwanted calls, including screening and blocking calls, by going to

(1st January 2015) 


(Police Oracle, dated 23rd December 2014 author Gary Mason) [Option 1]

Full article (after registration) :

In October 2014, a UK government report revealed that serious violent and sexual offenders from other countries had "disappeared" from the offender management map after serving their sentences in UK prisons.

The report from the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that 58 serious serial offenders had vanished because the UK had failed to sign up to an EU database that would enable border guards to receive alerts about traveling foreign offenders. Forces also did not routinely check the European Criminal Record system in seven out of 10 cases in which a foreign national was detained. The NAO report also showed that immigration checks and scrutiny of overseas criminal databases, such as Interpol's, are rarely undertaken.

The lack of checks on international offenders and illegal immigrants is not solely a UK problem within the EU, but its somewhat unique political position within Europe complicates the issue. For example, the UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement, which allows passport-free travel among 26 EU states. In exchange for the removal of the requirement for passport checks, the participating countries apply common rules for checks at the external borders of the Schengen area, as well as on the issue of visas and co-operation between police and judicial services in criminal matters. Non-Schengen area visitors are allowed to stay within the zone for 90 days without a visa.

Those who need a visa have to supply a 10-fingerprint record, a searchable facial image and other personal information to the Visa Information System (VIS), which is searchable by all signatory states. There is also a separate fingerprint system known as EURODAC, which collects biometric information of non-EU citizens seeking asylum within European borders.

As the UK is outside this arrangement it also is not part of the Schengen Information System (SIS) - the second generation of which went live in 2013. SIS II allows national authorities to issue and share alerts on people who may have been involved in a serious crime or may not have the right to enter or stay in the EU. It also contains alerts on missing persons, in particular children, as well as information on certain property, such as banknotes, cars, vans, firearms and identity documents, that may have been stolen, misappropriated or lost.

But the lack of biometric checks in the system has historically aided criminal attempts at identity fraud by applying for a Schengen visa, and then subsequently trying to claim asylum and purchase additional fake passports in one or more other countries. With the implementation of the biometric-driven EURODAC and other biometric-based Schengen systems, this scenario should no longer be possible, but criminals can still take advantage of the lack of fingerprint exchanges between Europe and other third-party countries, such as the US.

In order to plug these gaps, the EU has proposed a SmartBorders initiative made up of an entry-exit system, a registered traveller programme and an amended Schengen borders code.? But in a familiar European bout of in-fighting and slow bureaucratic strangulation, the proposed legal frameworks for the system have encountered a multitude of technical, organisational and political problems?. So the European Commission has effectively gone back to the drawing board. It is undertaking an in-depth study followed by a large scale pilot to "redirect the SmartBorders concept".

Richard Rinkens joined the VIS team at DG Justice Freedom Security, in 2005. He became responsible for the Biometric Matching System (BMS), which was to become the common EU automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS). The BMS is currently providing fingerprint identification and verification services to the VIS and might do so in the future for EURODAC and SIS II. Rinkens is now dealing with the Smart Borders initiative.

He is unequivocal about the holes in the identity checking apparatus at Europe's borders, despite the existence of several different biometric databases containing fingerprint records and other information.

"If today I was an American citizen and I wanted to stay [illegally] for two years in the Schengen area and then I decided I wanted to leave, the simplest way to do that is to throw away my passport," he says. "That is because there will be an entry and an exit stamp in there. So, if I throw it away and ask for a new one, nobody would know. Today, we have no clue whatsoever how many people arrive and leave the Schengen area." He says that occasionally the EC has initiated bizarre exercises whereby border guards in individual states have been asked to count how many EU and non-EU citizens arrive and depart the zone for a period of a week or so.

To try and remedy the system the EU has looked at a number of options with the important proviso that traveling needed to remain a largely pleasant experience for citizens. Huge queues at police immigration posts were not a desirable price to pay for enhanced checks. The Smart Borders initiative ludicrously proposed that the entry-exit system should involve taking 10 fingerprints from every traveler at all border crossings. Rinkens says this was completely impractical - the quickest time he had gone through a similar checking procedure (the US system) is close to two hours and that has to be undertaken for each trip to the US.

Ten-fingerprint checks at airports is bad enough, says Rinkens, but that does not include land border crossings as well. "In Europe, we have our equivalent of the Canadian and Mexico borders," he says. "To take 10-fingerprints from everyone crossing those borders on a train, for example, would be an absolute nightmare."

There would also be an issue around how the separate checking systems would operate, as it would lead to the requirement to carry multiple documents - a travel token, a visa and a passport. This would dilute the benefits of quicker biometric checking technology at the border, such as e-gates. "Can you imagine how long it would take to stand in front of an e-gate reader and scan a token, a visa and a passport one after another?" asks Rinkens.

Biometric data

Another issue was which biometric should be chosen as the common checking protocol. He says the EC went with the fingerprint option, whereas the most common biometric used by European e-gate technology is facial recognition.

The retention period for biometric data has also been a thorny issue for the European parliament and the Smart Borders proposals opted for a period of only three months. "We were in effect saying to the traveller we will create this record for you and then three months later throw it away," says Rinkens. "This causes a big problem for the gentleman who arrives in February and then comes back again in June and once more in November. Each time he will be stopped to have his fingerprints taken, his face scanned and his passport checked."

There were also issues about giving law enforcement agencies access to all this information with a biometric searching capability encompassing up to four different systems (including Scengen, EURODAC the EU visa database and the proposed entry-exit system). "After a few years there would be a collective database of some 200 million 10-fingerprint [records] and if law enforcement were not able to search that having spent so much money setting it up that would be a bit strange," he adds.

Even if this were possible, he adds, each of the four databases containing biometric information would need a separate AFIS to act as a search engine. Four separate systems would be a huge expense for limited return on investment. "In short, we messed up. There is no point in denying it," says Rinkens of the original Smart Border proposals. In order to try and rescue the programme the EC employed PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC) to conduct a study and a 400-page report has now been placed on the EC's website. The plan is to conduct a live pilot next year. The aim is to use a document containing biometric information and data on entry and exit dates to create a single record without having to read multiple documents several times. This information would then be used to correctly identify an individual and then calculate how many days they are allowed to stay in the Schengen area with or without a visa.

For those who have applied and been given a visa, there would be no need for any additional biometric information (such as the flawed 10-fingerprint proposal for each visit in the initial programme remit) because the traveller will have already supplied fingerprints and a readable facial image in their VIS application. For visa exempt travellers, the idea would be for them to make an online registration.

There are still numerous gaps that have the potential to be exploited by criminals or illegal entrants, says Rinkens. "If I am 24-years-old, single with no children and have a Masters degree in technology and I am a citizen from a country that needs a visa to go into the Schengen area, it is highly unlikely that I would be granted one if I applied. Why? Because there is a pretty good chance that I would never leave. So what would I do to get in another way?"

The simplest way is to procure a genuine European passport. These can be bought on the black market for between €800 to €1,200. The issue for the person trying to use the document to pass through border control is that their details do not match those on the genuine document that has been bought illegally. In order to overcome this the user would purchase an RFID card online, which can be bought for €5, and enter the exact information which is in the RFID chip in the real passport on to the card. The only thing you would change is your facial image. When you come to border control you would select an e-gate and hold the RFID card on the reader.

When e-passports were first being designed, a system was created that was supposed to prevent the illegal cloning of RFID data on identification documents. Passport data on RFID chips is signed with a digital certificate belonging to the country to which the passport was issued. E-passport systems are supposed to verify that certificate when scanning a passport.

Digital certificate

All countries issuing e-passports are supposed to upload their digital certificate to the Public Key Directory (PKD), a database that should be queried to ensure the certificate is correct. But only a small number of countries have agreed to upload those certificates to the PKD, and are actively contributing to the database.

"This master list does not really exist," says Rinkens. "Germany is in the process of making one, but in order for it to work properly you need one for the whole Schengen area. Personally, I do not think this will ever happen, because there are always going to be some countries who will not give other countries their biometric keys. So what should we do - remove all that biometric information from passports when we have spent millions putting it in?"

Another issue is that many countries don't have a national record of all passports issued. This means that when someone applies for a passport there is no database in place to ensure that they are the one true owner of that identity document. The Schengen Information System does have fingerprint records in it, but there is no AFIS system in place to support a fast search of that information.

"If I was in Portugal and committed a serious crime there and left my fingerprint records at the scene I could move to Spain or to France and nobody would detect that I did something wrong in Portugal," says Rinkens. "While we do have Europol - a sort of European FBI - we have no shared AFIS capability. It is strange that we have this area of free movement where criminals can also move freely, but we have no shared criminal database."

EU countries outside the Schengen area, such as the UK, have acknowledged that there needs to be better co-ordination of the biometric data that is held by different homeland security agencies separately but in theory "under the same roof".

Brendan Crean, biometrics programme director at the UK Home Office, says the department is working to produce a biometrics strategy that covers all the agencies within it, including border control and the police. "Across the Home Office, whether it's borders, passports, immigration or the police, we use biometrics in lots of different ways. What we want to do looking forward is to think about how we can do that in a slightly more joined up way and look at them as services, rather than individual transactions. I don't think that means we are looking to have any more data than we currently have. I think a lot of the challenges are going to be around how we manage and use that data more appropriately.

"There is obviously pressure within government on value for money. So we need to find solutions that can deliver services to the various parts of the Home Office probably at a lower cost. We also need to think about how we can do that in a more organised and structured way than we do currently. To do that we need to have a clear idea of the source of that biometric data and have strict rules on retention and management."

Very clear feedback from the users of biometrics in the law enforcement field is that they are interested in anything which can increase their mobility, he adds. "They are also interested in how that mobile data can link to other data that they are interested in."

(1st January 2015) 

(Mcafee website, dated 6th October 2014 author Gary Davis)

Full article :

It's tiny and portable, yet perfect for storing large items. I'm talking about the good ol' Universal Serial Bus (a.k.a USB) drive, the giveaway of choice at tradeshows across the world, and perfect for the easy storage and transfer of photos, documents, music and more. But you might want to think twice before plugging a free USB into your machine. The reason: USBs can now contract an undetectable-and unfixable-virus that can be spread quite easily.

News of this potent malicious software (often referred to as malware) has circled around the information security industry since researchers Karsten Noh and Jakob Lell described their new attack to a packed room at this year's Black Hat security conference in early August.

The malware, dubbed BadUSB, can take over a computer, as well as redirect Internet-bound traffic to different site. But BadUSB's danger doesn't lie with its ability to execute code-this type of malware, called auto-run (because it runs automatically when the USB drive is inserted into your device), has been around for some time now. The danger lies with its ability to never be detected. BadUSB exploits how the USB standard was built and coded, and mixes malware with the device's firmware-the code that tells the USB stick how to work. This intermingling of code makes the malware indistinguishable from normal, safe firmware.

Because of the danger this particular form of malware posed to the public at large, the pair refrained from releasing the code to attendees. That reasoning, however, didn't sit well with another pair of researchers, who did publish the infectious malware after reverse engineering it. The malware that freaked out two security researchers enough to make them refrain from publishing their work is now out in the open.

USBs, long considered secure (perhaps incorrectly), are now major liabilities to consumers everywhere. So the question now is, should you be worried?

The answer is yes and no.

The good thing about this malware variant is that it's isolated to just USB devices. But that's also its danger: USB devices are so ubiquitous that consumers typically don't pay them any attention-the best sort of attack vector hackers could hope for. Hackers could also hide this malware within a larger package and could, theoretically, infect a computer that would subsequently infect any and all USB devices that connect with that machine-thereby spreading the malware even further. All in all it's pretty bad news.

So why did these researchers knowingly, and publicly, publish such dangerous malware? Because they want to see this security issue fixed, and the only way they're convinced it'll be fixed is by lighting a fire under USB manufacturers.

They're not entirely wrong, either. Manufacturers, largely for business reasons, have been notoriously slow in fixing security issues (called patching), and USB drives are no different. By publicly making this code available, the pair of researchers will deny USB manufacturers the ability to claim that they weren't aware of security vulnerabilities on USB. That knowledge, it's theorized, will drive better security further down the road.

Publishing this code was well intentioned, and, truthfully, is a fairly standard practice in the information security industry. But this particular malware is going to cause a lot of headaches for quite a few years (likely a decade). So what can you do to protect yourself while this newfound attack vector is out in the wild? Well there are a few options available:

- Use caution with free USB drives. A lot of companies like to go to major conferences and events and hand out free USB drives. This is bad security practice. Free USBs have always carried the risk of being preloaded with malware, and now the risk has doubled. You don't have to turn down free USBs drives, but you do have to be conscious of the risk you're running when you don't know where that USB has been. If you're uncertain if a USB is safe, run a scan.

- Lock down your computers. USBs have long been a reliable method of compromising computers. All it takes is an unknowing person to plug a USB drive into a port, and the damage is done. Never leave your computer sitting out in a public place where someone could access your USB port.

- Use comprehensive security. BetweenUSB devices, computers and mobile phones -all the technology we own is a security risk. So how can you minimize the likelihood of getting infected by malware? By using comprehensive security like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, which provides a comprehensive shield against malware, phishing attacks and a variety of other nasties aimed at compromising your digital life. McAfee LiveSafe also automatically scans USBs when they're connected to your computer, for known malware. This is a step you cannot afford to skip in the protection of your valuable information.

(1st January 2015)

(The Telegraph, dated 30th October 2014 author Sophie Christie)

Full article [Option 1] :

Criminals are using a tried and tested scam to trick their victims into thinking they are speaking to a trusted organisation - such as a bank - by using a fake caller ID number that the fraudster has chosen.

The scam, known as "number spoofing", works by fraudsters cloning the telephone number of the organisation they want to impersonate. This makes it appear on the victim's caller ID display when they telephone them.

The scammers then persuade the customer to hand over sensitive personal and financial information.

According to Ofcom, the phone regulator, the fraudsters use software to manipulate the caller ID number.

If the person at the end of the line suspects anything, the fraudster will draw attention to the number as proof of their legitimate identity.

This type of scam was reported on in March this year, but the Financial Fraud Bureau, Financial Fraud Action UK's intelligence unit, said there has been a "spike" in cases reported in recent weeks.

Craig Jones, a spokesperson for FFA UK said: "Number spoofing is becoming increasingly common and it's not difficult for the criminals to fake a caller ID. So if a number appears on your phone's caller ID display, you shouldn't assume you know where the call is being made from.

"Remember that if a caller is trying to draw your attention to the number on your phone display, it's very unlikely the call is genuine as there is no legitimate reason to point it out."

The spokesperson said that to avoid falling for the scam, you should never assume someone is who they say they are just because the number matches that of an organisation. "In fact, if someone tries to draw your attention to the number on your caller ID display, you should immediately become suspicious. Similarly, you should be suspicious if you're asked for your four digit PIN, your full online banking passwords, to transfer or withdraw money, or to give your card to a courier. Your bank or the police will never ask you to do any of these things," he added.

Another scam known as the "letter box scam" is also on the rise. Here, fraudsters steal post from flats with unsecured letter boxes to find out financial information - such as card numbers and passwords, or post containing debit and credit cards - from their victims.

Fraudsters have stolen £5 million so far this year from this type of scam.

How to protect yourself from fraudsters

- Never give out contact details or financial information to strangers or to businesses that should already know your details

- Never send money to someone you don't know

- Shred anything containing your personal or bank details - don't just bin it

- Check bank and credit card statements regularly and let your bank know immediately if there are any entries you don't recognise

- Often, you can't get lost money back, particularly if you have handed over cash. If you have paid by credit card you have more protection, and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback

- You can report a fake company to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06, or find online advice at

- You can also report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You wouldn't give a stranger your financial details in person, so why do it over the phone?

Further information

In October 2014 the British Banking Association released a list of things your bank will NEVER ask you to do.

Their fraud webpage :

8 Things your Bank will never ask you to do :

- Call or email to ask you for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords

- Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else

- Ask you to email or text personal or banking information

- Send an email with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details

- Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash

- Call to advise you to buy diamonds or land or other commodities

- Ask you to carry out a test transaction online

- Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank's official apps

(1st January 2015) 

(Computer Active, August 2014)

Researchers have discovered software on many popular websites that tracks your browsing habits in a way that's virtually unblockable using standard privacy protection.

The software was found in the code of "social bookmarking" widgets mad by AddThis, which let you "like", "tweet" and share web pages. AddThis has ben secretly tracking technology called "canvas fingerprinting" on 5% of the world's top 100,000 websites.

You don't need to click a widet to be tracked - just visiting the website is enough.

Canvas fingerprinting works in a similar way to cookies, by keeping a record of which websites you visit. However, unlike cookies, fingerprinting is "hard to block" and "once some tracking has happened, it is hard to start from a truely clean profile", according to researchers at Leuven University in Belgium.

Many websites on which the tracker has been discovered claim to have been unaware of it, and have now removed AddThis widgets.

AddThis says the tool is "well within rules and regulations, laws and policies that we have", because it is only being used for "internal research and development".

The Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) recommends using their own privacy software to prevent this tracking.

EFF website :

(1st January 2014) 

(The Guardian, dated 24th December 2014 author Stuart Dredge)

Full article [Option 1] :

Will 2015 be a happy new year for internet users? Not if cybercriminals have their way.

Online security companies have been making their predictions for 2015, from the malware that will be trying to weasel its way onto our computers and smartphones to the prospect of cyberwar involving state-sponsored hackers.

Here's a summary of what you should be watching out for online in 2015, based on the predictions of companies including BitDefender, KPMG, AdaptiveMobile, Trend Micro, BAE Systems, WebSense, InfoSec Institute, Symantec, Kaspersky, Proofpoint and Sophos. The links lead to their full predictions.

Targeted attacks and sophisticated spam

The more we do and share online, the more vulnerable we may be to "targeted" attacks to steal our passwords and data. "It is possible that our willingness to share and shop online will let criminals become more selective about who they target," suggests Stephen Bonner of KPMG.

"They won't need to maintain the current 'hit and hope' approach of spear phishing, instead only attacking specific users and computers based on the data these give away about their owners."

Meanwhile, you may see more spam emails in your inbox in 2015, as the technology used to send them becomes more sophisticated.

"Cybercriminals upping their game are perfecting their campaign abilities previously associated only with advanced, targeted attacks. These advanced tactics designed to evade most modern email security solutions are quickly becoming the new norm as more sophisticated email threats increase," suggests WebSense.

"As a result, although spam volumes are decreasing, most users will begin to witness an increase in the amount of spam they receive in their inbox, because most email security measures will be incapable of detecting them in the Cloud scrubbing prior to passing to a user's inbox."

Banking and healthcare companies at risk

A parallel trend cited by several of the companies is the prospect of attacks on bigger companies in the private and public sector, with cybercriminals having specific goals in mind.

"Cybercriminals will go after bigger targets rather than home users as this can generate more profits for them. We will see more data breach incidents with banks, financial institutions, and customer data holders remaining to be attractive targets," suggests Trend Micro.

"Weak security practices like not using two-factor authentication and chip-and-pin technology continue to persist in the banking sector. These practices will cause financially motivated threats to grow in scale throughout the coming year."

Healthcare is also expected to be a target. "Companies operating in the sector are a privileged target because of the wealth of personal data they manage, and that represents a precious commodity in the criminal underground," notes InfoSec Institute.

"Healthcare data are valuable because medical records can be used to commit several types of fraudulent activities or identity theft. Their value in the hacking underground is greater than stolen credit card data."

WebSense's Carl Leonard agrees. "The healthcare industry is a prime target for cybercriminals. With millions of patient records now in digital form, healthcare's biggest security challenge in 2015 will be keeping personally identifiable information from falling through security cracks and into the hands of hackers."

Ransomware on the rise

One of the most common forms of malware in 2014 was "ransomware" - cybercriminals trying to extort money from victims either by locking their devices and demanding a fee to release them, or by accusing them of various unpleasant crimes.

"Users should remain sceptical of any message accusing them of various crimes such as zoophilic behaviour and distributing child pornography," claims BitDefender. "These threats may be part of ransomware campaigns and could also hit social networks."

Symantec notes the growth of one particular strain of ransomware, Cryptolocker, which it claims accounted for 55% of all ransomware in October this year, encrypting people's files then demanding money to unencrypt them.

"Holding encrypted files for ransom is not entirely new, but getting the ransom paid has previously proven problematic for the crooks. However recently ransomware makers have started leveraging online and electronic payment systems such as Bitcoins, Webmoney, Ukash, greendot (MoneyPak) to get around this challenge," it explains.

"Crooks like the relative anonymity and convenience of electronic payments and these are already readily available, putting businesses and consumers at greater risk from losing data, files or memories."

Mobile payments could be hot... for criminals

One of the big announcements for Apple in 2014 was the launch of its mobile payments service, Apple Pay. However, several security companies expect cybercriminals to make a concerted effort to crack it and rival services in 2015.

"Apple Pay is not alone in the market - other payment systems have or will be introduced by other companies and trade associations. Not all of these payment systems have been thoroughly tested to withstand real-world threats, and we may see attacks targeting mobile commerce in 2015," claims Trend Micro.

"Apple Pay certainly addresses some of the weaknesses that have facilitated recent attacks on Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems. However, this should not be cause for complacency, since attackers will usually look for other weaknesses once an avenue of attack has been closed off," adds Symantec.

For now, those weaknesses may come in other forms of payment, according to Sophos. "Cybercriminals will be looking for flaws in these systems, but the present designs have several positive security features. Expect cybercriminals to continue abusing traditional credit and debit cards for a significant period of time as they are the easier target for now," it suggests.

How popular Apple Pay and rivals are will also be a factor. "Criminal hackers tend to attack popular platforms where the yield is likely high. If no one adopts Apple Pay, then no one will target it. However, if Apple Pay is as popular as Apple's other traditional and mobile offerings, then we may be writing about Apple Pay hacks sooner rather than later," claims Kaspersky.

Mobile malware aims at Apple, not just Android

It's now traditional for Apple's senior executives to take pops at Android on-stage over malware, hammering home their claims that the biggest rival to iOS has more security problems. Will they be able to continue that line of attack in 2015? Some security firms think Apple will be under more scrutiny too.

"The Masque bug in iOS and the corresponding WireLurker malware targeting iOS devices via Apple and Windows port-machines, had a lot of experts saying that the age of Apple malware is finally upon us," says Kaspersky, although it also points out that this is still most likely to affect people who've jailbroken their devices.

"Apple's closed-by-default ecosystem makes it harder for malware to successfully take hold of the platform, though some users - particularly those that like to use pirated software - will disable these features."

Others suggest that Android will remain the principal target for cybercriminals, as well as predicting a more general increase in mobile scams and attacks. "We will see more vulnerabilities found in mobile devices, apps, and platforms in the coming year. Cybercriminals will target data stored in these mobile devices," claims Trend Micro.

"A new exploit kit specifically developed to compromise mobile platforms will be available in the wild," adds InfoSec Institute. "The attacks will benefit from a significant increase of phishing attacks on mobile devices, as malicious links and applications downloaded from third-party stores redirect users to websites hosting the malicious exploit kit. Once visited by victims, their mobile will become infected."

Open source code still a target

Some of the most high-profile vulnerabilities in 2014 - Shellshock and Heartbleed - provoked discussion about the security of open source code. Several security companies expect this debate to continue in 2015.

"These vulnerabilities were undetected for years and were only brought into light recently. Due to the massive impact of these vulnerabilities, cybercriminals and attackers may decide to investigate the existing code and see if other dormant vulnerabilities are present," suggests Trend Micro.

"From Heartbleed to Shellshock, it became evident that there are significant pieces of insecure code used in a large number of our computer systems today," adds Sophos. "The events of 2014 have boosted the cybercriminals' interest in typically less-considered software and systems - so businesses should be preparing a response strategy."

WebSense agrees. "Old source code is the new Trojan horse waiting to be exploited, and open-source code is only the beginning. With so much code written and in use, it's impossible to catch every dormant exposure point until they've been executed," says Leonard.

"Because of this, any time source code is altered or integrated as part of an application or service upgrade, these unknown systemic vulnerabilities have the potential to expose networks to attack."

Criminals hiding on the darknet

Technology like Tor is used for a variety of reasons, including activists anonymising their online activities when under pressure from authoritarian governments. However, this kind of technology will also be used by more cybercriminals in 2015.

"We've seen cybercriminals leveraging Deep Web and other darknet services as well as untraceable peer-to-peer networks (e.g. Tor, I2P, Freenet) for selling and exchanging tools and services," claims Trend Micro. "Takedowns and collaborative efforts beween researchers and law enforcement agencies have disrupted cybercrime gangs, giving them more reasons to go further underground."

BAE's cyber security boss Scott McVicar also thinks criminals will "go to greater lengths" to hide their identity, which will have an impact on efforts to identify them and nullify their efforts. "Researchers will need to adopt practices from the professional intelligence community and tread more carefully when drawing conclusions about who is ultimately behind cyber attacks," he says.

Social media malware and malvertising

The huge number of people using social networks like Facebook is proving an appetising target for malware developers: BitDefender has already published its roundup of popular Facebook scams in 2014, for example.

"Malicious links hidden in atrocious Facebook videos will be on the rise in 2015," warns the company. "Malicious 'beheading and murder' videos are expected to multiply in the following year. Behaviour analysts and psychologists say teenagers are the most susceptible to clicking on shocking videos, as their empathy for victims of violence is lower."

Proofpoint has stats on the growth of this kind of threat. "Already in 2014, Proofpoint found a 650% increase in social media spam compared to 2013, and 99% of malicious URLs in inappropriate content led to malware installation or credential phishing sites," explains the company.

"In 2015, Proofpoint expects inappropriate or malicious social media content to grow 400percent as attackers target enterprise social media accounts to perpetrate confidence schemes, distribute malware, and steal customer data."

The company also suggests that "malvertising" - malware distributed through online ads - will also continue to be a threat in 2015. "In 2015, attackers will become more refined in their ability to infect sites, target users and deliver payloads while evading detection by most common scanning and gateway tools," it claims.

Internet of Things a rising concern

As more of our devices talk to one another - the "Internet of Things" - there may be a range of new cybersecurity headaches to think about. Although it might not be us doing the thinking.

"While at present subscribers play an active role in spam prevention by reporting incidents to their operators, with IoT the challenge will be spotting the threats that can infect IoT devices," claims AdaptiveMobile. "'Things' are going to be less security and spam-aware than consumers and so the responsibility will fall on the operator to secure IoT services and devices at the network-level."

WebSense thinks that in 2015, attacks on the Internet of Things will focus more on businesses than individuals with gadgets. "While many hacks of refrigerators, home thermostats and cars have found their way to the headlines, the likelihood of a major attack campaign via connected household items in the age of the Internet of Things is minimal," it claims.

"While you may have to worry about cybercriminals successfully melting your butter or spoiling the milk in your refrigerator, there is little reward in attacks against your connected domestic devices. The criminal element has set its sights elsewhere."

Symantec disagrees. "Attacks on the Internet of Things (IoT) will focus on smart home automation: With smart home automation gaining popularity amongst consumers across Asia Pacific and Japan, Symantec anticipates that commoditised "plug and play" consumer devices such as CCTV cameras and remote access controls for alarms, lighting and climate control will be exploited by cybercriminals," predicts the company.

"We won't see any large-scale attacks leveraging IoT, but instead one-off attacks against connected devices such as home routers, Smart TVs and connected car apps, for example, for sensitive and private information."

Cyberwar as criminal/state boundaries blur

As 2014 ended with the now-infamous hack of Sony Pictures - with intense debate about whether North Korea was involved - security firms see 2015 bringing a greater prospect of cyberattacks on behalf of nation states, even if they don't run them themselves.

"Cyber warfare is very attractive to small nations. The development of a government-built malware is cheaper than any other conventional weapon and far more accessible to any nation-state. Cyber warfare represents for every government an efficient alternative to conventional weapons," notes InfoSec Institute.

"North Korea, Syria, and Iran are among the countries that have developed great capabilities that pose a serious threat to major Western states. The risk of a serious attack on the critical infrastructure of a Western government is high, and its attribution will be even more difficult."

The boundaries between cybercriminal gangs and governments may also blur. "Criminal groups will increasingly adopt nation-state tactics," predicts Kaspersky.

"State-sponsored, advanced persistent threat hacking groups, like we've seen in cases such as DarkHotel, Regin and Crouching Yeti/Energetic Bear, will begin to merge with hacking campaigns perpetrated by criminals, like those targeting JP Morgan Chase, Target and others."

"State groups could also contract their espionage activities out to criminal groups, that will use criminal tools and expertise to perform spying activities, steal intellectual property or gather intelligence about vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure systems at the behest of government groups."

(1st January 2015) 


Whatever shopping channel you watch on TV around Christmas; whatever high street electronics store you happen to browse in during the rest of the year you will see them ! Remote control flying machines. They look so good, the wonders of technology for a reasonable price; you can even fix a video camera to some of them. What a laugh.

Off at a tangent, as a kid, have you ever thrown a stone whilst mucking about. You did not throw it high, but it landed where you did not expect. The stone hit a window, a greenhouse, or worse, another person. Well it was only a stone, it caused a bruise. A stone would weigh say 5 grams, a remote control flying machine can weigh anything from 50 grams to 1Kg. What damage could that do to a person if the flying machine ceased to fly from a height of 20 feet, 40 feet, 100 feet or more ?

What could happen if the flying machine was flown near to a passenger plane at an airport of air field ? The results could be catestrophic.

So what is a flying machine in this context ?

- Remote control plane
- Remote control helicopter
- Remote control glider
- Remote control Drone
- or any of the above that can fly under their own control.

What can go wrong with a new flying machine ?

- Batteries don't remain charged forever.
- It may fly out of range of the remote controller.
- The radio signal may be corrupted by another stronger radio signal.

I am not writing this to be a kill joy, but to make people aware that there are rules to follow when using a flying machine.


The following is a copy of a document produced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which provides a summary.



Link :

Remember, when you fly an unmanned aircraft (or drone), the responsibility is yours



You are responsible for each flight

You are legally responsible forthe safe conduct of each flight. Take time to understand the rules - failure to comply could lead to a criminal prosecution.

Keep your distance

It is illegal to fly your unmanned aircraft over a congested area (streets, towns and cities). Also, stay well clear of airports and airfields.

BEFORE each flight,check drone for damage

Before each flight check that your unmanned aircraft is not damaged, and that all components are working in accordance with the Supplier's User Manual.

Keep your distance 50 metres

Don't fly your unmanned aircraft within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height.

Drone is in sight at all times

You must keep the unmanned aircraft within your sight at all times.

Consider rights of privacy

Think about what you do with any images you obtain as you may breach privacy laws. Details are available from the Information Commissioner's Office.

YOU are responsible for avoiding collisions

You are responsible for avoiding collisions with other people or objects - including aircraft. Do not fly your unmanned aircraft in any way that could endanger people or property.

Permission to use drones for paid work

If you intend to use an unmanned aircraft for any kind of commercial activity, you must get a 'Permission' from the Civil Aviation Authority, or you could face prosecution. For more details, visit


Further reading

The Civil Aviation Authority webpage on model aircraft (flying machines) :

For all of the rules and definitions covering Flying Machine (model aircraft) the Civil Aviation Authority have produced a 56 page guidance document

(1st January 2015) 

(The Telegraph, dated 24th December 2014 author Gregory Walton)

Full article [Option 1] :

Concerns have been raised that a Shanghai-based gang of master forgers could be preparing to mass produce £2 coins after perfecting their technique producing counterfeit euros.

The £2 coin could come under attack by Chinese forgers, it has been warned.

The coins which are bi-metallic, containing gold and silver components, were thought to be more difficult to forge than simpler designs such as the £1 coin.

But now a major seizure of €500,000 of euro coins has raised fears that Britain's £2 - with it's relatively higher value - could be in the forger's sights.

Italian detectives stumbled across the treasure trove of contraband currency while inspecting a consignment of metal pipes in the port of Naples.

The seizure was one of the most significant haul of fake coins in European history.

The quality of the coins suggested that the gang is producing imitations of such high quality that they would even be accepted in vending machines, potentially costing businesses thousands in lost revenue.

Fake coins do not usually exercise authorities as much as the production of illicit banknotes because of their relatively low value and the overheads associated with their production.

One forgery investigator told The Times: "Counterfeit coins are not of great interest to most jurisdictions, and certainly not on any list of priorities."

"Many types of counterfeit goods follow this route, China to Italy for further distribution, and it seems an entirely feasible enterprise."

A spokesman for the Royal Mint stressed that forgeries of £2 coins are not yet though to be commonplace.

"A bi-colour coin is much harder to counterfeit because replicating the two metal components, the inner and outer, is significantly more difficult than a single component coin. Forgers would also require a highly sophisticated press to produce bi-colour coins," said the spokesman.

"The coin detector mechanism of vending machines and self-service check-outs can detect the two different metal components, in addition to the conductivity, thickness and diameter of the coin."

"The addition of edge lettering is also very hard to counterfeit, and some circulating £2 coin designs also include a latent feature in their elements which is difficult to replicate."

(1st January 2015) 


If the UK Police cannot work effectively with other law enforcement agencies in Europe what levels of illegal drug dependency can we expect within our country in the future ?


(BBC News, datd 11th November 2014)

Full article :

The government has won its bid to sign up again to 35 EU justice measures - including the European Arrest Warrant - following a dramatic Commons vote.

But Labour and backbench Tory MPs accused ministers of breaking a promise for a vote on the warrant itself.

The debate ended early when Labour lost its attempt to use a rare Parliamentary procedure to postpone the decision.

Earlier, Commons Speaker John Bercow said people would be "contemptuous" of the government's tactics.

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said there were "scenes of chaos" in the Commons chamber.

Speaker's ruling

The government opted out of all 133 EU police and criminal justice measures measures in 2013, a decision that will take effect on 1 December.

However, ministers plan to rejoin 35 of the measures, including the European Arrest Warrant, before that deadline.

Supporters, including the government and law enforcement agencies, say the warrant is a vital tool to protect the UK and bring criminals to justice across EU borders.

However, critics - including some Conservative MPs - say the European Arrest Warrant is overused and a threat to the liberties of Britons and the sovereignty of the UK.


(International Business Times, dated 23rd December 2014 author Tom Porter)

Full article [Option 1] :

has announced that it busted a Macedonian heroin gang, responsible for smuggling huge quantities of the drug into the EU.

Police arrested 400 people and seized 100kg of heroin, cannabis and cocaine, as well as a large amount of cash, said the agency.

Four tons of drug cutting agents were also seized in the operation, with suspects arrested in Macedonia, Austria and Germany.

Operating from their bases in Germany, Austria and Macedonia, the gang smuggled narcotics into the EU along the so-called Balkan Route.

The joint police operation against the gang began in 2010, after the network rebuilt following the arrest of their leadership in a previous operation.

"We noticed that this organisation was so good that it was able to replace large quantities of high-quality heroin within days," Austrian security official Franz Lang told reporters in 2010.

The network of gangs operated according to a rigid structure, with members recruited in Macedonia given the prospect of earning good money in Austria and Germany.

Once recruited, members had very little contact with other people in the gang and had strictly defined roles, including mixing, packing and transporting high-quality heroin into the EU, where it was sold at low prices.

"The organisation was characterised by its strict division of labour and well-organised procedures," said Europol in a statement.

Most of the heroin in Europe originates in Afghanistan. It is then smuggled over the border into Iran, and shipped into the Balkans, from where it is transported into western Europe.


(International Business Times, dated 19th November 2014 author Lewis Dean)

Full article [Option 1] :

An Albanian drugs gang that attempted to flood London and the south of England with £40m of cocaine and heroin has been jailed for a total of 157 years.

Seven men were today handed combined sentences of 77 years at Kingston Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply heroin they had smuggled from Europe.

The men were attempting to introduce the drugs to the UK via three ports: Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth. They disguised the drugs in containers including coffee and biscuit packages.

Gang leader Sami Qerkini was a significant and leading member of an Albanian organised criminal network for more than 20 years, and developed a sophisticated and extensive network of contacts to help source, import and supply drugs into the UK and channel the proceeds abroad.

Operating from a number of safe houses and using a fleet of vehicles, Qerkini and the gang were all involved in the preparation and mixing process of the drugs.

When detectives searched suspected safehouses, including a property in Crystal Palace, south east London, they discovered hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and kilograms of class A drugs wrapped in cellophane.

Qerkini fled the UK in 2010, following the arrest of over 20 of his associates over the preceding two years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering.


(International Business Times, 1st September 2013 author Fiona Keating)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain has the highest rates of opiate addiction and alcohol dependence in Europe, with postal workers functioning as unsuspecting drug mules.

A new report by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) describes Britain as the "addicted man of Europe".

Club drugs and legal highs such as Salvia and Green Rolex are freely sold online and delivered throughout the country by unwitting posties.

The report, No Quick Fix, came as new figures showed the number of deaths involving legal highs or New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), in England and Wales rose from 29 in 2011 to 52 last year.

One in 12 young people (15 to 24-year-olds) in the UK said they had used these drugs - the highest figure in Europe.

Even more worrying are those websites selling class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, which are also distributed around the country by the postal service.

The CSJ criticised the government for an "inadequate response to heroin addiction", saying that more than 40,000 drug addicts in England are on the substitute methadone, which is used to wean addicts off heroin.

"Methadone can be a way of stabilising chaotic drug users, but we found evidence that it is being used to keep a lid on problems," said Christian Guy, director of the CSJ.

"Large numbers of addicts are stranded on this state-supplied substitute and forgotten. This broken system is no different to taxpayers supporting an alcoholic by prescribing them vodka instead of them drinking gin.

"While our addiction problem damages the economy, it is the human consequences that present the real tragedy. Drug and alcohol abuse fuels poverty and deprivation, leading to family breakdown and child neglect, homelessness, crime, debt and long-term worklessness."

Alcohol and drug abuse cost the UK an estimated £21 billion and £15 billion respectively. Alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have doubled in a decade, with Britain facing "an epidemic of drink-related conditions". One in 20 people are described as "dependent drinkers".

The UK also has the highest rate of lifetime-use of amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy. Among women, alcohol dependence is higher in Britain than anywhere else in Europe.

Report by The Centre for Social Justice :


(1st January 2015)

(BBC News, dated 22nd December 2014 author Zoe Kleinman)

Full article :

Stalkers and abusers are increasingly using cheap spyware to monitor and harass their victims, claims a charity.

Tracking and listening devices, often disguised as everyday objects, retail online for under £50 and are easy to install, says the Digital-Trust.

There are no official figures but "digital abuse" is often experienced by victims of domestic violence, it adds.

People with abusive partners should also be wary of gadgets given to their children, the charity warns.

"Eighteen months ago I issued advice to domestic violence groups about fathers gifting smartphones or even allowing them to take them on access visits because it is so easy for abusers to use them as surveillance," said Jennifer Perry, chief executive of the newly formed Digital-Trust.

"I recommend children are given inexpensive pay as you go phones when visiting an abusive parent."

Ms Perry said incidents of digital abuse - ranging from surveillance to accessing voicemails, emails and cloud accounts, is escalating in the UK.

In addition cheap surveillance devices - small GPS trackers, listening devices and cameras hidden inside books, lamps, plug sockets and carbon monoxide detectors, are freely available online despite some of them being illegal.

"If I have a domestic violence victim I assume there will be some type of digital abuse - it's not the exception, it's the assumption," she told the BBC.

Ms Perry added that in her experience it is more likely to happen to female victims.

"I get a lot of criticism for saying it but I don't see this level or type of surveillance used against male victims," she added.

"I see men using it against women. It is rare to see a man targeted surveillance-wise by women."

Ms Perry began working in the field of e-crime in 2005. She said that often victims need very specific advice, which is not easily available.

"Safety advice is often done by topic but if you don't know what you're looking for it doesn't help," she added.

"We'll ask a series of questions that deal with the symptoms - are you being harassed by your partner? Is he showing up where you are? Has he had access to your house or your PC?"

Smartphone owners may have not set up their device themselves so may not know what has been installed on it, she added.

"The main thing I try to do is stop any form of data leaking. That's my number one objective," Ms Perry said.

"If you have a stalker and they get access to some information about you it's like the rush they get from a gambling addiction.

"You're taking about jealous or obsessive personalities. One stalker Googled a colleague of mine 40,000 times in a year. Another looked at someone's Facebook page 2,500 times in one month."

(1st January 2015)

(BBC News - Money Box, dated 20th December 2014 author Bob Howard)

Full article :

A whistle-blower has revealed how stolen personal data was used to con thousands of customers of one of the world's biggest hotel booking websites.

He says he was part of a fake call centre operation which had access to personal details of customers from around the world.

"Tom" - not his real name - was recruited via an international freelance telesales website. says it is working with the police to tackle the problem.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was contacted by "Tom" after reporting on the fraud last month. He told us he was offered $12 an hour for the work and spent around 12 days in the job, sitting at his home computer.

Many were foreign visitors coming to London from countries including Bangladesh, Israel, South Africa, China, Japan and India,

"We were told to call up people and tell them that they'll receive an email… and if they have any questions they should get in touch with us," Tom told Money Box.

"We had to say that we were calling from [the hotel into which the customer had booked] and we would send an email and it would appear that the hotel was sending them an email."

The subsequent e-mail would ask for advance payment for the hotel booking with bank details which have no connection to the hotel.

Customers who queried the payment demand were directed to a fraudulent phone line, where the criminals had installed staff who posed as employees, insisting that the hotels had changed their payment policies.

'Big secret'

Some Money Box listeners sent a payment, only to find their hotel had no record of it when they checked in. Although they have received refunds for the double payment, the episode represents a major security breach. has estimated that about 10,000 people were affected.

"Tom" claims he was unaware that he was involved in criminal activity and agreed to speak to Money Box because he was angry at having becoming accidentally involved.

Although his script involved claiming he was phoning from a hotel, he says the message to expect an e-mail seemed harmless enough.

However, when he read the Money Box article, it confirmed suspicions that had been prompted by the elusiveness of the man who recruited him.

"This guy never spoke and he was a big secret," said "Tom", "Nobody's seen him, nobody's spoken to him, and even the agents were not allowed to talk to each other.

"It is pretty much like dealing with a ghost. I tried to look him up on LinkedIn and Facebook just to understand the company better. There's no picture of him on any website, no trace on the internet."

'Claire' from West Yorkshire received one of the phone calls after booking rooms at a London hotel for a trade fair in November.

She avoided being conned by phoning the hotel directly and establishing that they had not demanded advance payment.

Nevertheless she wants to announce publicly that customer details are now safe.

"I want to know how this scamming company are finding out the reservation numbers, the dates, the contact details, there's a lot of private information there," she said.

A spokesperson for told Money Box the firm is working with police on how to prevent future phishing attacks. They declined to be interviewed.

(1st January 2015)

(The London Evening Standard, dated 19th December 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1] :

Detectives investigating an alleged VIP paedophile ring are examining claims that three young boys were murdered during a decade of child abuse, police revealed for the first time today.

Scotland Yard said officers are probing serious allegations of abuse at locations across London and the Home Counties, including "military premises". The claims are based on evidence from a key witness who says he was abused from the age of seven till he was 16 between 1975 and 1984.

Police today appealed for other possible victims to come forward. One senior officer said: "I will believe you, support you and do everything in my power to find those responsible and bring them to justice."

Much of the abuse is alleged to have taken place at an address in Dolphin Square, Pimlico - a luxury block of flats popular with MPs. The allegations are understood to relate to sexual abuse by a paedophile ring with links to government, spy chiefs and prominent military figures.

The key witness, known as Nick, is said to have given details of three murders - including extra- ordinary claims that he witnessed a boy being strangled to death by a Tory MP. Another child was said to have been deliberately run over and a third killed in front of a government minister.

Scotland Yard confirmed today it was examining allegations of sexual abuse that were linked to the murders of three young boys. Police did not give further details about the murders and said officers had not recovered a body.

Detectives said they had spoken to the families of two boys - Martin Allen and Vishal Mehrotra - who disappeared after being abducted in London, though there was no evidence their deaths were linked to the new inquiry.

Police launched the probe, Operation Midland, in November with a joint unit of detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command and the Child Abuse Investigation Command.

It stemmed from an earlier inquiry examining historical claims of child sex abuse at the Elm Guest House, Barnes.

Today Det Supt Kenny McDonald, in charge of the investigation, said: "I want to appeal directly to those other young boys, now men, who were also subject to abuse at the hands of these men. I know that there were other boys who were abused, or who were present while the abuse took place.

"I ask you to trust me. I will believe you, support you and do everything in my power to find those responsible and bring them to justice. I need your accounts to help me do that."

He said the witness Nick - a pseudonym - told officers a car would collect him and drive him to Dolphin Square and other locations.

The detective said: "The abuse he was subjected to and which he has detailed was carried out either by a man on his own, a group of men or even in what can only be described as 'parties'.

"There will be people who lived at or visited Dolphin Square from the early Seventies onwards who will have seen or heard something that they only now understand the significance of.

"Today I ask former and current residents or anyone who routinely went to Dolphin Square to think back and get in touch with us with any information they may have."

Mr McDonald said he was looking at "a number of other locations" where boys are thought to have been abused. He said his team is working closely with military police.

"It is also investigating the possible murders of three young boys," he added. "At this stage I don't have confirmed information I'll give but our work is ongoing and we are examining reports of missing people from that time. To date we have not recovered a body."

Police said Operation Midland detectives had spoken to the family of Martin Allen, the son of the chauffeur of a Australian high commissioner, who went missing aged 15 from King's Cross on his way home to Kensington in November 1979.

The unit was also liaising with Sussex police, currently reviewing the case of eight-year-old Vishal Mehrotra, the son of a former magistrate, who was murdered in 1981.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the investigation team on 020 8721 4005 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(1st January 2015) 

(BBC News, dated 19th December 2014)

Full article :

US software giant Microsoft is suing alleged scammers who phone people pretending to represent the firm and offer bogus technology support.

The callers ask to take over a home computer and demand money to fix it. Some then install viruses as well.

The software company said it had received more than 65,000 complaints about tech support scams since May.

It is taking legal action against several firms it accuses of misusing its name in such cases.

Fake ads

The scam has been around for decades with callers peddling useless security software and tricking people into spending hundreds of pounds (or dollars) to solve non-existent computer problems.

Increasingly, the bogus technicians are gaining access to people's computers remotely.

From there they can also steal personal and financial information and install malware.

In some cases people are tricked into signing up for support via fake web ads. Others receive a direct telephone call from a technician claiming to represent Microsoft.

Microsoft has warned that scammers are likely to be active over the Christmas period.

"The holiday season is a popular time for scammers as more people engage in online activities, including shopping, donating to charity and searching for travel deals," it said.

Older victims

Older people needed to be particularly vigilant, it said.

"Tech support scammers don't discriminate; they will go after anyone, but not surprisingly senior citizens have been among the most vulnerable."

The US Federal Trade Commission filed a legal case in Florida last month against a company that used adverts to scare people into believing their computer had a virus and then sell them allegedly worthless services.

In the UK, National Trading Standards has recently taken legal action against a man from Luton who hired people at an Indian call centre to falsely tell people their computers had a serious problem.

Mohammed Khalid Jamil was given a four-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay £5,665 compensation and £13,929 in prosecution costs.

Microsoft has issued tips to help users avoid falling for such scams.

It says:

- Ask if there is a fee or subscription for the services. If there is, hang up.

- Never give control of your computer to the third party unless you can confirm it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team at a company of which you are already a customer

- Take the caller's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.

- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.

(1st January 2015) 

(International Business Times, dated 19th December 2014 author Pierluigi Paganini)

Full article [Option 1] :

There is a part of the web that is still hidden from the majority of the internet users, a so-called dark web that cannot be found by conventional search engines or accessed by standard browsers.

Parts of the dark web reside on the Tor network, which, thanks to its nigh untraceable user anonymity, is a fertile breeding ground for cyber-criminals and illicit dealings. It is the ideal environment for an online illegal goods black market that sells everything from drugs and weapons to hitmen and hacking attacks for hire.

These specialised black markets are flourishing in this nefarious corner of the internet; criminals are developing points of aggregation where buyers and sellers can operate in anonymity and benefit from escrow services offered by the operators.

Names such as Silk Road (and its successor, Silk Road 2.0), BlueSky Marketplace, Pandora Marketplace, Tor Bazaar Alpha and Cannabis Road have become hugely popular in the criminal ecosystem.

Law enforcement and judicial agencies worldwide have coordinated their efforts against illicit dark web markets on the Tor network. An impressive FBI bust on 5 and 6 November, dubbed Operation Onymous, saw the closure of hundreds of websites operating on the Tor network. Its key achievement was the seizure of the black market Silk Road 2.0 and the arrest of its alleged manager, Blake Benthall.

But how much work still needs to be done and how significant is the threat posed by the criminals?

Dark web redefined

Operation Onymous certainly had a significant impact, with well-known sites shut and levels of online illicit deals decreasing. However, security experts observed a rapid response from the criminal underground to the pressure exerted by law enforcement.

Data provided by the non-profit Digital Citizens Alliance Security suggests Onymous shifted the balance in favour of new and surviving black markets, which have now gained market share.

The criminal underground is also demonstrating significant capability to restore illegal activities by building new services. Through its monitoring, Digital Citizens claims it was tracking 18 dark networks at the time of the Onymous crackdown. That number was reduced to seven after Onymous but since then, five new sites have popped up to fill the void.

Beyond guns and drugs, child pornography and fraud lurks on the dark web

There are more threats to contend with than just the black markets. The dark web is an ideal environment for the spread of child porn and harbours botnets designed to steal credit card data.

Anonymising networks, and in particular the Tor network, are a powerful instrument in the arsenal of cyber-criminals to conduct illegal activities, such as the takeover of bank accounts. A US Treasury Department report states that the majority of bank account takeovers by cyber-criminals affecting organisations over the past decade exploited the anonymising Tor network.

Bad actors will explore even more the dark web to hide their identity and increase their business opportunities. This requires a significant effort from enforcers and private security firms: hacking techniques used to de-anonymise users have to be integrated with meticulous intelligence activities to infiltrate the principal criminal crews and identify their main operators on the dark web.

(1st January 2015) 

(BBC News, dated 18th December 2014)

Full article :

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has begun an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

It follows the release of the Jay report in August, which revealed more than 1,400 children were the victims of abuse between 1997 and 2013.

A number of resignations followed the report including South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright.

South Yorkshire Police said the force would co-operate fully with the NCA.

Two stage inquiry

Professor Alexis Jay's report, commissioned by Rotherham Council, revealed children as young as 11 had been raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated.

Victims have spoken of their families being threatened and complaints to the authorities being ignored.

The report criticised failures in the council's leadership and said South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

It said failures to protect children happened despite three reports into the issue, between 2002 and 2006, which the council and police were both aware of.

Following the barrage of criticism in the aftermath of the report, South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, David Crompton, asked the NCA to investigate.

He said: "All officers and staff in South Yorkshire will provide full support to the NCA in order that the independent investigation I have asked for can be taken forward efficiently and effectively."

Trevor Pearce, of the NCA, said Operation Stovewood would have two stages.

The first will look at material held by South Yorkshire Police and other bodies relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

It will also review relevant investigations being carried out by South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Pearce said that would include "identifying any opportunities for early intervention to prevent further harm and to identify and arrest suspects."

The second stage of the operation, expected to begin in 2015, will involve a full new and independent investigation of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The investigation is one of several inquiries to follow the Jay report.

Allegations of misconduct relating to police officers have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The government has also commissioned an independent inspection of children's services at Rotherham Council, which is being conducted by Louise Casey, the head of the government's troubled families unit.

(1st January 2015)

(BBC News, dated 17th December 2014 author Nick Triggle)

Full article :

Smoking in cars with children will be banned in England, under new laws put forward by the government.

The regulations laid before Parliament propose banning smoking in cars containing under 18s.

A fine of £50 will be issued to people who smoke or who fail to prevent another person smoking.

MPs will vote on the plans before the election - and if they are passed the change in law will come into force on 1st October 2015.

The move comes after a free vote in Parliament in February gave ministers the power to introduce the law, although it did not compel them to.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: "Second-hand smoke is a real threat to children's health and we want them to grow up free from the risks of smoking.

"The only effective way to protect children is to prevent them breathing second-hand smoke and our plans to stop smoking in cars carrying children will help us to do this."

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: "We are delighted. We also urge the government to put the regulations on standardised packaging to Parliament before the general election.

"This, together with the protection of children from second-hand smoke in cars, will help de-normalise smoking and protect children from this deadly addiction."

But Simon Clark, director of smokers' lobby group Forest, said: "The government is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The overwhelming majority of smokers know smoking in a car with children is inconsiderate and they don't do it.

"The regulations are unnecessary and excessive. Do we really want to criminalise people for lighting a cigarette in a private vehicle?"

A ban on smoking in cars has also been put forward in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland said it was considering a ban.

Smoking in cars

- Smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours even with a window open.

- Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer.

- Exposure has been strongly linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children.

- Research indicates 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital.

- Smoking in a car creates a higher concentration of toxins than in a bar, some research has put it at 11 times higher.

- Bans on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states, including California, as well as in parts of Canada and Australia.

(1st January 2015)

(The Register, dated 17th December 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article [Option 1] :

New EU tax rules that come into force on 1 January could kill thousands of mini and micro online businesses.

The new VAT rules have been on the cards for six years and are ostensibly aimed at preventing big companies (yes, we mean you, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks) from claiming that all their European profit is made in Luxembourg (or similar tax havens) where they benefit from paying hardly any tax.

To this end, online businesses will have to pay tax in the country of the consumer buying the goods, not the business. The side effect of this seems to be that many small businesses will find themselves having to unravel miles of red tape associated with complying with 28 different VAT regimes.

And it could disproportionately hit British online companies because the VAT-free threshold is much higher than in the rest of the EU, at £81,000. Some services are exempt: hotel booking services, supply of physical goods through electronic ordering processes and and real-time educational services.

However, that still leaves a lot of small businesses with a lot of extra work to do and would undermine new EU digi-veep Andrus Ansip's plans for a true digital single market. He was, therefore, keen to point the finger of blame elsewhere: "Given that this change was adopted six years ago, member states should have helped businesses to prepare. But even if the concerns come late, they should be listened to. Companies should not be left alone. One practical aid should be the one-stop-shops that have been put in place."

The mini-one-stop-shop (MOSS) idea is supposed to help micro businesses so that they don't need to register in all 28 EU countries. They will, however, have to register for a VAT number for the first time, submit quarterly returns and ascertain where exactly all their customers live.

This last requirement also presents additional problems, since acquiring such sensitive data would render the business a data processor and subject to the EU's strict data protection laws.

"Small innovative online companies matter to me. I want you to have the necessary space to grow into successful businesses and to trade across borders. But I also see the merits in the upcoming VAT change," said Ansip in his blog. To be fair, tax isn't his department, but with so much emphasis on the digital single market in the Juncker Commission's plan for 2015 (announced on Tuesday), it is surprising that he would support such a move.

Meanwhile, campaigners are grasping at straws just a few weeks before the law comes into force, with a Twitterstorm centred on the #EUVAT hashtag aiming to draw more signatures to a petition to suspend the new laws for micro businesses and sole online traders.

(1st January 2015) 

(The Guardian, dated 16th December 2014 author Alan Travis)

Full article [Option 1] :

Thousands of foreign criminals who have been convicted of offences outside England and Wales have had their DNA profiles and fingerprint details deleted from British police databases, a Home Office watchdog has revealed.

Alastair MacGregor QC, the biometrics commissioner, has warned the Home Office that this "obviously unsatisfactory state of affairs" might be putting the public at unnecessary risk.

The commissioner says there is a gap in the law as a result of new rules designed to remove DNA profiles and fingerprints of innocent people from the police national computer.

He says this gap means the biometric details of those arrested but not charged with an offence in Britain cannot be held indefinitely solely because they have been convicted of an offence outside England and Wales.

"If the police wish to retain the biometric records of such individuals and have no other basis for doing so, they have no option but to go back to those individuals and (re-arresting them) to take further samples and fingerprints from them," said the commissioner, voicing concern about the burden this places on forces.

MacGregor says re-arresting and re-sampling a suspect following his conviction outside England and Wales could prove a greater invasion of their privacy than simply holding onto the DNA and fingerprints samples already taken from them.

The commissioner also says rules that restrict the holding of DNA and fingerprint details of foreign-national criminals on the police national computer of foreign criminals have severely limited the practical use of the powers for British police forces.

"The police have been and remain unable to take and retain … biometric material from many EU nationals who they know have been convicted of qualifying offences under England and Wales," said the watchdog.

In his first annual report the commissioner cites the case of an EU national who had been arrested but not charged with burglary whose details could not be kept despite the fact that he had served more than 13 years in prison in another European country for similar offences. MacGregor says he made an exception for that case but his DNA profile and fingerprints could only be retained for a much shorter period than would otherwise have been the case.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "This government has ended the heavy-handed system under which the DNA of innocent people was kept indefinitely - but we will never put the public at risk.

"We have ensured the police have retained the power to take and keep DNA and fingerprints from any EU national living in the UK when they represent a threat to the public and have been convicted abroad of a crime which is the equivalent of a serious offence in England and Wales ...

"The UK requests and uses more data about foreign offenders than almost any other country. We are one of the biggest users of the European criminal records system and are leading the way in Europe to encourage the proactive sharing of information about individuals who could pose a risk to the public."

The biometrics commissioner also raises technical problems with ensuring the DNA and fingerprints of individuals convicted of offences in Scotland and Northern Ireland are on the police national computer for England and Wales. He says that ministers are considering the possibility of seeking legislation to cater for some of these problems.

A separate report from the national DNA database strategy board says that the removal of 1.7m DNA profiles taken from innocent people and children as a result of Theresa May's Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 has not led to any reduction in the number of matches the database procduces.

"In the quarter from 1 April to 30 June 2014, the database produced 37 matches to murder, 127 to rapes and 6,111 to other crime scenes. In the same quarter of 2013, when the old system for retaining DNA was in effect, it produced 37 matches to murder, 103 to rapes and 6,141 to other crime scenes," it reports.

(1st January 2015)

(The Register, dated 12th December 2014 author Brid-Aine Parnell)

Full article [Option 1] :

Brits who have their mobes stolen are still facing shock bills, despite government promises that charges would be capped in a similar way to stolen credit cards.

The Citizens Advice watchdog said that as many as 160,000 victims of phone crime were forking out up to £4m a year to pay for thieves' texting and calls, although they could have saved at least £120,000 of that this year if bills were capped.

A year ago, Blighty's government and mobile phone providers said they would stick a cap on stolen mobe bills by early spring this year.

However, the charity said continued delays on that promise have left folks reporting to Citizens Advice charges from £160 all the way up to massive £23,000, between April and November this year.

"Victims of phone crime are at the mercy of financially devastating bills," said Gillian Guy, chief exec of the charity, in a statement. "Innocent people are being made to pay for phone bills run up by thieves despite a promise from phone providers and the government to cap costs. Demands to pay tens of thousands of pounds have pushed some victims of crime into the red."

"The injustice of shock bills for phone crime victims must end. Citizens Advice is calling on the government to stand up for consumers and cap bills from lost or stolen phones at £50 to protect the worst hit," she added.

"Instead of waiting for victims of crime to get in touch, phone companies could improve their systems so they consistently check for tell-tale signs of theft, such as a large number of calls to high cost phone lines," said Guy.

In December last year, culture secretary Maria Miller announced that the government and the four major mobe providers - EE, Vodafone, Virgin Media, and Three - had agreed to cap bills on phones that were reported stolen, as well as stopping mid-contract price rises and helping to eliminate roaming charges by 2016.

"We are ensuring hardworking families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own," said Miller at the time.

However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told The Reg Friday that it was working on the caps.

"Mobile phone networks have agreed to cap bills for phones that have been reported lost or stolen. Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey will be meeting mobile network operators shortly to confirm details of the liability caps they will offer," a spokesperson said by email.

Ofcom estimates that the average bill on a lost or stolen phone is around £65, but Citizens Advice said that in some cases the crooks can rack up huge bills in just a few hours by calling premium rate phone lines.

In one case, a punter on his hols in Spain had his phone pick-pocketed on the first night of his break. When he repeatedly tried to report the theft to his phone company's customer service team, he kept getting cut off, racking up the phone call charges as he went.

By the time he got home, the thief had lumbered him with £600 in charges, which his provider insisted he pay.

(1st January 2015) 

(The Register, dated 11th December 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article [Option 1] :

Europe's top court ruled Thursday that data protection rules apply to private surveillance cameras if they record people on the public footpath.

The regulations in question - the Data Protection Directive - insists personal information can't be held for longer than necessary, and that consent must be given, and so on, although it's being rewritten at the moment.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made its ruling regarding surveillance cameras and the directive following the case of a Czech national, František Ryneš.

Ryneš installed a surveillance camera outside his house after it was repeatedly vandalized. In October 2007, he recorded two suspects breaking a window of the family home using a catapult from the street. He handed the recordings over to the police who identified the two suspects, who were subsequently prosecuted before the criminal courts.

However, one of the suspects said Ryneš had infringed his data protection rights, because he had been recorded without his consent while he was on the public footpath.

Today's data-protection directive contains an opt-out clause if the person doing the recording has a "legitimate interest in protecting the property, health and life of his family and himself."

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court asked the ECJ in Luxembourg to decide whether Ryneš should benefit from the opt-out clause in the directive, or that the footage was recorded unlawfully.

In Thursday's judgment, the ECJ decided that recording someone on the street is "personal data" because it is possible to identify the person concerned and that such video surveillance constitutes automatic data processing.

It said that the exception in the directive for "purely personal or household activities" did not apply because the footpath is a public space.

However it added that the "data subject" (in this case the window-breaking vandal) need not be told about the recording if it involved a "disproportionate effort."

The court also said that data-protection rights could be set aside if necessary to "safeguard the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

The ball is now back in the Czech court to decide on whether Ryneš's right to live in peace trumps a vandal's right to privacy.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, the German MEP who has steered Europe's planned new data protection law through the European Parliament, said the clarification from the higher court was welcome:

"Those monitoring their property with video cameras and filming public spaces have to comply with data protection rules. They are allowed to record the public sphere only as far as absolutely necessary and proportionate for precise security interests."

(1st January 2015) 

(The Register, dated 11th December 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1] :

GCHQ is to team up with the UK's National Crime Agency to target paedophiles sharing child abuse images on the "dark net".

The as-yet-unnamed unit will focus on developing technology capable of scouring the underbelly of the internet for child abuse-related chat and image exchanges. It will also focus on the most prolific offenders, according to a UK government statement.

In a parallel move, coaching children into uploading indecent images of themselves is to become a criminal offence. Prime Minister David Cameron is due to outline the proposed changes in a speech at the We Protect Children summit in London this morning. Changes in legislation will be applied through the Serious Crime Bill, which is currently making its progress through Parliament, the BBC reports.

The dark net refers to regions of the internet only accessible with anonymity software such as Tor and not indexed by search engines.

The "hidden web" focus of a new UK campaign against child abuse images follows progress by groups like the Internet Watch Foundation in purging such content from UK hosted sites.

The IWF removed images from 27,850 websites so far in 2014, already more than double the figures for the whole of 2013. The UK was responsible for an estimated 18 per cent of all child abuse imagery in 1996, a figure that has since dropped to less than one per cent, it says.

Tech giants are playing their part in making it easier to identify and block child abuse images and videos.

The digital fingerprints (hash values) of thousands of known child sex abuse images identified by the IWF will be used by the major tech companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Yahoo) to prevent these images that shared on their services, Google has agreed to share hashing technology which allows known child abuse videos to be identified and blocked with the wider industry. Yahoo will be the first industry partner to pilot it.

A new UK database enabling swifter identification and investigation by law enforcement of child abuse images.

Johann Hofmann, law enforcement expert at NetClean, which is involved in implementing the first phase of the UK's national Child Abuse Image Database, commented: "The Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) is a landmark project for law enforcement. Never before has UK law enforcement had such a sophisticated method of sharing and matching critical case data, logging visual evidence and analysing digital media."

He added: "In order to identify and prevent child sexual abuse (CSA) and rescue more victims from abusers, we need technology that addresses two of the most fundamental challenges that law enforcement currently have: resourcing and collaboration. CAID will massively reduce the workload around processing visual data and will enable law enforcement to collaborate on regional, national and international levels."

Meanwhile Microsoft, Google and Mozilla have committed to investigate the feasibility of implementing browser-level blocking restrictions designed to prevent people getting access to URLs of known child abuse material.

The prime minister is also expected to announce a series of global commitments from more than 30 countries to make it easier for police to track more paedophiles and help more victims. This will be supported by a new £50 million Child Protection Fund. UNICEF will support the development of the new fund, in partnership with the UK, other governments and partners from civil society and the private sector.

(1st January 2015) 

(BBC News, dated 11th December 2014)

Full article :

The Home Office has granted British citizenship to people with "very poor immigration histories", according to the chief borders inspector.

Citizenship was being approved without checking applicants' criminal records in their home country, John Vine found.

In one case, officials did not look at files showing an asylum seeker had killed someone in their home country.

The Home Office said most of the issues were down to "wrong-headed decisions taken by the previous government".

Mr Vine, who will step down as chief inspector of borders and immigration at the end of this year, looked at 179 applications as part of a study of nationality casework.

He said he had been "concerned" to discover that applications for UK citizenship were not being scrutinised appropriately.

The chief inspector agreed that decisions to refuse citizenship had been made correctly, but found that in several instances citizenship was granted without checking all the information available.

British citizenship had been granted to one person who had previously stabbed someone, and to another who had lived and worked illegally in Britain for 13 years.

Analysis (Danny Shaw)

Citizenship is a serious business: last year, 235,000 people applied for UK citizenship, only 3% of whom were refused. It brings substantial benefits - including the right to a British passport, the ability to travel without restrictions into and out of the UK and an entitlement to vote and hold public office.

Allowing people with a criminal record or a history of breaching immigration laws to become British nationals has the potential to undermine security - and may suggest to some that the UK's immigration system is not only mismanaged but also a "soft touch".

If true, it's politically toxic. Does that explain why the Home Office took three months to publish the report? Ministers will deny it - but the publicity generated by John Vine's inspections is undoubtedly something they'd rather avoid.

Citizenship can be refused if someone has not been in Britain for long enough, if they have a recent or serious criminal record, or if they are judged not to be of "good character".

The report turned up no evidence that authorities were attempting to prosecute those who had lied in their applications, except in a few cases involving organised crime.

'Serious failing'

While caseworkers generally provided good service and took account of automated police checks, the chief inspector concluded, they did not have routine access to paper records relating to individuals' histories.

This amounted to a "serious failing" and made it likely that the failure to notice that one asylum applicant had previously killed someone "was not an isolated case".

Immigration and security minister James Brokenshire argued that most of the mistakes identified were the result of the previous government's approach.

He drew attention to a number of changes brought in by the coalition such as scrapping the UK Border Agency, introducing interviews for visas and the reintroduction of credibility checks.

British citizenship should be "treated as a privilege for those who deserve it, not an automatic right for those who do not", the minister added.

(1st January 2015)


(International Business Times, dated 10th December 2014 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

Full article [Option 1] :

A new wave of highly sophisticated cyberattacks targeting embassies, military installations and major corporations around the world has been uncovered by security experts.

Researchers at Blue Coat Labs described the cyber threat, named Inception, as a "very slick operation" that pointed to a "very high chance of state involvement".

A 62-page white paper published today (10 December) by Blue Coat, titled The Inception Framework: Cloud-Hosted APT, details the malware espionage operation and how the attacks took place.

Characteristics of Inception include randomised file names to prevent detection, cloud encryption and malware components embedded in Rich Text Format (RTF) files. Documents associated are in Hindi, Russian, Swedish and English, while one piece of code carries the line "God Save the Queen", though any of these could be red herring devices.

"In September I discovered some files that were a bit out of the ordinary," Snorre Fagerland, co-author of the report, told IBTimes UK. "They were bigger than usual and I soon realised that this was an attack framework that I hadn't seen before, possibly by actors I hadn't noticed before.

"I found a very high quality of code across five different platforms, a very high level of automation and an operational security that is positively paranoid. All of this suggests state involvement."

Fagerland also believes that another factor that indicates state involvement is the selection of targets. There are several target areas that appear to be of strategic interest to a nation state.

The origin of Inception is still unclear but it is not thought to originate from "the usual suspects" of Iran, China or Russia.

"Initially we saw a very clear interest in Russia and the Russian sphere," Fagerland said. "However as we've been gathering more information about this campaign and more target data we see that the fields of interest are much wider than Russia.

"They've targeted countries as far apart as Venezuela, Mozambique and European countries like Belgium, Germany and even the UK to some extent."

The targeting of mobile phone operators in Belgium is of particular significance, Fagerland believes, as it is a "power seat". Both the European Union and Nato have headquarters there.

If it is a nation state that is behind the attacks, as the authors suggest, then the publication of the white paper is likely to push the malware into the shadows to avoid further attention and possible detection.

(1st January 2015) 

(BBC News, dated 10th December 2014)

Full article and linlks :

Uber's week of woes is continuing with authorities in San Francisco and Los Angeles taking legal action against the internet-based taxi firm.

It has been banned from operating in New Delhi following the alleged rape by a driver of a female passenger.

Meanwhile, a judge in Madrid has ordered a temporary halt to the service and Thai authorities say the firm lacks proper registration and insurance.

Uber is yet to comment on the latest legal cases against it.

District attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles claim Uber made "untrue or misleading representations" regarding the quality of its own background checks on drivers.

They also accuse the firm of:

- charging customers a one-dollar "safe rides" fee without justification, saying the money went to pay for background checks.

- using the Uber app to calculate fares based on time and distance without obtaining approval from a California agency to do so.

- conducting commercial operations at California airports without authorisation.

- charging an "airport fee toll" to customers even though drivers were not paying the airport.

District attorneys are seeking an injunction against Uber that could see its drivers temporarily banned from the two cities.

By contrast, rival firm Lyft has reached a settlement with the same district attorneys. It will submit its app to the authorities for accuracy checks as well as seeking authorisation to operate in airports.

It will also pay civil penalties of $500,000, half of which will be paid within 30 days while the rest could be waived if the firm complies with the terms of the injunction.

Badges issued

Other US cities have also begun legal action against Uber.

In Portland, Oregon, the firm is being sued for failing to seek consent on how it would be regulated.

Meanwhile, Max Tyler, a Colorado state representative, has questioned how it vets drivers, alleging that the firm does not run an FBI background check, something which other taxi drivers have to have.

Its process of recruiting new drivers is also being looked at by authorities in New Delhi after a driver, who was previously accused of raping a female passenger in 2011, was cleared to drive for Uber.

The driver has been arrested for another alleged rape and appeared in court on Monday. He had obtained a reference from the Delhi Police, but police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told Reuters that the certificate appeared to be fake.

Indian police also questioned an Uber executive about the checks run on drivers. Police said that Uber's drivers did not have the special badges that it issues to taxi drivers proving that they have cleared background checks.

They said that Uber and similar services that operate online platforms linking drivers with customers are registered in India as technology businesses rather than transport companies.

Huge expansion

In a statement Uber said it would work with the Indian government to "establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programmes".

It added that it would also partner with women's safety groups and "invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women".

Uber defended the way it checked drivers, saying it was a responsibility it took seriously. According to the firm, it is on track to complete more than two million background checks this year.

The company, which now operates in 52 countries, was recently valued at $40bn after an investment by venture capitalists.

But since its launch the business, which uses a smartphone app to connect riders with drivers, has proved hugely controversial. In Europe, registered taxi drivers' unions have staged strikes and protests against what they see as light regulation of Uber and similar services.

Uber's business practices have also been questioned and doubts raised over whether its tracking system breaks data protection laws.

(1st January 2015) 

(BT News, dated 10th December 2014)

Full article :

An ingenious new geographical location system can pinpoint the source of 999 calls from mobile phones 4,000 times more accurately than the current system.

The new service, developed by BT, EE and HTC, can track calls to a radius of 30 metres or less, cutting the handling time for emergency services.

Around 60 per cent of 999 and 112 calls in the UK are now made from a mobile - 22 million calls a year or 60,000 a day - all of which are handled by BT call centres. At present, emergency services are only able to identify approximate locations of callers to within a few square kilometres. As a result:

- 999 calls from a mobile take 30 seconds longer to handle on average than calls from landlines; it can take three minutes of extra questioning, of often stressed or injured victims, to determine the location

- In an estimated 36,000 critical incidents reported by mobile every year, the emergency services spend 30 minutes or more searching for the location

- In around 330,000 emergency calls a year, the caller is unable to speak to the operator. Having imprecise cell information for the location when the call is from a mobile can prevent the emergency services from responding.

Rapid response using precise data

The new geographical location system, called AML (Advanced Mobile Location), provides 999 operators with pinpoint location data to save time and lives. It can identify the source of a mobile phone emergency call to within 0.003 square kilometres, less than half the size of a football pitch, instead of several square kilometres.

When an emergency call is made with an AML-enabled smartphone, the phone automatically activates its location service and sends its position by text message to the 999 service - on average within 18 seconds.

This text message is automatically matched to the voice call and compared to the network's cell-based information to ensure it is valid. The location is then sent to the appropriate emergency service, supplementing the cell-based information.

Sue Lampard, president of British Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (BAPCO), said: "I'm delighted to see this development. The 999 service has remained voice-centric since 1937 - while multimedia technology has developed around it. In this 21st century it is hard to believe that the UK emergency services are unable to receive good location data - they are reliant on callers to tell them. Invariably during a 999 call, the caller will be distressed, so trying to pinpoint their location adds unnecessary time before resources can be deployed.

"This is the first of a number of steps that need to be taken to bring our 999 technology up-to-date with society. Well done to BT, EE and HTC for working so hard to achieve this - lives will be saved as a result."

Rolling the technology out across all networks

AML is currently available for emergency calls made on the EE network on all new HTC phones, including HTC One mini2, HTC One (M8), HTC Desire 610, HTC One and HTC One mini.

The three companies have been working together with the other UK mobile networks so that the same service can be used, by all networks and manufacturers, free of charge. It is expected that it will be available on HTC handsets on other networks shortly and a number of other handset manufacturers have started to develop it for models to be introduced in the near future.

(1st January 2015)

(London Evening Standard, dated 9th December 2014 author Nicholas Cecil)

Full article [Option 1] :

People across London who spit in public face being hit with a £80 on-the-spot fine under a new crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

Town halls are expected at a meeting on Thursday to agree to the level of the penalty across the capital.

Local authority wardens, in parks or on litter patrols, would be able to issue the fines under by-laws.

It would be up to town halls how to impose the penalties and they could apply to footballers spitting during games in public parks.

The proposed penalty could be cut to £50 if it is paid within 14 days under the plans to be discussed by London Councils' transport and environment committee.

"Earlier this year, London Councils conducted a public consultation into penalties for anti-social spitting and the responses we received were overwhelming in favour of imposing a fixed penalty in line with other nuisance behaviour like littering," said a London Councils' spokesman.

"Anti-social spitting impacts people's quality of life. This is exactly the sort of measure boroughs can and should implement to make their local areas more pleasant places to live and work."

People who spit in public are unlikely to be fined if they have a "reasonable excuse" or if they do so into a handkerchief, tissue, bin, spittoon or other receptacle.

These are the exceptions included in a by-law agreed a year ago in Enfield which was approved by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

It meant that people could be taken to court and fined up to £500 for spitting in the north London borough which now wants to bring in the option of fixed penalty to deal with such anti-social conduct.

Waltham Forest and Newham have also targeted anti-social spitting with fixed penalty notices using the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and by categorising spit as "litter".

But town halls across London are now set to sign up for the first time to a standard penalty for spitting across the capital.

(1st January 2015)

(Police Oracle, dated 9th December 2014 author Irene Curtis - Superintendents Assoc) [Option 1]

Like it, loathe it, agree or disagree with it, the one thing you couldn't do about the recent Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report on crime recording is ignore it.

That's not just because it was everywhere - one of the top stories all day on broadcast media, hundreds of Tweets, numerous blog posts - but because it tells us so much about several of the issues facing the service today: performance measurement, treatment of victims, decision-making, leadership and mindset.

The problem that binds these issues together is the persistent myth that recorded crime figures indicate whether the police are doing a good job or not. My view is that the overall figures do not tell us whether police are performing well any more than incidences of illness tell us whether or not that area's GP is doing a good job.

What the figures do measure is the amount of crime that is reported to the police and so they tell us what the crime-related demand on policing is. Now, this is hugely important information and that's why the report of under-recording is so troubling, albeit HMIC were looking at figures from between one and two years ago and we know forces are making good progress in improving their recording practices.

But if we don't know for certain - and being out by 19 per cent means we are far from certain - what the true demand is that the service is facing, how can we possibly hope to make the right decisions about how best to deal with it? We can't know where to put resources, what skills and training are needed, what support from others will help and how, if we don't know what the real picture is. At a time when forces are having to cope with diminishing resources and the prospect of further cuts not far away, surely we need this accurate picture to inform both strategic decisions on budgets and priorities and tactical decisions on deployments.

Record every crime

For this reason alone it's absolutely essential that we record every crime that's reported to us, but it will also play an important role in improving the confidence of victims. One thing the Police Service must be is on the side of the victim. Whilst I know this is how the majority of officers already think, sadly there have been too many high-profile cases where this hasn't happened (in some cases due to inappropriate target-driven performance pressures) and unfortunately this affects perceptions of the whole service.

So we must put victims first and say, we believe you. Yes, this is likely to lead to over-recording in the first instance, with allegations that turn out not be as reported and that are later no-crimed, but I would prefer us to over- rather than under-record.

Some critics have said this isn't realistic. I disagree. We gain public confidence by being open and transparent, by being accurate, and by doing what is right. The HMIC report may have been about the integrity of crime data, but the decisions we take about that data go right to the heart of actual police integrity.

We must strive to do the right thing on every occasion, even if it is the harder option. And that goes across all ranks and grades in the service. I know some officers are concerned about their capacity to record every crime, which is why I think its essential to have a technological solution to convert incidents into crimes.

This is the time when the service needs to take a collective deep breath and accept that recorded crime figures will go up. And where those who oversee policing and hold us to account need to accept that it doesn't mean that the police are suddenly doing a worse job. It simply means that we have a truer picture of what is happening.

It will also remove the conflict between our desire to reduce overall crime whilst increasing the reporting of certain crime types, such as domestic abuse and hate crime, and of course proactive policing can lead to higher levels of crime being reported, e.g. knife crime and drugs related crime. We also know that there are still many crimes out there that are under-reported, such as fraud.

We've been here before. When the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced in 2002, recorded crime figures went up. There was a protracted period of trying to understand what was an actual change in crime as opposed to what was down to the new standard. But we coped.

We need a similar shift now. All forces need to agree that every crime will be recorded - because it isn't measuring how well they're doing, but how much demand they're facing - and surely it's important for us to show those who make decisions about our funding just how much demand there is out there. But we need to do this together and all forces need to agree to hold the line when challenged about rises.

Target mindset

Holding the line means dropping once and for all the target mindset that has been part of our culture for a long time. And yes, I played my part in that. But I now recognise, as do many others, that there are many more ways to monitor performance; how to understand whether a force, a team, an operation, an individual officer is doing a good job. We could start by assessing staff by actually working with them and talking to them rather than observing their performance through a computer.

The accurate recording of crime is a huge issue and I've only skimmed the surface of it in this blog. But I think there is an opportunity for the service here to do the right thing, together, for better decision making, better effectiveness and better service for victims. All of which say 'improved performance' much more clearly than a set of crime figures.

uaware comment

In my opinion the author of this article doesn't understand the publics "need" to see what the level of crime is in their area. If the police are so insistent that they want members of the public to become more involved in community police matters; how can they if they do not understand the base problem. That is, what is the crime level in their area now; and what was the crime level last year.

With that premise understood by residents they can then look at the next question. That of, how many crimes are solved in my area. Followed by the third question; how does that compare with other forces / services / divisions around the country ?

Several years ago I read a report of a meeting attended by a London Borough Chief Constable. During that meeting the Chief Constable boasted that 17.5% of crimes were solved annually in their Borough, and that met required targets !

(1st January 2015)


(BBC News, dated 9th December 2014)

Full article :

A child rapist has been released after a judge said it would be "unlawful" to keep him locked up.

Jeffrey Charles Goodwyn, 48, was given an indeterminate sentence in 2012 for indecently assaulting a seven-year-old girl eight or more years earlier.

He already had a previous conviction for raping a nine-year-old child.

Mr Justice Coulson said at the Court of Appeal that an open-ended sentence could only be passed for offences after April 2005.

"Despite the danger to the public which this applicant clearly represents, we are in no doubt that... The IPP (imprisonment for public protection) was unlawful," he said.

The court heard Goodwyn was given an indeterminate sentence at Cardiff Crown Court in 2012 after admitting offences against a seven year old girl and being considered "a very dangerous offender indeed" by the judge.

'No progress'

Such sentences allow the authorities to keep the most dangerous criminals locked up indefinitely until they have proved they are safe.

But Goodwyn went to the Court of Appeal about the sentence.

At the hearing on Tuesday, the judge heard that while in prison Goodwyn refused to transfer to open conditions and the Parole Board described his conduct as unsatisfactory after he threatened staff and was punished for fighting.

And Goodwyn's own lawyers said he had made "no progress whatsoever" in prison.

He had also refused to discuss his sexual offending, the court heard.

Mr Justice Coulson said: "This applicant remains a very dangerous man.

"Because of his failure to engage with the relevant assistance available to him in prison, he has not begun to address his offending."

But he said the legal problems surrounding the IPP sentence meant he had no choice but to quash the term.

He imposed a three-year custodial sentence on Goodwyn, which he has already served, followed by five years on licence.

The judge had held back his decision for a fortnight while Goodwyn's parole arrangements, including hostel accommodation, were put in place.

Responding to the ruling NSPCC Wales head of service Des Mannion said: "It is extremely frightening that a child rapist described as 'very dangerous' and unrepentant has been released back in to the community due to what seems like a legal technicality surrounding the timing of the offence."

Indeterminate prison sentences

An indeterminate prison sentence is where the court sets the minimum term of imprisonment an offender must serve before becoming eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board. There are two types of indeterminate sentence: Imprisonment for life and Imprisonment for public protection.

A sentence of imprisonment for public protection may be imposed where:

The offender is convicted of a serious sexual or violent offence which is punishable by imprisonment for life or a determinate period of 10 years or more
In the court's opinion the offender poses a significant risk to the public of serious harm by the commission of further specified offences
The offence is punishable with life imprisonment and the court is satisfied that the seriousness of the offence justifies such a sentence
The offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in schedule 15A to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or the current offence warrants a notional minimum term of at least two years

(1st January 2015) 

(Press Association, dated 7th December 2014)

Full article [Option 1]:

A senior police officer who was awarded the MBE has been arrested on suspicion of dealing Class A drugs.

Chief Inspector Paul Cahill was found slumped over his wheel in Wandsworth Road in Lambeth by passing policemen.

When officers searched the 43-year-old's vehicle they allegedly uncovered a stash of Class A drugs.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply and being made unfit to drive through alcohol or drugs.

He was taken to a south London police station and bailed until January.

More Class A drugs - a category which includes cocaine and heroin - are believed to have been found at his home.

Chief Insp Cahill was also suspended from his duties as a member of Westminster borough command.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it was not its policy to name people who had been arrested, but confirmed a Chief Inspector had been seized on Monday.

He said: "We can confirm a Chief Inspector from Territorial Policing was arrested in Wandsworth Road on Monday, 1 December on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a substance thought to be class A drugs. He was also arrested on a drink drive related offence. A breath test was not administered.

"He was taken to a south London police station. He has been bailed to return to a south London police station in January.

"The officer has been suspended."

The decorated officer, who was given the MBE in 2004 for services to diversity in policing, heads a team that clamps down on crimes such as drug dealing in Soho and the West End.

Mr Cahill hit the headlines after becoming the victim of a homophobic attack in 1996.

A year later he appeared on the front of the Gay Times in full uniform.

He was also involved in using gay officers to reassure the public and gather intelligence around Old Compton Street in the aftermath of the Soho nail bombing in 1999.

He was chair of the Gay Police Association until it was disbanded in April and was praised by the Met for his work in revolutionising attitudes to gay men in policing.

One ex-colleague told the Sun: "He is a brave, outspoken and a first class police officer. His colleagues will be shocked."

(1st January 2015)

(The Guardian, dated 5th December 2014 author Charles Arthur)

Full article [Option 1] :

TalkTalk is investigating whether its customer database has been leaked after more than 100 customers said they had received calls from Indian-based scammers quoting their names, addresses and account number details.

Suspicions have been raised that a data leak could have come from a call centre used by TalkTalk in India, although the UK internet service provider, which has more than 4 million customers, said it had "no concrete evidence of a data breach" from any of its systems.

A number of customers in TalkTalk forums said they had been contacted in the past fortnight, apparently from India, by callers who quoted their TalkTalk account details to try to assuage doubts about whether the call was legitimate.

A similar scam earlier this year targeted BT Broadband customers, with scammers also quoting account numbers.

One person said on TalkTalk's forums they were nearly caught out because of the data that was supplied: "[The] caller was obviously from India and his English was poor. [He] claimed he was from TalkTalk and when I queried this he reeled off my account number plus name and address." Others on the forum confirmed their account details had been provided in the call.

The account number is not publicly available information - though it is held on TalkTalk's systems and is used in customer support.

A spokeswoman for TalkTalk said there were other ways the scammers might have acquired the account numbers, such as through phishing emails, but she could not say whether TalkTalk had seen any phishing emails recently that would explain the abrupt surge in calls accurately quoting data.

If TalkTalk's customer data has leaked, it could potentially be liable to a fine under the Data Protection Act for failing to secure personal information - a requirement for British companies even if they store or process data overseas.

The Information Commissioner's Office said it had been informed TalkTalk was investigating the source of the account details.

TalkTalk is asking customers who have received calls to contact its online scam report page at

The use of call centres in India for both remote telephone support of legitimate businesses, and for making scam calls of this sort, has long led to suspicions that customer details are leaked by unscrupulous workers or managers to the gangs who run the scams.

The Guardian has reported on this long-running problem previously but there has been limited action against it by the authorities in India, with few arrests. Last year the US Federal Trade Commission froze the US bank accounts of a number of individuals and businesses based in India, though that seems to have had little impact

Once the cold-caller has the customer's confidence, they begin a spiel in which they try to persuade the user that they are from support and have been notified that the user's computer has "viruses" or is "downloading malware", and that the support call will fix it. As "proof", the scammer directs the customer to a particular program on Microsoft Windows which shows the normal working of the system, and persuades the customer that this actually indicates a problem.

The scammers then persuade the customer to download a program that gives them access to their computer, "fix" the problem and charge them for it via credit or debit cards. But in fact the machines are operating normally and the "fix" can harm the computer, or install viruses, spyware or illegitimate software.

A TalkTalk spokesperson said: "Every year countless people are targeted by phone scammers. This is a growing problem across all sectors and unfortunately TalkTalk and other telecommunications companies are not immune. We know some customers are currently being targeted by malicious scammers claiming to be from TalkTalk who have obtained their account and phone number. We urge customers to be alert, especially when asked for personal details or remote access to your computer, and not to give any more details over the phone. We encourage any customers who have been targeted by this scam - or indeed any scam where fraudsters are claiming to be from TalkTalk - to hang up and contact us so that we can help to catch them. They can do so by calling us or by using our online scam reporting form."

(1st January 2015) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 5th December 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Banks should be forced by law to report frauds suffered by millions of customers in order to plug a black hole in the reporting of cyber crime, a police chief said today.

City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard said the scale of cyber fraud is "enormous" - costing Britain about £30?billion a year - yet about 80 per cent of crimes go unreported.

Mr Leppard, the national lead on economic crime and fraud investigation, said the level of online fraud was now so large that police no longer had the capacity to investigate it. He added that forces in England and Wales only had the resources to probe 20 per cent of fraud reported to them.

In an exclusive interview with the Standard, he also called for a debate on bringing in new laws to force banks and financial institutions to keep data secure. Mr Leppard, 52, said it was difficult to establish the true scale of cyber fraud in the UK because high street banks do not routinely report offences to police.

Under Home Office rules, once a bank reimburses a fraud victim it technically becomes the victim itself. It is then up to the bank to report offences.

Mr Leppard said: "The banks will not give us information about crimes at the moment and there is no regulatory requirement to do so. I have been saying for some time that we must find ways of encouraging that.

"Unless the country and society can get a true feel about the nature of crime we cannot address it. I don't think we will necessarily get the banks and industry to do that voluntarily. We should have a conversation about whether it is time to regulate that - to find some sort of means by which it is enforced."

The City force took over Action Fraud, which collates fraud offences from the public and businesses, this year and now collects about one million reports a year.

In turn, the force's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau analyses reports and hands out packages to police forces across the UK to investigate.

About 30 per cent of all the cases are handed to the Met in London.

In addition the force now handles about 300 to 500 of the country's biggest fraud inquiries, with losses of up to £5?billion at any one time.

Mr Leppard said: "The bulk of everything we are taking is enabled by the internet. And of the known organised crime groups in Britain about 20 per cent are involved in some form of fraud or economic crime.

"It would not have been anywhere near that figure 10 years ago."

He said most economic crime in the UK was being committed by organised gangs based abroad. "This creates a problem because you cannot necessarily go upstream to target or extradite those people, which has led us to work really hard on prevention," he added.

Mr Leppard said a dedicated team was tasked with taking down the threats from crime gangs and with shutting down websites, so-called "mule" bank accounts and voice over internet phone numbers. He added that the unit is closing down about 3,000 of these sites a month and believes they are preventing about £500?million of fraud a year.

"It doesn't mean we can sit back and say we've finished our jobs," he said. "That's only the prevention work.

"We know the scale of the offending is huge and the police capacity to deal with it is not - which is why we have to move more and more into a mind-set of prevention."

He said that while businesses recognised the threat from cyber crime there was no regulatory standard about how information was kept secure.

"When we look at the scale and impact on the UK we should ask whether there should be a regulatory standard," he said. "I have been a detective for virtually all my service and I have never dealt with the complexity you see in fraud at the moment."

Mr Leppard praised Scotland Yard's decision to launch a cyber crime squad, noting that the force had a 10 per cent success rate for solving fraud cases - compared with the national average of 20 per cent.

He also wants a national campaign to highlight the problem, on the scale of the seatbelt or drink-drive crusades.

"We have lots of anti-fraud advice but no one knows it," he said. "We must reach young and retired people, who are facing a lot of investment fraud, as well as business. There needs to be a government-led wholesale approach to protecting society from cyber crime."

(1st January 2015) 

(The Register, dated 5th December 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article [Option 1] :

Despite concerns from individual countries, Europe's Justice Ministers are a step closer to working out who will protect Europeans' data from big internationals.

The so-called one-stop-shop principle, which was a cornerstone of ex-Commissioner Viviane Reding's Data Protection Regulation, has been dealt a blow after ministers refused to support it as originally planned. This week they seem to have reached some sort of piecemeal compromise.

The original plan was to regulate companies in the EU country in which they had their HQ, instead of dealing with 28 national regimes. But this would have seen Ireland responsible for vast amounts of data - as Facebook, Apple, Paypal, LinkedIn, Twitter et al are based there (primarily for tax reasons).

Other countries could not live with their citizens being solely regulated by the Irish Data Protection Authority (DPA), so now pan-European European Data Protection Board (EDPB) will oversee decisions by national DPAs.

And in the case of a dispute between national authorities, the board's final decision will be legally binding.

Of course everyone is still not happy. Ireland, in particular, is worried that the EDPB will be overwhelmed with cases and that European Court of Justice will end up being a one-stop-shop of last resort.

The UK is also opposed to the compromise because it believes that all decisions will end up being made at European rather than national level.

The current Data Protection Directive does not include any obligation for national DPAs to cooperate with each other, so it would appear that some progress is indeed being made. However such announcements at the end of a Council Presidency (the Italians have been heading up the council of ministers since July) should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

Every presidency is keen to say that it was instrumental in making a breakthrough in high profile legislation, hence the positive spin of Andrea Orlando, Italian Minister for Justice and President of the Council. "We see this as an important result for the Presidency, and a decisive step towards achieving global agreement on this complex and important file," he said.

But even he had to concede that "further technical work will need to be done in the coming months"... under the incoming Latvian EU presidency.

The current Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova says she is confident that a full council position on the draft law can be reached by March. Only then will negotiations start with the Commission and the Parliament. Expect this one to run and run.

(1st January 2015) 

(International Business Times, dated 5th December 2014 author Sean Martin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police in Kenya have arrested 77 Chinese nationals in connection with a cybercrime centre in Nairobi.

Authorities said a cybercrime ring in the capital was being operated from the dormitory-style homes of Chinese immigrants.

It is thought that they were "preparing to raid the country's communication systems", the police force said.

The Daily Nation newspaper reported that the criminals had equipment that would enable them to infiltrate bank accounts, Kenya's M-Pesa mobile banking system and cash machines.

The director of Kenya's Criminal Investigation Department, Ndegwa Muhorom said: "The suspects are being interrogated to establish their mission in the country and what they wanted to do with the communication gadgets. They have been charged in court."

Police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki added: "We want to do a thorough investigation over the matter and we are currently working on their travel documents."

Suspicion was originally aroused when officers were investigating a house fire which killed one person, a detective close to the matter said.

The same detective, who has not been named by the Daily Nation, said that the charges against the Chinese immigrants, who were apparently living in army dormitory-type housing, include being in the country illegally and operating radio equipment without the proper permits.

China's ambassador to Kenya has been summoned to "explain if his government was aware of the group's activities", the Standard newspaper reports.

Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed said: "China promised to send investigators to work with ours on this matter," and that it "is being investigated by the police working closely with the foreign ministry".

(1st January 2015) 

(The Guardian, dated 4th December 2014 author Alan Travis)

Full article [Option 1] :

A flagship Home Office scheme to deport foreign criminals and save £10m a year has led to only two offenders leaving the UK, according to a watchdog report published by immigration inspectors.

The report - which the home secretary, Theresa May, has sat on for more than five months - says a Home Office target of removing 62 immigration offenders under a conditional cautioning scheme has been wildly missed during the past 12 months.

May has still not published four other reports she received in August from John Vine, the chief inspector of borders and immigration. They are believed to include two highly critical reports on nationality and overstayers.

The flagship cautioning scheme was announced by the home secretary in April last year in an attempt to increase the number of deportations of foreign nationals charged with petty and low-level offences. Under the scheme individuals can avoid prosecution by agreeing to leave the UK for at least five years and accepting a caution.

But the Vine report says that the Home Office consistently missed its targets for offering cautions to foreign nationals who had been arrested by the police as well securing their removal.

The failure is uncovered in the inspection report on Operation Nexus, under which immigration officials work jointly with the police to boost the deportations of foreign criminals.

The chief inspector says Operation Nexus had more success in increasing the number of removals in London where there has been a 158% rise in the number of immigration offenders from 418 in 2011/12 to 1,077 in 2013/14.

But he found a similar effort in the West Midlands where immigration officials were "embedded" in three police custody suites was less effective.

The chief inspector says that only 336 out of 717 foreign criminals who identified themselves to the police had their immigration status checked and the number of removals barely improved during the period of the special operation.

Operation Nexus has since been extended to Manchester and Scotland but, as the Commons public accounts committee documented, there has been too little progress in increasing the number of foreign criminals leaving the country despite nearly £1bn being spent and a tenfold increase in staffing.

Vine said the police and immigration officials were more successful in targeting "high harm" criminals for deportation leading to 85 of them leaving Britain in the past year. He said that such successful cooperation showed the potential for Operation Nexus to be implemented successfully.

The immigration minister James Brokenshire said: "Since its inception, Operation Nexus has helped us remove over 3,200 foreign nationals including 194 dangerous immigration offenders considered by police to represent a particularly serious threat. We are pleased this report praises the positive impact Operation Nexus is having in London and the West Midlands, which have seen a rise of more than a third in the number of illegal immigrants identified through joint working with police since the inception of the operation in 2012. We are in the process of rolling Nexus out across the UK."

(1st January 2015) 

(The Register, dated 4th December 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

A new mobile Trojan is being pre-loaded onto smartphones somewhere in the supply chain.

DeathRing masquerades as a ringtone app and is impossible to remove because it's pre-installed in the system directory, according to mobile security firm Lookout. Samples of the malware are restricted to entry-level phones purchased in Asian and African countries (Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, Taiwan, and China).

"The Trojan masquerades as a ringtone app, but instead can download SMS and WAP content from its command and control server to the victim's phone," a blog post by Lookout explain. "It can then use this content for malicious means.

"For example, DeathRing might use SMS content to phish victim's personal information by fake text messages requesting the desired data. It may also use WAP, or browser, content to prompt victims to download further APKs - concerning given that the malware authors could be tricking people into downloading further malware that extends the adversary's reach into the victim's device and data."

DeathRing is loaded in the system directory of a number of devices, mostly from third-tier manufacturers selling phones to the developing world. These include counterfeit Samsung GS4/Note II, devices from Gionee and Hi-Tech Amaze Tab, among several others. Detection volumes of the mobile malware, reckoned to have been created in China, are "moderate".

Lookout says DeathRing is the second significant example of pre-installed mobile malware it has found on phones during 2014. Mouabad is also pre-installed somewhere in the supply chain and affected predominantly Asian countries, though Lookout did see some detections in Spain. The mobile security firm says the tactic of pre-installing nasties signals a shift in cybercriminal strategy towards distributing mobile malware via the supply chain.

"This is a concerning development for OEMs and retailers alike - the potential for phones to be compromised in the supply chain would have a significant impact on customer loyalty and trust in the brand," Lookout wrote.

(1st January 2015) 

(International Business Times, dated 3rd December 2014 author Anthony Cuthertson)

Full article [Option 1] :

Researchers have invented a breathalyser capable of instantly detecting whether a driver is under the influence of cannabis.

The team from Washington State University is not the first to develop such a device but it hopes to be the first to officially test it, the Seattle Times reports.

Current methods used for detecting high drivers involve either a lengthy blood test that can take up to 24 hours, or a less scientific 'field impairment test' on the roadside.

The handheld breathalyser uses 'ion-mobility technology' to detect the presence of THC, the chemical found in cannabis that causes psychological effects in the brain.

It is the same technology used by airport security to detect bombs and drugs and could be rolled out across Washington State Patrol to help fight the problem of drug driving.

Marijuana was legalised in the state of Washington in 2012, however officials have revealed that there has been no obvious increase in car accidents.

In 2013, the first full year since legalisation, fatal accidents in the state actually went down from the previous year, according to State Patrol figures.

Despite this, anti-legalisation campaigners have been critical of a lack of awareness when it comes to the dangers of driving high.

"Drivers are getting the message that driving under the influence of marijuana is acceptable because it is less dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol," said Kevin Sabet from the anti-legalisation group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

"But that doesn't mean it's safe. Of course it's not safe."

(1st January 2014) 

(Daily Mail, dated 2nd December 2014 author Darren Boyle)

Full article [Option 1] :

Almost 60 per cent of people have received a suspect 'cold-call' over the past twelve months according to new figures released today.

Financial Fraud Action UK, who represent banks, building societies and payment card companies have launched a major advertising campaign to warn consumers over potential 'vishing' voice-phishing scams.

As part of the fraud, criminals attempt to 'blag' sensitive personal information from the victim while on the phone by claiming to be a representative of a bank or financial institution.

In a survey, FFA UK found that the amount of money lost through phone scams has trebled to £23.9 million, while the number of people who have reported receiving suspicious calls has increased by almost a fifth to 59 percent.

The police-backed campaign urges consumers never to give out their four-digit PIN over the phone, even if they think they are talking to bank staff or a police officer.

The FFA UK added that consumers should also never give out online passwords over the phone or agree to transfer money to a new account.

The financial services anti-fraud body said cold calling scams typically involve fraudsters deceiving victims into believing they are speaking to a police officer, a member of bank staff, or a representative of another trusted organisation, such as a computer company. This type of scam is also known as vishing.

Another common scam involves a caller claiming that they have been alerted to a virus on the homeowner's computer. The homeowner is then asked for their credit card details to remove the non-existent computer bug.

Fraudsters will then try to get consumers to disclose passwords, transfer funds, or physically hand over money to someone who they say is a courier who will hold the cash for safekeeping.

Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, head of the dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit, said: 'Always be on your guard if you receive a cold call and are asked for personal or financial information, or to hand over your card or cash to someone.

'The bank or the police will never tell you to take such actions, so if you're asked it can only be a criminal attack.'

The FFA UK adds that fraudsters may ask consumers to hang up and phone back, in a bid to win confidence. But this is a trick where the receiver is not put down at their end, leaving the line open, allowing the fraudster to simply restart the conservation when the consumer thinks a new call has been made.

Mr Stokes said if consumers are suspicious they should wait a full five minutes before calling back, call a friend first to make sure the line is free, or return the call from another phone.

Further information

Financial Fraud Action website ;

Financial Fraud Action vishing guidance :

(1st January 2015)

(BBC News, dated 2nd December 2014 author Angus Crawford)

Full article :

Data taken from tens of millions of child abuse photos and videos will shortly be used as part of a new police system to aid investigations into suspected paedophiles across the UK.

The obscene material was seized during previous operations.

The project, called the Child Abuse Image Database (Caid), will be launched by the Prime Minister at an internet safety event on Thursday 11 December.

But one expert warned its success depended on it being properly staffed.

Image Database

BBC News was given exclusive access to the database while it was under development.

It is intended to avoid offices duplicating each others' efforts when cataloguing identical copied images. It was created by a team of coders working in a grey, concrete office block in central Gothenburg, Sweden. They suggested the project would transform the way child abuse investigations were carried out in the UK. "We're looking at 70, 80, up to 90% work load reduction," said Johann Hofmann, law enforcement liaison officer for Netclean, one of the companies involved. "We're seeing investigations being reduced from months to days."

Two other tech firms - Hubstream and L-3 ASA - have also been involved in the effort, which is backed by a two-year, £720,000 contract.

Unidentified victims

Detectives in the UK often seize computers, mobile devices or USB memory sticks with hundreds of thousands of images on them.

At present, they have to go through the images manually one by one to categorise their severity and start a prosecution.

It can mean some material is never analysed, meaning new victims are not identified and cannot be rescued.

Recently, the children's charity NSPCC said it was gravely concerned about a lack of police forensic experts. It claimed that forces were seizing hundreds of computers each year, but didn't have the staff to examine all of them.

Mr Hofmann said the software would help automate more of the process.

"We want investigators to spend more time looking at the new material, instead of looking at the same images over and over again," he explained.

"Because we know that these images are typically traded and the same images appear in investigation after investigation."

Digital finger print

To help compare the images, Caid makes use of a unique signature assigned to each one - known as a hash value - the equivalent of a "digital fingerprint".

Detectives will be able to plug seized hard drives into the system so they can be scanned and their contents similarly encoded to see if the resulting signatures match.

Other techniques, including object matching and visual similarity analysis, are also employed.

The system should be able to identify known images, classify the content, and flag up those never seen before within minutes.

In a demonstration seen by the BBC, a green flag was triggered by innocent images, while known images of abuse were flagged red.

Caid will also be able to use GPS data from photographs to pinpoint where they were taken.

"Local investigators can spend more time being more victim centred, trying to find new victims," said Mr Hofmann.

Detectives will also be able to upload new, unfamiliar images of child abuse to a central computer server so that colleagues elsewhere in the UK can help try and identify those involved.

Tom Simmons, a former senior child protection officer who also worked at the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), said the initiative should lessen pressure on officers by reducing the amount of material they have to see.

"It's horrendous at times, clicking through image after image," he said.

He says a lack of resources, the harrowing nature of the material, and the scale of the problem can cause burn out.

"There could be hundreds of thousands, even millions of images on that hard drive that the officer may have to go through," he said.

"You could be seeing children effectively being tortured - that does become very difficult sometimes to get those images out of your head."

'Fizzle out' risk

But some experts in the field have their doubts about Caid's potential.

A similar system, called Childbase, was launched in 2003 by Ceop and the Home Office.

It contained seven million images and used ground-breaking facial-recognition software.

It was rolled out to police forces across the UK, but in 2011 it was switched off.

Sharon Girling received an OBE for her work on the scheme. She believes it failed because of a lack of trained officers.

"We have increased numbers of offenders since 2011. How the heck are we going to get sufficient officers today?" She fears that Caid may "fizzle out" unless it is properly resourced.

"Childbase ceased to exist because of a lack of resources, because there weren't sufficient officers."

"I can only see that happening again with Caid, as much as I don't want that to happen, I fear that it may well do".

Caid will also be able to use GPS data from photographs to pinpoint where they were taken.

"Local investigators can spend more time being more victim centred, trying to find new victims," said Mr Hofmann.

(1st January 2015)


(Press Association via BT News, dated 1st December 2014)

Full article [Option 1] :

Six police and crime commissioners have been investigated by the policing watchdog for England and Wales since they took up their posts two years ago.

The probes include one into expenses claims, and another into an allegation of a commissioner driving without insurance, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

The commissioners are publicly elected and serve a number of functions including holding the police and chief constables to account and ensuring community needs are met effectively, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners website says.

Since 2012 the IPCC has had 43 referrals - complaints made to police forces which have been referred to the body - relating to just over half of the 41 police and crime commissioners.

The IPCC said 14 of those referrals were about commissioners not being registered as information providers. None of those referrals were investigated.

Of the six investigations, information has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over a complaint regarding expenses claimed before Clive Grunshaw took up his role in Lancashire.

Durham commissioner Ron Hogg is being investigated for benefits received while serving with another police force. The IPCC said it is finalising its report and will then decide whether to refer it to the CPS.

Investigations into North Wales commissioner Winston Roddick and Hampshire commissioner Simon Hayes over allegations of electoral fraud are complete and no further action will be taken, the IPCC said.

Kent commissioner Ann Barnes is being probed over an allegation of driving without insurance.

An investigation also took place in Bedfordshire, although the IPCC did not disclose the nature of the probe and said no further action was after a file was sent to the CPS regarding Olly Martins.

The IPCC said it is "managing" a further investigation by City of London Police into travel expenses claimed by commissioner Stephen Bett in Norfolk.

The IPCC says on its website: "When we receive a referral, we will consider the matter and any other information available. Having taken into account the seriousness of the case and the public interest, we then decide on the method of investigation."

The watchdog said it expects to make an announcement soon regarding a referral relating to former police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire Shaun Wright.

He resigned earlier this year following a report by Professor Alexis Jay which found that more than 1,400 children had been subjected to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Mr Wright was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children's services between 2005 and 2010.

The Jay report criticised the way South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council dealt with complaints from teenage girls who said they had been raped and trafficked by gangs of men.

(1st December 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 4th December 2014 author Ian Weinfass) [Option 1]

German police are urging their UK counterparts to become a fully-fledged member of an international policing network designed to tackle crime at music festivals.

It has become apparent that seemingly low level theft is being carried out at the behest of organised by crime gangs selling on mobile phones on a massive scale.

Chief Inspector Jens Liedhegener of the Munich Police Department visited Leicestershire this week to speak to English officers.

He explained to "Criminals at festivals are not a regional or national problem, it's an international problem. There's a real need to share the information in Europe.

"We set up the organisation of the intelligence about festivals in 2009, just at a national level. Since the beginning of 2014 we have tried to join it up at the international level."

Seven European countries are involved, with the UK partially sharing information - but there is not currently an official unit which forces disseminate information to in this country, and which can pass it on to other countries.

He said: "It looks like petty crime just stealing some stuff at festivals but at a festival last year in the Netherlands five people stole more than 300 phones in two days.

"It's increasing across Europe - Sweden was not really affected until last year there was an event with 300 phones stolen and no one arrested.

"It's a pretty big problem in last two weeks we had five concerts targeted by these groups in Germany. We know they have been to the UK, they have travelled to Germany on UK registered cars."

The gangs target indoor concerts in the winter months, and large scale outdoor festivals in summer.

Catching the thieves themselves has sometimes been successful and a large proportion have been found to be from Romania. But finding those organising the crime is proving more difficult.

"We get the soldiers but we need to identify the person who is paying for the festival ticket, sometimes they have five or seven tickets. Who is paying the bill of more than £1,000 each time?" Ch Insp Liedhegener said.

"This year 90 per cent [of the criminals caught] are known to have worked in the UK so the information given from the UK is really important to be known in the other areas to get an overview. It would be really great if we can bring the UK in 100 per cent. With Germany and the UK as the drivers of that I think we can be really powerful." understands that there are currently discussions being held regarding whether Britain will join the scheme.

Ch Insp Liedhegener was in England to attend the second National Festival and Events Intelligence Conference hosted by Leicestershire Police.

More than 110 delegates from forces across the UK, as well as one from Ireland's Gardai Sochana, met to share best practice around large scale music events.

(1st January 2015)

(Police Oracle, dated 1st December 2014 author Helena Hickey) [Option 1]

Police forces across the country are today (Dec 1) fully implementing a new scheme to reform stop and search powers.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme in April, with many forces launching aspects of it in August.

Thirty five forces are now implementing all aspects of the voluntary scheme, which aims to contribute to a reduction in the overall use of the practice, lead to more intelligence-led stop and search and deliver more effective outcomes.

Measures include increasing transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search, restricting use of Section 60 "no suspicion" powers and giving members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice.

A community complaints trigger will be also be introduced, ensuring complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised.

The remaining eight forces are already implementing some aspects and have said the scheme will become fully operational over the next few months. British Transport Police is also set to join the scheme before the end of the year.

"These powers are vital in the fight against crime when used correctly. However, they must be applied fairly and only when needed - and in a way that builds community confidence rather than undermining it," said Ms May.

"Our stop and search reforms are working. The number of searches are down under this government, by 15 per cent in the last year alone. But we cannot be complacent and must ensure that the public can hold the police to account for their use of these powers."

She added that following an eight-week consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), she will lay a revision to Code A - which governs the use of stop and search - in parliament this week.

This will make it clear to officers what constitutes reasonable grounds for suspicion and emphasise that any misuse of the powers will lead to performance or disciplinary procedures.

Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said he was confident the new scheme will have a positive impact.

He said: "I am pleased to say that Sussex Police has adopted the Home Office scheme, which will lead to greater transparency and allow the community to hold us to account on the way we use our stop and search powers.

"By using the powers effectively we can prevent crime and build public trust and confidence with the communities we serve."

(1st January 2015)





(The Register, dated 19th November 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article [Option 1] :

Vietnam, India and Indonesia will be the distributed denial of service volcanoes of next year due to the profieration of pwned mobiles, according to DDoS security bod Shawn Marck.

Vietnam clocked in fifth place in the firm's latest threat report, in which India and Indonesia did not feature, outpaced by China, the US, Russia and Germany.

"The new up-and-coming countries of origin for DDoS attacks identified by the Black Lotus mitigation team are Vietnam, India and Indonesia," the company said in the report.

"While these countries don't have the large bandwidth necessary to launch massive volumetric DDoS attacks, the large number of compromised end point devices, particularly smart mobile phones, make these countries prime sources of newly created botnets."

Attacks would become fewer and easier for big networks to handle, according to co-founder Marck, but would remain a pain for smaller businesses.


(Computer World, dated 17th November 2014 author Darlene Storm)

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The State Department joins the White House, the United States Postal Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on a growing list of hacked government agencies. Expect to hear of more government networks infiltrated as a Georgia Institute of Technology report on emerging cyber threats in 2015 (pdf) states, "Low-intensity online nation-state conflicts become the rule, not the exception."

The White House detected suspicious activity on its unclassified network in late October. Although the State Department found "no indication" of being compromised at that time, now a department official claims the "activity of concern" was detected around the same time as the attack on the White House's network. It's unclear why so much time passed after its network was infiltrated before the State Department slammed on the brakes and took the "unprecedented step of shutting down its entire unclassified email system."


(The Register, dated 14th November 2014 author Darren Pauli)

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Spammers are using loop holes in the internet routing registry to commandeer address space and pump out junk mail, and potentially launch denial of service attacks and steal traffic.

As explained by cyber crime reporter Brian Krebs and Cisco researcher Jaeson Schultz, IP addresses can be snatched by scammers who establish bogus overseas internet service providers.

The two examined Bulgarian provider Mega Spred which commandeered an Irish hosting providers' unused address space, plonking it and that owned by many others on spam blacklists by announcing to the internet it was the new respective authority.

That announcement was gobbled up as truth making the scammer the new owner of the stolen space through which spam could be delivered at the expense of the reputation of the former legitimate hosting provider.

(The Register, dated 14th November 2014 author John Leyden)

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HSBC Turkey has confessed to a security breach exposing the details of 2.7m credit card accounts but the bank has made a decision not to reissue cards after deciding that the data exposed is not enough to make fraudulent transactions.

The compromise - limited to the international bank's business in Turkey - exposed credit card numbers, expiration dates, names, and the associated HSBC account number.

The breach was detected internally and has not been linked to any fraudulent transactions, as a notice (PDF, English language) by HSBC Turkey explains. The bank said it "identified the attack in the past week through our internal controls".

Often serious security breaches are only caught by third parties or government agencies rather than the victim itself. Trey Ford, global security strategist at Rapid7, the developers of Metasploit, credited HSBC Turkey for spotting the breach quickly.


(The Register, dated 13th November 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

The UK government last week partnered with 12 insurance companies to develop the "cyber-insurance" market. But experts are split on whether encouraging the development of the nascent market will result in the adoption of improved security practices.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that while cyber insurance adds an extra layer of protection for organisations it needed be used in combination with good cyber-security practices more generally in order to get the best results.

The government is promoting the growth of the cyber insurance market as a means of improving cyber security risk management. It says the insurance sector can improve good practice by asking the right questions of customers in relation to their cyber breach and operational risk policies.


(The Register, dated 13th November 2014 author John Leyden)

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Advanced-fee fraudsters are adopting the tactics of state-sponsored hackers in attacks targeting small- to medium-sized businesses, rather than large corporates, according to research from Trend Micro.

419 gangs are using the Predator Pain and Limitless keyloggers to steal network credentials through spear-phishing attacks, mimicking the tactics of so-called APT-style attacks most associated with state-sponsored hackers.

"The common attack scenarios by cybercriminals using these toolkits involve sending out business-themed messages to publicly listed email addresses," Trend Micro warns. "The emails contain a keylogger that sends information back to the cybercriminal via email, FTP, or Web panel (PHP): system information, keystrokes, browser-cached account credentials, and screenshots."

A 419 scam typically involves promising the victim a significant sum of money, for which the fraudster requires a small up-front payment.

These stolen network credentials are being used to further 419-style scams. The two main goals of a run of attacks spotted by Trend Micro over the last few months are sending "419 or Nigerian scams through easy-to-deploy, high-volume attacks" and "scammed corporate emails that convince recipients to deposit payment to specially crafted accounts".


(The Register, dated 11th November 2014 author Richard Chirgwin)

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Germany's spooks have come under fire for reportedly seeking funds to find bugs - not to fix them, but to hoard them.

According to The Süddeutsche Zeitung, the country's BND - its federal intelligence service - wants €300 million in funding for what it calls the Strategic Technical Initiative. The Local says €4.5 million of that will be spent seeking bugs in SSL and HTTPS.

The BND is shopping for zero-day bugs not to fix them, but to exploit them, the report claims, and that's drawn criticism from NGOs, the Pirate Party, and the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). German Pirate Party president Stefan Körner told The Local people should fear governments more than cyber-terror.

(The Register, dated 7th November 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1] :

Crooks using phishing pages to grab victims' passwords have apparently upped their game - by using proxy servers rather than static pages to craft legit-looking websites.

Normally, thieves recreate a web page - such as a login page for an online shop or webmail - and stick it on a compromised server, then direct marks towards that counterfeit page in hope they fall for the trick and type in their username and password, or bank card details.

Savvy netizens should be able to spot a dodgy-looking page, so now crims are directing people to servers that fetch legit pages from the website being impersonated and pass those on to the mark to convince them it's safe to hand over their personal details.

The in-between relay can even lower prices of stuff being sold online to lure in people looking for a bargain.


(Computer World, dated 4th November 2014 author Zach Miners)

Full article [Option 1] :

Facebook received nearly 35,000 requests for user data from governments around the world during the first half of 2014, up 24 percent from roughly 28,000 requests made during 2013's second half.

The uptick indicates the value governments place on the personal information Facebook has on file for its 1.35 billion users who log in at least monthly. The majority of these requests, Facebook said Tuesday, relate to criminal cases like robberies or kidnappings, targeting data like subscriber information as well as IP address logs and actual content.

The U.S. dominated in the number of requests, with 15,433 queries targeting 23,667 people, or well less than 1 percent of Facebook's total users, according to the company's third report on such requests. India clocked in second with 4,559 requests, with France, Germany and the U.K. each having more than 2,000 requests.


(Computer World, dated 3rd November 2014)

Full article [Option 1] : governmentspies.html#tk.CTWNLE_nlt_security_2014-11-04

Its one thing to be lectured to about Wi-Fi security and quite another thing to see the actual manuals used by government spies.

At The Intercept, Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire have just published software manuals from "The hacking suite for governmental interception." The software is called Remote Control System (RCS) and it is made by an Italian company, Hacking Team.

The many data breaches over the years have yielded millions upon millions of in-the-wild passwords.

A password such as "Mickey Mouse" may be found in a dictionary, but phrases like "DisneysMickey", "IlikeMickeyMouse" or "MinnieMouserules" will not be. But chances are that some person, somewhere, used that as their password at one time. If that password was stolen in a data breach, it may have been added to a database of in-the-wild passwords.

Did you go to Denver last year? Some people did and important things happened to them there. No doubt "Denver2013" has been used as a password by someone, somewhere at some time. Thus, you shouldn't use it.

(1st December 2014)

(BBC News, dated 29th November 2014)

Full article :

There could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, higher than previous figures, analysis for the Home Office suggests.

Modern slavery victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, "imprisoned" domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.

The figure for 2013 is the first time the government has made an official estimate of the scale of the problem.

The Home Office has launched a strategy to help tackle slavery.

It said the victims included people trafficked from more than 100 countries - the most prevalent being Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and Romania - as well as British-born adults and children.

Data from the National Crime Agency's Human Trafficking Centre last year put the number of slavery victims in the UK at 2,744.

The assessment was collated from sources including police, the UK Border Force, charities and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

The Home Office said it used established statistical methodology and models from other public policy contexts to estimate a "dark figure" that may not have come to the NCA's attention.

It said the "tentative conclusions" of its analysis is that the number of victims is higher than thought.

Concerted action

The Modern Slavery Bill going through Parliament aims provide courts in England and Wales with new powers to protect people who are trafficked into the countries and held against their will. Scotland and Northern Ireland are planning similar measures.

But outlining the strategy for government departments, its agencies and partners, Home Secretary Theresa May said legislation was "only part of the answer".

The "grim reality" is that slavery still exists in towns, cities and the countryside across the world, including the UK, she said.

"The time has come for concerted, co-ordinated action. Working with a wide-range of partners, we must step up the fight against modern slavery in this country, and internationally, to put an end to the misery suffered by innocent people around the world."

The Home Office said the UK Border Force would roll out specialist trafficking teams at major ports and airports to spot potential victims, and the legal framework would be strengthened for confiscating the proceeds of crime.

The modern slavery strategy will also see:

- The government identify "priority countries" to work with, as well as other organisations including churches

- British embassies and high commissions and NCA liaison officers develop local initiatives abroad

- Work to strengthen the response by local authorities to child abuse, including trafficking

- Work to raise awareness among homeless shelter staff of the signs of modern slavery

- Modern slavery minister Karen Bradley told the BBC she was not surprised by the figures.

She said: "This is very much a hidden crime and the important thing is that we get it out in the open. If we compare where we were 200 years ago, the anti-slavery campaigners there had to make people acknowledge that slavery was wrong.

"What we have to do today is not make people acknowledge it's wrong - everybody knows it's wrong - but we have to find it.

"It's a hidden crime, it's going on in streets, in towns, in villages across Britain and we need to help people find the signs of it so we can find those victims and importantly then find the perpetrators."

Aidan McQuade, director of charity Anti-Slavery International, said the Home Office's figures "sounded about right" but questioned whether the government's strategy went far enough.

He told the BBC : "If you leave an employment relationship, even if you're suffering from any sort of exploitation up to and including forced labour, even if you're suffering from all sorts of physical and sexual violence, you'll be deported.

"So that gives an enormous power in the hands of unscrupulous employers. And frankly the protections which the government has put in place are not worth the paper they're written on in order to prevent this sort of exploitation once they've given employers that sort of power."

(1st December 2014)

(Sky News, dated 27th November 2014 author Martin Brunt)

Full article [Option 1] :

Police are caught in a time warp and must adapt if they are to tackle modern crimes, a new report has warned.

Many officers are not skilled enough to deal efficiently with criminals' use of technology, nor do they properly understand the vulnerability of victims, the report concludes.

Inspectors said there was a "deficit in skill and experience of officers investigating crimes".

Nearly half the forces, including two of the biggest, are not good in investigating everyday crime, the report says.

The findings come after a damning inspection of all 43 police forces by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

HMIC Chief Inspector Tom Winsor said: "The landscape in which police forces are operating has changed beyond recognition in recent years and continues to evolve quickly.

"Unreported crime such as cybercrime and crimes against vulnerable people, the most disturbing of which is child sexual exploitation, is not an emerging threat. It is here now."

The report prompted a furious response from Bedfordshire, judged one of the worst performing forces.

Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said the force was underfunded, yet was managing to recruit staff while facing more budget cuts.

Mr Martins said: "I therefore despair of HMIC's attitude towards Bedfordshire Police. They have a real 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' approach that is particularly unhelpful.

"Indeed, their negative and injudicious use of language about the force could impact on staff morale and public confidence, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

The HMIC said forces had done well in dealing with anti-social behaviour, preventing crime and coping with budget cuts.

More Government-imposed spending cuts are expected and police chiefs predict current officer staff levels of 129,000 will be reduced by 34,000 over the next five years.

Mr Winsor said: "For too long the debate on policing has focused on its capacity: the number of officers, the proportion of officers on the front line and the size of police budgets.

"These are important matters, but so too are the capabilities of forces, the skills, technology, equipment, quality of officers and how well they are led."

Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "We are continuing to make changes at pace.

"Adapting to cyber-crime is a challenge but we are working transform our response by recruiting people with specialist skills and training our own staff to prevent and detect those who seek to use technology to harm or steal from us.

"We've invested in specialist investigators for sexual abuse and changed the way we work with other agencies to protect children."

The HMIC is launching an online tool where people can see how well their local force is performing :

(1st December 2014)


(International Business Times, dated 26th November 2014 author David Sim)

Full article [Option 1] :

US police are under pressure not only for the killing of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, but also for the military-style response to the sometimes violent protests that followed.

The sight of police in camouflage gear brandishing assault rifles, backed up by armoured vehicles was a reminder that some US police departments have acquired military-surplus hardware from wars abroad.

Many other law enforcement agencies around the world have rules of engagement that allow lethal force to be used relatively freely. But for every regulation that gives police wide scope to use firearms, there is another code that sharply limits their use.

Reuters photographers around the world took portraits of police officers, and asked them at what point are they legally permitted to use force to control crowds.


Interior Ministry decrees that, when peaceful methods of resolution have failed, police must warn violent demonstrators that there will be a "progressive, differentiated use of force". While no firearms must be carried for peaceful demonstrations, when things turn violent, the emphasis is on avoiding harm to children, pregnant women and the elderly, and no force is to be used on those who avoid violence or are withdrawing from the scene.


Police, often themselves the target of armed attacks, are officially authorised to respond with weapons "and explosives" against a group of people only if it has ... disturbed security by means of arms, and if the use of other means of force ... has proved ineffective". Afghan police are required to give no fewer than six warnings - three verbal and three warning shots - before using force in this situation.

Mexico and India

Riot police follow defined escalation protocols that go from verbal warnings to physical constraint, tear gas, water cannon or pepper spray, rubber bullets or baton rounds, and then use of firearms.

Yet while Mexican police commanders can decide when to escalate, India's Rapid Action Force requires approval from an on-the-spot magistrate for each new step.

Many countries spell out that any use of firearms is a last resort, though this can be defined many ways.
Many West European countries allow firearms to be used "where necessary" to detain suspects or to prevent a serious crime.

Britain, Serbia, Bosnia and the Philippines

Allow guns to be fired only if a life is at risk.

Britain stands out for its insistence that "individual officers are accountable and responsible for any use of force and must be able to justify their actions in law".

In Bosnia, police are permitted to use force ranging from batons to chemical irritants, water cannon, "binding agents, special firearms and explosive devices", following a warning, but only when other methods of control have proved ineffective, and not against the young, old or disabled unless these use firearms. The method must be "proportional to the resistance or violence coming from the person on whom the force is used".

United Nations (Europe)

Police at the extraterritorial United Nations buildings in Geneva are not subject to Swiss law but still conform to local police rules. These rules, like those governing police in Italy, Austria and Belgium, specify that the use of force must be "proportionate".


Human rights monitors say, this means firearms can never be used for crowd control.


In Italy, police and the paramilitary Carabinieri follow guidelines that say the use of weapons is allowed only in the line of duty, when it is an "unavoidable necessity to overcome resistance, stop violence, or prevent a [serious] crime", and that the response must be proportionate to the situation


The use of lethal force is permitted to tackle rioting or to detain a dangerous suspect, but only when less dangerous methods "appear inappropriate or have proved to be ineffective", and with the aim of avoiding serious injury where possible. The use must be proportionate, and be preceded by a warning.

(1st December 2014) 

(FBI website, dated 26th November 2014)

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The FBI's annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report that was released earlier this week details in chilling narratives and statistics how 76 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2013.

While the LEOKA report offers a stark reminder of the dangers police face every day, the main reason for gathering the comprehensive data about line-of-duty fatalities, assaults, and accidents is to prevent them from occurring in the future. In addition to collecting details about the critical aspects of fatal confrontations and assaults, the FBI's LEOKA program conducts extensive research on the data that eventually gets incorporated into the officer safety awareness training the FBI provides for partner agencies.

"It's a three-prong program," said Brian McAllister, a training instructor for LEOKA, a unit in the Bureau's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. "LEOKA is about data, it's about research, and it's about training."

The data is collected from participating agencies across the country as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program and is published in conjunction with Crime in the United States, the FBI's annual dissemination of crime statistics. Over the years, researchers led by the LEOKA program have performed deep-dives into the data and published research aimed at giving officers a sharper understanding of what types of scenarios and circumstances have resulted in fatalities and assaults-and how to avoid them. The research delves well beyond statistics to include in-depth interviews with officers who were victims of assaults or involved in incidents that resulted in officer fatalities. The LEOKA program staff-former police officers-also interview the perpetrators of police deaths, hoping to provide a window into what compelled them to make a fatal move on a law enforcement officer.

For rookie and veteran officers going through LEOKA's Officer Safety Awareness Training, it's these first-hand accounts that bring the job's dangers to the fore. "It's a wake-up call for officers in the class to see and listen to an interview with an offender who has killed a police officer," said McAllister, who conducts some of the interviews in addition to teaching the eight-hour seminars.

"It makes a huge impact on these guys," said Lt. Herb Rosenbaum, of the Trussville Police Department near Birmingham, Alabama. "When we're out on the road, we all have a tendency to fall into a routine. You've made a thousand traffic stops and you've never been challenged. This brings it back to the forefront."

The LEOKA program has released three multi-year studies tailored toward improving officer safety-Killed in the Line of Duty (1992), In the Line of Fire (1997), and Violent Encounters (2006). Each zeroed in on a subset of fatality and assault cases in prior years and looked for common threads that might illustrate better ways to assess or respond to a situation.

More recent statistics have shown a significant uptick in ambushes and unprovoked attacks on police, which prompted the LEOKA program to embark on a new study in 2013 that will include the unique perspectives of ambush victims and perpetrators. The study, due out in 2016, is reviewing cases from 1995 to 2011, looking for general themes of offender motives and officer perceptions.

"We want to figure out why the offenders were doing what they were doing and how the police officers reacted to see if there's anything we can link in the study that would enhance police officer safety," said James Sheets, a LEOKA training instructor.

Special Agent Michael Freeman, who coordinates training for the Norfolk (Virginia) Field Office, said LEOKA training is popular with police departments and other agencies in his region. He said the sobering information and first-person accounts help ensure against complacency.

"What adds so much value," Freeman said, "is receiving the perception of the offender and why that individual made the decision to challenge that law enforcement professional."

(1st December 2014) 

(International Business Times, dated 25th November 2014 author Lianna Brinded0

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The University of Virginia will hold an emergency summit to review campus culture amid a raft of frat party gang rape allegations.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the panel of authorities has also called for an independent investigation into its policies on sexual assault, after another claim over gang rape surfaced this month.

"We recognise that sexual violence is a problem in our fraternities and we recognise that we, the students, can be catalysts for the solution," said Tommy Reid, president of UVA's Inter-Fraternity Council in a media statement.

According to the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, the University of Virginia is one of 88 institutions being investigated for the rise in sexual assaults.

Meanwhile, the WSJ said that there has been a 50% rise in the number of sexual assaults on the Virginia campus.

The university's president, Teresa Sullivan, has already been suspended by the college and fraternity members on campus are tipped to be re-examining its party scene.

The university has also agreed to withdraw the appointment of former federal judge and prosecutor Mark Filip as an "independent counsel" to lead the probe about its sexual assault policies after it emerged that he used to be a member of the college's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

Further Information

Reuters article :

US Departent of Education list of the 88 US Educational establishments where investigations into sexual assault are taking place :

(1st December 2014) 

(The Register, dated 25th November 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

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A European deal to share airline travellers' personal information with Canada could be chucked out after MEPs asked the ECJ to intervene.

On Tuesday, the European Parliament voted by 383 to 271 to refer the EU-Canada PNR (air passenger data) agreement to the European Court of Justice over concerns that such mass collection and storage of data is against fundamental privacy rights.

The bilateral deal was signed in June this year after long negotiations. However, in April the ECJ threw out the Data Retention Directive, with many parliamentarians concerned the PNR agreement might breach EU law in the same way.

PNR data is information on passengers collected by air carriers and includes name, dates of travel, address, email, phone numbers, credit card number, etc. Those arguing against the deal say that such blanket data retention not only breaches fundamental rights, but is also ineffective.

"There is no proof that the mass collection and storage of air passenger data helps in combating terrorism, as some claim," said Green euro lawmaker Jan Philipp Albrecht. "The recent attack on the Canadian parliament would not have been prevented by PNR exchange for example. While the exchange of passenger data may create a false sense of security, it is neither necessary nor effective in fighting terrorism and involves a large and unjustifiable cost."

Austrian MEP Jörg Leichtfried also said data protection concerns must be taken seriously: "We should not rush into an agreement that has potentially far-reaching consequences for the civil liberties of EU citizens and might undermine ongoing work on the data protection package."

The EU-Canada PNR agreement requires the consent of the European Parliament before it can be made law, but that will not now be forthcoming until the ECJ gives its legal opinion.

But it doesn't end there. If the ECJ decides that the deal with Canada is illegal, it would have clear implications for similar agreements with the US and Australia.

(1st December 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 24th November 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

Banks, pension funds and other financial institutions should be legally compelled to disclose to police whenever they fall victim to a cyber attack, City of London Police's most senior officer has said.

Commissioner Adrian Leppard said making it a legal requirement for banks to tell police such information could mean vital steps could be taken to protect others.

He was speaking at the Financial Crimes and Cyber-Security Symposium in New York, where he also called for the two global cities to forge a tighter policing relationship.

His announcement comes ahead of a programme in which the New York District Attorney's office and City of London Police will swap staff to give personnel a wider range of experience of thwarting what the Commissioner has described as a "common enemy".

Security experts have previously warned that many successful attempts by cyber-criminals to defraud banks have gone unreported to police because of reluctance on the part of financial institutions to tacitly admit that their systems are not 100 per cent secure.

Commissioner Leppard said it was crucial to take a proactive approach to cyber threats by putting in place "technical and legal systems that will keep trading platforms secure from malware and prevent companies from being compromised by a rogue employee or weak IT systems".

He said global markets could be brought to a standstill by a massive cyber attack - and he suggested terrorists could attempt this in a bid to wreck havoc on the global economy.

However, some police insiders say cyber-criminals are increasingly turning their attention away from large scale attacks and are instead perpetrating small scale fraud against vast numbers of private individuals on an industrial scale because Wall Street and the City of London are now so "target hardened".

Such "en masse" attacks can yield big profits for criminal enterprises - and because only small amounts of money are taken from each individual victim through email scams, the likelihood that people will report the crime or even notice it is lessened.

Each of the thousands of individuals targeted in such a way has only a tiny sum removed from their account.

Because private individuals have less sophisticated online security than big international banks, the risks for the criminals and technical expertise required are far lower.

Earlier this month Professor Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, told the geographical rationale for giving City of London Police primacy in cyber-fraud and similar investigations may now be redundant because of the borderless nature of the web.

He said: "You might have a victim of fraud in Hampshire, but the perpetrator is in London and there are other victims in Dorset and Devon and Cornwall - and that is just thinking about it on a national scale, when in fact it is international."

He suggested setting up a new branch of the National Crime Agency to act as a kind of internet police force with responsibility for the lawless dark web.

(1st December 2014) 

(International Business Times / Rueters, dated 23rd November 2014)

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The owner of a bed factory that supplied major retailers, including Next and John Lewis, has reportedly become the first head of a UK company to be charged with human trafficking offences.

Mohammed Rafiq, who owns Kozeesleep, and two of his employees have been charged with conspiracy to facilitate travel within the UK for exploitation, according to the Sunday Times.

Staff supplied to Kozeesleep in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, were forced to work for less than £2 a day.

Authorities were alerted in 2011, when a 20-year-old trafficking victim contacted charity Hope for Justice. The charity helped the man to escape to a safe house, leading to the escape of more victims.

West Yorkshire police launched Operation Tavernhouse, which resulted in the conviction of Hungarian traffickers Janos Orsos, 43, and Ferenc Illes, 25, in May.

The traffickers' Hungarian victims survived on scraps of food, with up to 42 men living in a single two-bedroom house. They worked for up to 20 hours a day and were paid as little as £10 a week.

One of their victims was paid just £30 for more than 21 weeks' work. He was also severely undernourished and lost more than 22lb in weight. Police said the victims had essentially been kept as slaves.

A lawyer for Kozeesleep told Next that Orsos had threatened staff until they handed over their wages, and that the salaries of some temporary staff were paid directly to Orsos, according to the Sunday Times.

Orsos and Illes were given five and three-year prison sentences respectively.

Rafiq has been bailed and will appear before magistrates in December. Both John Lewis and Next have now terminated their contracts with his companies.

Kevin Hyland, the UK's new anti-slavery commissioner, said: "This should act as a warning to UK firms. If evidence arises that companies are using slaves in Britain, then they will be targeted by our law enforcement agencies."

Kozeesleep's latest accounts show that it had a turnover of £18m last year, with profits of £186,000.

(1st December 2014) 


(International Business Times, dated 22nd November 2014 author Aaron Akinyemi)

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Human rights group Amnesty International has helped launch a new tool that helps journalists and activists detect government snooping.

The Detekt programme is designed to help expose spyware and allows users to scan their computers for surveillance tools.

Amnesty International said Detekt is the first freely available tool that allows people to find out if their devices are being monitored without their knowledge.

The software can detect bugs designed to monitor Skype conversations and gives users the opportunity to take necessary precautions to protect themselves against surveillance.

The programme was developed by security researcher Claudio Guarnieri and was launched in conjunction with NGOs Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International.

Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty International, said governments around the world are using "cowardly methods" to keep human rights abuses disclosed.

"Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists' and journalists' private emails and remotely turn on their computer's camera or microphone to secretly record their activities," he said.

"They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed. Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action."

According to the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports, the annual trade in surveillance technologies is worth more than £3bn and growing.

Amnesty International wants governments to establish strict trade controls that require national authorities to assess the human rights threat of surveillance equipment before authorising any transfer.

"The surveillance technology market is out of control," Marczynski added. "We desperately need strong legal regulations to bring it in line with human rights standards.

"The negative consequences and dangers of the uncontrolled use of these powerful technologies are enormous and they need to be controlled.

"Detekt is a great tool which can help activists stay safe, but ultimately the only way to prevent these technologies from being used to violate or abuse human rights is to establish and enforce strict controls on their use and trade.

"It represents a strike back against governments who are using information obtained through surveillance to arbitrarily detain, illegally arrest and even torture human rights defenders and journalists."

(Amnesty Website - press release dated 20th November 2014)

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Detekt "represents a strike back against governments who are using information obtained through surveillance"

A new tool to enable ordinary people to scan their computers for known surveillance spyware has been released today by Amnesty International and a coalition of human rights and technology organisations.

'Detekt' is the first tool to be made available to the public that reveals the presence of major known surveillance spyware, used by governments, in computers.

Marek Marczynski, Head of Military, Security and Police at Amnesty, said:

"Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists and journalists' private emails and remotely turn on their computer's camera or microphone to secretly record their activities.

"They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed.

"Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action.

"It represents a strike back against governments who are using information obtained through surveillance to arbitrarily detain, illegally arrest and even torture human rights defenders and journalists."

Developed by German-based security researcher Claudio Guarnieri, Detekt is being launched in partnership with Amnesty International, Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The adoption and trade in communication surveillance technologies has grown exponentially in recent years. The Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports, of which Amnesty is a member, estimates the annual global trade in surveillance technologies is worth more than £3 billion, and growing.

Some surveillance technology is widely available on the internet; while other more sophisticated alternatives are developed by private companies and sold to state law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries that persistently commit human rights violations.

FinFisher, a German firm that used to be part of UK-based Gamma International, developed the spyware FinSpy which can be used to monitor Skype conversations, extract files from hard drives, record microphone use and emails, and even take screenshots and photos using a device's camera.

According to research carried out by Citizen Lab and information published by Wikileaks, Finfisher was used to spy on prominent human rights lawyers and activists in Bahrain.

Amnesty wants governments to establish strict trade controls requiring national authorities to assess the risk that the surveillance equipment would be used to violate human rights before authorising any transfer, in a similar manner to how the arms trade is controlled.

Marek Marczynski added:

"Detekt is a great tool which can help activists stay safe but ultimately, the only way to prevent these technologies from being used to violate or abuse human rights is to establish and enforce strict controls on their use and trade."

Amnesty will use its networks to help activists across the world learn about Detekt and scan their devices for signs of spyware.

Detekt is a free and open source software and is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees of any kind.

For more information about Detekt, and to download the tool, please visit

(24th November 2014) 

(The Telegraph, dated 21st November 2014 author Keith Perry)

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A senior police officer has called for members of the public to be allowed on patrol alongside frontline police officers in a version of the American "ride-along" scheme.

Assistant Commissioner Helen King, the newly appointed head of Territorial Policing, said she wants to see the scheme adopted by the Metropolitan Police in an effort to increase confidence in the force.

"Quite a few forces in the States have a 'ride-along' programme and I have always found that a powerful idea," she told the Evening Standard.

"It is quite easy to look at what the police do and pick holes in it but actually once you are alongside them on patrol and realise what they face, how they don't know what's coming next and how quickly they have to make decisions, it helps people understand the pressures they face."

Officers in Lewisham tested the idea earlier this week, taking a member of the local police Independent Advisory Group out in an unmarked car.

They hope to offer "ride-alongs" each month to community members interested in policing.

However, the plan to roll out the scheme to the wider public is still at an early stage and there are said to be issues with health and safety. People might not be able to go on patrol with officers in their neighbourhood, for instance, in case they come across someone they know.

Ms King admitted that the Met suffered an image problem in the wake of a series of controversies such as the so-called Plebgate affair, undercover officers and the Stephen Lawrence case.

She said that the number of people who felt the force was doing a good job was currently "flat-lining" at around 68 per cent.

Ms King added: "There are individuals in communities who often for legitimate reasons have suspicions about what we do and why we do it. We need to work really hard to break that down and help them understand some of the issues we are dealing with.

"We want many more people knowing and believing that the police are there for them and that they are on their side."

Last month a report by the London Policing Ethics Panel, set up to look at trust in the police, recommended that judges, teachers and students get a chance to go on patrol with inner-city officers.

The Met says it is trying to be more open, introducing body-worn video cameras for many officers and agreeing to a fly-on-the-wall documentary by the BBC.

In Bedfordshire, members of the public will be able to accompany officers on patrol in a 'Ride Along' scheme launched this month.

From November 30, anyone aged 18 and above will be able to apply to accompany a frontline officer to get an insight into policing.

The 'Ride-Along' sessions will usually last for a minimum of four hours during which activities such as arrests, dealing with victims and offenders, statement taking, questioning and stop and searches may be observed.

Chief Constable Colette Paul said: "I am delighted we will be offering these 'Ride Alongs' which will open up a window on the world of policing.

"The scheme is not just about helping the public better understand the work that we do. It is an opportunity for us to learn from them too. We welcome any feedback from ride-along observers."

(1st December 2014) 

(This is Local London, dated 21st November 2014 author Court Reporter)

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Albanian drug dealer who was deported on his release from prison returned to the UK to play a leading role in a cocaine conspiracy.

Luiz Gjergji, 30, from Enfield, drove off when officers from the National Crime Agency moved in to arrest him, his brother, and their co-defendant.

He drove his Audi A8 car erratically out of the White Lion Retail Park car park in Dunstable with an officer trying to hold onto the door handle.

The car crashed through a hedge and crossed pavements, before ending up in the nearby Homebase car park, Luton crown court heard today.

Prosecutor Tim Probert-Wood said Gjergji tried to get away but ran into a police motorcyclist. There was a violent struggle and he was arrested.

Inside the Audi the police found a concealed compartment in the glove box, which the prosecutor said could be used to store drugs and cash.

Gjergji's brother Adriatic, 26, from West Hendon, and Julian Perry, 41, from Leighton Buzzard were arrested at the White Lion Retail park car park.

In all, 2kg of cocaine was recovered along with £42,200 at the scene. It was of a high purity of 77 per cent and could have been cut to make 6kg for sale on the street, said Mr Probert-Wood.

The prosecutor said the NCA officers were watching Luiz Gjergji's flat at Tower Point, Enfield at 8am on the morning of September 24 this year. He was seen to drive his Audi to the car park of the Old Red Lion in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, where he met his younger brother who was driving a VW Golf. The third defendant Julian Perry arrived in a Kia Sedona.

Observations continued and at about 1pm they were all seen again at the White Lion Retail Park in Dunstable.

Luiz Gjergji had been jailed for six years at Canterbury crown court in March 2010 for trying to smuggle £190,000 worth of heroin through Dover.

On his release on licence he was deported, but he returned to the UK where he and his brother Adriatic Gjergji, who had also entered the country illegally, became involved in the conspiracy.

Mr Probert-Wood said: "He had no immigration status. He was deported from the UK upon his release on licence from that sentence but came back."

He said he and the younger brother, who was also illegally in the UK, would be deported once their current sentence is served.

The prosecutor went on to say the brothers played a "leading role" in the conspiracy, while Perry played a "significant part."

He said: "These things don't happen spontaneously. This cannot have been the first occasion. The operation would have been running for some time. It was not a one-off. It was part of an on-going process."

Luiz Gjergji, Adriatic Gjergji and Julian Perry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine between May 1 and September 25 this year. They also admitted transferring £42,200 worth of criminal property on September 24.

Luiz Gjergji also admitted driving the Audi A8 dangerously, two counts of possessing ammunition and two of possessing a firearm after gun parts and ammunition were found at his flat.

Adriatic Gjergji, of Mount Road, West Hendon, admitted possessing criminal property in the form of £9,500 and 51,050 Euros found at his home. He also admitted illegally possessing a Romanian passport and a Romanian driving licence that the police also recovered. A large set of scales used for weighing items up to 5 kilos were also recovered.

Julian Perry, of Church Road, Slapton, Leighton Buzzard, also admitted two charges of possessing criminal property - £1,800 cash recovered from his car and £10,570 cash found in a grey safe at his home. In addition he admitted possessing 2.41g of cannabis.

Judge Richard Foster sentenced Luiz Gjergji to 13 years, six months in prison; Adriatic Gjergji to nine years, four months, and Perry to six years, eight months.

He recommended that Adriatic Gjergji is also automatically deported at the end of his sentence, along with his brother.

(1st December 2014) 


(London Evening Standard, dated 20th November 2014 author Robin De Peyer)

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A scaffolder who tossed equipment to his colleague as the pair worked without harnesses at a house in Chelsea has been fined by safety inspectors.

Christopher Harker, 35, clambered around with his assistant high above the pavement on scaffolding with no safety harness.

Inspectors said the pair were seen "nonchalantly" passed gear to each other during work on a four-storey building in Cheyne Walk in March.

When warned of the danger of harm to themselves or a passer-by at street level, the pair were said to have shown a "hostile attitude" to an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday that the pair threw scaffold clips to one another, and that there were large gaps between the scaffold boards.

Harker, of Epping, who trades as C&H Scaffolding, was fined £800 and ordered to pay £577 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said after the ruling: "The scaffolding work at Cheyne Walk posed a clear danger to the two workers as well as members of the public exiting the building under the scaffolding.

"The failings were abundantly obvious and trained scaffolder Mr Harker knew this, which is probably why he reacted in the manner he did. He was caught red-handed, panicked and tried to make the problem go away as he saw it.

Inspectors cannot and will not turn a blind eye when safety is compromised in this manner - as the scaffolder now fully accepts."


(London Evening Standard, dated 20th November 2014 author Alexandra Rucki)

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A contractor has been fined after a 91-year-old woman was seriously injured when a metal fence collapsed and knocked her over as she walked past a building site.

The pensioner, who has not been named, was left with a fractured hip and shoulder following the incident in Bromley High Street, south east London, on August 1, 2012.

Westminster Magistrates Court heard Fadil Adil, 54, of Coniston Road, Bromley, was responsible for the fence as it surrounded a development he was working on to create new homes and a commercial unit.

The two metres high fence, similar to mesh fencing used in the construction industry, left the woman struggling with mobility and independence.

Prosecutors said weather was not a factor on the day and the fence could have fallen at any time because it was not fit for purpose.

Adil was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs, as well as £5,000 in compensation during a court hearing yesterday.

He previously pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Health and Safety Executive inspector, Bernardine Cooney, said: "The law clearly states that all temporary works, including fences and hoardings, are properly designed, constructed and maintained by competent people to ensure they are safe.

"This clearly wasn't the case on this occasion and a pensioner was seriously injured as a result. She could have been killed, and the fence also posed a clear risk to other passers-by, as well as workers on the construction site it served.

"Fadil Adil could and should have done more to prevent that risk as the principal contractor responsible for the site."

(1st December 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 20th November 2014)

Full article :

The public is being warned about a website containing thousands of live feeds to baby monitors, stand-alone webcams and CCTV systems.

Data watchdogs across the world have drawn attention to the Russian-based site, which broadcasts footage from systems using either default passwords or no log-in codes at all.

The site lists streams from more than 250 countries and other territories.

It currently provides 500 feeds from the UK alone.

They include what appear to be images from:

- an office in Warwickshire
- a child's bedroom in Birmingham
- a home's driveway in Nottinghamshire
- a gym in Manchester, a pub in Salford
-a shop interior in London

The site's database shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France and 1,576 in the Netherlands.

Smaller numbers of feeds are also identified as being available from developing economies including Nicaragua, Pakistan, Kenya, Paraguay and Zimbabwe.

Some of the feeds showed a static image but did not otherwise appear to be working.

The privacy watchdogs have provided the name of the site to the media, however the BBC has opted not to publish it.

As well as setting hard-to-guess passwords instead of the default one that came with the device, camera owners are also being advised to check their equipment and turn off remote access if they do not need it.

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said he wanted to "sound a general alert", warning "there are people out there who are snooping".

He told BBC Breakfast: "It's got more than 500 UK webcams where there is a facility for remote access to check what's going on in the shop, what's going on at home, how's the baby."

If the site was actually trying to alert people to the security breach - as it claims - then "now we all know and please will they take it down," he added.

When asked about a feed that appeared to show a child in its bedroom, Mr Graham said: "It is spooky. But after all, it is the responsibility of the parents to set a proper password if you want remote access."

He said he would work with the Russian authorities and others to have the website shut down, adding that such a site would be illegal in the UK.

Those whose webcams and baby monitors had been breached cannot be contacted due to the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act, said the commissioner.

The ICO acknowledged that some parts of the press might now identify the site, driving traffic to it.

"The bigger risk for ourselves is that people continue to use unsecure passwords," an ICO spokesman added.

Password problems

The site in question lists the feeds both by country and by device manufacturer.

The kit has not been "hacked", rather software and search tools have been used to scan the net for feeds that can be accessed using the cameras' default settings.

China-based Foscam was the most commonly listed brand, followed by Linksys and then Panasonic.

"We are still trying to determine which Linksys IP cameras are referenced on the site," said a spokeswoman from the US firm. "We believe they are older Linksys IP cameras which are no longer being manufactured.

"For these cameras we do not have a way to force customers to change their default passwords. We will continue to educate consumers that changing default passwords is extremely important to protect themselves from unwanted intruders.

"Our newer cameras display a warning to users who have not changed the default password; users receive this warning whenever they log into the camera, until they set a new password."

Panasonic added that its CCTV kit was also designed to encourage users to set their own log-in credentials.

"Every time a user logs on to our system, they are prompted to change their default password," said Sean Taylor, a security executive aT the firm.

"We would urge all users to change passwords regularly, in order to maintain the integrity of the system."

Foscam added that its current range of products also requested owners set their own passwords.

This is not the first time problems with Foscam cameras have been highlighted. In 2013, a family based in Houston, Texas revealed that they had heard a voice shouting lewd comments at their two-year old child coming out of their Foscam baby monitor.

The company provided a software fix the same year that prompted owners to revise default login credentials, but many owners are unlikely to have installed it.

For now, the ICO said it was unable to halt the Russian website or others like it beyond the UK's borders.

"If a website in the UK did this we would take action against it because firstly it's a breach of the Data Protection Act because you are accessing people's information and you shouldn't be, and secondly there are also issues around the Computer Misuse Act as well," the spokesman added.

Password tips

The University of Surrey's Prof Alan Woodward is among security experts who have suggested internet users should now update their login details.

He suggests the following rules should be observed when picking a new password.

- Don't choose one obviously associated with you

Hackers can find out a lot about you from social media so if they are targeting you specifically and you choose, say, your pet's name you're in trouble.

- Choose words that don't appear in a dictionary

Hackers can precalculate the encrypted forms of whole dictionaries and easily reverse engineer your password.

- Use a mixture of unusual characters

You can use a word or phrase that you can easily remember but where characters are substituted, eg Myd0gha2B1g3ars!

Have different passwords for different sites and systems

If hackers compromise one system you do not want them having the key to unlock all your other accounts.

- Keep them safely

With multiple passwords it is tempting to write them down and carry them around with you. Better to use some form of secure password vault on your phone.

(1st December 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th November 2014 author Justin Davenport)

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Islamist terrorists could launch a cyber attack on financial institutions in the capital and online defences need to be strengthened, a police chief warned today.

Adrian Leppard, the City of London Police commissioner, said there was a "very strong likelihood" of an attack in the future and singled out Islamic State as potential perpetrators.

Speaking before a cyber security conference in New York today, Mr Leppard said: "We look at terrorism and you think…?if global trading stopped that would have an enormous impact on western society, global society…?at the heart of capitalism.

"There could be a very serious impact to the financial institutions of the world through a cyber attack and I think it's a very strong likelihood that it will happen one day in the future, which is why we've got to push back and take action now before it happens."

His comments to the Financial Times come after Benjamin Lawsky, head of the New York Department of Financial Services, admitted that he was concerned about the vulnerability of the US financial system and raised the prospect of an "Armageddon-type cyber event".

The City of London force is strengthening ties with the New York District Attorney's Office to bolster defences. From early next year, the district attorney and the City police will deploy staff permanently in each other's offices.

Mr Leppard said there was evidence to suggest that "all of the stock exchanges in the world have been breached in the last 10 years, Nasdaq, London Stock Exchange, all of them."

He added that the biggest challenge was to establish the extent of cyber crime and encourage businesses to report breaches of security.

(1st December 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 18th November 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

Pregnant women are being "recruited" by people traffickers who force them to sell their babies into a life of virtual slavery for as little as a few thousand pounds, according to Europol.

Babies aged just six months can be bought by traffickers for between £3,000 and £6,000, and moving them across borders is "relatively uncomplicated", an intelligence notification from the Europe-wide policing agency states.

It adds: "In many cases the victims travel on genuine passports of non-related adults.

"The organised crime groups involved in these types of exploitation are very mobile and typically active in several countries making use of contacts in diaspora communities."

Once they have been successfully trafficked abroad, the babies can be used by women involved in illegal begging or benefit fraud.

Because of their young age when they were taken from their mothers they may never discover their true identities.

Names are often legally changed in countries of origin, while other exploited children are "born on the road" with the births never being registered anywhere.

Europol's report describes Fagin-type figures who raise bands of trafficked children to commit specialised petty crime, with the profit from such illegality going straight into the coffers of organised crime groups.

To enforce obedience, these gangmasters use threats of violence or food deprivation to psychologically manipulate the youngsters to do their bidding.

The intelligence document states: "While illegal adoption does not necessarily constitute trafficking in human beings, in a number of cases illegally adopted children are trafficked for exploitation."

In a later section it adds: "Trafficked children do not consider themselves to be in an exploitative situation, but rather perceive their exploitation as loyalty to their family.

"When trafficked children forced to commit crimes are apprehended by law enforcement, they are typically placed in childcare facilities from where they easily abscond.

"In other cases, the victims are handed back to their 'family' members or guardians and can then be re-trafficked."

Europol has recommended law enforcement agencies across the continent endeavour to increase awareness of child trafficking, adding: "Types of exploitation other than sexual or labour exploitation are highly underreported.

"In order to better fight exploitation of minors for forced begging or forced criminal activities, it is necessary to increase the awareness of this phenomenon and increase cooperation between EU law enforcement agencies."

(1st December 2014) 

(The Guardian, dated 18th November 2014 author Alan Travis)

Full article [Option 1] :

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced a shakeup of the internal police disciplinary system, including holding hearings in public and ending payoffs for senior officers found guilty of misconduct, to be introduced before the general election.

The package will also include new protection from reprisals and disciplinary action for police whistleblowers who identify corruption in the ranks or report poor practices.

A more fundamental reform of the police complaints system, including an overhaul of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is to be postponed until after the election. The reform was planned to include making the complaints system more independent and more focused on resolving complaints locally, and simplifying the appeals system.

May said she was launching a short six-week consultation on the reforms, which could be implemented quickly. "The consultation I am launching today focuses on specific reforms that can be made in the short term that will have a significant impact in making the current system more robust, independent and transparent until such point when more fundamental reforms can be implemented," she said.

As well as consulting on whether police disciplinary hearings and appeals should be held in public, she was also proposing that they be chaired by someone qualified to ensure that proceedings are legally sound, she said. At present they are conducted by a senior officer of superintendent rank or above.

May said the integrity of the men and women who work in the police service of England and Wales was critical to public trust in the force.

"Real or perceived misconduct or corruption dents that trust and makes policing by consent more difficult. The vast majority of police officers behave appropriately and conscientiously, which makes it even more important to root out misconduct and malpractice and hold those responsible to account," she said.

Irene Curtis, the president of the Police Superintendents' Association, supported the changes. "The police service already works very hard to deal effectively with wrongdoing and poor performance, but as this is such a critical area the greater support these measures will provide is very welcome," she said.

"The overwhelming majority of police officers are highly trustworthy and carry out their roles with exceptional professionalism and real integrity. I hope that a more transparent process will help increase public understanding that the service deals robustly with those who commit serious wrongdoing, and deals fairly with those who make genuine mistakes."

(1st December 2014) 

(The Guardian, dated 18th November 2014 author Alan Travis)

Full article [Option 1] :

The police are failing to record more than 800,000 offences, including a quarter of all sexual crimes, reported to them by the public each year, according to a damning official inquiry.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary says it is an indefensible failure by the police to properly record the equivalent of 19% of the total official police recorded crime rate, and including a third of all violent crime.

The investigation into the integrity of police recorded crime figures says that the 26% under-recording of rapes and other sexual offences is a matter of "especially serious concern", with inspectors finding 37 individual cases of rape that were not recorded as crimes.

The HMIC report, published on Tuesday, says that even when crimes are correctly recorded by the police, too many are removed or cancelled as recorded crimes for no good reason, including more than 200 rapes and 250 cases of violence against the person.

It says that these decisions, called "no-criming", to incorrectly dismiss rape victims have meant that offenders who should have been pursued by the police have not been brought to justice. The inspectors add that in 22% of these no-crime cases the rape victim was never told that a decision had been taken to drop their case.

Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said: "These are wholly unacceptable failings. Some forces have exemplary records in this respect, and others are very bad. It is particularly important that in cases as serious as rape, these shortcomings are put right as a matter of the greatest urgency. In some forces, action is already being taken."

The HMIC report found that the problem was worst in four forces, Avon and Somerset, Dyfed-Powys, Northumbria and West Yorkshire, which all failed to record more than 30% of the crime reported to them by the public. The best forces were Staffordshire, South Wales, West Midlands and Lincolnshire.

The investigation was ordered by the home secretary, Theresa May, after the police recorded crime figures lost their "gold status" as national statistics after two parliamentary inquiries heard concerns about their integrity from whistleblowers and others.

The failure of the police figures in England and Wales to record as much as 19% of the crime reported to them, however, does not undermine the credibility of the long-term historic fall in the crime rate as measured by the official crime survey of England and Wales. This is based on a survey of 40,000 people's experience of crime and is unrelated to how the police deal with it.

The home secretary said the HMIC report had confirmed her concerns that there had been utterly unacceptable failings in the way the police record crime.

"It is never acceptable for the police to mis-record crime. Failing to do so not only lets down victims but the wider public who expect to be able to trust the integrity of police recorded crime," May said.

Winsor said that the police needed to act immediately on the presumption that the victim is to be believed: "If evidence later comes to light which shows that no crime occurred then the record should be corrected: that is how the system is supposed to work."

The chief inspector said that a national crime recording rate of 81% was inexcusably poor: "This is not about numbers and dry statistics - it is about victims and the protection of the public."

The investigation was based on reviewing 10,267 reports of crime by the public and 3,240 "no-crime" decisions as well as surveying the views of 17,000 police officers and staff.

It gives two case studies to illustrate the problem.

In the first, a 13-year-old girl had reported to the police that she had been raped by an 18-year-old boy. The victim was unclear about some of the details. A full investigation was carried out but there were no witnesses and no evidence was found to prove it had happened. The officers no-crimed the report because they did not believe the victim.

But HMIC says that in the absence of evidence establishing it did happen, it should have been recorded as a rape. "To do otherwise implies that the victim is not believed."

A second rape case was also no-crimed after the officers involved presumed the woman involved had consented. She had told the police she had known her attacker and had been drunk on the day of the rape. She had been taken into a wood by her attacker and had taken off some of her clothes despite telling him that she did not want to be there. HMIC says the fact she took off some of her clothes before she was attacked was irrelevant and consent should never be presumed. The attack should have been recorded as a rape.

The report says that the police must record an incident as a crime when a victim reports circumstances that amount to an offence as defined by the law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.

The rules say that a crime should still be recorded even if the victim declines to provide their personal details, or does not want to take the matter further, or even if the allegation cannot be proved. They add, however, that a crime does not need to be recorded if a victim does not confirm that a crime has taken place. For instance if someone other than the victim reports an apparent street robbery, but the police can't find the victim, then a crime is not recorded but a record is still made of the incident.

The report rejects claims that the practice of under-recording is due to "fiddled figures" or dishonest manipulation, saying that although the staff survey and interviews with whistleblowers produced many such allegations, no one came forward with firm evidence. The inspectors say that a number of police forces accepted that "undue performance pressures had adversely affected crime recording in the past, and the culture of chasing targets as ends in themselves had distorted crime-recording decisions".

The inspectors add: "Forces today are making considerable efforts to change the culture in which these practices prevailed, but changing ingrained instincts bred of a past regime takes time."

National targets for police performance were scrapped by the home secretary shortly after she took office four years ago.


(BBC News, dated 18th November 2014)

Full article :

More than 800,000 - or one in five - of all crimes reported to the police each year are not being recorded by officers, a report suggests.

The problem is greatest for victims of violent crime, with a third going unrecorded. Of sexual offences, 26% are not recorded.

An HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report looked at more than 8,000 reports of crime in England and Wales.

The watchdog said the failure to record crime properly was "indefensible".

Home Secretary Theresa May described the findings as "utterly unacceptable", but police representatives said the situation had improved since the study.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said workload pressures, target culture and inadequate supervision all contributed to under-recording.

An unrecorded crime is classed as one that is reported to the police but not recorded as an offence. It means an investigation into the alleged crime is unlikely to happen.

'Serious concern'

The audit reviewed reports of crime between November 2012 and October 2013 across all 43 forces in England and Wales.

It found that:

- Among the sample, 37 rape allegations were not recorded as a crime

- For 3,842 reported crimes, offenders were given a caution or a penalty notice - but inspectors believe 500 of those should have been charged or given a heavier penalty

- 3,246 of those offences that were recorded were then deemed to be "no crimes" - but inspectors believe 20% of those decisions were wrong and a crime had been committed

- The incidents recorded as "no-crimes" included 200 reports of rape and 250 of violent crime

- More than 800 of the victims were not told of the decision to "no-crime" their report


by Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

The under-recording of crime is more than a question of getting the statistics wrong.

If an offence isn't officially logged, it may not be investigated. And without a police inquiry there's no hope of finding the perpetrator and preventing other crimes.

Inspectors say there may well be people on the streets now, able to commit more crimes, who would have been locked up had their original offence been properly dealt with.

There are indications that some forces are improving. But there's also a warning in the report that increasing workload pressures among police - who are having to do more with considerably less - will "sharpen" the incentive not to record crimes.

Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor told the BBC that the under-recording of sexual offences was of particular concern and more sex crimes would be reported if victims felt they could trust the police.

"The police need to institutionalise a culture of believing the victim. Every time," he said.

"Now in some cases it may turn out that a crime hasn't been committed, in which case the figures can be changed later.

"But the crime needs to go on the books straight away so that the crime is properly investigated in every case and the victim receives the services which she or he should have."

Jeff Gardner, from Victim Support, told the BBC: "The police absolutely need trust of the public because if they don't have it, there's no communication and police can't police properly."

Police are obliged to inform victims about their decisions but the report found this was not always the case.

Victims may have been under the impression that their crimes were being investigated when they were not, the report said.

'Wheelie bins'

The report looked at every police force in England and Wales and drew national-level statistics from its sample. But it acknowledged there were large regional differences and some forces were very good at crime recording.

West Midlands Police and Lincolnshire Police had an almost perfect record, while Dyfed Powys Police and West Yorkshire were among the worst-performing forces.

Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, lead for crime recording at the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the BBC that forces were not following the rules in the same way.

"As soon as an incident is reported, it is recorded. There's an incident on every police force's system," he said.

"Some forces are immediately recording that as a crime without any investigation; some forces are going perhaps too far in the investigation.

"But the rules do say we need to be satisfied that a crime has been committed."

He said some cases, such as a serious sexual offences, should "absolutely be recorded" but there were some occasions were the public would expect officers to ask a few more questions before recording a crime.

Providing one example from his own Gwent force, he said: "We had in one month an increase of 300 wheelie bin thefts.

"When we looked at that in a bit more detail, because we had recorded them, it would appear if you reported that as a theft you got a new wheelie bin for free from the local authority but if it was damaged, they charged you £80."

'Urgent changes'

The report said relatively little firm evidence had been found of undue pressure being put on officers to manipulate figures.

But in an online survey, some officers and staff did say performance and other pressures were distorting their crime-recording decisions

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report recommended that standard training established by the College of Policing be provided by each force.

Mrs May said there had been "utterly unacceptable failings" in the way police forces have recorded crime but procedures were improving.

"It is never acceptable for the police to mis-record crime. Failing to do so not only lets down victims, but the wider public who expect to be able to trust the integrity of police recorded crime," she said.

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said it was time for Mrs May to "get a grip on this and make urgent changes to the way the police record crime".

Ch Supt Irene Curtis, president of the Police Superintendents' Association, said recorded crime was a measure of demand on police resources rather than police performance.

"HMIC's report covers a period of at least 12 months ago and recognises that considerable improvements have already been made since that period," she said.

Earlier this year an interim report by Mr Winsor, covering 13 forces, made a similar conclusion that a fifth of crimes could be going unrecorded by police.

Last month, official figures showed the number of rapes reported to and recorded by police in England and Wales was at its highest ever level.

The Office for National Statistics said there were 22,116 recorded rapes in the year to June, a rise of 29% on the year before.

Separate statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed overall crime fell by 16% to 7.1 million cases.


(The Guardian, dated 18th November 2014 author Gary Copson)

Full article [Option 1] :

It is a question reasonably asked by every householder: is my area safe? Police forces have various strategies to reassure them; visibility, connectivity. Most of all there are statistics. The trouble is, the figures we cite most often may be totally unreliable and leave us with a false sense of security.

The latest report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) addresses crime-reporting practices. It says that police compliance with Home Office counting rules is improving but varies from force to force, and overall is still not good enough. This might invite people to conclude that your average local police officer is, for some peculiar reason, determined to dishonestly suppress official crime figures. HMIC could not possibly say this - and I wouldn't have when I worked there - but there is, and long has been, an underlying and unhealthy political game that creates and drives performance fraud.

Home Office counting rules are arcane and full of irrationalities. This never used to matter before our political parties started to use reported-crime figures as a weapon in a battle over who could be toughest on crime. Back then crime figures were not treated as incontrovertible laser-sharp measures of police effectiveness and integrity.

What crimes get recorded and how they are counted are political choices. Recorded crime never has been, and certainly isn't now, a reflection of the actual incidence of crime in society. The Crime Survey of England and Wales is accepted as a more accurate reflection, but even that is far from infallible. Reducing the number of reported burglaries and robberies is hailed as a political triumph, but many criminologists take the different view that today's young offenders are, for a variety of reasons, less inclined to burglary and robbery than those of 10 and 20 years ago - and more inclined to cyberfraud and phone scams, both still widely under-reported.

Crime in prisons is almost entirely unreported to police. When - as the police adviser to the prison service - I set up an experiment in which all crimes in one Lancashire prison were reported to police for three months, the prison emerged as the local force crime hotspot.

It is well established that rape is under-reported, some surveys suggesting that as few as one in 10 are officially logged. And we are only just beginning to see how much child abuse has gone unrecorded over the years. So let's not pretend that reported crime figures are hugely meaningful. While variations in performance can be interesting, it is as foolish to blame police for the incidence of crime as to blame doctors for the incidence of disease.

Alongside that political failing is a lamentable failure of the police command culture. For years now, when politicians have instructed police chiefs to dance to this tune, they have danced. Promotions, knighthoods and peerages can turn on that dance. Occasionally some brave soul of a serving chief officer has stood up and denounced this circus, but it never ends happily for them, even when they have only done it behind closed doors.

In the past 25 years there has been a great enlightenment in operational police culture, with "noble cause corruption" - the end justifying the means - all but eliminated, and racism and sexism largely rejected. But there has not been equivalent progress in command culture. There remains a powerful imperative to bear down on junior ranks to deliver "better" outcomes. The modern term is "intrusive management". I have always preferred to call it bullying.

An article in the Observer last April headlined "Police officers despise fiddling crime statistics, says expert" had the subhead: "Criminologist says many officers in England and Wales scandalised by widespread manipulation of figures". The criminologist, Marian FitzGerald, was right.

The "fiddling" takes place below the gaze of those who require it. The pressures are unofficial but, in a regimented, hierarchical organisation, often so intense as to be hard to resist. I am sure HMIC must know that, and would have reported it had it found evidence amounting to a smoking gun. But of course it won't find that evidence: who would be so careless as to leave that lying around for HMIC to discover; and who would be so foolish as to blow the whistle?

The big challenges facing police - especially in these times of severe budget cuts in the name of austerity - are around intelligent deployment of resources and issues of productivity. Those of us engaged in trying to articulate these challenges in the 2008-09 independent Review of Policing hoped that crude performance measures might become no more than a basis for sophisticated discussion. Some chance of that happening, it turns out: even now.


(BBC News, dated 18th November 2014)

Full article :

A five-year-old rape victim who wrote to officers telling them they had let her down was failed by Essex Police, the force's police and crime commissioner has said.

PCC Nick Alston said he was "deeply sorry" for blunders which saw the 12-year-old attacker given a final warning - the juvenile equivalent of a caution.

He said the victim and her family had been left "utterly bereft of justice".

Essex Police said it was "disappointed" in the handling of the case.

The girl, who is now eight, wrote: "When I was five something very bad happened and it was your job to make sure he was properly dealt with and punished.

"But you didn't do your job and you let me down."

Mr Alston said: "It has left a victim and her family utterly bereft of justice. Leads to other potential offences were not properly investigated at the time.

"Furthermore, it may have caused people in our county who need the help of Essex Police wondering if they can trust them."

Written warnings

Essex Police said the rape was reported in August 2011. Details of the letter written by the victim emerged in a story in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Officers wrongly claimed that they had reported the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, failed to have the rapist's name added to the Sex Offenders Register and neglected to take fingerprints, DNA samples or photographs, the newspaper said.

In a statement, the force said: "The offender, also a child, was interviewed the same day and in November 2011 was given a final warning, the juvenile equivalent of a caution.

"A complaint from the victim's family was received by Essex Police in March 2013 and this was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

"A full and thorough investigation was led by a detective superintendent and supervised by the IPCC and as a result of its findings, three officers were subject to misconduct proceedings and received written warnings.

"Essex Police takes allegations of child abuse incredibly seriously and is hugely disappointed that on this occasion it failed to deliver."

(1st December 2014)

(BBC News, dated 18th November 2014)

Full article :

Organised child sex abuse is widespread in England, a report by MPs on the Rotherham exploitation scandal says.

A review of child protection systems across the country has been called for by the Commons' Communities and Local Government Committee.

Its report also said Rotherham Council and Ofsted had "failed" the victims targeted in the town.

It suggested the council's protection policies were "divorced from reality", enabling the abuse to continue.

MPs said all councils across England now needed to review child protection policies.

Their report said: "On the evidence we took, the alarming conclusion is that Rotherham was not an outlier and that there is a widespread problem of organised child sexual exploitation in England."

The MPs inquiry was prompted by a report by Prof Alexis Jay, which revealed up to 1,400 children were estimated to have been victims of abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Ofsted, which carried out a series of inspections during the period, said it had introduced a "more rigorous inspection framework".

'Shameful inability'

The MPs' report investigates the lessons for local government that have been recommended in the wake of Prof Jay's investigation.

Labour MP Clive Betts, chairman of the committee, said Ofsted would be called before the MPs to answer "serious questions" about its inspections.

"Repeated Ofsted inspections in Rotherham failed to lift the lid on the council's shameful inability to tackle child sexual exploitation," said Mr Betts.

The MPs also criticised the town's councillors for their lack of effective scrutiny and challenging of council officers.

The report said the authority had many child protection policies but they were "divorced from reality".

The parliamentary committee called for an investigation into missing files at the council and said council officials "should be held accountable for their actions."

"Arrangements should be put in place to bring to account not just council officers still in post but those who have moved on from an authority before serious questions about their performance emerge, " said Mr Betts.

In a statement, Ofsted said it welcomed "the opportunity to give evidence to the committee".

"In common with a number of organisations, we accept that past inspections may not have given child sexual exploitation the forensic focus it needed and deserved," it said.

Rotherham Council leader Paul Lakin has welcomed the report and said an internal inquiry into the missing files had begun but the council planned to bring in an external audit team to complete the task.

He said: "Our ways of doing business are now more open and transparent and accountable than before.

"We are putting in place a new, high quality management and leadership team with the ability and capacity to secure real improvement.

"We have opened up our full council and cabinet meetings with webcasting, and backbench councillors are bringing forward plans to increase public participation in meetings.

"We will be looking again to ensure that our scrutiny function - which also now has new political leadership - is as effective as possible."

(1st December 2014) 

(International Business Times, dated 18th November 2014 author Tom Porter)

Full article [Option 1] :

Interpol has released the first ever list of the world's most wanted environmental criminals.

The nine criminals who appear on the list are wanted in 36 countries for offences including wildlife trafficking, illegally dumping toxic waste and the trade in illegal ivory.

The list has been released by the agency as part of operation International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest (Infra) Terra, which is targeting 139 criminals in total.

Interpol appealed to the public for help in tracking down those on its list.

"Even the smallest detail, which you might think is insignificant, has the potential to break a case wide open when combined with other evidence the police already have," said Ioannis Kokkinis, Criminal Intelligence Officer with Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit, which is coordinating Infra Terra.

"Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to bring new momentum to an investigation and provide the missing clue which will help locate these wanted individuals, some of whom have been evading justice for years," he added.

The launch of the operation comes amid a wave of environmental crime, which the agency estimates to be worth $70 bn to $213 bn annually.

Revenue from the crimes is believed by Interpol to fund organised crime gangs and terrorist groups including al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Among the wanted are Sergey Darminov, 50, wanted in connection with an illegal crab fishing operation in Russia that netted $450m.

Italian Adriano Giacobone, 57, is wanted for illegally dumping toxic waste, with other offences including kidnapping and violence against a police officer.

Ahmed Kamran, 29, is wanted for exporting a menagerie of animals, including giraffes and impalas from Tanzania to Qatar on board a military plane in 2010.

Interpol officials said that Infra Terra is modelled on previous Interpol campaigns to track down paedophiles, drugs traffickers and terrorists.

"We believe that the capture of these criminals on the run will contribute to the dismantlement of transnational organised crime groups who have turned environmental exploitation into a professional business with lucrative revenues," said Stefano Carvelli, Head of Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit.

(1st December 2014) 

(The Guardian, dated 18th November 2014 author Kate Hodal)

Full article [Option 1]:

Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia's police force are forced to undergo two-finger "virginity tests", a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.

The test is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police's health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an "obstetrics and gynaecology" exam.

While female recruits are also expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years, Indonesia's national police website claims they must also undergo virginity tests in addition to general medical and physical examinations, with the added warning: "So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity."

The practice contravenes Indonesia's national police principles as well as international human rights policy, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), which interviewed female police recruits and serving female officers across six cities.

While women who "failed" the test were not necessarily prevented from entering the force, all of those interviewed said the examination was painful and traumatic and described the practice as widespread.

"Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting," one interviewee said. "I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel … it really hurt. My friend even fainted."

Although women often complain to their superiors about the exam - which measures whether a woman's hymen is still intact - and a former head of police personnel agreed to abolish the test in 2010, it continues to be practised in the same way it has for decades, interviewees said. One retired officer said her entire 1965 recruitment class had to endure the two-finger exam.

"So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence - not a measure of women's eligibility for a career in the police," said Nisha Varia, associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch. "This pernicious practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers."

HRW's research into the practice follows a recruitment drive to hire 50% more females into the national police force by December, boosting the proportion of female officers to 5% of the 400,000-member force.

An Indonesian police spokesman, Maj Gen Ronny Sompie, said the test was no reason to "respond negatively" to the force's requirements, and that the exam was used to establish whether applicants have a sexually transmitted infection. "All of this is done in a professional manner and [does] not harm the applicants," Sompie said.

But local and international rights groups say the hymen test is humiliating and should be abolished. "No effort is made to help the women out of their stress and trauma," said Yefri Heriyani, of the West Sumatra women's rights group Nurani Perempuan, warning that the exam had long-lasting effects on the recruits. "Many of them blame themselves for taking the test."

While premarital sex is common in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, female virginity is often lauded.

An education board in south Sumatra came under fire last year for planning virginity tests as part of its high-school admission requirements.

(1st December 2014) 

(The Telegraph, dated 18th November 2014 author Bill Gardner)

Full article [Option 1] :

The father of an eight-year-old boy murdered in the 1980s claims that his son may have died at the hands of a Westminster paedophile ring - and that Scotland Yard helped "cover up" the crime.

Vishambar Mehrotra, a retired magistrate, recorded a male prostitute saying in a telephone call that his son may have been abducted and taken to a now notorious guesthouse in 1981.

He took the recording to police at the time but claims they refused to investigate an allegation implicating "judges and politicians". Mr Mehrotra said it had been a "huge cover-up".

The Metropolitan Police announced last week that they were investigating possible murders linked to the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London. The new inquiry began when an alleged victim came forward claiming to have witnessed three boys being killed, including one allegedly strangled by a Conservative MP during a depraved sex game.

He claimed that high-profile paedophiles abused children at locations in London in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr Mehrotra's son Vishal was abducted as he walked home to Putney after watching the Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer ride to their wedding in a carriage on July 29 1981.

He had gone ahead of other family members for the last few hundred yards. He was last seen less than a mile from the guesthouse.

Mr Mehrotra claims he received an anonymous call from a male prostitute in the months following. A man he guessed to be in his 20s told him Vishal may have been abducted by "highly placed" paedophiles operating from the Elm Guest House, Mr Mehrotra said.

He told The Telegraph: "I was contacted by a young man who seemed to be in his 20s. He told me he believed Vishal may have been taken by paedophiles in the Elm Guest House near Barnes Common.

"He said there were very highly placed people there. He talked about judges and politicians who were abusing little boys." Mr Mehrotra, a solicitor who was a JP at Wimbledon magistrates' court until retiring in 2006, claims the man said he had already informed police about activities at the guesthouse, but had received no response.

He added: "I recorded the whole 15-minute conversation and took it to police. But instead of investigating it, they just pooh-poohed it and I never heard anything about the tape again. The whole thing went cold.

"At that time I trusted the police. But when nothing happened, I became confused and concerned.

"Now it is clear to me that there has been a huge cover up. There is no doubt in my mind."

In February 1982, part of Vishal's skeleton was found in woodland in West Sussex. There was no trace of his legs, pelvis or lower spine, nor of his outer clothes, his sleeveless vest or his Superman underpants.

At the inquest into his death, the West Sussex coroner Mark Calvert Lee recorded an open verdict but said "foul play" was likely.

Police said 20,000 people had been interviewed, half of them in nearby Putney, and 6,000 properties checked.

Mr Mehrotra, now 69 and living in West Molesey near Hampton Court, said he had "hardly been contacted" by police in the intervening years.

He said he had not been spoken to in recent months despite the alleged witness reporting the murder of three boys at the time Vishal vanished.

Mr Mehrotra said: "This guesthouse was right next to where Vishal disappeared. There were predatory people there who were taking young boys and abusing them.

"It seems to me that it all adds up, so I can't understand why the police have again failed to get in contact with me. I think the revelations of Savile and others in recent months have opened up a Pandora's box. Hopefully everything will all come out soon."

In June 1982, four months after Vishal's remains were found, police raided the Elm Guest House.

Dozens of men were questioned, reportedly including at least 30 who were prominent in public life and business. It was widely reported at the time that the raids were linked to Vishal's disappearance. The Times reported that the investigation had included the disappearance of another boy, Martin Allen, 15, missing since Guy Fawkes Night, 1979, whose body has never been discovered. The son of the chauffeur to the Australian High Commissioner, he was last seen waving goodbye to a school friend at King's Cross Underground station.

Police at the time dismissed the reports as "nonsense". Soon afterwards, lawyers acting on behalf of the guesthouse threatened newspapers with legal action if they continued reporting on its alleged activities.

Martin's brother said on Tuesday that police should reopen the investigation into the teenager's disappearance. Kevin Allen, 51, said he had always suspected a cover-up after police told him all the case files had been lost in a freak flood.

He said: "I think it's a new lead. Anything to ensure these people don't get away with it. I think there are powerful forces involved in this. Years ago I was warned by a policeman that if I looked too deep into this then I might get hurt. I've never forgotten that.

"We have barely heard anything for 20 years, but there are other missing cases where the police barely stopped looking.

"My dad died never knowing what happened to Martin. We would love to have an answer for my mother before she passes away."

In May 1983, as police wound up the inquiry into Vishal Mehrotra's death, Carole and Harry Kasir, the owners of the Elm Guest House were fined £1,000 each and given suspended nine-month sentences at the Old Bailey for "running a disorderly house". They were found not guilty of living off immoral earnings and having obscene films.

Five years later Carole told child protection officers that children from the council-run Grafton Close Children's Home had been supplied to the brothel. She provided names of people who had frequented the guesthouse.

The Liberal MP Cyril Smith, now dead, has been widely alleged to have abused children from Grafton Close at The Elm.

At an inquest into her death in 1990, members of The National Association of Young People in Care said that Kasir had lived in fear of her life since the hotel was exposed. Christopher Fay said: "The reasons for her death are all tied up in this child pornography ring at the hotel.

"She was hounded and harassed by police and security services. She knew all the top people who had been involved in the ring at the hotel."

Scotland Yard launched Operation Fairbank two years ago to look into suggestions that high profile political figures had been involved.

Officers have set up a new strand of the inquiry, Operation Midland, after being passed information about the three alleged murders.

The allegations emerged when a man in his 40s came forward claiming to have been one of around 15 boys who were abused by a powerful paedophile network 30 years ago.

Some of the abuse allegedly took place at flats in the Dolphin Square development in Pimlico, where a number of politicians have had London homes.

According to the man, a 12-year-old boy was strangled by a Conservative MP at a town house in front of other victims.

On another occasion, a boy of around 10 was deliberately run down and killed by a car being driven by one of his abusers, the man claimed.

The Attorney General on Tuesday said he would back an investigation into the allegations if there was evidence to support the claims. Jeremy Wright, speaking in the Commons, said: "My view is that the Crown Prosecution Service should pursue cases where the evidence exists to wherever the evidence leads, and that is regardless of the position held by the person being investigated.

"And if evidence is brought to light to justify such an investigation, I would expect it to be carried out."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the force would not comment on an ongoing investigation.


(London Evening Standard, dated 26th November 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1] ;

Detectives are considering reopening the case of a dead boy whose disappearance in London has been linked to a VIP paedophile ring.

Police have contacted the family of Vishal Mehrotra, nine, who was abducted as he walked home to Putney on the day of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding in 1981.

Officers say they are re-examining and collecting details on the case and may reopen the inquiry.

Detectives from Sussex, where Vishal's body was found almost a year after he went missing, are also understood to be liaising with the Scotland Yard squad investigating allegations of child murders by a Westminster-based VIP paedophile ring.

A member of Vishal's family, who did not want to be named, said: "The police have told us that they are collecting all the information on the case and they may consider reopening the case. We do not have very high expectations of the police but if something comes out of this then it will be a good thing."

Vishal's father Vishambar, a former magistrate, has said he was called by a male prostitute who told him the boy was taken to the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes to be abused by "highly placed" paedophiles.

Mr Mehrotra claims he had given police a tape of the conversation but they had done nothing.

In another development, Yard detectives have told the family of a missing boy that he may be one of three children allegedly murdered by prominent VIPs.

Martin Allen, son of the Australian high commissioner's chauffeur, went missing in 1979, aged 15 .

He vanished on his way from King's Cross to his Kensington home and police fear he may have been abducted by a man while on a Tube train.

Today his brother Kevin, 51, said he had been called by Det Chief Insp Diane Tudway of the Met Police to say that she was investigating whether Martin's disappearance was linked to the alleged VIP case.

The Met has launched Operation Midland to examine claims that three murders were linked to allegations of child abuse in the Seventies and Eighties.

A man known only as Nick, who said he was abused by MPs and other Establishment figures, has alleged that he saw three boys being murdered by the paedophile network. He claims that he saw one boy being strangled by a Conservative MP. The Met said it could not comment.

Sussex Police said in a statement: "The investigation has not been re-opened but we spoke last week to Vishal's father and agreed to carry out a further review to see whether there may be any new investigative opportunities.

"In carrying out our further review we will of course remain in contact with the Metropolitan Police, with whom we worked closely on the original investigation."

(1st December 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 17th November 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1] :

Scotland Yard is battling more than 200 organised crime groups engaged in cyber fraud in London, police revealed today.

A new Met cyber taskforce is investigating plots ranging from online dating fraud to mortgage scams involving million pound properties.

Police say they are facing an overwhelming caseload of around 54,000 reports of cyber fraud in the capital each year - but admit the crime is still hugely under-reported.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jayne Snelgrove, the head of the Met's new cyber crime and fraud unit codenamed Falcon, said officers were in the early stages of around 18 investigations.

These ranged from online retail and auction site frauds to courier scams and investment frauds.

So far, the squad - which was launched in October - has made more than 100 arrests and detectives were targeting a number of organised crime groups engaged in cyber fraud.

Police believe more than 200 gangs from around the world are targeting London using the Internet, though the figure changes constantly.

DCS Snelgrove says many gangs are operating in different countries and a number of Falcon's inquiries span the United States, parts of Europe and Russia.

However, many of the cyber frauds are committed by home grown gangs or individuals.

One inquiry involves a woman living in London who was allegedly behind a series of frauds on auction sites based in Europe.

In her first major interview DCS Snelgrove said one of the squad's main priorities was to improve investigations into business fraud in London.

She said there was concern that some crime reports submitted through Action Fraud - the Home Office fraud recording body - had not been properly investigated in the past.

She revealed plans to set up "volume crime hubs" in London so individuals and businesses could report fraud directly to the Met.

She said: "We will have volume crime hubs because one weakness was that we were not responding to the volume of crimes being reported through Action Fraud and into the Met."

Around 54,000 reports of fraud were recorded by Action Fraud in London last year.

DCS Snelgrove said: "Many people tell us it is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of crime. I think it is significantly under-reported and we want to give people in London, businesses and individual victims, the confidence to report and assure them there will be a policing response at the end of it. "

She added: "There has been a lot of concern that if people have reported fraud, it has gone into a black hole."

The Met is launching two "crime hubs" in Edmonton and Peckham, with plans for at least one more in west London.

DCS Snelgrove said police were seeing a large number of online auction crime offences where victims are first contacted on sites such as eBay or Gumtree and then lured away to part with money on non-secure payment sites.

Courier fraud where people are called by conmen claiming to be the victim's bank saying there has been security breach was another common fraud.

She said: "One of our key pieces of work is to establish how these crimes are committed and to strengthen areas which are vulnerable.

"Often people feel it is not going to happen to them and that cyber fraud only happens to people who are stupid or greedy, or both, but that is not the case.

"The fraudsters are very sophisticated and very manipulative and for some larger amounts of money they will spend weeks, or months, socially engineering someone, often giving assurances and giving evidence of who they are to corroborate their story."

The unit has a mix of officers, some are trained in digital forensics, while others are constables with computer science degrees who are being trained as detectives while others are experienced detectives who are being trained in cyber investigations.

(1st December 2014) 

(Brake the road safety charity, dated 17th November 2014)

Full article :

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Brake is today launching a campaign calling on all road users to look out for each other,to help stop the five deaths and 61 serious injuries that happen every day on UK roads, and particularly to protect people on foot and bike. The call comes at the start of Road Safety Week, coordinated by Brake, during which police across the country will be stepping up traffic enforcement to deter and catch drivers putting others at risk.

As part of the campaign, Brake and partners RSA and Specsavers are today revealing statistics showing shocking numbers of UK drivers senselessly risking lives by flouting traffic laws. Almost one million fixed penalty notices were issued for 'careless driving' and speeding offences in 2013 -almost two a minute. 950,505 were for speeding and 17,483 for careless driving (a fixed penalty newly introduced in August 2013).
Embargoed figures are available by region and postcode, including the top 10 worst postcode areas :

2013 Offences

Fixed penalty notices issued for careless driving and speeding : regional breakdown

East : 1,968 (96,116)
East Midlands : 1,330 (88,449)
London : 2,275 (71,529)
North East : 536 (45,823)
North West : 1,527 (100,469)
Northern Ireland : 11 (672)
Scotland : 3,487 (102,320)
South East : 1,520 (142,363)
South West : 1,083 (74,338)
Wales : 854 (53,785)
West Midlands : 1,493 (92,732)
Yorkshire and Humber : 1,224 (77,760)

Open numbers : Careless driving
Bracketed numbers : Speeding

National top 10 postcodes: where drivers who have committed careless driving offences reside

1.ST3 (Stoke-on-Trent, 45 offences)
2.CR0 (Croydon, 43 offences)
3.PA2 (Paisley, 40 offences)
4.G81 (Clydebank, 39 offences)
5.ST6 (Stoke-on-Trent, 39 offences)
6.G72 (Glasgow, 37 offences)
7.AB42 (Peterhead, 36 offences)
8.IV2 (Inverness, 36 offences)
9.DG1 (Dumfries, 35 offences)
10.ML6 (Airdrie, 34 offences)

National top 10 postcodes: where drivers who have committed speeding offences reside

1.SL6 (Maidenhead, 1,831 offences)
2.NG5 (Nottingham, 1,524 offences)
3.SL1 (Slough, 1,522 offences)
4.ST5 (Newcastle-under-Lyme, 1,499 offences)
5.BH23 (Christchurch, 1,496 offences)
6.LE2 (Leicester, 1,435 offences)
7.NG16 (Nottingham, 1,399 offences)
8.NE3 (Newcastle, 1,363 offences)
9.LE3 (Leicester, 1,319 offences)
10.NG17 (Nottingham, 1,316 offences)

This lack of patience and consideration towards other road users can and does result in tragedy.It can also stop the most vulnerable from exercising their right to healthy, active, sustainable travel. Results of Brake's survey of 5,000 primary school children released today, show:
•two thirds (67%) think roads in their community can be dangerous for walking and cycling;
•two in five (41%) say they have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while on foot or bike.

That's why Brake is calling on all road users to look out for each other, and particularly urging drivers to protect people on foot and bike - by slowing down to 20mph in communities, looking longer and taking it slow at junctions and bends, and giving people plenty of room and consideration. See below for more advice and facts showing why these steps are important.

Facts and advice:

Vulnerable road users' (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders) account for half (49%) of road deaths in the UK.

In the UK in 2013, 405 people were killed and 5,160 seriously injured walking, and 113 people were killed and 3,185 seriously injured cycling. That's 24 people a day killed or seriously injured on foot or bike - one every hour.

Every 1mph reduction in average speeds causes, on average, a 5% reduction in crash rates, and drivers who speed are nearly twice as likely to have been involved in a crash. Advice for drivers: stick to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops. Your stopping distance in an emergency will be half what it is at 30mph, and in busy urban areas you won't notice a difference in your journey time. You'll save on fuel, vehicle wear and emissions.

Vulnerable road users are often at risk from vehicles manoeuvring, such as at junctions, where they may not be seen in a blind spot. 75% of cyclist collisions occur at or near junctions when vehicles are turning. Advice for drivers: take it really slow at junctions and bends, look longer and carefully check mirrors before manoeuvring. Always assume a pedestrian or cyclist may be there; never just assume it's safe to turn.

Up to 95% of crashes are caused by driver error. Therefore it is vital drivers take responsibility to protect themselves and everyone around them. Everyone can commit to do this by making the Brake Pledge to follow six simple rules to help prevent devastating road crashes, at

Offence codes

CD10: Driving without due care and attention
CD20: Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users
CD30: Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users
SP10: Exceeding goods vehicle speed limits
SP20: Exceeding speed limit for type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles)
SP30: Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road
SP40: Exceeding passenger vehicle speed limit;
SP50: Exceeding speed limit on a motorway
SP60: Undefined speed limit offence

(1st December 2014)


(The Guardian, dated 14th November 2014 author Alan Travis)

Full article [Option 1] :

There has been a huge drop in prosecutions for illegal exploitation of workers by gangmasters, with the number having fallen to a four-year low, according to official figures.

The Home Office said the number of prosecutions initiated by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) were down by 84% from 19 in 2010 to only three so far this year.

The number of investigations into illegal activities of gangmasters, including employers who break the law by undercutting the minimum wage, has also fallen, from a peak of 134 in 2011 to 68 so far this year.

The GLA was set up in the wake of the Morecambe bay tragedy in which at least 21 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned by an incoming tide. The authority has a limited remit to ensure that businesses in specified industries, such as agriculture, shellfish collection and horticulture, treat their staff fairly by respecting employment law, paying the minimum wage and avoiding exploitation of workers.

Three GLA cases which have led to convictions so far this year are:

• 17 March: Martyn Slender deliberately destroyed payslips to enable him to underpay his workers. He received a suspended prison sentence. Peterborough magistrates' court was told that, in one instance, a Latvian worker got just £151 for five 10-hour days, which worked out at less than half the national minimum wage. In another example cited a worker was employed by Slender Contracting, of March, Cambridgeshire, for 20 hours over two days, but after deductions from his pay packet he was shown to be in debt.

• 29 May: Rimantas Sulcas illegally supplied workers to a number of Scottish vegetable farms and paid them wages below the legal minimum. He was ordered to do 180 hours unpaid community work. Sulcas had no GLA licence and paid his employees at a rate below the legal minimum wage.

• October: A Romanian migrant, Gheorge Ionas, was fined £500 for forcing Armagh apple pickers to endure "extreme exploitation", in inhumane conditions, in Northern Ireland while operating illegally. He kept Romanian migrants in an unheated outbuilding and forced them to scavenge for out-of-date food from supermarket bins.

The Home Office figures were obtained by the shadow immigration spokesman, David Hanson, who said that the home secretary, Theresa May, who took over responsibility for the GLA in April, had taken her eye off the ball.

"The GLA has done important work in the past 10 years but there are still too many people being exploited by unscrupulous employers, yet Theresa May has taken her eye off the ball with fewer people investigated and fewer people caught," said Hanson. "The home secretary should be far more proactive in tackling poor working conditions run by gangmasters."

The former Home Office minister for Labour also claimed that the drastic reductions in investigations and prosecutions of illegal gangmasters showed how little the government cared about ending workplace exploitation.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, also demanded to know why May was "allowing the situation to get worse". She said: "She is letting gangs get away with shocking exploitation - treating human beings like animals, undercutting local wages and jobs, and undermining both the local economy and the credibility of the immigration system."

The Home Office minister Karen Bradley has acknowledged that the GLA has reduced its number of investigations, but says they have become more complex and focused more effectively on serious and organised crime. "That reflects a targeted and risk-based enforcement approach," she said.

The reduction in GLA investigations and prosecutions also reflects the diminishing resources of the authority, which only has 35 inspectors to carry out its work across Britain.

However many of the GLA's operations are carried out jointly with other agencies, and prosecutions can be brought under other legislation and not captured by these figures.

Ministers say they will consider how to introduce more effective and targeted enforcement action by the GLA and will consider changes to support its greater role in addressing exploitation. But Labour moves to extend the remit to other industries, including care homes and construction, by amending the modern slavery bill have been rejected.

The Home Office on Monday named Kevin Hyland, a former head of the Metropolitan police's human trafficking unit, as Britain's first anti-slavery commissioner. His role includes improving enforcement of anti-slavery law.

uaware comment

The Gangmasters legislation as previously mentioned was to prevent harm and exploitation to "grey market" workers often illegal immigrants. It is all very well for the Home Office to boast of the reduction of prosecutions, but has there really been a reduction in the crime ? If you visit many of the Wickes Building stores in North London either on a Monday or Tuesday morning you will see anything up to 20 men touting for construction work. It has become such a regular occurence that the sites owners / management have hung rubbish sacks on nearby railings to reduce the mess that they make. So who do these people work for ?

(1st December 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 11th November 2014 author Pippa Stephens)

Full article :

One in 10 sausages and processed pork meat products in England and Wales could cause hepatitis
E virus (HEV) if undercooked, experts warn.

There has been an "abrupt rise" in the number of cases in England and Wales as people do not
realise the risk, scientists advising the government say.

Sausages should be cooked for 20 minutes at 70C to kill the virus, they said.

Although serious cases are rare, HEV can cause liver damage or be fatal.

Official government figures show there were 124 confirmed cases of HEV in 2003, which rose to
691 cases in 2013. There were 461 cases in the first six months of this year.

Symptoms include jaundice and sometimes tiredness, fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Most people will get over the virus, although for some, such as those with an immune deficiency
disorder, or pregnant women, it can prove fatal.

Prof Richard Tedder, at University College London (UCL), said HEV was "very common" in the UK
- not all cases are noticed or recorded. "This virus is taking off within the pig herds from
which this country sources its processed pig meat in sausages and pork pies," he said.

Prof Tedder said sausages needed to be "caramelised" - cooked thoroughly - before eating to
make sure they did not pose a health risk.

"It's a question of getting people to change," he said. "Everybody knows you can get salmonella
from chicken."

'Universal' in pigs

He said the virus occurred in the animal and in the blood system and warned it would continue
unless there was a "big change" in animal practices, such as introducing different hygiene measures.

Dr Richard Bendall, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, said HEV was the most common virus passed
on through animals in Britain. He said the virus was found in 10% of sausages and processed pork meat.

Dr Harry Dalton, also at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, said the virus was not just confined
to pigs, people had caught it from strawberries irrigated with infected water.

Shellfish in west Scotland and Tuscany had also infected people, he said.

In Asia and Africa, hepatitis E is more commonly transmitted by contaminated drinking water.

(1st December 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th November 2014 author Martin Bentham)

Full article [Option 1] :

The number of domestic abuse victims offered protection by a leading London housing association has risen dramatically amid a surge in tip-offs by neighbours and staff about signs of persecution.

Peabody, which houses 80,000 people across the capital, says it has seen an 825 per cent increase in domestic violence cases reported to it since it began a campaign six years ago to stop persecution in its properties.

Cases in which action has been taken to prevent domestic abuse include one in which children from an estate had sprayed graffiti on a wall stating: "Wife-beating bastard lives at No 12".

The caretaker spotted the message and reported it to a safety team set up by Peabody. After investigating, it reported the man to the police who remanded him in custody. Another woman was given help and protection after a surveyor visiting her home heard her ask her partner for permission to use the lavatory.

That raised concerns about the man's controlling and potentially dangerous behaviour, which were later confirmed by police. Action taken to protect other victims includes property swaps or transfers to another housing association.

Peabody also helps women to obtain injunctions and non-molestation orders or to temporarily move to refuges in the most dangerous cases.

Others have been provided with window locks and "London bars" on their doors to prevent former partners from breaking in.

A panic room with a direct phone line to police has been installed in a small number of cases.

Gudrun Burnet, who oversees Peabody's efforts to combat domestic violence in its homes, said the measures were the result of a decision to train its staff to be alert to signs of persecution and to encourage victims and other residents to report abuse.

She said 74 domestic abuses had been reported across London in the six months between April and October - virtually the same as the 77 recorded for the whole of the previous year - and encouraged victims to contact their housing provider.

"A woman might have been threatened that if they go to police they will be killed. But going to your housing provider doesn't raise suspicion because the person could be talking about anything," she said.

"It's also not as intimidating as going to police. So this will undoubtedly save lives. It will also safeguard children affected by domestic violence in their home."

Ms Burnett said Peabody, one of London's oldest and largest housing providers with 27,000 homes in the capital, now received a report every five days of domestic violence in one of its properties.

More than 450 cases have been dealt with since 2008, when just eight incidents were reported.

Peabody's disclosures follow a recent warning by the head of Scotland Yard's efforts to combat domestic abuse that sexual violence against women is at its highest level for at least 40 years.

(1st December 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th November 2014 author Sophie Goodchild)

Full article :

Diners are being urged to "look before you book" ahead of their Christmas parties as London restaurants are ranked lowest for hygiene.

Figures today reveal that 3,112 restaurants in the capital have been warned to improve by inspectors.

This is the equivalent of nearly one in five - almost double the national average, according to the Food Standards Agency. The watchdog also revealed that 1,729 restaurants in London are rated 0 or 1 - the lowest possible rankings for food hygiene.

The FSA has launched a campaign calling on would-be customers to do their research in the run-up to the party season. This means going online at to check a restaurant's hygiene score before booking.

Amy Skinner is backing the FSA campaign after suffering food poisoning twice - at a chain restaurant and at a small independent one. The resourcing and talent adviser from Hackney said the experience has left her cautious about eating out.

The 27-year-old said: "Having food poisoning was a horrible experience and has made me much more cautious about eating out. I'm really aware there's so much we don't see as consumers about how a restaurant is run and how clean the kitchen really is.

"Now, I always check the food hygiene rating when I go out to make sure it's up to scratch." The majority of restaurants in the capital are deemed up to standard.

More than 15,000 have a rating ranging from 3, which means "generally satisfactory", to 5, which is "very good". This is under the Food Standards Agency's Scores on the Doors scheme, which all local authorities in London are signed up to.

However, other restaurants have been told by inspectors they must improve hygiene standards.

La Forchetta in Upper Street in Islington; the Sports Bar and Grill at Marylebone station; Golden Pagoda restaurant in Gerrard Street and Caffe Ritazza at Euston station are among 205 in the capital given a 0 rating on the FSA website.

This means they need "urgent" improvement.Even establishments favoured by the rich and famous have been told they need to improve.

The Chiltern Firehouse was given a 2 rating by hygiene inspectors after an assessment last June.

Models Lily Cole and Cara Delevigne are among celebrities who have dined at the restaurant, which was told improvement was needed on food hygiene.

The Chiltern Firehouse said at the time that the "vast majority" of the issues highlighted had already been rectified.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) rating webpage :

FSA Christmas Alert articcle :

(1st December 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 10th November 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

DNA profiles relating to unsolved major crime cases including murders, rapes and terrorism will be shared between Britain and Australia under a deal agreed by the Home Office and Australia's Justice Ministry.

The DNA Search Request Network - of which the United States and Canada are also a part - allows UK forces to request searches of foreign agencies' genetic material profiling databases to try and find matches and identify suspects.

Under the agreement, member states retain the right to refuse permission for a search if for any reason they deem it "inappropriate".

A similar system was already in place before Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire signed a memorandum of understanding with his Australian counterpart this week.

However, the Home Office says the new network will speed up the process of making requests to Australian national police checking service Crimtrac.

Mr Brokenshire said: "The agreement represents the type of international co-operation and data sharing that is critical in an increasingly interconnected world, where criminals seek to exploit any gaps that exist to find safe havens for their activities."

Michael Keegan, Australia's Justice Minister, pledged his country would seek further opportunities for exchange of DNA and other biometrics data internationally.

While in the UK Mr Keegan also held meetings with National Crime Agency Director General Keith Bristow and Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey.

Intercontinental exchange of DNA information can be a vital tool in solving cold cases, according to the Home Office.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary vote on a package of EU crime and policing measures is imminent amid a row over calls for Britain to opt out of the European Arrest Warrant.

The government plans to opt out of 130 European criminal justice measures on December 1 and then immediately opt back into 35 of those that are seen to be beneficial to Britain.

MPs will vote on the issue on Monday (November 10).

(1st December 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 10th November 2014 author Ian Weinfass) [Option 1]

Police officers from Poland could be seconded to assist with law enforcement in Scotland under new plans to help the force in its dealings with the large Polish community.

Police Scotland has confirmed it is speaking to counterparts in the eastern European country in order to help it interact with the 55,000-strong community.

In a statement Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "Police Scotland is in very early discussions with the Polish Police about the possibility of them sharing their skills and expertise with us which will assist in the day to day dealings with the large Polish community in Scotland.

"We look forward to developing this relationship in the coming months and years."

Last year the Metropolitan Police launched a similar relationship with police from Poland and Romania in order to help in the fight against crime.

Thanks to a grant from the European Union, eight Romanian and three Polish officers started work in London in October 2013.

Experienced specialist officers from Poland began six-month rotations and Romanian officers three-month rotations.

They do not have the power of arrest but were said to be focusing their attention on improving the flow of intelligence from their home countries around people arrested in the capital for crime.

They were also lauded as being able to provide support to Met officers on targeted proactive and reactive crime operations and supporting members of the Polish and Romanian communities who have become victims of crime.

(1st December 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 9th November 2014)

Full article :

David Cameron is facing a backbench rebellion when MPs vote on rejoining the EAW and 34 other EU measures.

Supporters of the EAW say Britain risks becoming a "safe haven" for criminals without its extradition powers.

But some Conservative MPs see it as a threat to the liberties of Britons and the sovereignty of the UK.

The government opted out of all 133 justice measures in 2013 and wants to rejoin 35, including the EAW.

It has until 1 December to decide which ones to continue to adhere to.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Conservative backbencher David Davis said claims by Mrs May and senior judges that without the EAW Britain would become a safe haven for criminals were "scaremongering".

He is among the MPs expected to vote against the government plans on Monday, but the measures are likely to pass with Labour and Liberal Democrat support.

'Practical measures'

In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, Mrs May urged the Commons to give the authorities "the powers they need to keep us safe".

In the past five years, she said, 5,000 people had been extradited from the UK under the EAW, including suspects wanted for 124 murders and 100 rapes.

But Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan disagreed, telling the BBC's Sunday Politics: "I know the security services want it, of course it makes life easier for them.

"But a state in which we automatically do what the police want is a police state and the role of politicians is to weigh the convenience of the police against the freedom of the subject."

Mr Hannan cited the case of five-year-old brain tumour patient Ashya King, whose parents were arrested in Spain after he was taken from hospital against medical advice, as an example of the "disproportionate" use of an EAW.

Meanwhile, the chairs of three influential Parliamentary committees accused the government of a "cavalier approach" to the debate.

The European Scrutiny, Justice and Home Affairs said Monday's vote had "no direct relevance" to the EAW and would not allow MPs to make any changes.

The committees have previously called for an individual motion on each of the 35 measures, rather than one vote on the whole package.

Home Affairs chairman Keith Vaz said: "Members of the House are expecting a separate vote on whether or not to rejoin the European Arrest Warrant.

"Monday's debate, on an unamendable, take-it-or-leave-it package, will not give us that opportunity."

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Prime Minister David Cameron was "running scared" of a rebellion by not including the EAW in the package to be voted on.

She said: "We need the European Arrest Warrant and we should vote for it. All this tricky game playing means it's no wonder people don't trust David Cameron on Europe."

In a letter to Mrs Cooper, Mrs May wrote: "I shall be making very clear in the House on Monday - and am happy to do so now - that Monday's vote is a vote on the entire package of 35 measures."

She said: "The package includes the arrest warrant and other tools which are vitally important to our police and law enforcement agencies.

"It helps us to tackle cross-border crimes, deport foreign criminals, track down those who seek to evade the law, and bring them to justice.

"We are proud to bring it before Parliament on Monday as a package of measures which are in the national interest, but if Parliament rejects it, we will not join them.

"The government will be arguing loudly and clearly why it is so important that we do so."

European Arrest Warrants

- The European Arrest Warrant operates EU-wide and replaced separate extradition arrangements between the EU member states.

- It was introduced in January 2004, and was prompted by the international anti-terror drive after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

- A national judicial authority, such as a court, can issue an EU warrant to get a suspect extradited.

- For a warrant to be valid, the suspect must be accused of an offence incurring a maximum penalty of at least a year in prison, or must have been already sentenced to at least four months in prison.

(1st December 2014)

(BBC News, dated 7th November 2014 author Jane Wakefield)

Full article :

Silk Road 2.0 and 400 other sites believed to be selling illegal items including drugs and weapons have been shut down.

The sites operated on the Tor network - a part of the internet unreachable via traditional search engines.

The joint operation between 16 European countries and the US saw 17 arrests, including Blake Benthall who is said to be behind Silk Road 2.0.

Experts believe the shutdown represents a breakthrough for fighting cybercrime.

Six Britons were also arrested, including a 20-year-old man from Liverpool, a 19-year-old man from New Waltham, a 30 year-old-man from Cleethorpes and a man and woman, both aged 58, from Aberdovey, Wales.

All were interviewed and bailed according to the National Crime Agency.

Tor, as well as hosting legitimate sites, is home to thousands of illegal marketplaces, trading in drugs, child abuse images as well as sites for extremist groups.

It was the operation last year to take down the drugs marketplace Silk Road which was the first major success in the battle against criminal use of the dark net.

Now this much bigger operation involving global cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies sees that battle taken to a new level, with Silk Road 2.0 amongst 400 sites closed.

It's important to remember that the dark net isn't all about illegal activity. Indeed its best known tool the anonymising browser Tor was created by a US intelligence agency to help its operations and to assist people living under repressive regimes.

Last year, many predicted that shutting one online drugs bazaar - and arresting its alleged owner Ross William Ulbricht - would not make a lot of difference, with plenty more rushing to fill the gap.

Now this much bigger operation may signal that the authorities have developed new techniques to track down the origins of these networks and those behind them.

Still, the number of arrests may be telling - 400 sites closed, but just 17 arrests. That would suggest there is a lot of work still to be done.

Silk Road 2.0 - which launched in October last year - is one of the most notorious and deals in the buying and selling of illegal drugs.

It was resurrected after the original Silk Road site was shut down and its alleged owner arrested.

'Serious organised crime'

The operation also saw the seizure of Bitcoins worth approximately $1m (£632,000).

"Today we have demonstrated that, together, we are able to efficiently remove vital criminal infrastructures that are supporting serious organised crime," said Troels Oerting, head of Europol's European cybercrime centre.

"And we are not 'just' removing these services from the open internet; this time we have also hit services on the dark net using Tor where, for a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach," he added.

The BBC understands that the raid represented both a technological breakthrough - with police using new techniques to track down the physical location of dark net servers - as well as seeing an unprecedented level of international co-operation among law enforcement agencies.

The so-called deep web - the anonymous part of the internet - is estimated to be anything up to 500 times the size of the surface web.

Within that experts refer to the dark net - the part of the network which Tor operates on. There are approximately three million Tor users but the number of sites may be smaller.

Prof Alan Woodward a security consultant from the University of Surrey who also advises Europol, said that the shutdown represents a new era in the fight against cybercrime.

"Tor has long been considered beyond the reach of law enforcement. This action proves that it is neither invisible nor untouchable," he said.

But, he added, it did not mean copycat sites would not spring up, or that the police had thrown light on the dark net.

Explainer: What is Tor?

Tor is a special part of the internet that requires software, known as the Tor Browser bundle, to access it.

The name is an acronym for The Onion Router - just as there are many layers to the vegetable, there are many layers of encryption on the network.

It was originally designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory, and continues to receive funding from the US State Department.

It attempts to hide a person's location and identity by sending data across the internet via a very circuitous route involving several "nodes" - which, in this context, means using volunteers' PCs and computer servers as connection points.

Encryption applied at each hop along this route makes it very hard to connect a person to any particular activity.

To the website that ultimately receives the request, it appears as if the data traffic comes from the last computer in the chain - known as an "exit relay" - rather than the person responsible.

As well as allowing users to visit normal websites anonymously, it can also be used to host hidden sites, which use the .onion suffix.

Tor's users include the military, law enforcement officers and journalists - who use it as a way of communicating with whistle-blowers - as well as members of the public who wish to keep their browser activity secret.

But it has also been associated with illegal activity, allowing people to visit sites offering illegal drugs for sale and access to child abuse images, which do not show up in normal search engine results and would not be available to those who did not know where to look.

(1st December 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th November 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1] :

London's police chief today warns society against letting parts of the internet become a "dark and ungoverned" space populated by paedophiles, murderers and terrorists.

In a call for action, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says encryption on computers and mobile phones is frustrating police investigations, meaning parts of the web are becoming "anarchic places".

He was telling a New York law enforcement conference: "We can't allow parts of the internet, or any communications platform, to become dark, ungoverned space where images of child abuse are exchanged, murders are planned and terrorist plots are progressed.

"In a democracy we cannot accept any space, virtual or not, to become anarchic where crime can be committed without fear. Yet this is in danger of happening."

His comments come just days after GCHQ's new head warned that US technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp were becoming "the command and control networks of choice" for terrorists.

Robert Hannigan said Islamic State extremists had "embraced" the web - but some tech firms remained "in denial" over the problem. Sir Bernard has spent several days in talks with New York and Washington police chiefs about the threat of terrorism and what he calls "the challenges and opportunities" of technology. Today he was meeting FBI director James Comey.

He was also telling law enforcement experts behind closed doors at the New York police department that the internet is now a safe haven for criminality, adding: "Privacy is important but in my view the security of communications methods and devices is growing beyond what any genuine domestic user could reasonably require.

"The levels of encryption and protection we're seeing in devices and methods used to communicate are frustrating the efforts of police and intelligence agencies to keep people safe.

"We need an informed, balanced discussion with communications providers to explore what they can do to help us protect the public from serious crime and terrorism." This week FBI director Mr Comey said tech giants such as Apple and Google should co-operate with law enforcement and unlock mobile phones if requested.

He also said encryption on mobiles had made it harder for police and intelligence agencies to gather data .

Controversy over the security agencies access to personal data exploded in 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked details of internet and phone surveillance by US intelligence and GCHQ.

Home Office security minister James Brokenshire recently met representatives from technology firms - including Google, Microsoft and Facebook - to discuss tackling online extremism.

Responding to Sir Bernard's views, Big Brother Watch director Emma Carr said: "Rather than bemoaning the fact that the internet can be used by criminals, Hogan-Howe should be focusing on the fact that our surveillance legislation has failed to keep up with developments in technology."

"Updating that legislation would ensure that intelligence agencies and law enforcement will have the means to monitor those suspected of terrorism, while respecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

(1st December 2014) 

(The Independent, dated 6th November 2014 author Pavan Amara)

Full article :

An independent legal expert has been called in to investigate alleged corruption in the European Union, following a whistleblower's claims.

The Eulex mission - which is intended to strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo - is embroiled in allegations that its officials took bribes in return for dropping three cases involving organised crime.

Maria Bamieh, a British prosecutor at Eulex, learned in August that she was being suspended after secret documents that revealed possible bribe-taking were leaked.

Ms Bamieh claims she wanted an open investigation into the bribery allegations but Eulex ignored her requests.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has now announced an independent expert will scrutinise Eulex.

A statement on the Eulex website maintains that "since 2013, Eulex and Kosovo judicial authorities have been pursuing a joint investigation into these allegations."


(The Times, dated 5th November 2014 author Daid Charter)

Senior EU officials in Kosovo have been accused of taking bribes to drop criminal cases and of harassing a local journalist, plunging relations between Brussels and the breakaway state into crisis.

The EU said that it was investigating the corruption allegations and denied intimidating the journalist to hand over leaked documents on the cases.

The EU office Eulex was set up six years ago to help the small Balkan state to improve law and order by assisting with difficult corruption cases.

The tables have been turned on EULUX, with allegations that an Italian judge and a Czech prosecutor each took bribes of E350,000 (£275,000). They deny the accusations.

The bribes were allegedly paid by local gangsters to have three criminal cases dropped, including one of murder and another of corruption by senior state officials.

EULUX has suspended one member of the staff over the affair ; a British lawyer suspected of exposing details to the public.


(EU - Regional Anti-corruption Initiative announcement, dated 5th November 2014)

Full article :

Brussels' foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she will send an independent legal expert to look into corruption allegations at the EU's rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX.

Mogherini told a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday that an independent expert will probe allegations that a EULEX judge took bribes to shut down cases against people accused of serious crimes.

"I took the decision today to appoint a legal expert, an independent legal expert, to look at and review the mission's mandate implementation. Obviously with a particular focus on the handling of the allegations," the EU foreign policy chief said.

The allegations surfaced last week when an EULEX prosecutor, Maria Bamieh, accused a former judge at the mission, Francesco Florit, of taking a 300,000 euro bribe to clear a man accused of murder and seeking another bribe in a corruption case against a Kosovo government official.

Florit strongly denied the accusations.

Bamieh, who has been suspended, has alleged that EULEX initially failed to investigate her suspicions about Florit, and instead has targeted her for being a whistleblower.

Elmar Brok, the chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, urged the EU on Tuesday to fully investigate the allegations to ensure that EULEX remained credible.

"The mission's role in Kosovo is to fight against corruption and impunity, and it should set an example. We must show with no hesitation that no one is above the law and that the fight against corruption is our key priority, both in Kosovo, but within our own institutions as well," Brok said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bamieh has also accused the head of the EULEX special prosecution, Jonathan Ratel, of obstructing one of her investigations involving Kosovo MP, Azem Syla, a top Democratic Party of Kosovo official.

Syla and nine other people were suspected of illegally acquiring land worth hundreds of millions of euro.

The MP said however that the allegations were false.

"The credibility of such accusations is often unfounded and tendentious," Syla told Pristina-based daily newspaper Koha Ditore on Wednesday.

Syla added that he has made public his personal and family fortune by the competent authorities.

Ratel told BIRN last week that he did not want to respond to Bamieh's allegations.

EULEX deals with cases of organised crime, corruption and war crimes which are considered too important or sensitive to be handled by the Kosovo judiciary.

EU - Regional Anti-corruption Initiative website :

(1st December 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 6th November 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

A criminal services industry providing mercenaries for hire, live streaming child abuse and money laundering services is "thriving", a cybercrime report by a Europe-wide policing agency has found.
Europol's report outlines how this growing "crypto-industry" - driven by what experts say is a sophisticated "crime-as-a service business model" - is worth hundreds of billions of pounds globally and provides criminal employment for perhaps millions of people.
Just like its legal counterpart, the illegal service industry has human resources and recruitment arms furnishing specialists to carry out increasingly niche and complex parts of large scale criminal enterprises.

Darknets and other environments offering anonymity and security host "hidden services" and hubs "where supply and demand meet" - places where criminals can trade illicit commodities as well as network, pool knowledge and upskill via training.
The report, which sets out the challenge law enforcement faces, states: "It is this division of labour and adoption of niche functionalities that drives the criminal economy, and has created a booming as-a-service industry, as skills can be monetised and create broader - even mass - access to crime capacities that would have formerly required exceptional abilities."
Translation services specifically tailored for scammers with poor English who want to target Anglophone victims are also provided for a fee, as are contract killing services.
The digital crime service industry is now so sophisticated it has even spawned a research and development spin-off so proceeds from crime can be reinvested into technological innovation.
The aim is to drive ever more advanced computer malware development and create state-of-the-art "crimeware kits". Underground factories in China and elsewhere are said to be involved.
The report adds: "Malware-as-a-Service is becoming increasingly professional, mirroring legitimate commercial software development companies by providing functionality such as 24/7 customer support and frequent patches and updates to continually refine their product and increase its capability and competitiveness in the malware marketplace."

Child abuse
Europol's report - entitled 'Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2014' - also highlights new challenges for law enforcement posed by the way the internet is facilitating the sickening abuse of children.
Individuals with a sexual interest in children communicate with like-minded offenders and "share best practice" around how to gain access to victims and create "material that is considered to be of 'high quality'".
Offenders take part in virtual conferences on subjects including "how to better groom and abuse children, where good destinations are for travelling child sex offenders and how to obtain children there".
"These platforms encourage the normalisation of child abuse by the sharing of experience and justifications," the report states, adding: "Best practices on how to rape, kidnap, murder and dispose of children's bodies are also shared openly on Darknet."
The horrific rise of what is described as "live streaming of on-demand abuse of children" is also described.
This is likely to be a "growth area" financially, Europol notes.
The report also states: "The expansion of the internet of everything and the interconnectivity of electronic devices will create new opportunities for child abusers, further expanding offenders' access to images of children.
"There will be increased opportunities to hack into devices such as baby monitors and CCTV in schools and other facilities frequented by children."
The 'internet of everything' has been described as a new era of technological interconnectedness in which everything from power grids to household items like dishwashers and fridges - and even windows and doors - will be connected up electronically, with options for remote control.
According to Europol, experts believe "it is not a matter of if - but when - there will be a cyber-attack of major significance and impact on critical operational infrastructure" - and it suggests the internet of everything could be used to murder particular individuals.

Commercial operations

Interestingly, the report describes how the internet is leading organised criminal enterprises to become more racially inclusive.
It states: "Traditionally, organised crime groups used to predominantly operate in silos within the confines of ethnic or national diasporas. However, the dynamics of the organised crime groups are shifting with the industrialisation of crime driven by Crime-as-a-Service, and the composition of the crime groups is increasingly based on skill and value for money ratio rather than social factors."
The report recommends more cross-border cooperation and suggests police forces should explore new ways of infiltrating groups of paedophiles collaborating online to gather intelligence on their activities and apprehend those involved.
It also recommends prioritising the targeting of key individuals. It states: "Successful prosecution of top tier cybercriminals would not only have considerable impact on the cyber community but may provide many other investigative leads and sends a strong message to the criminal community that nobody is untouchable."
Where the top tier cannot be targeted by law enforcement because of jurisdictional issues, police should focus on targeting "key support" individuals and those with specialist technical expertise so as to undermine this economy.

(1st December 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 5th November 2014 author Nicholas Cecil) [Option 1]

Ministers today called for local authorities to ensure enhanced security checks are carried out on cab drivers to protect passengers from sex attacks.

Transport minister Baroness Kramer is writing to Transport for London and town halls across the country urging them to make "full use" of new powers to probe the background of individuals applying for taxi licences.
"People need to feel safe when using a taxi or private hire vehicle," she told The Standard. "We have made it easier for local authorities to carry out checks on people who want to drive taxis or private hire vehicles.
"These checks should ensure that violent and sexual criminals aren't allowed behind the wheel of a taxi."
Ministers have sought to strengthen the system by encouraging town halls to require enhanced, rather than standard, checks on all mini cab and taxi drivers.
Standard checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service cover spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.
Enhanced scrutiny includes any additional information held by the police that is considered relevant.
Last month, minicab driver Alaksur Rahman, 39, of Poplar, was jailed for 30 months at Snaresbrook crown court after admitting two charges of sexual assault on PR and media executives.
Five years ago, London taxi driver John Worboys was jailed indefinitely for drugging and sexually assaulting female passengers.
Shocking reports have also emerged recently from Rotherham of taxi drivers paid for by council staff ferrying vulnerable young girls in care to be abused by sex attackers, and also carrying out assaults themselves.
(1st December 2014)


(Russia Today website, dated 5th November 2014 author Dado Ruvic)

Full article [Option 1] :

Six types of 'Facebook murderer' have been identified by profilers working on 48 homicides where the social platform played a 'significant role.'
A Birmingham City University team, led by Dr. Elizabeth Yardley and Professor David Wilson from the Centre of Applied Criminology published the results of their investigations into 48 cases of 'Facebook murder', in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice.

In 2008, 34-year-old Wayne Forester got drunk and took cocaine before hacking his wife to death with a meat cleaver in a rage after she changed her Facebook marital status to 'single'. Forrester was jailed for a minimum of 14 years in UK prison. The reactor accounted for 27 percent of Facebook murders - the perpetrator reacts to news on Facebook and by "attacking the victim face-to-face."

The Informer warns others on Facebook that he or she intends to kill the victim or has already killed the victim - a public demonstration of 'control' over them. Will Cornick, 16, who was sentenced to at least 20 years Monday for stabbing his Spanish teacher is an 'informer', which accounts for 22.9 percent of analyzed Facebook murders.
"He fits that pattern of people who will let everybody know what it is they intend to do," Wilson said of the teenager who for more than four months had told Facebook friends of his wish to murder 61-year-old Ann Maguire.

"Hostile exchanges on Facebook that escalate into face-to-face fatal violence" are the breeding ground for the Antagonist (16.7 percent). Fear of a potential encounter with their adversaries leads some to arm themselves. In 2010, a 15-year-old boy who fatally stabbed a former friend, Salum Kombo, over insults traded on Facebook, was jailed for at least 14 years.

When 'the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred' the fantasist emerges. Some 12.5 percent of Facebook murders fit this profile. Mark Twitchell is an iconic fantasist. The 35-year-old Canadian was convicted in 2011 for killing John Brian Altinger. In his defense the murderer said that he was inspired by the Dexter Morgan character in the Dexter television series.

A Facebook Predator uses a fake profile to lure a victim into a trap. In 2010, Peter Chapman, known as the 'Facebook killer' received a 35-year prison sentence for the murder of a 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall, whom he lured to her death.

Imposter murders, "posts in the name of someone else" to create the illusion that the victim is still alive or pretends to be another person to "gain access to and monitor the victim's profile." In 2010 Andrew Lindo killed his partner Marie Stewart before sending messages from Facebook claiming she had left for the Canary Islands.

UK police have not commented on the killer categories.
Facebook said Tuesday the US government has increased requests for user info access by 24 percent in the first half of 2014 over 2013, claiming to have received over 34,946 requests for data.
"We're aggressively pursuing an appeal to a higher court to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized," the company said in a company blog post on Tuesday.
Additional information
(The indpendent, dated 4th November 2014 author James Vincent)
Full article [Option 1] :
- Research published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice.
- Researched covered "Facebook murders" between 2008 and 2013.
- Research team examined 1000 reports of "Facebook murder" from around the world.
(The Guardian, dated 3rd November 2014 author Mark Tran)

Full article [Option 1] :

Yardley, lead researcher, said she and her colleague wanted to see whether murders in which Facebook was reported to have been involved were any different to other homicides. They found that on the whole they are not - victims knew their killers in most cases and the crimes echoed what they already knew about this type of crime.
But they did find that their sample differed from general murder trends and characteristics in some respects: the age profile of victims and perpetrators was relatively low; women were over-represented as victims; there was a relatively high proportion of murder-suicides; and those involved in murders could not all be described as marginalised.
"We conclude that 'Facebook murder' is not a useful or conceptually valid term for criminologists examining the role of social networking sites in contemporary homicide," they said.

(1st December 2014)


(Daily Mail, dated 4th November 2014 author John Stevens)

Full article [Option 1] :

The Government was last night forced to deny it was bringing in ID cards by the back door after it revealed plans to offer everyone a virtual ID.
People will be able to store personal data online, file tax returns and apply for driving licences through a single website as part of the voluntary scheme.
More than half a million people are expected to sign up to use the 'Verify' project within a year.
Under the programme, users will choose one of five private providers - including Experian and the Post Office - to complete an online security check.
This will give them a username and password, as well as a code sent to their mobile phone, which will give them access to government services.
Driving licences and some self-assessment tax returns will be among the first services to be offered as part of the scheme next month, with tax credits and benefits records expected to follow in March.
But last night there were concerns about the scheme because of the history of hugely costly government IT projects and data blunders.
Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, which has been involved in the scheme's development, said the 'government must tread carefully' given past issues over losing records.
She told The Times: 'It has to ensure that this is a scheme that the public can have full confidence in.
'They must make themselves very clear about how it will work, including details of what safeguards are in place to ensure that the private companies being used to verify a users' identity won't wrongly gain access to any information.'
Government aides insisted that rather than bringing in ID cards by a different method the scheme would make any attempt to reintroduce a compulsory document less likely.
'This removes once and for all the need for an identity card because it will be possible to prove your identity securely without one,' a source told The Times.
Labour introduced the controversial idea of ID cards in 2002, but they did not become a reality until November 2009 after years of disagreements.
The Coalition government scrapped the entire project less than a year later, saying it wanted to reverse what it saw as 'an erosion of civil liberties' under Labour.

(1st December 2014)


(Daily Mail, dated 3rd November 2014 author James Slack)

Full article [Option 1] :

Global internet companies have become 'the command and control networks of choice' for terrorists, claims the new head of Britain's electronic spying agency.
GCHQ director Robert Hannigan insisted some were 'in denial' about the way fanatics misuse their services.
He cited how Islamic State (IS) has exploited social media for recruitment and propaganda - using the likes of Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube to promote beheadings. The terror group and its followers have also sent up to 40,000 tweets a day.
Mr Hannigan called on the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to give greater co-operation to GCHQ and sister agencies MI5 and MI6.
He also said there was 'no doubt' young foreign fighters had benefited from the treasure trove of intelligence secrets leaked by fugitive CIA worker Edward Snowden.
'GCHQ and its sister agencies… cannot tackle these challenges without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web,' he said.
'I understand why they have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics.
'But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.
'However much they may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.'
Officials say the job of spy agencies has become 'much harder' over the past 18 months as US firms become less willing to hand over data. Whitehall sources say the companies have changed how they behave in response to the Snowden revelations.
His exposure of how GCHQ and America's National Security Agency were able to tap into online data has made companies nervous about protecting their own reputations, they said.
Writing in the Financial Times, Mr Hannigan said mobile technology and smartphones have increased the options available to terrorists 'exponentially'.
He said: 'Techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous, which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states, now come as standard. These are supplemented by freely available programs and apps adding extra layers of security, many of them proudly advertising that they are "Snowden approved".
'There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learnt and benefited from the leaks of the past two years. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies. Terrorists have long made use of the internet. But IS's approach is different in two important areas.
'Where Al Qaeda and its affiliates saw the internet as a place to disseminate material anonymously, IS has embraced the web as a noisy channel in which to promote itself, intimidate people, and radicalise new recruits.'
Intelligence sources have previously warned how Snowden's revelations - mainly published by the Guardian in the UK - have made it harder to track the movements and tactics of IS because they have become better at knowing how to avoid detection.
Mr Hannigan went on: 'For our part, intelligence agencies such as GCHQ need to enter the public debate about privacy.
'We need to show how we are accountable for the data we use to protect people, just as the private sector is increasingly under pressure to show how it filters and sells its customers' data.
'GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age. But privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions. To those of us who have to tackle the depressing end of human behaviour on the internet, it can seem some technology companies are in denial about its misuse.
'I suspect most ordinary users of the internet are ahead of them: they have strong views on the ethics of companies, whether on taxation, child protection or privacy; they do not want the media platforms they use with their friends and families to facilitate murder or child abuse.
'They know the internet grew out of the values of Western democracy, not vice versa. I think those customers would be comfortable with a better, more sustainable relationship between the agencies and the technology companies.'
Hazel Blears, an ex-Home Office minister who sits on Westminster's Intelligence and Security Committee, recently said IS militants would be 'very much aware' of what Snowden had made public.
She said: 'As an organisation that appears to be very tech savvy and certainly social media savvy, it is inevitably going to adjust its behaviour in relation to what it knows the security agencies can do.'

(1st December 2014)




In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By John McCrae
May 1915
Written for a lost friend

(11th November 2014)

(BBC News, dated 1st November 2014)

Full article :

The government is planning to scrap the use of police cautions - where those who commit minor offences are given a formal warning - in England and Wales.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said victims should not feel that criminals are "walking away scot-free".

Under the new system, offenders would repair any damage they have done or pay compensation for less serious crimes.

Those who commit more serious offences would face court if they fail to comply with conditions set out by police.

If successful it will be introduced across England and Wales.

The government says the scheme - which will also give victims a say in how the offender is dealt with - will be tougher and more simple than the current system.

'No soft option'

Mr Grayling said: "It isn't right that criminals who commit lower-level crime can be dealt with by little more than a warning.

"It's time we put an end to this country's cautions culture. I think every crime should have a consequence, and this change will deliver that.

"Under the new system we are introducing, offenders will face prosecution if they fail to comply with the conditions set by the police, so that no one is allowed to get away with the soft option."

The overhaul of what are known as out-of-court disposals will mean cannabis warnings, community resolutions, penalty notices for disorder, simple cautions and conditional cautions would be replaced by the new two-tier framework.

As part of the scheme, first-time offenders committing minor crimes would face a new statutory community resolution.

This could see them offering a verbal or written apology to their victim, paying compensation or fixing damage.

More serious crimes would be dealt with by a suspended prosecution which would have one or more conditions attached, for example paying a fine, or attending a rehabilitation course.

Suspended prosecutions would be traced on a criminal record but community resolutions would not, the Ministry of Justice said.

Mr Grayling added: "Our police officers do a brilliant job in keeping our streets safe. But victims should not feel like offenders are walking away scot-free.

"I'm not prepared to allow the current situation to continue and that is why I am making these changes.

"This new approach will empower victims and give them a say in how criminals are dealt with, as well as making it easier for officers to deal with more minor offences."

'Take responsibility'

Chief Constable Lynne Owens, national policing lead on out-of-court disposals, said the reforms should reduce bureaucracy and help increase public understanding.

She said: "The pilots seek to test a new approach which gives officers and staff the discretion to deal with cases appropriately.

"It will engage the victim in the process and require offenders to take responsibility for their actions."

Police officers will use their judgement to assess each offence, as they do with the current system.

Richard Monkhouse, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, said: "We have pressed hard for a simplification of cautions, so this pilot is welcome especially in empowering victims.

"However, we need to see more detail on the measurement of the pilot's effectiveness because our members tell us there are existing challenges with local scrutiny panels in evaluating the current regime for out-of-court disposals.

"It's also important that this doesn't lead to an over-escalation and criminalisation of behaviour currently dealt with by informal community resolutions."

Justice system 'cheapened'

The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, said: "Under David Cameron's government, too many criminals have been getting away with serious crimes.

"On their watch, cautions have been dished out wrongly for serious sexual and violent crimes like rape.

"Slap-on-the-wrist community resolutions meant for minor crimes have instead been used by the police thousands of times for violent offences.

"And the public are no longer protected from the most serious criminals after the government watered down sentencing rules for the most dangerous and violent criminals.

"This government's actions have cheapened our justice system, leaving the public to question whether this government is truly on the side of innocent victims of crime."

He said Labour would "keep a close eye" on the pilots and make sure the new scheme did not "impact negatively on victims".

More than 230,000 cautions were issued in England and Wales last year.

(1st November 2014) 

(Daily Mail, dated 31st October 2014 author Ray Massey)

Full article : [Option 1]

Fatal crashes in which mobile phone use has played a part have risen by nearly a third in one year - as users do not fear getting caught, a report reveals today.

The AA warns that drivers who use mobile phones are at 'epidemic' proportions - and the rising number is frustrating the law-abiding motorists who see others 'getting away with it'.

The motoring organisation has found that one in ten of all motorists have been so annoyed about seeing another driver using their mobile phone at the wheel they have beeped their horn, flashed their lights, gestured or shouted at them.

But the latest figures from the Department of Transport show they may be fighting a losing battle.

The number of fatal accidents in which a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor increased from 17 in 2012 to 22 in 2013 - a rise of 29 per cent. Meanwhile, all accidents in which phone use played a part rose from 378 to 422 - up 10 per cent.

It is currently legal to use a mobile while driving - but only if you use a hands-free device. If you are caught holding your phone, you face three points on your licence and a fine of up to £1,000.

Jim Kirkwood, of AA DriveTech, a driver education service, said: 'The use of hand-held mobile phones is an epidemic among drivers who appear to be addicted to using their phone whenever and wherever they please.

'Drivers who use their hand-held phones are at best risking points, a fine or attending an educational course, but at worst they are risking death and serious injury.'

RAC technical director David Bizley said: 'Mobile phone use has been a problem for some time and there's not been enough action to tackle it.

'Using a hand-held phone or texting while driving must be made socially unacceptable.'

AA spokesman Paul Watters said: 'The last thing we want to see on our roads are mobile phone vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.

'But motorists are becoming increasingly frustrated that the law appears not to be being enforced.'


Has it gone beyond the time where only six points are awarded to drivers who use their mobile whilst driving. Perhaps it is the time to name and shame those individuals who commit a driving offence that could result in an injury or death.

I am perfectly aware that some civil liberty groups and political parties would shout that "name and shaming" would infringe individuals "human rights" and fines and licence penalty points" are punishment enough, but what do you do to reduce fatalities ? What about the victims and their families human rights ?

I have recently returned from a holiday in Malta. A country of 400,000 people, living in around 360 Parishes. A country that year after year tops the poll of being the best country to live within the EU based on a survey of it's citizens. A country that has fully embraced the edicts of the EU, but it names and shames.

In the newspaper "The Malta Independent" (a tabloid) on the 26th September 2014 there were 10 full pages of named individuals who had committed motoring offences against the offence they had committed, by 7 judicial locations.

After checking through the first 2 pages of names / offences the following is a list of the charges that are to be heard during the month of October 2014.

Failed to wear a seat belt : 15 (75)

Use of mobile phone : 9 (45)

No road tax : 47 (235)

Illegal Parking : 39 (195)

Contravening carriageway marking : 76 (380)

Parking on a pavement : 7 (35)

Contravening traffic sign : 37 (185)

Parking in permit area : 27 (135)

Not keeping vehicle in good state of repair : 3 (15)

Obstructing a garage : 1 (5)

Obstructing free passage : 2 (10)

Contravening traffic lights : 1 (5)

Driving at excessive speed : 101 (505)

Not carrying a fire extinguisher : 1 (5)

Driving with undue care and attention : 5 (25)

Safety of children : 1 (5)

The number in () is the expected number of offences of all 10 pages based on average number of offences discovered in counted 2 pages.

Based on averages, this adds up to a total of 1860 offences to be tried during one month. Potentially 1860 offenders to be named and shamed, with not a word on Human Rights.

(1st November 2014)




(The Register, dated 30th October 2014 authors Jennifer Baker & John Leyden)

Full article :

Hint : Not Hackers

Forget cyber-espionage, cyber-warfare and cyber-terrorism. The biggest threat to Europe's infrastructure cybersecurity are power outages and poor communication.

On Thursday, ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) held its biggest ever cybersecurity exercise involving more than 200 organisations and 400 cyber-security professionals from 29 European countries.

The bi-annual event* simulates a lifelike attack, modelled on real events, to test the reaction of national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTS), government ministries, telco companies, energy companies, financial institutions and internet service providers.


(The Register, dated 30th October 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article :

In response to public outcry via Twitter and personal blogs on Wednesday, the Samaritans have announced an opt-out function for their stalker-friendly app Samaritans Radar.

Samaritans Radar automatically scans the tweets of anyone the user follows and alerts subscribers to potentially suicidal tweets based on "trigger phrases". However well-meaning the intention, many Twitter users were quick to point out that there were huge privacy implications, not to mention the creepy effect: "The people you follow won't know you've signed up to it and all alerts will be sent directly to your email address," according to the Samaritans website.


(Computer World, dated 29th October 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Cybercriminals have a new tool to make the most of stolen credit card details before payment processors detect the fraud, security researchers warn.

A Web-based application called the Voxis Platform is being advertised on underground forums as a tool for cashing out money from stolen credit cards by automating fraudulent purchases, according to security researchers from cybercrime intelligence firm IntelCrawler.

There are three main parties involved in every online transaction: the buyer, the seller and a payment processing provider that operates a payment gateway. In order to receive money from transactions, the seller needs to have a merchant account registered with the payment gateway.

Cybercriminals can steal merchant accounts or open rogue ones by setting up dummy e-commerce sites and using fake identity documents or money mules. Their main problem, however, is racking up a large number of fraudulent charges before they're detected and their merchant accounts get closed


(Computer World, dated 23rd October 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Many companies set up subdomains for use with external services, but then forget to disable them when they stop using those services, creating a loophole for attackers to exploit.

Because many service providers don't properly validate the ownership of subdomains pointed at their servers, attackers can set up new accounts and abuse subdomains forgotten by companies by claiming them as their own.
"We've also identified at least 200 organizations which are currently affected," the researchers said. "In many cases, we are talking NASDAQ-listed, top 100 Alexa rank domains that basically allowed us to set up a Hello World on their domains."


(Computer World, dated 16th October 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning to companies and organizations on Wednesday of cyberattacks by people linked with the Chinese government.

The advisory, issued privately, contains "information they can use to help determine whether their systems have been compromised by these actors and provides steps they can take to mitigate any continuing threats," according to an FBI statement.

The warning comes a day after security companies said they've been working closely together to enable their products to detect several hacking tools used by a China-based group against U.S. and other companies over several years.


(Computer World, dated 14th October 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Hackers claim to have stolen a database of almost 7 million Dropbox log-in credentials, but the company says its service was not hacked and that unrelated websites are the data source.

The first data dump appeared Monday in an anonymous post on and contained 400 username and password pairs. The author said that it's only the "first teaser" of 6,937,081 hacked Dropbox accounts and asked for community support in the form of Bitcoin donations. The user also claimed to have access to photos, videos and other files from the compromised accounts.


(Computer World, dated 13th October 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Many security experts feel that passwords are no longer sufficient to keep online accounts safe from hackers, but we're still a long way from widespread adoption of biometrics and alternative methods of authentication.

Most of us are stuck with using passwords as the primary keys to our online lives, so we should at least strive to follow best security practices when it comes to managing them. This includes using long and complex passwords or phrases that can withstand brute-force attacks, using separate passwords for every online account and changing those passwords periodically.

What you need to know

Users should carefully consider the security models of the password management applications they intend to use. For cloud-based implementations that provide online access and synchronization, it is important to understand how the service provider stores users' data on its servers and whether it ever has access to the user's master password.


(Computer World, dated 13th October 2014 author Peter Sayer)

Full article :

Justice ministers' proposals to relax European Union data protection rules for low-risk personal data are a step in the right direction, according to a lobbying group backed by IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

But they still impose unnecessary burdens on industry, the group said.

"The risk-based approach is a pragmatic way to protect sensitive data while at the same time preventing the unnecessary slowing down of data flows in cases where people's privacy isn't at risk," John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope said in a statement.

Friday's meeting of the Council of the EU proposed less stringent rules for protecting personal data not considered "high risk," the latest step in the long process of reforming EU data protection law. The current Data Protection Directive dates back to 1995, and the reform is aimed at reinforcing consumer confidence in online services, updating the rules to take account of new technologies, and potentially saving businesses €2.3 billion (US$2.9 billion) a year through reduced administrative burdens.


(Computer World, dated 11th October 2014 author Michael Horowitz)

Full article :

Most articles about the 76 million or so names and addresses that were stolen from JP Morgan Chase bank focus on the danger of phishing emails. But email is not the only way bad guys can abuse stolen data.

They may also try to scam victims on the telephone.

I ran across a couple articles on the Chase breach that mentioned telephone abuse, but each omitted an important point - you can't trust caller ID. Spoofing phone numbers that appear on caller ID has been a thing for a decade or so. If someone claiming to be from Chase calls on the phone, the safest thing to do is call them back at a known Chase phone number; one from a bank statement, credit card statement or

A third way scammers might approach potential victims is postal mail. I say that as a recent target of a billing scam.


(Computer World, dated 7th October 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Ful article :

A mistake by a suspected Russian-speaking cybercriminal group allowed a security vendor to peep on a campaign that stole login credentials for hundreds of thousands of online bank accounts.

In a new report, Proofpoint said it found a large number of WordPress websites that had been compromised to perform a drive-by download of Qbot, also known as Qakbot, a malicious software program.

Proofpoint analyzed the malware and found an unprotected control panel on a server used by the gang to control the computers, a dumb but not uncommon mistake.


(Computer World, dated 7th October 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Criminals have stolen millions of dollars from ATMs worldwide using a specialized malware program that forces the machines to dispense cash on command.

The malicious program, dubbed Backdoor.MSIL.Tyupkin, is designed to work on ATMs running 32-bit versions of Windows from a major manufacturer, Kaspersky Lab researchers said Tuesday.

Rather than remotely exploiting software vulnerabilities, the attackers infected the ATMs by gaining physical access to controls that are typically protected by a locked panel.


(Computer World, dated 3rd October 2014 author Jonny Evans)

Full article :

Apple has made iPhone theft even harder with a series of significant security enhancements within iOS 8.

Mobile phone theft is a huge problem. It accounts for up to 40 percent of reported crime in major U.S. cities. In 2012, stolen and lost mobile units, primarily smartphones, cost customers more than $30 billion, said the FCC.

In the UK one-in-three people have suffered a stolen phone and over 50 percent of phones stolen in London, UK between August 2012 to January 2014 were iPhones.

Apple has been working to end the iPhone crime wave for years, introducing Find My iPhone in 2010 and 2013's iOS 7 Activation Lock which enables users to remotely lock a lost or stolen device.


(Computer World, dated 2nd October 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses were compromised in a cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase but no "unusual" fraud has yet been detected.

All told, 76 million households and 7 million small businesses were affected, the bank wrote in a 8-K filing Thursday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bank account numbers, passwords, user IDs, birth dates as well as credit, debit and Social Security numbers are not believed to have been compromised, it wrote.

"Since we have seen no evidence of unusual fraud activity, we don't think customers need to go through the inconvenience of having their cards reissued," the notice said.


(The Register, dated 2nd October 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article :

People don't know the difference between privacy and anonymity, says EU top cop Troels Oerting: they want the former, but the latter will make life too easy for criminals.

The Europol Assistant Director and head of European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) was joining a chorus of lawmakers and law enforcers reacting to news that Apple and Google will soon make all smartphone data encrypted by default.

In a move that was welcomed by digital civil liberties organisations, Apple announced that it would not hold the keys to iOS 8 data encryption, and so couldn't pass on users' data no matter how much law enforcers might want it.

(1st November 2014)

(BBC News, dated 31st October 2014)

Full article :

Fiona Woolf is to step down as the head of an inquiry into historic child sex abuse, she has told the BBC.

She said it had been clear for some time that victims did not have confidence in her, adding that it was time to "get out of the way".

Victims' groups earlier told government officials they were "unanimous" she should quit, citing her social links with ex-Home Secretary Lord Brittan.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she had accepted her decision "with regret".

"I believe she would have carried out her duties with integrity, impartiality and to the highest standard," she said in a statement.

Mrs May said she would make a further statement to Parliament about the inquiry on Monday.

However, Labour said the home secretary had "serious questions to answer" over her handling of the inquiry.

Prime Minister David Cameron had previously given Mrs Woolf his public backing.

'Brewing for some time'

Mrs Woolf's resignation comes after the first person appointed to lead the inquiry - Baroness Butler-Sloss - stepped down in July when concerns were raised about the fact that her late brother was attorney general during the 1980s.

The independent inquiry was set up to look at how public bodies dealt with historic allegations of child sex abuse, however, victims' groups have called for a statutory inquiry.

It follows claims over many years about paedophiles in powerful places and alleged establishment attempts to cover up their actions.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live's John Pienaar, Mrs Woolf said she had told Mrs May she was already considering resigning this morning.

She said she regretted "unsettling" victims, saying: "I've clearly destroyed their confidence in the inquiry with me leading it. These are the last people I had wanted to upset."

"I was determined that the inquiry got to the bottom of the issues and if I don't command their confidence to run the panel fairly and impartially then I need to get out of the way."

It had been "clear for some time victims didn't have confidence" in her, Mrs Woolf added.

"Ever since the issue first arose I have been worrying about the negative perceptions and there has been a lot of negative comment and innuendo and that has got in the way as well," she said.

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 31st October 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article : [Option 1]

London's roads were condemned as "lawless" today as new figures revealed that nearly 80 people a week are killed or injured in hit-and-run collisions.

The latest statistics show that the number of hit-and-run casualties in the capital rose again for the fourth year in a row.

A total of 1,043 pedestrians - around 20 a week - and 896 cyclists plus motorcyclists and others were victims of motorists who drove off from accidents without stopping in 2013.

There were 4,154 people injured on London's roads in hit-and-runs in 2013, compared to 3,876 the previous year, though deaths fell from 13 to eight over the same period and serious injuries also fell.

One possibility for the decline in the deaths and serious injuries is the advanced level of care by paramedics and London's Air Ambulance.

The figures, obtained in a Freedom of Information request by the London Assembly Green group, come just days after Sri Lankan Jeyaratnam Kandiah, 43, was knocked down and killed in Croydon by a BMW driver who went through a red light at 60mph and then sped away.

Last night a 72-year-old woman was killed in East India Dock Road by a driver who failed to stop but who then returned to the scene later. The total number of hit-and-runs in London fell to 23,066 in 2013 - a rate of 63 incidents a day - compared to 24,059 the previous year.

However, campaigners say the proportion of hit-and-run accidents is rising and now makes up a fifth of all collisions in London.

The Green Party's Jenny Jones said: "This is a worrying trend which the Met Police need to treat as a priority. Hit-and-runs are associated with other illegal activities such as drunk driving, speeding, being disqualified or simply having no insurance.

"When a city has almost a fifth of its injuries from road collisions being linked to hit-and-runs, then the Mayor ought to be demanding that police enforce the rules of the road". She called for police to get "the resources and political backing to get on top of our lawless roads."

The Met said it "treats road crime with the seriousness it deserves", and Mayor Boris Johnson's office said: "We take Londoners' safety very seriously."

(1st November 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 20th October 2014 author Martin Bentham)

Full article :

Nearly 1,500 criminal suspects, including murderers and rapists, who fled to London to avoid facing justice overseas have been extradited over the past five years under the controversial European Arrest Warrant, new figures revealed today.

The Met statistics show that 45 alleged killers and 35 men wanted for rape were among 1,423 suspects detained in London since April 2009 and sent to other European countries in response to EAW requests.

Other offenders hiding in the capital who have been extradited to face prosecution abroad using the fast-track system - which David Cameron is battling to preserve in the face of a major Tory rebellion - include 25 accused of child sex offences and 30 suspected armed robbers.

Two alleged terrorists, 130 people wanted for drug trafficking and 252 accused of fraud have also been sent back to European countries using the EAW after being found by the Met on the run in London.

More than half of the alleged offenders were Poles. There were also 113 Romanians, 138 Lithuanians and 37 Hungarians. Only 67 Britons - less than five per cent of the total - were among those handed over. The new statistics, obtained by the Evening Standard, follow a pledge by the Prime Minister to hold a Commons vote on retaining the EAW before the crunch Rochester and Strood by-election next month.

The warrants allow criminal suspects to be extradited from one EU country to another without the need for the evidence in the case to be tested in court before the person is sent back.

Mr Cameron wants to renew Britain's participation in the system before a December 1 deadline set under the terms of an "opt-out" agreed five years ago by the Labour government.

But as many as 100 Conservative backbenchers, who believe that the system is exposing British citizens to injustice, are planning to vote "no" in what could become the most damaging rebellion of his premiership.

Home Secretary Theresa May has already sought to quell the revolt by warning that any decision to abandon the arrest warrant will undermine the fight against crime by making it harder for police to secure the return of suspects who have fled overseas.

She has also expressed concern that it would turn Britain into a haven for foreign criminals and today cited the new figures as evidence of the potentially disastrous consequences of pulling out of the system.

"The arrest warrant is a vital tool to help us bring serious international criminals like paedophiles, human traffickers and terrorists to justice," Mrs May told the Evening Standard.

"Without it, London and the UK's other great cities would be safe havens for European criminals on the run because of our diminished powers to send them back.

"We have reformed the arrest warrant to ensure that it is a fair and effective tool to tackle crime - with those extra safeguards in place, it is not a tool that we should give up."

Mrs May added that withdrawal from the arrest warrant would also leave British law enforcement agencies with "weakened" powers to capture criminals "who have fled overseas", while "victims of crime would find it harder to get justice".

People of 56 different nationalities, including 803 Poles, have been returned to 25 EU states after being held in London.

After Poland, the countries which have secured the return of the largest number of suspects include Lithuania, Romania, Germany, Hungary and Ireland. Those extradited include Afghans, Iraqis, Nigerians and Albanians, as well as EU citizens. As well as the alleged rapists, murderers and child sex offenders, those extradited include 172 people accused of robbery and 130 wanted over allegations of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

There were also three alleged arms traffickers. Although the extradition of such suspects did take place before the EAW was introduced in 2004, ministers argue that it was slower and more difficult to secure their removal under the previous rules.

Supporters of the arrest warrant also argue that without it there would be a risk that some serious foreign offenders living in this country would be able to avoid extradition altogether.

The future of the EAW remains unclear, however, because of the "opt out" Labour secured in 2009. Britain's participation in a host of Europe-wide criminal justice measures, including the EAW, will lapse unless the government opts back in by the start of December.

Mrs May wants to keep the warrant and insists that reforms earlier this year, designed to stop abuses such as lengthy pre-trial detention overseas, mean that there is now adequate protection for British citizens.

But the size of the potential backbench Tory rebellion has led to speculation that Mr Cameron might decide to abandon the system to avoid a damaging split in his party when the required Commons vote takes place.

(1st November 2014) 

(The Register, dated 21st October 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article :

Internet-enabled frauds reached £670m across the UK in the 12 months running up to the end of August, according to new figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Since the majority of internet-enabled fraud cases still go unreported, the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.

The figures were released as part of the 2014 edition of the annual Get Safe Online Week, which runs from 20 to 26 October.

As part of Get Safe Online Week, credit reference agency Experian unveiled research on illegally traded information, which shows an increase of 300 per cent over the last two years. More than 110 million pieces of data bought and sold by criminals so far in 2014. The figures come from independent study was commissioned by Experian using web monitoring technology.

The vast majority (96.5 per cent) of the illegally traded data consists of login credentials - username and password combinations. Online accounts can give identity fraudsters access to huge amounts of information such as where you bank or shop, linked accounts that may have passwords saved automatically and all the personal information you may have shared over email. Compromised email accounts also contain personal contact lists that allow fraudsters to target other potential victims.

The remaining data consisting primarily of passport details and payment card details.

Separate research commissioned by Experian discovered evidence that people are also closing down the accounts that they don't use, leaving less opportunity for criminals to exploit their online identity. The average Briton now has 19 different online accounts (27 per cent) lower than 2012, according to a survey of 2,000 consumers. One in 10 of those quizzed had online retail accounts that are no longer used (21 per cent in 2012) while 10 per cent had inactive email accounts open (down from 18 per cent).

Despite some improvements, online password behaviour remains poor. One in 10 Britons use an average of just seven different passwords to keep their information safe. But one in 20 use the same login details for all their online accounts, and 10 per cent of Britons never change their passwords.

Reporting restricted

More than half (51 per cent) of those surveyed for Get Safe Online have been a victim of online crime1 but only a third of those who'd been a victim (32 per cent) actually reported the offence. Around half (47 per cent) of victims did not know to whom to address their online crime complaints. Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre, is aiming to boost awareness about crime reporting through an ongoing educational campaign.

The survey found that most people still fail to apply basic security precautions to their actives online. For example, more than half (54 per cent) of mobile phone users and around a third (37 per cent) of laptop owners do not have a password or PIN number for their device.

A significant minority of victims change their behaviour after becoming victims of fraud. For example, nearly half (45 per cent) opt for stronger passwords and 42 per cent report being extra vigilant when shopping online. The figures are based on a poll of 2,000 people by Vision Critical for

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said that the government was committed to boosting cyber-security awareness as part of its strategy of making the UK the world's best location for e-commerce.

"We want to make the UK one of the most secure places to do business in cyberspace," Maude said in a statement. "We have a £860m Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement's response to cybercrime and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.

"Our 'Get Safe Online' and 'Cyber Streetwise' campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves. Cyber security is not an issue for Government alone - we must all take action to defend ourselves against threats," he added.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, commented: "Get Safe Online Week this year is all about 'Don't be a victim' and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you're finished. The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won't be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity."

Detective Superintendent Pete O'Doherty, head of the City of London Police's NFIB, added: "I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report to Action Fraud. Only by doing this will local police forces be able to track down the main offenders and ensure victims receive the best possible support as they try to recover from what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting experience."

Victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud should report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force. General advice on how to stay safe online is available from

(1st November 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th October 2014 author Ross Lydall) [Option 1]

Children as young as 11 are part of an "exponential rise" in victims of gang violence requiring life-saving treatment, London's busiest major trauma centre has revealed.

About a quarter of the 2,500 cases handled by the unit at St Mary's hospital are patients aged 11 to 25. Last year it saw almost as many young victims of stabbings, shootings and beatings with a blunt weapon (170) as those injured in road collisions (200).

The figures were revealed as St Mary's today set out plans to "embed" youth workers in the unit for three years to help young people escape from gangs. A pilot project at King's College hospital found that victims of gang culture are most likely to be swayed when their presence in hospital brings home the risks they face.

John Poyton, chief executive of Redthread youth charity, which runs the schemes, said: "The moment young people are injured, they realise they're not immortal. It's a window of opportunity." Last year the major trauma centre - one of four in London - treated an average of 11 serious stabbings and one shooting each month. Medics also reported a rise in "humiliation wounds".

Dr Asif Rahman, a consultant in emergency medicine, said: "At the Notting Hill Carnival, we had a lot coming in with buttock wounds."

"Hundreds" of patients were victims of gang-related sexual violence and exploitation. Dr Rahman said the hospital was seeing "more and more" victims of violent crime, adding: "Some of our patients, at 11 years old, have been involved in some form of gang violence."

The £648,000 intervention project is funded by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and the Home Office. Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said he would like to see it become "standard practice" across the NHS.

He said: "The idea you can get to somebody at a moment when they are prepared to listen to you, and stop them being involved in potentially damaging behaviour to themselves, has got to be good."

(1st November 2014) 

(Mirror, dated 20th October 2014 author Jack Blanchard)

Full article :
[Option 1]

It was revealed that police could obtain journalists' phone records, but new information shows they can also snoop on the general public.

Police hack into hundreds of people's text messages, voicemails and emails without their knowledge, it emerged yesterday.

Figures show officers are exploiting a loophole in surveillance laws to snoop on private messages without needing a warrant from the Home Secretary.

It follows revelations this month that police obtained journalists' phone records to find out their sources for stories, without even needing permission from a judge.

But new Freedom of ­Information figures show ordinary people are being snooped on as well.

If messages have been sent and are in storage, officers can simply obtain a production order from a judge - and force telecom and computer firms to hand them over.

The latest data shows police have used the loophole hundreds of times over the past three years.

Julian Huppert, a Lib Dem member of the Home Affairs committee, said production orders like these can be helpful to the police but "they need to be constrained by appropriate safeguards".

Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to publish a revised code of conduct for police forces to follow.

Yesterday Deputy PM Nick Clegg said police must be stripped of the power to obtain journalists' phone records on the say-so of a senior officer.

He said: "Journalists should be able to go after information, where there is a clear interest to do so, without fear of being snooped on.

"It is a big thing to say to the press in this country: we can demand where you got your information from and we don't even need to go to a judge."


Further information

Also reported in The Times, dated 20th October 2014

(1st November 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 20th October 2014)

Full article :

Some paedophiles with images of child abuse will escape prosecution, the head of the National Crime Agency says.

Keith Bristow said expecting all the estimated 50,000 people in the UK who have accessed abuse images to be brought to justice was "not realistic".

He said police would have to focus on those who posed most risk.

Labour called it "disgraceful", adding that the NCA was not fit for dealing with the problem. The Home Office said all crimes should be investigated.


Some 660 arrests were made during a recent operation targeting people who had accessed child abuse images online.

However, the BBC understands that as part of that investigation, as many as 20,000-30,000 individuals were identified as potential offenders.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) - part of the NCA - has estimated that 50,000 people in the UK are involved in downloading and sharing images of child abuse.

"It is uncomfortable because... we want to see these people in the criminal justice system," NCA director general Mr Bristow said.

"But in my judgement, if there are 50,000 people involved, we won't be able to identify all of them and we won't necessarily be able to bring all of them to justice."

He said the agency's priority was to concentrate effort on the "most dangerous people" and those most likely to carry out physical abuse.

But campaigners pointed to a link between accessing abuse images and "contact offending".

A 2012 Ceop report found "compelling evidence" that those who possessed child abuse images should be considered a risk to children.

It is an honest admission, which it would have been easier not to have made.

But it is clear that police forces and child abuse experts are dealing with a flood of potential evidence - partly the result of increasingly sophisticated software which can detect the digital fingerprint of abusive images online.

The implication is that police forces and the NCA will have to review their cases to determine those where immediate action is needed to protect children, those where more time can be taken, and those which will simply have to be left on file.

This brings obvious risks. A suspect who has viewed indecent images online but, to date, done nothing abusive in the "real world" may offend at a later date.

Keith Bristow's comments - at a briefing for specialist reporters - did not include a call for more resources. There is little doubt others will take up those reins.

'Most risky'

The NCA said in July that the 660 arrests made as part of Operation Notarise included teachers, medical staff, former police officers, a social services worker and a scout leader.

Some of the suspected paedophiles had terabytes - equivalent to 1,000GB - worth of data on their hard drives or storage devices.

Mr Bristow said every image would be assessed, describing it as "high volume" work that had to be done at pace.

"It's uncomfortable but we're going to work through it in a logical way, target the most risky first."

He said there would be a "range of interventions" which for some of the offenders could fall short of them "standing in a court".

An NCA spokesman said that included preventative measures and enabling young people to protect themselves online - such as blocking search terms and disrupting anonymous web browsing.

NCA deputy director general Phil Gormley said: "Not every viewer will go on to be a contact abuser," adding that further research was required.

"We need a much more nuanced, much more sustainable approach to this and we need to confront some really unpleasant and horrible truths about human nature."

'Clear links'

The NSPCC said the NCA's intervention revealed "an uncomfortable truth about the difficult decisions officers face daily in identifying and pursuing offenders".

Head of strategy Jon Brown said: "It's true that the police can only do what they can with the budgets available to them.

"The government must make tackling this vile trade a priority in the funding available to the NCA and at a local force level.

"There are clear links between accessing this material and contact offending."

Jim Gamble, who resigned as head of Ceop in 2010, said: "Are we going to say because there's too many we can't do it?"

He added that it was "shameful" Mr Bristow had to "come out and deliver this hard but honest message".

"And the shame belongs with [Home Secretary] Theresa May who has not invested - who has not delivered anything beyond rhetoric to make things better for children where the internet is involved."

Donald Findlater, from child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said said police needed to "deploy their resources to go for those who are most directly dangerous to children and are most actively sharing online".

'Unlikely to harm'

He said some among the estimated 50,000 people who had viewed child abuse images would be heavy users of adult pornography.

"Now that's not OK," he told BBC News. "But it does tell me that their primary sexual interest is in adults. They're highly unlikely to directly harm a child."

Also included in the 50,000 would be younger teenage boys looking at images of girls under 18, he added.

Labour accused the government of presiding over a policy which saw "the vast majority" of those downloading child abuse images "not investigated".

"Of course they need to look first for the most dangerous cases, but it seems most cases aren't being investigated at all," shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.

"Theresa May created the National Crime Agency... but it's clear now that the NCA is simply not fit for dealing with the scale and seriousness of this problem.

Police arrested hundreds of thousands of people for theft and drug offences, she added.

"Why is the home secretary not also insisting we arrest known paedophiles, where children may be at risk?"

But the Home Office said: "We are clear that all crimes should be investigated," adding that the government was "determined to stamp out" what was an "appalling crime".

A spokesman said the NCA had safeguarded or protected more than 1,000 children, making 706 arrests.

"We will always ensure police and other crime fighting agencies have access to the powers and resources they need to tackle child abuse in all its forms," the department said.

Last week Mr Bristow apologised if children had been harmed because of Ceop "sitting on" information it had about 2,000 British paedophiles for more than a year.

Information on the men was sent to UK authorities by Toronto Police in July 2012, as part of an international investigation, Operation Spade, into suspected paedophiles.

But it was not passed on to police forces until more than 12 months later in November 2013.

(1st November 2014)


(Metro, dated 20th October 2014 author Rob Waugh)

More than 250 cases involving alleged paedophiles are still not resolved - two years after evidence of nearly 2,345 individuals who had accessed child pornography from the UK was first handed over to the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

The information included a tip-off about teacher Martin Goldberg of Thorpe Park School in Essex (pictured) who secretly filmed children, and who was found hanged after trying to destroy evidence of his crimes.

The trove of evidence also included information on deputy head Gareth Williams, who was later jailed for five years for filming pupils in Cardiff.

Two years after the evidence was handed over by Canadian police in 2012, 271 suspects are still being investigated.

Out of 724 referrals that were made to 21 police forces, only 34 people have been charged and five have accepted cautions.

Investigators in Toronto gave 2,345 pieces of intelligence linked to accessing child abuse images to Ceop.

But it was only in November 2013 that the information was finally given to police, when Ceop was taken in to the newly-created National Crime Agency.

NSPCC spokesman Jon Brown said: 'It's vital that any evidence of someone viewing or making child abuse imagery is urgently followed up by forces. There are clear links between accessing this material and offending.Some offenders who make and view this abusive imagery pose a serious risk to children.'

Child protection expert Jim Gamble, who was chief executive of Ceop until he resigned in 2010, warned that delays could happen again.

'These mistakes correlate directly to the lack of investment that has been made in child protection resources, especially where the internet is involved,' he said. 'This government clearly does not understand the issues. They allowed Ceop to wither on the vine.'

Goldberg, who worked at a school in Southend, had indecent images of pupils on his computer when he was found dead in September.

(1st November 2014) 

(The Register, dated 19th October 2014 author Gareth Corfield)

Full article :

[option 1]

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has announced a legal tweak intended to allow police officers to turn up at the homes of gun owners, without warning, and demand to inspect guns stored on the premises. A new Crimestoppers hotline is also in operation to encourage people to dob in gun owners they suspect of wrongdoing. However, as even the police themselves admit, gun crime is falling.

Coming in the form of an amendment to the Home Office Guidance on Firearms Law, as spotted by the Shooting Times, the change explicitly authorises police forces to turn up and conduct unannounced spot checks on law-abiding gun owners.

Previously the police would make an appointment with the owner to carry out an inspection and discuss any safety, security or legal concerns. The police have always had the legal power to revoke firearm or shotgun certificates and seize guns where concerns are raised over the fitness of the owner to have them.

The latest update to the Home Office guidance states:

"Where it is judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat, or risk of harm, the police may undertake an unannounced home visit to check the security of a certificate holder's firearms and shotguns. It is not expected that the police will undertake an unannounced home visit at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so on the grounds of crime prevention or public safety concerns and the police judge that this action is both justified and proportionate.
It is recognised that there is no new power of entry for police or police staff when conducting home visits. To mitigate any misunderstanding on the part of the certificate holder the police must provide a clear and reasoned explanation to the certificate holder at the time of the visit."

This addition to the guidance was instigated by the ACPO, the private limited company which acts as a talking-shop-cum-trade-union for senior police constables.

"Our aim is not to catch out gun owners," said ACPO's Chief Constable Andy Marsh, their lead for firearms licensing matters, "which is why we are giving notice that these visits will be taking place. We want to work with the shooting community to ensure gun owners are aware of how to keep their firearms secure and, where appropriate, give advice to individual owners."

A Home Office spokesman confirmed to The Register that Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, whose ministerial brief includes firearms laws, signed off the change. It was circulated in advance to stakeholders including the British Shooting Sports Council, which is made up of the main governing bodies for the shooting sports and organisations representing countryside interests.

Baker is best known for his fervent belief in conspiracy theories, to the point where he wrote a book claiming the British government murdered former MoD weapons inspector Dr David Kelly. In the words of the Telegraph's Dan Hodges, Baker's book is "clearly bonkers".

The Home Office was also keen to point out to The Register that the revised guidance is "not introducing any new powers". When we pressed its spokesman on this, pointing out that changing a key interpretation of the law to permit unannounced home visits amounted to introducing new powers, the Home Office conceded that it was "providing clarity on how these powers are being used".

A source tells The Register that the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) agreed the wording as there was nothing in it "that the police could not do already". Yet the Crimestoppers number is, according to the recorded blurb on the line itself, intended for reporting "security concerns over lawfully held firearms".

Our source adds that the hotline was introduced after the BSSC agreed the amended Home Office Guidance, and claims it was announced at the same time as the new guidance on the instructions of Chief Constable Marsh.

Put another way, the phone number - already dubbed the "busybodies' charter" - was tacked onto the announcement of the new guidance without any consultation with stakeholders, as far as El Reg can tell.

"If the Home Office and ACPO wished to approach this subject in a conciliatory nature they have chosen an unusual way of doing so," says Charles Marston of pro-shooting campaign group Firearms UK. "Would it not have been far better and in the interests of good relations to have written to individual certificate holders, remind them of their obligations and responsibilities, asking for vigilance when publicising their ownership of firearms and request assistance in recognising potential problems from those with a knowledge of firearms, instead of the confrontational and divisive way they have chosen?"

The number was not even connected last Monday morning when ACPO's Twitter account began breathlessly announcing it to the world.

(1st November 2014)

(The Times, dated 18th October 2014 authors Andrew Norfolk and Richard Ford)

A corrupt police office was on the payroll of men who targeted and sexually abused children in Rotherham, a charity worker has claimed.

The rogue officer is said to have passed information to grooming networks, undermining efforts to protect girls and target offenders.

An independent inquiry has estimated that 1,400 children in the South Yorkshire town were subjected to abuse over 16 years from 1997. Victims were often blamed for the crimes committed against them, while "no action was taken on the perpetrators".

The corruption allegations, against an unnamed police officer, was made in evidence to MP's by a charity that supports the families of exploited children. PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) employed a family support worker in Rotherham from 2002 to 2006. She was said to have "faced an extremely difficult working environment, with hostility from RMBC (Rotherham Council), inaction from South Yorkshire Police and intimidation by perpetrators".

"This project worker believes at least one police office was undermining her work and potentially putting her personally at risk as he/she was being paid by pimps / groomers for information", the charity said in a written submission to a parliamentary inquiry.

Former abuse victims have told The Times that some police officers in Rotherham were on friendly terms with the men using and selling girls for sex.

A South Yorkshire police spokeswoman said yesterday the force had contacted the charity to "commence comprehensive inquiries" into the allegation.

The Commons home affairs select committee calls today for a full investigation into whether an orchestrated cover-up was ordered to hide the extent of sex-grooming crimes in Rotherham.

MP's made the recommendation after hearing evidence that key files containing information about child sexual exploitation that was due to be passed to the Home Office, were stolen from a council office in 2002.

Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman said "The proliferation of revelations about files which can be no longer be located gives rise to public suspicion of a deliberate cover-up".

In a report published today, the home affairs committee has also produced a draft parliamentary bill that would provide a mechanism to remove elected police and crime commissioners from their posts. Shaun Wright, South Yorshire's commissioner, defied public calls for his departure for 3 weeks before he finally resigned last month.



(The Times, dated 18th Ocotober 2014 author Andrew Norfolk)

Police and child protection workers in Birmingham concealed evidence about the scale of sex grooming offences and the ethnicity of offenders, it was claimed yesterday.

In an echo of blunders exposed in Rotherham, West Midlands police and a safeguarding board were accused of withholding reports that detailed the forces failure to protect victims.

The Birmingham Mail revealed that a confidential 2012 police intelligence profile found that 75 per cent of the regions suspected street-groomers were of Asian ethnicity, while 82 per cent of victims were white girls aged 14 - 16. A second unpublished report, by the city's safeguarding children board, was said to have warned last year that child victims of sexual exploitation were being placed in secure accommodation while the perpetrators of those horrific crimes remain at liberty and continue to target other children.

Carl Foulkes, the West Midland assistant chief constable, said " Child sexual exploitation remains at the top of our agenda".

(1st November 2014)


(The Times, dated 17th October 2014 author Richard Ford)

Rapes recorded by police have reached an all-time high,with an increase in sex attacks at knife point, according to offical figures published yesterday.

About 5,000 more rapes were reported in England and Wales in the year to June, compared with the year before, as police improve their recording practices and more victims came forward.

The total number of rapes rose to 22,000 - equal to 60 every day - and the number of sex attacks at knife point rose by almost 50 per cent. Rapes involving a knife, blade or other sharp instrument rose to 294, and the number of sexual assaults involving a knife rose by more than a fifth to 111.

Statisticians and academics said that the rise was driven by an increase in the willingness of victims to report attacks, particularly after the Jimmy Savile case, as well as improved recording practices after accusations of "fiddling the figures". Some expressed concern at the figures on sexual assaults at knifepoint, and said that research was needed to find out what was behind the attacks and whether they could be linked to gangs or the influence of pornography on attackers.

Sarah Green, of End Violence Against Women, said there was huge concern that young girls, particularly teenagers, were disproportionately victims of rape and were unwilling to report incidents to the police. Research by the Centre for Social Justice suggested that sexual exploitation was an acceptable part of relationships within gangs where violence and threats were almost normalised.

Professor Liz Kelly, the professor of sexualised violence at London Metropolitan University, said it was wrong to think that knife related rapes were linked to attacks only by strangers. "Some of the most brutal rapes involving weapons involve ex-partners who are being raped in the context of a relationship breakdown. It is entirely possible that some might be these," she said.

Improvements in the way police treat victims, stricter recording of offences and successful prosecutions are likely to have helped push up the number of victims going to the police after attacks.

The latest rape figures were in statistics showing the total number of crimes recorded in England and Wales was stable at 3.7 million offences, while the Crime Survey of England and Wales reported a 16 per cent fall to 7.1 million offences, the lowest level since 1981. However, if 300,000 bank and credit card frauds were included in the survey, the overall number of offences would be 7.4 million.

The Crime Survey, which interviews people aboutt their experience of crime, said violent offending had fallen by 23 per cent along with falls in criminal damage, by 20 per cent, and in theft, by 12 per cent. The picture was complicated by recorded crime figures, which showed an 11 per cent in violent crime to more than 600,000 offences, a 6 per cent increase in public order offences and a rise in shoplifting.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the rise in violent crime was probably down in part to police forces focusing on recording violence after criticism from Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary.

"Incidents of violence are more open to subjective judgements about recording than other types of offence, and anecdotal evidence suggests action taken by forces to improve their recording is likely to have been an important factor in driving this increase", the ONS said.

It said the fall in violent crime in the Crime Survey was matched by other evidence, including hospital admissions after violent incidents.

Religious and race hate crimes rose after the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich, according to crime figures. There were 44,000 hate crimes in the year to the end of March, a rise of 5 per cent on the previous year. The figures showed increases in all areas of hate crime including race, sexual orientation, religion, disability and transgender. Big increases were noted in religious hate crime, which rose by 45 per cent to 2,273, while race-hate crime rose by 4 per cent to 37,484.

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th October 2014 author Nick Kochan)

Criminal gangs are plotting a $1 billion (£618 million) cyber-heist on global financial institutions, Europol has warned, as they ratchet up the pressure on banks reeling from the record-breaking hit on JPMorgan Chase.

Secret listening on internet chatrooms by the European police investigative body has discovered planning by sophisticated Russian cyber-criminals aimed at pulling off one massive hit on a bank.

"We have intelligence and information about planning in this direction," Troels Oerting, pictured, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre in The Hague, said.

Bank insiders are being groomed, says Europol, to put in place programs that will override monitoring apparatus.

These insiders will close down alarm systems designed to alert staff when large amounts are unexpectedly transferred out of a bank.

"The criminals don't want to make thousands of small thefts," said Oerting. "Instead they want one big one on a financial institution."

(1st November 2014)

(BBC News, dated 8th October 2014 author Dave Lee)

Full article :

A flaw in cash machines that allows criminals to quickly steal wads of cash has been discovered.

Interpol has alerted countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia known to have been targeted - and is carrying out a widespread investigation.

Security firm Kaspersky Labs discovered the hack, which is enabled by entering a series of digits on the keypad.

Infected cash machines can be instructed to dispense 40 notes at once, without a credit or debit card.

Kaspersky Labs produced a video showing how the hack was carried out. More details were provided in a blog post.

Prior to trying to obtain the cash, targeted machines are infected with malicious software via a boot CD.

To do this, criminals need physical access to the workings of the machine.

Once the malware - known as Tyupkin - has been installed, the "mule" sent to collect the cash must enter a code on the machine's key pad.

But Tyupkin then requires a second unique code - randomly generated by an algorithm at a remote location - to unlock the machine and dispense the cash.

It is this part of the process that ensures the criminal who has this algorithm retains control over when and how often these illegal withdrawals occur.

'Known security weaknesses'

"Over the last few years, we have observed a major upswing in ATM attacks using skimming devices and malicious software," said Vicente Diaz, principal security researcher at Kaspersky.

"Now we are seeing the natural evolution of this threat with cybercriminals moving up the chain and targeting financial institutions directly."

Kaspersky carried out its initial investigation at the "request of a financial institution" - although it would not say which.

The attack does not affect individual customers, instead simply instructing the machine to dispense notes, with no link to bank accounts.

The weaknesses of cash machines is routinely under the spotlight in the security industry. Many machines run outdated software, which is hard to update for logistical and financial reasons - there are lots of cash machines, and money needs to be spent upgrading their hardware.

"The fact that many ATMs run on operating systems with known security weaknesses and the absence of security solutions is another problem that needs to be addressed urgently," Kaspersky wrote.

Earlier this year another malware strain, known as Ploutus, allowed hackers to command machines to dispense cash by sending a text message to them.

In 2010, hacker Barnaby Jack discovered a technique he dubbed "Jackpotting" - in which a cash machine could be made to spew out money.

His demonstration on stage at security conference Black Hat provoked a standing ovation.

Mr Jack died of a suspected accidental drugs overdose in 2013, just days before he was due to give a presentation on the weaknesses in medical devices.

(1st November 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 7th October 2014 author Martin Bentham)

Full article : [Option 1]

The disturbing extent of gun crime in London was revealed today, as new figures showed criminals have fired a weapon on nearly 1,400 occasions in the capital during the past three and a half years.

The Met Police statistics show 29 people died as a result of the shootings, and 760 sustained injuries ranging from "minor" damage to potentially life-changing wounds. The firing peaked in 2011 - the year of the London riots - when 532 shots were fired by offenders, killing 12 people and injuring 302 more.

There were another 412 shots the following year, causing 227 injuries and six deaths.

Scotland Yard has managed to reduce the number of firearms offences since then. However, 127 shots were still fired during the first six months of this year, killing one person and injuring 63.

Today's figures, obtained by the Standard under the Freedom of Information Act, will raise questions about the ability of the authorities to curb the flow of illegal weapons.

They come days after a teenager was convicted of manslaughter after shooting his 15-year-old girlfriend with a counterfeit Italian Beretta pistol.

The Old Bailey heard that Shereka Fab-Ann Marsh died from a single bullet wound after the boy, 15, fired as she went to give him a birthday present in Hackney in March.

The boy, who cannot be named, had been hiding the gun for a man in his twenties. He claimed he shot Shereka by accident. Police found two photos of him posing with a gun when they examined his phone. The new figures show the tragedy is only the latest in a succession in recent years.

Lambeth is the worst affected borough, with 130 shots fired, seven people killed and 67 injured between the start of 2011 and June 22 this year. Newham and Hackney suffer the next highest level of shooting: both saw 79 shots fired in the same period.

They are followed by Lewisham (74) and Southwark (72). Croydon, which has seen three deaths from shootings, has the highest number of fatalities after Lambeth. Badly affected wards include Thamesmead East in Bexley, where eight shots were fired last year; Kilburn in Brent; which saw six in the same year; and Bromley Town, where 11 shots fired during 2012. Stonebridge in Brent has seen the most firing this year: five shots up to June 22.

But the overall number of shots fired has begun to fall. The tally for last year was 308, just under 60 per cent of the total two years earlier. The figure for this year up to June - 127 - indicates the final total is on course to be the lowest for several years.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Haydon, head of the Met's Trident unit, said overall gun crime, including offences in which weapons were not fired, was now at its lowest level for six years.

He said 300 guns had been seized during the past year, but the force was not "complacent", adding: "We focus our efforts on known violent offenders."

Anyone with information regarding gun or gang crime you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or access a secure online form via In an emergency call 999.

(1st November 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 6th October 2014 author Jasmin McDermott) [Option 1]

Dwindling officer numbers are being "overwhelmed" by the thousands of child abuse images they have to deal with and senior leaders must ensure staffing levels can tackle this high risk crime, it has been stated.

Children's charity the NSPCC has revealed its concern after figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show that whilst thousands of computers and devices are being seized by police, forces are lacking specialist officers to identify victims.

Almost 5,000 computers were seized by just over a third of the 43 forces in England and Wales last year. Those that responded said they had a total of 181 specialist officers assigned to search through the images to try and identify the victims. This works out at six per force.

Figures show that Lancashire Constabulary seized 745 computers in 2013, had three specialists to analyse the devices and made 158 arrests for possessing, downloading, and distributing child abuse images between 2013-14.

Northumbria Police confiscated 570 computers with eight specialists to work on them while Hertfordshire Constabulary seized 516 computers with four specialists.

Out of the 16 forces that responded to the request, Durham Constabulary seized the least amount of computers.

NSPCC lead for tackling sexual abuse Jon Brown said that senior leaders and relevant authorities need to prioritise the problem when managing resources.

He said: "The volume of devices and the number of images on each device that forces are having to work through is increasing.

"Ultimately what we need is an approach that cuts this material off at the source but until then, relevant authorities must ensure that staffing numbers are at a level to be able to deal with this and prioritise accordingly, so swift action can be taken and children are not put at risk."

Nevin Grieve, Vice President of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region of the Wynyard Group, said that data analytics software could help alleviate the problem that leaders face.

He said: "There is no denying that the volume, velocity and variety of digital devices now being used by criminals is growing and significantly adds to the pressure on forces to process devices quickly. Vital evidence needs to get to the hands of investigating officers as soon as possible and in a forensically sound way to enable cases to be prepared and innocent children protected.

"Tools and techniques now exist and are being used by forces internationally to rapidly scrutinise potential evidence. Digital evidence investigation is a growing area of focus to ensure streamlining, clearing backlogs and prioritising harm reduction."

The National Crime Agency, which has a Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre command, declined to comment, stating that it was an issue for forces.

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th October 2014 author Madhumita Venkataramanan )

Full article : [Option 1]

I'm a 26-year-old British Asian woman, working in media and living in an SW postcode in London. Growing up, my family lived in a detached house, took holidays to India every year and did most of the weekly shopping online at Ocado. Now I rent a privately owned flat and have a housemate. I'm interested in movies and start-ups, have taken five holidays in the past 12 months. I intend to buy flights in the next 14 days. My annual income is probably between £30,000 and £39,999. I don't have a TV but enjoy on-demand services. I passed through Upper Street in north London every day last week. I eat out or get takeaways often; Thai and Mexican are my favourite. I don't own any furniture and don't have children. I've never been married. I don't own a car. I have a cleaner who lets herself in when I'm at work. I shop for groceries at Sainsbury's because it is on my way home. I am far more likely to be browsing restaurant reviews than managing my finances online. I am rarely swayed by others' views.

This motley set of characteristics comes very close to defining me. It's also an accurate description of what companies I had never heard of have learned about me.

The personal data economy has grown relentlessly into a multibillion-pound business of tracking, packaging and selling data picked up from our public records and our private lives. Our behaviour is logged every time we interact with the connected world, generated by apps and services we use daily - from geolocation and cookies to social-media tracking and credit-card transactions. Combine this with public information such as voter-registration data, daily location routes and social-media posts, and these benign data sets reveal a lot.

Even as you're reading this, your smartphone can reveal your location and even your posture. Your life is being converted into a data package to be sold on. Ultimately, you are the product.

Under the EU's Data Protection Directive personal data (anything that allows a third party to link the information to an individual, such as full address, credit-card number, criminal record) can be sold to third parties only with your consent and once it has been stripped of your name and unique identifiers such as National Insurance number. Particulars such as your postcode, age and gender can be traded - because they are not personal but "pseudonymous".

But the data business has outgrown the directive. "Removing someone's name [from a list] to make them anonymous, that's an idea that went out in computer security 15 years ago," says computer scientist Joss Wright, from Oxford University's Internet Institute. "If I know where you live, your salary and your medical conditions and your location patterns then what's in a name?"

The more data points collected for an individual, the more likely their record is to be unique. According to Pew Research, an average adult Facebook user has 338 friends - that's at least 338 "dimensions" of data per user. A data set of your mobile-phone locations over an hour will have more than 500 dimensions. Once matched with data sets containing age, sex and address, you're found.

The linking of health and demographic data is already occurring. The NHS produces a "pseudonymised" set of records called the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database, containing every instance of patients in England using a hospital service since 2001, identified by date of birth, gender and address.

A published list shows this data has been shared with companies including consulting firm McKinsey, Bupa, pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and, since July, Experian - a global information-services company which collects information including historical postcodes, gender and lifestyle habits.

Our mobile-location data is also currently being tracked and sold "anonymously" - but with a unique MAC number attached. "In the past couple of years an entire industry has developed around monitoring the signals your wi-fi radio gives out," says Seth Schoen, chief technologist of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Your phone only needs to be on. "[Free] apps that ask you for your location are sending it back to the developer continuously, who can sell it to advertisers," says Schoen. "That's why they're free."

A 2013 study by the MIT Media Lab showed that, using data from a mobile phone network provider, all it took was four approximate places and times to uniquely identify 95 per cent of people.

If you think you don't care about being unmasked, you may want to reconsider. Personalised browser ads may be harmless but allowing disparate aspects of your life to be combined and identified could have unexpected consequences.

"The issue is: are decisions, such as whether I get to go to a particular university or whether I end up getting insurance cover, being made about me using data I never intended to give to a third party - for example, my lifestyle or a family member's ailment?" says Tim Sparapani, privacy lawyer at Apps Alliance and ex-director of public policy at Facebook. "This isn't about the future - it's already starting to happen."

Earlier this year, Cambridge University security engineer Ross Anderson found that NHS hospital data had been sold to, among others, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which has used the information to calculate patients' risk of developing critical illnesses, and so "improve the accuracy of pricing" (read: increase insurance cost).

Despite a furore in the press, the NHS is pushing ahead with the next phase of its open-data plan - the release of all NHS England's GP data in a set called The data will include referrals, diagnoses, NHS prescriptions, your family history, vaccinations, blood-test results, BMI, smoking/alcohol habits etc - for everyone who uses the NHS in England, dating back to April 2013 - extracted as codes.

It's claimed that won't be shared with commercial organisations and will only be used for research purposes. But in April this year the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) disclosed that HES data had been given to more than 1,000 firms. Some companies were given a commercial-reuse licence, according to Sam Smith, co-founder of UK-based campaign group MedConfidential. "This means they can sell the data on," he says.

When I log data into personal training app Endomondo, it accesses my sex, location and date of birth to share with advertising company DoubleClick, according to co-founder Mette Lykke.

Until August 2013, the row of 12 recycling bins at Bank Tube station were picking up phones' unique MAC numbers via their wi-fi, without the know-ledge of phone owners. The London-built technology would know if I was the same person who passed by yesterday, my route and how fast I was travelling.

ShopperTrak, a Chicago company, counts the people passing by Godiva on Regent Street via their phones, and modifies the display accordingly.

The screen in the Southwark Tesco forecourt has a camera installed by London-based Amscreen, as it has in 500 UK stores. "The screens are not just passive TVs...The algorithm knows someone is standing in front of it and figures out your sex and age, while also recording the time and location," says Mike Lemmings, Amscreen's head of marketing and product development.

To piece together what these companies knew about me I spoke to Eyeota, a data-analytics profiler. Using my browsing activity, Eyeota uses a cookie to assign me to a thousand attributes ranging from type of job, whether I have children or like to buy Star Wars memorabilia and so on. It never finds out my name but it knows more about me than my neighbours do.

Eyeota also buys data from Experian's marketing database, Mosaic: a collection of 15 demographic groups and 66 lifestyle types based on your postcode. My Mosaic type runs to 16 pages, with predictions about everything from my financial circumstances to my view on the world. It can then sell this information to the highest bidder.

Profiling individuals has been a gold rush. "It expanded post-9/11 because governments were trying to prevent the next 9/11," Sparapani says. "This was all to try to predict who is related to whom, engaged in terrorist activity." The data is traded commercially and sustained by advertisers - the Interactive Advertising Bureau says US revenues last year hit an all-time high of $42.8?billion. A large part of this is based on selling targeted user data on Facebook and Google.

Now our tax records could be exposed in a similar way to our HNS records. "[In July], we had a meeting in Parliament about a proposal from HM Revenue and Customs to sell our tax records to people in the City and remove names and addresses from it but assign a unique ID," Ross Anderson says.

"All biometric sensor data sources are going to be pretty easy to re-identify," says Scott Peppet, privacy lawyer at the University of Colorado. "Think about your heartbeat or how you walk or your pattern of exercise. No one has the identical patterns to you."

In June 2013, the CIA's chief technology officer Ira Hunt gave a talk at GigaOM's Structure:Data conference in New York about the importance of wearable technology such as the Fitbit to the security services. He said not only could you infer an individual's sex, height and weight from Fitbit data but that they were "100 per cent guaranteed to be identified simply by [their] gait". Fitbit representative Katie Henry responded: "Mixpanel, just like all our third-party service providers, is prevented from using any personally identifiable data for any other purposes."

As the data we generate about ourselves continues to grow exponentially, brokers and aggregators are moving on from real-time profiling - they're cross-linking data sets to predict our future behaviour. The aggregate of what's been collected about us previously defines us to companies we've never met.

What I am giving up without consent, then, is not just my anonymity but also my right to self-determination and free choice. All I get to keep is my name.

(1st November 2014)

(BBC News, dated 5th October 2014)

A new national task force is to be set up to tackle child sex abuse in Scotland.

The Police Scotland National Child Abuse Investigation Unit aims to improve co-ordination and intelligence gathering.

The move follows concern about systematic child exploitation of the type uncovered recently in Rotherham.

Since April 2013, 283 people have been charged with offences linked to online activity.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham will appear before the Scottish Parliament's justice committee on Tuesday to explain what the force is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation.

He said the creation of a single force in Scotland was an opportunity to maximise specialist skills and expertise in keeping children safe.

This week new guidance was issued to police officers and staff to ensure a consistent response to children who may be vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

Assistant Chief Constable Graham said: "Through our action plan, our aim is to improve our work in prevention, our training for our police officers and staff and our work with partners.

"A key part of our plan is the development of a National Child Abuse Investigation Unit which will lead and co-ordinate complex inquiries, develop good practice through making the maximum use of our specialist investigation skills and by improving our links with the third sector and local authorities we can improve our intelligence networks to proactively identify such cases."

New technology

In January, the NSPCC children's charity highlighted a rise in sexual abuse cases in Scotland involving children under the age of 13.

Police Scotland recorded more than 700 offences against young children in 2012/13. The charity also reported a rise in calls to its helpline.

The taskforce will build on the work of Operation Dash, a multi-agency operation led by Police Scotland, which is trying to determine the extent of child sexual exploitation in the Greater Glasgow area.

Assistant Chief Constable Graham added: "There is no doubt that across the globe the volume of offending through all forms of online activity, whether possession of indecent images of children, online grooming with intent to committing further sexual offences or the exchange of indecent images amongst groups is escalating due to increased access to mobile devices, improved download technologies and the development of sophisticated software to conceal activity.

"All law enforcement agencies recognise the challenge this presents but the solution will not be offered by one agency alone, but by working together across the justice sector, across the voluntary sector and with local authorities in tackling this issue.

"We continue to invest in developing technologies and investigation techniques and will learn from best practice across the world in order to target offenders to prevent crime."

Children in care

In a submission to Holyrood's justice committee, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said recent cases had highlighted the vulnerability of children living in care.

COPFS chief executive Catherine Dyer said: "They have multiple layers of complex needs and concerns.

"They can willingly associate with older males who offer cigarettes, alcohol and a night away from their residential home.

"Many of these teenage children do not realise that they are victims of exploitation and even when they commence engagement with the criminal justice system they remain extremely vulnerable and distrustful of all agencies."

(1st November 2014)


(BBC News, dated 3rd October 2014)

Full article :

JP Morgan has revealed it suffered a massive cyber attack on 76 million private and seven million business customers in the US.

The raid gathered account holders names and addresses but the bank said it did not involve critical information such as account and social security numbers.

It said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it had not seen any "unusual customer fraud related to this incident".

JP Morgan is the US's biggest bank.

Earlier this year there were reports that Russia had hacked into its systems.

In August the bank said it was co-operating with law enforcement officials over this suspected incident.


The bank said that "customers [whose accounts had been hacked] are not liable for unauthorized transactions on their account that they promptly alert the firm to".

JP Morgan says it is unlikely customers will need to take any action, such as changing their passwords or account information.

Its company spokeswoman, Patricia Wexler, said that the bank is not offering credit monitoring to customers either because it does not believe any financial information, account data or personally identifiable information was taken.

Other major US firms, including Home Depot and Target have been the subject of similar widescale attacks.

The Home Depot breach affected 56 million customer payment cards, while Target saw credit card data for 40 million customers stolen, as well as personal and identification information for 70 million other customers.

(1st November 2014)


(The Register, dated 3rd October 2014 author Shaun Nichols)

Full article :

The Marriott has been fined $600,000 by the FCC for paralyzing guests' personal Wi-Fi hotspots, forcing them to use the hotel giant's expensive network instead.

The US watchdog today said the Marriott Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, used monitoring equipment to illegally boot hotel and convention center guests off their own networks, which were typically smartphone hotspots.

Meanwhile, Marriott managers encouraged everyone to connect to the hotel's Wi-Fi network, which cost from $250 to $1,000 to access.

According to the commission, the Gaylord Opryland installed some mystery equipment and configured it to continually flood the surrounding ether with de-authentication packets. An attacker does not have to know a Wi-Fi network's password, or be authenticated in any way, to send a successful de-auth packet. All devices and computers that receive the management frame over the air are instructed to disassociate from their network.

Essentially, it was virtually impossible to use Wi-Fi, unless it was the Marriott's.

"It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel's own Wi-Fi network," said FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc.

"This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing internet access altogether."

The fine is part of a consent decree [PDF] Marriott has signed in order to end the watchdog's investigation into Wi-Fi jamming. Marriott has also agreed to send a report on its Wi-Fi "containment functionality" tools to the commission.

The Marriott, in a statement, said: "Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the Gaylord Opryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers. We believe that the Gaylord Opryland's actions were lawful."

Updated to add

We asked the FCC if it knew of the equipment or software used by Marriott to disrupt personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Although a spokesperson for the commission gave us a name, that vendor has strenuously denied any involvement. Our investigation continues.

(1st November 2014) 

(Daily Mail, dated 3rd October 2014 author Tamara Cohen and Chris Greenwood)

Full article :

[Option 1]

- Arnis Zalkalns, 41, is the prime suspect in the murder of Alice Gross
- David Cameron has pledged find out how Latvian builder got into Britain
- He said he was 'sickened' by the death of the 14-year-old schoolgirl
- Zalkalns served seven years in a Latvian jail for killing his wife in 1998
- But he was able to come to Britain unchecked to find work in 2007
- This has prompted calls for the EU to keep a database of convictions

David Cameron has pledged to personally examine how the prime suspect for Alice Gross's murder got into Britain.

In a dramatic intervention, the Prime Minister promised to learn lessons from the case and consider whether better ways of sharing information on criminals between European countries could have helped.

He said he was 'sickened' by the death of the 14-year-old schoolgirl, who was last seen walking along a canal towpath in West London on August 28.

CCTV cameras also picked out Arnis Zalkalns, a builder from Latvia, cycling along the same route 15 minutes later. Alice's body was found on a river bed four days ago.

Last month police revealed that Zalkalns, 41, had served a jail term in 1998 for murdering his wife and dumping her body. Despite this, he was able to come to Britain to find work in 2007.

He went missing a week after Alice's disappearance and has not been seen since. Police have admitted they have no idea where he is and are continuing an increasingly desperate search of buildings and parks in London for clues to his whereabouts.

They believe he might be being harboured by criminal gangs in the capital and the South East. But he may have left the country using a Latvian identity card.

The case has triggered calls for the EU to keep a database of criminal convictions so offenders can be easily identified at borders. Under EU freedom of movement rules, it is Britain's responsibility to spot those it deems a threat.

But the so-called Warnings Index for UK border staff is mainly used for anti-terror measures and does not contain routine information about criminals from the rest of the EU.

Latvian authorities did not alert Britain to Zalkalns' record as he was not considered a 'present danger' after serving seven years for his wife's murder. They only disclosed his background when asked by Interpol after he was reported missing.

He has previously been arrested in the UK for the suspected indecent assault of a 14-year-old British girl. Zalkalns was raised in Latvian capital Riga and worked on building sites and dockyards from the age of 16. By adulthood he had developed a penchant for chasing young, impressionable women.

Speaking in Afghanistan, Mr Cameron said: 'It's a horrific case. Anyone with a daughter will have felt just absolutely sickened by what has happened and what that poor family has had to go through. I'll look at all the circumstances of the case, what lessons there are to learn, whether that's about sharing information or whether it's about the importance of keeping our country safe.'

British police failed to secure a European Arrest Warrant - meaning that even if the suspect was found overseas he could not be arrested - because Scotland Yard has so far not gathered enough prima facie evidence. Alice's body was found weighed down by logs in the River Brent, off the Grand Union Canal in Hanwell, west London. A post-mortem examination was inconclusive.

Police have announced a case review, focusing on the first few days after Alice was reported missing. Critics asked whether enough consideration was given from day one to the possibility that Alice might have been abducted or murdered. In addition, police were slow to link her with Zalkalns.

MPs will question Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders about the case next month.

Labour's Home Affairs Committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said: 'It is very concerning … The UK needs an updated warnings index … which would flag up whether a person has a conviction as they are attempting to cross the UK border.'

Tory MP Peter Bone said: 'The real problem is the issue of free movement from the EU … We can't have our own visa controls and actually let in people we want to let in.'


The odd thing about this sad story is that Zalkalns was able to enter the UK without being challenged in 2007. This is the time that the Home Office / Immigration (eBorders) was testing its imaging and criminal record systems at UK airports and ferry ports. The systems were even able to identify individuals who had committed road traffic offences. The eBorders seconded police officers could have then dealt with the problem. It seems odd that system with so much data was not loaded with details of Europeans convicted and released offenders (at least murderers). As for researching details of foreign murderers, what about reading European newspapers or even have our embassy's ask national police in their respective countries for information!

(1st November 2014)

(Time of Malta, dated 3rd October 2014 author Ivan Martin) [Option 1]

An Italian Mafia boss was arrested in broad daylight on the streets of Bugibba yesterday, five years after the Sicilian police mounted an extensive manhunt for him.

Sebastiano Brunno, 56, known as the head of the Nardo cosca, a branch of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, was arrested in a "public space" at around noon, Acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit said.

The arrest followed an international investigation coordinated by the Catania anti-Mafia unit with the Maltese CID and Drug Squad. A European arrest warrant had been issued for him along with a provisional one by the local courts.

Mr Brunno is wanted in connection with several brutal murders and was one of the Mafia leaders involved in a bloody feud in the 1990's. He has been a fugitive since 2009 and an Italian court has already condemned him to life imprisonment.

Addressing a press conference Mr Zammit yesterday said local authorities had swooped on Mr Brunno after some three months of intense monitoring. He had been living in an apartment in Buggiba and was found unarmed with a forged Italian ID card.

Mr Zammit said it did not appear Mr Brunno had committed any crimes in Malta and will likely be tried on his home soil.

Italian authorities have already requested his extradition.

Asked whether investigations had yielded any further information on the mobsters alleged crimes. Mr Zammit said such information was delicate and that such information was ongoing.

Meanwhile, local authorities are trying to establish how Mr Brunno arrived and if he had any involvement with local criminal activity.

He is not the first Italian criminal to be arrested in or on the way to Malta. In August, Camorra boss Aldo Gionta was arrested by Italian police as he was boarding the catamaran to the island at the Pozzallo sea passenger terminal.

Gionta, 42, who had evaded the Italian since May, hada false ID card and E1000 in his pocket and was disguised as a tourist.

(1st November 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 3rd October 2014 author Colin Barras)

Full article :

None of us likes being scammed, and David Modic is no different. But it's not the fact that scammers try to trick us into handing over our money that bothers him - it's the way they can rob people of something far more important: their hope.

Take the abuse of dating websites. "People go on dating sites in the hope of fulfilment, and they sometimes get scammed," says Modic, who researches the psychology of internet fraud at the University of Cambridge. "And that makes me angry."

It's this personal passion that's convinced Modic to study the psychology of scamming. He's not alone: the field is thriving, and the information that researchers are uncovering is valuable to us all - from vulnerable singletons in search of love to the technology wizards in charge of the world's online security.

Modic is particularly interested in what makes people vulnerable to scams. It's tempting to imagine that only the foolish or poorly educated might fall victim - but even anecdotal evidence suggests this is not the case. Take Paul Frampton, an Oxbridge educated academic who was, until earlier this year, a professor of physics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2012 Frampton was given almost 5 years in prison for drug smuggling in Argentina, after falling victim to an online dating scam. And then there's John Worley. As a psychotherapist, Worley arguably knows more than most of us about controlling life's trajectory. But in 2005 he was put on trial for bank fraud and money laundering after becoming a victim of the notorious Nigerian email scam. This scam sees people contacted by someone claiming to be a Nigerian government official appealing for help moving large sums of money out of the country - who just requires a little money upfront to release the fortune. Worley was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison.

Intelligence and experience offers no protection against scammers, says Modic. "If it did, then better educated people and older people would be less likely to fall for scams. And that is not supported by my research."

So what does make someone vulnerable? To look for answers to that question, Modic and his colleagues have quizzed thousands of people, asking them first whether they think various scams are plausible - and whether they have fallen victim to them - before asking them to perform a personality test. The research has identified a number of characteristics that people who are victims of scams seem to share in common. Some of these traits - like a lack of self-control - we would probably recognise as dangerous. But others - a trust in authority, a desire to act in the same way as our friends, or a tendency to act in a consistent way - we might think of as good characteristics.

These may be new findings to psychologists, but they are not new to scammers. Modic points out, for instance, that some scammers gain a victim's trust by pretending to share a mutual friend. In other situations the scammer might contact the victim under the guise of a figure of authority - a doctor or a lawyer - to appear more persuasive. There are also scams that initially involve no loss of money and which are designed to encourage a victim to behave in a certain way, so that later they are more likely to behave in the same way when their money is at stake. Some card game swindles use this strategy.

"I am surprised at the ingenuity of scammers who, perhaps subconsciously, have discovered such principles themselves without scientific studies," says Frank Stajano, a security and privacy researcher at the University of Cambridge. "I can't imagine individual scammers working it all out by themselves, so I wonder what kind of word-of-mouth network they use to learn the tricks of their trade?"

Hidden knowledge

The very fact that scammers clearly are aware of our psychological vulnerabilities - no matter how they gained that knowledge - suggests they can potentially teach us as much as their victims about confidence tricks. This is something Stajano has taken to heart in his research. He has worked with Paul Wilson, a close-up magician and security consultant to casinos, to explore exactly how scammers persuade their victims to hand over their personal belongings. Wilson is one of the writers and stars of BBC television show The Real Hustle, in which he and his team "scam" members of the public by recreating notorious confidence tricks (any money or valuables are later returned).

Wilson's team has recreated hundreds of scams for the cameras, but Stajano - who quickly became a fan of the show - realised that the scammers repeatedly used one or more of the same seven persuasion principles. Three of these principles are similar to those Modic identified by talking to potential or actual scam victims. Scammers use the "time principle" to persuade us we need to act quickly before we can think rationally and exercise self-control. They also make use of the "deference to authority principle" and the "herd principle" - our tendency to act like our friends or those around us - to convince people that the scam is legitimate.

But scammers have at least four other tricks up their sleeves, says Stajano. They might distract us so we don't recognise a scam - making use of physically attractive accomplices, for instance. They can use our deepest desires to blind our reasoning - which is why online dating scams are so common. They can hook some victims by manipulating our innate dishonesty and making us act criminally ourselves - knowingly attempting to launder money as part of the Nigerian email scam, for instance. Finally, they can use the kindness of some well-meaning victims against them - scam emails begging for help and money are often sent out in the wake of a natural disaster.

Old tricks

What's really fascinating, says Stajano, is that scammers have used these principles for centuries. For instance, the Nigerian email scam might seem the product of the digital age, but a version of it existed in 16th Century Europe.

There's a good reason for that, he says: many of the vulnerabilities that scammers exploit are actually human strengths rather than weaknesses. He points to the work of psychologist Robert Cialdini at Arizona State University, who is famous for his work on the psychology of persuasion. "He's explained that the authority principle, for example, is actually very helpful for surviving peacefully in human society," says Stajano. "We shouldn't see scam victims as stupid - they're acting in a way that's beneficial for our survival most of the time."

The seven persuasion principles might be as old as the hills, but Stajano says they are often ignored by security experts, who are as likely to blame security breaches on the people using their systems as they are to blame the scammers. "Too many security professionals think: users are such a pain - my system would be super-secure if only users behaved in the proper way," he says. He is trying to persuade experts that they need to make security systems that work in harmony with - not despite - the way we behave.

Making those new systems won't be easy, and Stajano believes the only solution is to encourage people to empathetically understand and anticipate human behaviour.

As an example of the problems security experts face, imagine you're about to win an online auction for a mobile phone. You might reasonably expect to trust the seller, whose profile is brimming with positive feedback from other users. But Stajano points out that your trust in this case is really based on the herd principle: you can't be sure that the seller is not in fact a scammer who has built up a positive reputation by trading with a handful of accomplices. Any of us might fall victim to this scam. In fact, even Modic has been tricked. "I bought a mobile phone from China that was not as it appeared online," he says.

We may never be truly immune to confidence tricks. But perhaps ordinary users and system designers alike can protect ourselves to some degree by learning to think like a scammer.

(1st November 2014)


(Association of Chief Police Officers, press release dated 3rd October 2014)

Full article :

National Policing Lead for Cyber-crime, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman said:

"There has been an exponential rise in people using digital technology as part of their daily lives; that rise includes criminals and people viewing images of child sexual abuse. These people try to hide what they do online.

"It is a challenge for police to find and sift through the millions of these images and analyse them as quickly as possible so that they can be passed on to investigators who can take action to protect the children involved or others who may be at risk. This is part of the wider challenge for police to transform the way they deal with cyber-crime in a period of fiscal constraint while also protecting communities from the more traditional sources of harm.

"Every police force and law enforcement agency has the capability to investigate images held on computers and ability trace people's use of the internet for illegitimate purposes. There's been an increase in the numbers of people working in high-technology roles, such as forensic examiners, within police forces and the majority of their work focuses on child sexual abuse. Police have improved systems for prioritising images and are using better technology. Police forces work closely with the National Crime Agency and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) who lead on tackling online child abuse. But there is more to do.

"We are reviewing our capability for digital investigation and intelligence-gathering. We'll then be able to provide evidence-based advice to chief constables about how they manage their resources to deal with crimes committed in the digital world.

"Protection of children here or abroad is at the heart of policing. Back in July police arrested 660 people for this crime, showing that offenders leave a digital footprint that police will find. We are working hard to continue to speed up our processes so that we can protect children and stop offenders sooner."

(Bristol Post, dated 3rd October 2014 author Ken McCormick)

Full article :

MORE than 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of downloading child sex abuse images over the past year in the Bristol area.

Avon and Somerset police have seized a total of 466 computers and made 112 arrests as they pursue offenders who download, copy and share pictures and video clips of children being raped, sexually assaulted and exploited by paedophiles.

The figures were published today by children's charity the NSPCC, which has voiced fears that some police forces across the country are being "overwhelmed by the vast quantity of child abuse images they have to deal with".

The charity says that in the year to the end of March, thousands of computers were confiscated by forces in England and Wales during investigations. But it believes there are relatively few officers available to analyse the material they contain, in order to bring prosecutions.

The figures showed the Avon and Somerset force employed a relatively high number of analysts when compared with many other constabularies.

It currently has 13, while Thames Valley has 10, Hertfordshire four and South Yorkshire only three.

The NSPCC says that on average, the forces who responded to the FOI request had six specialists each.

In total, nearly 5,000 computers were seized last year by the 16 forces in England and Wales which supplied figures.

The 30 forces which supplied arrest figures made more than 2,000 arrests on suspicion of possessing, downloading or distributing child abuse images.

NSPCC spokesman Jon Brown said: "The volume of devices and the number of images on each device that forces are having to work through is increasing.

"Ultimately what we need is an approach that cuts this material off at the source but until then, relevant authorities must ensure that staffing numbers are at a level to be able to deal with this and prioritise accordingly, so swift action can be taken and children are not put at risk."

Speaking on behalf of police forces including Avon and Somerset, the national policing lead for cyber-crime, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: "It is a challenge for police to find and sift through the millions of these images and analyse them as quickly as possible, so that they can be passed on to investigators who can take action to protect the children involved or others who may be at risk.

"This is part of the wider challenge for police to transform the way they deal with cyber-crime in a period of fiscal constraint while also protecting communities from the more traditional sources of harm.

"Every police force and law enforcement agency has the capability to investigate images held on computers and ability trace people's use of the internet for illegitimate purposes.

"There's been an increase in the numbers of people working in high-technology roles, such as forensic examiners, within police forces and the majority of their work focuses on child sexual abuse.

"Police have improved systems for prioritising images and are using better technology. Police forces work closely with the National Crime Agency and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) who lead on tackling online child abuse. But there is more to do.

"Protection of children here or abroad is at the heart of policing. Back in July police arrested 660 people for this crime, showing that offenders leave a digital footprint that police will find.

"We are working hard to continue to speed up our processes so that we can protect children and stop offenders sooner."

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd October 2014 author Martin Bentham) [Option 1]

A crime boss who vanished abroad owing taxpayers £14?million has been extradited back to Britain and jailed after a tip-off prompted by coverage in the Evening Standard.

Martin Hickman sold fake Viagra and other counterfeit medicines in an illicit internet trade that put his customers' health at risk.

He was ordered to hand back his profits but fled overseas after serving his initial prison sentence before prosecutors were able to impose an extra 10-year penalty for non-payment.

But he is now back in a British prison after this newspaper's coverage of the way that Hickman and other criminal "Mr Bigs" are holding onto their illegal profits led to a letter revealing his whereabouts being sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Investigators checked the information and confirmed Hickman was in Marbella before enlisting the help of the National Crime Agency and Spanish police to secure his arrest. Hickman was extradited soon after and sent straight to jail.

Announcing his return, Nick Price, the head of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Unit, described his capture as a major success in the battle against organised crime bosses and paid tribute to the Standard's role in the case.

"Martin Hickman's crimes were unscrupulous and greedy, putting people's health at risk for the sake of pure profit," he said. "Having failed to pay his debt, he has now begun a 10-year sentence. Mr Hickman's arrest, extradition from Spain and subsequent imprisonment back in the UK should send out a clear message to criminals seeking to hide themselves and their assets abroad: if you won't pay up, we will find you and you will go to jail.

"Thanks to the Evening Standard's ongoing coverage of these important issues, information on the whereabouts of Mr Hickman was passed to the police, contributing to the arrest."

Hickman, 55, originally from London, ran a website selling fake Viagra and other drugs bought from India that were not licensed in this country. He used the profits to buy a £2.5 million riverside apartment in Chelsea, as well as a four-bedroom farmhouse and a property in Marbella. Hickman also drove a Bentley and Range Rover.

Investigators from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency were alerted to his business - which also included selling sex toys and products which claimed to increase penis size - and raided his farmhouse in Ashton-under-Lyme, Greater Manchester.

They found that Hickman kept money in bank accounts in Malta, the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man and transferred money through each account, and his local bank in Britain in a bid to launder it.

Although he was under investigation Hickman continued to run the website, MSH World Traders, even moving to office premises and taking on staff.

He also ignored a court injunction ordering him to shut the website. A High Court judge responded by jailing him for three months for contempt, before Hickman was finally charged with six offences relating to the illegal sale and supply of medicinal products.

He pleaded guilty at Southwark crown court at his trial in March 2009 and was jailed for two years.

The judge, Deborah Taylor, said he had "lived the high life" with "several substantial properties, both abroad and in the UK, and expensive cars".

He was given a confiscation order at a further hearing in April 2012 telling him to repay £14,407,850, but disappeared abroad without paying.

His defiance was highlighted by the Evening Standard in a series of reports revealing how many of the country's worst crime bosses were managing to hold onto their profits.

This paper has also reported calls from Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, MPs and the Director of Public Prosecutions for reforms to the law to make it easier to collect the outstanding money.

The coverage prompted several letters from informants who were aware of Hickman's whereabouts. One letter claimed that Hickman was "living it up in Marbella nightclubs and bordellos non-stop" with "British taxpayers' money" and that his presence in Marbella had turned it back into "the Costa del Crime at its worst days".

It said that Hickman had been heard boasting about his ability to evade the British authorities and had three "trained attack dogs" to "make sure that no one 'bothers' him".

The letter added: "He is therefore living the very high life in Marbella with British taxpayers' money. It probably cost about £2 million or £3 million to convict him, with the conviction turning out to be unenforceable in practice as he has fled the UK. He has made a total mockery of British justice and British taxpayers."

The information in the letters, sent last year, led to a European Arrest Warrant being issued in March.

Hickman was held in Spain in early July and extradited to the UK in August before being taken immediately to prison to begin his 10-year "default" sentence. His debt currently stands at £13,940,391 plus interest. Completion of the default sentence will not expunge the debt.

Today's news follows the publication by this newspaper of figures showing that 176 of the country's most serious offenders, including Hickman, owe more than £695 million between them in unpaid confiscation orders.

In many of the cases the deadline set by the court for repayment expired years ago. The statistics, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, also disclose that the offenders have repaid only £1 in every £6 made from crime in a situation described as "appalling" by the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz.

Further information

On a daily basis my e-mail spam directory gets swamped with messages promising discount prices on a variety of medication, many of the male potency types. The messages quote the trade medication names (Viagra etc), but there is no garauntee you will get the bonafide product. In fact you may get more than you expect from these bogus drugs such as liver failure or even death.

If you are having any health problems or worries talk to your GP.

(1st November 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 2nd October 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

The Metropolitan Police's new cyber crime and fraud team is the largest of its kind in Europe, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe believes.

The specialist team, dubbed FALCON - which stands for Fraud and Linked Crime Online - will investigate cyber crime including hacking and phishing attacks where criminals steal users' passwords and sensitive data.

FALCON was set up to tackle what the Met says is an "increasing trend" in fraud and theft being committed online, with the proceeds frequently being funnelled to fund organised crime and even terrorism.

The team became operational weeks ago but has now been officially launched at the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster.

Between August 2013 and August 2014, 17,000 reports of fraud made to Action Fraud - the national reporting centre for fraud - were referred to the Met.

Of these, 54 per cent were cyber-enabled - and in 30 per cent of cases businesses were the victims.

Sir Bernard said: "FALCON will see the Met have the best and, I believe, largest cyber crime and fraud team in Europe, with up to 500 specialist officers dedicated to tackling this crime."

City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard, the national lead for economic crime, said: "I welcome the creation of FALCON and the priority this type of crime is being given by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Mayor's Office.

"These London-based teams will be an important addition to the national capability being developed by the City of London Police, the National Crime Agency and police forces across the rest of the country."

(1st November 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 1st October 2014 author Scott Doherty) [Option 1]

A group of officers from as far afield as China and Palestine have made a visit to a force in a quest to understand the workings of the British policing model.

As part of a leadership course ran by the College of Policing, a total of 25 officers from across the globe visited Gwent Police headquarters to see how policing in this country works and the way it can inspire management and leadership skills in their home forces.

While at the force they met with senior leaders and the police and crime commissioner to understand the key issues in British policing before going on to visit the control room, counter-terrorism and professional standards departments.

Deputy Chief Constable Craig Guildford (pictured centre) said: "We have welcomed our international colleagues and have been impressed by their enthusiasm to learn about policing in Gwent.

"We organised a comprehensive programme for them to see how the various policing roles work within the Force, and they have been impressed that all our work is underpinned by our community and victim centred ethos.

"The programme also included a meeting with the police and crime commissioner who outlined his role of representing the people of Gwent to make sure the service provided by the police is efficient and effective

"The feedback we have received is very positive, and we hope they take back some of what they have learnt here to the benefit of their own police forces and communities."

The International Leadership Programme is an eight-week course. This instalment saw attendees from countries including Bahrain, Seychelles, Indonesia, Palestine, China and Saudi Arabia. Aimed at mid-level managerial staff, it focuses on a variety of topics such as: crime scene management, counter terrorism and international organised crime.

Britain has played host to courses of this kind since the 1970s and has been responsible for the training of officers from over 100 countries, some of them having gone on to take high profile roles in forces around the world.

Simon Stevenson from the College of Policing said: "We believe we have one of the best police services in the world and the high demand for our course suggests we are viewed the same way internationally.

"The course develops officers and those within the criminal justice system into leaders and builds excellent relations internationally.

"Many of the officers we trained in the past are now in very senior positions in policing around the world and it is encouraging to see they continue to value the perspective British policing has to offer."

(1st November 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 1st October 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

Perpetrators of the hidden trade in human beings in Britain are in some cases tattooing numbers on their victim's bodies to dehumanise them and signify ownership, a shocking report suggests.

In a description that recalls the way victims were tattooed in concentration camps, the National Crime Agency (NCA) report on human trafficking outlines how organised criminals may be branding a barcode-style code on the skin of individuals they are selling.

The report states that "limited information" suggests some traffickers mark potential victims with tattoos "with various symbols signifying ownership or to show that a victim is over 18".

The report states: "Information also suggests that victims may be marked with numbers, but the meaning of these numbers is not known. Various sources indicate that tattoos are used globally to mark victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation by pimps, but the extent to which this is used in the UK is not known."

This is cited as among "coercive methods" which may also include ritual ceremonies where victims may be forced to swear an oath to obey their traffickers.

Countries of origin

The number of British children being trafficked for sex rose dramatically last year, the report states.

Potential victims of trafficking who are UK nationals increased by 124 per cent from 2012 figures - a phenomenon attributed to increased reporting of this crime.

For the third consecutive year Romania was the most prevalent country of origins for potential victims of trafficking, with most such victims being trafficked for sexual exploitation in brothels, hotels and on the street.

As well as Romania, other Eastern European countries including Poland and Albania are high on the list of countries where potential victims originate, as is Nigeria.

Poland is listed as the most likely nation for labour trafficking.

Individuals may be brought to the UK to work in cannabis factories, domestic servitude or may be exploited in industries including in fishing. Routes into the country are unclear, but it is understood that traditionally victims from Eastern Europe have been brought in by coach to Victoria Station in London.

Hidden crime

Organ and human tissue harvesting is also listed in the report as one of a wide variety of "exploitation types".

It stresses there is no reliable intelligence to suggest any trafficking of victims to the UK for this purpose, but it cites uncorroborated reports suggesting that two UK passport holders of East African heritage were to be trafficked to Europe for the sale of body organs.

Because of the dreadful state of their living conditions in their original homes, some victims of trafficking may regard their situation in captivity in the UK as an improvement and so may not regard themselves as victims, the report states.

"Cultural values" and "work ethic" may also be a barrier to individuals becoming conscious about the fact that they are human trafficking victims.

The NCA's United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) estimates that 2,744, people, including 602 children, were potential victims of trafficking for exploitation in 2013, an increase of 22 per cent on 2012.

Liam Vernon, Head of the UKHTC, said: "Human trafficking for the purposes of exploitation is an insidious and complex crime and much of the exploitation is hidden from view.

"The National Crime Agency is committed to continually disrupting what is a vicious and criminal trade in human misery, which exploits the most vulnerable people, both here and abroad, for financial gain. Victims are being forced to work in private houses and in hospitality, farming, manufacturing and construction industries. In many cases, threats and violence are used to ensure compliance."

(1st November 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 1st October 2014 author Ian Weinfass) [Option 1]

Further questions have been raised about the actions of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and how it handled evidence of child abuse passed on from Canadian law enforcement in 2012.

Essex Police has revealed that the force has unearthed evidence that the deputy headteacher of a private school had been secretly filming boys in changing rooms.

Martin Goldberg (46), of Thorpe Hall School, is believed to have committed suicide the day after officers visited him on September 9 as part of an investigation into whether he purchased images of naked boys on the internet.

Questions have been asked after it emerged that the force had been informed about the allegations in November 2013, and yet the investigation did not start until September this year.

However Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex, also revealed that the information from police in Toronto was passed to the force by CEOP.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), into which CEOP has now been assimilated as a command, has already ordered a review of the centre's handling of Canadian information - which included customer details of purchasers of DVDs.

As previously reported, the NCA has also referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints' Commission following the conviction of a children's doctor for multiple counts of child abuse.

Mr Alston said: "It is important that we understand why it took nine months for (Essex Police) to act on this information. There may be valid reasons but we deserve an explanation.

"Essex Police has referred aspects of this case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and I expect the independent watchdog to investigate thoroughly and rigorously.

"It would be wrong of me to pre-empt the findings of that investigation, but my initial judgement is that it is likely that something has gone badly wrong here, including possibly in the original assessment and review by CEOP."

(1st November 2014)



(The Register, dated 2nd October 2014 author Jasper Hamill)

Full article :

The former head of MI6 has warned parents that paedophile predators are capable of using location-based services to find and abuse their kids.

In a warning that might sound a bit rich coming from a former chief spook, Sir John Scarlett said he was worried about how easily a youngster's movements could be traced.

Young girls are "obviously vulnerable to tracking," he claimed, with perverts or private enterprises able to track their quarry "right down to more or less precisely where you are".

"Personally what worries me, in a way, most, is tracking devices," he said. "The way in which locational apps, for example, are now quite freely available - of course, you can start off by consciously giving out that information, but once you've done that, you've lost control of it.


(The Register, dated 3rd October 2014 author John Leydon)

Full article :

No customer data was exposed after the firm behind Asda Car Insurance was hacked, said the broker as it explained why the ACI website went offline earlier this week.

Reg reader and Asda Car Insurance customer Arthur forwarded us a notice he received from Brightside Group, who provide white label insurance products for Asda and others, explaining why the ACI website had been taken down as a security precaution.
In response to our inquiries, Brightside Group issued a statement on Friday morning confirming a breach while downplaying its seriousness.

"Following a perimeter security breach to our IT system on Monday 29 September 2014, we can confirm that no customer data had been taken. The board of Brightside Group has temporarily taken all of its websites offline until security protocols and final testing has been fully completed.
Brightside Group has a stringent set of security protocols in place and regularly carries out robust and rigorous penetration testing to mitigate the risk of this type of issue arising."


(The Register, dated 3rd October 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article :

Malicious and benign attacks against systems vulnerable to Shellshock had halved by Sunday after peaking three days following the bug's disclosure, Akamai researchers say.

The variety of payloads targeting vulnerable sites increased dramatically over the same period before tapering off, in a possible sign that hackers were bored with the bug.

The number of unique payloads increased from 43 on day zero to a whopping 10,716 just 24 hours later. It peaked on 27 September at 20,753 before falling off.

The numbers demonstrated the effectiveness of Shellshock as an attack vector, researchers Ezra Caltum, Adi Ludmer and Ory Segal wrote in a co-authored post.

"One of the troubling aspects of the Shellshock vulnerability is the ease of exploitation, which can be seen by the dramatic increase in the number of unique payloads between the first and the second days," they said.


(Computer World, dated 2nd October 2014 author Antone Gonsalves)

Full article :

Researchers have discovered hackers trying to exploit the Shellshock Bash vulnerability to compromise network attached storage devices in universities in the U.S., Japan and Korea.

The attackers were taking advantage of a publicly disclosed security weakness in which the Web servers embedded in the devices manufactured by QNAP have administrative privileges by default, researchers for FireEye said Wednesday.

Once attackers compromise the server and get these privileges, they have full control of the device.


(Computer World, dated 30th September 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

The "Shellshock" flaw has the potential to pose a risk to the payments industry, but doesn't appear to have caused any problems yet, an official with a consortium run by major credit card companies warned on Tuesday.

The PCI Security Standards Council develops technical standards for protecting payment card data, a closely watched area following a spate of data breaches at retailers including Home Depot and Target.

"It has the potential to be a risk," said Troy Leach, the organization's CTO, of the flaw in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (Bash), a command-line shell processor in Unix and Linux.


(Computer World, dated 30th September 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Cisco Systems and Oracle are hard at work identifying networking and other products in their portfolios that are affected by the critical Shellshock vulnerability.

The Shellshock vulnerability and several related ones found over the past week stem from errors in how the Bash command-line interpreter for Unix and Linux systems parses strings passed to it by external scripts. The flaws allow attackers to trick certain processes running on vulnerable machines to pass malicious strings to Bash that would then get executed as commands on the underlying OS.

Cisco has identified 71 products so far that are exposed to the vulnerability. These products serve various purposes, including network application, service and acceleration; network content and security; network management and provisioning; routing.

(The Register, dated 29th September 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article :

The Shellshock vulnerability has already become the focus for malicious scanning and at least one botnet but crooks are still testing the waters with the vulnerability and much worse could follow, security watchers warn.

Net security firm FireEye said it has seen all manner of overtly malicious traffic leveraging the Bash bug, including DDoS attacks, malware droppers, reverse shell hacks, backdoors and data exfiltration. Some of the suspicious activity seems to be originating from Russia

Elsewhere, security researchers at Incapsula logged more than 17,400 attacks at an average rate of 725 an hour. More than 1,800 domains in its network of tens of thousands of websites were attacked. Attacks originated from 400 unique IP addresses. More than 55 per cent of all attacks originated from China and US, a marked different from FireEye's finding that much of the problem came from Russia.


(The Register, dated 29th September 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article :

Infamous carding store is so chock-full of stolen credit cards from recent high-profile breaches that it's gutting its prices due to overstocking.

The fire sale makes a mockery of the security in place at some of the world's biggest retailers, many of which have in recent months been invaded by hackers who have made off with many millions of customer credit cards.

Stolen cards were released on the site in tranches under names such as American Sanctions and European Sanctions which could be purchased in batches and filtered by geography to reduce the chance that a buyer's subsequent fraudulent transactions would be detected.


(Computer World, dated 29th September 2014 author Darlene Storm)

Full article :

Almost any idiot with malicious intentions can jump into the cybercrime arena thanks to 'Crime-as-a-Service' tools that lower the entry barriers into cybercrime; wannabe cyber-criminals who lack technical expertise can simply buy the tools and skills needed. In fact, "Crime-as-a-Service business models" and anonymization have helped many traditional organized crime groups move to cybercrime, according to the 2014 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) published today. It's easy to do and difficult to be busted since "criminals in cyberspace do not need to be close to the crime scene, they might never even travel to the target country, and can attack a large number of victims globally with minimum effort and risk by hiding their identity."


(The Register, dated 26th September 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article :

The UK's privacy watchdog is urging organisations to protect their systems against the infamous Shellshock vulnerability in Bash - even though the full scope of the security bug remains unclear.

The Shellshock flaw affects Bash up to and including version 4.3. It's a vital component of many Linux and Unix systems, as well as networking kit and embedded devices. It's also present in the latest versions of Apple's OS X for Macs.

An advisory by the UK the UK National Computer Emergency Response Team's (CRT-UK) provides a snapshot of the current state of play.

The Information Commissioner's Office advises users to apply any available updates to defend against Shellshock as soon as practically possible. Lack of clarity is no excuse for lack of action - especially when sensitive data might be exposed as a result of the flaw, the data watchdog says.

An ICO spokesperson said: "This flaw could be allowing criminals to access personal data held on computers or other devices. For businesses, that should be ringing real alarm bells, because they have legal obligations to keep personal information secure.


(Computer World, dated 26th September 2014 author Loek Essers)

Full article :

European Union privacy regulators want Google to make its privacy policies easier to find and understand, with exhaustive lists of what data it holds and processes, in order to comply with EU law, they told the company this week.

Google received the package of recommendations from the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), an umbrella group for European data protection authorities. While WP29 has no power to sanction the company, its members have imposed fines in a number of cases following Google's 2012 changes to its privacy policy, which several national privacy regulators found breached EU rules.


(The Register, dated 25th September 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article :

Disgruntled workers are causing more problems for their employers, the FBI warns.

Employees, ex-workers or contractors with a grudge against their former paymasters are abusing cloud storage sites or remote access to enterprise networks to steal trade secrets, customer lists or other sensitive information.

Insider threats have, of course, been a problem in business for decades. But the internet had brought a new dimension to the problem by making it far easier to destroy data or swipe customer records.

Physical records that used to occupy racks of shelves can now be contained on a single USB stick. It's also easier to put a spanner in the works of business-critical IT systems than it would have been to stop deliveries to a factory in days gone by.


(Computer World, dated 25th September 2014 author Joab Jackson)

Full article :

A long-standing vulnerability unearthed in the GNU Bash software, nicknamed Shellshock, has disrupted the daily activities of the Linux system administrator community, as Linux distributors, cloud vendors and end users grapple to understand the full scope of the potential damage it could cause.

The vulnerability is a flaw in the open-source GNU Bash shell found in nearly all Linux distributions, as well as in the Apple OS X operating system.


(The register, dated 16th September 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article :

British punters are being served three times as many phishing links to trojans and exploit kits than the US, and five times more than the Germans, according to a ProofPoint study.

The security researchers say that while the English were being served more malicious links, Germans were hit with the greatest amount of unsolicited spam.

The scams aimed to lift British wallets through banking trojans and phishing emails mimicking organisations like the Royal Bank of Scotland.


(Computer World, dated 12th September 2014 author Sam Shead)

Full article :

The UK government has sought to reassure MPs that their data on Microsoft's servers in the Republic of Ireland cannot be accessed by US surveillance agencies.

William Hague, the leader of the House of Commons, said there's nothing to fear after an MP said he was concerned about the security of parliamentary data stored on Microsoft's Cloud-based servers in Europe.

In a letter responding to concerns raised by John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, Hague wrote: "The relevant servers are situated in the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands, both being territories covered by the EC Data Protection Directive.

"Any access by US authorities to such data would have to be by way of mutual legal assistance arrangements with those countries."


(The Register, dated 12th September 2014 author John Leyden)

Full article :

The UK's National Cyber Security Programme is not yet delivering on its much-vaunted economic benefits but is still a worthwhile exercise, according to a report by government auditors.

An update by the National Audit Office for Parliament's Public Accounts Committee on the government's National Cyber Security Programme said that "good progress" has been made in improving its understanding of the most sophisticated threats to national security.

However, the level of understanding of threats to wider public services is "varied" - which sounds like a diplomatic way of saying poor to middling.


(Computer World, dated 8th September 2014 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article :

After nearly a week of investigation, Home Depot on Monday confirmed that intruders had indeed broken into its payment networks and accessed credit and debit card data belonging to an unspecified number of customers who shopped at its U.S. and Canadian stores.


(Computer World, dated 8th September 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Five Nigerian criminal gangs are behind most scams targeting sellers on Craigslist, and they've taken new measures to make their swindles appear legitimate, according to a new study.

It works like this: The buyer tells the seller they can pay for an item with a certified check. The buyer says, however, that he can't pick up the item and needs to user a "mover" agent.

The seller is quickly sent a check by FedEx or UPS from a U.S. address that is printed with professional check-writing equipment for well over the amount of the laptop, averaging about $1,500.
The seller is supposed to cash the check, keep the amount for the laptop and send the rest by Western Union to a mover agent, who is based in the U.S. The victims are also asked to ship the item.

Some U.S. banks will still "float" funds from a check before it has cleared, McCoy said. But the fake check will be discovered eventually, and the bank will try to recover the funds.

What was particularly interesting about this scam is that the checks were all sent from within the U.S., indicating that the groups in Nigeria recruited local help. That is a potential choke point for law enforcement trying to deal with the problem, the researchers wrote.

The checks were good enough to fool banks, which would begin processing them. McCoy said several banks thought the checks looked fine at first sight, with the correct routing numbers for the banks. Some of the phony checks were generated using VersaCheck software on legitimate check paper, with watermarks and other security features.


(Computer World, dated 8th September 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article:

Instagram, Grindr, OkCupid and many other Android applications fail to take basic precautions to protect their users' data, putting their privacy at risk, according to new study.

The findings comes from the University of New Haven's Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG), which earlier this year found vulnerabilities in the messaging applications WhatsApp and Viber.

This time, they expanded their analysis to a broader range of Android applications, looking for weaknesses that could put data at risk of interception. The group will release one video a day this week on their YouTube channel highlighting their findings, which they say could affect upwards of 1 billion users.


(Computer World, dated 3rd September 2014 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article :

It looks like Home Depot may have earned the dubious distinction of being responsible for the biggest compromise ever involving credit and debit card

Security blogger Brian Krebs, who first reported the data breach Tuesday, updated his report today with new information gathered from the cyber underground. According to Krebs, the data strongly suggests that a breach occurred at nearly all of Home Depot's 2,200 stores in the U.S.

Krebs based his conclusion on a review of stolen credit and debit card data posted on an online store that sells such information. The site lists each card, along with the city, state and ZIP code of the card owner, as well as the store code where the data was stolen.


(Computer World, dated 2nd September 2014 author Sharon Gaudin)

Full article :

An apparent hack of cloud storage sites that caused a slew of nude images of female celebrities to hit the Internet over the weekend should serve as a wake-up call for the public, and for enterprises, to be more cautious with the information they store in the cloud.

Whether the scandal will make some enterprises, already nervous about cloud security, more hesitant about migrating to the cloud remains to be seen.

"This is a great example of what can go wrong with the cloud," said Jeff Kagan, an independent IT industry analyst. "I don't know if this will make people or enterprises more hesitant about the cloud, but it will make them more careful, and that's good. That's how we learn. We learn not to touch the hot stove when someone else gets burned."

Over the weekend, stories emerged about nude photos of model Kate Upton and actresses like Mary E. Winstead and Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence appearing online. Some of the photos appear to be authentic. Others do not.


(Computer World, dated 2nd September 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

While conducting a penetration test of a major Canadian retailer, Rob VandenBrink bought something from the store. He later found his own credit card number buried in its systems, a major worry.

The retailer, which has hundreds of stores across Canada, otherwise had rock-solid security and was compliant with the security guidelines known as the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), said VandenBrink, a consultant with the IT services company Metafore.

But a simple configuration error allowed him to gain remote access. From there, he found the retailer was vulnerable to the same problem that burned Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, UPS Store and others: card data stored in memory that is vulnerable to harvesting by malicious software.


(Computer World, dated 28th August 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

A U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman said Wednesday the agency is working with the Secret Service to determine the "scope" of reported cyberattacks against several financial institutions.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Russian hackers struck JPMorgan Chase and another bank earlier this month. A subsequent report in the New York Times said the attacks hit JPMorgan Chase and four other U.S. financial institutions.

The Times reported that "gigabytes" of information were stolen, including customer account information.

A JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman did not confirm the attacks, saying that "companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day. We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels."

Representatives for Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup -- also frequent targets for hackers -- could not be immediately reached for comment.

(1st November 2014) 


When you leave the UK you will have your passport checked at an airlines ticket desk. You may have even have had to enter your passport details online when checking-in. If you were going to the USA, you would have to complete an ESTA application. All of these details would have been checked and checked again at the departure gate. A similar thing applies at Eurostar and ferries. That is leaving the country, what about coming in ?

Well, when using Eurostar there is the French passport control. Then a few yards later there is the UK passport control (on French soil). As for airports in other countries, they check your passport at airline check-in, entrance into the departure lounge (perhaps) then at the departure gate.

But what about all of these "refugee's" coming across (or sadly dieing in) the Mediteranean, who checks them. What controls does Europe have in managing refugee's and illegal immigrants ? Does this management of people movement work, bearing in mind the number of illegal immigrants that land on our shores and the shanty towns that have sprung up in Calais.

Well the management and control of the European Borders are in the hands of an orgnisation called FRONTEX. Up until September 2014 I had never heard of this organisation. Bearing in mind this is meant to be the first line of defence for the UK borders this seems strange. I did not discover FRONTEX's existence from any UK material (but I have since found mention on, but from an article in a Maltese armed forces magazine. Then again would you think of the word FRONTEX when trying to discover the existence of a European Borders agency, perhaps eBorders ? Oops, can't use eBorders....that has been used by the UK Home Office !


Website :

Since 1999 the European Council on Justice and Home Affairs has taken several steps towards strengthen cooperation in the area of migration, asylum and security.

In the border management field this led to the creation of the External Border Practitioners Common Unit - a group composed of members of the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA) and heads of national border control services.

The Common Unit coordinated national projects of Ad-Hoc Centres on Border Control. Their task was to oversee EU-wide pilot projects and common operations related to border management.

There were six ad-hoc centres:

• Risk Analysis Centre (Helsinki, Finland)

• Centre for Land Borders (Berlin, Germany)

• Air Borders Centre (Rome, Italy)

• Western Sea Borders Centre (Madrid, Spain)

• Ad-hoc Training Centre for Training (Traiskirchen, Austria)

• Centre of Excellence (Dover, United Kingdom)

• Eastern Sea Borders Centre (Piraeus, Greece)


Two years after the establishment of "ad-hoc" centres the European Council decided to go a step further. With the objective of improving procedures and working methods of the Common Unit, on the 26 October 2004 the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) was established by Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004.

Frontex promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management.

Frontex helps border authorities from different EU countries work together. Frontex's full title is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union. The agency was set up in 2004 to reinforce and streamline cooperation between national border authorities. In pursuit of this goal, Frontex has several operational areas which are defined in the founding Frontex Regulation and a subsequent amendment.

While fulfilling its mandate, Frontex liaises closely with other EU partners involved in the development of the area of Freedom, Security and Justice such as Europol, EASO, Eurojust, FRA or CEPOL, as well as with customs authorities in order to promote overall cohesion.

Frontex also works closely with the border-control authorities of non-EU/Schengen countries - mainly those countries identified as a source or transit route of irregular migration - in line with general EU external relations policy.


The following is an extract from "On Parade" which is a magazine supplement to the Times of Malta.

(On Parade, dated October 2014 author Lieutenant Matthew Agius)

Joint Operation Poseidon Land ( JO POSLAND ) was setup by Frontex to monitor and control illegal migration aong Eastern Europe's external borders. Frontex was established by EU council regulation (EC no. 2007/2005 of October 2004) to facilitate the abolishment of internal Border control points within the EU member states which require a high and uniform level of control of EU external borders.

JO POSLAND is a relatively low risk operation, this it is the ideal deployment for young, keen and enthusiastic soldiers to gain operational experience such as working in a foreign country, working alongside other forces; culture difference and having to work and live as a team for the deployment period. JO POSLAND has the ideal set-up for young trained soldiers to implement their taught skills and look forward to further deployments that the Armed Forces Malta (AFM) embarks on from time to time.

Deployment so far

Between 2007 and 2012, the C(SD) Company from the 1st Regiment AFM , had deployed a total of 300 personnel on JO POSLAND in Greece.A change in the border infrastructure shifted the migratory routes to Bulgaria, and hence FRONTEX requested to move its mission to the Bulgarian - Turkish border. The first deployment (by the AFM) in Bulgaria was in July 2013, whilst so far this yea alon a total of 6 team composed of personnel from all Companies within the 1st Regiment have been deployed.

Armed Forces Malta website :


So it is not the case of where are our borders, more of, who controls them !

(1st November 2014)

(Home Office article, date 12th June 2014)

Full article :

Officers from Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA), and Home Office Immigration Enforcement have taken part in a major European operation to tackle human trafficking from West Africa.

The operation, which took place on Wednesday 11 June, focused on a number of inbound flights to Heathrow Airport, a major European transit hub for West African flights, with the aim of detecting potential victims and gaining intelligence on the organised crime groups involved in trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

As part of the operation Home Office Immigration Enforcement liaison officers in Lagos and Madrid worked with local law enforcement agencies to provide extra intelligence and conduct checks on those travelling to the United Kingdom.


At Heathrow, officers from Border Force's specially-trained Safeguarding and Trafficking Team, working alongside the NCA, carried out additional screening of passengers including those in transit to other EU nations.

The case of a 16-year-old girl, identified as a potential victim of trafficking, was referred to social services, while safeguarding checks were carried out on a number of other arrivals. Intelligence gathered was fed on to other law enforcement agencies in the UK and abroad. Additionally three people were prevented from boarding a flight from Lagos to Heathrow for immigration reasons.

The day of action was co-ordinated by Europol, with involvement from law enforcement agencies in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Norway and Portugal as well as the UK.


Samantha Rigler, head of the Border Force Heathrow Safeguarding and Trafficking team, said: "The UK is a destination country for trafficking victims from West Africa but it is also a key transit point for onward travel to other European destinations."

"We regularly conduct these kinds of operations at Heathrow working with our immigration liaison officers abroad, but by being part of this Europe-wide day of action we have increased our impact against the organised crime groups involved in trafficking."

"Those crime groups are often based outside the UK, so we are working with law enforcement partners at home and abroad to bring them to justice and prevent people becoming victims of this appalling crime."

"We are determined to send a message out that the UK will not tolerate any form of modern slavery."

Similar operations carried out in the last two weeks by Border Force at Heathrow, supported by Immigration Enforcement colleagues in Lagos, have led to the identification of five potential victims of trafficking and one suspected trafficker, all prevented from boarding flights to the UK. The case of another potential victim identified at Heathrow was referred for further investigation. Further intelligence has also been disseminated to numerous other law enforcement agencies in the UK and abroad.


Liam Vernon, from the NCA's UK Human Trafficking Centre, said: "The trafficking of women and children from West Africa to the UK is a significant problem - victims are tricked into believing they will work or study in the UK, only to be sold into a life of sexual slavery by the organised crime gangs behind this vile trade.
We are determined to prevent this, to protect and support victims and pursue the criminals making money from the misery of innocent people. Working in collaboration with other EU countries is essential and sends a strong message to the traffickers that we are united in our efforts to tackle modern slavery."

According to provisional figures, more than 673 persons, mainly women from West African countries, were checked across the countries involved in the operation. Of those, 111 potential victims of trafficking (mostly women from Nigeria) were identified. Via cross-checks at the Europol headquarters, more than 30 persons were found to have links to criminal structures. As a result of the day of action, new investigations have been launched in several participating countries with Europol's support.

The operation came the same week as Home Secretary Theresa May published details of a new Modern Slavery Bill. The Bill is the first of its kind in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century.

(1st November 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 26th September 2014)

Full article :

A series of attacks on websites and servers using the serious Shellshock bug has been spotted.

Millions of servers use software vulnerable to the bug, which lets attackers run commands on that system.

So far, thousands of servers have been compromised via Shellshock and some have been used to bombard web firms with data, said experts.

The number of attacks and compromises was likely to grow as the code used to exploit the bug was shared.

The Shellshock bug was discovered in a tool known as Bash that is widely used by the Unix operating system and many of its variants, including Linux open source software and Apple's OSX.

Apple said it was working on a fix for its operating system and added that most users would not be at risk from Shellshock.

Attackers have been spotted creating networks of compromised machines, known as botnets, that were then put to other uses.


One group used their Shellshock botnet to bombard machines run by Akamai with huge amounts of junk data to try to knock them offline. Another group used its botnet to scan for more machines that are vulnerable.

Evidence of the scanning and attacks came from honeypots run by security companies. These are computers that have been set up to look vulnerable but which catch information about attackers.

Jaime Blasco, a researcher at security firm AlienVault, said its honeypot had seen scans and attacks that used Shellshock. The scans simply informed attackers that a server was vulnerable, he wrote, but others attempted to install malware to put that machine under an attacker's control.

The control that Shellshock gave to attackers made it potentially more of a problem than the serious Heartbleed bug discovered in April this year, said security researcher Kasper Lindegaard from Secunia.

"Heartbleed only enabled hackers to extract information," he told tech news site The Register. "Bash enables hackers to execute commands to take over your servers and systems."

The seriousness of the bug has also led governments to act quickly. The UK government said its cybersecurity response team had issued an alert to its agencies and departments giving Shellshock the "highest possible threat ratings".

It had this rating, said the alert, because vulnerable systems would "inevitably" include machines that formed part of the UK's critical national infrastructure.

The US and Canada are believed to have issued similar alerts and told technology staff to patch systems as quickly as possible. Amazon, Google, Akamai and many other tech firms have also issued advisories to customers about the bug.

As well as software patches for vulnerable systems, security firms and researchers are also producing signatures and filter lists to help spot attacks based around it.

Early reports suggest up to 500 million machines could be vulnerable to Shellshock but, wrote Jen Ellis from security firm Rapid7, this figure was now being revised downwards because of the "number of factors that need to be in play for a target to be susceptible".

"This bug is going to affect an unknowable number of products and systems, but the conditions to exploit it are fairly uncommon for remote exploitation," said Ms Ellis.

Marc Maiffret, chief technology officer at security firm BeyondTrust, expressed a similar view.

"There is a lot of speculation out there as to what is vulnerable, but we just don't have the answers," he said. "This is going to unfold over the coming weeks and months."

(1st November 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 26th September 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

Breaking up police forces could be preferable to mergers, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has suggested.

Former businessman Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire's Conservative PCC, said small and medium sized forces could be more viable in the future than any new "superforces" - which he attacked as a "stack them high, sell them cheap" idea.

He warned that larger forces would be "less able to meet local need", adding: "Bigger doesn't always equal better. The bigger you get, the more inefficiencies are built into the system."

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary recently announced that some smaller forces risked becoming economically inviable.

But Mr Ellis said he did not believe there was a link between the size of a force and its viability. In an interview with, he claimed Staffordshire Police had a "geographical footprint" that is economically optimum.

"We're pretty well straight until 2020, and I've inherited the same situation as anyone else," he said. "In my view Staffordshire is an optimum size."

The idea of creating smaller instead of larger force areas has also been mooted by others, including police governance analyst Bernard Rix.

Custody battle

Mr Ellis has hit the headlines in recent months with his outspoken campaign to ensure adequate provision in local hospitals so detainees sectioned under the Mental Health Act never need be locked up in police cells.

He will this week ask North Staffordshire Healthcare NHS Trust to sign a pledge to keep their mental health suite open at all hours.

Mr Ellis acknowledged there could be "grey areas" where the remit of a PCC and a chief constable could overlap.

But he defended his role when asked about Labour's pledge to scrap PCCs.

When asked if he personally needs to remain in the role, he said: "I'm happy to go and lie on a beach and fly helicopters. I don't need to work."

But he insisted PCCs could "hold other agencies to account publically in a way that chief constables could never do".

He also called for police and crime panels to have a greater ability to hold PCCs to account and take on a role similar to that played by parliamentary select committees.

(1st November 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 24th September 2014 author Josh Loeb) [Option 1]

All police custody suites should be given a numerical score to reflect how well individual facilities are performing in key areas such as detainee safety, it has been suggested.

Maneer Afsar, from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, said a scoring system akin to that which is already in place for jails should also be used to rate police detention facilities.

Ms Afsar, who heads the team responsible for a rolling programme of inspections of custody suites being carried out jointly with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, told delegates at the Police Federation's National Custody Seminar: "We are thinking about bringing in scoring soon for police custody suites."

Afterwards she told PoliceOracle: "It's good for people to be able to compare and contrast. At the moment our assessments are qualitative, but it would be good if we could have some way of making that quantitative also."

Ms Afsar said that when prisons had received a poor score this often had "consequences" for the prison governor as it gave the National Offender Management Service ammunition to sack them and find a replacement.

She added: "There is a correlation between a poor score and someone losing their job."

Hotel-style ratings

She stressed there had been no consultation on any proposal yet and said it would be in the gift of the Chief Inspector of Prisons to decide precisely what form any scorecard system for custody suites should take.

Inspectors could, for example, give hotel-style ratings, with those at the top end receiving a five-star rating.

Initial reactions to the proposal were positive at the seminar in Stoke-on-Trent. Simon Butterworth from West Yorkshire Police Federation welcomed it as a "good idea".

"Every custody sergeant wants people who come into custody to leave in the same state, or preferably a better state, than when they came in," he added.

In her presentation to delegates, Ms Afsar also warned that video linkups with courts were creating new problems for custody staff because red tape meant that in some cases detainees were being held in police cells for longer than would otherwise be necessary.

Police procedures for deaths in custody - and deaths following release from custody - were also a topic of discussion.

Steve Evans, Vice-Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he wanted post-incident procedures for deaths in custody to be "treated with the same seriousness and the same level of attention to detail as firearms incidents".

Susan Freeburn, a lawyer with firm Salter and Gordon, said incidents involving deaths following release from custody vastly outnumbered all other types of deaths involving contact with police - including shootings by police and fatalities that occur on the road when a police car is pursuing a suspect vehicle.

uaware comment

Perhaps there will be a sub-section on TripAdvisor !

(1st November 2014) 

(Malta Today, dated 24th September 2014 author Daniel Mizzi)

Full article :

Two alleged conmen were today remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to trying to defraud a Maltese man out of €250,000 in a 'black money scam'.

The court heard how the accused, Calice Nkwessa, 39, of South Africa, and Bertin Nfonkeu, 30, of Cameroon, had initially approached their victim by persuading him that a briefcase full of banknote-sized paper is real money which had been dyed black.

Sources close to the investigation that the two men initially approached their victim, Clayton Falzon, and applied iodine and other chemicals to a black "banknote." The alleged banknote then turned into a €50 note, and the accused then told their victim that it was genuine.

Moreover, informed sources said that after "convincing their victim with their initial scam," the Cameroonian and South African duo asked their victim €250,000 in exchange for a briefcase full of banknote-sized paper dyed black, and claimed that they could not export the money due to laws in their homeland.

However, the victim is said to have informed the police of the scam, leading to the subsequent arrest of the accused.

Prosecuting inspector Ian Abdilla said in exchange for the money, conmen would have given their victim the briefcase full of money and chemicals to "wash the money" with the promise that after the chemicals dissolve, the banknote would be revealed.

The court heard that, in reality, however, all would be blank papers and that irrespective of the chemicals added, they will not turn into money.

Standing before presiding Magistrate Marseann Farrugia, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were denied bail due to the fear of absconding.

In September, two Cameroonians were also remanded in custody over the 'black money scam'.

Inspector Ian Joseph Abdilla prosecuted, while Lawyer Anthony Cutajar was legal aid.


(The Malta Independent, dated 25th September 2014)

Full article :

The Malta Police Force this afternoon issued a warning to the public about persons carrying out 'black/white money scams' in Malta.

"The perpetrators of these scams usually start by saying that they are in possession of a quantity of money that has been smuggled out of their country of origin. In order to evade the authorities, this alleged money will have been hidden by using black ink (hence black money) or bleached (white money). They will also sell chemicals purportedly to be used to restore the money to its original state.

More often than not, they will set up a demonstration of this conversion to show how the money is to be cleaned after purchase but this is no more than a trick.

Once the victim has purchased the money, no amount of chemicals will restore the money as this was never actual money in the first place but just black or white paper.

More often than not, the perpetrators will have left the country by the time the Police receive any information. Hence, it is strongly advised that members of the public that receive such an offer refrain from engaging in such deals and to contact the police immediately."

(1st November 2014) 

(Police Oracle, dated 23rd September 2014 author Ian Weinfass) [Option 1]

Kent Police has become the latest force to invest in Body Worn Video (BWV) for officers.

The force is giving the technology to local policing teams in three areas prior to a wider roll-out by the end of the year and into 2015.

Around 430 officers will be using the cameras by mid-October.

Many forces have already rolled out the technology to their personnel, including the Met - which is currently piloting the technology among their firearms officers.

New guidance on the technology's use was released by the College of Policing in July. It included stipulations that its use must be proportionate, legitimate and necessary.

Kent Police says it hopes it will aid officers tackling domestic abuse offences and help with night time economy incidents.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Brandon said: "BWV is a technological innovation which has been shown to have some very clear and tangible benefits to police forces.

"It has the capability to capture real-time evidence, offering the potential to move the justice process forward with reduced stress for victims of crime.

"Forces who use BWV already have seen an increase in early guilty pleas as defendants are shown irrefutable evidence and they have seen a reduction in offending behaviour resulting in better safety for members of the public and officers.

"We owe it to the victims of crime to use all lawful investigative techniques available to us and BWV will become an invaluable asset for officers as they deliver a first class service to the people of Kent."

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes has helped fund new cameras.

She said: "I am confident that the cameras will bring a real difference for our frontline officers. Not only do they modify offender behaviour at an incident, they can also influence officer behaviour and - just as important - protect our officers from unwarranted complaints."

(1st November 2014) 

(Times of Malta, dated 18th September 2014 author Keith Micallef)

Police in the St Julian's district, which includes the Paceville trouble spot, are stretched so thin they have very little time to investigate the flood of reports that come in every day.

About 6,000 reports have already been filed this year in the district - an increase of about 1,000 over the first eight months of 2013 - but just two policemen are assigned to investigations and patrol, sources told Times of Malta.

"It has become a normal occurrence to have queues of people waiting to file a report, even at 5am," one police source said on condition of anonymity.

The St Julian's district also includes San Gwann, Swieqi and Pembroke. Over the past five years it has recorded the highest number of burglaries from occupied residences as well as the highest number of armed robberies, muggings, pick pocketing cases and "snatch and grab" cases. Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia tabled the figures in Parliament last November.

On paper, each shift at the St Julians police station is made up of 12 policemen, but most of the time it is manned by just four officers, sources said. The reason is that police have to provide security at fixed points and for events such as village feasts and sports activities.

As a result just two policemen are being assigned to investigations and patrol, with the remaining two taking care of phone calls and filing of new cases.

The sources also complain of inadequate facilities : "Somebody a report on sexual abuse or domestic violence can be overheard by somebody else sitting just two metres away filing a report on much less serious case like a lost mobile phone", one officer said.

"To add insult to injury we have been recently chided for issuing fewer tickets on traffic contraventions, littering and other minor offences. But this is testament in the fact that the higher echelons of the police force seem to be totally oblivious to the situation on the ground where we are having little time to do patrols".

While acknowledging that maintaining the law and order in St Julians has always been very challenging, sources said that since the change in government the number of officers on each shift had been cut from 15 to 12, across all ranks.

He said that a case in point was the decision to reduce the number of Inspectors from four to two, and it was only recently that a third one was assigned.

The same sources noted that the opening of the Swieqi police station was a postive move, albeit a small one, as it was being run by two part-time policemen for a limited number of hours per week.

They said that from an already small complement, district police had to cover a number of fixed points such as the Libyan School in Ta' Giorni and the Russian embassy in Kappara on a 24 hour basis. Other duties assigned include the closure of roads during school hours and manning busy traffic junctions during the rush hour.

In addition there were circumstances in which district police were called to guard Libyan patients at Mater Dei (hospital) or assigned to particular events such as village feasts, water polo games and football matches.

A Home Affairs Ministry spokeswoman denied fewer policeman were being deployed in St Julians district, saying that since last year the complement had increased from 52 to 63. In the coming weeks a new mobile police station would be opened in Paceville.

"This would enable the public to file a report without the need to go down to St Julian's," she said. Another mobile station is earmarked for Marsascala.

However, faced with what they insist is a small staff shortage, sources questioned the decision to keep members of the force assigned to duties unrelated to investigations or law enforcement.

"Having members of the force assigned to maintenance works, repairing car punctures, store keeping or making tea and coffee does not make sense as it would be more worthwhile assigning them to carry out normal police duties".

uaware comment

Malta's prime industry is tourism. St Julians and Paceville and the adjacent districts (and we are talking about a very compact area here - under a square mile at most) is probably the most densely populated hotel area on the island. The hotels range from 5* deluxe via 18-30 establishments to some really grotty flea pits. Paceville does not come to life until 10pm and doesn't calm until sunrise. As for the police station, it is the size of double fronted detached house.

As for the Maltese; a great group of people. I have visited the island many times and never personally suffered any problems, but some visitors do not respect their hosts.

(1st November 2014) 

(BBC News, dated 16th September 2014)

Full article :

Once any kind of sex in public might have led to arrest and prosecution. Now police across much of the UK take a softly-softly approach, writes Julie Bindel.

Decades ago, the police in the UK did their utmost to stop gay men having sex in public toilets and outdoor "cruising grounds". Men were frequently arrested, prosecuted and often jailed.

Today much has changed and the police take advice on "sensitivity and fairness" in dealing with those who have sex in public places.

A Freedom of Information request, submitted last year, revealed specific guidelines, published in 2009 by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) on the policing of sex in public. The issue is significant enough for police that they use a standard term - Public Sex Environments (PSE).

And indeed public sex has been on the agenda in Britain since at least the late 1600s, according to some accounts. In the decades prior to the Sexual Offences Act 1967, gay men rarely "came out". Cruising was one way that - albeit with a fairly high level of risk of persecution - men could meet other men in a way they could not in ordinary life.

Sir John Gielgud was arrested for "importuning" in 1953 in Chelsea, and Peter Dudley, an actor in Coronation Street, was arrested in 1981 in a toilet in Didsbury. The singer George Michael, famously arrested after an incident a Los Angeles public toilet, has said he has no shame about engaging in cruising.

Almost 50 years after the decriminalisation of gay sex in the UK, cruising is still popular.

Definitive stats are difficult to come by, but anecdotally at least, the British do not seem to be that squeamish about outdoor sex, and it appears to be more commonplace than one might think. In general terms, the police now only tend to get involved when bystanders complain.

The issue doesn't just affect gay people. For centuries heterosexual couples have had sex in secluded spots, often referred to as "Lovers' Lanes", seeking privacy unavailable at home.

And a decade ago footballer Stan Collymore admitted to "dogging" - having sex in a public place watched by onlookers - in a Cannock Chase country park, having been spotted by tabloid journalists. It placed in the public consciousness a hitherto shadowy subculture.

In a shift from the previous legislation and police practice, which focused only on sex between men in public toilets (commonly known as "cottaging") the latest guidance makes reference to sex by a wider variety of people, and includes dogging, sex in parks, beaches, and beauty spots.

Offences that could be committed in a 'public sex environment'

- Outraging public decency contrary to common law

- Behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to other users contrary to the Public Order Act 1986

- Offences of exposure - if the person exposes themselves to someone intending that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress

- Sex in a public toilet (Section 71, Sexual Offences Act, 2003)

The above applies to England and Wales although there are some similar provisions in Scotland and Northern Ireland

It's a complicated issue. Outdoor sex in the middle of a forest is clearly at the other end of the spectrum from sex on a crowded beach. But both can be interpreted as sex in public places.

The Acpo guidance focuses on those who stumble across it as well as those that indulge in it. "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)… is committed to making PSEs safer for both users and those who happen upon them when going about their daily business."

PSEs can be dangerous places where rape, serious sexual offences, serious assaults and robbery take place and go unreported. Sites used exclusively by men - such as public toilets - have historically been policed differently to cruising and dogging sites, aided by a different set of legal rules. Police action has often been triggered by public concern.

"PSEs are complex environments and the use of them for sexual activity is an emotive issue, which is more often than not exacerbated by negative stereotypes and prejudicial views," reads the guidance.

"It is our responsibility (with our partners) to make such places safe places for all users, and prevent and detect crimes. It is not our role to act as moral arbiters; we must enforce the law proportionately, firmly, fairly and in an even-handed way."

Also taking a softly-softly approach to public sex is Brighton council, which recently received a number of complaints over cruising in Dukes Mount park. Officials reportedly suggested that The Greenery, a notorious gay cruising spot in the park should allow bushes to grow between 15ft and 20ft tall to afford privacy to outdoor fornicators.

For those public sex environments outside of public lavatories, the common law and statute law is usually only concerned with those situations where a member of the public is likely to chance upon public sex and be alarmed or distressed by what they see.

But most dogging and cruising areas are deliberately chosen to avoid passers-by - thus they should in theory amount to lawful activity.

Chris Ashford, professor of law and society at Northumbria University is currently working on a book exploring the law's relationship with the public sex, entitled Public Sex and the Law: Silent Desire. There are, found Ashford, significant differences in the approach to policing public sex in different parts of the country.

"Public sex is a historical phenomenon, with variances of behaviour occurring around the globe. This is particularly the case for male and male sexual encounters," says Ashford. "Cottaging, for example, has particularly been regarded as a 'gay' problem. The law that regulates sex in toilets (section 71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) was originally stated in the Sexual Offences Act 1967. The very section of the act that effectively 'legalised' homosexuality also contained the provision that criminalised sex in public lavatories."

The current police guidelines, at least in regards to cottaging, have moved from a punitive approach to one that deals sensitively with a much-maligned community. "We must acknowledge the negative impact on LGBT people's trust and confidence in us if we act in a parochial and ill-judged way," say the Acpo guidelines.

Dan Bunker, a gay activist who offers training to public bodies on LGBT equality and diversity, says that cruising and cottaging has long been a "huge part" of gay culture. "Working for a helpline service I was overwhelmed by the number of married men who called wanting to know where to go to get their kicks."

According to Ashford, police have to strike a balance between devoting resources to policing isolated locations at which unwilling bystanders might witness public sex with responding to public concerns.

The right to have outdoor sexual activity has been interpreted as being enshrined in article eight of the Human Rights Act (right to respect for private and family life), as long as those activities are not liable to breach the rights of others.

But police are certainly not turning a blind eye to public sex. In June, police warned people indulging in such activities at a beauty spot by the Menai Strait commonly used by walkers to stop off and stretch their legs.

Despite the attention now paid to getting it right, the police will always have a difficult job on their hands balancing the rights of people to have sex with the rights of passers-by not to be shocked.

(1st November 2014)


(BBC News, dated 14th September 2014)

Full article :

The rights of victims of crime in England and Wales are to be enshrined in law, the justice secretary has said. Chris Grayling says a Victims' Law will include the right for them to be kept informed about their case and to confront offenders in court.

It would replace the existing code of practice and be the first time victims' rights were enshrined in law. However, Labour accused the government of "letting down" victims, saying the plan looked "cobbled together".

Range of support

Under a reform of the law, publicly funded lawyers will also have to take specialist training before working on serious sex offence cases.

Mr Grayling said the current legal system could be daunting and traumatic for victims.

He said: "For the first time we will create a system that puts the highest emphasis on victims' needs and sets out their rights clearly in legislation."

At the moment, victims can choose to tell the court and offender how a crime has impacted their life by reading out a statement to be taken into account by judges considering the sentence.

The Victim Information Service is set to include a helpline and website and the reforms could also see more powers given to watchdogs.

Mr Grayling said victims often found it difficult to know who to go to under the existing system and that having one source of information and help would make it easier for them.

Such help would include tracking the progress of the case, applying for compensation, knowing what to expect in court, or understanding the range of support available, he said.

'Clear message'

Mark Castle, chief executive of Victim Support, said he welcomed the measures.

He said: "Our witness service team, who work behind the scenes in court, see every day just how distressing it can be... especially for victims of a violent or sexual crime.

"Putting victims' rights in law sends a clear message to police, prosecutors and the courts that addressing the needs of victims is central to their work - it cannot be an optional extra.

He said it was essential all lawyers had specialist training, particularly if a case involved cross-examining a child and stressed the charity would continue working with the legal profession to secure this.

"We will continue to push for policy makers to make sure people affected by crime get the help they need and respect they deserve."

Last year, £29m from offenders in fines and confiscations was dedicated to boosting restorative justice.

The Ministry of Defence said the programme helped cut the frequency of reoffending by 14%.

But shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the government had consistently "let down" victims.

He said the government had let them down by cutting compensation for innocent victims of violent crime and leaving the position of victims commissioner vacant for almost a year and then making the role part time.

Mr Khan said Downing Street had also wanted to reduce prison sentences by half if criminals entered a guilty plea, closed down rape centres and courts, and cut resources for Victim Support.

"This announcement looks like it's been cobbled together on the back of an envelope, in the dying months of this government," he added.

(1st November 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 13th September 2014 author Josh Loeb)  [Option 1]

Crime figures are "useless" as a means of measuring police performance, the President of the Police Superintendents' Association has claimed.

To loud applause from the audience at the association's annual conference, Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis (pictured) said reitereated her stance on the use of the arbitary measures and said such data should be strictly for internal use.

She said: "We should get rid of crime figures. They are not a measure of police performance."

She said police officers "do more than just deal with crime", adding: "Purely measuring police performance in terms of recorded crime is what has led us to where we are now.

"If we get so focussed on reducing crime at all costs, that's when we start to skew activity."

Ch Supt Curtis made her remarks during a question and answer discussion at the conference in Warwickshire, where she spoke alongside fellow panellists Baroness Newlove, Shami Chakrabarti, and shadow policing minister Jack Domey.

Mr Dromey said statistics could not be used as a viable measure of crime owing to under-reporting.

"You could accommodate in a telephone box the number of people who believe the veracity of the statement that all is well and crime is falling," he added.

Post incident procedures

Other issues that were debated included post incident procedures for firearms officers. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has recently finished a consultation on the issue and are expected to reveal the results shortly.

Mr Dromey said he was "instinctively against" allowing officers to confer.

He added: "I am instinctively worried about the ability to confer because it does suggest the ability to concoct."

Ms Chakrabarti, Director of human rights campaign group Liberty, said public confidence in the investigation of fatal shootings by police was damaged by the perception that officers were being allowed to "write the script together".

She added: "It's human nature to want to have one story, but there is never just one story."

But Ch Supt Curtis said she was against proposals to split up teams of officers until initial statements about an incident had been taken from them.

"I think it's a huge risk if we go down that route," she said. "There is so much evidence out there that tells us that the best evidence comes when officers have had the opportunity to have that initial debrief."

But she added: "We need to do better at educating the public about why the follow up processes we have now are important."

Referendum concerns

The Scottish referendum was also a topic of discussion, and Ch Supt Curtis revealed: "We are not planning any contingencies for a yes vote."

Ms Chakrabarti said that if Scotland left there could be human rights implications.

"You cannot really separate policing from what it will do to the rest of the culture if the United Kingdom breaks up," she said. "I've thought about this question all my life. Multiple identity runs deep in these islands.

"People in the same families support different national football teams. You can be British and English or Scottish or Welsh.

"If England is for the English and Scotland is for the Scottish at a time when this planet is more shrinking and interconnected than ever and we need to pull together, I do have some terrible fears about how this might pan out."

Senior officers in the audience said the existence of different tax regimes could fuel smuggling and other cross-border organised crime.

Border security and people smuggling - and associated strains on Cumbria Constabulary and Northumbria Police - were also flagged up as potential consequences if Scotland votes to go it alone.

(1st November 2014)


(BBC News, dated 12th September 2014 author Joe Miller)

Full article :

Malicious software spread via chat forums on the video games streaming site Twitch can spend users' money without authorisation, it has emerged.

The Finnish security firm F-Secure said clicking on the malware links also enabled infiltrators to wipe accounts on the gaming shop, Steam.

Twitch is advising users not to use links from unknown sources.

The site, which was recently bought by Amazon for $970m (£597m) has more than 55 million unique monthly viewers.

The vulnerability originates from an automated account which, according to F-Secure, "bombards channels and invites viewers to participate in a weekly raffle for a chance to win things such as 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive' items".

If viewers take the bait, they are invited to fill in their name and email address which then allows the malicious software to gain control, allowing it to:

- Take screenshots

- Add new friends in Steam (a gaming shop and community commonly linked to Twitch accounts)

- Accept pending friend requests in Steam

- Initiate trading with new friends in Steam

- Buy items, if user has money

- Send a trade offer

- Accept pending trade transactions

A spokesman for Twitch told the BBC that the vulnerability was the "first instance" he had seen, but that the site would "remind our community about not clicking on links from unknown sources just like they wouldn't on other social media sites".

He added: "Please note that we give all broadcasters the option to disable links in their chat which can easily prevent this."

(1st November 2014)

(BBC News, dated 10th September 2014)

Full article :

Rotherham Council is to face an independent inspection following the report that revealed 1,400 children were sexually abused in the town.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the inspection would examine whether the council covered up information about the abuse.

It comes after the council's chief executive told MPs key reports relating to abuse had disappeared.

Mr Pickles said an inspection was "in the public interest".

He said the inspection would be led by Louise Casey, the head of the government's troubled families programme, and would examine the council's governance, services for children and young people, and taxi and private hire licensing.

The report into the abuse of children had highlighted the alleged involvement of some taxi firms in transporting some victims.

Mr Pickles said the inspection would examine whether the council takes steps to ensure only "fit and proper persons" are permitted to hold a taxi licence.

'Documented failures'

It will also examine whether the council "was and continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness affecting its decision-making on sensitive issues", he told MPs in a ministerial statement.

The report by Professor Alex Jay, published two weeks ago, detailed how children had been subjected to trafficking, rape and other sexual exploitation over a 16-year period and how their abuse had been ignored by a range of agencies, including police, councillors and council officials.

Mr Pickles said: "With clearly documented failures by the council on so many levels, the rare step of a statutory inspection is in the public interest.

"We cannot undo the permanent harm that these children have suffered. But we can and should take steps to ensure that this never happens again and make sure that all local authorities deliver on their essential duty to protect vulnerable children."

He said Ms Casey had been asked to report to him by November and if the inspection showed the council was failing, he had the power to intervene directly.

Cabinet dissolved

The announcement of the inspection comes after a barrage of criticism of both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police following the publication of the Jay report.

Council leader Roger Stone has already quit and the chief executive, Martin Kimber, announced he would stand down in December on Monday.

However, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who was in charge of children's services in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, has refused to resign.

The council's current head of children's services, Joyce Thacker, has also resisted calls for her to quit.

Rotherham Council's Labour cabinet has been dissolved and the Local Government Association has been asked to establish an "independently-chaired improvement board".

South Yorkshire Police has commissioned an independent investigation into its handling of the abuse scandal.

(1st November 2014)



(BBC News, dated 10th October 2014)

Full article :

There are only "around 100" cybercriminal kingpins behind global cybercrime, according to the head of Europol's Cybercrime Centre.

Speaking to the BBC's Tech Tent radio show, Troels Oerting said that law enforcers needed to target the "rather limited group of good programmers".

"We roughly know who they are. If we can take them out of the equation then the rest will fall down," he said.

Although, he added, fighting cybercrime remained an uphill battle.

"This is not a static number, it will increase unfortunately," he said.

"We can still cope but the criminals have more resources and they do not have obstacles. They are driven by greed and profit and they produce malware at a speed that we have difficulties catching up with."

The biggest issue facing cybercrime fighters at the moment was the fact that it was borderless, he told the BBC.

"Criminals no longer come to our countries, they commit their crimes from a distance and because of this I cannot use the normal tools to catch them.

"I have to work with countries I am not used to working with and that scares me a bit," he said

The majority of the cybercrime "kingpins" were located in the Russian-speaking world, he said.

Relationships with Russian law enforcers have not always been good but were "improving". He revealed that he had recently been on a trip to Moscow to discuss four big cybercrime cases and was hopeful that arrests and jail sentences would follow.

Mr Oerting described how Russian-speaking criminal gangs were creating and testing malware and then selling it as a service in online forums.

"Then it is downloaded by all kinds of criminals, from Eastern Europe, Europe, Africa and America," he said.

This commercialisation of cybercrime is making his job harder.

"It is so easy to be a cybercriminal. You don't have to be a cyber-expert because you just download the programs that you want to use."

Identity theft

On the issue of what consumers should be worried about, he said: "What I think you should be afraid of is the stealing of your private, sensitive information - your inbox credentials, your Facebook account. If they know a bit about you they can reset your Google accounts, your Apple accounts. Then they simply take over your life," he said.

He also spoke about how the job of containing the cybercrime threat was getting harder as the internet acquired more users and widened its reach. The so-called internet of things - where previously dumb objects are connected to the network - "widens the attack surface a bit", he said.

And he revealed how the Edward Snowden revelations, which exposed mass government surveillance programmes, had played a part in hampering law enforcement's efforts to contain cybercrime.

"There is confusion among the good guys on the internet between anonymity and privacy. I don't think they are the same. I think that you have right to privacy but that doesn't mean that you have the right to anonymity," he said.

The increasing trend towards greater encryption of online communications is not acceptable, he said.

"Imagine in the physical world if you were not able to open the trunk of a car if you had a suspicion that there were weapons or drugs inside... we would never accept this.

"I think that should also count for the digital world. I hate to talk about backdoors but there has to be a possibility for law enforcement, if they are authorised, to look inside at what you are hiding in your online world."

(1st November 2014) 


(London Evening Standard, dated 8th September 2014 author Martin Bentham) [Option 1]

Sexual violence against women is at its worst level for more than 30 years, one of Scotland Yard's top female officers warned today.

Commander Christine Jones spoke out as she announced new "Al Capone" tactics to target the capital's most serious domestic abusers.

She said violent pornography, the use of rape as "a weapon of choice" and a culture in which girls were pressured into posting explicit images on social media were all part of an "unacceptable" attitude towards women.

Commander Jones, who leads the Met's efforts to combat domestic abuse, said more women would suffer unless "we as a civilised society… say that this is not acceptable to us".

The Met is to target 160 of London's most prolific and dangerous domestic abusers with tactics modelled on those used to jail US gangster Al Capone in the Thirties.

Officers will examine tax records, benefit claims and other aspects of an abuser's life to find ways to prosecute those who might escape charges because their victim is too scared to testify.

The aim is to ensure that the worst offenders are jailed. Licence conditions and other powers will be used to control their behaviour after release.

The initiative follows a surge in domestic abuse in London. Attacks on women increased by nearly 2,000 over the past 12 months.

Further Information

Link :

The latest Met figures show a significant increase in domestic abuse with 20,931 recorded "intimate" offences involving a current or ex-partner in the 12 months to June this year. That is five per cent up on the 19,000 tally for the comparable period a year earlier.

Another 7,086 domestic abuse crimes - a 13.2 per cent rise - have been committed in the past year by "non-intimate" suspects, including other family members who live with the victim.

(1st November 2014)



(BBC News, dated 8th September 2014 author Mark Ward)

Full article :

Thousands of Britons could be inadvertently sharing their digital secrets with anyone who knows where to click, suggests a BBC investigation.

At risk are photographs, home videos and music collections as well as scans of documents such as passports, tax forms and other sources of personal data. In some cases, back-up files are being made available that, if downloaded and restored, could let attackers take over a victim's online life.

Security firms suggest that attackers have already found out about this easy-to-access source of saleable data and are starting to actively seek it out and share it.

Those at risk are people who use home data storage devices known as Network Attached Storage (NAS). Correctly configured, these devices act as a common data store accessible by any other device connecting to that home network.

However, many people have set them up incorrectly and have accidentally made this data accessible not just to their home network but to the internet at large. Visiting this data is as easy as visiting any other webpage.

Private files

To find out how many people are accidentally sharing their data online, the BBC turned to the Shodan search engine. While Google, Bing and others seek out data on the net, Shodan looks for devices.

In the past, security researchers have used Shodan to expose insecure and poorly protected computers controlling industrial plants, power plants, heating and ventilation systems and CCTV streams.

A search via Shodan turned up tens of thousands of NAS systems in UK homes.

Working out which ones of these are sharing personal data is difficult because British computer misuse laws do not allow the BBC to visit them to see which are happy to share data with anyone.

An idea of how many are exposed to the net can be gleaned by examining the information that Shodan collects about the NAS boxes. This gives a strong hint that many are making public huge amounts of private data.

Independent corroboration of the BBC's findings has been given by security firm Digital Shadows. Among other things, the firm helps large businesses find out how much information about them is being shared online. As part of this work, Digital Shadows carries out surveys that seek places where internal data leaks out on to the net.

Domestic NAS boxes are regular sources of these leaks, said James Chappell, chief technology officer at Digital Shadows.

"We've seen tens of thousands that are available online," said Mr Chappell. "We've also definitely seen an increase in the number of devices in the last six months.

"The most worrying part is that it's getting worse."

Mr Chappell has no doubt that a lot of the data available via these NAS boxes is deeply personal.

"For me, the most worrying part of this is that consumers are just trusting the device manufacturer to make smart choices about how they defend the security of their devices," he said. "They need to be aware that the manufacturer may not be as diligent as they hope."

Owners of NAS boxes should check to ensure that they are configured to surrender data only to devices within their home network, he said.

The default state of many of the devices is to share widely, he said, and often owners have to make a specific choice to restrict access.

There was evidence that attackers were starting to realise that home NAS boxes could be a good source of saleable data, said Mr Chappell.

The net scans that Digital Shadows carried out regularly revealed links to domestic NAS boxes on the Google index, he said.

"That means it will have to have been shared somewhere else to make it crop up on a search engine."

That "somewhere else" could well be a place where cyberthieves gathered or swapped data, he said.

Hard fix

Criminals were certainly starting to take more interest in home networking devices, said Craig Young, a researcher from Tripwire who has studied the security shortcomings of both NAS boxes and home routers.

"It does seem like large-scale attacks on these devices are coming more frequently," said Mr Young.

One such attack took place in February when Poland's Computer Emergency Response Team reported details of an attack on routers that installed snooping software on vulnerable devices. This software watched data traffic passing out of the device, grabbed any that related to online banking and passed it back to the gang behind the attack.

Unfortunately, he said, the poor security on many routers meant that success was almost guaranteed for attackers that targeted home hardware.

"Manufacturers could make them better but it would cost them development time and money," he said. "I have not seen any that do things like encrypt passwords and all are designed to use just rudimentary security controls."

Mr Young helped to organise a competition at the recent Defcon hacker conference that tried to see how well widely used home routers withstood attacks. All nine routers used in the contest were comprehensively compromised and the event found a series of hitherto unknown vulnerabilities in the software used to control them.

Similarly Jacob Holcomb from Independent Security Evaluators has found a large number of easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities in many popular NAS boxes. Many hand over data when hit by the most basic attacks, he said.

Getting known faults on routers fixed could be frustrating, said Mr Young.

"I've worked with several vendors and I'll report that there's an authentication bypass in Model X and after a bit of pushing I get that fixed on the model," he said.

"However," he added, "they then don't fix the same bug on other devices, even if the change to the firmware is the same for all of them."

Given this lackadaisical attitude, it was worth consumers taking a little time to protect themselves.

"They tend to have very common flaws that people really need to be paying more attention to," he said. "Change the IP address, change the default password, upgrade the firmware once in a while.

(1st November 2014)


(Daily Mail, dated 6th September 2014 author Jennifer Newton)

Full article :

Rapists and child abusers are escaping punishment and being allowed to walk free by police if they say sorry to their victims.

New figures show that some those accused of sexual offences are being handed community resolution orders, also known as restorative justice.

The orders are often used to punish youths so they do not get a criminal record and usually involve the offender making a verbal or written apology to their victim.

However, it is now emerged that in 2012/13, Wiltshire Police dealt with around 30 serious sexual offences, which included rape and sexual activity with a child, by handing out a community resolution order.

In a return check last year, it found 58 people accused of sexual offence allegations, including five of rape, were handed the orders.

Crime statistics for the Wiltshire force area show that between May 2013 and July 2014, there were 142 violent and sexual crimes.

Now victims' groups have spoken out and criticised the procedure saying it does not send a tough message to offenders that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Details of the practice at Wiltshire Police were revealed in a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabularies, which branded their use of community resolution orders for sexual offences as 'unacceptable'.

The report states: 'An internal report in 2012/13 concludes that "Wiltshire Police has intentionally or inadvertently, manipulated the recording of sexual offences and thereby improved the perception of performance".

'The report estimates the number of rapes not recorded at around 50, and that around 30 serious sexual offences were dealt with by way of community resolutions including rape and sexual activity with a child.

'The latest force checks have identified some 58 such outcomes, of which, in the previous year, five were for rape crimes.'

Jon Brown from the NSPCC told the Daily Express: 'The justice system needs to be more victim focused, and not a reflection on whether the perpetrator deserved prison or not.

'A custodial sentence for serious sexual offences is the only way to send a clear message that society will not accept their behaviour.'

However the report added that the force, headed by new chief constable Patrick Geenty, had made considerable investment into changing the culture, in making sure all offences are recorded.

It comes after Mailonline revealed last month through figures obtained through Freedom of Information laws, that people arrested on suspicion of rape, child rape, creating child porn, child abduction and sexually abusing a mental patient escaped prosecution by apologising.

The shocking figures from 38 of England and Wales' police forces show resolution orders were used in 30 rape cases, including 21 involving children.

One of the orders was given to a care worker in the West Midlands who caused a mental patient to engage in a penetrative sex act.

Five other orders involved kidnap or abduction, 75 were for sexually assaulting young children, and 284 sexual assaults were passed off with an apology.

Conservative MP Nick de Bois, who sits on the Commons justice committee, said he would be calling on the Government to review the orders.

He said: 'It's shocking that offenders who admit to serious criminal offences are being offered the chance to say sorry and walk away from answering in a court of law for their crimes.'

The data also showed that overall restorative justice had allowed 256,816 crimes to pass without offenders going to court in the last three-and-a-half years.

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 5th September 2014 author Martin Bentham)

The Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf was today named as the new head of the independent inquiry into child sex abuse set up by the Government in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Home Secretary Theresa May told the Commons in a written statement that Ms Woolf, a qualified solicitor with wide-ranging business experience, will head the inquiry once it begins looking at the way public bodies dealt with child sex abuse over previous decades.

Mrs May also announced that Ben Emmerson QC, a leading human rights lawyer who has specialised in international war crimes cases, will act as legal counsel to the inquiry.

The decision to appoint Ms Woolf follows the resignation of the previous inquiry head, the former judge Lady Butler-Sloss, in July because of allegations by critics that she was too much of an establishment figure.

The post has remained vacant ever since, prompting criticism from Ed Miliband this week about the resulting delay to the start of the inquiry.

Announcing Ms Woolf's appointment today, the Home Secretary said the Government was determined to expose why public bodies had failed to tackle child sex abuse adequately.

"I am pleased to announce today that Fiona Woolf has been appointed to lead this inquiry," she said.

"In recent years, we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse which have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.

"These failings have sent shockwaves through the country and shaken public confidence in the pillars of society in which we should have total trust.

"That is why the Government has announced that an independent panel of experts will consider whether such organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse."

Two members of the panel which will help Ms Woolf conduct the inquiry were also announced today. They are Graham Wilmer, the founder of the Lantern Project charity for survivors of sexual abuse, and Barbara Hearn, a former deputy chief executive at the National Children's Bureau.

No date has yet been set for the inquiry to begin.

(1st November 2014)


(Dated 4th September 2014)

Full article :

The largest-ever compilation of data on violence against children shows the staggering extent of physical, sexual and emotional abuse -- and reveals the attitudes that perpetuate and justify violence, keeping it 'hidden in plain sight' in every country and community in the world.

"These are uncomfortable facts - no government or parent will want to see them," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "But unless we confront the reality each infuriating statistic represents - the life of a child whose right to a safe, protected childhood has been violated - we will never change the mind-set that violence against children is normal and permissible. It is neither. "

The UNICEF report Hidden in Plain Sight draws on data from 190 countries, documenting violence in places where children should be safe: their communities, schools and homes. It details the lasting, often inter-generational effects of violence, finding that exposed children are more likely to become unemployed, live in poverty and be violent towards others. The authors note that the data is derived only from individuals who were able and willing to respond, and therefore represent minimum estimates.

Major findings include:

• Sexual violence: Around 120 million girls under the age of 20 worldwide (about 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts, and one in 3 ever-married adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (84 million) have been victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands or partners. The prevalence of partner violence is 70 per cent or higher in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea, and approaches or exceeds 50 per cent in Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In Switzerland, a 2009 national survey of girls and boys aged 15 to 17 found that 22 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, had experienced at least one incident of sexual violence involving physical contact. The most common form of sexual violence for both sexes was cyber-victimization.

• Homicide: One fifth of homicide victims globally are children and adolescents under the age of 20, resulting in about 95,000 deaths in 2012. Homicide is the leading cause of death among males between 10 and 19 years old in Panama, Venezuela, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia. Nigeria has the highest number of child homicides - 13,000. Among countries in Western Europe and North America, the United States has the highest homicide rate.

• Bullying: Slightly more than 1 in 3 students between the ages of 13 and 15 worldwide are regularly bullied in school; in Samoa, the proportion is almost 3 in 4. Almost a third of students 11 to 15 years old in Europe and North America report bullying others - in Latvia and Romania, nearly 6 in 10 admit to bullying others.

• Violent discipline: About 17 per cent of children in 58 countries are subject to severe forms of physical punishment (hitting on the head, ears or face or hitting hard and repeatedly). Over 40 per cent of children 2 to 14 years old experience severe physical punishment in Chad, Egypt and Yemen. Globally, three in 10 adults believe physical punishment is needed to raise children well. In Swaziland, 82 per cent say physical punishment is necessary.

• Attitudes towards violence: Close to half of all adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 (around 126 million) believe a husband is justified in hitting his wife under certain circumstances. The proportion rises to 80 per cent or more in Afghanistan, Guinea, Jordan, Mali and Timor-Leste. In 28 of 60 countries with data on both sexes, a larger proportion of girls than boys believe that wife-beating is sometimes justified. In Cambodia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Rwanda and Senegal, girls are around twice as likely as boys to think a husband is sometimes justified in hitting his wife. Data from 30 countries suggest that about seven in 10 girls 15-19 years old who had been victims of physical and/or sexual abuse had never sought help: many said they did not think it was abuse or did not see it as a problem.

UNICEF points to six strategies to enable society as a whole, from families to governments, to prevent and reduce violence against children. They include supporting parents and equipping children with life skills; changing attitudes; strengthening judicial, criminal and social systems and services; and generating evidence and awareness about violence and its human and socio-economic costs, in order to change attitudes and norms.

"Violence against children occurs every day, everywhere. And while it harms individual children the most, it also tears at the fabric of society - undermining stability and progress. But violence against children is not inevitable. It is preventable - if we refuse to let violence remain in the shadows," Lake said. "The evidence in this report compels us to act - for the sake of those individual children and the future strength of societies around the world."

(1st November 2014)


(BBC News, dated 4th September 2014 author Claire Marshall)

Full article :

Britain is to get a Food Crime Unit to fight the trade in fraudulent foods.

The special force is a response to last year's horsemeat scandal, which saw contaminated beef products reaching supermarket shelves across Europe.

The FCU is the major recommendation in a report commissioned from food security expert Chris Elliott.

The Queen's University Belfast professor has made a number of suggestions to ensure consumers have absolute confidence when buying food.

These include:

- better intelligence gathering and sharing of information to make it difficult for criminals to operate;

- new, unannounced audit checks by the food industry to protect businesses and their customers;

- the development of a whistleblowing system that would better facilitate the reporting of food crime;

- improved laboratory testing capacity, with a standardised approach for the testing of a food's authenticity; and

- the encouragement of a culture within the food industry that questions the source of its supply chain.

Prof Elliott said British consumers had one of the safest food systems in the world, but he believed his suggestions would take the situation to a new level.

"I believe the creation of the national food crime prevention framework will ensure measures are put in place to further help protect consumers from any food fraud incidents in the future," he added.

Government minsters said all his ideas would be accepted.

Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, told BBC News: "We have started implementing some of the recommendations of his report, in terms of information sharing, food companies being more transparent with each other, and consumers looking for shorter supply chains. For example, there has been a 10% rise in the sale of British Beef in supermarkets."

Law enforcement agencies believe food crime is becoming a major problem.

International gangs are said to be diversifying elements of their operations from drug trafficking and armed robbery into fraudulent foods.

Michael Ellis, assistant director of Interpol, told BBC News: "This has changed the scope of investigations. Criminals have realised that they can make the same amount of money by dealing with counterfeit food. Invariably the sentences are much lighter.

"In my experience, the patterns used by criminals involved in counterfeiting are very similar to those used in the dealing of drugs. They operate front companies, they employ front bank accounts, they will have false declarations for the movement of their goods, they will mis-declare their shipments."

Operation Opson III in December 2013 and January 2014 involved coordinated raids across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

More than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar, 20 tonnes of spices and condiments, nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drink and 45 tonnes of dairy products were seized. In addition, 96 people were arrested.

Food crime can have fatal consequences. In China in 2008, an industrial chemical, melamine, was added to increase the protein content of baby milk. Six babies died of severe kidney damage as a result.

In the Czech Republic in 2012, more than 40 people were killed by vodka and rum that had been laced with methanol.

Mr Ellis said: "Counterfeiting impacts on everyone. The criminals have no care at all for the hygiene or bacterial content in the end product. They just want the brand name in order to get their money."

In the UK, the system to ensure the safety of the food chain is complicated. Different elements are dealt with by different departments.

For example, food labelling is dealt with by the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, Defra, and also Trading Standards officers who are employed by local authorities. There are also Environmental Health Officers who deal with complaints about food quality, hygiene and safety issues.

Testing labs

Novel technology created in a laboratory could help in the fight against the food fraudsters.

Pulsar, developed by Oxford Instruments in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, can identify meat in a matter of seconds rather than days.

Rather than isolating DNA, it looks at the so-called "fat fingerprint": each animal has a different amount of fat in its meat. However, the machine cannot yet identify the different meats in processed foods, so could only be used to screen meat before it gets into the factory.

Responsibility for checking food sellers, restaurants or processing plants, is principally down to Trading Standards officers. However, according to the Trading Standards Institute, by 2016 most of the front-line food inspection teams will have been cut by 40%.

In Worcestershire, for example, reports suggest there may just be six Trading Standards officers for the whole of the county next year as opposed to 25 in 2013/14. There has also been a cut in the number of public analyst laboratories, which is where food samples are sent to be tested.

Data on the number of official food samples taken shows that for the year 2012-2013, dozens of district councils including Swindon, Brent and Cheltenham carried out zero or minimal tests for food contamination and composition.

Rebecca Kaya, from Buckinghamshire Trading Standards, explained: "We have about 20 officers left in Buckinghamshire and we have got to cover the entire county so that's actually quite a long distance. It's a lot of area to cover, a lot of businesses, we've got in Bucks around 2,500 farms, and all the businesses associated with selling food and retailing meat."

They are no longer able to routinely visit premises. "We are somewhat diminished, but what we are finding is new ways of working, much more intelligence led ways of working, using the slightly more limited resources that we have got now," she added.

The consumer organisation Which? recently tested 60 lamb takeaways and found that 24 of them contained other meats such as beef or chicken. The meat in five samples couldn't be identified at all.

The Food Standards Agency response has been to order 300 samples to be taken from restaurants across the country.

"The Food Standards Agency has been given an additional 2 million pounds for sample testing. Since the horsemeat issue we have seen 55 thousand tests being carried out on horsemeat products, and no horsemeat has been found in those. But we can't be complacent, and that's why we are setting up the Food Crime Unit," Elizabeth Truss said.

(1st November 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th September 2014 author Jochan Embley) [Option 1]

Victims of some of the most common criminal offences are expected to become "DIY detectives" and probe the crime themselves, a report into policing in England and Wales has found.

Victims of some high-volume offences are being asked by police to become "DIY detectives' and investigate the crime themselves, a new report has found.

Some police forces in England and Wales have 'almost given up' sending officers to the scene of low-level crimes, and were instead using call-handlers to deal with the incidents.

The report, by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, claimed that call-handlers have been asking victims to carry out some investigations themselves in order to determine the likelihood of the crime being solved.

These "DIY investigations" are said to have included victims being asked to interview neighbours, gather fingerprints, look for CCTV footage and even check online marketplaces such as eBay to check if their property was being sold.

Inspector of Constabulary Roger Baker, who led the inspection, said: "HMIC finds this expectation that the victim should investigate his own crime both surprising and a matter of material concern.

"The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable."

Mr Baker added: "They're the cops and we expect the cops to catch people and my proposition to you is unless you've got the powers of Mystic Meg or something like that, [without you] turning up and using your skills, it's going to be mightily difficult to bring people to justice."

The report found that 37 out of 43 forces in England and Wales were using call-handlers to assess whether an officer should be sent to a crime scene - but warned that in some instances they were unable to properly determine the seriousness of the situation.

Mr Baker said: "It's more a mindset, that we no longer deal with these things.

"And effectively what's happened is a number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.

"So it's not the fault of the individual staff, it's a mindset thing that's crept in to policing to say 'we've almost given up'."

(1st November 2014) 

(BT News, dated 3rd September 2014)

Article :

More than one in three vehicles stolen in London are taken by hackers who do not have the owner's keys, the Home Secretary has revealed.

Sophisticated car thieves are breaking into cars and programming new electronic keys instead, Theresa May said in a speech in Westminister.

The hi-tech theft was given as an example of changing threats faced by police in modern Britain.

Mrs May also told the Reform think-tank that further spending cuts are inevitable and integration of the three emergency services will be required.

Working with the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office has discovered car thieves are also using sophisticated devices to "grab" the security coding when the owner uses their key so they can use it themselves.

And there have been reports that they could even use "malware" to commandeer vehicle systems via satellites and issue remote demands to unlock doors, disable alarms and start car engines.

She said: "Because we have this understanding, we can now work with industry to improve electronic resilience, include this kind of resilience in the vehicle's overall security ratings, and work out the extent to which the same threat applies to other physical assets such as building security systems."

In addition, the department has learned organised criminal gangs are targeting specific venues like concerts and festivals to steal smartphones on a "massive scale" to sell them overseas.

The Home Secretary said her department has been working with industry to find new ways to stop reactivation of phones overseas to kill off the criminals' export market.

The work falls under a new initiative taken by the Government department to tackle the most common drivers of crime.

A Crime and Policing Knowledge Hub has been set up within the Home Office to deal with the impact alcohol, drugs, opportunity, the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, character and profit have on crime levels.

Mrs May said: "If we can understand each of these drivers better, if we can understand how they relate to one another, we should be able to devise better policy to prevent crime occurring in the first place."

Mrs May also said the Home Office is working on the publication of a new Mobile Phone Theft Ratio to inform the public about handsets which have been most at risk of being targeted by thieves.

She said: "I want to emphasise again that the role of the Home Office in fighting cyber crime is not to cut across what law enforcement does, or try to do the job of the College (of Policing) by setting standards or targets.

"The Home Office must develop an understanding of cyber crime in its entirety and develop a policy response."

She added: "With a still-large deficit and a record stock of debt, there will need to be further spending cuts, as even Labour acknowledge. So in policing in the future, I believe we will need to work towards the integration of the three emergency services."

(1st November 2014)

(BT News, dated 1st September 2014 author Matt Joy)

Full article :

Sadly it's not the end of Vehicle Excise Duty altogether, but the long-serving tax disc will shortly be phased out. Here's what you need to know to make sure you stay legal and avoid a hefty fine.

What's happening?

From October 1st this year all vehicles will no longer receive a paper tax disc to indicate that Vehicle Excise Duty has been paid. That means cars, motorbikes and scooters, vans, buses and lorries.

How will the police know I have tax?

Rather than relying on the presence of a disc the police will use ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras to check the DVLA's database that your vehicle is taxed. These have already been in use for several years and can check the presence of VED much more quickly.

How do I get my road tax?

You can apply to renew your VED online or at the Post Office as before, but you won't come away with a tax disc. The VED database will be updated so you know you'll be legal. In addition from November 1st it will be possible to pay for one year's VED by monthly direct debit, helping to spread the cost.

What happens when I sell my car?

Any outstanding tax left on your car when it is sold is no longer valid, so it is imperative you notify the DVLA as soon as possible so that you are no longer responsible for the tax status of the vehicle. Any outstanding months remaining will be refunded, but only whole months will be paid so it makes sense to do this towards the end of the month.

What happens when I buy a car?

If you buy a used car it cannot be sold with tax on it, so you must tax it before using it. This can be done online, by using the 24-hour automated telephone service or at the Post Office using the New Keeper Supplement of the vehicle registration certificate (V5).

What should I do on October 1st?

If you car is taxed until November 2014 and beyond then from October 1st this year the tax disc can be removed from the vehicle and destroyed. Anyone with a Northern Ireland address must continue to display their tax disc, however.

(1st September 2014)




(Computer World, dated 25th August 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Cybercriminals are using a new information-stealing malware program to target companies from the automobile industry in Europe, security researchers warned.

The attack campaign started in early August and primarily targeted rental, insurance, transport and secondary market businesses for commercial and agricultural vehicles, according to a new report by researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec.

The attackers distributed their malware program through spear-phishing emails claiming to originate from a company called Technik Automobile that was seeking to acquire used and pre-owned vehicles. The emails contained an attachment called that was supposedly a list of vehicles, but in fact contained an installer for a Trojan program called Carbon Grabber.

"The malicious file will decrypt another executable from its body and inject code into Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox processes on the compromised computer,"

(Computer World, dated 22nd August 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

More than 1,000 major enterprise networks and small and medium businesses in the U.S. have been compromised by a recently discovered malware package called "Backoff" and are probably unaware of it, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a cybersecurity alert on Friday.

Backoff first appeared in October 2013 and is capable of scraping the memory contents of point of sales systems -- industry speak for cash registers and other terminals used at store checkouts -- for data swiped from credit cards, from monitoring the keyboard and logging keystrokes, from communicating with a remote server.


(The Register, dated 15th August 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article :

Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units.

The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks.

The firm's threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within "the first few minutes".

"We eventually cracked 576,533 or almost 92 percent of the sample within a period of 31 days," Sigler said.


(The Register, dated 15th August 2014 author Simon Rockman)

Full article :

UK supermarket Tesco's Hudl tablet will offer up data from past users - even if it's been factory reset.

The Register spoke to Ken Munro from security firm Pen Test Partners, who said he'd bought 17 Hudls and AllWinner tablets from eBay and found that not only does the reset process not wipe all the data, it's possible to retrieve account details and login information.

Monro told El Reg: "The factory data reset doesn't appear to zero all sectors on the disc; it's simply too quick a reset process to do so."


(Computer World, dated 13th August 2014 author Grant Gross)

Full article :

The U.S. National Security Agency has a cyberwarfare program that hunts for foreign cyberattacks and is able to strike back without human intervention, according to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The NSA cyberwarfare program, called MonsterMind, uses software to look for traffic patterns indicating possible foreign cyberattacks, according to Snowden, quoted in a lengthy profile in Wired.

MonsterMind could automatically block a cyberattack from entering the U.S., then retaliate against the attackers, according to the Wired story.

Snowden, when he was working as an NSA contractor, was concerned that MonsterMind could lead to misdirected counterattacks. "These attacks can be spoofed," he told Wired. "You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?"


(Computer World, dated 14th August 2014 author Grant Gross)

Full article :

Thirty U.S. data brokers and data management firms, including Adobe Systems, AOL and, are violating privacy promises they've made regarding their handling of the personal information of EU residents, a privacy group said in a complaint to be filed Thursday.

The 30 companies have all voluntarily committed to supporting the EU Safe Harbor framework, a set of standards for protecting the privacy of EU residents, but have failed to live up to those promises, the Center for Digital Democracy said in the complaint.

The failure to honor EU Safe Harbor commitments constitutes a deceptive business practice, the CDD said in its complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "The commercial surveillance of EU consumers by U.S. companies, without consumer awareness or meaningful consent, contradicts the fundamental rights of EU citizens and European data protection law," the complaint said.


(Computer World, dated 11th August 2014 author Gregg Keizer)

Full article :

Not every Windows tech support scam starts in India, not every scammer speaks in heavily-accented English, a security company said today.

In a new trend, scams have gone home-grown, said Malwarebytes on Monday, with twists that include bogus warnings driven by malicious websites that urge users to call a toll-free number.

"This is the first instance [of a Windows support scam in the U.S.] on this scale that I've found," said Jerome Segura, a senior security researcher with San Jose, Calif.-based Malwarebytes. "Most scammers are in India, but we wanted to expose this because they're harming U.S. customers, who will feel more comfortable with a [native] English speaker."


(Computer World, dated 7th August 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Two U.S. federal agencies have halted background checks with a contractor that said Wednesday its networks had been breached in a cyberattack suspected to have been coordinated by an unnamed country.

US Investigations Services (USIS), based in Falls Church, Virginia, said federal law enforcement is investigating the incident, which it claimed "has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack," according to a statement. It has hired a computer forensics firm to "determine the precise nature and extent of any unlawful entry into our network."


(Computer World, dated 7th August 2014 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article :

News that Russian hackers amassed login credentials belonging to more than 1.2 billion Internet users hammers home why companies that have not implemented strong authentication measures really need to get moving on it.

Passwords have been dead for years. Security experts have been advocating the need for companies to raise the bar on user authentication for a long time.

Bill Gates, in fact, famously predicted the death of the password 10 years ago during a speech at the RSA Security Conference, and organizations like the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council ( FFIEC) have required banks to implement strong authentication measures since at least 2005.


(Computer World, dated 6th August 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

There's still much that's unclear about Tuesday's revelation that a small group of hackers in Russia have amassed a database of 1.2 billion stolen user IDs and passwords. The company that disclosed the incident, Hold Security, didn't offer any fresh information Wednesday, but here are five questions we'd like to see answered (and a bonus one that we already know the answer to).


(The Register, dated 6th August 2014 author Darren Pauli)

Full article :

One in every 2900 phone calls to contact centres was made by fraudsters attempting to gain customer account details to steal funds or buy merchandise, according to Pindrop Security's Vijay Balasubramaniyan.

Researchers canvassed 105 million phone calls and studied the way fraudsters pulled off identity theft by conning phone operators to change personal details in ways that compromise accounts.

The attackers not only gained access to personal information but also changed customer account contact details to prevent victims from receiving alerts.

Fraudsters hid by spoofing the phone numbers they used to call contact centres and by using software to distort their voices, including their gender.


(Computer World, dated 5th August 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

A security feature offered by PayPal to help prevent accounts from being taken over by hackers can be easily circumvented, an Australian security researcher has found.

PayPal users can elect to receive a six-digit passcode via text message in order to access their accounts. The number is entered after a username and password is submitted.

The security feature, known as two-factor authentication, is an option on many online services such as Google and mandatory on many financial services websites for certain kinds of high-risk transactions. Since the code is sent offline or generated by a mobile application, it is much more difficult for hackers to intercept although by no means impossible.


(Computer World, dated 4th August 2014 author Lucas Mearian)

Full article :

A report to be presented this week at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas will detail which vehicles are most vulnerable to hacker attacks via a car's Bluetooth, telematics or on-board phone applications.

Researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who in the past have issued reports on the most vulnerable vehicles, intend to release an update showing the most and least hackable cars.

"A malicious attacker leveraging a remote vulnerability could do anything from enabling a microphone for eavesdropping to turning the steering wheel to disabling the brakes," the researchers said in a brief outlining their upcoming report. "Unfortunately, research has only been presented on three or four particular vehicles. Each manufacturer designs their fleets differently; therefore analysis of remote threats must avoid generalities."


(Computer World, dated 1st August 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Security researchers have recently found a vulnerability that could be used to hijack Android apps and devices, but an older issue that can have the same effect remains a significant threat nearly two years after its discovery, according to security firm Bromium.

The issue was reported in December 2012 and concerns an Android API (application programming interface) called addJavascriptInterface that allows applications to expose their native code to Web code running inside a WebView, an instance of Android's Web browser engine.

(1st September 2014)

(Metropolitan Police leaflet)

Most vehicle crime is preventable and by taking a few simple measures, you can help prevent your property being stolen.

- Always lock the doors and activate any security devices when leaving your car unattended, even for only a few minutes.

- At home, keep your car keys safe and don't leave them in an obvious place.

- Park with care. Try to park in a busy, well-lit area, close to CCTV cameras, particularly at night or if you are leaving the vehicle for a long time.

- Ensure your garage is as secure as possible.

- Never leave your keys in the car, even for a second.

- Never leave your belongings where they can be seen.

- Consider installing security devices such as immobilisers, alarms or steering locks and property mark your equipment.

If you have any information on any crime, and you would prefer not to speak to police you can call Crimestoppers anonymously 0n 0800 555111 or visit :

Useful links

(1st September 2014)

(Advice pamphlet issued by Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police)

Don't give thieves an eassy opportunity : think before you use your phone in public.

- Be aware of what's happening around you, especially in tube / stations and crowded places.

- Don't leave your phone on tables in pubs and restaurants.

- Whenyou leave a train or tube station don't use your phone immediately, leave it a while.

- Don't walk and text at the same time, you will be less aware of what is happening around you.

- Keep calls in public as brief as possible; the longer you talk, the more likely you will be targeted by potential thieves.

If your phone is stolen

- Report it to your service provider immediately so they can prevent anyone else using it.

- Report the theft to the police and your insurance provider, if you have one.

Give yourself the best chance of recovring your phone if it is stolen

Mark the phone with your post code and house number. You can use a UV pen for this.


Your phone has a unique 15 digit IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. Type *#06# on your keypad to access this number. Register the number with Immobilise. Also register this number with your service provider and if your phone is stolen, they will be able to bar its use across every network.

If you have information about any crime and would prefer not to speak to the police, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 , or visit :

Crimestoppers is and independent charity.

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News)

Map webpage :

Britain has one of the best records in the world for road casualties. However, hundreds still die on the roads every year. In 2010, the police recorded 1,850 deaths, 22,660 people seriously injured and 184,138 who received light injuries.

About the map: Using official data recorded by police in Great Britain between 1999 and 2010, we have plotted every road collision in which someone died. In all, 36,371 fatalities are marked on this interactive map. You will also find partial data for Northern Ireland, for 2004-2009.

How the data is gathered: Detailed information about each crash is recorded by the police at the scene. It is subsequently transferred onto a computer database. This is available to researchers from the Economic and Social Data Service.

Missing data: As with any large collection of data, there will be errors and omissions. The BBC apologises for any distress or offence that may be caused by the inclusion of these errors. If you find any errors, please use the feedback form and let us know. We will endeavour to correct them where possible.

(1st September 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th August 2014 author James Moore)     [Option 1]

The FBI is investigating a suspected Russian cyber attack on American banks, it emerged today.
Hackers are believed to have targeted JP Morgan and at least four other banks in the US, amid increasing concern over cyber security  from watchdogs on both sides of the Atlantic.

The attack on JP Morgan reportedly resulted in the loss of "gigabytes of sensitive data" that could have involved customer and employee information.

It is said to have been of a level of sophistication beyond ordinary criminals, leading to speculation of a state link.

The FBI is thought to be investigating whether there is a connection to Russia. American-Russian relations continue to be fraught amid the crisis in Ukraine, with sanctions ramped up.

The bank is understood to have been in touch with executives in London to see if there is any link to its UK operations, but so far the attack, which happened earlier this month, is thought to have affected only the US.

But watchdogs are increasingly worried about the City's potential vulnerability to an aggressive state-backed hack.

A spokesman for JP Morgan would not comment directly on the incident but said: "Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day.

"We have multiple layers of defence to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels."

JP faced criticism in April when  it blocked a payment from a  Russian embassy to the affiliate of  an American-sanctioned bank.  Russia's foreign ministry described the move as "absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd".

That led to speculation that the bank would face some form of retaliatory action.

However, China has also been implicated in such data-fishing expeditions against Western businesses.

UK watchdogs say sophisticated hackers have changed tack recently, using publicly available information and a more pinpoint approach to find a way through or around banks' security walls. The tactic has also affected European banks.

This year the Bank of England finished its second City-wide "Waking Shark" simulation, designed to test the ability of banks to cope with a cyber assault.

From that it developed what is known as the CBEST framework,  which tries to mimic the effects of  more sophisticated hacking. It uses intelligence in the market to get inside defences.

As part of CBEST, the Bank has used so-called ethical hackers to test the City's defences.

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 26th August 2014)

Full article :

At least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, a report has found. Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated, it said.

The report, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council, revealed there had been three previous inquiries. Council leader Roger Stone said he would step down with immediate effect.

Mr Stone, who has been the leader since 2003, said: "I believe it is only right that as leader I take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly."

The inquiry team noted fears among council staff of being labelled "racist" if they focused on victims' descriptions of the majority of abusers as "Asian" men.

'Doused in petrol'

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the latest report, said there had been "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership, senior managers had "underplayed" the scale of the problem and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

Prof Jay said: "No-one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013."

Revealing details of the inquiry's findings, Prof Jay said: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered."

The inquiry team found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone".

Five men from the town were jailed for sexual offences against girls in 2010, but the report said police "regarded many child victims with contempt".

District Commander for Rotherham, Ch Supt Jason Harwin said: "Firstly I'd like to start by offering an unreserved apology to the victims of child sexual exploitation who did not receive the level of service they should be able to expect from their local police force. "We fully acknowledge our previous failings."

Ch Supt Harwin said the force had "overhauled" the way it dealt with such cases and had successfully prosecuted a number of abusers.

But he admitted: "I accept that our recent successes... will not heal the pain of those victims who have been let down."

'Racism' fear
The report found: "Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so."

Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 which both the council and police were aware of, and "which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham".

Prof Jay said the first of these reports was "effectively suppressed" because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored, she said.

The inquiry team found that in the early-2000s when a group of professionals attempted to monitor a number of children believed to be at risk, "managers gave little help or support to their efforts".

The report revealed some people at a senior level in the police and children's social care thought the extent of the problem was being "exaggerated".

Prof Jay said: "The authorities involved have a great deal to answer for."

A victim of abuse in Rotherham, who has been called "Isabel" to protect her identity, told BBC Panorama: "I was a child and they should have stepped in.

"No matter what's done now... it's not going to change that it was too late, it should have been stopped and prevented."

Speaking about her abuser, Isabel said: "I think because the police were aware and social services were aware and he knew that and they still didn't stop him it I think it encouraged him.

"It almost became like a game to him. He was untouchable."

Speaking after the publication of the report, Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: "I'm appalled by the extent of the horrific abuse endured by these vulnerable victims.

"It's deeply distressing how the authorities failed to protect these young people and their voices were not heard.

"Everyone involved needs to take responsibility for the shocking failings that this report has exposed. This must not happen again.

"I want to see every one of these victims getting the right support now and for as long as it takes them to help them on the path to recovery."

Maggie Atkinson, children's commissioner for England, said the number of identified child victims was "largely consistent" with the findings of their own national inquiry into "child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups

'Horrific experiences'
Rotherham council's chief executive, Martin Kimber, said he accepted the report and the recommendations made and apologised to the victims of abuse.

He said: "The report does not make comfortable reading in its account of the horrific experiences of some young people in the past, and I would like to reiterate our sincere apology to those who were let down when they needed help.

"I commissioned this independent review to understand fully what went wrong, why it went wrong and to ensure that the lessons learned in Rotherham mean these mistakes can never happen again.

"The report confirms that our services have improved significantly over the last five years and are stronger today than ever before.

"This is important because it allows me to reassure young people and families that should anyone raise concerns we will take them seriously and provide them with the support they need.

"However, that must not overshadow - and certainly does not excuse - the finding that for a significant amount of time the council and its partners could and should have done more to protect young people from what must be one of the most horrific forms of abuse imaginable."

(1st September 2014)

(The Guardian, dated 23rd August 2014 author Abby Young-Powell)

Full article :

With no official statistics and a culture that makes victims feel there's no point in telling anyone, drink spiking is going largely unchecked

"The only thing I remember when I got to the party is finishing my drink," says a former student of Nottingham University who had her drink spiked when she was 17.

"I woke up in a strange bed with a man having sex with me. I knew there was nothing to be gained from reporting it because no-one would believe it wasn't my fault. I wouldn't be taken seriously and I'd be thought of as someone who got drunk and did something stupid."

A crime survey by ITV, released earlier this year, found that one in ten people have had their drink spiked, though not all cases had led to sexual assault. On top of this, a survey at Swansea University found that it had happened to one in three students there.

When a student victim of drink spiking shared her story, published by the Guardian this week, it received an unprecedented reaction from other students wishing to share similar experiences.

So how widespread is the problem and what is being done about it?

The NHS says  people of both genders have their drinks spiked for a variety of reasons, including for theft, sexual assault and as a misguided prank.

However the extent of the crime remains hidden, as there are no national statistics recorded by either the health or crime authorities.

Most victims say they don't report it, either because they're embarrassed or ashamed, or because they don't remember what happened and don't believe anything will be done.

A third-year student from Lancaster University who had her drink spiked when she was in her first year says she didn't report it because she believed people would blame her.

"I went to the bathroom alone and after half an hour my friend found me collapsed face-down in a cubicle, with the door locked and my feet sticking out from underneath it," she says. "The next day I didn't report it because I thought people wouldn't believe me."

With little public information about the crime, misconceptions are common, says Rachel Griffin, director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

"That, coupled with victims believing they'll be blamed, means far too many people are being left vulnerable and unsupported."

Misconceptions include the belief that most drinks are spiked with illegal drugs. In fact the vast majority are thought to be spiked with alcohol. Another myth is that spiking is only a crime if coupled with assault: drink-spiking carries a maximum 10-year sentence even if no added sexual assault or theft takes place.

Ex-bar worker Blythe Jopling says she regularly looked after people whose drinks were spiked - she also says it happened to her. Jopling, now an environment consultant, believes more needs to be done to raise awareness.

"It's definitely something that needs talking about," she says. "When I worked in a bar there was no formal procedure and it was never mentioned by managers. There's still an attitude that 'if someone's got themselves in a mess they only have themselves to blame'."

Jopling says bars and clubs need to do more to train staff to spot and look after people who are unable to take care of themselves.

Griffin agrees that venues need to do more to create a safe environment. She says drink spiking doesn't happen in a vacuum, but is part of a wider drinking culture in which people are left vulnerable.

"Bars and clubs can take practical steps to create a safe environment," she says. "Publicly stating that they have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, and training staff on how to tackle it, can help challenge the culture that leads to these crimes."

PhD student Steph Ratcliffe, who has campaigned with Good Night Out to end sexual harassment in venues in Sheffield, believes that if clubs pledge to take safety more seriously, fewer incidents of drink spiking and harassment will take place. "It's good to have consistency in how these crimes are dealt with across cities," she says.

Journalist Imogen Calderwood is running a campaign with Spanish paper the Olive Press to draw attention to drink spiking in British tourist destinations in Spain. "Women and men are not safe on nights out," she says.

"I don't think it's taken seriously enough by any authority, let alone by many bar owners, who understandably see claims of spiked drinks as a danger to business, and so play them down."

However Calderwood says there are things that can be done to protect people. "Statistics are needed to bring the problem into the public eye, policing is needed to tackle it, and advice is needed to prevent it from happening in the first place.

"But before any of this can be done, people and authorities need to admit that it's happening, and not automatically accuse victims of having drunk too much and lost control."

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd August 2014 author Mark Blunden)

Full article :

Unwitting Londoners are breaking the law by buying or taking in banned dog breeds, police warned today.
Officers said the trend for tougher-looking "status" pets has stretched to more affluent areas, with teachers and magistrates taking them on.

The Status Dog Unit enforces the Dangerous Dogs Act, policing banned breeds and those "dangerously out of control". Sergeant Peter Madden, one of the Met's most experienced dog handlers, said many seizures followed cute pets transforming into "more dog than they can handle".

The UK's banned breeds are the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Braziliero. Staffordshire Bull Terriers and other bull breeds are completely legal but can be muddled with banned varieties, police said.

The Met seized more than 750 dogs last year and many were neglected by their owners, police said. Speaking to the Standard, Chief Inspector Nigel Crane said: "Many of (the owners) are either unwitting in their knowledge of the law or the breed of the dog they may have taken on as a rescue dog.

"Most of the high profile or significant dog attacks in recent years, there have been welfare issue around as well.

"Poor ownership will always influence a dog's behaviour."

Recent seizures included nearly 40 dogs, several of which were pit bulls, being kept in "appalling conditions" in a £4 million Kensington and Chelsea house. The owner was arrested and is on police bail.

Seized animals are held at "confidential" kennels around London. Banned dogs seized by police can be handed back to their owner and a destruction order avoided. But they must be registered, insured, tattooed, neutered, microchipped and judged by authorities not to pose a danger to the public. They must also be muzzled and on a lead in public. Sergeant Madden said that despite this opportunity for a reprieve, "a significant number of people just don't bother".

(1st September 2014)

(Daily Mail, dated 21st August 2014 author Leon Watson)

Full article :

The United Arab Emirates has advised its citizens to stay away from several shopping and nightlife districts in central London because of the danger of crime.

London is one of the most popular destinations for Gulf Arab tourists looking to escape brutal summer heat. Many flock to the capital's most expensive areas such as Mayfair and Knightsbridge.

However, reports of an attack on three Emirati women and their children at a London hotel in April and a masked robbery of an Emirati couple in their London apartment shocked the public in the UAE, where crime rates are low.

A statement on the UAE's foreign ministry website told citizens to avoid areas 'where pickpocketing, fraud and theft are frequent and where it is not advised to live'.

An attached map singled out Edgware Road, the area between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road, and the Oxford Circus and Bond Street area.

It also identified Shepherd's Bush and Queensway as areas that were 'less dangerous'.

When asked about the UAE foreign ministry's advice, the Metropolitan Police said London was one of the safest major cities in the world and that crime was falling.

'There is absolutely nowhere in London which should be avoided,' Metropolitan Police Service Commander Makhdum Chishty said in a statement.

'We understand the incident involving Emirati nationals earlier this year was shocking, but it was also very, very rare.'

Emiratis interviewed by Reuters were not concerned by the warning. Basma Al-Mazmi, a 20-year-old Emirati, said she was not deterred.

'If I didn't go to these places then where would I go? London is all about these places, you know?' she said.

Amna Mohamed, a university student, said that some Emirati tourists drew unnecessary attention to themselves by wearing extravagant clothes and accessories.

'I would still go because I know those places and I know what to wear when going to them,' she said.

Further information

What the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office say about the United Arab Emirates

Over a million British visitors travel to the UAE every year and more than 100,000 British nationals are resident there. The vast majority of visits are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Don't accept lifts from strangers. Use only licensed taxis or other recognized forms of public transport. Avoid the gold, green and white street taxis in Abu Dhabi. They can be badly maintained and erratically driven.

Personal attacks including sexual assault and rape are rare, but do happen. Female visitors should take care when walking or travelling alone. Use a reputable taxi company, particularly at night. Drink spiking can occur. Don't accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.

Relationships outside marriage

Sex outside marriage is illegal and if any offenders are brought to the attention of the UAE authorities they run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Same sex marriages are not recognised.

Problems will be encountered if an unmarried woman gives birth in the UAE. These problems can range from a refusal to issue a birth certificate to arrest and imprisonment. To get a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate. The registration authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the date of birth.

It is against the law to live together or to share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married or closely related.
Homosexual relationships are illegal.

Offensive behaviour

Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.


United Arab Emirates newspaper view on London crime

Newspaper : The National, dated 19th August 2014

Related article :

What are foreign tourists preconceived view of London and what do they get ?

- Well we don't walk around wearing bowler hats
- The streets are not paved in gold.
- We all don't speak cockney...guvnor !
- We don't all live in thatched cottages.
- In the main we are a liberal society.
- Most people outside of London do queue at bus stops whilst waiting for a bus.
- We are a multi-racial society, its a pity we are not a multi-racial intergrated community.

- There are no go area's, but they are not where the Emirates think they are.
- It doesn't rain all of the time.
- We do have some sunshine, but not always in Summer !

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 21st August 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Police are using facial recognition software to track down serial sex offenders harassing passengers on London's Tube and rail network.
The head of British Transport Police said extra undercover officers were also being deployed to tackle a surge in the number of sex attacks on the Tube.

New figures show the number of sex attacks on the Underground and the Docklands Light Railway rose by 31 per cent last year. There were 429 assaults in 2013/14 compared to 327 in the previous year.

Chief constable Paul Crowther said part of the increase was due to more people coming forward following the Jimmy Savile scandal while police were also encouraging more victims to report crime.

The police chief, who was appointed in March, said his force had launched Operation Guardian to tackle the problem and increase people's confidence in coming forward to report attacks.

He said: "We are determined to make a big impact on this crime. We are specifically tackling sex offences on the Tube where some women are reporting they are being harassed on a day to day basis.

"We have plain clothes officers on the network catching people in the act while we are using new techniques such as facial recognition technology to identify those people who think they can carry out these crimes without detection because they are in a crowded carriage and they think they are anonymous."

He added: "We are particularly interested in offences which are often unreported such as sexual assault, exposure, lewd comments and harassment."

Around one in four of sex attackers on the Tube are caught but police are now using a new CCTV centre at Victoria with access to 55,000 cameras to help tackle the crime.

Detectives are also using Twitter and Facebook to trace offenders - in one case they received 1,800 pieces of information from people replying to a single image on social media.

Mr Crowther said some crimes were now being solved entirely by appeals on social media.

He said: "People think they can carry out stealth crimes, whether that is sex offences or pickpocketing, and not be detected but the power of social media and new technologies such as facial recognition are very powerful new crime fighting tools."   

In June this year a man who admitted four sex assaults on women on Tube trains over a 15 month period was jailed for 12 months.

Lloyd Weekes, 52, of Finsbury Park was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual assault, and one of resisting a police officer.

New figures show crime overall on the Underground fell slightly last year and Mr Crowther says there are just eight offences recorded per million passengers on the Tube and DLR.

Crime on the Uk railways fell for the tenth year in a row.

However, the total number of violent offences on the Tube jumped by 9.5 per cent to a total of 2,077 last year while there were also big rises in cases of violent incidents on trains in the capital.

These included rises in the number of incidents of racially aggravated harassment - up by more than 27 per cent to a total of 397 cases last year - assaults on police and possession of 'firearms'.  The number of actual assaults on the Tube fell.

Police say more people are coming forward to report cases of verbal racist attacks. 

There were significant falls in the number of theft offences - particularly pickpocketing - on the trains and on the Tube network after police launched Operation Magnum last year which alerted passengers to the tricks used by thieves.

On the Underground there was a significant 34 per cent reduction in the number of pickpocketing offences down from 16 a day to 11 a day.

The number of people caught in possession of drugs jumped by 52 per cent to a total of 892. 

There were also significant falls in cable theft across the Tube and rail network - the number of cases across the UK was down by 37 per cent.

(1st September 2014)

(The Guardian, dated 21st August 2014 author Ellie Cosgrave)        [Option 1]

Today the British transport police announced a 21% increase in reported sex offences on railways, rising to 1,117 in 2013-14 from 925 the previous year. The news comes in the same week that police released an image of a man they want to question over the prolonged sexual assault of a woman on a London train.

As I recall my own experience in a packed tube carriage three years ago, which I wrote about for the Guardian, I can still feel my body clench.

It took a long time for me to come to terms with what happened, to process it, to understand it, to stop questioning and blaming myself - and finally, to get angry. A year and a half after the incident I returned to the spot where I had previously been paralysed and I began to move - I decided to dance in protest. I danced for myself, but I also danced to raise the voices of all women who had been assaulted on their daily commutes. I needed to finally stand up and say what had happened, that it's unacceptable and that it's time to make a change.

Within 24 hours I'd been contacted by countless women who'd had similar experiences. Some had never told anyone about what had happened to them. "The exact same thing happened to me in Paris!!!" said one of the first comments on my blog. A flood of responses followed:

"Same happened to me in New York, only it was two men, one in front of me, the other behind."

"I had a similar experience too, twice in two weeks with the same man."

"Very similar story here - London underground, a guy deliberately pressing his erection into my buttocks. I was frozen with shock and I so wish I had moved or confronted him."

Other responses I received were less positive, leading me to reflect on possible reasons as to why victims of sexual assault on public transport might be loth to report their experiences. After going public, I was sent personal messages detailing precisely how my experience couldn't possibly be true; how I was an "attention-seeking whore"; how they, too, would like to sexually assault me.

My freeze response was also scrutinised. "Personally I think an elbow to the bastard's throat or a scream of 'fucking pervert' at the time would have done better than dancing weeks later," said one commenter. Many people, instead of focusing on my attacker, chose to detail at length how I should have behaved during my attack, and how, if I hadn't been quite so weak, I could have stopped him. The message was that it was my fault, that I deserved it, and that there were plenty more people out there who wanted to make me feel unsafe and reinforce their power over me.

I still get messages from people about their experiences: women wrapped up in shame and guilt about how they'd responded to their assaults; women who had felt silenced, disempowered and furious all in the same moment; women looking for understanding and companionship.

I firmly believe that by talking openly about our experiences we can not only begin understand them, but also start to reveal the scale and pervasiveness of the problem.

I am pleased to see an increase in the levels of reporting. It demonstrates a changing tide, and shows that women finally feel able to report incidents in the knowledge that the police will take them seriously and investigate incidents sensitively. This progress has been accelerated in part by Project Guardian, an initiative by the British transport police to reduce sexual offences on public transport and to increase reporting rates. Advised by the Everyday Sexism Project, the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Hollaback! London, the project has involved training about 2,000 patrolling police officers how to manage this type of incident. It has "weeks of action" to raise the profile of the project and a dedicated freephone and text number where victims can easily report crimes in confidence.

But Project Guardian is part of a wider movement of feminist activism that is challenging accepted norms and empowering women to take a stand.

This problem is so much wider and deeper than a one-off grope on the tube. The sexism that sees women assaulted on public transport is the same sexism that permits street and workplace harassment; that keeps women out of boardrooms; that tells girls what careers are and are not acceptable for them and what toys they should play with; that sees women's bodies objectified throughout the media.

We can't tackle these issues in isolation. If we want a world where women have genuine parity then we all - male and female - need to start speaking up wherever and whenever we see these issues.

(21st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 21st August 2014)

Full article :

A gang behind a "sophisticated" bank card fraud has been jailed.

Florin Silaghi, Vasile Pop, Ovidiu Metac and Adriana Turc used spy cameras to scam card data from ATMs, downloaded the details and then copied them on to fake cards, the Old Bailey heard.

They compromised 953 bank accounts and took some £160,000, although they stole details from more than 60,000 accounts.

The Romanian nationals, who operated from Harrow in north-west London, were jailed for between 21 and 64 months.

'Fraudster's utopia'
Prosecutor Catherine Pattison said the four were responsible for "a large-scale, highly sophisticated, well executed ATM and counterfeit fraud".

Their operation was smashed in December when gadgets including cards traps, cloned cards and spy cameras were seized in police raids.

The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) said the cards recovered had a street value of £16m - based on the amount stolen on average from a compromised card,

During the investigation, evidence of a method not seen before in the UK to steal card details came to light - spy cameras fitted to the side panel of cash machines, rather than the top panel.

This method allowed fraudsters a better view of people's Pin numbers.

Det Insp Sarah Ward, from the DCPCU, said: "The premises we raided really were a fraudster's utopia, with a dizzying array of machines and gadgets designed to commit serious fraud."

Sentencing them, Recorder Douglas Day QC said: "Electronic card fraud is one of the scourges of the technological age... it causes significant loss to the banks and distress and inconvenience to the card holders whose cards have been compromised."

Silaghi, 30, was jailed for 64 months, Pop, 30, for 61 months, Metac, 25, received 43 months, while Turc, 27, was jailed for 21 months.

They all admitted to conspiracy to defraud and various other charges relating to the technical side of the operation.

The prosecutor said Silaghi and Pop were the key players, while Metac and his partner Turc had lesser roles.

(1st September 2014)

(The Guardian, dated 21st August 2014 via Press Association)

Full article :

The number of sexual offences recorded on British railways has risen by 20%, although overall crime on the rail network has fallen, according to the British Transport police.

Officers recorded 1,117 sexual offences in the 12 months to March 2014 - up from 925 the previous year. Most of the increase was incidents of sexual crime against women or girls, which rose from 485 to 624. Sexual crime against males rose from 27 to 42, while cases of exposure increased from 141 to 148, and other sexual crime from 272 to 303.

BTP said: "Part of this increase can be attributed to the high-profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical offences which have, undoubtedly, given victims more confidence to come forward."

The increase in sexual offences was slightly higher than that recorded by police forces nationally, it said.

The BTP figures, which cover England, Wales and Scotland, show notifiable crime, which makes up the more serious offences dealt with by BTP, fell by 5.7% from 53,885 to 50,840 offences - meaning there were more than 3,000 fewer victims of crime than in 2012/13.

The figures, which included the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway, showed that casesof violence against the person rose 3.7% from 8,123 in 2012/13 to 8,425 in 2013/14, with incidents on LU/DLR rising 9.5%, from 1,897 to 2,077. Incidents involving drugs rose 15.4% - from 3,460 to 3,993 - although incidents on London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway rocketed 54.5% from 591 to 913.

Motor vehicle and cycle crime as well as public disorder offences rose slightly, but there was a big drop of 17% - from 17,292 to 14,353 - in theft of passenger property and also a drop of 17.7% - from 530 to 436 - in other robbery cases, with theft of railway property dipping nearly 9% from 4,834 to 4,406.

Fraud offences plunged more than 50% from 920 to 457 and incidents of criminal damage fell 4.5% from 3,452 to 3,298.

Speaking about the rise in sexual offences, Ch Const Paul Crowther said the force's Project Guardian had had a significant impact.

He said Project Guardian "focuses on increasing awareness and confidence among the public to report unwanted sexual behaviour to the police or members of staff".

"We are particularly interested in those offences which are often unreported, such as sexual assault, exposure, outraging public decency, lewd comments and harassment."

BTP attributed the dip in theft cases to the success of their Operation Magnum campaign, which advises passengers on the most common tactics used by thieves. BTP also pointed to its efforts in tackling metal and cable theft on the railways.

Michael Roberts, director general of rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Britain's railway has been transformed into Europe's' most improved and fastest growing network and it's good news for passengers that the overall crime rate has fallen for the 10th successive year.

"The rise in some crimes, however, remains a concern which is why the industry will continue to work closely with the police to prosecute offenders.

"The safety and security of passengers and staff is taken extremely seriously and millions of pounds have been spent funding the BTP, improving CCTV at stations and hiring additional security to keep people safe."

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "These are truly shocking figures which just illustrate the complacency over the safety of the travelling public which is endemic amongst the train companies, the regulators and the politicians.

"The 20% increase in sexual offences on the railways should force an immediate halt to the ongoing programme to remove guards from our trains and the government-endorsed plans to close ticket offices and de-staff stations. Clearly we need more staff in public view, across the network, to deter the criminals and halt this appalling surge in attacks on women."

He went on: "The 10% increase in violence on LU and the DLR should also serve as a wake-up call to London mayor Boris Johnson who is ploughing ahead with his own plans to remove station and platform staff and close ticket offices.

"The cuts to jobs and services have to be reversed if we are to stop our transport services from descending deeper into the kinds of criminals' paradise that is exposed in these horrific new statistics."

(1st September 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 19th August 2014 author Ian Weinfass)    [Option 1]

A review of crime statistic collection in Scotland has found that the data is currently not up to standard.

The UK Statistics Authority has said that the latest figures north of the border cannot be confirmed as designated "national statistics" because of concerns over their quality.

In January the body removed the National Statistics quality mark designation from figures in England and Wales because of "concerns over the underlying data".

It followed revelations by whistleblower James Patrick about manipulation, which were echoed by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

Mr Winsor predicted that an ongoing probe of crime data and integrity nationally by HMIs would show that there is a "degree of fiddling of the figures".

Following this revelation, the Statistics Authority has opted to examine the data from the rest of the UK and has said Scotland does not comply with its code of practice.

The organisation said: "This report concludes that the Scottish Government lacks sufficient evidence to be able to provide such appropriate reassurance.

"The Authority considers that the Scottish Government has not created, and put into practice, a coherent framework for considering the quality of the underlying data, and does not have sufficient information about the quality of the police recorded  crime data. It is therefore unable to make users fully aware of any potential limitations of the recorded crime statistics."

Better than England and Wales

Elsewhere the Authority does point out that it considers that the picture is better than in England and Wales, although it is awaiting the outcome of a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) into the national Police Service.

The Authority said: "In our England and Wales Assessment report, we noted an accumulation of evidence of concerns about underlying data from several sources, and the absence of assurance to the Office for National Statistics about the quality of the underlying data.

"In Scotland, there is less direct evidence of data problems at the operational level, although this view may change depending on the results of the forthcoming HMICS report," it said.

The Authority also noted that the creation of a single force north of the border is "an opportunity to bring consistency and rigour to the recording of crimes".

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The situation is different from England and Wales.

"Every report from the UK Statistics Authority points to improvements statistics producers can make; this report is no different. We are already addressing a number of the requirements in the report and an action plan will be put in place to meet the rest.

"The assessment does recognise many of the strengths in Scotland such as our commitment to doing this work quickly, that Police Scotland take data recording seriously, and that we have a strong framework of inspection and regulation."

Scottish Government ministers often point to their crime figures as evidence that it has been right to increase the number of officers in the country, whereas the Home Office regularly cites crime statistics as evidence that their reforms in England and Wales are working.

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 19th August 2014)

Full article :

Hundreds of police officers have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines, research has revealed.

Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association found officers made racist comments online and asked crime victims to become Facebook friends.

Of 828 cases in England and Wales from 2009 to February this year, 9% ended in resignation, dismissal or retirement.

The College of Policing said there was "no place... for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public".

About a seventh (14%) of the cases reported resulted in no further action at all. The majority of other cases were dealt with through advice being offered to the officer in question.

Examples of cases uncovered

- A community support officer with Devon and Cornwall Police who received a final written warning after posing with weapons on Facebook

- A sergeant with the same force who was given a written warning after making remarks about senior officers on the site

- A civilian officer in central London who posted a comment online about Muslims in London failing to observe a two-minute silence

- Two special constables who had to resign from Northamptonshire Police after they were pictured on a website in a "compromising position"

- A Gwent Police officer who was given a written warning after he "inappropriately" asked a female member of the public to be his friend on Facebook during a house visit

- Another PC from the force who received the same punishment for using Facebook to send an "abusive" message to a member of the public

- A member of civilian staff in Lancashire who resigned over their "excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours" - including online auction sites, internet banking and social networking.

Various forces also said staff were investigated for comments deemed homophobic, racist or "religiously aggressive".

Greater Manchester Police reported the most investigations, with 88 over the period in question. West Midlands was second highest with 74, while the Metropolitan Police recorded 69.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing, said: "People working in policing must always be mindful of the high standards that the public expect from us.

"Our code of ethics, which was launched last month, sets out the standards which everyone in the service should strive to uphold whether at work or away from work, online or offline."

'Don't say it'
He said most police officers and staff "uphold these high standards" and that social media can be a "really useful way of us talking to the people that we serve".

But he added: "There is no place in policing for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public."

"Everyone in policing has to remember that if you're not prepared to put it in a local newspaper with your name at the bottom, then don't say it on social media."

The college's code of ethics urges officers to "use social media responsibly and safely".

It also suggests they "ensure that nothing you publish online can reasonably be perceived by the public or your policing colleagues to be discriminatory, abusive, oppressive, harassing, bullying, victimising, offensive or otherwise incompatible with policing principles".

And it also says officers should not publish online or elsewhere, or offer for publication, any material that might undermine their own reputation or that of the policing profession.


(Mancunian Matters, dated 19th August 2014 author Sian Wilson)

Reports show that racist and threatening comments were made, friend requests sent to victims of crime, and images uploaded of officers in 'compromising positions'.

An array of offences was reported, ranging in severity. Several forces noted investigations into comments deemed homophobic, racist or 'religiously aggressive'.

- In central London, a civilian officer posted Facebook comments about the actions of Muslims failing to observe a two-minute silence. According to police, the language used by the officer 'could be regarded as offensive/inappropriate', and was 'likely to cause offence to other persons'.

- A complainant was harassed by an employee of Dyfed Powys Police, who was accused of being 'threatening, bullying and intimidating' through private messages on Facebook.

- A sergeant with Suffolk Constabulary was reprimanded and eventually dismissed after accessing an ex-partners' private account of Facebook.

- Similarly, a civilian officer of South Yorkshire Police was accused of harassing an ex-partner over Facebook, but resigned before misconduct proceedings could take place.

- In Lancashire, written warning was received over derogatory remarks about a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), who issued the offender with a fine for dog fouling.

- Inappropriate comments allegedly made concerning someone's wife caused management action to be taken against the PC at the same force.

- Employees at Nottinghamshire Police received management action for posting 'confidential information concerning an upcoming police operation', as well as comments regarding their 'dissatisfaction' at work.

Of those investigated, 14% resulted in no further action being taken, with 9% ending in resignation, dismissal or retirement.

Only 13 forces reported ten or fewer investigations between January 2009 and February 2014.

Out of the 828 investigated, 548 were police officers, compared with 175 civilian staff.

Additionally, 31 Police Community Support Officers were also investigated.

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th August 2014 author Martin Bentham)

Full article :

The "appalling" way in which Britain's organised crime bosses are being allowed to hold on to their illegal profits is revealed today.
New figures show that criminal "Mr Bigs" are repaying only £1 in every £6 that they owe to taxpayers.

The statistics - obtained using the Freedom of Information Act - show that major fraudsters and drugs barons are among 176 offenders who now owe nearly £700?million between them.

Others include a former public schoolboy who made millions supplying cocaine to celebrities and City workers and a rogue property developer who bought a Maserati car and a London penthouse with his unlawful profits.

Each one was ordered to hand back at least £1?million of their unlawful profits. But 40 have not paid back a penny while the average debt owed by the convicts now stands at just under £4?million each. The findings, which come despite some enforcement successes for the Crown Prosecution Service, will reinforce concerns about the effectiveness of the government's strategy for seizing criminals' profits.

They follow fierce criticism by the National Audit Office and the Commons Public Accounts Committee of the authorities' failure to recover the vast sums made by the Mr Bigs of the crime world and a series of earlier disclosures by the Evening Standard about the scale of the criminals' defiance.

Ministers have responded by introducing a new Serious Crime Bill to Parliament. It promises tougher penalties for non-payment and enhanced powers for law enforcers to seize offenders' assets.

But MPs said today that the extent of non-payment showed that further action was still needed and expressed dismay that crime still pays for many major criminals. Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: "These figures are deeply disappointing. The current system is just not working. The public will find it incredible that we are only getting back £1 in every £6 from those who have committed criminal offences but who can afford to pay.

"The Serious Crime Bill is not tough enough and I will be tabling amendments which will ensure that a compensation order means what it says. The Mr Bigs are making a mockery of our criminal justice system. It is appalling that some of Britain's most serious criminals are hanging onto their proceeds of crime."

Today's new figures are drawn from a Crown Prosecution Service list of 176 offenders who were each found by a judge to have made at least £1?million from their crime but still have outstanding debts to the taxpayer.

Between them, the criminals were given confiscation orders totalling £617?million, but have so far repaid only £103?million. That means that £514?million of their proceeds of crime remains to be recovered. Interest charges take the sum to more than £695?million.

The statistics also show that half of the unpaid confiscation orders have been outstanding for more than five years. They include 31 imposed a decade or more ago. One offender ordered by a judge in 1990 to pay £1.5?million still owes more than £1.2?million.

In a further blow, 22 offenders on today's list, who between them owe more than £73?million, have already served extra "default" sentences for non-payment. That means that prosecutors now have few powers for seizing the outstanding money.

Five other Mr Bigs with debts totalling nearly £58?million have been deported. Another 14 are either known or believed to have absconded abroad. They owe more than £114?million.

Among the worst cases is that of fraudster Nasir Khan. He was jailed for nine years at Southwark Crown Court in 2011 over a mobile phone tax scam and later ordered to repay just under £14.2?million of his illegal profits. Much of this money was used to buy luxury properties in London, Spain and Gibraltar.

HM Revenue and Customs hailed his conviction as proof that "career criminals" who committed fraud "to fund their lavish and luxurious lifestyles" faced "serious" penalties. But he has not repaid anything.

Other offenders who have failed to repay anything include Dutch-born cocaine dealer Peter Versluis and fake medicine supplier Peter Gillespie.

Versluis was given a £3.2?million asset confiscation order in 2004 and, after being extradited back to the UK following a prison escape, now owes more than £5.5?million because of interest charges on his unpaid debt. Gillespie, 67, from Hertfordshire, was convicted at Croydon crown court in 2011 of plotting to bring two million doses of counterfeit drugs from China to the UK in a scam which prosecutors said had put patients at risk.

He was ordered to repay £5.6?million last year, but still retains all his illegal profits and now owes taxpayers nearly £5.8?million with added interest.

The largest debtors owe even greater sums. They include French fraudster Emmanuel Hening, who was let out of prison early under a deal with the authorities in Paris, despite paying none of his £40?million confiscation order. He now owes £51.5?million.

Another fraudster, Hussain Asad Chohan, 44, is also out of reach of the authorities. He is reportedly in Dubai after fleeing abroad while on bail awaiting trial.

He was ordered to repay £28.6?million after being convicted in his absence in 2006 for his part in a £200?million fraud and now owes £44.7?million because of interest charges. Tax chiefs named him two years ago as one of the country's most wanted fugitives.

Other major debtors include fraudsters Syed Ahmed and Shakeel Ahmad, who bought properties in London and Dubai with their criminal profts and now each owe £21?million. Neither has returned a penny despite their deadline for repayment expiring nearly four years ago.

Despite such defiance, Nick Price, the chief crown prosecutor for proceeds of crime at the CPS, insisted that some success was being achieved. He said 61 other offenders, not included on today's list of non-payers, had paid in full after being given confiscation orders of £1?million or more, bringing in just under £100?million and reducing the overall non-payment rate among the millionaire convicts to 75 per cent. Mr Price also cited other recent cases in which illicit gains had been recovered. They include one during the past year in which more than £4?million was recovered from a British fraudster living in Spain who had used "cold calling" techniques to sell worthless shares to investors.

He admitted, however, that improvements were still needed and revealed that the CPS had responded by setting up a new specialist asset recovery unit to increase the sums seized from organised criminals.

Pledging a "tireless" drive against crime bosses, Mr Price added:  "Money is the lifeblood of these criminals and is used to fund further crime, so we will be thorough and dynamic in our pursuit of them.

"It's vital that we continue to build on our existing success. Many of the criminals we face are particularly devious and go to extraordinary lengths to hide their assets. But criminals must not be allowed to profit from illegal activity and we will be working hard on behalf of the public to ensure that crime doesn't pay."

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th August 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Full article :    [Option 1]

Convicted smash-and-grab raiders are set to be hit by so-called "super Asbos" in a bid to halt the plague of robberies in London.
Scotland Yard is drawing up an extraordinary set of orders aimed at preventing prolific convicted robbers from re-offending after they are released from jail.

The serious crime prevention orders are usually reserved for the most hardened criminals and gangsters, such as drug barons, people-traffickers and money-launderers.

Now specialist detectives are drafting innovative curbs designed to prevent raiders using mopeds or motorcycles to target fashion and jewellery stores and commit yet  further crimes.

They include an order requiring convicted robbers to  own just one motorcycle helmet, which they must present to police so it can be photographed and the image put on  a database.

The move would mean someone wearing the helmet could be easily identified if they were caught on CCTV committing a robbery. Another restriction would be to ban the criminals from walking down a street carrying a helmet - a bid to prevent them stealing bikes.

Further orders, lasting five years, would bar robbers from riding pillion and associating with known accomplices.

They are being drawn up by detectives from the Met's spec- ialist lifetime offender management unit, which targets London's most serious criminals.

The unit's head, Det Insp Karl Amos, said the orders are designed to prevent serious crime, not impose a further punishment on top of the court sentence.

He said: "It would be unfair to ban people from legitimately riding motorbikes or mopeds because they might need one to get to work.

"These measures are designed to be proportionate and our aim is to restrict the ability of these people to commit further crime. The helmet order will restrict them from having something which hides their identity."

The unit is working with the Flying Squad and prosecution lawyers to examine different ways of tackling the scooter gangs targeting jewellery stores and shops in the West End.

A small number of individuals could be targeted with the orders, which have to be approved by a judge.

Mr Amos added: "These are individuals who are not subject to a live police inquiry but they are potentially doing something wrong. We want to make sure they think twice about it. It's about getting them to look over their shoulder all the time."

If the orders are breached, offenders can face prosecution and up to an extra five years in jail.

Smash-and-grab gangs have struck hundreds of times at boutiques and jewellery stores from Knightsbridge to Kensington in recent years, stealing millions of pounds of goods. One prolific gang was jailed last year after netting £1?million of valuables in raids on 48 stores within seven months.

The number of recent robberies led one boutique owner to appeal to retailers to fund their own police patrols in the West End. Security measures in some stores now include bullet-proof glass and steel shutters - but the criminals are constantly changing tactics to elude police.

In recent weeks raiders have struck twice at the Dorchester hotel in Mayfair, escaping with a haul of watches and jewellery, as well as committing robberies in Knightsbridge and St John's Wood.

The Flying Squad, which traditionally targets armed robbers, has now been tasked with investigating the most serious and violent of the raids.

So far the squad is investigating more than a dozen attacks on stores and hotels in central London this year - and officers say they have charged individuals in almost every case. Det Supt John Kielty, head of the squad, said:  "We are always looking at ways of making it more difficult for these people to commit these type of crimes."

He said talks are now taking place with the Crown Prosecution Service to submit the first application for a serious crime prevention order.

Police are also working with shops and stores in an effort to improve security. Det Supt Caroline Barker, head of the Central Task Force, said detectives from the Met's organised crime command worked with the offender management unit to monitor and enforce the orders.

She added: "Karl Amos and his team are constantly looking for fair but innovative approaches to remove opportunities that enable criminals to continue with their offending. This is just one example of those."

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 14th August 2014 author Justin Davenport)    [Option 1]

Firearms officers equipped with body-worn video cameras are patrolling London streets for the first time, Scotland Yard announced today.
Frontline armed officers who target gangs and armed criminals are being equipped with the cameras in a new trial aimed at restoring trust in the police.

They are the first armed officers in Britain to be equipped with the equipment.

The move comes after protests over the death of Mark Duggan, 29, who was shot by Met officers in Tottenham in August 2011 - sparking widespread rioting.

In January a jury ruled that Duggan was lawfully killed by armed officers even though the gun he had was not in his hand at the time.

After the inquest the Met announced the testing of body worn cameras. Officers in 10 London boroughs have been equipped with 500 small cameras. A small group of 14 firearms officers manning a "proactive unit" in Armed Response Vehicles have been equipped with the cameras.

The Trojan Proactive Unit is assigned to help boroughs beset with gun crime, violence and gang issues. Commissioner Sir Bernard-Hogan-Howe said: "This is the next step towards us improving our policing service to Londoners through the use of technology.

"It allows us to be more open and accountable to the public."

(1st September 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 13th August 2014 author Cliff Caswell)     [Option 1]

Further concern has been voiced over police resilience after new research showed that officer numbers in England and Wales are declining more sharply than any other European country.

According to data compiled by EU statistics group Eurostat, personnel strength saw a fall of 9,900 pairs of boots on the ground between 2010 and 2012 - the first two years of the Comprehensive Spending Review. This was from a total of around 142,100 officers.

France accounted for the next largest decline, losing just over 7,200 of its 211,300-strong force followed by the Czech Republic, which clocked up a loss of just over 8,900 officers from a high of 43,100.

Now analysts are predicting that a government cuts programme that is more aggressive than elsewhere in Europe is starting to be noticed - with officers less visible in communities.

Elsewhere, the Police Federation of England and Wales has warned that ongoing cuts to budgets are now seeing "the erosion of some essential aspects of policing".

Continuing cuts

Policing academic and former Gloucestershire chief constable Dr Tim Brain said that - two years on from 2012 - the decline in officer numbers had continued apace.

Between 2010 and 2014, officers numbers fell by more than 15,000 to just under 128,000 while more than 34,000 staff posts had been culled, the academic added.

Dr Brain said: "We should not be surprised about any of this - the scenario was obvious four years ago - the difference now is that we are beginning to actually see the losses.

"My view is that, until last year, the government was having a pretty easy ride with crime still coming down. But now we can see, for example, that neighbourhood policing is suffering."

Dr Brain also suggested that the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed the beginning of doubts in the minds of the public that the Police Service "was doing a good job".

The academic added: "We are now beginning to see a few of the chickens coming home to roost - people are starting to see a decline in visibility. The question is will this catch up with the government before the general election of May next year?"

Dr Brain believed that the decline of officer numbers in England and Wales demonstrated the effect of the government's approach to cutting public spending.

He highlighted that the evidence suggested countries such as France, which had taken a less aggressive approach to austerity, were now seeing their economies recover more swiftly.

Steve Evans, Vice-Chairman of the Police Federation, warned that action was now required to ensure that "a minimum level of policing" was preserved going forward.

He added: "Cuts to the police budgets continue to put a strain on all aspects of the service. While officers throughout the country continue to work incredibly hard on a daily basis protecting the communities they serve, this is often done with stretched resources.

"A recent report on policing in austerity highlighted that any further cuts to police budgets could put the service at risk, and see the erosion of some essential aspects of policing.

"We need to ensure measures are taken to guarantee we maintain a level of policing that is best for the public and the service into the future."

(1st September 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 12th August 2014 author Cliff Caswell)   [Option 1]

Worried members of the public are now starting to notice the absence of roads policing officers - and are growing increasingly frustrated that offenders are going unpunished.

Echoing the concerns of senior staff association officials, a study from a major motoring organisation found many drivers are frustrated that those breaking the law are not being held to account - with deep cuts to force budgets now showing at the sharp end.

This year's RAC Report on Motoring found that 40 per cent of motorists - two-in-five - believed that those committing offences such as using mobile phones would more than likely go unpunished.

Some 60 per cent felt there were generally not enough officers on the road, while less than a quarter felt that new offences such as tailgating and driving in the middle lane of a motorway would be enforced.

"Our research shows that millions of law-abiding motorists are frustrated with the reduction of traffic police and believe that the chances of drivers being pulled up for breaking the law are now minimal," said RAC Technical Director David Bizley.

"Motorists are tired of constantly seeing other drivers breaking the law and getting away with it so it is hardly surprising they want to see a greater police presence to enforce motoring legislation more effectively, which would also act as a genuine deterrent."

Budget cuts

As reported on this website, senior staff association members have long been warning that roads policing is one of the specialist areas bearing the brunt of budget cuts.

Mr Bizley's comments have been echoed by the Police Federation lead on roads policing Jayne Willetts, who said offenders were being emboldened by central government reductions - which have seen forces' spending reduced by some 20 per cent.

The staff association official also highlighted that numbers of roads policing officers had been hammered over the past four years, down from 5,634 in 2010 to 4,356 as of March 2014.

She said: "This works out at eight traffic officers per 100,000 head of population - roads policing units have good equipment and good vehicles but we need officers to be out there."

At a meeting last year, South Yorkshire Police Federation officials raised concerns that dedicated patrols had been withdrawn - and were now "as rare as dodos".

Several other forces - including Greater Manchester Police - have taken action to consolidate their roads policing assets following reductions in grants from central government.

Caught on camera

Worryingly, the RAC research found that there was a perception among the public that the only offences motorists believed would be effectively enforced were those captured on camera.

Of those who have speeding points on their licences half admitted they had been photographed by a speed camera, whereas only a quarter were stopped by a police officer.

Mr Bizley said: "Worryingly, our research also found three quarters of motorists regularly see other people on mobile phones, with 44 per cent saying they see this happening during most car journeys. Yet only eight per cent admit to using a hand-held phone on most journeys."

"As for speeding, 40 per cent of motorists admit to breaking the limit on country and 20mph roads, but by far the worst non-compliance is on motorways where the figure rises to 67 per cent - perhaps a symptom of today's lower police presence and the fact fixed speed cameras are not used to enforce 70mph limits on motorways."

(1st September 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 12th August 2014 author Josh Loeb)   [Option 1]

Fresh concern has been raised that police forces across England and Wales are still being regularly relied on to transport patients - sometimes hundreds each year - to hospital because no ambulance can be freed-up.

In some areas the number of people transported to hospital by police has more than doubled in the past two years.

Some cases include people involved in car accidents who are in urgent need of medical attention.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that in one region - southern Wales - the number of people taken to hospital by police car shot up from 83 in 2012-13 to 187 in the last financial year.

This amounts to more than three incidents each week.

Widespread problem

Police cars taking on the role of ambulances has long been a feature in several areas of England too, including London and Essex.

Mark Smith, Chairman of Essex Police Federation, said: "In Essex the problem is not getting worse, but it is not getting any better. We have conveyed to hospital people that are in car accidents, people that are bleeding and in need of urgent attention. I don't think the public would say that is acceptable.

"Police vehicles are designed for policing. There is a vehicle designed for taking people to hospital so they can be worked on in the back on the way, and that is an ambulance."

The Metropolitan Police's Head of Criminal Justice recently said ambulances rather than police vehicles should "ideally" be used to transport patients to hospital in all cases - but he added that, since ambulance workers were overstretched, this aim was "aspirational."

'Filling gaps'

Delays in unloading ambulances at accident and emergency departments has been identified as a possible reason for delays - and ambulance services say they are trying to find ways to respond to calls more quickly.

Elin Jones, shadow health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, the Welsh political party that made the FoI request about incidents in Wales, said: "My fear is that one day someone may die in a police car while on the way to hospital because an ambulance is not available.

"There clearly needs to be better management within the NHS so that vehicles aren't tied up waiting at hospitals."

Mike Collins, Director of Service Delivery at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the service was working with police to reduce instances "where our emergency colleagues are awaiting an ambulance response."

He added: "Despite the increase in calls that we experience year on year we are actually reaching more and more people across Wales than ever before.

"We recognise that on occasions we are short of the eight-minute target for these most serious calls but are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible."

Last year the Police Federation warned that police were being asked to fill gaps where other emergency services were under strain because of cuts.

Cumbria's new Chief Constable Jerry Graham also recently said the police was now regarded as the "organisation of last resort."

He added: "The instinct of officers is to help people. As other public services have had to take cuts we have found ourselves increasingly filling these gaps."

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 12th August 2014)

Full article :

London has the highest number of reported crimes against sex workers in the UK, a campaign group has found.

Ugly Mugs, which collects and circulates data on potentially dangerous clients, said there were 970 reported crimes against sex workers in the UK, over the past two years.

London has highest number reported incidents in the UK, with 224.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said sex workers were "often exploited due to their vulnerability".

'Utmost sensitivity'

Ugly Mugs, which has been running since July 2012, said about 20% of the 970 reported crimes were rapes.

The group, which is part of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects, said in London, 42 of the reported incidents were sexual assault, which included rape allegations and 82 involved violence. Other crimes included theft, robbery and fraud.

The North West region was the second highest with 184 reports, followed by the West Midlands at 168.

Alex Feis-Bryce, manager of the National Ugly Mugs scheme, said: "Sex workers have the right to police protection and this sends the message that, as far as the Met Police is concerned, there is no grade of victim and crimes against sex workers will be taken seriously."

In a statement, the Met Police said: "We are aware that rape and sexual assault is under-reported - not least by those working in the sex industry, who represent a group often exploited by offenders due to their vulnerability and in the belief they will be reluctant to report offences to police.

"The MPS treats all allegations of rape and sexual assault with the utmost sensitivity" and all reports were "fully investigated", it added.

Ugly Mugs website :

(1st September 2014)

(Daily Mail, dated 11th August 2014 author Rebecca Brett)  [Option 1]

Nearly 900,000 Britons have been issued with a fine for motoring offences while driving on holiday abroad.

One in 12 holidaymakers have been collared for breaking road rules on foreign trips in their own car, according to a survey.

The findings sparked a warning for British travellers to get up to speed with little-known local laws including a Spanish ban on driving in flip-flops and a French restriction on satnav speed camera alerts.

The research comes amid a row over an EU Directive that will make it easier for police in Europe to trace errant British motorists whilst foreign drivers in the UK often escape scot-free.

The research found the popularity of self-drive holidays across the English Channel has soared in the past two years.

Nearly a quarter of the UK's 47.4 million adults have gone abroad by car - a total of 11.5 million British holidaymakers.

But 80 per cent have been stopped for motoring misdemeanours or picked up a parking ticket - equivalent to 878,000 penalised abroad. The figure does not include Britons fined on fly-drive holidays in hire cars.

The survey of 2,054 adults indicated that 4.4 million will set off from home on road trips abroad this year alone - 2.6 million more than in 2012 when just 1.8 million drove to their destination.

It found that men are much more likely to contravene local laws than women - 9 per cent did so compared to 6 per cent of women - and those aged under 25 are the worst offenders.

'There are lots of different laws when you drive in continental Europe and they vary from country to country,' Victoria Walton, Insurance company NFU Mutual's motor insurance specialist, said.

'You may not know that it is the law to carry a breathalyser in France, illegal to use a hands-free kit in Spain and compulsory that drivers who wear glasses carry a spare pair in their vehicle in Italy and Spain.

'British tourists are also at risk of serious fines if they drive wearing flip-flops or do not indicate on the motorway in Spain.'

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said holidaymakers face fines for driving a dirty car in Russia or honking their horn near a hospital in Cyprus and warned that travellers could even be arrested if caught unawares.

'It's easy to throw caution to the wind when on holiday but it's important to be aware of the local laws and customs before you set off,' FCO Minister Mark Simmonds said.

'Laws and customs vary widely from country to country. We want people to enjoy their holidays so we encourage them to be prepared.'

Motorists also risk fines for driving without the minimum third party insurance required throughout Europe and advised travellers to check policies to ensure they are covered on the Continent.

'Anyone planning a self-drive trip to Europe this summer must check both their insurance and breakdown cover extends to European travel,' said Walton.

'Some policies do not provide this cover as standard. You risk being seriously out of pocket and, more importantly, breaking the law without the adequate cover.'

The 2011 EU Directive is due to come into force next year after a ruling by the European Court of Justice overturned a UK opt-out.

The clampdown gives overseas authorities the go-ahead to electronically access driver records at the DVLA to pursue fines which are currently only enforceable if drivers are stopped by a police officer.

Britain fought it on the economic grounds that the cost of upgrading DVLA computers to enable instant exchange of registered keeper details and the expense of processing penalties outweigh the income generated from fines.

Motoring misdemeanors in Europe

SPAIN Fines for driving in flip-flops and ban on using DIY hands-free phone kits at the wheel

FRANCE Fines of up to Euro £1,200 for using a satnav with the speed camera location warning enabled and compulsory to carry a DIY breathalyser

GERMANY Illegal to stop on an autobahn, even when running out of fuel

ITALY Compulsory to park in the direction of traffic on that side of the road and carry spare pair of spectacles if needed for driving

RUSSIA AND BELARUS On-the-spot fine for driving a dirty car

CYPRUS Honking a horn near a hospital prohibited

DENMARK Mandatory to check under car for children hiding before driving off

LUXEMBOURG All cars must have windscreen wipers...even if they don't have a windscreen

SCANDINAVIA First region to make daytime use of headlights compulsory.

(1st September 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 7th August 2014 author Ian Weinfass)     [Option 1]

A force has announced that its neighbourhood police officers will no longer investigate any crime.

Leicestershire Police has outlined plans to cope with £15 million of cuts before March 2017 in a wide ranging blueprint.

A document jointly drawn up by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader and Chief Constable Simon Cole states that the force will introduce measures including having neighbourhood teams focused only on "community problem solving, engagement, proactive patrol, tackling anti-social behaviour and managing offenders".

By removing any investigative element from the teams, which have seen reductions in the number of police officers within them, the document estimates that an extra 42,000 officer-hours can be dedicated to their "core functions".

Elsewhere the document promises an increase in outsourcing, 251 more PCSOs, the closure of some "large" stations and encouraging more people to work from home.

The plan states: "Between 2010 and 2013 the force has already removed £20 million from the budget. By March 2017 we need to save a further £15.4 million from our current budget of £172.6 million.

"Over 80 per cent of costs are 'people' so we have tried to reduce non-staff costs as much as possible. We have made significant savings through collaborative working, major crime, HR and legal services.

"We cannot make the necessary additional savings without transforming how we (will be) delivering policing in the future."

Further reductions

The force will also cut its number of local policing units from 15 to eight, and crime will be investigated through only by detectives, police officers and investigative support assistants through three investigation hubs under the force's crime directorate.

It is setting up a new Investigation Management Unit to allocate reports of crime or anti-social behaviour to the right department.

Tiffany Lynch, Chair of the Leicestershire Police Federation, said: "We do not want to see any changes that have an impact on the ability of our members to meet the needs of their communities.

"Of course, we fear police officers could be under increased pressure as they try to deliver the same service with reduced numbers of sworn officers and less support from police staff whose numbers have also been cut in recent years.

"However, we all have to be realistic. The funding is not there and the force has to provide the best service it can with the resources it can afford.

"We will continue to work with the force so that it can balance the books, provide savings and deliver effective policing services to the public.

"We appreciate that the force has announced its outline plans and we await more detailed proposals as the force continues to work on this project."

(1st September 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 7th August 2014 author Josh Loeb)    [Option 1]

A central police group will act as a pool point for intelligence - aiming to help link-up increasingly numerous, complicated and potentially overlapping historic child sex abuse investigations.

Called Operation Hydrant, the group will be a focal point for information on "persons of public prominence" as well as institutions such as schools and children's homes that are suspected of past involvement in the sexual abuse of children.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said Hydrant's Strategic Coordinating Group would hold its inaugural meeting in September, and the group is aiming to get a clearer picture of the scale of historic abuse cases.

The group has requested all 43 forces in England and Wales as well as Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland disclose to it information about any high-profile public figures or institutions under investigation in advance of the first meeting.

Strategic co-ordination

National lead for child abuse investigations Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: "Following a meeting of senior officers in Merseyside in the last few weeks, a stream of work, called Operation Hydrant, was established so as to allow a central strategic coordination group to collate and share information, advice and best practice among forces who were investigating allegations of historic child abuse where there were persons of public prominence concerned in the investigation."

The chief, who will be chairing Operation Hydrant, added: "It should be noted that the Strategic Coordinating Group will not be leading any investigations - this is not a task force. Individual investigations are a matter for individual forces."

CC Bailey said no further comment on Hydrant's activities would be made until the group had considered "the national picture".

The group is made up of chief officers, SIOs and a communications advisor.

Several inquiries into alleged paedophile activity are ongoing nationwide, including claims of abuse at care homes in North Wales and an inquiry into Rochdale's Knowl View School where the late MP Sir Cyril Smith is alleged to have abused boys.

Numerous investigations

Scotland Yard is understood to be running at least five investigations into historic child abuse, and the Met's Operation Yewtree is examining abuse by the late Jimmy Savile and other celebrities.

Claims alleging child abuse by prominent figures in Westminster have also been made - but concerns have been raised in some quarters that police lack sufficient resources to properly follow-up all potential leads amid a spike in reporting by alleged victims.

Javed Khan, Chief executive of the charity Barnardo's, said: "Barnardo's welcomes the announcement of a national police scrutiny group to look into child sexual abuse allegations involving public figures and institutions across the United Kingdom.

"As yet another celebrity is exposed as a paedophile, we ask how many more public figures were involved in these awful crimes against children."

(1st September 2014)

(The Guardian, 6th August 2014 author Ami Sedghi)

Full article :

European card fraud losses reached a new high in 2013, with the UK and France suffering 62% of the total losses of the 19 countries analysed.

Using data provided by Euromonitor, the Fico evolution of fraud map attempts to paint a picture of the 'fraud landscape' across Europe, in particular the change between 2006 and 2013.

According to the latest data European card fraud losses hit €1.55bn last year - up by 6.2% between 2012 and 2013.

The UK and France made up 62% of the total fraud losses for the 19 countries covered by the fraud map. Adding Germany, Russia and Spain, the five countries add up to 80% of the total losses.

Martin Warwick, a principal fraud consultant at Fico says:

"When fraud losses peaked in 2008, UK issuers sharply reduced card fraud through fraud analytics and the introduction of chip and PIN. However, criminals have been adapting - pickpocketing after watching consumers input their PIN, or calling cardholders and purporting to be part of a bank's fraud team, when actually they are stealing card details."

Meanwhile in France, chip and PIN has been used for so long that criminals have completely changed their approach and reverted to ID theft, which accounted for 66% of French fraud losses in 2013. Its growth has been quite staggering - losses due to ID theft grew from €7.6m in 2006 to €284m in 2013

Card fraud losses totalled €535m (£450m) in the UK in 2013 - up 16% on 2012. The UK is followed by France where card fraud losses reached €429m.

The data shows that Russia saw the fastest year-on-year growth in card fraud - up by 28% between 2012 and 2013.

Card fraud - % change from 2012 - 2013

Netherlands : - 10.7%
Hungary: - 6.5%
Spain : - 4.5%
Poland : - 3.9%
Germany : - 3.3%
Romania : 0%
Austria : 0%
Turkey : 0%
Greece : 0%
Portugal : +0.8%
France : +1%
Sweden : +1.9%
Italy : +2%
Denmark : +4.7%
Czech Republic : +6.3%
Ukraine : +7.3%
Norway : +7.8%
UK : +16%
Russia : +27.6%

Fraud losses are often measured by the card industry in terms of 'basis points'. This means 100 basis points is equivalent to 1% of card sales. A level of five or less indicates a relatively low threat from card fraud whereas a basis points level between five and 10 signifies quite active card fraud. Above 10 marks a significant fraud severity, requiring immediate attention. The chart below shows how each country fares on the scale.

Fraud threat levels

100 basis points is equivalent to 1% of card sales. A level of five or less indicates a relatively low threat rom card fraud whereas a basis points level between five and 10 signifies quite active card fraud. Above ten marks a significant fraud severity, requiring immediate attention.

> = remained same or decrease on the previous year
^ = Increase on the previous year

Ukraine : 0.1 >
Poland : 0.2 >
Turkey : 0.4 >
Hungary : 0.5 >
Austria : 0.9 ^
Denmark : 1.4 ^
Czech Republic : 1.4 ^
Russia : 1.7 >
Portugal : 2.1 ^
Italy : 2.1 ^
Germany : 2.1 >
Sweden : 2.7 ^
Netherlands : 3.6 >
Spain : 4.3 >
Norway : 5.1 >
Uk : 5.9 ^
Greece : 6.9 ^
France : 7.4 ^

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 6th August 2014 author Mark Ward)

Full article :

All 500,000 victims of Cryptolocker can now recover files encrypted by the malware without paying a ransom.

The malicious program encrypted files on Windows computers and demanded a substantial fee before handing over the key to the scrambled files.

Thanks to security experts, an online portal has been created where victims can get the key for free.

The portal was created after security researchers grabbed a copy of Cryptolocker's database of victims.

"This time we basically got lucky," said Michael Sandee, principal analyst at Fox-IT - one of the security firms which helped tackle the cyber-crime group behind Cryptolocker.

Cash call
In late May, law enforcement agencies and security companies seized a worldwide network of hijacked home computers that was being used to spread both Cryptolocker and another strain of malware known as Gameover Zeus.

This concerted action seems to have prompted an attempt by the gang to ensure one copy of their database of victims did not fall into police hands, said Mr Sandee.

What the criminals did not know, he said, was that police forces and security firms were already in control of part of the network and were able to grab the data as it was being sent.

The action also involved the FBI charging a Russian man, Evgeniy Bogachev, aka "lucky12345" and "slavik", who is accused of being the ring leader of the gang behind Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker.

The Gameover Zeus family of malware targets people who bank online, and is thought to have racked up millions of victims.

Cryptolocker was created by a sub-group inside the larger gang, said Mr Sandee, and first appeared in September 2013, since when it has amassed about 500,000 victims.

Those infected were initially presented with a demand for $400 (£327), 400 euros ($535; £317) or an equivalent amount in the virtual Bitcoin currency. Victims had 72 hours to pay up or face the keys that would unlock their files being destroyed.

Analysis of the back-up database indicates that only 1.3% of all the people hit by the malware paid the ransom.

Despite the low response rate, the gang is believed to have netted about $3m from Cryptolocker. Many of those caught out did not pay because they were able to restore files from back-ups.

However, others are believed to have lost huge amounts of important files and business documents to the cyber-thieves.

"There's a bit of guesswork in that figure because some of it was paid in bitcoins and that does not have a fixed exchange rate," said Mr Sandee.

Now, security firms Fox-IT and FireEye - which aided the effort to shut down the Gameover Zeus group - have created a portal, called Decrypt Cryptolocker, via which any of the 500,000 victims can find out the key to unlock their files.

"All they have to do is submit a file that's been encrypted from that we can figure out which encryption key was used," said Greg Day, chief technology officer at FireEye.

Mr Day said people wishing to use the portal should submit a file that did not contain sensitive information to help it verify which key they needed.

De-cryption website :

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 6th August 2014 author Jon Kelly)

Full article :

In a little-noticed move, a small number of police officers are now routinely carrying sidearms while on patrol in much of Scotland - the first in the UK outside Northern Ireland to do so. How did this come about, and does it alter the relationship between the constabulary and the public?

Saturday night in Inverness. Outside a McDonald's restaurant, a scuffle between two men breaks out. Three police officers arrive to intervene. So far, so mundane.

Except that strapped around the hips of each of the policemen approaching the brawl is a holstered Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol.

It's a sight that once would have been unthinkable. In this corner of the Scottish Highlands - an area with one of the lowest crime rates in the UK - the officers showing up to a relatively workaday disturbance are armed.

Although every police force has a firearms unit, for decades it has been an article of faith that in the mainland UK, almost uniquely among major industrialised nations, the police do not carry guns as a matter of course.

But with little fanfare at first, a policy of routinely allowing specialist officers to wear sidearms as they walk the streets of Scotland has come into being.

After the incident in Inverness was captured by a local photographer on 12 July, local politicians expressed fears that the tradition of an unarmed constabulary was being surreptitiously eroded - a charge that would have implications for everyone in the UK.

The British Position

- A 2006 survey of 47,328 Police Federation members found 82% did not want officers to be routinely armed on duty.

- For decades there have been incidents that have led to calls for issuing all officers with firearms.

- While some in London were issued with revolvers before 1936, from that date only trained officers at the rank of sergeant or above were issued with guns. Today only a small proportion of officers are authorised to use firearms.

- In London, the sight of armed officers at airports, embassies and other security-sensitive locations has become a familiar one.

Ever since Robert Peel created the Metropolitan Police in 1829, the British force's unarmed status has been central to its identity. Some in London were issued with revolvers prior to 1936, but after that date only trained officers ranked at sergeant or above were issued with guns, and even then only if they could show a good reason.

This was underpinned by the principle of policing by consent - the notion that officers owe their primary duty to those they serve, rather than to the state. The only forces in the UK which are routinely armed are in Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

According to Richard Garside, director of the Centre of Crime and Justice Studies, the sight of armed police has become more common in recent decades at airports and at places like the House of Commons. Cases like the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky, shot dead during a robbery in 2005, or of the three plain-clothes officers murdered by Harry Roberts in west London in 1966, have led to calls for the police to be armed.

In November 2011, Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe called for police response officers to be routinely armed with Tasers and in 2007 the centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange found 72% of 2,156 adults wanted to see more armed police patrols.

But a 2006 survey of 47,328 Police Federation members found 82% did not want officers to be routinely armed on duty, despite almost half saying their lives had been "in serious jeopardy" during the previous three years.

The International model

- All major police forces in Europe, as well as the US, Canada and Australia routinely carry firearms.

- The exceptions are Britain, the Irish Republic and New Zealand.

- In Norway officers carry arms in their cars but not on their person.

- New Zealand has adopted an armed response model similar to Britain, according to the International Law Enforcement Forum.

(1st September 2014)

(BBC News, dated 4th August 2014)

Full article :

Google has revealed the identity of a user after discovering child abuse imagery in the man's Gmail account in Houston, Texas, according to a local news report.

It alerted a child protection agency, which notified the police and the man was arrested, KHOU 11 News reported.

Google told the BBC it would not comment on individual accounts.

The arrest raises questions over the privacy of personal email and Google's role in policing the web.

Police in Houston told the local news station that Google detected explicit images of a young girl in an email being sent by John Henry Skillern. After the existence of the email was referred to them by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the police obtained a search warrant and arrested the man.

The 41-year-old is a convicted sex offender. He has been charged with possessing child pornography, it was reported.

"I can't see that information, I can't see that photo, but Google can," Detective David Nettles said.

Emma Carr, the acting director of privacy lobby group Big Brother Watch, told the BBC: "With the rate that Gmail messages are scanned, and the fact that all US companies are bound by US law to report suspected child abuse, it is hardly surprising that this individual has found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

"However, Gmail users will certainly be interested to know what action Google proactively takes to monitor and analyse Gmail messages for illegal content, including details of what sorts of illegal activity may be targeted. Google must also make themselves very clear about what procedures and safeguards are in place to ensure that people are not wrongly criminalised."

The BBC understands that Google does not search Gmail accounts for other forms of illegal activity, such as pirated content or hate speech.

'Proactively identifying'

David Drummond, the chief legal officer for Google, has previously said that Google helps fund the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is tasked with "proactively identifying child abuse images that Google can then remove from our search engine".

Google works with the IWF and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children extensively, he said, adding: "We have built technology that trawls other platforms for known images of child sex abuse. We can then quickly remove them and report their existence to the authorities."

Google automatically scans email accounts to provide ads within Gmail, which has more than 400 million users worldwide.

In April, Google updated its terms and conditions to say: "Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."

This occurred after a class-action lawsuit against the company over email scanning was dismissed earlier this year. At the time, Google said that "a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties".

In April Google also stopped scanning more than 30 million Gmail accounts linked to an educational scheme following reports that the scans might have breached a US privacy law.

Facebook has also faced a similar class-action lawsuit over message scanning.

(1st September 2014)


(Police oracle, dated 4th August 2014 author Josh Loeb)    [Option 1]

Taser use in Staffordshire is under the spotlight after an announcement by the county's police and crime commissioner of an independent probe into an apparently high use of the less-lethal weapon.

Staffordshire Police has the highest level of Taser use in the country, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found.

The force used Taser 33 times for every 100 officers in 2013, and the weapon was drawn a total of 626 times last year.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: "Out of the 619 incidents in Staffordshire, Taser was actually discharged 71 times.

Preventing trouble

"A lot of the time officers use it as a deterrent to prevent trouble - similar to the way that body cameras have had an effect across Staffordshire since their roll out in the past 12 months."

Mr Ellis said he was "not alarmed, because the number of complaints about Taser is very low in Staffordshire".

He added: "It is interesting that there's such a big variation with Taser use in other forces."

Statistics "can easily mislead," Mr Ellis said, "and it might be that other forces discharge Tasers on a more regular basis."

But he said there was no way of knowing until an independent panel he had set up reported back.

An IPCC spokesman said the watchdog's analysis of Home Office data revealed "considerable disparity in Taser use between forces, with some smaller forces having a proportionately much higher rate of Taser use in relation to their size".

There was "no obvious explanation for this," the spokesman said.

The College of Policing is currently reviewing Taser training offered across forces nationwide.

Lincolnshire and Humberside were among other forces where per capita Taser use was found to be high.

(1st Septembber 2014)

(BBC News, dated 2nd August 2014)

Two Welsh police forces will develop an £837,000 app to send witness statements from remote locations.

The cash has come from a UK government innovation fund, which has seen Wales' four police forces awarded £1.2m.

The Gwent and South Wales Police app will allow officers to record and upload audio and visual statements from a crime scene to a shared system.

It will mean officers can be freed from having to return to base, and can spend more time on patrol.

The app will work on mobile phones and tablets and means statements can be uploaded directly to data systems.

It will allow the two forces to share information, give officers quick access to data and let the public monitor the progress of a criminal report and incidents of anti-social behaviour.

As well as funding for the statement app, the Home Office innovation fund has also awarded the Gwent force a further £234,500 for a Wales-wide project aimed at working with women who have been arrested.

Body cameras
The scheme will try to help rehabilitate female offenders, and divert them away from a life of crime. The pilot scheme will run until 2016.

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston said: "This funding is truly fantastic news and I would like to congratulate everyone who brought their new and innovative ideas to the table and who worked so hard on making these range of exciting bids a reality."

The innovation fund is offering police forces across Britain access to £50m in grants.

In the latest round, North Wales Police has been awarded £44,538, and the Dyfed-Powys force was given £95,500.

North Wales Police will spend the money on body-mounted video cameras for officers and the money given to Dyfed-Powys Police will be used for a system to exchange information with other organisations during ongoing incidents.

(1st September 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 1st August 2014 author Martin Bentham)

A new spray which will speed up police investigations into rape and other offences by making it easier to detect body fluids is to be developed by the Met and London university scientists.
The spray contains "biosensor" detection molecules that will turn different colours on contact with semen, blood and saliva.

A Met document says the spray, being developed by the force with scientists at King's College, will be able to identify "trace amounts of body fluids not visible using existing white light searching techniques" and halve the time it takes to search for such fluids.

Announcing the plan, Home Office policing minister Mike Penning said the Met and King's College were on the verge of a "major technological breakthrough" which could "help to solve crimes and secure justice for victims".

The research will be funded with a £113,000 grant from the Home Office's police innovation fund.

(1st September 2014)

NEWS - JULY 2014


(Computer World, dated 30th July 2014 author Sam Shead)

Full article :

Hacker Gary McKinnon has reinvented himself as an online search expert, after winning a 10-year fight against extradition to the US for breaking into military computers to look for evidence of UFOs.

In a bid to market his talents, Glasgow-born McKinnon has set up a consultancy business, dubbed Small SEO, that pledges to manipulate certain aspects of company websites so that they appear higher in search engine results - a process known as search engine optimization (SEO).

McKinnon, who markets himself as someone with 20 years IT experience on his firm's website, is charging 40 British pounds an hour for his SEO services.

A number of companies have already signed up to use the services McKinnon is offering through Small SEO. They include London law firm Kaim Todner, tutoring service GMAT Tutor London, Oxfordshire hair salon The Hair Safari, and child safety door stop maker Jamm Products.


(Computer World, dated 26th July 2014 author Roger A Grimes)

Full article :

In today's threatscape, antivirus software provides little piece of mind, and antimalware scanners on the whole are horrifically inaccurate, especially with exploits less than 24 hours old. Despite modern heuristics, virtualized environments, system monitoring, and network traffic detection, hackers still reach us on a regular basis.

- Fake antivirus messages
- Unwanted browser toolbars
- Re-directed internet searches
- Frequent random pop-ups
- Your friends receive fake emails from your email account
- Your online passwords suddenly change
- Un-expected software updates
- Your mouse moves betweeb programs and makes correct selections
- Your ant-malware software, task manager or Registry Editor is disabled and can't be restarted.
- Your bank account is missing money
- You get calls from stores about non-payment of shipped goods


(Computer World, dated 24th July 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Hackers have stolen user contact information, including email addresses and phone numbers, from the website of the European Central Bank and attempted to extort money from the institution.

The attackers exploited a vulnerability to access a database serving the ECB's public website, the institution announced Thursday on its website. No internal systems or market sensitive data were affected, the ECB said.

The compromised database primarily contained contact information provided by users when registering for various ECB events and conferences. Most of the data was encrypted, but email addresses, phone numbers and street addresses were not, according to the ECB.


(Computer World, dated 23rd July 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

A ransomware threat that encrypts files stored on the SD memory cards of Android devices has been updated to target English-speaking users with FBI-themed alerts.

The malware app is called Simplocker and was first identified by security researchers from antivirus vendor ESET in early June. At the time it was the first malicious program for Android devices that used file encryption to extort money from victims.

The original variant was indicative of a work in progress and displayed ransom notes exclusively in Russian, but that has changed recently. Simplocker is now being sold on underground forums and actively distributed to users

(Computer World, dated 16th July 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

Fake apps dressed up to look like official ones but actually designed to steal user data are increasingly targeting Android phone users, according to a study by Trend Micro.

The company looked at the top 50 free apps in Google's Play Store and then searched Google's app store and others to see if fake versions existed. It found fake versions existed for 77 percent of the apps. The fake apps are often made to look like the real ones and have the same functions, but carry a dangerous extra payload.

"We've been tracking the activity of malicious or high-risk apps for nearly five years," said JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro. "The potential for people to slip things past the gate and appear legitimate is much easier."

Tokyo-based Trend Micro, which makes antivirus and antimalware software that guard against such risks, said it cataloged 890,482 fake apps in a survey conducted in April this year. More than half were judged to be malicious of which 59,185 were aggressive adware and 394,263 were malware.


(Computer World, dated 11th July 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

In the battle to keep your personal information private, it's not just hackers you have to worry about but lax security and stupidity.

A survey of data breaches in the first six months of this year shows an increasing number of incidents in which data, including names and addresses, credit card and Social Security numbers, and medical records was lost to criminals or exposed.

In other cases, laptops or thumb drives containing information were stolen -- in some cases with apparently nothing more than the login password to protect the data.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (US), there have already been 395 data breaches in the U.S. this year that have been reported to regulators or covered by media outlets, a 21 percent increase over the same period last year.


(Computer World, dated 10th July 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Police from eight countries together with several private security companies disrupted the online infrastructure used by cybercriminals to control computers infected with a malware program called Shylock.

Shylock is a Trojan program that first appeared in 2011, primarily targeting online banking. The threat is named after a fictional character in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" because it includes fragments from the play in its binary files.

Like most malware programs that steal financial information, Shylock is able to inject code into websites in order to capture credentials and trick victims into performing rogue financial transactions.

The action was led by the U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA) and was coordinated from the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol. Law enforcement agencies from the U.K., the U.S., the Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Poland and France participated. Several IT security vendors, including BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Dell SecureWorks, Kaspersky Lab and Heimdal Security (part of CSIS Security Group), provided support.


(Computer World, dated 9th July 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

Thousands of compromised computers are actively trying to break into point-of-sale (POS) systems using brute-force techniques to guess remote administration credentials.

The computers are part of a botnet, dubbed BrutPOS by researchers from security firm FireEye, that has been active since at least February. The botnet scans attacker-specified IP (Internet Protocol) address ranges for systems that accept Remote Desktop Protocol (port 3389) connections.

When an RDP service is identified, the BrutPOS malware attempts to log in with user names and passwords from a predefined list.

Data collected from these servers suggests that the botnet is made up of 5,622 compromised computers from 119 countries.


(Computer World, dated 8th July 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

An antispam organization is pushing for quick law enforcement action against five people it alleges took part in one of the largest cyberattacks on record that caused Internet outages throughout Europe early last year.

Spamhaus wrote on Monday that it has identified two U.S. nationals, two Russians and one Chinese national at large whom it believes participated in a large distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) that was nicknamed "Stophaus."

Spamhaus is a frequent target for retribution due to its widely used data feeds that help software applications identify and filter spam messages.

Last week, the U.K.'s National Crime Agency said it charged a 17-year-old from London with computer misuse, fraud and money laundering in connection with the attacks. The teenager, who wasn't named, was arrested last year, the agency said.


(Computer World, dated 2nd July 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

Data breaches at retailers and financial services companies exposed 14% of all U.S. debit cards in 2013, according to a nationwide survey by a major ATM network operator.

The figure is three times that of 2012 and comes as consumers are using debit cards to make more purchases than ever before.

The survey, conducted by Discover Financial Services' Pulse ATM network, found that the majority of affected cards were exposed in a single event: the Target data breach that compromised some 70 million customer records in late 2013.

Around 10% of all U.S. debit cards were affected in the Target incident, and the majority of financial institutions affected were pushed to reissue cards.


(Computer World, dated 2nd July 2014 author Martyn Williams)

Full article :

Restaurant chain P.F. Chang's China Bistro (in the US) says the theft of credit and debit card information from some of its restaurants earlier this year was "part of a highly sophisticated criminal operation."

But the chain, which only discovered the breach after a large batch of card numbers were offered on an Internet forum, said it's still working with the U.S. Secret Service and forensic experts to determine exactly what happened.

A company statement was the first update issued by the company in three weeks and didn't add much additional information to what was already known: that an attack apparently hit the point-of-sale systems in the company's restaurants and sucked up card numbers used between March and May of this year.


(Computer World, dated 2nd July 2014 author Loek Essers)

Full article :

A coalition of ISPs and communication providers from around the world filed a legal complaint against the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), calling for an end to its alleged attacking and exploitation of network infrastructure to gain access to potentially millions of people's private communications.

The complaint was lodged on Wednesday with the U.K.'s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a court that can investigate complaints about any alleged conduct by, or on behalf of, the British intelligence services.

The case was filed by U.S. campaigning organizations Riseup and May First/People Link, as well as by U.K. ISP GreenNet, Dutch hosting service Greenhost, Mango from Zimbabwe, the South-Korean Jinbonet, along with the German Chaos Computer Club and Privacy International who said exploiting network infrastructure to gather information is unlawful.


(Computer World, dated 2nd July 2014 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article :

Hackers recently broke into payment systems at several northwestern U.S. restaurants and food service companies via a remote access account belonging to one of their vendors, another example of the need for companies to monitor third-party access to their networks.

Information Systems and Supplies (ISS), a Vancouver, Wash.-based provider of point of sale (PoS) systems to restaurants and bars in the region, has warned its customers that hackers may have accessed their payment systems using ISS' remote login credentials.


(Computer World, dated 30th June 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

There is yet another reason to be wary of spam email about bank transfers or invoices -- it could be carrying a new, cleverly designed malware program that steals financial information.

Most Trojan programs steal financial information from users by injecting rogue forms into Web browsing sessions, but a newly discovered malware program takes a different approach and leverages browser network APIs to sniff outgoing traffic.

The new threat has been named Emotet by security researchers from antivirus vendor Trend Micro, who recently analyzed variants targeting the customers of several German banks. The malware is distributed via malicious links in spam email messages that masquerade as bank transfer notifications or invoices.

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 31st July 2014 author Angus Crawford)

Full article :

The number of listings offering illegal drugs for sale on the "dark net" appears to have more than doubled in less than a year, BBC News has learned.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) closed down the original online illegal drug market, Silk Road, in 2013.

But new figures suggest the trade has actually increased since then.

And other research indicates one in four British drug users has accessed hidden websites.

'Big problem'

In October 2013, there were 18,174 drugs listings across four main markets, according to the internet safety organisation Digital Citizens Alliance, based in the US.

A recent trawl of the dark net by BBC News revealed there were now 43,175 listings across 23 markets.

In this context, the term "dark net" refers to parts of the internet that cannot be reached easily unless specialised software is used.

Its content is hidden from conventional search engines such as Google and Bing. Commonly used apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Evernote - whose content does not show up in search results either - are not covered by the term.

Britain's National Crime Agency recognises the drug trade on the dark net is a threat.

"It's a big problem," says Caroline Young, deputy director of the NCA's Organised Crime Command.

"In our threat assessment we have cocaine and heroin as a high priority, and because it's cyber-enabled that makes it even more of a high priority."

However, she said the figures might be misleading.

"The numbers of vendors in the UK has reduced by 40%, each vendor may have more than one listing," she says.

One internet safety campaigner was concerned by the findings.

"We still think the internet can be a wonderful tool for consumers and businesses, but we do worry good people and companies get caught up in the web spun by criminals and rogue operators," said Adam Benson, deputy executive director of Digital Citizens Alliance.

"That will slowly erode the trust and confidence we have in the internet."

After months of negotiations, a dark net drug dealer based outside the UK agreed to answer my questions.

He would only do it anonymously and using encrypted messages.

"To us the dark net is all about anonymity and freedom," he said.

I put it to him that he was still selling dangerous substances and supporting organised crime.

"A street dealer could sell you anything without you knowing what it is exactly," he replied. "Because of the strong community on the dark net, this almost never happens. And when it happens, the vendor in question will lose all of his clients."

He added that the online drugs trade showed no signs of reducing."I've seen the dark net market grow almost exponentially."

Undesired publicity

Californian Ross Ulbricht was arrested last year and is awaiting trial charged with being the administrator of the original Silk Road site, which he denies.

Customers and dealers used encrypted email and paid using the virtual currency Bitcoin, which can be hard to track.

The FBI seized the site and confiscated all funds. But some observers say that has only increased interest in the markets. is a website that observes developments on the hidden web. A representative from the site said: "The Silk Road bust was the best advertising the dark net markets could have hoped for."

Anonymous network
One of the most popular access methods for the dark net is the TorBrowser.

It allows people to use Tor, an "onion-routing" system that makes a PC's net address untraceable.

It bounces encrypted data through several randomly selected computer servers on a volunteer network - before it reaches its destination.

There are also many hidden sites on the network ending in the dot-onion suffix, including drugs markets.

Tor was first created by the US military and is now also used by pro-democracy campaigners, whistleblowers and journalists operating under repressive regimes.

But criminals too are taking advantage of its anonymity.

Cocaine clicks

One buyer agreed to talk to me, but only if his identity was hidden.

Sam, not his real name, admitted he used to buy drugs from a dealer in London.

"I bought cannabis, around every two to three weeks from a street vendor, it was pretty terrifying," he said.

He then showed me the cannabis he bought online - it was delivered to his house by first-class post.

"I don't have to reveal my identity at all, it's completely anonymous, no-one's going to find out who I am, I just feel safe using it."

And there is evidence he is part of a growing number of people going online to buy illegal drugs. The Global Drug Survey has taken place each year since 1999.

For the 2014 survey, more than 79,000 people worldwide were questioned about their drug habits.

Some 25% of British respondents said they had accessed dark net drugs markets.

The survey's founder, Adam Winstock, said it was just like the growth of any e-commerce."Better quality, better range, more convenient," he said, "and certainly in the case of drugs, avoiding having to come into contact with dealers."

Targeting dealers
Those who observe the dark net believe sales will continue to grow. expects methods may change.

"We will see movements toward decentralised markets as they have better potential for being safer, are impossible to shut down, and can provide better solutions for handling transactions," said its editor, who asked to remain anonymous.

Britain's National Crime Agency says it will do all it can to disrupt the trade.
"We will use all and every tool and technique we possibly can" Whether they are dealers and buyers online or on the street - they are exactly the same.They are dealing in illegal drugs and they are dealing in misery", said Caroline Young.

(9th August 2014)

(The Telegraph, dated 30th July 2014 author David Barrett)   [Option 1]

Eight jails in England and Wales now house only sex offenders as the number of abusers has rocketed to more than 11,000, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has disclosed.

He set out new plans to cope with the rise - largely driven by longer sentences being handed down - including restricting specialist treatment courses to high risk offenders only.

It means lower risk sex attackers will now no longer be eligible to take part in the courses and will instead be offered "more appropriate interventions", a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.

Mr Grayling said it was a departure from a "one size fits all" approach, but critics will seize on the move as a failure to provide enough places on courses designed to stop sex crimes being carried out.

Eight jails are now wholly for sex offenders compared with five a year ago, with 20 more offering specialist courses.

The Justice Secretary said: "As a Government we make no apologies for putting sex offenders where they deserve - in jail.

"But when they are there it is important that we deal with their offending behaviour - that means programmes consistent with the best evidence, targeted at those who pose the greatest threat.

"I don't want a one size fits all approach which costs the taxpayer lots of money and doesn't reduce the risk posed by the most serious offenders."

According to latest figures the number of sex offenders rose to 11,150, up 652 year on year. In comparison, the previous 12 months saw a rise of only 152.

The MoJ spokesman said: "The new approach targets those with the most prolific offending, who are a much higher risk to the public and more likely to reoffend on release, with lower risk offenders given more appropriate interventions to match their individual needs.

"Funding for treatment has been maintained and increased but resources are now being targeted where they are most needed providing a smaller number of longer, more intensive programmes for the most serious offenders to reduce their risk to the public."

A series of reports by Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, have found there is a shortage of places available on sex offender treatment programmes, leading to some inmates being released without having undergone any courses to address their behaviour.

The eight sex offender jails are Albany on the Isle of Wight, Usk in Monmouthshire, Bure in Norfolk, Whatton in Nottinghamshire, Ashfield in Gloucestershire, Stafford, Rye Hill in Northamptonshire and Littlehey in Cambridgeshire.

The MoJ said the specialist jails included "designated treatment hubs".

"Evidence shows that holding sex offenders together makes them more likely to engage in programmes.

"It is also better value to taxpayers as resources are targeted where they are most needed," said the MoJ spokesman.

Another project at Whatton jail has seen sex offenders given drugs to reduce their libido, which the MoJ said had led to "encouraging" results.

Last year a report from the National Audit Office found the number of treatment programmes completed by sexual offenders had dropped by around 5 per cent since 2010-11.

(9th August 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd July 2014 author Justin Davenport)    [Option 1]

London's policing tsar today branded Scotland Yard's investigation of business fraud "a disgrace" after figures show there were just nine successful prosecutions last year.
Stephen Greenhalgh, the deputy mayor for policing, also dubbed the national Home Office funded Action Fraud centre as "No Further Action Fraud" as he called for a new drive to investigate the crime.

In a strongly worded attack he criticised the police lack of action at the launch of the first ever 'Business Crime Strategy' for London.

A report by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime says the police response to investigating fraud is "inadequate" highlighting that an "astonishing" small number of fraud cases are actually solved by police in London.

Figures show that a total of 81,631 frauds were reported to police by London businesses in 2013/14.

A total of 758 of these were deemed "solvable" by the City of London Police run National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

However, only 177 cases were passed to the Met to investigate and just nine were successfully prosecuted last year. Ninety five cases are still being investigated.

Mr Greenhalgh told the Standard the figures were "shocking" saying: "I think it is a disgrace. There is no doubt that the police response to fraud and cyber fraud is inadequate."

He said there was a perception that fraud was victimless but cited the case of his sister who had worked hard to build up a small business but lost £100,000 to a fraudster. "The police response was woeful," he said. "They did not act and my parents had to bail her out from their own pension money."

New measures to combat business crime announced by Boris Johnson today include a "resilience centre" to help protect small businesses from fraud and specialist police units to help fraud  and investigate on line business crime.

More than 6,000 London businesses will also be consulted on crime in the first ever survey of its kind in an effort to understand the scale of the problem.

The business strategy says retailers report that they often choose to solve crime themselves or take no action because they have no confidence in the police.

Police also say that organised criminals are involved in more and more cases of business crime in London.

Mr Greenhalgh said there was a shift in crime away from traditional robberies to cyber fraud and "plain old fraud."

He said : "The police need to improve their response. It is no good passing the parcel, they need to get convictions. Nine crimes being solved in one year is pathetic."

He added: "The real issue is you have to get business and the police to share information, until that improves you are never going to make any progress."

He said there was a "renewed commitment" by the Met to tackle the problem but added: "We have to do more to tackle business crime if London is to continue to grow and thrive."

Met Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey, who leads on business crime, said the force had launched a new initiative to provide specialist crime prevention advice to businesses.

(9th August 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 23rd July 2014 author Josh Loeb)    [option 1]

Neighbourhood policing is "not just about going round schools and speaking to kids" but can be a major tool in the fight against terrorism, the President of the Police Superintendents' Association has said.

Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis (pictured) said: "There is a danger that the Police Service will return to just the responsive mode, so that the majority of people's experiences of the police would be when they are in stress or in immediate need of a police officer.

"That would mean all that prevention work and the relationships police officers build within communities would be lost."

Chief Supt Curtis was speaking following the release of the latest 'Valuing the Police' report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which said forces were increasingly taking officers out of neighbourhood teams to perform response and investigative functions elsewhere.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham warned of a "vicious circle" in which neighbourhood teams would become increasingly focussed on merely reacting to events rather than preventing crime and building contacts, and would as a result become more in demand from the public.

HMIC's report, entitled 'Policing in Austerity: Meeting the Challenge', states: "The risk is that continuing austerity may put neighbourhood-based proactive and preventative policing in jeopardy. If that happens, the hard-won prize of community confidence could be lost."

Chief Supt Curtis said: "Neighbourhood policing is not just about going round schools and speaking to kids, it is an integral part of the British policing model - and it is in serious danger of being undermined by future cuts.

"There have been examples of neighbourhood teams helping combat extremism and feeding into counter terrorism work."

Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey added to the warnings, saying: "The HMIC Report confirms that neighbourhood policing is in danger of existing on paper only. The bitter irony is that the British model of neighbourhood policing is celebrated worldwide for its effectiveness."

HMIC's report also recommended greater collaboration between forces - and it used Ofsted-style categories to rank forces ranging from "outstanding" to "inadequate" in terms of how they were managing with less funding.

(9th August 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 22nd July 2014 author Josh Loeb)    [Option 1]

Some police forces could cease to be viable in three years if they do not radically change how they implement cuts, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has warned.

For the first time in its history, the inspectorate used Ofsted-style categories to name forces whose financial approach has not been effective.

Though all 43 forces examined avoided the lowest category - that of "inadequate" - Bedfordshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police were listed as "requiring improvement" alongside Gwent Police, which HMIC has "serious concerns" about.

An additional 15 forces are also at risk of not being able to provide the same level of service to the public.

HMIC found five forces to be "outstanding." They were Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Norfolk Constabulary, Lancashire Constabulary, Staffordshire Police and West Midlands Police.

The remaining forces were judged to be "good."

'Difficult challenge'

Bedfordshire - one of the country's worst funded forces - had slashed officer numbers to a level that "puts at risk" its ability to deliver effective policing, the report stated.

The 'Policing in Austerity: Meeting the Challenge' report added that efforts were now underway to restore numbers to "safe levels" - and the force emphasised that it was taking steps to deal with a "particularly difficult financial challenge."

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Olly Martins described HMIC's verdict as "disappointing."

He added: "However, HMIC's categorisation reflects the underlying truth about our predicament."

It was "imperative" that whoever is Home Secretary after May 2015 "urgently addresses the inadequacies of the funding formula for policing," he added.

Nottinghamshire Police was criticised for being too slow to implement change. This was rejected by Nottinghamshire PCC Paddy Tipping, who said he was confident that "robust plans" were now in place to safeguard his force's financial future.

He added: "That said, it's an interesting report which recognises the achievements we've made thus far while also warning of some major challenges which could impact on police services and our ability to meet our savings targets if left unaddressed."

Gwent Police had not responded to a request for comment as this article went live.

The document states: "We recommend that the chief constables of these forces urgently review their approaches to the spending review."

HMIC will now conduct a re-inspection of the three forces found to require improvement to check their progress over the coming months.

An HMIC spokesman would not be drawn on what might happen if a force reached the point at which it was considered to be no longer viable, and whether this could lead to it being placed in special measures or even dissolved.

However HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor flagged up "interoperability" - or greater collaboration between forces - as a key way in which savings could be made.

A spokesman stressed that any risk to forces' viability was not as a result of cuts per se but the way in which they were being implemented.

'Collaboration' call

Forces should also look at entering into greater collaboration with other parts of the public sector, as well as with private companies, Mr Winsor said.

But he added: "It was disappointing to find that progress in achieving savings in this way remains patchy and slow with a few notable exceptions."

Collaboration happened "where there is a will, and when there is an ability to compromise," HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said.

She singled out for praise the example of the close working relationship between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, who she said were doing "everything" jointly while retaining their own Chief Constables and PCCs.

Ms Billingham also highlighted apparent successes in the collaboration between Norfolk Constabulary and Suffolk Police - but noted that plans to merge the two forces' control rooms had been scrapped.

She stopped short of recommending all-out mergers of forces, since politicians would have to vote to change an Act of Parliament sanctioning a redrawing of the policing map in order for this to happen.

However, she said HMIC would be convening a debate on how forces could make further cuts without compromising public safety as there was "no end in sight for austerity."

Police Federation Chairman Steve White said: "The report provides clear evidence that cuts are damaging the Police Service and officers' capacity to keep the public safe.

"It is unacceptable that 18 smaller forces are at risk of not being able to provide the same service to the public if these cuts continue.

"Staff and officers know only too well the effect government cuts have had as austerity measures put more pressure on them and changes to their pay, pensions and working conditions affect their health and well-being."

Her Majesties Inpector of Constabularies report :

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 18th July 2014 author Dave Lee)

Full article :

There has been a dramatic rise in reports of child abuse images posted to commonly used parts of the internet, according to a US watchdog.

They include photos posted to publicly-accessible parts of social networks.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a record number of reports in the first week of July, four times the weekly average.

It comes in a week UK authorities arrested 660 people in connection with online child abuse.

That investigation was believed to have been targeted at those using the so-called "dark net" - parts of the internet that are hidden and can be hard to access without special software.

But the NCMEC stressed there was still a significant and growing challenge for law enforcement agencies to deal with material on the open internet as well as the harder-to-reach areas.

In the US, all electronic communications providers (ECPs) have had to report any instance of child abuse on their networks to the Cyber Tipline provided by the NCMEC since 1998.

Since many of the world's most popular communications sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, are based in the US, the NCMEC works with authorities around the world to follow up leads provided by tips.

The UK is among the 62 countries working closely with the NCMEC.

In the week from beginning 29 June and ending July 5, 92,800 reports were made to the Cyber Tipline.

Of those, the vast majority - 91,334 - came from internet firms, with the remainder being tip-offs from members of the public.

On average, the NCMEC receives around 15,000 reports per week.

John Shehan, executive director of the NCMEC Exploited Children Division, said the large numbers early in July may prove to be an anomaly.

But he stressed the growing concern with social networks.

"You wouldn't think someone would do it on Pinterest or LinkedIn," Mr Shehan said.

"But any type of platform that allows people to post images or videos - they get used for the wrong reasons."

Extremely rare
While most would assume social networks are an unlikely place for illegal material to be shared - by people who would presumably want to hide any trace of their identity - Mr Shehan said several theories had emerged.

"When you look at the types of offenders who have a sexual interest in children, there is a wide spectrum as far as their internet knowledge, and their backgrounds with being able to anonymise and hide their identities online.

"If you look at where the content is being uploaded from - sometimes we see that it goes back to third-world countries.

"Some of these are just starting to get high-speed internet access, and they may not be as sophisticated as some countries in using different anonymisers."

The BBC contacted the leading social networks that report into the NCMEC.

All stressed that the latest technology - which is able to spot known images of child abuse and flag authorities immediately - was deployed across the sites.

LinkedIn confirmed that reports about child abuse had been made to the NCMEC, but that instances were extremely rare.

Twitter, which is the subject of a campaign by internet activist group Anonymous to do more to quickly remove child abuse images, said it had a no-tolerance approach.

A spokesman said: "When we are made aware of links to images of or content promoting child sexual exploitation they will be removed from the site without further notice and reported to the NCMEC, we permanently suspend accounts promoting or containing updates with links to child sexual exploitation."

No UK law
In the UK, there is no law that compels UK communications companies to inform the Cyber Tipline, or any similar service, about child abuse content discovered on their services.

In a statement to the BBC, the NCA said: "The UK internet industry is very small in comparison to the US and no such equivalent legislation currently exists.

"UK internet service providers voluntarily block access to known indecent images of children."

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) - the UK-based group that actively targets illegal content online - said that while it would be interesting to see the effects a US-style law would have, the UK's impressive record in stamping out child abuse meant existing rules were working.

"Due to the cooperation we have with the online industry in the UK less than 1% of child sexual abuse imagery is hosted here, down from 18% in 1996," said Susie Hargreaves, the IWF's chief executive.

Ms Hargreaves re-iterated the concerns of the the NCMEC that child abuse images were increasingly being spread on the open internet as well as the dark web.

"This isn't a problem which is only found in hidden areas of the internet," she told the BBC.

Within a year, the IWF had just four full-time analysts working on monitoring the internet.

"We now have 12 analysts who are still working full time and due to our ability to proactively seek out the images and videos, we're able to identify around three times as many URLs as last year."

Paedophile arrests (source : National Crime Agency)

660 suspected paedophiles arrested
431 children have been protected
39 suspects were registered sex offenders
833 buildings searched
9,172 devices, including phones and laptops seized

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 18th July 2014)

Full article :

Too many governments are "rubber-stamping" mass surveillance programmes, the UN human rights watchdog warns.

In a report, the UN body said more needed to be done to ensure that surveillance was balanced against its harm to personal privacy.

It added that mass retention of data to aid surveillance was "neither necessary nor proportionate".

The report comes as the UK passes an emergency law to make ISPs and mobile companies store user data.

The document was written by the office of Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said it revealed a "disturbing" lack of transparency about the reasons governments approve or start large-scale monitoring of what people do online.

Mass surveillance, said Ms Pillay, was becoming a "dangerous habit rather than an exceptional measure" for governments.

'Constant stream'

These programmes necessarily interfered with privacy, and governments must do more to ensure that this curbing of freedoms was "neither arbitrary nor unlawful".

The further that governments went in scooping up information about citizens, the harder they needed to work to justify the snooping and monitor it to guard against excess, said Ms Pillay.

The report said laws that set out how surveillance could be carried out must be publicly available and demonstrate specific reasons why the monitoring was taking place.

It said measures to force net companies, mobile operators and others to retain data on what people did online and whom they talked to had little justification.

Simply gathering data, even if it was never consulted, could potentially curb privacy because too few states put good limits on who could look at the data and what it could be used for.

"The constant stream of new revelations shows how disturbingly little we really know about the precise nature of surveillance," said Ms Pillay.

(9th August 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th July 2014 author Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

The number of iPhones being stolen in London has fallen dramatically, new figures reveal.
About 105 iPhones are still stolen every day in the capital but nine months ago the figure was 144.

Police say the decline is largely down to Apple introducing a "kill switch" to its phone software last September, leading to a big reduction in black market demand for the devices.

Overall, phone snatches and thefts have fallen by more than 25 per cent in the past 12 months and robberies targeting phones are down by 28 per cent.

Two years ago, Scotland Yard said phones were being stolen at a record rate of 301 every day in London. The latest figure is 201 a day.

At the height of the crimewave more than 1,000 phones were snatched in Westminster in December 2012.

Senior officers launched an intelligence-gathering operation and found that organised crime groups were using gangs of thieves to steal phones on an industrial scale across Europe.

Commander Christine Jones said it was "truly international foreign offending. It was very focused, well briefed, people were told you go in, you remove that number of phones and you go."

Rock concerts were being targeted for mass thefts of phones. "The thieves would be in Brighton on a Saturday morning and in Perthshire the next day for another concert. They would follow the same band," Ms Jones said.

Stolen phones, mainly iPhones, would be quickly moved to the Far East and Africa where they could be sold for £250 and reactivated. Since Apple brought in the "kill switch" the black market value of an iPhone 5 has fallen to about £60.  Ms Jones said: "Apple has come up with a solution that means if a phone is stolen it is inoperable across the whole of the globe."

The Met's Operation Ringtone involved using spotters, tackling handlers as well as thieves and trying to identify the "puppeteers". These tactics are now being adopted across Europe.

(9th August 2014)

(The Guardian, dated 18th July 2014 author Alan Travis)       [Option 1]

Crime in England and Wales has fallen by a further 9% over the past year, official survey results published on Thursday reveal.

Official statisticians say this latest substantial fall brings the crime rate down to its lowest level since the survey began in 1981 and to less than half the peak level it reached in 1995.

Separate figures of crime recorded by the police confirmed the significant drop: they fell 7% in the 12 months to March 2013 to 3.7m offences.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall in crime continued the downward trend of recent years, albeit at a slower rate than was seen in the 1990s.

Senior police officers said a 27% rise in reported fraud showed that criminals were adopting new tactics and moving online, as well as being a result of a new centralised recording system.

Home Office figures also published on Thursday reveal there are 14,186 fewer police officers than when the coalition government came to power in March 2010.

The number of full-time equivalent police officers was 129,584 in March 2013. This 4,516 drop in the past year is the third year of consecutive falls. The overall number of officers is at its lowest since 2002.

Home Office statisticians say the evidence for a clear link between crime figures and police officer numbers is contested.

The fall in crime has taken place across nearly all categories: there has been a 15% fall in car theft, a 7% fall in burglary, a 6% fall in violent crime and a 13% fall in vandalism.

Among the few categories to see a rise in incidents were theft from the person - mainly pickpocketing and snatch thefts - which rose by 9%, mainly in London, for a second consecutive year.

There was also a 1% rise in sexual offences to 53,340. Statisticians say this reflects a "Yewtree effect" - greater numbers of victims of sexual attacks have come forward to report historical offences to the police in the wake of the police investigation into Jimmy Savile.

The murder rate in England and Wales remained almost unchanged: 552 homicides were recorded in 2012-13 compared with 553 the previous year.

The fall in crime has been more than matched by a sharp 17% reduction in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents recorded.

Figures for fraud show that 229,000 incidents, including online fraud, were reported to the police and the National Fraud Authority in the past year. The figures give a profile for the first time of the scale and type of offence taking place online. For example, fraud involving online shopping and auctions reported to the authorities doubled from 23,750 to 45,114 incidents in the past year.

Advance fee frauds included 1,196 offences involving dating scams and 1,114 inheritance frauds. There were 11,048 offences involving computer misuse, including virus and denial-of-service attacks. Computer-hacking offences topped 4,500 reported incidents.

The deputy chief constable of Gwent police, Jeff Farrar, said the figures showed the likelihood of someone becoming a victim of crime was at its lowest level in more than 30 years: "A key success reflected in the figures is the significant reduction in the number of victims of antisocial behaviour, with 458,166 fewer offences compared with last year," he said.

"However, although police-recorded crime is down by 7%, we are seeing some emerging trends. Data shows that fraud is up 27%. Although this increase is partly down to the introduction of a more efficient centralised recording system, it also shows us that criminals are adopting new tactics and crime is moving away from more traditional forms to the online world.

"The need for policing to deliver safe and confident neighbourhoods and engage effectively with the public will remains so we are disappointed to also see in today's figures that theft against the person is up 9%. The major driver is the rising number of mobile phone thefts."

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the figures showed her police reform programme was delivering results and said the sustained fall in crime was a significant achievement: "Police forces have shown an impressive ability to rise to the challenge of making savings while still cutting crime," she said.

David Cameron hailed the figures as "good news". Speaking during a visit to Hammersmith police station in west London, the prime minister said: "I think we should congratulate the police. As a government we have asked them to do more with less resources. They have performed, I think, magnificently and I think all the work that has gone into crime prevention has helped as well.

"This is good news that Britain is getting safer as well as stronger."

(9th August 2014)

(Sky News, dated 16th July 2014)

Full article :

An operation by the National Crime Agency involving 45 police forces has seen 660 suspected paedophiles arrested across the UK.

Thirty-nine of the 660 were registered sex offenders but the vast majority had not come to the authorities' attention before. More than 800 properties were searched.

One arrested man had access to 17 grandchildren - two of them had already made allegations against him.

Two men, one of whom is a doctor, had between them more than a million indecent images of children on their phones and computers.

Care workers and former police officers were also among the hundreds arrested.

As a result of the six-month investigation across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - which has only now been revealed - more than 400 children have been safeguarded, the NCA said.

A total of 431 children now under official protection had been in the "care, custody or control" of suspects, 127 of those children were considered to be at immediate risk of harm, the agency revealed.

None of those arrested is a serving or former MP or member of the Government, it said.

Charging decisions are still due in most cases because of continuing inquiries, but charges brought so far range from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.

The NCA's deputy director general, Phil Gormley, said: "This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature.

"Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.

"Our aim was to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken. They are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.

"Some of the people who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended - it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line.

"We want those offenders to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images, that they leave a digital footprint, and that law enforcement will find it."

Mr Gormley said he was "profoundly disappointed" at the scale of the problem and the number of arrests police were forced to make.

It was necessary, he said, to take a harder look at the amount of people looking at child abuse images on the internet.

"The alternative," he said, "is not to look under the stone, and we cannot afford not to look under this stone."

Claire Lilley, Head of Online Safety at the NSPCC said: "This is an important two-pronged operation which has rescued children from abuse and also identified many previously unknown sex offenders.

"Direct action like this sends a strong message to those who subject children to harrowing sexual assaults that they can and will be traced and prosecuted."

(9th August 2014)

(Press Association via Daily Mail, dated 16th July 2014)   [Option 1]

Former police officers should be given an amnesty to allow them to speak out without fear about what they knew of paedophile networks operating in Westminster three decades ago, an ex-Special Branch officer has said.

Chris Hobbs, who spent 32 years with the Metropolitan Police, said retired colleagues should be given protection to encourage them to reveal what they had learned and that many would be carefully considering the consequences of speaking out about what they knew of the allegations.

Mr Hobbs told Sky News it was clear that "quite a few" officers, from the rank of commissioner and chief constable down to detectives, would know something about allegations of child abuse among politicians three decades ago.

He said that an amnesty would be the only way to encourage former officers to come forward and speak out.

Mr Hobbs said: "I think it would help, it would help set officers' minds at rest if there was some form of protection there for them, that they weren't suddenly going to subject to the criminal investigations for possibly just doing what they were told.

"I suspect there will be a substantial number of police officers, not huge numbers, but a substantial number that will know something and will be thinking to themselves, 'Shall I come forward, dare I risk it, or if I keep my head down will the storm pass me by?'."

Widespread allegations of child abuse among establishment figures in the 1980s have prompted a formal inquiry, and Mr Hobbs said "every police officer in London" at the time had heard rumours about Cyril Smith, the late Rochdale MP named as one of the abusers of young boys.

Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said the creation of an amnesty would require great care.

He told Sky News: "It depends what they are being given an amnesty against - if it is an intention to pervert the course of justice then that is fine. However, if they are part of a paedophile ring that involves the MPs then one does not want to let them off a criminal prosecution, nor would it be fair to do so."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 15th July 2014 author Leo Kelion)

Full article :

A document that appears to list a wide variety of GCHQ's cyber-spy tools and techniques has been leaked online.

It indicates the agency worked on ways to alter the outcome of online polls, find private Facebook photos, and send spoof emails that appeared to be from Blackberry users, among other things.

The document is alleged to have been among those leaked by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

One expert said the release, published on the site Intercept, was "damaging".

Alan Woodward, a security consultant who has done work for GCHQ, the UK's intelligence agency, said: "If you read the mission statement of any signals intelligence organisation, all the listed techniques are what you'd expect them to be doing.

"But it's very unhelpful for the details to leak out because as soon as you reveal to people how something is being done they can potentially take steps to avoid their information being collected.

"We've already seen it happen when various forms of interception were revealed previously with the Snowden leaks."

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published the latest document, noted in his article that an earlier inquiry by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee had called into question the "legality, necessity and proportionality" of the data-collection activities of GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA), for which Mr Snowden worked.

He also highlighted that the article's publication coincided with the start of a legal challenge brought by Privacy International, Liberty and other civil rights groups that claimed the UK's security agencies had acted unlawfully.

However, GCHQ denies it is at fault.

"It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters," it said in a statement.

"Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee."

Swamp donkey
More than 100 projects are included in the document, which appears to be from a Wikipedia-style listing for GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group.

Many involve eccentric codenames.

For example, the ability to send an audio message to a large number of telephones and/or "repeatedly bomb" a target number with the same message is called Concrete Donkey - the name of a weapon in the video game Worms.

Other examples include:

* Angry Pirate - a tool to permanently disable a target's account on their computer
* Bomb Bay - the capacity to increase website hits/rankings
* Cannonball - the ability to send repeated text messages to a single target
* Gestator - a tool to make a message, normally a video, more visible on websites including YouTube
* Glitterball - software to help agents carry out operations in Second Life and other online games
* Birdstrike - Twitter monitoring and profile collection
* Fatyak - public data collection from the business-focused social network LinkedIn
* Spring Bishop - a tool to find private pictures of targets on Facebook
* Changeling - the ability to spoof any email address and send messages under that identity
* Bearscrape - a tool to extract a computer's wi-fi connection history
* Miniature Hero - the ability to source real-time call records, instant messages and contact lists from Skype
* Swamp donkey - a way to send a modified Excel spreadsheet document that silently extracts and runs malware on the target's computer
* Underpass - a tool to change the result of online polls

Some of the schemes are listed as being operational while others are said to be still at the design, development or pilot stages.
The latest revelations suggest that GCHQ is developing a wide range of capabilities which go beyond the simple gathering of information and into the realms of covert action.

This is another traditional part of the work of spy agencies but one they prefer to keep clandestine and therefore "deniable".

According to the documents, this appears to range from disrupting an individual's online activity to broader "information operations" to influence opinion in other countries.

What is not clear from the document is how far these capabilities have actually been deployed and put into action and against whom.

Almost every state is secretly developing capabilities to disrupt their opponents in cyberspace but they do not like talking about them or having them revealed in public.

'Chinese menu'
It is not clear exactly how out-of-date the list is.

The document states it was last modified in July 2012, but includes a note saying: "We don't update this page anymore, it became somewhat of a Chinese menu for effects operations."

Staff are instead directed to an alternative page, which has not been leaked.

"The accusation that GCHQ has been manipulating polls and influencing and distorting political discourse is incredibly serious," said Emma Carr, acting director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group.

"The UK is always the first to point the finger at countries if there is a whiff of corruption or interference within a democratic process, so if senior ministers are aware that this is taking place then this absolutely stinks of hypocrisy.

"It is essential that the government directly addresses these accusations, otherwise they are at risk of losing the international moral high ground."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 14th July 2014 author Ed Ram)

San Francisco is scaling up its use of an intelligent gunshot sensor system - but when the same scheme was trialled in the UK it was abandoned after two years. However, the technology of the sensors has improved, so is it time to retry the system?

It sounds like a no-brainer. A tried and tested network of listening sensors are placed around a city and can instantly pinpoint where a gunshot has come from within seconds of the weapon being fired.

ShotSpotter promises to save police having to hunt door-to-door in the vague vicinity of a blast. It analyses the way the sound waves from the gun firing radiate out reaching microphones at slightly different times.

Its maker SST says it can distinguish the sound of a bullet being fired from fireworks and other types of explosion, count how many shots were fired and even deduce how many gunmen were involved.

San Francisco is scaling up its use of the tech - and it's also been deployed in Miami, Boston, Puerto Rico and Rio de Janeiro.

But an effort to use it to combat gun crime in the UK was abandoned when authorities in the city of Birmingham reported "technical difficulties".

So, what went wrong - and would it be worth reconsidering?

Privacy concerns
In December 2010, West Midlands Police were optimistic about what the innovation could achieve.

The cost of investigating a single murder could run to £1m. By contrast, installing the system cost £150,000 and a further £21,000 a year to maintain.

"We're delighted to be the first city in the UK to secure this technology," said Ch Supt Chris McKeogh at the time.

Some residents expressed concern that their conversations might be picked up - a previous effort to install hidden CCTV cameras in the city had proven controversial and had to be abandoned - but the police assured them this would not happen.

But just 20 months later ShotSpotter was judged to be a second failure.

In August 2012 West Midlands Police said of 1,618 alerts produced by the system since November 2011, only two were confirmed gunfire incidents.

What's more, the force added, ShotSpotter had also missed four confirmed shootings.

Its conclusion was that resources would be best spent elsewhere.

Air gun problem
Now that the dust has settled, SST is willing to discuss what went wrong.

James Beldock, the firm's senior vice president of products, said the figures quoted two years ago were misleading. "There were only two cases of an actual firearm shooting being missed [by SST] over an 18-month period," he said. "The other two were air guns, which ShotSpotter is explicitly not designed to detect."

He acknowledged there were "technical problems", which caused the system to be less accurate than normal, but suggested this could have been avoided if the city had been more committed to the idea.

"SST originally proposed a density of ShotSpotter sensors of approximately 10 per square kilometre," he said.

"Such sensor densities are standard for our international deployments - Brazil, South Africa, Panama, etc.

"Unfortunately, budget constraints pushed West Midlands Police to reduce that density. We take partial responsibility for permitting the budget to drive the decision, along with West Midlands Police."

The firm had learnt from this mistake and made other changes to improve the system.

SST staff now monitor all the sensors deployed worldwide through a central base in the US to confirm the cause of each explosion, rather than leaving such a judgement to local law enforcers on the ground.

And a new generation of sensor - with approximately 10 times the processing power - has now been introduced, Mr Bedlock said.

Even so, Birmingham - and other UK cities that eyed ShotSpotter - might be wise to remain reticent.

ShotSpotter is optimised to handle the very specific noises, frequencies and decibel levels created by conventional weapons.

But while such weapons may be relatively easy to come by in the US and parts of Latin America, they are less common in the UK.

As a result, criminals in Britain often resort to other types of firearms, including ones that shoot pellets and electric stun guns.

A review of the 22 injuries caused by guns in Birmingham's west and central areas between April 2011 and March 2012 reveals that the majority were the result of air-rifles and BB air guns.

"A higher sensor density might permit such modified weapons to be detected, but the economic equation would, again, need to be reviewed," said Mr Bedlock.

It's not impossible that ShotSpotter will return to the UK. The Home Office notes that it is "down to each regional police force" as to whether it invests in the equipment.

But for now it seems this is one instance where the traditional trumps cutting edge tech - at least where British cities are involved.

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 14th July 2014)

Full article :

Retired judge Baroness Butler-Sloss has stepped down as head of a probe into child sex abuse saying she was "not the right person" for the job.

Lady Butler-Sloss has been under pressure to quit from MPs and victims concerned about her family links. Her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she did not regret appointing the peer, adding that she would "not hang around" in naming her successor.

Lady Butler-Sloss said she "did not sufficiently consider" whether her family links would cause difficulties in the inquiry.

'Right person'
Downing Street said it would "take a few days" to appoint a new chairman and appeared to indicate that whoever was chosen would not be so closely linked to the establishment.

Mrs May told MPs that she believed Lady Butler-Sloss was the "right person for the job" despite what she suggested was a lot of "rumour and innuendo" about her appointment.

"I do not regret the decision I made. I continue to believe that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would have done an excellent job as chair of this inquiry," she told the Home Affairs select committee.

Asked about her successor, Mrs May said she still favoured appointing a single individual to head the over-arching inquiry rather than a panel of experts urged by Labour and some abuse victims.

She said she hoped to name a new candidate "within a reasonable amount of time" but said whoever was approached would need to "think carefully" about the nature of the role.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, which is also investigating historical child sex abuse, said the handling of the issue had been "somewhat shambolic" and raised issues about Mrs May's judgement.

In a statement, Lady Butler-Sloss said she had been "honoured" to be asked to chair the inquiry and had hoped to "make a useful contribution".

Important issues
But, she added: "It has become apparent over the last few days, however, that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry.

"It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been attorney general would cause difficulties.

"This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to government.

"Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary."

The inquiry was set up to examine how state institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from paedophiles.

Most public bodies at least claim they appoint people because of what they know, not who they know. But it was Lady Butler-Sloss's family and political connections - not her experience and knowledge - which led to her resignation.

There will be no rush to appoint her successor - it could take several days. That's because while her resignation was unfortunate, a second controversial appointment might look like carelessness at the top of government.

Already there are calls for a figure less linked to the establishment to be appointed - but if a legal background, along with the security clearance to read confidential government papers is required, then that could be easier said than done.

David Cameron's spokesman said Lady Butler-Sloss's decision to quit was "entirely" her own.

"The reasons for her appointment still absolutely stand in terms of her professional expertise and her integrity, which I don't think has been questioned from any quarter whatsoever, and rightly so," he said.

'Question of integrity'
Appearing before the Commons home affairs select committee, Mrs May was asked whether she was aware before appointing Lady Butler-Sloss of claims that her late brother had tried to persuade former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens against naming an alleged paedophile on the floor of the House of Commons.

Mrs May implied the answer to that question was no, saying that these were issues which had "surfaced in the last few days as far as I am concerned".

She added: "There was absolutely no doubt that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was Michael Havers' sister. That was well known. A number of issues about Michael Havers had been raised publicly in the past."

She insisted she had conducted "due diligence" on Lady Butler-Sloss before appointing her, including holding a "number of discussions" with relevant people, but said the focus was on her ability to perform the role. "My judgement was about her integrity to do this job. That is why I appointed her."

'Conflict of interest'
For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said it was the right decision since concerns about "victim confidence or conflict of interest" had not been addressed.

"It is very unfortunate that the last minute nature of the Home Secretary's response means that proper consideration was not given to the perception of conflict of interest and Lady Butler-Sloss was placed in an unfair position by the Home Office," she said.

Author Alex Wheatle, who was abused at a children's home in the late 1960s, said victims must be "100% sure they will be treated fairly".

"For any people coming forward they must have the utmost confidence in whoever chairs that inquiry," he said.

Peter Saunders, from the National Association for Abused People in Childhood, said the government had "missed a trick" in not seeking the views of victims before the appointment.

"We need somebody who is trusted," he said. "This is not a slight on Lady Butler-Sloss... but there were so many things stacked against her in having the trust of survivors."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 13th July 2014 author Danny Mitzman)

year Italy's carabinieri is 200 years old - it's older than the country itself. But why does Italy have two police forces and what is so special about this one?

I've always been puzzled by the fact that Italy has two police forces, although Italians don't seem to find it strange at all.

If you ask "why two?" they'll tell you, by way of unsatisfactory explanation, the polizia are the regular state police while the carabinieri are part of the army.

The real reason is a quirk of history.

The carabinieri are actually older than Italy itself. Their force was founded by Victor Emanuel I, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia almost half a century before modern Italy came into existence.

Their name comes from the carabina, the rifle they traditionally carried.

Among the famous people they've arrested over the past two centuries, they can even boast one of Italy's founding fathers, Giuseppe Garibaldi - twice.

When Italy was unified, the royal corps of carabinieri remained a nationwide military presence performing law enforcement duties so, in many ways, functioning as a duplicate police force.

In fact, you're just as likely to hear an Italian threaten to call the carabinieri as the polizia.

For one you dial 112, for the other 113 - but most Italians I've challenged don't know which is which, even though it says 112 on the side of the carabinieri's cars.

And just like the police, they're loved and loathed: hailed for acts of courage, condemned for excessive violence.

But the one thing they're best known for is being the national butt of politically incorrect jokes: where once the English featured an Irishman, the Italians have a carabiniere.

Regularly lampooned in films and on TV, their archive of historical regulations doesn't help shake the comic image.

For example, their strict moustache, beard and sideburn protocol went from none, to some, to "a facial bush is fine as long as it's trimmed".

At a certain point, there was one directive allowing only the highest ranks to sport moustaches, and another banning them altogether. Some might call that "carabinieri logic".

Joking aside, it's historically been a lonely career for two reasons: carabinieri weren't allowed to serve in their home region and were subject to very restrictive rules regarding marriage.

Even today, echoes of those old regulations still exist. They can't return to work in their region of origin until they've served for at least eight years.

That's why on long-distance train routes you'll so often find yourself sharing a carriage with a young, off-duty carabiniere going home or returning from leave.

In the sleepy satellite town of Pianoro near Bologna, my local carabinieri are a friendly bunch.

One of them, who prefers not to be named, talks enthusiastically about the job.

He always wanted to be a carabiniere and points proudly at the little stars on his collar: "The police don't have these because they're a civil service. We're a military corps. We have a very different kind of training."

I ask him what's different and he explains that it's all in their relationship with the citizens.

"Even in the smallest mountain and rural communities you'll find one of our stations," he boasts.

There are 4,605 of them throughout Italy and he says their role is to be there for the locals.

"They rely on us. When there's an earthquake, a flood or any kind of disaster, we're the ones who provide immediate support," he says.

I know from his accent that he's not from the north. I tell him I've never met a carabiniere who wasn't from the south.

He nods. "It's true, most of us are. I'd say about 70% of the entire force. Not just the south, four regions in particular: Sicily, Campania, Calabria and Puglia. At this station, all of us but one are from Campania."

He says it's no coincidence that so many carabinieri come from precisely the same four regions as Italy's four major mafia organisations.

"There are two reasons why you become a carabiniere", he tells me, "the main one is a sense of justice and 'rivalsa' (retaliation or payback)."

When you grow up in that environment, he explains, you have to choose sides. "Becoming a carabiniere is like making a statement to say 'I choose legality'."

The second reason is simply that it's a profession which gives you job security.

The hardest thing, he admits, is being so far away from your family and your land.

But he says it's worth it: "I've been in the force for 17 years and, yes, I'd like to be transferred back down one day, but I'm happy here for now."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 11th July 2014 author Nicholas Tufnell)

Full article :

Thousands of pictures including "naked selfies" have been extracted from factory-wiped phones by a Czech Republic-based security firm.

The firm, called Avast, used publicly available forensic security tools to extract the images from second-hand phones bought on eBay.

Other data extracted included emails, text messages and Google searches.

Experts have warned that the only way to completely delete data is to "destroy your phone".

Most smartphones come with a "factory reset" option, which is designed to wipe and reset the device, returning it to its original system state.

However, Avast has discovered that some older smartphones only erase the indexing of the data and not the data itself, which means pictures, emails and text messages can be recovered relatively easily by using standard forensic tools that anyone can buy and download.

The company claims that of 40,000 stored photos extracted from 20 phones purchased from eBay, more than 750 were of women in various stages of undress, along with 250 selfies of "what appears to be the previous owner's manhood".

There was an additional 1,500 family photos of children, 1,000 Google searches, 750 emails and text messages and 250 contact names and email addresses.

The company said: "Deleting files from your Android phone before selling it or giving it away is not enough. You need to overwrite your files, making them irretrievable."

It was not made clear by Avast whether they extracted data from all 20 phones.

Destroy the phone
Google responded that Avast used outdated smartphones and that their research did not "reflect the security protections in Android versions that are used by the vast majority of users".

It was recommended by Google that all users enable encryption on their devices before applying a factory reset to ensure files cannot be accessed.

This feature, said Google, has been available for three years, although it is not enabled by default, which could leave less tech-savvy users open to attack.

Apple has had built-in encryption for its hardware and firmware since the release of the iPhone 3GS.

The hardware encryption is permanently enabled and users cannot turn it off.

Additional file data protection is available, but must be turned on in the settings menu.

Independent computer security analyst Graham Cluley said that if a user is serious about privacy and security they should make sure their device is always "protected with a PIN or passphrase, and that the data on it is encrypted".

However, Alan Calder, founder of cybersecurity and risk management firm IT Governance, told the BBC that erasing data, even after it has been encrypted, will not be enough to completely protect your device.

"Google's recommended routine for protecting the data only makes it harder for someone to recover the data - it does not make it impossible," he said.

"If you don't want your data recovered, destroy the phone - and that has been standard security advice, in relation to telephones and computer drives, for a number of years. Any other 'solution' simply postpones the point at which someone is able to access your confidential data."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 10th July 2014)

Full article :

Police failures contributed to Dorothy "Cherry" Groce's death, whose shooting triggered the 1985 Brixton riots, a jury inquest has found.

Mrs Groce was shot by police looking for her son Michael and paralysed from the waist down. She died of kidney failure in 2011.

The jury at Southwark Coroner's Court found police failed to communicate properly and adequately check who was living at the property before the raid.

Her son was never charged.

Eight failures

The jury found there were eight failures made by police during the raid and her "subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of the raid".

These included not properly briefing police officers that Mr Groce was no longer wanted by police, failing to adequately check who lived at the property or to carry out adequate observations on the house.

On the morning of the shooting, four children were present at the property.

The jury also concluded that officers should have called off the raid entirely during a police briefing but failed to do so.

However, they found there was no failure by police to call off the raid once it had begun.

The mother-of-eight died 26 years after the shooting in 2011, at the age of 63, from an illness which a pathologist directly linked to the gunshot injury.

'Police shouted'

Dr Robert Chapman said that during a post-mortem examination, he found small metal fragments from the bullet still lodged in the base of her spine.

Mrs Groce had also became more susceptible to a host of debilitating illnesses as a result of the injury, the court heard.

Her shooting by Metropolitan Police Inspector Douglas Lovelock sparked two days of unrest in Brixton during which shops were looted and petrol bombs thrown.

Mr Lovelock, who admitted being responsible for the wound, told the inquest he had apprehensions about going on the job and said he felt shocked when he mistakenly shot her.

He told the court that after shooting her he thought: "I hope to Christ it is shock and I have missed."

In a statement taken after the shooting and read to the jury, Mrs Groce said that as she lay bleeding, police continued to shout at her.

They asked her if she knew where Michael was, as they were searching for him in connection with an armed robbery.

Mr Lovelock stood trial in 1987 charged with inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm and was acquitted.

After the hearing, Mrs Groce's son Lee Lawrence, who was 11 when he saw his mother shot, said:"I knew, she knew and we knew that what happened that day was wrong.

"After that shooting, my mum was left paralysed and we suffered in silence.

"The inquest has given us the only opportunity to get down to the truth about what really happened the day she was shot."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 10th July 2014 author Nick Robinson)

Article link :

Emergency legislation will be brought in next week to force phone and internet companies to log records of customer calls, texts and internet use.

Ministers say it is necessary so police and security services can access the data they need after a legal ruling which declared existing powers invalid.

The proposed law has the backing of Labour and the coalition parties.

A special cabinet is being held to agree the planned laws, which will only last until 2016.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will tell a special cabinet meeting on Thursday that emergency legislation is necessary to keep the country safe.

A recent ruling of the European Court of Justice has removed the obligation on telecoms companies to retain records of when and who their customers have called, texted and emailed.

Without a new law Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg will claim that that information could be destroyed within weeks by companies fearing legal challenges.

Labour is backing emergency legislation after all-party talks agreed that this law would enshrine existing rights and not be used to extend them by re-introducing the so-called "snoopers charter".

It will also bring in so-called safeguards including:

- The creation of a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to examine the impact of the law on privacy and civil liberties

- A review of the controversial RIPA - Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

- Annual government transparency reports on how these powers are used

- The law will include a so-called sunset clause - ensuring that these powers will die in 2016 - so there will be a longer and wider debate about what replaces them.

Critics will no doubt argue that the time for that debate is now. To pass any new law in just a week is rare. So too is it to have the backing of all three main parties even before it is published.

On a subject as sensitive as giving the police and security services access to phone and internet data this is bound to be controversial.

Update 08:45 BST: The emergency legislation will oblige telecom firms to retain data for 12 months. Under the European law which it replaces companies could be asked to retain data for 24 months.

More controversially the new law will also produce what is being described as a "clearer legal framework" to allow access to the content of calls, texts and emails after a warrant is signed by a senior government minister. Telecoms companies are said to have warned ministers that after the Edward Snowdon revelations they are vulnerable to legal challenge by their customers.

The Labour MP Tom Watson has condemned the plans as a "stitch up" which prevent MPs from considering the legislation properly.

(9th August 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 9th July 2014 author Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

New police "front counters" in supermarkets and libraries are being used by an average of just one person a week and fail to offer good value for money, a report reveals today.
The new "contact points" - dubbed "cops in shops" - are being opened across London to replace traditional police stations which are being closed to save money.

The new police offices are located in sites ranging from local authority offices to community centres and cafés.

Officials said the new counters would be located in busy areas to provide the public with opportunities to meet police face to face.

Senior officers said traditional Victorian police stations were outdated and often in out-of-the-way locations which few people visited. The Met is planning to shut 63 of London's 136 police stations in the next few years as part of £600 million budget cuts.

Now a confidential Met briefing report for members of the London Assembly Police and Crime committee says use of the new contact points remains "relatively low".

It also states that opening times for the offices "do not appear fit for purpose" and fail to take into account local demand.

The Met review found people supported the idea but wanted changes to locations and opening times and criticised the "look and feel" of the new offices.

It says contact points were used by an average of just 1.3 "customers" a week and "do not appear to offer particularly good value for money". Each "customer" using the counters is estimated to cost £84 in staffing.

The police report says the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, which plans to open 116 new front counters, should consider increasing the minimum opening times from three to six hours a week.

London Assembly Labour spokeswoman Joanne McCartney said: "These figures are startling. When Boris [Johnson] decided to close police stations he promised an 'equivalent or better service', but was warned repeatedly that these contact points were insufficient.

"Londoners need to know where to find their local police officers and for this to be a safe and private place for victims to report crime and get advice. With only 1.3 visitors per week to contact points, the Mayor needs to admit that this experiment has failed and urgently rethink his approach."

Original plans to open police counters in coffee shops were abandoned after consultation while a similar scheme to station police in post offices was also rejected.

The numbers of people reporting crimes at front counters has fallen by more than 100,000 - almost half - since 2006/07 as people turn to other forms of communication, including online.

A recent report revealed the Met had raised £125?million from the sale of 32 police stations and buildings in London in the past year.

(9th August 2014)

(Telegraph, dated 9th July 2014 author Matthew Holehouse)

Full article :

[Option 1]

Downing Street has stood by the appointment of Baroness Butler-Sloss as the head of an inquiry into allegations of an establishment cover-up of child abuse, as it emerged her brother was accused of a "white-wash" over a paedophile diplomat.

The Prime Minister believes Baroness Butler-Sloss, a retired senior judge, is the right person to run a sweeping inquiry into how the state, church, BBC and other public bodies handled historic allegations of child sexual abuse.

It is "not a secret" that her late brother - Sir Michael Havers - was the attorney general under the Thatcher government when many of the allegations were made, No 10 said.

In the early 1980s, Sir Michael was accused of a "cover-up" when he refused to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman, a diplomat and member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a lobbying organisation for child abusers. Simon Danczuk, a Labour MP, said Lady Butler-Sloss should consider herposition.

"It's astonishing the Government didn't realise that they were appointing the sister of someone who had tried to deter the prosecution of a significant paedophile in the 1980s. "Why they wouldn't have spotted that, or think that's an issue, raises serious questions. It's far too Establishment - and the Government need to think again."

Lawyers for the alleged victims said the appointment needs to be reconsidered so people who were abused feel they are in a "safe environment in which to talk about their experiences".

"Whilst Lady Butler-Sloss is a person of enormous integrity the concern really is that she is just too close to the establishment and in particular concern over her her family connection to Sir Michael Havers," said Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said he had great respect for Lady Butler-Sloss' integrity and ability as a judge.

But he said her appointment as an active member of the House of Lords, and as the sister of Sir Michael, raised questions about the Home Secretary's judgment. "It would have been better if the Home Secretary had chosen somebody from outside Parliament and no connections whatsoever to the subject matter," he said.

But the Prime Minister's official spokesman said Mr Cameron had confidence in Lady Butler-Sloss.
"She commands the very highest respect for her professional expertise and integrity," he said.

Asked if the Prime Minister knew that her brother was the former attorney general, the spokesman said: "I'm not sure that piece of information is a particular secret."

Asked if her brother's role was discussed, he said the "focus was on finding the right person."

Asked whether the Prime Minister shared the concerns of lawyers who fear it will create a poor perception among victims of abuse, the spokesman said: "His view is she does command widespread respect and confidence."

Lady Butler-Sloss may need to investigate her brother's role in the Peter Hayman affair, the spokesman indicated. The terms of reference will be published shortly.

Asked if she would be recused from that part of the inquiry, he said: "This inquiry will be able to look at every area that is deemed relevant."

The story of Sir Peter Hayman is at the heart of claims there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of the government to cover up child abuse by the leading lights of the British establishment. Sir Peter Hayman was the deputy under secretary of state at the Foreign Office, and was reputed to be a senior officer in MI6, the foreign intelligence service.

He was also a subscriber to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a network which lobbied for the lowering of the age of consent.

In 1978, he was caught sending and receiving obscene literature through the post after a package was found on a London bus.

When police raided his Bayswater flat, used to conduct obscene correspondence, they found 45 diaries describing sexual fantasies concerning children and activities with prostitutes.

Seven men and two women, including Hayman, were named as possible defendants in a report submitted by the Metropolitan Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

However, only one of the group was prosecuted after police found they had an "obsession" with sadistic sexual activity involving children.

Three years later, in the House of Commons, Geoffery Dickens, the MP who had campaigned against child abuse, used Parliamentary privilege to name Hayman. He feared a cover-up like that which surrounded the Cambridge spy ring.

He asked Sir Michael Havers - who served as Margaret Thatcher's attorney general - if he "will prosecute Sir Peter Hayman... for sending and receiving pornographic material through the Royal Mail."

In a written answer, Sir Michael said he agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions that there was no need to prosecute Hayman or the other members of the obscene correspondence ring.

There was "no evidence" that the diplomat had sent or received "extreme" material, Sir Michael said. The obscene correspondence "had been contained in sealed envelopes passing between adult individuals in a non-commercial context", he added.

Sir Michael added: "Although Sir Peter Hayman had subscribed to PIE, that is not an offence and there is no evidence that he was ever involved in the management."

In evidence that Sir Peter was "treated differently" by the authorities, it was reported at the time at the committal proceedings that he was referred to in court by the cover-name 'Henderson'.

However, in subsequent questioning in the Commons, Sir Michael insisted: "No special treatment was afforded to Sir Peter Hayman and no steps were authorised or taken to protect his identity."
"There was, so far as the Director of Public Prosecutions is aware, no evidence whatsoever of Sir Peter Hayman having received or sent by post any obscene photograph of a child or young person or of his having taken such photographs."

He added: "The mere possession of obscene material whether relating to children or adults is not in itself a criminal offence."

Sir Michael Havers, who died in 1992, is reported to have argued with Dickens outside the Commons chamber before the disclosure of Hayman's name.

Mr Dickens said afterwards that Sir Michael's response was a "white-wash" and the "cover-up of the century".

Four years later, Mr Dickens claimed he had suffered harassment after naming Hayman, including burglaries at his home and appearing on a killer's hit-list.

He said of Hayman: "I have had to consider a gentleman with a very distinguished career for which he was many times honoured, and his family.

"But I have also to consider the parents whose children are procured, sometimes for a bag of sweets, to perform sexual acts and pose for sexual photographs." Hayman was later convicted of gross indecency in a public toilet, and died in 1992.

Lady Butler-Sloss said she had no knowledge of the affair. "I know absolutely nothing about it," she said. "If people think I am not suitable, then that's up to them."

Sir Michael Havers sat in the Thatcher Cabinet alongside Lord Brittan, who has admitted as Home Secretary he received the now "lost" Dickens dossier into allegations of a paedophile ring involving MPs.

This morning John Mann, the Labour MP, said it is "very likely" that copies of the Dickens dossier are still held in Government departments. It is "not credible" that they have all been destroyed.

"What I've uncovered is that there were multiple copies, that they were circulated across Government, across departments and everyone who was given a copy had to sign the Official Secrets Act. That's why people have been unable to come forward and say anything about it publicly," he told Good Morning Britain.

(9th August 2014)

(Reuters, dated 8th July 2014 authors Andrew Osborn and Kylie MacLellan)

One of Britain's most senior civil servants said on Tuesday he did not know who, if anyone, had authorised the removal of over 100 missing government files that could shed light on allegations that well-known politicians abused children in the 1980s.

The disclosure, by Mark Sedwill, the top civil servant in Britain's Home Office (interior ministry), is likely to fuel a media furore in Britain over the allegations, which have not yet been substantiated.

Child protection campaigners have said that at least 10 and possibly more than 20 public figures, including current and former politicians, should be investigated over allegations that they abused young children.

The claims have unsettled the current political elite, still recovering from scandals over parliamentarians' expenses, at a time when Britain is grappling with revelations that several nationally beloved television personalities sexually abused children for decades.

The government on Monday pledged to launch a full-scale inquiry, with Prime Minister David Cameron promising it would leave "no stone unturned" to find out the truth.

Sedwill said last week that 114 files "potentially relevant" to the case had been destroyed or were missing, including allegations brought to the attention of a former Conservative home secretary, Leon Brittan, in the 1980s.

Brittan has said he dealt with the material correctly, but politicians and media have nevertheless raised broader concerns of a possible cover-up by an establishment protecting its own.

Asked by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday whether he knew who had authorised the removal or destruction of the files, Sedwill said: "No, I don't."


"Most of these files were probably destroyed because the kinds of topics that they covered would have been subject to the normal file destruction procedures that were in place at that time," he said.

"But they can't be confirmed to be destroyed because there isn't a proper log of what was destroyed and what wasn't."

Sedwill said the fact that files were missing did not necessarily mean someone had deliberately had them removed, adding: "We shouldn't assume there is anything sinister."

Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May told parliament on Monday that an independent review would be held of a 2013 investigation carried out by her ministry into the handling of allegations that politicians had abused children.

The government will also establish an independent inquiry panel of experts to look more broadly at whether public bodies have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse, May said.

On Tuesday, Sedwill told the committee he could not recall whether he had told May about the missing files last year.

May, a member of Cameron's Conservative party, told parliament on Monday she had deliberately not read the full report because of possible allegations that senior lawmakers, including senior Conservatives, were guilty of child abuse.

Footage has since emerged of a former Conservative MP suggesting to the BBC in 1995 that party whips - members who maintain party voting discipline - might avoid disclosing colleagues' inappropriate behaviour, including that "involving small boys", in order to have leverage over them.

(9th August 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th July 2014 author Joe Murphy)    [Option 1]

Church leaders today piled unprecedented pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to order a full public inquiry into institutional child sex abuse in Britain.
The Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev Paul Butler, warned that without such an extensive investigation - with people giving evidence on oath - he feared the full truth would not emerge.

He said that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, had urged Home Secretary Theresa May a month ago to launch a public inquiry following a string of shocking claims of abuse. The Right Rev Butler, chairman of the CoE's churches national safeguarding committee, said religious leaders believed there was a "real problem around institutional abuse".

"A full public inquiry is required because under those terms people have to take oaths and therefore swear to tell the truth," he said. "My fear is the whole story won't come out without that."Victim survivors need justice and they need their story to be heard."

He welcomed the major inquiry into alleged paedophile crimes announced by Mrs May yesterday but it is not currently a full statutory investigation.

A second inquiry will investigate how the Home Office handled past claims of child abuse.

It is understood police have been presented with claims of sexual abuse of children - allegedly covered up for decades- concerning at least 10 former or serving politicians.

Dr Jon Bird, of the National Association for People Abused In Childhood, said a number of names of people, some of who are still alive, had been highlighted by callers to the charity's helpline "again and again".

Former Labour health minister Lord Warner today confirmed that "powerful people" targeted children's homes to prey on vulnerable youngsters for sexual abuse.

The Labour peer said of the allegations: "I think they are possibly true. Some of these children's homes were targeted by people in power - powerful people. And, indeed, sexual abuse of children is a power drive, that's what a lot of it's about."

It has been claimed that several London children's homes were used by paedophiles, with children taken to a guest house in Barnes to be abused.

Former child protection manager Peter McKelvie said MPs and government ministers were involved in the ring and had abused children for "decades" while other establishment figures helped cover up their activities.

He told the BBC: "I would say we are looking at upwards of 20 [people] and a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it."

(9th August 2014)

(BBC News, dated 7th July 2014)

Full article :

The head of the children's charity NSPCC is to lead a review of historical child sex abuse allegations, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.

Peter Wanless's review, which will cover how police and prosecutors handled information given to them, is expected to report within 10 weeks.

A Hillsborough-style inquiry will also be held, led by an independent panel of experts on law and child protection.

This would be wide-ranging and would not report before the next election.

Mrs May, who said the panel inquiry could be converted into a full public inquiry if necessary, said she wanted to ensure the public had confidence that serious crimes were being investigated.

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed the announcements, adding: "We need to know what happened when these allegations were first raised even decades ago, when you will know that former cabinet ministers have said there may have been a cover-up."

Mrs May, addressing MPs after weeks of increasing questions about how past claims of child sex abuse were handled, said Mr Wanless would be assisted in his review by a senior legal figure.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed that the investigation into how public bodies handled abuse claims will "leave no stone unturned".

Why has this come up now?

Labour MP Simon Danczuk last week called on Leon Brittan to say what the then home secretary did with documents he was passed in the 1980s containing allegations about powerful figures and paedophilia.

What happened to the files?

Lord Brittan passed them to Home Office officials and a 2013 review found the minister had acted appropriately.

What did the papers allege?

The allegations, compiled by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, were set to "blow the lids off" the lives of powerful child abusers, the MP's son has said. The late Mr Dickens said he planned to expose eight such figures.

The review led by Mr Wanless centres on concerns the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in the 1980s by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.

Mrs May said: "I want to address two important public concerns: first that in the 1980s the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse and second, that public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children."

The government will "do everything we can to allow the full investigation of child abuse and the prosecution of its perpetrators", she said, and will do nothing to jeopardise those aims.

"There would be a presumption of "maximum transparency" and "wherever institutions and individuals have failed to protect children from harm we will expose those failures and learn the lessons".

The Home Office's senior civil servant Mark Sedwill commissioned a review last year into the department's handling of child abuse allegations between 1979 and 1999, including the information provided by Mr Dickens.

That review discovered that 114 files relating to historical allegations of child sex abuse were not available. "These are presumed destroyed, missing or not found," she said.

The investigation found no record of specific allegations by Mr Dickens of child sex abuse by prominent public figures.

But while Mrs May said she was confident that the work commissioned by Mr Sedwill was "carried out in good faith", the Wanless review would address the public's need for complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation's findings.

She anticipated that witnesses would be able to "speak freely", although she would have to consider the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act in some cases."It's only if people can speak openly that we can get to the bottom of these matters," she said.

Nearly 150 MPs have called for an "over-arching" inquiry into alleged child abuse.

Ex-education minister Tim Loughton said Monday's move was a "major step forward" but his colleague Mark Reckless told Channel 4 News a judge-led inquiry was needed to subpoena witnesses and obtain documents.

Mrs May's statement comes as ex-Home Secretary Leon Brittan defended his dealings with the material given to him by Mr Dickens.

"It has been alleged that when I was home secretary I failed to deal adequately with the bundle of papers containing allegations of serious sexual impropriety that I received from the late Geoff Dickens MP," Lord Brittan said in a statement.

"This... is completely without foundation - as evidence from the Home Office's own report supports."

He said Mr Dickens had thanked the Home Office for the way in which the information he provided was handled and "for following up the cases that I keep sending to it".

However, Douglas Hurd, Lord Brittan's successor as home secretary, said he knew nothing about allegations of child abuse made by Mr Dickens.

"Not a word," Lord Hurd told BBC's World Service. "I never heard any story about that subject and I think in fact if there'd been something in it I would somehow have got to hear. I didn't. I know nothing about it."

A number of inquiries ( are already taking place into alleged child abuse, including the extent of abuse by Jimmy Savile at schools, NHS hospitals, care homes and the BBC.

On Monday, Greater Manchester Police said it was considering widening its investigation into allegations of a cover-up involving paedophile abuse at Knowl View residential school in Rochdale in the 1980s and 1990s.

It said Rochdale Council had agreed to suspend its own inquiry while it considered how to proceed.


1982: MP Geoffrey Dickens says he plans to expose eight prominent figures as paedophiles.

1983-84: Mr Dickens passes files to the Home Office.

February 2013: The Home Office reviews hundreds of thousands of files, searching for information it received about organised child sex abuse.

1 July 2014: Labour MP Simon Danczuk demands to know what the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan did with the files from Mr Dickens.

2 July 2014: Lord Brittan says he passed that material to officials.

4 July: The prime minister orders a senior civil servant to look again at the 2013 Home Office review.

7 July: Lord Brittan dismisses claims he failed to act appropriately on Mr Dickens' claims as "completely without foundation".

(9th August 2014)

(Press Association, dated 5th July 2014 via Daily Mail)

Full articl :

David Cameron has secretly opened the door to the transfer of more policing powers to the European Union, it has been reported.

The Times said that British ministers had informed Brussels that they will make a decision on whether to join a Europe-wide DNA database by 1st December 2015 - six months after the general election.

The paper said that a leaked document had revealed the Government was considering the sharing of DNA records along with a number of other additional measures.

Both Downing Street and the Home Office refused to comment on the report directly, saying they did not comment on leaked documents.

However, the disclosure is likely to anger Tory MPs who are bitterly opposed to Britain's participation in the controversial European arrest warrant.

The warrant is one of 35 measures that the Government is currently re-negotiating to rejoin after using its opt out under the 2007 Lisbon treaty to withdraw from 133 policing and criminal justice measures which pre-dated the treaty.

According to The Times, the leaked document states: "As the UK Government has also indicated that in a number of other cases it will set in motion a process towards the subsequent opting in to certain other instruments of particular importance."

The paper did not say where the document had come from.Tory Euro-sceptic Jacob Rees Mogg told the paper: "As the Prime Minister has made it clear that he wishes to bring back powers in relation to justice and home affairs, it is surprising that the Foreign Office is paving the way for a further surrender of power to Brussels.

"It is troubling that more information is coming from leaked commission documents and press releases than from statements to the House of Commons."

A No 10 spokesman said: "We have taken a case-by-case approach to any new proposal brought forward since Lisbon and will make a decision based on whether it is in the national interest."

The Home Office said in a statement: "Last year the Government exercised the UK's right to opt out from all EU police and criminal justice measures that pre-date the Lisbon treaty.

"We are fully engaged in negotiations with the EU to rejoin a smaller number of measures which are in the national interest.

"Those negotiations have not concluded but we are now in a position to update Parliament again - as we have done throughout this process."

(9th August 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 4th July 2014 author Cliff Caswell)   [Option 1]

The growing sophistication of technology and the online world is allowing offenders to commit traditional types of crime with greater rewards and much reduced risk, it has been claimed.

Addressing delegates at a recent conference Met Detective Superintendent Terry Wilson, who works on the Association of Chief Police Officers' Cybercrime Programme, said hackers could steal thousands of pounds per minute without an organisation knowing.

Methods such as using a Keyboard, Video, Mouse (KVM) switch could allow hackers to take control of multiple computers - potentially providing access to millions of pounds - and negating the need for an organised gang to physically carry out a bank robbery.

Det Supt Wilson told conference delegates: "You have to ask why robbers would go over the pavement to get £25,000 in a cashbox when they could take £10,000 per minute."

He added that large scale and sophisticated fraud scams had seen organised criminal gangs pocketing up to £10,000 per minute with a KVW switch - without even leaving the confines of a property.

Organisations targeted included doctors' surgeries and charities while individuals had suffered increasingly intrusive attacks - including offenders seizing control of webcams and contacting victims.

Det Supt Wilson said that officers who were initially called on to investigate reports of cybercrime activity needed to take both the incident and the needs of the victim seriously.

He told conference delegates: "I am passionate about victims - there is a more human side to this - people have to wait to get money back and their credit rating being affected."

Det Supt Wilson was supported by national cybercrime lead Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, who said the emerging crime types challenged "the very core of policing" - and would need to see changes in strategy and working practices.

He said that while the National Crime Agency (NCA) was set up well housing the National Cyber Crime Unit - and that Regional Cyber Crime Units were operating well - he predicted that individual forces would have to square up to the challenge in future.

DCC Goodman believed there needed to be a greater knowledge of this emerging area among frontline personnel and that a greater appreciation of victim needs was required. He said there had been discussions with chief constables about this issue.

The officer added: "There is no doubt that cybercrime is the biggest challenge that we have - it challenges the very core of policing (including) how we are structured and organised."We are all vulnerable to this - even our own staff. We have a duty to protect the public."

DCC Goodman also stressed that the international dimension to cybercrime meant the police, law enforcement agencies and the corporate world would have to work far more closely together.

As previously reported on, National Crime Agency Director General Keith Bristow has also voiced concerns over whether law enforcement is prepared enough to tackle cybercrime.

He used the recent John Harris Memorial Lecture to emphasise the importance of digital investigation techniques - adding that the case for their use had not yet been accepted by the public.

(9th August 2014)

(Telegraph, dated 4th July 2014 author Christopher Hope)   [Option 1]

Scores of right-wing Conservative MPs are set to defy David Cameron over the controversial European Arrest Warrant next week.

Tory MPs are planning a public show of dissent against the Prime Minister in a Commons debate over the European Union's justice and home affairs powers.

The Government has scheduled a general debate on the UK's Justice and Home Affairs opt-outs on Thursday.

There is speculation that the MPs will force a vote at the end of the debate, although one is currently not planned.

This could mean that as many as 100 Tory MPs will openly defy the Government over the plans.

The last Labour government agreed that Britain would have the option to opt out of 133 EU home affairs rules, including the arrest warrant.

Last year, ministers risked Tory backbench anger by agreeing to continue applying 35 of those rules, including those around the warrant.

Formally Britain has to opt out of all 133 measures, then opt back in, by the beginning of December.

A deadline for a formal decision on the opt-ins passed on May 31, which means that the debate on Thursday is largely for appearances only.

The main measure which angers Tory MPs is the European Arrest Warrant which allows foreign judges to extradite Britons for misdemeanours committed on holiday.

Record numbers of people in Britain were seized by police last year on the orders of European prosecutors.

More than 6,200 arrest warrants were issued under a controversial Europe-wide scheme in 2012-13. The total is equivalent to 17 a day.

Right-wing Tory MPs are planning an informal whip to encourage as many of their colleagues to attend the debate as possible.

MPs in marginal seats are particularly worried that they will be vulnerable to attacks from UK Independence Party candidates if they do not speak out.

One Tory MP said: "There is a view that Ukip will be watching the debate. This is the first time that back benchers will have a chance to debate opting back in."

Dominic Raab, the Tory MP who has been campaigning on the issue for years, said: "This is a critical cross-roads. "We have a golden opportunity to show we can renegotiate terms with the EU and repatriate powers, so our law enforcement relationship is based on operational cooperation, not sacrificing democratic control. It is vital we take it."

Stephen Booth, the research director at thinktank Open Europe, said: "It is hard to see how handing the EU more power over crime and policing is consistent with David Cameron's remarks at the last EU summit at which he argued for greater powers for national parliaments and a looser relationship with Brussels.

"It sends a confusing signal to voters about his renegotiation strategy and it is likely to upset many in his party."

Government sources accepted the debate could open up tensions over Europe after a display if unity in recent weeks but had little choice about agreeing to a debate.

The Government believes that the warrant is a vital tool for the police and security services and was used to secure the arrest and extradition one of the July 7 London bombers.

The Home Office said "negotiations in Europe are ongoing" over the opt outs, adding: "We won't provide a running commentary on negotiations."

A spokesman said: "Last year the Government exercised the UK's right to opt out from all EU police and criminal justice measures that pre-date the Lisbon treaty.

"We are fully engaged in negotiations with the EU to rejoin a smaller number of measures which are in the national interest.

"Those negotiations have not concluded but we are now in a position to update Parliament again - as we have done throughout this process."

(9th August 2014)

(Telegraph, dated 4th July 2014 authors Gordon Rayner and David Barrett)

Full article :

More than 10 current and former politicians are on a list of alleged child abusers held by police investigating claims of a Westminster paedophile ring. MPs or peers from all three main political parties are on the list, which includes former ministers and household names. Several, including Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison, are no longer alive, but others are still active in Parliament.

The existence of the list was disclosed by Peter McKelvie, the whistleblower whose claims prompted Operation Fernbridge, the Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of a paedophile network with links to Downing Street.

Mr McKelvie, a retired child protection team manager who has spent more than 20 years compiling evidence of alleged abuse by authority figures, said he believed there was enough evidence to arrest at least one senior politician.

It comes as David Cameron ordered the most senior civil servant at the Home Office to conduct a fresh investigation into what happened to a missing dossier on alleged paedophiles in Westminster in the 1980s.

The Prime Minister told Mark Sedwill, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to "do everything he can" to clear up what happened to the file, which was handed to the then home secretary Leon (now Lord) Brittan by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP.

Separately Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said yesterday she would "examine the case" for a public inquiry into historical child abuse in public life, for which 139 MPs have now called.

Mr McKelvie, who helped bring the notorious paedophile Peter Righton to justice in 1992 when he worked in Hereford and Worcester child protection team, said: "I believe there are sufficient grounds to carry out a formal investigation into allegations of up to 20 MPs and Lords over the last three to four decades, some still alive and some dead. The list is there."

In a letter to his local MP Sir Tony Baldry last month, Mr McKelvie suggested that a further 20 MPs and Lords were implicated in the "cover-up" of abuse of children.

Mr McKelvie, who has compiled a dossier of evidence by speaking to alleged victims and care workers with whom they are in contact, does not suggest that any of the MPs and Lords colluded with each other.

It was as a result of information provided by Mr McKelvie that the Labour MP Tom Watson raised the issue of child abuse at Prime Minister's Questions in October 2012. He spoke of "clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10" that arose from the Righton case.

Following Mr Watson's intervention, the Metropolitan Police began Operation Fernbridge, an ongoing investigation into allegations of sex abuse at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south London.

At least one witness is understood to have told police in the 1980s that he was abused by a Tory MP at the guest house when he was aged under 10, but the alleged victim has so far refused to give a sworn a witness statement to the police.

The Metropolitan Police has consistently said it is "not prepared to give a running commentary on Operation Fernbridge, which is an ongoing operation".

Earlier this week it emerged that a dossier on an alleged Westminster paedophile network compiled by the late MP Geoffrey Dickens went missing after it was handed to the former home secretary Lord Brittan in 1983.

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who raised questions about the dossier, said yesterday he had received a dozen new allegations naming the same politician this week.

He and six other MPs have written to Mrs May demanding a public inquiry, and in her reply Mrs May said "nothing has been ruled out", adding: "Once the criminal investigations have concluded, I will thoroughly examine the case for an inquiry into the matters you have raised."

Speaking about the Dickens dossier, the Prime Minister said he understood the concerns about the missing file. He said: "That's why I've asked the permanent secretary at the Home Office to do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events.

"So it's right that these investigations are made. We mustn't do anything, of course, that could prejudice or prevent proper action by the police. "If anyone has information about criminal wrong-doing they should, of course, give it to the police."

Yesterday The Daily Telegraph disclosed that a senior Tory who is being investigated as part of Operation Fernbridge was allegedly stopped by a customs officer with child pornography in the 1980s.

The customs officer who made the seizure can now be named as Maganlal Solanki, 76, who said at his home in Leicester yesterday: "I don't want to go over it all. It's very disturbing for me. I've been told not to say anything by my department."

Asked about the senior Tory, who was never arrested over the alleged child pornography seizure, Mr Solanki said: "Well, that is just a matter for him."

(9th August 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd July 2014 author Justin Davenport)    [Option 1]

Scotland Yard has reaped a £125 million bonanza from the sale of police stations during the London property boom, figures revealed today.
The cash was raised by selling off 35 Met police buildings last year - including 20 former police stations.

Mayor Boris Johnson says the proceeds of the controversial sale - three times the original estimate - are being ploughed back into policing London and funding extra bobbies on the beat.

The move is part of plans by the Met and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime to slash £600 million off the force's £3.6 billion budget.

The details of the sales, released in MOPAC's annual report, show the majority of sites were sold to developers for housing.

However, five sites will become new schools or colleges, one will be partially developed for health care and another police station will be turned into shops.

The report reveals that several prime sites generated massive sales in the current house price surge.

They included Harrow Road police station which sold for £9 million, St John's Wood police station which sold for £8.5 million, Clapham police station which fetched £4.5 million and Hackney police station which raised £7.6 million.

Among the most expensive sites was Barnes Green police office which sold for £10 million and will redeveloped into homes while a number of flats in Connaught Gardens, Haringey sold for £9.1 million.

The Met plans to close a total of 63 police stations which are out out of date and costly to run - out of a total of 136 London stations - and says it will open 100 "contact" points in busy streets and shopping centres.

In total officials believe that the sale of police buildings - including the HQ in Victoria - could bring in £500 million over five years.

However, critics, including rank and file officers, fear the Yard is selling off the "family silver" and the move could lead to the public losing touch with the police.

The Mayor argues the cash will be spent on 2,000 officers on the beat and is being re-invested in modern facilities such as a new science laboratory in Lambeth and a new training headquarters in Hendon.

London Assembly Green Party leader Baroness Jones said : "The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime may have been good at selling off buildings but this is a one off solution done to give the Mayor the money to try to restore police officer numbers to the level he promised but is yet to deliver.

"The Mayor may tout that by selling police buildings he is able to provide more homes for Londoners. However, he is selling off affordable accommodation that is part of the police estate and replacing it with property that is beyond the financial reach of most Londoners, let alone police officers and staff."

The report says the police station sales in the last financial year of 2013/14 raised £124.5m against an original target of £40 million and delivered £12.5m savings in running costs - enough to pay for the employment of over 200 police officers a year.

Boris Johnson said: "I pledged to deliver savings from the police estate in the face of unprecedented budget pressures and without compromising on resourcing for frontline policing.  As a direct benefit of shedding under-utilised sites, we are freeing up tens of millions of pounds to maintain police officer numbers and to generate savings to invest in the future.

"At the same time, buildings that were no longer fit for purpose are being released to provide much needed homes, schools and jobs in the capital."

Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing,  said : "A buoyant London property market has led to capital receipts far exceeding expectations, which has delivered extra money to reinvest in frontline policing, despite the difficult budget position.

"Closing police stations that officers did not need and the public did not visit was controversial, but by putting bobbies before buildings, we now have a once in a generation opportunity to equip our police with the modern mobile technology needed for 21st century policing.

"Many of the buildings we are selling will also have a social benefit for instance some are being turned into schools."

London Assembly Labour member Joanne McCartney, said: "Boris says this money is going into front line policing, but police numbers are going down. Since 2010 we have seen a reduction of nearly 5,000 uniforms in our neighbourhoods, violent crime is rising and the public are reporting that they feel a reduced police presence on our streets.

"Boris needs to be honest with the public that these cuts will lead to a reduced service and a less visible police service for London.

"The fire sale of property like this will reduce police presence in our communities. 17 of these properties were front counters, and while Boris has trialled 'contact points' as an alternative, these are underfunded, ineffective and in some cases non-existent. This is not the "equivalent or better service" Boris promised Londoners."

(3rd July 2014)


NEWS - JUNE 2014




(Computer World, dated 27th June 2014 author Stephen Lawson)

Full article :

The German government is dropping Verizon Communications as a service provider because of worries about U.S. spying.

The government will shift all services provided by Verizon to Deutsche Telekom by the end of 2015. It had been reviewing its communications contracts already, but concerns about possible spying by the U.S. National Security Agency helped to tip the scales against Verizon, the German Federal Interior Ministry said Thursday.

Germany's move is the latest evidence that revelations about NSA eavesdropping are damaging U.S. companies' overseas business.

Verizon provides Internet access to some German federal agencies and helps to run a network that links them. The government's contracts with Verizon had been exposed recently in the media and caused an uproar because of reports of NSA eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


(Computer World, dated 18th June 2014 author Loek Essers)

Full article :

The Irish High Court has referred to a 14-year-old agreement governing the exchange of personal data between the European Union and the U.S. to the EU's top court.

The referral, on Wednesday, came in a case over whether the Irish Data Protection Commissioner was right to refuse to investigate Facebook's alleged involvement with the U.S. government surveillance program Prism.

Europe-v-Facebook, an Austrian group representing some Facebook users, filed a complaint with the Irish DPC over Facebook's data exportation regime in June last year. It argued that when Facebook collects user data and exports it to the U.S. it is giving the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) the opportunity to use the data for massive surveillance of personal information without probable cause -- and by doing so, Facebook is violating European laws.


(Computer World, dated 17th June 2014 author Loek Essers)

Full article :

British spies are authorized to spy on British citizens' Internet communications transiting through servers outside the U.K., a civil rights group has discovered.

Privacy International uncovered the information as part of a lawsuit it filed against the U.K. government over its alleged involvement in mass surveillance programs. It filed the suit with the U.K.'s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a court that can investigate complaints about any alleged conduct by or on behalf of the intelligence services.

On Tuesday the group published a witness statement from Charles Farr, director general of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism at the U.K.'s Home Office, who is among the government officials and other witnesses who have made depositions in the case. His statement was published ahead of a hearing by the tribunal scheduled to take place between July 14 and 18.

Farr, one of the U.K.'s most senior security officials, said British spies have the right to intercept Internet communications even if they are from British citizens because the services often use Web servers located outside the U.K. Many messages "such as a Google search, a search of YouTube for a video, a 'tweet' on Twitter, or the posting of a message on Facebook," could be qualified as external by the intelligence services, he said.


(Computer World, dated 12th June 2014 author Paul Rubens)

Full article :

The OpenSSL Heartbleed fiasco proves beyond any doubt what many people have suspected for a long time: Just because open source code is available for inspection doesn't mean it's actually being inspected and is secure.

It's an important point, as the security of open source software relies on large numbers of sufficiently knowledgeable programmers scrutinizing the code to root out and fix bugs promptly. This is summed up in Linus's Law: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

One reviewer, even a handful of reviewers, can easily miss a trivial error such as this if they don't know there's a bug to be found. What's worrying is that, for two years, the Heartbleed bug existed in OpenSLL, in browsers and in Web servers, yet no one in the open source community spotted it. Not enough eyeballs scrutinized the code.


(Computer World, dated 12th June 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

An Android Trojan program originally designed to steal mobile banking credentials from Russian users was recently retrofitted with ransomware functionality and has started infecting users in the U.S., using photos of its victims to intimidate them into paying a fictitious FBI fine.

Known as Svpeng, the Trojan program was first detected almost a year ago targeting customers of Russia's three largest banks, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab. Its initial variants detected when users opened the targeted mobile banking apps and displayed a fake login screen to capture log-in credentials. A similar technique was used to collect credit card details when users opened Google Play.


(Computer World, dated 9th June 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Computer-related crimes may cause as much as $400 billion in losses annually, according to a new study that acknowledges the difficulty in estimating damages from such acts, most of which go unreported.

The study is the second to come from Intel's McAfee security unit in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

It drew on publicly available data collected by government organizations and universities worldwide, including institutions in Germany, the Netherlands, China, Australia and Malaysia, as well as interviews with experts.

The low-end estimate of cyberattack-related losses is $375 billion, while the upper limit is $575 billion, it said.


(Computer World, dated 6th June 2014 author Loek Essers)

Full article :

Vodafone granted governments direct access to its networks in several countries, allowing them to listen to all conversations on those networks, the company said Friday.

Vodafone Group received lawful demands for assistance from a law enforcement agency or government authority in 29 countries between April 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, it said in its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

In most of those countries, Vodafone said it maintains full operational control over the technical infrastructure used to enable lawful interception.


(Computer World, dated 6th June 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Malicious advertisements on domains belonging to Disney, Facebook, The Guardian newspaper and others are leading people to malware that encrypts a computer's files until a ransom is paid, Cisco Systems has found.

The finding comes shortly after technology companies and U.S. law enforcement banded together in a large operation to shut down a botnet that distributed online banking malware and so-called "ransomware," a highly profitable scam that has surged over the last year.


(Computer World, dated 4th June 2014 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article :

Google has already received around 41,000 requests to delete links to personal information from its search results in the three weeks since a key ruling by the European Court of Justice about the so-called right to be forgotten.

On May 13 the court ordered Google to remove links to a Spanish newspaper notice about a mortgage foreclosure against Costeja GonzA!lez, a 58-year-old lawyer, because it infringed his right to privacy. The paper itself was not ordered to remove the information, but GonzA!lez successfully argued that the links displayed by Google to this information about him had become inadequate and irrelevant over time.

In response to the ruling, Google put a form on its website to make it easier for it to process requests to delete links. The search giant, which processes more than 90 percent of all web searches in Europe, described the form as "an initial effort" to comply with the ruling.


(Computer World, dated 3rd June 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article :

The recent effort to disrupt the Gameover Zeus botnet includes plans for Internet service providers to notify victims, but some security researchers think ISPs should play an even bigger role in the future by actively quarantining infected computers identified on their networks.

Law enforcement agencies from several countries including the FBI and Europol announced Monday that they worked with security vendors to disrupt the Gameover Zeus botnet, which is estimated to have affected between 500,000 and 1 million computers.

(3rd July 2014)

(BBC News, dated 18th June 2014 author Angus Crawford)

Full article :

The internet trade in images that show child sex abuse is now "an epidemic", according to the head of the global initiative to combat the problem. Police officers from around the world serve on the Virtual Global Taskforce.

Its chairman, Ian Quinn, tells the BBC there has been an "explosion" in cases handled by US authorities. The US alone has 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) units, each made up of state, local police and federal agents. BBC News joined a recent operation in Los Angeles.

Twenty one officers were briefed at dawn in a parking lot in central LA.

Lt Andrea Grossman, from the Los Angeles Police Department, told us they conducted such operations "three to five times per week". The amount of images of child sexual abuse on the internet, she says, is "beyond out of control, we're now just getting to the surface of it".

Their target was a man who had tried to send obscene images via his Gmail account.

The team was led by an officer holding a pump-action shotgun, backed up by others with an assault rifle and hand guns.A suspect was detained.

The man's computer was analysed in a mobile laboratory, housed in a large camper van parked outside the address. In the past computer equipment had to be sent away for analysis, which could take months.

But now within minutes of his arrest officers had found images of the abuse of children as young as six-years-old.He was charged with possessing illegal material.

Operation Predator
The US Department of Homeland Security investigations (HSI) launched more than 4,000 investigations into online child sexual abuse last year. "Globally there's not a country that can hide from this crime," says Mr Quinn.

To combat the problem department launched Operation Predator in 2003, with three key aims:

- to rescue children
- to prosecute their abusers
- to stop the trade in obscene images

Predator has led to more than 1,000 arrests across the world in the past six months, 29 of those were in the UK.

Lt Grossman says paedophiles trade images across the world, which demands a global response from law enforcement. "Your suspects are our suspects, your victims are our victims," she says."I start my day at 04:00, so I can talk to the Brits, the Australians, to any international partner." Her team also has access to software that can track in real time paedophiles accessing images on peer-to-peer networks.

Earlier this year Lt Grossman and a colleague were in London training 100 British detectives from across the UK. They taught their UK counterparts advanced techniques for tracking suspects online and gathering evidence.

British arrest
The cooperation between the US and UK has led to some high profile arrests.Earlier this year a British man called Mark Luscombe was jailed after an operation which began in the US. Luscombe, 29, of Verwood, Dorset, used a paedophile chat room online. He contacted an undercover agent from Homeland Security who was posing as a man offering his children for sex.

The 29-year-old offered to send the officer indecent images of children in exchange for watching a girl being abused live on a webcam. Luscombe was sentenced to five years in jail after pleading guilty to 16 offences at Bournemouth Crown Court. BBC News has obtained access to his police interview tapes. In them Luscombe tells officers that he thought he might be under surveillance.

"I know I probably spoke to one of you and that's how you probably got me," he said. He also admitted that he needed help. "I've always felt this way, I know it's bad and wrong... it's just wired up."

Detective Superintendent Chris Naughton from Dorset police believes this conviction sends a powerful message."From us receiving the information to going through his door was about 48 hours," he says. "I think that shows how well [international cooperation] works."

Undercover agent
Homeland Security regularly deploys undercover officers online. Special Agent Kevin Laws has been doing the job for a decade and has made 60 arrests. He poses on incest chat rooms as a father offering his children for sex with other adults. "This is as bad as it gets," he tells us.

He gets frequent requests from people who want to meet him and abuse the fictitious children, including people from the UK. "Oh every day, it's a rare time I don't speak to someone in the UK," he says. He admits that his work is like "a drop of sand in the ocean", but that it does send a clear message to abusers. "We might not get you today or tomorrow, but we will get you, and it will be when you least expect it."

Online images accumulate

- In 2002 the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reviewed and confirmed 45,055 examples of

obscene images of children found online (some of these were duplicates)
- In 2013 the figure had grown to 23,881,197
- As of May 2014, the centre had reviewed 112 million files containing images of child sexual abuse

Predator detentions
- In 2003, 339 arrests were made worldwide in connection with Operation Predator
- In 2013, the number had grown to 2,099
- To date, the total number of arrests linked to the operation totals 10,608

(3rd July 2014)



(The Guardian, dated 25th June 2014 authors George Arnett and Tess Reidy)

Full article :

Analysis of seized firearms related to US drug arrests shows three quarters of weapons seized are handguns.

How do drug traffickers arm themselves? If we were to take as gospel US TV shows such as Breaking Bad, we could be left with the impression that gun battles are a matter of each side pulling out semi-automatic rifles and firing shots at their enemies.

Except that does not seem to be the case at all - at least in the United States. The Small arms survey 2014, released last week, looked at over 140,000 small arms seized, light weapons and rounds of light weapon ammunition seized by police forces in eight US cities between 2007 and 2012. Of the total, 10,345 were linked to felons, drug traffickers and gang members.

77% of the weapons were simply handguns, with 70% of these being semi-automatic pistols. In contrast, rifles, such as the Kalashnikov and AR-15, made up just 12%. The number of machine guns seized was negligible.

Rifles make up 15.4% of the total followed by shotguns at 11.9%. The small amount of machine guns make up less than one percent of the sample.

When looking specifically at handguns, semi-automatic pistols were in the majority at 2,096 - that's almost three times the amount of revolvers, which were the second most-seized.

The report also collected data on gun seizures in Mexico, where it appears the direct opposite was true. According to a similar study in the 2013 edition of the survey, south of the border, 72% of the guns seized were long guns (machine guns, rifles, shotguns and sub-machine guns).

Only data from Houston and Los Angeles had sufficient information to allow gun seizures to be linked to gang activity. However, in those two municipalities 79% (621) and 92% (421) of firearms seized were handguns.

FBI data indicates that in 72% of homicides in 2012 involving firearms the weapon was a handgun. That rose to 77% for drug-related murders, 75% for gangland killings and 83% of juvenile gangland killings.

Background and methodology

Although most guns in the US are legally owned, a major exception is in the case of felons (people convicted of a serious crime) as it is illegal for them to be in possession of a firearm. Gang members are often in that situation.

Commenting on the data, Aaron Karp, senior consultant for the Small arms survey, said:

"Seizure data is controversial in the United States. A lot of people don't believe it's a legitimate resource for research because it counts what the police has seized but it doesn't include a juridical determination of how the guns were used in crime, whether they were used legally or illegal, or whether they were returned subsequently. Like most real data, it's not clean, but data on seizures from gang members is extremely useful"

We've already noted that Houston and Los Angeles were the only places where gang-related firearm seizures were identifiable. The eight municipalities where crimes could be linked to drug trafficking were the following (with the number from each in brackets: Albuquerque (916), Boise (123), Columbus (112), Denham Springs (2), Houston (1,876), Los Angeles (2,411), Satellite Beach (2) and Washington D.C. (382)

Kaap thinks that the results of the survey are surprising when compared to Hollywood cliches. "It turns out it's easier for Hollywood movie producers to get automatic rifles than for actual gang members," he said. "The figures show that choice plays a really important role, but concealability matters enormously."

Emile LeBrun, a contributing editor to the survey, agreed: "In American popular culture, especially on television, it's common to see gang members and drug dealers wielding high-powered assault rifles. Shows like Breaking Bad and CSI are recent examples. But police actually seize far fewer of those larger long guns from these groups than handguns. That's the sense in which the report may overturn stereotypes."

(3rd July 2014

(London Evening Standard, dated 25th June 2014 author Justin Davenport)

Scotland Yard today launched a blitz on the epidemic of knife crime which is claiming 60 victims a week in London.

More than 5,800 officers took part in operations across the capital including raids on more than 160 suspects.

Police also set up knife arches to check on people using train and bus stations, mounted checks on cars using number plate recognition cameras and held weapons sweeps on estates.

The operation came even though police said overall knife crime offences were at a seven-year low with 1,300 fewer offences in the past 12 months than in the previous year.

However, figures obtained by the Evening Standard show 3,094 people were injured in assaults involving knives in 2013/14, just 21 fewer than the previous year. These included 52 knife murders, up from 47, 862 serious injuries, 1,038 "moderate" injuries and 1,142 minor injuries.

Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Allison, the head of the gangs unit Trident, said: "Our primary aim is keeping Londoners safe. We have seen significant reductions in both gun and knife crime in recent years, however we recognise that knife crime continues to have a considerable impact on London.

In 2013/14, over 50 per cent of murders were committed with knives in comparison with 12 per cent involving a firearm and 43 per cent of the UK's knife-related offences take place in the capital." In Hillingdon officers swooped on three addresses linked to a family suspected of drug-dealing. Nine officers executed a warrant at a semi-detached house in Hoppner Road at 7.55am. Police arrested one man for cannabis possession. A man at another address was arrested for possession of Class A drugs. At a third address, the home of a suspected drug dealer, officers found £120,000 in cash. A 17-year-old was arrested in Islington on suspicion of possession of a firearm after a loaded revolver was found in a moped.

In unconnected incidents, a man, 28, was arrested in Hillingdon for two knifepoint robberies and a 15-year-old youth was arrested in Islington with a knife.

(3rd July 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 24th June 2014 author John Dunne)    [Option 1]

King's Cross St Pancras was the station where travellers were most likely to be targeted by thieves last year.
The station - a hub for Eurostar passengers - saw 283 reported thefts of items including  bags, phones, wallets and laptops, according to official figures.

The opportunist thieves were attracted by the rich pickings from tourists and commuters at the bustling station whose tube stop serves six lines and 80 million people every year.

Victoria station had the second highest tally with 268 followed by Oxford Circus on 255, in 2013.

The Piccadilly Line had the most thefts of all tube lines with 971 but it served more than 200m passengers.

Meanwhile the  Underground  lines which had the most thefts as a proportion of the number of people travelling on them were the Circle and Hammersmith & City with 554, followed by the Central line with 945 and Jubilee with 638.

Thefts on the  Docklands Light Railway (DLR)  increased by 26 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the British Transport Police figures.

However overall reported crime on the London Underground fell from 6,955 incidents in 2012 to 5,878 in 2013, representing a 15 per cent drop.

Separate figures from the Metropolitan Police reveal that thieves are also targeting the London bus network with almost 23,000 thefts being reported in 2013.

Of all the items reported stolen across the bus and tube network, mobile phones top the list followed by cash, credit cards and wallets.

Bag theft is also very common with 568 reported stolen last year across the bus and tube network , as well as 277 laptops and 125 watches.

Games consoles, prams and wheelchairs, toys, plants and even one pet were also pilfered.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= home insurance, which carried out the research, said: "The sheer number of people that use the London transport system each day makes it easy for opportunistic thieves to target unsuspecting travellers without them noticing.

"Mobile phones are a common target for thieves as they are small enough to pocket and can be easily sold on. Theft away from the home is not covered as standard on most home insurance policies and it is worth checking that you have the right cover for your belongings should the worst happen."

(3rd July 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 20th June 2014 author Jasmin McDermott)     [Option 1]

Police staff redundancies might have been avoided if millions of pounds spent on a scrapped crime intelligence system were spent "more wisely", it has been suggested.

The Surrey Integrated Reporting Enterprise Network (SIREN) was commissioned in May 2009 by then Surrey chief constable Mark Rowley to replace the force's aging criminal intelligence suite (CIS).

However, when current Chief Constable Lynne Owens took the helm she raised concerns regarding delays in implementing the system and suggested it may not be the best option for the force going forward. Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley terminated the project last April, at a final cost of £14.8 million.

A report by the Audit Commission said that a lack of experience of how to manage large-scale projects contributed towards the significant delays and extra costs incurred. It stated that the "ambitious project" was beyond the capabilities and experience of the force and its now defunct police authority.

In an interview with, Surrey Police Federation Chairman Mike Dodds said that members of police staff union Unison were "very disappointed" over the way the money was spent and could have been used to avoid redundancies.

 He said: "There has been a number of officer that have been quite angry about the money that has been wasted.

"Our police staff colleagues are also particularly disappointed that the money was not spent more wisely - particularly against the backdrop of redundancies. The money might have avoided redundancies."

Mr Dodds said that the time used to train personnel on a system that was never implemented is completely unrecoverable.

He added: "Everyone had to have half a day's training on a system that was never used. The number of working days wasted to learn a system which never came into fruition is unrecoverable. In this profession every minute counts.

"The biggest lesson that I think has been learned is that you cannot keep throwing money at a failing project and expect it to work. Unfortunately it is a lesson that has been learnt at the expense of public money.

"It has been a kind of runaway train."

The report by the Commission said that while the intentions behind the project were for the good of the force, "significant weaknesses" in the management of the project - including a lack of established governance and internal controls - sealed its demise.

It stated: "Overall, SIREN was an ambitious project that was beyond the in-house capabilities and experience of the force and authority at the time. Despite this, insufficient third party support was brought in to mitigate these factors and ensure the successful delivery of a project of this scale and complexity.

"A lack of experience of how to manage projects of this scale and complexity prevented effective corrective action being taken when problems first arose. Had this experience been in place, it is arguable a firmer control of the project may have been established from the outset, avoiding the significant delays and cost overruns that eventually resulted in the project's termination and the write-off of substantial public funds committed to date."


Mr Hurley has said that Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who was Surrey Chief when the contract was made, should take responsibility for the failures.

He said: "It is my role on behalf of the public to hold the key person responsible for this debacle. I will be writing to the Mayor for London Boris Johnson and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to take action as they see appropriate.

"I am disappointed that so much money has been wasted - comparable to a year's salary for 400 PCs."

In response, AC Rowley said that he shares the regret and disappointment that SIREN did not "realise the benefits for the public we sought".

He added: "At the time the project was commissioned, SIREN was the best option. This report recognises that 'throughout the duration of the project and in response to escalating risk and difficulties encountered, the force did put in place actions aimed at responding to and mitigating those risks'.

"With the benefit of hindsight, the new auditors, Grant Thornton, have identified that in their view the programme needed more specialist expertise to try to ensure the success of such a programme."

Chief Constable Lynne Owens said that improvements have been made since SIREN was scrapped. She said: "There was a significant amount of public money spent, albeit over a number of years, on developing the SIREN project, which ultimately wasn't implemented. This, of course, is a matter of regret for us."

(3rd July 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th June 2014 author Paul Cheston)   [Option 1]

Little over half of all rape cases brought in London courts end in convictions - the lowest rate in the country, figures reveal today.
The conviction rate in the capital, which had been rising over the previous four years, dropped from 58.5 per cent in 2012 to 51.8 per cent last year.

The next lowest conviction rates were Wessex and the South-East with 56.7 per cent and 57.4 and the highest was Merseyside and Cheshire with 71.8 per cent.

Child abuse conviction rates in London showed a slight fall from 68.5 per cent to 67.7 in 2013 which was  balanced by the fractional rise in the domestic violence conviction rate from 63.3 per cent to 63.7 cent.

Labour responded to the figures by accusing the Government of betraying women and children in the capital.

The conviction rate in London for human trafficking cases, which tend to involve women and girls, rose from 61.5 to 75.5 per cent in the same period.

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry uncovered the figures through Parliamentary questions, asking Attorney General Dominic Grieve to provide the specific statistics.

She said London's prosecutors were "overstretched" but violence against women and girls was meant to be a priority for the Crown Prosecution Service.

"The conviction rates for violence against women and girls in our capital are the worst in the country," she said. "The largest and busiest division of the CPS is desperately overstretched. The protection of London's women and children should be a priority for this Government."

Ms Thornberry has previously highlighted a London case in June last year when Judge Jeremy Gold threatened to clear a rape defendant after "lamentable failures" of disclosure by the CPS.

Far from being a one-off incident, he said it was a "particularly bad example" of the "wholly shambolic" state of the CPS in London which judges have to experience "on an almost daily basis". The judge said: "For the defence to be asking formally for basic documents to be served and simply getting no response from the CPS is a lamentable state of affairs."

London Chief Crown Prosecutor Baljit Ubhey said London's conviction record was improving.

"CPS London was the most improved CPS area last year and nearly eight in 10 prosecutions in the capital end in conviction," she said. "This is a testament to the strong planning in place in London and effectively managing a reducing budget.

"These are priority areas for the CPS and measures such as a recently announced review focusing on improving how the CPS and police handle rape cases in London, and a new domestic violence unit will help to ensure that this trend of improvement continues."

(3rd July 2014)


(BBC News, dated 18th June 2014)

Certain past minor cautions and convictions should remain part of a protected private life and not have to be disclosed in criminal record checks, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Judges said any requirement to do so would be incompatible with human rights legislation in England and Wales.

The Supreme Court decision upholds a ruling by the Court of Appeal.

The case involved a man applying for a job who was forced to reveal two police cautions he had received aged 11.

The man, known as "T", said he had been forced to disclose warnings he received from Greater Manchester Police in connection with two stolen bikes.

His records were checked when he applied for a part-time job at a football club aged 17 and later for a university course in sports studies.

His case was supported by the human rights group Liberty.

A woman, identified as "JB", also challenged the checks after she was refused a job in a care home eight years after she received a caution for shoplifting.

Making their ruling, the Supreme Court judges said the disclosures T and JB had been required to make "were not necessary in a democratic society" and "were not based on any rational assessment of risk".

Filtering system
Around four million people apply for a criminal records check every year.

Last year, three Court of Appeal judges said the blanket checks could breach the right to a private or family life.

After that ruling, the judges said it would be a matter for Parliament to decide what amendments to make to records check rules.

The Home Office has since introduced a system to filter out single minor convictions or cautions.

But the government pursued an appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling, saying the "protection of children and vulnerable groups must not be compromised".

Working with children
The Supreme Court - the highest court in the UK and the final court of appeal in cases of public importance - heard the case on 9 December but has only just announced its decision to rule against the government.

The BBC's legal affairs correspondent, Clive Coleman, said the net effect of Wednesday's ruling was that the law would remain as it was.

However, he said the decision could be relevant for anyone applying for a job, especially if it involved working with children or vulnerable people.

Under the new filtering system, cautions given to adults are removed from criminal records checks after six years.

Cautions to children are filtered out after two years.

(3rd July 2014)


(Daily Express, dated 18th June 2014 author Anil Dawar)  [Option 1]

A further one in six said they would personally attack an intruder on their premises.

Just one in 33 people thought using violence against a burglar can never be justified.

The results show the strength of feeling in favour of homeowners being allowed to defend their property and their loved ones.

Jack Hart of the campaign group The Freedom Association said: "I think that these findings will reflect the feelings of much of the British public.

"It's very simple.

"Everyone should have the right to defend their property in a manner they consider appropriate.

"No one should ever have to fear ending up in court for tackling an intruder in their home.

"Victims of crime should be supported, not criminalised for protecting themselves."

Peter Cuthbertson of the ­Centre for Crime Prevention said: "These figures are overwhelming and the police and politicians should take notice.

"The right to self defence is vital.

"For all the householder knows, the person breaking in could kill their loved ones.

"People should always be prudent about handling threats but it is a warped version of justice when the victim is the one hauled before the courts."

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling changed the law last year to offer greater protection to householders who injure burglars.

Before that, residents could use "reasonable" force to defend themselves, their family or their property.

But "disproportionate" violence could never be considered reasonable .

Under the new rules, disproportionate force does not automatically bring criminal charges, although "grossly disproportionate force" is still a crime.

The law change came after two masked burglars were shot and wounded breaking into a remote farmhouse in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in 2011.

Homeowners Andy and Tracey Ferrie spent almost three days in custody on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

They were finally released without charge amid growing public outrage.

Burglars Joshua O'Gorman, 27, and Daniel Mansell, 33, were later jailed for four years each.

In a new report, researchers for insurers RIAS quizzed more than 2,000 Britons on their attitudes to home security.

A massive 93 per cent, the equivalent of 45.9million UK adults, thought it was acceptable to use force on burglars.

The most common justification for using force, given by 71 per cent of people, was protecting their family.

Protecting themselves came second, at 60 per cent. But someone just breaking into the home was enough for 49 per cent of those questioned.

Three out of four people said all burglars should be jailed.

Recent figures showed that four out of five serial burglars are escaping with soft sentences, despite the law allowing for a minimum three years after three or more previous convictions.

Separate research from Direct Line Home Insurance showed 26 per cent of people would grab a weapon to use on an intruder.A cricket bat or snooker cue were the top choices. Other people favoured using a table lamp.

(3rd July 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th June 2014 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

Gang members are operating like "untouchables" and escaping proper punishment because of prosecution failures and weak sentencing, a London borough has warned MPs.
Hackney council said penalties for possessing a blade do not "take sufficient account of the risk posed by those who carry a knife" and do not act as a deterrent.

It also accused the Crown Prosecution Service of giving "many young gang members the impression of being untouchable" because it was too cautious about pressing charges and failed to ensure that cases were dealt with by staff who understand the "complexity" of gang violence.

It said a tougher approach was needed in which mandatory prison terms should be given to all knife offenders convicted for a second such crime. The warning comes ahead of a vote by MPs tomorrow on a Commons amendment which would bring in automatic jail terms for those convicted of a second knife offence.

The council also wants first time offenders to be sent on compulsory knife awareness programmes spelling out the potentially lethal consequences of their behaviour.

The council's comments came in a submission to an inquiry by the Commons home affairs select committee into gangs and youth crime - and were described as "deeply worrying" by committee chairman Keith Vaz.

He said the council's comments showed that the methods used to combat knife and gang crime were not working adequately and expressed dismay that serious offenders were being allowed to evade justice.

In the document, Hackney, which has a long history of gang problems, said it has achieved "substantial and sustained reductions" in such offending in recent years - a result of the work of a specialist anti-gangs unit set up with police, probation, benefits and youth staff. It cited figures showing a 50 per cent fall in gun crime since 2009 and smaller declines in knife and serious youth violence offences.

But the council told MPs that its efforts were being undermined by insufficiently robust action from prosecutors and the courts. It said: "The Crown Prosecution Service's approach of [sic] prosecution cases has given many young gang members the impression of being untouchable. This is because the CPS only considers prosecution, regardless of severity, if there is an 80 per cent likelihood of conviction."

It claimed sentencing was too weak and echoed calls made by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe for mandatory prison sentences for those convicted of a second knife offence.

It said: "Stronger sentences would send a powerful message and provide reassurance to the law-abiding majority, and we are not convinced that sentencing at the moment is acting as a deterrent."

Hackney also called for sentencing guidelines to "take account of any gang related element to the offending".

The council also wants legal changes to ensure that staff in all hospitals report to police when knife victims are admitted to accident and emergency units, as is mandatory for those suffering from gunshot wounds.

Mr Vaz said: "Hackney's evidence is deeply worrying. No one in London should feel that they are 'untouchable' as far as the criminal law is concerned.

"It is clear from those on the frontline the methods taken to prevent knife crime are not working."

The CPS said that the council was wrong to claim that it would only prosecute when there was an 80 per cent likelihood of conviction and insisted that tacking gang crime was a "key priority" for its lawyers.

(3rd July 2014)

(The Telegraph, dated 12th June 2014 author Claire Carter)  [Option 1]

Police have made more than £5 million by selling or crushing cars, including luxury vehicles such as Lamborghinis, which have been seized because they are not insured.
A Bentley, Lamborghini and crane worth £1million were among more than 100,000 vehicles impounded by the Metropolitan Police since the force started targeting uninsured drivers in London.
Most luxury vehicles seized are sold at auction if they are not reclaimed by their owners and the correct fines and insurance paid, while lower values cars are likely to be crushed.
The Met Police has made more than £5.5 million from the sale or destruction of around 24,500 cars seized which have not been claimed by their owners in the last two and a half years.
Among the cars taken by police were an Aston Martin DB5 - dubbed the most famous car in the world after it appeared in James Bond's Goldfinger - rare customised Lamborghinis, Mercedes and Porsche Boxsters.

One of the cars, an orange Lamborghini Aventador, was sold at auction for £218,000 after its owner did not have the correct insurance and failed to pay to reclaim it.
The 72 tonne mobile crane - the most valuable seized - was taken off the road after it was seen in Belgravia in January 2012 being driven without a proper licence and insurance. Officers said it had since been reclaimed after owners paid the outstanding insurance and fines.
In another case a £200,000 Ferrari supercar was handed back to its owner after they reclaimed the vehicle and paid its insurance.
In November 2013, a six litre Bentley Continental GTC was seized in Bromley after the driver was found to be uninsured, and in October last year a £400,000 customised Lamborghini Aventador was taken off the road when the motorist's insurance policy was found to not cover such an expensive vehicle.
Other cars seized in the last year include a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Lamborghini Spider.
In the last 12 months a total of 39,000 vehicles have been seized.

All money raised goes back to the force for similar operations to target offenders on roads in Londn.
Police said most of the supercars were either reclaimed by owners paying their fines and insurance or would be sold at auction as a last resort.
Uninsured drivers face six penalty points and a £300 fine.

A police spokesperson said: "High value cars are not automatically sent to be crushed. If the owner doesn't come and collect them within a designated time, they will be auctioned off.
"Uninsured drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a road collision, and many are more likely to be involved in criminal activity."
The operation, called Cubo, began in 2011 and more than 100,000 cars have been seized since its launch.

Further Information

From the London Evening Standard, dated 12th June 2014. "The crackdown has led to the arrest of 2700 drivers - some wanted for murder and rape".

(3rd July 2014)

(London Evening Standard, 11th June 2014 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

Organised crime gangs have seized control of some parts of Britain and are running their own alternative system of justice, Theresa May warned today.
The Home Secretary said housing, security and other services were also being provided in districts taken over by the "brutish" and "violent" gangs.

She said the development was a "profound" concern and something which "troubles me greatly". Mrs May's warning came during a London speech on organised crime in which she warned that there were now 5,300 criminal gangs operating across the country.

She said their illegal activities affected "every one of us" and included large-scale fraud as well as the trafficking of people and sex. The estimated cost to the nation was £24?billion a year.

The Home Secretary added that previous efforts to combat the problem had not been effective enough and insisted that new measures, including legislation announced in the Queen's Speech to make it easier to punish major criminals, would lead to significant improvements. But she also issued a stark warning that the impact of organised crime gangs had become so pervasive that some were now in control of parts of the country.

"Some organised criminals in some of our communities have been able to fill a vacuum of authority," she said.

"They have established themselves as alternative providers of justice, security, housing and livelihoods. Some have become, perversely, a kind of role model to others in their local communities. This is quite profound. It troubles me greatly, as it should other national political and civic leaders."

Mrs May said organised crime gangs had "got away with it" for too many years but she insisted this was about to change because of her reforms.

She added: "I want to send the clearest message. Whoever and wherever you are, if you are involved in organised crime then we will come after you, we will find you, we will prosecute you and we will punish you."

(3rd July 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th June 2014 author Russell Lynch)

The Bank of England stepped up its war against cyber-crime today as it prepared to unleash an army of intelligence experts and licensed hackers to probe the defences of Britain's biggest banks.
Threadneedle Street has acted after last year's recommendation from its Financial Policy Committee to test and improve the resilience of the financial system to cyber-attack.

Under its new framework, known as CBEST, government intelligence will be used by private security firms and hacking companies to identify the vulnerabilities of individual institutions, and replicate the methods of potential attackers. It comes as internet security giant McAfee put the global cost of cyber-crime at £266 billion today.

The surgical strikes are a step up from the less sophisticated tests banks use at present on their IT systems which used broad-based attacks to probe web defences.

The results of the new tests, including the extent of the access the hackers gain and the damage they can cause, will be shared with both the individual banks and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

The Bank of England's executive director for Resolution, Andrew Gracie, said: "Unlike physical attacks which are localised, these attacks are international and know no boundaries.

Cyber defence, as a result, has become not a matter of designing a hard perimeter that can repel attacks but detecting where networks have been penetrated and responding effectively where this occurs."

He told the British Bankers' Association: "The idea of CBEST is to bring together the best available threat intelligence from government and elsewhere, tailored to the business model and operations of individual firms, to be delivered in live tests, within a controlled testing environment.

"The results should provide a direct read-out on a firm's capability to withstand cyber-attacks which - on the basis of current intelligence - have the most potential, combining probability and impact, to have an adverse impact on financial stability."

The new framework will not be compulsory but the Bank - which launched CBEST unofficially to the industry two weeks ago - has seen strong interest from UK financial industry so far.

It will cost a bank typically around £100,000 to have its systems tested under the new regime, which cost around £200,000 to develop.

The Bank - presided over by Mark Carney - expects to have 18 testing companies and nine intelligence firms accredited to carry out the tests after working with the Council for Registered Ethical Security Testers and intelligence firm Digital Shadows to develop new industry standards.

The Bank told City firms in February that they needed to act more quickly and report to regulators in more detail if they become subject to cyber attacks from criminal gangs or terrorists.

The warning followed the results of a massive three-day exercise dubbed Waking Shark II to simulate an attack on the City.

(3rd July 2014)


(Police Oracle - dated 5th June 2014 author David Pickover)     [Option 1]


The word "insulting" appears in a number of offences under the Public Order Act 1986. What is the meaning of the word?


In the case of Brutus v Cozens (1972), the House of Lords (the predecessor of the Supreme Court) ruled that the word "insulting" was in common usage and, accordingly, the word had to be given its ordinary, everyday meaning. The court ruled that whether something was insulting was not a question of law, but a question of fact for the court to determine.

In an earlier phase of Mr Brutus's appeal process, the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court offered a lengthy definition of the word "insulting". The House of Lords unanimously agreed that the Divisional Court had approached the case on the wrong footing by attempting to give a meaning to the word.

Reflecting the views of all the Law Lords determining the case, Lord Kilbrandon stated that a definition of the word "insulting" was unnecessary and dictionary definitions of the word were not necessarily helpful.

His lordship added: "Insulting is an ordinary, uncomplicated English word." He the went on to summarise the difficulties of attempting (as the Divisional Court had done) to give meanings to ordinary words. He did so by quoting Boswell: "To explain requires the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explained and such terms cannot always be found. The easiest word, whatever it may be, can never be translated into one more easy."

This said, a number of cases, such as Hammond v Director of Public Prosecutions (2004) illustrate what may be deemed to be insulting. In the Hammond case the Divisional Court held that signs depicting the words "stop immorality", "stop homosexuality" and "stop lesbianism" fell within the purview of section 5 of the Public Order Act on the grounds that the signs implied that gay and lesbian people were immoral.

David Pickover is a retired West Yorkshire assistant chief constable, one time head of West Yorkshire police detective training and commandant of the training school, co-author of eight books on criminal law and was the legal editor on Jane's Police Review magazine for 13 years.

(3rd July 2014)


(The Telegraph, dated 3rd June 2014 author Matthew Sparkes)  [Option 1]

Full article :

More than 15,000 people in the UK have been infected with dangerous malware and have just two weeks to protect themselves before it attempts to empty their bank accounts and costs the UK "millions", warns the National Crime Agency.

The software, called Gameover Zeus, has spread worldwide but has been temporarily disabled by an unprecedented international effort from law enforcement agencies. Potential victims can protect themselves, but have only a short time to do so before the hackers can rebuild their network.

"This warning is not intended to cause you panic but we cannot over-stress the importance of taking these steps immediately," said government-backed website Get Safe Online. We look at what you need to do to stay safe. The US government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team offered these tips:

• Use and maintain anti-virus software. It is vitally important to install the latest updates.

• Change your passwords. Your original passwords may have been compromised during the infection.

• Keep your operating system and applications up-to-date - install the latest patches.

While the UK government-backed Get Safe Online website told people to:

• Download a free tool to scan for Gameover Zeus and CryptoLocker, and remove them from your computer (download links are included on the link above).

• Do not open attachments in emails unless you are 100 per cent certain that they are authentic.

• Make sure all of your files including documents, photos music and bookmarks are backed up and readily available in case you are no longer able to access them on your computer.

• Never store passwords on your computer in case they are accessed by Gameover Zeus or another aggressive malware program.

ISPs will now be sending emails to thousands of Britons who have been infected with the malware, warning them and telling them what steps to take. They have been identified because part of the sting operation required watching internet traffic to pinpoint which users were infected and collating their IP addresses - these have been passed to ISPs so that they can contact affected customers. However, Get Safe Online warned that hackers may take advantage of this by sending out their own emails purporting to be from ISPs but actually attempting to infect further users, so it is vital that you check the authenticity of emails before clicking any links.

Finally, anyone who believes that they have lost money to Gameover Zeus, CryptoLocker or any other malware should contact Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.


Get Safe Online is providing advice, guidance and tools on its website at :


(National Crime Agency, dated 2nd June 2014)

Full article:

The NCA is today urging members of the public to protect themselves against powerful malicious software (malware), which may be costing UK computer users millions of pounds.

Action taken by the NCA to combat the threat will give the UK public a unique, two-week opportunity to rid and safeguard themselves from two distinct but associated forms of malware known as GOZeuS and CryptoLocker.

Members of the public can protect themselves by making sure security software is installed and updated, by running scans and checking that computer operating systems and applications are up to date.

The NCA's alert is part of one of the largest industry and law enforcement collaborations attempted to date. Activity in several countries, led by the FBI in the US, has weakened the global network of infected computers, meaning that action taken now to strengthen online safety can be particularly effective.

GOZeuS (also known as P2PZeuS) has been assessed as being responsible for the fraudulent transfer of hundreds of millions of pounds globally. Recent intelligence has suggested that more than 15,500 computers in the UK are currently infected, with many more potentially at risk.

By disrupting the system used by the infected computers to communicate with each other, and the criminals controlling them, this activity aims to significantly reduce the malware's effectiveness.

Individuals in the UK may receive notifications from their Internet Service Providers that they are a victim of this malware and are advised to back up all important information - such as files, photography and videos. Businesses should also test their incident responses and business resilience protocols and work with their IT departments or suppliers to educate employees on the potential threat.

Get Safe Online is providing advice, guidance and tools on its website at * to help internet users understand more about the malicious software and how to protect themselves and their computers from attacks. A number of cyber security companies have supplied remediation tools, which can be accessed via Get Safe Online, to help clean up infected machines.

*Due to overwhelming interest and traffic,  the Get Safe Online website is currently experiencing problems. We understand that Get Safe Online are urgently taking steps to get this rectified. There is a unique two-week opportunity for internet users to rid and safeguard themselves from the GOZeuS and Cryptolocker malware. If users are unable to access the information at the moment, we would encourage them to keep trying.

In the meantime information is also available from the Get Safe Online Facebook and Google + pages, as well as from CERT UK.

Andy Archibald, Deputy Director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said: "Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs of loved ones to be stolen or held to ransom by criminals. By making use of this two-week window, huge numbers of people in the UK can stop that from happening to them.

"Whether you find online security complicated or confusing, or simply haven't thought about keeping your personal or office computers safe for a while, now is the time to take action. Our message is simple: update your operating system and make this a regular occurrence, update your security software and use it and, think twice before clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails."

"Those committing cyber crime impacting the UK are often highly-skilled and operating from abroad. To respond to this threat, the NCA is working closely with law enforcement colleagues all over the world, and developing important relationships with the private sector."

###GOZeuS and CryptoLocker

Users are typically infected by clicking on attachments or links in emails which may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and may purport to carry invoices, voicemail messages, or any file made to look innocuous. These emails are generated by other victims' computers, who do not realise they are infected, and are used to send mass emails creating more victims. 

If the file or link is clicked on an unprotected computer, GOZeuS is downloaded and installed and it will then link the victim's computer to a network of already-infected machines, known as a BotNet.

The malware waits silently, monitoring the user's activity until the opportunity arises to capture banking or other private information, which is then transmitted back to the criminals via the BotNet infrastructure.

Where a computer infected with GOZeuS turns out not to offer a significant financial reward, it can 'call in' CryptoLocker, to give the criminal controllers a second opportunity to acquire funds from the victim.

CryptoLocker works unseen in the background, encrypting the user's files. Once that process is complete, the victim is presented with a pop-up telling them what has happened and a timer appears on their screen, which starts counting down. That is the time the victim has in order to pay a 'discounted' ransom, currently one Bitcoin (£200-£300 approximately) for UK users.

The NCA has been working with international law enforcement partners including the FBI and Europol, as well as partners from the banking, internet security and ISP sectors.

Information on ensuring security software is up to date can be found at Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise

Members of the public who think they have lost money through malware such as P2PZeus and Cryptolocker should report it to Action Fraud.

(3rd July 2014)


(The Independent, dated 31st May 2014 author Tom Harper and Jonathan Owen)

Hundreds of millions of people across Europe will be forced to change completely the way they use the internet, according to one of Google's key advisers.

The era of freely available information is now over in Europe, warns Professor Luciano Floridi, who has been appointed by the £225bn search engine firm to find out how it should comply with a landmark ruling that allows people to ask for personal information to be taken down.

His warning comes as The Independent reveals that 12,000 requests were made on Friday, around 20 a minute, from people across Europe demanding to have their personal details removed from Google. More than 1,500 of these are believed to have come from people in the UK who were looking to take advantage of a service launched by Google to make it easier for people to apply for personal data to be removed.

The move follows a European court's ruling earlier this month that gave people the "right to be forgotten"; convicted criminals are among those trying to hide links to stories from online search engines. An ex-MP who is seeking re-election is another of the thousands who have approached Google.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Floridi, who is professor of philosophy and the ethics of information at Oxford University, said that the ruling has "raised the bar so high that the old rules of the internet no longer apply".

The court's judgment found that 500 million internet users across Europe had the right to request that Google remove from its search results information that they believed to be damaging or a breach of privacy. However, he warned it would have a perverse effect as it could place even more power into the hands of Google.

"People would be screaming if a powerful company suddenly decided what information could be seen by what people, when and where," he said. "That is the consequence of this decision. A private company now has to decide what is in the public interest."

He also said the main beneficiaries of the judgment were "reputation management companies". He said: "They now have the power to ask for embarrassing information about their clients to be removed. If I was the chief executive of a reputation management agency, I would be laughing."He concluded: "Everything is up for debate."

Speaking from his office at the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor Floridi said the judgment by the European Court of Justice was so revolutionary it would have the same effect on the digital world as Dick Fosbury had on the sport of athletics.

In 1968, the American high-jumper won a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games with the "Fosbury flop" - where he stunned the world by catapulting himself head-first over the bar. The new technique was adopted by all high jumpers.

Professor Floridi said: "That was completely counter-intuitive but was also a moment of genius. We need something like that for the internet."

The Italian philosopher recognised the internet caused unacceptable intrusions into people's privacy and that the status quo could not continue. However, he said: "I have spent too much time in the UK not to come down on the side of freedom of expression, the right to know."

As Google announced its new service on Friday, its chief executive Larry Page warned the ruling risked strengthening corrupt and repressive regimes in their attempts to restrict "public interest" information from their citizens. Since the ruling was handed down earlier this month, Google has received "a few thousand" requests from people seeking to remove personal information, but this surged yesterday with the introduction of the new form that makes the process simpler.

More than half of the UK requests to have information removed have come from convicted criminals. Google is expecting the number of inquiries to soar following the announcement of its "right to be forgotten" service.

Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP who campaigns on civil liberties issues, is very concerned about the ruling. He said: "This is the worst kind of arbitrary judicial legislation from the European court. It threatens the censorship of legal and legitimate publicly available information on utterly opaque grounds. But, worse still, it forces internet search engines to police what should and shouldn't be wiped from public view without any clear criteria - let alone ones determined by democratically elected lawmakers."

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is known to have strong views on the ruling, calling it "astonishing". He  said it was "one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I've ever seen". He later tweeted: "When will a European court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn't like it?"

However, David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner and director of data protection, said: "This is a judgment that we welcome. It sets out a framework to hold data controllers operating online search engines to account for the personal data they process. It also backs our view that search engines are subject to data protection law, clarifying an area that was previously uncertain.

"We recognise that there will be difficult judgements to make on whether links should be removed. We'll be focusing on concerns linked to clear evidence of damage and distress to individuals."

(17th June 2014)


(ComputerWorld, dated 30th May 2014 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Bootleg versions of a powerful tool called "Card Recon" from Ground Labs, which searches for payment card data stored in the nooks and crannies of networks, have been appropriated by cybercriminals.

This month, the security companies Trend Micro and Arbor Networks published research into point-of-sale (POS) malware, which has been blamed for data breaches at US retailers such as Target and Neiman Marcus, sparking concerns over the security of consumer data.

Both companies found that unauthorized copies of Card Recon had been incorporated into a malware program and a toolkit designed for finding and attacking Point of Sale (POS) terminals.


(Computerworld, dated 16th May 2014 author Chris Hoffman)

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Deleted files can often be recovered, and that's a problem when you're passing your PC or PC-related tech along to someone else. Whether it's sensitive financial data, business documents, or scandalous photos that could be used to blackmail you, you probably don't want people getting their hands on your private stuff.

Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your data, whether you're getting rid of a PC, external hard drive, or USB stick. Here's how!


(ComputerWorld, dated 15th May 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

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The current state of online advertising endangers the security and privacy of users and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should force the industry to offer better protections through comprehensive regulation, the U.S. Senate said in a report.

The report includes findings and recommendations of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs following an investigation into the distribution of malware through online ads -- also known as "malvertising." It was followed by a hearing Thursday that included testimony from Yahoo and Google about their efforts to combat such threats.

"Consumers can incur malware attacks [through online ads] without having taken any action other than visiting a mainstream website," the subcommittee said, referencing two attacks that involved malicious ads distributed through Yahoo and Google ad networks.


(Computerworld, dated 19th May 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

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Law enforcement agencies from 16 countries on three continents last week arrested 97 people after executing raids targeting those suspected of creating, buying and using a notorious Trojan program called BlackShades.

Over two days, police carried out 359 house searches and seized over 1,100 computers, laptops, mobile telephones, routers, external hard drives and USB memory sticks, Eurojust said Monday on its website. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service said that the global operation was coordinated from Eurojust in The Hague.

Rumors about the police searches related to BlackShades have appeared on underground forums since early this month and intensified last week, according to Rickey Gevers, a cybercrimine investigator who has been tracking the reports.


(ComputerWorld, dated 16th May 2014 author Lucian Constantin)

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Last month Google offered refunds to users who bought a fake antivirus app from Google Play, but the scam seems to be catching on and security researchers have recently identified similar apps in both the Android and Windows Phone app stores.

Malware analysts from Kaspersky Lab found a fake app called Kaspersky Mobile in the Windows Phone Store, which is unusual because cybercriminals tend to target Google Play and because Kaspersky doesn't even make an antivirus product for Windows Phone.

The fake app, which was available for 149 rubles or around US$4, used Kaspersky's logo and other branding elements and even pretended to scan files when run, said Roman Unuchek, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab in a blog post Thursday.


(Computerworld, dated 14th May 2014 author Sharon Gaudin)

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With Europe's top court ordering Google to allow people to basically edit their online personal histories, some wonder what this will mean for finding the truth online.

However, it's doubtful the ruling will be mimicked in the U.S., according to analysts who say the European Union is tougher on issues of personal privacy.

"I don't think we have the appetite for this," said Fatemeh Khatibloo, an analyst with Forrester. "We don't have the same sort of expectations that the government will protect our privacy like they do in Europe. We just don't have the precedent for it."

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he when he first heard about the ruling, he wondered how long it would be before it extended from individuals to businesses, and how long before privacy organizations push for a similar ruling in the U.S.

(17th June 2014)

(Daily Mail, dated 28th May 2014 author Steve Doughty)   [Option 1]

Tough punishments really do deter criminals, an academic study of the London riots of 2011 shows.

Researchers found that firm sentences handed down in the wake of the disorder cut crime for months afterwards across the capital and elsewhere around the country.

The effect of the harsher punishments was to reduce crime levels by 3 per cent in the months after the summer riots. There was a fall-off in burglary, criminal damage and crimes of a violent nature.

The report compared crime rates before the riots with those six months later. There was a drop in crime even in London boroughs far away from the disorder and in areas of England and Wales which had not been involved. Researchers said this proves the threat of prison is a powerful deterrent.

The study found that six months after the riots, there was still a 'significant' drop in crime in all areas of London. 'We observe a decline in crime even in London areas located far from the riot incidents and in police force areas in England and Wales that were not affected by the riots,' said the researchers.

'This is consistent with the operation of a deterrence effect from tougher sentencing.'

The researchers from University College London and Oxford University said that usually crime rates change too slowly to be able to work out the effects of tougher sentencing.

However, the riots offered an ample opportunity as 4,600 rioters were arrested and 2,250 were brought to court over a short period.

They were given longer sentences by judges who decided that those who took advantage of public disorder needed harsher treatment.

Up to 15,000 people took part in five days of rioting that followed the shooting of Mark Duggan by the Metropolitan Police.

There were five deaths and more than 5,000 crimes were committed, mainly burglary, criminal damage and violent crimes such as assault.

The study, published in the Economic Journal, found that rioters brought to court were almost three times more likely to be jailed than people with a similar profile who had committed similar crimes in 2010.

On average, their jail terms were two months longer than those handed down for the same kind of crimes in the previous year.

Among the most notable examples of firm sentences was the six-month term given to Nicholas Robinson by a district court judge for stealing six bottles of mineral water worth £3.50, and the ten months Danielle Corns received for stealing two left-footed trainers during disorder in Wolverhampton.

The researchers said that the fall in burglary, violence and vandalism was not the result of increased police presence - in fact, there were fewer police patrols after the riots  than beforehand.

Neither did the drop occur because the riot criminals were in jail, as crime fell in areas far away from where the jailed criminals had been active.

The report found there was a small increase in crimes untypical of riots, such as robbery.

Researchers suggested this also showed deterrence worked, as criminals turned to offences less likely to attract a long sentence.

(17th June 2014)


(BBC News, dated 27th May 2014 author Dave Lee)
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Several users of Apple devices in Australia have reported that their gadgets have been "hijacked" - with a message demanding money.

Experts believed the hack had targeted users by exploiting the Find my iPhone feature.

A message appeared on some targeted phones asking for "$100 USD/EUR" to be sent to a PayPal account.

Mobile networks have advised affected users to contact Apple, which has not yet commented on the problem.

It appeared that the attacker gained access to users' iCloud accounts, the cloud storage service offered by Apple that is able to access devices remotely.

PayPal has said any funds sent to the specified account would be refunded.

'Woke me up'
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the problem spread across much of Australia, with reports of attacks in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.

However, reports have emerged from further afield, with at least one case said to have occurred in London. It involved an Australian visiting on holiday.

Concerned users took to Apple's support forums, and Twitter, to share details of attacks, which affected iPhones, iPads and, in some cases, Mac laptops.

"This has happened to me too in Brisbane, woke me up half an hour ago," wrote one user, amberoonie.

"Freaking out as when I opened my laptop it had the same message 'Device hacked by Oleg Pliss. For unlock device' with the Find My iPhone icon."

It is unlikely the hacker would use his real name in the message.

'Not an option'
Information security consultant Brian Honan told the BBC that so far little is known about the source of the attacks.

He said theories ranged from someone having access to Apple's systems, to hackers having access to a database of usernames and passwords - perhaps obtained from a third party.

Regardless, he said Apple had to move quickly to reassure users.

"One of the key things, as in any sec