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.

Links annotated [Option 1] will direct you to a website that will possibly download a 3rd party cookie to your computer. Your Browser or security software may be set up to prevent this download from taking place.


Virtually all of these articles refer to problems occurring within the US. That doesn't mean that crimes are just isolated to that geographic area. The internet is global, so for example, hacking a bank branch of a particular company in say San Francisco can easily be replicated at a branch in Chipping Sodbury,UK. Especially if the IT service provider of an organisation is a multi national and replicates its errors.


(Computer World, dated 23rd December 2013 author Jaikumar Vijayan

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The techniques used by hackers to use credit and debit card data stolen from Target (the retailer) shoppers suggests that the cyber crooks have found a troubling new way to stay ahead of the latest fraud detection processes.

Security blogger Brian Krebs, who first reported the Target data breach news last week, said on Sunday that compromised cards are being marketed online with information on the state, city and ZIP code of the Target store where they were used.

Fraud experts say the location information will likely allow buyers of the stolen data to use spoofed versions of cards issued to people in their immediate vicinity, Krebs wrote. "This lets crooks who want to use the cards for in-store fraud avoid any knee-jerk fraud defenses in which a financial institution might block transactions that occur outside the legitimate cardholder's immediate geographic region," he said.

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(Computer World, dated 19th December 2013 author Robert L Mitchell)

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Nearly 80 years after it began collecting fingerprints on index cards as a way to identify criminals, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is moving to a new system that improves the accuracy and performance of its existing setup while adding more biometrics.

By adding palm print, face and iris image search capabilities, the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) hopes to improve the accuracy of identity searches, make it easier to positively identify and track criminals as they move through the criminal justice system and provide a wider range of tools for crime scene investigators.


(Computer World, dated 10th December 2013 author Lucian Constantin)

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Hackers of likely Chinese origin infiltrated computers belonging to the foreign affairs ministries of five unnamed European countries ahead of the G20 Summit in September, according to security researchers at FireEye.

Researchers from the security firm analyzed the attack campaign, which it dubbed Ke3chang, and gained temporary access to one of the command-and-control (CnC) servers used by the hacker group.

After gaining access to their targets' computers, the hackers moved through internal networks infecting other systems and performing reconnaissance, according a FireEye report.


(Computer World, dated 6th December 2013 author Tony Bradley)

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Hackers have exposed millions of passwords from Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Sadly, password compromise is so common that it barely even registers as news any more. Suffice to say that it's probably time to change your password again.

Ideally, a compromised Twitter password would only enable an attacker to access Twitter, and an exposed Facebook password would only let an attacker get into a Facebook account. Unfortunately, no matter how often security experts advise, remind, beg, plead, or demand that users choose unique passwords for each site or service, most choose a favorite password, and run it into the ground--using it (or as close a variation of it as password policy permits) everywhere


(Computer World, dated 28th October 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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A malicious software program found in ATMs in Mexico has been improved and translated into English, which suggests it may be used elsewhere, according to security vendor Symantec.

Two versions of the malware, called Ploutus, have been discovered, both of which are engineered to empty a certain type of ATM, which Symantec has not identified.

In contrast to most malware, Ploutus is installed the old-fashioned way -- by inserting a CD boot disk into the innards of an ATM machine running Microsoft Windows. The installation method suggests that cybercriminals are targeting standalone ATMs where access is easier.


(Computer World, dated 23rd October 2013 author Jennifer Baker)

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The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to suspend a major data sharing agreement with the U.S. following the ongoing scandal over alleged surveillance from the U.S. National Security Agency.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) narrowly adopted a resolution to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) with 280 votes in favor and 254 against.

The TFTP agreement allows the U.S. Treasury to access some data stored in Europe by international bank transfer company Swift. But allegations that the NSA had spied on this data without going through legal channels has enraged many MEPs.

These allegations are based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. According to the documents, Swift is included in an NSA training manual for new agents on how to target the private computer network.


(Computer World, dated 14th October 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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A backdoor found in firmware used in several D-Link routers could allow an attacker to change a device's settings, a serious security problem that could be used for surveillance.

Craig Heffner, a vulnerability researcher with Tactical Network Solutions who specializes in wireless and embedded systems, found the vulnerability. Heffner wrote on his blog that the web interface for some D-Link routers could be accessed if a browser's user agent string is set to "xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide."

Curiously, if the second half of the user agent string is reversed and the number is removed, it reads "edit by joel backdoor," suggesting it was intentionally placed there.

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"My guess is that the developers realized that some programs/services needed to be able to change the device's settings automatically," Heffner wrote. "Realizing that the web server already had all the code to change these settings, they decided to just send requests to the web server whenever they needed to change something.


(Computer World, dated 30th September 2013 author Roger A Grimes)

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Millions of pieces of malware and thousands of malicious hacker gangs roam today's online world preying on easy dupes. Reusing the same tactics that have worked for years, if not decades, they do nothing new or interesting in exploiting our laziness, lapses in judgment, or plain idiocy.

But each year antimalware researchers come across a few techniques that raise eyebrows. Used by malware or hackers, these inspired techniques stretch the boundaries of malicious hacking. Think of them as innovations in deviance. Like anything innovative, many are a measure of simplicity.

(Computer World, dated 19th September 2013 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

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A growing number of experienced hackers have begun offering structured hacking courses for crooks seeking to make a career in cybercrime.

The courses range from the basics of online fraud to advanced courses on online anonymity tools, botnets, cleaning up electronic evidence and dealing with law enforcement, according to RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.

Often, the courses have a formal curriculum similar to that adopted by legitimate academic institutions, said Limor Kessem, a cyber intelligence expert at RSA, in a  blog post Wednesday.

Many courses even have strictly enforced absentee policies where students are required to provide advance notice if they are unable to attend a class, or forfeit part of the fee for a missed session. Some of the courses come with offers to help graduates find jobs with underground cyber communities while in other cases, those teaching the courses vouch for their star pupils via underground channels, Kessem wrote.


(Computer World, dated 12th September 2013 author Michael Horowitz)

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If an Android device (phone or tablet) has ever logged on to a particular Wi-Fi network, then Google probably knows the Wi-Fi password. Considering how many Android devices there are, it is likely that Google can access most Wi-Fi passwords worldwide.

Recently IDC reported that 187 million Android phones were shipped in the second quarter of this year. That multiplies out to 748 million phones in 2013, a figure that does not include Android tablets.

Many (probably most) of these Android phones and tablets are phoning home to Google, backing up Wi-Fi passwords along with other assorted settings. And, although they have never said so directly, it is obvious that Google can read the passwords.


(Computer World, dated 9th September 2013 author Jennifer Baker)

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European politicians on Monday called for the immediate suspension of a data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the European Union following more revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) provides the U.S. Treasury with data stored in Europe by the international bank transfer company Swift. However documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by The Washington Post indicate the NSA spied on Swift. The company is included in an NSA training manual for new agents on how to target private computer networks, according to the documents.


(Computer World, dated 5th September 2013 author Loek Essers)

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A majority of U.S. Internet users polled in a recent survey report taking steps to remove or mask their digital footprints online, according to a report from the Pew Research Center's Internet Project and Carnegie Mellon University.

While 86 percent of the Internet users polled said they made some attempt hide what they do online, more than half of the Web users also said they have taken steps to avoid observation by organizations, specific people or the government, according to the survey.

The survey's findings are based on telephone interviews among a sample of 1,002 adults, age 18 or older in July, with 792 Internet users among the respondents.

People use a variety of measures to decrease their online visibility, the study showed. The most popular one is clearing cookie and browser history, which 64 percent of Internet users polled said they did. Forty-one percent said they deleted or edited something they had posted in the past and 41 percent said they disabled or turned off their browsers' use of cookies, Pew said.


(Computer World, dated 27th August 2013 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

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Less than two weeks after suffering a prolonged website outage, the New York Times was knocked offline again on Tuesday -- apparently as the result of a malicious hacking attack.

The paper's main webpage was intermittently unavailable for several hours Tuesday afternoon and remained that way as of 5:30 p.m. ET.

In an initial Twitter post, the Times blamed the outage on "technical problems." But later, the newspaper's director of corporate communication indicated that the site might have been knocked offline in a hacker attack. "re: - initial assessment - issue is most likely result of malicious external attack. working to fix," Murphy said in a tweet.


(Computer World, dated 26th August 2013 author Greg Keizer)

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Hackers could find themselves in the catbird seat on April 8, 2014 -- the day Microsoft plans to stop patching Windows XP. As security expert Jason Fossen sees it, those who have zero-day exploits for XP will bank them until that day and then sell them to crooks or loose them themselves on unprotected PCs.

It's simply economics at work, said Fossen, a trainer for the SANS Institute since 1998.

"The average price on the black market for a Windows XP exploit is $50,000 to $150,000, a relatively low price that reflects Microsoft's response," said Fossen. When a new vulnerability -- dubbed a "zero-day" -- is detected, Microsoft investigates, pulls together a patch and releases it to XP users.

But the price will go up when Microsoft stops patching its aged operating system.


(Computer World, dated 22nd August 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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At least three U.S. banks have lost millions of dollars after fraudsters gained control of payment applications that control wire transfers.

The attacks, which occurred over the last three months, show that hackers are "moving deeper and deeper into the [banking] systems," Avivah Litan, a Gartner vice president who has frequent confidential discussions with banks on security issues, said Friday. "There's no doubt about it."

But the latest attacks appear to be much more financially damaging. Litan said she cannot identify the affected banks, and few technical details are available about how the fraudsters accessed the wire payment application, also sometimes referred to as a wire payment switch.


(Computer World, dated 20th August 2013 author Lucian Constantin)

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Although cyberattacks caused just 6% of significant outages of public electronic communications networks and services in the E.U. last year, they affected more people than hardware failure, a much more common factor in service disruptions, according to a report from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA).

Hardware failure accounted for 38% of all incidents and affected over 1.4 million users on average according to an annual incidents report released Tuesday by ENISA. By comparison, incidents that resulted from cyberattacks affected 1.8 million users on average.


(Computer World, dated 6th August 2013 author Greg Keizer)

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A Chinese hacker gang whose malware targeted RSA in 2011 infiltrated more than 100 companies and organizations, and was so eager to steal data that it probed a major teleconference developer to find new ways to spy on corporations, according to researchers.

The remote-access Trojan, or RAT, tagged as "Comfoo" is largely inactive, said a pair of veteran researchers from Dell SecureWorks, who presented their findings at last week's Black Hat security conference.

But their discoveries showed just how pervasively a dedicated group of attackers can infiltrate networks and walk away with secrets.


(Computer World, dated 5th August 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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A large number of websites shielded by an anonymizing service vanished from the Internet on Saturday, an action that may be linked with an arrest of a man in Ireland.

The websites, which appeared to have been supplied connectivity by Freedom Hosting, were only reachable with a web browser configured to use the TOR (The Onion Router) network. The TOR network randomly routes Internet traffic through a worldwide network of servers that help mask identifying information such as IP addresses.

The newspaper reported that an FBI agent who testified on Friday described the 28-year-old as "the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet." Marques was denied bail and is due to appear in court again on Thursday, the Independent reported. The newspaper did not, however, make a reference to Freedom Hosting.


(Computer World, dated 22nd July 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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Millions of mobile phones may be vulnerable to spying due to the use of outdated, 1970s-era cryptography, according to new research due to be presented at the Black Hat security conference.

More than 7 billion SIM cards are in use worldwide. To ensure privacy and security, SIM cards use encryption when communicating with an operator, but the encryption standards use vary widely.

A mobile communication trade group, the GSM Association, said in a statement that only a "minority" of SIM cards that use older encryption standards would appear to be vulnerable.


(Computer World, dated 16th July 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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Trend Micro (Jonathan Leopando) says it detected a targeted attack that sent malware-laden emails to representatives of 16 European countries and some Asian governments.

The bogus emails purported to come from China's defense ministry and contained a malicious attachment that exploited a now-patched vulnerability in Microsoft Office versions 2003 to 2010.

Microsoft patched the vulnerability in Office, CVE-2012-0158, more than a year ago.

If the email attachment is opened on an unpatched computer, a "backdoor" program is then installed that steals login credentials for websites and email credentials from Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook.


(Computer World, dated 12th July 2013 author Lucas Mearian)

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The number of mobile malware apps has jumped 614% in the last year, according to studies conducted by McAfee and Juniper Networks.

The Juniper study -- its third annual Mobile Threats Report -- showed that the majority of attacks are directed at Android devices, as the Android market continues to grow. Malware aimed specifically at Android devices has increased at a staggering rate since 2010, growing from 24% of all mobile malware that year to 92% by March 2013.

According to data from Juniper's Mobile Threat Center (MTC) research facility, the number of malicious mobile apps jumped 614% in the last year to 276,259, which demonstrates "an exponentially higher cyber criminal interest in exploiting mobile devices."


(Computerworld, dated 12th July author Lucas Mearian)

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The number of mobile malware apps has jumped 614% in the last year, according to studies conducted by McAfee and Juniper Networks.

The Juniper study -- its third annual Mobile Threats Report -- showed that the majority of attacks are directed at Android devices, as the Android market continues to grow. Malware aimed specifically at Android devices has increased at a staggering rate since 2010, growing from 24% of all mobile malware that year to 92% by March 2013.

(Computer World, dated 10th July 2013 authors Ira Winkler and Samantha Manke)

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There is a great dichotomy in Security Awareness. Just about all of the CSOs we talk to believe that one of their top priorities is to improve their organization's security culture -- in other words, the behavior of their users. Similarly, we see article after article and study after study talking about how humans are the primary attack vector for advanced attacks. Some studies indicate that human exploitation is the key enabler in as many as 90 percent of attacks. Buzzphrases, such as protecting and attacking "Layer 8" have emerged.

(Computer World, dated 8th July 2013 author Eagle Gamma)

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How safe is your online social network? Not very, as it turns out. Your friends may not even be human, but rather bots siphoning off your data and influencing your decisions with convincing yet programmed points of view.

A team of computer researchers at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia has found that hordes of social bots could not only spell disaster for large online destinations like Facebook and Twitter but also threaten the very fabric of the Web and even have implications for our broader economy and society


(Computer World, dated 2nd july 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

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Game maker Ubisoft said on Tuesday an account database was breached due to unauthorized access of one of its websites, revealing users' personal information.

The attack divulged user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords, Ubisoft said. The company said it does not store payment information.

"We instantly took steps to close off this access, to begin a thorough investigation with relevant authorities, internal and external security experts, and to start restoring the integrity of any compromised systems," the company said in an advisory on its forum.

(Computer World, dated 26th June 2013 author Mark Gibbs)

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There's a select few of my friends who are really serious about their privacy. They all use strong passwords for everything, many don't bother with online banking or use bill pay services, most don't use eBay or Amazon, and most don't have social media accounts or, if they do, they are very careful about what they post and very cautious about who they friend. They never use their home address online, they're cautious about giving out their phone number, and so on.

(Computer World, dated 21st June 2013 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

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More secret National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian suggest that the U.S. agency's British counterpart intercepts petabytes worth of communication data daily from fiber-optic cables.

The operation codenamed "Tempora" by Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been going on for at least 18 months and involves the use of "intercept probes" attached directly to transatlantic fiber-optic cables landing on British shores from telephone exchanges and Internet servers in North America.


(Computer World, dated 20th June 2013 author Lucian Constantin)

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LinkedIn's domain name was temporarily redirected to a third-party server Thursday, which resulted in a service outage and potentially put user accounts at risk of compromise.

Uptime monitoring service Pingdom recorded that LinkedIn was unavailable between 2:21 a.m. and 6:16 a.m. U.K. time. Some users trying to access the website saw a domain parking page offering the domain for sale, according to user reports on Hacker News.

During the outage, LinkedIn's customer service team said on Twitter that the problem was caused by a DNS (Domain Name System) issue, but did not specify why it occurred.


(Computer World, dated 17th June 2013 author Jennifer Baker)

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Europe's top privacy watchdog and the Digital Agenda commissioner both said Monday that more transparency and trust is needed between the European Union and the U.S. following reports of widespread data collection by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Cybersecurity is not an excuse for the unlimited monitoring and analysis of the personal information of individuals, said Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor.

"If the E.U. wants to cooperate with other countries, including the USA, on cyber security, it must necessarily be on the basis of mutual trust and respect for fundamental rights, a foundation which currently appears compromised," Hustinx said in a statement, released along with his formal Opinion on the Cyber Security Strategy. His formal opinion must be considered by the European Commission in drawing up legislation.

(Computer World, dated 13th June 2013 author Grant Gross)

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Medical device makers should take new steps to protect their products from malware and cyberattacks or face the possibility that U.S. Food and Drug Administration won't approve their devices for use, the FDA said.

The FDA issued new cybersecurity recommendations for medical devices on Thursday, following reports that some devices have been compromised.

Recent vulnerabilities involving Philips fetal monitors and in Oracle software used in body fluid analysis machines are among the incidents that prompted the FDA to issue the recommendations, an FDA spokeswoman said.


(Computer World, dated 12th June 2013 author Jennifer Baker)

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Europe's justice commissioner has given the U.S. attorney general until Friday to explain how far the secret so-called Prism program has gone in collecting personal information of European citizens.

In a strongly worded letter, Commissioner Viviane Reding demanded to know what U.S. authorities are doing with Europeans' personal information collected as part of the Prism program, under which the U.S. government is said to have access to user data on Internet services supplied by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and Skype.


(Computer World, dated 11th June 2013 author Jennifer Baker)

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European Union lawmakers have delayed a vote on what authorities can do with airline passengers' data following the revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism data collection system.

The European Parliament had been scheduled to vote on Monday on whether to allow authorities investigating serious crimes and terrorist offences to access E.U. airlines' passenger name register (PNR) data, which includes personal information such as addresses or credit card details.

However, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decided to refer the matter back to the parliament's civil liberties and justice (LIBE) committee for a further review, following a request by British MEP Tim Kirkhope.


(Computer World, dated 6th June 2013 author William Pelgrin)

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The popularity and influence of social media continues to increase at lightning speed, and recent events bear evidence to the impact -- both positive and negative --this medium presents. As the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded, millions of people turned to social media for information, and government officials and law enforcement used it to keep the public informed and solicit their help.

The criminals were also using that same power of social media, but for very different purposes. Multiple fake charities were created on social networking websites within minutes of the explosions, claiming to collect funds for victims. Actors with unknown intentions registered more than 125 domain names associated with the Boston Marathon bombings and victims in the hours after the incident.


(IDG News Service, dated 6th June 2013 author John Ribeiro)

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Law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Vietnam and the U.K. have disbanded a ring that allegedly sold online credit card details since 2007.

The ring, which sold the credit card information through two websites, is said to have caused over $200 million in fraudulent charges on credit cards issued in the U.S. and Europe.

Charges have been brought in a federal court in New Jersey against Duy Hai Truong, 23, of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Truong, who was arrested on May 29 in Vietnam, is suspected to be one of the ring leaders. Law enforcement officials in the U.K. have arrested three men in London, while another eight persons including Truong were arrested in Vietnam.


(IDG News Service, dated 5th June 2013 author John Ribeiro)

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More than 1,400 Citadel botnets, responsible for over $500 million in losses, were disrupted

Microsoft and the FBI have taken aim at a botnet network based on malware called Citadel that is held responsible for stealing people's online banking information and personal identities.

The company, however, warned that because of Citadel's size and complexity, it does not expect to fully take out "all of the botnets in the world using the Citadel malware."

Botnets are networks of computers infected by malware, which can be controlled by cybercriminals to send automated spam email, spread viruses, attack computers and servers, and commit other kinds of crime and fraud, without the knowledge of the owner of the computer.


(IDG News Service, dated 4th June 2013 author Lucian Constantin)

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An ongoing cyberespionage campaign compromised over 350 high-profile victims from more than 40 countries over the past eight years, including political activists, research centers, governmental institutions, embassies, military contractors and private companies from various industries.

Researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab named the campaign NetTraveler, after a string found in the main data stealing malware associated with the attacks.

NetTraveler, also known as Travnet, is designed to steal documents, primarily DOC, XLS, PPT, RTF and PDF, and to perform basic computer surveillance.

(IDG News Service, dated 31st May 2013 author Zach Miners)

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Add LinkedIn to the list of Internet companies trying to make themselves safer from cyberattacks by adding two-step authentication.

Users of the professional social-networking site now have the option to add two-step verification to their accounts, which is designed to add another layer to the sign-in process when logging in from a new or unknown device. With the feature enabled, users will be prompted to type a numeric code sent to their phone via SMS when logging in from an unrecognized computer or device for the first time.


(Computer World, dated 31st May 2013 author Matt Hamblen)

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When it comes to smartphone safety, the single most important thing a mobile phone owner can do is lock the device with a unique, four-digit PIN.

That's been the opinion of many experts for years, but the advice still holds, including from Microsoft's chief online safety officer, Jacqueline Beauchere.

"Using a PIN or unique password is the single most important thing to do as a user of a smartphone to protect the device, the data and your reputation," Beauchere said in an interview on Thursday. "I'd say the data on your phone is more valuable than on your desktop computer, partly because it has the more recent information."

(29th January 2014)

(BBC News, dated 30th December 2013)

Police forces in England and Wales are to change the way they record offences from April to give the public a clearer idea about why crimes are not solved.

The "undetected" category will be replaced by a series of new ones such as "prosecution prevented", for example if a suspect is too ill to stand trial.

Ministers say it will discourage forces from claiming offences have been cleared up when they have not.

Labour said changes could not hide a recent decline in detection rates.

Home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds said the aim was to give a clearer picture of how police had dealt with a crime report by concentrating on outcomes rather than detections.

'Community resolution'
Currently police can record cases as resulting in a charge, a caution or as undetected. About 70% are recorded as undetected.

Other new categories replacing undetected will include: "community resolution" for when a suspect is dealt with without prosecution, such as when stolen items are given back; "evidential difficulties" for when witnesses are unwilling or unable to give evidence, and "prosecution not in the public interest".

Police will also be able to mark an investigation as complete - unless further evidence emerges.

The government says the new framework could be especially useful in claims of historical sexual abuse where the alleged offender has died, is too ill to stand trial or a key witness does not want to give evidence.

Policing Minister Damian Green told BBC News: "Crime is definitely falling on all measures we have but clearly there've been some problems with measurement so we need to restore public confidence.

"But also, even more importantly, the police need to have information from the crime figures that actually enable them to cut crime."

The new system will come into force in Humberside on 1 January before being used in the rest of England and Wales from 1 April.

'Hollowing out'
Labour's shadow crime and security minister Diana Johnson said: "No amount of changing the statistics can get away from the fact that fewer prosecutions are taking place for domestic violence, child sex abuse and rape on this government's watch."

She said this was "despite more crime being recorded for these most serious crimes".

"And 30,000 fewer crimes of all types are being solved since 2010 given the decline in detection rates in the last three years," she added.

"There may be good reason for some of these changes but, given the government's track record in trying to hide the reality of the impact of their decisions on victims and the police, suspicions will remain that these changes are more about covering up the hollowing out of the police service the public now receive."

(16th January 2014)


(BBC News, dated 23rd December 2013)

Debit card limits are being cut for two million Americans following a hack attack on US retailer Target.

Details of more than 40 million cards were stolen by thieves who compromised card swipe systems at Target's tills.

Bank JP Morgan Chase said it was reducing limits on all cards used at Target while thieves had been scooping up data.

Security researchers said the stolen card numbers had been seen on underground markets.

Card losses

The thieves managed to grab the key details for so many cards by getting malware onto the computer systems at the checkout desks in almost 1,800 Target stores in the US. It is still not clear how the thieves managed to get their malware onto the systems.

The thieves had access to card data read at the tills for almost three weeks, said Target in a statement released after it realised it had been under attack.

JP Morgan Chase said it had lowered daily spending limits to $300 (£183) and daily cash withdrawal limits to $100 on potentially vulnerable cards as a "precaution".

Reuters reported that other US banks are also believed to be putting stringent precautions in place that would help to spot if cards were being used fraudulently. In addition, Target said it would offer free credit monitoring for customers affected by fraud.

On 20 December, security researcher Brian Krebs said there was evidence that card numbers stolen in the Target attack had shown up on underground markets where such details are traded.

Writing on his blog, Mr Krebs said security investigators had first confirmed card details had been stolen from Target by buying a "dump" of credit card numbers and matching them to those known to have been used at stores during the breach.

A huge batch of numbers had shown up on one site that traded in good quality dumps, he said, adding that cards from non-US banks used at Target stores were now fetching premium prices.

(16th January 2014)



(Police Oracle, dated 17th December 2013 author Cliff Caswell)   [Option 1]

A new "modern day slavery bill" will help take gang masters out of circulation and ensure that they are met with robust penalties appropriate to their crime, the Home Secretary has said.

Addressing MPs at a hearing in Westminster, Theresa May said the new legislation would consolidate existing powers and make it easier for law enforcement agencies to take action.

The new legislation follows a case in which two women were allegedly held against their will at a London address for more than three decades and forced into slavery.

Mrs May said the new legislation would streamline existing powers and put victims first.

Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, she said that the maximum sentence for trafficking offences from the current 14 years to a life tariff.

There would also be the ability to take out "anti-trafficking provision orders" against individuals - which would effectively curtain their ambitions to return to being a gang master.

The Home Secretary added: "We will increase the maximum sentence to life. We will also be publishing a plan for actions that do not requiring legislative direction."

Mrs May was speaking after expressing her concern in the national press that conviction rates for slavery-related offices were still "shockingly low" across Europe.

She told MPs that the new bill, which will be introduced before the current session of Parliament ends in the spring, would also make provision for an 'anti-slavery commissioner' and suggested that victim support would also be a cornerstone of the legislation.

In particular, Mrs May pointed said some trafficking victims wanted to return to the home countries - but were afraid of encountering the circumstances that had led them into slavery.

(16th January 2014)


(Daily Mail, dated 14th December 2013 author William Turvill)        [Option 1]
Dozens of Muslim protestors gathered to demand that businesses stop selling alcohol in a popular East London area yesterday.

The group, led by former Al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary, warned restaurants and shops in the Brick Lane area that they face 40 lashes if they continue to sell the product, which is banned under Sharia Law.

Around 60 men and women in burkhas handed over warning letters to Muslim-owned businesses in the area after the protest was initially delayed by a small number of English Defence League members staging a counter-protest.

Controversial cleric Choudary was at the forefront of the protest. The Al-Muhajiroun group he formerly led has been banned under terrorism laws.

Organisers told The Times the protest was held yesterday to coincide with the large number of office workers who would be in the area for Christmas parties.

Choudary told the crowd: 'The shops are run by Muslims and they know they are selling alcohol and they know the sale and consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. 'We cannot live among the non-Muslims and see this evil take place.'He told those gathered it was his wish that Sharia law, banning alcohol, should be enforced in Britain.

He also defended three 'fantastic' men who were jailed last week for attacking drinkers while on a 'Muslim patrol". He was referring to an incident in which Jordan Horner and another Islamic extremist told a couple they could not hold hands while walking down the street, because it was in a 'Muslim area'.

The radicals also attacked a group of men drinking in the road, and told a woman she would face 'hell fire' because of the way she was dressed. Horner, 19, Ricardo MacFarlane, 36, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons were sentenced to 68 weeks, 12 months and 24 weeks in prison respectively.

Groups associated with Choudary were last month labelled the 'single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history'.

The radical Islamist has been identified as the link between groups who encourage the safe passage of British and European Muslims into Syria where they join Al Qaeda-linked forces.

According to a study by Hope Not Hate, organisations affiliated with Choudary have encouraged in the region of 80 young British Muslims to join the fighting in Syria. They may also have had a hand in the recruitment of 300 more on the continent, the report said.

As well as highlighting Choudary role in encouraging young Muslims to fight in Syria, the report also established a connection between the preacher's al-Muhajiroun network and high profile terrorists, including those responsible for the 7/7 London bombings. The report recommended that Mr Choudary should be considered a 'serious player' in the promotion and recruitment of young Muslims to terrorist cells.

Dr Usama Hasan, of the anti-extremist think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, told the East London Advertiser: 'In Islamic teaching you shouldn't drink alcohol, but you can't impose Islamic law on other people. 'This is a democracy. To try and impose Sharia by force, which is their stated aim, is completely stupid and against Islamic teaching.'

An East London Mosque spokesman reportedly condemned the protest as a publicity stunt and politicians in the area described it as 'provocative'. Labour group leader Sirajul Islam said before the protest: 'Everyone has a right to peaceful protest but I urge the Shariah Project to think carefully about the impact their actions will have.'


Sharia Law is derived from the Koran, the example of the prophet, Muhammad, and fatwas - or the rulings of Islamic scholars.

It informs every aspect of the life of a Muslim, going far beyond the power of Western laws.

The laws tell Muslims how to lead every aspect of their lives according to God's rules.

As well as banning alcohol, Sharia Law also outlaws meat which is not prepared in the appropriate way.

A complex legal system, it clashes with British law in several respects. For instance, Sharia Law and British law have differing definitions of what constitutes marriage and how it can be ended.

uaware comment

Forget about the "Muslim" and Sharia law labels mentioned within this article. If you, the reader lived in an area where drunks were wandering around at night outside your house, being sick in the street outside your house; how would you feel ? If the noise, vomiting and other goings on did not take place would those demonstrating have made any comments about the restaurants selling alcohol ?

There was a similar demonstration by Muslims in the Midlands. Taking law into their own hands (recording number plates of curb crawlers cars) !
Why ? Because prostitutes were turning the roads of their community into a red light district and females of all faiths not in the oldest profession were being harassed by "curb crawlers". They took that action after continually being ignored by the police and local council.

I do not condone violence or the banning of alcohol being sold in restaurants, but perhaps the local police could have patrolled the area and controlled the drunks.

Wherever you have a demonstration, no matter what the cause, a "rent a mob" faction will always appear. Resulting in problems and distortions of the original aim.

(16th January 2014)

(BBC News, dated 12th December 2013)

Full article :

Sex offenders found to have abused their position of power could face longer jail terms under new guidelines due out next year in England and Wales.

A shake-up of the decade-old sentencing guidance means the sentences served will reflect the offender's behaviour and motivation to a greater degree.

Other factors considered by judges might be grooming activity, lies about ages and whether the offence is filmed.

The guidelines also extend the starting point for rape sentences to 15 years.

Under the previous guidance, this starting point was only allowed in cases of multiple rapes.

The new guidelines, created by the Sentencing Council, cover more than 50 offences including rape, child sex offences, indecent images of children, trafficking and voyeurism.

One aim is to focus on the psychological, as much as the physical, effect on the victim, the council says.

In cases of indecent images, it moves the judge away from concentrating on the number of images and puts an emphasis on whether the offender has possessed, distributed or created them.

The guidelines also cover the changes that have come with technological advances such as the filming of offences, sexual activity with a child committed via a webcam and offenders asking children to share indecent photos of themselves.

They also remove a child sex offence, which was previously labelled as involving "ostensible consent".

The Sentencing Council said it felt this was the wrong way to look at these offences as "children do not consent to their own abuse".

Revelations about disgraced late TV presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile saw high numbers of sex attack victims come forward.

Separately, questions were raised about social care and attitudes to victims after cases involving grooming gangs in Rochdale and Oxford.

The new guidelines were drawn up by the council following research with victims and judges, and a public consultation.

Lord Justice Treacy, the council's chairman, said the guidelines would "make real changes to the way offenders are sentenced for these very serious, sensitive and complex offences".

"This approach will enable sentences that reflect what the victim has been through and take in a full profile of what the offender has done, such as grooming victims or abusing trust," he added.

"No-one wants more people falling victim to offenders who come before the courts, and public protection is central to this guideline, whether this is by jailing offenders or, where appropriate, imposing a rigorous treatment order and other restrictions to prevent reoffending."

Lord Justice Treacy said it was just a coincidence that the Savile and Stuart Hall cases had occurred during their two years of work on the guidelines - and said they were not just targeting the rich and famous.

"These proposals will apply to teachers, they will apply to care workers, they will apply to anybody who is in a position of responsibility for, particularly, a young person and then takes advantage of them," he said.

The proposals were welcomed by Jill Saward, who was raped and battered in 1986 at her Ealing vicarage home by two men while her father and boyfriend were tied up.

She has campaigned for changes to the way rape victims are treated and said the measures would make a "big difference to victims".

She told BBC Breakfast: "For so long we have felt left out of the system. It will help to feel that the courts have a better understanding of what you've gone through."

Ms Saward pointed to her case, in which the judge, Mr Justice Leonard, remarked that the trauma she suffered "was not so very great".

"They were sentenced to the same for buggery and rape and indecent assault as they were for burglary," she said. "I don't really know how the two things were equatable."

'Long waiting lists'
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, welcomed the new guidelines but warned of long waiting lists for sex offence treatment programmes in prisons.

She also said there were no treatment programmes addressing internet-based offending which was a challenge for indeterminate sentenced prisoners who had to satisfy the parole board that they were no longer a risk.

Alison Worsley, of the children's charity Barnardo's, said it was "plain wrong" to imply in any way that the experiences of sexually-exploited children were something they "bring on themselves".

"If we are to turn the tide in the fight against these awful crimes, it is vital that victims feel they will be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively at all levels of the justice system," she said.

Victims' commissioner Baroness Newlove, whose husband Garry was killed by a gang vandalising his car, said: "Victims need to be put first and not feel like they are a case file rather than a person.

"There is still more to do - victims of such disturbing crimes as these need support long after the verdict is in. The system needs to fit around them and not the other way around," she added.

(16th January 2013)


(BBC News, dated 12th December 2013)

Full article :

A specialist food crime unit should be set up in the UK in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, a government-commissioned review has recommended.

Prof Chris Elliott, of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, said the UK has high standards of food safety.

But he said the scandal, uncovered in January, "clearly showed criminal activity in the global food chain".

He called for "intelligence hubs" to gather information on food crime.

After the initial discovery by inspectors of horsemeat in processed beef products, horse DNA was found in other ready meals.

Prof Elliott's report said there was "a worrying lack of knowledge" the extent in which criminals were infiltrating the industry, he said.

"I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area.

"A food supply system which is much more difficult for criminals to operate in is urgently required. Government, and in particular a more robust Food Standards Agency (FSA) has a major role to play partnering these efforts."

The new food crime unit should be set up as a non-Home Office police force, modelled on systems working in countries like Denmark, Holland and Northern Ireland, the report says.

Hosted by the FSA, it would have the capacity to deal with "complex food crime perpetrated by highly organised and dangerous, potentially violent organised crime groups".

The report also outlines a series of ways that organised criminals are able to make huge profits from the food chain due to inadequate enforcement of regulations such as labelling.

For example, fish is vulnerable to several kinds of fraud, including the substitution of cheaper species for expensive ones and adulteration of products with other species.

'Put customers first'
The report says all parties who operate and manage the food chain "must put consumers first over all other aims".

It adds: "To this end, contamination and adulteration of food, along with making false claims relating to food products, must be made as difficult as possible to commit."

The horsemeat scandal resulted in product recalls by a number of supermarkets and food producers, both in the UK and across Europe, and threw the spotlight on the food industry's supply chain.

The report was commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Health.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "The fact is we have already taken some steps which are recommended in this review.

"The detail of how set up a crime unit as he suggests, whether we build on the current intelligence hub, I think those are details that we need to work on. But what is clear is that we are going to get ahead of the criminals, we are going to keep British food the safest in the world."

The Food Standards Agency said it agreed that central government, local authorities and the food industry needed to work together in a proactive response to food crime.

It said that it was already working to detect and deter food crime. "For example, we are carrying out a study to test that products which are labelled from the UK are in fact from the UK, we have introduced unannounced inspections of meat-cutting plants and we have increased to £2m the funding to local authorities to support their own testing programmes," a statement said.

The FSA added that it was working with the European Commission to establish an European Union food fraud unit. The Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said it had developed a guide to best practice to help protect manufacturers and consumers.

(16th January 2014)

(Daily Mail, dated 19th December 2013 author Jack Doyle)     [Option 1]

Britain's borders are 'like a sieve', a senior judge declared yesterday as he warned Romanian criminals not to come to Britain on January 1.

The Recorder of Lincoln, Judge Sean Morris, raised the prospect that the courts could face a surge of foreign offenders when controls on Romania and Bulgaria are abandoned 13 days from now.

He expressed frustration at delays of six months and longer to obtain criminal records from the Romanian authorities and called on ministers to do something about it. His comments came as he delayed sentencing of a Romanian woman who was part of a gang which targeted elderly men using cash machines.

He said he would not sentence Nicoleta Bala - who now has a child born in Britain - until he received her criminal history from her home country. He said any Romanian criminals would 'languish' in prison awaiting sentence until he knew what their criminal past was.

'You can get in and out of this country. The borders are like a sieve,' he told Lincoln Crown Court.

'I do not deal with foreign criminals without knowing whether  they have been in trouble in their own country.

'If the fact is that people come over here from Romania to commit crime they cannot complain.

'The message can go out that I will not deal with these people until I have full knowledge about their background. The lesson is - don't come here and commit crime.'

On the delays in obtaining records he added: 'It really is in the political sphere. Something has to be done.

'I don't know if we are going to have a lot of new customers. This is  something that the police at a senior level, the Home Office and the  Ministry of Justice are going to have to take up.'

Bala, 28, who lives in Leicester, was in a gang which stole PINs and bank cards from elderly men using cash machines in the Midlands.

She admitted two distraction thefts in Grantham and Stoke on Trent in November 2008, only months after entering Britain using a Romanian ID card. After committing the crimes she left the country but was arrested on her return at Folkestone.

Police requested her past convictions in September but do not expect a response until the New Year, the court heard. Both of Bala's theft victims have since died, prosecutor Andrew Scott said.

He told the court: 'Unlike the East European Baltic states, Romania is not one of the most efficient member states in relation to bilateral co-operation.'

This week it emerged that British police travelled to Romania to discourage young men from coming to this country to commit crime.

Even those who arrive intending to work can find themselves drawn in to petty crimes such as begging and pick-pocketing.

Last week it emerged that Romanians are seven times more likely to be arrested in London in Britons. They account for more than 11 per cent of all foreign offenders, despite making up just a tiny proportion of residents. Last year, Romanians accounted for 49 per cent of all arrests for begging and for 34 per cent of arrests for pickpocketing in the capital.

(16th January 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 12th December 2013 author Kiran Randhawa)      [Option 1]

Police failed to check CCTV evidence during investigations into more than 100,000 crimes in London in a single year, figures reveal today.
Scotland Yard recovered footage for only 16 per cent of crimes, including murders, stabbings and rapes.

According to the statistics, when investigating crimes where CCTV was available, officers failed to retrieve it in 118,287 cases.

CCTV evidence was collected by the Met in only 23,278 crimes in the year ending May 2013.

The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, show that in crimes where violence was used against the person, including murder, GBH and other assaults using weapons, video footage was collected by the Met in 19 per cent of cases.

In crimes classified as sexual offences, including rape, CCTV footage was retrieved in only 14 per cent of cases.

Roger Evans, Conservative London Assembly Member, who requested the figures, said: "CCTV is everywhere. While it is meant to be there to protect us from crime, these figures demonstrate that it is rarely used.

"Instead, serious crooks such as murderers, rapists and robbers may be getting off scot free. "

The figures also reveal that the Met failed to retrieve camera footage in 87 per cent of robberies, collecting it in only 884 out of 6,504 cases where it was available.

Mr Evans called for the Met to introduce a US-style system where business and private CCTV owners register their device on a central database, making it easier for officers to spot where the nearest camera is to a crime scene.

In additional information released under the FOI request, the Met attributed the low CCTV recovery figures to a failure in properly recording the number of cases in which CCTV was obtained.

It said: "The MPS accepts that some of the figures quoted may be an under-representation of the overall figures."

(16th January 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 21st November 2013 author Gary Mason)     [Option 1]

Police, customs and border protection officers representing the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) met in Brussels in October to discuss their problems. In any country, inter-agency rivalry between police and customs officials can be a barrier to proper information exchange.

Arguments over primacy surrounding either single cases or general areas of enforcement can also make joint investigations difficult. But in the EU these problems are magnified by the judicial, organisational and procedural differences between the member states.

To help overcome these difficulties Police and Customs Co-operation Centres (PCCC) have been established throughout the EU. These were created with a view to observing international criminal activity in strategically important areas. For example, the euro is a target for major counterfeiting operations conducted by organised criminal gangs from both within and outside the European Union.

The PCCCs also perform reconnaissance and provide assistance to law enforcement agencies. There are currently more than 40 centres functioning in Europe, and the Brussels meeting discussed, among other things, ways in which this network could liaise better with existing pan-national agencies such as Europol and Frontex, which represents border policing agencies within Europe.

This is a major priority within European law enforcement, because cross border information exchange through shared ICT systems between police, customs and border agencies has been patchy and slow to get off the ground.

The EU is the largest customs union in the world, with an internal market of 500 million citizens. Customs services handle nearly 20 per cent of world imports, some 1.5 billion tonnes of sea cargo and 3 million tonnes of air cargo each year. In 2007, EU customs offices processed 183 million declarations. In addition to collecting over €12bn annually, EU member states administrations (MSAs) have to guard against smuggling, fraud, environmental contamination and counterfeiting. They protect endangered species, the area's cultural heritage, and intellectual rights. They collect trade statistics to help policymakers detect economic trends.

Historically, these operations have been paper-intensive, prompting a drive to adopt digital systems. The eCustoms initiative aims to replace paper-based customs procedures with European-wide electronic operations, thus creating a more efficient customs environment.

Many member states already use electronic declarations, but the existing systems tend to be monolithic, not fully integrated and not always suitable for the changes demanded by a pan-European eCustoms landscape. Despite procedural and financial hurdles to aligning national and international directives, member states are modernising their systems and operational environments.

In addition to pressures from inside member states, there are also pressures from the EU itself. The European Commission (EC) has guidance in the form of Customs Blueprints. These guidelines are based on best practices against which national customs administrators can measure their own operational capacity. They aim to harmonise regulations and procedures among member states and their trading partners by offering assistance in reconciling a country's existing situation with blueprint standards and thus providing a basis for Customs reform. More importantly, the EU has published a Multi-Annual Strategic Plan (MASP), which represents its programme for creating a simple, paperless environment for customs and trade. This incorporates a number of initiatives including modernisation of customs legislation and IT solutions.

MASP is binding and requires member states to implement specific systems that will transform current operations incrementally through to 2013. This transition could be achieved by developing the appropriate applications and plugging them into existing environments. However, some member states have taken this opportunity to change current systems, architecture and environments to better accommodate MASP. An important goal is to make all customs administrations act as one by enhancing information exchange and interoperability between them.

Existing systems designed to achieve this have not been a success. The Customs Information System (CIS), for example, was set up in 2007 to provide a central database for members states to report and monitor fraud and counterfeiting activity. The aim was to create an alert system in the fight against fraud and to enable a member state that adds data to the system to request another state to carry out sighting and reporting of suspected criminal activities, discreet surveillance, or a specific check.

However, an EC survey showed that the CIS is not being used very much by the member states. One of the explanations given is that the current version of the CIS is not very user friendly and there are a high number of time delays in the system responses to users' requests from the member states.

(16th January 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 21st November 2013 author Justin Davenport)  [Option 1]

Scotland Yard is to appeal to banks to fund a new "world-leading unit" to tackle the surge in cyber crime.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe today announced plans to divert hundreds of detectives to the fight against internet criminals.

The Yard chief said that "traditional" policing of cyber crime had failed and that thousands of victims of internet crime who report an offence never speak to a police officer. He said that, in 2014, the Met would deploy 400 detectives in a new squad to fight online crime.

Sir Bernard said he hoped that the cost of the unit would be partly funded by industry. The unit would also tackle the so-called "dark net" where gangs trade in weapons, drugs and child porn.

The action comes amid increasing concern about the threat of cyber crime to UK businesses and institutions.

In September, Met e-crime police swooped on a gang who had allegedly tried to steal more than £1 million from Barclays bank after taking control of the computer system of one of the bank's branches.

Until recently, Scotland Yard held responsibility for tackling internet crime in England and Wales, but the National Crime Agency has now taken the overall lead. About 50 of the Met's 80 officers transferred to the NCA team.

COMMENTARY - Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
(London Evening Standard, 21st November 2013

Over the next month more Londoners than ever before will go online and take part in what retailers hope will be a £10 billion Christmas internet spending spree. The world wide web has given consumers an unprecedented opportunity to conduct our shopping, banking and other financial activities.
The unpalatable truth, however, is that fraudsters, too, have identified an opportunity to empty people's wallets for them. Today, the stark reality is that cybercrime is the growth industry of the criminal underworld.

In the last year there has been a 60 per cent rise in the number of reports of cybercrime. In the financial year 2012/13, cybercrime and other types of fraud cost the British economy  £81 billion. Criminals have realised there are huge rewards to be reaped from online fraud, while the risk of getting arrested falls way below that of armed robbers, for instance.

Cybercrime presents unique challenges for investigators - criminals can travel across force borders and even countries, targeting thousands of potential victims at once with the click of a mouse. They never need to break cover and can hide behind complex online identities.

As the architect of the Met's "Total Policing" model, which sets out our determination to make London the most hostile territory in the world for all criminals, this situation troubles me and my colleagues greatly.

And it is a situation that will not be allowed to continue. In 2014, the Met is planning a major step change in the way we deal with cybercrime by establishing a world-leading unit to counter online criminals.  Our aims are fivefold: to bring more fraudsters and cyber-criminals to justice; to improve the service to their victims; to step up prevention help and advice to individuals and businesses; to dedicate more organised crime teams to stemming the harm caused by the most prolific cyber-criminals; and to invite business and industry to match our determination and work with us to combat fraud and cybercrime.

The fact is that the traditional way of policing cybercrime has not been working. Only a fraction of cybercrime and fraud now reported to the Action Fraud centre is ever referred on to a police force, so thousands of victims a year do not so much as hear from an officer. The traditional policing model is simply not geared towards tackling these types of high-volume online crimes, so we are proposing to create a centre of excellence with the skills and personnel to deliver a first-class response. I believe we are in a strong position to deliver a "cyber force" befitting the world's most important city.

There is also a public perception that cybercrime is victimless - but this could not be further from the truth. These are real people suffering real distress, and they deserve more.

We will dedicate hundreds more officers solely to these types of crime, and make contact with vastly more victims than has previously been possible.

Our experts will also be tasked with looking into the increasing menace posed by the dark net, where organised criminals use the shadiest corners of the web to trade weapons, drugs and child pornography.

You may be aware of the Met's Police Central e-crime Unit, which was responsible for successfully investigating some of the world's most sophisticated online criminal networks, targeting banks, businesses - and ultimately individuals - to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. A front-page story in this newspaper, in September, outlined how it foiled an alleged attempt to take over a bank's computer systems, and four people have now been charged as a result of their fine work.

While the national responsibility for co-ordinating the police response to cybercrime has now been passed to the National Crime Agency (NCA), a core of highly skilled detectives and support staff has been retained by the Met and will form the foundation stone of the new unit.

This unit will be focused on victims and criminals in the capital, but will work closely with the NCA because, by its very nature, this type of crime tends to cut across borders.

Clearly this will come at a significant cost. Over the coming months we will be speaking to partners in the commercial sector, especially in the banking industry, who are often the ones to suffer the greatest financial loss at the hands of internet fraudsters, to see if some of the burden of this expense can be removed from the public purse.

We know that banks absorb a huge amount of the cost of this type of crime while hugely under-reporting it, and I hope a reinvigorated partnership can improve this state of affairs.

Criminals are constantly evolving their crimes in order to take advantage of the technologies that enrich our lives in so many ways. My message to them is that the Met is at the forefront of a policing revolution and the days of cyber crime as a low-risk career choice are numbered.

(16th January 2014)


(i, dated 22nd November 2013 author Andreas Whittam Smith)  [Option 1]

Full article :

A primary duty of government is to maintain the security of citizens. This requirement is generally read to mean safety from attacks by hostile powers. It can also be said to refer to the safety of one's person. But there is a third element, equally important, though less often discussed. This is the duty to minimise interference in the private lives of citizens. We must be able to maintain our personal space.
It now turns out that this last aspect has been put in jeopardy without us even knowing, according to the latest revelations of the whistleblower Edward Snowden. He has described a secret deal that was made between British intelligence officials and America's National Security Agency (NSA) in 2007. The existing rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizen's mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and internet addresses swept up by its dragnet. Previously, this data had been stripped out of NSA databases - "minimised", as the intelligence agencies call it - under rules agreed between the two countries.

It should be added that these communications were "incidentally collected" by the NSA, meaning that the individuals were not the initial targets of surveillance operations and therefore were not suspected of wrongdoing. In other words, these "individuals" are you and me, sending emails and making mobile phone calls. They are you and me going about our daily affairs.

What, then, do the spy agencies do with this material that they shouldn't be collecting? They conduct so-called "pattern of life" or "contact-chaining" analyses, under which they can look up to three "hops" away from a target of interest. In effect, once they have broken into our private lives, they can examine the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend. One can legitimately wonder whether we have any truly private lives left at all.

So how did this come about? Who authorised this gross infringement of our liberties? Now unless we all make a mighty fuss about it, and I urge the readers of this newspaper to do so, the political establishment will fold its arms and say and do as little as possible. It is best to think that here we are dealing not with the government of the day, but with the state itself. And by the state, we mean the permanent officials of the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice. They have spent years in the system. They can often bend ministers to their will. They are ruthless and see no harm in telling untruths if they think it is necessary to do so for the protection of the state. The state is their religion. It pays them; it grants them honours unavailable to ordinary citizens for equivalent work and it provides them with generous pensions that are protected against inflation. The state means everything to them.

There are two ways of being cross about what has happened. One is to demand to know who made the agreement with the NSA. Was it intelligence officials on their own? Who was their boss at the time? Didn't he or she see what was involved? Or were ministers brought into the loop? Which ministers? Did the Cabinet discuss this important issue that requires the balancing of different interests? What about the prime minister at the time? Was it Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, both of whom were in office during 2007? Whatever the answers to the previous questions, the prime minister had final responsibility.

The second way of being cross is to start from the other end. Try to say what the rules should be here. And how they should be enforced. For instance, I should like to see a duty laid on government ministers to protect the right of citizens to as full a private life as possible. Perhaps the Ministerial Code that is republished at the beginning of every Parliament would be the right place for this. In the 2010 version, the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, wrote: "Our new government has a particular and historic responsibility: to rebuild confidence in our political system.

"After the scandals of recent years, people have lost faith in politics and politicians. It is our duty to restore their trust. It is not enough simply to make a difference. We must be different."

Then further on, the code states: "Before publishing a policy statement (white paper) or a consultation paper (green paper), departments should consider whether it raises issues which require full collective ministerial consideration through the appropriate Cabinet Committee."

One issue that should always be considered is whether the proposed course of action would interfere with sanctity of citizens' private lives. But nothing will change unless we citizens can find ways of expressing our extreme displeasure at what has happened. We can sign online petitions to Downing Street; we can use the social media to the full and we can lobby MPs. It is in our hands.

Funnily enough, Mr Cameron also wrote: "We must remember that we are not masters but servants."

(16th January 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 21st November 2013 author Joe Murphy)   [Option 1]

An MP is calling for new action against "drug rapists" after horrific sex attacks on London women whose drinks were spiked in bars.
Rushanara Ali said police and health chiefs should collect more official data about such attacks after several assaults that show women from all walks of life are at risk.

One was followed home by a man who pushed through her door and attacked her while she was in a drug-induced haze. Doctors confirmed she had been drugged and raped. Another woman was saved only by chance as she staggered from a bar, because she was detained by police who mistakenly believed she was drunk and disorderly. She later realised her drink had been spiked.

Ms Ali, the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, told the Evening Standard: "There is a clear gap in the information being collected that suggests there is work to do if women are to be protected from these monsters."

The Department of Health said it does not keep separate statistics on the number of women who go to hospital and are found to have been drugged with spiked drinks. Although the Metropolitan Police issues warning guidance to women, it does not keep separate statistics on sex attacks in which drugs were used.

"It would be a huge help if this data were kept and monitored," said Ms Ali. "There is an urgent need to know more about the scale of this problem and to ensure that these appalling crimes are getting the attention they deserve."

(16th January 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 20th November 2013 author Martin Bentham)  [Option 1]

An official inquiry into female genital mutilation is to be launched by one of Parliament's most powerful committees in a new attempt to end the barbaric practice in Britain.
The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee will investigate why no charges have been brought against "cutters" or others who arrange for girls to be mutilated.

A series of parliamentary hearings beginning in January will also probe whether NHS staff, schools and social workers are doing enough to tackle the problem.

Announcing the inquiry, the most high-profile investigation into FGM ever mounted in this country, chairman Keith Vaz said the committee's members were dismayed at the failure to bring perpetrators to justice and wanted to examine why girls were still suffering.

"It is astonishing that since FGM was made a crime in 1985 nobody has been prosecuted," he said. "This is a concern both to the diaspora communities and also the NHS and it is important that light is cast on this practice and action is taken.

"That is why this committee is launching an inquiry into FGM. We are keen to hear from any victims and those who have been affected by this practice."

Mr Vaz added that the "call for evidence is immediate" and that the committee wanted to hear from "all groups" with views about the extent of FGM and the best ways to prevent it. He also praised the Evening Standard for campaigning on the issue.

He added: "I am keen to hear from people about their experiences and the committee is prepared to take evidence from anyone so that we can get to the truth. This is the first time that the Home Affairs Select Committee has done such an inquiry and I am grateful to the Evening Standard for highlighting this important issue."

Female genital mutilation, which involves the cutting off all or parts of the labia and clitoris or the sewing-up of the vagina, was made illegal in Britain in 1985. Further legislation in 2003 made it illegal to have the practice carried out abroad.

No prosecutions have been brought, however, prompting concern among campaigners that a lack of reporting coupled with gaps in the law is allowing the abuse to continue.

Files on five cases sent to prosecutors by the Met are still being studied and Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told this newspaper earlier this month that she hoped that charges would be brought "relatively shortly" in one of the cases.

The Standard also revealed last week that police have investigated a case in which a baby girl aged between five and six weeks born to two British residents was mutilated overseas.

The Crown Prosecution Service has since disclosed that police have decided not to bring charges following discussions with prosecutors about the "potential scope of FGM legislation" and whether it could be used against the alleged perpetrators. Asked about that case in Parliament yesterday and the absence of any other prosecution, the

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said he had discussed the problem with prosecutors and that charges "will be brought" if evidence of a crime was obtained.

Mr Grieve added: "The CPS takes the issue very seriously, but the evidence has to be collected first by the police ... and it has to cross the threshold on which a prosecution can be mounted. "The difficulty in this area is that this is a secret crime, often committed in a way and form that does not bring itself readily to public notice."

No official figures exist on the scale of FGM in this country, although this newspaper has revealed that at least 3,500 women suffering from mutilation have been treated in London hospitals in recent years.

Campaigners estimate that there are 66,000 women living in Britain who have suffered FGM with a further 24,000 girls aged 11 or under thought to be at risk.

The battle to prevent FGM was highlighted in a recent Channel Four documentary "The Cruel Cut" by campaigners Leyla Hussein and Nimco Ali of the charity Daughters of Eve.

(16th January 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd November 2013 author David Cohen) [Option 1]

Link to actual article

These are the faces of just some of the 124 teenagers killed in London since 2007. It is a poignant gallery of young lives cut tragically short - tragic not just for their family and friends, but a loss of potential for all of the capital.
Analysis of the police database shows that two thirds of the youngsters were killed by stabbing, one fifth by shooting, and that the youngest fatalities were only 14 years old.

Yet seven years after the Metropolitan police first started keeping records on teenage homicides because of burgeoning gang violence, one overarching statistic has never been made public: the total number of deaths that were gang-related. A police spokesman admitted they were reluctant to confirm individual cases as being linked to gangs because of sensitivity to the families of victims. But under a Freedom of Information request from the Evening Standard, they have revealed that almost 40 per cent of teenage homicides since 2007 have been officially flagged as gang-related. And this year alone, more than 90 per cent of teenage killings were linked to gangs.

Officially, the "gang-flag" is used for internal police intelligence purposes, to indicate that either the victim or suspect, or both, have a gang connection. In reality, though, these links emerge in the media on a case by case basis, and this tends to be interpreted by Londoners, often incorrectly, to signify that the victim was a gang member and somehow to blame for their own death. We tend to look for the "gang-related" label if only to reassure ourselves that this "does not concern me".

But our investigation has revealed this to be a dangerously misguided approach. As the shocking study by University College London, published in the Standard, made clear, 50 per cent of young Londoners interviewed had seen a stabbing or shooting in the last year, and one in five had themselves been stabbed or shot.

Killings are part of the extreme violence these young people are exposed to, and every time a teenager in their community is killed, it leads to the hardening and brutalisation of their peer group and provokes further tit-for-tat violence.

That is why the response of civil society minister Nick Hurd and the Government - which has today made £3.8 million available to support charities tackling gangs and young Londoners at risk of criminal behaviour - is such a breakthrough.

After listening to the anger and aspirations of former gang members, Mr Hurd has pledged £800,000 of this new £3.8 million pot to the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund. When added to £200,000 from our endowment, this adds up to a£1 million windfall for charities doing transformational work on minuscule budgets to help the most vulnerable children in the capital.

Groups such as Gangs Unite, founded by former criminal gang member Colin James and backed by patron Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which does such acclaimed work in Waltham Forest.

Groups such as Gangsline in Newham, headed up by Sheldon Thomas, another reformed gang member, that helps young people avoid criminal culture. These groups and many others across the capital stand to potentially benefit from grants of up to £50,000 over two years.

City Hall's new gangs czar Ray Lewis believes the Standard's Frontline London campaign is "a game changer" and today welcomed the £1 million fund for London as "brilliant news".

Last week, the headteacher of an award-winning primary school in Harlesden told the Standard that the colour of their blazer had to be "chosen to avoid gang colours in the area", and that their nine-year-olds had to be driven home after extracurricular activities so as to avoid local street gangs.

The police database shows that with the exception of parts of west London, the gangs problem is widespread, with 24 of London's 32 boroughs having suffered teenage killings in the last seven years, including 14 in Southwark, 13 in Newham, 11 in Lambeth and 10 in Hackney. Commander Steve Rodhouse says that despite a reduction in violent crime linked to street gangs in the last year, the problem can only be suppressed and never solved through enforcement.

Sometimes it takes the parents of victims to cut through the chaff. Barry Mizen is father of 16-year-old Jimmy, whose innocent face stares out from the gallery opposite, and who was murdered by gang member Jake Fahri in 2008 despite himself never being in a gang. Mr Mizen said: "My wife and I do prison visits and when we went into Feltham the first time and spoke to 60 inmates, we were asked, 'Did you see 60 versions of the person who killed your son?' I said, 'No, we saw 60 versions of what could have been our son's fate under different circumstances.'

"The biggest fortune in life is to be loved. A child that experiences neg-lect, anger, violence - don't be surprised if they grow up to be violent.

"That is why I welcome the Standard's campaign to get the conversation going, because we urgently need to change the perspective of those in power.

The natural reaction tends to be, 'Lock 'em away for longer, that will solve the problem.' But if that worked, I'd be at the front of the queue. Only people with blinkers on think it can be solved by harsh punishment or that we can leave it to the police to sort out. Early intervention is part of the answer, but it's a whole society issue and we need to draw in as many Londoners as possible."

With today's £1 million for the Dispossessed Fund, our Frontline London campaign can offer practical support to the experts on the ground who are primed to make a difference. The hard work to turn the tide on gangs starts here.


Teenage killing  Victims in London

Year        Total(Gang-Related)

2007       26  (10)

2008       30  (12)

2009       15   (3)

2010       19   (9)

2011       15   (3)

2012        8   (1)

2013       11  (10)

Five Key Facts

- The youngest stab victims were 14, the youngest shooting victims were 15

- Over 70 per cent of victims were black

- 90 per cent  of victims were male, 10 per cent  female

- 24 of 32 boroughs suffered teenage murders, the worst three being Southwark, Newham and Lambeth

- 64 per cent  of victims were stabbed, 20 per cent  were shot, 16 per cent  were beaten, strangled, or died from arson or other causes

16th January 2014)

(BBC News, dated 20th November 2013)

Article link :

An "obsession" with reducing crime is creating pressure on police to "manipulate" crime figures, a senior police officer has said.

Derbyshire's Chief Constable Mick Creedon said numerous officers in "many forces" told him it was happening. Mr Creedon said officers were "doing everything they can" to ensure crime did not go up.

On Tuesday, MPs heard claims that forces were routinely manipulating crime statistics to meet targets.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was the first time a chief constable had spoken out in this way and his comments would fuel a debate about the reliability of crime data.

Mr Creedon, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) on organised crime, said the "real position" was that domestic violence and sexual violence were going up.

He said manipulation of the figures was the "unintended consequence" of pressure from police leaders, inspections and plans drawn up by police and crime commissioners to cut crime.

He told the Acpo conference: "Inadvertently we are putting pressure on officers to do all they can to manipulate to create crime reductions."

Manipulation unacceptable'
Peter Fahy, Greater Manchester Police's chief constable, said it was not about "fiddling" figures, it was about the way forces chose to categorise various types of offence. "There's a huge field of interpretation," he said.

Mr Fahy said it was time to move away from the police figures and focus more on the Crime Survey for England and Wales - which draws estimates of crime levels from speaking to 35,000 members of the public.

Damian Green, the policing minister, told the conference that crimes measured by the survey were falling and were less than half of the peak seen in 1995.

He said it was "unacceptable" if police were found to be manipulating the data and said a "robust" inquiry into recording practices by the Inspectorate of Constabulary would report back next autumn.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said mis-recording crime "can never be right".

Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, ACPO's spokesman on crime recording said the Office for National Statistics believed England and Wales had the best police crime recording system in the world, but he acknowledged there were "sporadic" examples of officers inaccurately recording crime to meet targets. "Performance targets can create a perverse incentive," he said.

On Tuesday, Metropolitan Police constable James Patrick - who is currently awaiting disciplinary proceedings - told the House of Commons public administration committee his concerns about crime under-reporting had begun after he joined the force in 2009.

He said he had found robberies being logged as "theft snatch" in order to get them off the books.

And a former West Midlands chief inspector described practices such as recording thefts as "lost property".

Committee chairman, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, said he was "shocked" by the claims of such manipulation "on such a wide scale".

uaware comment

Sadly I am not really surprised. After checking the London Crime Map figures for a few years for some wards in one Borough I could not understand why, in this computer age that it took in some cases well over a month for those figures to appear online. Then again, I have been party in the past to writing "sunshine reports" for company Directors on behalf of their sub-ordinate managers who did not want to provide the truth. It's all to do with meeting and exceeding targets and the resultant bonus.

The big question is not the reporting of crime occurences, it is how many of these crimes are solved and culprits caught ?

(16th January 2014) 

(The Times, dated 23rd October 2013 author Sean O'Neill)   [Option 1]

Police Officers should wear cameras and microphone to record all contact with the public amid a "crisis of ethics", a senior Tory politician says today.

David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, argues in The Times that the Plebgate affair is the latest example in decades of "clumsy cover-ups by police stretching from the Birmingham Six miscarriage of justice, to the Hillsborough tragedy and the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson.

In the most scathing critique of police culture delivered from the Tory benches, Mr Davis says that the police complaints watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has to become tougher, "a British Untouchables", and the time has come for a fundamental change in police conduct and culture.

Body-worn camera technology which is already being tested by some forces, could help to drive that change by making officers think about how they conduct themselves in public.

"Britain needs root and branch reform of policing culture, a feat beyond the powers of even a powerful independent regulator, "Mr Davis says. "The government should appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the conduct of the police. The lessons about what behaviour is expected from a British Police Officer should be instilled from Day 1".

uaware comment

Everybody in a public facing position suffers, experiences or acts like any other citizen within Britain. They can be corrupt as well as being heroic or caring; we are, after all human ! There are around 131,000 police officers in the UK, there are around 600 MP's, both organisations have rotten apples.....take the MP's expense misdemeanours a few years back for example. Have the new parliamentary expense regulations prevented a re-occurence ?

For years, many British citizens have commented that they have been unfairly treated by the police. Some of these citizens may have been innocent of any crime, but because one, just one MP has been affected by police behaviour there has to be a change in the police culture. Is the culture change to be how police interact with MP's, or MP's and those who make political party donations, or perhaps it should also include foreign nationals who make investments with the UK !

(16th January 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 14th October 2013 author Jack Sommers)   [Option 1]

British policing's ability to fight major international crime would suffer if the government opted out of the European intelligence-sharing agency, its director has said.

Speaking to, Europol Director-General Rob Wainwright said that while he appreciated the UK government's concerns, he disagreed with its interpretation that the agency's new regulations would oblige police forces to share sensitive intelligence or commence investigations.

At the moment, forces that believe serious crime in their area could relate to another EU country can approach Europol, via the National Crime Agency, for intelligence that other agencies from across the European Union opt to contribute.

Of 15,000 cases Europol handled in the past year, 2,000 of them were initiated by British police forces, Mr Wainwright said, adding this was a 40 per cent increase on the previous year. The cases include combatting human trafficking and major drug rings.

But the new Europol regulation, which is currently being considered, has caused concerns in Westminster.

Europol can request a member state to begin an investigation but the Home Office believes the draft of the new regulation would compel states to give reasons why if they failed to do so.

These reasons could then be challenged in the European Courts of Justice, the government department fears.

Speaking in Parliament earlier this year, Home Office minister James Brokenshire said: "This creates a risk that the European courts could dictate what national law enforcement agencies should prioritise. This interferes with operational independence which is at the heart of UK policing."

He added the government would "opt in" to the new Europol regulation after it is adopted, provided that the agency is not "given the power to direct national law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations or share data that conflicts with national security".

But Mr Wainwright said he did not feel the new regulations could lead to Europol interfering with its members' independence by obliging them to initiate operations.

He said the benefits of Europol were significant, adding: "It (the UK leaving Europol) would depreciate British policing's capability to fight crime.

"Europol is the only place European law enforcement agencies can securely share intelligence on crime."

He said it might be possible for the UK to opt out of Europol and negotiate an alternative arrangement to co-operate with it - but he said this would probably be less effective.

Mr Wainwright said he had recently met NCA Director General Keith Bristow and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard-Hogan Howe, who were both keen to maintain British policing's relationship with Europol.

This showed the concerns about changes to Europol were not shared by senior police officers and law enforcement officials, he added.

He pointed out that Britain's investment in Europol was such that there were already 13 British police officers based full-time at the Europol headquarters in The Hague, acting as liaisons for the sharing of intelligence.

Overall, Britain is the second largest user of Europol's services, Mr Wainwright said, adding it was the largest in some crime areas.

He acknowledged the new regulation was a complicated document that could give rise to several interpretations. He said they were still being hammered out and a final version would still take months to complete.

He added he was confident the version ultimately adopted would address the UK government's concerns.

(16th January 2014)

(Police Oracle, dated 24th September 2013 author Andrew Staniforth)   [Option 1]

More than a decade since its introduction, neighbourhood policing remains the preferred policing model in the UK.

When first piloted in England and Wales during 2003, many senior police leaders and experts publicly dismissed the idea, arguing that providing reassurance and focusing on the public's policing priorities would not cut crime or improve public confidence.

Now that neighbourhood policing has helped to sustain record reductions in crime and is held up as a beacon of best practice around the world, it is a model fiercely protected and promoted by chief officers and newly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs). It is, perhaps, the best example of a successful innovation in British policing, and has proven to be a valuable tool for the prevention of contemporary terrorism.

Public confidence

The rise of neighbourhood policing gathered status as the effectiveness of previous police strategies - from visible patrol to fast response times - raised concerns that such methods were having limited impact upon crime control.

These methods of policing had the effect of drawing officers further away from the communities they served, resulting in the gap between the police and the public widening.

Prior to the adoption of neighbourhood policing, officers were removed from walking the beat into marked patrol vehicles where their community contact would be limited to the crisis points to which they were responding.

Neighbourhood policing provided a more effective approach that also involved officers working more directly with members of their community - both of which were argued to be ways of improving police legitimacy.

The purpose of neighbourhood policing activity was to trigger three delivery mechanisms - high visibility of police foot patrols; community involvement in identifying local priorities; and collaborative problem-solving with partners and the public to tackle those priorities.

When trialled at a local level, it was found to have a significant positive impact on a wide range of outcome measures, including criminal victimisation, perceptions of anti-social behaviour and public confidence in the police. Independent studies and research found that the vast majority of improvements made by neighbourhood policing were sustained in the longer-term.

Importantly, the three delivery mechanisms were all found to be critical in improving the public's confidence in the police. The increased contact between the police and local communities did not escape the attention of senior police counter-terrorism officers, who were seeking new ways in which to tackle the post 9/11 threat from Al Qaeda inspired terrorism.

Home grown terrorism

The discovery of the home-grown terrorist threat in Britain - embedded citizens living in communities - challenged the traditional pursuit of terrorists to ensure that counter-terrorism practices were able to draw upon the information and goodwill of communities from which extremists were being recruited and radicalised. A major shift towards harnessing the capacity of the public to support the broader counter-terrorism effort was facilitated by neighbourhood policing.

The implementation of neighbourhood policing was timely for counter-terrorism policing, as police leadership learned that the issues which gave rise to community-based criminality, and the development of violent extremism leading to terrorism, begin at the most local level. Thus, national security appeared to increasingly be dependent upon neighbourhood safety, and good community intelligence to prevent terrorism and violent extremism at its source came to the fore.

Local profiles

A founding principle of neighbourhood policing was an evidence-based approach for the effective deployment of neighbourhood policing teams against identified needs. The principle of evidence-based deployment was intended to guide the effective management of scarce resources and aid the prioritisation in instances where not all needs could be met immediately.

A framework to implement the evidence-based approach to Neighbourhood Policing was provided by the National Intelligence Model (NIM) business process. The purpose of the NIM is to aid the identification, assessment, prioritisation and management of crime and community safety issues.

The effective delivery of neighbourhood policing via the NIM required the continuous and detailed assessment of community tensions, victimisation and the vulnerability of a community or neighbourhood, all of which is based on community, crime, criminal and textual intelligence.

From a counter-terrorism perspective, a new mechanism had to be found to ensure that neighbourhood policing teams were informed of the threats and risks within the communities they served. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism and Allied Matters) (ACPO (TAM)), working with the Home Office, developed the Counter Terrorism Local Profile (CTLP). The CTLP is a product which drives the sharing of two-way information and enables police and partners to understand and identify at local level the threat from all forms of violent extremism in communities.

The CTLP aims to identify where violent extremist activity is, or has the greatest potential of occurring, and provide suggested recommendations to address any risk.

Sharing information between police and local partner agencies may not be a new concept for policing but for counter-terrorism policing the introduction of formalised CTLPs marked a departure from their traditional and rather rigid need to know' principles. The introduction of CTLPs by the police, in conjunction with local authorities and working closely with other voluntary and statutory sector partners, is helping to strengthen local communities to prevent terrorism and violent extremism.

The CTLPs continue their evolution based on the need to share information at a local level which is driving forward police and partnership engagement activity, essential to identify the early signs and indicators of extremist activity.

Preventing terrorism together

The continued success of neighbourhood policing provides strong evidence that a team of police officers, visible, accessible and most importantly, familiar within the community, is the fundamental building block for all policing, including counter-terrorism.

While Chief Officers seek to maintain and fully resource neighbourhood policing teams to meet local force austerity programmes, all in authority would do well to observe the positive impact of Neighbourhood Policing from counter-terrorism and national security perspectives.

At its simplest level, police interaction with the public through neighbourhood policing reassures communities about the risk from terrorism and reminds the public to remain vigilant.

But the individual and collective efforts of a professional, positive and properly resourced neighbourhood policing team, who are both informed of the terrorist threats in their locality, and conduct their duties through the lens of

counter-terrorism, can directly prevent terrorism and protect the communities they serve from all forms of extremist activity which remains a significant threat to public safety.

Dr Andrew Staniforth is Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence & Organised Crime Research (CENTRIC).

(16th January 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 7th November 2013 author Cliff Caswell)    [Option 1]

A group of highly-skilled specials has been proving an invaluable resource after being recruited into the ranks of the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Director General of the organisation has said.

Addressing the Police Foundation annual conference in central London, Keith Bristow said that a group of volunteers with expertise in areas including IT and financial products had been giving their time for nothing - and had already been showing they are a valuable asset.

Others recruited had been involved in psychological profiling and academia. All could be given a warrant as a constable if required.

Mr Bristow told the conference: "We had a number of people who said they would like to work with us on a voluntary basis and have started with 10 who have a real energy.

"These people are really helping us with what we need to do at the National Crime Agency - in addition, they can have the powers of a constable should it be necessary."

Mr Bristow said it had been his intention to recruit volunteers to assist with the NCA after being appointed as Director General two years ago - pointing out that there was a wealth of untapped expertise outside policing.

He added that the arrival of the volunteers heralded an announcement that a number of full-time trainee investigators were being brought on board to bolster experience in the agency.

Mr Bristow hoped that the new posts - advertised at the beginning of November - would encourage talented individuals from outside of policing into the NCA.

"We are talking a about a different type of workforce. This is an opportunity to enter high-end law enforcement following an intensive training programme," he added.

The agency has also learned a great deal from the innovation of the agencies it now subsumed, he said, including the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

He said this particular aspect of the organisation, which is now a command within the NCA, had shown how partnerships between the police, business, charities and other organisations could pay dividends in tackling serious crime.

(16th January 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 14th November 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)   [Option 1]

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is poised to align itself as closely as possible with forces across the country after learning from problems created by the more remote approach of Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the national police lead on crime has said.

Chief Constable Jon Murphy added that the new agency has been designed to work with forces to mobilise significant resources on offer and maximise the country's strategic and tactical response to serious and organised crime.

In an interview with the Merseyside chief, who sat on the working group involved in the design of the new organisation, pointed out that SOCA did not have a strategic intent to be aligned with the Police Service and had never worked closely with forces as a result.

He added: "The fundamental difference now is the commitment the NCA has to go back to the police. The totality of the organised crime effort in police forces dwarfs the NCA's effort. "There is a will within the service to make the agency a success because we need it."

NCA Director General Keith Bristow has said that lessons have been learned from the precursor organisations the agency had absorbed and would tackle crime differently as a result.

But he highlighted that that there had been a great deal of positive work carried from the previous bodies, which would also be taken forward. The way SOCA had run its overseas network in countries such as Colombia and Afghanistan to deal with the root causes of drug crime had proved hugely effective.

In addition, the Child Exploitation Online and Protection Centre had also shown how partnerships between police, charities, businesses and other organisations paid dividends.

Mr Murphy added: "There needs to be an end-to-end response to organised criminality and we want the NCA to co-ordinate that activity. "For the first time we have a national and strategic tasking to deal with serious and organised crime."

(16th January 2014)


(BBC News, dated 18th November 2013)

Leading search engine companies Google and Microsoft have agreed measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online.

As many as 100,000 search terms will now return no results that find illegal material, and will trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal.

PM David Cameron has welcomed the move but said it must be delivered or he would bring forward new legislation. Child protection experts have warned most images are on hidden networks.

In July, Mr Cameron called on Google and Microsoft's Bing - which together account for 95% of search traffic - to do more to prevent people getting access to illegal images.

He said they needed to ensure that searches which were unambiguously aimed at finding illegal images should return no results.

The issue of online images showing the sexual abuse of children has made headlines in recent months after the convictions of Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger for the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones. Both Hazell and Bridger were known to have sought out and viewed child abuse images online.

On Monday, Downing Street said the government would be checking to see that internet companies acted "urgently" .

Google and Microsoft joined other internet firms, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and charities at Downing Street for an internet safety summit earlier.

At the meeting, the NCA's director general said initial tests showed that changes introduced by the search engines were working.

The prime minister told the meeting the UK would hold an international summit on the issue next year, with a "specific focus on protecting the victims of online child abuse".

Speaking after the summit, Mr Cameron said the next stage was to target the "dark internet" - where people share images online without making them publicly available.

He said Britain would work with other countries and use its "best brains" to catch people who share images of child abuse.

New software
Now both companies have introduced new algorithms [software instructions] that will prevent searches for child abuse imagery delivering results that could lead to such material.

Google communications director Peter Barron said the changes, which had cleaned up the results for more than 100,000 queries that might be related to the sexual abuse of children, would make it "much, much more difficult to find this content online".

"We're agreed that child sexual imagery is a case apart, it's illegal everywhere in the world, there's a consensus on that. It's absolutely right that we identify this stuff, we remove it and we report it to the authorities," he said.

The restrictions will be launched in the UK first, before being expanded to other English-speaking countries and 158 other languages in the next six months.

Warnings - from both Google and charities - will make it clear child abuse is illegal.

Microsoft, which in a rare display of unity is working closely with Google on this issue, says its Bing search engine will also produce clean results.

Microsoft's general manager of marketing and operations Nicola Hodson said: "Day-to-day we're fierce competitors, and we collaborate on this issue because it transcends that.

"It will be much harder to find that content on both Bing and Google. We are blocking content, removing content and helping people to find the right content or also sources of help should they need that," she said.

Tory MP Claire Perry, Mr Cameron's adviser on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the new measures were a "great step forward".

"We're not declaring victory but this is a massive step in the right direction," she said.

Lyn Smith, grandmother of April Jones, who was killed by Mark Bridger in October last year, welcomed the plans for new online restrictions. "I don't know if it's enough but it's a start. I'm glad David Cameron has got involved in this," she said.

'Missed opportunity'
But Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), told BBC Breakfast he did not think the measures would make any difference with regard to protecting children from paedophiles. "They don't go on to Google to search for images. They go on to the dark corners of the internet on peer-to-peer websites," he said.

He said search engines had already been blocking inappropriate content and the latest move was just an enhancement of what was already happening.

A better solution would be to spend £1.5m on hiring 12 child protection experts and 12 co-ordinators in each of the police regions to hunt down online predators, he added.

NSPCC chief executive officer Peter Wanless said "a concerted and sustained effort from all quarters" was needed to stay one step ahead of sex offenders, who were getting ever more technologically advanced."This is the key child protection issue of a generation - we cannot fail," he said.

A June report by Ceop highlighted how the "hidden internet" helped distributors of child abuse images evade detection by using encrypted networks and other secure methods.

Google and Microsoft have agreed to work with the UK's National Crime Agency and the Internet Watch Foundation to try to tackle networks which host child abuse images.

The two companies are also using their technological expertise to help in the identification of abuse images.


(Mark Ward - Technology correspondent, BBC News)
Google and Microsoft's efforts will make it harder to search for abuse images but will do nothing to limit access to what is on the deep web or held on darknets.

The deep web is simply those parts of the web not catalogued by search engines. These are the parts of websites search crawlers do not visit or cannot find.

Some deep web sites are password protected, or only give access to people visiting from certain addresses or are forums or places that block indexers or use file formats they do not log.

Darknets are stand-alone networks that sit separate to the web but are accessible to those that run the right software to get at them. Many operate on a peer-to-peer basis and can only be accessed by those invited to join them.

(16th January 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th November 2013 author Nicholas Cecil)  [Option 1]

MPs today took up the battle in Parliament to eradicate the horror of female genital mutilation.
They rallied to join two Commons campaigns demanding that the Government do more to stop the barbaric practice of "cutting" young girls.

Outlining their plea for reforms, MPs said: "There is the need for stronger action to prevent the crime of female genital mutilation." They called for:

- Strengthened and better-enforced laws to protect girls - both in Britain and preventing them being taken abroad to be forced to suffer cutting.

- Tougher action against parents and guardians organising FGM and doctors performing it.

- More education for young girls to help them say "No" to FGM.

- FGM to be treated as child abuse and for a review into whether doctors and teachers should have a duty to refer possible cases to the police.

The Crown Prosecution Service to improve its handling of FGM cases.

FGM had been a taboo subject in Britain for decades until the Evening Standard started highlighting the abhorrent practice two years ago.

Tens of thousands of girls in London are believed to be at risk of FGM. Perpetrators of the procedure face up to 14 years in jail.

It is particularly associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.

Now the issue is being debated in both Houses of Parliament with 56 MPs signing two Commons motions on FGM including London backbenchers Bob Blackman, Jeremy Corbyn, John Cryer, Glenda Jackson, John McDonnell, Dame Joan Ruddock and Virendra Sharma.

Health Minister Earl Howe accepted in the Lords yesterday that a "step change" was needed to protect young girls and bring FGM perpetrators to justice."The Government is as frustrated as I'm sure you are by the lack of prosecutions," he told former Labour Home Office minister Lord West.

Lord West had said he had been "completely horrified" by the scale of FGM when he became aware of it as a minister: "I failed in my time at the Home Office to ensure that people were being correctly prosecuted."Since then I don't believe we have done any better at it. Do ministers believe that now we will ensure that we have a series of prosecutions? "If we don't we will not stop this vile thing from happening."

(16th January 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th November 2013 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

Gang members will be banned from wearing hoodies, owning pay-as-you-go phones, and riding bicycles in a new set of measures to break up their activities.

They will also be banished from the postcode their gang operates in.

The set of court orders was announced today by the new head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Baljit Ubhey.

She told the Evening Standard: 'It's being able to identify people and limit the type of activity that they get involved in that would support ongiong gang activity.

'Curtailing people's ability to associate post-conviction is also a really good way to prevent further gang activity.'

She added: 'We need to make sure that the Crown Prosecution Service is taking a really robust line when it comes to prosecuting gang crime.

'This has such an impact on communities that we've really got to take a very tough line.'

However, Colin James, the founder and senior mentor of Gangs Unite, blasted the measures as 'ridiculous' that 'will just make everything harder'. He told MailOnline: 'I think some of those measures are ridiculous. Banning hoodies in the winter is just unfair. Do we stop everyone from wearing hoodies? Just stop making them. And bicycles - how is that going to help? 'I can understand that if they've got a phone in their name, they are then accountable for it. But the bicycle is going too far, and hoodies is going too far.'They have done the robust approach. It is all robust, robust, robust. It means there are more obstacles than support so I think a little bit more effort should be put into support.'

He attacked the notion of specific 'gang prosecutors' as 'American': 'We are going too far in our American-style approach. We need to look at it from An English perspective and come up with an approach that works.'The more rules and boundaries there are will just make them rebel more.'We need to look at the reasons behind what they are doing and work with them.'

Junior Smart, founder of St Giles Trust SOS project, one of London's leading gang intervention services, also warned against  strict measures.

He told MailOnline: 'Enforcement measures such as those outlined here have their place when applied appropriately and take into account the situation of the individual concerned.'However, in our experience in providing one of London's largest gang intervention projects, they absolutely must be accompanied with a package of support which addresses the reasons why young people are involved in gangs and which helps them leave gangs safely and permanently.'

Prince Charles has also announced his own volunteer-based initiative to deal with the soaring rates of violence among young people on Britain's streets.

It is a far cry from the strict, 'robust' lines Ms Ubhey is proposing to draw to curb violence.

Moved by the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen in 2008, the heir to the throne is leading an event called #iwill in Buckingham Palace next week.

Flanked by 50 young people, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, he will make a plea for more to be invested in groups such as The Guides and Scouts to give gang members 'a rite of passage'.

He said: 'The Mizens are convinced - as I have been for the past 40 years - that part of the solution  is in providing more structured activities for young people.'In my opinion, tragedies such as the murder of Barry and Margaret's son are the extreme result of too many young people no longer guided through a rite of passage; young people who would benefit from the guidance and help of organisations such as the Guides, Scouts, cadets and other youth organisations. 'However, these are all groups which are hampered in their growth by a lack of adult volunteers.'That vision is that all of us, from all walks of life, will 'step up' and pledge, at #iwill, to help young people take every opportunity to be of service to others.

'I know that young people have an immense contribution to  make to our society, but I have long believed we are failing to do enough to unlock their talent and unleash their energies to help tackle all sorts of challenges.

'Young people are the solution to so much and yet, too frequently, they are seen as the problem.'

(16th January 2014) 

(Daily Mail, dated 14th November 2013 author Jack Doyle)   [Option 1]

Nearly 5,000 thugs, shoplifters and vandals have received multiple police cautions for similar offences within just two years, figures have revealed.

Ministry of Justice figures show that 4,763 adults received two or more cautions for identical or similar offences in the two years to March 31. They included around 1,500 people who committed common assaults, 750 drugs offenders,

500 shoplifters and 700 people guilty of criminal damage.

But Justice Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday announced plans to ban officers from giving out the so-called 'slaps on the wrist' to repeat offenders.

Victims campaigners have long complained that police cautions are overused and allow too many criminals to escape formal justice.

A simple caution means that the offender receives no punishment, and a record of their offending is kept only for a limited period of time. The only requirement is that they accept their guilt.

Ministers have already announced plans to abolish simple cautions for serious offences including rape and robbery.

Last night Mr Grayling said: 'The current range of out of court disposals are confusing and the system is overly bureaucratic, that is why we are reviewing all out of court disposals. 'They should be consistent, straightforward and something in which victims and the wider public can have confidence.'

Ministry of Justice figures show a total of 4,763 adult criminals received two or more cautions for the same or similar offences in the two years to March 31 this year.

Changes to the law brought in next year will mean officers cannot give out a second caution for a similar offence within two years. Only in exceptional circumstances will it be allowed - and must be signed off by an officer of Inspector rank.

Magistrates and victims groups will also be given new powers to inspect how forces give out cautions to make sure they are not used excessively.

The decision follow a major review of cautioning conducted by the Ministry of Justice. Also under review are spot fines and cannabis warnings.

Earlier this year Mr Grayling warned spot fines had allowed gangs of yobs to commit crime and anti-social behaviour 'regardless of the consequences'. He said thugs even put aside cash to pay the penalty notices, then carry on offending, and claimed high streets have become 'fair game' for low level offenders who make life a misery for the public.

Lynne Owens, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: 'It is in everyone's interests that the justice system is as simple and clear to understand as possible.'The current range of out of court disposals is too complicated and bureaucratic - we recommended and support its review. 'It is important that there is room for officer discretion in any system to ensure the punishment is proportionate to the offence.

Criminal justice minister Damian Green said: 'The current police guidance for dealing with crimes on-the-spot has evolved over time and is totally disjointed, no wonder we see a dramatic variation in their use.'That is why we are clamping down on the use of cautions and reviewing the whole spectrum of out of court disposals so we have clarity and consistency and most importantly we have a system that victims and the public have confidence in.'

The review of all out of court disposals is set to conclude in spring 2014.

(16th January 2014) 


(London Evening Standard, dated 14th November 2013 author Tom Payne)   [Option 1]

Metropolitan Police officers have blown nearly £300,000 of taxpayers' money in four years by pumping the wrong fuel into patrol cars.
In the past year alone, officers mis-fuelled their cars 138 times, costing the taxpayer £47,909 - £16,508 more than the previous year, according to records revealed under the Freedom of Information act.

The number of reported incidents of officers filling up petrol engines with diesel and vice versa spiked in 2009/10, resulting in a £96,274 bill for repairs.

Figures show the Met is accountable for nearly half the £600,614 cost incurred nationwide in the past four years by police filling up with the wrong fuel. A spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Damage caused by refuelling mistakes costs taxpayers a fortune and takes police cars out of action meaning they're unable to fight crime during repairs.

"Individuals should have to take responsibility for the costs incurred if they continue to make the blunder."

Filling up a diesel engine with petrol can result in a repair bill of £5,000 per vehicle. The cost is higher if officers drive off having made the error, as the incorrect fuel corrodes the engine.

The RAC, which responds to nearly 40,000 callouts a year that result from mis-fuelling, said the figures "demonstrated how easy it is to use the wrong fuel in a vehicle", but added: "You would hope anyone driving a vehicle paid for by the taxpayer would be extra careful."  

The Met, which has a fleet of around 5,800 vehicles, said that "preventative mis-fuelling technology" had been brought in to curb the errors.

A spokesman said: "We ensure that every vehicle has a clear indication of which fuel is required on fuel flaps and vehicle log books. If a vehicle is unavailable then clearly that's not ideal."

They said there was "no mandatory punishment" for officers who make an error when fuelling a police vehicle.

(16th January 2014) 

(London Evening Standard, dated 14th November 2013 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

Two people have been arrested by Met detectives over the genital mutilation of a baby girl less than two months old, the Standard has learned.
The alleged perpetrators and their victim, under- stood to have been five to six weeks old when the "cutting" was done, all live in Britain. Police hope the arrests could lead to a landmark first British prosecution for female genital mutilation.

Sources say the victim's age is unprecedented and extensive efforts are being made to gather the evidence needed to bring charges. The barbaric practice - which can involve the removal of all or parts of the labia and clitoris or the sewing up of the vagina - has been illegal in Britain since 1985.

No charges have been brought since then as secrecy and a lack of reporting have hindered police efforts to enforce the law.

Detectives believe evidence about the mutilation of the baby girl could now lead to a breakthrough and have submitted a file to prosecutors. But because the surgery was carried  out overseas they are still unsure whether charges can be brought.

The reason is that under legislation passed in 2003, making it a crime to take or send a girl abroad for genital mutilation, either the victim or the alleged offenders must be UK citizens or permanently resident here.

In the baby's case, it is understood that although she is now a British national it is unclear whether she was when mutilated. Also the two alleged perpetrators were not permanently resident here at the time.

Medical records are being sought to determine when the alleged crime took place. If it was after the girl got her UK passport, a prosecution is expected to be approved.

The new Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said just days ago that a first prosecution for FGM could come "relatively shortly", with at least one case offering a "possibility" of charges.

Those comments are thought to relate to the case of an older victim.

That means a first criminal charge for FGM could still be imminent even if legal problems block a prosecution in the baby girl's case.

(16th January 2014)



(BBC News, dated 5th November 2013 author Angus Crawford)

Associated article :

More than 100 Britons were among 1,000 men caught trying to pay a computer-generated child to perform sex acts online, after a Dutch children's charity set up a fake profile.

Terre des Hommes carried out a 10-week sting near Amsterdam, posing on video chat rooms as "Sweetie", a 10-year-old Filipina girl.

Some 20,000 men contacted her, with 1,000 found to have offered her money.

The names of these men - including 110 Britons - were passed to police.

When I visited the charity's operations room - in a warehouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam - I watched as a researcher logged on to a chat room as Sweetie - incredibly life-like but created by a computer. Within seconds, like sharks, men were circling.

Of the 1,000 men who were willing to pay Sweetie to take off her clothes in front of a webcam, 254 were from the US, followed by 110 from the UK and 103 from India.

Researchers used evidence including profiles on Skype and social media to identify the suspects.

Project director Hans Guyt told a news conference in the Hague on Monday that the crime "requires a new way of policing". "The predator won't come forward. The victim won't come forward," he said. "We identified ourselves as 10-year-old Filipino girls". "We did not solicit anything unless it was offered to us."

Worst-case scenario

Terre des Hommes has launched a global campaign to stop "webcam sex tourism".

Managing director, Albert Jaap van Santbrink, said: "Our worst-case scenario is that the same will happen with this phenomenon as with child pornography, which is now a multi-billion industry in the hands of criminal gangs."

The charity has now handed over its findings to police and has said it will provide authorities with the technology it has developed.

But European policing agency Europol has expressed reservations about the findings. "We believe that criminal investigations using intrusive surveillance measures should be the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement agencies," spokesman Soren Pedersen told the Reuters news agency.

Andy Baker, of the UK's National Crime Agency, also said that "tackling child sex abusers is best left to specialist law enforcement agencies". But he praised the campaign, saying it had "widened awareness of a global child sex abuse threat". "Working with our international law enforcement partners, we will now look at the information being passed on by

Terre des Hommes," he added.

Sweetie will not be used again. She has done her job - showing the predators that they can easily become prey.

(16th January 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 15th November 2013 author Sophie Goodchild) [Option 1]

Teachers should be trained to spot the warning signs of female genital mutilation, says a leading women's rights campaigner.
Ngozi Eze, of charity Women for Women International, said that schools must help to identify victims of the "obnoxious" practice, which had to stop.

Speaking on a visit to London, Ms Eze, who has set up programmes worldwide against cutting, said: "There are ways of training people so they can spot the distress caused by FGM.

"Teachers need to have this training so they can be alert to students where something is not right. These girls end up psychologically as well as physically damaged. They can be more susceptible to HIV and sexually transmitted infections and they end up having problems in their sexual relations with men. There should be tougher laws to prosecute anyone who indulges in such obnoxious and outdated practices."

The Standard reported yesterday that two people had been arrested by Met detectives over the genital mutilation of a baby girl. The alleged perpetrators and their victim, understood to have been five to six weeks old when the "cutting" was done, all live in Britain. Police hope the arrests could lead to a landmark first British prosecution.

The Big Lottery Fund has announced a grant to combat gender-related violence including FGM. Nearly £300,000 has been awarded to charity Southall Black Sisters and will go towards an advice helpline, one-to-one counselling and English lessons.

An estimated 2,000 women have sought treatment in London hospitals for the damage caused by FGM. A report published this month called for the practice to be treated like any other kind of child abuse.

Women for Women International has helped 384,000 women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives. Ms Eze is country leader for Nigeria where she has educated women on FGM. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, partly because of cutting, which means women are more likely to die during childbirth.

Ms Eze said women in immigrant communities in London often cannot speak out, so male community leaders should join the fight against FGM.

She said: "I'm not shocked this is going on in London. It's so entrenched in people, although you have laws against it. Many women still don't have a voice so we also need to target men to speak out."

(16th January 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 12th November 2013 author Justin Davenport)

Training for police firearms officers in London has been cut back to save money, the Evening Standard can reveal.   
Scotland Yard has reduced the number of hours allocated to "refresher" training for all authorised firearms officers in the force.

Refresher courses for the Met's armed response teams - known as Trojan units - have also been scaled back.

Officers from the armed response teams patrol the capital 24/7 and were first on the scene at Woolwich after soldier Lee Rigby was killed earlier this year. Insiders say the training is being reduced to fall in line with provincial forces - the minimum required standard for police marksmen - and fear the move could put lives at risk.

One said: "People are effectively training less. All firearms training has gone back to national standards. We had a viable, effective tested system that worked and we are ditching that for the sake of saving money." The cuts are being introduced as the Met's specialist firearms command, known as SCO19, comes under scrutiny in the inquest into the police shooting of Mark Duggan.

The savings are part of the Met's four-year financial strategy aimed at cutting £500 million from the £3.6 billion annual budget to meet Government-mandated cuts. London Assembly Green Party member Baroness Jones said: "I am deeply concerned by a cut in the amount of time firearms officers spend training.

"If we must have firearms officers then they need to be trained to the highest standard because when guns are involved there is the potential for things to go drastically wrong, with terrible consequences for both the officers and the public."

Met Police Federation chairman John Tully said: "We hope that standards are not impacted upon by the reduction in time devoted to training."

In a statement, the Yard said that refresher courses for firearms officers were being "compressed".

A spokeswoman said: "All officers who join the Met's firearms unit are subject to arduous training before being selected. They then carry out regular refresher training to ensure they meet the standard stipulated in the National Police Firearms Training Curriculum."

(16th January 2014)



(London Evening Standard, dated 12th November 2013 author Martin Bentham)  [Option 1]

A major investigation into the links between alcohol and criminal offending by teenage girls is to be carried out by government watchdogs.
It follows concern that drink is fuelling female violence and sexual exploitation.

The inspectorates of prisons, probation, constabulary and schools will study the backgrounds of 10 to 17-year-old girls in custody or serving community sentences to assess the role alcohol played in leading them into crime.

The investigation, which will be carried out in Lambeth and five other local authorities across England and Wales, will also examine whether excessive drinking has exposed the girls to sexual abuse or other forms of exploitation.

The role of alcohol in violent teenage female offending will also be studied.   

The unprecedented probe follows research by academics in Liverpool, published this year, showing a sharp rise in violent offending by girls.

It also reported that Britain is one of the few European countries where girls are more likely than boys to be admitted to hospital for excess drinking.

Announcing details of the investigation, Liz Calderbank, the chief inspector of probation, warned that a tendency to dismiss excessive consumption as simply a "rite of passage" meant the potentially damaging impact of drinking was being overlooked.  

"There is a changing pattern of behaviour and offending that because it's young women is not being picked up and treated with the seriousness that it deserves," she said. "Some youth offending teams have a tendency to minimise the impact of drinking in young women and regard it as a rite of passage."

Ms Calderbank said she was concerned alcohol made "young women vulnerable in a number of ways".

She added: "There is sexual exploitation and girls being left very badly damaged by other behaviour that is inappropriate because of drinking alcohol in a group. There are also the health consequences.

"These are girls in the criminal justice system. There is a need to support them because they are vulnerable."

As well as the probation inspectorate, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Ofsted, the Chief Inspector of Prisons and equivalent Welsh organisations will take part in the study.

Girls in six areas - Lambeth, Brighton, Leeds, Sunderland, Swansea, Blackburn with Darwen - will be assessed before a report is published next year.

(16th January 2014)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th November 2013 author Joshi Herrmann)

Full article :

Yesterday the Square Mile's top brass met to take on Waking Shark 2, a secretive exercise to test how London would fare under a major cyber assault. So how did the counter-hackers cope ?

At half past midday, little teams of bank staff, Treasury officials and national security agents huddled around laptops, one on each of the hall's large round tables, and began five hours of "war gaming". Those present in the room were the people who will call the shots if - or, as most experts would say, when - the City of London suffers a major cyber attack. And they were there to simulate exactly that scenario.

Little information about the exercise, organised by the Bank of England and led by Credit Suisse, was briefed publicly aside from its ominous name - "Waking Shark 2" - and very general description of its objective. An hour after it finished, a tight-lipped statement from Threadneedle Street said that Waking Shark "drew on extensive cyber expertise to design a scenario in which a cyber attack caused disruption to wholesale markets and the financial infrastructure supporting those markets".

The event was shrouded in secrecy because the participants wanted as little as possible to be known about the exact scenarios being played out, lest it be seen as an admission of weakness to particular types of threat. The Standard was told last night that there was another reason too: the exercise required the banks to be very open about how disastrously certain scenarios - like the knocking out of a payment system - would affect them in real life, creating moments during Waking Shark when the tables of international finance giants were forced to admit that in this scenario, they would  struggle to stay above water.

The war-gaming exercise saw the highly paid and powerful representatives of fiercely competitive rival banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley come face to face, requiring them to scurry across the room to each other's tables to share tips and agree how to respond to the simulated threats. Someone who was in the room told the Standard the bankers were initially cautious about communicating with each other but that relations warmed as the day went on. A systemic risk capable of stopping transactions between banks worth trillions of dollars, halting credit to governments around the world and prompting major currency deviations, has a way of concentrating minds.

In an unprecedented move last month, intelligence agents met with major City investors to brief them on the danger of cyber attacks, telling them horror stories about the corporate espionage and disruption that companies have suffered. Investigations agency Kroll estimates that attempts at corporate espionage - one of the key cyber threats - have doubled in the UK in the past year.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said at the time of the meeting: "The cyber security threat facing UK companies is extremely significant. We are encouraging companies to make it a board-level responsibility and understand how it could affect their bottom line."

Ilia Kolochenko, chief executive of High-Tech Bridge, an ethical hacking practice, who is paid by a dozen City institutions to try to hack into their systems and point out the flaws, says he thinks London's banks, insurers and funds are ahead of their European competitors when it comes to cyber security. Kolochenko can't reveal how vulnerable his own City clients are, but says that in his experience UK companies have made information security more of a priority than firms based in France, Germany and Switzerland.

The event's forerunner two years ago, Waking Shark 1, modelled what would happen in the event of an attack during the Olympics, when key staff members at the big institutions were not in their offices. This time, the investment banks wanted to focus on the impact of an attack in normal circumstances, and what it would do to their operations and the financial market infrastructure on which they rely. Far above the level of retail banking, or savers withdrawing their money at ATMs, participants yesterday were grappling with the question: what if the entire wholesale banking system was struck by a cyber-attack?

At the beginning of the exercise, some of the tables received a message on their laptop telling them - as if they were hearing it on the news - that they have been targeted by one form of attack or another. Other tables were informed of an attack as if from their own IT department, and some were told they should carry on business as usual.

The banks in the room, which reportedly included Barclays, BNP, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland and others, then had to decide how they would respond to the threat they faced, the key question being: who do you call?

At the beginning of the exercise there was apparently a big difference between their responses, with some choosing to keep the issue in-house and communicate internally about it and others going straight to the Bank of England table or the ones where staff from the regulators - the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) - were sitting. By the end, responses to the unfolding scenarios were said to be more co-operative.

The whole thing was desk-based rather than "live", testing the communication strategies of the banks and the infrastructure firms rather than their actual counter-hacking capabilities, and the participants were last night said to be pleased with the work-out. A participant for one of the banks told the Standard: "I think it went very well. There were some lessons that we learned about how an infrastructure disruption would affect our operations, and who we would need to talk to."

The Bank of England says it will publish a report in the New Year "to share the outcomes and lessons with the participants and wider finance sector".

(16th January 2014)


(London Evening Standard, dated 14th November 2013)  [Option 1]

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after police tracked him down using an app on his alleged victim's stolen iPhone.

Metropolitan Police say officers were called to a disturbance at an address in Brockley Road, Lewisham, south London shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

When officers arrived, they found a 43-year-old man with a stab wound to his neck and he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

His alleged attacker, who had arranged to meet the injured man before the altercation broke out, had taken the victim's iPhone. Police realised the smartphone had the Find My Phone application installed, which tracks it via GPS technology.

They pinpointed the phone to a bus in the Brockley Road area.

Officers tracked the bus down, stopped it and boarded before the culprit used an emergency exit button to escape.

The man, 29, was found hiding in gardens near Chudleigh Road and was arrested. He remains in custody in a south London police station.

The victim remains in hospital in a stable condition. His injuries are not life threatening.

Detective Inspector Dave Williams described the incident as a "horrendous attack"."I must praise the member of the public who wanted to make sure the victim was OK and raised the alarm, calling police," he said."As a result of that call response team officers from Lewisham attended, providing immediate first aid to the victim."Upon realising that the victim's mobile phone had been taken (they) acted quickly, activating the tracker on the phone to trace the suspect they believed to be responsible for inflicting potentially life threatening injuries to the victim."

(16th January 2014)





The Soldier
Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.


Royal British Legion :

Help for Heroes :

Combat Stress :





(London Evening Standard, dated 31st October 2013 author Joseph Watts)   [Option 1]

Police cuts came under fire today after figures showed criminals were more likely to get away with offences in London now than at any time since Boris Johnson became Mayor.
When he was elected in 2008, criminals behind 27 per cent of all offences were caught, but now it has plummeted to just 22 per cent, leaving some 600,000 crimes unsolved.

More than 40 London Labour figures have written to Mr Johnson claiming the low detection rate is a direct result of swingeing cuts at Scotland Yard. They also raise concerns that further cuts will mean fewer officers and longer waits after 999 calls.

Shadow minister and West Harrow Labour (Co-Op) MP Gareth Thomas said: "It's clear that after unprecedented cuts to their budget the Metropolitan Police are under pressure. But the fact that nearly 600,000 crimes went unsolved in London in just one year is particularly worrying. With the number of frontline officers falling across London, it's clearer than ever that the Conservatives have broken their promise to protect the 'thin blue line' in our communities."

Labour highlights how the Met has had to achieve some £700 million of savings over five years and points to GLA figures showing almost 2,800 fewer officers since 2010.

While it accepts there has been a fall in reported crime, Labour points to the "worrying" decrease in the proportion of offences solved - now at 22 per cent in London compared to a national average of 29 per cent.

The Mayor's office hit back stating that overall crime was down 11 per cent since Mr Johnson came to power, falling faster than elsewhere in the UK and  meaning thousands fewer victims.

Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: "Crime is dropping in London, there are more cops in neighbourhoods and victims are getting a better service."

(8th November 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 14th October 2013 authors Justin Davenport and Olli Gillman)

Hundreds of suspected criminals, including violent thugs and sex offenders, have escaped justice in London due to police blunders after arrest.
At least 568 suspects have been released without charge in the capital in the past five years after lawyers found police had breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace).

Mistakes include errors with paper work, a failure to read offenders their rights, or problems with the way interviews were conducted. The figure includes 155 alleged violent criminals and eight potential sex offenders since 2008.

However, prosecution sources say the number is a tiny faction of the total 792,033 cases brought in London in the last five years. They say most of the cases in question involve less serious offences which were dropped at magistrates' courts. They point out that there were just two failed prosecutions over sex offences because of breaches of Pace in the capital last year.

The figures were obtained after a Freedom of Information request by the Standard to the Crown Prosecution Service. Nationwide, more than 1,300 suspected criminals escaped justice because of police Pace errors, out of a total of more than 4.5 million cases.

These included 262 suspected violent criminals and 21 sex offenders, three of whom were suspected rapists and one of whom was accused of sexually abusing a boy.

Javed Khan, chief executive of charity Victim Support, said:  "Although these are relatively small figures, they risk damaging public confidence in the criminal justice system. People charged with crimes must be properly put before the courts, not allowed to walk free because of police errors."

A Metropolitan police spokesman said: "We are committed to ensuring we provide the best possible service to victims of crime, and that includes bringing offenders to justice. All of our officers are trained during their probationary period on the correct application of Pace. Refreshers are provided when changes are introduced.

"Any serious breach of Pace by an officer would be highlighted to the Met by the CPS so that it could be investigated. Any persistent trends are monitored and fed into the Met's organisational learning team to ensure that training is adapted as necessary.

"We are working with the CPS to ensure that we do all we can to improve upon the percentage of cases discontinued due to a breach of Pace."

Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North, a member of the Commons justice committee, said: "These figures are shocking and I hope an investigation into the cases in question takes place, to see if lessons can be learned so we can stop this happening in future."

(8th November 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 6th October 2013 author David Leppard)  [Option 1]

THOUSANDS of foreign criminals face being thrown out of Britain under measures to be announced by Theresa May, the home secretary, that will see immigration enforcement officers based in every big police station.

The move follows a police intelligence assessment that up to a quarter of all organised crime members are overseas nationals. The official analysis of Britain's criminal underworld, to be published by ministers tomorrow, will say there are more than 5,500 "active" organised crime groups in Britain.

The assessment means that of the 37,000 gang members who the Home Office says are now targeting Britain, at least 7,400 are considered "high harm" foreign criminals.

Under the measures, immigration officers based in police stations will identify and process foreign suspects as soon as they are arrested. The officers will run immediate checks to see whether the suspect has previous convictions, is wanted abroad or is here illegally. Where there is evidence, foreign criminals will be prosecuted then deported.

If there is insufficient evidence to prosecute them here, they will be removed from the country if they are found to have criminal records abroad or are in Britain illegally. Anyone deported will be banned from the UK for up to 10 years.

A red flag will be logged against the computer record of each serious offender, to block them applying for British nationality while they are going through the courts.

Police and immigration officers will use new powers, announced by May last week, whereby criminals will be deported and forced to conduct any appeals from abroad. The aim is to prevent criminals using human rights laws to resist deportation.

A successful crackdown on foreign criminals has already been piloted in London and it will be expanded across Britain.

About 1,000 foreign offenders have been deported in the past 18 months under an operation codenamed Nexus.

A senior Whitehall official said: "It would be fair to say that thousands more foreign criminals will be deported as a result of this operation and the new powers under the forthcoming immigration act."

Launching the new National Crime Agency (NCA), which has been described as Britain's FBI, May will reveal that the total social and economic cost of organised crime is £24bn a year, with at least a further £2bn cost in cybercrime.

Such is the threat from cybercrime that a new computer emergency response team, known as GovCertUK and led by officials from GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping agency, is being set up. It aims to act as a rescue service should cyberhackers simultaneously shut down thousands of the high street banks' cashpoint machines.

The NCA will say tomorrow that almost 1,400 of the 5,500 organised crime groups commit economic crime. The NCA crime strategy document, seen by The Sunday Times, says the gangs are moving into a new lucrative trade - stealing the pensions of ordinary people, in a new type of boiler-room fraud, typically conducted from offshore havens such as southern Spain and the Canary Islands.

"Organised fraud also aims to defraud the public directly . . . there is a growing threat from pension liberation frauds, where people are deceived into cashing in their pensions early, sometimes into a false trading fund," the crime paper will say. Up to £400m was stolen from 2011 to 2013.

Many of the gangs use bogus websites and literature, mass texting or cold calls to persuade innocent people to cash in their pensions early by transferring them to an arrangement that will allow them to access their funds before the age of 55.

This is possible in rare cases - such as for those with terminal illness. But in most cases the transfer is a scam, the money disappears and the individual is left penniless.

A source said the pensions regulator had confirmed that the latest assessment of fraud was approximately £400m for the period from January 2011 to July 2013.

New evidence shows that the gangs are also targeting the financial markets via insider dealing.

Foreign gangs have, in the past, targeted the London Metal Exchange, which is the world's centre for industrial trading in metals for commodities such as copper, aluminium, nickel and lead. But the insider dealing is thought to spread across the broader stock market.

The NCA has been set up to replace the discredited Serious Organised Crime Agency, which was plagued by poor leadership and a series of scandals.

(8th November 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 24th October 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)

Consolidated best practice guidance on all police specialisms has been put online to make it easier and quicker for officers to access.

The Authorised Professional Practice (APP) will reduce the amount of national guidance that is currently circulated to forces after officers complained that there were too many manuals to go through.

The streamlined APP, created by the College of Policing, is publically available online and, for the first time, can be accessed via smartphones and tablets.

The APP aims to consolidate more than 650 national policing manuals by reducing their content. This work will continue into 2014.

Some material marked as restrictive and covering operationally sensitive areas will not be available publically including covert policing, counter terrorism and protected persons policing guidance.

The site currently covers the following policing areas:

• Armed policing

• Detention and custody

• Intelligence management

• Operations

• Risk

• Civil contingencies

• Engagement and communication

• Investigation

• Prosecution and case management

• Roads policing

• Critical incident management

• Information management

• National Decision Model

• Public order

The College's Chief Operating Officer DCC Rob Beckley said: "The feedback from officers and staff was that there were too many manuals and getting quick and easy access to them was not always simple. APP has been designed for use on smartphones and tables so the latest content is available at the touch of a button while on the frontline.

"Content is easily searchable and all identified APP areas complement and are consistent with each other.

"The College of Policing APP team has been working with forces on an awareness raising exercise to ensure that previous documents are decommissioned and forces are using direct links to the APP site so they have access to the most up-to-date national policing guidance."

College of Policing - Authorised Professional Practice website :

(8th November 2013)



(The Daily Telegraph, dated 10th October 2013 author David Barrett)  [Option 1]

Terrorists and dangerous criminals are free to secretly enter Britain thanks to an "incredible" loophole in border security, MPs have warned.

Members of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee expressed grave concern about the Home Office's failure to check passports of passengers who arrive in light aircraft or private jets.

Sir Charles Montgomery, director general of the Border Force, told the committee he was working on solutions to improve checks on small planes - known as "general aviation" - but admitted some arrivals are not examined by his officials.

In a session of the committee examining the Border Force's performance, Richard Bacon MP asked: "When a private plane lands at an airport it is possible for someone to get off and get into the country without being checked?" Sir Charles replied: "Yes, it is."

Mr Bacon said the loophole was "frankly incomprehensible", adding: "I find it very odd that on the £600 million available you can't deploy enough resource to cover all the planes. It is incredible."

Steve Barclay MP, another member of the committee said afterwards: "I think it is staggering that we allow private flights into the country without passenger information being provided and without the occupants of those aircraft being seen by immigration officers.

"What is to stop a convicted killer or a terrorist coming into this country?"

There are an estimated 8,500 private aircraft and up to 500 "landing sites" in Britain, which can range from farmers' fields to regional airports.

The security loophole was highlighted in a National Audit Office report, being discussed by MPs yesterday (WEDS), which said: "At Luton airport, for example, around 1,000 private flights arrive annually.

"The Border Force is aware that advance information it receives on passengers arriving at UK ports by private planes and boats is far from comprehensive and in more than one port we visited, Border Force officers told us that when it was supplied, such passenger information could be inaccurate."

Sir Charles said he was unable to provide a figure on how many general aviation flights arrive across Britain each year.

Lord Carlile QC, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, voiced concern about security problems surrounding general aviation in a report as long ago as 2006.

Again, in 2008, the peer said private jets and light aircraft could be used by terrorists as "vehicle bombs" in the style of the September 11 attacks to target on crowds and buildings in Britain.

He added that thousands of small, rented planes capable of travelling at high speeds between EU countries and the UK should be subjected to far stricter checks.

In the committee session in the Commons, Sir Charles said he was examining whether the Border Force could charge airport operators for providing passport checks for general aviation.

"We're looking to deploy people but provide a bespoke service that comes at cost," he told the committee.

It came as John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, said dangerous criminals who have been deported from Britain are able to fly back to this country unchecked because of failings in a £500 million computer project.

In the wake of a highly-critical report published earlier this week, Mr Vine said "not one person has been stopped from getting on a plane and arriving in this country" by the e-Borders IT scheme.

Mr Vine's official review also found 650,000 alerts about drug smuggling and other contraband were deleted without being read by officials because border guards have been ordered to prioritise immigration checks.

(8th November 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 17th October 2013 author Justin Davenport)  [Option 1]

Mobile police squads will pursue burglars across London in an operation being launched today.
The units can work across borough boundaries to target "most wanted" lists of prolific offenders.

Officers will be deployed in areas which predictive crime mapping technology says will be hit by break-ins.

The system, which was developed in America, uses computer algorithms combined with local crime patterns to point to where offences will happen next.

Kent police, the first UK force to adopt the system, used it to counter street violence and has reported a six per cent fall in these offences. The new police burglary squads in the capital, called Area Bumblebee Teams, will co-ordinate searches for suspects.

Commander Simon Letchford, who is leading the operation, said: "We are developing our systems to make sure we are one step ahead of the criminals and do all we can to catch them."

There have been significant increases in burglaries in London in the past few years but the most recent figures show the number is now falling.

Comedian Miranda Hart used Twitter this week in an attempt to recover a laptop which was stolen from her Hammersmith home. It was the second time she has been burgled in 18 months.

The Met operation is being launched to coincide with the darker autumn nights which usually result in a surge in burglaries in the capital.

Local policing teams will hold street briefings and surgeries to offer simple advice on securing homes - such as closing all doors and windows and leaving a light on.

Mr Letchford said: "Burglary is a distressing crime that can have lasting emotional effects on the victims, who no longer feel safe in their  homes.

"The Met feels strongly about preventing burglary and whilst burglary is down we want to continue that drop and bring those offenders before the courts. We want people to feel safe in their homes."

In another initiative traders in second-hand goods will be approached by officers to sign voluntary agreements to restrict the sale of stolen property and allow police to examine stock.

(8th November 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 17th October 2013 author Cliff Caswell)

A raft of guidance focusing on how child sexual abuse cases are dealt with by both the police and wider legal system represent "the most fundamental change in a generation", the Director of Public Prosecutions has said.

Keir Starmer said the document, released following a three-month public consultation, included a list of stereotypical behaviour previously thought to undermine the credibility of victims, allowing lawyers to dispel myths when bringing cases to court.

He pointed out that joint protocol for information sharing has also been created - police and prosecutors are now expected to share and seek information about vulnerable youngsters from organisations including social services, schools and family courts in accordance with a good practice model

The move has been supported by individuals and organisations including senior judges, the Local Government Association and the Department for Education.

Announcing the guidance, Mr Starmer told reporters that the move marked "the most fundamental change to prosecuting sexual offences for a generation".

He added: "For too long, child sexual abuse cases have been plagued by myths about how 'real' victims behave which simply do not withstand scrutiny.

"The days of the model victim are over. From now on these cases will be investigated and prosecuted differently, whatever the vulnerabilities of the victim.

"The final guidelines confirm that the now accepted approach is that the prosecution must focus on the overall credibility of an allegation rather than the perceived weakness of the person making it. The fact that these guidelines are a culmination of discussions with judges, the police, experts, victims' representatives and government means they can now stand test of time."

Mr Starmer highlighted that the guidance included a list of common myths and stereotypes about victims, including that the victim invited sex by the way they dressed or acted, or that they had not complained immediately.

He said guidelines placed an emphasis on gathering all relevant evidence to build strong cases for juries, and that the information sharing protocol would be crucial to this aim.

Mr Starmer added: "Police investigations into child sexual abuse will be bolstered by the information that will now be shared with us by local government agencies and the family courts.

"If we are able to present additional evidence to support the allegation, then our chances of securing convictions greatly increase. With this protocol, no evidential stone will be left unturned and offenders should be on notice."

Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, endorsed Mr Starmer's comments, adding that the guidance would help address "a damaging crime".

Alison Worsley, Deputy Director of Strategy at charity Barnardo's, stressed: "We must make sure we always listen to what children are telling us, often through behaviour rather than just words, and consign myths to the history books."

(8th November 2013)



(BBC News, dated 6th October 2013)

The UK's new National Crime Agency will "relentlessly pursue organised criminals", Home Secretary Theresa May has told the BBC.

She said the body, to launch on Monday, would focus on dealing with organised crime, economic crime, border policing, child protection and cybercrime.

The new agency will replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency, known as Soca.

Labour called the move a "rebranding exercise", and warned the NCA was "not strong enough" for future challenges.

It is the third time since 1998 that an organised crime body has been set up.

The National Crime Squad was set up 15 years ago, only to be replaced eight years later by Soca - which is now being scrapped.

The NCA will work with each of the regional police forces in the UK and similar organisations abroad.

The agency will have 4,500 officers and aims to adopt a more visible, joined-up approach than was previously the case.

It has significant powers to compel police forces in England and Wales to provide assistance and carry out policing operations.

Mrs May told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that the new agency was "designed to be a relentless crime-fighting body which will relentlessly pursue organised criminals".

The home secretary said: "Crime is falling in this country, but we can't be complacent - and particularly on organised crime. I don't think the last government put enough emphasis on this."

'Increased responsibilities'
"At the core of the NCA will be intelligence. It will work at local level and regionally across government, not just the police. It will work internationally as well," she said.

But shadow policing minister David Hanson said the NCA "doesn't match the government's hype".

"Most of the NCA is just the rebranding of existing organisations such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but with a substantial 20% cut imposed by the Home Office on their overall budget," he said.

Mr Hanson added: "The new organisation is not strong enough to deal with the exponential growth of economic and online crime. It will simply absorb the existing National Cyber Crime but with fewer resources.

"It is right to have stronger national action on organised crime with the NCA, on child exploitation and on intelligence - but the government has to support this effort and not simply use this as a rebranding exercise to hide substantial policing cuts."

However, Mrs May told the BBC she was satisfied that the NCA was "going to be well-resourced".

British FBI?
She said changes across policing had shown it was possible to fight crime while being "careful with the budgets that are available", as part of the government-wide commitment to "deal with the deficit".

And she rejected comparisons with the US, amid suggestions that an organised crime agency was essentially a British version of the FBI.

"It is a British approach to dealing with an issue that we face," she said.

Each police force in the UK has territorial responsibility for its particular area. Crimes that are carried out across more than one county or area usually involve officers from both areas.

The new body will have a strategic role in which it will attempt to look at the bigger picture of organised crime in the UK, how it operates and how it can be disrupted.

The NCA will answer directly to the home secretary and will have the same powers in Scotland as it does in England and Wales.

The situation will be different in Northern Ireland, where the agency will carry out its border and customs functions, but not other crime-fighting roles.




(BBC News, dated 6th October 2013)

The UK has launched a new National Crime Agency. What is it and what does it do?

What is the NCA?

The National Crime Agency is a new body that will be at the centre of the UK's efforts against organised crime and other major offending that cuts across regional and international borders.

The agency will be responsible for tackling major organised crime, such as drug and people trafficking, and complex international fraud, including cyber-crime. The NCA has more than 4,000 officers and will work with each of the regional police forces in the UK and similar organisations abroad.

How is it different from the ordinary police?

Each police force in the UK has territorial responsibility for its particular area. Crimes that are carried out across more than one county or area usually involve officers from both areas. The NCA has a strategic role in which it will attempt to look at the bigger picture of organised crime in the UK, how it operates and how it can be disrupted.

Why do you need a separate agency?

The days of organised crime being about major bank robberies have long gone. Modern organised crime is complex and cuts across international borders. Gangs tend to be linked to other gangs - and they are often very flexible in how and where they commit their offences. Local police forces are designed to be focused at the local picture. The theory is that the National Crime Agency can bring together the intelligence from at home and abroad to understand the international nature of how all these groups work - and then find ways to stop them.

How big is organised crime?

The NCA says that there are some 37,000 people in 5,500 groups that are involved in organised crime that has an impact on the UK. Almost £9bn a year is lost to the country through organised fraud. Half of the gangs operating directly in the UK are involved in drugs.

Is this the first such agency in the UK?

No. The NCA is the third in 15 years. In 1998, the then-government merged six regional teams, run by local forces, into a single National Crime Squad based in London. In 2006 that was scrapped and replaced by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) which had an expanded role. The NCA is now replacing Soca.

How is the NCA different to Soca?

The NCA's role is larger than Soca's because it has more areas of responsibility. The new agency has four "commands": organised crime, economic crime, borders, and the formerly separate Ceop - the agency that covers child exploitation and online protection.

Officers come from three backgrounds - policing, customs and immigration security - and they can have powers across all these areas.

The organisation has a director general, Keith Bristow, but he will to all intents and purposes have the powers of a chief constable. This is important for his relationship with other forces because the NCA can instruct police and other agencies to carry out specific tasks or operations - a power that Soca lacked.

The NCA has also taken on a range of functions from a different national agency that has been scrapped as part of the government's changes to policing. These include a specialist database relating to injuries and unusual weapons, expert research on potential serial killers, and the National Missing Persons Bureau.

But unlike some of its international counterparts such as the FBI, the NCA does not have responsibility for combating terrorism. That remains in Scotland Yard where the Metropolitan Police oversees a number of regional teams comprising police and MI5 officers.

How does the NCA relate to police in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The NCA has the same powers in Scotland as it does in England and Wales. But in Northern Ireland this is extremely complicated.

Under the 1998 agreement that led to a political settlement and power-sharing in Northern Ireland, policing was subjected to a far higher degree of community oversight and monitoring than in other parts of the UK. The chief constable and officers are responsible to the Policing Board.

The NCA answers directly to the Home Secretary, meaning there can be no local oversight or control - and nationalist parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly said that it could operate as a parallel but unaccountable police force. So as things stand, the NCA will carry out its border and customs functions in Northern Ireland - but not its other crime-fighting roles.

(8th November 2013)


(The Daily Telegraph, dated 10th October 2013 author James Kirkup)   [Option 1]

Banks will also be told to refuse to open accounts for foreigners who are not entitled to be in Britain.

The Coalition's Immigration Bill will also require some foreign nationals to pay a £200 surcharge to use the NHS.

The legislation is the Government's response to the rise of the UK Independence Party and growing public unease about immigration.

The Bill will give the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency powers to check the immigration status of people applying for a licence. In addition, immigrants who are found to have overstayed in Britain will have their licences revoked.

Bank staff will be legally required to check applicants' details against databases held by anti-fraud organisations. The Home Office said that such databases hold government data on "tens of thousands of illegal migrants".

Despite doubts about its viability, the Bill will also contain a legal requirement for private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants.

Ministers said the changes will make life harder for illegal immigrants in Britain, reducing the "pull factors" that encourage people to remain without permission.

Mark Harper, the immigration minister, said the Coalition was striking a balance between legitimate immigrants who benefit the economy and illegal immigration.

"We will continue to welcome the brightest and best migrants who want to contribute to our economy and society and play by the rules," he said. "But the law must be on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it."

(8th November 2013)



(Prima, dated October 2013)

With children racking up eye-popping bills on their parents tablets and smartphones, you might think twice about handing over your iPad to keep them amused. Game apps are often free to download, but in-game extras can be pricey and children don't always realise they're not free. A 13 year old from Somerset rcently ran up a £3,700 on his father's credit card while playing on an iPad.

Follow these easy steps to avoid any nasty (and very expensive) surprises :

Prevent in-game purchases. On an iPad go to "settings", then choose "general" and "restrictions".In "enable restrictions" slide "in-app purchases" to off.

On an Android device, go to the Google Play Store, choose "settings" then under "user controls" select "set or change PIN". Enter your chosen PIN then tick "use PIN for purchases". No one will be able to make purchases without the PIN

Set restrictions. The iPad "restrictions" menu also lets you temporarily block internet access and downloading apps.

Act fast to get your money back. If your child has unwittingly run up a huge bill, you may be eligible for a refund. Contact the provider with a list of the purchases and explain the situation.

Keep Mum. Don't give kids your password

(8th November 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 25th October 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)

Officers from Romania and Poland have been drafted in to support Metropolitan Police officers gather intelligence on arrested foreign nationals in the capital.

The initiative, which has been funded by a €1.5 million EU grant, involves eight Romanian and three Polish officers, working with Operation Nexus colleague over a two-year period to bolster analytical and intelligence support around foreign offenders.

The officers will work on rotation shifts, with officers from Poland on six-month rotations and the Romanian officers on three-month rotations. They come from mixed ranks but are predominately from detective and specialist crime backgrounds. While in the UK they will have no powers of arrest.

Working within the force's Specialist and Organised Crime Command, the officers will be working to improve the real-time flow of intelligence from their home countries around people arrested in London for crime. They will also support their Met colleagues on targeted proactive and reactive crime operations as well as supporting members of the Polish and Romanian communities who have become victims of crime.

The personnel have already deployed on several operations against organised crime groups, people trafficking and prostitution networks. They have also assisted with the tracking down of offenders who have absconded from Met and London court criminal bail.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: "These countries have taken a bold and positive step in agreeing to take part in an initiative to work with the Met to help us tackle foreign offenders that are in the UK and help us better support victims of crime.

"Their roles will grow as they settle and we identify opportunities to maximise their effectiveness. Initially their primary role will combine fast-time intelligence sharing while assisting Met officers on targeted operational crime activity."

The collaboration is based around a similar initiative that took place during the Olympic Games, where 10 Romanian officers worked alongside British colleagues.

AC Rowley added: "It is about trying to get as much information about offenders who have travelled across international borders and law enforcement jurisdictions as we have on British criminals or people who have been offending here for years."

Romanian Ambassador Ion Jinga said: "This type of co-operation is a win-win game for all the parties involved and I strongly believe that this project will offer a greater understanding on how we should be policing our communities within a multicultural European environment."

(8th November 2013)



(BBC News, dated 2nd October 2013)

Full article :

The FBI has announced the arrest of the suspected operator of the Silk Road - a clandestine online marketplace for drugs and other illegal items.

A spokeswoman said that Ross William Ulbricht was arrested "without incident" by its agents at a public library in San Francisco on Tuesday.

She added he had been charged with conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

The FBI said it has also seized approximately $3.6m (£2.2m) worth of bitcoins - a virtual currency.

The agency described it as the biggest Bitcoin seizure to date.

The Silk Road is now offline - those trying to access it are presented with a notice saying the site has been seized. Users had previously been able to access the service through Tor - an anonymous web browsing system that requires special software.

Mr Ulbricht made an initial appearance at San Francisco federal court where a bail hearing was set for Friday.

In addition to the narcotics trafficking allegation he also faces charges of computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, according to court filings.

"From in or about January 2011, up to and including September 2013, the Silk Road Hidden Website... has served as an online marketplace where illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services have been regularly bought and sold by the site's users," state court papers filed in the Southern District of New York.

"The complainant further alleges, in part, that the Silk Road Hidden Website is designed to facilitate the illicit commerce hosted on the site by providing anonymity to its users, by operating on what is known as The Onion Router or Tor network... and by requiring all transactions to be paid in bitcoins, an electronic currency designed to be as anonymous as cash."

It adds that Mr Ulbricht - who is alleged to have gone by the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts - had generated sales of more than $1.2bn via the Silk Road.

The FBI believes he took cuts ranging from between 8% to 15% and was subsequently involved in a money laundering operation to hide the activity.
Publicity drive
The court documents described Mr Ulbricht, 29, as a former physics student at the University of Texas, who had gone on to study at the University of Pennsylvania between 2006 and 2010.

It was here, according to Mr Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile, as quoted by court documents, that his "'goals' subsequently 'shifted'".

He wrote on the social network that he had wanted to "give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" by "institutions and governments".

Authorities said he took to online forums to publicise Silk Road as a potential marketplace for drugs back in January 2011.

In one such message, a user believed to be Mr Ulbricht allegedly said: "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It's kind of like an anonymous"

Investigators said he used the same channels months later to recruit help - starting with a search for an "IT pro in the Bitcoin community".


How Bitcoin works

Bitcoin is often referred to as a new kind of currency.

But it may be better to think of its units as being virtual tokens that have value because enough people believe they do and there is a finite number of them.

Each of the 11 million Bitcoins currently in existence is represented by a unique online registration number.

These numbers are created through a process called "mining", which involves a computer solving a difficult mathematical problem.

Each time a problem is solved the computer's owner is rewarded with 25 Bitcoins.

To receive a Bitcoin, a user must also have a Bitcoin address - a randomly generated string of 27 to 34 letters and numbers - which acts as a kind of virtual postbox to and from which the Bitcoins are sent.

Since there is no registry of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction.

These addresses are in turn stored in Bitcoin wallets, which are used to manage savings. They operate like privately run bank accounts - with the proviso that if the data is lost, so are the Bitcoins contained.

What is Silk Road ?

Silk Road took its name from the historic trade routes spanning Europe, Asia and parts of Africa.

News reports and other internet chatter helped it become notorious. However, most users would not have been able to stumble upon the site as the service could only be accessed through a service called Tor - a facility that routes traffic through many separate encrypted layers of the net to hide data identifiers.

Tor was invented by the US Naval Research Laboratory and has subsequently been used by journalists and free speech campaigners, among others, to safeguard people's anonymity.

But it has also been used as a means to hide illegal activities, leading it to be dubbed "the dark web".

Payments for goods on Silk Road were made with the virtual currency Bitcoin, which can be hard to monitor.

Court documents from the FBI said the site had just under a million registered users, but investigators said they did not know how many were active.

Earlier this year Carnegie Mellon University estimated that over $1.22m (£786,183) worth of trading took place on the Silk Road every month.

(8th November 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 10th October 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)

Detectives from one of the country's most effective economic crime units are training bank staff in how to spot elderly customers who have been targeted by scammers.

The officers from West Midland Police's Economic Crime Unit are training building societies from across the Black Country on the tell tale signs that their elderly and vulnerable customers may be withdrawing cash to pay con artists.

During the six hour training sessions detectives coach staff on how to spot the signs that a customer may be vulnerable and that changes in their banking behaviour may be an indicator that they are being targeted by unscrupulous carers, cowboy traders or even "romance fraudsters" who target people through online dating sites.

The training package has been previously delivered to RBS.

Detective Inspector Neil Postins from the unit said: "There have been a number of cases over the past two years where bank staff across the Black Country have alerted police to elderly customers withdrawing large sums of money.

"When investigated we have found that they were withdrawing the cash under duress from robbers and even to pay fraudsters claiming to be police officers investigating financial crimes.

"The more building society staff that are fraud aware, the more law abiding people are protected from callus criminals who would look to exploit their age, mental incapacity or social isolation."

The force's unit is regarded nationally as one of the most effective investigators of financial crimes. The 50 detectives and police staff based in Birmingham investigate cases of serious fraud.

(8th November 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 21st October 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)

Online training guides for frontline officers and detectives detailing how to deal with victims and secure evidence when investigating digital and cyber crime will help 'future proof' the Police Service, it is hoped.

The eight cyber crime learning programmes recently devised by the College of Policing explain what the response of each officer involved in the incident should be - from frontline responders through to investigators - to ensure that vital evidence is retained as well as providing support to victims.

The guides contain details on how to handle communications data, the range of powers officers can use when dealing with any technology enabled crime as well as advice on how to handle victims and the kind of crime prevention information they should be given.

Each guide focuses on specific areas of cyber crime, including social media, online grooming and fraud. The latest guide was circulated through force intranets last week.

In an interview with, Simon Jones, from the College's Investigative Skills Programme, said the guides have proved invaluable for officers and investigators following a strong uptake by several forces.

He said: "We are trying to further professionalise officers and detectives around digital, cyber and technology enabled crime. We want to ensure that all officers know how to gather evidence, deal with the incident and assist the victims when they need it.

"For the first responders the guides tell them what to tell the victim and what they first steps should be in that golden hour before a full investigation is launched.

"The next stage up is cyber crime and digital policing for investigators which takes them through how to make it into a full scale investigation and talks about gathering evidence.

"We understand that officers' are busy, which is why we created them as e-learning programmes to make it easier. We have also created an iPhone app which highlights recent legislation and the powers available to them to act as an aide memoire."

The guides also contain details on the various crime prevention measures officers can offer victims, including online and social media security.

Officers can access the guides on the Managed Learning Environment on NCALT through their force's intranet.

Mr Jones added: "Cyber crime is in the national assessment so it is important that police officers know about it.

"We know our investigators can investigate the most serious of crimes but this gives them something extra in their toolbox.

"The risk is that technology changes by the day and some of the training is about how to keep officers up-to-date on the growing picture of technology use."

(8th November 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 23rd october 2013 author Nic Brunetti)

Forensic innovation and research is to be shared more with police officers in China after a British university agreed to work in collaboration with one of its police colleges.

The University of Leicester has said it will facilitate student exchanges and research with the Zhejiang province's Police College - following a successful visit there by two forensic scientists.

Dr John Bond (pictured), who created two innovative fingerprint devices for the Police Service in the UK, visited the Chinese police college in late September where he shared his research into developing fingerprints on difficult surfaces.

He told he hoped to have an arrangement in place by the end of the calendar year to allow Chinese officers to complete research or learning at Leicester, as part of their wider programme of work.

In China, all employees of the police service are officers and complete their training at a central police college. However, they are given the chance to specialise - and one of the departments is forensic science.

Dr Bond, whose visit was paid for by the Chinese Government, said forensic science suffered in China as a result of a lack of translated material.

During his visit, he explained his research in creating the Hot Print System (HPS), which uncovers fingerprints on thermal paper, and the Cartridge Electrostatic Recovery and Analysis unit (CERA), which can uncover fingerprints on gun shell casings. China itself has already purchased 15 of the CERA units.

Dr Bond said: "The problem they seem to have is that unless someone translates this research into Chinese, they don't get to hear about it."

Some of Dr Bond's work has since been translated into Mandarin by Professor Xiaochun, of the College.

Dr Bond said he also would look to facilitate other learning opportunities for Chinese police officers - according to their specialism.

He said: "It could be that a number of departments at the university are able to accommodate them.

"I have said if they have students who want to find out how we handle public order (in the UK) we could facilitate that with a police force, for example.

"There may be less of our students going to China however, as they would have to speak Chinese."

The visit to the province came after Dr Bond previously visited China in 2010 - also at the invitation of the Chinese Government. There he met Prof Xiaochun, who wanted to share his research with police college colleagues.

(8th November 2013)



(BBC News, dated 4th October 2013 author Gordon Corera)

Full article :

How worried should we be by the state's capability to spy on us?

Top secret documents, leaked by former American intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, have revealed the huge capacity of Britain and America's intelligence agencies - GCHQ and the NSA - to capture communications.

Snowden and his supporters have argued that the public should know more about what is happening, while governments have argued that exposure has endangered national security.

Four months after the first revelations in the Guardian newspaper, a picture has emerged of Britain and America's intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Taken together, the reports point to an ambition to be able to reach into the vast global tide of digital communications and be able to pick out any message and read it, as well as to conduct wide-ranging searches of billions of records to look for patterns and connections.

"Even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded," argued Edward Snowden. "You should decide if they should be doing this."

Those who have worked inside the secret state say that the power is vital for national security and only used for national security.

"You have to have a powerful capability to find the small amount you're looking for - but that doesn't mean the state is reading everyone's emails," former GCHQ director Sir David Omand told the BBC.

"What the state needs and law enforcement needs is the possibility of accessing the communications of the terrorists, the criminals, the kidnappers, the proliferators, the paedophiles. But those communications are all mixed up with everyone else's communications - there are 204 million emails a minute buzzing around the globe.

"So you have to have a powerful capability to find the small amount that you are looking for. But it doesn't mean that the state is reading everyone's emails, nor would that conceivably be feasible."

'Age problem'
But can we trust the state with this power?

Technology allows it to do things it could never have done before - collecting and sifting through billions of records using data mining to find a connection or reconstructing a person's social interactions from the trail they leave behind online.

The lack of sufficient oversight worries those who have campaigned on civil liberties.

"Part of the problem here is an age problem," says David Davis, a former Conservative Shadow Home Secretary.

"My generation of politicians - up to ones 20 years younger than me - don't really understand the extent to which we are intruding into people's privacy."

Mr Davis believes the current system of oversight and accountability is not strong enough, especially when access to metadata about communications and interactions only requires internal authorisation within an intelligence agency - and not the warrant that is required to intercept the actual content of communications.

"There is no need to trust the state unless it has got a good reason and they must justify that to someone else - a judge or a magistrate or someone who is outside their system and can check they are using it properly," he argues.

The claim that encryption standards have been deliberately weakened or had so-called "backdoors" added to allow access by intelligence agencies caused particular anger among those who have spent their careers trying to improve internet security and ensure the privacy of communications.

"The NSA's actions have done more than undermine online security - they've threatened to break the internet," Ross Anderson, Professor in Security Engineering at Cambridge University says of its attempts to ensure access.

"In order to do this they have compromised in various ways the protocols on which the internet relies. When you introduce these vulnerabilities, they are not just for the spies to use. They are available for bad guys to use as well."

Spook heyday
The Snowden documents have surprised many, including Prof Anderson, in terms of the scale of what they reveal.

"To find that they had built this machine and got it working is an eye-opener," he told the BBC.

Critics of the intelligence agencies believe the disclosures have been important in starting a public debate about whether we know enough about the state's capability and whether there are enough controls and oversight.

But many of those inside the intelligence world point to the damage which they say the revelations have done. They fear that since Edward Snowden is in Russia, the Russian state will have found some way of accessing the information.

"Part of me says that not even the KGB in its heyday of Philby, Burgess and Maclean in the 1950s could have dreamt of acquiring 58,000 highly classified intelligence documents," Sir David Omand told the BBC.

The concern is also that the more that is revealed in public, the more the targets of surveillance adapt their behaviour. Sir David believes Snowden's actions will do real damage to national security.

"My fear is that we are now going to witness a slow-motion car crash in which gradually sources dry up, targets such as terrorists and cybercriminals will work out what are the kind of capabilities we have, and they will adopt their methods and be harder to track down," says the former GCHQ director.

In the last week, the BBC was given direct access to a small selection of original documents held outside the UK that form the basis of stories the Guardian newspaper has already published.

The scale of the capability they reveal - and the secrets they contain - make clear there are serious issues involved in balancing the public interest and national security. That balance lies at the heart of this debate - between the public interest and the right to know about what the state can do and the need for the state to protect its secrets and its capabilities for the sake of national security.

The question remains - who gets to decide?

(8th November 2013)



(BBC News, dated 4th October 2013)

Card fraud hit its highest half-yearly level since 2009 as fraudsters tricked consumers into handing over details.

Some £216m on credit and debit cards was lost to fraudsters in the first six months of the year, a 17% increase on the same period in 2012.

Financial Fraud Action, which represents the financial services industry, said this was still well below the peak of £304m in 2008.

Some con-artists have posed as police officers to gather vital information.

Others have posed as bank fraud investigators to deceive people into handing over their cards or four-digit Pin.

Shoulder surfing
The figures show a 23% rise in the level of fraud on telephone, online and mail order shopping, as the trend of buying over the internet continues.

Meanwhile, ID theft has risen by 24% and counterfeiting was up 15% when people's cards were cloned or skimmed.

In June, Financial Fraud Action warned about "shoulder surfing", when thieves look over a person's shoulder while they key in their number at cash machines and then distract them as the card comes out of the ATM, enabling the thief to snatch it.

"The move towards these low-tech crimes of deception highlights the importance of consumers knowing how they can protect themselves," said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Carter, head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit.

"Whether victims are targeted on the phone or online, we know that these professional conmen are highly persuasive."

He urged people to keep their Pin safe, shield it when using a cash machine, and check that a website is secure - featuring a padlock icon - when shopping online.

He stressed that banks and police officers would never call or email to ask for a Pin number, or full login details.

(8th November 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd October 2013 author Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

Five thousand police officers flooded London today in a blitz on thieves stealing 10,000 mobile phones a month.
They took part in raids, patrols, and weapon sweeps targeting muggers. The Big Wing operation aims to combat a huge rise in theft offences in London, most involving phones. Commander Stephen Watson, leading today's operation, said: "We are trying to get people to take care of what is a very valuable commodity.

"We still see people coming out of the Tube and waving their iPhones to pick up messages, they are easy pickings for thieves." Officers carried out dawn raids on suspects, conducted street briefings, patrolled robbery hotspots, and set up knife arches at stations.

Police say they have reduced the increase in phone thefts from 14 per cent to six per cent.




(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd October 2013 author Rachael Sigee)   [Option 1]

A "professional pickpocket" is warning Londoners of the dangers of having their smartphones stolen as thieves become ever more brazen.
James Freedman, an illusionist who has worked as a consultant on theft to police forces, said people are too blasé about their devices, which can cost hundreds of pounds each.

Last week figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that although crime has fallen to a record low, there was an exception in personal theft, which has risen by 8 per cent in the past year.

It is estimated that 300 phones a day are stolen in the capital and people are most at risk on weekday afternoons or at night at weekends.

Mr Freedman, who pickpockets audience members on stage, says that a prime pickpocketing technique is for thieves to stand near Beware Pickpockets signs and watch as passers-by check their pockets, giving away where their valuables are.

Smartphones and tablets are so visible that their theft is called "apple-picking" or "blackberry-picking".

Mr Freedman said: "People seem to have a mindset that if a phone is free with a monthly contract, they don't value it as highly as they would a wad of £50 notes, even though they hold so much personal information.

"Many people carry valuables in their back pocket, also known as the 'mug's pocket'."

Mr Freedman is a speaker at a Lost Lecture event on November 22nd. At a secret east London venue, he will demonstrate his sleight of hand and talk about how to look after belongings.

The Lost Lectures are a series of underground, word-of-mouth lectures hosted in unusual locations and the next event 'Big Fight Live' is boxing themed and will take place on 22nd and 23rd November.

Other speakers announced today include Ruby Wax, feminist Caroline Craedo-Perez, fashion blogger Susie Bubble and Lauren Pears, founder of the UK's first cat cafe.

Top tips for avoiding thieves

Distance is your best defence. Be aware of anyone in your space.

Never leave valuables unattended in public view, for example on a table in the pub

Make sure your phone and its SIM card are protected with different PIN numbers and know your phone IMEI number (type *#06#) so you can block it if it's stolen

Inside pockets are the safest and never carry anything valuable in your back pocket.

Only carry what you need. If you don't need all your cards or cash, leave them at home. If someone steals your credit card and driving licence, they have a lot of your personal details.

(8th November 2013)



(Daiy Mail, dated 30th September 2013 author James Slack)     [Option 1]

Perverts caught viewing child porn will no longer be able to escape with a 'slap on the wrist' caution, under a sweeping crackdown on soft justice.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he was appalled that criminals guilty of some of the most serious crimes - including rape and drug dealing - were being punished with a caution.

Last year this 'punishment' was handed to more than 3,500 people who admitted either child prostitution or viewing, possessing or distributing images of sickening child abuse or pornography.

New guidance will be issued effectively banning officers from using cautions for so-called indictable only offences - the most serious criminal offences which must be tried in the Crown Court.

They include rape, for which dozens of offenders have been cautioned in recent years, manslaughter and robbery.

Mr Grayling will also outlaw 'simple' cautions for possession of any offensive weapon, supplying Class A drugs and a range of sexual offences against children, including child porn.

There will also be a review of the use of all other out-of-court disposals for adults - including cannabis warnings, conditional cautions, penalty notices for disorder and restorative justice.

Mr Grayling, who will today address the Tory conference in Manchester, said: 'Last year offenders who admitted committing some of the most serious crimes escaped with just a slap on the wrist.

'Quite simply this is unacceptable and unfair on victims.

'Under Labour, Britain built up a cautions culture which brought soft justice to the High Street. It's time that changed.'

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show just how common the use of cautions has become.

There were 167,758 simple cautions issued to adults in 2012.

Of those, 493 were issued for possession of knives and 962 for possession of weapons - undermining a commitment by David Cameron to get tough on knife thugs.

Police also doled out 1,543 cautions for child prostitution and pornography, seven for cruelty to or neglect of children, 1,560 for taking, distributing or publishing indecent photographs of children, 183 for possession of indecent photographs of a child and 68 for possessing prohibited images of children.

Those cautioned will still have been put on the sex offenders register.

Under Labour the use of cautions and on-the-spot fines rocketed as police became obsessed with chasing targets.

Between 2003 and 2010 the number of all out-of-court disposals increased by 135 per cent, from 241,000 in 2003 to 567,000 in 2008.

Police minister Damian Green said: 'We need to sort this out once and for all if the public and victims are going to have confidence in the criminal justice system.

'Simple cautions can be an appropriate way for the police to deal with low-level offending.

'However, they are not suitable for criminals who commit serious offences such as rape or robbery which can ruin victims' lives.'

In the most exceptional circumstances a simple caution will still be permitted but this must be signed off by a police sergeant.

The CPS must be consulted when giving a caution for an indictable only offence.

(8th November 2013)




(Police Oracle, dated 25th September 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)

The first anti-corruption unit in the UK to crackdown on illegal activity within the police and the wider public sector has been established.

The national Counter Corruption Unit, created by Police Scotland, will have one team focusing internally within the force while a second will target other public sector agencies.

The unit's remit will be to disrupt activities by individuals which divert resources away from public services.

It will be led by Detective Chief Superintendent Russell Dunn while Detective Superintendent Sean Scott will lead the team tasked with protecting the public sector. This will work with organisations to mitigate the risk of corruption as well as investigate any individuals involved.

Det Ch Supt Dunn said: "Our intention is to strengthen public sector resilience against corrupt practices and criminal infiltration. We will advise on the design of robust organisational strategies, structures and policies to mitigate corruption risks.

"That will involve developing appropriate protocols for joint working and information sharing to support prevention and investigation.

"The threat to the wider public sector is primarily driven by the functions of an organisation where procurement, planning, licensing, service contracts and other financial - and non-financial - benefits offer potentially fertile opportunities for criminal coercion and threats."

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House added: "This will be a dedicated resource, the first of its kind in UK policing, and breaks new ground in seeking to work in partnership with all public sector bodies to prevent and strengthen organisational resilience to corruption.

"At the same time, it will offer a specialist investigation capability which will enhance public confidence in the integrity of public services and servants, protect public finances and keep people safe."

(8th November 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 19th September 2013 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

FEWER than half of the adults convicted of using a knife to threaten another person have been jailed despite ministerial promises of mandatory prison sentences for the crime, new figures revealed today.

Ministry of Justice statistics show that only 19 of the 41 adults convicted of new "aggravated" knife crime offences received an immediate custodial sentence.
The figures also reveal that more than 40 per cent of knife crime offenders with three or more previous convictions for carrying a blade have avoided prison and show a fall in the average length of sentences handed out to those who are jailed.

They come despite repeated promises by ministers of a tougher approach to knife crime and the introduction last year of the new offences under which the courts were told to impose prison terms on over-16s who use knives to threaten, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Today's statistics, which are the first to cover sentencing since the new offences were introduced, show that two of the adult offenders convicted in the first six months of this year received a caution, while five were given a community punishment and eight a suspended jail term.

(8th November 2013)


(Daily Mail, dated 15th September 2013 author Jack Doyle)    [Option 1]

One in seven murders in Britain is committed by suspects freed on bail while awaiting trial for other crimes, according to disturbing new figures.

Last year 56 murders - more than one a week and a shocking 37 per cent rise on 2011 - were carried out by people bailed by the courts.

If they had been remanded in  custody, the victims' lives may have been saved.

Criminals on bail also committed an average of two rapes a week, and were responsible for tens of thousands of less serious offences, the Ministry of Justice figures reveal.

 Overall, suspects who have been released by the courts commit a crime every ten minutes.

There has been pressure on magistrates in recent years to remand fewer suspects to Britain's over-crowded prisons, but these figures suggest that too many dangerous criminals are being released.
Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank said: 'These figures are horrifying - victims' families will be sickened.

'If the authorities have let this happen through sheer incompetence then they need to scale back immediately the use of remand on bail for people suspected of serious crimes.

'If, on the other hand, they have decided that one extra murder a week is an "acceptable" figure, it only shows how much the public is put at risk by an obsession with keeping down prisoner numbers.'

The figures say there were 60,129 crimes committed last year by people who were on bail. Of these, 42,302 were classified as indictable offences, the most serious.

In addition to the convictions for murder, 16 people were convicted of manslaughter, and 684 for serious violent assaults.

A total of 111 rapes were carried out by people on bail last year, as well as 166 sex offences against children and 6,372 home break-ins.

 One in every five burglaries is carried out by a suspect who has already been caught for something else but then released back on to the streets.

In 2011, suspects on bail carried out 41 murders, 857 serious assaults, 102 rapes and 206 sex attacks on children.

Former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke limited the use of prison remand - leaving thousands more offenders at large. 

Judges are no longer allowed to remand people in custody if their crime will not lead to a jail sentence if they are eventually convicted.

Three years ago, Jonathan Vass, 30, murdered his ex-girlfriend while on bail for raping her. The former bodybuilder was released by a Crown Court judge despite standing accused of repeatedly raping nurse Jane Clough, 26, at her Blackpool home while she was pregnant with his daughter. Former paramedic Vass launched the frenzied knife attack on Miss Clough only eight weeks before he was due to stand trial. Vass, who stabbed her more than 70 times in the car park of the hospital where she worked, was jailed for a minimum of 30 years in 2010 after admitting murder.

Since her death, Miss Clough's devastated parents have campaigned to change the law, saying their daughter was betrayed by the justice system. They have demanded that bail laws be changed to make it harder to grant bail to perpetrators of domestic violence who are thought to be particularly dangerous.

The judge who granted Vass bail had been warned about the threat he posed.

Last year teenager Kevyn Viner was jailed for two horrific rape attacks - the second was carried out while he was on bail for the first. Viner, 18, of Newport, South Wales, was given an 11-year sentence for raping a 25-year-old woman just days after he was released for a similar assault on a 50-year-old victim.

In 2007, teenager Adam Swellings, was on bail for assault when he murdered father-of-three Garry Newlove in Cheshire. He was allowed out despite a long history of breaching court orders. One of his bail conditions was that he did not go to Warrington - the town where he killed Mr Newlove.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'Dangerous offenders should always be remanded into custody while awaiting trial.'That's why the Government changed the law, to allow prosecutors to challenge decisions where a potentially dangerous prisoner could be bailed. 'The overwhelming majority of people bailed do not reoffend and they are often given strict conditions such as tags and curfews.'

(8th November 2013)



(The Guardian, dated 13th September 2013 - Press Association)   [Option 1]

A new police unit to tackle illegal downloads and counterfeit DVDs and CDs has carried out its first raids and arrested two men. The police intellectual property crime unit (PIPCU), which launched on Friday, is being run by City of London police and has government funding of £2.56m over two years.

Detectives arrested two men in Birmingham and seized suspected counterfeit DVD box sets worth around £40,000, including titles such as Game of Thrones, CSI and Vampire Diaries.

The pair, aged 28 and 29, are suspected of importing thousands of counterfeit box sets and selling them online as genuine products.

City of London police commissioner Adrian Leppard said: "Intellectual property crime is already costing our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and placing thousands of jobs under threat, and left unchecked and free to feed on new technology could destroy some of our most creative and productive industries.

"Launching PIPCU we are making a statement of intent and sending out a clear warning to organised crime that the UK has just become a more hostile place for those who seek to make criminal capital on the back of others' honest endeavours."

The unit will focus particularly on online offences. City of London police said that around seven million people a month visit sites that offer illegal content in the UK, and globally it is estimated that illegally downloaded music, films and software cost the industry around $80bn (£51bn). That figure is expected to triple by 2015.

The unit is being funded by the intellectual property office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Lord Younger, the minister for intellectual property, said: "Criminals are continually finding new ways to exploit, produce fakes and abuse the intellectual property rights of British businesses, despite the progress made combating intellectual property crime.

"It not only damages the UK economy, but substandard goods and services can pose real threats to consumers too. Intelligent, co-ordinated and effective enforcement is key to tackling those who exploit the hard work of others."

Additional Information - Its not just DVD's !

The team will also investigate the physical production and sale of counterfeit goods, for example, by pursuing criminals making faked brands of car tyres.

Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU):

(8th November 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 9th September 2013 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

Police today launched an appeal for information about people carrying out female genital mutilation as they revealed detectives have begun undercover operations against suspected "cutters" in London.
The surveillance is part of a new "intelligence-led" approach, in which officers have been ordered to seek out evidence without waiting for girls to come forward to report offences.

The aim is to overcome the reluctance of victims to testify against family members by allowing officers to bring charges without girls subjected to mutilation having to testify in court. Two people believed to be carrying out genital mutilation, which has been illegal in Britain since 1985, were put under surveillance after tip-offs. Although officers later concluded that the suspects were innocent, Scotland Yard chiefs said they were preparing to launch more covert operations as soon as they received new information about potential perpetrators.

Detective Chief Inspector Iqbal Singh, from the Met's child abuse command, said: "We have carried out covert surveillance against two people and will do so again if we get further information.

"What we are asking for now is intelligence to allow us to do that. We are very keen to pursue this to get evidence for a prosecution." The Met said they had received several tip-offs since the launch this year of a NSPCC helpline - 0800 028 3550 - for girls and others concerned about FGM. In one case, a teacher overheard a pupil saying she was to be taken to Somalia on holiday and was concerned about the purpose of the visit. Checks found that mutilation was not the reason, but the Met and campaigners believe teachers can play a vital role in identifying girls at risk.

In another tip, a man called the NSPCC to warn that a cousin was to be subjected to FGM. He called from someone else's phone and could not be traced despite examination of CCTV footage and house-to-house inquiries. Officers still want to speak to him.

Details of the operations remain confidential, but the Met and prosecutors are confident the tactic will produce evidence sufficiently strong to bring charges. The Crown Prosecution Service is considering five files on suspected FGM submitted by Scotland Yard.

(8th November 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 12th September 2013 author Kiran Randhawa)  [Option 1]

Crime in a London borough has been slashed by 60 per cent due to a new scheme that could be rolled out across the capital.
Police and the council in Enfield introduced a range of initiatives designed to crack down on youth crime including setting up mobile CCTV  cameras and running truancy patrols.As a result, crime was cut by two-thirds over a four-year period, reducing it to an all-time low.

The Metropolitan Police, which gave the council an award for the scheme this week, today said it could be  introduced in other areas.

The initiative started in 2009 in response to a spate of mobile phone robberies committed during term time and after school by older pupils against younger children, who were usually too scared of reprisals to give evidence in court.

Pupils moving on to secondary school were  taught crime awareness to reduce their risk of being victimised and  having their mobile stolen, and they were also given free anti-theft mobile phone registrations.

An anonymous online scheme where young people could report crime was set up and several extensive anti- bullying programmes were introduced.

As well as mobile CCTV cameras, the council also staggered closing times for schools and set up dispersal zones in areas with high crime rates, giving police the power to move on suspicious groups.

Anti-social behaviour orders were also issued to known muggers and substance misuse programmes to re-habilitate offenders were brought in.

Councillor Christine Hamilton, responsible for community wellbeing on Enfield Council, said: "I am delighted that street robberies against our children are at an all-time low thanks to our efforts over the last four years."

She was speaking after the council was given the Problem Orientated Partnership Award at Scotland Yard on Monday.

(8th November 2013)



(BBC News, dated 13th September 2013)

Twelve men have been arrested over an "audacious" alleged plot to steal millions of pounds from a bank by remotely taking control of a computer.

A bogus engineer fitted a device called a keyboard video mouse to a machine in the Surrey Quays branch of Santander, south-east London, which would have enabled a gang to download data.

The police arrested the men on suspicion of conspiracy to steal.

A spokesman said the "significant" plot could have netted millions of pounds.

Santander said a man pretending to be an engineer had tried to fit the device to one of their computers.

Several addresses in Hounslow, Brent, Hillingdon, Westminster, Richmond and Slough were searched and property was seized.

The arrested men, aged between 23 and 50, were detained in London on Thursday and remain in police custody.

'Organised network'
The Metropolitan Police said its "time-critical, dynamic response" had thwarted a "very significant and audacious cyber-enabled offence".

The force said the operation had helped avoid "multimillion-pound losses" from the branch at the shopping centre.

A KVM (keyboard video mouse) device was fitted to a computer within the bank but was not operational, officers said.

The device, if operational, would have allowed data and contents of the desktop to be downloaded over the network.

Although it is not the first time police have seen the device used, a Met spokesman said it was the first time it had been used by "an organised criminal network".

Det Insp Mark Raymond said: "This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank, and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across.

"I would like to thank our partners from the industry who have provided valuable assistance throughout this investigation."

'No money risked'
A spokesman for the bank said: "Through this co-operation, Santander was aware of the possibility of the attack connected to the arrests.

"The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays Branch was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party.

"It failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud."

A bank spokesman added that Santander was aware it was a target and it had been working with the police for three or four months before the bogus engineer attempted to connect the device.

The shutters of the branch in Surrey Quays were down on Friday and several customers were queuing to use the ATMs outside branch to check their accounts.

What is a KVM

A KVM switch (keyboard video mouse) typically allows a person to control a number of different computers from a distance.

Potentially, a hacker using a KVM can switch between different computers, see what is being displayed on the monitors, and control the computers using a remote keyboard and mouse.

Police have not said yet whether the Santander KVM was connected to internal systems, to be controlled from another part of Santander, or whether the device was connected to the internet.

(8th November 2013)




(BBC News, dated 1st August 2013)

The chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has quit after failing to declare a possible conflict of interest.

Home Secretary Theresa May accepted Sir Ian Andrews's resignation on Thursday.

Sir Ian had failed to declare his directorship in a management consultancy company, Abis Partnership.

The Home Office and Soca have denied that his departure is related to the ongoing controversy over the agency's probe into private investigators.

The agency requires its board members to register their interests - but Sir Ian made no declaration when he became a director at Abis in July 2012.

In a letter sent on Thursday to Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Sir Ian said that while he had declared clients to whom he provided "management consultancy services", he had failed to declare the company.

Sir Ian's decision to step down comes as Soca faces claims that it suppressed a report into the illegal activities of private investigators - the so-called "blue-chip hacking" list linked to Operation Millipede.

Operation Millipede was a Soca-led investigation into private investigators acquiring information illegally.

Sir Ian and the agency's director-general, Trevor Pearce, denied to the Home Affairs Committee that the organisation had withheld information about law-breaking investigators.

Earlier this week, the committee released a document from Soca detailing that law firms, insurance companies and celebrities were among the clients of private detectives convicted of illegality.

'No alternative'
In his letter to Mr Vaz, Sir Ian said that he had "no explanation" for the failure to register the Abis directorship, "other than it was both a genuine and unintentional oversight but it is nonetheless inexcusable: and the responsibility is mine alone".

He said: "My original four-year appointment expires at the end of this week and was due to be extended until October to cover the remaining life of Soca.

"Given the above, and the fact that I have failed to maintain the standard of integrity to be expected of the head of a public body, let alone one charged with law enforcement, I believe that I had no alternative but to offer the home secretary my resignation.

"This is a huge disappointment to me personally because I have been assiduous about avoiding conflicts of interest throughout a public service career spanning almost 40 years.

"I should make clear, once again, that this is completely unconnected with the evidence I gave to the select committee, by which I stand, or issues associated with private investigators."

In a letter to the committee last month, Sir Ian denied press reports that he had an undeclared conflict of interest through his wife, Moira Andrews, who is the head lawyer for Good Governance Group - a global consultancy firm involved in security and investigations.

But it was in the same letter that he confirmed both he and his wife were directors of Abis.

He described Abis as a legal and management consultancy company whose clients had been the Department of Health, Kings College London and the anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International.

(8th November 2013)



(The telegraph, dated 3rd May 2013 author Elizabeth Roberts)   [Option 1]

Brits overseas didn't like registering their details with the Government - so the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is trying to engage them through social media instead.

An online database designed to help Britons abroad register for help in a crisis has been axed - because so few people were using it.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is replacing the old Locate system with an increased focus on social media channels such as Twitter to help expats in trouble.

According to a spokesman: "Locate was a global online registration database for people living abroad, or travelling abroad allowing them to leave contact details as well as next of kin details for use in case of emergency."

However, he said: "The concept of registering with the FCO just in case of an emergency has not proven popular with the British public and does not provide an accurate picture of British nationals abroad.

"Approximately one per cent of people abroad actually register. It is therefore not proving an effective part of our crisis response and actually diverts our resources in a crisis. The decision to switch off Locate is part of a broader programme of work to make our crisis response the best in the world."

The old system will be abolished as of May 14.

The spokesman added: "The FCO is moving from a system where British nationals are encouraged to register when they travel in case there is a crisis, to one where we are using a number of channels to give them the latest information and advice on what they should do if they need our help."

He said that increased resources have been allocated to the FCO's crisis hotline and response teams. Expats are also being encouraged to sign up for country-specific travel advice updates via email, and to follow the FCO on Twitter and Facebook.

Around 125 of the FCO's overseas posts have Facebook pages, and more than 100 have Twitter accounts that are used to communicate changes to travel advice.

Additional Information

The new methods of communication require travellers to subscribe to email or social media updates. For those wanting to subscribe, go to and select the country you are travelling to. On the right hand side, click on "Email Alerts" and then enter your email address. Travel advice updates will also be issued via the FCO Twitter account @fcotravel and on their Facebook page:

(8th November 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 6th September 2013 author Martin Bentham)   [Option 1]

More than 2,000 victims of female genital mutilation have sought treatment at London hospitals in the past three years.
The figures, revealed by the Standard today, are the most dramatic illustration so far of the impact of the barbaric practice in the capital. They also show that 298 operations to reverse unlawful "cutting" of London women have been carried out.

Hundreds of others have received treatment in an attempt to ease their pain. Cases include one girl with an "open wound" and at least 12 more involving children. The statistics have been drawn from Freedom of Information requests to seven London hospital trusts with specialist services for FGM victims. They represent the most comprehensive measure yet of the problem. A total of 2,115 FGM patients were seen between 2010 and summer this year.

Doctors and campaigners said the findings were "horrifying" and called for a renewed drive by police, prosecutors and others to bring perpetrators of the crime to justice. But they warned that the reluctance of some women to seek treatment, and flaws in hospital record-keeping, including the lack of a specific code to identify FGM cases, meant that the true number of victims was certain to be even higher.

Dr Comfort Momoh, a specialist in treating FGM who runs the African Well Woman's Clinic at St Thomas' Hospital, said: "These statistics show a very significant number of women are being treated for FGM, but there are still lots out there who are not being identified because they don't know where to go for help, aren't being referred by GPs or are too scared to come forward.

"I'm really worried about girls, in particular. Where are they going to seek help? The GPs who are their first point of call often don't have the knowledge. We also need teachers and lecturers to do more to at least signpost girls towards help."

Dr Momoh said new guidelines from the Department of Health and medical professional bodies were essential, so information about victims and girls at risk could be passed to social services and other agencies without deterring women from reporting their plight.

She added: "FGM can cause lifelong pain and the pyschological impact can be really severe, with women suffering flashbacks every time they have sexual relations. Much more must be done to prevent it."

Efua Dorkenoo, of charity Equality Now, said: "These figures highlight the horrifying scale of this criminal practice and prove, once again, that too little is happening to stop women and girls from suffering. This is a growing problem, which requires investment in prevention. The Government needs to implement a national action plan, which recognises the need to treat survivors physically and emotionally - but which also focuses on preventing FGM from happening in the first place."

Among the victims who have spoken out in a bid to prevent more girls suffering is Londoner Nimco Ali, 29. She was taken to Somalia to be cut at the age of seven and now runs the Daughters of Eve charity, which helps victims and girls at risk of mutilation.

The data, which covers women and girls treated for FGM since the start of 2010, shows the African Well Woman's Clinic has had the largest number of patients. It treated 927 victims, including 178 who had surgery to reverse FGM between 2010 and the end of 2012. Further such operations have been conducted this year.

The number and age of the child victims is said to be low, but is not being revealed by the hospital, which says  the girls could be "potentially identified" by such disclosure. Bart's Health NHS trust, which runs Mile End, the Royal London, Whipps Cross and Barts hospitals, said it had treated five girls.

Estimates have suggested 20,000 girls are at risk of being mutilated in England and Wales.

London Surguries

Guys and St Thomas : 927 (178)
Whittington  : 349 (36)
North West London : 290 (16)
UCLH : 182 (-)
Barts : 168 (-)
Chelsea and Westminster : 145 (14)
Imperial : 54 (54)

The Numbers quoted are FGM patients 2010 to Summer 2013.
The bracketed numbers are reversal operations carried out.
The NSPCC has set up a helpline on the issue, on 0800 028 3550.


(7th September 2013)


(Metro, dated 3rd September 2013 author Sharon Marris)   [Option 1]

If you use an app to track your exercise regime or calculate your calorie intake you may have a new symptom to fear.

Personal information that users share with apps such as Map My Fitness, Web MD and iPeriod are being sold to insurance and drug companies, a report has revealed.

Up to 70 third parties harvest data used by people who are tracking diets and even menstrual cycles, said privacy group Evidon.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Centre for Digital Democracy, said that means some of the 'most sensitive details of your life' were available to others.

App companies have denied that the information is personally identifiable and say it is used for site analysis and advertising within apps.

Regulations prevent sale of an individual's medical records but some US firms have been accused of trying to bypass that by building health profiles from user information on apps.

Andy Kahl, director of data analysis at Evidon, warned some British developers may be doing the same.

'There's a mantra I repeat often: if the product is free, then you are the product,' he added.

(7th September 2013)




(The Guardian, dated 18th July 2013 author Mona Chalabi)

Full article :

Crime is falling and has been for several years. A decade ago, there were around 6m recorded offences annually. That figure today is 3.7m.

That might come as a surprise because in a climate of economic hardship and austerity, some might expect more people to be driven into crime. Also, the number of police officers has dropped by almost 3000 over the same period. So what's happening?

Fewer crimes

There are two ways of measuring crime, these are:

Recorded crime: A count of everything that is reported to police authorities. It's a good measure of well-reported offences but trends can be influenced by changes in the way that these records are made (there have been two major changes since records began) and it doesn't account for any lag between when a crime occurred and when it was recorded.

Reported crime: This is a representative survey that happens nationally that includes crimes that haven't been reported to the police. The methodology of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has never changed so it's good for making comparisons over time but it is subject to all of the problems that surveys face including people not recalling events accurately.

Although data indicates that the fewest number of crimes since records began, there hasn't been a consistent decline since 1981 - reported crime rose steadily until 1995 and recorded crime fluctuated until 2003.

But, over the past ten years, both of these indicators of crime in England and Wales have fallen consistently. Today, the likelihood of experiencing a crime personally is 1 in 20.

Fewer Police Officers

Updated figures on the workforce that polices those crimes. In the space of twelve months, 2,358 police officers joined forces across England and Wales - but over the same period, 6,848 officers left.

As of March 2013, there were 129,584 police officers in England and Wales - 23% of which are based in Greater London with the Metropolitan police, the greatest regional concentration by far.

In London, the police force has shrunk by 5.5%, in the South-West it's fallen by 4.1% while smaller areas like Northamptonshire have expanded by 2.7%


The paradox may seem surprising but there are a couple of reasons that might be but forward to explain the trend. Here are a few:

1. Ineffective?
The national police force has only been shrinking since 2010 but crime in England and Wales had started to fall long before then. That doesn't necessarily mean that police officers have no effect on crime - some might argue that there is a strong relationship, albeit a delayed one.

Some of the reductions in crime we see today could be the result of increases in policing yesterday (or, between 2003 and 2005 to be precise - when the force swelled with 8,550 additional officers). If true, that would mean that cuts today could reverse some of our fortunes of falling crime in the future.

2. Changing types of crime?
A closer look at the numbers reveals that not all types of crime are falling. While the number of thefts, drug offences and violent crimes may be declining, crimes that police officers are potentially less-equipped to prevent such as theft from the person, rape and fraud have increased (by 9%, 2% and 27% respectively).

Though there are fewer numbers of those crimes, they may also have a disproportionate impact on people's sense of security - which may explain why falling crime statistics often seem so surprising.

3. A false illusion?
Some have claimed that the rise in the number of sexual offences is due to the "Yewtree effect". Our home affairs editor Alan Travis explains:

"greater numbers of victims of sexual attacks have come forward to report historical offences to the police in the wake of the allegations against Jimmy Saville"

If the theory holds true for sexual offences, it may also be that public perceptions about police inefficacy could result in a lower reporting rate for other types of crime. The CSEW is supposed to overcome that potential flaw in the data but apathy could also affect survey responses.

Whatever the reason for the apparent disconnect between crime levels and police numbers, it's likely that criminologists will be keeping a close eye on future statistics to see the impact of further budget cuts.


Changes to workforce numbers March 2012 to March 2013

Avon and Somerset : -166
Bedfordshire : -65
Cambridgeshire : 6
Cheshire : 2
Cleveland : -66
Cumbria : -4
Derbyshire : 9
Devon and Cornwall : -143
Dorset : -77
Durham : -2
Essex : -97
Gloucestershire : -8
Greater Manchester : -297
Hampshire : -37
Hertfordshire : -31
Humberside : -85
Kent : -175
Lancashire : -123
Leicestershire : -53
Lincolnshire : -12
London, City of : -57
London, Metropolitan Police : -1742
Norfolk : -3
Northamptonshire : 33
Northumbria : -170
Nottinghamshire : -73
Merseyside : -174
North Yorkshire : -32
South Yorkshire : -4
Staffordshire : -118
Suffolk : 20
Surrey : -4
Sussex : -112
Thames Valley : -33
Warwickshire : -39
West Mercia : -104
West Midlands : -211
West Yorkshire : -157
Wiltshire : -7


Dyfed-Powys : -19
Gwent : -70
North Wales : 29
South Wales : -46


(7th September 2013)



(The Guardian, daed 7th September 2013 authors James Doward and Conal Urquhart)  [Option 1]

Online dating sites are not doing enough to protect women from being targeted by stalkers and men convicted of domestic violence, according to a new anti-stalking charity.

Paladin, which was set up two months ago to offer counselling to stalking victims, says it has received requests for urgent help from women after they met men online who subsequently became abusive towards them.

The claim comes as the online dating industry launches a new code and kitemarking system designed to bolster confidence among clients. It follows a series of serious data breaches, when personal information was stolen by hackers, causing fears that personal information could find its way into the hands of stalkers. The concerns are one of the few black clouds hanging over what is a booming industry. One in five dates now starts via the internet, and there are hundreds of sites operating in the UK in an industry now worth £300m a year.

Paladin, launched on 11 July, said it had received a number of referrals from women who had met men online. The charity said at least three of the referrals involved threats and actual violence. In each case the men all had previous histories of violence against women. Paladin said it was "extraordinary" that a lack of regulation meant abusive men could keep joining dating sites. It said anyone who was found to be involved in stalking or violence should be barred from all dating agencies and the matter referred to the police. It also said it was worried about the vulnerability of online dating sites being hacked.

"Over recent months there have been a number of online data protection breaches involving some of the most popular dating sites," said Paladin's co-founder, Harry Fletcher. "Personal information about women has been hacked and stolen. This is frightening. If such information fell into the hands of predatory sex offenders or stalkers, the consequences would be horrific. Agencies must take all steps necessary to keep data safe and in the event of any future theft inform all clients immediately. A combination of lack of regulation means anybody could create a new site this week and data theft is of grave concern and needs government intervention without delay."

Earlier this year it emerged that 1.5 million users of the eHarmony website had their passwords stolen and posted on a Russian forum dedicated to password-cracking.

George Kidd, the chief executive of the new Online Dating Association, said the establishment of a regulatory body showed the industry was determined to clamp down on those who sought to abuse the medium. He said: "The challenge or difficulty with a community of people in their millions is how do we make it safe and secure? How do we have the right culture, to match the requirement of customers? What do we believe our values to be?"

Kidd said it was important that dating sites did not duck the issue. "We will address identity and data and protection," he said. "But we have a great deal of work to do. Everyone must have appropriate policies in place rather than a prescriptive set of rules."

June (not her real name) met her former partner on a free dating website and was unaware he had two convictions for ABH. "About four weeks in, the abuse started," June said.

"But as I've come to learn, like many people convicted of domestic violence he could be very charming and he lured me back."

The abuse was not violent, although June's partner was prone to throwing crockery and pots and pans. "He would say he could ruin me," June said. "Unbeknown to me, he had taken naked photographs of me and he threatened to publish this on Facebook and show them to my employer."

June called for dating sites to add a "panic button" that would make it easier for users of dating sites to report concerns about people they had met. "My site just had an automated response. You really need a human being sitting there and taking your concerns seriously," she said.

Kidd insisted that it was safer meeting someone through a dating agency than just meeting "someone" in the pub. "It is now increasingly normal for people to find their partners online and our role in identifying best practice across the industry will make it easier for people to know what to expect," Kidd said. "Consumers will be able to look out for the hallmark logo which verifies that the site is a member of the association and operating to these industry standards."

National Stalking Advocacy Service :

(7th September 2013)



(BBC News, dated 16th August 2013 author Richard Westcott)

Motorists are being warned about a new insurance scam where criminals flash their lights to let other drivers out of a junction, then crash into them on purpose.

Anti-fraud experts are calling it "flash-for-cash".

The gangs tend to target new, smarter vehicles or vulnerable road users, including older people and women with children in the car.

The scam is costing insurers hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

It is a new tactic for an already well established crime, called "crash for cash", where criminals slam on the brakes for no reason so that the victim drives into the back of their car.

Police investigators said the criminals will often remove the bulbs in their brake lights so other road users don't know they're stopping.

However, "flash-for-cash" is more crafty, because it is harder to prove in court, often coming down to the innocent driver's word against the criminal's that they flashed their lights to let them out.

Fake claims
Each "accident" can net the gangs tens of thousands of pounds in a variety of ways.

Firstly, they put in false personal injury claims for whiplash, sometimes including claims for people who were not even in the car. Added to that, they might charge the insurance company for loss of earnings, then they put in fake bills for vehicle storage, recovery, repairs, and replacement car hire.

Detective Inspector Dave Hindmarsh from the Metropolitan Police is an expert at catching them out. He says this kind of crime costs the industry a fortune and, as ever, it's the honest, insurance-paying motorist who is footing the bill,

"The problem is a growing problem. Financially it costs insurers £392m a year - that impacts on motorists as it's an extra £50 to £100 on every person's premium so that's a financial cost.

"[There are] emotional costs [as] if you're involved in a crash you could well lose your confidence, and if your passengers are children they may well become wary of being passengers in cars, and of course you may get injured or killed."

This latest "flash-for-cash" warning has come from Asset Protection Unit (APU), a company which helps the police and the insurance industry investigate fraud. Neil Thomas at APU says the criminals pick on people who are not going to put up a fight,

"Perhaps single females in the car with children in the back, perhaps doing the school run. Where they know there's going to be no resistance, no real argument at the scene. The children are going to be upset".

Good intentions
Generally speaking, drivers are not meant to flash their lights to let people out onto busy roads. It is meant to be used as a warning.

The Highway Code says: "Flashing headlights. Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users. Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully."

However, the reality is that most people do use it as a friendly gesture, and law-abiding motorists feel it's a shame that something that is meant to be so positive, a rare show of good manners on the road, is now being abused by criminals.

The police and fraud experts believe that by raising awareness, and making people more wary, there is a good chance many drivers won't take the bait when the criminals lay a trap.

(7th September 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 12th August 2013 author Justin Davenport)  [Option 1]

Crime on the Tube and the Docklands Light Rail rose last year fuelled by a big surge in pickpocketing and theft of mobile phones.
New figures released today show that the overall number of offences jumped by a thousand, or 6.5 per cent, to a total of 17,030 in 2012/13.

Police blame the increase on thieves targeting "easily saleable high-tech devices, such as smartphones and tablets" as well as organised pickpocketing gangs.

But figures also showed that there was a six per cent rise in the number of incidents of violent crime on the Tube and the DLR last year.

Senior officers say that while serious violence on the Tube is falling the number of minor common assaults is rising and the number of incidents of racist harassment is also increasing.

The number of common assaults rose last year by 4.6 per cent to a total of 922 and the number of incidents of racially aggravated harassment leapt by 12.6 per cent to a total of 311.

There were also increases in the number of thefts and violent crime on the London railway network.

British Transport Police chief constable Andy Trotter said the rise in violent crime across the network was the first increase in six years.

He said : "Serious assaults are down almost eight per cent, but there has been an increase of over three per cent in common assault.

"Racially-aggravated harassment is a significant contribution to the increase in violent crime, which I think reflects a growing intolerance amongst the public of this sort of incident."

He said he believed the rise in the number of theft offences was part of a growing problem of thefts of smart phones throughout Britain.

There have been more cases of snatches of phones on train and Tube platforms and also a rise in thefts of luggage.

Police are investigating organised pick pocketing and theft gangs operating on the Tube and rail network, most of them from Eastern Europe or South America.

Mr Trotter said the force had launched an initiative called Operation Magnum to tackle thefts of phones, luggage and pick pocketing on the Tube and train network.

Police say that there has been an increase in the number of incidents of passengers posting videos of racist abuse on the Tube and trains on social networking sites.

The number of sex offences, robberies and cases of criminal damage on the Tube and DLR all fell last year.

Overall, crime across the UK's rail network fell for the ninth year running.

The rise in the number of theft offences on trains in the UK was almost all due to the increase in offences in London.

Mr Trotter said the overall fall in crime came amid cuts to the police budget of 14% since 2008.

He also said BTP had made "great inroads" in tackling cable theft which was down 13% last year.

(7th September 2013)


(The Telegraph, dated 2nd August 2013 author Rosa Silverman)   [Option 1]

As anyone with more than one bank card will know, remembering a variety of PIN codes can be an impossible task.

It should perhaps comes as no surprise, therefore, that the most popular PIN in use has been found to be 1234.

While some of us devise crafty combinations of numbers based on our pet's birthday or the date of our wedding anniversary, research suggests that many people simply opt for the most memorable code they can think of.

A study by the DataGenetics blog found the second most popular PIN was 1111, followed by 0000, 1212 and 7777.

The digits zero to nine can be arranged in 10,000 possible ways to form a four-digit PIN code.

But using data from security breaches and previously released or exposed password tables, the bloggers found that 11% of the 3.4 million passwords they looked at were 1234 - a proportion they described as "staggering" and betraying a "lack of imagination."

More than six per cent of the passwords were 1111.

Many people also used the year of their birth to create their PIN, with every single combination of the digits in the years 1901 to 1999 occurring in the top fifth of the data set.

The least common PIN code, meanwhile, was 8068, which occurred just 25 times in the study of 3.4 million codes.

The bloggers warned that anyone with one of the most popular PINs should "apply common sense and immediately change them to something a little less predictable."

Their research follows a cybercrime report in June revealing that criminals can buy personal details online for less than £20.

Credit card details without PINs can be purchased for just £16, while a PIN costs £65. A credit card with PIN and a guaranteed good balance sells for £130, according to the security software company McAfee.

(7th September 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 31st July 2013 author Mark Blunden)   [Option 1]

DNA profiles of thousands of suspected sex offenders are being destroyed because of a legal loophole that leaves police powerless to hold them.
From October, forces in England and Wales will no longer be able to hold genetic information indefinitely on people arrested on suspicion of sexual and violent crimes once they have been released without charge.

Police will be given the right to apply for data to be held for longer but this appeal process is not yet in place, the BBC said.

Despite the lack of appeals, the Home Office has ordered forces to delete DNA records ahead of the change, says Labour - including details of 18,000 people arrested but not charged with rape.

The party claims forces are now following government directives to delete the records in advance of the amendment to the law, according to the BBC.

The changes to the national DNA database come in the 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act, under which DNA profiles from people arrested but not charged with a serious offence such as rape should be destroyed.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the loophole amounted to "shocking incompetence" by the Home Office.

She added: "It is appalling that DNA evidence from thousands of rape suspects is now being destroyed, contrary to the promises made by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.

"They were warned repeatedly in Parliament and by the police about the risks involved in destroying DNA evidence in this way."

(7th September 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 12th August 2013 author Martin Bentham)  [Option 1]

Detectives today revealed they have tracked down London riot suspects in Ireland, Scandinavia and Poland.
Scotland Yard warned those still on the loose that, two years on, the fight to bring them to justice will not be  abandoned.

The suspect in Ireland, a woman of 33 wanted over a burglary in Hackney, is in custody awaiting extradition to Britain, while the Met is working with authorities in Warsaw to secure the detention of the Polish suspect, wanted for violent disorder and burglary in Kentish Town.

A 17-year-old who absconded after being bailed by Thames Youth Court on charges of violent disorder and burglary in Ilford is in Sweden and will be extradited  when his precise location is known.

The force is still receiving an average of 13 pieces of information a week about the August 2011 riots. The identities of 12 wanted individuals, at least some of whom are thought to have fled abroad, have been established, but police have so far been unable to put a name to a further 325.

In each of these cases, however, they have a photo of the person - 10 feature in the panel below - and enough evidence of criminal activity to bring charges.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Elliott said: "This has been the most successful major investigation ever in the UK with nearly 5,000 arrests and a conviction rate of nearly 80 per cent for those charged, but we haven't finished. We are continuing to look wherever we think these people might be. But we also need the public to help us by looking at the photos and telling us if they recognise any of the suspects."

Mr Elliott, leading Operation Withern, set up to bring rioters to justice, said its extension to Ireland and Scandinavia shows that even those rioters who have gone abroad are not out of reach.

A total of 4,959 people have been arrested over the disorder, of whom 3,145 have been cautioned, charged,  convicted or summoned to court. The Crown Prosecution Service says the conviction rate for the 2,364 people prosecuted is 76 per cent, or 1,810 convictions. There are 23 further cases still going through the courts.

Anyone with information on the riots should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or officers from the Met's Operation Withern team on 020 7230 1129 .

Images of the remaining suspects can be viewed at

(7th September 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 7th August 2013 author Pippa Crerar)

Boris Johnson came under pressure today to make sure that high quality support for women victims of violence was not undermined by funding cuts.
The Mayor was urged to help deliver tangible improvements to services for victims before claiming to have made London safer for women.

More than 3,000 rapes, nearly 10,000 sexual assaults and nearly 50,000 domestic incidents were reported to police in the year to May. Yet local authority funding of around £8 million for women's organisations across the capital has been reduced to £3 million in the latest funding round. The London Assembly, while praising the emphasis put on the problem of violence against women and girls by the Mayor, told him it was "time to deliver" on his promises.

The crime committee said he must "urgently" complete a review into domestic violence provision which he pledged at his re-election and to fill gaps where they existed.

He should also fund more independent advocates who help victims through the criminal justice system. Current provision is patchy. The committee suggested all neighbourhood police officers should receive specific training in how to deal with victims of sexual violence, which is not currently the case. Mr Johnson's policing team should set up a system to identify women and girls at risk because of association with gangs and make sure they are on boroughs' "at risk" registers.

Police should also work hard to improve prostitutes' confidence in reporting crimes. Committee chair Joanne McCartney said: "Time is running out for the Mayor to deliver on his promise to make London a safer place for women. That promise risks being undermined by cuts to already patchy and inconsistent services for victims of domestic and sexual violence."

Heather Harvey, of women's charity Eaves which has lost funding, said: "There isn't any fat there to cut. If we do it on the cheap it's a false economy because these are women who are going to keep coming back into the service."

The consultation on the Mayor's Violence Against Girls and Women strategy closes on Friday.

(7th September 2013)



(BBC News, dated 22nd August 2013 author Pia Gadkari)

The UK government has warned the Guardian newspaper that foreign agents could use laser technology to eavesdrop on them, in the wake of recent surveillance leaks. What are laser listening devices and are they effective?

When we speak, our voices produce sound waves. Sound waves travel in all directions and can hit anything in the room around you. If the sound waves hit something solid, they bounce off.

Laser listening devices are designed to pick up the vibrations produced by sound waves as they hit resonant surfaces - ones that are good for picking up vibrations - such as a window or a plastic cup.

When the laser bounces back to a receiver, the vibrations can be decoded and the conversation reconstructed.

Very expensive
These sophisticated pieces of equipment often look similar to cameras. A box - called a cache case, which has the technology inside - is mounted on a tripod while another box for the receiver captures the returning laser signal.

For the laser to work, there must be a direct line of sight between the operator and the target, and the laser must be within about 500m (165ft) of its target, in order to pick up the vibrations.

The technology is small enough that one person can use it.

"The technology behind laser listening devices has been around for some time," said Jeremy Marks, the director of the spy equipment retailer Spycatcher Online.

"I have heard about the product being used for about five to 10 years."

But, Mr Marks said, high-end laser listening devices could be expensive, and are difficult to acquire for commercial use.

One Ukraine-based manufacturer called Argo-A Security said it only sold its devices to law enforcement and government agencies, without exception.

The equipment could be tailored to a customer's needs, and would cost between $17,000-$40,000 (£11,000-£26,000) to buy, a spokesman for the firm told the BBC.

'Not my first choice'
While there are measures to combat this sort of eavesdropping, it is very hard to ensure your conversations will not be heard, one counter-surveillance specialist said.

"It is extremely difficult to protect any room with a window," said James Williams, the operations director of QCC Interscan, which provides counter-eavesdropping protection services to the government and private clients.

"If a government wants to spy on you, there is very little you can do."

The installation of counter-intelligence window film is one effective protection measure, he added. Adding heavy curtains to windows could also absorb some of the sound vibrations in a room.

But he added that lasers are trained to pick up certain frequencies and could still be recalibrated to get around those hurdles.

"Any sensitive meeting room with windows would not be a good starting point," Mr Williams said.

Secure rooms are usually located in the middle of the building, with no windows and a range of other security measures in place.

But in Spycatcher Online's experience, laser listening devices are usually only used in "extreme cases".

"It wouldn't be my first choice for sure," Mr Marks said. "If you've exhausted other methods, then yes, you would."

Security experts say that more effective eavesdropping options would involve placing some kind of bug inside the target room.

The biggest threat comes from GSM and 3G mobile signal eavesdropping technologies, Mr Williams said, agreeing that laser devices are "pretty niche".

But he added that there are other listening measures, such as using "modulated light", which would involve changing one of the light bulbs in the target room.

(7th September 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 25th July 2013 author Jonathan Prynn)   [Option 1]

It is known as "Apple picking" but there is nothing wholesome about the explosion in smartphone theft on the streets of London. My 15-year-old son fell victim to this very 21st-century crime epidemic for the fourth time last week as he came home from school.
He was relieved of his mobile on a residential west London road near our local Underground station and punched hard in the mouth by way of a thank you.


In his case, the harvest must have been a disappointment. His two muggers, both no older than him, had almost certainly hoped for a shiny Apple iPhone 5.

What they actually got was a battered, cracked old Samsung, but how were they to know? They saw a schoolchild ambling home with, in all likelihood, a valuable item of highly desirable electronic hardware in his pocket.

It is little consolation that his frightening ordeal - which utterly ruined what should have been a blissful start to the summer break - was very far from unusual.

For London teenagers, particularly boys it seems, mobile phone theft has become an almost unavoidable if deeply unpleasant fact of life. Virtually every London parent of secondary school age children I speak to has a similar story to tell.

It is estimated that up to 10,000 handsets a month - or 120,000 a year - are stolen in the capital, with teenagers and those in their early twenties by far the most likely victims.

It is one of the few categories of crime that has been rising in the capital. According to figures from the Mayor, levels of personal theft in London rose 12 per cent last year - the vast majority of it involving smartphones - although the Metropolitan Police's most recent figures suggest incidents have been falling since February. Even so, smartphones have far surpassed wallets and cash as the most frequently stolen items in London.

Experts say the lure of a quick and relatively low-risk financial hit - many children are taught by their parents to hand over their valuables without resisting - feeds the theft frenzy.

A stolen latest model can fetch up to £50 on the black market and most are then passed via a middle man, who might get £80, to "wholesalers" in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and, increasingly, Africa for more again.

A latest model iPhone packed with personal information that could be used for possible identity theft can even be worth as much as £1,000, according to Jack Wraith, chairman of the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum. The trend has been alarming enough for Mayor Boris Johnson to write to the UK chief executives of all the major handset manufacturers - Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, Nokia, Google-Motorola, HTC and Microsoft - demanding a "technical solution" to eliminate the financial incentive that makes smartphone theft so enticing.

In his letter, co-written with senior figures such as Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, and Craig Mackey, the Met's deputy commissioner, Johnson said, "the police and criminal justice agencies cannot tackle this by themselves - we need manufacturers to play their part and work with us to help devise solutions to deter theft and help prevent crime."

The hope is that the immensely profitable mobile industry - Apple alone was almost $7?billion (£4.5?billion) in the black in the third quarter of the year - can "design out" theft in the same way that compulsory electronic immobilisers have helped halve the number of cars stolen since 1995.

Whatever the next breakthrough, it is unrealistic to expect that mobile phone theft will be eliminated. Manufacturers and criminals have been playing cat and mouse with each other since they became everyday accessories in the late Nineties. Early basic security features such as passcodes and PIN numbers can be fairly easily bypassed in the hands of an expert.

The first big breakthrough came in 2004 when new laws made it a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison to tamper with a handset's unique 15 digit IMEI number - its fingerprint.

Now anyone who has a phone stolen can get it blocked swiftly by reporting the IMEI to the relevant network. The process can be speeded up even faster if the phone is registered on the online Immobilise property register. This makes it almost impossible to use - but only in the UK. As soon as the handset is taken outside the country it unblocks itself, hence the profitable trade routes in stolen phones to the developing world.

There are also apps for most types of smartphone that allow them to be tracked to their precise location when they have gone "walkabout" with a thief. Some apps also have options of sounding an alarm on the phone, allowing the user to locate the device by sound or scare off a potential thief. Another service allows "remote wiping" of the phone's personal data.

Of course, these thief deterrent systems are only worth having if the phone is PIN or password protected. Otherwise the new "owner" will simply delete the apps.

According to Wraith there are other drawbacks. First, a victim who is following the progress of the missing phone might feel reassured, but all the time it is being tracked it is not blocked and therefore open to fraudulent use.

Secondly, it raises false hopes about the possibility of recovering the phone. Wraith said: "It's not an absolute given by any means. Someone might go to the police and say, 'Yes, I've tracked it to 35 Acacia Avenue - what are you going to do about it?' If the police then go to that address and find it is a 20-storey block, what are they supposed to do?"

The next "big thing" in phone theft deterrence is the so-called "killer switch" that will allow a victim to disable a phone even if has been turned off or all personal data erased.

Unlike "blocking" this will be effective all over the world, wiping out the device's resale value. Apple's version of the feature, which it calls Activation Lock, will be included in its next mobile operating system iOS 7 due out in the autumn. A similar system called LoJack is being introduced for Samsung Galaxy and other handsets.

APPLE said in a statement that it "has led the industry in helping customers protect their lost or stolen devices since the launch of Find My iPhone in 2009 by allowing customers to remotely set a passcode or erase all their personal data".

It adds: "With Activation Lock, Find My iPhone gives customers even more control over their devices and serves as a theft deterrent by requiring an Apple ID and password to turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device."

The Met says it now regards mobile-related crime as "high priority" and its specialist unit has launched a series of raids. One in London in May resulted in 449 arrests and the seizure of hundreds of phones including eight gold-plated and diamond-encrusted handsets worth more than £90,000 in Ilford.

Certainly the police response to my son's assault was impressively swift and effective and two suspects have now been charged. That is some compensation. But it has left him feeling vulnerable and unprotected on the streets around his home, where he should be safest.

The physical damage left by the attack, a nasty split lip, is already almost healed. But the mental scars - the anxiety, fear of future attacks, loss of confidence - will still be there when he starts the commute to school again in September.

With four muggings in two years,  twice with violence, my son is already a weary serial victim of London street crime.

He now expects it to happen again.  How sad that is.


10,000 phones stolen in London each month

£1,000 the top amount a stolen iPhone can be sold for

12 % the AMOUNT the Mayor's office estimates iCrime has increased by in the past year

no. 1 the Northern line is the worst for mobile theft, according to

14-24 The age group most likely to have their phones stolen

300 nicked every day (Monday is the most popular)

50% the population of the UK that has a smartphone

(7th September 2013)


(BBC News, dated 9th August 2013 author Tom de Castella)

The acid attack on two young British women in Zanzibar has cast a spotlight again on a sinister crime. How often do such assaults happen?

Anyone who throws acid in someone's face intends to scar them for life.

It is a crime with a marked gender skew. Experts say that women and girls are victims in 75-80% of cases. Of the female victims, about 30% are under 18.

The case of Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, British tourists in Zanzibar, who had acid thrown on their faces, chests and hands, has caused revulsion.

The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet was attacked in January. Now after 18 operations he is still almost completely blind, according to reports.

Another high profile case was that of Katie Piper, who in 2008 was the victim of an acid attack orchestrated by her jealous boyfriend. Since then she has had nearly 100 operations and become a campaigner.

NHS statistics for England do not separate out acid attacks. In 2011-12 there were 105 hospital admissions in England for "assault by corrosive substance", but the category covers more than just acid.

But 1,500 cases are recorded around the world every year, according to the Acid Survivors Trust International. "That is likely to be massively underreported," says Jaf Shah, ASTI executive director. "Most victims are fearful to report it to the police for fear of reprisal."

The lack of solid reported figures makes it hard to say whether acid attacks are on the rise globally, Shah says.

India has an increasing problem with acid attacks. ASTI estimates that 1,000 take place there every year. Eight weeks ago the country's supreme court criticised the Indian government for failing to act on the problem.

Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon who helped rebuild Katie Piper's face and works with victims in South Asia, says the crime is about trying to destroy someone's identity.

"The attacker is saying: 'I don't want to kill her, I am going to do something to distort her.' It's a walking dead situation for the victim and often a grey area in the eyes of the law."

It is not about religion or culture, he argues. "It takes place in parts of the world where women are not empowered. It's an extreme form of domestic violence." Jawad says it is vital to treat acid burns fast.

"The first few hours are pretty important." In thermal burns the damage is done once the burn is inflicted. But with acid, the burning continues on the skin until the acid is neutralised.

Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup reportedly ran into the sea to wash the acid off their skin before it could do any permanent damage. Although there are bacteria in the sea, on balance this was a good decision, says Jawad.

Saltwater in the form of hypertonic saline (very salty saline) is used to neutralise the acid. Cleaning agents can suck the acid out of the tissue by a process of reverse osmosis, Jawad says.

Acid attacks appear to be disproportionately common in South Asia. As well as India, Shah suspects there are "very high" numbers in Afghanistan but there are no official figures. Bangladesh and Pakistan also have considerable numbers.

Shah says that unlike India, where there is no dedicated measuring of acid attacks, Pakistan and Bangladesh have made it a specific offence. The most common motives are rejected marriage proposals and sexual advances.

In Bangladesh, reported attacks have fallen since the government tightened up the rules on the sale of acid and introduced the death penalty for attackers. There were 492 attacks in 2002. Last year it was under 75, Shah says.

Pakistan has also tightened up its laws. There are 250-300 recorded attacks there a year. Legislation in December 2011 has increased reporting by 300%, Shah says.

The prevalence of attacks in South Asia can be explained by the easy availability of acid, suggests Shah. Acid is widely used in the cotton, rubber and jewellery industries. Hence attacks are also seen in rubber-producing areas like Cambodia.

Acid can be sold for as little as a dollar or 50 cents a litre, says Jawad.

In the developing world acid attacks cause greater damage. Water might be hard to come by for someone seeking to wash away the acid. Burns units are few and far between. Shah recalls how in Nepal a woman had to walk "in absolute agony" for 24 hours before she could receive treatment.

The problem is not just South Asia. There have been notable attacks in Iran. There were 150 recorded attacks in Colombia last year. And recent reports suggest that attacks are on the rise in Italy.

Even where laws are tightened, convictions can be hard in male-dominated societies. In Pakistan, a woman died after an acid attack and left a mobile phone video message denouncing her attackers. But the suspects - her husband, mother-in law and father-in law - were acquitted.

It can take years for victims to recover, says Shah. They may need dozens of surgical procedures. Then there is the psychological trauma. "If victims have been ostracised from the family structure their exclusion is very severe."

(7th September 2013)



(CSMA Club Magazine, July / August Edition, author Duncan Steer)

Antisocial drivers who put other road users at risk will now face spot fines from police under a new scheme introduced by the Ministry of Transport.

The new measures on careless driving are to be introduced following a consultation with police, road safety groups and members of the public, which began in June 2012.

Introducing the proposals, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said: " careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent peoples lives at risk. That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice, rather than needing to take every offender to court.

"We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences".

Some common "minor driving offences, including tailgating and "hogging" the middle lane have gone unpunished, due to the potential bureaucracy of pursuing offenders through the courts.

The new measures, set for July, will give police greater flexibility in dealing with minor driving offences and free up police time. Drivers will be abe to appeal any decisions. Spot fines for most careless driving offences - including not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone - will rise to £100, as well as a three point license endorsement. The fine for driving without insurance will double to £200.

"The new penalties are absolutely necessary to dea with drivers who put people's lives at risk and police will not hesitate to enforce then", said Suzette Davenport, of the Association of Chief Police Officers. "Most drivers are law-abiding, but soe are still not getting the message. We said we would get tough on those who make our roads dangerous and that is what we have done."

The news coincides with the Ministry of Justices decision to set up special courts to deal with minor motoring offences,which often take longer to process through magistrates' courts than major offences.


171,000 : Annual number of drivers fined for using a mobile whilst at the wheel.

0.6 : Percentage of drivers who declared a drink / drug driving conviction on their insurance application last year.

1901 : Number of people killed on UK roads in 2011.

7499 ; Number of people killed on UK roads in 1970.

91 : Percentage of UK drivers who currently have no points on their licence.

43 : Percentage of UK motorists who think drivers should be re-tested after age of 65.

63 : Percentage of UK motorists who believe a total ban on drink driving would reduce accidents.

(7th September 2013)



(BBC News, dated 5th August 2013)

Full article :

A service accused of helping distribute child abuse images on a hidden part of the internet has been compromised.

Sites using service provider Freedom Hosting to deliver their material have had code added to their pages, which could be used to reveal the identities of people visiting them.

Freedom Hosting delivered sites via Tor, a network designed to keep net activity anonymous.

The news has led some to claim that Tor no longer offers a "safe option".

"This challenges the assumption people have made that Tor is a simple way of maintaining your anonymity online," Alan Woodward, chief technology officer at security advisors Charteris, told the BBC.

"The bottom line is that is not guaranteed even if you think you are taking the right steps to hide your identity. This is the first time we've seen somebody looking to unmask people rather than just security researchers discussing the possibility."

Mr Woodward added that the way the added code had been designed suggested a US law enforcement agency was behind the breach.

Tor users expressed mixed feelings about the news.

"This exploit targets kiddie porn viewers only. If that's not you, you have nothing to worry about," suggested one.

An "exploit" refers to software that makes programs, websites and other code do something they were not originally designed to do.

But another said: "This week it's child porn, next week it may be a whistle-blower or an activist."

Irish arrest
News of the breach came shortly after the Irish Times reported that a 28-year-old Dublin-based man had been arrested and accused by the FBI of being "the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet".

It said that Eric Eoin Marques faces allegations that he had aided and abetted a conspiracy to advertise material showing the abuse of prepubescent children.

The paper reported that the US authorities are seeking his extradition on four charges.

It said the judge in the case ruled that while Mr Marques was entitled to the presumption of innocence, he should remain in custody pending a further hearing because he posed a flight risk.

A spokesman for the FBI told the BBC: "An individual has been arrested in Ireland as part of an ongoing criminal investigation in the United States. Because this is matter is ongoing, longstanding Department of Justice Policy prohibits us from discussing this matter further."

Tor basics

Invented by the US Naval Research Laboratory to help people use the web without being traced, Tor (The Onion Router) aids anonymity in two ways.

First, it can be used to browse the world wide web anonymously. It does this by routing traffic through many separate encrypted layers to hide the data identifiers that prove useful in police investigations.

Second, there are hidden sites on Tor that use the .onion domain suffix. These are effectively websites but, as they sit on Tor, are almost impervious to investigation.

Although many media reports about Tor have focused on how it is used to spread pornography and images of child abuse as well as to sell drugs via sites such as the Silk Road, it is also used for many legitimate means.

Journalists and whistle-blowers use it to communicate with each other, with the New Yorker magazine's Strongbox being one example of a "dead drop" service based on the technology.

It is also used by military and law enforcement officers to gather intelligence.

The project's developers also suggest it be used as a way for people wishing to research Aids, birth control or religion anonymously in areas where information on such topics is restricted.

Tor has been funded by, among others, the EFF, Google, Human Rights Watch and the US National Science Foundation.

(7th September 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 1st August 2013 author Martin Bentham)      [Option 1]

Barack Obama was today facing fresh anger over US spying.
New details emerged of a covert computer programme that allegedly lets intelligence officers search online chats and emails without authorisation.

National Security Agency documents obtained by The Guardian say the "XKeyscore" programme covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet" and is the most far-reaching tool the NSA has for obtaining intelligence information.

The newspaper's report also says that the technology can let American spies trawl the browsing history of millions of people and that they can access all data covered by the programme by filling in a simple on-screen form.

US officials, who have repeatedly insisted that all intelligence gathering is carried out within the law, were today understood to be denying that the programme is being used to conduct any unauthorised spying.

President Obama's administration has also stated that the personal data of American citizens is only targeted if a warrant is obtained under the country's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - and mounted a vigorous defence of US spying activities.

But today's disclosures will fuel criticism of the reach of NSA data gathering, with the leaked papers disclosing that in 2012 at least 41?billion records were collected and stored by the XKeyscore programme in a 30-day period.

The new disclosure follows yesterday's revelation in a US Congress hearing that the NSA is able to read and store the phone records of millions of Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.

The testimony revealed that after identifying a suspect the agency, using a system known as "hop" or "chain" analysis, looks at the person's phone records and all the people he calls, followed by everyone those people call - and so on in a spiral.

The effect means millions of records can soon be accessed.

NSA deputy director John Inglis said officials "try to be judicious" about conducting the analysis but both Democrat and Republican politicians have been expressing increased concern about the scale of the spying.

(7th September 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 1st July 2013 athor Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

Up to 1,000 people a month are victims of knife crime in London, according to alarming new statistics.
They show that around 400 a month are being injured in attacks - many of them seriously - while others are being threatened. In the first four months of the year, 11 people were murdered in knife attacks. Four teenagers have been stabbed to death so far this year.

The statistics, obtained after a Freedom of Information request, reveal that there were 1,038 victims of knife crime in London in January, of which 410 were injured and four killed. The remainder were threatened with knives.

The figures for February show there was a total of 818 victims, in March there were 993, and in April there were 892 victims. The number injured in attacks reached a peak of 420 in April, the equivalent of 14 people a day.

In total for the first four months, 284 were seriously injured with knives, 413 suffered "moderate" injuries and 870 minor injuries.

The figures come as Mohamed Abdullahi, 20, was stabbed to death in Islington on Saturday in a suspected gang feud.

Lyn Costello, the founder of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: "Although we have seen less homicides through knife crime than in the same period of previous years, the figures for knife crime overall remain astoundingly high. We must continue to do all we can in order to reduce these numbers."

Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the founder of youth charity Kids Company, also said knife crime levels in London remained very high. "We do not see  any signs that the violence among young people on the street is going down.

"I expect the numbers of young people being injured is probably more than these figures show. Most young people do not turn up to medical services once they have been stabbed. Their anxiety is that police will be called and they will be identified."

She said her charity used metal detecting knife arches to stop young people bringing knives onto their premises but staff found they were hiding weapons outside. "Our staff do a trawl of places outside and we continue to pick up a lot of knives. On the last count we had five in one week."

Yard insiders say while the number of murders in London is falling, young people are still attacking each other with knives and guns.

Detectives say many lives are being saved because of the skill of surgeons and the speed of getting victims to hospital by ambulance and the London Air Ambulance.

Martin Griffiths, a consultant trauma surgeon from Barts Health NHS Trust, said survival rates of people injured in knife and other attacks had improved since a re-organisation of major trauma centres in London. "If we look at all assaults, including domestic violence, I think the numbers are the same if not more than before."

He said trusts such as Barts now had trauma centres with surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses who were all specialists in dealing with violent injury. 

Scotland Yard said knife crime in general is falling in London and the majority of incidents involved threats to use a knife.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the number of people in London injured as a result of knives fell 28% between April 2012 and March 2013.

He said: "We have continued to see reductions since April 2013, however, we are not complacent. We are continuing to invest more officers in proactively tackling those who use knives in London. "

(7th September 2013)





(London Evening Standard, dated 18th July 2013 author Joseph Watts)  [Option 1]

Hundreds of foreign criminals and suspected offenders have been deported as part of a Home Office crime crackdown in London.
Since the launch of Operation Nexus last September 700 rapists, burglars, thieves, fraudsters, gang members and other offenders have been removed.

The joint initiative between the Home Office and the Metropolitan police has proved so successful that ministers now want to roll it out across the country. A Home Office spokesman said: "By combining expertise and intelligence with the Met, we are speeding up the removal process and using the full force of immigration powers on those who seek to abuse the system, commit crime, and damage our communities."

Operation Nexus was set up after intelligence showed that 28 per cent of all those arrested for a criminal offence in London were foreign nationals.

It involves a 100-strong squad which targets foreign nationals either committing, or suspected of committing crime in the capital.

Meanwhile, teams of immigration officials have been posted to 21 custody suites in London, allowing them to run checks more easily on suspects who have been brought in. The spokesman added: "Foreign nationals who break our laws should be removed at the earliest opportunity and Operation Nexus is already proving a success with more than 700 foreign national offenders, including high-harm gang members, being removed from the UK to date."

Successes so far include the deportation of a 36-year-old Jamaican man from Lewisham who was charged with a series of sexual offences, including the 2011 gunpoint rape of a vulnerable woman, but never convicted.

The man with a history of domestic violence was forcibly removed from the UK using immigration legislation and is prohibited from returning for at least 10 years.

A 21-year-old Ghanaian national was removed after he was identified as a prominent member of a gang in Croydon. In another case a 21-year-old Albanian was removed the day after his arrest for affray.

Meanwhile, fingerprints and DNA evidence left at the scenes of unsolved crimes are for the first time being run against Home Office biometric data in an attempt to identify suspects.

(7th September 2013)




(BBC News, dated 17th June 2013 author Sam Judah)

Each photograph on the Missing Kids UK website suggests a uniquely haunting tale, but when viewed together a distinct pattern emerges that is impossible to ignore.

An overwhelming number of the young people are of east or south-east Asian descent, and on closer inspection most of those appear to be from just one country.

Of 113 children and young people on the list - which doesn't include short term cases, or those excluded for reasons of safety - almost a fifth have Vietnamese names, despite that nation's diaspora making up less than 0.1% of the British population.

Most are believed to have been trafficked into the UK by gangs, discovered by the police and taken into care.

The children are apparently not running away from their captors, but often back to them - fleeing foster families and care homes in an attempt to repay heavy debts, and protect their families from reprisals in Vietnam.

Van, a 15-year-old Vietnamese boy who appears on the site under a different name, was smuggled into the UK under a lorry and forced to work as a domestic servant for his traffickers. He was later put to work as a "gardener" in a number of cannabis factories across the country.

The story is a familiar one for Harry Shapiro of Drugscope, who says that Vietnamese gangs control a major part of the cannabis growing industry in the UK.

"It started with Vietnamese gangsters in Canada," he says. "They had no cultural link to cannabis, it just so happened that one group found a profitable niche and the business spread to the UK through the Vietnamese criminal community, probably around 2004."

Factories tend to be located in residential houses, as large numbers of small scale units help minimise the risk of detection. High-powered hydroponic lights and water filtration systems help speed the plants' growth, and young workers like Van are usually locked in from the outside.

Police seizures of cannabis plants are multiplying, up from around 3,000 in 2004 to over 16,000 in 2011. As Shapiro points out, however, part of that growth may be the result of enhanced surveillance.

The Association of Chief Police Officers refuses to comment on the ethnicity of those in charge of the factories, but Klara Skrivankova of Anti-Slavery International is confident of the trend.

"There are others involved - British and Chinese gangs - but they are predominantly Vietnamese and it's the same pattern across Europe," she says.

This helps to explain the growing number of children finding their way into the UK from the country. "Vietnamese gangs are targeting their own people. There is usually a correlation between the nationality of the victims and their traffickers," Skrivankova says.

Last year, 96 Vietnamese children were referred to the government's main trafficking agency, making it the highest ranked country of origin for suspected victims under the age of 18.

Van says he was regularly beaten in one of the factories, but managed to escape in early 2012. After walking for a full day he sought help in a local police station, where officers took his fingerprints and linked them to another factory. He was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis.

Criminal convictions for trafficked children are not uncommon in the UK, though a legal challenge is now being mounted to prevent them.

Parosha Chandran, a human rights barrister, is currently arguing one of three test cases at the Court of Appeal in an attempt to overturn the conviction of a Vietnamese boy prosecuted for cannabis farming.

"There needs to be a protection matrix for these children who have no one to protect them, not only from the hands of their traffickers but from the criminal justice system too," she says.

The case can only hope to solve one aspect of the problem, though. Whether convicted or not, the children are eventually placed into care, and from there a new set of difficulties begins.

Van managed to avoid prosecution and eventually moved in with a foster family. He appeared to be adjusting well to his new life, but a week later he left to attend an English lesson and never returned.

The authorities believe he may have been coerced to leave his foster carers by the same people who brought him into the country, and he has now been missing for over a year.

It is estimated that more than half of trafficked children taken into care in the UK disappear.

Chloe Setter, of Ecpat UK, a charity that works to protect the victims, explains the power that criminal networks wield over both children and their families.

Agents in Vietnam promise children work or education in Europe. "Sometimes parents remortgage or sell land off in order to send their children to the UK."

They arrive in the UK in debt to the tune of anything up to £15,000, with interest accruing on top. "Traffickers tell children that if they try to escape, they will hurt them or their families in Vietnam. It's a very real threat as the gangs know where the families are," she adds.

Liam Vernon, head of the government's UK Human Trafficking Centre says that sometimes police find the doors of cannabis factories unlocked, as the gangs know their victims will be too scared to run away.

Philip Ishola runs the Counter Human Trafficking Bureau, and has just returned from Vietnam with a particularly chilling insight into the reach of the network. "We know of at least two cases where families have been targeted," he says.

In one example, a child trafficked into the UK had been taken into care, but was concerned about her parents. "We engaged with people in Vietnam to see if they were OK, and though they hadn't been hurt, the family farm had been burned to the ground," he says.

Work to tackle the problem is under way. Officials from the UK Foreign Office accompanied Ishola on his recent trip to Vietnam, where the government is monitoring known trafficking routes out of the country.

In the UK, a range of charities are working alongside government departments to increase awareness of the phenomenon, which is by no means limited to Vietnam. There are calls for all known victims to be assigned a guardian, who would have a legal responsibility for their wellbeing.

"Not enough is being done," says Setter, for whom the pace of change is too slow. "Despite some good practice, we still see children going missing and being re-trafficked."

Vernon agrees that the issue is deep and complex, and doesn't think any one organisation has all the answers. "It's a long road," he says, "and we can't get there on our own."


In 2012 the UK National Referral Mechanism - a framework for identifying potential victims of human trafficking - received 371 referrals regarding minors.

The top five countries of origin were:

1.Vietnam - 96
2.Nigeria - 67
3.Albania - 25
4.UK - 22
5.China - 20

Source: Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)


- Call or text charity Missing People on 116 000 (it's free, 24 hour and confidential), or police.

- Give precise details of location, time, and date you see child - as well as descriptions of any other person (adult or child) that is with them.

- Do not approach child or attempt to "rescue" them, leave that to police.

- Remember that child could have been safely recovered since you saw child on website. Even if still missing, recovering a child needs professional expertise.

(7th September 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 11th June 2013 author Ross Lydall)    [Option 1]

Full article :

A startling difference in the risk of early death across London boroughs is revealed today.

Richmond is the capital's healthiest borough in terms of the four "major killers" - strokes and heart, lung and liver diseases - and the second best out of 150 in England.

But Tower Hamlets is the seventh worst in the country, while relatively affluent Hammersmith and Fulham is not far behind due to its high rates of liver disease.

"West is best" in terms of health and prosperity, with Hammersmith and Fulham the only west London borough in the capital's 10 worst performers.

The variations are revealed today in new "traffic light" ratings for each area from Public Health England on its Longer Lives website.

These are designed to allow easy comparison between similarly affluent or deprived areas and, with local councils now in charge of public health issues, ensure poor performers are forced to improve in tackling avoidable early deaths.

Across the country in 2011, one in three deaths were in people under 75. In Richmond in Yorkshire between 2009 and 2011 there were 202 premature deaths a year for every 100,000 residents, compared to 346 in Tower Hamlets and 455 in Manchester, England's worst area.

Harrow was the best borough in England for low cancer rates, while Bromley was best for low lung disease. Merton was the best in London and seventh best in England for low liver disease rates.

Besides Hammersmith and Fulham, the other nine London boroughs to receive a "red light" rating for premature deaths were: Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Newham, Islington, Lambeth, Hackney, Barking & Dagenham and Tower Hamlets.

The website calculated that Wokingham in Berkshire was England's healthiest area. It had a premature death rate of 200 per 100,000 population. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the variation in early deaths was "shocking". He said the release of the data was a vital tool in tackling smoking, drinking and obesity.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England's director for London region, said: "A person's likelihood of dying early varies widely between boroughs due to differences in risk factors such as being overweight, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, and these are linked to economic deprivation."

Further information

Public Health England - Longer lives website :

This website provides details of mortality in other parts of England.

(7th September 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 6th June 2013 author Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

Scotland Yard has identified more than 40 "predatory rapists" who are foreign nationals living in London.

Commander Steve Rodhouse said police were examining a range of tactics to target the 40 who were convicted of offences abroad.

They were identified by a new 100-strong squad launched to target foreign nationals committing crime in the capital.

A Jamaican national from Lewisham has now been deported after he was charged with a series of sexual offences but never convicted. He was arrested in 2011 over the gunpoint rape of a woman.

An inquiry by the Operation Nexus squad revealed that he had been charged with four other rapes in Britain but in each case had been acquitted.

Police discovered that he had carefully selected victims who were vulnerable because of their lifestyles and mental capacity.

Detectives worked with immigration officials to bring a case for the man to be deported on the grounds that he was a risk to the public.

The man was held under immigration powers in secure accommodation for 16 months while he appealed against deportation. He was finally removed last month.

Police say that around 28 per cent of everyone arrested in London is a foreign national, half of them from the European Union.

Police are submitting 30 to 50 cases a week to the UK Border Agency to either remove them from the country or restrict their movements.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said they were aiming to reach more than 100 cases a week to be submitted for removal.

The Met has won funding from the European Union to pay for a team of detectives and specialist officers from two EU countries. Up to 16 officers from Romania and Poland are expected to join the force to help gather intelligence on foreign criminals in London.

Commander Rodhouse said :" We are not targeting foreign nationals but we are targeting offenders who are foreign nationals. "Our work around foreign nationals adds to our intelligence on them and allows us to protect the people of London better".

(7th September 2013)



(Daily Mail, dated 10th June 2013 author Chris Greenwood)

ONLY one in every 15 people caught viewing paedophile images online is arrested, it emerged last night.

Child protection experts alerted police to 2,866 suspects last year but just 192 were detained.

The shocking figures sparked calls for more action to tackle a menace that chief constables apparently see as a low priority. The NSPCC said offenders should feel the 'full force of the law' because of the strong link between viewing vile images and attacks on children. In other developments:

David Cameron said he was 'sickened by the spread of child pornography' and it was time for firms such as Google to 'stop making excuses';

His adviser on childhood told the Mail that transmitting the vile images should be made a criminal offence;

The family of murder victim April Jones said web giants should fund the policing of the internet.

The arrest figures were released by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which is responsible for child safety on the internet.

It said some of its warnings, which were sent to forces in Britain and overseas, INTERNET firms could be taken to court if child pornography is linked to more cases of sex abuse and murder.

As David Cameron told Google and other web giants to do more to remove vile images, Claire Perry, his adviser on childhood, suggested failure to do so could lead to prosecution.

'There's an interesting question if we have any more tragedies and internet activity is involved, whether there could ever be a case brought against one of these companies,' she told the Mail.

'I don't think they want to get there, so they need to step up to their responsibilities.'

Research has suggested that more than half of those who view child abuse images go on to commit abuse themselves and concerns have also been raised over extremist material online in the wake of the Woolwich killing.

Mrs Perry, Conservative MP for Devizes, said the companies were 'starting to look culpable'.

'That is a very uncomfortable position for them to be in. If you are a trusted brand trying to provide family entertainment - Sky, for example - you don't want to be in that position,' she added.

As well as suggesting the families of victims of criminals influenced by child porn might take court action, she said the Government could examine making the transmission of such material - as well as making or possessing it - an offence.

Mr Cameron, Mrs Perry and Culture Secretary Maria Miller are to tell internet giants that 'enough is enough' at a summit in a week's time.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and other firms have been summoned to a Whitehall meeting where they will be told to consider urgent measures to limit access to harmful material.

Phone companies, including Vodafone and O2, are also being asked to attend the talks because of the amount of harmful material being downloaded on mobiles.

Government sources said they would include new filters to screen out 'offensive and unlawful' content, tighter controls on what is allowed on public wi-fi, and a new industry-wide protocol on how complaints are dealt with.

Ministers want warning screens to flash up telling people who attempt to access child porn sites which have been blocked that they risk breaking the law and losing their families and livelihoods.

The Prime Minister said: 'I am sickened by the proliferation of child pornography. It pollutes the internet, twists minds and is quite simply a danger to children.

'Internet companies and search engines make their living by trawling and categorising the web. So I call on them to use their extraordinary technical abilities to do more to root out these disgusting images.

'That is why the Government I lead is convening a roundtable of the major internet companies, and demanding that more is done.

'There are encouraging signs that the industry is willing to step up, increasing funding and technical support for organisations combating child sexual abuse imagery online. But I want more action.

'The time for excuses and blame is over - we must all work together. The safety of our children is at stake.'

Mrs Perry claimed web firms themselves identified only around 5 per cent of illegal material which is then blocked.

'I find that astonishing,' she said. 'Some 1.5million people see child abuse images by accident and only 40,000 report them.

'Child porn is illegal but the system only works when consumers stumbling across it report it. Imagine if that was the case in other areas - like the drugs trade for example.

'If the police suddenly said it was up to us to go out and find bags of heroin before they did anything about it. People wouldn't find that remotely acceptable.

'The companies have got to do more, whether it's providing filters or looking more actively at content.'

The five main internet service providers - BT, Everything Everywhere, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media - have made a commitment to offer filters to protect all devices in the home and will make selecting internet controls an 'unavoidable step' for new customers.

If customers choose not to engage - for example, if they just repeatedly click ' yes' to get through set-up quickly - then that will lead to protections being switched on rather than off.

Harriet Harman, Labour's shadow culture secretary and deputy leader, said: ' The industry should be making safe search default, seeking robust age verification systems and splash page warnings, and we should legislate if progress is not made.'

A Google spokesman said: 'Google has a zero-tolerance policy on child sexual abuse content. We are members and joint funders of the Internet Watch Foundation - an independent body that searches the web for child abuse imagery and then sends us links, which we remove from our search index.

'Whenever we discover child abuse imagery we respond quickly to remove and report it to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.'

(7th September 2013)





London Evening Standard, dated 31st May 2013 author Nicholas Cecil)     [Option 1]

The "community trigger" scheme - which forces police to tackle anti-social behaviour - is being extended to MPs and councillors.

At present, only individuals and communities can enact the trigger, which requires police or council officers to investigate an incident reported by five people, or three complaints by the same person if no other action has been taken.

Home Secretary Theresa May said a pilot scheme found the trigger was seldom used because residents were reluctant or were being talked out of it by police or officials.

In a letter to Nick de Bois, the Conservative MP for Enfield North, Mrs May said: "This was originally intended to allow family members, friends or carers to use the trigger, but would apply equally to a councillor or MP."

The trials were carried out in Richmond, Brighton and Hove, Manchester, and West Lindsey and Boston, both in Lincolnshire.

The trigger was introduced after Fiona Pilkington, 38, killed herself and her 18-year-old disabled daughter Francecca in October 2007 after years of torment by youths in Barwell, Leicestershire.

Mrs Pilkington drove them to a lay-by and set the car on fire. An inquest found the family's appeals for help had been ignored.

(7th September 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 30th May 2013 author Nicholas Cecil)    [Option 1]

Squatters were today told the "house party is over" in other people's homes with nearly 40 court cases against them in four months.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling issued the warning as he published the first figures on legal action under the new offence of squatting in a residential property. It carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail or a fine of up to £5,000.

Squatters were taken to court in 38 cases between last September, when the offence came into force, and the end of the year.

Out of 32 squatters who were found or pleaded guilty at court, 25 were London cases. One of the 25 was jailed, 11 were fined, eight received conditional discharges, four received community sentences and two were otherwise dealt with.

The Metropolitan Police also intervened in nearly 100 squatting cases in London, between September 1 and May 19, to help homeowners get back their property.

Mr Grayling told The Standard: "Squatters should know that the house party is over in other people's homes. For too long squatters have played the justice system and caused homeowners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. This is no longer being tolerated."

A man seeking work in London was the first to be jailed for squatting under the new offence. Alex Haigh, 21, pleaded guilty last September and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after police found him at a property in Pimlico.

The tougher law came in amid growing fears over home invasions in London as organised eastern European gangs and other squatters targeted family properties and empty pubs.

Previously, homeowners often had to take costly legal action to reclaim possession of their property. MPs are now calling for the law to be extended to cover commercial properties.

Mr Grayling is consulting MPs on the scale of the problem in shops, pubs and other company premises before deciding whether to back such a move.

Haigh was arrested with other squatters at a housing association flat in Cumberland Street on September 2, the day after the new anti-squatting law came into force. Originally from Plymouth, he had come to London looking for a job and had worked for a time as an apprentice bricklayer.

(7th September 2013)




(London Evening Standard, dated 28th May 2013 author Martin Bentham)    [Option 1]

A new "rogues' gallery" of 145 of Britain's most serious criminals was unveiled today in a bid by law enforcement chiefs to warn the public of their "toxic" threat.
The offenders include drugs barons, people-traffickers, money-launderers and other key figures from organised crime gangs.

The danger they pose to society is so great that each is now subject to court orders imposing curbs on their activities that were once reserved only for terror suspects.

The restrictions - which can begin while the convict is behind bars and last for years after release - include travel bans, limits on car use and a prohibition on associating with other known criminals.

Many of the offenders are also required to report all their financial dealings and tell law enforcement officers their mobile phone number so their contacts can be monitored.

Breaches are punished with additional prison terms. The extent of the powers is so great that one freed crime boss was recently sent back to jail simply for being spotted in a queue at a London petrol station in the wrong car.

Unveiling the list today, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which obtained the court orders, said it aims to alert the public to the action being taken, and to warn other criminals that mixing with those on the list will place them under scrutiny, too.

Mark Blackwell, head of the agency's "Centurion" unit, which carries out lifetime monitoring of serious offenders, said: "These court orders are our weapon of choice.  They are very powerful and criminals hate them because they don't like the attention it brings. They know that if they have one of these orders that they are going to be very closely monitored."

Mr Blackwell said several high-profile criminals, including the London crime boss Terry Adams and the "dark market" fraudster Darren Molloy-Herat, are among those who have received extra jail terms for breaching orders.

He said investigations into breaches have also uncovered further crimes and led to the jailing of other offenders caught because of the scrutiny applied to those subject to the court orders.

He added: "These criminals are toxic. The message we send out is that if you mix with them you are taking a very big risk. We will be watching them and so we will be watching you, too."

Today's list updates an earlier list published two years ago after pressure from the Evening Standard for greater openness about the curbs imposed on offenders. It covers serious criminals subject to three types of court order that impose additional restrictions on their conduct on top of a jail sentence.

The most far-reaching of the curbs is known as a serious crime prevention order and can be used to impose an almost unlimited range of restrictions. These include limits on holding cash, restrictions on which vehicles the offender can drive, and bans on possessing "cutting agents" or other equipment used to make or supply drugs.

Criminals subject to the orders, which became available under the Serious Crime Act of 2007, can also be compelled to tell police who they intend to meet or contact, banned from meeting others and required to provide details of any premises that they use.

Earlier legislation also allows the imposition of financial reporting orders, under which offenders can be required to disclose details of their financial activities for up to 15 years, and travel restriction orders, which either bar offenders from going abroad or require them to notify police when they do so.

The introduction of all three types of court order was prompted by concern that many of the UK's most serious organised criminals continue offending while in jail and after their release.

Major offenders facing such curbs include "pizza people-smuggler" Abdul Sakhizada, who was jailed for nine years at Kingston crown court in 2009 for trafficking more than 100 young Afghans into Britain. The men were forced to work in pizza takeaways in Croydon and other parts of southern England to pay off their debts.

Sakhizada is now subject to a serious crime prevention order which restricts his travel, use of premises and vehicles and possession of cash. The restrictions, which will last for several years after his release from prison, also ban him from mixing with named individuals and limit his use of money transfers.

Money-launderer Ussama El-Kurd, whose bureau in Notting Hill helped "clean" cash worth an estimated £170 million for drug dealers, protection racketeers and other underworld bosses, is also subject to a serious crime prevention order. It requires him to notify the authorities of any new businesses and any income he receives for five years after his scheduled release in 2022. He will also face restrictions on his bank accounts and possession of cash and be banned from involvement with money transfer firms.

Such orders play a valuable and growing role in tackling organised crime, said Mr Blackwell. He urged the public to contact the authorities if they become aware of suspicious behaviour by any of those named in today's list.

"We are very interested in hearing anything people can tell us about offenders who have one of these orders, as breaches are often an indicator of further criminal activity," he said.

The first list of offenders subject to the orders contained 68 names and was published by the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2011 after the Evening Standard published an article criticising a previous policy under which the agency refused to "name and shame" the criminals concerned because of legal advice that it would breach their human rights.

Our report led to a reassessment of the policy and the adoption of a more aggressive interpretation of the law that allowed details of offenders and their orders to be published.

View the full list of offenders at Anyone with information about those named should ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

(14th August 2013)



(LBC, dated 22nd May 2013)   [Option 1]

Food outlets in parts of a London borough have the worst hygiene standards out of more than 2,000 postcodes, according to a Which? investigation.

 Bexley in south east London had six of the 10 worst postcodes studied, with the worst postcode, DA7, having nearly half of its eateries inspected (45%) rated as lower than "generally satisfactory", the watchdog found.
In contrast, none of the food outlets inspected in Birmingham's B35 area received a score below "generally satisfactory".
Which? looked at Food Standards Agency hygiene ratings in postcodes across England, Northern Ireland and Wales from January 2011 to March this year, finding wide variations between different areas and high street chains.
It found 18% of La Tasca outlets inspected had a rating of less than "generally satisfactory", while 13% of Little Chefs inspected had low ratings.
Three in 10 Chicken Cottage outlets (29%) and a quarter (26%) of Dixy Chicken takeaway shops inspected were rated below "generally satisfactory".
A number of convenience store chains also had around a fifth of their outlets inspected rated less than "generally satisfactory", including Best-In and Best-One (22%), Costcutter (21%), Premier (21%) and Londis (20%).
But some major chains had no poor scores recorded at all, including Carluccio's, Eat, Marriot Hotels, Premier Inn and Zizzi.
A survey to accompany the study found that 75% of consumers would not eat at a food outlet that received a hygiene rating below generally satisfactory.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Our investigation shows that food hygiene is an unacceptable postcode lottery.
"Diners shouldn't be taking a risk with their health simply by choosing the wrong area in which to eat out.
"We want everywhere that serves food to the public to display their hygiene score prominently so people can make an informed choice."
Which? surveyed 2,000 members between March 28 and 31 for its investigation.

(14th August 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 21st May 2013 author Nicholas Cecil)   [Option 1]

Nearly one in four burglars charged in London are walking free from court, official figures reveal today.
The capital has the worst burglary conviction rate in England, at just 76 per cent in 2012/13.

In all other regions it was at least 83 per cent, with the highest in the Eastern area of nearly 89 per cent.

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry warned the "safety and security" of the capital was at stake with the CPS in London "bumping along the bottom".

Prosecutors in the capital also had the lowest conviction rate for offences against the person, just 66 per cent, drug offences, 92.7 per cent, and joint worst for fraud, 81.6 per cent.

Some defendants will be found not guilty so prosecutors would not expect a 100 per cent success rate.

But poor preparation, management and presentation are being blamed for other cases failing.

Ms Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, said: "CPS London should be a flagship team, not bumping along the bottom."

Prosecutors in London have to deal with a huge caseload, a transient population, as well as severe budget and job cuts.

John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, said CPS managers in the capital needed to make better use of limited resources.

"We would like to see these improvements as soon as possible not just for the courts but particularly for the victims and witnesses," he added.

The conviction rate in London for all cases was 80.5 per cent, lagging behind even the second worse area, Wessex, with 84.4 per cent.

The rape conviction rate in London was 55 per cent, the lowest in the country, as it was for domestic violence at 62 per cent.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, higlighted a "real determination" over the last two years to improve performance.

"While eight out of 10 cases in the capital end in conviction, performance in CPS London has not been as good as it should or indeed can be," she said.

"In the last four months, improvement has increased with more guilty pleas and higher conviction rates in both the Magistrates' and Crown Courts, and at a faster pace than at any time over the last year," she said.

Three years ago, the CPS Inspectorate, warned of "disappointing and worrying" failings at the London CPS that should have been addressed following previous critical reports in 2005 and 2007.

She said the service was "on track" to rival the best in the country. The number of London offices has now been cut from more than 40 to focus on three main centres and specialist teams deal with particular offences.

A scheme is also encourages early guilty pleas.

(14th August 2013)



(BBC News, dated 9th May 2013)

Police have made a number of arrests in the first operation of its kind to tackle suspected fraudulent pension liberation schemes.

The City of London Police raided a call centre, seizing computers and documents in the operation.

Arrests were also made in Scotland and Cheshire.

The Pensions Regulator warned about pension liberation schemes when it launched an awareness campaign in February.

Depending on how it is structured, pension liberation is not necessarily illegal.

Police say that it starts to become illegal if there is evidence of members being misled about the possible tax consequences involved.

Spam texts
Pension liberation schemes encourage people to access their pension savings before the age of 55, but tax charges and fees often slash the eventual payout.

An estimated £400m has been released in these schemes.

Introducers to the schemes, or advisers, use text messages, cold calls, or website promotions to encourage people to access their "frozen" pension.

They might suggest that people take a loan from the scheme provider, secured on their pension funds. Alternatively, the money might be transferred from the pension scheme into risky, unregulated investments often based overseas, the regulator said.

The scheme operators take a fee of 10% to 20% of the amount transferred.

More significantly, pension saving is tax privileged, under the proviso that the funds are not touched until the saver reaches the age of 55 at least.

By drawing on these funds early, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will take up to 55% of the funds.

The Information Commissioner's Office, which regulates marketing calls and text messages, has seen reports of spam text messages related to reclaiming pensions more than triple in the last six months.

It estimates that one in eight spam messages sent in March related to pensions. The office has seen a similar spike in cold calls relating to pensions.

In the first major police investigation into suspected fraud in this sector, police arrested three men in London. Two men were arrested in Ayr and Glasgow, and further arrests were made in Cheshire. This has formed part of a wider operation by police, regulators and the UK tax authority into the pension liberation activities.

Commander Steve Head, from the City of London Police, said: "People should think long and hard before releasing pension funds early and anyone who is cold called or text messaged with this or any other type of investment opportunity should put the phone down and not reply to the message."

Police are urging anyone who wishes to report a pension liberation scheme to contact Action Fraud.

Information Commissioners website :

Action Fraud website :

(14th August 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 29th April 2013 author Mark Blunden)   [Option 1]

Police have uncovered one of London's biggest hauls of stolen bicycles hidden in a house.
Officers who raided the property in Clapton after a tip-off found about 250 bikes, frames and parts in the yard and crammed into five rooms inside.

The house is thought to have acted as a hub where thieves could bring stolen bicycles to be "fenced". Hackney police believe an underworld workshop there specialised in "cut-and-shuts" made from several bike parts and with serial numbers removed. Two men, aged 42 and 55, were arrested on suspicion of theft, handling stolen goods and possession of Class B drugs.

Hackney had the second highest rate of bike thefts in London last year, after Westminster, with 1,557 cycles stolen.

Sergeant Louise Gill has arranged a series of open days at Hackney police station to trace bike owners. The next is on Wednesday from midday until 8pm. Cyclists must bring a proof of purchase and an identifying photograph, and call 020 8721 2836 beforehand to book an officer for the viewing.

(14th August 2013)



(BBC News, dated 30th April 2013 author Dave Lee)

Full article :

News organisations including the BBC have been warned by Twitter to tighten security in the wake of several high-profile hacks.

The Guardian became the latest publication to be hit by a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army.

A previous attack on the Associated Press caused stocks to dip.

Security experts have said Twitter itself needs to take more action to ensure its users are protected.

An email sent by Twitter to news organisations on Monday urged them to take a close look at their internal measures for dealing with social media.

Advice included making sure passwords were more than 20 characters long and made up of random strings of letters and numbers.

The social network also advised having just "one computer to use for Twitter".

"This helps keep your Twitter password from being spread around," the site added.

"Don't use this computer to read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware infection."

Security researcher Rik Ferguson, from TrendMicro, told the BBC this particular piece of advice was somewhat unworkable.

"The point of Twitter is that it's instant, and you can react instantly.

"If you have to run back to the office to get to a particular computer to use Twitter, that's obviously going to impact upon its use."

Souped-up security
Twitter also encouraged organisations to have a closer relationship with the site to ensure account details are kept up to date.

"Help us protect you," the company said. "We're working to make sure we have the most updated information on our partners' accounts.

"Please send us a complete list of all accounts affiliated with your organisation, so that we can help keep them protected."

Beyond advice to external organisations, there is increasing pressure on Twitter to bolster its own security.

Specifically, there have been calls from security professionals for two-factor authentication.

This would require two steps, the entry of a password as well as another action.

On Facebook, for example, two-factor authentication is triggered when users try to log in in an unexpected way, such as from a computer in a different country.

A report in technology magazine Wired last week suggested Twitter had begun trialling two-factor technology - but this is yet to be confirmed by the company.

Mr Ferguson noted that as Twitter remained a free service supported by advertising, two-factor authentication could prove costly.

He suggested one way to raise funds for enhanced security would be to charge major users to become "verified" - a status currently given to accounts which Twitter has checked are genuine.

"One thing Twitter should be looking at now is for any account which is verified to have a two factor log-in process," he told the BBC.

"If you make a nominal fee for verifying accounts - they can make sure that the accounts are protected from not only malware-based attacks, but also that staff are more protected from phishing."

White House blast
The Syrian Electronic Army's typical tactics to date have included sending "phishing" emails to glean log-in information from unsuspecting victims.

Once access to an account had been gained, the SEA would then begin to post tweets - in some cases mimicking the style of the victim.

This technique was most damaging in the case of the Associated Press. When the news agency's main account - @AP - was breached, the SEA posted that US president Barack Obama had been injured in a blast at the White House.

It was of course false, and swiftly corrected by other organisations - and later by AP itself - but not before $136bn (£88bn) was temporarily wiped off the New York Stock Exchange.

US financial authorities are to investigate the incident to "make sure that nothing nefarious in markets took place", according to the New York Post.

Meanwhile, the SEA - which appears to support the Assad regime - has vowed to continue its attacks on media organisations.

An anonymous user believed to be working for the group told Vice magazine: "They already started suspending us from the internet by closing our accounts, our pages and suspending our domain names, but they failed and they will keep failing.

"We will not stop or despair. If they close a Twitter account, we will open a new one; if they close a Facebook page, we will create another one; if they suspend our domain names, we will buy new ones."

Who is the Syrian Electronic Army?

The group of online hackers and activists claim to be supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and seek to counter what it calls "fabricated news" on Syria broadcast by Arab and Western media.

Background :

(14th August 2013)



(BBC News, dated 30th April 2013)

More than 10,000 serious violent crimes were dealt with informally last year, despite guidelines to the contrary.

Police used "community resolutions", which can include an apology or compensation to the victim, instead of prosecutions and cautions.

The Association of Chief Police Officers says resolutions should only be used for low-level crime.

The data came from 33 police forces in England and Wales which responded to a Freedom of Information request.

It was analysed by the House of Commons library after being obtained by the Labour Party.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said police were increasingly being encouraged to deal with minor incidents informally to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system.

As part of this approach, known as a community resolution - or restorative justice - the offender apologises to the victim, pays compensation or repairs any damage caused and is given advice about his or her behaviour.

Unlike a caution, a community resolution does not lead to a criminal record.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) advises in guidelines that community resolutions should be used for "less serious" offences which may include "minor assaults without injury".

But last year a community resolution was applied in 10,160 incidents of "serious violence" - about 12 times the figure for five years ago, the figures obtained by Labour show.

Incidents classed as serious violence include:

- Inflicting GBH without intent
- Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
- Malicious wounding
- Wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm
- Use of substance or object to endanger life
- Grievous bodily harm

A Home Office spokesman said it was the responsibility of chief constables to ensure community resolutions were used appropriately.

"Through crime maps and police and crime commissioners, the public now have the means to hold them to account," he added.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the figures were "extremely serious".

There had been "a massive increase in the number of serious and violent crimes dealt with just by community resolution ever since the police cuts started - breaking all the expert guidance and promises from ministers", she said.

"Offenders who admit to serious and violent crimes - including knife crime, domestic violence and serious assault - are increasingly being let off with no criminal record, no justice and not even a caution.

"That's bad for justice, bad for victims and goes against all the evidence."

Ministers had "allowed this to happen," she said.

Acpo's Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said guidelines were in place to help forces decide where the use of community resolutions might be appropriate.

"But in every case, this decision will be victim-led and above all reflect their views and wishes," he said.

"At times it may be necessary, and appropriate, to use such informal resolutions to deal with more serious cases.

"Going through a restorative justice meeting has also been proven to have more impact on an offender than a prison sentence or a court punishment alone, as they see the consequences of their actions and so want to make changes in their future behaviour."

The Restorative Justice Council - "the national voice for restorative practice" - said it should be "available for all victims of crime who want it, subject to a risk assessment by a trained restorative justice professional".

"When offered alongside the right sentence for the offender, restorative justice can meet the needs of victims of the most serious crimes," director Lizzie Nelson said.

(14th August 2013)



(BBC News, dated 27th April 2013)

Illegal unlicensed tattoo parlours are putting customers at risk from HIV and hepatitis, council bosses in England and Wales have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said such operators were more likely to use substandard equipment and conduct inadequate sterilisation techniques.

They were also less likely to check the person's age or medical history.

The LGA said unregulated tattooists were working in homes, garden sheds or pubs and clubs.

'Unscrupulous bid'
The organisation said people were being lured away from reputable establishments by cheap deals - but there was an increased danger of contracting serious skin disorders, hepatitis or HIV.

Mehboob Khan, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "Unlicensed tattooists and parlours continue to operate across the country in an unscrupulous bid to cash in on the growing popularity of body art.

"People looking for a cheap tattoo by using them run the real danger of picking up a serious infection such as hepatitis or HIV or permanent scarring from botched procedures that are often delivered by these dangerous imposters."

Mr Khan said people who took the risk could end up with a "disfigurement or life-changing health condition".

He added: "Anyone who is thinking of having a tattoo should do their research and use a registered tattooist.

'Unrelenting crackdown'
"We would also encourage anyone who has visited an unregistered tattooist to seek medical advice from their GP and report the parlour to their local authority.

"Councils and the police will continue their unrelenting crackdown on these illegal parlours to continue shutting them down and bringing the perpetrators to justice."

Tattoo artist Kevin Paul told the BBC that anyone with tattoo equipment should have register with their local council and follow health and safety guidelines.

He said: "Some of the stories we've had are really bad. Like this girl - she had something on her foot.

"She thought it was a professional person who'd done it. He went far too deep. It swelled up and went really sore.

"She went back to get their advice after a week. They told her that that was normal. That's not normal. Two weeks down the line, it got that bad she could hardly walk on it. She went to hospital. They told her that if she'd have left it any longer she'd have lost her foot."

The LGA said there were more than 1,500 licensed tattoo parlours in the UK, with almost three in 10 people aged between 25 and 34 having at least one piece of the body art.

Unlicensed tattooists face a prison sentence of up to two years and unlimited fines, and local authorities can seize their equipment under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

(14th August 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 24th April 2013 author Martin Bentham)

London has the 10 most violent local authorities in Britain despite sharp falls in crime over the past decade, a new international study claimed today.
The UK Peace Index, which is calculated using rates of homicide, weapons crime and public disorder and other factors, says Lewisham is the most violent place to live in the country.

It comes bottom of the new peace league table with the study listing knife crime among the 13-24 age group, relatively high homicide rates and "staggering" public disorder levels as among the factors responsible.

Lambeth, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets fill the remaining places in the list of the five least peaceful local authorities, while even the best ranked London borough, Richmond-upon-Thames, stands only at 228 in the national league table.

The study, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace using 10 years of Home Office data, says that London's poor performance comes despite significant declines in crime in both the capital and the country as a whole over the past decade.

It says this fall means that Britain is now 11 per cent less violent than in 2002, but that the lack of peace still costs the country £124?billion a year - equivalent to an average of £4,700 per household. In a key finding that will intensify the debate about social divisions in the capital, the study concludes that "extreme poverty" is the factor most closely linked with violence.

Unveiling the study, Steve Killelea, the founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, said: "The findings of the UK Peace Index show that poverty and economic opportunity are significantly associated with peace.

"This suggests greater emphasis needs to be placed on programmes that tackle poverty and related issues, such as access to education and economic opportunity."

As well as homicide numbers, the other factors used to calculate the peace index are the rates of violent crime, weapons offences and public disorder, plus the number of police officers per 100,000 residents in each area.

The study, which ranks 343 local authorities nationwide, also claims that there is no link between police officer numbers and levels of violence.

Despite the poor performance of many of its boroughs, London escapes bottom place in a regional peace league table, finishing one place above Strathclyde, which is the worst ranked region.

Institute for Economics and Peace website :
Vision of Humanity (provides basis of analysed statistics) :

(14th August 2013)






(BBC News, dated 27th March 2013 author Dave Lee)

The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind in history.

A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm has sparked retaliation attacks affecting the wider internet.

Experts worry that the row could escalate to affect banking and email systems.

Five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks.

Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation that aims to help email providers filter out spam and other unwanted content.

To do this, the group maintains a number of blocklists - a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes.

Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers maintained by Cyberbunker, a Dutch web host that states it will host anything with the exception of child pornography or terrorism-related material.

Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a spokesman for Cyberbunker, said, in a message, that Spamhaus was abusing its position, and should not be allowed to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet".

Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in cooperation with "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the attack.

Cyberbunker has not responded to the BBC's request for comment.

'Immense job'
Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told the BBC the scale of the attack was unprecedented.

"We've been under this cyber-attack for well over a week.

"But we're up - they haven't been able to knock us down. Our engineers are doing an immense job in keeping it up - this sort of attack would take down pretty much anything else."

Mr Linford told the BBC that the attack was being investigated by five different national cyber-police-forces around the world.

He claimed he was unable to disclose more details because the forces were concerned that they too may suffer attacks on their own infrastructure.

The attackers have used a tactic known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which floods the intended target with large amounts of traffic in an attempt to render it unreachable.

In this case, Spamhaus's Domain Name System (DNS) servers were targeted - the infrastructure that joins domain names, such as, the website's numerical internet protocol address.

Mr Linford said the attack's power would be strong enough to take down government internet infrastructure.

"If you aimed this at Downing Street they would be down instantly," he said. "They would be completely off the internet."

He added: "These attacks are peaking at 300 Gbps (gigabits per second).

"Normally when there are attacks against major banks, we're talking about 50 Gbps"

Clogged-up motorway
The knock-on effect is hurting internet services globally, said Prof Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey.

"If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try and put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps," he told the BBC.

"With this attack, there's so much traffic it's clogging up the motorway itself."

Arbor Networks, a firm which specialises in protecting against DDoS attacks, also said it was the biggest such attack they had seen.

"The largest DDoS attack that we have witnessed prior to this was in 2010, which was 100 Gbps. Obviously the jump from 100 to 300 is pretty massive," said Dan Holden, the company's director of security research.

"There's certainly possibility for some collateral damage to other services along the way, depending on what that infrastructure looks like."

Spamhaus said it was able to cope as it has highly distributed infrastructure in a number of countries.

The group is supported by many of the world's largest internet companies who rely on it to filter unwanted material.

Mr Linford told the BBC that several companies, such as Google, had made their resources available to help "absorb all of this traffic".

The attacks typically happened in intermittent bursts of high activity.

"They are targeting every part of the internet infrastructure that they feel can be brought down," Mr Linford said.

"Spamhaus has more than 80 servers around the world. We've built the biggest DNS server around."


(BBC News, dated 26th April 2013)

Spanish police have arrested a Dutchman suspected of being behind one of the biggest ever web attacks.

The 35 year-old-man was detained in Barcelona following a request from the Dutch public prosecutor.

The attack bombarded the websites of anti-junk mail outfit Spamhaus with huge amounts of data in an attempt to knock them offline.

It also slowed data flows over closely linked networks and led to a massive police investigation.

The man arrested is believed to be Sven Kamphuis, the owner and manager of Dutch hosting firm Cyberbunker that has been implicated in the attack.

"Spamhaus is delighted at the news that an individual has been arrested and is grateful to the Dutch police for the resources they have made available and the way they have worked with us," said a Spamhaus spokesman.

He added: "Spamhaus remains concerned about the way network resources are being exploited as they were in this incident due to the failure of network providers to implement best practice in security."

Spamhaus servers were hit with a huge amount of data via an attack technique known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This attempts to overwhelm a web server by sending it many more requests for data than it can handle.

A typical DDoS attack employs about 50 gigabits of data every second (gbps). At its peak the attack on Spamhaus hit 300 gbps.

Cyberbunker is thought to have kicked off the attack in late March after Spamhaus blocked some servers hosted by the Dutch firm. Cyberbunker bills itself as a firm that will host anything but child pornography and terrorism material.

Non-profit Spamhaus maintains what are known as "block lists" which many organisations use to spot sources of spam and other junk mail to stop them clogging mail servers and inboxes with unwanted messages.

Mr Kamphuis took exception to Spamhaus's action saying in messages sent to the press that it had no right to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet".

In a statement, the Dutch public prosecutor said the Dutchman, who it only identifies as "SK", was "suspected of unprecedented heavy attacks" on Spamhaus. The house where SK was stayed was searched at the time of his arrest and Spanish police confiscated computers, phones and hard drives.

It said it expected SK to be transferred to the Netherlands very soon. A spokesman for the Dutch police said they were co-operating with British and American authorities on the investigation into the attack.

(14th August 2013)



At the begining of March 2013 my Mother died. It is a personal thing for myself and my family, I am no different from any other person anywhere in the World who loses a loved one. As the saying goes "there is one thing that you can gaurantee in life is death and taxes".
The only thing that is slightly different is that I can contribute to this website to aire my views and observations.

A while ago I came to the conclusion that in life we all serve someone, we all offer customer service. From the guys sweeping the streets making our lives free from rubbish to the Consultant in our local hospital dealing with peoples cancers everyday. We all serve, we all have an effect on other peoples lives one way or another. We can get a feel good factor from our efforts or don't give a damn.

So I am going to give a time lined overview of what I and my family have experienced over the last 4 weeks. I am not claiming to be the only person to have had these experiences, only that at this moment in time I can write them down.

- (DAY 1) I received a call from an A&E Doctor. He tells me that my Mother has had a fall near to her home. She has factured her skull, she is in a coma and is near to death. He has confered with Neurosurgeons and my Mother is beyond help. He recommends that I should come soon. Doctors are trained to help preserve life. Describing the prognosis of my Mothers life to me was probably hurting him.

- (DAY 1) When I arrive at the hospital the ward Sister takes me and my family into a quiet side room and shuts the door and asks us to have a seat. She asks us what we have been told so far, then calmly fills in the empty bits of our knowledge. I discover that my Mother may not see the night out. We are also asked about my Mother beliefs and we were told that a Minister would call to see her. The Sister then left us for a time to take all of the information in as a family, we were not rushed. We all then went to see Mum.
Nurses are trained to help preserve life. Describing the prognosis of my Mothers life to me was probably hurting her.

- (DAY 2) We visited Mum in hospital the next day and are told that she has been moved to another ward. The nursing staff in that ward were equally sympathetic. They again asked if we understood Mums condition before showing us into her room.
On leaving the ward for the last time, the Sister handed us a booklet published by the hospital which describes what we needed to do next. All of the admin stuff, for the closure of someones life.

Amongst other things the booklet described how to get the death certificate, and who to inform once the death certificate had been issued. To make the admin easier (according to the booklet) the hospital had a Bereavement Office for dealing with Death registration. The ward Sister and the booklet stated that we should call this office after 10am the day after the death. The booklet stated that I was oblidged by law to register the death within 5 days.

- (DAY 3) The next day we called the Bereavement Office, no answer at 10.15am, 10.30am, 10.45am, 11.00am etc, no answer on either of their lines. Then we tried via the hospital switchboard for another hour and still no answer via that method. After continually trying, we finally got an answer around 2pm. They stated that they were awaiting the Doctors report and to call the following morning...after 10am.

- (DAY 4) We called the Bereavement Office, several times during the day and no answer on either of their lines. Again we got an answer in the early afternoon. Their response, "we are manic at the moment", "we are still awaiting the Doctors report, call back Monday".

- (DAY 7 - Monday) We experienced the same problems trying to contact someone in the Bereavement Office, but were transfered by the switchboard to the general office where someone took a message at 11am.  At 1pm we called the local Town Hall Registration office, the phone was answered immediately and the Registers Clerk stated that they would get a message through to the Hospitals Bereavement Office. We waited for a return call, but by 3pm, nothing. So we called the hospitals Patient Liaison Service (PALS = Complaints department), where we got the response "what do you want me to do about it". My response was simple, could you ask the Bereavement Office to give me a call and update me on what is going on.
At 4pm I received a call from a disgruntled person from the Bereavement Office. She was more concerned that I had raised the issue with PALS than being concerned that I had not been able to register my Mothers death, something I was legally oblidged to do. Her comment "As YOUR Mother had an accident in the street she will need to undergoe a postmortem" and it will probably be 10 days before a certificate could be issued". In all honesty I was expecting the postmortem, but why couldn't they just call and let me know without all of the hassle ?

- (DAY 8) After the eventual response from the Bereavement Office the family thought that we should do something as far as planning the funeral was concerned. We went to our local Co- op funeral directors. We had'nt booked an appointment, but the Adviser (Amanda) was free so she took us into the "lounge". We started off by describing what had happened, that we did not know when the Postmortem would be carried out (possibly 10 days for the findings). Amanda was quite surprised by what had been described as she had not experienced anything like it in her catchment area or any of the hospitals that she had dealt with.
Amanda then offered us a coffee and took it upon herself to find out what was going on. She called the hospital mortuary, they did not know what was going on in relation to my Mother. She tried calling the Bereavement Office, surprise no answer. She then called the County Coroners Office (who were meant to be dealing with the postmortem) and they did not know of my Mothers case; and they were meant to have been informed inside 24hours of a persons unexplained death. Amanda asked the Coroners Office how they received notifications from hospitals etc; they said via e-mails or fax. Amanda then managed to contact the Bereavement Office, they said they could not notify the Coroners Office as their fax was not working. When questioned further, their fax was working, but not the auto-feed. Whilst Amanda was on the phone to the Bereavment Office she got them to fax the notification to the Coroners Office.
During this initial visit we were there for 2.5 hours, nearly 2 hours of which was Amanda trying to sort out the mess.

At a later date when we were finalising the funeral arrangements with Amanda, she told us that the paperwork was not faxed to the Coroners Office. In the end the County Coroner had to call the hospital to get things moving. Thank goodness for Amanda.

- (Day 9) When we arrived at my Mothers' house we observed a Black Mercedes Class A or B car drive onto the driveway of my Mothers house. On parking outside my Mothers house we observed a female get out of the car with a bundle of papers. When we asked the individual what she was doing she stated that she was " from ####" and flashed an ID card. We had never heard of #### before, and as far as I was aware she could easily have been representing an estate agent. She then asked "why was I asking" ? I stated that "I was asking as she was parked in my driveway and was trespassing".  I then stated that "my Mother had died a week earlier and why was she still making a home visit" ? She stated "that she had not been told, this was her first visit". I then asked for the phone number of her HQ as I wanted to complain. Her response was that she was "distressed", but did write out a phone number.
On entering my Mothers house we found two letters. One was dated 6th March 2013 from SEPT stating that she was going to be offered a home visit. The second letter was dated 13th March 2013 stating that she was going to have a home visit at 13.00 on 14th March 2013.

#### is a NHS Primary care trust for the geographical area where my Mother lived. When I telephoned the #### HQ's they stated that they did not know that my Mother had died. I asked, "don't you check the patients records before making appointments" ? Their response :"we don't have access to them, due to Data Privacy". In my mind how can the NHS function if medical records cannot be viewed from one department or Trust to the next.

My Mother was approaching 82 years old and was just starting to show signs of memory problems. The appointment was to assess her memory.
This was the first visit to my Mothers by this #### employee. Why did the #### employee automatically assume she could drive her car onto the driveway without asking permission of the patient first. In my mind this showed a lack of respect to a patient, any patient. Especially an elderly vulnerable one.

- (Day 10) I received a call from a Coroners Assistant (Linda). She stated that the Postmortem had been carried out and that my Mother had died of natural causes. Linda had spoken to me a couple of times over the previous couple of days. She kept me informed of what was going on and what I needed to do next. Thank goodness for Linda. Linda had arranged for the Bereavement Office to not be involved.

- (Day 12) The time had come to finally be able to register my Mothers death. It was carried out in the town registry office by the Registrar. He took time to explain the process, he was calm and efficient. He seemed like he cared. The funeral could not go ahead without a certificate from the Registrar.

During the last few weeks I have had dealings with several different organisations, both State and Commercial organisations over my Mothers affairs.

- She had 4 private pensions from previous employers; they all offered their condolence when they were informed of my Mothers death. All dealt with the admin efficiently.

- I spoke with the Department of Work and Pensions about her state pension; they offered their condolence when they were informed of my Mothers death and dealt with the admin efficiently.

- I informed Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Income Tax; they offered their condolence when they were informed of my Mothers death and dealt with the admin efficiently.

- I informed Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Probate Office; they offered their condolence when they were informed of my Mothers death and dealt with the admin efficiently. They even provided advice on how to reduce the numbers of forms to complete.

- I informed the local council of my Mothers death in respect of Council Tax; they offered their condolences and provided advice on future expenses.

- I informed my Mothers bank. They offered their condolence when they were informed of my Mothers death. They suggested I open up a bank account with their bank and then have my Mothers households paid from that account. The account was openned and the bills were transferred to the new account on the same day in under 15 minutes.

For people I don't know, I don't need their sympathy or empathy. I just want them to carry out their tasks that affect me calmly and efficiently. Not much to ask. Sadly two NHS Trusts within one geographic area failed these very basic requirements. Luckily I have friends and family to help me put things into perspective, but I know from previous experience from work that when a loved one dies it can leave those left behind "shell shocked" and lost. If they had to put up with what this Bereavment Office classes as "Customer Service" I hate to think what the outcome might be.

Yes I have complained; to stop this happening to others.


1931 - 2013

Rest in Peace  xxxx


(Daily Mail, dated 7th April 2013 author Tom Kelly)    [Option 1]

Fifty Iraqis drugged themselves to fake mental illness so they could carry out benefits fraud costing millions of pounds.

The group won asylum in Britain after saying they had depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome from the conflict in Iraq.

They then claimed disability payments plus housing benefits worth up to £2,000 a week in what was described as a 'wholesale onslaught on our welfare system'.

Many of the fraudsters have Dutch and Danish passports and were believed to be living and claiming further benefits in other EU countries while also letting out their taxpayer-funded homes in Britain.

 The scandal was exposed when Lindsey Hall, anti-fraud tsar at Westminster council in London, raised the alarm following a massive increase in housing benefit claims after Labour introduced the generous local housing allowance in 2008.
She said: 'The debate about the abuse of the welfare system is shrouded in political correctness. But this is not a witch-hunt, it's about criminality. 'These men went to extreme lengths to commit benefits fraud. In some cases they would take drugs to fake delirium to convince doctors they had a mental disability or post-traumatic stress.'To keep the ruse up they would continue to regularly pick up the eight or nine medical drugs prescribed by doctors to treat their non-existent syndrome, which they would then dump, adding an extra cost to the NHS.'Once you have secured disability living allowance on the basis of being a PTSD sufferer, the benefit can be granted indefinitely, so they could leave Britain and continue to receive the benefit.'
She said the scandal came to her attention after hard-working Iraqi residents in the area complained that fraud was out of control, but they were terrified of the repercussions of speaking out because of the criminal gang behind it.
Miss Hall added: 'In some of the blocks of flats we targeted, 95 per cent of the people living there were not the ones claiming housing benefit on the properties.'The costs from false housing benefits alone when we started investigating were more than £1milllion and historically could be far more than that.'At the same time we had to close down day care centres which played a vital role in the local  community because we couldn't afford the £100,000 a year to keep them open.'

The Serious Organised Crime Agency investigated and, with the Department for Work and Pensions, has issued a warning to councils about the scandal. SOCA said: 'In some instances corrupt professionals may have facilitated the criminal activity.'

 The fraudsters would often provide false proof of employment, sometimes naming the same fictitious organisation, to qualify for housing benefit on the grounds of low pay. They would then claim up to £2,000 a week in rent. 'Complicit property agents may have been used to facilitate claimants' access to high rental value properties,' SOCA added.

Illegal sub-letting of homes offered further gains and 'in several cases the original claimant was found to be no longer resident in the UK. 'Claimants who travelled overseas for sustained periods of over 12 weeks were still able to claim housing benefit and it is difficult for the Department for Work and Pensions to establish if a claimant is travelling into or out of the UK.'

(18th April 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 7th April 2013 author Robin Henry)   [Option 1]

A BRITISH internet bookmaker is believed to have paid up to £20,000 to online extortionists after it fell victim to a suspected state-sponsored attack by Iran involving Russian hackers.
A leading internet security consultant involved in the case said he suspected the firm's commercial ties with Israel may have provided the motive for the sophisticated assault.
The incident casts light on the secretive world of cyber-extortion, in which companies are quietly paying off international criminals to avoid their security flaws being made public and damaging their reputations as a result.
Paul Dwyer, a cybersecurity consultant with offices in Dublin and London, was called in by the firm last December after it found its online services were being bombarded with fraudulent transactions using hacked customer data.
Dwyer said he had found evidence to suggest that the attack originated in Iran and that hackers based in Russia had been recruited to carry it out.
As the firm struggled to cope with the sustained assault on its services, another gang of cybercriminals based in eastern Europe noticed its vulnerability and launched a separate attack.
The company, which Dwyer declined to identify, decided on a strategy of paying off the eastern European gang rather than trying to contain two simultaneous attacks.
"It was decided to pay them off - we're talking tens of thousands - to buy some time," explained Dwyer. "We'd agreed about 20 or 30 grand, I think, but then paid in increments of two or three thousand via Western Union, making up reasons for why the full payment was being delayed."
Dwyer would not divulge exactly what sum was paid but said it was increasingly common for companies to buy off the threat of being hacked. "I've seen five or six cases involving extortion in the last three months," he claimed.
Dwyer said the gambling industry was particularly vulnerable because hackers knew when the threat of a security breach would be of most concern to their victims, such as just before big sporting events when many bets are being made.
"In other instances the hackers have already breached their security and say they will release sensitive corporate information unless they are paid off," Dwyer said.
"Companies have to weigh up the risk. Ultimately the reputational damage of the hack could cost them a lot more than the price being asked for, which in my experience has never been more than about £50,000."
Dwyer said most of the threats leading to payouts were not reported to the police, because companies feared them becoming public.
Orla Cox, security operations manager for Symantec, a cybersecurity group, said firms should not negotiate with hackers. "We would advise any company if they are faced with these attacks never to pay out, because even if you do there's no guarantee they'll follow through."
Iran is suspected of escalating the number of attacks it is mounting on western computer systems in retaliation for the Stuxnet virus. This was a computer worm, believed to have been created by America and Israel, that attacked the country's nuclear programme.
Dwyer said his investigators had spotted "traces" of Iranian activity in a number of attacks but claimed that December's gambling hack was the first he had been able to link directly to Tehran. "In this case we were certain it was Iran," he said.
He added that his team had found "spikes" of activity on the company's servers before each attack, which correlated exactly with simultaneous spikes originating from servers in Iran.
"Iran was basically probing and intelligence-gathering prior to every attack to find weaknesses. The attack itself was then launched on these weak spots from Russian networks," he said.
Dan Holden, director of research at Arbour, a firm that maps cyberthreats to companies around the world, said: "There's evidence that China and Russia's governments may be involved in hacking originating from their countries, but there's a line those governments don't want to cross . . . However, Iran, and potentially North Korea too, don't mind crossing that line. Their attacks are about destroying data and taking down sites."

(18th April 2013)


(Metro, dated 11th April 2013 author Tariq Tahir)   [Option 1]

Burglaries leave their victims angry and upset - but the trauma usually subsides in the sure knowledge that beloved possessions will be replaced by insurance policies.
But one man is faced with a constant reminder of the day his laptop and tablet were stolen from his north London flat.
An app installed in his MacBook Pro has tracked the device down and is beaming images back to him of its new owner - in Iran.
Dom Del Torto can only watch as his device secretly captures a mystery woman going about her daily life 4,800km (3,000 miles) away in the country's capital Tehran.
'I was very surprised, to say the least, when I found out my laptop was in Iran,' said the 41-year-old designer and director.

The app, called Hidden, orders the laptop's built-in camera to take pictures of anyone using it.
The device was stolen in February but the software has just alerted Mr Del Torto that it is being used again. 'I was upset when I was burgled, knowing that someone has been on your property but they only took the two devices, so I suppose it could have been worse,' he said.
'But it's actually quite nice to be able to see what's happened to them. I'm also interested to know how it got from Holloway to Iran.'
Sadly, Mr Del Torto is powerless to recover the laptop. 'I told the Islington burglary squad but they laughed down the phone,' he said. 'Iran's also not the most attractive place to go to with a tenuous legal dispute.'
In the meantime, he's left in limbo as his laptop continues to snap life in Iran. 'It would be really nice if they could return it, although they're probably not aware it's stolen,' he added.

(18th April 2013)


(Metro, dated 11th April 2013 author Sam Smith)

When it comes to stashing valuables, you might do well to think outside the box - or the sock drawer, at any rate.
A little imagination could go a long way towards foiling burglars who, like the rest of us, tend to think of all the obvious places, new research has suggested.
The most popular 'secret' hiding place for valuables in the home is the sock drawer, according to a survey.
On average people estimate their home contents to be worth more than £38,000.

However, they are happily using predictable hiding places such as on top of the wardrobe, under the bed, or under the sink for items such as jewellery and other valuables.
A fifth of those questioned said they had been a victim of burglary.
Gareth Lane, head of home insurance at, which carried out the survey, explained: 'This research is proof we need to get smarter when protecting our possessions.
'Taking steps to prevent a burglary - from locking windows and doors to storing valuables in a secure safe - are just a few simple things that you can do to.
'However, on the unfortunate occasion where they do gain entrance we need to think really carefully on how we can prevent them from locating our favourite possessions.'

Top hiding places for valuables

in general, 51% of people keep valuables in vulnerable places.

In the sock drawer (Female : 15%   / Male : 11% )

Under the bed (Female : 9%  / Male : 9% )

On top of the wardrobe (Female : 8% / Male : 10% )

Under the sink (Female : 6%  / Male : 6% )

Bedside table (Female : 6%  / Male : 4% )

In the shed (Female : 2%  / Male : 3% )

Under the sofa (Female : 2%  / Male : 3% )

Piggy bank / money box (Female : 4%  / Male : 4% )

Other (Female : 48%  / Male : 50% )


15% bought a dog to safeguard their homes
39% of burglary victims bought extra window locks

uaware comment

Why not protect vulnerable windows, doors, garages, sheds by buying suitable locks before you get burgled !

Better still, ask your local Safe Neighbourhood Team for a free security survey of your home before you go out and buy locks !

You can get a safe that you can bolt to a wall from about £50. How much would your engagement ring cost to replace ?

(18th April 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 26th March 2013 author Justin Davenport)    [Option 1]

The latest street racket to hit London is exposed today.

Westminster council says Eastern European gangs are raking in hundreds of pounds a week from shoppers and tourists in the West End.

Fraudsters, mainly Romanian, are fooling people into handing over cash in exchange for worthless metal rings. In the case exposed today a council worker intervenes to prevent the trick going ahead.

Westminster council issued the CCTV images to warn tourists and Londoners about the swindle which they say is now an everyday occurrence in Oxford Street. It works by con artists dropping a gold coloured ring next to an unsuspecting passer-by. They then "spot" the ring and make a big show of picking it up, asking the "victim" if it is theirs.

When the person says no, the trickster offers to give it to them in exchange for anything up to £20.

In the CCTV a member of the fraud gang approaches a woman at a street crossing. But after she is shown the ring and engaged in conversation, a council worker, thought to be a street cleaner, steps in and stops the con.

One shop owner said he had seen at least 50 people in the space of a week who had been caught by the scam.

Mick Smith, the head of Westminster's neighbourhood crime reduction unit, said the fraudsters ask for cash usually claiming they need money for food.

He said: "Often they will point to a fake hallmark which we suspect they have put on themselves. Obviously when the person goes to get it valued they discover that it is worthless.

"The fact that one nearby jewellery shop alone says they have seen around 50 people in the space of a week gives you some idea as to the scale of it." The con is said to have originated in Paris.

(18th April 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 12th April 2013 author Nic Brunetti)   [Option 1]

Intelligence sharing with EU member states regarding potentially dangerous criminals will be undermined if the government does not opt back in to 13 "vital" European crime fighting measures, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has said.

The government is to opt out of 130 criminal justice and policing measures from the European Union in 2014 - most of which are deemed to be flawed or operationally irrelevant to the UK.

Due to the way the process works, the government can only opt out of all the measures en-mass and then try to rejoin those it still believes to be important at a later date.

But one of the measures encompasses a multi-million pound intelligence-sharing system that will provide real time alerts to UK police forces for the first time.

The latest version of the Schengen Information System, known as SIS II, is set to be implemented across member states and also allows forces to post their own alerts about wanted people, vehicles, missing persons, or objects that may require immediate attention. It includes warning markers if suspects, who may have fled abroad, are potentially armed, violent or dangerous.

Information provided by SIS II will be available via the Police National Computer (PNC) - and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said it was "vital we opt back into it". Previously UK forces had been working towards a 2014 deadline to connect to SIS II.

In its evidence to the House of Lords' EU Sub-Committee on Justice, ACPO said: "Millions of pounds have been spent preparing for the implementation of SIS in terms of staff committed and the IT infrastructure to support it.

"The benefits for UK policing and public safety are clear."

SIS II gives forces instant access to all European Arrest Warrants (EAW) issued - and the inclusion of the EAW in the SIS process allows a member state to make an instant arrest.

However, the EAW is also one of the measures to be pulled in the government's plans - meaning forces will have to wait much longer in the meantime for criminals to be extradited back to the UK if they are wanted.

ACPO said the EAW was the most important measure to be dropped - and means it will also be more difficult to extradite foreign criminals who have fled to the UK.

The evidence outlined that, in London alone, around 35 per cent of foreign nationals had convictions abroad and eight per cent were wanted in their home countries.

ACPO said 13 of the 130 measures, including the EAW and SIS, were "vital" to be opted back into. Another 16 "should" be opted back into - while 12 were "not in the interest of UK policing".

Two of the measures would affect the exchange of criminal records between the UK and member states. These ensure a conviction in one state is given the same weight in all - so a UK court could take the previous convictions of a foreigner into account when sentencing him for a crime committed in the UK.

Additionally, the measures allow for UK forces, by making the criminal records checks, to make more informed bail, charging and public safety decisions over foreign nationals, ACPO said.

Five measures affect the UK's membership of EU law enforcement agency, Europol, and the EU's judicial co-operation unit, Eurojust.

ACPO said: "Much of our international crime and transient criminals come from Europe and membership of these organisations makes it easier to target them.

"Removing ourselves from these measures and putting ourselves in the position of having to re-negotiate 26 treaties on each and every topic, would be a massive step back for UK policing that would benefit no one."

The Lisbon Treaty allows the government to opt-out if it wishes by May 2014, the same year the measures come under the control of the European Court of Justice.

The change will take place from December 2014 and the government can try and opt back in to individual measures at a later date - but this will be subject to the approval of the rest of the EU. There has also been no clear indication that the UK will be easily able to rejoin the measures it decides are crucial.

The Sub Committee is due to report back to the government on April 23 2013. It is likely to recommend which measures are essential for the UK to rejoin.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced the government's plans late in 2012 and former head of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) Bill Hughes said they risked "turning the UK into a safe haven for Europe's criminals".

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added: ""Cutting access for the British police to foreign citizens' criminal records or DNA evidence is a dangerous thing to do. So is ditching the European arrest warrant."

(18th April 2013)



(Police Oracle, dated 11th April 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)   [Option 1]

The knowledge bank of the Police Online Knowledge Area (POLKA) - detailing examples of best practice within forces as well as research on successful initiatives - is to become publically available on the internet.

As part of the College of Policing's ambition to publicise best practice initiatives and encourage the development of evidence based approaches to operational policing, part of the online knowledge bank will be more widely accessible in the future.

 Sensitive information around operational policing on the site, will remain restricted to officers with 'pnn' and government officials with 'gsi' email addresses.

Although concrete plans are yet to be drawn up, it is envisaged that users will still need to register to access information when the material is made public.

It is hoped the information will cover a wide spectrum of crime and justice topics, including "what works" and why.

Speaking to, Rachel Tuffin, Head of Research, Analysis and Information at the College, said people who were previously excluded, such as academics, would be able to access a wealth of information around what practices forces are employing - and engage with them online.

Recent changes to the website, which were implemented on April 10, include the introduction of a new navigation bar and community tabs to make the site easier to use.

While long-term plans for POLKA, including opening up the knowledge bank, are still being discussed, it is hoped the changes will allow easier access for everyone intrested in reducing crime with evidence on policies and practices already proven to work.

Speaking to delegates at the Evidence Based Policing conference in Cambridge Ms Tuffin said: "Using the best available evidence will improve decisions about processes and policing. This will encourage a systematic and repetitive process of improvement.

"You can then target resources based on proper analysis of what the problem is. There are some terrific opportunities to do studies on various measures including electronic GPS tagging to find out if they work.

"There are so many evidence gaps to fill in policing."

As previously reported, the College will host the new What Works Centre for Crime Reduction, which will work closely with academics and other partners to identify the best available evidence on approaches to crime reduction through comprehensive reviews of current practices.

It is the first time a centre has been created to disseminate research findings and use evidence to shape police policy.

Ms Tuffin added: "We need to focus on 'plain English dissemination'. We have had some quite reasonable evidence (in the past) but it was not easily accessible and we need to communicate it clearly."

(18th April 2013)





(Police Oracle, dated 26th March 2013 author Gary Mason)  [Option 1]

Smartphone and tablet technology has developed faster that the field of digital forensics, which develops techniques to extract data from the devices without compromising the evidence. So how will high-tech crime units and specialist service providers respond to the challenge?

Digital forensics company Cellebrite has commissioned a report that asked experts to look at the problems facing the digital forensics community in 2013. It identified themes including the growth of malware and its impact on digital forensics, the challenge presented by applications, and a shift away from logical to physical examination of devices during investigations.

Mobile phones now contain more probative evidence per byte of data than computer hard drives. This presents a serious challenge to law enforcement, according to Gary Kessler, professor at Australia's Edith Cowan University, and a member of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. "In many cases, a full physical extraction can take hours on a single phone," according to Kessler. "This will continue to be exacerbated as people purchase bigger smartphones; it takes less time to image a one-terabyte hard drive than it does to acquire a 60GB phone."

To meet these needs, mobile forensics tools must be well engineered, which raises their cost. "The Vermont ICAC spends more on one mobile workstation than on one computer workstation," Kessler notes. Yet budgets are not keeping pace - and the situation isn't expected to improve.

Thoroughness Questions

Paul Henry is principal at vNet Security and a SANS Institute senior instructor for network security, incident response and digital forensics. "One of the biggest problems in the legal system is that we are not being thorough enough," he says. "Physical analysis is much more thorough and can recover a much greater amount of data."

The report's authors also predict that this need for longer and more thorough physical examination will require more vendor-agnostic mobile forensics training courses and certifications.

John Carney is chief technology officer at Carney Forensics in the US, an attorney-at-law at Carney Law Office, a strategic evidence consultant and an expert witness. He says the data stored within mobile apps will become more relevant in forensic investigations during the next few years. But these aren't the only sources of evidence. "Whether it's mobile messaging apps, or personal navigation apps, or social media apps, or productivity apps, or mobile payment apps, or any other category, apps are going to dominate in 2013," says Carney. He adds that the greater sophistication of apps and mobile data will lead to increasing use of mobile evidence visualization in reporting and in the courtroom, especially timelines, maps, social graphs and activity analytics. This will help "to explain the people aspect of the evidence".

US police detective Cindy Murphy, from Madison, Wisconsin and part-time mobile device forensics instructor, points out that the more apps there are and the more data they contain, the more extensive file systems will become. This will lengthen forensic examinations. Some app data could be stored or encrypted in such a way that also renders it difficult to access.

This may affect investigators dealing with the buy-your-own-device trend, which got under way in 2012. "Corporate IT has not been able to stop the onslaught of consumer device use in the enterprise," said Carney. "As a result, keeping personal evidence separate from corporate evidence on the same mobile device is proving to be a real challenge."

"But now, with the increase of malware, especially on Android platforms, we have reached a tipping point. Even some consumers are beginning to understand the need for mobile security solutions and backup/sync solutions on their devices and I expect this trend to accelerate in 2013."

That's because consumers and their employers have begun to learn hard lessons about mobile apps' lack of security and privacy, especially as app developers rush to market without adequately testing their apps. "With mobile devices all over the enterprise, security is just not up to par and it needs to be paramount," says Henry.

Yet this push for security could also lead to more data encryption on smartphones, which will make forensic examinations more challenging.

Mobile Malware

The growing influence of malware will affect law enforcement investigations, says Det Murphy. "I anticipate that mobile malware will closely follow the path of 'traditional' non-mobile malware." She anticipates an increase in malware and spyware used in stalking, identity theft, and as a defence against crimes such as the possession of child abuse images.

According to Carney, most of the current mobile spyware detection tools are not forensically sound. "The non-forensic solutions available from [some] anti-virus, anti-spyware commercial vendors are not sufficient for our rigorous requirements to preserve mobile device evidence," he says.

An area where mobile malware could have a serious impact: mobile payment strategies. "[Mobile payments], the emerging use of mobile devices as currency substitutes for credit cards, has great potential to become a big, bold target for malware," said Carney. "Malware and other hacks used to perpetrate fraud in consumer commerce could seriously curtail the emerging role of mobile devices in making payments.

"Mobile device forensics may serve as an early and effective, if only reactive, deterrent from a criminal justice perspective," concludes Carney. "But, mobile app testing and validation, responsibly performed by app developers before launch, is clearly the more proactive approach for secure mobile payments."

(18th April 2013)





(BBC News, dated 13th April 2013)

Full article :

Hundreds of tonnes of household and business waste has been disguised as plastic-wrapped hay, straw or silage bales and dumped on farmland in Essex.

About 1,500 tonnes of waste was discovered on the land in Purfleet.

Three men from east London, aged 19, 23 and 47, have been arrested on suspicion of depositing and storing waste on an unpermitted site.

They were interviewed by Environment Agency officers and bailed until 10 July pending further inquiries.

The Environment Agency said it was concerned other sites in Essex may be targeted in a similar way.

The agency believes people are making huge sums of money by charging to take away household or business waste but then dumping it at remote rural locations.

'Massive and organised'
The rubbish is being compacted into plastic wrapping, capable of holding about half a tonne.

These are taken to fields or open land and built into haystack shapes.

Lesley Robertson, an Environment Agency environmental crime team leader, said the discovery of about 3,000 bales of rubbish, including food waste, plastic and cans, was thought to be linked to a highly-organised scam.

"This is an emerging trend but the first time evidence of the scam has been found in south Essex," she said.

"However, we are concerned that more bales may have been dumped elsewhere and we want to urge people to look out for these sites and report them to us.

"This is a form of fly-tipping but on a massive and organised scale. The bales are being stored to look like farmers' haystacks and the contents will only come to light if the bags tear."

Anyone finding a suspected dumping site is asked to call the Environment Agency or Crimestoppers.

The Environment Agency (illegal dumping of hazardous waste or large amounts of waste ) :
 0800 80 70 60

Crimestoppers : 0800 555 111

(18th April 2013)





(BBC News, dated 12th April 2013)

Full article with picture of text on mobile :

The parents of a 22-year-old driver killed after crashing while texting say they want his final unfinished message to be a warning to others.

Alexander Heit's family have released a photograph of the text which is cut off mid-sentence.

"Sounds good my man, seeya soon, ill tw ... ," it read.

Before he could send it, the University of Northern Colorado student, drifted into oncoming traffic before jerking the steering wheel and rolling his car.

He died shortly after the crash on 3 April.

His parents and police are hoping the photo of the text on his smartphone will remind people not to text and drive.

His mother does not want anyone else to die unnecessarily.

His Mothers words: "In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you".

Witnesses told police Alexander appeared to have his head down when he began to drift into the oncoming lane on outskirts of Greeley.

Police said he had a clean driving licence and was not speeding at the time.

uaware comment

Sadly these type of accidents don't just happen in the USA. Don't use your mobile and drive.

(18th April 2013)





(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd April 2013 author Joseph Watts)   [Option 1]

Many violent, repeat and sex offenders are escaping justice with just a warning, ministers admitted today as they launched a shake-up of the use of police cautions.
There were 205,700 cautions across England and Wales in the year ending September 2012, representing 26 per cent of more serious " indictable" offences handled by police and 17 per cent of more minor "summary" offences.

But among those resulting in a caution were 13,500 involving violence and 1,400 of a sexual nature.

Ministry of Justice figures showed that forces in London handed out fewer cautions proportionately than the national average - 24 per cent for indictable offences and 15 per cent for summary offences.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "While we should not remove police officer discretion, the public and victims have a right to expect that people who commit serious crimes should be brought before a court. I also have grave concerns on some recent cases where cautions were given to criminals who have committed multiple crimes.

"This review is a significant step to ensuring cautions are used correctly and in the interests of justice."

Ministers said their review would look at existing guidance and whether some offences were inappropriate for cautions. It would also explore why multiple cautions occurred, why different forces used them more or less and their impact on offenders.

Police minister Damian Green said in an interview: "There are a number of issues that we want to address.

"First is that people seem to be getting cautions for offences that are too serious and that many people receive multiple cautions before they finally get to court. I think most of us regard cautions as maybe a one-off. If it's a first offence, if it's a low-level offence, then that's fine - but not again and again."

The MoJ said the use of cautions had fallen. The exact number issued by each force in 2012 will be available next month. In 2011, however, the Met and City of London forces issued 41,680, of which 2,006 were for offences involving some sort of violence and 188 were for those of a sexual nature.

Nottinghamshire Chief Constable Chris Eyre, a spokesman for the top officers' professional body Acpo, said: "The police service will work with the MoJ to understand the way cautions are used by forces nationally. But we are equally keen to ensure that any review takes full account of local context.

"Rather than a simple review of statistics, it should examine the varied operational environment police officers work in and the complexity of the current caution regime."

(18th April 2013)






(BBC News, dated 4th April 2013)

The number of thefts carried out on bicycles has tripled in the past two years, BBC London has learned.

Metropolitan Police figures show there were 3,754 reported snatchings in the capital last year, up from 1,214 thefts in 2010.

The figures, released in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, relate to the number of reported crimes where the thief was riding a bicycle.

Det Ch Insp Bob Mahoney, head of the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, said the increased use of smartphones by pedestrians texting or using the internet while walking had made them targets for thieves able to escape quickly on bikes.

He said: "If somebody's on a pushbike riding down the pavement or the road and they see someone with a mobile phone or a handbag, they can quickly catch it and then get away very, very quickly.

Thefts on mopeds
"They can go down alleyways, they can go in between tower blocks, it's a very quick way of getting away from the scene of the crime."

The FOI also revealed the number of thefts carried out on mopeds rose by more than 80% in the second half of 2012, compared to the year before.

There were 394 reported crimes from July to the end of December, up from 213 thefts over that period in 2011.

Primary school teacher Emily Mottram, 28, had just stepped off a bus in Islington, north London, when her phone was snatched out of her hands by a cyclist riding on the pavement.

She said: "It was dark, there was no-one around that I knew. I just thought what would have happened if it had been even later and I wasn't stepping off a bus?"

Bike lanes
She said the incident had made her more aware of the threat.

"If someone's coming close to me I'm instantly quite nervous and I never used to really have that awareness.

"Maybe it's a good thing, I'm a lot more aware of what's going on around me but it's also made me feel concerned about having any possessions."

Rachel Griffin, director of the personal safety charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said the increased number of bike lanes alongside pavements had made people vulnerable to the threat of cycle thieves.

She said: "Increasingly footpaths are being shared with bike lanes, so it's important to be aware that when you're walking along, you might be on the pavement, but there could be a bicycle either coming up towards you or behind you.

"We advise people in a shared space with a bike lane to hold their valuables, or their bag in particular, on the opposite side to that which the bicycles are on".

National Mobile Phone Crime Unit :
Immobilise :

(18th April 2013)





(Extract from the Immobilise website)

Full article :

Thieves look to steal goods they believe can be removed and easily sold-on! Having gauged opinion from the police and members of the public items thieves are generally looking to steal are the following and should be given careful consideration!

Due to their popularity laptop and tablet PC (iPad) theft nowadays is a significant risk. They are portable and can be sold-on easily at a good price. There are several methods to protect your hardware that have been developed, including alarms, laptop locks, and visual deterrents such as stickers or labels. Importantly be sure to register the serial number of your device on Immobilise along with your postcode which can be simply written on the back with a UV pen and added to your account as an additional identifier. It is recommended that you configure a strong password and also perform a full disk encryption (FDE) to help protect sensitive data stored inside your laptop or tablet PC.

These days more and more people are sporting these expensive gadgets. Smart phones are also high on the list of things to steal amongst thieves, and many people find themselves victims of phone theft when taking their high-tech phones out with them. When registering your phone on Immobilise include the IMEI number which can be found easily by pressing the following keys on your handset: * # 0 6 #.
This is your phones unique number and the first thing police will check for when recovering property.

Do not leave cash or jewellery lying around the house making sure you keep valuables out of sight and where possible place them in a secure place such as a safe. The risk for burglars is increased when your possessions can link them to the scene of a crime, consider taking photos and engraving your jewellery when registering them on immobilise as this will also aid the police in identifying crime and returning property.

In the UK a bicycle is stolen approximately every minute of the day, perhaps worsened due to the increasing popularity of expensive models, which in turn can be sold far too easily via online auctions. Invest in a quality D-Lock and be sure to register your bicycles frame number along with any pictures you have on Immobilise.

Many new home cinema-type HD and 3D television sets are being stolen because they are valuable, light-weight and common-place in most UK homes. Register the serial number of your TV/DVD and audio equipment on Immobilise along with your postcode which can be easily written on the back with a UV pen. Visual deterrents such as stickers or labels will help to discourage theft by letting thieves know your possessions are traceable.

(18th April 2013)





(BBC News, dated 2nd April 2013 author Stephen Evans)

We are all eating much more fish than we used to - but are we eating the fish we think we are?

Official figures (United Nations - see link below)  show that global consumption of fish and seafood per person is rising steeply - but research also reveals that much of what gets sold turns out to be not as described on the packet.

Earlier this year Europe's horsemeat scandal revealed how processed meat can get mislabelled in a complicated supply chain. That appears to be an issue with fish, too.

On a large scale, cheap fish is being substituted for expensive fish without the consumer knowing. Moreover, new varieties, never before consumed, are being detected in fish dishes.

Take a British national dish, for example: fish and chips. It is often thought to be the epitome of Britishness - "as British as fish and chips", the saying goes.

But scientific testing reveals that the traditional cod or haddock and chips is often something else entirely. Research reveals that 7% of cod and haddock - the deep-fried staples of British fish and chips - actually turn out to be cheaper fish substituted to cut costs.

In the Republic of Ireland, a similar study of samples bought in Dublin restaurants, shops and supermarkets revealed that a quarter of products labelled as cod or haddock were in fact completely different species.

In the United States, a study showed that 25% of the fish served in restaurants in New York were not what they were said to be on the menu.

And in Europe, about a quarter to a third of fish products tested turned out to be not what was described on the packet or menu.

New Species

The global industry transports large amounts of frozen fish around the world in containers, with China producing much of it. This means, for example, that one of the biggest points of entry for fish into the European Union is not a port at all - no wharves or boats or even water. It is Frankfurt airport.

Samples here and elsewhere across Europe are tested at the big Eurofins laboratory in Hamburg. Its Director of Scientific Development, Dr Bert Popping, said that tests were turning up types of fish which had never been in the food chain before.

"The authorities at the airport in Frankfurt have found some new species - species which have not been caught previously; fish species which have not previously entered the food chain; which have not previously been commercialised," he said.

So researchers believe that there is large-scale deception going on when it comes to fish - cheap is being substituted for expensive, so deceiving the consumer and bumping up the profits of the deceiver.

Dr Stefano Mariani, a biologist at the University of Salford in the north of England, did one of the studies. He said: "Consumers should be able to go to a shop and know they are eating what they paid for."

His findings in Britain and Ireland were that cod was being substituted with cheaper fish like pollock and Vietnamese pangasius, which is farmed in estuaries in South-East Asia.

Ecological risk

Nobody claimed there was a health risk - just that people were being deceived when they bought what they thought was an expensive fish. The lobbying group Oceana, which campaigns for tighter controls on fishing, said the industry was "murky and complex".

One of its scientists, Kimberly Warner, told the BBC that mislabelling of fish and seafood mattered not only because of the deception of consumers, but also because threatened fish, in overfished parts of the ocean, could be sold as unthreatened, abundant varieties.

"If you are going to pay for a wild seafood product, and you want to choose that seafood carefully for your health or for conservation concerns, you will not have that opportunity if you are just being served anything which the industry wants to serve up to you," she said.

The scientists who have studied the matter believe that mislabelling of fish is too widespread to be just an accident. They suspect fraud.

Dr Mariani noticed, for example, that the mislabelling in Britain and Ireland seemed to be concentrated in a few fish producers.

"We noted that there were some suppliers that were consistently handling fish that was proven to be mislabelled, which suggests that a lot of mislabelling occurs before the fish gets delivered to the supermarket," he said.

He wants tougher regulation and more effective labelling, so that fish can be sourced and traced.

Traceability question
He is joined in that by some of the reputable sellers of fish. Mark Drummond is the vice-president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, the trade association for Britain's fish-and-chip shops. He also owns a busy fish-and-chip shop in the district of Idle in Bradford, Yorkshire.

His shop bustles with customers, even though he admits it isn't the cheapest in the area. On the wall behind the chip pans and sizzling haddock, there are signs saying when the fish was caught and by what ship.

"I think it would help everyone if every fish consignment had a label saying exactly what it was. The pubs or cafe or restaurant could pass that information on to their customers," Mr Drummond said.

He says the problem with mislabelling happens more with "wet fish" - fish which is not fully deep-frozen but which is only kept cold on ice.

The fish he uses, for example, is frozen at sea and labelled immediately.

"It's produced on factory trawlers by Icelanders or Faroese or Russians. It's all frozen on the boat within an hour-and-a-half of coming out of the water, and it's labelled where it was caught, the date it was caught, what the species is, so I always know exactly what I've got.

"If you're just buying wet fish and it just comes in an unlabelled polystyrene, insulated box, that's when it becomes more difficult to be absolutely sure that you're getting what you're supposed to be getting."

Just how fresh?
He adds that fish frozen immediately at sea is fresher than so-called fresh fish. The reasoning is that fish landed on the dockside and then chilled for transportation may have spent some days in that state before reaching the consumer.

"If I didn't use frozen fish here in West Yorkshire", he said, "it would have been brought in probably from Aberdeen.

"The boats sail out for a couple of days, fish for a couple of days, sail back for a couple of days. [The fish] can be five days old when it lands in Aberdeen and another day being transported to West Yorkshire.

"A day or two in the shop and it can be seven or eight days [old] when it's used. There's nothing wrong with that when it's been packed in ice. It's not off, but our fish is frozen within an hour-and-a-half of coming out of the water and we use it on the day when we defrost it."

Either way, he wants more accurate labelling to protect the consumer, but also the reputable restaurant which does not cut its costs through deception.

This global industry is a fishy business - but better labelling, he feels, might help it become less so.

United Nations (Food and Agriculture Organisation - Fisheries) :

uaware comment

There are not many fish and chip shops that don't show a sign that they are members of the "National Federation of Fish Friers". There are not many fish and chip shops around the UK who have not won some form of award (or come second) from the "National Federation of Fish Friers".

I feel lucky to live within a reasonable travelling distance of really good fish and chip shop (Georges, Southbury Road, Enfield). I am not a member of their family and I don't own shares ! The thing is, this shop has got me to recognise what cooked genuine cod actually looks like. It has large white flakes of firm meat.

There is another fish and chip shop near Portsmouth; Ma Kellys. They again serve a nice cod and chip meal.

Then there is Platters in Plymouth; they serve the catch of the day. Not necessarily cod, but they tell you what the fish is when you order. It is then your choice.

I regularly travel all over the country and this a sad idictment of our national dish (even if did originate in France ).

The worst fish and chips I have encountered from a whole town is Southend on Sea. From a restuarant beneath the Pavilion Theatre serving frozen breaded fish for fresh. To fish and chip shops amongst the amusement arcades who cannot cook fish properly and leave it soaking in stale oil. Then there are the blatant fish fraudsters, selling fish as if it were cod, but comes no where near the description already mentioned (more cream to light brown meat).

What are my credentials for making these accusations against this town. I have been visiting Southend for over 50 years, even lived there for a time. 50 years ago there used to be a Fish and Chip shop in someones front room in Shoebury (Suburb of Southend). He had a small professional fat fryer near his front window from where he served. He served the meal in a newspaper and it was a feast. Not the rubbish mainly served up now.

I am all for purchasing fish for consumption from sustainable sources as recommended by the plethora of celebrity chefs. But like the meat scandal, I want to know what I am eating and I don't want to be ripped off buying an inferior product.

(18th April 2013)






(The Independent, dated 26th March 2013 author Paul Peachy)    [Option 1]

Thousands of people with minor convictions dating back years are to have their records cleared in a major law change after judges declared the current system breached their human rights, the Government said today.

The overhaul follows a ruling by three judges in January who said that people forced to declare cautions from childhood were being unfairly prevented from working with children.

The challenge was brought by three people including a 21-year-old who struggled to get a part-time job at a football club because of two warnings he received from police over two stolen bicycles when he was aged 11.

Another woman said that she had been unable to get a job in the care sector after a check revealed a caution after she had walked out of Superdrug without paying for a packet of false nails nearly a decade earlier.

The changes will directly affect thousands who apply for jobs each year that require criminal records checks including teachers and doctors. Under the current system, records checks must include information on all convictions and cautions including those deemed to have been spent.

The rights group Liberty said the changes were sensible and progressive. "For too long irrelevant and unreliable information provided under the criminal record system has blighted people's lives," said Corinna Ferguson of Liberty.

Serious violent and sexual offences, crimes with jail terms and some other offences would remain on the checking procedure, the Home Office said.


(extract Metro, dated 26th March 2013 author Tariq Tahir)

Full article :

Last year more than 4million people applied for a criminal records check.
Under the Home Office plans, convictions resulting in a non-custodial sentence will be removed from record checks after 11 years for adults and five and a half years for young offenders.
Cautions will be filtered from record checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service, previously the Criminal Records Bureau, after six years for adults and two years for young offenders.
All serious violent and sexual offences and those with a jail sentence will continue to be disclosed.
The case that prompted the change in the law was brought by civil liberties campaigners Liberty and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Liberty legal officer Corinna Ferguson said: 'For too long, irrelevant and unreliable information provided under the criminal record system has blighted people's lives.'
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, minister for criminal information, said: 'Criminal records checks are an important tool for employers to use in making informed safeguarding decisions.
'This new system of checks strikes a balance between ensuring that children and vulnerable groups are protected and avoiding intrusion into people's lives.'

(18th April 2013)




(Metro, dated 27th March 2013 author Hayden Smith)   [Option 1]

Burglars are using metal detectors to rob British Asian families of their gold in a series of 'highly organised' raids worth more than £1million.
The criminals have been striking while families are visiting their temple, snatching countless family heirlooms stashed in the houses.
One victim, Shakeel Ahmad, said he knew of at least six households which had been fleeced of their gold on his street alone.
'It seems too much of a coincidence for all of them not to be connected,' the 41-year-old hospital consultant said.
'I've lived in the area pretty much all my life and I've never known anything like it before.
'They knew exactly what they were looking for.
'They even emptied the kids' toy buckets out just to see whether we'd hidden any jewellery in there.'
Businessmen, restaurant owners and doctors top the list of targets but another of the victims in Cardiff said the thefts may have been insider jobs.
'Is there somebody in our own community doing this?' she said.
'They seem to be targeting the people that go to the temple. This is when the homes are burgled.'
The latest thefts in the Welsh capital follow a string of other burglaries across Britain, where the gold status symbols often worn by British Asians at ceremonies have been taken.
Earlier in the year, the Rashid family in Reading were robbed of £70,000 of gold by crooks looking to take advantage of the inflated price of the precious metal.

uaware comment

Rather than suggest that some criminal has a metal detector, it would be better to suggest that it is someone that has had free access to these victims homes and observed that jewellery was being stored within childrens toys ! The article also provides a very good example of how not to safely store jewellery and other valuable. Even a rudimentary safe will only cost around £50 and deter the majority of burgulars.

(18th April 2013)




(Daily Mail, dated 27th March 2013 author Ruth Lythe)   [Option 1]



WORRIED holidaymakers could be putting their spending money at risk by taking huge sums of cash to Europe.

Fears over the health of European banks are likely to cause British travellers to take larger amounts of cash than normal when they head abroad this Easter and summer.

They are concerned that a repeat of what has happened in Cyprus this month could leave them stranded overseas without money.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office told tourists visiting Cyprus to take euros with them because banks have been closed for days, cash machine withdrawals are limited to €100 a day and some have run dry.

But travelling with large sums of euros can pose its own problems, as insurers will cover losses for only a certain amount of cash.

Experts have urged travellers heading to Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Italy to check their insurance policies first.

Some policies will not cover any lost spending money. Others cover up to £150, but you'd have to pay a £100 excess.

With some policies, if your money goes missing while on a beach, you will be covered up to £50 a time. Travellers under 18 can claim only up to £25.

By contrast, better policies and typically more expensive cover would cover up to £500 cash with just a £50 excess. Some specialist policies may cover more - especially if you speak to your insurer beforehand or pay an extra premium.

It's vital to read your policy in full before you go and to contact your insurer if you are unsure of any part of it.

Before you submit a claim, most insurers will want you to show you had the cash in the first place, so keep the receipt from the bureau de change.

However, the independent complaints body, the Financial Ombudsman Service, warns that even this is not necessarily enough to prove to insurers that the cash was stolen. 'Some firms can be officious. Insurers can turn down claims because the money is locked in a suitcase and not in a safe,' says a spokesman.

'One complainant took the trouble of photographing their cash in the hotel safe as a precaution. However, their insurer still would not pay up when the cash was stolen because they could not prove the money in the picture belonged to them.

'And even if you have a receipt showing a withdrawal, it can be hard to prove you didn't spend it.'

You should always get a crime reference number from the local police if you've had cash stolen.

After a week of negotiations, Cyprus has secured a rescue deal to bail out its struggling banks. But it will see richer savers - those with more than €100,000 (£85,000) - lose vast sums. While the deal is being finalised, the banks remain shut, as they have been since March 15.

For travellers heading to Cyprus soon, taking a large supply of cash is the only real option.

Experts warn holidaymakers to expect problems using credit and debit cards, and also pre-paid cards - though it is still wise to take them.

Travellers' cheques are incredibly problematic. Avoid using these at all because you need a bank or bureau de change to exchange them.

Contact your car hire firm before you go away to make sure they are accepting card payments. So far there are no reports that car hire firms in Cyprus has stopped accepting credit cards.

'It's always good to take a mix of ways to pay for your holiday expenses,' says Bob Atkinson, of Travelsuper 'But if you take plastic, you may find restrictions. Bank transfers are frozen, so shops and services that rely on cash flow from credit card transactions may be insisting on cash.'

Visit for more information.

(18th April 2013)



(Action Fraud website)

Full acticle :

As part of a national call to action, entitled The Devil's in Their Details, Action Fraud has teamed up with industry bodies including Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), and regulators including the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to raise awareness amongst those at greatest risk of investment fraud.

Every year, £1.2 billion is lost to investment scams in the UK, with share sales, wine investments, land banking and carbon credits commonly used by fraudsters to target potential investors. Anyone can become a victim of investment fraud, but you can reduce your risk if you follow this advice:

• Never be rushed into an offer and always be on your guard against anyone trying to push you into a deal.
• If you get a call out of the blue, be wary; if in doubt don't be polite, just hang up.
• Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
• Always check the credentials of the company you're dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations at the FSA.

Financial Services Website :
Financial Serices - warnings webpage :
Action Fraud website :
Action Fraud - share fraud webpage :

(18th April 2013)


(BBC News, dated 25th March 2013)

The mayor of London's four-year policing plan has confirmed nearly half of the city's police station front counters will close.

The Police and Crime Plan says 63 of 136 front counters will close, with new "contact points" created instead.

The plan says 2,600 officers will be "redeployed" from back offices into neighbourhoods.

Critics say the restructuring will mean 17 boroughs will have fewer officers than in 2010.

###'Reconnecting with Londoners'
The plan for 2013-16 says changes to the Metropolitan police's estate - which has almost 500 buildings - will save £60m in running costs.

The plan notes the number of crimes reported at front counters has dropped by 100,000 since 2006/7, and the majority of people report crime over the phone.

Each borough will have a front counter open every day for 24 hours and 94 "contact points" will be open a minimum of three times a week.

Of the 63 front counters being closed, 34 of the buildings will be kept and 29 sold.

A further 15 police stations are said to be unsuitable in the long-term and may also be sold once alternatives can be provided, including Barking, Ealing, Chelsea, Tottenham and Chingford.

Under a new local policing model, safer neighbourhood teams will focus on clusters of wards, Local Police Areas.

Each ward will have its own dedicated police constable, but now only one dedicated police community support officer.

The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has been set priorities which it will be held to account on.

These are reducing key neighbourhood crimes (including burglary and vandalism) by 20%, cutting costs by 20% and boosting public confidence by 20%.

Deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, said despite having to find significant savings, the plan would "allow Londoners to reconnect with the Met, and the Met to reconnect with Londoners".

###'Extremely disingenuous'
Joanne McCartney, London Assembly police and crime spokeswoman for Labour, said the mayor's police cuts were "too far, too fast" and "hitting the frontline".

She said: "Londoners will lose nearly half of their police stations and, contrary to Boris's claim, 17 of London's 32 boroughs will see a reduction in the number of police officers they have.

"For Boris to continue claiming that every borough will see an increase is extremely disingenuous."

The report says that the October 2011 baseline numbers used in calculation differ from the "actual numbers" working on a borough at a given time for reasons including overlaps in new staff members arriving and those leaving.

Labour also criticised the lack of detail on contact points planned for civic buildings.

Developed by MOPAC, the plan, the first since the mayor gained power over policing, had an eight-week public consultation.

Highgate Safer Neighbourhoods Panel was among those concerned about changing neighbourhood policing.

Its response said the new Local Police Areas would "destroy the gains of the last six to seven years".

Safer Harrow was one group which was concerned that redeploying back office staff would have an impact on intelligence-led policing.


Full article :

London Police and Crime Plan :

Pdf document showing Police stations to close :

(18th April 2013)




(Police Oracle, dated 19th March 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)   [Option 1]

Cards that contain the smell of growing cannabis when scratched will be delivered to residents as part of a police and Crimestoppers campaign to crackdown on cultivation of the drug.

The scratch and sniff cards, which contain an element that replicates the smell of growing cannabis, aim to help residents recognise the distinctive smell of the plant - as figures show the number of cannabis factories in England and Wales have increased by 15 per cent in 2011/12.

Research by the UK National Problem Profile on commercial cannabis cultivation highlighted that the use of residential dwellings over multiple sites to grow the plants has increased while the use of commercial or industrial properties has reduced.

The cards will be sent to 13 areas of England where the number of cannabis factories have traditionally been the highest, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). These include West and South Yorkshire, London, Greater Manchester and Avon and Somerset.

West Yorkshire has been ranked the highest of all the areas where cannabis farms were identified by ACPO, with 1,800 farms found between 2010/2012. South Yorkshire was ranked second and London was the fourth highest.

Over the last two years police forces have seized more than one million cannabis plants, with an estimated value of more than £200million.

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Andy Bliss, ACPO lead for drugs, hoped that more intelligence on cannabis farms and growers will surface from residents to help officers continue to tackle the issue.

He said: "We know that many people don't realise that the empty, run down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm.

"It's not just the stereotype of the remote rural set or disused industrial estate unit.

"The Crimestoppers campaign will help members of the public to recognise the signs and smell of a cannabis farm."

The idea has already been implemented successfully in Holland, where more than 30,000 cards were recently sent out to track down the drug farms.

(22nd March 2013)

(Police Oracle, dated 15th March 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)   [Option 1]


A successful Integrated Offender Management (IOM) initiative in North Wales could help deliver a joined-up crime prevention approach across forces in Wales.

The 8Ways Change your Life initiative is the IOM approach of North Wales Police and aims to target the underlying issues affecting the force's most prolific offenders.

The initiative represents a collaborative approach by the force and Wales Probation, which uses other statutory and voluntary agencies to focus on an individual's offending behaviour using eight categories where help can be provided. These include accommodation, education, employment, children and families and tackling addiction problems.

Since the scheme was piloted in Conway and Denbighshire in April 2011, more than 90 offenders have been on the scheme. The latest figures from the force reveal that, if these individuals had been allowed to continue without any intervention from the scheme, there would have been 196 arrests from within the group between April 2011 and February 2013. In fact, there were only 55 arrests.

Similarly, without any help from the scheme there would have been 250 convictions. Just over 50 were recorded in the same period.

Spokesman for the initiative Sgt Jonny Hill said the figures spoke for themselves. He added: "Previously there was no real measurement of how successful these schemes have been.

"We are one of the only forces that have managed to measure the success of the initiative. It is all very well doing this work but people want to know if it works.

"These meaningful figures give us evidence and a proper measure."

Once an individual has been identified by the force as a prolific offender who has committed offences of acquisitive crime and received a custodial term of 12 months or less, they are offered a place on the programme. If accepted, their issues are assessed.

Officers then work with the individual and other agencies to prevent further offending.

The scheme, which is being rolled out across North Wales Police, has resulted in fewer crimes and a reduction in the overall cost of crime.

Advocating the approach of IOM, an approach which has been gaining national momentum following a pilot of five forces in 2008, Sgt Hill said investing police time into helping offenders was now a proven means of achieving crime reduction.

He added that, in Wales, all four forces were committed to drawing out examples of best practice to share - and may ultimately create a unified form of crime prevention delivery.

Sgt Hill said: "The four forces use best practice from each force because ultimately we want to work together on this."

Explaining how offenders were dealt with in the past he said: "Before the Police Service did not do much to help the offender.

"Prior to 8Ways we had one officer and one member of probation staff working with an individual which was not doing enough to tackle the issues which would result in re-offending.

"We needed to put more staff and dedicate more time to dealing with the issues which in turn would help us deal with problems more efficiently.

"This initiative has put IOM back on the map with intelligent processes to target the people who need our help." will be highlighting more examples of best practice in crime prevention and how forces have delivered their form of IOM in the future.

(22nd March 2013)


(BBC News, dated 15th March 2013)

About 50% of all junk mail on the net emerges from just 20 internet service providers (ISPs), a study has found.

The survey of more than 42,000 ISPs tried to map the net's "bad neighbourhoods" to help pinpoint sources of malicious mail.

The survey by a researcher in Holland found that, in many cases, ISPs specialise in particular threats such as spam and phishing.

Methods to thwart attacks and predict targets also emerged from the study.

The large-scale study was carried out to help fine-tune computer security tools that scrutinise the net addresses of email and other messages to help them work out if they are junk or legitimate. Such tools could make better choices if they were armed with historical information about the types of traffic that emerge from particular networks.

In his analysis Giovane Cesar Moreira Moura who studied at the University of Twente found that some networks could be classed as "bad neighbourhoods" because, just like in the real world, they were places where malicious activity was more likely.

Of the 42,201 ISPs studied about 50% of all junk mail, phishing attacks and other malicious messages came from just 20 networks, he found. Many of these networks were concentrated in India, Vietnam and Brazil. On the net's most crime-ridden network - Spectranet in Nigeria - 62% of all the addresses controlled by that ISP were seen to be sending out spam.

Networks involved in malicious activity also tended to specialise in one particular sort of malicious message or attack, he discovered. For instance, the majority of phishing attacks came from ISPs based in the US. By contrast, spammers tend to favour Asian ISPs. Indian ISP BSNL topped the list of spam sources in the study.

Analysis tools
Mr Moreira Moura pointed out that malicious traffic coming from one network did not reveal its ultimate source. Many cybercriminals route spam and other traffic through hijacked PCs or send it across compromised corporate networks that join the net via an ISP.

The data gathered for the study is helping to create analysis tools that will do a better job of assessing whether traffic coming from sources never seen before is good or bad. In the same way that people avoid walking through parts of towns and cities known to be dangerous, security tools can start to filter traffic from ISPs known as historical sources of malicious messages.

"If security engineers want to reduce the incidence of attacks on the internet, they should start by tackling networks where attacks are more frequently originated."

Article based on 245 page thesis:

(22nd March 2013)


(BBC News, dated 15th March 2013 author James Gallagher)

Younger members of the armed forces returning from duty are more likely to commit violent offences than the rest of the population, a study suggests.

Researchers analysed data from nearly 14,000 UK service personnel who had served in wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

They highlighted a particular issue in younger men and those who had combat roles or had a traumatic experience.

The results in the Lancet medical journal come 10 years after the start of the war in Iraq.

The Ministry of Defence, which funded the study, said it was committed to improving services and trying to break the stigma around mental health by getting people in the armed forces and veterans to talk about their problems.

The report showed that overall criminal activity was slightly lower in military personnel than in people of the same age in the wider population. Some 94% of men returning from combat zones will not offend.

However, the researchers found violent offending was higher within members of the armed services and there was a "stark" difference in men aged under 30.

Just over 20% of the 2,728 young men followed had committed a violent offence, compared with 6.7% of young men outside the military.

Most violent offences were assaults.

Being in the junior ranks, deployment in a combat role and experiencing traumatic events, such as being shot at, were all linked to an increased risk of violence when service personnel returned from duty.

'Choir boys'
Alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder were also closely associated with violent behaviour.

The researchers did adjust their analysis to account for the backgrounds of those studied - those with a greater tendency towards violence may be more inclined to choose combat roles.

Prof Simon Wessely, from King's College London, told the BBC: "Those who are in combat roles are themselves slightly different from those who are not.

"The military don't select chess-playing choir boys. They select people who often come from difficult and aggressive backgrounds and they're the ones who are most likely to end up in the parts of the military that do the actual fighting.

"The biggest single risk factor is those who previously had violent offending before they joined up, but there is still an impact of combat, mediated partly through excessive drinking and partly through developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health problems as a result of combat."

He added that the reluctance of young men to admit they may not be coping is the "biggest single obstacle" to tackling the problem.

'Body and mind'
Lewis McKay, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said his character changed from "laid-back" to "aggressive" after he returned from Afghanistan.

"Nothing will ever prepare you for what you physically see or physically do in Afghanistan... there is only so much that anyone's body and mind can take.

"My wife didn't exist to me... I felt a lot of anger towards her and I came very, very close to hitting her.

"Instead I was walking out the door and punching holes in doors and windows... I had flashbacks. A car door slam would be enough to make me drop to the ground."

The 26-year-old added that until soldiers receive help, problems such as PTSD will continue to manifest. He now works as a security guard at a BBC building.

Surgeon Capt John Sharpley, a Ministry of Defence mental healthcare expert, agreed that getting young soldiers to ask for help was a "major issue".

"Stigma is a really big problem. The study shows there is a link between mental health symptoms and violent offending.

"It is not possible to train yourself for something that is traumatic, which by definition is something outside one's experience.

"We do a lot [at the MoD], but we're always going to be in a situation when we need to do more."

A spokesman for the MoD said: "We are committed to supporting members of our armed forces, and their families, as they return to civilian life post-deployment.

"This report recognises that the vast majority of service personnel make this adjustment successfully and are not more likely to commit a violent offence post-deployment - there is only an increased risk of 2% when compared to the general population.

"However, any violent offence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by our armed forces."

The Royal British Legion said: "The vast majority of ex-service personnel go on to live successful and law-abiding lives. However, inevitably, and for a variety of reasons, a small number experience difficulties."

Analysis (BBC defence correspondent - Jonathan Beale)

Research into the effects of combat and deployment on the mental health of the military is still in its infancy. But there's already plenty of evidence to give cause for concern.

It's more obvious in the United States where rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, among those who've fought in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached as high as 15%.

There's also been a surge in suicides among American troops - reaching a rate of one a day in 2012.

Here in the UK the figures are much lower. Rates of PTSD have been reported at about 4%. But there's other research that suggests levels of alcohol misuse are higher in the military. And now this study by King's College London suggests higher rates of violent offending too.

As always with ongoing research, it's difficult to draw hard conclusions. But one thing is clear - the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be felt for many years to come.

uaware comment

If the Uk Government and society expects our Soldiers to go out and protect us at the risk of their own lives and well being; then society has an obligation to them. This does not mean that a charity supports them, it means that the State supports them. It means if a member of the Armed forces is physically injured they are given the best equipment available. If they are mentally troubled, they are consoled. If they are homeless, they are housed. Ensure that the frustrations that lead to violence are removed.

If research has now finally shown that there is a problem; fix it. Don't set up another Quango to discuss it further. The report identifies societies failure.

(22nd March 2013)



Whilst listening to LBC radio this morning (15th March 2013 @ 07.45) one of their reporters described the latest abduction attempt in London.  The reporter also mentioned other areas of London where attempts at child abduction had been made going back to May 2012 (see articles below). The reporter stated that the Met Police were to make an annoucement in the future on these abduction attempts.

(BBC News, dated 15th March 2013)

People have been asked to be vigilant after an attempt to abduct a nine-year-old in south-west London.

The incident took place at about 08:30 GMT on Thursday in St James Avenue, Hampton Hill, in the Richmond area.

Police said the girl was approached from behind, picked up from around the waist and carried off towards Park Road. But she managed to flee.

The suspect is believed to be a man who was wearing a grey hooded top, grey jogging bottoms and white trainers. He also had a grey plastic watch.

Patrols increased
The Metropolitan Police said the child, who kicked out at the suspect to free herself, was not physically hurt.

Ch Supt Clive Chalk, borough commander for Richmond, said: "Whilst we do not wish to cause alarm amongst those in the local area I would ask the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us.

"I understand that the community will be concerned about this recent incident and I want to reassure parents and carers that we are treating this extremely seriously."

Police patrols in some areas have been increased following the incident.


(LBC, dated 6th February 2013)

A nine-year-old girl was nearly abducted on her way to school in Sydenham

Parents in South-East London are being urged to be vigilant after the attempted abduction.

The suspect tried to get the schoolgirl into a large blue vehicle with a large scratch on the bonnet on Thorpewood Avenue yesterday at 8.30am as she made her way to Eliot Bank School.

The suspect is described as white, aged between 20 and 40 and wearing a green padded coat, blue jeans and black cap.

Shaun Kelly from the charity Action for Children has told LBC 97.3 young people must be aware of the dangers of going out alone.

He said: "Abduction of children is a rare thing, but obviously it's a thing that worries us all as parents. Be very clear about what they should do if someone they don't know approaches them." 

DCI Greg Pople of Lewisham Police said: "We do not wish to cause alarm amongst parents but we would ask them and their children to remain vigilant."We would equally encourage anyone to alert police immediately by calling 999 if they are approached."

Anyone with information can also contact Lewisham CID directly on 020 8284 8324; if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.


(LBC, dated 25th May 2012)

Met police say three reported incidents at schools in south west London including an attempted abduction are not linked.

Detectives were looking at a possible connection between two of the reports at different primary schools in Surbiton - four days apart - where children were approached but managed to get away but concluded it is "unlikely" that they were linked.

Officers want to hear from anyone who may have seen or comforted a child in distress at Knollmead Primary School on Monday morning at around 9.10am.

Anyone with information in relation is being asked to contact Kingston police on 07917 271 552. Alternatively call the non-emergency number 101 or 999 in an emergency, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Parents and members of the community in Kingston are being encouraged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity, particularly around schools.

(15th March 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 12th March 2013 authors Justin Davenport and Nick Hodgson)   [Option 1]

A man who lured two Nigerian girls from foster care in Sussex to sell them back into prostitution was part of a major gang which uses Heathrow airport as its transit point to smuggle children into Europe.
Security guard Odosa Usiobaifo, 36, from Enfield, was sentenced to 14 years after being found guilty at Isleworth crown court of conspiring to traffick for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The jury heard how the girl aged 14 and 15 had false passports showing they were adults when stopped by Border Force officers at Heathrow.

They were placed in local authority care but were later reported missing to Sussex police by their foster carers. Usiobaifo had made contact with them and collected them from a pre-arranged point before they were given false passports and tickets.

One girl was refused entry to Spain and returned to the UK and remains in the care. The other passed through and her fate is unknown. Senior investigating officer Jonathan Bush, from the UK Border Agency, said:  "This was a horrific case involving young girls plucked from care with the sole aim of prostitution."

(13th March 2013)


(Daily Mail, dated 11th March 2013 authors Jack Doyle and Eleanor Harding)    [Option 1]

Nearly 50 violent attackers are in line to be removed from the sex offenders' register, the Mail can reveal today.
Yesterday it emerged that a convicted paedophile had become the first to have his name taken off the list by exploiting a human rights ruling.
George St Angeli was jailed in the mid-1990s for interfering with two young girls and put on the register for life. But the decision means his name is removed permanently and he no longer has to tell police if he is living near a school, travelling overseas or has access to young children.
Police had rejected the application, saying they did not consider the 71-year-old to be safe and wanted him to remain under supervision.
But despite hearing details of St Angeli's crimes, a judge last week said he couldn't see 'any benefit' in St Angeli remaining on the register.
A Freedom of Information Act request by the Mail shows another 47 sex offenders have made similar requests to police forces.
They are entitled to do so under a human rights ruling in 2011 which said it was wrong to keep offenders on the register without any prospect of appeal.
The ruling sparked fury among children's groups.

The NSPCC said it feared the rights of convicted sex offenders were being put ahead of the need to protect children.
A spokesman told the Sun newspaper: 'Adults who seriously sexually abuse children should stay on the register for life as you can never be sure they will not commit further offences. We can only try to control and contain their behaviour.
'We will be monitoring the appeals process closely and will raise concerns if we believe the civil liberties of convicted sex offenders are being put ahead of the protection of children.'

Claude Knights, director of the charity Kidscape, said: 'This must not open the floodgates. The register does an important job and appeals to be removed should only be successful after very careful consideration. The safety of children is paramount.'

Tory MP Philip Davies said the ruling was 'ludicrous'. He added: 'The only thing a decision like this can do is put more people at risk. This sets a precedent for other cases. It opens the floodgates. I do not see any case where people should be removed from this register.'
St Angeli committed a string of sex offences against the young girls over a five-year period. He was jailed for five years in 1993 but released on parole in 1996.
Last year West Yorkshire Police rejected his application to have his name removed, but the married felon won his appeal at Leeds Magistrates' Court last week when District Judge Christopher Darnton overturned the ruling.
Andrew Garthwaite, representing the police, said: 'He exploited connections to commit very serious crimes against a girl who ultimately had her life destroyed.'

But Judge Darnton said: 'The order has now served its purpose and I cannot see any benefit in it remaining.' St Angeli said the ruling would 'give me the freedom to travel if I need to, to go on holiday with my wife'.

He added: 'It's a great weight off my shoulders.'

The register was drawn up to help officers track sex offenders after they are released from prison. Anyone jailed for two years must stay on the register for life.
But following the 2011 Supreme Court ruling, adult offenders can appeal for removal 15 years after they leave prison. Young offenders can appeal after eight years.
A Home Office spokesman said: 'Offenders who continue to pose a risk should remain subject to notification for life.'

(13th March 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 5th March 2013 author Pippa Crerar)   [Option 1]

London faces a major challenge to tackle female genital mutilation as communities cling even more tightly to cultural traditions than in Africa, a government minister warned today.
Lynne Featherstone said some of the "hardest followers" were among the African diaspora in the capital. It means the authorities face a particularly tough task to prevent thousands of London schoolgirls being sent abroad for the horrific procedure every year.

Ms Featherstone, the International Development minister, warned that efforts to curtail the practice could be undermined by British-based families sending girls home to be mutilated. In New York before a UN summit on the issue, she told the Evening Standard: "In the UK up to 20,000 girls are at risk every year. Clearly the majority are in London.

"The diaspora are perhaps the hardest followers of traditions because they're no longer in the 'mother country'. But the benefits of tackling FGM will be multifarious at home and abroad.

"It's hard to tackle it successfully in Africa if the diaspora keeps sending girls to be cut. We're hoping there will be quite a large conversion with what's going on at home."

The majority of cases of FGM are carried out in African and Middle Eastern communities with rates as high as 98 per cent in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Some countries, including Kenya and Senegal, have started trying to eradicate it.

David Cameron will announce later this week that tens of millions of pounds of Britain's foreign aid budget will be allocated to stopping FGM.

Ministers believe the best way to protect girls in Britain is to invest in educational schemes worldwide although money will also be set aside for working with UK communities. In a separate move, the Home Office is examining how to deport "cutters" who illegally mutilate girls here.

The Government has also issued guidelines for teachers, social workers and NHS staff while police are working at airports to prevent children being taken abroad.

Ms Featherstone, who believes FGM can be reduced by 30 per cent within five years and abolished as a cultural practice within a generation, admitted: "It's slow progress". She added: "As much as we want prosecutions, we're not going to put 20,000 parents in prison. We're much more focused on behaviour change."

FGM, estimated to affect 140 million women worldwide, is commonly carried out on girls aged between four and 15 and involves the surgical removal of some or all of the female genitalia, and in severe cases stitching up or narrowing the vagina. It can lead to infections and fatal haemorrhaging.

(13th March 2013)


(BBC News, dated 10th March 2013 author Michael Buchanan)

Britain's efforts to stop human trafficking are in a state of crisis and need a complete overhaul, a report from a think tank says.

The Centre for Social Justice says the problem in the UK is barely understood and is often a low priority for police.

It wants an anti-slavery commissioner established and the UK Border Agency to be stripped of powers to decide whether a person has been a trafficking victim.

The government says the current Home Office-led approach is working.

Seven government departments have some responsibility for dealing with human trafficking, but the report says this leads to confusion.

The CJS report called It Happens Here is due to be published on Monday and says there is a glaring lack of leadership on the issue and a shambolic misunderstanding of trafficking.

Researchers found from construction sites to brothels, large numbers of trafficked people were being exploited, but their fate never appeared in official statistics.

Agencies are accused of struggling to understand the scale of the problem.

In 2012, the UK Human Trafficking Centre said approximately 1,200 people were victims of human traffickers, a figure the CSJ says is virtually meaningless.

"From top to bottom, this thing is a catastrophic failure," says Christian Guy, head of the CSJ."Politically, I'm afraid ministers are clueless about the scale of British slavery."

Fear of violence
One man who is not is 26-year-old Mark Ovenden. He spent nine months being enslaved by his boss, first at various locations around southern England before being taken to Sweden, where he was eventually freed by police.

"I'd been down on my luck for quite some time," he told Radio 4's The World This Weekend programme.

"I was approached in the street one day by a guy. He asked me if I was looking for any work, told me he'd be able to pay me, give me somewhere to live, to feed me. So I agreed there and then to go with him."

During a two-month stay at one site, he worked 18 hours per day, six days per week, doing heavy manual labour. He was not paid a penny. "No-one ever spoke about money" on the site he says, and the constant threat of violence made him fearful. A sense of isolation and a growing dependence on his boss for shelter and a daily meal reduced his desire to escape."When you are deprived of money for a job, you become dependent on them for your food, your transport, for everything," says Mark. "A lot of the guys… were calling men half their age 'daddy' almost as though they'd been degraded over a period of years." He says he was unwilling to go to the police in the UK to report his plight as he did not think they would treat him sympathetically.  He may well be right, according to the CSJ report.

The report said there were some "impressive examples" of work by local police forces on trafficking, but said in many areas officers were "unaware of the issue, or treat it as a low strategic priority".

Its researchers say they found "unacceptable levels of ignorance" among police, social services and the UK Border Agency.

One serving officer is quoted in the report as saying "there is more incentive to investigate a shed burglar… than there is a human trafficker" as there is so little pressure on the police to deal with the issue.

'Disparate legislation'
The report also says the UK Border Agency should have its role in investigating allegations of human trafficking drastically reduced as it often treats people as potential illegal immigrants rather than victims of crime.

"There is an immigration aspect to the whole issue, but it is not the key thing," says Andrew Wallis, head of the anti-trafficking charity Unseen UK who chaired the group that investigated the issue.

"For us, the key thing is there is a crime that has taken place, we have a victim of crime so let's respond accordingly."

Most victims of trafficking in the UK come from abroad, with Eastern Europeans, Nigerians and Vietnamese figuring prominently.

Those who are rescued or free themselves often end up in safe houses run by the Salvation Army on behalf of the government.

The CSJ report highlights in particular the plight of British children.

In 2011, it says, almost half of UK citizens who were trafficked were girls trafficked for sexual exploitation.

It highlights the case of a school girl who, under the control of a group of young men, was raped by 90 men over the course of a single weekend.

The report's authors say the scale of the problem and the lack of understanding of the issue means that major changes are needed.

They are calling for creation of an anti-slavery commissioner, similar to the children's commissioner, to oversee and co-ordinate the country's response and the passing of a modern slavery act to tighten current disparate legislation.

The Home Office, which is responsible for co-ordinating the work of seven different government departments on human trafficking, has defended the current system. "The overall system we've set up is good," says the Immigration Minister Mark Harper. "We'll continue to improve over time. This is a crime that tends to be hidden and we want to be sure people are more aware of it and that people are more effective in dealing with the victims of it and more effective in locking up the people engaged in this abhorrent crime."

The Jess and Hannah story

The report highlights the case of two UK-born school girls it says were the "victims of modern slavery within the UK".

A group of young men met Jess and Hannah and began to flatter and treat them.

Before long, the girls were pressured and forced into performing sexual acts on the men and their older friends.

One weekend the girls were driven to a flat and told that they must have sex with whoever arrived at the property. Jess was menstruating and so was forced to sit outside the room but over the weekend Hannah was raped by 90 men.

Names have been changed. Case study submitted to the Centre for Social Justice by the UK Human Trafficking Centre.

Further information

unseen is a charity established to disrupt and challenge human trafficking :

Centre for Social Justice :

(13th March 2014)


(Police Oracle, dated 7th March 2013 author Jack Sommers)   [Option 1]

All guidance on investigations into the sexual abuse of children will be discarded and replaced to ensure the types of failures that allowed Jimmy Savile to continue offending are prevented in the future, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has announced.

In a re-think of how to approach these types of cases, ACPO and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer pledged a new "overarching and agreed approach" to the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences.

In a speech on March 6, Mr Starmer said the Criminal Justice System could "not afford another Savile moment in five or 10 years' time", adding that the new guidance would apply in all forces and be agreed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

He said the circumstances that made children vulnerable to abuse often also made them less credible witnesses in the eyes of investigators, adding: "If the criteria for testing their credibility match the characteristics that make them vulnerable in the first place, we have a fundamental flaw in the approach to credibility."

ACPO said the new guidance would address specific issues, including in what circumstances victims should be notified of other complaints made against the same suspect.

Surrey Police raised this issue in a recent retrospective report on its 2007 investigation into Jimmy Savile's abuse of teenage girls.

The force said it might have given the victims confidence to go to court if they had known they would not have to face Savile in court alone, though it is broadly regarded as best practice to keep victims unaware of each other's existence.

A panel of officers and prosecutors will be formed to review past decisions in historic cases if a complaint is made.

The precise working of the panel will be approved at the ACPO Chief Constables' Council this week.

ACPO added that the College of Policing would support the revision of guidance and added "hands-on" training would ensure there was no gap between policy and practice.

The chief officer's body and the CPS will host round-table discussions in the next few weeks to flesh out the new guidance, which will then go to public consultation in early summer for three months.

Chief Constable David Whatton, ACPO lead on Violence and Public Protection, said: "When victims do come forward it is important to ensure that we provide the best response. This includes supporting victims while, at the same time, ensuring that we do not compromise a fair trial process for the accused.

"Key to that is working closely with other parts of the Criminal Justice System to ensure we can secure best evidence and best outcomes."

Mr Starmer said: "Police and prosecutors have significantly improved the way we investigate and prosecute sexual offences in recent years, particularly those involving children. Yet, despite all this, events over the last 12 months raise fundamental questions about our approach to these cases."

(13th March 2013)


(The Guardian, dated 7th February 2013 author Ami Sedghi and Mona Chalabi)

Full article :  [Option 1]

There were 2.1m violent incidents in England and Wales in 2011/12, with 3% of adults victimised, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

The release shows that the number of violent incidents has halved from its peak in 1995, when the survey estimated over 4.2m violent incidents. The CSEW asks people face-to-face about their experiences of, attitudes about and perceptions of a range of crimes. Last month we reported on the police recorded crimes and wrote about they can differ from the CSEW statistics.

Though police-recorded crimes are down 8.4%, the number of crimes reported in the survey has fallen by 7.1%. 8.9 million crimes were reported in the survey in the year ending September 2012, while the police recorded 3.8 million crimes in this period.

The statistics published today on violent crime and sexual offences cover a range of offence types. The CSEW state that "violence spans minor assaults, such as pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm through to serious assault and murder. Sexual assault covers offences from indecent exposure to rape."


540 homicides were recorded for 2011/12 - this is the lowest since 1989 and down 15% on 2010/11. Homicide covers murder, manslaughter and infanticide.

The number of homicides recorded by the police increased from 1961 to 2002/03 but has seen a generally downward trend since. The peak includes 172 homicides committed by Harold Shipman, which although were committed over a long period of time, were recorded by police in 2002/03 as a result of Dame Janet Smith's inquiry.

Two thirds of homicide victims in 2011/12 were men. Homicides against men were also more likely to be committed by a friend or acquaintance whereas for women it was most likely to be committed by a partner or ex-partner.

There were 9.7 recorded homicide offences per million people in 2011/12. Children under the age of one were the group most likely to be a victim at 21 homicides per million population. This is followed by those aged 16 to 29 with a homicide rate at 15 per million population.

To remind us how rare homicides are in England and Wales, the CSEW has helpfully provided some other numbers on causes of death for comparison. Figures for 2011 show that more people were killed as a result of falls (3,885), intentional self-harm (3,644), and transport accidents (1,815), but fewer were killed by exposure to smoke fire and flames (242) or accidental drowning or submersion (175).


Knifes and sharp instruments continue to be the most common method of killing according to the report with 209 such homicides recorded in 2011/12 - this is down on 234 recorded for 2010/11.

In the last year almost a quarter of male homicide victims were killed by hitting or kicking without a weapon and 26% of female victms were strangled or asphyxiated. 39 homicide victims were killed by shooting in 2011/12, down on the previous year which included 12 victims of the Cumbria shooting. The number of homicide victims killed by shooting however is at the lowest number since 1989.

Sexual and intimate violence

Women were more likely than men to have experienced domestic or sexual violence - 3% of women had experienced some form of sexual assault (including attempts) in the past year, compared with 0.3% of men according to the CSEW 2011/12.

The difference between women and men was narrower when looking at victims of domestic abuse, which includes sexual and non-sexual abuse. 7.3% of women (1.2m) and 5% of men (800,000) reported having experienced domestic abuse in the last year.

Because questions in this category are particularly prone to under-reporting, the survey also includes a self-completion module which has a large impact on results. Of all respondents who stated they were a victim of domestic violence in the past year in the self-completion module, only 5% had reported this in face-to-face interviews.

Intimate violence includes experience of emotional, financial and physical abuse by partners or family members, as well as sexual assaults and stalking by any person. The most common form of intimate violence for both men and women was non-sexual partner abuse. When asked if they had experienced this type of abuse since the age of 16, 24% of women and 13% of men said yes.

Just as with other crimes and offences in the survey, the prevalence of intimate violence varies according to the victim's characteristics. For women. those aged 16-19 or 20-24 were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse or stalking. Sexual assault was most likely to occur to women aged 16-19. The highest risk group for domestic abuse amongst women were those that were separated, who made up 1 in 5 victims.
As well as asking about experience of intimate violence, respondents were asked questions to indicate their attitude towards it. 8% of people stated that if the victim was under the influence of drugs then they were 'completely' or 'mostly' responsible for someone sexually assaulting or raping. 7% stated flirting heavily with an abuser beforehand made a victim responsible, and 6% thought this true if the victim was drunk.

(13th March 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 5th March 2013 author Mark Blunden)   [Option 1]

Underworld puppy farms are breeding "status" and weapon dogs worth thousands of pounds in London council flats and garages, it is claimed.
There is also evidence of animals being injected with steroids to increase aggression and being made to bite into trees and hang in mid-air to strengthen their jaws.

The claims are made by criminologist Dr Simon Harding who spent more than three years researching breeders and owners of illegal dogs.
He also accompanied the Met's Status Dogs Unit on raids as part of Operation Navarra in Lambeth. He found a growing industry of back street breeders, with gangsters investing in new dogs as if they were trading up a mobile phone.

Dr Harding, a lecturer in criminology and sociology at Middlesex University, said that with litters being bred back to back from the most dangerous dogs, each generation was getting more aggressive.

There was also evidence of "pooled dogs", shared between gang members so that ownership could be denied if they were arrested - a practice which has a disorientating effect on the animal.

Dr Harding set out to learn more after 16-year-old Seyi Ogunyemi was savaged and stabbed six times in a Lambeth park during an attack by a large group of youths and two dogs.

Chrisdian Johnson, the owner of one of the animals, called Tyson, was jailed for at least 24 years after becoming the first killer convicted using DNA from a dog.

Dr Harding's research reveals two main types of owners: the entrepreneurs breeding up to 15 puppies every six months, with a litter worth up to £5,000, and those who used the animal as a "heavy" for drug deals.

The most popular breeds were pit bulls, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro, all of which are banned in Britain.

Dr Harding said gangs tried to circumvent legislation by cross-breeding.

"Some young men fed them red meat thinking it would develop blood lust and hang them from trees to amplify the musculature of their neck and jaw. Others would inflict knife wounds and stub out cigarettes on them. Some injected them with steroids."

He also found evidence that youths were "street jousting" and fights attended by up to 200 people were staged in out-of-town retail parks.

Dr Harding said: "When a dog gets too old, it is tied to a bench in the park and left and they trade up like they are trading up a mobile phone."

(13th March 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 4th March 2013 author Jack Sommers)   [Option 1]

Forces should be able to use high-resolution CCTV images to search the Police National Database's (PND) custody photos by the end of the year, according to a senior officer.

It is expected that the PND will go live with a facial search capacity in May, which will allow officers to compare pictures with those of other forces across the country.

However the photo must have ears, eyes and nose clearly visible.

CC Mike Barton (pictured), the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) lead on Intelligence, said the next step will be to conduct a pilot with a selection of forces to see whether the software could be adapted to use a CCTV image from a crime scene.

In an interview with CC Barton, of Durham Constabulary, said the pilot would establish whether the software would need "tweaking" before the function was expanded to all forces. He hoped this would happen by the end of the year.

He said the faces in the pictures would need to be of an acceptable resolution to be searchable.

When searching with a CCTV image, officers will also be able to input data about the suspect they are seeking, such as gender and approximate age, to narrow down the results. This is necessary because the facial recognition software does not make these distinctions.

At the moment, the PND enables officers to search by text for intelligence connected to individuals, events or locations.

CC Barton added that chief constables were aiming to provide the PND with their latest intelligence each day - with their databases giving an automatic update. Some forces were still manually updating the PND with intelligence once a month.

He said: "We've always aimed to get all forces automatically updating the PND daily. We want the intelligence it offers to be as up-to-date as possible."

The PND was developed over seven years and launched by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in June 2011. As part of the closure of the NPIA, management of the PND transferred to the Home Office in October 2012.

The PND was introduced after a seven-year project led by the NPIA, after the Bichard Report on the Soham murders of 2002 highlighted the "urgent" need for an IT platform for sharing police intelligence nationally.

(13th March 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 12th March 2013 author Lucy Tobin)    [Option 1]

Nearly a fifth of Londoners are living "unofficially" in other people's homes, using the wrong address for bills and services but unaware that doing so could invalidate any home insurance claims and even make it difficult to secure local medical attention.
The figures, from Direct Line, also suggest that 14% of Britons are currently registered under the wrong address with banks, insurers, local councils, and the DVLA. Doing so may just seem like an easy way to avoid unnecessary - and boring - post, but it could mean missing out on debt or interest warnings from banks, and risk fines through failing to receive documents from the DVLA. Direct Line warns having unrecorded tenants in a property could also leave their possessions uninsured, as well as invalidate a home insurance claim made by the property owner.

Yet most "unofficial residents" don't view their lodging as temporary: nearly a third of those polled by the insurer admitted to having been living in the addresses without telling officials for more than eight years. Jenny Trueman, home insurance manager at Direct Line, warns: "The most common cause is after moving home. Changing address details is one of those administrative tasks that is frequently put-off or forgotten.

"However, the consequences of using the wrong address are far worse than a few lost letters - people risk being fined by the DVLA, or losing highly sensitive financial information from their bank. Their possessions also may not be covered, and the validity of [a home insurance] policy itself may also be affected."

(13th March 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 17th February 2013 author Hannah Summers)

HUNDREDS of children are being smuggled into Britain from Vietnam to work in cannabis factories, with some trafficking victims being arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison.
According to figures from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, 96 Vietnamese children were brought into Britain in 2012, a rise of 41% on the previous year.
The increase comes as domestic production of cannabis soars. Police in England and Wales found 7,685 cannabis farms in locations ranging from warehouses in the countryside to lofts in suburban homes in 2011-12, up from 3,032 in 2007-8.
Campaigners believe the true number of children involved in the UK cannabis trade, particularly those from Vietnam, is far higher than official statistics suggest.

Bharti Patel, chief executive of ECPAT UK,a charity that works with victims of trafficking, said : "Organised gangs across Britain are exploiting Vietnamese children, mostly boys, who live with constant hear and light (needed to grow the cannabis) while exposed to toxic fumes."

The children often come from poor families and are lured to Britain by agents promising travel and work. Many are brought by lorry via Russia and can take up to a year to make the journey here.

On arrival they are forced to work as "gardeners" in cannabis factories to pay their debt and face threats if they try to break away from the criminal gangs.

Campaigners fear some children have been convicted and mistakenly sent to adult prisons beacause they have no paperwork to show their true age and refuse to speak out against the gangs for fear of reprisals.

Parosha Chandran, a human rights lawyer, is preparing to take a case involving a 16 year old Vietnamese boy, known as "N", to the European Court of Human Rights. The teenager was given an 18 month detention and training order after pleading guilty to offences involving the production of cannabis. He was found by police at a cannabis factory with 6,000 plants, worth an estimated £500,000. He had been forced to work there by a trafficker, who bolted the doors and bricked up the windows to prevent him escaping.

The judge accepted the teenager was vulnerable but still convicted him.

The case is going to the European Court of Human Rights after the Court of Appeal rejected an attempt to overturn the conviction on the grounds that he himself was a victim.

"There is a dire need for protection under legislation for victims of trafficking," said Chandran. Trafficked children are, more than any other group, highly vulnerable to risk of harm, not only at the hands of their traffickers but thenat the hands of any state that criminalises them." "Of all my criminal cases 90% concern Vietnamese children who have been used by traffickers in the cannabis trade".

In another case, a Vietnamese girl, believed to be 14 when she was arrested, was sent to an adult prison in error. She served six months of a 20 month sentence before an appeal against the sentence was successful.

Four further cases related to trafficked children and cannabis cultivation are due to cme before the Courst of Appeal later this year.

Chandran said : " These are just a few among a growing number of cases being brought to appeal. Alarmingly, there has never been a prosecution case in relation to child trafficking in the UK brought against any of those responsible who are profiting from the illegal cannabis trade."

Mandy John-Baptiste, of the NSPCC's child trafficking centre. said :" Recent figures only reflect the children that have been identified. There are hundreds more that remain unaccounted for and are not coming to the attention of the authorities." "For example, in the three months between August and October 2012, we saw nearly three times as many cases of children trafficked for the purpose of cannabis cultivation compared to that of sexual exploitation".

(3rd March 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 17th February 2013 authors Jon Ungoed-Thomas and John Mooney)   [Option 1]

In October 2008 Emma Hitchcox said farewell to her beloved horses, Gwen and Lady. She had agreed to lend them to a women who could offer them unlimited pasture.

For a while Hitchcox was sent pictures of her two horses grazing contentedly. She now knows that within weeks they had been sent to a slaughterhouse and exported to Europe for food. She believes the pictures were taken in the day or two before the horses were despatched for slaughter.

Both animals had bone disorders and had been treated with phenylbutazone or bute, a drug that can cause side effects including anaemia in humans and is banned for human consumption. How could the animals have been sold to a slaughterhouse when every horse, by law, have a passport that details any drugs it has been treated with ?

After exhaustive research to track her horses down, Hitchcox discovered the answer : they had been issued with false passports in which all references to their drug treatment had been removed before they were sold.

Police told Hitchcox that no action could be taken against the trader who had sold her horses for slaughter. She wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to inform it of her discovery and demanding reform of the horse passport scheme.

"I warned Defra the passport system was not working and the horses which had been treated with bute had got into the human food chain," she said last week. "They did not want to know. I wrote them countless letters and they never got back to me. It was a nightmare all the way through. The passports are still a laughing stock because they mean nothing at all."

The ease with which unscrupulous traders are abusing a system intended to prevent horses treated with bute from being consumed by human is now under the spotlight. An investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed that the government failed to stop the contamination despite many warnings.

It was only last week that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ordered that every horse carcass should be tested for bute and should not be released for foof until the test was shown to be negative.

According to the FSA, 145 horse carcasses were tested for bute last year and nine were positive. It is estimated that as many as 500 horses contaminated with bute may have been slaughtered last year for the human food chain.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has said there is a "very low risk" that it would cause harm to human health at the low levels already detected but it is a further blow to consumer confidence.

Hitchcox's horses were slaughtered at the Red Lion Abattoir in Nantwich, Cheshire. It is run by the Turner family from Derbyshire, who are the biggest exporters of horsemeat in the country and who also operate High Peak Meat Exports.

The FAS disclosed last week that two horses had tested positive for bute at High Peak Meat Exports. John Young, a former manager with the Meat Hygiene Service, which is now part of the FSA, and currently an adviser to High Peak Meat Exports, admitted last week that the horse documentation system was open to fruad and abuse, which could allow bute into the food chain. "Defra gave nearly 80 organisations the authority to produce passports and some of them are little better than children could produce...its a complete mess," he said.

He had helped to draft a letter writte in April 2011 from Hig Peaks Meat Exports to Sir Jim Paice, then the food minister, which said the horse passport scheme was a "debacle". The next month he wrote to the FSA and demanded action. The May 5th letter enclosed a copy of an unlawfull horse passport and warned that illegal horsemeat was going into the food chain. It asked: " Are the lunatics in total control of the asylum ? "

In July 2012 the government's vetinary residues commitee also sounded the alarm, warning in a "position paper" that horses treated withbute were not being banned fromthe food chain as required by law. It warned of the "potential for serious adverse effects in consumers".

Paice, who left Defra in September, said : " To the best of my knowledge these allegations were never brought to my attention. If this
information was in Defra and was not being acted upon, it warrants further investigation. I would like to know why on earth I was not being told about it". He said the horse passport scheme to stop bute getting into the food chain was clearly not working. "We now know that and we need to know why," he said.

Defra has tried to reform the horse passport scheme with new rules introduced in 2009 stipulating that horses given replacement passports should be banned from the food chain. But horse owners and welfare experts say there is inadequate monitoring of the system and vets often fail to amend a horse's passport whenthey prescribe bute.

Roly Owers, chief executive of the World Horse Welfare charity, said "It is ridiculous having 75 horse passport organisations doing the same thing. The sole purpose of this was to protect the food chain buyr there is widespread abuse".

The number of horses slaughtered in the UK has increased significantly in recent years. Last year 9,405 horses were slaughtered across the country for human consumption, compared with 3,814 in 2008.

The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said many horses slaughtered in the UK came from Ireland, when some were provided with false documentation.

Defra said it was planning to step up its checks on horse passport organisations.

Uaware comment

Horse welfare

If you have a horse that is reaching the end of its working life and you concerned for its future welfare in retirement; investigate horse sanctuaries such as Redwings ( ) or check with your local RSPCA (

Anyone thinking of loaning a horse should make extensive checks, take out references, visit their premises, confirm their address, take photos of the person and your horse with that person and issue a legally binding contract. 

Essex Horsewatch is a group dedicated to combatting equine theft and they have an excellent website and template contract.


It is quite simple why people are falsifying horse passports. On the wholesale market beef costs over 5,000 Euro's per ton whilst horsemeat only costs 1,200 Euro's per ton. With purchasing managers wanting to make an annual bonus, import / export companies, supermarkets, food processors "wanting to make their fast buck" without any consequences (until now) thats 3,800 Euro's / ton adds to their bottom line in profit.

For more information, on the current food scandal check out the contents of the "Sweeney Todd" webpage on this site.

(3rd March 2013)


(BBC News, dated 2nd March 2013)

Evernote Incident security note :

Online information storage firm Evernote has asked all users to reset their passwords, following a security breach by hackers.

The California-based company, that allows people to store and organise personal data on an external server, is thought to have about 50 million users.

It said user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords were accessed.

But it insisted there was "no evidence" that payment details or stored content was accessed, changed or lost.

Evernote acts like an online personal organiser, with users able to save data such as video clips, images, web pages, notes and itineraries in an external storage system commonly known as the cloud.

In a statement on the company's website, the firm said its security team discovered and blocked "suspicious activity on [their] network that appears to have been a coordinated attempt to access secure areas of the Evernote service".

It added: "While our password encryption measures are robust, we are taking additional steps to ensure that your personal data remains secure.

"This means that, in an abundance of caution, we are requiring all users to reset their Evernote account passwords."

The firm apologised "for the annoyance" caused by the breach, which it said is becoming "far more common" at other "large services".

In February, Apple revealed a "small number" of its computers had been hacked, but added there was no sign of data theft.

The hack came a week after social-networking firm Facebook said it had traced a cyber-attack back to China after some of its employee laptops were hacked.

A month ago, micro-blogging website Twitter announced it had been the victim of a security breach which compromised the accounts of 250,000 users.

The company's information security director, Bob Lord, said the attack "was not the work of amateurs".

(3rd March 2013)


(Daily Mail, dated 27th February 2013 author Ray Massey)   [Option 1]

Drivers can see their insurance premiums double as a result of motoring convictions, research reveals today. Those caught drunk at the wheel face paying 115 per cent more, while defective tyres invite a 69 per cent penalty. Speeding, which accounts for almost two thirds of offences, increases premiums by more than a third.

Uninsured motorists, however, suffer the biggest hit - they typically have to pay 131 per cent more than the amount they should have been paying in the first case.

The research by insurer was based on almost five million insurance quotes issued from October to December last year. A fifth of the customers - 924,000 - had a driving conviction.

Gareth Kloet, the firm's head of car insurance, said: 'Any conviction will likely cause a change in the cost of car insurance and those with convictions could be paying out hundreds of pounds more than people with a clean licence.'If you do have a conviction you must disclose this on your policy. If you don't disclose a conviction and you make a claim on your policy, your insurance company could refuse to pay the claim.'
The firm took as its baseline for the typical motorist a 30-year-old female marketing manager who has a Mini Cooper and pays £682 for her insurance. A speeding conviction would see her policy rise 34 per cent  - or £231 - to £913, says But a driver with a riskier profile could see this exceed £1,000. A spokesman for added: 'There is a huge difference to the cost of car insurance premiums for drivers with speeding convictions compared to those without.'In fact, not only will the driver's insurance go up but they could also be faced with a fine of up to £1,200.'
Using a hand-held mobile to phone or text will see the same policy soar by 49 per cent - or £337 - to £1,019. Running a red light will lead to a 24 per cent rise - adding £162 to the policy, which will go up to £844. Those convicted of driving without insurance would face paying £1,578, an increase of £896.

The spokesman added: 'First-time offenders may receive six points and a fine of £180. In the worst cases this can result in a complete ban and fines of £5,000. Finding insurance afterwards can be tough.'
The report also notes: 'One defective or bald tyre could see drivers hit with a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points or up to £5,000 and six points for two defective tyres. If all four tyres were defective, the maximum fine could be as much as £10,000 with a whopping 12 penalty points.' Driving without due care and attention will lead to a 51 per cent hike of £346 to £1,028.

And driving 'otherwise than in accordance with a licence' can lead to a 49 per cent rise of £331 to £1,013. This often includes drivers who drive solo on a provisional licence. Nearly half of the convictions (49 per cent) related to speeding, followed by using a hand-held phone at the wheel (9.82 per cent) and running a red light (7.48 per cent).

The cost of being careless

Based on an original £682 quote for 30 year old female marketing manager in Cardiff driving a 2003 Mini Cooper, 6000 miles a year with 5 years no claims discount. Parked on driveway, no conviction. Insurance quote data from Oct 2012 - Dec 2012. Source :


Speeding on a public road  (old cost : £231; New cost : £913)
Using a hand-held device whilst driving (old cost : £337; New cost : £1019)
Running a traffic light at red (old cost : £162; New cost : £844)
Exceeding speed limit on motorway (old cost : £231; New cost : £913)
Driving without insurance (old cost : £896; New cost : £1578)
Drink driving (old cost : £782; New cost : £1464)
Driving without due care and attention (old cost : £346; New cost : £1028)
Failure to drive in accordance with licence (old cost : £331; New cost : £1013)
Using a vehicle with defective tyres (old cost : £471; New cost : £1153)

(3rd March 2013)


(Daily Mail, dated 26th February 2013 authors Richard Hartley-Parkinson and Arthur Martin)   [Option 1]

Rape victims were pressured into withdrawing their allegations to help police meet crime targets, a damning report revealed yesterday.
Detectives from Scotland Yard's specialist rape unit persuaded the women to say the attacks they endured were 'consensual sex'.
In one case, a detective sergeant pressured a woman to drop a rape claim against retired security guard Jean Say, 63, who then went on to murder his two children in their beds with a carving knife.
The shocking treatment was revealed in a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the  Southwark branch of Scotland Yard's Sapphire unit, which investigates rape and sexual assault.
The police watchdog found detectives had adopted an approach of 'failing to believe' victims and, in a breach of  the 'first principle' of Scotland Yard's rules, had failed to investigate cases properly.
If they could persuade victims to say the attacks were consensual sex, officers could then write the allegations off as 'no crime' incidents to reduce the number of unsolved cases on their  books and meet official crime detection targets.
Deborah Glass, deputy chairman of the IPCC, said the failings were 'deeply disturbing', and accused officers of losing sight of their role.
She also warned that the Metropolitan Police's usual claim of having learnt from earlier failures 'begins to ring hollow'. She said: 'The report brings to an end the IPCC's involvement in this sorry chapter of the Sapphire unit's history.

'The approach of failing to believe victims in the first instance was wholly inappropriate.
'The pressure to meet targets as a measure of success, rather than focusing on the outcome for the victim, resulted in the police losing sight of what policing is about - protecting the public and deterring and detecting crime.'

The IPCC's report examined the practices of the Southwark squad between July 2008 and September 2009. It found that the squad was 'underperforming and overstretched' during that period. It also discovered that victims were closely questioned by a detective constable before talking to a specialist officer.

This meant they were questioned repeatedly, going against standard practice which says a victim should be believed in the first instance until evidence shows otherwise.
Ms Glass continued: 'The findings of our investigation into the rape reported in November 2008 were also deeply disturbing. The victim was failed by the people from whom she had sought help.
'Since 2009, when the unit came under central command, Sapphire has changed considerably and continues to evolve.

'But given the number of cases where the MPS's response to victims has failed, either through individual officers' criminality or neglect or more systemic problems of training, priorities and resources, the response that "lessons have been learned" begins to ring hollow.
'That is why I asked representatives of those who actually deal with victims to advise me of their experience of whether lessons have indeed been learned and I am very grateful to those who attended a meeting at the IPCC in December 2012 for sharing their expertise.

'It is encouraging that this experience has, for the most part, improved considerably, though there is still more to be done.
'The MPS have recently reconstituted their external reference group and it is their responsibility to maintain this vital link - which if properly used will provide them with an early warning system against potential future problems before they become headlines.
'The MPS must now ensure that this improvement is built on and continues - and remain vigilant to ensure that they do not lose focus on this area as other policing priorities emerge, or as they face further pressure on resources.'
The Met's Sapphire unit is supposed to set the 'gold standard' for rape investigations across the country.

But the IPCC report into the latest failings is the ninth investigation into Sapphire and the fifth relating to Southwark.
Nineteen officers from across London have been disciplined, including three who have been sacked.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'We have for some time acknowledged that previous investigation of rape and serious sexual assault [in the Met] was below standard.
'The activities identified in this report came during that era and highlight specific issues within Southwark which resulted in unacceptable actions by local officers.

'It is as a result of such failings that we have made substantial changes to the investigation of rape and serious sexual assault.'

(3rd March 2013)


(Daily Mail, dated 25th February 2013 author James Rush)   [Option 1]

Police have lost track of almost 140 paedophiles, sparking fears many may have left the country, it has been revealed.

Government figures show a total of 137 child sex offenders have disappeared after signing the sex offenders' register, which requires them to inform police of their whereabouts or any changes to their details.

 The shock figures show the Metropolitan Police has lost by far the most paedophiles, with 40 on the run from the authorities in London.

The force with the second highest number on the run is Greater Manchester, which has lost seven, while Sussex has lost six, according to The Mirror.

 The West Midlands, Derbyshire, Kent and Lancashire all have five child sex offenders they are looking for.

The 137 paedophiles on the run includes Stephen Clare, who has been off Northumbria Police's radar since 2002. He was jailed for sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl and taking indecent photographs in the 1990s. He served 18 months and was released from jail in 1998, when he moved to Brighton.

Meanwhile, another example of an offender who disappeared was serial rapist Peter Chapman, who was off the police radar for seven months after his monitoring level was downgraded by the authorities. He went on to rape and murder 17-year-old trainee nurse Ashleigh Hall after contacting her on Facebook.Chapman posed as a teenager on the internet to lure the trainee nurse to her death. He was jailed for life in 2010.
Children's charity the NSPCC has called for a system which makes it impossible for sex offenders to 'vanish'.Jon Brown, head of sexual abuse programmes at the NSPCC, said: 'This is an extremely worrying situation as anyone who has committed a sex offence against a child must be considered an on-going risk.'Keeping track of their movements has to be a priority for the authorities because we can't gamble with the safety of vulnerable children. 'We really must have a system where no one with a record of this kind of offence can just vanish. It's not acceptable and is a serious cause for concern.'
A Home Office spokesman said: 'We have some of the toughest measures in the world to manage violent and sexual offenders.'We are determined to do everything we can to protect the public which is why last year we introduced new measures to strengthen and extend checks on those subject to the Sex Offenders' Register.'Individuals who breach their conditions are subject to tough penalties and the police and other local agencies should robustly enforce the tools and powers available to them.'

Sex Offenders on the run by Constabulary

London : 40
Kent : 5
Sussex : 5
Hampshire : 3
Dorset : 2
Avon and Somerset : 4
Wiltshire 3
Thames Valley : 4
Hertfordhire : 1
Essex : 3
Suffolk : 4
Cambridgeshire 2
Northamptonshire : 3
Warwickshire : 1
Gloucestershire : 2
Midlands : 5
Staffordshire : 1
Leicestershire : 2
Lincolnshire : 2
Nottinghamshire : 2
Merseyside : 2
Greater Manchester : 7
South Yorkshire : 2
West Yorkshire : 4
Humberside : 3
Cleveland : 1
Northumbria : 1
Lothian and Borders : 2
Northern Ireland : 2
West Mercia : 1
North Wales : 1
Gwent : 1
South Wales : 1

(3rd March 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 21st February 2013)  [Option 1]

The Metropolitan Police has been working with the New York Police Department and a UK security and surveillance systems manufacturer to develop a new device it says can detect firearms concealed beneath layers of clothing,

The T-Ray machine detects terahertz radiation, a high-frequency electromagnetic natural energy that is emitted by people and can penetrate many materials, including clothing.

"If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object," said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly during a speech at the Police Foundation last month.

In an image he displayed, the T-Ray scanner highlighted the body of a plain clothes officer in neon green, with a gun clearly visible as a black shape. The image was captured with the officer standing about 30ft away.

Officials said, in its current form, the device developed by Digital Barriers, could be mounted on a truck and deployed to sites identified as prone to gun violence.

The programme is being paid for by the US Department of Defense, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the NYPD. Browne said the NYPD aimed to get the T-Ray technology in a device small enough to carry on an officer's gun belt.

Commissioner Kelly has promoted the seizure of guns as a primary reason that New York City's murder rate reached record lows this decade. He said that since 2002, 800 illegal guns had been taken off the street. Toward that end, the NYPD has employed its stop-and-frisk policy, which has been the target of legal challenges and assailed by critics as discriminatory for targeting minorities overwhelmingly.

(3rd March 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 17th February 2013 SD Enterprises)    [Option 1]

Shankar Dabdapani is the official aget for Indrail passes in this country. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the network, preferring the subcontinent's short, intense trips to the epic journeys. "My favourite is the 07.10 from Vasco da Gama, in Goa," he says. "Fromthe coast, it winds slowly up through the jungle -covered Western Ghats, arriving in Londa Junction at 10 o'clock. It is a wonderful journey.

1. Plan ahead

Indian Railways carries more than 12 million passengers a day across a network of 38,000 miles with more than 10,000 passenger trains and 7,000 stations. Many trains are booked up several months in advance, so planning is essential. Your best option is to purchase a rail pass, which gives you up to 90 days travel on the Indian railway network and allows you to book your journeys in advance. A 21 day middle category pass starts at £137, a 90 day one at £353. Travelling overnight saves both time and money (sleeping berths are free with rail passes), and the computerised booking system really works : arriving at a remote station to find your name written on the reservations chart is always an amazing experience.

2. Beware of fake officials

Travellers looking for ticket offices, especially at the station in New Delhi, are often confronted by men dresses in railway uniforms stating that the office has been moved outside the station. Here, they will sell you tickets at an inflated price. Ask yourself why a railway official should be interested in you, then politely tell the conmen to go away.

3. Understand the classes

This is complex. First Class is actually the fourth highest class on Indian Railways. The highest class is AC Class, followed by AC2 Tier, then AC3 Tier, First Class, AC Chaircar and on to Sleeper Class Basic. I recommend AC2 Tier, which has carriages split into two and four bert sleeping cubicles, seperated by curtains, and gives you a great opportunity to engage with the travelling Indian public.

4. Manage your expectations

Indian railways are advanced in many respects, but you should not expect the levels of luxury you are used to in the West. That said, at the station, you will find waiting halls with shower facilities, left luggage offices, restaurants that will freshly prepare a full thali meal and deliver it to your train from about 30 rupees (35p), porters who will carry luggage for 40 rupees an item, and "retiring rooms", where you can get a bed in a private room for as little as 150 rupees a night.

5. Choose your loo

At the ends of each arriage, you will find a western toilet and an Indian toilet. Generally, the letter are better, as Indians use water for cleaning, rather than toilet paper. If you prefer a western loo, carry a toilet roll, because they may be absent even in AC Class.

6. Eat carefully

You should be careful about food and drink during the early part of your trip. See how your stomach behaves, then judge depending on the immunity level you have built up. Eat sparingly and avoid food sold by hawkers at stations. Drink lots : bottled water is readily available, but check the seal when you buy; and tea is a safe bet, as the water is boiled. Eat plenty of peelable fruit and, if possible, stick to vegetarian food - thalis, produced from fresh ingredients for the masses, are safer than a la carte meals. Balance spicy or oily dishes with bland, no-greasy foods such as chapati, dhal and curd.

7. Watch your luggage

Your luggage is generally safe in an open AC corridor carriage on the train. Your co-travellers are highly unlikely to rob you, and these classes are manned by attendants, who ensure that only travellers can come into the carriages.

The station on the other hand, is a small township, and anyone can get in after paying the platform ticket fee of 5 rupees. You should gurad guard your luggage at stations and keep a close eye on it if you use the basic classes of travel, which are unregulated.

(3rd March 2013)


(The Sunday Times, dated 17th February 2013 author Catherine Wheatley)    [Option 1]


Monument Tools has been making pipes, boilers and radiators, and delivering them to builders all over Britain, for more than 80 years.
So when a man in a van arrived at the family owned factory near Sutton, southwest London, one day last month and asked to pick up an order for a big customer, managing director Jonathan Collier, 41, was suspicious. "It's very unusual for companies to collect from us," he said. "This man had an officiallooking purchase order with the correct account number, but when we called our client they knew nothing about it."
Days later, a woman phoned in a £5,000 order using the details of another large client, and asked to pick up the goods immediately. Again, a call revealed that the order was phoney.

"We only spotted the scam because we nearly always deliver. The money might not sound much, but we would have to sell £100,000 of goods to clear £5,000 as net profit, which is a lot for a firm our size," Collier said.

Corporate identity fraud, in which tricksters either steal a company's details or construct a fake trading organisation, is on the rise, said Rosalind Wright of the Fraud Advisory Panel, a charity. "We are disturbed it's so easy to hijack a company's details," she said.
The precise amount of money lost through corporate fraud each year is unknown, but the overall cost of fraud to the British economy almost doubled from £38bn in 2011 to £73bn in the year to March 2012, according to the government's annual fraud indicator.

Rob Townsend, 39, who owns a computer hardware supplier in Mansfield, called NexStor, is among those who have been caught out.
Last October, he received an order worth £14,500 from a business called Extagon. Townsend checked Extagon's background using software that scans data from Companies House and Experian, the credit agency, before dispatching the goods along with an invoice. "The checks showed it was a company that had been trading for two years with a decent credit rating," said Townsend.

A few days later, Extagon made three more orders for equipment totalling £40,000 in value, which NexStor also sent out with bills for payment. But Townsend became suspicious when two further companies, called Pelican and Greenleaf, placed orders. "We recognised similarities in the correspondence and then we saw they were acting as credit references for one another. "When I found their location on Google Maps my heart sank - it was a serviced business centre in west London." Townsend has been unable to contact Extagon's directors and no payments have been received.

"It's worrying that credit agencies don't appear to be running thorough checks," Wright said."Britain prides itself on being one of the easiest places in the world to do business, but the lax law on company formation is a heavensent opportunity for criminals."

Typically, fraudsters register a new business at Companies House at a cost of just £15. Then they build a trading history by submitting false accounts, often copied from another firm.

Conmen like those who tried to trick Monument can steal a firm's details by writing to Companies House to notify a change of address and registering themselves as directors. Next, they create websites and secure credit ratings for their fake firms by completing a number of small transactions, often involving other phoney companies.

"It's not hard to manipulate a credit reference if you know what is being measured," said Stephen Proffitt of Action Fraud, a government information agency. Conmen are also preying on firms anxious to close deals even if the offer seems too good to be true, according to Robert Downes of the Forum of Private Business.

"Small companies are becoming more vulnerable because when times are tough they take risks to secure a sale. Doing all the proper checking can be timeconsuming. What's worrying is that firms think that checking with agencies guarantees a clean bill of health."

Platform Black, an online invoice trading company launched last year, uses a specialist fraud investigator to run checks on companies it finances. By 2017, the firm expects to employ more than 40 people and spend £1.2m a year to avoid making loans to bogus ventures.

"The human element of checking is very important," said the firm's investigator, who did not wish to be named. "Does the website look right? Are the spelling and grammar bad? Do the accountslook reasonable? Are they making an unusually big transaction?"

A few simple steps can help small businesses. Companies House suggests firms use its web filing and protected online filing services, which block fraudsters who attempt to change a company's details and hijack its identity by sending in a letter.

"Ask for trade, supplier or bank references. And investigate the directors, especially if it's a newbusiness," said Max Firth, head of business information services at Experian. The agency removescredit scores from a company's credit report if the venture is discovered to be fraudulent.

Internet forums that list scams, including Action Fraud's website, are useful. Paidfor alert services, such as the Critical Intelligence Solution from D&B, the commercial data business, investigate suspicious activities and warn against fraudulent firms.

(3rd March 2013)

(BBC News, dated 21st February 2013 author Jane Dreaper)


A whistle-blowing helpline set up by the UK's regulator of doctors two months ago has led to 12 investigations into allegations of a "very serious" nature.

Figures seen by the BBC show the confidential phone line has had 187 calls since its launch.

One in seven was thought to be serious enough for the General Medical Council (GMC) to make further inquiries.

Most of the callers were doctors but some members of the public rang too.

The 12 "very serious" investigations involve complaints which suggest a doctor may not be fit to practise and there may be a risk to patient safety.

General Medical Council
The phone calls have also triggered four less serious inquiries - these are allegations which could justify action by the regulator if they were part of a wider pattern of concern about a doctor.

The GMC is considering information in seven other cases that have come to light through the confidential phone line. Four cases were looked into and then closed.

Relatively high numbers of calls were from the north-west of England, the West Midlands and London.

The GMC launched its helpline in December, to enable doctors to raise serious concerns about patient safety if they felt unable to do so locally.

Every doctor in the UK was sent new guidance in March last year, making it clear that they had a professional duty to act to protect patients' interests at all times.

The chief executive of the GMC, Niall Dickson, said: "We haven't engaged in a massive publicity campaign around this line, so the response shows there is a need for this service.

"Some of the doctors were phoning up with serious concerns, which has resulted in ongoing investigations. We're very pleased that concerns are reaching us - it's one way of pursuing areas where patients may be at risk.

"There are situations where doctors genuinely feel intimidated by the environment they're in and don't feel they can raise concerns. That's something which we, the health service and the profession more generally have got to tackle.

"We've got to move to a situation where it is absolutely routine for professionals to put patient safety first at every opportunity - even if this means raising concern about a more senior colleague."

Advice and support
Some of the 187 helpline calls were directed elsewhere - to the nurses' regulator, for example - or they involved more general inquiries, such as doctors wishing to pay their registration fees.

The question of why concerns about poor care in the NHS do not always get flagged up or dealt with have been an issue since the Francis report into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire trust was published a fortnight ago.

The GMC phone line has received 43 calls since then - this does not represent a surge.

The regulator is to hear four "fitness to practise" cases involving doctors from Mid-Staffordshire. The first of these is due to begin next month.

There are various avenues for reporting poor care.

A free whistle-blowing helpline covering concerns about the NHS and the social care sector was launched by the previous Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, in January last year. The charity Mencap has a three-year contract worth £480,000 to run the line.

It has had 1,325 calls since then - and 105 requests for advice by email. It gives advice and support to individuals, employers and trade unions.

The Patients Association receives more than 8,000 calls on its helpline every year.

Patients and members of staff can also ring the main regulator of NHS and social care organisations in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC says it received around 600 calls a month last year which it classified as "genuine concerns" from whistle-blowing staff.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) launched a phone line to support whistle-blowing nurses in 2009. It received around two calls a week in its first year.

Who to call

- GMC's confidential helpline number is 0161 923 6399
- GMC whistle-blowing helpline number is 08000 724725
- RCN whistle-blowing helpline number is 0345 772 6300
- Patients Association helpline number is 0845 608 4455
- The CQC number for whistle-blowers or people reporting poor care is 03000 616161

(3rd March 2013)

(The Register, dated 1st February 2013 author John Leyden)   [Option 1]


Depraved miscreants are spreading vile ransomware that displays images of child abuse on infected PCs and demands payment to remove them.

Typically, this sort of malware pretends to be an official piece of police software and pops up a text message accusing victims of breaking the law - usually for downloading copyrighted material or dodgy pornography - and locks down the computer until the user coughs up some cash.

But this new Trojan stoops to an all-time low by displaying actual pictures of child sex abuse and accuses the victim of previously viewing it. The ransomware sports logos of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the German Society for the Prosecution of Copyright Infringement (GVU) to lend an air of authenticity to proceedings.
Owners of infected machines are ordered to pay an on-the-spot fine of €100 to get a code that unlocks the computer.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) put out a warning about the disturbing new tactic in ransomware extortion on Tuesday; an advisory in German (see below). Victims are advised to not be intimidated by the extortionists' threats.

German Police warning (translated using "Google Translate)

Again, a new variant of malicious software (known as ransomware) is in circulation, the infected computer and blocks. The use of the computer is no longer possible.

Here by a so-called malware pop-up window will appear with the logos of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Society for prosecution of copyright infringement (GVU).
 It is assumed the user that the computer in connection with the dissemination of child pornography, had been used in terrorist operations, copyright violations or other crimes.

Following is the statement that the function of the computer "was suspended on grounds of unauthorized network activity" is. In support of the allegations alleged statutes are cited, their injuries will be the cause of the blocking.

In this variant of malicious software, a photo appears. It is the opinion of the Federal criminal penalties for a teen pornographic representation. In the text it is claimed that "the playing of pornography found in minors" was.

As with ransomware usual, the user will eventually be asked to pay 100 euros for the digital payment service uKash or Paysafecard to get an unlock code to unlock the alleged computer.

For this purpose, explain the Federal and the BSI:

Neither the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) or the Society for prosecution of copyright infringement (GVU) are copyright of such a message!

If you receive such a message, you pay the amount claimed under any circumstances!
 Your computer is already infected with malicious software that modifies the essential parts of the operating system has to generate the popup window. A regular access to your operating system is a high probability, even after payment of the required payment is not possible.

Precaution should be noted that the assurance contained in the ransomware youth pornographic representation is a financial collateral or having a criminal possession of juvenile pornography.

Do not be intimidated by the photo and the statement that "the playing of pornography found in minors" was, and push payments.
 It is a form of digital extortion. You are a victim of crime.

 Helpful hints for cleanup your system from malicious software can be found on the Internet pages of the Anti-Botnet Advisory Center under

Federal and BSI recommend keeping the update status of the operating system and the used anti-virus software as well as all installed programs up to date. This increases the chances that it does not even come to an infection with malware.

Information on further questions about "possession of child pornography and youth" see

For more general information and guidance for protection against malicious software can be downloaded from the BSI website at

uaware comment

If your computer has been locked by this type of criminal action there is not much you can do about it. To reduce the affects on you personally you should always regularly back up the data on your computer to a stand alone hard drive (typically connected via USB). By using back-ups you can protect valuable document files and photographs from being lost. Then if your computer is "criminally locked" the only thing you need to have arranged is for the operating system (ie. Windows) to be re-installed along with your various applications (ie, Word Processing etc).

It is also strongly recommended that you report any incident of this nature to "Action Fraud" for the scam and "CEOP" for the pictures of children being abused.

(3rd March 2013)



(The Register, dated 8th February 2013 author John Leyden)   [Option 1]

Power stations, banks, online shops, cloud providers, search engines, app stores, social networks and governments may soon be required by law to disclose ALL major security breaches.

In a strategy titled An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace, the European Commission proposed this new directive for the continent:

Operators of critical infrastructures in some sectors (financial services, transport, energy, health), enablers of information society services (notably: app stores, e-commerce platforms, internet payment, cloud computing, search engines, social networks) and public administrations must adopt risk management practices and report major security incidents on their core services.
The strategy also calls for every Euro nation to put together a crack team to tackle big tech security emergencies and share intelligence with neighbours, among other cyber-desires.

Most, but not all, EU member states already have their own Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) so this major policy push seems to primarily involve forcing companies to notify the authorities of any data breaches or significant security incidents.

The strategy also advocates applying existing international laws to "cyberspace" as well as promoting international cooperation with countries outside the union.

The policy builds on other EU initiatives including establishing a European Cybercrime Centre, proposing laws on attacks against information systems, and the launch of a global alliance to fight child sex abuse. The strategy also seeks to develop and fund training schemes to combat online crime.

In a statement, Cecilia Malmström, EU commissioner for Home Affairs, said: "Many EU countries are lacking the necessary tools to track down and fight online organised crime. All member states should set up effective national cybercrime units that can benefit from the expertise and the support of the European Cybercrime Centre, EC3."

During a 30-minute press conference, Euro bigwigs were grilled on what they were doing to end corporate espionage; Chinese hackers are consistently accused of accessing companies' private servers and swiping secrets.

Catherine Ashton, high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, refused to comment on investigations by Europe's spooks into these intrusions, but said the EU was monitoring the situation closely and is in talks with China, India and the US. Officials in Brussels have, we're told, come to the conclusion that these attacks are increasing and damaging economies.

Last year, 56.8 per cent of businesses in Europe suffered a computer security breach that seriously derailed their operations. Yet only 26 per cent of the union's enterprises had a formal ICT security policy. That's according to Eurostat figures from January 2012.

Chinese networking kit giant Huawei, occasionally on the end of a shoeing from Western politicians, put out a statement supporting the EU's call for greater international cooperation.

"The strategy comes at a crucial moment, providing the public and the private sector with the tools they need to move beyond debating the problem and take concrete steps to tackle security issues," said Huawei's global security officer John Suffolk. "The time has come to stop talking about the threat, stop talking about the challenges and start talking about the actions we have taken and will take."

Jason Hart, VP of cloud solutions at SafeNet, also welcomed the EU strategy but said that it needed to be supplemented with a greater increase of encryption to protect sensitive data.

"This move is a welcome change as past breaches have demonstrated that delays in reporting may have exacerbated the initial problem," Hart said. "However reporting the breach itself is only a small part of the equation. What is of real importance is preventing the damage that the exposure of unencrypted data can cause in the event of a security breach.

"Therefore, a key solution to tackle cyber security issues lies within pushing for more wide-scale mandatory encryption of all data, including soft data which has been aggressively targeted by cybercriminals over the last few years. New legislations that come into play will need to provide a comprehensive set of measures based on the fundamentals of information security to ensure wider adoption of encryption and authentication as a way of mitigating the damage of a potential security breach."

(3rd March 2013)


(The Register, dated 8th February 2013 author John Leyden)   [Option 1]

A hacker put personal photos of George H W Bush online this week after reportedly breaking into the former US president's family email accounts.

One of the leaked snaps shows the 88-year-old Republican recovering from a serious illness in a hospital bed in December last year. His relatives' emails and contact details were also disclosed by the hacker as well as a personal note from President Barack Obama.

 Other swiped photos show his son George W Bush, also a former US president, posing next to a cardboard cutout of himself with a moustache and an amusing beret. More seriously, the leaked material includes a confidential list of home addresses, mobile numbers and emails addresses for dozens of Bush family members, including both ex-presidents, their siblings and their children. The information is dated October 2012.
A Bush family spokesman said the breach is being probed by the authorities. "We do not comment on matters under criminal investigation," Jim McGrath told the Houston Chronicle.

The Smoking Gun website reports that the Bush family's email accounts were raided by a hacker who uses the handle Guccifer.

At least six separate inboxes were reportedly compromised, one being the AOL account of Bush Snr's daughter Dorothy Bush Koch. The other hacked accounts belong to George H. W.'s brother-in-law, sister-in-law and friends such as CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz. The photos - watermarked by Guccifer - and emails dating from 2009 to 2012 were uploaded to the internet on Thursday.

Guccifer claimed that "the Feds" began investigating him a "long time ago" and that he had hacked into "hundreds of accounts" over an extended period.

The motive for the attack and how it was carried out are unclear.

George H W Bush served as the CIA's director before becoming a one-term president between 1989 and 1993, and was famous for the promise: "Read my lips, no new taxes".

The Bush email scandal comes after former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo! webmail account was broken into during the 2008 US presidential campaign. More recently police were called in last month to investigate a claimed assault on ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Hotmail and Dropbox accounts.

uaware comment

If the e-mail accounts of two former US Presidents are not secure with the backing of the US Intelligence service, how secure are you ?

(3rd March 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 6th February 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)  [Option 1]

An innovative phone application that allows the public to provide information on people of interest to police is speeding up volume crime investigations.

The Facewatch ID app enables officers to upload CCTV footage and stills of people they want to speak to but are unable to identify onto a secure cloud-based system which can be accessed by members of the public.

Individuals can use the free application, which is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android smart-phones, to search for images within a five mile radius of any postcode they enter onto the system.

If they recognise an individual they can upload confidential information - including names, addresses and contacts onto the system which interfaces with the registered force.

The police team responsible for uploading the image will then receive a notification by email informing them of the update.

The app has been used by Surrey Police to help with investigations ranging from volume crime, including shoplifting and thefts through to robbery and rape.

Outlining the success the system has had in the force Det Insp Mark Parry said a burglar was convicted for two offences after being positively identified through Facewatch ID following a spate of burglaries last June.

In an interview with he said: "It has certainly sped up investigations.

"It has been popular with the public and it is another way for us to circulate the image as widely as possible."

Explaining the development benefits of the technology Met Police DCI Mick Neville said the force was offered the technology to help publicise people they want to speak to quicker.

He said: "This is a very good method of getting the public to look at these images.

"It is part of a jigsaw to help us get more people identified and enables us to empower the public and create public confidence."

Figures reveal that more than 200 positive identifications were made to the Met in the first six months after the system was rolled out in June 2012.

Following a successful pilot of the technology at the Met, the initiative was rolled out to Surrey Police last July and Northamptonshire Police last month. Other forces enrolled onto the system include BTP and the City of London Police.

Det Insp Mark Parry, of Surrey Police, said: "The application works so well because of its simplicity.

"The force recognises the importance of new technology and the constantly expanding world of social media to help us meet both the demands of modern day policing and the demands of the residents.

"This application offers a simple and cost-effective way of helping us engage with them."

Stuart Greenfield, spokesman for Facewatch, said the technology had the potential to incorporate missing person investigations and they were working with ACPO to develop a set of protocols, outlining the standardised practices each force would need to incorporate to use the system.

The technology is produced by Facewatch - the company behind an innovative crime reporting and communications system developed by Simon Gordon, a wine bar owner in London, to help officers tackle the issue of pickpockets and ASB.

The system, which was launched in 2010, enables business owners to upload moving CCTV evidence and electronic witness statements to the police to streamline the crime reporting process. The system, which has been fully implemented across London, has 6,000 businesses registered.

(3rd March 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 6th February 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)  [Option 1]

The country's largest inter-force IT collaboration will open up the potential for forces to share data to undertake more efficient and pro-active policing.

Project Athena promises to transform and improve crime investigation efficiency, the gathering and collation of intelligence as well as speeding up custody processes and case preparation.

The system will become a one-stop shop of information by collating data traditionally stored on several different databases and quickly building a complete picture of an individual drawing on previous records, history and contact with any force linked into the system.

Database sharing

It can amalgamate up to ten different databases within a force and feed the information into four initial components; intelligence, investigation, custody and case preparation.

Intelligence will cover warrants, briefing and tasking across policing borders, reducing operational risks for officers.

Investigation will encompass RTCs, ASB, domestic abuse, hate crime, child protection, vulnerable adults and public protection including risk and threat assessments and management.

Custody will be automatically updated with case files and investigation reports and will contain enhanced identification to facilitate a speedier booking-in process. This component will also strengthen PACE and Safer Detention Compliance.

Case Preparation will build an electronic file from start to finish which pre-populates MG files and includes arrest warrants. It will allow for full management of summons, postal requisitions and FPNs. It will also be linked virtually to CPS and HMCS for the addition of notes and other information to build a complete picture of the case.

It also interfaces with the PNC and PND to facilitate the broader sharing of information to make traditionally lengthy processes more streamlined.

Athena Director Ch Supt Steve Johnson, of Essex Police, said other databases will be incorporated, including missing persons, property and forensic cases but will initially interface with the system.

He said in Essex, the databases that will be consolidated will be custody, case preparation, crime file, intelligence, PROTECT - which deals with domestic abuse, stop and search, and SWARM - which deals with warrants, property and witness identification.

Using a private and secure cloud solution the system re-uses data across the four different components, mitigating the need to re-type information.

Officers and staff at each phase of the process from report up to court can view all records for the suspect from each member force and at each stage of the process. This means a suspect arrested for crimes committed in any of the Athena forces can be dealt with for all offences in one custody suite without the need to be transferred between each force and processed for crime committed exclusively in that force area.

Interoperable policing

The system incorporates aspects of the Bichard Inquiry, which was published nine years ago and examined interoperability within policing. This needs-led system, which has gained significant momentum since it was announced last February, allows forces to automatically share a wider set of operational police data, when historically it could only be shared on request.

A dedicated Athena management team was created made up of officers and staff from the seven forces signed up to the contract - Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Kent and Essex. They helped customise and adapt the system with Northgate Public Services, who provide the software.

In an interview with Ch Supt Johnson said: "It is a wonderful platform and there is the potential to move it onwards as policing dictates.

"The untapped collaboration benefits are huge and you can be as creative as you want to be with this system.

"It is a big legacy and will be a huge step forward for forces."

Athena Manager Insp Phil Stimpson said a number of forces had already expressed an interest in the technology.

He added: "Athena has to be the right option for forces because they have to be prepared to amend their working practices.

"People will need to work in the Athena way. It will standardise the way thing are done for the forces using it and some practices and processes will need to be adapted.

"We are not trying to constrain a force's operational freedom. What we are saying is that in order to get the benefits there are some things we need to do the same way to get certainty out of the system."

The system, which costs £32million between the seven forces over ten years, is currently going through the testing phase at Essex Police. Then all staff and officers within the force will undergo a training programme which could last up to 12 weeks. It is hoped the system will go live in Essex by the end of this summer before it is rolled out in phases across the other forces.

ACC Julia Wortley, chair of the Athena Business Design Authority, said: "A number of people recognised some years ago that having separate systems between forces was not the way forward and a tendering process began.

"It is a sophisticated approach and we have to make sure we get this right.

"The sky is the limit and there are several opportunities on the horizon to develop it further.

"This is the largest and most advanced system for delivering joined up IT in policing."

(3rd March 2013)


(The Register, dated 13th February 2013 author John Leyden)   [Option 1]



Several Burmese journalists and foreign correspondents have been warned by Google that their Gmail accounts may have been compromised by "state-sponsored attackers".

The writers, when logging into the webmail service, were confronted with a warning message stating "we believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer", Hacker News.

Google introduced this form of alert in June to warn users if it suspected government-backed miscreants had tried to access their inboxes without authorisation.
"If you see this warning it does not necessarily mean that your account has been hijacked," Google explained at the time. "It just means that we believe you may be a target, of phishing or malware for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account" - such as making use of Google's two-factor authentication system.

The advertising giant won't say what exactly triggers the state-sponsored hijacking alert, as opposed to attempts made by common-or-garden crooks, lest it helps "bad actors". However the search biz hinted that reports by victims and its own monitoring activities play a role. Google also refrains from revealing which nation may be behind an attack.

Aye Aye Win, a correspondent in Myanmar, Burma, for the Associated Press, and Myat Thura, a Myanmar correspondent for Japan's Kyodo News Agency, have both been confronted with warnings from Google about attempted compromises. Employees of Eleven Media, one of Burma's leading news organisations, and local authors were also hit with alerts over the last few days, The New York Times reports.

Eleven Media's website and Facebook page were shut down by hackers several times in recent weeks, the paper adds.

Internet traffic in and out of Burma has been tightly censored for many years. At one point the country even considering severing all links with the wider web, but in the interests of commerce the secretive nation scrapped that plan. In the two years since, President Thein Sein gained office and restrictions have been lifted - but true democracy may take longer to be established.

Reporters in Burma speculated that attempts by secret policemen or such types to hack into their Gmail accounts may be linked to articles about armed clashes between Kachin rebels and government forces in northern Myanmar; the fighting has put the country's rulers on edge and their officials have denied reports that the government attacked rebels using aircraft - until Eleven Media filed pictures of air-to-surface assaults.

(3rd March 2013)


(The Register, dated 14th February 2013 author John Leydon  [Option 1]

Spanish police have arrested 11 individuals suspected of running a €1m a year ransomware scam using malware that posed as a message from law enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies in Spain first became interested in the Reveton malware after hundreds of complaints from victims of the scam starting flooding in at the beginning of 2011. Trend Micro and the Spanish agencies worked with the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol in an operation coordinated by Interpol over the months that followed - sharing intelligence, samples and related technical detail. Police said the research allowed them to map of the criminal network infrastructure including traffic redirection and command-and-control servers. They then conducted raids on premises, seizing IT equipment and credit cards used to cash out the money that victims had paid.

In a statement (Spanish), cops said that since it was detected in May 2011, there had been more than 1,200 complaints about the so-called "POLICE VIRUS" (Reveton drive-by malware).
Police said this intelligence led to the arrest of 11 individuals. One of the suspects, an unnamed 27-year-old, is suspected to be the boss of the gang that produces the Reveton ransomware.

This Russian national was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Spanish authorities have filed an extradition warrant. Along with this key arrest, police said they had run a takedown operation focusing on the lower-ranked members of gang, in connection with which they made several additional arrests.

Police said lower-ranked members in the gang were involved in monetisation of the PaySafeCard/Ukash vouchers received as payment in the scam. The gang had a branch in Spain's Costa Del Sol that exchanged these vouchers and converted them into real money, which would then be sent to the main group in Russia. Europol said in a separate statement:

The financial cell of the network specialised in laundering the proceeds of their crimes, obtained in the form of electronic money. For this, the gang employed both virtual systems for money laundering and other traditional systems using various online gaming portals, electronic payment gateways or virtual coins.

Spanish cops said 10 of the suspects had been arrested in connection with allegations of money-laundering activity. Six of the cuffed suspects are Russian, two Ukrainian and two Georgian, but all of them were based in Spain, police said.

Spanish cops reckon the fraudsters behind the scam were pulling in €1m a year.

"This coordinated activity (in much the same way as the Trend Micro/FBI action against the DNS Changer gang last year), leading directly to the arrest of individuals believed to be actively engaged in cybercrime, rather than simply taking down associated infrastructure, should serve as a model for how the security industry and law enforcement can effectively cooperate int he fight against online crime," said Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communications at Trend Micro.

Police ransomware locks up systems and accuses the user of using illegal filesharing networks or of child abuse image distribution. The ransomware uses police logos to make it look like it came from a law enforcement agency to convince victims to cough a "fine" of around €100 using cash vouchers in order to unlock their computers.

(3rd March 2013)

(The Register, dated 15th February 2013 author Jack Clark)   [Option 1]


Facebook has been hacked, but the company has found no evidence that user data was affected. Facebook's systems were "targeted in a sophisticated attack" in January after some of the company's developers visited a mobile-developer website that had been compromised, the company wrote on Friday afternoon.

Malware was installed onto fully-patched Facebook laptops via a Java zero-day vulnerability - a vuln that Oracle patched on February 1.
"As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines, informed law enforcement, and began a significant investigation that continues to this day," the company wrote.

Facebook realized that the hack had occurred when its security team found a "suspicious" domain within the company's corporate DNS logs that was tracked back to a company laptop.

"Upon conducting a forensic examination of that laptop, we identified a malicious file, and then searched company-wide and flagged several other compromised employee laptops," Facebook reports.

Other companies were targeted in this attack as well, though Facebook did not disclose who. It has formed a working group to share information among the affected parties.

The company is working with law enforcement and other entities to prevent further attacks, it said, and encouraging people to submit security vulnerabilities affecting Facebook to the company's Bug Bounty Program.

(3rd March 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 7th February 2013 author Justin Davenport)    [Option 1]

More than 500 of London's top gang members are behind bars after a year-long clampdown by the Met police, according to figures released today.
Scotland Yard also said that youth violence had fallen by nearly a third in the past 12 months, leading to 1,500 fewer victims.

The figures were announced a year after the force launched a £60 million task force to tackle gangs behind a half of London's shootings and one in seven rapes. The new Trident Gang Crime Command has made more than 4,000 arrests in the past nine months alone.

Figures showed that in March last year 217 of the city's "top 2,000" gang members were in custody and today the figure stands at 561.

Last year, Trident-led investigations saw criminals jailed for a total of 1,334 years, including 16 life sentences.

Police said another 123 gang members were subject to restrictions such as Asbos and gang injunctions.

The creation of Trident Gang Crime Command increased the size of the former Operation Trident squad from 450 to 1,000 officers and its remit was extended from shootings in the black community to all gang and gun crime in London. The unit vowed to take on 250 serious street gangs, targeting "high harm" members while offering support to younger members looking for a way out - and senior officers claim the policy is working.

Figures show the number of people under 25 who were injured by a knife fell by 28 per cent in the past nine months to 1,140, compared with the same period the year before. The number of times a gun was fired in London fell by 18 per cent from 411 to 334. There were six firearm murders in the capital last year.

The Met also seized over 340 guns in the past 12 months - including a Kalashnikov assault rifle recovered by Trident detectives in a raid on Monday.

Commander Steve Rodhouse, who is in overall charge of Trident, said: "Our new approach is clearly working and we are now seeing reductions across all gang-related crime types."

But Claudia Webbe, chairwoman of the Independent Trident Advisory Group, said: "The original remit of Trident was to build trust and confidence between communities and the police and I am not sure that has been embraced."

(3rd March 2013)



(BBC News, dated 6th February 2013)

The US's central bank has confirmed information was stolen from its servers during a hack attack.

The Federal Reserve told the Reuters news agency it had contacted individuals whose personal information had been involved.

It follows the hacktivist collective Anonymous's publication of what it described as the credentials of 4,000 US bank executives.

The Fed did not say whether the two incidents were related.

The Anonymous document contains the names and workplaces of employees at dozens of community banks, credit unions and other lenders, as well as mobile phone numbers and what appear to be computer log-on names and passwords.

However, Reuters reported that the Fed had issued an internal report stating that "passwords were not compromised" and had indicated that the leaked list had been a contact database to be used during natural disasters.

"The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Fed spokeswoman said.

"Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. The incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system."

Unanswered questions
Over recent years, computer hackers identifying themselves under the Anonymous umbrella have carried out a series of attacks on US government sites and linked organisations such as the US-based intelligence company Stratfor.

In 2011 Anonymous threatened to take action against the Fed over its economic policies, but the latest incident is the first time it has claimed success at breaching the agency.

However, it would not be the first time the central bank's systems have been compromised. In 2010 a Malaysian man pleaded guilty to adding "malicious code" to the Fed's network via one of its regional banks.

One UK-based expert said the financial industry would want to know more details about the latest incident.

"If the core Federal Reserve systems are compromised it would be massively concerning for the financial community because it provides a lot of sensitive financial disclosures for regulatory reasons to the Fed, and potentially if a third-party got access to all of that information it could open a can of worms within the banking system overall," said Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services Club networking group.

"People will want to know exactly how it was compromised and what information was leaked."

Hacking laws
Anonymous has linked its alleged attack to wider protests following the suicide of internet freedom campaigner Aaron Swartz.

The 26-year-old had been accused of illegally downloading academic documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s network.

He had been charged with computer intrusion, fraud and data theft, and if found guilty could have faced up to 35 years in prison.

Anonymous and others have called for a change to anti-hacking laws to temper sentences.

MIT has also acknowledged its own systems have suffered a series of hack attacks - the most recent redirected visitors from its site to a page saying "RIP Aaron Swartz".

(3rd March 2013 )


(BBC News, dated 6th February 2013)

Police investigating allegations of child abuse at a south-west London guest house in the early 1980s have arrested two men.

The Operation Fernbridge inquiry is looking at claims that senior political figures and others sexually abused boys at the Elm Guest House in Barnes.

Officers held a 66-year-old in Norfolk and a 70-year-old in East Sussex, the first arrests in the investigation.

Police began the probe after receiving information from Labour MP Tom Watson.

Scotland Yard say the allegations are not connected with current residents of the property, which has been converted into residential flats.

It is also investigating links between the guest house and the now-closed nearby Grafton Close children's care-home run by Richmond Council.

The BBC understands the 70-year-old being questioned worked at the care home while the other arrested man is believed to be a priest with possible connections to the guest house.

BBC News home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the police investigation centred on claims that the guest house was used by people to abuse boys from the home.

The allegations were investigated at the time but resurfaced in October after Mr Watson raised the case in Parliament and called for further inquiries.

'Utmost priority'
Commander Peter Spindler, head of the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Investigations unit, said the "complex multi-agency investigation" was supported by the NSPCC charity, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and Richmond Social Services.

He said anyone affected by, or has information about, activity in the early 1980s at the guest house or care home should contact the NSPCC or police.

In a statement, Richmond Council said it considered "the safeguarding of all children and young people as an utmost priority and we take any allegations of abuse very seriously".

A spokesman added: "We are offering our full support and co-operation to the police during their investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

The NSPCC said its helpline number 0800 800 5000 was staffed by trained counsellors 24 hours a day. People with information could also use the email address to contact them.

NSPCC helpline director Peter Watt said: "We will assist the police in gathering evidence and supporting those who come forward. It's important we recognise the massive impact abuse has on children and young people, often well into their adult life."

(3rd March 2013)


(BBC News, dated 5th February 2013 author Judith Burns)

Pupils as young as five should be given lessons in how to use the internet safely, urge campaigners.

The call comes amid fears that children are increasingly exposed to online pornography and forced to send indecent images of themselves to others.

The charity ChildLine is holding assemblies in every UK primary school to tell children how to stay safe in the digital age.

Claire Lilley, of the NSPCC, said: "We are facing an e-safety time bomb." Ms Lilley said online abuse was one of the biggest child

protection issues of our time. "Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on scale never before seen.

'Huge' dangers

"The internet and mobile phones are now part and parcel of young people's everyday lives. They are the first generation who have never known a world without them.

"The benefits are huge, both socially and educationally, but so too are the dangers."

ChildLine says its helpline took some 3,745 calls about abuse via the internet and mobile phones last year, with most callers aged between 12 and 15. Some 250 callers said they were being groomed for sex online. There was also a 70% increase in calls about online pornography with 641 calls, some from children as young as 11 years old.

The campaigners also highlighted previous research which has shown that many teenagers see "sexting" and hard core pornography as "mundane", while cyberbullying is a growing and insidious problem.

On Monday the Child Exploitation and Online Protection group (CEOP) warned that paedophiles are increasingly forcing children to carry out sexual acts online.

The NSPCC says that schools need to step in as the issue is something that parents struggle to keep up with.

It is calling for lessons in all schools on internet safety with young people themselves sharing tips for keeping safe online and more advice for parents on how to talk to their children about the issue - just as they would about being wary of drugs or strangers.

Blanket filtering
It also wants all internet service providers to provide easy systems to allow parents to install online blocks and filters in their homes.

However some experts argued against blanket filtering of the internet. Phil Bradley, of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, described it as "like using a hammer to crack a nut".

He warned that blanket filtering could have unintended consequences such as blocking legitimate websites on sexual health and identity.

"When it comes to the internet... children need to learn how to use it safely and how to differentiate the good from the bad."

A government spokeswoman said web safety was taught in schools as part of the personal, social and health curriculum but it shouldn't just be left to teachers.

"Just as parents would teach their children to cross the road safely, they should also help them learn how to stay safe online.

"The industry also has a vital role to play. Websites children use to network should be fully moderated and internet companies should provide parents with all the tools and information they need - including access to parental controls."

Tips for promoting internet safety are available online on Tuesday, 5 February, which is Safer Internet Day.

uaware further information


To report this type of crime contact your local Police or CEOP.

CEOP website :

Help for victims, call Childline : 0800 1111 or go to their website :


 (5th February 2013)


(Police Oracle, dated 21st January 2013 author Jasmin McDermott)  [Option 1]

A force has become the first in the country to produce an innovative crime prevention iBook to reach a wider audience in its community.

North Yorkshire Police launched the 60-page book called Securing Your Home on January 14 which details various crime prevention tips for residents as well as featuring videos from officers and PCSOs discussing their top prevention tips.

The interactive book, which is free to download from iTunes or through a link on the force's website, contains chapters on bogus callers, burglary prevention, property marking, vehicle security and rural crime.

It also provides links to other online resources including, and an interactive safety checklist.

It even explains detailed technical information about securing doors and windows, lighting and burglar alarms.

The book is compatible with the iPad and iPad Mini and officers will be developing a similar version as early as next week for other devices including the iPhone and Android phones.

Explaining the virtual book the force's Digital Media Officer Tom Stirling said it only took a month to compile the chapters using a free iBooks Author application from Apple.

He told "We are always looking for innovative ways to communicate with the public and when we looked at statistics for the website we saw a lot of people were accessing the site through their iPad.

"We knew there was a market out there for something like this and people like to visit North Yorkshire's website so this book is designed specifically for them.

"We created it from scratch but it did not take long to compile the information because almost all of it was available on the website.

"All of our tips and advice can be accessed in one place whenever people need it."

After compiling the book it was submitted to Apple for approval as an iBook before it was available to download.

Mr Stirling added: "We will create a PDF version of the book for other applications and we will continue to look at getting it published on Kindle's."

uaware further information

North Yorkshire Police webpage with information on Crime prevention book :

As of 4th February 2013 a pdf version of the Crime prevention book is available on the same webpage.

(4th February 2013)


(The Register, dated 2nd February 2013 author Neil McAllister)  [Option 1]

If you find that your Twitter password doesn't work the next time you try to login, you won't be alone. The service was busy resetting

passwords and revoking cookies on Friday, following an online attack that may have leaked the account data of approximately 250,000 users.

"This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data," Bob Lord,

Twitter's director of information security, writes in a blog post.

According to Lord, Twitter was able to shut down the attack within moments of discovering it, but not before the attackers were able to make off with what he calls "limited user information," including usernames, email addresses, session tokens, and the encrypted and salted versions of passwords.
The encryption on such passwords is generally difficult to crack - but it's not impossible, particularly if the attacker is familiar with the algorithm used to encrypt them.

As a precaution, Lord says Twitter has reset the passwords of all 250,000 affected accounts - which, he observes, is just "a small percentage" of the more than 140 million Twitter users worldwide.

If yours is one of the accounts involved, you'll need to enter a new password the next time you login. Lord reminds all Twitter users to choose strong passwords - he recommends 10 or more characters, with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols - because simpler passwords are easier to guess using brute-force methods. In addition, he recommends against using the same password on multiple sites.

Lord says Twitter's investigation is ongoing, and that it's taking the matter extremely seriously, particularly in light of recent attacks experienced by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal:

This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked. For that reason we felt that it was important to publicize this attack while we still gather information, and we are helping government and federal law enforcement in their effort to find and prosecute these attackers to make the Internet safer for all users.
Although the attack took place this week, it seems to have no relationship to the outage that took Twitter offline for several hours on Thursday. On the other hand, however, Lord's post does make rather cryptic mention of the US Department of Homeland Security's recent recommendation that users disable the Java plug-in in their browsers. He mentions Java twice, in fact.

While it's true that the Java plug-in contains multiple known vulnerabilities and that numerous security experts have warned that it should be considered unsafe, the connection between Java and the attack Twitter experienced isn't clear - and Twitter reps didn't respond to The Registers request for clarification

(5th February 2013)


(Sky News, dated 4th February 2013)

Article link :

Children are increasingly being groomed by paedophiles for purely online sexual abuse, a new report has found. Child protection officers are concerned about the growing number of cases where physical contact with the children does not appear to be a motivation for the offenders involved.
The number of children targeted online by sex offenders with a view to meeting them in person fell last year, according to the report from the University of Birmingham and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre.
The report also suggests some children are more at risk from online abuse than others.
Factors such as parental or carer involvement in a child's online life, as well as personal issues such as low self-esteem, loneliness or confusion about their sexuality can all play a crucial role in a child's online protection.
Children whose internet activities are monitored and who have an open dialogue with their parents about what they do or see online are better protected from offenders and more resilient to the techniques they use.
Adolescents who take risks online by having sexualised chats or exchanging sexual images are particularly prone to the increasingly sophisticated and coercive tactics of online predators.
Peter Davies, chief executive at Ceop, said: "For a growing proportion of grooming cases reported to us, online abuse is an end in itself.
"Children may be targeted because of their vulnerability but any child can be a victim. What is apparent is that parents and carers can make that vital difference whether or not a child becomes a victim of these ruthless predators online."
The rise in smartphone usage raised particular concern with six out of ten 12-15 year olds now owning one - an increase of 21% in the last year.
But built-in cameras and a new generation of messaging apps are giving children the ability to easily communicate and share images with strangers online.
The study found that instant messaging was used to make contact with children in around one third of reports of inappropriate sexual contact and that more than two thirds of parents of 12-15 year olds with a phone that can be used to go online do not have parental controls or 'filters'.
This compares to the one in two parents who have technical controls in place for their child's PC or laptop.
Claire Lilly, from the NSPCC, said: "The internet is part and parcel of young lives and most can't remember a world before it existed. "We cannot put the genie back in the bottle, but we can talk to young people and educate them on staying safe online just as we do about stranger danger or drugs.
"We are seeing a sharp rise in young people contacting ChildLine about being approached online, sending images to strangers or being exposed to online pornography.
"A new generation of smartphone apps are presenting yet more problems. Ceop are doing a great job in tracking down ever-more sophisticated offenders and technology companies are starting to improve their safeguards but this problem will not go away until everyone - ISPs, mobile phone companies, parents, schools and young people themselves - play their part in tackling it."

uaware further information

To report this type of crime contact your local Police or CEOP.

CEOP website :

Help for victims, call Childline : 0800 1111 or go to their website :

(4th February 2013)



(BBC News, dated 12th December 2012)

Also see article : Paedophiles targeting smartphone apps (above)

Two brothers, who worked together to use the internet to sexually abuse 110 children around the world, including 78 in the UK, have been jailed in Kuwait.

Mohammed Khalaf Al Ali Alhamadi, 35, and Yousef Al Ali Alhamadi, 27, targeted victims aged 12-16.

The pair were jailed at a court following an investigation led by Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

They were convicted of blackmail relating to sex abuse offences.

The pair often pretended to be someone the children already knew on social networking and instant messaging applications,

They would trick victims into giving them their online passwords using a link, before threatening them into "engaging in sexual activities via webcam," Ceop said.

Following the arrest of the abusers, Ceop worked with the Kuwaiti authorities, international police forces and child protection agencies in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Jersey, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden and the United States.

Online safety
Ceop launched a media appeal in December 2011, encouraging UK victims to come forward, in order to identify them.

And a special NSPCC helpline number was set up as part of the investigation for UK children to report the men.

Ceop deputy chief executive Andy Baker said: "These two individuals mistakenly thought that they could abuse children in the UK and elsewhere and not be caught for their crimes.

"Today has seen justice for their victims after a challenging investigation.

"This illustrates once again how officers from Ceop and other law enforcement agencies will go the extra mile to protect children from abuse, wherever they are in the world.

"Offenders who think they can contact, coerce and cause harm to young people via the internet without facing the consequences need to take note of this conviction."

The centre is now asking parents who buy internet-enabled devices for their children at Christmas to consider online safety measures.

(4th February 2013)



(The Telegraph, dated 27th January 2013 author Wesley Johnson)  [Option 1]

Thousands of violent criminals, sex offenders and burglars were let off with a caution amid concerns from magistrates that police were infringing upon sentencing powers which should be left to the courts.

John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, has written to Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, to call for an inquiry into police use of cautions, which can help stretched forces cut down on paperwork.

"It seems to have got out of hand, to be honest," he said.

Cautions were "constantly being used for violent and sexual offences", he added, robbing victims of their chance for compensation and to see the offender in court.

Mr Fassenfelt went on: "When you see continuous cautions being given out you do begin to think the police are using them for some other reason.

"I can understand to a degree that they're cutting down on paperwork, but surely victims deserve some paperwork?"

One in four (27%) criminals responsible for "violence against the person" was let off with a caution in the 12 months to June last year, along with one in five (19%) sex offenders and one in 10 (11%) burglars, Ministry of Justice figures showed.

More than 14,000 violent criminals, 1,400 sex offenders and 2,900 burglars avoided court after being let off with cautions.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: "Police cautions have fallen by 42% and out of court disposals by 38% over the past five years.

"I am already looking into how police cautions are being used.

"We shouldn't remove the right for police officers to exercise discretion but the public are right to expect that people who commit serious crimes will be brought before a court where very tough sentences are available."

It comes after a report by the Centre for Crime Prevention found earlier this month that more than 90,000 of the worst serial offenders avoided jail last year as the numbers soared by a quarter in five years.

They were handed cautions, fines and community sentences by police and the courts after going back to crime.

Campaigners said there were now more serious, repeat offenders on the streets than there were jail places, as the figures fuelled fears that the criminal justice system is soft on repeat offenders.

The number of repeat offenders with at least 15 previous convictions or cautions rose by a third last year to 108,119 from 81,204 in 2006/7, while the number with at least 10 previous convictions or cautions was up by a quarter from 112,956 to 140,168.

(3rd February 2013)



Yahoo email patch ineffective, security researchers say
(Computer World, dated 9th January 2013 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article :

Security researchers say a patch released by Yahoo earlier this week for a serious email vulnerability did not fix the problem, leaving users at risk.

The cross-site scripting flaw was found by Shahin Ramezany, who goes by the nickname "Abysssec." The vulnerability can allow an attacker to harvest a victim's cookie for their Yahoo account if the victim is successfully tricked into clicking on a malicious link.

The vulnerability was patched by Yahoo on Monday, but penetration testing company Offensive Security and Ramezany say that the patch did not fix the problem.

"With little modification to the original proof-of-concept code written by Abysssec, it is still possible to exploit the original Yahoo vulnerability, allowing an attacker to completely take over a victim's account," Offensive Security wrote on its blog.

Ransomware scammers push panic button with bogus claims
(Computer World, dated 26th December 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full article :

Cyber extortionists shilling "ransomware" have upped the ante by pushing users' panic buttons with claims that their malware will wipe hard drives, a security firm said Monday.

The claim is bogus, said Symantec, and is simply a ploy by scammers preying on people's fears.

"This is an attempt to extort money from computer users by taking advantage of human weakness when under panic and pressure," wrote Symantec researcher Jeet Morparia in a Dec. 24 blog post.

Ransomware is a long-standing label for malware that, once on a personal computer, cripples the machine or encrypts its files, then displays a ransom note that demands payment to restore control to the owner. The technique, flatly called "an extortion racket" by Symantec last month, has been in use for at least six years. Until relatively recently, it was rare and ineffective and seen mostly in Eastern Europe.

Digital citizens group focuses on internet safety
(Computer World, dated 20th December 2012 author Grant Gross)

Full article :

An Internet safety education campaign will point out scams and other online dangers with an initial target audience of children and seniors.

The new Digital Citizens campaign, launched Thursday, will also strive to shed light on the online sale of counterfeit goods, including prescription drugs, and on pirated Web content, said Tom Galvin, executive director of the new group. Digital Citizens will investigate online scams by showing how people can get fooled -- for example, one of the first projects will be to purchase counterfeit drugs from online pharmacies, he said.

Digital Citizens will also attempt to demonstrate the ties of counterfeit products and scams to criminal groups, he said. "There are large criminal enterprises out there," Galvin said. "What we see is an online Mafia that is spreading out into numerous illegal activities because they see they can make a profit."

Digital Citizens website :


(3rd February 2013)


(BBC News, dated 16th January 2013)

A security check on a US company has reportedly revealed one of its staff was outsourcing his work to China.

The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay.

He reportedly paid just a fifth of his six-figure salary to a company based in Shenyang to do his job.

Operator Verizon says the scam came to light after the US firm asked it for an audit, suspecting a security breach.

According to Andrew Valentine, of Verizon, the infrastructure company requested the operator's risk team last year to investigate some anomalous activity on its virtual private network (VPN) logs.

"This organisation had been slowly moving toward a more telecommuting oriented workforce, and they had therefore started to allow their developers to work from home on certain days. In order to accomplish this, they'd set up a fairly standard VPN concentrator approximately two years prior to our receiving their call," he was quoted as saying on an internet security website.

The company had discovered the existence of an open and active VPN connection from Shenyang to the employee's workstation that went back months, Mr Valentine said.

And it had then called on Verizon to look into what it had suspected had been malware used to route confidential information from the company to China.

"Central to the investigation was the employee himself, the person whose credentials had been used to initiate and maintain a VPN connection from China," said Mr Valentine.

Further investigation of the employee's computer had revealed hundreds of PDF documents of invoices from the Shenyang contractor, he added.

The employee, an "inoffensive and quiet" but talented man versed in several programming languages, "spent less than one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him", Mr Valentine said.

"Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day," he added.

"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about $50,000 (£31,270) annually."

The employee no longer worked at the firm, Mr Valentine said.

(3rd February 2013)


(The Guardian, dated 13th January 2013 author Misha Glenny)  [Option 1]

Ukip and large parts of the Conservative party must have been unnerved by the inauguration last week of Europol's Cybercrime Centre, dubbed EC3. While EC3 is not able to open investigations into cybercriminal activity across Europe, it comes as close to a pan-European police force as anything we have yet seen.

As outlined by its director, Troels Oehting, when fully operative in two years' time EC3 will have an unrivalled forensic capacity on which all EU police forces will depend. Its advocates argue that without fully institutionalised co-operation among its countless law enforcement agencies, Europe will lose the struggle against cybercrime before it has even properly started. As far as online criminals are concerned, they say, borders are meaningless.

And the stats are on their side. Last year EU citizens lost €1.5bn to credit and debit card fraud, said Cecilia Malmström, the EU commissioner for home affairs, at the EC3 press launch. We all worry about having our credit cards cloned, but "high volume, low impact" crime of that type is the least damaging sector of criminal activity on the web.

Cybercrime has become acute since 2008, when two critical but unrelated events took place. In October that year the FBI, working with Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and other European police forces, succeeded in closing down the DarkMarket website. DarkMarket was the last major English-language forum devoted to cyber criminal activity on the internet. Its demise led most "carders" - as the most common form of cyber criminals are known due to their focus on credit and debit card fraud - to give up on these forums as they were too easily penetrated by law enforcement officers. Instead, they went deeper underground, becoming ever more difficult for police to trace.

Even more momentous than the end of DarkMarket, however, was the collapse of Lehman Brothers, triggering the banking crisis and a recession in several parts of the world. As is usual in a recession, traditional organised crime syndicates register a downturn in commodity and service trades, such as the sale of narcotics or the trafficking of women for sexual purposes and turn to financial fraud. With a dearth of capital available, opportunities for fraud and loan-sharking increase. What these groups discovered on this occasion was that the internet had transformed the nature of financial fraud - profits were relatively high and risks low.

The combination of DarkMarket and Lehman led to the emergence of a more powerful hierarchy of cybercriminal activity that concentrated ever less on card fraud (which, despite the high volume, has now levelled out across Europe) and ever more on cyber-commercial espionage and extortion.

In 2010, large businesses and government institutions were reporting two major attacks a day to the UK's Office of Cyber Security. Last year that figure had risen to a staggering daily total of 500. The flood of attacks on Britain has prompted the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, to come out of the shadows to warn of the damage inflicted by this increasingly systematic assault on networked systems in Britain. Describing the increase in attacks as "astonishing", he pointed out that in 2011 one UK company lost £800m because of a single breach of its computers.

One of the key driving forces behind the establishment of Europol's EC3 is the British director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, a former senior Soca officer, whose dynamic style has shaken up what was previously a rather dusty and, dare one say, plodding institution.

Ironically, anti-European sentiment in Britain and Denmark (Oerting's home country) has consistently warned against the deepening co-operation of law enforcement. In its election manifesto, Ukip described Europol as one of the institutions acting "to undermine our legal and constitutional system". It may feel differently about EC3 if its own computer systems are ever hacked.

(3rd February 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 15th January 2013 author Justin Davenport)  [Option 1]

Thefts of mobile phones are rocketing in London with more than 300 being stolen in the capital every day.

New statistics show a total of 9,751 mobiles were stolen in thefts or robberies last month - a 64 per cent rise on the number stolen in London in December three years ago.

The Met is in talks with Apple in an effort to make iPhones more secure but, privately, police admit that mobile phone companies are unlikely to take serious action when every phone theft means someone probably buying another handset.

It comes as shocking video footage emerged showing a man having his mobile phone snatched in just a few seconds as he texts someone while standing in a street.

One moment he is standing casually on the pavement texting a friend with the phone in one hand.

Suddenly, a hooded cyclist streaks past at high speed and snatches the mobile from his hand, leaving him helpless and furious.

The incident took place on Essex Road in Islington in June and highlights the growing plague of smartphone thefts in London.

Today Scotland Yard launches an advertising campaign to alert Londoners to the risks of phone and jewellery snatches. Police are highlighting how valuable smartphones and tablets are to thieves.
One advert showing a mobile phone reads: "I see easy cash so I run up to him and grab it from his hand."
Another pictures a tablet device such as an iPad and another features jewellery.

Police say they are dealing with a 20 per cent increase in the number of snatches and thefts of mobile phones in London.

Around half of all mobiles stolen are Apple iPhones.

Police say snatches and thefts - many by thieves on bikes or mopeds - are driving a surge in theft rates in London.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Letchford, the crime lead for the Met's street policing operation, said: "We're trying to make people think differently with this campaign - having your personal possessions on show gives robbers a chance to make easy money.

"The impact of losing a phone is not just its market value but it can have a huge emotional impact on people's lives. Often people's whole lives are contained on their phone with contacts and photographs. These can't always be replaced."

He added: "Just being conscious of where you are and being careful about when you display your valuables can help you avoid being targeted. "

The latest statistics show snatches of mobiles are driving a surge of 20 per cent in theft rates in London

Many are opportunistic thefts by youths on bikes or mopeds - but others, mainly thefts from crowded bars, are organised by mainly Eastern European crime gangs.

Police say the vast majority of 38,018 thefts in the last nine months were of mobile phones.

The Met's analysis of crime figures show most victims are young professional women and most thefts take place in pubs and clubs.

Undercover officers are now targeting hotspots where mobiles are being stolen. In one recent operation police arrested a man emerging from a nightclub in north London with five phones on him which he had stolen inside.

Police say the smart phones are either being sold in batches abroad or are advertised here on Internet sites such as eBay or Gumtree where the latest version of the iPhone can be sold for £550.

Many people fail to check them first and then find that they cannot get a signal, a sign that the network has been switched off because the phone has been reported lost or stolen.

(3rd February 2013)


(BBC News, dated 14th January 2013)

A major cyber-attack that may have been stealing confidential documents since 2007 has been discovered by Russian researchers.

Kaspersky Labs told the BBC the malware targeted government institutions such as embassies, nuclear research centres and oil and gas institutes.

It was designed to steal encrypted files - and was even able to recover files that had been deleted.

One expert described the attack find as "very significant".

"It appears to be trying to suck up all the usual things - word documents, PDFs, all the things you'd expect," said Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey.

"But a couple of the file extensions it's going after are very specific encrypted files."

In a statement, Kaspersky Labs said: "The primary focus of this campaign targets countries in Eastern Europe, former USSR Republics, and countries in Central Asia, although victims can be found everywhere, including Western Europe and North America.

"The main objective of the attackers was to gather sensitive documents from the compromised organisations, which included geopolitical intelligence, credentials to access classified computer systems, and data from personal mobile devices and network equipment."

'Carefully selected'
In an interview with the BBC, the company's chief malware researcher Vitaly Kamluk said victims had been carefully selected.

"It was discovered in October last year," Mr Kamluk said.

"We initiated our checks and quite quickly understood that is this a massive cyber-attack campaign.

"There were a quite limited set of targets that were affected - they were carefully selected. They seem to be related to some high-profile organisations."

Red October - which is named after a Russian submarine featured in the Tom Clancy novel The Hunt For Red October - bears many similarities with Flame, a cyber-attack discovered last year.

Like Flame, Red October is made up of several distinct modules, each with a set objective or function.

"There is a special module for recovering deleted files from USB sticks," Mr Kamluk said.

"It monitors when a USB stick is plugged in, and it will try to undelete files. We haven't seen anything like that in a malware before."

Also unique to Red October was its ability to hide on a machine as if deleted, said Prof Woodward.

"If it's discovered, it hides.

"When everyone thinks the coast is clear, you just send an email and 'boof' it's back and active again."

Cracked encryption
Other modules were designed to target files encrypted using a system known as Cryptofiler - an encryption standard that used to be in widespread use by intelligence agencies but is now less common.

Prof Woodward explained that while Cryptofiler is no longer used for extremely sensitive documents, it is still used by the likes of Nato for protecting privacy and other information that could be valuable to hackers.

Red October's targeting of Cryptofiler files could suggest its encryption methods had been "cracked" by the attackers.

Like most malware attacks, there are clues as to its origin - however security experts warn that any calling cards found within the attack's code could in fact be an attempt to throw investigators off the real scent.

Kaspersky's Mr Kamluk said the code was littered with broken, Russian-influenced English.

"We've seen use of the word 'proga' - a slang word common among Russians which means program or application. It's not used in any other language as far as we know."

But Prof Woodward added: "In the sneaky old world of espionage, it could be a false flag exercise. You can't take those things at face value."

Kaspersky's research indicated there were 55,000 connection targets within 250 different IP addresses. In simpler terms, this means that large numbers of computers were infected in single locations - possibly government buildings or facilities.

A 100-page report into the malware is to be published later this week, the company said.


Red October is said to be one of the most significant attacks ever to be discovered. Key facts include:

- It has been operating since 2007
- Attackers created more than 60 domain names to run the attack, based mostly in Germany and Russia
- Specifically targeted "Cryptofiler" files - an encryption technique used by organisations like Nato and the EU
- Most infection connections were found coming from Switzerland, followed by Kazakhstan and Greece
- Intended targets received personalised correspondence based on gathered intelligence on individual people
- Unlike Stuxnet, another major cyber-attack, Red October is not believed to have caused any physical damage to infrastructure, concentrating solely on stealing information

Source: Kaspersky Labs

(3rd February 2013)

(BBC News, dated 17th January 2013)

Cyber-criminals have invented a cunning new method of targeting victims by developing a system that behaves like a bouncer at an exclusive nightclub.

Security firm RSA revealed how attackers assigned targets with a unique ID, meaning the scam could be aimed at specific people.

If a person's ID was not on the list, their computer would not be affected.

RSA said the advanced threat posed a new "detection challenge" to the security industry.

In a blog post, RSA cybercrime specialist Limor Kessem wrote: "As we adapt and improve our detection systems, we are reminded that in the never-ending cat-and-mouse game, only the nimble will survive."

The so-called Bouncer Phishing Kit targets preset lists of email addresses. For each target, a unique ID is automatically generated, creating a unique web address for the user to click on.

If someone has an ID that does not match the list of intended targets, they will simply be presented with a 404 Error page, and will be unharmed.

If, however, a person is one of the unfortunate ones, the same page will instead spring into life as an "attack page" ready to steal user credentials.

Using this method means attackers can harvest data from certain groups of users, rather than having to sift through large amounts of data.

For example, the Bouncer Phishing Kit could be used to gather personal details on people in one particular country.

"It holds this [bouncer] moniker because much like many high-profile night-time hotspots - if your name is not on the list, you're staying out," Mr Kessem said.

"Traditional phishers like to cast as wide of a net as possible.

"But with this tactic the phisher is laser-focusing the campaign in an effort to collect only the most pertinent credentials for his purposes.

"Keeping out uninvited guests also means avoiding security companies and prompt take-downs of such attacks."

Phishing is a growing problem for internet users. According to RSA's data, attacks of this type were up 59% in 2012 compared with the previous year, and cost the global economy $1.5bn (£940m).

What is phishing ?

Phishing is a tactic used by cybercriminals to trick users into sharing personal data.

Typically, this is by pretending to be a legitimate website - such as as popular social network, or online banking. Assuming they are on the real site, users will enter their username and password, only for them then to be stolen.

Other phishing attacks can make use of emails designed to look like they come from a trustworthy source.

Internet users can take several common-sense steps to prevent being caught out, such as double-checking web addresses look legitimate, rather than a misspelling such as

Using the latest version of your internet browser, as well as up-to-date security software, will give you extra help.

The UK Payment Council has set up a website with advice on how to stay protected from phishing scams :

(3rd February 2013)


(Infosecurity Magazine, dated 30th January 2013)

Full article :  [Option 1]\

Dubbed 'Bill Shocker' because it sends surreptitious and costly text messages, the malware is largely confined to China but has the potential to infect any Android user anywhere. Bill Shocker was discovered by NQ Mobile and disclosed today.

The malware can take remote control of an Android device, including the contact list, internet connections and dialing and texting functions. "Once the malware has turned the phone into a 'zombie'," warns NQ, "the infection uses the device to send text messages to the profit of advertisers. In many cases, the threat will overrun the user's bundling quota, which subjects the user to additional charges."

The malware is capable of upgrading itself and expanding to other apps - which is what makes its potential spread from China to the rest of the world more worrying.

In an attempt to prevent this spread, NQ has updated its own security product (which has a 63% market share in China) to include an 'inoculation', and has alerted Chinese carriers to the threat. It advises all Android users to download apps only from trusted sources, to closely monitor the permissions requested by an app, to watch out for unusual behaviour, and to use a trusted third party security scanner able to scan downloaded apps for security issues.

(3rd February 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 21st January 2013 author Justin Davenport)   [Option 1]

Police in London are using mobile fingerprint scanners that can detect suspects within two minutes.
About 350 devices are being used in police response cars to carry out roadside checks on people's identities.

The technology is also being used to identify quickly unconscious or fatal victims at accident scenes and to identify murder victims.

The fingerprint scanners which are little more than the size of a mobile phone are now being rolled out in 15 London boroughs. The device checks the print against a database held on the Police National Computer.

If there is a record on the PNC, it will tell the officer who the person is and whether they are missing, wanted or an illegal immigrant. Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher, who is in charge of Barnet police, said: "These devices are likely to save a considerable amount of unnecessary investigation by my officers, who often have to deal with people who try to conceal their identity, and represent another useful weapon in our war on crime."

Officers recently stopped a Romanian man and the identity he gave differed from his fingerprint identification. Police raided his home and arrested several other Romanian nationals for immigration offences.

Mr Usher added: "There are many benefits, most obviously by ensuring that those wanted for crime are not free to carry on their offending.

"But also, by confirming an identity, police may not need to make an arrest and can deal with a person by means of street-bail."

He said the devices also meant innocent people could be eliminated from inquiries. The devices are being used in Lambeth, Southwark, Newham, Westminster, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Brent, Croydon, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Barnet.

Other units including the Territorial Support Group and traffic groups are also using them. In earlier trials the scanners were used in roadside checks during policing of the Royal Wedding and at the Notting Hill Carnival.

More recently they have been used in the war on drugs in the West End and helped reveal a suspected female trafficking victim who had arrived at Victoria coach station with a Romanian family.

(3rd February 2013)



The following extracts of articles that have appeared recently indicate that governmental hacking is on the increase. If large US administrations are taking appropriate precautions what soft under belly are the cyber criminals going to hit instead ? Can the UK rely on other countries and multi-national companies to protect its "back door" ?

Unseen, all-out war on the US has begun
(Computer World, dated 28th January 2013 author Bob Violino)

Full article :  [Option 1]

There's a war going on, and it's raging here at home -- not in the streets or the fields, but on the Internet. You can think of it as a war on the digital homeland. If you work for a power company, bank, defense contractor, transportation provider, or other critical infrastructure type of operation, your organization might be in the direct line of fire. And everyone can become collateral damage.

A cyber war has been brewing for at least the past year, and although you might view this battle as governments going head to head in a shadow fight, security experts say the battleground is shifting from government entities to the private sector, to civilian targets that provide many essential services to U.S. citizens.

Pentagon to add thousands of new cybersecurity jobs
(Computer World, dated 29th January 2013 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article :   [Option 1]

The Pentagon is planning to expand its cybersecurity force nearly fivefold over the next several years in a bid to bolster its defensive and offensive computer capabilities.

The plan is to add about 4,000 more military and civilian employees to the existing 900 staffers in the Defense Department's Cyber Command, the Washington Post reported today, citing several unnamed sources.

The planned expansion is in response to growing threats against critical U.S. assets in cyberspace, a defense official told Computerworld on Monday.

"As Secretary Panetta stated in his cyber speech last October, we are faced with an increasing threat of a cyber attack that could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11," the official said. "The department recognizes this growing danger and is working with a sense of urgency to put the right policies and structures in place to enable us to carry out our role."

UK Signs world economic forums cyber-resilience initiative
(Infosecurity Magazine, dated 25th January 2013)

Full article :    [Option 1]

The UK government has become the latest to sign the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Partnering for Cyber Resilience initiative, a set of principles delineating that nations and companies work together, share information and develop joint risk management programs to thwart cyber crime.
In signing the initiative, the UK joins more than 70 companies and government bodies across 15 sectors and 25 countries in committing to a set of principles designed to ensure secure and resilient digital global networks via partnership.

"We hope that signing the World Economic Forum Principles on Cyber Resilience will encourage business leaders all over the world to lead the way in creating shared principles for a resilient and thriving Internet," said William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in a statement.

(3rd February 2013)

(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd December 2012)   [Option 1]

Hart in Hampshire has clung onto its crown as the UK district with the best quality of life.
The idyllic district centred on the town of Fleet beat long-term winner Elmbridge in Surrey for the second year running according to

Halifax's annual Quality of Life report measuring employment, health, life expectancy, crime rates, weather and house prices.

The survey shows districts in South East England to be increasingly more desirable, with 30 districts in the top 50, up from 27 last year.

Tunbridge Wells, Wokingham, Waverley, Chiltern and Sevenoaks are all in the top 10.

There are just six areas outside the south in the top 50 - Rushcliffe in Nottingham (22nd), South Northamptonshire (30th), Rutland (36th), Solihull in Birmingham (42nd), South Kesteven in Lincolnshire (46th), and Harborough in Leicestershire (47th). Nowhere in North England, Scotland and Wales made the grade.

Hart, in the north-east corner of Hampshire, has been dubbed "a step back in time", with 84 square miles of green wooded landscape and Hampshire's largest freshwater lake.

Halifax economist Martin Ellis said: "While not necessarily being the leading district across all measures, Hart comes out on top because it scores consistently highly across nearly all indicators. In particular, Hart residents enjoy good health, high employment, low crime, and high quality schooling."

The study shows Hart residents can expect to live longer than the average Briton, with the average life expectancy at 81.7 years for men, compared to the national average of 79.

Employment in Hart is well above the national average (70.2%) at 78.6% and crimes rates are among the lowest in the country.

Elmbridge in Surrey, known locally as "Britain's Beverly Hills", topped the survey in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and still has higher weekly earnings at £1,162 than Hart's £830.

Wokingham held the title for a year in 2007 only to be toppled by Elmbridge once more.

uaware additional information

Full Halifax report :

The report takes into account the following subjects area's :

- Employment rate
- Health condition of residents
- Life expectancy of residents
- Crime rate
- Broadband speed
- Weather / climate
- Traffic levels
- Population density
- Polution
- Education
- Earnings

Halifax Quaulity of Life Rankings by local authority 2012 - TOP 40

The index has been produced at a local authority district level for all 405 Local Authority Districts in the UK.

1. Hart / South East
2. Elmbridge / South East
3. Tunbridge Well / South East
4. Workingham / South East
5. Waverley / South East
6. Uttlesford / South East
7. Chelmsford / Essex
8. Chiltern / South East
9  East Hertfordshire / East of England
10. Sevenoaks / Kent
11. St Albans / Hertfordshire
12. Maldon / Essex
13. Windsor and Maidenhead / South East
14. Reigate and Banstead / Surrey
15. Surrey Heath / South East
16. South Cambridge / East of England
17. South Buckinghamshire / South East
18. Epsom and Ewell / South East
19. Kensington and Chelsea / London
20. Bracknell Forest / South East
21. Horsham / South East
22. Rushcliffe / East Midlands
23. Mole Valley / South East
24. Richmond upon Thames / London
25. Guildford / Surrey
26. Vale of White Horse / South East
27. Rochford / Essex
28. Brentwood / Essex
29. Wycombe / South East
30. South Northamptonshire / East Midlands
31. South Oxfordshire / South East
32. Mid Sussex / South East
33. Bromley / London
34. Winchester / Hampshire
35. Fareham / Hampshire
36. Rutland / East Midlands
37. Aylesbury Vale / South East
38. Maidstone / Kent
39. West Oxforshire / South East
40. Tandridge / South East

(2nd February 2013)


(The Register, dated 30th January 2013 author Iain Thomson)

Full article :  [Option 1]

The FBI has announced the arrest of a 27-year-old man over charges that he hacked into the data of over 350 female victims and blackmailed them into providing him with nude photographs and video calls.

Karen "Gary" Kazaryan, 27, was arrested in Glendale, California on Tuesday after being indicted on 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, and faces a possible 105 years in the Big House if convicted. Police found over 3,000 images of women he is claimed to have targeted on his computer. Kazaryan hacked into women's computers and email accounts in search for images of the victim unclothed, as well as any passwords and details on their female friends. He would then contact these friends, pretending to be the victim, and persuade them to disrobe so he could take pictures of them.
Police say over 350 women have been traced from Kazaryan's records so far, but others are still unidentified.

Sadly, these cases are becoming more and more common, and malware writers are increasingly catching on. Pictures have been stolen via peer-to-peer, social networking, and custom malware, and then used to extort more from the victims, who often keep quiet for fear of embarrassment.

For those with such saucy snaps, the solution is straightforward - air-gap them on offline storage like an SD card or portable hard drive whenever possible, and contact the police if you are targeted. Any embarrassment from an investigation could be as naught compared to the satisfaction of seeing a scumbag behind bars.

(3rd February 2013)



(London Evening Standard, dated 11th January 2013 author Rashid Razaq)      [Option 1]

Eight Met officers with a battering ram arrived to break down a professional photographer's door after a "find my phone" app wrongly indicated a stolen mobile was in the house.

Alastair Muir, 57, was at home with his two young daughters last Thursday when police prepared to break in.

"Luckily, I was in and spotted them through the window," said Mr Muir, of Camden. "I was completely open-mouthed. It looked like they were on a drugs raid. The sergeant said they had a warrant to search my property for a stolen phone. I was shocked."

Mr Muir was told a woman who works for Google UK fell asleep on a night bus in London on New Year's Eve and woke up to find her Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone had been stolen from her lap.

The police officer said the Android phone had an app similar to Apple's Find My iPhone program, which transmits a location signal after someone tries to tamper with the phone.

"I don't have any complaints against the officers," said Mr Muir. "They were polite and charming. They searched my property and it was obvious there was no stolen phone and nobody living there had stolen it.

"There is a building site next to me and an elderly couple on the other side. The police said the warrant was issued on the basis of the app, but the app is only accurate to within five metres so somebody could have been outside my house or even driving past when they tried to unlock the phone.

"What gets me is the cost of sending eight officers over a phone. What would they have done if we weren't home? I've just had my house refurbished and it would have cost £4,500 to replace the door."

A Met spokesman said: "Police attended an address regarding the possible location of a missing mobile phone. No crimes were discovered." He added that officers had used apps to find phones and tablets for over a year.

Google refused to confirm whether an employee's phone was stolen, but said several apps could locate missing devices.

(3rd February 2013)


(BBC News, dated 12th January 2013)

Many drivers face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to update their photo-card driving licences, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

It started issuing photo-card licences 15 years ago and more than 30 million drivers now have one.

These are usually valid for 10 years and there is a legal requirement for drivers to renew the photograph at the same time as they renew their licence. However, two million drivers have failed to do this.

And this means they could be fined up to £1,000 should they be pulled over by the police, who then discover that the photo and licence is out of date. Even failing to notify the DVLA that you have changed address could be costly.

Checking your licence
Photo-card driving licences are set to become mandatory in 2015, when new paper licences are officially phased out.

Victoria Ford from the DVLA believes the reasons for updating the photograph on your licence are clear.

"Appearances can change and it is important that photo-card licences are updated every 10 years to ensure the police and other enforcement agencies have the best possible photograph to help them correctly identify whether a driving licence is being used fraudulently," she says.

"This helps prevent driving licence impersonation - stopping disqualified and perhaps dangerous drivers taking to our roads."

If you change your address or name, you have to tell the DVLA, so that your driving licence and car registration details can be updated.
Towards the bottom of the card, you will find the address the authorities have for you. Normally the cost of renewing a licence is £20 but if you are merely updating your address, your new licence will be free.

Lack of knowledge
Research from LV Car Insurance shows that nearly a fifth of drivers they interviewed had no idea when their licence would run out, even though the expiry date is clearly shown on the front of the licence.

One in 10 admitted they had not renewed their licence for more than 10 years.

The DVLA says that it sends letters to drivers whose licences are about to expire, but it is concerned that not everyone will check.

But it is not just failure to keep your licence up to date that can land drivers in hot water.

Paul Watters from the AA thinks there are a number of other issues that drivers are not even aware of, but which could cost them dear. "There are quite a few things that drivers can be innocently get caught up in. For example, they may have insured their car, but their details may not appear on the Motor Insurance Database," he says. "Also many people don't check their V5 document to see if their car is registered to the correct address. You can check these things online," he points out.

The continuous insurance enforcement penalty is £100 and a failure to register a vehicle can be a £1,000 fine in the courts.

(3rd February 2013)


(London Evening Standard, dated 11th January 2013 authors Justin Davenport and Kiran Randhawa)  [Option 1]

Jimmy Savile could have been prosecuted for sex offences while he was still alive but for blunders by police and lawyers, it was revealed today.

Britain's chief prosecutor apologised for the failure to pursue four separate allegations against the BBC star, one made as recently as four years ago.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said there were failures by police in Sussex and Surrey and by the principal lawyer in dealing with the allegations. He issued a personal apology for the mistakes by the Crown Prosecution Service and announced a series of changes to improve the investigation  of allegations by child victims.

A review of the CPS decisions and the police action concluded that a prosecution could have been possible in three out of the four cases. At the time the CPS lawyer concluded that because none of the victims wished to give evidence, no prosecutions could be brought.

However, the review of their actions by the DPP found police should have told victims they were not alone in making complaints, and that the CPS lawyer should have challenged police conclusions.

The first police investigation was sparked by a complaint to officers in Surrey in 2007. A woman, now in her mid-forties, told Surrey police that Savile assaulted a girl of 14 or 15 at the Duncroft Children's home in Staines in the late Seventies.

Surrey police launched an inquiry and two further allegations against Savile were revealed, one involving an assault on a 14-year-old outside Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1973. Another police inquiry was launched in 2008 by Sussex Police after a complaint that Savile assaulted a woman in her twenties in a caravan in Sussex. An inquiry by the CPS into these complaints revealed that both forces became aware of each other's inquiries.

In October 2009, the CPS reviewing lawyer with responsibility for the cases advised that since none of the complainants was "prepared to support any police action", no prosecutions could be brought.

The review by the CPS chief legal advisor Alison Levitt QC concluded there was no evidence of any "improper motives" in the decisions by either police or lawyers. But she said the CPS lawyer should have challenged the police conclusions and sought to build a prosecution against Savile.

The Yewtree inquiry also found that four separate police forces received complaints about Savile.

Two of these were received by the Met about allegations of sexual abuse in London. One involved Savile assaulting a woman in a camper van in a BBC car park in the Eighties.

In 2003 another victim complained at a police station in west London of being touched inappropriately by Savile on Top of the Pops in 1973. A crime report was created but the victim did not wish to proceed and the case was dropped.

Jersey police also investigated Savile as part of the inquiry into abuse allegations at the island's Haut de la Garenne children's home. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary is now conducting an inquiry into claims of police failure to investigate Savile.

(3rd February 2013)


(BBC News, dated 11th January 2013)

Full Article :


Children as young as eight were abused by Jimmy Savile, a report detailing 50 years of allegations has revealed.

The Met Police and NSPCC outlined offences at 13 hospitals, including Great Ormond Street in London and Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds.

Some 214 crimes were recorded across 28 police force areas, including 34 of rape or penetration, the report said.

The CPS apologised for missing the opportunity to prosecute Savile in 2009, while he was still alive.

Police said the victims' accounts painted a "compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender", and Cdr Peter Spindler, who is leading the investigation, said Savile had "groomed the nation".

And the NSPCC said Savile was one of the most prolific sex offenders in its 129-year history.

'Sincere apology'
The former BBC presenter of Top Of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It, who also worked as a Radio 1 DJ and received a knighthood in 1990, died aged 84 in October 2011 - a year before the allegations emerged in an ITV documentary.

Revelations that Savile had sexually abused children prompted hundreds of victims to come forward, including those who said they were attacked on BBC premises and a number of other institutions.

NSPCC director of child protection advice and awareness Peter Watt said: "The sheer scale of Savile's abuse over six decades simply beggars belief.

"He is without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across and every number represents a victim that will never get justice now he is dead."

The Giving Victims a Voice report set out the findings of Operation Yewtree, which launched three months ago to investigate the Savile abuse claims.

The 30-page document detailed a number of findings, including:

- Savile offended at 13 hospitals, including Great Ormond Street, with one offence recorded at Wheatfields Hospice in 1977
- A total of 14 offences were recorded in relation to schools
- Savile's youngest victim was an eight-year-old boy, and the oldest was 47
- The earliest allegation is from 1955 in Manchester and the last is from 2009
- Offences were carried out at the BBC between 1965 and 2006, including at the last Top of the Pops recording
- Peak offending took place between 1966 and 1976
- A total of 450 people have made sexual abuse allegations against Savile since October - of whom 73% were under 18, with most aged 13 to 16
- There is "no clear evidence" he operated in paedophile ring, although "whether he was part of an informal network" is still being investigated

(3rd February 2012)


(The Guardian, dated 11th January 2013 author John Burn-Murdock)

Full article :

One in five women in England and Wales has been the victim of a sexual offence or attempted offence. For the first time the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Office for National Statistics have combined their data to provide a statistical overview of sexual offences.

60,000 - 95,000 people are estimated to be victims of rape each year in England and Wales (averaged estimate over last three years).

15,670 offences a year become recorded crimes.

3,850 offences a year become "detentions" - recorded crimes that proceed either to court or to an ou-of-court disposal.

2,910 people a year face court proceedings.

1,070 people a year are convicted of rape.

* Sources : MoJ, Home Office, ONS

Between 2009/10 and 2011/12 there were an estimated 78,000 victims of rape per year in England and Wales - 69,000 females and 9,000 males.

Over the same period there were an average of 1,070 convictions per year for the offence, though offenders and victims may nor relate to the same cases, since a single case can take years to be concluded.

The figures were published jointly in a statistical bulletin by the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.

Given its nature as an estimate, the figure of 78,000 is perhaps best stated alongside the upper and lower limits of its 95% confidence interval: 60,000 and 95,000 respectively.

Over the same three years an average of 15,670 rapes were recorded by the police each year.

This would give a recording rate somewhere between 16.5% and 26.1% using the upper and lower boundaries, but such figures should not be confused with a reporting rate, since not all reports are recorded as a crime.

As the MoJ report states, "Police record crime if the circumstances reported amount to a crime are defined in law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary."

The estimate of 78,000 rapes per year was calculated using data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, now administered by the Office for National Statistics.

The survey data also shows that in 2011/12 one in five females aged between 16 and 59 had been the victim of a sexual offence or attempted ofeence since the age of 16. Among males the figure was 2.7%.

4.6% of females - or approximately one in 20 - said they had been the victim of rape or attempted rape since the age of 16, falling slightly to 3.8% when attempted rape is excluded.

Speaking in response to the publication of the figures, Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said, "All sexual offences are abhorrent. Very tough sentences are available to the courts for those who commit the most serious offences including a new mandatory life sentence which we have introduced for anyone convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent crime."

(3rd February 2013)



- 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 !

(1st January 2013)