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NEWS 2017 will soon be found within the ARCHIVE menu, labelled ARCHIVE 2017



Personal Safety

- Always be aware of where you are, be familiar with your surroundings (exits etc).
- Be aware of alternative ways to get home from work if using either public transport or your own means (car).
- Be aware of how you can walk home from your place of work, the shops or an excursion
- Always use a licenced taxi or mini-cab. DO NOT except offers from "drivers" hawking outside nightclubs, etc.


- Test your smoke alarm and replace old batteries - replace unit if necessary, they are only £5 !
- Always ensure that uPVC doors are locked correctly
- Always ensure that you home looks occupied, even when you are out. Use a timeswitch on a tablelamp so it lights up when dark.
- Don't allow anyone into your home unless there is a pre-arranged appointment and the caller has a valid passcard. Also take the passcard and call the helpdesk telephone number, bonafide employee's will not mind.


- Keep computer security software up to date on your computer, mobile phone, tablet etc.
- Activate the Parental controls within security software on your childs PC, laptop and tablet.
- Discuss and regularly remind your children about being safe online.


- Ensure tyre pressures are correct for your vehicle.
- Reduce liklihood of skidding - check that the tread on your car tyres meet the legal depth.
- Ensure windscreen washer bottle is full and has a cleaning / ice preventer in it.


- Regularly check bank and credit card statements for fraudulent transactions.
- Shred unwanted bank, credit card and utility statements. Don't just place them in the bin.
- Before withdrawing cash from an ATM check the machine and surround for suspicious items or individuals. Ideally withdraw cash from ATM's sited at banks or ask for "cashback" when instore (supermarket etc).
- Don't give any personal details to anyone requesting them, even if they say they are the Police
- Don't give any time to unsolicited phone calls, regardless of who they say they are. Hang-up
- Don't give your bank details to anyone requesting them, even if they say they are the Police.

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 1st January 2019 author Asher McShane)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 12 police officers a week are being attacked monitoring Britain's transport networks, figures show.

There were 1,939 reported assaults against British Transport Police (BTP) officers in the three years to October 2018, resulting in more than 230 injuries, Freedom of Information requests have shown.

This included 17 assaults at Manchester Victoria station, where a BTP officer was stabbed in the shoulder on New Year's Eve. He has since been released from hospital.

Leeds station in West Yorkshire had the greatest number of assaults, with 66 incidents between 2015 and 2018.

London Victoria came second, with 60, closely followed by Manchester Piccadilly with 56 attacks in the last three years, the force said.

A large number of assaults were also reported at other stations in the capital, with 48 at Stratford in east London, 44 at St Pancras International, and Euston, Waterloo and Liverpool Street stations saw 43, 42, and 39 incidents respectively.

Glasgow Central station saw the most assaults of any station outside England with 38.

Overall, assaults on BTP officers were recorded at more than 500 locations, including level crossings, hospitals and in custody, with 226 incidents of actual bodily harm, and a further 13 more serious grievous bodily harm offences.

One BTP officer who was attacked on duty told the Press Association he quickly returned to work because his absence cut his team's manpower by a third.

Pc Adam Heslop was punched in the face when responding to a routine call in Lancaster in March 2017.

He said: "The longer I was away, the longer the cases would build up.

"I'm going to have to investigate them anyway, I may as well do them now.

"It's the first time in nine years of policing that somebody had succeeded in punching me. I didn't expect it at all and I felt a bit useless."

His attacker was charged with actual bodily harm, given a curfew and ordered to pay £85, but the officer said he does not think the sentence discourages offending.

"I know better than to expect justice from the courts when it comes to police assaults," he said.

"She thought nothing of assaulting me and wasn't really inconvenienced by the court's sentencing."

A police union condemned the "senseless" violence against officers on the transport network.

Nigel Goodband, chairman of the British Transport Police Federation, said: "Violence against police officers is shocking and shameful, and being assaulted on duty is not simply 'part of the job'.

"It is wholly unacceptable that people who serve to protect their communities should face senseless violence while doing so.

"The minority who commit these offences must be made to face the consequences of their actions."

British Transport Police called the figures a "shocking revelation".

Superintendent Darren Malpas said: "Attacks on officers will not be tolerated and every assault is one too many.

"These figures are a shocking reflection of the risks officers face while trying to keep others safe.

"Thankfully we police a CCTV-rich environment, and our officers are equipped with body-worn cameras, which means we have a variety of evidence available to bring offenders before the courts."

(1st January 2019)

(Mirror, dated 31st December 2018 author James Andrews)

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Netflix subscribers have been warned not to fall for a new set of convincing fake emails asking them to update their payment details.

The scam emails say they are from the streaming service but are in fact from criminals trying to steal your money.

The message currently circulating reads: "We're having some trouble with your current billing information.

"We'll try again, but in the meantime you may want to update your payment details."

There is a red button telling you to "Update Account now" at the end of the message.

This link takes you to a fake designed to look like Netflix but in fact run by scammers.

An urgent warning has been issued about the email by the Federal Trade Commission, a US government agency that told consumers not "take the bait".

"Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both," it reads.

"They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network.

"If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data."

Tips to beat it

The FTC offers the following tips to beat scams, telling Netflix users that before they click on a link or share any personal information they should:

- Check it out. If you have concerns about the email, contact the company directly. But look up their phone number or website yourself. That way, you'll know you're getting the real company and not about to call a scammer or follow a link that will download malware.

- Take a closer look. While some phishing emails look completely legit, bad grammar and spelling can tip you off to phishing. Other clues: Your name is missing, or you don't even have an account with the company. In the Netflix example, the scammer used the greeting: "Hi Dear". Listing only an international phone number is also suspicious.

- Report phishing emails. For Netflix, forward the message to .
In the UK you can report messages to Action Fraud here :

(1st January 2019)

(Independent, dated 31st December 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of people killed in London hit a 10-year high in 2018 and more than a fifth of victims were children and teenagers, figures show.

The 134 homicides recorded by the Metropolitan Police included 24 where the victims were aged 19 or under.

Of those, 18 were stabbed, five were shot and one woman was killed by a head injury.

It was London's highest homicide total since 2008, which saw 14 people killed, and a 15 per cent rise year-on-year.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick had named street violence as her "number one priority" and acknowledged the last 12 months had been "challenging".

At an end-of-year briefing with journalists, she said there had been a rise in domestic killings but that the number of young people being stabbed in public had fallen.

"We're trying our very hardest to reduce violence on the streets as much as we can," Ms Dick said.

"I do see some cautious room for optimism … where knife crime injuries for under-25s was going up steeply, it has started to come down and we are 13 per cent down year-on-year.

"Young people being stabbed is a key metric for me and it falling. I think we will need to keep up our efforts on that next year, it will remain a very high priority."

Ms Dick, Britain's most senior police officer, said she was also proud of Scotland Yard's "very strong" detection and conviction rates for homicides, which stood above 80 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

Police say London's situation is not unique in England and Wales, and have warned of "Wild West" violence sweeping the country amid record levels of knife crime.

Murder detectives have raised concern over increasingly "feral" attacks seeing victims stabbed multiple times, amid warnings that rising violence is driving an increase in knife possession.

Children as young as nine have been found carrying weapons in the belief they will be protected, while officials have warned of a "lost generation" created by austerity and drug gangs.

Amid public outrage over a spate of street murders in the spring, a Violent Crime Taskforce was set up in London that has since seized more than 500 guns, 2,000 knives and 900 other weapons.

The use of stop and search powers has increased, and Ms Dick said armed police may be deployed to patrol areas "where gang activity is likely".

The capital's murder rate briefly overtook that of New York in April, but the American city has seen more than twice the number of homicides as London this year - around 285 - giving it a murder rate around double that in London.

Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans for a violence reduction unit that would adopt the public health approach successfully used in Glasgow but warned that the trend could take a generation to overcome.

Steve O'Connell, chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, said the grim 2018 death toll was "a tragedy not only for those most affected, the family and friends of the victims, but for all Londoners".

He added: "Violent crime now has to be the top priority for the capital and it is time that more action was taken by the mayor, alongside the Met, and by central government to stem the tide of lawlessness. Londoners are crying out for urgent solutions now - not 10 years in the future."

Police have pointed to links between violence and "county lines" drug networks, where urban dealers force children and other vulnerable people to courier illegal substances to customers in more rural areas.

Figures show that cocaine production, purity and supply is up, while the price has fallen. In the same period, the number of drug-related deaths and people being treated for addiction has risen.

Middle class cocaine users have come under fire from a number of public figures pointing to the misery caused by the drugs trade.

Drill music, where rappers taunt rivals with lyrics threatening violence, and the role of social media in escalating disputes have also come under the microscope.

Following criticism of Tory cuts to policing, seeing the loss of 20,000 offices since 2010, the home secretary admitted that police officer numbers were "an important part" of the fight against violent crime.

The government announced a £970m funding boost for police in England and Wales in December, but the calculation relies on £500m generated through council tax increases.

Critics accused the Conservatives of "passing the buck of funding the police service to the public", amid calls for funding increases to other public services, including mental health, youth centres and social services to boost crime prevention work.

It came after a Home Affairs Committee report warned of "dire consequences for public safety and criminal justice" if police funding was not increased, saying the service was at risk of becoming irrelevant as the proportion of solved crimes falls.

Teenagers killed in London in 2018:

- Hasan Ozcan, 19, stabbed in Barking and Dagenham borough on 3 February
- Sabri Chibani, 19, stabbed in Lambeth borough on 11 February
- Lord Promise Nkenda. 17, stabbed in Newham borough on 14 February
- Lewis Blackman, 19, stabbed in Kensington and Chelsea borough on 18 February
- Abdikarim Hassan, 17, stabbed in Camden borough on 20 February
- Kelvin Odunuyi, 17, shot in Haringey borough on 8 March
- Lyndon Davis, 18, stabbed in Havering borough on 14 March
- Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, 17, shot in Haringey borough on 2 April
- Amaan Shakoor, 16, shot in Waltham Forest borough on 2 April
- Israel Ogunsola, 18, stabbed in Hackney borough on 4 April
- Natasha Hill, 18, died of head injuries in Greenwich borough on 15 April
- Sami Sidhom, 18, stabbed in Newham borough on 16 April
- Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton, 17, shot in Kennington on 5 May
- Jordan Douherty, 15, stabbed in Romford on 23 June
- Katrina Makunova, 17, stabbed in Camberwell on 12 July
- Latwaan Griffiths, 18, stabbed in Lambeth borough on 25 Julu
- Abdi Ali, 18, head trauma and stab wounds to chest in Enfield on 27 August
- Guled Farah, 19, shot in Waltham Forest borough on 22 September
- Ethan Nedd-Bruce, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 22 October
- Jay Hughes, 15, stabbed in Lewisham borough on 1 November
- Malcolm Milde-Madariola, 17, stabbed in Clapham on 2 November
- John Ogunjobi, 16, stabbed in Lambeth on 6 November
- Aron Warren, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 8 December
- Jay Sewell, 18, stabbed in Greenwich borough on 11 December

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 31st December 2018 author Jack Hardy)

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Footage of a car "middle-lane hogging" on a motorway has been released by police just days after slow driving was found to be increasingly responsible for accidents.

Thames Valley Police's road unit shared the video on social media, urging motorists to "move across" if the left lane is empty.

The driver of the car was given a ticket for careless driving, according to the post.

It comes after an analysis by the Department for Transport showed casualties from crashes caused by slow drivers had jumped a third in just one year, amounting to 175 injuries and two deaths in 2017.

The AA said too many motorway users were hogging the middle lane and driving "far below the speed limit", which can lead to undertaking, tailgating, congestion and road rage.

The footage from New Year's Eve was captured on the M4 between junctions 12 and 13, near Newbury, Berkshire, police said.

The force claimed the driver of a silver BMW had been in the middle lane for more than a mile despite officers following "directly behind" in a marked car.

The left lane was "totally clear the entire time", the Twitter post said.

Driving too slowly on any road can result in the motorist being penalised for careless driving, which normally carries a £100 fine and three points on a licence.

If a case goes to court the maximum penalty is £5,000, up to nine points on a licence and disqualification from driving.

But ill-discipline in the central lane has only been targeted by authorities in recent years.

A motorist became the first person convicted for the practice in 2015 after persistently refusing to move into the slow lane on the busy M62.

He was fined almost £1,000 and handed five penalty points.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 31st December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Britain could become a safe haven for child sex offenders seeking to evade justice in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the NSPCC has warned ministers.

The charity has written to Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who has made the fight against child abuse a top priority, warning that the loss of EU agreements on extradition and arrest of child sex offenders would prevent police bringing them to justice as quickly and easily as they do now.

It says the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), introduced in 2004 after the 9/11 terror attack, has enabled police to capture and then extradite wanted sex offenders within days.

Before its introduction it could take a year to bring a child sex abuser to justice whereas now a wanted offender can be surrendered to a prosecuting country within 14 days, where the person consents, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

Even where the offender fights the EAW and extradition, it still takes just two months on average.

In its letter also sent to the Department for Exiting the EU, it says that without similar measures in place post-Brexit, sex offenders would see Britain as a "soft touch" to evade justice in other countries or flee Britain if they had abused a child here, knowing it would be harder to extradite them.

The charity has decided to go public because of its frustration in failing to secure assurances from ministers even though the Home Office and Mr Javid have made the police war against child abuse and particularly the role of social media online platforms in fuelling it a top priority.

The EAW has been used to extradite nearly 300 sex offenders since 2010 to bring them to justice.

Almudena Lara, head of NSPCC policy and public affairs, said: "We have repeatedly pressed the Government to ensure that, whatever the terms of Brexit, the UK retains access to vital EU security tools that help keep our children safe.

"European Arrest Warrants, Eurojust, and Europol all play a vital role in swiftly bringing child abusers to justice.

"We must not find ourselves in a situation where the UK becomes a haven for child sex offenders who want to avoid the quick justice that the EAW guarantees, or that child abusers in the UK escape justice by fleeing to another EU country to try and avoid extradition.

"We must not lose access to Eurojust and Europol, that help our police in complex operations that shield our young people from abuse.

"The prospect of losing these tools is a dangerous one and we are asking the Government to assure us that the terms of our departure will not jeopardise our children's safety."

The NSPCC statement, exclusively to the Daily Telegraph, follows Cressida Dick, the Met Commissioner, warning last week that the public could be put at risk in the event of a no-deal Brexit and any resulting loss of EU agreements on intelligence sharing and arrest and extradition.

Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), has also warned that the loss of access to the EU intelligence database, known as SIS II, Europol membership and other EU systems would have major implications for British law enforcement.

British police access SIS II 500m times a year. However, instead of automatically accessing SIS II as they do now, officers will have to call colleagues in member states for information. "If we don't have access to these tools, there is a risk that this country is less safe as a result," she told MPs.

Several countries have constitutions of practices that would forbid extraditing their citizens to the UK for prosecution outside the EAW system.

Police have been mapping "fall backs" for each European tool, none of which are seen as effective as those officers currently use. One senior officer said that if they had to use Interpol's database instead of SIS II, they would not be able to arrest a suspect on it without a magistrates warrant, for example.

EU countries would also have to "actively check" the UK's records on wanted people rather than the cases being automatically flagged on their systems as they are now.

The Home Office says it is confident an "ambitious agreement on future security co-operation can be reached" after drawing up a proposed security treaty with the EU.

"There is widespread recognition among member states that the UK and EU can act most effectively to combat security threats when we are working together - and there is therefore a shared desire to maintain close co-operation in the future," the Home Office said.

(1st Janaury 2019)

(Metro, dated 29th December 2019 author Kate Buck)

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Violent crime is being spread from the cities into peaceful suburbs, new information from the Home Office has revealed.

Surprisingly it is west Yorkshire that tops the blacklist of the most dangerous places to live in England and Wales with 101.7 victim-based crimes for every 1,000 people.

London only just made it into the top 10 places, despite a series of stabbings that have blighted the capital in 2018 and the police force being cut to its lowest number of officers since 2001.

You are twice more likely to be robbed in the capital city and over the last year more than 19,000 moped attacks happened.

The research looked at where people are at most risk across five victim-based crime categories - violent crime, robbery, sex offences, damage to property and theft of property.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster of West Yorkshire Police, said budget cuts had put officers on the back foot and had left them unable to deal with violent crime.

He told The Sun: 'In West Yorkshire we promote a culture of ethical crime recording and have made significant improvements to enhance the integrity of our crime statistics which has influenced an increase in recorded crime.

'We as a force have experienced real rises in some areas of crime affecting our communities such as violence, burglary and robbery, similar to other forces nationally. Conversely we have seen a reduction in other areas of crime including vehicle crime and theft from the person.'

He added: 'We have experienced some of the worst cuts to our budgets when compared to other forces nationally at a time when criminality is not only increasing, but evolving in terms of seriousness and complexity and at a time when we have seen unprecedented increases in calls for service to our 999 and 101 system.'

Overall, crime has increased across England and Wales by 10% in the past year.

Kent has also seen a rise in the rankings after seeing a 40% rise in knife crime, violent crime being carried away from city centres and an increase in homegrown gangs.

Children as young as 10 were found to have been involved in knife activity. One blackspot for both theft and criminal arson offences in Cleveland in the north-east.

The region has continued to cut its police forces and Hartlepool police force have been left with only 10 officers to cover an area with around 90,000 people.

If you're looking for somewhere safe to relocate to, then Dyfed-Powys in Wales was the safest place to live with 43.1 offences per 1,000 people.

And robbery offences in mid-Wales were 35 times lower than London.

But the areas hit with the most sexual offences was topped by North Wales, and followed by Kent and West Yorkshire.

Rates of crime per 1,000 people

1. West Yorkshire 101.7
2. Greater Manchester 98.6
3. Cleveland 95.1
4. South Yorkshire 88.4
5. Northumbria 88.4
6. Kent 87.6
7. Humberside 87.0
8. Durham 84.9
9. Lancashire 84.1
10. London (Met) 81.4
11. Nottinghamshire 76.3
12. Merseyside 75.5
13. West Midlands
14. Gwent 73.3
15. Leicestershire 69.4
16. Hampshire 69.2
17. Northamptonshire 68.7
18. Cambridgeshire 68.6
19. Avon and Somerset 68.0
20. North Wales 67.6
21. Staffordshire 67.2
22. South Wales 66.0
23. Bedfordshire 66.7
24. Essex 66.0
25. Warwickshire 65.6
26. Cheshire 65.3
27. Hertfordshire 61.0
28. Suffolk 59.5
29. West Mercia 59.0
30. Dorset 58.6
31. Thames Valley 58.6
32. Sussex 56.5
33. Wiltshire 54.4
34. Cumbria 53.8
35. Norfolk 52.9
36. Devon and Cornwall 52.0
37. Surrey 52.2
38. Lincolnshire 50.1
39. Gloucestershire 49.6
40. Derbyshire 48.4
41. North Yorkshire 44.4
42. Dyfed-Powys 43.1

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 28th December 2018 author Press Association)

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The number of knives seized by Border Force has more than doubled in a year, official figures show.

Officers seized 7,668 bladed items at the UK's borders in the year to September, compared with 3,800 in the previous 12 months.

Border Force also registered an increase in the number of other "offensive weapons" it seized, which rose by 61% from 4,056 to 6,534.

The combined haul of 14,202 was almost double the 7,856 knives and weapons confiscated by the agency in the year before. The figures cover seizures made at all points of entry into the UK.

Detailed breakdowns were not published, but the Home Office said the majority of knives and offensive weapons were confiscated in postal, fast parcel and freight modes. It is an offence to import certain weapons into the UK.

Items subject to the restrictions include butterfly, zombie and "stealth" knives, samurai swords with curved blades over 50cm in length, knuckle-dusters and batons.

Some organisations are allowed to import and hold restricted items for specified purposes, such as police forces importing batons and truncheons.

Allowances are also made for theatrical performances, films and TV productions.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Tackling the illegal smuggling of offensive weapons is a priority for Border Force.

"Last year (October 2017 to September 2018), officers prevented more than 14,000 knives and other offensive weapons and over 3,000 firearms reaching the streets of the UK.

"We work closely with intelligence colleagues, as well as other law enforcement agencies, to ensure that frontline work is focused on the areas of highest risk and emerging trends are quickly identified.

"Where possible offences are identified, we will not hesitate to pass on information to assist police forces or the National Crime Agency."

The findings come amid concern over serious violent crime, and knife crime in particular.

London has been particularly badly hit by an increase in violent crime, while national figures show forces in England and Wales have registered a jump in recorded homicides and offences involving a knife or sharp object.

Ministers have announced a number of measures designed to counter the rise in violent crime.

The offensive weapons bill includes a proposed ban on delivering potentially dangerous bladed items to a buyer's home, following warnings that age-verification checks can be sidestepped online.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 27th December 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Police and border officials are struggling to stop a rising supply of illegal firearms being smuggled into Britain, a senior police chief has warned.

Chief constable Andy Cooke, the national police lead for serious and organised crime, said law enforcement had seen an increased supply of guns over the past year, and feared that it would continue in 2019.

The Guardian has learned that the situation is so serious that the National Crime Agency has taken the rare step of using its legal powers to direct every single police force to step up the fight against illegal guns.

The NCA has used tasking powers to direct greater intelligence about firearms to be gathered by all 43 forces in England and Wales.

Another senior law enforcement official said that "new and clean" weapons were now being used in the majority of shootings, as opposed to guns once being so difficult to obtain that they would be "rented out" to be used in multiple crimes.

Cooke, the Merseyside chief constable, told the Guardian: "We in law enforcement expect the rise in new firearms to continue. We are doing all we can. We are not in a position to stop it anytime soon.

"Law enforcement is more joined up now than before, but the scale of the problem is such that despite a number of excellent firearms seizures, I expect the rise in supply to be a continuing issue."

The increasing supply of guns belies problems with UK border security and innovations by organised crime gangs. Smugglers have increasingly found new ways and innovative routes to get guns past border defences.

Cooke said more are coming in from eastern Europe and the western Balkans and also component pieces are being smuggled in via the fast parcel system, hidden among a growth in packages because of the explosion of internet shopping.

Guns are being bought on the dark web and the UK is also seeing weapons designed for sports shooting being smuggled in, as well as blank firing weapons bought for just £100 being converted in the UK. Criminals have also obtained high end automatic weapons such as an AK47.

Cooke said that the dynamics of the streets of British cities had changed and that criminals were more willing to use guns: "If they bring them in people will buy them. It's a kudos thing for organised criminals."

He said said one factor was a reduction in police proactive work because of government budget cuts leading to big falls in officer numbers: "The ability of law enforcement to respond to this rise in the criminal use of firearms has been hampered by the large reduction in police officers and the resultant diminishing of proactive capability to keep these criminals on the back foot."

Simon Brough, head of firearms at the NCA, said: "The majority of guns being used are new, clean firearms ... which indicates a relatively fluid supply."

He said shotguns were 40% of the total, with an increase in burglaries to try and steal them. Handguns are the next biggest category, most often smuggled in from overseas, with ferry ports such as Dover being a popular entry point into the UK for organised crime groups: "We're doing a lot to fight back against it," Brough said, adding that compared to other European countries, the availability in the UK was relatively lower.

Gun crime has been rising and the last set of official figures about recorded firearms offences, showing a 5% fall to 6,362 in the year ending June 2018, is seen as a blip against a trend of rising gun offences. Statistics released earlier in 2018 had shown gun crime up 11% in 2017/18, and in the same period, the Metropolitan police said discharges of lethal barrelled firearms rose by 23%. Compared to 2015/16, there has been a 67% increase in the capital alone.

Some in law enforcement tackling serious and organised crime believe more attention needs to be paid to that type of criminality, instead of just the intense focus on the terrorist threat.

Cooke said: "The two greatest national security threats are terrorism and serious and organised crime. Nationally, we need to ensure serious and organised crime gets the same funding as the terrorist threat. More people die after getting shot by serious and organised criminals than by terrorists."

Counter-terrorism sources tell the Guardian that the most likely route for terrorists in the UK to get guns will be from criminals, not by specifically importing them. In a 2016 case, a group of Isis-inspired terrorists led by Tarik Hassane, dubbed "the surgeon", got a firearm from criminal contacts as part of a plot to stage drive by shootings.

The growing supply of guns in the UK, rising year on year according to intelligence reports, alarms those trying to stop a Paris-style marauding gun attack in the UK. They fear the more firearms are available, the easier it will be for terrorists to get them from criminals.

Cooke said: "If organised criminals have these guns, it's not a big leap of faith that they will deal them to terrorists."

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 27th December 2018 authors Reuters and PA)

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Hundreds of passengers have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport over the last two years.

At least 273 people were held in 2017 and 2018, according to police statistics. Cases include a drunk passenger accused of fighting with a fellow passenger on board a plane, and a man allegedly shouting and swearing at a pilot.

Alleged incidents at airports include a man brandishing a knife at customer services staff at Aberdeen Airport after he was refused travel, and a man punching an airside bar manager at Glasgow Airport as he would not serve him any more alcoholic drinks.

The figures come as the Government considers scrapping round-the-clock drinking in airport bars by extending high street licensing laws, which would mean no alcohol before 10am.

Under current rules, drink sales beyond security gates at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by these laws.

The Home Office launched the review on November 1, with a three-month call for evidence.

The sale and supply of alcohol at international airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland are outside the scope of the call for evidence as they are separately regulated under the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

A spokesman for Airlines UK, the trade association for UK airlines, said: "The problem of disruptive behaviour has got progressively worse over a number of years, despite the best efforts of industry to tackle it.

"There is no evidence to suggest these incidents won't persist without the active involvement of Government."

Figures obtained following freedom of information requests show 48 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk on an aircraft in 2017, and 42 in 2018 to date.

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft can face a fine or up to two years' imprisonment.

For the police forces that gave information, a further 104 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness at airports in 2017, with 68 this year to date.

South Yorkshire Police made no distinction as to whether its 11 recorded incidents happened on aircraft or at an airport.

The true numbers will almost certainly be higher as forces including the Metropolitan Police, which covers the UK's busiest airport Heathrow, and Sussex Police which handles incidents at Gatwick did not provide figures.

The ages of those detained around the UK ranged from 17 to 61.

A Government spokesperson said: "Most UK air passengers behave responsibly, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.

"There are already tough penalties for drunkenness on an aircraft - you can be imprisoned for up to two years or given an unlimited fine.

"Pilots also have the power to remove passengers from the plane if they are drunk and the safety of the aircraft or its passengers is threatened.

"We strongly support the use of these powers by the police, airlines and airports to tackle drunk and disorderly behaviour at our airports and on board the aircraft.

"The Government is already working with both airports and airlines to identify further ways to tackle the problem of drunk and disorderly passengers as part of our new UK Aviation Strategy."

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said in a statement: "The figures demonstrate that there continues to be an issue with passengers consuming alcohol to excess while travelling to the UK from abroad."

It added it will "continue to tackle the small minority who ruin it for the majority" by working to ensure more arrests result in prosecution and through initiatives such as the in-airport advertising campaign One Too Many.

This campaign aims to remind passengers of possible consequences of drunkenness, from being denied boarding and big fines to prison sentences and being charged the full cost of a diversion.

The AOA said it will work with airports outside the UK in the coming year "so they can learn from our experience on what works to reduce incidents of disruptive passengers".

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 27th December 2018 author Sarah Marsh)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Gatwick drone incident that brought the airport to a standstill should be a "wake-up call" to the whole country, the Metropolitan police commissioner has said.

Cressida Dick, the UK's most senior police chief, said the Met would not be intervening in the investigation into drone sightings at Gatwick.

It comes after John Woodcock MP, a member of the home affairs committee, said there was a case for a "different police force" to investigate the serious security incident.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said police had "not handled their communication response well" after Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley said there was a possibility there never had been any drones at Gatwick.

"This whole sorry episode shows why we need a nationally agreed and understood robust procedure for dealing with incidents like this," Woodcock said. "The country has been caught on the hop. There may be a case for a different police force [to get involved]."

Dick told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday there "were many sightings of drones on a number of different occasions".

"The drone technology is always changing - we have to keep up with that. There are a whole variety of tactics and technologies that we are now using, can use and in the future they will have to change again I'm sure, but it is quite difficult," she said.

"I think the whole country and certainly the government will have watched what's gone on and say we need to up our game here, we need to work even more closely with the private companies, we need to work even more closely with the military, we need to try to be able to prevent the criminal use of drones for whatever motivation near our airports - and, if somebody does do that, we need to find them as quickly as possible, get the drone under control and also bring the people to justice."

When questioned about whether the Met would take over any investigation, she said: "Sussex are an enormous way down a large and complex investigation. For the Met to walk in and try to take that on would cause hiatus in the investigation."

Dick also discussed attacks on the police being filmed by members of the public, calling for people to intervene if they see such incidents. It comes after a female police officer was filmed this year being kicked in the head during the routine traffic stop.

"It's appalling that officers are being assaulted and in videos you can see others jeering, that is disgusting - not a common thing but it is extraordinary. I want to live in a society where people will intervene and if they see someone from the emergency services being attacked, they will help," she said.

In a far-ranging interview, Dick also discussed the possibility of no deal on exiting the EU and what that could mean for policing.

"If we come out [without a deal] immediately and there are no obvious replacements for those instruments, that will mean we will have to work incredibly hard on a bilateral basis with countries to get in place some kind of way of working together," she said.

"The consequences of not having those things and if there was a no-deal scenario, it would be difficult to do in the short term … we will have to replace some of things currently in use in terms of access to databases … these kinds of things - have to replace as effectively as we can and it would be more costly and slower, undoubtedly and it would potentially put the public at risk … there is no doubt about that."

(1st January 2019)

(The Local - IT, dated 26th December 2018 author Felia Allum)

Full article [Option 1]:

Italian police have learned how to fight the mafia - so successfully, in fact, that organized crime is moving out of Italy into the rest of Europe, where authorities are less prepared to deal with it, writes mafia specialist Felia Allum.

Members of the Italian mafia like to travel abroad - not necessarily for pleasure, but to make money. And the harm they are doing to European economies is often underplayed, trivialized or ignored.

Organized crime groups are good at exploiting business opportunities away from home. Companies set up for money laundering purposes distort European economies because their constant cash flow gives them an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

When I walk around London, I wonder how many of the busy nail bars, shops and restaurants are merely fronts for organized crime. For I was once told by a former member of the Neapolitan mafia: "The ambition for [an Italian] mafia member, is to go abroad, and particularly, England."

They consider the UK to be an attractive destination because it is relatively easy to set up a company, and its legal system does not recognize "mafia membership" as a crime.

Officials are fighting back with some success, however. In December 2018, hundreds of Dutch, German, Belgian and Italian police officers arrested dozens of members of the powerful Calabrian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, on suspicion of drug trafficking and money laundering activities across Europe. They also seized large amounts of drugs and cash from locations including Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours.

But is this too little, too late? Since the 1990s, there have been stark warnings of the harm Italian mafias can inflict on European countries as they exploit opportunities created by globalisation.

In 1991, British police based in Rome warned of the presence of Italian mafias in the UK. Two years later, the French parliament reported on the fight against the mafia's attempt to penetrate France. Similar warnings were being made in the Netherlands.

But it wasn't until 2012 that the European Parliament really addressed the situation. The following year, Europol (the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) finally published an "Italian Organized Crime Threat Assessment".

It attempted to fill the "important information gap" which exists around the activities of Italian mafias in Europe. As Europol itself noted, the "difficulty in collecting information" highlights the fact that mafias operate "under the radar" outside Italy.

Finally, in November 2018, Europol set up a specific operational network focusing on Italian mafia activities abroad, with the Italian Anti-Mafia Police playing a leading role.

This is an important step in the fight against Italian organized crime. But it is worth noting that it was a step mostly driven by Italian law enforcement agencies (whose success has helped to force Italian mafiosi and their money abroad to neighbouring countries) after the initiatives of the European Parliament.

Now their fellow agencies across Europe must develop more efficient and coordinated strategies in response. Yet there appears to be no agreement on the action needed. The European Parliament and Europol remain limited and isolated if the majority of their members still refuse to engage with the problem. As one Italian prosecutor told me:

My job is to investigate Italian mafias and their activities in Italy, not when they travel abroad. If my European colleagues are not interested in following up the information I provide them with on Italian mafia suspects, I cannot do very much more.

Ultimately, there is a lack of understanding across Europe about what mafia membership crime looks like - which can be difficult if you have not witnessed first hand the power of a mafia, and how it imposes itself on society, economics and politics.

As criminal groups travel and export their activities abroad, there needs to be flexibility around policing. Organized crime groups thrive as borders come down, whereas law enforcement agents appear to flounder when closer international cooperation is required. They become entangled in bureaucratic procedures and cultural misunderstandings. Different legal systems need to work together to avoid situations where criminals can be condemned in one country but go free in another.

We also need to address the lack of political will to tackle organized crime and mafia activities. European politicians engage and seek to defeat terrorism but as far as Italian mafias and organized crime go - and their ability to infiltrate legal economies and launder their proceeds of crime, made more often than not, from drug trafficking - there is no consistent political will to defeat them.

The recent arrests of 'Ndrangheta members across Europe can be seen as a concrete step forward. But it also highlights how far we are behind in terms of understanding and developing a coordinated European strategy to follow Italian mafia money.

(1st January 2019)

(MSN News, dated 26th December 2018 author David Hughes - Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

Sajid Javid said he took the Rochdale grooming scandal personally because it involved his home town and men who were from a Pakistani background like him.

The Home Secretary defended the Government's decision to strip some members of the gang of their British citizenship, insisting his job was to keep the British public safe even if it meant offenders being sent to a country where they may face fewer checks on their actions.

Mr Javid insisted he was right to speak out about "sick Asian paedophiles", arguing that ignoring their ethnicity would give a boost to extremists.

The Home Secretary was born in Rochdale, one of a series of towns where members of grooming gangs targeted young girls.

Asked if that meant he took it more personally, Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4's Today: "Sometimes I have, yes. Especially with reference to Rochdale because it is my home town, I still go there now and again because I have family there that I care deeply about.

"When I heard about - and there has been more than one case - grooming gangs where almost every individual involved is of Pakistani heritage … I can't help noting the fact that Rochdale is a town that means something to me and I am also of Pakistani heritage."

He added: "I think it would be true of anyone that if they heard about something - in this case bad - connected to a town that was something special to them, naturally that would be a thought in their mind.

"But in terms of a response, what matters is, first of all, the law enforcement response which rightly is completely independent of government ministers."

Mr Javid also defended Government action to strip offenders of their British citizenship.

Asked if he was concerned about the possible lack of control over paedophiles if they returned to Pakistan, Mr Javid insisted that his responsibility was to citizens in the UK.

"I'm the British Home Secretary. My job is to protect the British public and to do what I think is right to protect the British public."

In August, the Court of Appeal upheld a decision to strip three members of a Rochdale grooming gang of their British citizenship.

Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men jailed in May 2012 after being found guilty of grooming and sexually exploiting a number of young girls.

Mr Javid also stressed the need to acknowledge the background of the grooming gangs rather than ignore it.

The Home Secretary faced criticism over a Twitter message in October about "sick Asian paedophiles" in a Huddersfield gang.

He told Today: "I'm very much aware of the need for politicians to be careful with language as well as what they do.

"When it comes to gang-based child exploitation it is self-evident to anyone who cares to look that if you look at all the recent high-profile cases there is a high proportion of men that are of Pakistani heritage."

He said "there could be - and I'm not saying there are - some cultural reasons from the community that those men came from that could lead to this type of behaviour".

"For me to rule something out just because it would be considered sensitive would be wrong," Mr Javid said.

"If I had ignored it, or been seen to ignore, that is exactly what I think extremists would like to see in this country.

"It would give them oxygen and I refuse to do that."

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 26th December 2018 author Matthew Weaver)

Full article [Option 1]:

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has defended the potential deportation of convicted grooming gang members to Pakistan even if it risks them reoffending.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Javid said stripping offenders of British citizenship would happen only in extreme cases involving individuals with dual nationality.

He was pressed on the issue by the programme's guest editor, the Pakistani-British writer Kamila Shamsie, who pointed out that the lack of sex offender registers in Pakistan would make it easier for offenders deported from the UK to repeat their crimes.

Javid responded: "I'm the British home secretary. My job is to protect the British public."

Seeking to clarify, Shamsie asked: "If you are sending members of grooming gangs to Pakistan, knowing that there is not a sex offenders registry, what they do there is not anything to do with you?"

Javid said: "My job is to protect the British public."

In August, three members of a Rochdale grooming gang, who had Pakistani backgrounds, lost an appeal against a decision to strip them of their British citizenship.

Javid, who was born in Rochdale, was asked whether he took such cases personally. He said: "When I heard about grooming gangs where almost every individual involved is of Pakistani heritage, I can't help noting that. But I can't helping noting the fact that Rochdale is a town that means something to me and I'm also of Pakistani heritage."

He faced criticism over a Twitter message he posted in October about "sick Asian paedophiles" in a Huddersfield gang. Javid told Today: "I'm very much aware of the need for politicians to be careful with language as well as what they do. When it comes to gang-based child exploitation it is self-evident to anyone who cares to look that if you look at all the recent high-profile cases there is a high proportion of men that are of Pakistani heritage."

Ignoring this, he added, would fuel extremists. "Let's not ignore it when we are trying to work out what might be the causes. There could be some cultural reasons, from the communities that those men came from that could lead to this type of behaviour.

"If I had ignored it, or had been seen to ignore it, that is exactly what I think extremists would like to see in this country. It would give them oxygen and I refuse to do that."

Javid also highlighted the benefits of immigration. "It might sound strange coming from a home secretary - I'm a big fan of immigration and what it means for our country, in terms of how it makes us stronger … I see people all the time today and they really don't care if their doctor is of Pakistani origin, what they care about is that they are getting a good service and these are people that they do really see as British. I do think society has changed very positively like that."

He said Islam was compatible with British values. "There are many Muslims that I know who are very devout ... that are model citizens in terms of what they do their job, how they care for others."

But he condemned those who saw as Islam as an ideology, saying he would make a distinction between "those who practise Islam and those who you might describe as Islamists, that are driven by an ideology, rather than practise their own religion in their own way with their own family and their own friends. They see it as their duty to spread to ideology and also to disrespect at the same time the laws of the country that they have chosen to live in."

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 25th December 2018 authors Ben Quinn and Pamela Duncan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Less than one-quarter of hate crimes reported on Britain's railway networks since 2015 have resulted in the suspect being charged or summonsed.

Two-fifths of crimes reported to British Transport Police (BTP) in the same period did not result in prosecution because the suspect could not be identified, according to figures released under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act.

A total of 9,407 hate crimes were reported across the rail network between 2015 and the end of May 2018 - an average of eight a day.

The details of the relatively low numbers of prosecutions or actions against reported hate crimes on the transport network comes at the end of year in which concerns have been expressed about an increase in hate crime nationally.

In some cases, the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the spate of terrorist attacks last year are believed to have been catalysts.

BTP also told the Guardian there had been an 82% rise in the number of hate crimes reported using its discreet text messaging service, 61016, which launched five years ago.

DI Lisa Jones said: "The sort of hate crime we see on the transport network is largely verbal abuse, rather than physical attacks, but this is extremely serious and we treat every report seriously.

"We are putting every effort into investigating these types of crimes. Of course, investigating offences is complex, however, the railway is a CCTV-rich environment and this evidence can be crucial in identifying offenders and bringing them before the courts."

The highest number of incidents by provider was across the London Underground network, which accounted for 30% of recorded incidents - an average of two per day. However, the figures released by BTP showed 42% of these cases were closed because the suspect could not be identified.

Caroline Russell, a Green party London assembly member who serves on the London assembly's transport committee, said: "It's really worrying to see such high levels of hate crime and to hear that the number of cases taken up with summons or prosecution is so low.

"The everyday experience of hate crime worsens the division in our community at a time when we are so desperately divided in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU."

The figures showed a spike in religiously motivated hate crimes, from 150 reported in 2015 to 287 last year.

In the first five months of this year, there were 130 religiously motivated hate crimes reported.

Labour's Tom Copley, another London assembly member, said there was still a "hangover" from the Brexit vote, which had given racists "carte blanche" to abuse others, and one response could be a campaign modelled on the Transport for London (TfL) "Report it to stop it" campaign tackling unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport.

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, said the union's members had seen a spike in verbal and physical, as well as racist and xenophobic, abuse since the EU referendum in 2016.

"The EU referendum led to a notable and worrying increase in reported hate crime, with migrant communities very often the target for abuse," he said.

Iman Atta OBE, the director of Tell Mama, a project that measures and monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said: "We know from data within Tell Mama and now from statistics from the British Transport Police that hate incidents and crimes, by their nature, happen when people come across others.

"This means that when they are travelling, on the bus, walking through rail stations or sitting on carriages, it is the proximity of the perpetrator to victim that elicits a response from them. This is also the case when people are going to and coming from work, and this means at major train stations.

Siwan Hayward, the director of compliance and policing at TfL, said: "London's transport network remains a safe, low-crime environment, but reports of hate crime offences have increased as more people feel confident to speak out about incidents."

Almost 4,000 hate crimes reported to British Transport Police since 2015 were dropped because a suspect could not be identified

(Crimes recorded, January 2015 to May 2018 - Source British Transport Police)

n = 2015, (n) = 2016, [n] = 2017, {n} = 2018

No suspect identified : 794 (1109) [1407] {637}
Charged or summonsed : 636 (644) [702] {235}
Suspect not identified and victim does not support further action : 341 (451) [491] {205}
Suspect identified and victim supports action : 110 (167) [157] {63}
Suspect identified but victim does not support further action : 95 (102) [127] {51}
Outcome pending : 6 (18) [95] {199}
Police said not in public interest : 92 (46) [11] {7}
Prosecution time limit expired : 18 (38) [43] {3}
Other : 84 (108) [88] {27}

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 25th December 2018 author Sarah Marsh)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hundreds of people have claimed they were sexually harassed by male police officers in the past six years, prompting calls from senior officers for outdated and unacceptable behaviour to be "rooted out".

A Guardian investigation using freedom of information laws has revealed that more than half of British police forces received almost 450 complaints from staff and members of the public about sexual harassment. They included accusations against senior detectives and inspectors.

Yet a fraction of the cases led to dismissal, with a number of cases simply resulting in an officer resigning or retiring.

The true number of harassment grievances was likely to be even higher as only 28 out of 43 police forces provided data, with many - including the Metropolitan police - claiming they were unable to supply information or had failed to respond within the time limit.

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for professional ethics, Julian Williams, a chief constable, said sexual harassment must be rooted out.

"This behaviour falls short of the high standards set in the code of ethics, which each member of the policing profession is expected to uphold. Where predatory behaviour exists, it requires the strongest response from policing, including the removal of individuals from the service," he said.

One female police officer, speaking anonymously, said: "Most female police officers have had an experience of sexual harassment. We are talking about a whole spectrum of issues, from inappropriate comments or sexism. It's a problem that won't go away from this field of work and I am not sure why that is."

The officer said she had to report a colleague in an old job. "The backlash I got from colleagues has put me off the idea of reporting it again … It happened when I was very new to a force, a male colleague was inappropriate. We had to crew-up on nights and he'd put his arms around my tummy and make comments. I reported it to my inspector, and other girls had came forward with similar issues so he lost his job … He had friends on rota and some said it was my fault and that I should not speak out of turn."

She added that when she started somewhere else a female manager made a point of saying that if she ever had a problem with male members of staff she should talk to someone.

"It was a weird thing to say. In any force you will have one or two managers who have a reputation for using their power [over women] … but that's probably the case in all professions. What makes it worse in policing is that as a profession we should know better. We are often dealing with vulnerable people and criminals. We are supposed to look after people."

Unison's national officer, Ben Priestley, said: "This behaviour has no place in the modern workplace. Neither staff nor the public should ever feel intimidated or degraded when dealing with the police. This goes against the very purpose of having police forces watching over and keeping communities safe."

He added that the figures mirrored the trade union's findings. A Unison survey of almost 1,800 police staff in England, Wales and Scotland, found half had heard sexualised jokes and one in five had received a sexually explicit email or text from a colleague.

About one in 25 said they had been pressured to have sex, and one in 12 was told that sexual favours could result in preferential treatment.

Prof Jennifer Brown, from the Mannheim centre for criminology at the London School of Economics, who led Unison's research in this area, described it as a "hidden problem" in the police force.

Brown said research suggested sexual harassment tended to be more of an issue in uniformed services, such as the police. "It's partly because of the gender ratio, more men in the working environment and sexual politics, so the idea that women are encroaching into areas that men have a monopoly over."

Women constitute 29.8% of the police establishment in England and Wales, with 6,463 holding the rank of sergeant or above. This is 17.7% of the complement of serving female police officers (the equivalent percentage for male officers is 24.1%).

Brown said police fit in the top end of the reported ranges for harassment, but she added: "Interestingly, a different rate goes on [when it comes to] willingness to make a formal complaint … so it is not something people do easily or comfortably. I am not saying the police are necessarily hugely worse than other industries, but reporting rates tend to be a bit higher and you may expect a certain standard from the police.

"If their job is safeguarding you would like to think that the standards of behaviour from their own workforce is the highest."

Data has shown 24 police staff, including constables, community support officers, crime scene investigators, clerks and detention officers were dismissed and 74 faced management action. A total of 48 staff members resigned or retired after a complaint was lodged.

Concern was also raised about the system in place to deal with harassment, with Brown saying it was not like other professions, such as nursing, where an independent team would hear a complaint.

She said: "It's dealt with internally, so officers can resign before they are asked to appear before a disciplinary body. They may make a calculation - due to pension etc - that it is in their interest to go and so they may resign rather than be disciplined.

"It's a messy landscape which should be overhauled but in the current climate I am not sure there is appetite to do that."

(1st January 2019)

(Chronical Live, dated 24th December 2018 author Chris Binding)

Full article [Option 1]:

Nearly half of all graffiti reported in Sunderland in recent years was racist or offensive, new figures have revealed.

A freedom of information request, submitted to Sunderland City Council (SCC), lists the number of graffiti reports between April 2012 and November 19, 2018.

Over the six-and-a-half year period, 1,303 graffiti incidents were recorded with 44% or 570 classed as 'racist or offensive'.

Examples in recent years include a racist message spray painted on the Jami Masjid mosque in Chester Road and similar attacks on takeaways and shops.

Council bosses, police chiefs and charities have since slammed the figures, condemning those responsible.

Head of environment and transport for SCC, Coun Amy Wilson, called on the public to report graffiti, describing it as "ugly, unsightly and against the law."

"Graffiti is unacceptable and with all the squeezes on council budgets, staff have other tasks that they could be getting on with instead of cleaning up after a minority of messy faceless idiots," she said.

"And when it comes to racist and offensive graffiti, there's simply no place for it in our city because it's a hate crime and is investigated."

The most targeted ward for graffiti in Sunderland is Hendon followed by Millfield, Hetton, St Peters and St Annes, the freedom of information request revealed.

Between 2016/17 and 2017/18 offensive and racist graffiti reports jumped up from 93 to 116.

From April this year alone, 73 incidents have been reported.

Leader of Sunderland's Liberal Democrat Group, Niall Hodson, said he receives frequent complaints from Millfield and Pallion residents about the quantity of graffiti and delays in removing it.

The councillor, who represents the Millfield ward, added: "What's especially concerning is just how much of this graffiti is offensive or racist, or is abusive towards specific individuals.

"It's just not acceptable that people have to live surrounded by this, and I would like to see the police and council working together on a strategy to deal with it proactively."

In the North East, several charities also aim to tackle racism with education and awareness campaigns including Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

The UK charity aims to use high-profile nature of footballers to promote anti-racism messages and regularly works with Sunderland AFC on events.

A spokesman for SRtRC said: "Racist graffiti is a visible sign of hate, which can have significant negative effects on communities.

"It is good that it is being reported and recorded, but worrying that of all incidences of graffiti in recent years, racist graffiti makes up a sizeable proportion.

"Hate crime often spikes following events, such as the EU referendum and terrorist attacks, and 76% of hate crime is racist."

He added: "It is important to challenge racist ideas and prejudice wherever they occur.

"Education is key to change the attitudes that can support racism and SRtRC has worked with many schools in Sunderland over the years, using activities which encourage young people to think critically about racism.

"Unfortunately, due to local authority cuts, we currently don't have funding to carry out a free programme of educational work in Sunderland schools."

Northumbria Police have also pledged to tackle the issue of racist graffiti in Sunderland.

Inspector Jamie Southwell added: "It is completely unacceptable to abuse someone because of their race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability or any other protected characteristic.

"There is no place for hate crime in our communities. As a force, we have a proactive approach to tackling hate crime and raising awareness of such offences.

"There has been a significant improvement in how we record hate crime and a better understanding among officers about what constitutes a hate crime and the additional support that can be provided to victims of this type of crime.

"We will continue to take swift action against any perpetrators and work closely with partners to ensure any offensive graffiti is removed as quickly as possible.

"If you have been a victim of hate crime we would urge you to come forward and contact police."

Sunderland City Council defines graffiti as "anything which is written, scratched, painted or sprayed on the surface of any property".

General / racist graffiti data April 2012 to 19th November 2018

(General) [Offensive / Racist]

2012/13 : (7) [8]]
2013/14 : (192) [120]
2014/15 : (134) [86]
2015/16 : (92) [74]
2016/17 : (98) [93]
2017/18 : (133) [116]
2018/19 : (77) [73]

(1st January 2019)

(Mirror, dated 24th December 2018 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

A man from Northern Ireland has spoken out about receiving a "dangerous" motorbike helmet that he believed to be counterfeit.

The customer, David, ordered a motorbike helmet online, only to receive a "one size fits all" product that he claimed looked like a child's toy.

He contacted the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in late October 2018 to report the item, however, PIPCU found that the helmet was not a counterfeit, but an example of poor standards. It also had no recognised safety standard markings.

The fraud agency has now issued a warning against poorly designed and hazardous driving equipment which could cost lives.

"It doesn't take much to imagine the damage that could be done if this helmet was worn by a rider involved in even a minor accident," a spokesman at the City of London police said.

Counterfeit or not?

A counterfeit item will use a logo and claim to be from a brand, usually well-known and highly sought after. Items that do not claim to be from a genuine brand are not counterfeit.

Both counterfeits and poorly constructed items can be unsafe as they do not adhere to safety standards. Trading Standards are responsible for investigating sub-standard items. A motorcycle helmet could save your life, it should be the right size and fit properly, always consult an expert before you buy one.

Although David's helmet is not counterfeit, PIPCU said it's looking into the website where he bought the helmet as it is believed the site may also be trading counterfeit items.

An operation has now been launched under Operation Ashiko to take down websites selling counterfeit products. So far Ashiko has removed over 65,000 counterfeit websites from the web, showing the scale of this issue.

Convincing criminals

The site that David bought from was particularly convincing. It had an "About" page and a customer response page with supposedly glowing reports from satisfied customers. The site also had a returns policy which gave all the expected assurances and the site responded when David enquired about delivery dates.

Following the purchase, David noticed an additional suspicious transaction that had been attempted on his account. His bank recognised it as a fraud and fortunately they were able to prevent money from being taken. His credit card company also returned his money for the helmet.

More at stake

PIPCU said that handing over personal banking details to untrusted sites can lead to further fraud being committed and identity crime. When buying items, people will part with details such as their address and financial information which allows fraudsters to set-up new websites selling counterfeit products in their name.

"The helmet, if you could call it that … has no recognised safety standard at all. At best this is a dangerous, one size fits all toy and I would not let a child ride a push bike with this thing on their head," David explained.

"The website was a lesson on how professional these criminals are. It's so important that people put their safety first and buy from a trusted website. If you can't be sure the item is genuine, don't hand over any money."

Detective Sergeant Kevin Ives of the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said: "This is a prime example of the thousands of unsafe items we see every year.

"The safety risks in this case are easy to see and it doesn't take much to imagine the damage that could be done if this helmet was worn by a rider involved in even a minor accident.

"I would urge shoppers to purchase from a reputable seller. If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research. People will often turn to independent forums and blogs to warn others of untrusted sites."

Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Lead Officer for Product Safety, Mark Gardiner added: "Motorcycle helmets must conform to safety standards, consumers should look out for the UNECE and BSI safety markings as well as checking the overall quality of the item. Consumers should always purchase from a reputable retailer".

If consumers need advice or to report a problem, they should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

Dr Ros Lynch, Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said: "Cheap goods can often be confused with counterfeits, so David was absolutely right to be suspicious - both can pose a risk to public safety due to poor quality workmanship and inadequate quality and safety checks.

"Counterfeit goods are those made to imitate the look and style of products made by legitimate registered brands. They are sold by rogue traders seeking to make money from other peoples' ideas and designs."

Is that website real?

Action Fraud has identified a number of preventative steps to help protect customers from online shopping fraud. Here are the signs to watch for:

- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be fooled into thinking you're getting a great deal.

- Get the trader to tell you if they provide an after-sales service, warranty or guarantee. Most rogue traders don't.

- Make sure you understand how the website's feedback function works. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers have made.

- Check the item's description carefully - ask the seller questions if you're not sure of something.

- Be aware of phishing emails that look like they come from the online auction or payment site you're registered with, asking you to update your account details or re-enter them because your account has been suspended.

- Check the URL in the web browser. A tactic often used by fraudsters is to change the address very slightly (if they're spoofing an eBay site, for instance, they may have an address such as '. . .' whereas the real site is '. . .')

- Read the terms and conditions carefully, including those relating to any dispute resolution procedures the site offers.

- Run the site through a search engine - often if a site is suspicious, there'll be people talking about it online.

(1st January 2019)

(Gloucestershire Live, dated 23rd December 2018 authors Jamie Waller and Ed Stilliard)

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Drivers have already seen plenty of changes to road laws but now they will see more coming in 2019.

The past 12 months has seen new laws coming in regarding the maintenance of vehicles as well as changes to the driving test.

New laws set to be introduced in 2019 include overtaking cyclists as well as plans to clamp down on learner drivers who fail to adhere to the Highway Code.

All of these rules are aimed at keeping us safe on the roads, with harsh penalties on those who flout them.

Grimsby Live has complied this list of law changes which includes both of those which are proposed and those already in force - and the penalties for breaking them.

Overtaking cyclists

The Highway Code's insistence cars should leave a decent distance between them an cyclists when passing (1.5m) is now being strengthened by fines.

Following law changes in March, motorists could be fined for not leaving enough space between a vehicle and a bike. Failure to do so could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

Police forces across the country are being encouraged to penalise those who drive dangerously close to cyclists.

Learner drivers on the motorway

Before motorists were only allowed on the motorway once they had passed their full driving test.

But they are now allowed to get on the country's largest and busiest roads as part of their lessons, as long as they have a qualified instructor who has dual controls in the car.

It is to give them a better feel for driving on the carriageways, but is not yet compulsory.

Smart motorways

The government is considering fines of up to £100 for motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.

These lanes are shown by red Xs on automated signs above the motorway, and are used when there is a blockage or accident to prevent further incidents.

Any drivers who ignore the signs in future to take advantage of a clear lane could face fines. The government is expected to announce that offenders will face £100 fines and three points on their licence.

It is believed they will be modifying roadside cameras to help identify drivers who violate these restrictions.

MOT rules

There are new categories for defects with cars which drivers will have to understand, which are:

- Dangerous - Direct risk to road safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Major - Could affect safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Minor - No effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Advisory - Could have an effect in future.
- Pass - Meets the current legal standards.

A variety of new requirements are also being included in the MOT for the first time. These checks include:

- Underinflated tyres
- Contaminated brake fluid
- Brake pad warning lights and missing brake pads or discs
- Reversing lights (for vehicles newer than September 2009)
- Daytime running lights (for vehicles newer than March 2018).

Some things won't change though - the government considered lengthening the wait for a vehicle's first MOT from three to four years, but it will now remain unchanged.

Diesel car tax increasing

The tax rates of diesel cars were increased from April 1 of this year. This applies to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), usually known as road tax.

Instead of being fixed at £140 per year, VED rates will now be calculated based on the car's carbon dioxide emissions.

The highest raise of first-year tax is £500, for cars which emit between 191 and 225g of CO per year. However, those which emit the more environmentally-friendly 111 to 130g/km will only see their tax go up by £40.

Recently qualified drivers

Recently qualified drivers could also face changes once they have passed, with the government even considering bringing in a graduated driving licence.

Currently, new drivers who have been behind the wheel for less than two years face stronger penalties for offences like using a mobile phone.

However, a whole range of restrictions could also be imposed. The RAC believes these are likely to focus on:

- Curfews - Times when they are allowed to be on the road
- Passengers - Limits for how many passengers a new driver can have
- Speed - Separate, lower speed limits to other drivers
- Engine sizes - Limits on how powerful their cars can be
- Mandatory P plates - These are currently optional, but could be made mandatory for up to two years
- Alcohol - Lower limits than the general driving population.

A pilot scheme for graduated licences will be tested in Northern Ireland from 2019 to 2020. This could lead to it being rolled out in England if successful.

(1st January 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 23rd December 2018 author Harry Cole)

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Spy chiefs believe the scale of Russian and Chinese influence on Parliament is now a major threat to national security and have drawn up a secret watchlist of lords with dubious connections.

It is understood that more than a dozen are feared to have been compromised by financial interests with foreign powers - with MPs today demanding a tough crackdown.

However, security sources add that concerns within MI5 and the Home Office go beyond commercial ties, with other members of the Upper House suspected of being cultivated by enemy agents. Concern has soared as diplomatic relations between London and Moscow have plunged in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent outrage.

The stark warning raised at the highest levels in Whitehall comes as an investigation by The Mail on Sunday reveals 30 members of the House of Lords have direct financial links to Russia or China.

Among them are peers with board memberships on Moscow-owned firms or positions with Chinese companies. They include a Russian expert who has written books about the country and executives of Russian banks, mining firms and state-backed shipping conglomerates.

Others, not named for legal reasons, have publicly attacked sanctions against Russia in the Lords chamber and used written parliamentary questions to probe Government foreign policy stances while working for Russian firms.

Comments made in the Lords have also been published online by RT - the controversial Russian news channel slammed by Ofcom this week for its pro-Kremlin bias.

Last night Tory MP Bob Seely called for the rules for peers to be tightened by a 'Foreign Agents Act'.

He argued for the equivalent of the US Foreign Agents Registration Act - which 'was designed to block not only foreign powers but also powerful foreign individuals or companies covertly or discreetly influencing US democracy' - to be introduced in the UK.

Mr Seely told The Mail on Sunday: 'If you want to work for Russian President Vladimir Putin or his cronies, directly or via proxies, you need to be open and honest about it, describe the work you do and who you meet and why.'

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd December 2018 author Olivia Tobin)

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Almost £40m has been paid in overtime to Metropolitan Police constables in the last two years, official figures show.

In 2017 and 2018, Pcs in London worked more than a million hours in overtime, clocking up a total of 1,799,741 extra hours.

Figures released to the Standard under Freedom of Information show how police are being called on to shoulder increasing hours on duty.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan said the Met had faced £1bn in cuts since 2010. This week he raised council tax to help make up the shortfall in police funding.

In 2017, the Met said 20,140 Pcs were in employment, but this number was reduced down to 19,078 in 2018 - the year London's murder rate was the highest in a calendar year for nearly a decade.

£22,625,288 was paid out in overtime in 2017. In 2018, from January to October, this figure was £16,855,056.

The Met said that the last two years have been an "unprecedented period for policing with a number of terrorist incidents, increases in violence, and other major incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire", requiring more officers.

The force said "it is only right officers are paid the correct overtime for their hard work".

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said we are going to continue seeing money spent on overtime because without funding, it will not be possible to invest in more officers that we "significantly need".

Mr Khan said officers were currently being "overstretched".

Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said he would like to see more officers in employment, as he claims the money spent on overtime could have "trained thousands" of new officers.

The Home Office said "there are more officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country".

Mr Marsh said: "We are seeing a lot of overtime, and a lot of it is for firearms [trained officers], and this is because it's cheaper to pay officers overtime than train up new ones."

He added: "It's not an eight-hour job and then you go home, you can be told to stay on longer at work. It's one of the few jobs where you can be told to stay longer. It's not a day time job, if something happens, officers have to stay, it's something that is factored in.

"We do need more officers, but how are we going to get them when they are starting out on such a low salary?"

Mr Marsh added working so many extra hours can have a big effect on Pcs, as he said: "having a good work/life balance is a difficult thing for officers to have".

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "This Government has ensured police have the resources they need to carry out their vital work, by providing a strong and comprehensive settlement that is increasing total investment in the police system by up to £970m in 2019/20.

"There are more officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country. The Metropolitan Police will see a total increase in funding of up to £172m next year including pensions funding and precept.

"Decisions about the allocation of police resources and the recruitment of officers are for Chief Constables and democratically accountable Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs)."

Mr Marsh said he would like to see more officers in employment and said he "would like to see the Government bring the number to over 30,000 officers in employment".

Mr Khan said: "The Met are overstretched and officers are being overworked because of the eight years of damaging cuts to police funding by the government.

"The Home Secretary promised to give the Met Police the funding he acknowledged it needs to tackle the rise in violent crime and yet when he had the chance to do so, he failed to reverse the £1 billion of hugely damaging cuts the government has inflicted on the police.

"His police settlement was a one-year sticking plaster which means we are going to continue to see money spent on overtime because without long-term funding we are not going to be able to invest in what we really need, which is significantly more officers on the street to keep Londoners safe."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the amount spent on overtime must be considered along with how big the force is.

The spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is the largest police service in the country.

"Overall, Met officers account for around a fifth of all the police officers in the UK - it is important that our overtime spend is viewed in this context.

"The Met is a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour organisation. Overtime provides the flexibility and resilience the Met needs to keep London safe and allocate resources to meet demand.

"Police officers sometimes have to work on rest days, and sometimes at short notice and on bank holidays, and it is only right they are paid the correct overtime for their hard work.

"We are committed to their support and welfare and we continue to have enormous gratitude for the dedication they show day-in and day-out to keep our city safe.

"2017 and 2018 has been an unprecedented period for policing in London with a number of terrorist incidents, increases in violence, and other major incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire with ongoing investigations - all of which involved significant overtime expenditure.

"We have also faced additional overtime costs in relation to our restructure of the delivery of policing across London boroughs and as a consequence of falling officer numbers, although we continue to actively recruit.

"Overtime costs and contingency are factored into annual budgets, and do not incur an additional cost which impacts other business areas."

In 2013, 30,398 police officers were in employment across the entire Metropolitan police force, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Of these, 23,283 were working as PCs. In May of this year the number of police officers protecting the capital symbolically dropped below the 30,000 mark for the first time.

On Thursday, Sadiq Khan said he would be raising council tax to tackle the "brutal reality" of crime in London.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd December 2018 author Mike Wright)

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Children playing the world's most popular computer game are being preyed on by criminals trying to extort money out of them, the police's fraud arm has warned.

Action Fraud has warned that scammers are using Fortnite, an online multiplayer "shoot em up" game with 125 million players worldwide, to trick young players into handing over their parents' bank details.

The fraud reporting centre, which is run by the City of London Police, said it had seen a more than 40 percent rise in crimes involving the hit video game, with victims losing on average £110 each time.

Fortnite, which is certified as being suitable for children aged 12 and over, is set in a dystopian world where most of the Earth's population has suddenly disappeared, living tough conditions and zombie-like creatures to roam the Earth. Players are among the remaining 2 per cent whose job it is to survive and return the earth to normal.

The scam works by convincing players to leave the game and enter a third party website, where they can buy "free" online currency which they can use in the game to buy items like weapons and clothes. To "verify their account is real" players are asked to hand over bank details.

Parents are now being urged to be vigilant in the run-up to Christmas and keep an eye on what their children are doing online.

Chief Inspector Paul Carroll, of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said: "Clearly you expect there to be more purchases of Fortnite over the Christmas period, it's the in thing for gamers. So it is certainly a time for parents to be vigilant and get their knowledge up to speed of what it entails.

"You have always got to question requests for personal financial information."

Figures seen by the Sunday Telegraph showed that between May and November this year there had been 50 reports of fraud to the hotline involving Fortnite.

This was a rise on previous figures released by the centre that showed there were 35 crimes reported between September last year, when the game was released, and April.

The centre warned that many of the frauds came from children being tricked by scams on social media promisings free ways to get Fortnite's in-game currency, called V-Bucks.

V-Bucks can be bought with real money or earned playing the game and allow players to buy new items for their online Fortnite characters such as costumes, weapons or dance moves.

The Sunday Telegraph found a number of Fortnite scam sites on Facebook and YouTube, which typically took people to a third-party website where they were told they could get free V-Bucks by simply entering their Fortnite account username.

The sites typically then said the process had failed and the person had to 'verify' their Fortnite account was real by handing over various personal information.

They often also promised children the chance to win a new smartphone or games console if they entered theirs or their parents' details.

Ch Insp Carroll added: "We say you have to listen to your instincts and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. So if you are being offered these V-Bucks for a discounted rate it is potentially someone looking to defraud you."

Since its release, Fortnite has become a huge hit with its free Battle Royale game, in which up to 100 people compete online in a last-man-standing shootout, especially popular.

The game's maker, Epic Games, recently revealed Fortnite now has more than 200 million players worldwide. The studio has previously warned players that online offers of free V-Bucks are not legitimate and not to participate in them.

Facebook and YouTube have since removed all the scam pages and videos found by the Sunday Telegraph.

A spokesman for YouTube said: "We use teams of highly trained content reviewers to determine whether videos violate our Community Guidelines and are committed to removing this offending content quickly."

What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?

Fornite: Battle Royale has quickly become one of the world's most popular online games. Free to play, Battle Royale was released in 2017 by Epic Games, a firm based in North Carolina. It was designed as a spinoff from the company's main release, Fortnite. The game allows users to compete against dozens of others around the world in a last-man-standing deathmatch.

What happens in the game?

Up to 100 players start off the deathmatch in a flying bus. One by one, they drop to the ground of the game's map, which includes areas called 'Tomato Town', 'Tilted Towers', and 'Shifty Shafts'. Players then quickly have to arm themselves and find shelter. The aim is to kill every other player and emerge as the sole survivor. Players are given a huge amount of choice - they can focus on amassing weapons, building an elaborate base, or luring others into traps. Most games last for around 20 minutes.

How many people play it?

Estimates vary on just how many people play Battle Royale. Data from financial information service MarketWatch however, suggests the game pulls in 40 million users each month. That shows a huge rise in popularity in recent months: at it's previous peak the game showed a concurrent player count of 3.4 million, and a total player count of 45 million.

How much money does it make?

In just one month in April 2018, Fortnite made $296 million across all of its platforms (including console, PC, and mobile), according to research company Superdata. This made it the highest-grossing digital console game that month, the data showed.

How does it compare with other online games?

Battle Royale has quickly become one of the world's most popular and successful online multiplayer games. Its 40 million monthly users makes it more popular than its giant competitor, Grand Theft Auto V Online, which is produced by Rockstar Games as part of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which is one of the most profitable entertainment franchises in history.

(1st January 2019)

(Hurriyet Daily News, dated 21st December 2018)

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Calculations suggest that the projected costs of fraud for Turkey is approximately $40 billion, according to Fikret Sebilcioglu, an executive board member of Ethics and Reputation Society (TEID).

"Fraud is a global problem. There are millions of business and government organizations operating throughout the world and every one of them, in some way, is vulnerable or potentially vulnerable to fraud committed by their employees," he said.

Organizations worldwide lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues to fraud, Sebilcioglu added, citing a 2018 report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.

"To place this estimate in context, if the 5 percent loss estimate were applied to the 2017 estimated Gross World Product of $79.6 trillion, it would result in a projected total global fraud loss of nearly $4 trillion."

Based on this estimate, the projected costs of fraud for Turkey is approximately $40 billion, according to Sebilcioglu.

"That means each Turkish citizen pays some $500 (2,700 Turkish Liras) for fraud losses every year."

TEID was the official supporting organization of the 2018 International Fraud Awareness Week, which took place this year between Nov. 11-17.

Fraud Awareness Week, which promotes transparency and integrity about fraud, was first organized 18 years ago by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education.

"TEID believes that fraud awareness and anti-fraud training are important elements of the internal control system and ethics and compliance programs," Sebilcioglu said.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 20th December 2018 - Editorial Opinion)

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The mocking drones that have shut down Gatwick airport have shown up the shocking weakness of the British state. The political scientist David Runciman has described the contemporary state as simultaneously weaker and stronger than it was 100 years ago: it hopes to control much more than it used to, but partly as a consequence of these ambitions it lacks the power to fulfil all of them. This is perhaps a more profound lesson about sovereignty than some other contemporary discussions. The British state believes it has, or ought to have, sovereignty over its own airspace. Yet what appears to be a handful of troublemakers has been able to shut down the second largest airport in the country, defying the police and even the army, and causing hundreds of millions of pounds in damage to services and untold frustration and distress to hundreds of thousands of travellers. The model for the exercise of British air power is no longer the Battle of Britain.

It is already obvious that this could have had catastrophic consequences had it been a straightforward terrorist attack, which would have flown a drone into an engine of a fully loaded airliner. This would be the equivalent of a deliberate bird strike, and quite likely to cause a horrendous crash if the pilot did not have the skills and reflexes of Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who managed to land in the Hudson river in 2009 when his airliner struck a flock of geese shortly after taking off from New York. In the war against Islamic State, both sides made frequent use of drones both for reconnaissance and for delivering explosives. Now it turns out that a completely unarmed drone - without, so far as we know, even a camera on it - can be a fairly devastating weapon too.

Economic harm such as has befallen the UK this week is not the only injury that drone flyers can inflict on the people around them. Equipped with cameras, they can be astonishingly intrusive destroyers of privacy. Laden with drugs, they are widely used to breach the security of prison walls. There are, of course, many legitimate and valuable uses for drone technologies, but it is very difficult to argue that the pleasure of flying one should outweigh the potential damage to society of their uncontrolled use. Some people get great pleasure from recreational shooting, yet we control the use of guns very tightly because the risks to society are rightly thought to outweigh the benefits to individual gun owners, no matter how responsible some may be.

Drone operators who fly within one kilometre of an airfield can face jail time - but that depends on catching them in the first place. It is easy to sketch out a regulatory regime that would ensure that large drones would only be used by respectable commercial operators, who were licensed and insured, and who would never fly their machines at a dangerous height or close to sensitive spaces. Such rules are already in place in countries including Germany and Australia. The trouble is that they are not all in place in Britain, too, although regulations on where drones may be flown have been brought in. Last year the Department for Transport announced a suite of regulations that would have imposed responsibility on the owners of all but the smallest, toy-type drones. These would require owners to register and sit an exam to prove that they understand the potential dangers of their hobby. But these sensible changes have not made it into law: the government has been preoccupied with other matters.

In the light of the incident at Gatwick, it would be more sensible to go further: to make legally binding the restrictions on where drones may fly and how high. The difficulty remains that all codes, laws and regulations must be enforced. At the moment they seem as little observed as speed limits are. In the absence of reliable technological ways to bring down rogue drones - or even, apparently, to track down their controllers - it is not just one airport but a whole country that the drones are mocking.

(1st Janaury 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 20th December 2018 author Annie Palmer)

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Microsoft is urging users to update to the latest version of Internet Explorer after it discovered a serious flaw.

The move came after a Google security engineer uncovered a memory-corruption vulnerability in the browser that was actively being exploited by hackers.

It allowed them to easily takeover your PC by executing some malicious code.

An emergency security patch was immediately issued by Microsoft to fix the vulnerability.

The flaw affects Internet Explorer versions 9, 10 and 11, as well as all versions of Windows, according to the firm.

'Today, we released a security update for Internet Explorer after receiving a report from Google about a new vulnerability being used in targeted attacks,' the firm explained.

Microsoft didn't say how many users have been affected by the vulnerability, known as CVE-2018-8653, but it detailed how the attack works in a post to its website.

'A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that the scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer,' the firm explained.

'The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user.

'An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user,' Microsoft added.

Microsoft said if the user is logged on with administrative rights, an attacker could use the vulnerability to effectively take control of the user's entire PC.

For the attack to work, hackers have to get users to visit a malicious website.

They could do so by sending a link to the malicious website via email, which the user might click, thereby giving the attacker control over their computer.

Once they have access to the user's machine, they can install programs, view or change data and create accounts on the computer with full user rights, Microsoft said.

If users have Windows Update installed and turned on, their computer should automatically update to the latest version of Internet Explorer.

The firm said Windows users should install the latest update even if they don't use Internet Explorer regularly.

(1st January 2019)

(Secure Team, dated 20th December 2018)

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No end of year would be complete without a top ten list and SplashData has just published their 8th Annual Worst Password list.

In their announcement, SplashData says:

"After evaluating more than 5 million passwords leaked on the Internet, the company found that computer users continue using the same predictable, easily guessable passwords. Using these passwords will put anyone at substantial risk of being hacked and having their identities stolen.

While terrible passwords such as "123456" and "password" continue in the #1 and #2 spots, respectively, President Trump debuted on this year's list with "donald" showing up as the 23rd most frequently used password."

Reading like a music chart, we see a new entry at number 8 for 'sunshine' while 'admin' drops one place from 11 to 12. The full top 25 are shown below:

Top 25 most used passwords in 2018

1. 123456 (Rank unchanged from last year)
2. password (Unchanged)
3. 123456789 (Up 3)
4. 12345678 (Down 1)
5. 12345 (Unchanged)
6. 111111 (New)
7. 1234567 (Up 1)
8. sunshine (New)
9. qwerty (Down 5)
10. iloveyou (Unchanged)
11. princess. (New)
12. admin. (Down 1)
13. welcome (Down 1)
14. 666666 (New)
15. abc123 (Unchanged)
16. football (Down 7)
17. 123123 (Unchanged)
18. monkey (Down 5)
19. 654321 (New)
20. !@#$%^&* (New)
21. charlie (New)
22. aa123456 (New)
23. donald (New)
24. password1 (New)
25. qwerty123 (New)

SplashData estimates almost 10% of people have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year's list, and nearly 3% of people have used the worst password, 123456.

There is a more useful side to all this frivolity and head shaking for system administrators. SplashData is offering a free download of the 100 most used passwords they have discovered which any security-minded administrator would be wise to load into their password blacklist if your systems support it. For more information go to:

By blacklisting certain words and strings, you can prevent your users setting a well-known password which is more easily guessed. Best practice is to use a password manager to generate strong and complex passwords for every login. Setting password blacklists provides a useful safety net for when the usual complexity rules cannot be enforced.

(1st January 2019)

(Mirror, dated 19th December 2018 author Andrew Penman)

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One of Britain's most wanted fugitive fraudsters was allowed to slip back into the country undetected.

James Maynard had been on the run since 2013 for his central role in a scam that fleeced £35.8million from unwitting investors.

In a shocking lapse, he was able to brazenly return to Britain this summer using his own passport, even though there was a warrant for his arrest.

He was only caught when he tried to leave again, being stopped at Gatwick Airport with a ticket to Cyprus.

Now the 38-year-old from Croydon, south London, is starting a seven and a half year jail sentence after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

His Honour Judge Beddoe, sitting at Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday, was astonished that Maynard had not been arrested on his in-bound journey, asking: "How did he get back in?"

Andrew Bird, prosecuting, said: "We think it was Eurotunnel, when for whatever reason the existence of the warrant may not have been noticed by those responsible."

The judge replied: "I raise this issue because it may be that the Border Force want to review the adequacy of their system. It seems remarkable."

Hugh Forgan, defending, told the court: "The system worked at Gatwick, it did not work at Folkestone."

The fraud centred on a company called Countrywide Land Holdings Limited and later Regional Land, which used "boiler room" coldcallers to dupe victims into pumping their savings into plots of greenfield land.

The company lied that the value of the land would rocket because it would get planning permission for development or was wanted by corporate investors, when if fact it was virtually worthless. It was impossible to re-sell, having no access roads, gas or electricity, boundaries or planning permission.

The court heard that Maynard bought one plot of agricultural land near Maidstone, Kent, for £80,000 and divided it into 210 roughly house-sized plots. These were sold for around £10,000 each, when the pro-rate value was only around £380.

"The nub of the fraud was allowing the investors to think that £10,000 was a good investment," said Mr Bird.

He read out a string of victim statements, including one in which a woman said: "My husband and I worked extremely hard all our lives to see it all wiped out by Countrywide Land Holdings."

Sales reps conned more than 400 people into investing, with expert "closers" being paid commission of up to 50% for signing up victims.

So-called "loaders" then put even more pressure on investors to buy further plots, telling them to borrow the money if necessary.

They were rewarded with luxuries such as Monteblanc cuff links, Rolex watches and trips to the Grand Prix at Monaco.

They could also be sacked on the spot, Mr Bird telling the court "the office was run on one upmanship and fear", with Maynard being the enforcer.

Judge Beddoe said the gang saw investors as "contemptible prey to be chewed up and spat out".

He went on: "As far as I am aware barely any of that £35million or so has been recovered.

"Many, many people have been ruined or brought close to ruin.

"This therefore was a grotesque, cynical, merciless fraud conducted by the greedy who could not have failed to realise the very great damage they were doing."

Maynard is the fifth culprit to be locked up for the fraud - four others were jailed for a total of 26 years in 2013, including Ferrari-driving sales rep Daniel Webster.

The others jailed were at that hearing were lying sales reps Steven Percival and Stephan Allan and Christopher Demetriou, who set up the virtual offices that the gang used to give the impression of having prestigious addresses in Canary Wharf, London.

Two others at the "wicked heart" of the conspiracy, Andrew Dunne and Malcolm Hills, who are believed to still be in Northern Cyprus. Dunne has been pictured on a Russian dating website standing in front of a Bentley.

Besides the jail term, Maynard was also given a 15 year directorship disqualification and a nominal £1 confiscation order, being a bankrupt with no apparent assets.

Trading standards in Tower Hamlets, London, where the coldcallers were based, began investigating in 2010.

"We will not relent in our efforts to bring criminals to justice, no matter how long it may take," said mayor John Biggs.

"This was one of the largest fraud cases brought before the courts by any local authority, following a long investigation by our trading standards team and the police.

"I hope today's sentencing and the closure of this case brings some consolation to the victims of such a callous crime."

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: "Today's sentencing of this runaway fraudster is an excellent result, testament to the persistence and hard work of Tower Hamlets Trading Standards and the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigation Team. The teams work tirelessly to protect vulnerable consumers against this sort of merciless fraud.

"I would like to remind everyone, especially victims, that time is no barrier in bringing criminals to justice."

The Home Office would not comment on how Maynard got back into Britain, saying: "We do not routinely comment on individual cases."

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th December 2018 author Sean Morrison)

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Diane Abbott has condemned Twitter over thousands of racist and misogynistic tweets appearing on the platform.

The shadow Home Secretary's remarks came as a damning study found thousands of tweets disproportionately targeted black female politicians and journalists.

She warned that hate speech can lead to violence, adding that the social media giant had a responsibility to shut down the accounts of the culprits.

She added: "Twitter also does not have the option to delete offensive comments once an account has been blocked. This would make a difference to conversations that are taking place."

The Amnesty International study found that black women were 84 per cent more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive tweets, with one in ten posts mentioning black women containing "abusive or problematic" language.

A separate Amnesty study published in September 2017 showed that Ms Abbott received almost half (45.14 per cent) of all the abusive tweets sent to female MPs in the run-up to that year's general election.

In response to the latest findings, Ms Abbott said: "My staff still spend a considerable amount of time removing and blocking abusive or threatening posts from social media. Overwhelmingly the abuse is of a highly offensive racist and misogynist character.

"I have always felt that this type of hate speech can lead to violence, and Twitter has a responsibility to shut these accounts down a lot quicker then it currently does."

She added: "Twitter also does not have the option to delete offensive comments once an account has been blocked. This would make a difference to conversations that are taking place."

For its latest study, volunteers for Amnesty's "Troll Patrol" crowd-sourcing project analysed 228,000 Tweets sent to 778 female politicians and journalists across the political spectrum in the UK and US.

The report found that 7.1 per cent of tweets to women in the study contained abusive or problematic language.

The report read: "Abusive content violates Twitter's own rules and includes tweets that promote violence against or threaten people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."

Meanwhile, "problematic content" was defined as that which is "hurtful or hostile, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple or cumulative occasions", but do not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.

Twitter responded to the report by saying its abusive behaviour policy "strictly prohibits" any material that harasses, intimidates or silences another user's voice.

The firm's legal, policy and safety chief Vijaya Gadde said: "We are also transparently investing in better technology and tools to enable us to more proactively identify abusive, violative material, to limit its spread and reach on the platform and to encourage healthier conversations."

Previously, Labour MP Jess Phillips spoke out about harassment on Twitter after a wave of violent abuse was launched against her in May 2016.

At the time, she tweeted: "To see the attack of a pack on here check out my mentions 600 odd notifications talking about my rape in one night. I think Twitter is dead."

Only a month later, parliamentary colleague Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right fanatic Thomas Mair while carrying out work in her constituency.

This week fellow Labour MP Luciana Berger tweeted screengrabs of numerous anti-Semitic messages after voicing her position on a vote of no confidence in Theresa May.

Abuse has not been only been directed toward politicians on the left. A University of Sheffield study of tweets between 2015 and 2017 published last year found that male Conservative MPs had seen the most abuse during the period, while female Tory MPs saw the largest increase in abuse.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said earlier this year that colleagues had been advised by Parliament's Health and Wellbeing Service to close down their Twitter accounts due to the angry messages they were receiving from members of the public.

Amnesty said: "Politicians and journalists faced similar levels of online abuse and we observed both liberals and conservatives alike, as well as left and right leaning media organisations, were affected."

Kate Allen, Amnesty UK's director, said: "It's clear that a staggering level of violence and abuse against women exists on Twitter. These results back up what women have long been saying - that Twitter is endemic with racism, misogyny and homophobia."

She continued: "Twitter is failing to be transparent about the extent of the problem, but if our volunteers can gather meaningful data about online violence and abuse, so can Twitter.

"The company must take concrete steps to properly protect women's rights on the platform."

(1st January 2019)


(Guardian, dated 18th December 2018 author Frances Perraudin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Three-quarters of women killed by men in the UK in 2017 knew the perpetrator, according to a report on femicide.

The Femicide Census, conducted by Women's Aid and the campaigner Karen Ingala Smith, found that of the 139 women known to have been killed by men in the UK last year, 105 (76%) knew their killer. Thirty women were killed by strangers, with 21 of the 30 killed in terrorist attacks.

The report found that 64 of the women, or 46%, were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Another 24 (17%) were killed by a man known to them - such as a colleague, neighbour or friend - while 17 (12%) were killed by a male family member, of whom 10 were killed by their son. The perpetrator's relationship to the victim could not be established in four cases.

A sharp instrument was used as a weapon in 66 cases, or 47%, while 82 (59%) were killed at home. More than half of women killed by a former partner were killed within the first month of separation; almost 90% of the same subset were killed within the first year of separation.

For the first time, the Femicide Census collected data on "overkilling", killings where the force or method used was greater than that required to kill the victim. "Overkilling" was evident in 58 (42%) of the cases.

In one case, a victim was stabbed 175 times, while in others women were "hit 40 times with an axe", "bludgeoned repeatedly" and "battered virtually beyond all recognition".

Ingala Smith, the chief executive of the domestic violence charity Nia, said: "The use of excessive violence or desecration after death challenges narratives of momentary loss of control that are especially prevalent in relation to domestic violence.

"Instead it highlights the brutality and misogyny that men bring to their violence against women whether dead or alive and challenges benign rationales given by men which are often accepted and repeated in media coverage of the killings of women."

Smith said the report challenged widely held assumptions about the nature of violence in society. "The dominant perception of knife crime is one of young men and street violence yet the Femicide Census tells us that 47% of women were killed by knives or sharp objects; in fact, this is the most common method used by men to kill women," she said.

"It may also surprise some to learn that 40% of women killed by men were aged over 45 and 14% were over the age of 66. Where analyses of violent crime do not look at sex disaggregated data, violence against women continues to be overlooked and made invisible."

Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women's Aid, called on the government to ensure its domestic abuse bill, due to be published imminently, delivered both the legislation and the resources needed to respond effectively to domestic abuse.

"Time and time again, we hear of cases where a woman has been killed by a man as an 'isolated incident'; yet the latest Femicide Census report shows yet again that this is not the case," she said. "The majority of these cases are not isolated incidents. There are too many similarities in the circumstances where women are killed by men."

The Femicide Census contains information on more than 1,000 women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009, Northern Ireland as of 2015 and Scotland as of 2017. A number of cases of suspected femicide are still under investigation, making it likely that the real 2017 figure is higher than that recorded by the report.

(Guardian, dated 18th December 2018 author Julie Bindel)

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The latest census on femicide - women killed by men - has shown that during 2017, a staggering 139 women in the UK died as a result of male violence. But nobody joined the dots between these cases except for feminists campaigning against male violence towards women. Despite there being an obvious link between the misogynistic culture under which brutal - and often fatal - male violence occurs, the UK government has never made the connection that these women die because men's violence towards women and girls is a global pandemic.

The resistance to legally making misogyny a hate crime (currently under review) is partly down to the fact that it is such a huge everyday reality that it seems impossible to enforce. If the police did their job and treated every domestic violence incident as a potential fatality, we might prevent some deaths of vulnerable women and children. But to end the deaths of women relating to domestic violence, there needs to be a robust criminal justice response that intervenes at the earliest stages.

Karen Ingala Smith, one of the authors of the report and founder of the brilliant campaign Counting Dead Women, has become friends with some of the family members of the victims and sees how their pain never goes away: "I watch the anniversaries of the murder of their daughter/sister/aunt come around and the never-ending awfulness. It breaks my heart to see it".

Between 2015 and 2017, some 55 women were killed despite having previously reported their murderers to the police for threatening behaviour, according to freedom of information reports. There is a clear connection between different forms of men's violence against women. Domestic violence, sexual assault and prostitution come from the same place of male entitlement, ownership and access. If we really want to end male violence towards women, we need to think radically.

Even with the best police and criminal justice responses possible, if men continue to see women and children as their property, and believe that women exist to satisfy them sexually, then the rape and murder of women will never end.

Three-quarters of the victims last year were killed by a man they knew. Almost half of the killers were partners or former partners of their victim. These men cannot bear the thought that a woman has rejected them - because after all, in the violent, controlling mind of the perpetrator, she belonged to him. This is misogyny in its clearest form.

Take the case of Janbaz Tarin, who fatally stabbed his ex-partner Raneem Oudeh and her mother Khaola Saleem outside their home in August. Raneem had recently left Tarin after discovering he had a secret wife in Afghanistan with whom he had three children and a fourth on the way. To a man such as Tarin, if he can't get what he wants and his "property" dares to defy him, she must be destroyed.

Ten of the 139 murdered women were killed by their sons. A further seven were killed by another male family member (grandson, uncle or brother), and 24 were killed by a man they knew (neighbour, acquaintance, colleague). Twenty women were over the age of 66 when they were killed, whether by a partner, son, grandson or by neighbours or burglars. In some cases, the victims were raped and their homes burgled prior to being killed.

Twenty-one of the 30 women killed by strangers were murdered in terrorist attacks, which some feminists have linked to male violence towards women on account of the number of men convicted of terror attacks who also have a history of domestic violence.

The brutality used by the perpetrators is highlighted in the report and named as "overkill", because almost half (42%) of the cases used multiple methods of murder such as beating, stabbing, strangling and setting on fire - in other words, the use of gratuitous violence far greater than that necessary to end life. One woman was stabbed 175 times and another hit 40 times with an axe, bludgeoned repeatedly and battered virtually beyond all recognition. Additionally, a number of cases involved desecration, mutilation and the hiding of the body after death.

This shows hate and rage towards the victim, which is at odds with the accommodating and exculpatory narrative that often accompanies men's killings, for example that he "just flipped", was "upset", "lost the love of his life", was "depressed" or "momentarily lost control".

This is also completely at odds with all the cases we deal with at Justice for Women, where women who kill their abuser inflict one single stab wound in a desperate culmination of self-defence after years of receiving domestic abuse.

Pornography and the culture of woman-hating it promotes also plays its part. In a number of cases in the report, the male killer was discovered to be a prolific porn user, with some of these using the defence that the victim supposedly liked "rough sex".

Women in danger from violent men need to be protected, and the abuser prevented from accessing her and other women he may target. Specialist feminist projects with an expertise in violence towards women should be the ones running refuges and other support services, and not generic housing projects with no skills in the area.

Like all other forms of men's violence against women, femicide is often accepted as inevitable and normal. Yet each one of those women matters. They matter individually and collectively. We must mourn each and every one of the dead, and name their killers as terrorists in the war against women.

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th December 2018 author Martin Bentham)

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London's top murder prosecutor today appealed for an end to the "wall of silence" that is protecting gang killers from justice.

Julius Capon warned that a lack of co-operation within some communities was hindering efforts to put murderers behind bars. He said cases affected by the refusal of witnesses to provide evidence included shootings at venues where hundreds of people had been present.

Others included fatal stabbings in which friends of the victim - as well as those linked to the perpetrator -had refused to testify despite being at the scene. Mr Capon, who leads a 14-strong CPS team of homicide prosecutors, said they were striving to overcome the problem by using CCTV, phone tracking and other evidence to prove offenders' guilt and had managed to increase the number of convictions and their success rate in recent months.

But he said even more guilty verdicts could be obtained with greater public support and it was time for those in communities affected by gang crime to "stand up and be counted" to stop killers staying free.

Mr Capon's comments follow the publication of Met figures showing that only about one in 10 violent knife crimes in the capital between the start of 2016 and the end of June this year had so far led to a charge.

In more than 2,500 of the unsolved offences, a key factor in the failure of the inquiry had been the refusal of the victim to testify against an attacker. Many further cases have similarly run into the sand because of the failure of other witnesses to give evidence.

Mr Capon said the lack of assistance was "a big problem" and added: "The wall of silence that we often get in gang cases is difficult to break a way through. We've had shootings in crowded nightclubs but hundreds of people there say they haven't seen anything.

"Particularly in gang crime, you often find that the victim's group don't want to give evidence, just as much as the defendants don't want to give an account. The message is if you as a community are worried about what is happening, someone needs to stand up and be counted for us to be able to bring people to justice."

Mr Capon said that prosecutors and police used CCTV footage, mobile phone "cell site" tracking, automatic number plate recognition cameras, social media posts and other evidence to bring charges. They also sometimes use a "reluctant witness" procedure to compel them to testify, although this could fail if the person chose to lie.

But he added: "We'd rather have an eye-witness who says 'he did it' but we don't often get that in murder cases. We also have to bear in mind that in a lot of those gang cases people were wearing scarves or masks so identification is always going to be difficult at the point of the murder."

To help witnesses give evidence, prosecutors can apply to the courts for "special measures" which allow people to testify anonymously. They can also be taken to and from court by police and given further protection to ensure they are kept safe and their identities remain secret. The homicide team also meets every bereaved family to explain any charging decisions and what will happen in court.

The conviction rate for homicide cases in London fluctuates monthly and fell as low as 54.3 per cent in May. But it has risen since to above 80 per cent. Mr Capon said that another reason why convictions were sometimes not possible was that knife homicide victims in gang cases had often been carrying a knife themselves. This allowed the perpetrator to plead self-defence and either escape charges or potentially be cleared by a jury.

He added: "There are cases where we have been unable to rebut self-defence. That can be quite difficult to have to explain to a bereaved family."

'Everyone looked the other way'

The refusal of witnesses to testify allowed the killer of a 24-year-old student to go unpunished, a prosecutor said.

Victim Chleve Massi, whose distraught sister later killed herself by jumping off a ferry, was shot moments after walking into a party at the Sark Tower block in Thamesmead in February 2015.

Scion Fogah-Brown, 26, was jailed for eight years in January for possessing a firearm but was found not guilty of murder at the Old Bailey after claiming that someone else opened fire.

One of Julius Capon's colleagues, lawyer Sarah Dale, who has dealt with 50 cases since joining the London homicide team, said: "Nobody saw it apparently. Everybody was looking the other way. We couldn't get a single person to say who it was."

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 18th December 2018 author Owen Bowcott)

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Measures to boost conviction rates in domestic violence cases which provide extra support to victims are to be adopted nationally by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Prosecution rates in some areas have improved by almost 10% using techniques developed in pilot projects over the past two years, including enabling witnesses to give evidence from behind screens.

The scheme's rollout across England and Wales is being announced at a law enforcement conference in Birmingham on Tuesday ahead of Christmas and the new year which are traditionally the busiest periods for domestic violence.

On Christmas Day last year, CPS Direct, the prosecution department which liaises with police, took 592 calls from officers seeking charging decisions. At peak times, 68 calls an hour were received. On New Year's Day last year, there were 914 calls from police seeking charging decisions. The call rate reached 76 an hour at its height.

Additional prosecutors, working from their homes, will be on duty on New Year's Day this year to advise on charging decisions. Domestic violence accounts for the majority of CPS Direct's workload over the holiday periods.

The new prosecution measures have been developed in CPS pilot projects in London, Nottingham and Yorkshire since 2016. They include:

- Making sure victims can visit court before trial to familiarise themselves with surroundings.

- Allowing victims, as long as the courts permit, to give evidence from behind a screen.

- Providing separate courthouse entrances for victims and offenders where possible, as well as childcare facilities.

- Better support from an independent domestic abuse advisor (IDVA) to support victims.

Known as the domestic abuse best practice framework, it is due to be introduced in domestic abuse courts across England and Wales from January.

A recent report by the police and crime commissioner for Northumbria, Dame Vera Baird QC, highlighted the absence of IDVAs and inadequate training for staff as key problems that undermine the effectiveness of specialist domestic violence courts.

There has been a decline in the number of domestic abuse cases referred to the CPS by the police recently, a drop linked by many to problems of police resources. In 2017-18, there were 110,562 referrals flagged up by officers as being related to domestic abuse. The overwhelming majority of victims were women.

Kate Brown, who is chief crown prosecutor for CPS Direct and the CPS's national lead for domestic abuse, said: "We are developing a clear multi-agency approach and ensuring that we have consistently trained staff.

"It's always been the case that the guilty plea rate in domestic abuse cases is lower than in general crime because offenders hope that victims will not see the trial through. We want to see that [fallout rate] reduced by taking away the stress of the experience for victims."

The CPS says its research demonstrates that a targeted approach provides victims of domestic abuse with better support through the criminal justice system and is having a significant impact on conviction rates, guilty pleas and reducing the number of cases that fail due to victim and witness reluctance to participate.

On its pilot programme in London, at Highbury court, the CPS's four measures generated a 7.9% rise in the rate of early guilty pleas and an 8.2% rise in the overall conviction rate.

Another pilot in Nottingham achieved a 9.5% increase in the rate of convictions after trial. At the third site in Yorkshire, there was a 4.1% fall in the attrition rate of victims dropping out of prosecutions because they were unhappy with proceedings.

The conference in Birmingham will be attended by the new director of public prosecutions, Max Hill QC, the National Police Chiefs Council and HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

(1st January 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 17th December 2018 author Faith Ridler)

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A brazen thief was caught stealing more than £7,000 ($9,000) in cash from another passenger's tray as he passed through an airport security checkpoint.

CCTV footage captured the thief as he approached two security scanners at the Fiumicino airport in Rome.

Another passenger, standing ahead of him, had placed two envelopes of cash inside a bright yellow tray before attempting to walk through a metal detector.

But he was held up by a security officer and the middle-aged thief was able to walk through a second scanner to reach the other side first.

The thief, who had placed a bag and coat in another yellow tray, was then filmed waiting for his property to travel through the airport's X-ray scanners.

But as he stood watching out for his belongings, he noticed the two envelopes full of cash appear on the conveyor belt.

He looked around for a moment before casually picking up the money and appearing to stash it in his pocket.

He then tied his jumper around his neck and grabbed his bag before making a quick exit.

The victim, who had since passed through the security checkpoint, panicked when he noticed his money wasn't there.

The passenger, from Pakistan, was going to use the cash to pay for a sick relative's medical care, Italian police said.

But the thief was arrested as he was boarding a flight to Russia shortly after. He has since been sentenced to a year in prison.

The man had allegedly stashed the money in a toilet roll holder and had planned to retrieve it on his return to Rome.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 17th December 2018 author Paula Cocozza)

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Harriet Wistrich was in her office on 19 November when she heard the news that John Worboys was, after all, to stay in prison. An email arrived from one of the two anonymous victims, Wistrich's clients, who had challenged in the high court the serial sex attacker's impending release, after he was deemed by a parole board in January to no longer be a danger to the public. Worboys' victim couldn't bear to read the email herself. It was only when Wistrich replied "Phew!" that she understood the outcome and was able to feel - in Wistrich's words - "delighted and relieved and vindicated".

Those feelings of vindication are an important legacy of the victims' challenge. But do they provide sufficient compensation for the fact that the challenge was necessary in the first place? As Wistrich points out, "the vindication doesn't take away that they have had to live with this for many years. They felt compelled - rather than trying to get on with their lives - to fight it." Worboys, the "black cab rapist", had been convicted of assaulting 12 women, including one count of rape, and suspected of attacking up to 100 more. Wistrich has no doubt that, if her clients had not challenged the parole board's decision to release him after just 10 years, he would now be free.

"Their intervention was critical," she says. "This was a great result. But it doesn't mark a change in direction, unfortunately. We should celebrate: it's a really significant step. But let's not be fooled or complacent about what it actually means."

What the original decision to release Worboys made very clear is that the criminal justice system is broken.

"If you are looking at risk on any statistical basis - what is the risk that somebody will reoffend, how big a risk are they to women - then you are not getting a true picture," says Wistrich. Few victims of sexual offences report their experience to the police. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 80% of victims of sexual assault in the 12 months to March 2017 did not report the incident. "Of those, only 6-7% result in conviction," Wistrich says. Statistical evidence for reoffending in sexual assault cases cannot be relied upon to grade risk, because it takes no account of the scantness of the data. Instead, she says, "meaningful information" needs to be added to the picture. "We are going to end up with many more Worboys cases because we don't have an effective criminal justice system to deal with allegations of sexual assault and rape."

The parole board has made some procedural changes - aside from the forced resignation of the board's chair Nick Hardwick - since the public outcry over Worboys' then imminent, and now possibly indefinitely blocked, release. Measures have been made to strengthen the standing of victims: a victim no longer needs to ask permission to attend hearings; their attendance is presumed. As of May this year, they can also request summaries of parole decisions. More than 600 have already been issued, largely to victims. And in April, the Ministry of Justice opened a review entitled Reconsideration of Parole Board decisions: creating a new and open system. The title sounds promising, but a response to the consultation exercise was due this autumn and had yet to be published at time of writing. In the meantime, perhaps not surprisingly, Wistrich has "been contacted by a lot of people who are in similar circumstances" to the women she represented.

But it is a different development that has alarmed her most. Shortly after her clients won their human rights case against the Metropolitan police in February, for failing to investigate their allegations effectively, Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, announced a major change in the force's approach to sexual offences, instructing officers to abandon their pro-belief approach in favour of "an open mind".

Wistrich finds this development "alarming, shocking and astonishing". "When somebody reports a rape, you don't say: 'Oh, is this true?' You say: 'OK, we will accept this is a true allegation and we will investigate it'," she says. False accusations must, of course, be uncovered, in the same way that a false report of a burglary for an insurance payout must be found out. "But you don't start from that premise," Wistrich argues. "You start from a pro-belief premise. That is critical to encouraging women to come forward."

The impact of this change is already being felt. According to Katie Russell, spokesperson for Rape Crisis England and Wales, the charity has already collected anecdotal evidence of women who have been asked to sign documents known as Stafford statements, handing over their phones and yielding access to swathes of personal data, even school reports, before an investigation into an alleged sexual offence can proceed. This, despite there being "no evidence to suggest that false reporting rates are higher for sexual offences than for any other serious crime - around 3%", says Russell.

As for the two women who brought the case, known only as DSD and NBV, at least they can finally begin to move on. Was it a comfort to them to know that they were not alone? Wistrich says no. "For many years, the woman who was one of the first victims found it unbearable to have contact with other victims, because she felt that the fact the police hadn't believed her had caused other women to be victims. The other person … I think she likes to put things away in a box and not think about it. Obviously, when she had to, she would engage with the case, but otherwise she didn't want to; it just reminded her of things."

Both women must now face a long recovery. Clearly there is much in the criminal justice system that needs to be addressed. Understandably, Wistrich is worried that with so many battles ahead, the triumph of Worboys' second parole hearing may lose its lustre. "This is a fantastic victory," she says. "It shows that you can take on the system and win." She is right. But, of course, no woman should have to take on the system in the first place.

(1st January 2019)

(Yorkshire Evening Post, 16th December 2018 author Alex Evans)

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It's Christmas time, which means that police are out in force pulling over drivers, conducting spot checks and generally keeping us safe out on the roads in a period known for higher levels of drink driving.

But there are laws which govern how and when police can pull over drivers.

Do the police need a reason to pull me over?

No, the police have the power to stop any vehicle and ask for your name, date of birth and to see your driving licence and insurance and MOT documents. These can usually be produced later at a police station.

This is what the Road Traffic Act 1988 says:

Power of police to stop vehicles:

(1) A person driving a motor vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform.

(2) A person riding a cycle on a road must stop the cycle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform.

(3) If a person fails to comply with this section he is guilty of an offence.

Power of constables to require production of driving licence

(1) Any of the following persons-

(a) a person driving a motor vehicle on a road,

(b) a person whom a constable has reasonable cause to believe to have been the driver of a motor vehicle at a time when an accident occurred owing to its presence on a road,

(c) a person whom a constable has reasonable cause to believe to have committed an offence in relation to the use of a motor vehicle on a road, or

(d) a person-

(i)who supervises the holder of a provisional licence while the holder is driving a motor vehicle on a road, or

(ii) whom a constable has reasonable cause to believe was supervising the holder of a provisional licence while driving, at a time when an accident occurred owing to the presence of the vehicle on a road or at a time when an offence is suspected of having been committed by the holder of the provisional licence in relation to the use of the vehicle on a road, must, on being so required by a constable, produce his licence for examination, so as to enable the constable to ascertain the name and address of the holder of the licence, the date of issue, and the authority by which it was issued.

The law goes on to say that a person may also be required to give their date of birth in cases where a licence cannot be produced on the spot.

So, as you can see, the police can pull you over and ask for your licence - and you must comply.

What should you do if you suspect an undercover police car is not genuine?

Call 999. Officers will be able to check a number plate and description of any car to work out if it's a genuine officer or not.

The advice from police is that if you're unsure whether the car is genuine, do not stop.

Drive to the nearest police station or public place like a petrol station. In remote areas, the driveway of an occupied house could work if you're desperate.

But definitely do not stop anywhere secluded.

###Does an unmarked police car have the power to pull me over?

Yes - but the officer must be wearing uniform in order to carry out the stop. If they aren't wearing uniform, they shouldn't be pulling you over.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 16th December 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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Royal Mail has detected a rise in Dark Web dealers sending drugs through one of its sorting offices, police have revealed.

A number of Christmas and greetings cards containing cannabis have been intercepted in recent days at Royal Mail's office in Swindon, addressed to destinations nationwide

Police were alerted by staff who could smell the Class-B drug through the envelope.

Inspector David Tippets, from South Swindon Police, said the force had identified around 30 similar packages in Swindon over the last six months.

"It's normally cannabis, because it's got such a strong smell, if it's in an envelope and there's an obvious lump it gets easily identified," he said.

"Some dealing must go on online but in Swindon we deal with the more traditional methods of dealing, with a customer being supplied directly or by a runner as a cash business.

"Certainly the birthday card we found is still effectively supplying controlled drugs. Money doesn't have to change hands for it to be an offence.

"Generally what we do is seize the item at the sorting office and it gets destroyed and we record it as intelligence."

Police can have difficulty in tracking down the senders of drugs by post.

It has has become a popular method among dealers who use encrypted online market places to sell and deal drugs which are then concealed in harmless-looking packages and cards.

Around 800 cases of posted drugs are thought to have been reported in the past year.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: "Royal Mail understands the tremendous harm that illegal drugs cause in the community.

"We work closely on the ground with law enforcement agencies, including the police for domestic mail and with Border Force for international mail.

"We support these agencies to stop the carriage and delivery of illegal drugs that are ordered on the dark web, We also encourage our postmen and women to report to their managers any suspicious items which we then promptly refer to the authorities."

(1st January 2019)

(Huff Post, dated 13th December 2018 author Rachel McGrath)

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The New York Times has done it again.

The US publication has often missed the mark when it comes to covering the UK and on Thursday morning, they delivered another facepalm-inducing moment, by asking Londoners for submissions on crime.

Question : Have you experienced a petty crime in London? Click to tell us your story.
The New York Times (@nytimes) December 13, 2018

They optimistically wrote, warning people their submissions might be published.

It's easy to see now that this was never going to go to plan. Why? Because this is Britain and we like a good laugh. Especially at the moment.

Here's a selection of the best replies :

Once I doffed my hat to someone and they didn't doff their hat back
- Scott Bryan (@scottygb) December 13, 2018


a man inadvertently spat on me as I turned the corner, I apologised of course
- Jimmy Lloyd (@jimmyLLs) December 13, 2018


The urchin who swept my chimney refused to come down, claiming he was stuck. Even lighting the fire under him wouldn't get him to drop the pretence and eventually it cost me 2 guineas to have his corpse removed and disposed of. I am still livid about it.
- Andrew R (@ExcelPope) December 13, 2018


I witnessed a woman not smiling at a guide dog on the tube this July. Netflix has commissioned a £300m documentary to track her down and have her convicted.
- Ferdinand Kingsley (@ferdosnandos) December 13, 2018


Someone accidentally touched my hand on the Tube. They received 15 years in the workhouse.
- Alan White (@aljwhite) December 13, 2018


I once watched someone run for the tube as the doors were closing. Their bag got trapped. Someone tutted loudly
- Chi Chi Izundu (@blondeafro) December 13, 2018


I once had to travel on the Central Line in the summer. My case will appear before the European Court of Human Rights some time next year
- Gilbert (@GilbertMac) December 13, 2018

Background note : The Central line is the worst ventilated underground line in London


London's extortionate beer prices also received a nod or two:

£6 for a pint. Daylight robbery!
- Gareth Owen (@GarethAOwen1) December 13, 2018

There's a bar in Kensington where a bottle of Heineken is £7.50. Might as well have had the shirt off my back. Daylight robbery
- Jingle Bells, Brexit Smells (@jimxant) December 13, 2018

I went up to the roof garden gin bar in John Lewis and they wanted a tenner for a G and T. A tenner! Cor blimey they were 'avin' a larf guv.
- James Todd (@MrJGTodd) December 13, 2018


Comments on food-related issues:

Someone threw a ham sandwich at my head once out of a car window.
- Frankie Tobi (@frankietobi) December 13, 2018

People queue for restaurants on a daily basis despite those restaurants never being particularly good and the police still won't disperse the culprits
- Sophie Petzal (@Sonic_Screwup) December 13, 2018

I got mugged by a goose in Regent's Park - it hissed at me and stole my BLT sandwich.
- Maggie_perhaps (@Maggie_Perhaps) December 13, 2018


And finally, Londoners' other favourite topic of conversation, ridiculous housing prices, came up too:

estate agent made me pay £280,000 for my tiny zone 3 flat.
- Steve Forden (@mammuthus) December 13, 2018

(15th December 2018)

(This is Money, dated 14th December 2018 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than one million UK cars have failed the revised MOT test due to a fault that is categorised as 'dangerous' under the new rules introduced in May, Mail Online and This is Money can reveal.

Under the more stringent assessments, these vehicles are deemed to pose an 'immediate risk to road safety and/or serious impact on the environment'.

Since 20 May 2018, some 1,131,376 cars have failed their MOTs because of dangerous defects, the exclusive data for This is Money shows.

The MOT failure rates of vehicles were revealed in DVSA data obtained through a Freedom of Information request made by car buying comparison website

It also showed that almost a third of all cars that didn't pass the updated MOT test failed due to a dangerous fault.

Under the new rules, faults found during an MOT are classified as one of three levels.

While minor faults can be repaired at a later date and won't result in the vehicle failing the roadworthiness test, official guidance states that a major fault will result in the car automatically flunking an MOT and will need to be fixed before it is retested.

That said, the car will still be roadworthy until it can be booked in for another assessment.

New guidelines state that cars deemed to have a dangerous defect should not be driven at all until the problem has been fixed - meaning owners can be made to feel that they have to fork out for the cost of repairs at the garage conducting the MOT.

However, this is not the case and owners could instead ask other garages to quote for the work and potentially collect their car.

Certified testing locations have been accused of holding drivers to ransom over the necessary repairs since May.

Just two weeks after the rule changes was introduced, car repairs site MotorEasy said it has received reports from drivers that they'd been trapped into getting repairs done at garages that had carried out the test.

In many cases, owners said they had been charged over the odds by mechanics knowing the new rules state that a vehicle shouldn't be driven again until the dangerous fault has been resolved.

According to the DVSA website, a dangerous defect 'has a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment, and the vehicle cannot be driven again until the defect has been repaired'.

Examples of these dangerous defects include leaking hydraulic fluid, incorrectly mounted brake pads and worn wheels.

All vehicles deemed to have one of these fault types will be recorded as 'no longer road legal', and if an owner is caught at the wheel after the MOT verdict they could be fined up to £2,500 and face anything from a penalty of three points to a driving ban.

Alex Buttle, director of, said he was surprised by the high number of cars that were deemed to have dangerous faults.

He added that more were likely to be given the same verdict considering many cars haven't been tested under the updated rules.

This could cause serious problems on UK roads, especially as motorists are keeping their vehicles for longer.

'New car sales are currently falling at a dramatic rate, but the number of licensed cars on the road is remaining comparatively stable at around 38million,' Buttle said.

'This suggests owners are hanging onto cars for longer - and because of that, the UK's used car stock will get older year on year unless that trend is reversed.

'That means more dangerous cars, requiring frequent safety checks'.

Just last month, the DVSA confirmed that a total of 2,201,500 diesel and 2,841,677 petrol cars had failed the new test.

Of these fails, 238,871 of diesels and 505,721 petrol flunked due to the stricter emissions failures.

Buttle warned that the problem could worsen as the average age of vehicles on the road gets older as motorists dodge new-car showrooms.

'We could be heading towards becoming a country of clunkers,' he added.

'Only an uptick in sales of new cars will cause a higher percentage of older cars to start exiting our roads.

'Until then, we will likely see more and more older and dangerous vehicles clogging up our highways, cars which either need to be fixed by a mechanic urgently or headed for the scrap heap.'

New checks as part of the MOT (Source: DVSA)

Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

A vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:

• can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust

• finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

Other new checks include:

• if tyres are obviously underinflated

• if the brake fluid has been contaminated

• for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk

• brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing

• reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009

• headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)

• daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they're 3 years old)

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 13th December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Two thirds of knife crime offenders are escaping jail as the number of offences has hit an eight-year high, Ministry of Justice figures reveal.

One in five (18%) repeat knife offenders are escaping prison despite "two strikes and out" laws requiring minimum six month sentences. A further 19% escaped immediate custody by getting a suspended sentence.

The figures show a huge increase in the numbers of repeat offenders as more and more young people turn to knives to protect themselves.

The number of offenders who had one or more previous knife or offensive weapons offences has risen by 44.5% since 2014, from 3,769 to 5,449 in the year to September 2018.

The proportion of first time offenders (72%) is now at its lowest level on record, having been steadily falling since September 2009.

Harry Fletcher, founder of the Victims' Rights Campaign, said: "This is an example of the courts being pressurised not to impose short custodial sentences because prisons are so overcrowded and dangerous places to be.

"This does not inspire the confidence of victims. The solution is to clean up prisons and increase capacity, not put the public at risk."

Justice minister Rory Stewart said more knife offenders were being caught and prosecuted but admitted "we must do more."

He added: "Knife crime has devastating consequences on families, children and communities - offenders simply cannot go unpunished."

There were 21,381 knife and offensive weapons offences this year, the highest since September 2010.

Only 36% resulted in immediate custody, with the remainder receiving cautions, community sentences, fines, suspended sentences or discharges. This was, however, up from 23% in the year ending September 2009.

Anyone caught with a knife for a second time should automatically receive a six month jail sentence under section 28 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

Although the number being spared jail has fallen from 35% in the year ending September 2014, there are still 18% receiving non-custodial punishments.

There is increasing evidence of offenders carrying knives rather than other weapons. Just under two thirds (63%) of all knife and offensive weapon offences are now possession of blade or point offences, compared with just half (51%) in the year ending September 2009.

(1st January 2019)

(The Street, dated 13th December 2018 author "The Street Staff")

Full article [Option 1]:

How bad is crime in the U.S.? Both violent crime and property crime in the country have fallen since the 1990s, yet public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don't align with the data, according to Pew Research, which says that surveys regularly find that Americans believe crime is up nationally, even when the data show it is down.

Geographically, there are big differences in crime rates. In the U.S. overall, the 2016 violent crime rate was 386 per 100,000 inhabitants, yet in some places it is significantly higher or lower. The FBI points out that there are numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, while property crimes were down, the violent crime rate rose 3.4% in 2016 compared with 2015. The arrest rate for violent crime nationally was 160 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Based on the UCR data, these are the places that have the highest rate of violent crime (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.) These are all metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) except where noted. The rates for some metros, including Boston and St. Louis, were not available due to changes in reporting practices, or data being under- or overreported, according to the FBI.

How bad is crime in the U.S.? Geographically, there are big differences in crime rates.

Rate of violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants = (nnnn)

1. Monroe, Louisiana : Population: 179,125 (1,186.9)

2. Anchorage, Alaska : Population: 315,641 (1,114.9)

3. Memphis, Tennessee : Population: 1.35 million (1,082.1)

4. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia - Metropolitan Division, Michigan : Population: 1.75 million (1,034.2)

5. Farmington, New Mexico : Population: 116,108 (947.4)

6. Lubbock, Texas : Population: 314,167 (924)

7. Alexandria, Louisiana : Population: 154,032 (923.2)

8. Hammond, Louisiana : Population: 129,819 (915.9)

9. Pine Bluff, Arkansas : Population: 92,403 (909.1)

10. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Population: 907,140 (901)

11. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Alabama : Population: 114,790 (894.7)

12. Rockford, Illinois : Population: 337,323 (871.3)

13. Philadelphia - Metropolitan Division, Pennsylvania : Population: 2.1 million (826.7)

14. Stockton-Lodi, California : Population: 729,104 (823.6)

15. Danville, Illinois : Population: 78,439 (808.3)

16. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada : Population: 2.16 million (771)

17. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas : Population: 737,086 (760)

18. Battle Creek, Michigan : Population: 133,914 (746.7)

19. Redding, California : Population: 178,755 (745.7)

20. Springfield, Illinois : Population: 210,256 (740.1)

21. Albany, Georgia : Population: 152,566 (734.8)

22. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana : Population: 2 million (713.4)

23. Odessa, Texas : Population: 163,843 (713)

24. Gadsden, Alabama : Population: 102,537 (711.9)

25. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland : Population: 2.8 million (710.3)

26. Wichita, Kansas : Population: 643,764 (708.8)

27. Dalton, Georgia : Population: 143,925 (688.6)

28. Pueblo, Colorado. : Population: 164,337 (679.7)

29. Fairbanks, Alaska : Population: 34,657 (669.4)

30. Madera-Chowchilla, California : Population: 154,726 (661.8)

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 13th December 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police officers who shout at violent suspects while restraining them have to spend valuable time filling in forms to justify their actions, it has emerged.

New figures released by the Home Office detail for the first time every incident where a frontline officer employs a "use of force" during their duties.

The data, which is being collected in some force areas for the first time, means officers have to faithfully record what actions they take when dealing with the public.

The statistics revealed that last year there were 313,000 recorded incidents of police force across England and Wales.

This details every occasion when an officer uses a so-called "force tactic", which includes everything from putting a non-compliant suspect in handcuffs to using a firearm.

But in addition, officers are also required to record incidents of "tactical communication", when they shout at an assailant in order to get them to comply with an instruction.

While shouting itself is not technically considered to be a use of force, it must be recorded when it is used in conjunction with another tactic.

Despite welcoming the the transparency that the data offers, frontline officers have expressed concern that they could end up spending more time filling in forms than actually fighting crime.

There have also been complaints that the time it takes to record the information can vary widely from force to force.

Simon Kempton, Operational Policing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "There is no problem in principle in officers recording this information but we have to ensure that when it is done it takes the least possible time.

"At the moment in some force areas it might take five minutes, while in others it can take 20. If you have dealt with three people in one incident that is 20 minutes per subject, so it is an hour out of your day.

"The accountability of agents of the state is very important but it is vital we get the balance right and we do not allow form filling to take over from crime fighting."

The figures showed that out of the 313,000 instances where force was used more than half involved the officers shouting at the suspect.

More than 200,000 of the cases involved putting a suspect in handcuffs and there were also 110,000 incidents where officers physically restrained a person without the use of a weapon, a tactic known as "unarmed skills".

Pepper spray was used on 14,000 occasions and police dogs were actively deployed in 1,900 cases.

Between 2017 and 2018 police in England and Wales only discharged a firearm on 12 occasions, although there were 3,100 instances where firearms were used as part of an operation.

More than a third of cases in which use of force was used involved people who were drunk.

The data also revealed information about those on the receiving end of the force.

Black people were over represented featuring in 12 percent of incidents despite only making up 3.3 per cent of the population.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "Officers have always had to record all uses of force in their evidential notes and statements, to explain why it was used, and how it was lawful, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.

"This release of this new national data shines a light on how police use force, and offers unprecedented transparency to the public.

"We will be working to continuously improve the quality and consistency of this data to maximise its use. We want to see these statistics informing future planning and learning on training and equipment, in order to provide the best possible service and protection to the public."

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 12th December 2018 author Ella Wills / Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

London's murder rate for 2018 so far is the highest in a calendar year this decade.

There have been 125 homicides in the capital so far this year.

It marks the largest number in a calendar year since 2009 when there were 131.

In the latest violent death in the capital, an 18-year-old man was stabbed to death in a fight in Alwold Crescent, Lee, south-east London, shortly before 10pm on Tuesday.

Police said they were called to "reports of armed youths in the street". A second man, also 18, went to hospital with stab injuries but has since been discharged.

Three men aged 22, 31 and 56 and two women aged 29 and 53 were arrested and taken to police stations in south London for questioning.

In 2018 there have been 72 deaths involving a knife, 13 involving a gun, one involving a knife and a gun and one a crossbow.

Just over a third of victims, 44, were aged 16 to 24, of whom 10 were shot, 32 were stabbed and one was killed in an attack involving a knife and gun.

Twenty-five of the victims were aged 19 and under, six of whom were shot and 16 of whom were stabbed.

Earlier this month Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick insisted the tide was turning against knife and gun offences, although she admitted it would take time to tackle the 180 violent gangs in London who drag children into crime.

The force released figures that showed in September, October and November this year there were 176 fewer victims of knife crime with injury aged under 25 than in the same three months in 2017, a 31 per cent reduction.

According to Home Office figures, the number of police-recorded homicides in London, for both the Metropolitan and City of London forces, was:

2009 - 131
2010 - 124
2011 - 119
2012 - 105
2013 - 107
2014 - 94
2015 - 122
2016 - 111
2017 - 118 (excluding victims of terrorist attacks)

In mid-November the number of murder investigations in London so far this year surpassed that of the whole of 2017, when the total reached 118.

Levels of violent crime in the capital have remained a concern throughout the year.

In response to the bloodshed, the Metropolitan Police Violent Crime Task Force was set up, which made more than 1,300 arrests in its first six months.

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 12th December 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

City of London police are deploying officers in India to combat scammers in call centres targeting the UK in a multi-million-pound racket.

The force, which leads the country's fight against fraud, says it is expanding operations overseas to "take the fight to the enemy".

City police say 22,000 UK victims lost £21 million last year in "tech support scams", many of them originating from abroad.

Callers claiming to be technicians from companies such as Microsoft tell potential victims that their computer is infected with a virus. They then demand cash to fix the problem or ask to remotely access the person's computer, which allows them to hack their emails and bank accounts.

In recent weeks Indian police have raided 26 call centres and arrested more than 50 people.

Microsoft, which has seconded an employee to work with City police, says it receives more than 11,000 calls a month from around the world about fake security warnings. The company's work with City officers has already led to a number of arrests.

Fraudsters also pose as support staff from Google, Apple and other major tech companies.

City of London police commissioner Ian Dyson said some call centres operate legitimately during the day but then switch to illegal activity at night, making them "criminal enterprises".

Mr Dyson told the Standard the force had formed a special team to explore "global solutions" to fraud. "A lot of the perpetrators of fraud operate abroad, and that means getting a judicial outcome is challenging in some cases. They are not out of reach, but it makes it harder," he said.

"There is a serious need to get 'up­stream' of certain crime types, such as economic crime, and find long-term solutions to tackle them at source, before they spread across the globe.

"This is about preventing people ­committing fraud in the UK. We are building a capability that means we are taking the fight to the enemy, and I think we can have a significant impact."

(1st January 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 12th December 2018 author Alexander Robertson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain's biggest and newest speed camera dubbed 'The Long Ranger' has snared more than a thousand drivers in its first month in action.

The super high-definition mobile device can picture bad drivers speeding or not wearing seat belts from more than half a mile away.

It can pick up a host of other offences including drivers using their phones and licence plate offences.

The new mobile camera has caught 1,293 speeders on the A417, which has a 70mph limit, in less than a month since it was deployed.

The average cost of a speeding ticket in the UK is £188, meaning the camera is estimated to have raked in £243,084 in November alone.

Police claim the new camera can produce clear images at twice the distance of a normal one.

The worst offender was clocked at 126mph, with nine others caught at more than 100mph.

Its operation is centred on an A road in Gloucestershire which carries up to 35,000 vehicles per day between the M4 and M5 and has one of the UK's worst accident records.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said: 'This is not about bashing the motorist.

'I'm just as pleased to see police were there to help drivers in trouble as well as being able to challenge those breaking the law.

'Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road.

'This is a new model of collaborative roads policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere.'

Officers use the long-distance camera and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to check on what vehicles are on the roads and how they are being driven.

They said the main aim was to educate people about how to drive more safely, to prevent accidents that can kill or seriously injure people.

Some drivers will be given advice about their driving while others, who have committed offences, will be prosecuted.

The operation was launched in a lay-by on the A417 known as Granny's Pumps. It is between Cirencester and the outskirts of both Cheltenham and Gloucester.

If the pilot is successful, it could be applied to other roads in the county.

Speaking earlier this year, Mr Surl said: 'This is one of the county's busiest roads which also has one of the worst accident records due to the way it's used.

'Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road.

'We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere.

'The aim is not just to penalise motorists but to uphold the law by creating a change in people's behaviour. But the police will enforce the law when necessary.'

Offences caught by the Long Ranger last month

Drivers given education/warnings/advice: 52

Tailgating: 5

Number plate offence: 19

Seatbelt offence: 7

Positive Breath Tests: 1

Positive Drugs Wipe: 1

Vehicles seized (No Insurance): 6

Vehicles seized (No Tax): 6

Traffic Offence Reports: 7

Suspected Insurance offences (pending): 2

Ammunition and offensive weapon seizure: 1

(1st January 2019)

(The Register, dated 11th December 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

A quarter of NHS trusts in the UK responding to a Freedom of Information request have no staff with security qualifications, despite some employing up to 16,000 people.

On average, trusts employ one qualified security professional for every 2,582 employees, according to Freedom of Information requests submitted by penetration testing firm Redscan.

Trusts were asked about their cyber, information and data security spending and training, with 159 responding to at least one question.

It found that nearly one in four - 24 of the 108 who responded to this question - had no employees with security qualifications.

However, several of the NHS trusts were reported to have said they had staffers in the process of gaining relevant security qualifications.

This might suggest they recognise the importance of training, or that they struggled to recruit people with the qualifications - or perhaps that they were aware of how the numbers would look amid concerns about NHS security.

Most prominent among these is the 2017 WannaCry malware outbreak - which hit one in three English NHS Trusts and cost the National Health Service £92m, but this is far from the only cyber attack NHS systems face. Meanwhile, there are reports about small-scale data breaches that still affect patients, and about clunky tech in need of updating.

Redscan also asked about training for data security and information governance in the past 12 months, finding that trusts spent an average of £5,356 on data security training, with figures ranging from £238 to £78,000.

This broad variation wasn't related to the size of the trust: mid-sized groups with 3,000 to 4,000 employees spent between £500 and £33,000.

Redscan added that "a significant proportion" had spent nothing on specialist training - but a lot of in-house training does not cost the trusts anything, and they can also rely on free tools from NHS Digital.

This includes free information governance training, which NHS Digital recommends that 95 per cent of all staff should have passed every 12 months.

The FoI found that only 12 per cent of trusts had met this target, but most were not far off, having trained between 80 and 95 per cent of their staff. A quarter said fewer than 80 per cent had completed the training.

However, Mark Nicholls, Redscan director of cybersecurity, said that information governance training was just one part in the information and security picture.

"People remain the weakest link in the cyber security chain," he said. "Despite IG training raising awareness of security risks and common pitfalls, you can never fully mitigate the risks of employees making mistakes or falling for social engineering scams."

More broadly, Nicholls said that, despite getting some extra cash from government for cybersecurity in the aftermath of WannaCry, NHS trusts are still under extreme financial pressure.

This will not only make it harder for the NHS to recruit staff as they struggle to compete with "the private sector's bumper wages", but also put pressure elsewhere in the system.

"No doubt resources are being strained further still if you assume that staff with security qualifications are part of IT teams responsible for far more than just cyber security," he said.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Roadside breath tests have fallen to their lowest level on record as police forces scale back patrols that could catch drink-drivers.

The number of roadside screening breath tests fell 15% last year to 325,000, down from a peak of 670,000 in 2009, a decline of more than 50% in eight years, according to home office figures.

For the first time the number of drivers or motorcyclists breathalysed after an accident also fell below 100,000 in 2017, down 12% in a year and almost half of the level of a decade ago.

It comes as documents, released under Freedom of Information Laws, show police forces will no longer attend most road accidents unless someone is injured or there is "clear evidence" of an offence.

Katherine Severi, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies said: "Visible police enforcement of drink driving laws acts as a major deterrent to perpetrators, making our roads and communities safer.

"It is extremely concerning that enforcement levels have dropped in recent years, as police resources are increasingly stretched.

"This, combined with having the highest legal blood alcohol limit in Europe, mean that roads in England and Wales risk becoming more dangerous for drivers, passengers and pedestrians."

The figures show the number of positive or refused breath tests fell 12% last year to 44,900, down from 74,400 in 2009. At the same time the number of traffic officers fell by a third from just over 3,700 in 2009 to 2,600 in 2017.

Drink-driving on Britain's roads has fallen sharply since the late 1970s following public campaigns and heavier sentences with alcohol-related casualties cut from more than 30,000 in 1979 to below 9,000. In the past two years, however, numbers have increased marginally to 9,060.

"These statistics are the latest sign that the police are withdrawing from the streets and roads," said Rupert Reid, director of research and strategy at Policy Exchange.

"After a long decline in alcohol-related road casualties, the numbers are now going in the wrong direction. Like the rise in knife crime, we're seeing the consequences of more officers behind screens dealing with the rise of cyber crime and pursuing historical investigations. We need to ask, at a time of tight budgets, have we got the balance right?"

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: "As police funding has become further stretched, roads policing has come further down the pecking order than before.

"While speeding and other offences that can be captured by camera increase, serious and dangerous offences like drink driving have fallen considerably over the past five years.

"Some of the fall can be attributed to behavioural changes, the fact that there are fewer police on our roads makes some feel they are less likely to be caught."

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 11th December 2018 authors Matt Noffs and Shelley Smith)

Full article [Option 1]:

A young man lost his life at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party over the weekend. It mirrors the terrible events at Defqon.1 only three months ago when two people died after taking drugs.

However, the reaction from government and law enforcement sets these deaths apart from those we have seen in previous years. Each time a death has occurred this year, the premier has specifically mentioned pill testing.

"We do not support a culture that says it is OK to take illegal drugs, and I am worried about the number of people who attend these events who think it is OK to take illegal drugs," NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has said.

What does this tell us?

Though politicians keep bringing it up only to rule it out, clearly the calls for pill testing are growing too loud for the government to ignore.

When it comes to public attitudes to drug policy, the landscape is changing rapidly. There is global recognition that the war on drugs is a failure. A majority of Australians support decriminalisation, and pill testing.

So why do governments persist with "just say no" rhetoric?

We know politicians have changed their minds before when faced with overwhelming evidence and relentless pressure from the community. Daniel Andrews didn't bow to the pressure of the Victorian Liberal party demonising heroin users using the safe injecting room. In doing so, Andrews won the high ground - and the election.

"Just Say No" is dying a very slow death and the criminalisation of drug users is dying (slowly) with it.

Criminalisation is clearly ineffective when it comes to stopping kids use drugs. Criminalising them or allowing them to use an unchecked toxic substance is an unjust punishment for experimenting.

We can't ruin a life to save a life, and that's why New South Wales replacing court notices with fines at live music events is a step in the right direction.

In fact, it's almost decriminalisation.

And yet, pill testing remains a step too far for consideration for NSW despite the success of pill testing in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year, despite the evidence from overseas and despite most Australians wanting it.

According to a comprehensive survey of people using CheckIt!, the largest provider of pill testing services in Austria, two-thirds said they wouldn't consume the substance if the result was "bad". Reduced use post-testing has also been observed in the UK and the Netherlands.

And across the pond in British Columbia, Canada, where pill testing has been offered since 2003, a survey by harm reduction service ANKORS found 69% of substances tested were discarded by consumers when found to contain lethal substances.

By trotting out these statistics, one would think that we are trying to persuade the most conservative, the straightest, the most boring in our society who have never tried drugs at all. However, that is not what we are up against. No, we are up against what we would call the "blind spot" of a large swathe of Australians who have used drugs in their youth but feel as though the next generation need to suffer consequences that they escaped themselves.

They are told - and perhaps eager to believe - that the youngest generation is out of control when it comes to drugs. And yet, it constantly stumps them when they discover that this generation uses less alcohol and other drugs than those previous.

If anything, we should be looking up to our youngest and asking them questions like, what makes your life so much more enjoyable that drugs don't play such a significant part? Instead, we demoralise them on the front of the papers, and we ignore them when we make policy decisions affecting them.


Matt Noffs is the CEO of the Noffs Foundation. Shelley Smith is the Campaigns and Policy Coordinator at the Noffs Foundation. Both are members of the Take Control campaign for Safer, Saner Drug Laws

(1st January 2019)

(Heart Radio News, dated 11th December 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

A new hotline for reporting the sexual exploitation of children has been launched by Barnardo's Scotland and Crimestoppers.

The Nightwatch Hotline will enable people to anonymously pass on information to the charities and police if they suspect a child is being sexually abused - especially for people working in Scotland's night-time economy.

Barnardo's Scotland expressed concerns there was a gap between how night workers, such as taxi drivers, and the public would report the possible sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The children's charity approached Crimestoppers for help in developing a way for workers that often come into contact with children and young people to be able to report incidents or concerns.

Daljeet Dagon, national programme manager for child sexual exploitation for Barnardo's Scotland, said: "Our Nightwatch Hotline will provide a safe and secure means for workers in the night-time economy and the public to share any worries or concerns they have.

"In addition, this line will also provide those working with children and the community a clear procedure for issues they feel they cannot raise directly within their own organisations.

"The night-time economy boasts a vast, vibrant and diverse workforce from bar staff and hoteliers to bus drivers and the emergency departments in hospitals.

"The staff who work within these different industries can, together, offer protection to the community as a whole by recognising the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and simply passing on any suspicions they have through our Nightwatch Hotline."

Between April 1 and November 30 this year, Crimestoppers passed on 118 pieces of information to Police Scotland relating to suspected sexual offences against a child under the age of 16.

Crimestoppers' Scotland manager Angela Parker said: "Partnership working is crucial in helping to keep our streets safe and we are delighted to be working with Barnardo's Scotland in launching this new service to tackle CSE.

"Having passed on over 100 pieces of information to Police Scotland since April, this service will be vital in ensuring the public know they have an outlet to speak up about information or suspicions they might have on a young person being sexually exploited."

The Barnardo's Scotland Nightwatch Hotline can be contacted on 0800 389 0131.

For more information go to

(1st January 2019)

(The Register, dated 10th December 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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Digital minister Margot James reckons Brits need to "get over" their concerns about privacy and cyber security and let the government assign them with ID cards.

The UK has historically railed against the idea of national identity cards, and previous attempts have failed over concerns about state surveillance and the creation of mass biometric databases.

But James has apparently pooh-poohed these concerns, brushing them aside in an interview with The Telegraph by saying people should "get over" privacy and security concerns associated with ID cards.

"I think there are advantages of a universally acclaimed digital ID system which nowhere in the world has yet," she is reported to have said. "There is a great prize to be won once the technology and the public's confidence are reconciled."

She touted the government's role in the development of digital identities - but pointed to work on Verify (of all things) in an apparent bid to demonstrate's expertise.

For those in need of a reminder, that's one of the albatrosses around the Government Digital Service's neck. The digital identity system, launched in 2011, has been struggling with low user take-up and internal Whitehall battles for years.

In July, a government watchdog downgraded its chances of success and in October the government opted to cut public support for the system, offering it up to the private sector.

James isn't the only member of the UK's leading party with their sights on national identity. In September, Amber Rudd - now secretary of state at Verify's beleaguered Department for Work and Pensions - called for a state-backed system based on NHS numbers.

At the time, she also shrugged off the public's possible concerns, arguing that people were perfectly happy handing over their data to tech giants, so they should give it to the government.

However, the government has yet to make any concrete policy proposals about a national ID system - and it can be sure critics won't dismiss concerns about security and surveillance as easily as its ministers have.

uaware comment

Most members of the public that I have come across agree that there should be some form of ID system within the UK. In fact they also realise that there is already a backdoor ID system already in operation through driving licenses and Passports. Having two systems managing virtually the same information is a waste of money. In addition, having a formal ID system would make some demands on GP's easier when they have to check potential patients entitlement for free treatment.

For some reason MP's seem to be "cow-toeing" to the demands of Liberty and "Big Brother Watch" who declare it is an infringement of people rights.

The only barrier I see is the security of the system that holds the ID data. My response to that is, don't store data in the "Cloud" or overseas servers; and don't have overseas administrators managing the data. Then control who can have access to such information, that doesn't mean local councils.

(1st January 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 7th December 2018 author Charles Bayliss)

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- Survey revealed 58% of burglaries took place while someone was in the home
- Police figures revealed they are less likely to respond to burglary calls now
- Criminals appear to have been emboldened by police cuts and failure to act

Shocking new figures revealed half of burgalries in Britain take place while householders are inside their properties.

Brazen criminals seem to be emboldened by police cuts and failures to act, as figures show 58 per cent of burglaries happened at occupied properties.

Campaigners have claimed criminals do not fear being caught by authorities and are calling for harsher penalties to deter criminals.

It comes as Maureen Whale, 77, was alone at her home in Barnet, north London when the thugs broke into her property.

Fearing for her safety, she desperately called the police but collapsed and died. Officers said two men forced their way into Mrs Whale's home while a third kept watch. The gang stole property from her home including her bag.

Three other burglaries took place in the area on the same day.

Authorities across the country are struggling to deal with a rise in violent crime - highlighted by figures which showed two-thirds of reported burglaries were not being pursued by police.

Last night, a charity supporting the victims of burglary said offenders were taking more risks as they knew police were less likely to respond.

Analysis of recent Office for National Statistics crime figures showed the proportion of burglaries targeting homes when someone was in has soared.

In 2004-05, the figure was 44 per cent, but that has now risen to 58 per cent.

Barbara Oakley, an operations manager at Victim Support, told The Daily Telegraph: 'There is a lot of spot burglaries now where they just go along and try the handles.

'The [door handles] don't even necessarily get fingerprinted or anything like that because police just don't have the resources to do it.'

Over three in ten victims said they longer felt safe at their home following the incident.

The survey, carried out by Verisure, questioned 1,000 burglary victims.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 7th December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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High-tech maps that tell the public how long bobbies spend on the beat hour-by-hour in their neighbourhoods have been developed by police and could be a blueprint for the UK.

Avon and Somerset police use GPS-type technology to track all officers' movements every five seconds to create the maps which are used to counter claims there are no officers on the streets.

The maps which log officers' movements on 400m by 400m grids spread throughout the force area aim to help police chiefs deploy officers effectively to crime spots. They also track the number and type of incidents police attend.

The maps are used in public meetings in an attempt to reassure communities and a public portal is being considered so people can track "police visibility."

"The biggest criticism people say is that they never see a policeman in their area. What we are using the analytics for now is to show where cops have been," said Sean Price, who spent 18 years at Avon and Somerset police before joining Qlik, the tech company providing the software.

"It is about effective visibility. It is using technology to make more of what you got, which is less staff and more demand."

The maps use colour coding to show how many man hours police are present in each 400m by 400m grid per day, from "high" to "standard" across the force. They are compiled from data drawn from signals sent every five seconds from each officer's airwave radio.

Every officer in Avon and Somerset is also required to wear body worn video so there is a film record of their crime-fighting.

It follows a two-year overhaul of technology in Avon and Somerset which has included creating a database of more than 200,000 criminals and their associates which all officers can access via apps 24/7.

It provides police on the beat within seconds with an individual's criminal record, MO in offences, current criminal activity and domestic violence record as well as the latest intelligence on the cars they are driving, the phones they are using and current associates.

Those identified as "high risk" and who might be "escalating" their criminality can be targeted either by neighbourhood police or by calling on other expert teams to prevent serious crime or violence.

The "predictive policing" technology provides force chiefs with up-to-the-minute information on criminals, crime hotspots, deployment and potential victims, which has enabled Avon and Somerset to reverse the national trend of rising demand by preventing crime.

Policing minister Nick Hurd suggested it could be a blueprint: "We live in an age of rapid technological change - criminals don't stand still, and neither can our police forces.

"Policing's greatest asset is its people, but its biggest opportunity is technology. Forces are making strides in this area but the pace of progress needs to be faster. Avon & Somerset are leading the way."

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th December 2018 author Ross Lydall)

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Councils could take over prosecuting speeding drivers amid concerns the Met is too busy to enforce speed limits.

The 33 boroughs are considering whether to apply for a change in the law to secure powers to prosecute drivers who breach the speed limit.

Concern is mounting at the "inadequate" level of enforcement, particularly in the growing number of 20mph zones, at a time when Transport for London has set a target to eliminate road deaths by 2041.

Traffic police have been temporarily switched to the Met's violent crime task force to crack down on knife and gun killings.

Met commissioner Cressida Dick recently admitted she did not know how 20mph zones would be controlled. Speeding is a criminal offence enforced by police.

The transport committee of London Councils will today consider launching "exploratory work" on securing the powers.

Councillors have expressed concern "about the adequacy of the level of speed restriction enforcement".

A paper presented to the committee said: "Councils are conscious that the enforcement of 20mph limits is a low priority for limited police resources.

"Association of Chief Police Officers' guidance for 20mph zones is that they should be largely 'self-enforcing' - the road should feel and look like a 20mph limit from a motorist's perspective. If it does not, they will not be routinely enforced, which means the level of enforcement is seen as inadequate."

The Met issued 12,251 tickets for speeding in 20mph zones in 2016. It only targets areas where there is known to be a problem. Will Norman, London's walking and cycling tsar, told the London Assembly yesterday that "47 per cent of people do adhere to the 20mph speed limit but 53 per cent don't".

Mayor Sadiq Khan wants 20mph to be the "default" speed limit within the central London congestion charge zone and in suburban town centres. He said: "A person is about five times less likely to be fatally injured if hit at 20mph than at 30mph."

London Councils will also examine whether boroughs can secure the power to impose points on a driver's licence as well as issue a fine.

London Assembly Green Party member Caroline Russell said: "I'm really glad councils are looking at 20mph enforcement. Police are stretched and so it makes sense for councils to do it. If they use cameras and speed awareness programmes, it should pay for itself."

TfL already has a "community roadwatch" scheme where volunteers measure vehicles' speeds and police send a warning letter to drivers.

A Met spokesman said: "We will listen to any initiative that might help reduce the number of road traffic collisions and casualties. We will continue to work with TfL, councils and other partners to address issues of driving over the speed limit, in particular locations that present most risk of collisions, through enforcement, problem solving and education."

Met's clampdown on drink-driving

Scotland Yard today warned drivers they will face "severe" consequences if they are caught under the influence of drink or drugs this Christmas.

The Met said it was stepping up patrols during the festive period as they clamp down on drink- and drug-driving.

The campaign follows a sharp rise in people killed or seriously injured in drink- or drug-driving collisions in London. The number killed or injured in drink-related crashes rose from 87 in 2016/17 to 130 in 2017/18, up by 49 per cent. Those killed or injured in drug collisions rose from 16 to 36 over the same period, a 125 per cent rise.

(1st January 2019)

(Independent, dated 6th December 2018 author Harriet Hall)

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A few years ago I became entangled in a heated debate with a family friend about whether or not a man could be classed as a rapist if he forced himself on his wife. The law says he would be - it has done since 1991, when rape in marriage was criminalised - but this family friend couldn't understand why. Sex, they believed, was implied and agreed upon as soon as the ink was dry on the marriage certificate. This person wasn't a contrarian: they genuinely didn't understand.

Today, the results of a major report into rape have revealed such views aren't rare; in fact they're extremely common. A survey of almost 4,000 people conducted by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) revealed the public's alarming attitudes towards consent. While 97 per cent agree it's definitely rape when a stranger forces themselves on a woman in a park at night - the classic "violent monster in a dark alley" idea - the figure falls significantly when the perpetrator is known to the victim, the victim is drunk or asleep, or the victim was flirting with the perpetrator at any point before the attack.

More than a third of people aged over 65 didn't believe that forced sex in long-term relationships or marriage was rape. Almost half of the same age group believed that, in most cases, if a woman changes her mind during sex but the man doesn't stop, that doesn't count as rape either.

Needless to say, the generational difference is stark. Comparably, just 16 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds responded in the same way about rape within marriage.

Reported rapes are increasing yet figures from the Crown Prosecution Service revealed rape charges fell 23 per cent this year, resulting in a 12 per cent drop in convictions. If such a large proportion of the population foster such warped perceptions about rape, is it any wonder conviction numbers are so low? The EVAW Coalition is concerned about how such viewpoints could be affecting jurors' ability to come to fair verdicts in rape trials - and it is right to be. How do we erase a lifetime of believing rape in certain circumstances isn't rape at all?

I've been a juror, and can tell you how difficult it can be to be sure of someone's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If a jury includes people nurtured by a society that questions women's honesty or what rape even is, they will be even more disinclined to convict. How can we convict rapists when jurors have already made their minds up?

What this survey reveals is a deep ignorance of the reality of rape. You're far more likely to be raped by a family member or partner than by a stranger but people persistently believe the opposite. Often, when you're raped by somebody known to you, it's after a period of manipulation and coercion - there's more to assault than the act itself.

We are living in a rape culture that turns a blind eye to the 'banter' of boys' locker room chat, insists 'snowflakes' criticise 'harmless' sexist jokes and that women in offices must smile and relax when their boss hugs, kisses or massages them at their desk. Radio stations play songs about 'blurred lines' and girls who mean yes when they say no.

We have just seen Lena Dunham apologise for publishing an essay in which she wrote that her friend couldn't possibly have raped his accuser, because she had "insider information" pertaining to his innocence. The "insider information", Dunham admitted, never existed; it was merely a belief her friend wasn't capable of such things.

Most of us believe our friends aren't capable of rape but the fact is that if we position rapists as creatures of the night, boogeymen who no one would make a coffee for in the office or a share a flat with, it helps nobody. Rape victims are seen as liars in such a world, and men who seem "normal" are automatically let off the hook. In this context, it's clear to see why the majority of victims never come forward - and why rape conviction rates remain stubbornly low. We can change this, often by the simple act of taking the time to deconstruct unacceptably persistent myths. So why don't we?

(1st January 2019)

(Birmingham Mail, dated 6th December 2018 author Jeanette Oldham)

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Cuts-ravaged West Midlands Police has lost huge numbers of frontline officers - but the jobs of top cops have largely escaped the cuts.

Latest statistics show the force has seen key police constable roles slashed from 6,664 in April 2008 to 5,427 in April 2017 - a loss of 18 per cent.

Numbers of police community support officers (PCSOs) have also been dramatically slashed by 45 per cent in ten years, falling from 756 to 411.

The ranks of sergeants within West Midlands Police have also been badly hit, falling from 1,074 in 2008 to 926 last year (down 13 per cent).

Yet chief inspector roles have increased over the same period, rising from 55 To 67 (up 20 per cent), while superintendent posts have only dipped slightly from 41 to 39.

There have also been cuts to some senior roles.

Chief Superintendent posts dropped from 34 in 2008 to 19 in 2017 (down 44 per cent).

And Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) roles - the second most senior position in the force - fell from five to three during the same period.

The force currently has three 'substantive' ACCs and two temporary ones.

Richard Cooke, chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, says of the cuts breakdown: "It is difficult for me to say what's behind that exactly.

"But it could be that the force's moves to specialise in recent years has meant it has wanted more senior officers.

"One thing for sure is that we need more boots on the ground - more constables, sergeants and inspectors. To me, that's what the public expects.

"And we would like to see the investment focused there, rather than on managerial ranks which the rank and file or the public rarely see.

"They are the ranks that provide the service to the public and make key decisions on a day-to-day basis. That's not discounting officers above that - they clearly have an important role."

Asked if he feels officers are being promoted through the ranks much more quickly than in past, he says: "People do seem to be being promoted a lot earlier.

"A lot of rank and file officers would say that's all very well but what we need is experience, we're so strapped at the moment.

"What we need are really experienced leaders with a proven track record. I wouldn't want to criticise any individual but we certainly seem to be moving away to a culture in which there seems to be less expectation and less willingness to put the time in at that basic level to learn the profession."

Birmingham and the West Midlands has seen huge rises in crime over the last year, including a projected 70 per cent increase in homicides, and an 18 per cent increase in violent crime.

Gun offences have rocketed by 15 per cent after the emergence of new younger, more violent, gangs across the city.

The West Midlands has also seen the biggest increase in knife crime outside of London, with killings rising from 13 in 2013/14 to 20 in the last year.

Despite the crimewave, the Birmingham Mail reported last month how West Midlands Police will have shut more than 100 stations across the region once its latest cost-cutting closure plan is completed.

Some 72 stations and beat offices have shut since 2010, including those in Aston, Bilston, Bordesley Green, Lozells, Sparkbrook and Tile Hill.

Another 24 are being closed over the next six years in a cost-cutting drive aimed at saving £5 million annually in running costs.

Police chiefs point out that 22 of these buildings are not open to the public and are currently used only as office space for staff.


"Just as policing has changed nationally for many forces, so have the roles within it.

"The requirement for command roles such as Chief Inspector has risen from 59 in 2008 to 63 in 2018 because of the enhanced operational and terrorism risk, as well as the increase on demand that the force has seen.

"Since 2008, we have created dedicated posts within the Counter Terrorism and Regional Organised Crime Units, where posts deliver both national and regional duties.

"We have dedicated Chief Inspectors who work 24/7 in an operational command role, overseeing policing for the whole force.

"The number of Chief Inspectors has also grown as demand on the force has increased for complex cases such as murders, investigations into sexual abuse and the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

"An increase in firearm operations, changes to the Bail Act and authorities relating to surveillance have meant that the requirement for dedicated command roles at the rank of Chief Inspector is greater."

The statement added: "Despite having 1,335 fewer police constables than we did in 2008, the independent policing inspectorate HMICFRS - Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services - has rated West Midlands Police as outstandingly efficient, meaning that resources are going to the frontline and being used to the best effect.

"In recent years we've re-opened our officer recruitment scheme and, since 2014, a total of 966 new PC recruits have joined us to replace officers lost through retirement or transfers."

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 6th December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Forty-one motorists have had their criminal convictions quashed after alleged tampering with evidence by scientists in the biggest forensics scandal for decades.

A further 50 accused of drug-driving but who had yet to come to court have also had their cases dropped after an investigation into the data tampering led by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

They were among 10,500 cases across 42 forces re-examined by police after allegations emerged that scientists at a Randox Testing Services (RTS) site in Manchester had manipulated forensics data.

James Vaughan, the NPCC's lead on forensics who headed the inquiry, said that there were few more serious conspiracies to pervert the course of justice than undermining the safety of more than 10,000 cases.

"It's the most serious breach of forensic science standards in my living memory," said Mr Vaughan, who is chief constable of Dorset. At least 35 of the people are said to be suing for compensation.

A team of 12 detectives have so far interviewed eight suspects over the alleged forensic data manipulation which dates back to 2014.

Two men, aged 31 and 47, arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice by Greater Manchester Police have been bailed until January.

Much of the work carried out at the laboratory involves the analysis of blood samples of people arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence of drugs.

Of the 2,700 cases that have so far been fully re-examined, 90 have been discontinued or reopened. One conviction was overturned in the Court of Appeal. All were road traffic offences.

Of the 90, 40 had already been convicted, fined and banned. Although most had pleaded guilty, their convictions were quashed.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has also dropped cases against the 50 who had been charged or were in the process of being prosecuted.

Four have been taken to the Court of Appeal, with one case overturned, one resulting in a reduced sentence, one being rejected and a fourth still to be decided.

Some 2,300 cases have been struck from the retesting process as there were no evidence the outcome would have been affected by the scandal.

No rapes, sex offences or cases of serious violence were affected. Of the highest priority cases, nearly 90% - some 800 - have been re-tested with the rest to be completed by April 2019. Mr Vaughan said he hoped re-examination of the final, lower priority cases would be completed by the end of next year.

Mr Vaughan said the scandal had created a "perfect storm" for an already stretched police forensics service now facing huge demand for re-testing in the investigation and the loss of RTS, which is no longer being used by forces.

The knock-on effect could be delays in investigations and prosecutions across the UK. "There was already a chronic shortage of toxicology capacity in England and Wales that has been further exacerbated by the fact that RTS gave up their accreditation. We have a perfect storm," he said.

Civil Liberties specialists Hudgell Solicitors confirmed they are representing 35 people who have already had their convictions quashed, and others who are now pursing civil cases to seek damages for the impact it has had on their lives.

"This is a national scandal which has had a devastating impact on the lives of the many people we are representing," said Andrew Petherbridge, Head of Civil Liberties at Hudgell Solicitors.

The final bill for retesting is expected to be more than £2m with Randox covering the cost. Mr Vaughan said that all retesting was expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 6th December 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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A "predatory sex offender" who was spared jail after blackmailing a girl he met online went on to rape a woman after his rehabilitation course was delayed due to "financial constraints," a court has heard.

Rhys Miller-Offiong, 24, created fake profiles on sites such as Facebook and Plenty of Fish then used them to lure women to send him explicit pictures before meeting them.

He pleaded guilty last May to causing a girl under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity and received a suspended four month sentence.

He was ordered to complete a sexual offending behaviour programme but was not immediately offered a place on such a course due to "financial constraints," only ever attending one session, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Three months later, he raped a woman he had tricked into sending sexually explicit pictures and videos.

Miller-Offiong was on Thursday sentenced to 15 years in prison, with a licence period of four years, after admitting blackmail, rape, four charges of distributing indecent images of a child, three of disclosing a private sexual photograph with intent to cause distress, and a charge of committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence.

A police investigation launched after he commited rape revealed that at least two other young women had been tricked into sending him images and videos or blackmailed into performing sex acts.

Miller-Offiong was eventually linked to the crimes by detectives who studied his digital footprint.

Andrew Hudson, prosecuting, said the women were "scared and pressurised" into complying with his demands for money and sexual acts.

Detective Constable Paul Harakis of the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command said:

"Miller-Offiong is a predatory sex offender who has drawn unsuspecting girls into his sexual trap via social media."

Further information

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th December 2018 author Tristan Kirk)

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Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Andrew Hudson said today that Miller-Offiong used a false online profile and a variety of social media accounts and telephone numbers in a scam known as catfishing.

He continued: "Once he gained their trust, he would demand sexually explicit images of them, threatening them so that they felt scared and pressurised into complying.

"Two of his victims sent him images of themselves. He then demanded money and sexual acts from them."

Mr Hudson said Miller-Offiong's "digital footprint" had helped to catch him, because three separate police investigations were linked back to the same man.

He added: "I hope that other people who may have been affected by revenge porn or other offences following catfishing will have the confidence to come forward in the knowledge that they will be treated with respect, and that their reports will be taken seriously."

Miller-Offiong, from Catford, pleaded guilty to blackmail, rape, four charges of distributing indecent images of a child, three of disclosing a private sexual photograph with intent to cause distress, and a charge of committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence.

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th December 2018 author Sean Morrison)

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An "alarming" number of British adults remain confused about what constitutes rape, despite the rise of the #MeToo movement, a campaign group has said.

The End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition said results from a YouGov survey of nearly 4,000 people highlighted why access to justice is "beyond the reach of many victims".

They said the survey showed that "myths about rape are still very common".

Rachel Krys, EVAW co-director, said society was "failing to respond to the call for help" prompted by the #MeToo campaign, the international movement which has sought to expose and shame sexual harassment.

The research found one-third of Britons said it would not be rape if there was no sexual violence committed.

Some 21 per cent of female respondents said it would not generally be considered rape if the victim had flirted on a date, even if she had not explicitly consented to sex.

Only 89 per cent said it would be rape to have sex with someone who was either asleep or too drunk to consent - with 5 per cent saying it was not usually rape, and 1 per cent saying it was never rape.

Some 11 per cent believed the more sexual partners a woman has, the less harm she will experience from an attack.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of people said non-consensual sex within a long-term relationship was not rape.

One-third of men thought a woman cannot change her mind after sex has begun.

The figures, taken from 3,922 male and female respondents of varied ages and political persuasions within Britain, also suggested people over the age of 65 were more likely (35 per cent) to think non-consensual sex within a long-term relationship was not rape, compared with 16 per cent of those aged 16-24.

Ms Krys said: "These figures are alarming because they show that a huge proportion of UK adults, who make up juries in rape trials, are still very unclear about what rape is.

"#MeToo has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence, and more women are seeking justice.

"Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help, and this year the number of cases being taken forward by police and the courts fell."

Campaigners have called for an independent review of how the police and courts tackle rape

Ms Krys said: "This research shows that confusion and myths about rape are still very common, and this could explain why it's hard for juries to make fair decisions if they don't understand or agree with our laws on rape.

"It's vital that justice for rape victims is prioritised and we put in place measures to make the system fairer. We also need guaranteed counselling for all rape survivors - and practical and legal help if they choose to report to the police."

Figures published in September within the Crown Prosecution Service's Violence Against Women And Girls report of 2017/18 highlighted a 23.1 per cent fall in the number of defendants charged with rape compared with the previous year.

The CPS also denied altering rape prosecution advice to boost conviction rates and take "weak cases" out of the system.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 5th December 2018 - The NSPCC's advice for parents)

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Note : The text is integrated within another Telegraph article.

What's most important is for parents to speak regularly to children about their online lives, about who they're chatting to and what apps, sites and games they like. It should be as normal as chatting about their day at school, so that children can come to you if they have anything that's bothering them.

Practical steps you can take to protect your child online might include ensuring privacy settings are high, and putting parental controls in place. The NSPCC and O2's website Net Aware has lots ?of tips and advice about online safety, as well as information on the latest sites, apps and games.

If your child has been sent a sexual image:

- Reassure them they've done the right thing by telling you what's going on

- Report the incident to police

- Also report the incident to the social network platform

- Don't delete the image, police can use this as evidence?

If your child has sent an image of themselves

If your child has sent a nude or semi-nude image of themselves or been asked to send a nude image:

- To remove images from the internet, encourage them to visit and follow the steps to have the image taken down from the internet.

- Talk to the child's school so they are aware of the situation and can support them if the image is been shared with other pupils in the school

- Call our NSPCC and O2 Online Safety Helpline for advice: 0808 800 5002

If you are concerned your child might be being groomed:

It's important to note that children might not realise they're being groomed, because they might feel that they are in a loving relationship.

Look out for a change in behaviour. Some children might become more withdrawn if they're being asked to do things they're not comfortable with, while others might become more confident if they're receiving compliments and affection from an online groomer. They might suddenly become more secretive about their devices.

If the groomer is someone they know in person, children might have unexplained gifts - such as a phone. Or they might have access to drugs and alcohol.

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 5th December 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Britain's first specialist "safe house" for child sex abuse victims has been launched to help cope with a surge in cases fuelled by social media and to speed up the prosecution of offenders.

The London-based centre will enable police, medics and psychologists to interview and care for victims in one place so investigations into the perpetrators can be pursued alongside counselling and support.

The £8m centre, called The Lighthouse, will eliminate the need for victims to undergo the trauma of repeating their statement several times to different agencies.

Some 70 child abuse victims have already been referred to the centre where they are interviewed by psychologists in a "talking room" filmed by discrete videos which enable police officers to ensure they are amassing the evidence needed for a prosecution.

Its backers believe the approach, based on the Icelandic Barnahus (Child House) and American Advocacy Centre model, will improve evidence-gathering, reduce delays in bringing a child abuser to trial and speed up recovery times.

There will be capacity for more than 500 young people each year as part of the two-year pilot which it is hoped could become a model for a network of such centres across London and the UK.

The bulk of the money is coming from the Home Office but it is also being funded by London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Office for Policing and Crime, NHS England and Department for Education.

Mr Khan, who opened the safe house yesterday, said he hoped it would be a forerunner of a network across the capital: "Children who have experienced sexual abuse have already undergone a horrific ordeal, so it's essential that we do everything we can to make their path to recovery and justice as simple as possible."

The centre will be led by specialists from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) with additional services provided by the NSPCC through partnership funding with Morgan Stanley.

Peter Wanless, the NSPCC's chief executive, backed extending it nationwide: "Bringing this concept to life in the UK is a landmark moment for the NSPCC and all those that advocated this way of working and who have come together to deliver 'The Lighthouse'.

"The eyes of the nation will be on this project which is organised around the needs of young people that have suffered from the physical and emotional trauma of sexual abuse. It is an enlightened approach which we hope will flourish."

Home office minister Victoria Atkins did not rule out the possibility of more such centres being set up depending on the success of the pilot: "It brings together all of the agencies and people who can help children who have suffered most traumatic experiences to recover and secure justice for them."

Its creation followed research that found one in four children who told police or social workers about suffering sexual abuse were referred for health and therapeutic support.

The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse estimates 15% of girls and 5% of boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 16.

Police have reported a surge in child sexual abuse fuelled by the internet. The National Crime Agency (NCA) received 82,109 individual industry referrals for child sex abuse images in 2017, a 700% increase since 2012.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, 5th December 2018 author Poppy Noor)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police are disproportionately using some of the potentially deadliest types of force - stun guns and restraint - against black people, analysis shows.

Figures analysed as part of the Guardian's Bias in Britain project show the Met Tasered black people more than four times as often as white people, and used restraint four times as often. The findings are based on the Met's use-of-force data from April to September this year and London population estimates.

The Met used a Taser 3,167 times in the period, and ground or limb restraints 10,657 times. Analysis shows that 13 in every 10,000 black Londoners were Tasered, compared with three in every 10,000 white Londoners. Restraint was used on 39 in every 10,000 black people in the population and 10 in every 10,000 white people.

Black people accounted for 29% of all London arrests in 2016-17, the last period for which statistics are available, and 40% of all those Tasered in April-September this year.

The campaign group Inquest has counted 18 deaths since 2004 where a stun gun was involved, and it is widely acknowledged that Tasers can cause serious injuries.

Charities said the data showed a disparity that could be explained in part by an assumption that black people are dangerous.

"[There are] racial stereotypes woven into police culture and practice that can lead to disproportionate and fatal use of force," said Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, which campaigns to reduce the number of deaths in police custody.

"A lot of the cases that we've worked on have presented a disturbing picture of violence, racism and inhumane attitudes … ascribing to black people characteristics of extraordinary strength, dangerousness and criminality."

Dame Elish Angiolini, who in 2017 wrote a government-commissioned review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody, said a lack of accountability over such incidents was damaging trust in the police.

"The disproportionately high number of deaths of black men in restraint-related deaths, often in contentious circumstances, is a serious issue," she said. "Police officers must be held to account through the legal system. Failure to do so undermines community confidence in the police and is damaging to police and community relations."

Coles said the use of restraint could escalate rapidly. "People in real distress may be struggling because they can't breathe. Police can lose sight of this, responding with more restraint, which can have deadly outcomes."

The police definition of use of force ranges from trying to talk someone down, to handcuffing, to drawing (rather than using) weapons. The most common use-of-force tactic is handcuffing.

Coles said the findings were unsurprising. "These aren't isolated problems, they are part of a systemic problem - in particular racism and discrimination."

Police forces have been required to provide use-of-force data since April 2017, although the Guardian found that a number of forces have not kept up with the duty.

uaware comment

Just to start, if I did not think this was an area of concern I would not put this article onto this website. But some questions / other figures needed to be added to this article, such as in each case was the officer in question reacting to counter a life changing attack (did the tasered person threaten an officer or member of the public with a knife, gun or other intimidating weapon ?)

Conversely, were police officers intimidated by the violent person, thus resulting in the use of a taser. I will provide an example of something I observed in Southend, Essex about 4 weeks ago. Southend police held a neighbourhood event in the High Street; handing out crime prevention leaflets and advice. Their were several groups of police; and one point my Wife stated "oh, look, they are letting school children dress up as police officers". On getting nearer we realised we were wrong; it was a scrarny adult that was 5 feet 6 inches tall (including the helmet), wearing a uniform T shirt and cargo trousers ! Now I respect the police authority, but for some people they need to respect the police physically (such as a 5 feet 6 inch minimum height ex-Para).

Some time ago, the time when there were things called "Beano's" (boozy trips / works outings to the seaside) the police in Southend had the average height of 6 feet. The City of London once had a similar policy. A physical presence without the threat.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 5th December 2018 author Daniel Boffey)

Full article [Option 1]:

The EU has launched a "war against disinformation" spread by the Kremlin in an attempt to protect next year's European parliament elections.

As new funding and measures were announced in Brussels, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was accused of spending more than £1bn a year to "spread lies" as part of a military strategy to cause division in Europe.

"There is strong evidence pointing to Russia as the primary source of disinformation in Europe," said Andrus Ansip, vice-president of the European commission.

"Disinformation is part of Russian military doctrine and its strategy to divide and weaken the west. Russia spends €1.1bn a year on pro-Kremlin media. You will also have heard of the 'troll factory' based in St Petersburg and the bot armies."

The commission said it would set up a rapid alert system to help EU member states recognise disinformation campaigns, and increase the budget set aside for the detection of disinformation from £1.69m to £4.4m (€5m). It will also press technology companies to play their part in cracking down on fake news.

Major social media platforms have already signed up to a code of conduct, but they were told by the British security commissioner, Julian King, to "get serious" on living up to their commitments. He said the EU would not stand for "an internet that is the wild west, where anything goes".

"No excuses, no more foot-dragging, because the risks are real," he said. "We need to see urgent improvement in how adverts are placed. Greater transparency around sponsored content, fake accounts rapidly, effectively identified and deleted".

Facebook has admitted there are between 60m and 90m fake Facebook accounts, accounting for between 3-4% of users on the platform, King said - "and some of those accounts are the most active".

Longer term, the EU needed to invest in media diversity and educate the public to be aware of the news they digest, King said, but that in the short term Brussels needed to see an "improvement in how we detect and call out disinformation".

"We have said publicly, and we repeat it here today, that if the necessary progress is not made we will not hesitate to reconsider our options including eventually regulation," he said.

The commission will issue a progress update in January on social media companies' attempts to close down accounts disseminating disinformation, and there will be further monthly reports up to next May's elections to the European parliament.

Ansip, a former prime minister of Estonia, said he did not believe the increased budget of €5m was large enough to deal with the extent of disinformation, saying that one St Petersburg troll factory, known as the Internet Research Agency, has 1,000 full time workers.

"But in comparison with €1.9m it is a little bit better," he said. "Our aim is not to create something like they have already in Russia.

Ansip said the Russian disinformation campaigns started "during the KGB time" and that sources said about 85% of the KGB's budget was spent "not to get some secrets from somewhere but to spread lies".

"We will not create some kind of propaganda machine in the European Union," said Ansip. "We would like to detect the disinformation and then we have to understand where those threats are coming from, who is behind the disinformation and then debunking, using facts to expose lies."

Mariya Gabriel, the commissioner for digital economy, who joined Ansip, King and the justice commissioner Vera Jourová in a joint press conference, compared the attempts to deal with Russian disinformation to a war.

Putin and his government have repeatedly denied claims that it has sought to interfere in foreign elections, including the US campaign that delivered the White House to Donald Trump.

(1st January 2019)

(Guardian, dated 4th December 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, has said her force has turned the tide against rising violent crime in London.

She claimed there had been large reductions in the stabbings of young people aged under 25 compared with last year and said that in order to cement the improvements, officers who had been moved across from traffic duty to tackle violent crime would not be going back.

Dick told LBC radio on Tuesday: "I think we are beginning to see the tide turning in that we are putting more officers on the streets, we're doing more stop and search, we're seizing more knives, we're seizing more firearms, we're seizing more offensive weapons, we're arresting more people for knife and gun crime.

"And we're beginning to see, after three years of knife crime increasing, gun crime increasing, they're now not just levelling off but beginning to come down."

"I think that is through greater enforcement, fantastic work by my officers. That will begin to suppress and turn the tide."

The commissioner said in November that violent crime had plateaued, which was followed by a spate of killings. On Tuesday Dick said: "I am now saying it is beginning to come down. In terms of knife crime under 25 … there is a definite downturn … knife crime itself is stabilising and beginning to come down."

The Met released new figures on Tuesday morning backing up the commissioner's claims.

Moving 122 traffic officers across to join the violent crime taskforce had paid off, the Met said: "The [traffic] officers joined the taskforce from September 2018, enabling the team to have a greater presence in areas with higher levels of violent crime as well as allowing more intelligence-led, targeted stop and search and the use of covert tactics.

"Since their attachment in September, they have contributed to a 31% (176) reduction in victims of knife crime with injury [under 25s] compared to September, October and November the previous year. This is part of a 12-month trend which has seen an overall 13% decrease", which translates to 287 fewer victims.

The Met area, covering virtually all of London, had a large number of homicides in February and March, prompting the setting up of the violent crime taskforce and much greater resources being put in to tackle gun and knife crime.

The homicide rate for 2018 will be above the 123 who died in the capital last year, standing currently at 127 with three weeks of the calendar year to go.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said it could take a decade to tackle the long-term causes of violent crime. Dick said: "To stop five-, six-, seven-, eight-, nine-, 10-, 11-year-olds being dragged into criminal gangs and becoming gangsters themselves is a big, big project. It may take a long time.

"We've got about 180 gangs in London. They're quite entrenched, many of them, and they're busy bringing children in, so you have to take a long-term approach."

The London mayor has set up a violence reduction unit to tackle the long term causes. It is unclear why violence increased, though a multiplicity of factors are suspected, including victims being involved in drugs, gangs, the effects of austerity on police numbers and reductions in youth services because of funding cuts.

(1st January 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th December 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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TSB is to help fund fraud detectives because it says there are not enough officers to investigate scammers.

The bank will give £200,000 to the Met which will be used by police in three south-east London boroughs: Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich.

TSB customers were targeted by fraudsters following an IT meltdown in April. Organised crime groups took advantage of a failed security upgrade by using scammers to send phishing emails to bank customers. More than 1,300 lost money, the bank said.

Ashley Hart, head of fraud at TSB, said the bank realised after the incident that police were "overwhelmed" by the number of fraud investigations they faced. He said the problem starts when the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which compiles fraud reports, passes the information on to local forces.

"The NFIB package up intel and send it out to police forces to make arrests and that's where we discovered it all goes a bit wrong," Mr Hart said.

"With frontline policing and the nature of its resource constraints, it means these packages were arriving and there were not enough police officers to do anything with them."

The Met said the £200,000 will help fund overtime for fraud investigators, training, and new initiatives raising awareness of scams. TSB could provide more funding if the trial is successful.

Superintendent Sean McDermid, of the South East Basic Command Unit, said: "If we can increase the number of arrests it will be a real plus but it is also about engagement and education."

TSB said it had identified more than 180 suspects in connection with the fraud attacks on its customers. There have been 20 arrests in the UK.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick recently said her priority was to tackle violent crime and that offences such as online fraud were a lower priority.

(1st January 2019)

(Daily Post, dated 4th December 2018 author Lydia Morris)

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One of North Wales Police's biggest shake-ups is getting underway in a bid to tackle emerging crimes.

Thirty new investigators are being recruited by the force to help tackle issues such the exploitation of vulnerable children and cyber crime.

The Operational Improvement Programme, masterminded by Chief Superintendent Alex Goss, is part of a massive reorganisation of front-line policing to target resources more effectively.

It comes as the number of crimes involving vulnerable victims and organised, violent offenders has grown at a faster rate than less complex crimes.

Over the next three years, Ch Supt Goss said the National Crime Agency is predicting an 80 per cent increase in cases involving indecent images of children every year.

As a result, he says there is increased pressure on investigators and says demand is now "exceeding capacity".

"The demands caused by cyber crime and the threat of county lines are due to keep on growing," he said.

"At the same time, the National Crime Agency is predicting that there will be an 80 per cent increase in cases involving indecent images of children every year for the next three years.

"To meet these challenges we're really investing in enabling our policing teams to solve problems in their communities.

"The aim is to support our neighbourhood policing teams to deal with issues sooner rather than later and where possible nip things in the bud.

"This is about investing in our frontline, professionalising our frontline and making us fit for the future - but the real key is that investment in our detective resource to provide the best possible service to vulnerable people across the force area."

The changes are being introduced against a backdrop of £30m of austerity cuts to the North Wales Police budget since 2010, with a further £3.25m in savings needing to be found next year.

The force will see 18 extra detectives backed up by an additional 12 support staff.

It will also involve a move to review the current shift pattern to ensure more officers and sergeants are deployed on the front line.

The move comes in line with the Police and Crime Plan of North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who says his priority is to "reduce harm and protect vulnerable children and adults".

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, said it was important the force was "fit for purpose" for the 21 century.

He said: " The nature of policing has changed hugely and we are facing new and increasing challenges so the force must evolve and adapt accordingly. Carrying on doing things in the same way is just not an option.

"Our new Chief Constable, Carl Foulkes, is a champion of preventative policing and I very much support his approach.

"The Operational Improvement Programme will ensure the force targets policing hotspots. We need value patrols rather than wasted patrols, using smart policing to focus resources where they are most needed."

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 3rd December 2018 author Camilla Turner)

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Private schools should be flagging parents who try to pay fees in cash to the police, a National Crime Agency chief has said.

Donald Toon, head of economic and cyber crime at the NCA, said that bursars should check to see if anyone paying a pupil's school fees appear on sanctions lists, and should be aware of high-risk countries listed by organisations such as Transparency International.

"There is an overarching responsibility here to do more," he said. "We have a number of areas where I am identifying very, very high-risk individuals, suspect individuals, who have children in public schools."

Public schools have previously rejected the implication they were involved in money laundering. Mike Buchanan, the chief executive of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, has said there was no evidence they were aware of that any school had ever knowingly taken illicit payments, adding that "it is entirely wrong for anyone to suggest so".

Mr Toon told the Times Education Supplement magazine that this is not about "kicking people", and schools are not expected to carry out their own investigations into where money has come from.

But carrying out a simple "Google check" to see if a pupil's parents are known to have criminal links is "hardly onerous" for Bursars, he added.

"Suspicion is a very, very low threshold," he said. "We're not asking anybody to trace the source of money. What we're really saying is: look, do some background checks."

If the salary of a parent is so low they could not possibly afford the fees legitimately, this should also set alarm bells ringing, Mr Toon said.

Last month the security minister warned that private schools could be used to launder "dirty money", saying that football clubs, estate agents and luxury car dealers were among organisations that should be alert to illicit money and report any suspicions.

"We have to make sure that when the [criminals] go out to try to spend their ill-gotten gains, that we all take a role in asking: does this pass the sniff test?" he said.

The Independent Schools Council, which represents most of the UK's private schools, said it was working with the Independent Schools' Bursars Association and the Home Office to update guidance for schools.

Julie Robinson, the ISC's general secretary, said that "schools fully accept their responsibility to make Suspicious Activity Reports".

(1st January 2019)

(ComputerWeekly, dated 3rd December 2018 author Warwick Ashford)

Full article [Option 1]:

Officers forced to follow up over 2,500 complaints of Instagram, Facebook, email and website hacking, and Bitcoin ransom, despite a rise in violent crime, report reveals

UK police forces are under increasing pressure to launch criminal investigations into incidents of social media and computer hacking, according to a new report from the Parliament Street think tank.

The news comes as senior Police Chiefs have warned budget cuts and limited resources are leading to an increase in violent crime across the country.

The Hack Attack: Police under pressure research paper reveals 14 police forces have launched a total of 2,547 investigations into reports of computer and social media hacking over the last two financial years, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

The data shows a rise of 14%, from 1,181 incidents in 2016/17 to 1,354 in 2017/18. The Parliament Street think tank also released the relevant Police notes on the incidents in question, providing further context.

"Cyber crime in particular is not a new threat to the 21st century but is certainly something that is becoming a bigger issue for police forces across the country," the report said.

In the most recent financial year, Cleveland Police reported the most incidents of hacking, with a total of 356 reports recorded. This was followed by Nottinghamshire Police which reported 246 cases of hacking.

The largest increases of incidents between the two financial years were the West Midlands police force, up 19% to 329 crimes reported in 2017/18 and Nottinghamshire, up 21% to 246 in 2017/18.

Sheila Flavell, chair of the Institute of Coding and COO of FDM Group, said the "tidal wave" of cyber crime is draining the resources of police forces as well as businesses.

"Tackling this problem requires a concerted effort to recruit staff equipped with the latest cyber skills, as well as extending education and training opportunities to existing employees. As part of this effort, it's vital that industry works more closely with academic institutions to develop specialist flexible courses so that skills within workforces increase dramatically."

In addition to the data, Parliament Street obtained copies of police notes for several forces, describing the nature of the incidents under investigation.

Some key findings include:

- Derbyshire Police logged an incident in 2017 where a hacker managed to access a victim's Facebook account, stealing photos and distributing them.

- Merseyside Police reported that underage children have been sharing indecent images - some have been hacked and shared without permission.

- Leicestershire Police force reported that an unknown person hacked into a personal email account and posted photographs of emails through his girlfriend's postbox.

- Norfolk and Suffolk police force specifically referenced a crime whereby a virus was deployed into a businesses' server which had encrypted personal data files. The virus would then demand a ransom of 1,087 bitcoins to remove it.

At the International Security Expo 2018 in London, the cyber lead at the City of London Police described cyber crime as the "most significant harm" in the UK facing police.

Cyber crime is also the biggest evolving crime type in the UK and beyond in terms of volume and complexity, said detective chief superintendent Pete O'Doherty, lead of cyber and head of economic crime at the City of London Police.

The challenges of policing cyber crime

O'Doherty said policing cyber crime is challenging because of its multinational nature, limited capability of police officers, lack of public understanding of the threat and the use of cryptocurrencies by criminals making it harder to link them to crimes.

For all these reasons, he said police are switching to an intelligence-led approach to fight cyber crime, seeking to disrupt cyber criminal infrastructure and increase organisations' understanding of how to protect themselves.

Police forces are also putting in place mechanisms to draft in volunteers with specialist skills as well as expanding cyber training courses for officers and international intelligence-sharing partnerships.

Cyber crime still "significantly under-reported"

Although the Parliament Street report found that individuals are beginning to report crimes of hacking to their local police force, O'Doherty said cyber crime is still "significantly under-reported", which is a big problem.

"We want every victim of crime, which includes businesses, to report those crimes, because if we know what the true scale of the problem is, we can start to develop an intelligence-led, coordinated response," he said.

The Parliament Street report recommends:

1. Mandatory national cyber training for officers and staff
2. More industry support for police forces
3. Recruitment of technology-qualified officers

"It is clear that social media sites and technology giants could and should do more to support police in tracking down perpetrators of hacking crimes.

"This should include offering more collaboration on initiatives, offering training for officers on how to navigate technology to identify evidence and capture the culprits.

"It's time for police forces to dramatically increase the recruitment of highly qualified officers. As well as working closely with universities and training colleges, industry organisations should also offer placement years and consultancy to ensure police forces are fully equipped to deal with this threat," the report said.

(1st January 2019)

(Independent, dated 2nd December 2018 author Penny Mordaunt)

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When we hear the word "slavery", it can be easy to dismiss it as a relic, a crime from the history books, a shameful chapter of our past. But sadly it is very much part of our world today.

Slavery, trafficking and forced labour is thriving, entrapping more than 40 million people worldwide. These victims are caught in the supply chains which give us everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, to the tech we use every day.

The figures are startling. Right now there are more modern day slaves in the world than the populations of Greece, Portugal, Austria and Belgium combined. A quarter of these victims are still children, and more than 70 per cent of victims are women and girls.

Today, the international day for the abolition of slavery, is a perfect opportunity to refocus our efforts on stamping out this scourge on our societies.

The UK is working hard to eradicate this heinous crime, which costs the UK's economy alone an estimated £4.3bn a year.

UK aid is working to dismantle predatory trafficking networks across Asia and Africa, strengthen law enforcement, clean up recruitment practices and rehabilitate victims who fall prey to traffickers profiting from this $150bn global trade in human beings. We are tackling the root causes of slavery by creating jobs and sustainable alternative livelihoods, helping people lift themselves out of poverty, and busting myths that tempt people towards dangerous migration routes.

The protection of vulnerable children in particular, is our priority. Working with UNICEF, the UK will reach more than 400,000 girls and boys in the Horn of Africa with child protection measures, including birth registration documents to shelter them from forced labour and underage marriage. Some 212,000 children across Somalia have already been provided with legal identity documents, including birth certificates.

Through UK-based NGO Retrak, we are supporting young girls in Ethiopia tangled in exploitative domestic work, running child protection clubs in schools and setting up a girls' shelter to provide catch-up lessons that help victims reintegrate.

Along with charities World Vision and War Child, we are equipping up to 400,000 vulnerable people, many in conflict ravaged parts of Africa, with skills training and alternative livelihood opportunities. This "UK aid connect programme" will educate children on the risks of trafficking, help businesses eradicate slavery from supply chains and assist conflict affected families in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Additionally, in a major new programme across six countries in Asia, UK support will shield children against forced labour in the hazardous agriculture industry, and will clamp down on the trafficking of children into sex work.

No single nation can banish this global crime alone. A coordinated international approach is needed. There are now 85 states that have endorsed the call to action to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking that was launched by prime minister Theresa May at the UN General Assembly in September last year.

Just two months ago, the UK and the US, alongside Canada, New Zealand and Australia, launched a set of core principles at the UN General Assembly to help eliminate exploitation in international supply chains. Leveraging our combined purchasing power of more than $600bn, we are committed to eradicating forced labour from global supply chains, a crime which entraps approximately 25 million people worldwide.

In the next few days, my department, in collaboration with the UK's development finance arm the CDC, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others, will be launching a comprehensive guide to help the private sector tackle modern slavery in emerging markets.

With more than 60 per cent of forced labour victims in the private economy, we are committed to ensuring businesses step up their efforts to eradicate exploitation from their supply chains.

We must work together, across nations and sectors. Only then will we consign the hideous crime of slavery to the history books.

Penny Mordaunt is the international development secretary, and the minister for women and equalities

(1st January 2019)

(New Scientist, dated 24th November 2018 author Edd Gent) [Option 1]

A website tool can track your internet activity even if you use standard ways to hide your browsing habits.

Tracking people on the internet is normally done using cookies, tiny files left on our computers by the websites we visit.These are used for security purposes, such as for detecting suspicious online banking logins, and also by advertisers to target people based on their online visits.

But these tracking cookies have become increasingly ineffective, because many people use tools,such s ad blockers, which keep them at bay. Now Iskander Sanchez-Rola at the University of Deusto in Spain
and colleagues have developed a tracking tool that doesn't need to use cookies. Instead, it relies on detecting tiny variations in a computer's hardware.

The tool works by measuring subtle but unique differences in the way the quartz crystal in a computers clock behaves compared with crystals in other computers. These differences affect how quickly websites are processed by a computer, so they act as a digital fingerprint for the device.

When 300 volunteers made a one-off visit to a website using the tool, it could uniquely fingerprint around half of them. When combined with other techniques that measure how a comuter procsses a web site's graphics, 80 per cent of devices could be identified.

"Our technique is far more reliable and practical than any existing fingerprintng technique," says Sanchez-Rola. His team presented the tool at a recent ACM conference on Computer and Communications Security in Toronto, Canada.

"Unfortunately, modern computers are too diverse, and there are too many ways that diversity can be noticed and used by trackers, " says Peter Eckersley at the Electonic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group. That means privacy tools must improvee to stay ahead of detection techniques, he says.

(1st Januray 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 1st December 2018 author Ian Drury)

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- Local authorities will be able to double amount they can charge in tax for police
- Will go from £1 to £2 a month from April, meaning extra £24 per house per year
- If all 43 police forces in England and Wales raise the precept by £24 for each Band D household, it will generate a total of £450m

Police forces are to get a £600 million cash boost in a bid to crack down on violence in Wild West Britain - paid for with a council tax hike.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has thrashed out a deal with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to double the amount that local authorities can add to council tax bills for policing.

The amount police and crime commissioners will be able to impose will rise from £1 a month to £2 a month from April 2019. It means an extra £24 per household each year.

It is intended to allow forces to pay for more frontline officers in a bid to halt the sickening violence engulfing Britain. If all 43 police forces in England and Wales raise the precept by £24 for each Band D household, it will generate a total of £450 million.

Critics will blast the move as a 'stealth council tax rise' at a time when crimes recorded by police have risen to 5.6 million, the highest for more than a decade. On average a crime is committed every six seconds.

As well as the increase in council tax, it is understood the Home Office and Treasury could also commit another £170 million to general police funding. It comes on top of an extra £160 million for counter-terrorism announced by Mr Hammond in the Budget last month.

Police chiefs have warned ministers that forces are struggling to cope following deep cuts to funding which has seen it fall 19 per cent in real terms since 2010-11 to £12.3 billion this year. And since 2009, the number of police and PCSOs has plummeted from 160,000 to 132,000.

In September, a damning report found that forces were 'struggling' to keep the public safe following funding cuts and an upsurge in crime.

Chief constables were finding it 'increasingly difficult' to deliver an effective service, said Britain's spending watchdog.

Spiralling 'low-volume, high-harm' crime such as sex attacks, gun and knife offences, and the heightened terror threat, was ramping up pressure on police budgets, according to the National Audit Office.

After last month's Budget, Mr Javid said he was 'deeply worried' about the street violence as he hinted at a funding boost in the annual financial settlement. He said: 'I think resources is part of the issue, making sure that police - as they deal with more of these complex situations - have the resources they need.

'What we saw in this Budget was a Chancellor that was listening. He listened to the needs of the defence service and health and others and he set out quite rightly that he's going to listen to the needs of the police, so I am very confident that he's listening.'

The new settlement could be announced as early as next week, but has yet to be signed off by the Home Office.

One Government source said Mr Javid had been pushing for a £30-a-year precept on council tax bills.

(Guardian, dated 30th November 2018 authors Kevin Rawlinson and Vikram Dodd)

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Ministers have been accused of a financial sleight of hand over plans to allow a council tax increase to pay for extra police funding, in a move Labour said would hit the poorest hardest without providing enough extra funding.

Forces across England and Wales were set to benefit to the tune of £450m, it emerged on Friday, and there have been suggestions the government could hand over a further £170m when it decides on police funding for next year. Police have been dealing with years of shrinking budgets and a pension shortfall of about £420m.

"This is nowhere near what our police need to deal with increase in demand," said Stephen Doughty, a Labour member of the influential parliamentary home affairs committee.

He was joined by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who said the money would "represent a tiny fraction of the huge cuts to the police service made by this government since 2010".

His spokesman said that the Metropolitan police alone had been forced to make £1bn of savings in that time. "Ministers will have to go much higher than this if they are to prove they are serious about tackling violent crime. It's time for the home secretary to match his words with real money."

Sky News reported on Friday that the home secretary, Sajid Javid, has convinced the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and the local government secretary, James Brokenshire, to allow local police and crime commissioners in England and Wales to double the policing precept on the council tax bill from £12 a year to £24 to pay for the funding increase.

According to the report, Javid had been pushing for a significantly greater increase, but was forced to settle. He had previously hinted that he believed the police needed more resources, saying he was deeply worried about the need to deal with violent crime.

Khan's spokesman, after news of the plan emerged, accused the government of placing the burden for finding the extra money disproportionately on poorer households, rather than central government putting up the cash.

Doughty said: "This Sajid Javid police funding announcement is obviously yet another sleight of hand." He added that the Treasury had "found £455m extra in direct funding for Brexit in the last two years", saying this would have paid for thousands of extra police officers.

The plan was confirmed to the Guardian by a Whitehall source after an announcement in December last year that the government intended to take such a step at some point in 2018-19.

The detail of the police financial settlement when it is officially announced will reveal how generous it really is.

Police forces needed at least £165m after the Treasury decided they needed to pay more for pensions this year, rising to £417m next year.

Police chiefs have decided to sue the government over the pension change unless they back down, a wholly unprecedented decision.

In the budget, a Treasury claim to have provided £160m extra for counter-terror policing, turned out to be a much less year-on-year increase of £59m.

Most police funding for forces in England and Wales has been provided directly by Westminster and about 30% comes from council tax precepts. Police funding is a fully devolved issue in Scotland and separate arrangements affect Northern Ireland.

The Home Office said: "We do not comment on leaked documents. We will be setting out the police funding settlement for 2019-20 to parliament in due course."

(1st January 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 30th November 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Filming police officers as they are being attacked in the street is becoming a "game" for certain members of the public, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has warned.

Cressida Dick said violence against officers was getting worse and some people would rather stand by laughing and joking than help.

She said while such events remained rare, the level of violence was shocking and more needed to be done to prevent it happening.

Her comments come after a video emerged of officers in County Durham being surrounded and attacked by up to 100 youths last month.

The incident in the town of Stanley occurred when trouble flared following a fireworks display on November 3.

Officers were called to help a drunk teenage girl near the bus station, but the situation escalated when they were surrounded and asked youths to move back and give them space to treat the girl.

Police body worn cameras showed officers being pelted with bricks and fireworks while a Police Community Support Officer was punched in the face.

Speaking on 5 News, Ms Dick said: "I think what you see absolutely looks like it's getting worse. Things are now so visual.

"No officer comes to work to be assaulted. It's a crime. We should reduce the possibility of it.

"We've seen some really shocking incidents, you know on the net recently. It's been appalling.

"The things we've seen recently are more shocking, because what you see is that people have enjoyed making a video of it, as if it's a game.

"A crowd gathering while these crime of GBH, they're laughing joking not trying to help. It's rare. It's not a picture of normal life in any city, let alone London, but it is shocking."

Last month in south London a female officer was attacked while onlookers stood by filming the incident on their mobile phones.

Ken Marsh, the chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, warned that officers would have to start letting suspects go if the public did not start helping out.

He said while it was not always appropriate for members of the public to wade into violent incidents it was wrong for people to stand by and watch female officers being brutally attacked.

He said: "We don't come to work to get assaulted, and if we're not going to be backed up...then what is the point?"

(1st January 2019)


- Always be aware of where you are, be familiar with your surroundings (exits etc).

- Be aware of alternative ways to get home from work if using either public transport or your own means (car).

- Be aware of how you can walk home from your place of work, the shops or an excursion

- Always use a licenced taxi or mini-cab. DO NOT except offers from "drivers" hawking outside nightclubs, etc.

- Ensure your home is locked up when unoccupied. Don't forget to close and lock windows !

- Always ensure that uPVC doors are locked correctly

- Always ensure that you home looks occupied, even when you are out. Use a timeswitch on a tablelamp so it lights up when dark.

- Don't allow anyone into your home unless there is a pre-arranged appointment and the caller has a valid passcard.

- Regularly check bank and credit card statements for fraudulent transactions.

- Before withdrawing cash from an ATM check the machine and surround for suspicious items. Ideally withdraw cash from ATM's sited at banks or ask for "cashback" when instore (supermarket etc).

- If a price looks too good to be true, it probably is, avoid. Unless the seller is a well known store !

British Transport Police - 0800 40 50 40 or 999
See it, Say it, Sorted (text) - 61016

Be safe and have a great Christmas.

(6th December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 3rd December 2018 author Rupert Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

Christmas shoppers are being urged to be wary of counterfeit products following a rise in cases involving fake goods.

According to KPMG, over the past two years, 39 cases involving a total of £116m of counterfeit and pirated goods - which can range from hair straighteners and perfume to ebooks - have been prosecuted in the UK. The firm said the number of cases reaching court "continues to rise".

The figures come days after the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu) launched a campaign using the hashtag #shockingfakes to highlight the dangers of buying counterfeit electrical goods.

Pipcu said that as well as the potential health and safety risks, such as electric shocks and house fires, shoppers who bought such items online could unwittingly find themselves becoming victims of identity theft.

KPMG said pirated digital media - such as music, ebooks, video games and computer software - accounted for a sizeable chunk of the total it had identified. Other popular counterfeited items included tickets to concerts and other events, and branded goods such as football shirts.

It claimed some consumers "are seemingly driven by a hunger to maintain a designer lifestyle on a low-key budget".

James Maycock, a forensic partner at the accountants, said: "Consumers may often turn a blind eye or consider this a victimless crime, but this shadow economy activity often directly promotes money laundering and tax evasion. It can also help to fund other more serious organised criminal enterprises, including human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism."

The City of London Police unit pointed to a June 2018 report from consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First, which found that 30% of those surveyed had been duped by a counterfeit electrical item bought online but advertised as genuine.

The charity also claimed websites sites such as Amazon and eBay were being misused by third-party sellers to exploit online shoppers and sell fake and potentially dangerous goods.

Products highlighted included tumble dryers, so-called Kodi boxes (a type of set-top box for TVs), kettles, travel adapters and hair straighteners.

In April this year, a Guardian investigation found that Amazon's Marketplace platform was rife with potentially dangerous counterfeits and other knockoff goods despite years of cracking down on mis-selling.

Police said the "true cost" of such items was shown by a fire that broke out at a flat in St John's Wood, north-west London, in May this year, leading to around 20 people being evacuated. The London Fire Brigade said it believed an unbranded mobile phone charger caused the blaze.

Meanwhile, last Tuesday, Pipcu said it had this year suspended more than 31,000 websites as part of an operation coordinated by Europol, the EU's agency for police cooperation, aimed at clamping down on counterfeit and pirated items sold online.

Pipcu said it was asking people to "trust their instincts - if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is". It said consumers should check the spelling and grammar on websites, and the URL, because often the people behind these sites did not pay a lot of attention to this detail.

Fraudsters may try to deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.

"Just because a web address ends with "" does not mean the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, consumers should be wary," it added.

While counterfeit products may be financially enticing, some fake items such as perfumes, batteries and alcohol "may seriously damage your health", said Maycock.

He highlighted a September 2016 court case that led to a father and son being jailed for selling unsafe DIY teeth-whitening kits which left some users with chemical burns. Advertising claimed the product was "used by leading dentists throughout the UK and Europe", but tests showed it contained up to 110 times the allowable level of hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent.

Anyone who has bought an item they believed to be genuine but which they now suspect to be fake can report it to Action Fraud online at or call 0300 123 2040.

(6th December 2018)


November 2018 has been "sadly" the most prolific month for the number of articles on crime there has been during the 10 year history of this website. These are not all of the published crime articles, just the ones where there is a modicum of crime prevention, in excess of 140 articles.

There has been a continuing increase in the number of youth stabbing deaths and the corresponding numbers of mourning families.

There are the increasing number of young girls being groomed by gangs.

Increasing numbers of hate crimes and paedophile crimes.

Lets hope for the coming New Year things improve and common sense and calm prevail.


(Mirror, dated 30th November 2018 author Neil Murphy)

Full article [Option 1]:

An interactive dress has revealed the shocking extent of harassment of women at nightclubs.

Three women wore a specially-fitted dress with sensors to log how often, and where, they were touched at a party in Brazil.

The information was relayed in real-time using WiFi so a team could track the harassment as it happened.

Experts revealed the women were touched over 157 times in the space of three hours and 47 minutes - nearly 40 times an hour.

Called The Dress for Respect, the campaign was launched by Schweppes and advertising agency Ogilvy.

Shot in Brazil, footage from the venue shows how various men approach the trio and touch them inappropriately as they attempt to chat.

Heat sensors light up as the women are grabbed on their hair, back and bottoms while they attempt to ward off their advances.

At one point, a man holds onto the arm of one women as she struggles to get away from him.

The campaign says 86% of women in Brazil have been a harassed in nightclubs.

And four in 10 women from the South American nation also say they have been sexually harassed while on public transport, school or work.

Juliana Schulz, Tatiana Rosas and Luisa Castro were the three women who donned the dress.

Tatiana said: "A woman is not an animal to be cornered, to be captured."

Luisa said: "I'm an interesting person. I'm worth five minutes of talking."

While Juliana encouraged men to "talk without touching".

Afterwards, some of the men at the club were shown the footage and expressed shock and embarassment.

The video has provoked a strong reaction from thousands of women after it was posted online

One respondent wrote: "You shouldn't need to build a dress to get men to believe women get groped all the time. Men should just believe us when we tell them that. Brazilian men, and ALL men. Listen to women. Believe women."

While another said: "Brava and bravo! Highly admirable work and innovation to document what we men knew was going on all along."

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 30th November 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

A booking database run by the Marriott hotel chain has been hit back by a hack that could affect up to 500 million guests, the firm has warned.

An investigation by Marriott has shown there had been unauthorised access to the Starwood Hotels and Resorts guest reservation database since 2014.

This contained information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.

Work is continuing but the firm said the breached database contains the information of up to half a billion guests.

The database stored information including passport numbers, dates of births, names, addresses and phone numbers for 327 million guests.

Some card numbers and expiration dates were also stored.

A spokesman for Marriott said: "The investigation has determined that there was unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10.

"Marriott has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property.

"For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.

"For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption.

"There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken."

The Maryland-based firm said law enforcement agencies are investigating.

The spokesman added: "We deeply regret this incident happened.

"We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves. We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward."

(Telegraph, dated 30th November 2018 author James Cook)

Full article [Option 1]:

Private details of up to half a billion guests at Marriott International may have been exposed in one of the most serious data breaches of its kind.

The world's biggest hotel company said that customer details were exposed following a hack on its Starwood room reservation network that had been ongoing since 2014.

The attack is troubling not merely because of its size, but also the type of details that hackers may have stolen.

For about 327 million of the 500 million affected, the data stolen included information such as passport numbers, emails, date of birth, gender and mailing addresses.

Marriott, the US hotels giant which operates about 6500 hotels in 127 countries, said that it "has not been able to rule out" that credit card information had been exposed.

Reservations at all its Starwood properties - which include the Park Lane Sheraton Grand, Westbury Mayfair and Le Meridien Piccadilly - had been affected.

The firm has now informed the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) of the breach.

A spokesman for the ICO said: "We have received a data breach report from Marriott Hotels involving its Starwood Hotels and are making enquiries. We advise people who may have been affected to be vigilant and to follow advice from the ICO and National Cyber Security Centre websites about how they can protect themselves and their data online."

The New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, tweeted on Friday that her office had opened an investigation into the breach.

Cybersecurity expert Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic, said "what is shocking about this data breach is that the cybercriminals potentially got away with both the encrypted data as well as the methods to decrypt the data."

"This latest major data breach will raise questions to when Marriott knew about the breach and whether or not they complied with global regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation which imposes financial penalties of 20m Euros or 4pc of annual turnover."

The breach was spotted in the Starwood guest reservation database in the US on September 8 and the company "discovered that an unauthorised party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it", a statement said.

Security experts determined there "had been unauthorised access to the Starwood network since 2014", it added.

Researchers decrypted the information and determined its contents were from the Starwood reservation database on November 19.

Angry customers have taken to Twitter to complain that they found out about the breach through news reports, rather than by receiving an email from Marriott. "Were you planning on letting me know that pretty much everything except my toothbrush got stolen on your watch?" one user said.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott's chief executive, said that "we deeply regret this incident happened. We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves. We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward".

The company's share price was down around 5pc in pre-market trading on Friday.

How do you find out if your data was compromised?

If you stayed at a branch of Sheraton hotels anywhere globally between 2014 and now, your data may be compromised.

These hotels all use the Starwood network that has been compromised for four years. Marriott-branded hotels use a different reservation system.

The company said it is notifying customers whose records were in the database. It said that emails will come from the "" address, not any other email address.

What should you do if you're affected?

Marriott has set up a website to give affected customers details of what they can do if their data has been compromised.

It also has created a dedicated call center to answer questions, which is open seven days a week and is available in multiple languages.

Marriott said it will also offer customers in the UK, US and Canada a year-long subscription to a fraud-detecting service, WebWatcher.

Mr Carson, the cybsecurity expert, advised Marriott customers to change their passwords, although the company has not said that password data has been stolen.

The company suggested that customers monitor their bank accounts for any unauthorised transfers. It also advised that customers should monitor their Starwood Preferred Guest accounts for any unusual activity.

How serious is the hack?

The attack, which involved 500 million guests and included some passport numbers and credit card information, may rank only below Yahoo as one of the biggest hacks of personal data.

Yahoo, the internet company acquired by Verizon Communications last year, suffered a 2013 security breach that exposed all 3 billion of its users at the time.

Which hotels were breached?

The hack affects the follows hotel chains:

W Hotels
St. Regis
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
Westin Hotels & Resorts
Element Hotels
Aloft Hotels
The Luxury Collection
Tribute Portfolio
Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts
Four Points by Sheraton
Design Hotels that participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program
Starwood branded timeshare properties are also included.

How did the hack happen?

Marriott has not disclosed exactly how the hack happened, but cybersecurity experts have suggested that the acquisition of Starwood by Marriott in 2016 may have allowed hackers to quietly remain inside Starwood's database.

Tom Van de Wiele, security consultant at cyber security company F-Secure, said "this is a common trend where it's usually not the main company that is targeted but rather attackers aim to compromise the softer underbelly of the organisation which are usually IT service providers, contractors and other entities with a high number of interactions with the organisation."

Cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs has noted that Starwood announced in 2015 that it had suffered a hacking attack which had been active for a year. The breach, which started in November 2014, affected over 50 Starwood hotels and sought to steal credit card information.

How big could a potential fine be?

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office is able to fine companies up to 4pc of their global turnover. Last year, the Marriott group saw revenue of $22.9bn, making a potential fine in the region of $916m.

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 30th November 2018 author Megan White)

Full article [Option 1]:

Dramatic footage shows the moment a gang of female pickpockets were caught by an undercover police officer as they tried to steal a shopper's purse on Oxford Street.

The thieves were caught red-handed by Metropolitan Police plain-clothes officer Sergeant Steve Stamp.

He spotted three Bulgarian women "circling their prey like sharks" on Oxford Street, which is the busiest shopping street in Britain.

The police officer caught them red-handed trying to take something from a tourist's bag moments after a previous attempt.

He said: "Everyone knows when they come to London, they are going to go shopping on Oxford Street and all the pickpockets know that is where their prey is going to be.

"For me, it's always the eyes. These thieves are looking down at peoples bags, people's rucksacks, purses and things like that, they are not interested in the shops, that's a giveaway."

It was the second time in just two weeks that the women had been caught.

One of them was handed a 12-week suspended sentence and a fine after being found guilty of theft.

The plague of shoplifters and pickpockets affecting London's busiest shopping street is shown in Channel 5 documentary Inside Oxford Street, airing on Thursday.

According to the programme, 1,200 crimes were reported to Oxford Street Police last year, with police revealing that the "east side is more problematic."

In just one day, the team make 28 arrests - four of which were prolific offenders who they had been tracking.

The documentary also shows one nasty offender who entered a shop with a foil-lined bag and was caught, before head-butting a security guard.

Another female shoplifter was caught stealing £72 of goods and screamed at the plain clothed officers before spitting at one of them.

(Mirror, dated 29th November 2018 author Amber Hicks)

Full article [Option 1]:

The moment an undercover police officer swooped on a pickpocketing girl gang as they "circled their prey like sharks" has been captured in body-cam footage.

The three Bulgarian women work together as they surround their victim and try and sneak their hands into a handbag in the crowds.

But one is caught red-handed as she rifles through a shopper's purse on London's bustling Oxford Street.

The attempted theft came minutes after they failed to steal from a tourist who felt someone try and open her bag and challenged the pickpocketer.

Plain clothes Metropolitan Police officer Sergeant Steve Stamp was already near the scene following reports an 80-year-old woman had been 'dipped' and had her purse stolen.

It is then that Sgt Stamp spots the suspects as they try to steal from another shopper further down the street.

Around half a million shoppers visit Oxford Street each day. Last year, 2,000 were victims of pickpockets in the area.

Sgt Stamp added: "Everyone knows when they come to London, they are going to go shopping on Oxford Street and all the pickpockets know that's where their prey is going to be.

"For me, it's always the eyes. These thieves are looking down at people's bags, people's rucksacks, purses and things like that, they are not interested in the shops, that's a giveaway."

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 29th November 2018 author Cathrina Hulse)

Full article [Option 1]:

A man was beaten with batons and stabbed after a gang of carjackers tricked him in to getting out of his car.

The man, who had his daughter in the car with him, said that he was targeted after the crafty gang scattered wheelie bins the middle of the road forcing him to get out to move them.

Three thugs then assaulted him with batons and knifed him in the leg.

The terrifying incident took place in the leafy area of Catherine-de-Barnes in Solihull, Birmingham.

The man, who did not wish to be named, told Birmingham Live: "These scumbags have no moral code and will clearly attack anyone and anything."

He also wrote on a local community forum: "I was attacked last night... by 3 scumbags with knives.

"They tried to carjack me by setting a trap.

"They tipped all the wheelie bins over in the lane so whoever came by had to get out of their car to move the bins to get past.

"After moving some bins I spotted 3 kids coming towards me and the car.

"I managed to get enough of me back in the car to protect my daughter but I couldn't get the door shut in time."

He added; "As I kicked out they attacked my legs with a baton and a knife.

"Luckily (my daughter) was unhurt and I've only got minor injuries, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

The manager at the nearby Boat Inn in Hampton Lane said: "All I know is that it happened just down the road from the pub.

"The police apprehended one of the guys just outside the front of our car park.

"People weren't really talking about in the pub but they were chatting about it on a WhatsApp group for the area last night."

Please be vigilant out there."

The attack is just the latest in a string of attacks committed by violent carjackers.

West Midlands Police have already made almost 600 arrests in a matter of weeks in a bid to halt the surge in car crime.

The figures came after a BirminghamLive investigation showed carjackers and thieves made as little as £200 per vehicle.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has led a campaign to reduce rates of motor theft after they hit a three-year high.

He said: "Car theft has become an epidemic in the West Midlands and across urban centres around the country.

"There are organised criminals who are taking advantage of the lack of security in vehicles and the ease of accessibility to purchase written off cars which are fuelling so called 'chop shops'."

(1st December 2018)

(ZD Net, dated 29th November 2018 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The UK intelligence services has revealed how it chooses which security vulnerabilities to reveal to technology vendors -- and which aren't disclosed because the UK's national interest is better served by what GCHQ describes as 'retaining' the knowledge.

For the first time ever, GCHQ and its cyber arm the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has revealed the equities process that is used to determine if a vulnerability is disclosed or not disclosed when discovered.

It ultimately means that sometimes GCHQ won't tell a company if their software is vulnerable to cyber attacks and hacking if it's deemed to be the better option for national security.

When a previously unknown vulnerability is discovered, the default position is to disclose it -- but if it serves the national interest, knowledge of the vulnerability may not be disclosed. GCHQ states that the decision to withhold vulnerabilities is not taken lightly and always involves 'rigorous assessment' by a panel of experts from GCHQ, the NCSC and the Ministry of Defence.

By 'retaining' knowledge of the vulnerability, GCHQ claims it can be used to gather intelligence and disrupt activities of those who seek to harm the UK, such as crime groups, hacking gangs and hostile nation-states. It's a controversial move; not alerting a vendor to a bug means leaving a serious software vulnerability unpatched, potentially putting users at risk if other hackers discover it as well.

Decisions are made on whether to release or retain vulnerabilities based on three broad criteria: possible remediation, operational necessity, and defensive risk.

Possible remediation examines what action can be taken to mitigate the impact of the vulnerability and whether releasing it would have a negative impact on national security -- for example, by providing information that attackers could use to conduct campaigns.

Operational necessity considers the intelligence value of the UK retaining information about the vulnerability, by examining the operational value and intelligence opportunities provided by retaining it, as well as questioning how vital retaining the vulnerability would be to aiding intelligence services and if disclosing it will impact the operational capabilities of partners.

GCHQ and the NCSC also examine the defensive risk of not releasing information about releasing the vulnerability -- this applies to the security of everything, from government departments to critical national infrastructure, to private citizens, companies and other nations that could be impacted by retaining the vulnerability.

Questions asked when examining this include:

- How likely is it that this vulnerability is/could be discovered by someone else?
- How likely is it that this vulnerability could be exploited by someone else?
- What technology/sector is exposed if left unpatched?
- What is the potential damage if the vulnerability is exploited?
- Without a patch applied to the software are other mitigation opportunities possible such as configuration changes?

"I hope the detail we've published today helps reassure people that we're doing our best in protecting the UK, including where vulnerabilities are found," said Ian Levy, technical director at the NCSC.

The status of a retained vulnerability is said to be regularly reviewed to ensure that withholding it is still the best course of action -- especially if new information comes to light.

However, GCHQ also admits there are exceptions that mean some vulnerabilities aren't subjected to the equities process, including when vulnerabilities have been subjected to a similar process by other nations then shared with the UK.

A vulnerability can also be retained if the software is no longer supported by the vendor, because if the vulnerability was made public, there'd be no means of patching systems to stop it from being exploited. GCHQ will also choose not to make vulnerabilities public if a device is deemed to be so insecure, it can't possibly be fixed -- something which the equities process refers to as 'secure by design'.

In the cases where vulnerabilities are disclosed, GCHQ will work alongside the vendor and won't publicly reveal it prior to mitigation being made available.

While GCHQ argues that some vulnerabilities need to be retained in order to aid the UK's national interests, the world has already seen the negative effects of what can happen when an undisclosed vulnerability finds its way into the wild.

The global WannaCry ransomware attack was powered by EternalBlue, a vulnerability used by the US cyber intelligence. However, the vulnerability was leaked by hackers and despite Microsoft releasing a patch to combat it, North Korea used EternalBlue to distribute WannaCry ransomware.

The leaked vulnerability was also exploited by Russian Military Intelligence to distribute NotPetya -- a second global cyber attack that also did significant amounts of damage.

EternalBlue is still used to power cyber attacks to this day, as despite the publicity around the vulnerability, there are still plenty of systems that haven't been patched. Therefore, it's entirely possible that by withholding vulnerabilities, governments could be putting people at risk from attackers.

(1st December 2018)

(Microsoft, dated 29th November 2018 author Courtney Gregoire)

Full article [Option 1]:

On Nov. 27 and 28, over 100 local India law enforcement officials from Gurgaon and Noida raided 16 call center locations identified as engaged in tech support fraud by Microsoft, resulting in 39 arrests so far. These call center operations fraudulently represented themselves as affiliated with a number of respected companies including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Dell and HP. The New York Times reports that Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Pal Sharma stated "the scammers had extracted money from thousands of victims, most of whom were American or Canadian." Microsoft alone has received over 7,000 victim reports associated with these 16 locations from over 15 countries.

Anyone may receive an unwanted phone call or experience a pop-up window on your device with a "warning" that your computer has a problem requiring immediate tech support. These messages are often very convincing and use scare tactics to entice consumers into contacting a fraudulent "tech support" call center. Call center operators typically encourage the victim to provide remote access to their device for "further diagnosis" before charging the victim a fee - typically between $150 - $499 - for unnecessary tech support services. In addition to losing money, victims leave their computer vulnerable to other attacks, such as malware, during a remote access session.

This latest raid comes just six weeks after the successful raid operation by the Delhi Cyber Crime Cell of 10 call center locations resulting in the arrest of 24 individuals and the seizure of substantial evidence including call scripts, live chats, voice call recordings and customer records from tech support fraud operations. The case was also registered by the Delhi Cyber Crime Cell on the basis of a complaint by Microsoft.

Tech support fraud operations typically involve multiple entities including those engaged in marketing, payment processing and call centers. Recent law enforcement successes in India build on a solid track record of global law enforcement taking action to combat the multiple layers of tech support fraud supported by referrals from Microsoft and other industry partners. For example, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and multiple partners announced 16 separate civil and criminal enforcement actions against tech support fraudsters in May 2017 as part of "Operation Tech Trap." And, in June 2017, the City of London Police announced the arrest of four individuals engaged in computer software services fraud.

Our work to partner with law enforcement agencies in addressing this problem is driven by a combination of technology and action taken by our customers. In 2014, Microsoft launched an online "report a scam" portal to enable victims to share their tech support fraud experiences directly with our Digital Crimes Unit team. The reports have been a critical starting point for our international investigations and referrals. Our data analytics and innovation team has added additional tools to proactively hunt and pull data from approximately 150,000 suspicious pop-ups daily targeting millions of people and use machine learning to identify those related to tech support fraud.

In addition to making referrals to law enforcement based on this data, we are building what we learn about cybercriminals' behavior into improved products and services for consumers. Microsoft has built-in protection in Windows 10 which includes more security features, safer authentication and ongoing updates delivered for the supported lifetime of a device. Windows Defender delivers comprehensive, real-time protection against software threats across email, cloud and the web. The SmartScreen filter, built into Windows, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, helps protect against malicious websites and downloads, including many of those frustrating pop-up windows. People who have experienced tech support scams should know they aren't alone, but there are steps you can take to identify and help defend yourself against criminals looking to impersonate legitimate companies. According to our recently released 2018 global survey, three out of five consumers have experienced a tech support scam in the previous 12 months. Although this reflects movement in the right direction, and a 5-point reduction since 2016, these scams persist and successfully target people across all ages and geographies.

The best thing you can do to help protect yourself from fraud is to educate yourself. If you receive a notification or call from someone claiming to be from a reputable software company, here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

- Be wary of any unsolicited phone call or pop-up message on your device.

- Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support.

- Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you.

- Do not call the phone number in a pop-up window on your device and be cautious about clicking on notifications asking you to scan your computer or download software. Many scammers try to fool you into thinking their notifications are legitimate.

- Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.

- If skeptical, take the person's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 29th November 2018 author Bonnie Christian)

Full article [Option 1]:

A third of crimes reported to the Met Police are shelved after a single phone call to the victim, according to reports.

Officers dismiss crimes such as burglaries, low-level assaults, criminal damage, theft and affray, following a secret policy introduced last year, The Times reported.

A triage zone for crime reports, the telephone and digital investigation unit (TDIU), is responsible for telling victims their cases will not be pursued because of criteria such as CCTV or forensic leads, according to the newspaper.

A crime is assessed as "out" if a suspect cannot be identified by a victim or witness to a crime.

The TDIU looked at 200,000 crime reports over nine months last year and assessed out 80 per cent after a single phone call to the victim. These account for 29.6 per cent of crimes reported to the Met.

Around 30 per cent of the unit's demand comes through online reporting, with the remaining 70 per cent originating from calls made to the force, which are then transferred to the TDIU.

The Times reported that 1.26million calls to the Met's non-emergency 101 number were abandoned last year, 50 per cent higher than in 2016.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, in charge of local policing, said every crime report is investigated whether through face to face contact or through a phone call.

"But like any organisation we have got a budget to work to, we have demand to meet, and have to make decisions about what we prioritise," he said.

"We have to take a clear view about what is most important for Londoners in terms of safety.

"We have to admit there are going to be crimes that we are responding differently to than we would have in the past, but it is not to say that because a response team won't be deployed to an incident that these crimes won't be investigated in a different way.

"I would much rather our detectives are investigating stabbings and diverting gang members rather than dealing with some of the work which was possible to do when numbers were not so tight.

"We cannot do everything in the way we could before, crime is continually changing and adapting, and our numbers are fewer. We have had to realign our resources and invest more in different areas to meet the challenges we are facing. I want to reassure the public that we are here and will do everything in our power to help."

Critics say the new policy means there is a potential for relatively serious crimes to slip through the net.

A list of more than 25 crimes that must be investigated include homicide, firearms offences, hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Susan Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly said that it was not acceptable to ignore crimes such as burglary and assault. "The Met clearly needs to innovate to become more efficient, but what's unacceptable is for reporting changes to come at the expense of a responsive police force," she told the Times.

(1st December 2018)

(Independent, dated 29th November 2018 author Andrew Griffin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Dell has changed every single one of its user passwords on its store, after a major cyber attack.

The company said that it had found and stopped hackers who were trying to break into its systems. But it would change the passwords to ensure that all data was safe, it said.

The company has been criticised for being slow in informing users of the change and the potential breach. The reset happened on 14 November, five days after the hackers were discovered, and users were only informed this week.

Customers were not told about the hack or the reset passwords until it chose to disclose the entire hack.

Dell said in a statement that on 9 November the company detected and stopped hackers who had breached its network and were attempting to steal customer data. Investigators found no evidence that the hackers succeeded, but have not ruled out the possibility that they did steal some data, the company said.

They only sought customer names, email addresses and scrambled passwords, Dell said.

The breach occurred as companies come under increasing scrutiny from regulators worldwide to provide quick and accurate disclosure of customer data theft. The European Union implemented strict new privacy regulations in May that punish violators with fines of up to 20 million euros ($23 million), or 4 percent of global revenue, whichever is higher.

Dell determined that there were no regulatory or legal requirements that it disclose the incident, but decided to come forward "with customer trust in mind," according to the source.

Dell declined to say how many accounts were affected, but did say that payment information and Social Security numbers were not targeted.

Dell said it reported the matter to law enforcement. Representatives with the Federal Bureau of Investigation could not immediately be reached for comment.

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 28th November 2018 author Tim Collins)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police force's use of facial recognition technology requires 'considerable investment' to deliver consistent results, a study has concluded.

Crashing computer systems and poor quality images are among the challenges South Wales Police officers have faced since rolling out the technology.

Large crowds, low lighting and people wearing glasses were all issues the AI software struggles to cope with, experts found.

South Wales Police force first deployed automated facial recognition at the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff.

This led to the technology wrongly matching more than 2,000 people to possible criminals.

It has since used it at autumn rugby internationals, an Anthony Joshua boxing match and music events.

Researchers at the Crime and Security Research Institute at Cardiff University are behind the findings.

South Wales Police (SWP) said the report provided 'balanced perspective' and it remained committed to using automated facial recognition (AFR) in a 'proportionate and lawful way to protect the public'.

Professor Martin Innes, who led the evaluation, said: 'There is increasing public and political awareness of the pressures that the police are under to try and prevent and solve crime.

'Technologies such as AFR are being proposed as having an important role to play in these efforts.

'What we have tried to do with this research is provide an evidence-based and balanced account of the benefits, costs and challenges associated with integrating AFR into day-to-day policing.'

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis said South Wales Police had 'learnt much' during the evaluation period.

'The report provides a balanced perspective of our use of the technology and hopefully it will help to demystify some of the misunderstandings and misinformation that have proliferated across the press,' he added.

'South Wales Police remains committed to the continuous use of the technology in a proportionate and lawful way to protect the public, whilst also remaining open and transparent about how and when we use it.'
Developed by Japanese company NEC, automated facial recognition technology works in two modes.

'Locate' scans faces in real-time from CCTV video feeds and searches for matches against a pre-selected watch-list.

'Identify' takes still images from CCTV or mobile phones and compares them against the police custody database.

Academics emphasised the system should not be seen as a fully automated tool, but as a technology to assist human operators.

They concluded that lighting, weather and crowd flows all affected the technology's performance.

The use of facial recognition technology, which has also been trialled by the Metropolitan Police, has sparked debate around privacy and accuracy.

n June this year Cardiff resident Ed Bridges launched a legal challenge against South Wales Police to drop the system after he said he was scanned at a protest event.

During the June 2017 to March 2018 evaluation period, Cardiff University researchers found the system improved as algorithms were changed.

Locate's number of 'false positive' matches dropped from 72 per cent to 50 per cent and Identify's incorrect matches fell from 16 per cent to nine per cent.

A field trial of the technology revealed it has the potential to identify a person of interest around 76 per cent of the time.

But researchers also found that in 68 per cent of submissions made by police officers in the Identify mode, the image was not of sufficient quality for the system to work.

A total of 18 arrests were made during the evaluation, and more than 100 people were charged following investigative searches.

Overall, the study found that AFR can help police identify suspects 'where they would probably not otherwise have been able to do so', but 'considerable investment and changes to police operating procedures' were needed to achieve consistent results.


Developed by Japanese company NEC, automated facial recognition technology works in two modes.

'Locate' scans faces in real-time from CCTV video feeds and searches for matches against a pre-selected watch-list.

'Identify' takes still images from CCTV or mobile phones and compares them against the police custody database.

Academics emphasised the system should not be seen as a fully automated tool, but as a technology to assist human operators.

They concluded that lighting, weather and crowd flows all affected the technology's performance.


Facial recognition software works by matching real time images to a previous photograph of a person.

Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points across the eyes, nose, cheeky and mouth which distinguish one person from another.

A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline.

This produces a unique numerical code that can then be linked with a matching code gleaned from a previous photograph.

A facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.

Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people.

uaware COMMENT

This is another example of where the concept of "try before you buy" was not used.

Since when has the UK had regular good lighting, even the Summer has grey gloomy days. People also wear sun glasses when it is sunny. So how can you purchase system for the UK without it first passing the basics even if it is for a trial.

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 28th November 2018 author James Wood)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police armed with video cameras have started hiding away in double-decker buses in a bid to catch distracted motorists using their mobile phones while driving.

The scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, is being rolled out across the West Midlands with police able to spy on motorists from any bus in the region.

Operation Top Deck has been launched by the force's Road Harm Reduction Team and will see plain clothes officers peering down at passing motorists.

It has already been hailed a great success, with officers recently catching 41 offenders in a two and a half hour period - all from the top deck of a bus.

PC Mark Hodson, who has helped spearhead the scheme, said: 'Using mobile phones while driving is proven to be as dangerous as drink driving; it can devastate lives and people need to understand this isn't acceptable.

'We want to create a credible, constant threat of prosecution to induce wholesale driver behavioural change and make our roads safer.

'The buses are 'borrowed' from National Express and will look like any other bus in service - but they will be driven by Safer Travel officers who are qualified bus drivers and the passengers will be police officers or PSCO's equipped with video cameras.'

PC Hodson was yesterday featured in a video highlighting the scheme, in which he outlines the benefits of the initiative.

It quickly garnered significant attention on Twitter, being re-tweeted more than 80 times and like more than 300.

Describing why the force uses buses, PC Hodson said: 'They give us a perfect vantage point into cars and also the cabs of lorries and trucks.

'Offenders will be given a roadside educational input on the dangers of distracted driving and also face the prospect of a hefty fine plus six points on their licence.

'We will look at particular circumstances but there will also be some drivers, ones who've been particularly reckless, who we will charged and take to court.'

Should police proceed with a prosecution, motorists will be handed a £200 fine and have six points adding to their driving licence.

But on some occasions, police bikers will be sent to provide guidance to offending motorists.

This will include watching a hard-hitting, virtual reality video highlighting the potentially devastating consequences of using a phone while driving.

Operation Top Deck was been launched to coincide with National Mobile Phone Week in September which saw traffic cops in police forces across the country targeting dodgy drivers.

On the day it launched, police caught 45 motorists using phones behind the wheel in just a few hours on the A34 Birmingham Road near the Scott Arms pub.

Thirteen of them - ones who were using devices in stationary traffic - were given an on-the-spot education input on the dangers.

Their details were taken and they face prosecution should they be caught a second time.

The rest faced the prospect of a £200 fine and six licence points adding to their licence.

One man was caught using his phone while on route to a speed awareness course, while a woman was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention after officers found her eating from a bowl of cereal in her lap.

A disqualified driver was also pulled over and arrested.

Describing the launch run, PC Hodson, said: 'It was really successful - and has shown that despite all the warnings and public safety messages there are still drivers who can't resist picking up their phone at the wheel.

'Most offenders were reading or sending text messages. Being online and staying in touch seem to get in the way of people's driving.

'It's simply not worth the risk of causing a collision or potentially being banned from the roads.

'Our plan is to up-skill neighbourhood PCs so that whenever they're on a bus they can use their mobiles to film offenders and secure prosecutions.'

Police are even encouraging fellow bus passengers to catch offending motorists out by supplying their own video evidence of via a dedicated self-reporting site on the West Midlands Police website.

The initiative, a joint project with National Express and Transport for West Midlands, was launched in the wake of numerous fatalities on the roads.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, a total of 990 people were killed or seriously injured on roads in the West Midlands - during the same period 1,251 drivers were prosecuted for using phones at the wheel.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who brought in the original ban on driving while on a mobile phone back in 2003 as a Transport Minister, added: 'The reason the ban was introduced was to keep the public safe.

'Motorists who use their mobile phone while driving are four times more likely to crash. This campaign is about saving lives.

'Those who continue to use their mobile phones whilst driving are in a minority, but they put the lives of every road user at risk.

'I am glad West Midlands Police are leading this campaign. It will help us stop drivers who choose to endanger not only their life, but the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.'

###What is the law on using a mobile phone while driving? (Source:

If you are caught using a mobile phone while driving:

- You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving.

- You'll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.

- You can get 3 penalty points if you don't have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.

- You can also be taken to court where you can:

= Be banned from driving or riding
= Get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you're driving a lorry or bus)

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 29th November 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Scotland Yard is considering allowing armed officers to carry out short foot patrols in parts of London blighted by gang violence.

Under proposals being considered by the Met, officers who drive around the capital in armed response vehicles, could be asked to go out on foot in notorious areas to combat or prevent extreme violence.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, denied it was a move towards having routine armed patrols on the streets, insisting it was simply about using highly trained officers effectively.

She said armed officers were already being deployed to support neighbourhood teams carrying out stop and searches where there was a risk of extreme violence and described the move as a "small tactical change".

The proposals come amid increasing concern over the extent of violence across London, with more than 120 homicide investigations launched this this year.

Much of the violence is thought to be gang related and Met chiefs are considering how armed officers could be used to support the violent crime task force, which is trying to combat the problem.

Ms Dick told the London Assembly that officers from armed response vehicles, who are on duty around the clock in case of terrorist attack, already regularly assist their unarmed colleagues when there are major incidents.

She said: "The possible proposal here is one half a step on from that, which is that if something truly ghastly has just happened or is about to happen those officers who at the moment would stand next to their vehicles might take a very short foot patrol. This a small change potentially in tactic in extreme circumstances."

"What I must reserve for me is the ability to make operational decisions about the best use of our people, armed or not.

"I fully understand the public, quite rightly and politicians indeed, have an interest in how we use armed officers and that we do not become an armed routine, default, this is so far from that I cannot tell you."

Assistant Commissioner Sir Steve House added: "What we are doing is looking at, as you would expect us to do, maximise the use of the assets that we already have in the Metropolitan Police Service, to make sure that we are confronting violent offenders and also reassuring the public and preventing the violent crime in the first place."

Armed foot patrols were deployed in London in 2009 in response to a surge in gun crime, but the policy was abandoned after the Mayor of London at the time, Boris Johnson, expressed concern saying armed policing should be the "exception not the norm".

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "As part of the Met's ongoing commitment to tackle serious violence, our tactics remain under constant review. Currently officers across the boroughs and Violent Crime Taskforce are supported by colleagues from specialist units such as the Territorial Support Group and the Specialist Firearms Command (SCO19). One tactical option available within SCO19 would be to deploy armed foot patrols.

"The Met recognises the significant change in tasking officers in this way and the impact it may have on our communities. As such an email was sent to our independent community group, the Firearms and Taser Reference Group, for their initial views on how they believe their community may perceive such patrols. No decision has been made."

uaware comment

There have been armed police on some of the streets and trams of Manchester for years. Why is it a deterrent there and not London ?

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 29th November 2018 author Bonnie Christian)

Full article [Option 1]:

A third of crimes reported to the Met Police are shelved after a single phone call to the victim, according to reports.

Officers dismiss crimes such as burglaries, low-level assaults, criminal damage, theft and affray, following a secret policy introduced last year, The Times reported.

A triage zone for crime reports, the telephone and digital investigation unit (TDIU), is responsible for telling victims their cases will not be pursued because of criteria such as CCTV or forensic leads, according to the newspaper.

A crime is assessed as "out" if a suspect cannot be identified by a victim or witness to a crime.

The TDIU looked at 200,000 crime reports over nine months last year and assessed out 80 per cent after a single phone call to the victim. These account for 29.6 per cent of crimes reported to the Met.

Around 30 per cent of the unit's demand comes through online reporting, with the remaining 70 per cent originating from calls made to the force, which are then transferred to the TDIU.

The Times reported that 1.26million calls to the Met's non-emergency 101 number were abandoned last year, 50 per cent higher than in 2016.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, in charge of local policing, said every crime report is investigated whether through face to face contact or through a phone call.

"But like any organisation we have got a budget to work to, we have demand to meet, and have to make decisions about what we prioritise," he said.

"We have to take a clear view about what is most important for Londoners in terms of safety.

"We have to admit there are going to be crimes that we are responding differently to than we would have in the past, but it is not to say that because a response team won't be deployed to an incident that these crimes won't be investigated in a different way.

"I would much rather our detectives are investigating stabbings and diverting gang members rather than dealing with some of the work which was possible to do when numbers were not so tight.

"We cannot do everything in the way we could before, crime is continually changing and adapting, and our numbers are fewer. We have had to realign our resources and invest more in different areas to meet the challenges we are facing. I want to reassure the public that we are here and will do everything in our power to help."

Critics say the new policy means there is a potential for relatively serious crimes to slip through the net.

A list of more than 25 crimes that must be investigated include homicide, firearms offences, hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Susan Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly said that it was not acceptable to ignore crimes such as burglary and assault. "The Met clearly needs to innovate to become more efficient, but what's unacceptable is for reporting changes to come at the expense of a responsive police force," she told the Times.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 27th November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

###uaware note : Original article has interactive crime figures

Police handle a call every two minutes from someone who is mentally ill as they are forced to "pick up the pieces" from a "broken" NHS system, the police watchdog has said.

In its first inquiry into the issue, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said police were being distracted from investigating other crime because they were having to deal with tens of thousands of cases from a mental health service in crisis.

Some of the people with mental health problems had been deliberately "shunted" onto police by NHS staff who wanted to clock off for the day or weekend, it said.

It warned it was tying up stretched police services at a time when they faced increased demands to tackle knife crime, child exploitation and a raised terror threat.

"We are seeing forces attending less other crimes because they are focusing on mental health-related incidents," said HM Inspector Zoe Billingham, who led the investigation.

"We cannot expect police to pick up the pieces of a broken mental health system. Over-stretched and all-too-often overwhelmed police officers can't always respond appropriately, and people in mental health crisis don't always get the help they need.

"It is a national crisis which should not be allowed to continue. Other services need to stop relying on the 24/7 availability of the police. The police should be the last resort, not the first port of call."

According to the inspectorate's analysis, police in 22 forces took 318,000 calls relating to mental health in two years, which equates to one every two minutes if scaled up to all forces.

This figure excluded the Metropolitan Police which dealt with a mental health call every four minutes and had to send an officer to deal with such a call every 12 minutes.

The top five individual repeat callers to the Met all had mental health problems and called the force a combined 8,655 times last year. It cost some £70,000 just to answer the calls, says the watchdog.

Although up to 7% of incidents in some forces were flagged as mental health related, the inspectors accepted it could take up 20% to 40% of a force's officers' time because they had to spend hours caring for or supervising the individual before an NHS bed was found.

In more than half (52%) of cases people detained under the Mental Health Act had to be transported to a "place of safety" in a police vehicle when they should have been in an ambulance, says the inspectorate.

"They need to be cared for in a health care setting. They should not be locked up in police cells or even worse held in the back of a police car for their own safety," said Ms Billingham.

The peak time for calls to police for support with mental health-related incidents is between 3pm and 6pm Monday to Friday, when NHS staff start clocking off. Two thirds of these involved a "concern for the safety" of the individual, compared with 10% in non-mental health incidents.

"One in ten of those concerns of safety calls are coming into police from other state agencies, from mental health teams, GPs or social care teams," said Ms Billingham.

"This suggests those agencies are transferring their risk to the police as they clock off for the day and shunting that demand onto the police out of office hours. This cannot be acceptable.

"The police are being relied on by other partners to pick up the pieces when they have gone off duty."

She said the investigation found police respond to people with mental health problems with care and compassion.

However, a survey of 17,000 people found just 2% felt it was the police's responsibility to respond to mental health calls; 70% felt it was the main responsibility of the health services and a further 10% the responsibility of local councils.

A government spokesman said: "The government is clear that the best place for people suffering a mental health crisis is a healthcare setting which is why we are investing £2bn in mental health services." It welcomed evidence from the inspectorate that police did an excellent job with strong leadership on mental health.

Mark Collins, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Mental Health said they shared the concerns that "too many people are being directed to police where they should instead be receiving expert support from healthcare professionals."

"It is right that the police are there to protect those in immediate danger, but they shouldn't become the first point of call for those who need longer term mental health support and access to prevention measures," said Mr Collins, chief constable of Dyfed-Powys police.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "The government's austerity policies have led us to this dire state. I hope the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary read this report and hang their heads in shame at the situation they have not only created, but were warned about on numerous occasions.

"It is not right for anyone - officers or the public - that the police should be responsible for the safety and welfare of people that other professionals would be better placed to deal with. We are police officers not social workers or medical experts."

Depression - In numbers

- 91 million - days lost to depression/anxiety and stress each year

- £26 billion - cost to business through lost productivity, sickness absence and staff turnover

- 300,000 - people forced to leave jobs each year because of depression, anxiety or stress

- 64.7 million - prescriptions for antidepressants on NHS

- £266 million - cost to the NHS for antidepressants

- £7.5 billion - total cost of depression to NHS

- £105 billion - total cost of poor mental health to English economy

In numbers - Mental Health (Sources: Mind, NHS, Young Minds, RCN)

- One in six : UK people will experience a mental health problem each week

- 19,481 times : UK children contacting Childline with suicidal thoughts, in the year 2015/ 2016

- 8.25% : Cuts to mental health trust budgets in England from 2011 to 2015

- 20% - The rise in referrals to community mental health teams in England during the same period

- 9.7% : Proportion of British people who meet the criteria for diagnosis of mixed anxiety & depression, according to most recent 2014 study

- 2,100 : Beds for mental health patients that have been closed from 2011 to mid-2016 in England

- 41% : Proportion of people referred to a talking therapy who have a three month wait between referral and treatment (England - May 2016)

- £600m : Additional amount pledged by the government towards mental health by 2020/2021 - the same amount cut from the budget between 2010 and 2015

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 27th November 2018 author Hasan Chowdhury)

Full article [Option 1]:

A UK police force that trialled computer software designed to predict and prevent crime has scrapped the project after five years.

Kent Police used a system developed by US firm Predpol, which engineers technology to help law enforcement predict and prevent crime.

The technology involved machine learning algorithms that were able to predict when and where a crime might take place by processing data from records on previous criminal activity.

The programme cost the police force approximately £100,000 per year and was quietly cancelled in March.

"Predpol had a good record of predicting where crimes are likely to take place," John Phillips, superintendent of Kent Police told the FT. "What is more challenging is to show that we have been able to reduce crime with that information."

The technology was piloted in the region by Kent Police in December 2013 after a successful, four-month trial in Medway saw a 6pc drop in street violence.

It was the first force across England and Wales to make use of technologies in support of predictive policing.

California-based Predpol struck a contract with the Los Angeles Police Department in 2011, which saw significant decreases in property crime within six months of using the company's technology.

According to Mr Phillips, predictive methods for stopping crime will continue to be on the agenda for Kent Police, as it will attempt to work with a new partner or build its own in-house system.

"We want a system that provides officers with the information to actually prevent crime, such as detailed information about past offences in that area," he said.

Spatial mapping systems could be introduced in 2019 to give police officers better insight into where crimes take place, but "extensive testing" will be needed to validate the technology.

Kent Police's cancelled contract comes at a time when predictive technology is seeing increased adoption in the UK, with the Metropolitan Police Service in London has been testing a service similar to Predpol's.

But groups such as non-profit organisation Big Brother Watch are critical of predictive measures that involve facial recognition. They were described as "intrusive" to the Home Affairs Select Committee in June.

uaware comment

So Kent Police wasted the salary of 4 police officers (times five years) on some software that did not work. Perhaps its a case of the UK criminals have more intelligence than those operating in California and don't follow a pattern.

There covering mantra for this waste will be; it comes from a different budget.

It appears that many government departments, councils, NHS Trusts use products that are not properly tested in the environment they will be working in prior to making the purchase. Or some wiseguy in a multi-national comes up with a concept that has to be developed to exist. The cost of that development is then paid for by the "UK Government", hold on a second, that money is taxes we pay.
Would you pay for a washing machine that doesn't work ?

Looks like Kent Police were sold a pup.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 26th November 2018 author Oscar Quine) [Option 1]

Wiltshire Police hass been named Britain's worst-staffed force with only one officer for 721 people in its region, an analysis of figures has revealed.

Home Office figures show that the county has the lowest staffing rate, followed by staffordshire and Warwickshire, which each have one office for 708 and 700 respectively.

These figures puts Wiltshire policing rate below that of Pakistan, Nigeria and Burma, based on Interpol figures.

Che Donald, the Police Federation of England and Wales vice-chairman, said the low staffing rates were down to Government funding cuts.

"Forces are facing increassingly limited resources and tough decisions have to be made about priorities. It is unrealistic for the Government to think this is sustainable,"he said.

"Even the Home Affairs select committee has backed us in calling for an urgent injection of funds into the police service or face dire consequences."

The City of London force, which oversees the country's smallest population of 7,650 people, had the best rate with one officer for 11 people.

The Met was the next best staffed force with one officer for every 290 of its 8.8 million population. Merseyside and Dyed-Powys were next with one officer for every 411 and 436 people respectively.

Mike Veale, Chief Constable for Cleveland Police who previously held the same position for Wiltshire, said: "I would not be exhibiting the courage that my officers and staff deserve if I continue to say we have enough resources, if I continue with this commentary that things in policing are OK.
"They are not OK. The cuts created and caused by austerity are too deep and have gone on for too long."

A Home Office spokesman said indivdual police forces were responsible for allocating resources and deciding staffing numbers.

He added: "There is £1 billion more of public money going into policing than three years ago and the Home Secretary has been clear that he will prioritise police funding."

Wiltshire Police could not be reached for comment.

Variations - Population per Officer, highs and lows


Wiltshire : 721
Staffs : 708
Warks : 700
Hants : 698
Lincs : 691
Suffolk : 672
Sussex : 664
Avon and Somerset : 653
West Mercia : 645
Essex : 615


City of London : 11
London Met : 290
Merseyside : 411
Dyfed-Powys : 436
West Mids : 440
Manchester : 441
Cleveland : 450

uaware comment

What this article does not take into account are certain police forces national responsibility. For example, the City of  London police operate Action Fraud for England and Wales. The Met leads on anti-terrorism, protection for digniteries, politicians and diplomats.

(Metro, dated 27th November 2018 author Lucy Middleton)

Full article [Option 1]:

An angry mob took the law into the their own hands by breaking into a thief's garage to reclaim their stolen possessions.

Residents from Norton, in County Durham, said they 'saw red' after receiving a tip off as to the whereabouts of their belongings.

The group then headed down to the Grove Terrace property on November 26 and ripped its garage doors off.

Many of them then discovered their stolen items, such as tools, toys and a car seat.

The residents said they were fed up with waiting for police action and had decided to combat the thieves on their own.

'Some lucky people of Norton managed to get their possessions back after taking the law into their own hands this evening,' a post on the Norton Alert Facebook group read.

'Many items were recovered from the property of our local car thief after a number of residents ripped his garage door off.

'Around an hour later, Cleveland Police arrived at the property. After everyone had got their possessions back.

'The community have had enough. If the police can't police the streets or deal with the criminals then the community deals with it their way.'

Courtney Vasey, 21, had previously had her car broken into and her son's car seat and a tool box taken from inside.

The mum-of-two was part of the 20-strong group who went down to the property on Monday night.

'There were toys in there, bikes. Around 20 people got in there and got their stuff back,' she said.
'I wasn't nervous. I saw red and was just so angry that someone thought it was acceptable to to steal something like a child's car seat. It is so disrespectful.

'Two or three people have said we should have left it for the police, someone has called us vigilantes and we've also been called the Norton justice league.

'But mostly people are glad we have been able to get our stuff back.'

Many members of the Facebook page applauded the actions of the group, calling it a 'pitchforks and purge' and the 'community fighting back'.

But others warned of the dangers of tackling lawbreakers themselves, adding: 'We all have a right to protect ourselves and our property but we must stay within the confines of the law.

'The moment the villagers grab their pitch forks and torches I'm out.'

While another stated that it was not the fault of police that their funding had been cut, leaving them understaffed and unable to attend crimes in as timely a manner as before.

Detectives confirmed today that a 31-year-old male had been arrested from the Norton area on suspicion of a motor vehicle.

Police were called to an address on Grove Terrace in Norton at around 8.30pm last night, whereby a number of people from the Norton area had attended and recovered items that were believed to have been stolen from their vehicles,' a Cleveland Police spokesman said.

'Officers spoke to a small number of people at the scene, however, it is believed that some had already left.

'Detectives have this morning arrested a 31-year-old male from the Norton area on suspicion of theft from motor vehicle.

'Police would stress that if residents have recovered property that they believe to be stolen, they should call police as soon as possible to allow them to progress their investigation.

'Anyone with further information please call Cleveland Police on 101.'

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 26th November 2018 authors Owen Sheppard and Daniel O'Mahony)

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A Range Rover was stolen in seconds from outside a couple's £1.3 million home by a thief using a wireless scanning device.

Marius Brazauskas activated the "re-programming equipment" to pick up the £89,000 car's security code and open the door. The thief then only had to press the "start" ignition button before he was able to drive off in the early hours.

CCTV footage showed Lithuanian gang member Brazauskas, 32, driving the vehicle away within 20 seconds of walking up beside it.

Trainee nurse Sanaz Atashb, 32, said she and husband Ramin Ghaderi, 42, woke to find their silver Vogue model had vanished.

The car's entry fob was still inside their home in Totteridge, north London. She said: "It was in the middle of the night at 1.28am. We were asleep. The car is right below our bedroom but we didn't hear the ignition. We were shocked. Definitely they had monitored us and knew when we were in the house."

The couple called police and they arrested Brazauskas later that night after he was spotted driving a Ford Fiesta with fake number plates in convoy with another car. The Range Rover had been left in an isolated spot six miles from the owners' home.

Brazauskas was carrying a drill and a stolen bank card, which he said he'd found earlier, and was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal.

When officers checked his mobile phone, it showed he had been looking at the location where the Range Rover had been left before the theft on July 18.

"The police took us to the car," said Ms Atashb. "Our stuff had been pulled out and thrown everywhere and they had ripped out the boot and found the tracker and switched it off."

The mother-of-two added that police told her that 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles had been stolen from Totteridge in the last year.

Brazauskas of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was sentenced to 22 months in prison at St Albans crown court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal and theft of a bank card.

He also admitted driving without insurance and not having a licence.

Judge Michael Kay QC said: "It's a matter of some concern that there have been many cases before this court involving organised groups of men from Lithuania who are committing this type of offence."

A surge in "keyless" vehicle crime is reported to have pushed car thefts to a six-year high. Figures show 43,308 cars were reported stolen to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in 2017.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 26th November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Social media firms failed to alert ­police to any suspicious terrorist activity on their platforms for four years, the UK's former head of counter-terrorism reveals today, as he demands they face financial penalties.

Sir Mark Rowley, who headed Britain's anti-terror police until earlier this year, said their failure to pass on information had been "wholly irresponsible" and put lives at risk.

Sir Mark oversaw police investigations into all recent major terror ­attacks, including the Manchester Arena bombing that claimed 22 lives, the Westminster Bridge attack in which Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed to death by terrorist Khalid Masood, and the London Bridge attack in which eight people died.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph ­today, Sir Mark says: "In nearly four years leading police counter-terrorism efforts, I saw zero proactive reports of suspicious behaviour to us by any of these companies. This is irresponsible.

"When a social media firm finds someone sharing the most gruesome terrorism material or bomb-making instructions and then cancels their account, they do not tell the p-olice.

"This makes the work of police and MI5 more difficult and endangers the public's safety."

Sir Mark said his time coincided with the rise of Isil which, unlike al-Qaeda or the IRA, operated as an "open-source terror organisation" - which he referred to as a "cult" - that ­radicalised supporters through ­propaganda on the internet, including via social media.

He said the tech and social media companies had been "too late and too slow" in responding to this new threat, which was why he believed it would take a combination of "regulation and financial sanctions, as well as persuasion, to put the public interest at the centre of these companies' policies".

He claimed they had failed to act ­previously because of their "brutal commercial focus aimed at cashing in on our attention".

Sir Mark cited as an example their use of monetising algorithms that drove social media users to the most "extreme" ­material rather than the most truthful or accurate.

He said: "Experimenting on Google, I was shocked to find the top result in a search for 'UK Muslim spokesman' was the Wikipedia entry of the convicted extremist Anjem Choudary."

Sir Mark said the firms were now working hard to remove inappropriate content but only after a public outcry and loss of advertising revenues.

Yet they were still refusing many police requests to take down material, partly because they worked in line with the more permissive US freedom of speech laws.

These companies should no longer be allowed to claim no responsibility for their content, he said.

"We need to look ­seriously at regulation that holds companies to UK standards for content, requires ­suspicious activity reporting and ­perhaps enables an ethical code of practice for algorithms."

Sir Mark's comments put further pressure on social media firms following last week's report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of MPs which called on businesses to pull ­adverts from tech firms that failed to remove terror or extremist material.

The Government is considering new laws to crack down on online harms from extremism to child abuse. A White Paper is expected next year.

(1st December 2018)

(RTE, dated 26th November 2018 author Ciara Ní Bhroin)

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Twelve people, including four in Ireland, have been arrested and accounts containing more than €1m have been seized as part of a Europe-wide operation targeting websites selling fake goods.

More than 33,600 internet domains selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals, pirated films, television shows, music, software, electronics and other bogus products were taken down.

The international operation was coordinated by Europol's Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition and involved the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center as well as law enforcement authorities from 26 other countries including Ireland.

This is the ninth time the global operation has been run and has seen a dramatic increase in the number of domains shut down.

Several bank accounts were also identified and more than €1m was frozen.

Online payment platforms and a virtual currency farm used by the organised criminal groups were also frozen.

Four of the twelve arrested were detained in Ireland in September.

The two men and two women were arrested for offences under the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, and the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010 after properties in Crumlin and Ashbourne.

Gardaí say the investigation is ongoing and that no charges have been brought to date.

Six bank accounts and two credit union accounts were identified by Gardaí as part of this operation. The accounts containing €84,000 in total have been frozen.

In addition, nine third party payment accounts were also identified and 'limited'. It has been established that over €700,000 in total was paid into these accounts in the last 3 years.

(1st December 2018)

(Huffington Post, 25th November 2018 author Rachel Moss)

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Experiencing unwanted sexual behaviour can sometimes feel like par for the course of being a woman, something most of us experience, something simply to put up with.

But Transport for London (TfL) and the police are urging people who experience any form of unwanted sexual behaviour, particularly on public transport, to report it. Because it's only through reporting offenders that action can be taken against them.

Since the launch of' Report It To Stop It' in 2015, a campaign encouraging people to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, there's been a 65 per cent increase in reports, resulting in 1,500 arrests.

But there's still a long way to go, as HuffPost UK's reporting on the rise in cyberflashing has highlighted.

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, TFL, the British Transport Police (BTP), Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police (CoLP) want to reassure women each report is taken seriously, and say that a single report can be enough to catch an offender.

Cyberflashing - where someone is sent an unsolicited dick pic over the AirDrop function on an iPhone or on social media - is just one of the forms of unwanted sexual behaviour TFL would like women to come forward about.

In 2017, HuffPost UK reporter Sophie Gallagher was sent more than a 100 sexual images via Apple's AirDrop function over a WiFi connection while travelling on the London Underground. Since then, she's spoken to other women targeted on public transport, many of whom didn't report the incident at the time because they didn't think it would be taken seriously.

But Kathryn, who experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the Tube last year, found reporting the incident did make a difference. She was travelling on the Central line when she was touched inappropriately several times. "Despite the Tube being filled with people I felt so alone and vulnerable. As soon as I got off the Tube I reported it and I am so glad that I did," she said.

"I consequently found out that he had done the same thing to three other women and I just felt sad that he would have made other women feel the way I did on that morning. By reporting him, he has served six months in jail, he is now banned from using public transport and his name is on police file so I feel as though I have done what I can to help protect other women from him."

There are more than 77,000 CCTV cameras across London's transport network, and more than 3,000 officers from the BTP and MPS policing London's public transport network. Frontline police officers and on-street enforcement officers receive training on tackling unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport.

"If you make a report to us, you will be listened to, taken seriously and treated in a sensitive manner," said Detective Inspector Anna Rice from the City of London Police's Public Protection Unit.

"We know it can be daunting, but every piece of information we receive is important. By reporting such incidents you are helping to give police the best chance of tracking the perpetrator down and bringing them before the courts."

To report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, text 61016 or call police on 101 and give details of what, where and when.

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 25th November 2018 author Daniel Chipperfield and Bradley Jolly)

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A sophisticated scheme which cross-checks driver records is catching thousands of uninsured motorists every day - without them even being on the roads.

The scheme, operated by Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), last month issued its five millionth warning letter.

Data from the Motor Insurance Database record of UK motor insurance policies is cross-checked with DVLA vehicle records to identify drivers that appear to have no insurance, Bristol Post says.

It means thousands more of the insurance advisory letters can be sent out to owners of uninsured cars, meaning they no longer need to be caught on the road.

The warnings order owners to either insure their vehicle, make a SORN (statutory off road notification) to the DVLA, or face fixed penalty notices, fines and court prosecution.

And these authorities have stressed the scheme makes it impossible for uninsured motorists to hide.

Neil Drane, head of enforcement at MIB, said: "Data enables us to easily identify vehicles that appear without insurance. By using automation alongside ongoing police efforts, we've helped to halve the number of uninsured drivers on UK roads over the past 10 years."

Uninsured drivers face fixed penalty notices, fines of £1,000 and even the prospect of having their car crushed.

The legalisation which gives authorities this power was introduced in 2011.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau is a not-for-profit body that helps innocent motorists if they are involved in hit-and-run accidents or collisions with uninsured drivers.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 24th November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Police are being distracted from fighting violent crime by filling out forms for crimes that don't exist, says the head of England and Wales' frontline officers.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, cited the case of two Hampshire police officers sent to track down two drunks reportedly fighting in a park who had disappeared by the time they arrived.

They then had to spend 20 minutes filling in a crime report and carry out a vulnerability assessment in case there were children who might have witnessed the incident.

"That's 20 minutes completing paperwork for a job job that is going nowhere, no offenders, no offences, no vulnerability," he said.

"If this was one time a shift, that might be okay but it might six or ten times. That's where this process can get too much. We are keeping the pie chart people happy but it is not delivering policing. That's where we have lost our way.

"We need to make sure data and crime recording is ethical and properly done but the pendulum has swung too far."

Simon Kempton, operational lead for the Police Federation, said the demand for collecting statistics and assessing vulnerability had steadily increased each year with new Home Office recording requirements reinforced by new IT systems installed by forces.

The most recent introduced last year required officers to fill out a 10-page form for use of force including what happened, where, whether officers were threatened, who was injured and where on their body. It could take over 10 minutes in some forces to complete for each person arrested.

As an officer, he also now had to log incidents such as rubble on a road which might have been removed by a Good Samaritan by the time he arrived. "In the past, I would say it's removed, NFPA [no further police action]" he said.

"Now I will be sent a form on my mobile or desktop, and have to fill out empty boxes on who was the officer, when attended, the risk, it goes on and on and on.

Someone somewhere may be desperate to know how many times, there were call-outs to the road and maybe it would have been easier when we had 22,000 more police officers.

"But it can't be right when officers are so stretched they are not answering some high priority calls."

The National Police Chief' Council said: "Policing has made efficiency savings of £1.6bn since 2011, and will deliver a further £350 million by 2018/19. A range of programmes are underway to improve collaboration and technology making us more efficient.

"We are also driving out any bureaucracy to enable officers to spend more time on core policing. "Recording use of force gives the public far greater transparency and we will use the data to improve training and tactics."

"The use of force form consolidates other additional forms of recording, such as use of Taser, and is designed to be intuitive. Only the most complex of incidents involve using the full form."

(1st December 2018)

(Independent, dated 22nd November 2018 author Helen Coffey)

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Iran is as safe as the UK when it comes to security, according to a new interactive map showing the risk level around the world.

The 2019 Travel Risk Map, launched by global risk experts International SOS in collaboration with Control Risks, shows the danger level in each country and territory based on the current threat posed to travellers by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) and violent and petty crime.

Factors such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, the effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country's susceptibility to natural disasters are also taken into consideration.

The map lists five categories of risk: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme.

Very few countries manage to make it into the "insignificant" bracket; in Europe, only Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland are put in this category.

The majority of European countries are deemed low risk, including the UK; as are Iran, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Uzbekistan in the Middle East.

Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are all low risk too.

"Extreme" risk countries are almost exclusively in Africa and the Middle East, including Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan and Somalia.

The map was released in conjunction with the Ipsos MORI Business Resilience Trends Watch 2019 report. The latter shows that a significant number of business decision-makers - 43 per cent - expect travel risks to rise in 2019.

Although some 47 per cent think risks have increased over the past year, this represents a 16 per cent decrease from 2017, when 63 per cent said risk had increased.

Alongside the Travel Risk Map, a Medical Risk Map and Road Safety Risk Map for 2019 have been launched.

The medical ratings are given by assessing a range of health risks and mitigating factors, including: infectious diseases, environmental factors, the standard and availability of local emergency medical and dental care, access to quality pharmaceutical supplies, the requirement for medical evacuation and cultural, language or administrative barriers.

The UK, along with most of Western and Central Europe, is designated "low" risk status.

Highest security risk countries

Central African Republic
South Sudan
The Gaza Strip
Part of Egypt
Part of eastern Nigeria
Part of eastern Ukraine

Lowest security risk countries

Norway (including Svalbard)
Denmark (including the Faroe Islands)
Cape Verde

Travel Risk Map

Link :

(Independent, dated 16th October 2018 author Helen Coffey)

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A new list ranking the world's cities by safety has been released, with 60 places scored across four different criteria to determine how dangerous they are.

The report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, entitled the Safe Cities Index 2017, scored cities on their digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security, which combined to create each one's overall ranking.

The most dangerous cities were all located in South and South East Asia, the Middle East or Africa, with Karachi in Pakistan deemed the most dangerous using the index's criteria. It was followed by Yangon in Myanmar, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Jakarta in Indonesia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the top 10 was dominated by East Asia, Australia and Europe. Tokyo, Japan, held onto the top spot for the second time running, second place went to Singapore, and Osaka, Toronto and Melbourne were third, fourth and fifth respectively.

London just made the top third of cities, sliding into 20th position with an aggregated score of 82.10.

The study says: "The results of the 2017 Safe Cities Index again show a sharp divide in overall levels of safety between the fast urbanising developing world and the stagnant developed world."

With regards to the criteria, digital security relates to smart city technology and how well-protected it is. The report uses the example of San Francisco: in November last year hackers attacked the city's transport system computers and encrypted all the data, demanding a ransom for its return. "This type of incident is bound to become more frequent," says the report. "As 'smart cities' connect their infrastructure to broadband Internet, wirelessly enabled sensors, big data and analytics, they are becoming more vulnerable to cyber-attack if security measures are not widely implemented."

Health security encompasses adequate access to healthcare and whether the urban environment itself is healthy; infrastructure security is about assessing the safety of buildings, roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure; and personal safety looks at urban crime, homicide and terrorist attacks.

The 10 safest cities

1. Tokyo: 89.80
2. Singapore: 89.64
3. Osaka: 88.87
4. Toronto: 87.36
5. Melbourne: 87.30
6. Amsterdam: 87.26
7. Sydney: 86.74
8. Stockholm: 86.72
9. Hong Kong: 86.22
10. Zurich: 85.20

The 10 most dangerous cities

51. Cairo: 58.33
52. Tehran: 56.49
53. Quito: 56.39
54. Caracas: 55.22
55. Manila: 54.86
56. Ho Chi Minh City: 54.33
57. Jakarta: 53.39
58. Dhaka: 47.37
59. Yangon: 46.47
60. Karachi: 38.77

Safe Cities Index 2017

Link :

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 23rd November 2018 author Josh Halliday)

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A torchlight flashes down the dimly lit alley that has become a favourite drug-dealing hotspot for a local gang. "You'll hear them before you see them - you'll hear them scattering," whispers Chris Smith, a delivery driver turned amateur crimefighter.

Around another dark corner, a suspicious-looking car speeds away when Smith and his group approach. It moves too quick for them to take its registration plate. But the car will be back - and so will the vigilantes.

Smith and his colleagues at Shirley Street Watch have become the scourge of low-level criminals in their little corner of Solihull in the West Midlands since they started patrols in January. Police credit them with effectively forcing drug dealers away from parts of the suburb and significantly reducing antisocial behaviour.

While Smith bristles at the term "vigilante", the volunteers are one of a rising number of groups springing up across Britain as crime surges and police officer numbers hit a record low. Added into the mix is the very low and falling detection rate - 75% of thefts unsolved. Victims of crime are willing to take matters into their own hands.

This week Hartlepool was called the town "where the police don't come out" in reports about a neighbourhood group formed to try to fill the void left by police. On one recent Saturday not a single officer was on duty in the town of 92,000 as all were called to another job.

A new Midlands-based group, We Stand Determined, has amassed nearly 3,000 members on Facebook in the past week, with splinter groups already forming in Manchester and elsewhere. Wayne Dean, a former college teacher, said he founded the group after becoming exasperated at the police response to a spate of carjackings in his area of Chelmsley Wood, a housing estate in Solihull.

Dean, 47, described the group as "vigilantes with a twist" and said they had patrolled the streets in the early hours of the morning to try to deter criminals. "We need more police on the street - it's getting ridiculous now. It's getting worse and worse by the day," he said. "People aren't scared because they know the police aren't going to turn up. If Theresa May doesn't do something soon, I wouldn't like to think what it's going to be like."

The emergence of these unofficial groups, formed on social media, has led to fears among the police that a new breed of "have-a-go heroes" are putting themselves at risk and jeopardising investigations. Insp Iftekhar Ahmed, of West Midlands police, told the Guardian he was concerned that well-meaning citizens were "hindering the situation" by taking matters into their own hands.

Ahmed runs the force's Street Watch scheme of 350 volunteers who patrol neighbourhoods under the supervision of the police, who pay for their insurance and provide a basic training course on safety. The West Midlands project is thought to be the largest in the country - and officers hope to boost it to more than 1,000 volunteers by next year.

Ahmed denied it was "policing on the cheap" for a force that has lost 2,300 officers and had £175m cut from its budget since 2010. He said: "Citizenship is what they're doing: look, see, report, don't have a go - that's the ethos. They're a vigilant group, not a vigilante group."

Smith, a burly former prison guard, leads a team of 12 on patrols most nights of the week in Shirley. The volunteers include a midwife, a plumber, a teacher, a friendly rottweiler called Spirit and a 15-month-old French bulldog called Monty. The group have clocked up 804 hours on patrol since January.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, awarded the group a £4,950 grant this year and credited them with pushing drug-dealing away from a notorious stretch of Stratford Road, a major thoroughfare leading to Birmingham.

Smith said residents were "majorly disappointed" when Shirley police station shut down two years ago - one of 27 West Midlands police buildings closed as a cost-cutting measure. There are concerns about the potential impact on the town of 123,000 when its main police station closes in 2020.

"The government are never going to turn around and say: 'Bugger, we got it wrong, let's put a load of bobbies back on the beat.' It's never gonna happen," said Smith.

"We have had a couple of people say: 'You're just policing on the cheap.' But things aren't going to change any time soon. If you want to make a difference you've got to get boots on the ground, you've got to get off your arse and do something for your community."

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Social media and tech firms have been accused of "indefensibly" impeding police investigations into terrorists and serious criminals by Britain's top police watchdog.

Sir Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said the tech giants were not only allowing terrorists, paedophiles and organised criminals to abuse their platforms but were then also resisting appeals by police to hand over data that could help catch them.

They were even investing in improving and strengthening encryption technology that made it harder for police and crime agencies to access the information that could bring them to justice, he said.

"I agree with our law enforcement agencies when they say it's indefensible for internet companies to invest so much money in protecting data from law enforcement," Sir Tom told The Daily Telegraph.

"There is a handful of very large companies with a highly dominant influence over how the internet is used. In too many respects, their record is poor and their reputation tarnished.

"If a burglar was arrested with a book in his or her back pocket with all the names of all their contacts on it, the police would have access to that book. What is the difference with a phone?

"There is no difference in principle. And yet, these companies are resistant to allowing the police access to the data criminals put on their devices.

"The steps these companies take to make sure their services cannot be abused by terrorists, paedophiles and organised criminals are inadequate; the commitment they show and their willingness to be held to account are questionable.

"The internet is a force for evil things going on as well as many beneficial things."

There have been a series of high-profile cases where social media or messaging apps have refused to hand over data to the police.

WhatsApp cited its "end to end encryption" for not revealing to police the final messages of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood who stabbed PC Keith Palmer to death.

In September detectives investigating the murder of schoolgirl Lucy McHugh criticised Facebook for refusing to hand over the prime suspect's password without them having to take lengthy legal action through the US courts to secure.

Cressida Dick, the Met police commissioner, said technology firms should be forced to hand over crucial evidence in criminal cases 'within minutes'.

Sir Tom's criticisms follow calls by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) for businesses to pull their advertising from social media and tech firms that fail to take down extremist content.

The ISC's investigation into five terror attacks that claimed 36 lives concluded he tech firms' continued refusal to remove extremist material meant it was time to hit their "bottom line" by persuading businesses to boycott them.

Sir Tom also urged police to make greater use of the latest technology to sift and analyse information in complex cases such as in terrorism where on average there are four terabytes of data, equivalent to 125 iPads full to the brim with information.

"The police could and should use AI far more to analyse the huge amounts of data held on digital devices. Instruments and technology exist today which can process information far faster.

"For instance, there is an AI programme which enables you to read millions of pages of documents - not quite in the blink of an eye but very, very fast - filtering and producing the required information.

"This is technology which could help the criminal justice system with the terabyte of data they are getting every day - information that currently, someone has to read.

"This technology could be developed for use in analysing data in complex crimes, such as fraud, international organised crime and child sexual exploitation.

"Used properly, technology can make policing far more efficient and effective. But technology is not improving the efficiency of police forces at the same rate as in other organisations. In part, this is because the police is still not acquiring the right technology."

uaware comment

The reason politicians (not just the UK) are not taking a harder line with social media companies is because they use the same campanies as their own cheap propaganda machines.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 23rd November 2018 author Dan Sabbagh)

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Sajid Javid has quietly abandoned plans to ban high-powered military-grade rifles after dozens of hard Brexit Conservatives and the DUP came together to voice opposition to the Home Office plan.

The police had wanted to ban .50- or higher-calibre weapons - which can immobilise a vehicle or truck from a mile away - and Labour was ready to support the government to get the ban through parliament despite the Tory rebellion.

But the home secretary has changed his mind amid the lobbying and on Friday put down an amendment to the offensive weapons bill going before the Commons next Wednesday, reversing the ban the government had proposed.

Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow policing and crime minister, said: "Senior officers have warned the police have no known protection against these destructive weapons and yet ministers have still caved in to their restive backbenchers."

Sixty-nine MPs had signed an amendment demanding a reversal of the ban, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the hard Brexit European Research group, as well as Steve Baker, Sir Bill Cash and Nadine Dorries.

ERG members were looking for the opportunity to stage a show of strength in parliament to demonstrate they also had the numbers to block Theresa May's final deal Brexit deal when it comes to parliament in mid-December.

Police forces support the ban on .50-calibre guns, which the National Crime Agency says have the power to immobilise a light or medium-size vehicle or truck at 1,800 metres and are too powerful to be used for sporting purposes.

Similar weapons were used by the IRA against British soldiers and members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1990s.

Mark Groothuis, the national firearms licensing liaison officer for counter-terrorism policing, had told MPs during the bill's committee stages that he was concerned that "if one of these guns were to be stolen, again with the ammunition, and if it were to get into terrorist hands, it could be very difficult to fight against or to protect against".

There are 129 rifles of .50-calibre held under licence in England and Wales, mainly to be fired on Ministry of Defence ranges in long-range shooting competitions. Critics of the proposed ban have said that no .50 weapon has been used in a crime in the UK since the IRA disarmed.

The ban was intended to apply to rifles with a power of "over 13,600 joules at the muzzle". It was also opposed by the DUP, which is supposed to be supporting May's government, and the Labour MP Kate Hoey.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 23rd November 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Police in London say tough tactics used against suspected violent thieves on mopeds, including chasing them and knocking them off their bikes, have helped reduce crime.

The Metropolitan police said there had been a 36% reduction in thefts that involved mopeds or scooters since the tactics were adopted last year.

These include providing officers with a special marking spray to fire at suspects, using remote-controlled spikes to burst the tyres of bikes, and using police cars to knock suspects off their bikes.

Officers had been reluctant to chase mopeds, some driven at high speed by suspects as young as 14, amid fears of injury or death.

But Insp Jim Corbett said those who thought they would not be chased if they took off their helmets were in for a surprise: "A big myth that we have is that if people remove their helmets they think they are not going to be pursued."

He said officers were told by one person they caught: "I took my helmet off as I thought you would stop chasing me." That person, who was later jailed, rode on to the pavement. Officers deemed him a danger to the public and used "tactical contact" to knock him off his scooter.

A special team called Scorpion drivers have been trained in tactical contact. Policies were drawn up using legal experts to minimise the chances of officers being prosecuted for using the technique, which was introduced in October 2017. So far this year officers have knocked suspects off their mopeds or scooters 63 times, including those who have taken off their helmets.

One Scorpion driver, Sgt Tony McGovern, said it was one of the hardest tactics to use: "It's just a slight nudge. It's controlled." He said suspects were amazed when in some cases they were sent sprawling off their mopeds. "They are shocked. They say 'We did not think you were allowed to do that,' especially when they take off their helmet. They are confused."

He said other police cars would try to slow the scooter or moped before he and other specialist drivers struck the suspect's vehicle at "as slow a speed as possible".

McGovern said Scorpion drivers aimed to minimise injury to those being pursued and civilians. At impact the driver removes her or his foot from the accelerator and uses the brakes to nudge the suspect off the bike, he said. "It's incredibly quick and very dynamic. Your decision-making changes in a split second."

Three incidents have been referred to the police watchdog for investigation.

The Met said last year 24% of their pursuits involved officers chasing mopeds or scooters. This year, that figure rose to 40%.

The issue of moped crime has been seen as part of a crimewave that made headlines and added to public unease about the prevalence of violence.

Hailing a fall in crime in which mopeds were used, the Met said from January to October 2017 there were 19,455 offences in London. From January this year to October there were 12,419.

Commander Amanda Pearson said: "The public quite rightly expects us to intervene to keep London safe. Our highly trained police drivers weigh up the risks and decide upon the most appropriate tactics in those circumstances.

"Offenders on mopeds and motorcycles who attempt to evade the police are making a choice that puts themselves and others at risk. A lot of them get up and run away, looking aghast at how dare we."

Several factors triggered the surge in moped crime from early 2017. One was an increase in moped and scooter ownership, coupled with security measures not being tough enough to stop them being stolen.

Smartphones are lucrative gadgets for thieves, and the Met had previously said Apple iPhones were the target in two-thirds of thefts, followed by Samsung Galaxies. Young people behind the thefts can make up to £200 for each phone they steal.

The crimewave is being driven by a growing illegal market in phone parts, with some young people stealing brands of mobiles to order. There have been signs that some of the offending is highly organised.

Initially Met chiefs believed moped-riding thieves tended to drive by at speed before snatching a phone from a victim's hand. But an increase in the levels of violence used led police chiefs to develop tougher tactics.

(Guardian, dated 25th November 2018 author Mark Townsend)

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Senior police figures have condemned Scotland Yard's new hardline tactics against thieves on mopeds as "dangerous driving" that risks leaving officers vulnerable to prosecution.

On Friday the Metropolitan Police revealed a range of tactics introduced last year for use against criminals on scooters, which include ramming suspects to knock them off their bikes, even if they are not wearing helmets.

The Police Federation said that although it broadly supported the Met's tough tactics, the measures "breach current legislation". Its officials will meet policing minister Nick Hurd this week to discuss better protection for pursuit officers.

The announcement was made just hours before a parliamentary bill calling for increased protections for police drivers from civil liability or criminal prosecution ran out of debating time in the House of Commons.

Tim Rogers of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: "We need to reinforce the fact that the tactics used, necessary as they are and supported by senior police leaders, are in fact in breach of current legislation. Judged against the common standard, as police officers are, it is dangerous to drive a car deliberately at another road user. The law clearly classifies this as dangerous driving, and officers could be prosecuted. No defence, no exemption."

The federation's national chair, John Apter, said that despite Friday's bill stalling, he had been reassured that attitudes at ministerial level to improving protection for police drivers were positive. "They recognise that something has to be done," he said. "I have a meeting with the policing minister Nick Hurd next week and this issue will be on the agenda."

Under current law, officers deploying the tactics run the risk of being charged for dangerous or careless driving because the common standard of "careful and competent driver" applies equally to the emergency services and members of the public who are not trained in advanced driving techniques and police tactics.

The Met said there had been a 36% reduction in thefts involving mopeds since the tactics were adopted.
(1st December 2018)

(Halifax Courier, dated 23rd November 2018 author Ian Hirst)

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Three men including one from Halifax have been sentenced at Manchester Crown Court (Munshull Street) for conspiring to deliberately cause a crash in order to claim for injuries and vehicle damage.

The City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) was contacted on June 19, 2017, by insurers Hastings Direct about suspicions involving a crash that happened in November 2016. Witnesses stated that only one person was in the vehicle.

The crash occurred when Mr A was driving in Rochdale and he gestured to allow a woman to pull out of a junction in front of him. As she moved onto the road in front of him, he deliberately drove his vehicle into the victim's car at low speed.

The damage caused was minimal and witnesses confirmed that Mr A was the only person in his car at the time. He left the scene of the crash alone.

Following the crash, Mr A contacted a vehicle recovery company and a solicitors firm was also contacted. showed photographs of the damage to his car to the owner of the recovery company.

The owner decided the car was not roadworthy and arranged for it to be recovered to an industrial unit.

An assessment of the damage by a representative of the Institute of Motoring Industry found that Mr A's car had sustained damage after the collision on 16 November 2016 which had caused it to become immobile.

Mr A submitted injury claims to the solicitors firm for himself, as well as Mr B and Halifax man Mr C on their behalf.

At a medical appointment on January 7, 2017, Mr A and Mr B each claimed to be suffering from back pain.

Mr C attended a medical examination on February 22, 2017, and claimed to be suffering from shoulder and neck pain.

The doctor felt that these injuries were all consistent with a car crash. He recommended further examination by an orthopaedic surgeon as well as six sessions of physiotherapy each.

Mr A, Mr B and Mr C were interviewed voluntarily on August 15, 2017.

Detective Constable Kevin Hughes of the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) said: "Mr A took a kind gesture and used it to create a crash that only served his own greed and that of Mr B and Mr C.

"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. When people commit insurance fraud, it drives up insurance premiums for all consumers as fraud costs the insurance industry money."

Mr A, 23, of Albion Road, Rochdale, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and given 100 hours community service.

Mr B, 24, of Bradford and Mr C, 30, of Halifax, were both sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and given 70 hours community service. All three men were also ordered to pay £250 each in court costs.

Paul Priestley, Director of Counter-Fraud at Hastings Direct, said: "We are committed to protecting honest customers and we are therefore very happy with the decision of the court. Fraudsters should see this as a clear message that we will take all appropriate action to pursue and deter their actions."

uaware note : Defendents names have been changed in the event of them appealing and being successful.

(1st December 2018)

(i News, dated 23rd November 2018 author Aimee Stanton)

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The UK's national intelligence and security organisation, GCHQ, has issued a warning to shoppers about the threat of cyber crime on Black Friday.

GCHQ's cyber wing, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), also revealed their top tips for staying safe online while shopping today and on Cyber Monday in a bid to prevent cyber crime.

"We know that cyber security can seem like a daunting subject, but sharing knowledge today will protect your loved ones tomorrow," said Dr Ian Levy, the NCSC's Technical Director.

"Staying safe online doesn't require deep technical knowledge, and we want the whole country to know that the NCSC speaks the same language as them.

"It's vital that knowledge is shared, and that's why we're encouraging everybody to have a cyber chat. With so many of the UK shopping online, we want to see these tips shared from classrooms and scout groups to family dinner tables and old people's homes."

Top tips from the experts

According to the NCSC, estimates suggest that across so-called 'Cyber Weekend 2018' Brits could spend more than £10,000 per second online, totalling £3.5 billion.

Microsoft's Chief Security Advisor, Siân John MBE added, "Whilst searching for those Black Friday and Cyber weekend bargains it's important that we all take a few simple precautions so that we don't end up being a gift for cyber criminals."

If you are looking to bag a bargain this Black Friday follow the NCSC's top tips for staying safe online:

- Install the latest software and app updates

- Use strong passwords - especially for email accounts

- Use a password manager so you can have multiple passwords saved on your computer

- Use an extra layer of protection online such as two-factor authentication (2FA)

- Type the website address into your search bar instead of clicking on potentially fake links

- Don't give away too much personal information when purchasing online. Retailers don't need to know your mother's maiden name.

- Report any suspicious emails or websites to Action Fraud. If you've made a purchase and it doesn't feel right keep an eye on your bank statement and talk directly to your bank, too

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd November 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Five fraudsters who ran a fake Bangladeshi visa scam and falsely claimed £13 million in tax repayments have been sentenced to total of 31 years in jail.

London law student Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim, 42, was the ringleader in the organised crime group, which set up 79 bogus companies and created fake documentation used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications.

They also used the companies to fraudulently reclaim £13 million in tax repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a six-year period, the equivalent of 494 new nurses in London for a year.

Officers found that Karim, his brother-in-law Enamul Karim, 34, Kazi Borkot Ullah, 39, accountant Jalpa Trivedi, 41 and Mohammed Tamij Uddin, 47, charged clients for temporary visas wanting to remain in the UK a minimum of £700 in cash for their fraudulent immigration services.

The gang claimed their clients were employees as part of their tax and immigration fraud. They created fake payslips and provided false information on around 900 visa applications to ensure eligibility for a Tier 1 visa.

An investigation into their wrongdoing was the "longest ever undertaken" by Immigration Enforcement's Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.

The defendants were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 23 November 2018. Karim, Enamul Karim and Ullah, were sentenced in their absence and warrants have been issued for their arrests. Karim got 10 years and six months, Enamul Karim nine years and four months and Ullah five years and ten months.

Trivedi was handed a three year jail sentence and Uddin two years and six months.

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd November 2018 author Katy Clifton)

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Police are spraying criminals with "DNA spray" in a bid to crackdown on scooter gangs in the capital.

Officers in London have been handed 6,000 bottles of an invisible liquid which can be seen under UV light which are now being used to link suspects to mopeds used in crimes.

One man who was caught out by the new tactic is Mohammad Khaleghi, from Camden, who is now serving a 10-month sentence after being convicted at Southwark Crown Court.

The 22-year-old was seen "riding in an erratic manner along Adelaide Road" in Camden by officers from Operation Venice, which tackles moped crime in the capital.

He was then seen driving through several red lights and swerving into a bike lane, at which point a marked police car overtook Khaleghi and asked for him to pull over.

Instead, the 22-year-old accelerated away from police, leaving his helmet behind as he did. He then rode against oncoming traffic before riding on the pavement, police said.

The spokesman added: "Another police vehicle safely ended the pursuit by pulling in front of Khaleghi and making tactical contact with his motorcycle to stop it going any further."

After being taken off his vehicle, Khaleghi tried to run away before a police officer managed to spray him with DNA spray, which would assist in proving he was the suspect if he managed to escape.

Shortly after he was caught and arrested by officers on suspicion of dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and driving without insurance, Scotland Yard said.

He pleaded guilty at Highbury Magistrates Court on October 3.

Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, Operation Venice, said "Khaleghi not only failed to stop for police but rode at speed through several red traffic lights.

"He took off his helmet and he continued to ride through bollards onto a cycle path and then on a pavement being used by pedestrians.

"His riding was extremely dangerous and he endangered other motorists and people as well as himself.

"Khaleghi thought that if he removed his helmet we would not continue to pursue. He was wrong. We continued in the pursuit and he was caught and has been jailed."

Pictures show Khaleghi under a UV light revealing the spray, which is being used to "tag" a suspect or suspicious moped without putting the police officer in harm's way.

UV scanners at police stations can pick up whether the offender has been sprayed.

In London, 6,900 officers have been trained to use the DNA spray.

(1st December 2018)

(Sky News, dated 22nd November 2018)

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A road rage unit is to be created to crack down on dangerous driving.

The new police unit will analyse evidence caught on drivers' cameras, such as dash cams.

The team will be one of 50 proposed new measures in a two-year Department for Transport (DfT) plan to protect vulnerable road users and combat road rage.

A pilot operation was carried out by North Wales Police in October 2016. By the following August, 129 cases had been dealt with using footage submitted from other road users.

Other new measures to boost road safety include:

- Giving councils powers to tackle dangerous parking in mandatory cycle lanes

- Encouraging local authorities to spend around 15% of their local transport infrastructure funding on walking and cycling

- A review of the Highway Code is being carried out

- The appointment of a new cycling and walking champion to to ensure the new policies meet the needs of all road users.

The government also plan to assess whether insurance companies could offer discounts to drivers and motorcyclists who have passed a cycle training course, including offering incentives to couriers who complete it.

Cycling and Walking Minister Jesse Norman said: "Greater road safety - and especially the protection of vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders - is essential.

"We want to improve air quality, encourage healthy exercise, reduce obesity and boost our high streets and economic productivity. That means more support for cycling and walking, and that's why these new measures are designed to deliver."

An alliance of walking and cycling organisations supported the proposed Highway Code review but criticised a lack of emphasis on speed reduction.

One member of the alliance, Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy, said: "Lowering vehicle speeds around people walking, cycling and horse riding doesn't just reduce the danger to them, but also their perception of the danger.

"While the DfT's proposals for amendments to the Highway Code will help save lives, ignoring the threat and dangers of speeding is disappointing."

A consultation into whether a new offence equivalent to causing death by careless or dangerous driving should be introduced for dangerous cyclists is in its final stages.

It came after Kim Briggs died when Charlie Alliston crashed into her on a bike with no front brakes.

(1st December 2018)

Birmingham Mail, dated 22nd November 2018 author Josh Layton)

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A huge clamp-down on an "epidemic" of car crime in the West Midlands has led to police making almost 600 arrests in a matter of weeks.

The figures have been released after a BirminghamLive investigation showing carjackers and thieves made as little as £200 per vehicle.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has led a campaign to reduce rates of motor theft after they hit a three-year high.

The arrests by West Midlands Police are part of Operation Cantil, predominantly enforced by the Roads Policing team, to tackle organised vehicle crime and car key burglary.

Mr Jamieson said: "We have seen, over the past three years, car thefts almost triple in the West Midlands.

"I set tackling this problem as a top strategic priority and it is good that tough action West Midlands Police has been taking has resulted in 590 arrests in just a matter of weeks.

"Car theft has become an epidemic in the West Midlands and across urban centres around the country.

"There are organised criminals who are taking advantage of the lack of security in vehicles and the ease of accessibility to purchase written off cars which are fuelling so called 'chop shops'.

"Some of these 'chop shops' are making millions of pounds each year.

"I look forward to seeing more arrests and more action in the coming months to tackle this problem."

Carjackers and thieves hacking security systems or stealing keys are being paid as little as £200 for the high-end vehicles they are stealing.

Organised crime gangs making millions of pounds are then 'chopping up' and selling on the cars taken by teenagers as young as 15.

Some have been 'stolen to order', with brands such as Audi, BMW and Ford being most commonly targeted.

The police fightback also includes efforts to break up 'chop shops', the name given to illicit garages in back streets or industrial estates that use spares to fix write offs that are then sold on through eBay, Gumtree, Autotrader or other sites.

Sometimes turning round new vehicles in a matter of hours, the slaughterhouses fix the dodgy spares to repairable write-offs bought at salvage auctions.

Individual parts are also sold on, while some cars are kept intact and shipped overseas, with Eastern Europe and North Africa being common destinations.

Ahead of official figures released in January, Mr Jamieson hailed a "levelling off" in car thefts.

The region, at the centre of the motorway network, had one of the worst problems in the UK as technology shifted towards keyless entry systems.

Operation Cantil is constantly monitored by the Force Executive Team and senior leaders across the force, but it appears to be paying off.

Mr Jamieson is also calling on manufacturers to do more to protect motorists, calling it "outrageous" that thieves are able to break through defences in a matter of seconds.

Speaking to BirminghamLive last week, he said: "The evidence is that the kids might be paid a few hundred quid per car while one of the chop shops was making profits of five million pounds in a year.

"In some cases they are given instructions as to which cars to go out and steal.

"Some of the vehicles are being stolen to be cut up for spares at chop shops, and we have borne down on those, the police are tackling those and we have had a lot of good information from the public.

"Some of the cars are being taken out whole and exported, and again police are following them through."

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said it takes vehicle crime "extremely seriously" but the open sale of equipment which helps criminals steal cars is also an issue.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 22nd November 2018 author Steven Morris)

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The police officer who was left critically ill after being exposed to novichok at the home of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal has spoken for the first time of the "emotional battering" he has suffered in the aftermath.

DS Nick Bailey, who was left critically ill after searching Skripal's home on the night of the attack in March, said that while he had made a physical recovery, the psychological impact had been serious.

Recalling the moment he was told he had been poisoned with novichok, he told BBC Panorama: "Knowing how the other two [the Skripals] were … I was petrified."

"Physically, I think I bounced back pretty well." he said, but of his emotional wellbeing, he went on: "That's a different kettle of fish. That's taken longer. I describe it as emotional battering and psychological impact. It's taken longer to deal with just because of everything that has happened to us."

In the same programme, the police officer leading the investigation said that the nerve agent attack could have resulted in thousands of innocent people being killed.

Deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon said detectives had recovered a "significant" amount of novichok in a fake bottle of perfume that was found three months after the attack on the Skripals. Asked how many people it could have killed, he said: "It's difficult to say. You know, possibly into the thousands." The fake bottle is believed to have been used to smuggle the novichok into the UK and to spray the nerve agent on to Skripal's door handle.

Haydon has also described a "gotcha moment" when two suspects, who have been identified as members of Russia's GRU military spy agency, were spotted on CCTV footage.

"We had seized over 11,000 hours of CCTV - that was a massive task," he told BBC Panorama. "We were sifting through the CCTV and we had a kind of 'gotcha' moment when we identified the attackers. We were now on to them … I don't think they expected to be captured on CCTV in the way that they were."

Haydon said it was "completely reckless" to have used novichok. Asked if a third man may have been involved, he said: "Who else is involved is still very much subject to a live line of inquiry."

On Thursday night, police released three more pieces of footage of the suspects in Salisbury on 4 March as part of their ongoing investigation. This shows them arriving at the train station, at a petrol station near Skripal's home, just before police think that the novichok was placed on the door handle, and then walking over a bridge back towards the train station.

Three months after the Skripals fell ill, two Wiltshire residents, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were exposed to novichok contained in the fake perfume bottle and Sturgess died. Police also released a model of the bottle on Thursday night and appealed for any information as to its whereabouts before it was found in Rowley's home.

Bailey said that since the incident, he and his family had not been able to return home. "Not only did we lose the house, we lost all of our possessions, including everything the kids owned. We lost all that - the cars … we lost everything. And yeah, it's been very difficult to kind of come to terms with that."

He and two colleagues, dressed in protective suits, searched the house a few hours after Skripal and his daughter collapsed in Salisbury city centre on 4 March. "I was the first person into the house," said Bailey. "We had to make sure that there were no other casualties. The house was in darkness. It just looked normal. There was nothing untoward."

But shortly after leaving the house, Bailey began to feel unwell. "My pupils were like pinpricks. And I was quite sweaty and hot." He had gone home, but was rushed into hospital. "Everything was juddering. I was very unsteady on my feet," he said.

Bailey said he did not know how he came into contact with the novichok. "I don't know … if it's gone through the gloves. I could have adjusted my face mask and my goggles whilst I was in the house with it being on my hand. It's such an outrageous, dangerous way of doing something that it angered me as well, because any number of people could have been affected by that."

Bailey remained conscious throughout his treatment. He said: "It was painful at the beginning … I had lots of injections. One of the Skripals was in the room right next to me. It was all guarded by the police."

A scientist at the government's defence, science and technology laboratory at Porton Down, identified only as Prof Tim, described the "jaw-dropping moment" when it was realised that novichok had been used in the attack on the Skripals. "I went through a number of emotions, from disbelief to anger," he said. "It's one of the most dangerous substances known. It's quite unique in its ability to poison individuals at very low concentrations."

(1st December 2018)

(Euronews, dated 22nd November 2018 author Michael-Ross Fiorentino)

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France's parliament has passed a new law, which aims to empower judges to order the immediate removal of "fake news" during election campaigns.

Critics argued that the controversial law against the "manipulation of information" could jeopardise democracy and censor the press.

The law, conceived by President Emmanuel Macron, was rejected twice by the senate before being passed by the parliament on Tuesday

It is considered western Europe's first attempt to officially ban false material.

Macron has said he believes that the internet must be regulated.

"This is the sine quanon condition for a free, open and secure internet, as envisioned by its founding fathers," he told the annual Internet Governance Forum in Paris last week.

Candidates and political parties will now be able to appeal to a judge to help stop "false information" during the three months before an election.

The law also allows the CSA, the French national broadcasting agency, to render the authority to suspend television channels "controlled by a foreign state or under the influence" of that state if they "deliberately disseminate false information likely to affect the sincerity of the ballot."

This means France has the power to take on any foreign TV station suspected of spreading "false news."

The law also states that users must be provided with "information that is fair, clear and transparent" on how their personal data is being used.

Outlets are required to publicly disclose money they have been given to promote certain information.

Those who support the law say the goal is to fight the spread of fake news, not to censor opinions.

Anyone who violates the law could face one year in prison and a fine of €75,000.

The French government has been accused by both right and left wing opponents of trying to create a form of "thought police."

French politician and former National Front (now known as the National Rally) member Julien Rochedy took to Twitter to criticise the law.

"That's it, the fake news act was passed by parliament. The French state finally has a monopoly on truth and mass diffusion. It can legally censor anything it doesn't like. The return of the 1930s," he wrote.

The law has also been heavily criticised by Russian media, who say it could jeopordaise democracy and censor the press.

State-run media outlet Russia Today believes the new law "clearly targets foreign media."

Its editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, called the law a "banal, old-fashioned and boring fight against dissent."

The outlet also claimed that Macron has been harbouring a grudge against Russia Today and Sputnik since the start of his presidential campaign.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 21st November 2018 authors Benjamin Walker and Shaun Walker)

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South Korea's Kim Jong-yang has been elected as Interpol's next president, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia's security services who was strongly opposed by the US, Britain and other European nations.

The White House and its European partners had lobbied against Alexander Prokopchuk's attempts to be named the next president of the international police body, saying his election would lead to further Russian abuses of Interpol's "red notice" system to go after political opponents.

Prokopchuk is a general in the Russian interior ministry and serves as an Interpol vice-president.

Interpol's 94 member states chose Kim at a meeting of their annual congress in Dubai. He will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate of his predecessor Meng Hongwei who went missing in his native China in September. Beijing later said Meng resigned after being charged with accepting bribes.

Critics say that Prokopchuk oversaw a policy of systematically targeting critics and dissidents during his time in charge of the Russian office of Interpol. The Ukrainian interior minister, Arsen Avakov, tweeted from the conference room where the vote was held, saying: "The Russian candidate has been rejected. This battle is won!"

The Kremlin denounced the anti-Prokopchuk campaign. "Of course we are sorry that this was not our candidate," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. "At the same time there are no reasons not to agree with the vote result.

"The election took place in the atmosphere of unprecedented pressure and interference in these elections," the Kremlin spokesman said. "The elections were complicated."

On Tuesday, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threw his weight behind Kim, who is the acting president of the global police body. "We encourage all nations and organisations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with integrity. We believe Mr Kim will be just that," Pompeo told reporters.

Kim had been serving as Interpol's acting president since Meng resigned and was a vice-president representing Asia. "Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety," he said after he was elected. "To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future."

The 57-year-old was previously the chief of police in South Korea's most populous province, and is a high-profile proponent of the South Korean government's push to export its policing strategies, known as the "K-cop wave".

Bill Browder, a British-American financier who has campaigned for western countries to implement sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights abuses, said on Tuesday that Prokopchuk had been in charge of Russia's Interpol bureau at a time when Moscow repeatedly tried to have red notice arrest warrants issued for him through the organisation. The central Interpol body rescinded the warrants, believing them to be politically motivated. On Wednesday morning, Browder tweeted that "reason had prevailed".

British officials made it clear that they were backing Kim, and expressed alarm at the prospect of Prokopchuk taking over. Lithuania's parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to consider leaving Interpol if Prokopchuk had won the vote.

Prokopchuk will continue in his role as Interpol vice-president, the Russian interior ministry said. "As before, his work will focus on strengthening the position of Interpol in the international police community and increasing the efficiency of the organisation's work," spokeswoman Irina Volk said.

Interpol's president chairs its general assembly while day-to-day operations are handled by the organisation's secretary general, Jürgen Stock.

Stock told reporters after the conclusion of Interpol's general assembly in Dubai that the nationality of the group's president does not affect its neutrality and that "it is fundamental to Interpol's existence that we are neutral and that we are independent".

Addressing what he said was misinformation circulating in recent days, Stock said Interpol accepts "the fact that systems can be improved" but added this year alone the red notice and diffusion system helped lead to the arrest of 10,000 serious criminals.

(Guardian, dated 20th November 2018 author Mikhail Khodorkovsky)

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This week, the 192 member countries of Interpol are due to appoint a new president of the organisation. Remarkably, the favourite is Alexander Prokopchuk, a representative of Russia's law enforcement agencies, which have a long track record of abusing the Interpol system.

Prokopchuk holds the rank of major general in the Russian police, and worked in the Russian bureau of Interpol for 10 years from 2006, first as deputy head and later as head. During this time, Russian abuses of the Interpol "red notice" system became epidemic as the Putin system clamped down on its enemies. Political activists, business people, human rights defenders and others found themselves at risk of detention abroad and potential extradition to Russia because the Russian authorities claimed that there were justifiable grounds to detain them in Russia. These practices continue to this day.

The Kremlin is not alone in instrumentalising international police cooperation to pursue its opponents across the world, but it is among the most active. Interpol's constitution is supposed to prevent the use of its system for politically motivated persecution. However, its provisions have proved hard to enforce when the system relies on national police agencies to submit reliable data.

In the case of a country such as Russia, the vulnerabilities of the Interpol system are clear. The criminal group that is in power uses the law enforcement system to protect its leaders' interests against those of the Russian people. As a result, the police do not fight organised crime. They cooperate with it. Criminal investigations are often a tool to extort money or steal assets. They have little do with solving crimes and pursuing justice.

For instance, the people who commissioned the murders of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the politician Boris Nemtsov have never been identified - not because it was impossible to find them but because the investigators were not allowed to interrogate the suspects. The use of polonium to murder Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 and the deployment of a chemical weapon to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury this year have not resulted in any criminal investigations in Russia.

Instead, Putin awarded a medal to the main suspect in the Litvinenko case and denied there was any evidence linking Russia to the attempted murder of the Skripals, despite the extensive evidence presented by the British police and the subsequent unmasking of the two suspects as representatives of Russian military intelligence.

The discovery of nearly 400kg of cocaine in a Russian Embassy building in Buenos Aires in February this year is a graphic indication of how organised crime has become associated with the Russian state. The drugs were due for transportation to Russia as diplomatic cargo.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has continued to use the Interpol "red notice" system to target individuals who have received political asylum abroad, despite efforts by Interpol to stamp out this practice.

Interpol describes its mission as "connecting police for a safer world". If democratic countries are genuinely committed to supporting the rule of law in Russia and the rest of the world, they must work together to block Prokopchuk's appointment and find a suitable alternative. It would be highly inconsistent to maintain sanctions against the criminal group in the Kremlin and then entrust the management of Interpol to someone connected to them.

Appointing a member of Russia's criminalised security apparatus to head Interpol will undermine its values and signal to governments across the world that the Russian state's abuses of the law are acceptable. It will also delay much-needed reform of the organisation that is now under way.

To stand by and do nothing will strengthen the forces of evil that western rules-based systems have done so much to counter since 1945. International police cooperation already has a dark history: in 1942 the Nazis hijacked Interpol's predecessor, the International Criminal Police Commission, and put Reinhard Heydrich, an architect of the Holocaust in charge. It would be a tragedy if a force for good were to surrender again to the interests of those criminals set on subverting it.

- Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the founder of the Open Russia movement, former Yukos CEO and Amnesty prisoner of conscience

(Guardian, dated 20th November 2018 author Peter Walker)

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The government is under pressure from across the political spectrum to rethink the UK's involvement in Interpol if the global policing cooperation organisation elects a Russian official as president this week.

Alexander Prokopchuk, a veteran of the Russian interior ministry, is one of two candidates to replace Meng Hongwei, who resigned last month after he was detained in China over corruption claims. The election takes place on Wednesday at Interpol's general assembly in Dubai.

Answering an urgent Commons question on the vote, the Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin said the UK was backing the candidacy of the acting president, South Korea's Kim Jong Yang, but declined to give details on what might happen if he lost.

Baldwin was urged by MPs from her own party, as well as from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, to consider the UK's future in Interpol if Prokopchuk were to win.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader who secured the urgent question on the issue, said Prokopchuk, currently one of Interpol's vice-presidents, was "directly responsible" for the abuse of the organisation's so-called red notice system to target Kremlin critics such as the US-born British financier William Browder.

"Can the minister confirm that the British government is doing all it can to campaign against the candidacy of Mr Prokopchuk?" Cable asked, adding that if Prokopchuk won it would be "an absolute insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack".

Baldwin confirmed that the UK was backing the alternative candidate. "We do not speculate on the outcome of the election, but the UK supports the candidacy of acting president Kim Jong Yang," she said.

She provided no details about what the government was doing to try to persuade other countries, but stressed that the secretary-general of Interpol, Germany's Jürgen Stock, was responsible for day-to-day operations, and that the UK had a "very good working relationship with him".

The Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, said said he was alarmed by the prospect of Prokopchuk winning.

"This is really quite an extraordinary situation, to find ourselves with the possibility of not just a fox in charge of the hen coop, but actually the assassin in charge of the murder investigation," he said.

"Would [Baldwin] join with me in saying that should this outcome happen, we will have to look very, very seriously about our cooperation with an organisation so discredited and so corrupted?"

The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, asked Baldwin what a Prokopchuk victory would "mean for the future of Interpol, for the continued abuse of the arrest warrant system and for Britain's continued participation in Interpol".

She added: "The question is: what diplomatic efforts will she be making in the next 24 hours, particularly in respect of our European and Commonwealth counterparts to build a majority against the election of the Russian candidate?"

Stewart Malcolm McDonald, the SNP's defence spokesman, took a slightly different line, saying the potential election outcome was alarming, but adding: "Can I urge her to resist calls to withdraw from Interpol at this stage."

The election was called after Interpol was obliged to accept the resignation of Meng, who had travelled back to China and was reported missing by his wife, who had stayed at home in the south-eastern French city of Lyon.

China informed Interpol that Meng had resigned as the organisation's president, before saying he had been charged with accepting bribes.
(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 21st November 2018 author James Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

As temperatures go into the minus-figures across the country, drivers are being warned that clearing the frost off their car the wrong way could result in a £60 fine and 3 points on their licence.

The biggest risk comes from motorists failing to clear their entire windscreen - as well as any ice or mist on their door windows, back window and mirrors.

That's because Highway Code rule 229 states ALL your windows need clearing, the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly.

Just clearing a patch in front to clear a gap won't cut it.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: "Drivers should avoid becoming tank-commanders and clear the whole of the windscreen and windows before setting off.

"Thoroughly de-icing the car doesn't take long at all.

"Getting up 10 minutes early and scraping the car will prevent drivers from picking up a fine and points."

What the law says in full

This is the official Highway Code advice for driving in snow and ice:

Rule 228

In winter check the local weather forecast for warnings of icy or snowy weather. DO NOT drive in these conditions unless your journey is essential. If it is, take great care and allow more time for your journey.

Take an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, warm clothing and boots, first aid kit, jump leads and a shovel, together with a warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or your vehicle breaks down.

Rule 229

Before you set off:

- you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows
- you MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible
- make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly
- remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users
- check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.

Rule 230

When driving in icy or snowy weather:

- drive with care, even if the roads have been treated

- keep well back from the road user in front as stopping distances can be ten times greater than on dry roads

- take care when overtaking vehicles spreading salt or other de-icer, particularly if you are riding a motorcycle or cycle

- watch out for snowploughs which may throw out snow on either side. Do not overtake them unless the lane you intend to use has been cleared

- be prepared for the road conditions to change over relatively short distances

- listen to travel bulletins and take note of variable message signs that may provide information about weather, road and traffic conditions ahead.

Rule 231

Drive extremely carefully when the roads are icy. Avoid sudden actions as these could cause loss of control. You should:

- drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently

- drive particularly slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely. Brake progressively on the straight before you reach a bend. Having slowed down, steer smoothly round the bend, avoiding sudden actions

- check your grip on the road surface when there is snow or ice by choosing a safe place to brake gently. If the steering feels unresponsive this may indicate ice and your vehicle losing its grip on the road. When travelling on ice, tyres make virtually no noise.


The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
1986 No. 1078PART IIEView to the frontRegulation 30
Link :

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989
1989 No. 1796PART IIIRegulation 23
Link :

Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994
1994 c. 22Part IIIOffences relating to registration...Section 43
Link :

The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001
2001 No. 561PART IIRegulation 11
Link :

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th November 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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More than a third of all crimes reported to police in London are now only being investigated online or over the phone, Scotland Yard revealed today.

The force said it was having to prioritise violence and other serious crimes over "volume" offences such as vehicle break-ins or criminal damage.

With fewer officers, police chiefs are relying on telephone investigation units to probe thousands of offences.

The figures show that out of 77,320 crimes reported to the Met in September, 28,838 (37 per cent) were dealt with by its Telephone and Digital Investigation Unit. Out of these just 4,638 were passed to an officer for a full inquiry.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, in charge of local policing, said: "I'd love to be in a position to investigate all crimes. But like any organisation we have got a budget to work to, we have demand to meet and have to make decisions about what we prioritise.

"We have to take a clear view about what is most important for Londoners in terms of safety." He admitted there were crimes "where we are going to be doing less", including criminal damage, vehicle crime and some low-level burglaries, such as garden shed break-ins.

He said nearly all these types of offences were now being investigated by the phone and online unit. "I would much rather our detectives were in the gangs unit investigating stabbings and doing interventions around gang members than dealing with some of the work which was possible to do when numbers were not so squeezed," he added. The move has led to fears that fewer offences will be prosecuted, but Mr Simmons said the detection rate for criminal damage had not fallen: "There is a risk that people start to feel that we are not interested. That is not the case.

"We do an assessment of everyone who calls in, even if it is minor vehicle crime, with consideration of their vulnerability. We cannot do everything in the way that we could before with the numbers we have and the way crime has changed. We have had to put more resources into cyber crime, for instance, which has grown exponentially."

The phone and digital unit, launched last year, is part of a major restructuring as the Met struggles to meet budget cuts. It includes a contentious plan to scrap borough-based policing and replace it with 12 larger "multi-borough" command units. Conservative London Assembly member Susan Hall said the roll-out of the command units masked a cut in local officers. "This is an irresponsible move at a time when crime is going through the roof," she added.

The Met has had £700 million of cuts in recent years and been warned it faces £300 million more. Boroughs have lost 1,131 officers in the two years to August. The specialist crime department, which investigates murder, gangs and organised crime, has lost 1,394. Only counter-terrorism has seen a rise, of 371.

Mr Simmons claimed police had ringfenced neighbourhood teams with a minimum of two officers and a PCSO for each ward.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 20th November 2018 author Oscar Quine)

Full article [Option 1]:

Keyless car crime surged last year as industry experts warned that criminals are embracing new technology to break into vehicles.

Insurers paid out a record £271m in theft claims in the first nine months of this year - a 32 per cent increase on the same period last year, according to the Association for British Insurers.

Malcolm Tarling, of the ABI, said keyless car theft was the 'main driver' of the increase in thefts.

The advent of keyless technology, which requires drivers to use digital fobs instead of keys to unlock a car's door and start its engine, has created security problems for car manufacturers.

Thieves are now using readily available technology to launch so-called 'relay attacks', in which handheld electronic devices are used to amplify the signal being given off by a digital fob from within a victim's house in order to fool a car parked outside into opening its door.

Mr Tarling said car manufacturers were in a constant battle to stay ahead of criminals as they employ increasingly sophisticated technology to break into vehicles.

"The industry recognises that car criminals don't stand still. As cars become better protected, criminals see a challenge to break into them. The sector is always working out how it can ahead."

The statistics, which show an 11 per cent increase in claims settled over the period, suggest a higher number of high-value vehicles being stolen.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, told The Telegraph that relay attacks require a certain level of knowledge and are likely to be carried out by gangs who use the technology to target more expensive vehicles.

"Some level of knowledge is required. Where we're seeing this is with organised crime groups. It's not so much opportunistic thefts," he said.

"This is not off-the-shelf kit - this is specialist and bespoke, made from readily available equipment."

Mr Billyeald advised car owners to keep their keys away from the front of their houses - and doors and windows in particular - in order to reduce the likelihood of relay attacks.

"A vehicle is a high-value item and owners need to be sure they're being careful with it. Like all security, there are many layers you can apply. It's about what you do and don't do," he said.

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 20th November 2018 author Victoria Bell)

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Trusty sniffer dogs that are used to detect drugs, explosives and missing people could soon be replaced by a 'robo-nose'.

Trained dogs are taught to use their sensitive sense of smell to detect the presence of certain chemicals and scientists have successfully recreated a robotic alternative.

Researchers used genes from the nose of mice to develop the olfactory organ which they hope will one day replace the dogs.

Detection dogs are invaluable to security are expensive to train and often get tired.

A robotic alternative, being developed by researchers at the Duke School of Medicine in North Carolina, involves a prototype that used odour receptors from mice.

'This idea of an artificial nose has been present for a long time,' said senior study author Hiroaki Matsunami, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke.

Professor Matsunami explained that 'E noses', which we have now, detect smells using various chemical compounds rather than using receptor stem cells

He said those devices are 'not as good as a trained dog.'

'The idea is that by using the actual, living receptors, we can develop a device similar to animals,' Professor Matsunami said.

'Nobody has achieved that yet, but this study is moving towards that goal.'

Humans only use about 2 per cent of their genes to make odour receptors but the organ is more important to other animals and includes more genetic coding.

'Mice and rats are very good smellers; we just don't use mice for detecting explosives in real life because of practical problems,' Professor Matsunami added.

Experts were able to identify the best receptors to respond to target odours like marijuana and cocaine.

The researchers devised a way for a liquid to light up when a reaction between an odour and a receptor occurred.

They measured the resulting luminescence and chose the best-performing odour receptors.

Researchers then endeavoured to expand the study as to make it applicable to the way noses detect signals in real-life with vapours and not liquids. .

Receptors created by the team of scientists were then used to identify two odours.

'We only tested two of them in the paper, but it's showing the proof of principle of how it can be used,' Professor Matsunami said.

The researchers hope they can fine-tune the device to test all receptors against many different smells.

'We have a panel of receptors so we can monitor how different receptors respond differently to various smells, including ones that are similar to each other in chemical structure or ones that might be related to real-world use, like something associated to explosives or drugs,' Professor Matsunami said.

'We can more clearly see what kind of hurdles to pass in order for the community to create such a device.'

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 20th November 2018 author Kevin Rawlinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police officers could start letting violent suspects go if they do not get the backing of the public, a federation leader has warned.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, spoke out after video footage appearing to show two officers locked in a violent struggle as they tried to make an arrest was shared thousands of times on social media.

The footage, taken in south London on Saturday, appeared to show a male officer being dragged around in the road as he tries to stop a suspect in a white tracksuit running away.

A second man, wearing a grey tracksuit, seems to take a run-up before aiming a flying kick at a female officer, who then lies dazed in the road clutching her head, feet away from a passing bus. She appeared to have tried to use incapacitant spray on the pair but to no effect.

A member of the public wearing a motorcycle helmet helped the male officer in the struggle, but several cars went past without stopping.

"Are we now in a society where, if we think we can't detain somebody, we just let them go? It's just not worth it," said Marsh, who represents thousands of police officers in the capital.

"We're going to come to a point where we're going to start pushing messages out to our colleagues: 'Risk-assess it dynamically and, if you think you can't detain a person, just let them go.'

"We don't come to work to get assaulted and, if we're not going to be backed up in what we're doing, then what is the point?"

Last year, Marsh criticised what he saw as a loss of respect for police as it was revealed that nearly half of the officers he represents want more armed officers on the streets and a significant majority backed the routine issuing of Tasers.

"If you look at the last two to three years, the number of assaults on police are going up unrecognisably. The average constable doesn't hold the same authority. When I was a child, you didn't dare blink at a police officer," Marsh was quoted as saying at the time.

A new law is due to come into force this month that doubles the maximum jail term that can be handed down for attacking a member of the emergency services from six to 12 months in prison.

The law covers police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and paramedics.

Speaking when it was given royal assent in September, the prisons minister, Rory Stewart, said: "Assaulting prison officers or any emergency worker is not just an isolated attack - it represents violence against the public as a whole.

"Every day these public servants do extraordinary work on our behalf, and they must be able to do it without the fear of being assaulted. Our message is clear - we will protect our emergency services and violence towards them will not be tolerated."

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Chris Bryant - the Labour MP who sponsored the new legislation - said: "The bill will only be effective if there are enough police officers to implement it and there is the will to act. We need to have the police, the prosecutors and the courts all lined up and taking it seriously but they also need government backing."

Scotland Yard said a man was due to appear at Wimbledon magistrate's court on Monday, having been arrested and charged with with assault causing ABH and assault on an emergency services worker. He was also charged with driving without insurance and driving other than in accordance with a licence.

Officers are still searching for two other men in relation to the incident.

The two officers were taken to a west London hospital. A female officer sustained head injuries and a male officer suffered cuts. They have both been discharged.

The issue of violent crime has been high on the agenda in recent months and official data showed a 14% increase in police-recorded homicide offences across England and Wales in the year ending March 2017. But the Crime Survey for England and Wales, thought to be the best measure of trends in crime, suggests no recent change in the amount of violent unlawful acts.

(Guardian, dated 20th November 2018 author Matthew Weaver)

Full article [Option 1]:

A senior officer has warned the public against helping police deal with violent suspects, following anger about the failure of passersby to intervene during an attack on two officers that was filmed and widely shared online.

The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Sir Steve House said people should only help officers in such situations "if they can safely do so".

His words could be seen as a rebuke to the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, who said violent suspects could go free if officers were not backed up by members of the public.

He spoke out after video footage that showed two officers in a violent struggle as they tried to make an arrest was shared thousands of times on social media. One was dragged around in the road while the other took a flying kick to the chest and was left lying feet from a passing bus. The footage also showed several cars passing the incident without stopping.

Marsh, who represents thousands of police officers in the capital, asked: "Are we now in a society where, if we think we can't detain somebody, we just let them go?

"It's just not worth it. We don't come to work to get assaulted and, if we're not going to be backed up in what we're doing, then what is the point?"

But in a statement on Tuesday, House cautioned against the public getting involved. "While officers should never expect to be attacked as part of their job, a core part of officer safety training is ensuring they know how to respond to volatile situations," he said.

"This training is substantial and delivered in accordance with national guidelines, and we regularly review it to make sure it is fit for purpose. Officers are also issued with personal protective equipment to help protect them and the public.

"I am mindful that members of the public do not have access to such items and, while any officer would be grateful for the public to assist them with a difficult arrest, they should only intervene if they can safely do so."

House said suspects trying to flee arrest was "not a new phenomenon" and officers in London know there is "overwhelming support for the work we do from the public".

The male officer seen in the video of the assault sustained cuts and the female officer was left with head injuries.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 18th November 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Counter-terror police have asked high street shops to develop emergency contingency plans to prevent widespread panic during reports of terror attacks.

Staff working in busy stores in the run up to Christmas will all be issued with a 'sixty second' security checklist to improve reaction times and ensure evacuations can take place as smoothly as possible.

As well as having a clear understanding about who is in charge of emergency plans, all retail staff will be expected to know when it is appropriate to evacuate a store and when it is best to order a lock down and tell shoppers to stay put.

They will also be asked to familiarise themselves with all the best places to hide in the shop in the event of a marauding terrorist attack.

The plans are being rolled out in a bid to avoid the sort of wide scale panic that took place last November, following false reports of a terror attack in Oxford Circus.

Dozens of people were hurt when a fight broke out on the London Underground at the height of the Black Friday rush hour, causing a stampede.

Within minutes the incident was being reported as a terror attack with pop star, Olly Murs, tweeting that he had heard gunshots inside the Selfridges department store.

Some people were hurt as they jumped from escalators in a desperate effort to flee the store.

The plans, which will be launched as part of the biggest ever counter-terror winter advertising campaign, are intended to ensure evacuations are safer and more orderly.

Shoppers are also being reminded to remain vigilant in the run up to Christmas with the ongoing terror threat remaining at severe.

Launching the campaign, the national Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, said: "As people are enjoying the festive season they will see a visible security presence with police patrols and additional security in crowded places.

"Unpredictable deployments across the UK will also provide an additional layer of protection, with specially-trained uniformed and plain clothes officers working to deter, detect and disrupt hostile reconnaissance and encourage the public and businesses to be their extra eyes and ears and report anything that doesn't feel right."

He added: "Last year on Oxford Street we saw a fight at a Tube station cause panic when people believed that a terrorist attack had occurred. In the rush to keep themselves safe, some people suffered serious injuries and businesses were severely disrupted.

"By working alongside those businesses, we have learnt from that experience and I believe that our sixty second check will better prepare us to deal with something similar in the future."

He went on: "I want staff working in crowded places to know who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, how to enter and exit a building in an emergency, how to lock down or where to hide if needs be."

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 19th November 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

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The records of up to 3,000 doctors are being reviewed after it emerged that a woman worked as a NHS consultant psychiatrist for 22 years with fake qualifications before she was convicted of trying to defraud a patient.

Zholia Alemi, 56, was jailed for five years last month for faking an 87-year-old patient's will as part of an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate after they met at a dementia clinic in Workington, Cumbria in 2016.

Following the trial, an investigation by the Cumbrian newspaper News and Star revealed Alemi had been working in the UK for more than two decades with forged qualifications from the University of Auckland.

The convicted fraudster had failed the first year of medical school in New Zealand in 1992, but subsequently managed to register as a doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC) with a forged degree certificate, forged primary medical qualification and a fake letter of recommendation from her most recent job in Pakistan, under a visa scheme that has since been discontinued.

The investigation has prompted an urgent review of all doctors who registered with the GMC under the scheme, which allowed graduates of medical schools in some Commonwealth countries to work in the UK without having to pass an exam.

The GMC said it was incredibly rare case but started a review after the News and Star made them aware of the details of Alemi's faked qualifications.

In October, a court heard how Alemi befriended Gillian Belham, then 84, who was struggling to deal with the recent death of her husband. Alemi redrafted the pensioner's will and fraudulently applied for power of attorney over her estate. The consultant psychiatrist was found guilty of four fraud and theft charges at Carlisle Crown court and was jailed for five years.

In response to the cases, Charlie Massey, the chief executive of the GMC, said: "It is extremely concerning that a person used a fraudulent qualification to join the register and we are working to understand how this happened. We have brought this to the attention of police and other agencies, including NHS England, so that they may also take any necessary action to support patients and answer any questions they may have.

"Our processes are far stronger now, with rigorous testing in place to ensure those joining the register are fit to work in the UK. It is clear that in this case the steps taken in the 1990s were inadequate and we apologise for any risk arising to patients as a result. We are confident that, 23 years on, our systems are robust and would identify any fraudulent attempt to join the medical register.

"Patients deserve good care from appropriately qualified professionals and place a great deal of trust in doctors. To exploit that trust and the respected name of the profession is abhorrent."

A Cumbria police spokesman told the News and Star: "Cumbria Constabulary is liaising with the General Medical Council and will be commencing further criminal investigations relating to allegations of fraud and any potential further offences. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

See also

(Daily Mail, dated 18th November 2018 authors Liz Hull and Chris Brooke)

Full article [Option 1]:


(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 19th November 2018 author James Crisp)

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The European Union has agreed plans for a joint spy training centre, along with 16 other projects, as the bloc makes tentative step towards closer military integration after Brexit.

The Joint EU Intelligence School will be led by Greece and based in Cyprus. It will train intelligence agency staff from around the EU in cooperation with national agencies and Nato.

Britain, Denmark and Malta are not taking part in the scheme, which is part of the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact to encourage closer defence cooperation.

The UK has blocked previous moves towards a joint intelligence centre for the EU, arguing it would undermine the "five eyes" alliance of Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Brexit means that the British can now safely be ignored.

The so-called "spy school" has already attracted derison, given that it is led by two of the most Russia-friendly EU countries in Greece and Cyprus, the Politico website reported.

The establishment of the centre could also raise eyebrows in Turkey, which is at loggerheads with Greece and Cyprus over energy rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The school and other PESCO projects was signed off by defence ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday evening.

Greece will also lead the training of EU helicopter crew in hot and high conditions.

Some Brexiteers believe that PESCO is the first step towards the creation of an EU Army, a long-term vision recently backed by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.

In reality previous PESCO projects have struggled to get off the ground.

According to the list of new projects, Germany will work on a new generation of drones to monitor land and sea and ways to improve the Franco-German Tiger helicopter.

Italy will be in charge of a new balloon-based intelligence project, called the European High Atmosphere Airship, which will constantly snoop from the skies above.

uaware - Further information

European Union External Action Service

Link :

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)

Overview link:

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 18th November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Radical plans to modernise the police by linking pay to performance and recruiting outside experts on short-term contracts have been proposed by the police chief in charge of standards.

Mike Cunningham, who heads the service's professional body, said it was time for a "significant review" of the traditional model of policing where pay has been based on length of service.

He said major reform of the UK's 125,000 police officers' pay, work patterns, recruitment and deployment would be "quid pro quo" for extra funding from the Treasury.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is currently locked in talks with Chancellor Philip Hammond for extra funding to help tackle a surge in violent crime and has hinted he is confident of success.

But Mr Cunningham, head of the College of Policing, warned it would not be a "blank cheque" and police would have to shift towards a performance-related model, an approach seen as controversial by many beat officers, and open up the service to outsiders.

"When the government talks about pay reform, everyone knows they are talking about breaking the connection between length of service and pay progression which is the current model.

"Instead, it would reward officers according to their contribution," he told The Telegraph in an interview.

"Police would not progress through the pay scales unless they have satisfactorily achieved what is required of them in their role.

"I am very supportive of a model that looks at having effective individual performance arrangements in policing which is currently not the case.

"Individuals can have the benefit of being clear about what is expected of them, being told when they are doing a good job or when they are not doing a good job in an honest and supportive way.

"Officers would be accredited for the training and skills they have and the whole area of professional development would be taken far more seriously than it has been to date. The development of staff in policing has historically been seen as a cost rather than an investment."

Although not explicitly performance-related pay, it was more like PRP than the current model, he said.

Mr Cunningham, a former HM inspector of police and chief constable, said the shake-up would bring short-term entrants into the police which, he believed, would appeal to the millennial generation who wanted a more flexible approach to work and careers than their parents.

"Historically people came in as a police constable and stayed for 30 years until they were tipped out at the end. This model has served policing well but I think it is time for significant review.

"We have to think about how we refine the way new skills are brought into the police. It might be a chief constable needs people with lots of digital and cyber skills. How do they bring them into the police for a short period of time not necessarily as police officers or maybe as police officers."

Mr Cunningham said there had been some moves to direct entry with senior ranks opened up to outsiders, which was currently being evaluated.

"The police service needs to be responsive to [the millennial generation] to make sure it is sufficiently attractive for talent from all backgrounds," he said.

Police faced new demands from increasingly complex crimes, often cyber-related such as child abuse and fraud, which meant forces needed to rethink their capabilities and recruit officers and staff with the skills to tackle them, said Mr Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham said ethnic minority officers and women were still under-represented: "That challenges a number of things around how people are recruited and how they are attracted to policing. The service needs to do much more."

He claimed policing was also being transformed by offering graduates and school-leavers alternative routes into the service including new apprenticeships where trainees secured a degree qualification on the job.

uaware COMMENT

This is going to be a very interesting one to implement and one that hasn't had much thought placed upon it. Performance related pay is normally applied to management, not normally the people at the "coal face". Its also applied to area's where there is some form of control, sadly miscreants are an unknown quantity on the when and where.

Trying to control pay progression of an officer when the likes of the Mayor of London is increasing the salaries of his office staff to £100K is also not going to help matters, especially when the total increase equates to £2.2 million (repeat, a total annual increase of). That increase alone would have financed 36 additional police officers per year. There is no such thing as a seperate budget, it is all London council tax payers money or funding from central government (more tax payers money).

Implemented incorrectly this will reduce the morale of the police even further.

Personal Police objectives

Crime is going up and so is the percentage of unsolved crime. So these could be classed as the basic objectives (prevent crime and solve crime).

So how can a "Bobby" on the beat possibly achieve this and where is their opportunity ?

- Provide crime prevention talks to residents and businesses. That means they are not on the street as a deterent. People work and are only available in the evening, police overtime goes up.

- Provide crime prevent surveys. That means they are not on the street as a deterent. More overtime !

- More stop and search, perhaps without due cause. This will wind up some members of the community.

- Look out for more traffic offences. This will wind up some other members of the community.

- Government could create some more laws that can be used to "nick" more people (ie. jaywalking). This will wind up everyone.

- Rekindle laws that have not been used since "Sufferage" prior to 1921 or the Great Depression of the 1920's; such as obstructing the "King or Queens" highway.

- Then their is one of the great "softer" ways of downgrading someone achievements; the phrase "you don't network". Which translated means "you don't go down the pub with your work colleagues" !


Within the UK there are around 40 police forces, typically based on the county lines. Each with its own Chief Constable with their management subordinates (deputies, assistance etc), then the ancilliary staff (HR, Finance, purchasing etc). Overseeing the constabulary there is then the elected political Police Commissioners and their staff.

So behind the Bobbies on the beat there is this great wedge of bureaucracy replicated 40 times.

No money wasted there then (sarcasm).


Whilst most members of society, even at infant school are using Microsoft Windows 10 and the associated modern efficient Apps. Some police officers in the Met are still using Window XP; a system that is over 15 years old. Not only that, the Met is paying Microsoft a premium to keep a creaking system up and running.

Whilst talking about creaking, Met police officers are also still using Dell computers that are 15 years old.

Then there is the problem of some county systems not being able to be accessed by other forces.

It is not just the computers that are out of the ark, its their communications also. They are still using something akin to 2G mobile phones. The replacement upgrade to 4G mobile has been taking years to develop and is a project under the control of the Home Office. The Home Office has been "creaming off" 10% of the UK Police budget to pay for its development.

Not joined up

Since 2012 there have been 40 elected Police & Crime commissioner (PCC) jobs created paid £87,000 per year. Each commissioner will have their own management team. Taking Avon and Somerset as an example, they have 18 staff with total salary of £750,000, or the monetary equivalent of 25 bobbies on the beat.

Bleeting for more cash appears to be one of the objectives of a commissioner; many council tax payers would have received a request of opinion on the implementation of a one-off "precept" payment in 2017 to improve policing. Not surprisingly, the same request was made in 2018.

Since 2012 there has been a steady increase in crime, which maybe in part to too much local political meddling.


As a civilian if you want to check what is going on with the police force in your area you can look at their website. Visit another forces website it will look completely different and designed by a different company. 40 different styles. 40 different design costs.

The majority of police forces purchase items as a single entity so don't get bulk discounts from suppliers.

Sensible initiatives in one force are not apparently shared between the 40 other constabularies.

Unbelievably slow in rolling out crime fighting technology. For example, body worn camera's took nearly 8 years from trials to roll-out. All under the auspices of the NPCC.

Purchasing products and services that have proved to be useless. For example, the crime prediction software in Kent. So no implementation of a "try before you buy" ethos.

The police are an arm of the Home Office, but the Home Office does not deal with the strategic operation of the police. That is dealt with by the National Police Chiefs Council [NPCC] (formerly Association of Chief Police Officers). The old organisation did not work efficently so in 2015 it changed its name.

What are front line Police Officers paid

Something between £19k and £38k, plus shift allowance, overtime and London Weighting where applicable.

I have just read an advertisement for a train driver vacancies on Great Western Railway. Salary £55k including shift allowance, rising to £62k by 2020. I am not decrying a train drivers job, but there is a form of mismatch here.

What do Police Officers duties include ?

- Take abuse, violence and spitting in the face
- Informing a next of kin of the death in someones family
- Help scrape a body off the road after a traffic incident
- Walk towards a disaster scene to see what can be done
- Protect members of the public from a terrorist wealding a machete with their bare hands or a baton
- Risk their lives in other ways
- Always be on duty

We have truely a thin blue line. And there is now the suggestion to control a police officer pay progression ???

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 18th November 2018 author Mark Townsend)

Full article [Option 1]:

On the outskirts of Hlucín, beside a sports bar and pizza joint, is a two-storey warehouse increasingly familiar to British criminals and police. Here, a short stroll from the rolling farmland of the eastern Czech Republic, is the portentously titled Bullet Project, owned by the local weapons supplier Balistas.

Visitors to the business's website can acquire weaponry from crossbows to high-spec air rifles. The Zoraki automatic handgun, which can fire eight bullets a second, is proving popular with Britons.

In May 2017 Balistas sent a consignment of Zorakis by "fast parcel" courier to an address near the A421, south of Bedford. There, in a suburban garden shed, the blank-firing guns were converted to deadly weapons and sold to underworld figures.

What followed next would not only instigate urgent attempts from the Home Office to amend gun laws across Europe, but elicit concern among counterterrorism officials that such weapons could readily fall into the hands of extremists, be they far right or jihadist.

The newly modified Zorakis travelled far, and quickly, police sources told the Observer. Ballistics analysis traced them to Birmingham, Essex, London and Luton. An attempted murder, a drive-by shooting at a crowded fast-food restaurant and an audacious hit at a London shopping centre would ensue. A home in Romford was sprayed with bullets.

Much of the debate surrounding the UK's rise in violent offences has concentrated on knife crime. Yet running quietly parallel to the discourse on reducing knife use, senior police officers warn that many of the metrics measuring firearms are moving the same way.

Recorded firearm offences in England and Wales rose nearly a quarter to 6,375 offences last year, while the number of people shot dead increased by a fifth. Ballistics intelligence has mapped the highest number of firearm discharge incidents for five years; the number of weapons seized suggests the volume of firearms on Britain's streets is at its highest in almost a decade. One reason, say experts, is traceable to eastern Europe and outlets like the one next door to Hlucín's sports bar.

One constant in the perpetually evolving ecosystem of crime is the gun itself. The more lethal the weapon, the higher its owner's status, and the acquisition of a handgun that can fire rapidly is a shared ambition among violent criminals. "There's a genuine status in the type of firearm as much as the firearm itself," says Helen Poole, a firearms expert at Northampton University. The latest intelligence assessment estimates there are 750 organised crime groups and urban street gangs "involved with guns" in the UK. This despite the fact that the country has some of the world's most stringent gun laws, which means it requires ingenuity to obtain potent guns, along with an eye for spotting new opportunities.

It was the attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 that provided the starting point for the events that would lead to the import of the Zorakis into Bedford. Investigators tracing the guns that killed 12 people in Paris discovered they had been legally procured from a shop in Slovakia, deactivated and sold to resellers who passed them to terrorists. In July 2015 Slovakia's government dramatically tightened its gun laws. British police say the development inadvertently created another threat.

Detective Inspector Justin Dipper, who is tracking the consignment of Zorakis in Bedford, said new firms merely sprung up in neighbouring countries such as the Czech Republic where it is legal to sell blank-firing models like the Zoraki as well as so-called Flobert guns. The latter are able to fire small 6mm rounds and can be lethal in their unmodified state.

Both are illegal to possess in the UK. Dipper, from Bedfordshire police's serious and organised crime unit, said it was straightforward to convert a Zoraki into a deadly automatic weapon. "If you're somewhere beyond O-level metalwork you'll probably be able to do it in a couple of hours. Ultimately what we have are teenagers buying prohibited weapons for €100-plus, converting them into lethal barrelled weapons and then walking around the streets shooting people.

"You don't need to be wholly sophisticated to do this, that's the risk. This is clearly an evolution and we are constantly having to deal with the threat that these guns pose."

On the Balistas website the UK is listed among countries eligible for shipping at €35. Several of the Zoraki guns are listed as sold out. The models imported to Bedford - which cost from €74.10 to €97.70 - are described as among the "most popular". Dipper said they were so advanced that they effectively replace the MAC-10, the submachine gun that became notorious a decade ago.

The National Crime Agency's strategic threat assessment also suggests the Slovakian crackdown motivated east European firms to sell guns that could be "minimally converted to fire standard bullets". It mentions the Zoraki, noting these are "an emerging trend in the London area".

Recently it became evident that organised crime groups had spotted the loophole. Between May 2017 and May 2018 the National Crime Agency identified the use of converted-blank or Flobert weapons in 99 crimes, including a murder.

The issue was how to stem their popularity before more gangs caught on. On 7 November, border officials, police and Europol investigators assembled on the first floor of the agency's offices in Vauxhall, south London. Behind them, dominating a wall, was a huge map of eastern Europe. It was Britain's first "day of action" against individuals who had bought illegal guns online from companies such as Balistas. "We've done background checks and intelligence updates to identify 60 individuals of whom 20 are high to medium risk and may have links to organised crime," said James Coomber, the agency's deputy firearms lead, as a wave of UK-wide raids began.

By 9.45pm police had recovered 21 firearms, including 12 handguns and a submachine gun, and 150 rounds of ammunition. Nine people had been arrested. Some were street-level drug dealers wanting a handgun for muscle. Some were armed robbers who needed arms. One person admitted selling on at least 12 guns. In Scotland someone bought 68 weapons and 1,500 rounds.

Yet even as the mounting tally of arrests was entered into a master spreadsheet, frustration was evident over the refusal of some Czech firearm companies to release their databases of customers.

A Europol source said: "We've got a big gap in the Czech Republic. We're trying to build a picture, we're trying to put more pressure on these countries. But the fact is we don't know how many are being sold to the UK."

During a visit to the Czech Republic earlier this year with Interpol, Dipper learnt that companies like Balistas were distributing hundreds of packages internationally every week.

When the Observer, posing as a potential customer, contacted the firm, it was told that hundreds of parcels had been sent to Britain with little problem.

The following day, in response to questions from the Observer, Marek Dengl of the Bullet Project released a statement saying they would stop selling blank guns and Floberts to the UK, possibly as early as this week. "Our main business is sporting shooting and we don't want to damage our brand," he said. Dengl revealed that UK police, with whom he said they "repeatedly shared" information, had also officially approached the company last Wednesday to stop exporting the controversial weapons.

For British police, the development prompted relief. Dipper said they had been trying to track down Balistas's parcels and stop them, "but they sell such a variety of stuff you can't say every parcel is a firearm. You might open one and it'd be combat clothing".

Matthew Harwozinski, 29, never planned to order combat fatigues when he emailed Balistas from Bedford in April 2017. When detectives accessed his iPad and logged on to his account with the Czech outlet they saw he went straight for a shipment of Zorakis.

Analysis of six months' activity on the account showed that Harwozinski bought dozens of the blank-firing handguns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. His friend Ricky Garner, 48, who lived on the same street, converted them to fire live ammunition in his shed. Each converted firearm sold for up to £2,000 with an optional "running repairs" service. Once, police found the barrel of a firearm that had dropped off during a shooting. The same weapon was fired 10 days later.

In August, Harwozinski, who is British, was given a life sentence while Garner was jailed for 20 years and three months.

Yet their modified guns remain on the streets. "We estimate there are probably two dozen outstanding," said Dipper. Tracking them down has become a priority. The Met recently found one in London. Last week police located another in Bedford.

On 21 September a house in Romford, Essex, was peppered with bullets that ballistics analysts traced to Harwozinski and Garner. On 18 June a Zoraki consistent with those supplied by the two men was recovered in the capital. Ten days earlier another was found in Mottingham, south London.

On 27 March bullets supplied by Garner and Harwozinski were found 170 miles away in Birmingham. Two months before that, a driver at Wood Green shopping centre in north London was shot. When police caught up with the victim he was carrying ammunition also linked to the Zorakis, indicating a gangland feud. In the preceding week guns and ammunition linked to the batch were discovered in Ilford, Essex.

The incidents continued. Days before Christmas last year shots were fired through two car windows in Tower Road, Luton. Hours later a bullet struck a McDonald's restaurant in the same town. Weapons in both shootings were traced to Garner and Harwozinski.

Although no one was injured in either incident, a subsequent shooting two months later in Romford was described by police as attempted murder. Forensics experts determined that the unique casings and bullets at the scene again matched the weapons supplied by Garner and Harwozinski.

They also matched the bullets used in another shooting at the same McDonald's in Luton weeks earlier. As police hunted down the remaining firearms, the conundrum was whether the consignment would yet prove fatal.

One of security officials' greatest fears is an MTFA - a "marauding terrorist firearms attack". An extremist carrying an automatic weapon targets a busy space with catastrophic results.

Some counterterrorism officials fear the automatic weapon in such a terrorist's hands could turn out to be a blank-firing handgun imported from eastern Europe. A recent draft report, by the European parliament's special committee on terrorism, states: "The threat of firearms being used in terrorist attacks remains, also due to an increase in converted blank-firing weapons available on the illicit weapons market."

An area of keen focus is the opaque nexus that exists between organised criminals with access to firearms and extremists. Prison, say police, is an area of concern.

A recent Flemish Peace Institute investigation into Europe's illegal firearms market and terrorists, using testimony from nine current and former high-ranking UK police officers, highlights the penal system as a place where criminals and extremists could discuss gun supply.

One police informant envisages a scenario where "imprisoned top-level criminals converting to Islam for better food and treatment perhaps meet individuals that are radicalised and seeing business opportunities".

Last year's Operation Dragonroot to disrupt the UK supply of illegal firearms to potential terrorists led to 642 firearms being seized and the arrest of 282 suspects.

The obvious worry is that the next Harwozinski and Garner may choose not to ask too many questions when selling converted guns. "Sometimes it's just about money," said Dipper, who also floats the possibility that extremists may send a frontman to seal the deal. "They purport to be a drug dealer but might be the 'legitimate' front of a more extreme organisation.

"There's a worry about people becoming radicalised at home - but with the same keyboard they can import a handgun and, with a bit of metalwork, make that into a real gun."

That some of Harwozinski and Garner's ammunition washed up in the Midlands comes as no surprise: the gangland dynamics in England's second city have become tangled of late. Traditionally Birmingham was dominated by conflict between the Burger Bar Boys and the Johnson Crew, but old loyalties have fractured with the emergence of smaller ultra-violent gangs including the Frankley Killers and the 23 Drillas. All want to outdo the others in their capacity to mete out violence. All of them want guns.

So desperate is the hunt for firearms that Detective Inspector Al Teague, head of Birmingham's organised crime and gangs unit, says that gang members risk firing weapons that might rip off their own limbs. "We've seen some very crude homemade firearms that could easily take your hand off when used." The fear is that if one gang starts cheaply converting handguns from places like Balistas, others will follow. "Clearly there's a channel to get these weapons into the country quite easily: we have seen an issue with east European weapons coming in," says Teague.

Recently Europol and the National Crime Agency, backed by Ben Wallace, the security minister, have begun putting pressure on countries such as the Czech Republic to introduce the same gun laws as those in the UK. History suggests that changes to gun regulation tend to be "event driven" in that an attack or catastrophe precipitates legislative or political action. The Home Office, fully briefed over the potential threat from another outlet like Balistas, hopes it can beat the clock.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Farmers are being forced to fortify their land with moats and anti-terror-style concrete blocks to combat organised crime gangs fly-tipping on an industrial scale.

Guy Smith, deputy president of the National Farmers' Union, said Britain's countryside risked being turned into a "Mad Max" landscape as farmers had to deploy barbed wire on gates and fences, flood lights, CCTV and concrete-reinforced gates to combat criminals leaving lorry loads of waste.

Defra figures last week revealed fly-tipping incidents where multiple loads of waste were dumped rose by 43 per cent in a year to more than 14,000.

Two of the worst saw 100 tons of commercial waste dumped on a Shropshire farm and 18 lorry loads deposited in the dead of night on another in Essex which cost the farmers £38,000 to clear.

The Environment Agency says waste is the new "narcotics" because of the profits crime gangs make from undercutting legitimate operators through illegal dumping and evading landfill taxes of up to £90 a ton.

Waste criminals were this month targeted for the first time in the government's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.

Mr Smith, a crop farmer, said: "It depresses me farmers are having to fortify their farms. They are digging ditches like defence moats, putting barbed wire around gateways and installing huge metal gates to combat this.

"It doesn't make the countryside look nice. We really should not be turning it into something from Mad Max."

He identified four types of fly-tippers: the casual litter lout throwing rubbish from cars, lazy householders leaving domestic waste often neatly sorted for recycling, dumper trucks with waste from gardens or new driveways and criminals with 25-ton lorries of commercial waste.

The biggest illegal waste dump on his Clacton-on-Sea farm was six tons but farms around the M25 had been hit harder by criminals from the East End, said Mr Smith who has dug ditches to, blocked gates with straw bales and tightened security.

Andrew Nicholls, a farmer in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, has installed floodlights and reinforced concrete gates after 100 tons of waste was dumped on his farm by at least three articulated lorries.

It cost him £18,000 to clear, wiping out his subsidy as he was only able to claim £5,000 through his insurance: "It was devastating. If it happens again, it would finish us."

He said was alarmed by the criminality. In one recent incident gangsters caught in the act of dumping waste emerged from their lorries in balaclavas and with baseball bats.

In another case, they had been caught cloning milk float number plates to try to outwit police if the numbers were spotted and reported during early morning raids.

Tom Fisher, 80, whose son Harry runs their farm in Rainham, Essex, said the scale of fly-tipping was was worse than at any time in his 58 years as a farmer, forcing them to put anti-terror style concrete blocks at gateways overnight to stop waste gangs breaking into fields.

"My son came home at 9pm, then at 6am the next morning there were 18 lorry loads of waste in a field after they cut the chains and took down a gate.

"It was very well organised, they stacked them beautifully in 18 loads. That cost us £38,000," said Mr Fisher.

His local Havering council has proposed road closures and CCTV because of the scale of fly-tipping.

"In France, where we have a place near Dijon, you can walk round the village with a bag and find nothing to put in it. All the gates are wide open. It's a different culture in Britain," said Mr Fisher.

Sam Corp, head of regulation at the Environmental Services Association, said their research showed waste crime cost at least £1bn a year in lost revenue and clean-up costs.

It attracted organised gangs because of the "big returns and low risk of being caught."

"It's very easy to enter the waste sector without going through too many regulatory hoops. You can become a licensed waste carrier for £150 with the Environment Agency's logo to give legitimacy," he said.

"Then the rewards are very high with landfill tax running at £90 a tonne. People who pay for them to take away the waste assume you are paying the £90, but if you can undercut that, then profits can ramp up pretty quickly.

"Unlike the illegal drug industry where the penalties are high if you get caught, that is not always the case for waste related offences. People don't realise the extent to which criminals are involved."

Defra last week proposed fines for producers of illegally-dumped waste and electronic tracking of waste as a possible way to combat waste criminals.

(1st December 2018)

(Independent, dated 17th November 2018 author Chiara Giordano)

Full article [Option 1]:

Tens of millions of text messages have been exposed on a company's database by a security lapse.

The messages, which included password reset links, two-factor authentication codes and shipping notifications, were exposed on a server belonging to Voxox.

Alarmingly, the San Diego-based communications company's server was not password protected, meaning anyone who knew where to find it could easily snoop.

Berlin-based security researcher Sébastien Kaul found the database had just over 26 million text messages when it was taken offline by Voxox following an inquiry by TechCrunch.

But the volume of messages processed through the platform per minute suggests this figure may be higher.

Each record included the recipient's mobile phone number, the message, the Voxox customer who sent the message, and the shortcode they used - although the codes themselves would only have been usable for a very short amount of time.

Voxox acts as a gateway for companies such as Amazon by converting shipping codes or two-factor authentication codes into text messages to be passed on to customers' mobile phones.

And apps such as Viber ad HQ Trivia use the technology to verify a user's phone number or send a two-factor authentication code.

Among its findings, TechCrunch discovered several partners were sent their six-digit two-factor codes to log in to the company's extranet corporate network.

It also found several small to mid-size hospitals and medical facilities sent reminders to patients about their upcoming appointments, and in some cases, billing inquiries; and a password was sent in plaintext to a Los Angeles phone number by dating app Badoo.

Dylan Katz, a security researcher, told TechCrunch: "My real concern here is the potential that this has already been abused.

"This is different from most breaches, due to the fact the data is temporary, so once it's offline any data stolen isn't very useful."

Kevin Hertz, Voxox's co-founder and chief technology officer, told TechCrunch in an email that the company was "looking into the issue and following standard data breach policy at the moment" and that the company was "evaluating impact".

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 16th November 2018 author Matthew Field)

Full article [Option 1]:

ens of millions of text messages and security codes were exposed in an online database that did not even have a password, security researchers have found.

The database of text messages, used by companies to send password reset information, shipping notifications and security codes, was left exposed by communications company Voxox.

The files included 26 million records of text messages this year alone, according to TechCrunch. Password verification messages for Google accounts, Amazon delivery tracking notices, messaging apps and security codes for major financial investment companies were all included in the leak.

The exposed server could be found by Sébastien Kaul, a Berlin-based security researcher, using a search engine for public devices and data bases named Shodan. It was not password protected, meaning anyone could enter and access the data.

Exposed on the database were a stream of near real-time messages. However, the access codes in these would typically only have worked for a few minutes after they had been sent.

The leak shows the risks of text message-based communications with companies that are easier to intercept than encrypted digital messages.

App developers and websites often employ technology companies to verify a phone number with a user's account and send it information, like a log in access code for two-factor authentication.

San Francisco-based Voxox was one of those middlemen companies, converting the messages into text for delivery to users.

Apps including messaging service Viber and Kakao, used the service for verifying phone numbers, as did quiz app HQ Trivia.

Mike Godfrey, chief executive at security firm Insinia Security, said: "With text messages used for two factor authetication, we all knew this was a bad idea because hackers can get access to text messages. With two factor security it makes the system worse because you are lulled into a false sense of security."

The leaky nature of SMS communication, which travels on phone networks and can be compromised or fooled by hackers, has led some companies, such as Facebook and Google, to offer secure apps to verify users instead.

The systems behind SMS text messages has not been changed for decades, making it vulnerable to spoof messages and phishing.

Voxox told TechCrunch it was "looking into the issue and following standard data breach policy at the moment".

Cyber crime | Most common UK online offences (Source : Office for National Statistics)

These are the ten most common cyber-crimes in the UK, with number of cases reported in the year to June 2016

1. Bank account fraud - 2,356,000

Criminals trick their way to get account details. For example: "Phishing" emails contain links or attachments that either take you to a website that looks like your bank's, or install malware on your system. A 2015 report by Verizon into data breach investigations has shown that 23pc of people open phishing emails.

2. Non-investment fraud - 1,028,000

AKA Ponzi schemes. Examples include penny stocks, pension liberation, and investment in commodities, such as wine or art, that later prove worthless
3. Computer virus - 1,340,000

Unauthorised software damages or takes control of your machine. For example: "Ransomware" encrypts your files and pictures then demands a payment to restore your access to it

4. Hacking - 681,000

Criminals exploit security weaknesses to illegally access other machines or networks. They steal sensitive data or subvert machines for their own purposes, such as sending spam or launching other cyber attacks

5. Advance fee fraud - 117,000

The victim is promised access to a great deal of money in return for a smaller upfront payment. For example, the classic "Nigerian Prince" email scam

6. Other fraud - 116,000

One example is "solicitor scams", where a solicitor's website is hacked, then clients asked to divert large payments into the criminals' bank accounts.

7. Harassment and stalking - 18,826

Threats, abuse and online bullying - what's commonly been termed "trolling" on social media

8. Obscene publications - 6,292

Pornography that meets the definition of the Obscene Publications Act, thus generally involving some form of physical abuse

9. Child sexual offences - 4,184

Assault, grooming, indecent communication, coercing a child to witness a sex act. These crimes may be being under-reported

10. Blackmail - 2,028

This includes threats to publish intimate photographs online

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 16th November 2018 author John Fitzsimons)

Full article [Option 1]:

With less than a week until Black Friday - and many deals already live - shoppers are getting excited.

Black Friday - a day in which retailers across the country unveil huge, limited-time discounts - has become a big deal in the UK.

According to IMRG, the online retail association, around £1.39billion was spent on Black Friday just by online shoppers last year in the UK.

This year, people are expected to spend £13.41million a minute, every minute, over the weekend running until the end of Monday, research shows.

But with so many apparent bargains on offer, Black Friday also presents a big opportunity for scammers and fraudsters looking to con you into handing over your cash.

So how do you keep yourself safe?

Dodgy emails

The rise of Black Friday in the UK is in large part down to Amazon.

The online retail giant has expanded its Black Friday so that it essentially runs all week, so those of us who shop on the site regularly will be receiving a large number of emails pushing new deals and providing updates on orders.

The trouble is, not all of them will be legitimate - this is a great time of year for scammers to pose as Amazon, sending emails that look above board but which are really an attempt to con recipients into divulging their personal or account details.

Of course, this doesn't just apply to Amazon - every big store will be used by these phishing scammers, so it pays to be on your guard.

Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN says: "Unfortunately, it's actually relatively easy for cybercriminals to mimic emails from big name brands - in fact, even rookie fraudsters can buy ready-made 'phishing' email templates on the dark web for little more than a couple of quid."

Keep it secure

When the time comes to pay for your online purchase, it's a good idea to check the URL.

It should start "https" - that s stands for secure, meaning that the details you enter are protected from any prying eyes.

If there is no option for secure payment, then it's best to avoid it altogether.

What about the WiFi

As well as the security of the retailer, you need to think about how secure your internet connection is, particularly if you are using a public network such as a free Wi-Fi service.

Migliano points out that 'man in the middle' scams involve fraudsters setting up what appears to be a real WiFi network, but which forces your web traffic to go through the fraudsters' computer, allowing them to see what you are looking at.

He adds: "It's then relatively easy to mimic certain shopping pages, and before you know it, you've inputted your details into a fraudulent site and essentially handed the keys to your accounts over to the criminal."

Beef up your anti-virus

As Get Safe Online points out, thousands of new viruses pop up on the internet every single day, as well as variants of existing malware.

This makes it all the more important that you not only install some decent anti-virus software on your various mobile devices, but that you also keep it updated.

Most anti-virus software automatically download updates, allowing them to tackle these new and improved viruses, but you may need to approve those updates.

Good anti-virus is basically your front line in the fight against getting scammed and having your identity stolen - it's essential.

Keep sceptical

The success of Black Friday is based on the massive discounts on offer, but it still pays to be a little sceptical about the deals being pushed, particularly if it's from a retailer that you aren't familiar with.

If a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is. And before you spend with a retailer you hadn't previously heard of, make sure you do some research to ensure they are actually legitimate.

Watch out for counterfeits

According to fraud reporting service Action Fraud , more than 50,000 websites have been suspended over the last five years after it was discovered that they were selling fake goods .

There are a few telltale signs to watch out for here. For example, contact the retailer to see if they provide an after-sales service, warranty or guarantee - this is something most dodgy retailers will avoid.

Similarly, it's a good idea to check where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address. If there is no address, or it's just a PO Box, then you should be very vary.

It's also really important that you read the terms and conditions carefully, particularly those that cover what happens in the event of a dispute.

(1st December 2018)

(The Times, dated 16th November 2018 author Ben Webster)

Full article [Option 1]:

A big rise in lorry-loads of waste being fly-tipped has been blamed on rogue collectors who charge households to take away rubbish and then dump it.

There were 14,430 incidents involving "significant [or] multi-loads" of waste in England in 2017-18, a rise of 43 per cent from 10,120 the year before.

Clearing up waste after such incidents cost local authorities £12.2 million, compared with £9.9 million in 2016-17. Total incidents fell by 1 per cent to 998,000, which is still the second highest total since 2009-10. Two thirds involved household waste. Fly-tipping incidents remain high despite a big increase in prosecutions, up by 43 per cent from 1,571 in 2016-17 to 2,243 in 2017-18. The number of fixed penalty notices also increased, up 20 per cent to 69,000 from 2016-17

Th full scale of the problem is understated by official statistics because the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) excludes most on private land. Many farmers complain of having to pay large sums to get rid of dumped waste.

Almost half the incidents involved waste dumped by roads. Tipping on council land and footpaths each made up another 16 per cent of the total.

Gareth Lloyd-Jones, managing director at Hippowaste, a waste remova company, said rogue collectors were to blame for the increase in large incidents. "Many residents are lookingfor cheap alternatives to getting rid of their rubbish and this is where the rogue trader has become a growing blight within the waste industry," he said.

"Traders who choose not to use a legitimate waste site will save themselves thousands every year by not paying for the safe and responsible disposal of waste. Many residents are unaware that if you do use a rogue trader it is the resident that remains responsible for the waste and you could be liable for large fines from your local council."

The number of people and organisations registered to carry waste has more than doubled in the past decade to 185,000 and few checks are carried out on those involved.

Local authorities deny that reducing bin collections and charging fees at rubbish tips of for collecting bulky waste have contributed to the fly-tippng problem. Seventy-six per cent of councils in England only collected general rubbish fortnightly from some or all households last year.

Reports of fly-tipping increased by about 10 per cent in Conwy in the 12 months to September last year after the council began a trial reduction in collections of landfill waste to once every four weeks. However, the council said that this rate reflected a UK-wide increase.

From next year it will become easier for councils to punish households that use unlicensed collectors because they will be able to issue fixed penalties.

Defra is expected to set out plans for tackling waste crime in the next few weeks. A Defra spokesman said: "Today's figures show our tough actions to crack down on fly-tippers are delivering results, with no increase in number of incidents for the first time in five years."

(1st December 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th November 2018 author Kieren McCarthy)

Full article [Option 1]:

Microsoft broke Euro privacy rules by carrying out the "large scale and covert" gathering of private data through its Office apps.

That's according to a report out this month [PDF] that was commissioned by the Dutch government into how information handled by 300,000 of its workers was processed by Microsoft's Office ProPlus suite. This software is installed on PCs and connects to Office 365 servers.

The dossier's authors found that the Windows goliath was collecting telemetry and other content from its Office applications, including email titles and sentences where translation or spellchecker was used, and secretly storing the data on systems in the United States. That's a no-no.

Those actions break Europe's new GDPR privacy safeguards, it is claimed, and may put Microsoft on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines. The Dutch authorities are working with the corporation to fix the situation, and are using the threat of a fine as a stick to make it happen.

The investigation was jumpstarted by the fact that Microsoft doesn't publicly reveal what information it gathers on users and doesn't provide an option for turning off diagnostic and telemetry data sent by its Office software to the company as a way of monitoring how well it is functioning and identifying any software issues.

Other companies typically give users the option to decide whether to send data on their software's functioning to them.

Much of what Microsoft collects is diagnostics, the researchers found, and it has seemingly tried to make the system GDPR compliant by storing Office documents on servers based in the EU. But it also collected other data that contained private information and some of that data still ended up on US servers.

"Microsoft systematically collects data on a large scale about the individual use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Covertly, without informing people," said a blog post written by Privacy Company summarizing its report. Privacy Company was hired by the Netherlands government to probe the use of Office in the public sector.

"Microsoft does not offer any choice with regard to the amount of data, or possibility to switch off the collection, or ability to see what data are collected, because the data stream is encoded."

One example: if you use the backspace key several times in a row - suggesting you aren't sure of the spelling of a particular word - or look up or translate a word through its system, then Microsoft stores the sentence before and after that event.

Why store?

And while the report's researchers note that it is inevitable that users will supply Microsoft with their IP address and email headers as part of making the system work, there is no need for the company to store that information. "Microsoft should not store these transient, functional data, unless the retention is strictly necessary, for example, for security purposes," it argues.

The dossier found that Microsoft tracks around 25,000 different types of "event" and has a team of 20 to 30 engineers who analyze the data. Those techies are also able to add new events to be recorded.

The end result of all this is the Dutch data protection authority has concluded that Microsoft has violated GDPR "on many counts" including "lack of transparency and purpose limitation, and the lack of a legal ground for the processing."

The Seattle-based company could face a huge fine under GDPR and so, according to the Dutch authorities, has provided them with an "improvement plan" that regulators are happy "would end all violations."

Microsoft has "committed to submitting these changes for verification in April 2019," the regulator noted. It has also provided a "zero exhaust" version of Office and the researchers recommend that sysadmins apply those new settings. It also suggest prohibiting the use of Microsoft's "Connected Services" and to remove the option for users to send data to "help improve" Office.

It also recommends simply not using the web-only version of Office 365, or SharePoint Oneline. And it recommends periodically deleting the Active Directory accounts of VIP users and creating new accounts for them so that the diagnostic data associated with those accounts is eventually deleted.

And in one piece of advice that will have Redmond execs jumping up and down in fury, the researchers recommend that sysadmins "consider conducting a pilot with alternative software" - something that "would be in line with the Dutch government policy to promote open standards and open source software."

The Dutch privacy watchdog has warned it is monitoring the situation: "If progress is deemed insufficient or if the improvements offered are unsatisfactory, SLM Microsoft Rijk will reconsider its position and may ask the Data Protection Authority to carry out a prior consultation and to impose enforcement measures." In other words, a monster fine, potentially.

The issue affects those with ProPlus subscriptions of Office 2016 and Office 365 and the online version of Office 365.

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson told us: "We are committed to our customers' privacy, putting them in control of their data and ensuring that Office ProPlus and other Microsoft products and services comply with GDPR and other applicable laws.

"We appreciate the opportunity to discuss our diagnostic data handling practices in Office ProPlus with the Dutch Ministry of Justice and look forward to a successful resolution of any concerns."

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th November 2018 author Charles Saatchi) [Option 1]

Britain has more surveillance cameras staring at us than any other nation. In fact, we are watched by more than 20 per cent of the worlds CCTV units, despite being home to fewer than one per cent of the global population

London ranks above Beijing and Chicago for being the most scrutinised city in the World. Residents are each captured on screens about 300 times a day.

The amount of snoopng has escalated to the point that some observers liken us to a Big Brother environment, where citizens are monitored continuously.

Authorities around the world maintain that building up their surveillance networks helps to protect their communities. As the Mayor of Chicago explained: "Cameras identify the individual who has committed the crime. Simple as that... an enormous number of cases were solved overwhelmingly by a camera: identification of a car, a licence plate, a face."

A spokesman for Wandsworth council is clear that they help solve crimes, and points out that there are multiple other ways CCTV has proved valuable, citing the example that it had enabled the rescue of someone who had fallen in the Thames. "We try and strike a balance with civil liberties, and feel we are reacting to what residence want." Certainly, the majority don't seem to notice or mind. "I've never really thought about them," says commuter Jane Taylor. "They're not particularly obtrusive and I think its a good thing especially at night to think someone is keeping an eye on things." Nadine Shah, a bank worker, agrees. "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about, have you? If they deter crime and help the police I don't see the problem. People say its like 1984 but it's a long way from that."

However, business analyst Jonathan Powers is among those who are concerned about the invasion of privacy. "Who's watching us and why? They say it helps cut crime but I haven't noticed any big drops in crime since I've been living in London. They may help bring people to court but they don't prevent crime."

Like many Londoners he is alarmed that they have not deterred the rise of violent moped thieves, or the escalation of knife crime in the capital. Others feel that the cameras do not necessarily lead to feelings of increased safety, asserting that the very presence of CCTV could instead create anxiety. "The more you visibly microscope a block or an estate, the more it gives a message that something is wrong with the estate."

They voice the view that as the cameras proliferate, eyes on the ground in the form of policemen have been drastically reduced. "There's more CCTV, less manpower."

Of course, we have come to accept that we have to live in a CCTV society in a world fearful of terrorist attacks. It is widely agreed that many atrocities have been snuffed out by the intelligence gathered via cameras. They are clearly invaluable in bringing criminals to justice.

But recent years have seen an escalation in domestic use of CCTV, as many homes take Neighbourhood Watch to a truly elevated level. It has led to heated disputes between residents who don't appreciate cameras across the street swivelling at them, having their own and their visitors' comings and goings recorded.

They are understandably upset at the prospect of being focused upon as they sunbathe in their gardens. Particularly as many of these CCTV cameras have zoom lenses.

#Charles Saatchi's latest book is We Are Bananas, published by Palazzo

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 14th November 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

undreds of residents have formed a 'vigilante' neighbourhood watch group following a failed campaign to increase the number of police officers on the streets.

The community watchdog group, known as 'We Stand Determined', stage twice-weekly patrols across Birmingham since it was set up on social media three weeks ago.

Members say they are working together to report any dangers the community may face across Britain's second largest city amid fears crime is spiralling out of control.

The group originally was an unsuccessful petition to get more police in the area.

Three organisers, only known as Wayne, Tracy and Michael, said they founded the group after discovering a friend had been attacked in his home by thieves armed with hammers.

The trio insist the group is non-violent and wants to work in partnership with the police but also as a new line of defence for neighbours concerned by crime.

Solihull-based college lecturer Wayne, 47, who did not wish to reveal his surname for fears over his safety, said: "The way our group started, and the reaction we've had, has showed us how much local communities need groups like us to fill in the gaps the authorities simply don't have the funding for.

"There has been a recent spate of crime in Birmingham recently and Solihull in particular has fallen victim to an increase of just under 1,500 more cases so far this year.

"People needed someone to turn to, someone who will listen and visit them in their home if a constituent is fearful for their own safety.

"We're vigilantes, but we're vigilantes with a twist, working within the law and not against it.

"Our group is a central place for the local community to come together to log crimes, comment and help stop crime in the area."

Tracy added 'We Stand Determined' is not designed to undermine West Midlands Police, who she said can only do what they can with the funding they are given.

But the group say this doesn't solve the problem of reduced bobbies on the beat - so they were forced to themselves.

We Stand Determined don't want to stop at patrols and have big plans to generate a totally new level of support in the area by organising buddy systems for the elderly and defence classes for anyone who feels they need to be able to protect themselves.

They soon hope to grow bigger and have representatives based in every area of the country to work so Wayne, Tracy and Michael can help everyone sleep a little easier.

Tracy, 48, said: "We stress to our members that if they see something, they should notify the police first.

"We would like to join up with the police, but we want to be able to make our own decisions on where the help is really needed, and not where the police tell us to be."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said officers were aware of multiple groups but advised members to join police-approved Streetwatch programmes instead.

(Metro, dated 21st November 2018 author Joe Roberts)

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Vigilantes patrol the streets of this coastal town of 92,000 people as police have 'given up'.

Police cars and control rooms sit empty in Hartlepool, County Durham, where locals solve their own crimes on Facebook as there are not enough officers.

Cleveland Police have been hit hard by cuts since austerity measures were introduced by George Osborne eight years ago.

The force has lost 500 officers across 14 stations in that time, despite being responsible for deprived areas where crime is high, including Hartlepool, Redcar, Cleveland, Stockton and Middlesbrough.

Some victims have resorted to hiring local 'hard men' to recover their stolen goods after waiting weeks for police to respond.

On one Saturday, there were only 10 officers on duty overnight for the entire town, a BBC investigation found.

At one point, four officers were busy attending a domestic incident.

When they were forced to arrest the couple, the officers had to drive 15 miles to the nearest custody suite in Middlesbrough.

The force announced it had to close Hartlepool's remaining custody suite this week to save money.

Paul Timlin said he had to wait two weeks for police to show up after £1,500 worth of tools were stolen from his van at Hart Station earlier this year.

He had CCTV of the incident but resorted to solving the incident all by himself.

The gas engineer shared the footage on Facebook, and when someone recognised the thieves, he paid a local 'hard man' to recover the tools.

He told the Hartlepool Mail: 'I sympathise with the police because I believe it's down to governmental cuts. "There just isn't enough police to police Hartlepool.

'In a town of around 100,000 or so there just isn't enough police in cars on the beat.'

Business owner, Corrine Winwood, 37, told the Daily Mail:: 'People post their own CCTV footage of when they have been broken into on Facebook saying, "have you seen this person?"'

Volunteer Darren Price patrols the streets as part of a vigilante group hoping to deter crime.

'We just want to try and make our area safer. The police don't come out,' he told the BBC. 'We want the people who are coming around our area nicking things to know that there are people walking the streets actively looking for them.'

Hartlepool mayor Allan Barclay said: 'Criminals are very happy because they know they can get away with it.

'Policing is now non-existent for low-level crimes and things like burglaries and shoplifting because the police's hands are tied by budget cuts.

'Police have effectively given up on coming out because they just don't have the resources - victims get a crime number and that's it.'

Community Policing Superintendent Alison Jackson said: 'Whilst cuts to policing have had an effect on resources locally, a position which is reflected across all forces nationally, our commitment to policing in Hartlepool remains the same as ever. We make the most efficient use of the resources available to us and those resources are directed to incidents based on levels of threat, harm and risk to our communities.
'Cleveland Police is currently undergoing a programme of change aimed at maximising our available resources so that we can protect the most vulnerable within our communities and focus on those that need us the most.

'Here in Hartlepool we have a partnership approach whereby officers and staff from Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Fire Brigade work from the same building and therefore communicate and deal with problems more effectively, efficiently and in a more timely manner.

'We are listening to members of the public and are acting on information provided. In the last few weeks alone we have seen examples of drugs being taken off the streets of Hartlepool, antisocial behaviour being tackled across the town and environmental issues being dealt with, all as a result of acting on information provided by the public.'

(Mirror, dated 7th November 2018 author Andrew Gregory)

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Public confidence in the police has been "severely dented", a damning report warns.

Forces are desperately struggling to keep millions of Brits safe following years of Tory cuts, MPs say.

It is taking longer to charge suspects, fewer arrests are being made and neighbourhood presences have been stripped back, they discovered.

Falls in funding and staffing levels have left constabularies under "increasing strain", according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee.

It highlighted how police are dealing with more incidents which are not crime-related at a time when violent and sexual offending is on the rise.

The assessment - the latest to raise serious concerns about the state of policing in England and Wales - said: "Policing by consent relies on public confidence and this is being severely dented.

"Forces are struggling to deliver an effective service: it is taking longer to charge offences; they are making fewer arrests; they are doing less neighbourhood policing, and public satisfaction is declining."

The committee cited figures showing that the proportion of crimes resulting in a charge or summons dropped from 15% in March 2015 to 9% in March 2018.

Police are carrying out less proactive work, the report added, pointing to falls in the numbers of breathalyser tests, motoring fixed penalties and convictions for drug trafficking and possession.

The PAC also levelled criticism at the Home Office, accusing the department of failing to show "strategic leadership" of the policing system and having only a "limited understanding" of the resources forces need.

"The police's main duties are to protect the public and prevent crime," the report said. "But only about a quarter of the emergency and priority incidents that the police respond to are crime-related."

One police and crime commissioner told the committee that the impact of austerity had been "immense", while another suggested that "communities do not feel safe".

PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said: "The 'thin blue line' is wearing thinner with potentially dire consequences for public safety.

"Public confidence and trust that the police will respond is breaking down.

"This cannot continue. Government must show leadership and get on with fixing the flaws at the heart of its approach to policing."

A slew of figures and highly critical reports have prompted intense scrutiny of police performance and funding.

The number of arrests in England and Wales has halved in a decade, while recorded crime has risen across a number of categories including homicide and knife-related offences.

Last week, one of the country's most senior officers called for a refocus on "core policing".

National Police Chiefs' Council chairwoman Sara Thornton warned forces are too stretched to take on all "deserving" issues, such as logging misogyny reports when no offence has been committed.

Police funding has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010, while officer numbers have decreased by more than 20,000 over the same period.

Pressure on ministers to provide a cash injection intensified after a warning from another Commons committee that policing risks becoming "irrelevant" amid vanishing neighbourhood presences and low investigation and detection rates.

While last week's Budget included £160million for counter-terror policing, the Government faced criticism from the rank-and-file over the absence of any commitment for general police funding.

Separately, police numbers will be cut to the "lowest level on record" if the Government continues with a plan to overhaul public service pension schemes, shadow policing minister Louise Haigh warned.

Police chiefs wrote to ministers last month to warn that 10,000 officers' jobs could be cut because forces face a funding shortfall of nearly £600million over two years caused by proposed pension changes.

Forces have been told to find £165million in 2019-20 and up to £417million in 2020-21 as a result of the change.

Ms Haigh, speaking in the Commons, said: "Despite what the Prime Minister has repeatedly and shamefully told this House, that the police have known about these changes for years, police chiefs issued a public statement rebuking the Prime Minister and stating the first notification they had came in September 2018.

"So quite apart from the fact the Prime Minister should apologise to this House, the Government should apologise to the police for such rank incompetence."

(1st December 2018)

(NS Tech, dated 13th November 2018 author Sooraj Shah)

Full article [Option 1]:

Businesses should report cyber attacks, data breaches and fraud to the police or to the National Crime Agency (NCA), without fear that the details will be passed on to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), according to the national policing lead on cyber crime, Peter Goodman.

While businesses are not required to report every breach to the ICO, they are required to consider whether the breach poses a risk to people, and the level of severity of any risk to people's rights and freedoms. Depending on the potential impact of the breach, it may be deemed necessary to report it to the ICO. However, many businesses are reluctant to do so in fear that it could lead to a monetary fine, and could damage the organisation's reputation.

Goodman, who was speaking to NS Tech at the first-ever Cyber Security Connect UK conference in Monaco last week, explained that one of the key issues that the government faces is that businesses are not reporting cyber crime enough - meaning they don't have as much information as they require to find the perpetrators and mitigate risks.

"We're desperate for people to report all of the time, and if businesses report to the police or NCA that doesn't mean they are reporting to the regulator around GDPR. If we get told something by a company or a business, we don't tell the regulator - that's a separate thing entirely," he said.

According to Goodman, the organisation has an agreement with the regulator meaning it does not have to report any incidents that it knows of. The idea is to help build up the government's intelligence base, and ultimately find those responsible for the cyber attacks.

Goodman, who is also Chief Constable of the Derbyshire Constabulary, acknowledged that this was a hard sell for businesses, but said that the government is trying to get the message out there to businesses as much as they can.

"Occasionally, we are getting businesses reporting this but not as many as we should. People are still fearful that we're still in government - but we have to make it as clear as possible that we're separate and distinct," he said.

But while he said that the police or NCA would not send over information to the ICO that a business has given them, he said that in the reverse scenario, he hoped that the ICO would let law enforcement know if something is reported to them.

"We want to be able to approach businesses and say 'we understand you've been subjected to cyber crime' and ask them if they want law enforcement support for this - this doesn't mean carrying out an investigation, but just to help them," Goodman stated.

Action Fraud - finally an improvement

At the conference, Gary Brailsford-Hart, the director of information (CISO and DPO) of City of London Police, admitted that Action Fraud, which has been the government's main programme associated with reporting and tackling cyber fraud, has not been as effective as it should have been - even joking that people would have thrown rotten fruit at him for mentioning the initiative.

Goodman added that if people had phoned Action Fraud in the past, they would get a sympathetic response and then nothing, because the policing teams didn't have the competence, capacity or capability to do anything about the crimes.

However, Goodman and his team have persuaded every chief constable in the country that now is the time to create their own local cyber crime unit with funding help from the Home Office and Cabinet Office. The aim would be to make sure that any individual or business who reported a crime to Action Fraud would receive a response and effective advice.

"The analysis we had for the first six months is that almost 96 per cent of victims who reported cyber crime have received appropriate responses and an investigation into the crime - which might not account to anything yet, but they've received preventative advice and appropriate care, and their satisfaction is through the roof compared to six years ago," he said.

However, he was wary about talking up a new intelligent platform that Action Fraud had put in place three weeks ago, stating that it would still take some time before understanding how much better the new platform would be. But he does believe Action Fraud is improving.

"We're working with National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and a lot of other partners to look at a more bespoke approach. This has allowed us to get to a situation now where if you're a very big business and you have an attack against you and you engage with government - you will get a sophisticated response from NCSC and Action Fraud. If you're one tier down, you'll get a sophisticated response from the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), and if you are an individual, you will get an intelligent response from policing," he said.

"So for the first time, we are getting the entire landscape improving," he said.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 13th November 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of murders in London so far this year has now matched the total in the whole of 2017, a grim milestone that will fuel the debate of how to tackle rising crime.

After a series of violent deaths in the capital, including the week from October 31 when there were five stab murders, the tally of homicides has reached 118.

This is equal to the number in the whole of 2017, according to Home Office figures, excluding the 13 victims of the terrorist attacks at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

The latest incident involved the death of a 35-year-old woman who suffered an abdominal wound at an address in Ilford, east London, on Monday. A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The official Metropolitan Police tally of violent deaths this year is 120, but the figure takes in two cases that are being treated as self-defence.

The remainder include 68 stabbings, 12 shootings and two deaths involving a knife and a gun.

A third of the cases (42) involved victims aged 16 to 24, while 20 were teenagers.

Among the victims aged 16 to 24, 30 were stabbed, nine were shot, two died in attacks involving a knife and a gun, and one died in a fall.

For the teenagers aged 15 to 19, six were shot and 14 were stabbed.

###Enhanced stop and search powers to be introduced

How police can tackle the issue has been a subject of fierce debate.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is expected to announce enhanced stop and search powers for police within the next few weeks.

He has said police should feel empowered to use the tactic irrespective of whether they are black, brown or white in efforts to combat the "disease" of knife crime.

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said last week the Home Office had "stepped back a lot" and needed to show "greater leadership".

Serious knife crime has soared this decade (Data : Home Office)
% change in offences involving knives, 2012-13 to 2017-18

Threats to kill : 148%
Rape : 134%
Attempted Murder : 92%
Sexual Assault : 84&
Actual/grievous bodily harm : 67%
Homicide : 45%
Robbery : 31%

In an interview with The Telegraph, she said the failure to introduce laws which allow officers to use facial recognition technology to catch "bad guys" has left her officers "hamstrung". She added that the battle against violent crime would be easier with funding for more officers.

###Violent crime levels a 'concern' after second highest number of homicides since 2010

Levels of violent crime in the capital have remained a concern throughout the year, with monthly highs in February and March, when 18 homicides were recorded each month.

These were the second highest monthly totals recorded since April 2010.

The only higher peak was in June 2017 when there were 20, a figure that includes eight people killed in the London Bridge terror atrocity.

If this is excluded, the previous monthly peak was in April 2010 when there were 16.

In total, 111 homicides were recorded in 2016 and 122 in 2015 in the capital, according to Home Office data.

Before this the number of police-recorded homicides in London had been falling, from 164 in 2007 to 91 in 2014.

Looking at official figures for financial years, there was a peak in 2003/4 when there were 212, and then, bar one rise in 2010/11, the total gradually decreased until 2017/18 when it rose by 36% to 146.

###Middle class cocaine users blamed for crime rise

In response to the bloodshed this year, the Metropolitan Police Violent Crime Task Force was set up, seizing 340 knives, 40 guns and 258 other offensive weapons in its first six months of operation, and making more than 1,350 arrests.

Mayor Sadiq Khan also announced plans for a Violence Reduction Unit that would adopt the public health approach to tackle violent crime that was successfully used in Glasgow.

Police have pointed to links between violence and so-called county lines drug networks, where urban dealers force children and other vulnerable people to courier illegal substances to customers in more rural areas.

They are also known to take over innocent people's homes to use as a base for crime.

Middle class cocaine users have come under fire from a number of public figures, including Ms Dick, who pointed to the misery caused by the drugs trade.

Drill music, where rappers taunt rivals with lyrics laced with violence and threats, and the role of social media in escalating disputes have also come under the microscope, as have cuts to youth services and the police.

On Monday Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that police officer numbers were "an important part" of the fight against violent crime.

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 13th November 2018 author Brendan McFadden)

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A chief constable has warned his force may only be able to provide 'the most basic services to the most vulnerable' due to Government funding cuts.

The chief constable of Dorset Police James Vaughan has outlined his concerns about the force's future alongside its police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill.

Mr Vaughan revealed his force's budget had reduced by £25 million since the Government's austerity programme.

He said this meant it had to reduce its workforce by 500 officers and staff - making staffing numbers the lowest they've been since the early 1980s.

More than £4m each year will be reduced from the budget in coming years, he claimed in a statement, at a time when demand is 'rising at an alarming rate'.

Mr Vaughan said that the budget reduction comes as levels of crimes such as sexual assaults, domestic assault, child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and cybercrime had increased.

He said 'these types of crimes require specialised and time-consuming investigations to protect and safeguard victims'.

'Whilst we remain committed to providing the best possible policing service to communities across Dorset, I am extremely concerned that the stark reality of our current financial outlook means that we may no longer be able to provide anything but the most basic services to the most vulnerable sectors of our community.

'The Chancellor's budget this year provided much needed and welcome additional funding for health, education and defence but identified no additional funds for police forces; only a very small one-off increase to support Counter Terrorism policing.

'This, combined with the potential changes to employer pension contributions, and normal inflationary pressures will remove more than £4 million a year from the Force budget in coming years.

'The budget for Dorset Police has already reduced by £25 million since the introduction of the Government's austerity programme and, as a direct result, we have had to reduce our workforce by 500 officers and staff.

'This rate of decline simply cannot continue without having a significant impact on our services.'

Mr Vaughan said the demand for policing was rising 'at an alarming rate' with crimes and incidents rising by almost 10% across the county over the past year.

This rise will continue if there is no investment in resources for early intervention to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, he warned.

'All of these pressures take their toll on my officers and staff who are working hard to deliver services in an increasingly difficult landscape,' Mr Vaughan said.

'Their frustrations at being asked to deliver so much more with so much less are clear and the strain is beginning to show.'

He added that providing the people of Dorset with a good policing service is 'becoming an increasing challenge'.

Mr Underhill said comments from Mr Vaughan and himself were the first time that Dorset had spoken out against the impact of austerity on policing.

'The small increase in force budget in recent years, 4% over six years, has been met by local taxpayers,' Mr Underhill said.

'Whilst I remain incredibly grateful for their continued support, it is time for the Government to live up to their claim that 'public safety is the number one priority of the government', a statement made by the Home Secretary to PCCs and Chief Constables less than a fortnight ago.

'We now have a Force with 500 fewer officers and staff, the lowest it's been since the early 1980s.

'The demands on the police continue to grow, with no signs of abating.

'The recent budget presented by the Chancellor claimed an end to austerity; sadly this was not the case for the police.

'As usual we must wait until December, with our caps in hand, hoping that Government will offer a relief for policing.

'However, the signs look bleak, as there is already every indication that the grant freeze will continue and costs will increase.'

Mr Underhill said there was a 'perfect storm' of the lowest number of officers since 1981, more dangerous types of crime, increases in crime and increases in demand.

'It cannot be right that, for the first time ever, the chief constable and I will need to seriously consider which service must we stop in order to concentrate scarce resources on keeping people safe,' he added.

'However, that is precisely the situation in which we find ourselves.'

(1st December 2018)

(Heart Radio, dated 12th November 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Rural criminals disrupted by Lancashire police as part of nationwide Operation Checkpoint
A day of action aimed at targeting travelling criminals who commit rural crime has been hailed as a success.

Lancashire Constabulary joined police forces from across England and Wales as part of Operation Checkpoint, a countrywide campaign focused on disrupting criminals who use road networks to offend in rural areas.

The operation ran throughout Thursday (November 8) into the early hours of Friday (November 9), with each force providing officers and specialist resources for their own areas.

Supt Julian Platt, of Lancashire Police, said: "This operation has been aimed primarily at disrupting organised crime groups who operate between force areas committing acquisitive crime, potentially countrywide and predominantly in rural areas.

"We have carried out a number of stop/checks across the county targeting vehicles and trailers carrying plant and agricultural machinery, as well as other vehicles relating to police intelligence.

"We have also provided high visibility reassurance to members of the public and rural communities, with a particular focus on the theft of plant and agricultural equipment, hare coursing and organised crime links.

"Seventy-four per cent of Lancashire's geographical area is classed as rural. We are keen to work with the residents living in these areas to clamp down on criminals wherever they are from, and wherever they are going.

"Rural and wildlife officers are working with Lancashire Tactical Operations officers to extend their reach across Lancashire and stop cross border criminals."

Recent police intelligence has shown organised crime groups targeting semi-rural cash machines to commit offences.

Criminals often carry out reconnaissance of targets, including paying unusual attention to CCTV, traffic and footfall. On occasion plant materials, such as JCB diggers, have been used to smash into buildings to remove ATMs.

During the day of action, Lancashire Police made several arrests and seizures.

A 53-year-old man from Barnoldswick was arrested in Lancaster on suspicion of a burglary in Crooklands. He was later transferred to Cumbria Police custody.

A 41-year-old man from Manchester was arrested in Lancaster on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified. The vehicle he was driving was allegedly linked to a burglary investigation in Cheshire. He was later released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Warrants were executed in Leyland and Lostock Hall, with a number of suspected stolen quad bikes, mowers and trailers recovered (pictured). A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and later released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, added: "Rural crime can have a huge impact on victims and this is a great example of the work being done here in Lancashire to protect those who live and work in our rural areas.

"Protecting our rural communities is as much a priority for me as it is policing our more urban towns and cities and this is part of a long term commitment at Lancashire Constabulary to tackle rural crime.

"This campaign clearly demonstrates the enthusiasm and dedication our rural officers have to catch criminals who operate across the rural areas of the county."

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 12th November 2018 author Peter Walker)

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The government has ruled out changing stop and search rules to allow police to use the power without reasonable grounds to suspect wrongdoing, while saying they want to "reduce bureaucracy" over such operations.

The statement from the junior Home Office minister Nick Hurd follows the revelation in the Guardian that police have been in talks with advisers to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, about loosening the rules because of worries about an increase in knife attacks.

Police chiefs had hoped to scrap the requirement that "reasonable grounds" were needed before a person could be subjected to a search, a condition introduced when Theresa May was home secretary, following concerns that the blanket use of stop and search was inefficient, discriminatory and damaged community relations.

Afzal Khan, a shadow Home Office minister, was granted an urgent question to ask the government about the police request.

Responding, Hurd said there were no plans to return to "the bad old days" of mass stop and search, but there were plans to help police use the powers more effectively.

He said: "The government fully supports the police to use their stop and search powers, when they have lawful grounds to do so. It is a vital policing tool when used correctly. We will always ensure the police have the necessary powers to keep people safe, and that's why we work very closely with the National Police Chiefs' Council to keep under review the stop and search powers we need to help keep the public safe.

"The house should be clear that we have no plans to change the requirements that reasonable grounds for suspicion are needed before a routine stop and search is carried out."

There were plans, he said, "to see how we can reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency in the use of stop and search", details of which would be announced later.

In response, Khan said routine stop and search was "colossal waste of police resources" and urged Hurd to resist any pressure to reintroduce it.

Hurd said: "We are not going back to the bad old days when over 1.4 million people were stopped, with only 8% or 9% of them arrested. That is not what this is about.

"It is about recognising that we now have a million fewer stop and searches than we did back in 2009-10 and we are, I think on a cross-party basis, absolutely determined to bear down on this horrendous spike in violent crime, and we need to make sure that the police have the confidence to use the tools at their disposal. And stop and search is one of those tools. There is evidence that they have lost some confidence in using it."

The debate follows a spate of violent attacks, particularly in London, where five people were stabbed to death in less than a week, with Labour arguing that police cuts had played a part in the problem.

peaking earlier on Monday to ITV's Good Morning Britain, Javid conceded that policing resources were part of the issue.

"Police numbers have to be an important part of the solution. Let's not pretend that it's not. There has been a big increase in police funding in the last three years," he said. "There was a big increase last year. That said, I'm the first to admit, we need to take a fresh look at that and make sure that police - not just in London, but across the country - have the resources that they need."

The police proposals to Javid's team were confirmed by Adrian Hanstock, the deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police and national lead on stop and search for the National Police Chiefs' Council.

The ideas, which apply to England and Wales, would make it more likely that those caught with a knife could be dealt with by an education programme, the so-called public health approach, rather than ending up before the courts.

Hanstock told the Guardian: "There are a lot of calls for officers to do more stop and search. But the current individual threshold that officers have to meet is very tight and precise. So is there any appetite to reduce that threshold where [an] officer has a genuine fear that the person is at risk, or there is a safeguarding threat, or is a risk to others?"

In a statement issued on Monday, the NPCC said that despite Hastock's comments, there had not been any formal proposal put to the Home Office.

"We regularly hold discussions with key partners, including government departments, civil liberties groups and others to discuss a variety of issues. These conversations enable us to consider the best ways to use our powers," said a spokesman. "The reasonable grounds threshold was not discussed as part of these representations."

(1st December 2018)

(The Sun, dated 12th November 2018 author Elisha Thakorial)

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OVER 40 per cent of Brits are baffled about what licence they need to travel in EU countries after Brexit.

In a no-deal situation, motorists will need to apply for one of two - or both - international driving permits (IDP).

From March 29 next year, Brits may have to buy a 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic IDP or a 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic IDP.

You can purchase one prior to your holiday or business trip from the Post Office for £5.50, however, prices could change post-Brexit. You will also need a passport-sized photo and ID, such as a passport.

Only 90 Post Offices currently sell them over the counter, but this will extend to 2,500 stores from February 1.

Should you already have a valid 1949 Geneva IDP, then it can be used in all EU countries - and other territories where it applies - up until March 28 at least.

If there's a no-deal Brexit, the 1949 permit will only be recognised by Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus.

It is valid for 12 months from issue or until your UK driving licence expires, if under a year left to expiry.

A 1968 Vienna IDP will apply in all other EU countries, as well as in Norway and Switzerland, and is valid for three years (or driving licence expiry date if before).

You will need to carry the IDP in addition to your UK driving licence - as well as buying car insurance or a Green Card to prove you're covered to drive abroad.

It's also worth noting that many European countries require cars by law to use winter tyres in adverse weather conditions.

A new YouGov poll revealed that a whopping 87 per cent of Brits were unaware of the rule, which applies in countries such as Austria, Germany and Croatia.

Snow chains are also mandatory in countries including France, Italy and Switzerland.

Drivers using the Eurotunnel can find further information about travelling to Europe on the cross-Channel link's FAQ website :

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 12th November 2018 authors Neil Lancefield and James Andrews)

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Financial analysts are the UK's worst drivers, according to an insurance provider.

They are the profession most likely to be involved in an accident, data from 1st Central's annual report shows.

Doctors were ranked the second worst, followed by financial advisers, dentists and pharmacists.

Painters were found to be the best drivers, ahead of builders, professional drivers and mature students.

1st Central produced the ranking by analysing the frequency of claims from 2.6 million people driving privately-owned vehicles in the UK.

Motorists' professions are one of the risk factors used by insurers to set premiums.

Andy James, chief executive of 1st Central, said: "Whether you're a painter or a financial analyst, it's important to have the right protection in place so that you can drive safely on the road."

The top five worst drivers, according to 1st Central

1. Financial analyst
2. Doctor
3. Financial adviser
4. Dentist
5. Pharmacist

The top five best drivers:

1. Painter
2. Builder
3. Professional driver
4. Mature student
5. Butcher

Can you just change your job title to "painter" for cheap insurance?

Sadly not - but that doesn't mean there aren't savings to be made.

Simply lying about your job would count as fraud, meaning your cover could well be invalidated - and that's the best case scenario.

But the exact words you use can make a difference.

Someone describing themself as a "chef" when filling in their car insurance application would pay £98 more on average than if they wrote "kitchen staff" comparison site found - and it's not just cooks that have this problem.

"Music teachers" pay £86 more than "teachers", "office managers" pay more than "office administrators", and "construction workers" pay more than "builders" who - in turn - pay more than "bricklayers".

Basically, if your job fits in more than one category, check car insurance quotes are for all of them before applying.

For more on how your job affects your car insurance, check out GoCompare's guide .

And if you're a full time parent or retired make absolutely sure you check that box and not "unemployed" - it could save you almost £300.

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 12th November 2018 author Mark Ellis)

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Shop workers are facing a rising tide of violence with 230 assaulted every day in Britain, a survey reveals.

They are facing customer rage over sales of age-restricted goods such as alcohol,tobacco, knives and energy drinks as well as tackling shoplifters.

And their union Usdaw says the statistics are "shocking" and say life on the front line of retail has been made even more dangerous by Tory cuts axing 20,000 police officers since 2010.

Assaults range from pushing and shoving to punches and stabbings and are revealed in a snapshot of Usdaw's 'Freedom From Fear' survey of 3,561 members with the full results published in the New Year.

The number of assaults has risen by 41% from 164 two years ago and six out of 10 shop workers have suffered verbal abuse and two out of five have been threatened by a customer.

Major flash points include refusal to sell alcohol and tobacco to customers appearing underage as well as knives,corrosive substances and energy drinks on which some big stores have imposed voluntary age limits.

The findings come as the 430,000-member union launches its annual Respect For Shop Workers Week today, talking to the public in high streets, shopping centres and stores.

They will explain the problems of violence,threats and abuse and ask customers to 'keep their cool' in the busy run up to Christmas.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said:"Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society.

"The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the

front line of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault.

"While there are many factors behind retail, severe cuts in police funding and the loss of over 20,000 police officers does not help.

"Police resources are so stretched we now have some chief constables reporting that their officers can no longer attend theft from shops incidents and they are asking shop workers to detain shoplifters, which would put our members in an unacceptably dangerous situation.

"Life on the front line of retail can be pretty tough for many shop workers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them.

"There needs to be action to help protect staff. It is time for the Government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, Crime Prosecution Service (CPS), the judiciary and most importantly criminals."

Last week the Suzy Lamplugh Trust found that two-thirds (66%) of UK retail workers have been exposed to violence or aggression in the workplace.

And earlier in the year the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a doubling of violence against retail staff as part of their annual retail crime survey.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th November 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

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Police officers should be exempt from race discrimination laws in order to target black youths in high crime areas, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said.

Trevor Phillips said that "white liberals" need to stop "hand-wringing" and admit the truth that the wave of knife crime is black children killing black children.

He called for officers to target high-risk inner-city areas and to be exempt from laws which prevent them discriminating on the basis of someone's race or ethnic origin.

Police dealing with gangs also need to be given greater powers akin to anti-terror laws which would allow them to detain the leaders who give the orders rather than wielding the knife, Mr Phillips said.

The comments come amid a rising wave of violence which has seen 250 stabbing deaths in the UK this year, with five of those murders occurring in London in the past nine days.

Describing the dead as "sacrifices in an unwinnable war", Mr Phillips said that the political response had been "pathetic" and too focused on police numbers when there is no evidence that this will help.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: "First we need to be clear about who is dying and who is doing the killing, and we must be honest that there is a racial component to the violence."

The deaths are taking place in the semi-ghettos of Britain's big cities which are home to refugees many of whom are traumatised by the warfare that they have escaped and feel a sense of belonging by joining gangs, he said.

Adding: "So the forlorn attempts by politicians and media to ignore this truth - to avoid 'stigmatising' minority communities - has been counterproductive, a hand-wringing dereliction of responsibility.

"It might make 'right-on' white liberals feel better. But the price of their smugness is an ongoing bloody massacre of black children with a casualty list that seems to lengthen by the day."

The son of poor immigrant parents, he said that whilst violence is nothing new the knuckle dusters and bricks he encountered in his youth in north London have been replaced by a "a lethal armoury of knives, swords, handguns and, occasionally, automatic rifles - some in the hands of children as young as ten".

He called for high risk zones to be identified and flooded with officers "using stop-and-search powers as freely as they wish".

Stop-and-search powers have long attracted controversy amid claims that they are used to unfairly target black men.

The intervention comes after Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, used an interview with the Telegraph to call for the police to be able to use high tech surveillance methods such as facial recognition technology to crack down on crime.

Mr Philips backed her call, saying that if it helps then "fretting about privacy from people whose families are in no danger should be ignored".

He added: "In areas where the gangs are primarily black or from another ethnic group, police might even be permitted to apply for exemption from race discrimination laws for a limited period. This could free their hands to act against specific targets - and few would be more pleased than minority parents who constantly worry that their children may never come home."

In order to ensure that this was done fairly all officers should be be fitted with a bodyworn camera, he argued.

He also called for further powers to be extended to prison governors, to prevent gangs consolidating their control over behind bars.

The former boss of the ECHR said that rather than spending time and money on "pointless" campaigns about social media hate crimes and instead focus resources on helping those trapped inside the cycle of violence.

He suggested at risk families should be relocated and bright young children at danger of joining gangs should be sent to boarding schools.

He also suggested offering incentives such as a council tax "holiday" to families who would move into at risk areas to change the social make-up and disrupt gangs.

(1st December 2018)

(The Observer, dated 10th November 2018 author Mark Townsend)

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The wave of knife crime may be linked directly to the police budget cuts instigated by the coalition government and continued under Theresa May, a former head of Scotland Yard has suggested.

Speaking to the Observer after a week in which five people were stabbed to death in London, Lord Blair said the fact that violent crime had risen alongside a reduction in police funding may not be a coincidence. In 2010, when the Conservatives came to power with the Liberal Democrats and began cutting spending, the capital had 4.1 officers per 1,000 Londoners, but by 2016-17 the ratio had dropped to 3.3 officers per 1,000, according to figures from city hall.

The total number of offences involving a knife or bladed instrument recorded by the Metropolitan police in the year to March 2018 rose to 40,147, a seven-year record.

Blair said: "Crime is clearly an indicator of societal health, particularly violent crime. We know that crime just about peaked in 1993 and went on going down until something like 2010 to 2012, and then started to go back up again.

"One of the things that a statistician always looks for is to see whether a change in behaviour is a coincidence or whether there is causation. It does seem odd that the cut in budget for policing by 20% coincides with a significant rise in crimes of all sorts. Is it coincidence or is it causation?"

His comments follow warnings by MPs last week that police cuts may have "dire consequences for public safety". Trust in the police, said a report by the public accounts committee, is "breaking down" as forces struggle to respond to crime because of government cuts.

Amber Rudd, a former home secretary, angered senior officers by claiming that police cuts were not to blame for the surge in knife crime.

Blair, who as Met commissioner between 2005 and 2008 tried to find "lasting solutions" to youth violence, also warned that the positive impact of neighbourhood policing was "probably fading under the pressure of finance".

More broadly, he warned that the threat of an emerging far right and its divisive discourse should be viewed extremely seriously.

"At the end of my period of office the far right had done what the far right always does, which is break up into lots and lots [of factions].

"But what we have now is a nastiness with the English Defence League and so on. Which I imagine is of deep significance to those who are concerned about the integrity of the British state," said the crossbench peer.

Blair is chair of trustees at the Woolf Institute, which is affiliated to Cambridge University and aims to encourage tolerance between people of different beliefs. He said that the institute planned to carry out research into the effects on British society of this increasing polarisation.

Among other initiatives the institute, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is building a "UK inclusivity index" to measure and map levels of intolerance in different parts of Britain. "It will be what we can do to assist people to understand what polarisation means, what inclusivity means," said Blair.

Blair, who became the country's most senior police officer shortly before the terrorist attacks on London on 7 July 2005, said the bombings - which killed 52 people and wounded more than 700 - had led him on a personal journey into faith and "religious identity" that began with attempting to understand what motivated the four suicide bombers.

However, he said that elements of the media had prevented a proper debate concerning Islam and its true meaning. "Some of the coverage of Islamic matters has been appalling, look at some of the fuss about sharia law," he said.

On an international scale, Blair said those who dismissed the role of religion in global affairs needed to have a rethink.

"We have to accept that the idea that religion is no longer important is completely deniable at the beginning of the 21st century. Religion is one of the key flashpoints that we have, and events that happen in Syria as we know play out on the streets of London or elsewhere."

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th November 2018 author James Morris)

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The worst National Rail station for crime in central London is revealed today as London Victoria.

New figures for the capital's 22 Zone 1 train stations showed Victoria alone accounted for 18 per cent of crimes.

Between 2013 and 2017, 3,691 offences were recorded on the station's concourse - almost four times that of London Bridge (929).

At Victoria, there were 1,097 instances of passengers having property stolen, while 717 people suffered violence.

Central London's other crime hotspots included St Pancras, with 3,601 crimes, and Waterloo - the UK's busiest station - with 2,784.

But British Transport Police said the chance of being a victim of crime on the railways was "incredibly rare".

It said it conducted "high visibility patrols at all hours of the day to reassure passengers and deter crime".

Euston station (2,621) and Liverpool Street station (2,203) also ranked highly.

Moorgate station had the lowest recorded number of crimes, with just four offences between 2013 and 2017.

The figures, obtained by the Standard under the Freedom of Information Act, showed there were a total 20,886 offences recorded at the 22 stations during the five-year period. These did not include connected London Underground stations.

The stats come just days after a pregnant woman was punched in the stomach at Victoria station.

Other high profile incidents at the station included a commuter who spat and hurled coffee at a worker in February last year.

Asked why Victoria was the worst affected station, Ch Supt Martin Fry, from British Transport Police, said: "London Victoria is one of the UK's busiest train stations with more than 80 million passengers using the station each year. The chances of being a victim of crime at Victoria station remains incredibly rare.

"However, we remain committed to tackling crime at Victoria as well as all other stations in London, and work closely with train operators and Network Rail to improve security. This includes conducting high visibility patrols at all hours of the day to reassure passengers and to deter crime."

He added: "We also use initiatives such as Project Servator to disrupt and detect crime on the rail network. This tactic involves the use of plain clothed officers together with other specially-trained teams trained in behavioural detection to identify offending."

The 10 worst National Rail stations for crime in central London
Figures recorded at Zone 1 terminals between 2013 and 2017

1. London Victoria: 3,691
2. St Pancras: 3,601
3. Waterloo: 2,784
4. Euston: 2,621
5. Liverpool Street: 2,203
6. King's Cross: 1,836
7. Paddington: 1,314
8. London Bridge: 929
9. Charing Cross: 583
10. Marylebone: 530

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th November 2018 author Robyn Darbyshire)

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The thought of your child being approached by a stranger with nasty intentions is every parent's worst nightmare.

The horrible truth is that there are people out there who will tell lies to vulnerable youngsters to trick them into going off with them - and your little ones might not realise what's really going on.

An 11-year-old girl was walking near a park with her friend just outside Phoenix in Arizona on Wednesday when she was approached by an unfamiliar man in a white SUV.

He told her that her brothers had been in a serious accident and was instructed by her parents to come and pick her up.

The little girl used this brilliant stranger danger trick to see if he was telling the truth - and it might have saved her life.

She asked the man whether he knew the "code word".

This was a prearranged word agreed by her parents in case they needed somebody else to come pick her up.

The man didn't know the word and drove away.

"Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking ... to their children about stranger danger," Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said to USA Today.

"We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation."

The "safe word" or "password" system is also backed up by The Morcombe Foundation - a foundation set up by the family of Daniel Morcombe, who disappeared from the Sunshine coast when he was 13.

The Morcombe Foundation has other preventative strategies, including making a list of five trusted adults, having a family password, not sharing information about yourself, being observant and not to go off alone.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 10th November 2018 author Damien Gayle)

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Police attempts to exploit controversial surveillance measures including facial recognition CCTV are being hamstrung by a complex regulatory system and legal framework, the Metropolitan police commissioner has said.

Thanks to the wealth of communications, biometrics and other electronic data now available, Cressida Dick said investigations now hardly relied on witnesses and confessions. But she said she felt officers were not working in a particularly enabling environment when it came to their use.

Speaking after five murders took place in six days on the streets of London, Dick said her force had endured "the most terrible week". But she said the Met had been hung out to dry by Theresa May, who, when home secretary, made life quite difficult for the force as it has refocused its work into high-tech digital investigations.

"We are finding ourselves quite hamstrung by a quite complex regulatory system, a quite complex legal framework," while "bad guys" were getting up to speed with technology, Dick told the Telegraph.

She was reported as saying she was keen to press ahead with greater use of facial recognition. "I am very keen that the law keeps up with the technology and I don't feel that we are working in a tremendously enabling environment at the moment," Dick said.

The use of facial recognition CCTV has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights groups. Big Brother Watch published a report earlier this year claiming that it had picked the wrong person nine times out of 10, but said that if perfected the technology had the potential to turn innocent British citizens into "walking ID cards".

The organisation is now taking the Metropolitan police to court over its use of facial recognition CCTV. Its director, Silkie Carlo, said that, contrary to Dick's comments, the Home Office had in fact invested millions in police use of facial technology.

Carlo said: "I totally agree that the Home Office has failed to provide leadership on technologies and policing. But in reality, the political abandonment has left police dangerously unleashed rather than hamstrung.

"The Met has charged ahead using live facial recognition surveillance without a legal basis, introducing ever more authoritarian surveillance with no political supervision."

(Independent, dated 7th November 2018 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

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China has begun rolling out new surveillance software capable of recognising people simply by the way that they walk.

The "gait recognition" technology, developed by Chinese artificial intelligence firm Watrix, is capable of identifying individuals from the shape and movement of their silhouette from up to 50 metres away, even if their face is hidden.

The system is currently being used by police in Beijing and Shanghai and adds to the country's formidable surveillance network that includes an estimated 170 million CCTV cameras.

The software can be used on footage from standard surveillance cameras, however it does not currently work in real-time. Instead, the footage is analysed once it is recorded, which takes approximately 10 minutes.

"You don't need people's cooperation for us to be able to recognise their identity," Watrix CEO Huang Yongzhen told AP.

"Gait analysis can't be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we're analysing all the features of the entire body."

The AI firm has already raised more than 100 million yuan (£11m) in order to develop and commercialise its surveillance technology.

Other countries in which this type of software is being researched include the Japan, the UK and US, however the Chinese government appears unencumbered when it comes to push back from privacy-concerned citizens.

Previous surveillance initiatives include a so-called "spy bird" programme that uses dove-like drones to monitor populations from the skies.

China is also in the process of introducing a controversial "social credit system", aimed at reinforcing the idea that "keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful", according to a government document.

Set to be fully operational by 2020, the programme ranks citizens by their behaviour - such as parking violations and jaywalking - in order to determine who is most worthy of the best social housing and schooling for their children.

The system was described as "chilling" by Human Rights Watch researcher Maya Wang.

"By rating citizens on a range of behaviours from shopping habits to online speech, the government intends to manufacture a problem-free society. Those with low scores will face obstacles in everything from getting government jobs to placing their children in desired schools," she wrote last year.

"Chinese government authorities clearly hope to create a reality in which bureaucratic pettiness could significantly limit people's rights."

(1st December 2018)

(The Guide Liverpool, dated 10th November 2018)

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Secondary schools in Liverpool hosted assemblies dedicated to the awareness of knife crime and how young people can help prevent themselves from becoming victims of knife crime whilst discouraging them from considering carrying a knife.

Working with partners at Merseyside Police, a mobile knife arch will be brought to these assemblies to familiarise young people with how the arches work and what they look like. The knife arch is used to show one of the ways that officers tackle knife crime.

Senior Youth Worker in the city, Alan Walsh who runs the Anfield boxing club, will be delivering the sessions. The assemblies will offer a holistic approach to knife crime and highlight some of the known causes of knife culture and carefully discuss the issues, raising the dangers of carrying a knife whilst demonstrating the effect on everyone's lives in the event of a knife related incident.

Cabinet member for Communities and Partnerships, Cllr Liz Parsons said; "it's important that we inform the young people of Liverpool about the impacts of knife crime and how not to become a victim.

Bringing the knife arches into school assemblies is a great way to introduce young people to the look and feel of arches, so should they encounter them in their day to day lives, there will be a sense of familiarity about them and not fear.

We want every young person in the city to know how they can avoid slipping into a lifestyle that promotes knife culture."

Liverpool Association of Secondary Heads representative David Hayes said, "This is not about any one school having an issue with knife crime, it's a collective approach across the whole city as we recognise that schools have a key role in helping to address knife crime."

Merseyside Police Superintendent Mark Wiggins, said "The aim of these assemblies is to inform the young people of Liverpool that if they make certain life choices, their chances of becoming a victim of knife crime or ruining their lives could increase.

"If they are caught with and convicted of a knife crime offence they face being deprived of their liberty, but the consequences for them and their loved ones can be far worse due to the increased risk of physical harm both to themselves and to others if they choose to carry a knife.

"Secondary schools across Liverpool approached us to ask how they can assist in reducing knife crime and we recognise their importance in getting the message across.

"No one school suffers from this issue, so they have come together with us to deliver the knife crime sessions so young people understand the negative impact carrying a knife can have. It's really important that everybody knows how and who to contact if they suspect somebody of carrying a knife and to be strong enough to do so. "

(1st December 2018)

(The Register, dated 9th November 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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Slicing police funding to inject cash into national programmes - a big chunk of which is funnelled into tech - might not be an effective use of public cash, and some projects face a cliff edge when funding runs out.

Or so say MPs in the latest report on the state of police funding: the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded the Home Office may not be making the best use of its budget and needs to figure out how to improve delivery of broad projects.

The Home Office takes 11 per cent of police funding and siphons it into national programmes; in 2018-19 some £945m was reallocated in this way, with £495m of it being spent on tech-related initaitives.

However, the PAC pointed out the investment includes the development of the Emergency Services Network - a regular bugbear for the group.

This is now 15 months behind schedule and the department still has to spend £330m a year from the total police budget to run the old Airwave system for longer than planned.

Police forces are also feeling the pinch because they have to spend more money to run the outdated Airwave system.

Other elements of this top slice are given over to special grants for unexpected events (£93m) and the Police Transformation Fund (£175m) - but again the MPs questioned whether this was a good use of the money, as once the cash dries up, local forces struggle to continue backing it.

"We are not convinced by the department's approach of top-slicing transformation funding from the total police budget and then distributing it to a small number of projects, rather than allocating it to forces to manage themselves," the report said.

Compounding this problem is the lack of a clear strategy from the Home Office, which sets national priorities - like cybersecurity - but stays out of what it sees as the police sector's business.

However, the PAC said that without national long-term strategy, there is no clarity on how to support the Policing Vision 2025, which is developed by the sector.

"No one is suggesting that the centre should be telling forces what to do and getting involved with operational or day-to-day decision making," the report said.

"But it is not incompatible with the devolved model of policing and local accountability, and indeed would complement it, for the department to have its own long-term plan for policing."

The PAC's report follows another highly critical assessment from the Home Affairs Committee, which said last week that there would be "dire consequences" if Whitehall doesn't boost funding and address the "complete failure" in Home Office leadership.

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 9th November 2018 author Andrew Gregory)

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Hundreds of foreign criminals, including killers and rapists, have dropped off the radar of the Home Office, figures reveal.

Clueless immigration authorities have also lost track of overseas nationals convicted of kidnap, weapons possession and robbery.

They had been living in the community while facing removal from the UK.

Figures show 450 foreign national offenders absconded in two-and-a-half years to the end of June.

Some were later located but the whereabouts of more than 200 were unknown up to two years after contact with officials ceased.

Tory MP Tim Loughton, of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, branded the findings horrifying.

He said: "These figures confirm a worrying trend that we are a soft touch when it comes to dealing with foreign national offenders. It is a mystery to me why we do not ­immediately deport these criminals. Innocent people could be at risk."

If there is no immediate prospect of deportation or removal, convicted foreign nationals who have completed their sentence can be managed in the community.

They must report to officials and can be subject to bail conditions and electronic monitoring.

Shortcomings in arrangements for keeping track of foreign criminals were flagged up by the immigration watchdog last year.

Many absconders are traced ­overseas and can be prevented from returning to the UK, officials said.

The Home Office said: "We always seek to deport those who commit crimes and whose conduct poses a serious threat. We never give up trying to locate absconders.

"We have removed more than 44,500 foreign national offenders since 2010."

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 9th November 2018 author Sebastian Murphy-Bates)

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One thousand rounds of ammunition and scores of guns were seized as 10 people were arrested in a nationwide operation targeting illegal weapons.

Police from 25 forces and regional organised crime units raided a series of addresses on Wednesday in an operation co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

At least 61 firearms - including 46 handguns, five revolvers, two stun guns and a sub-machine gun - were confiscated.

Class A drugs, £2,000 cash, a kilogram of cannabis, eight Rolex watches and two crossbows were also seized.

The NCA said the 10 people arrested had been previously identified by investigators as having bought Flobert or blank-firing weapons online from sellers in eastern Europe.

Flobert guns are lethal in their original state and many of the blank-firers purchased were readily convertible to chamber live ammunition.

Though both types of weapons are illegal in the UK, they are freely available in countries across eastern Europe and can be purchased online for less than £100.

NCA firearms threat lead Simon Brough said some of the firearms were found buried in people's gardens.

'This operation highlights just how important it is for us to tackle the importation of illegal firearms into the UK,' he said. 'The mere availability of these firearms creates a range of significant risks to the public.

'The level of gun crime in the UK is one of the lowest in the world and strict UK legislation means it's harder for criminals to access illegal weapons here.

'But we must continue to identify the supply routes by which illegal firearms enter the UK and collaborate with police forces and international law enforcement agencies to disrupt the criminal gangs using them.'

Of those arrested, four people have been charged with various firearms offences and remanded in custody.

Nathan Hughes was charged with three offences after Devon & Cornwall Police officers seized three firearms and a sub machine gun that he had dismantled and buried in various locations in his garden.

The 41-year-old from Redruth, Cornwall's charges included the armed robbery of an off licence in Redruth.

Robert Lockhart and his partner Carol Stirling were arrested by the NCA and Police Scotland's Organised Crime Partnership after a number of firearms and weapons were seized from their home.

The two 49-year-olds from Appin in north west Scotland were each charged with seven firearms offences.

Cambridgeshire Police arrested 26-year-old Calvin Jackson at his home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

He was charged with six offences following the seizure of seven handguns, ammunition and class A and B drugs.

NCA officers also detained a 40-year-old man at Birmingham Airport after he landed on a flight from Jamaica and found a machete and CS gas canister in his car which he had parked at the airport.

A search of his home led to the seizure of five firearms, eight further CS gas canisters, three stun guns, ammunition, another machete and a baton. He was released under investigation.

Other arrests include a 15-year-old from Ryde, Isle of Wight, a man aged 53 from Shipley, Yorkshire and a 40-year-old man from Slough in Berkshire.

A 36-year-old man from Bristol, a 38-year-old man from Salisbury in Wiltshire and a man aged 60 from Peterborough were also arrested. All six were released under investigation.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 9th November 2018 author Sam Meadows)

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Telegraph Money will be sending our demands to the consultation on the new rule book before it closes next week (16th November 2018)

Fraud victims risk being failed by new rules on reimbursement of losses unless key changes can be agreed, Telegraph Money says today.

The draft rule book on when those who fall for bank transfer scams should get their money back was finally unveiled at the end of September, after months of work by a group of watchdogs, consumer groups and banks.

Bank transfer fraud is Britain's fastest-growing crime: £145m was stolen in the first six months of 2018, industry figures show. Shockingly, only £31m was returned to victims.

The methods used by criminals are increasingly devious and complex. This newspaper has reported cases involving fake car websites, hijacked companies, stolen pension transfers and email interceptions that led to lost house deposits.

The new rules establish a clear principle that those who fall victim through no fault of their own should be reimbursed. But disputes over who should pay have already seen the code's introduction pushed back to the new year.

Submissions to the public consultation on the new rules are due by next week, and before the code is finalised Telegraph Money is calling for the following five improvements.

Consumers must not be made to foot the bill

The code establishes that, in situations where fraud victims were clearly duped, they should get their money back. When a bank has failed to meet the required standards - if it didn't properly warn the customer of the risks or failed to spot the customer's vulnerability, for example - the bank will meet the cost of reimbursing the customer.

The dispute is over who should pay when neither party is at fault, perhaps because a third party has had their email account hacked. In these circumstances, the customer will be entitled to a refund under the new code, but the banks, having done nothing wrong, will not want to meet the cost of such refunds themselves.

The consultation document proposes a number of funding mechanisms, including a charge on large transfers and a requirement for the customer to buy fraud insurance. Consumer groups have widely condemned these solutions.

Banks, which make billions of pounds in profits every year, must be made to foot the bill. There should be no additional charges for consumers.

Swift action when fraudulent transactions are reported

When victims report fraud, a delay in communication between the banks involved could give criminals time to remove the funds. The code itself does not include rules on how quickly a victim's bank should contact the fraudster's bank. Industry rules simply say action should be taken swiftly.

This newspaper calls for a 30-minute time limit. When you report fraud, your bank should contact the recipient bank within that time to allow the account to be frozen.

Action on recipient banks

Experts say bank transfer fraud would barely exist if the criminals were not able to open accounts to receive the stolen money. Fraudsters often take advantage of lax security measures in bank branches and open accounts in person using false names and documentation.

Banks must already follow strict "know your customer" regulations, designed to prevent money laundering, but these rules do not require them to ascertain beyond doubt whether documents are genuine. Telegraph Money has seen cases in which accounts were opened using falsified utility bills littered with spelling errors.

The new code provides few clear rules for these recipient banks to follow. But any bank that allows an account to be opened using fake documents should be required to refund victims.

Criminal gangs also use legitimately opened accounts of third parties to launder funds - a practice known as "money muling". Banks must be required to use their sophisticated systems to spot when an account bears all the hallmarks of a mule account - large amounts coming in and swiftly moving on to several different accounts, for example.

They should not be able to hide behind data protection rules when contacted by victims. Telegraph Money has reported on the case of Saqib Qureshi, who lost £55,000 in a solicitor scam but was told by Santander that the bank could not help him because of data rules.

The code should require recipient banks to make every effort to help victims, even when they are not a customer of the bank in question.

A quicker complaints system for customers

According to sources close to the discussions, banks want the rules to say that, unless victims make clear that they are raising a complaint, it will not be treated as such.

This could mean a wait of as much as 70 days before they can approach the ombudsman. For those who have lost life-changing sums, this could be ruinous.

Support for past victims

One hole in the rule book is that it will not apply retrospectively, so will be of no help to the thousands of people who have been victims in the past.

It also creates a cliff edge by which someone who falls victim on Dec 31 may be denied a refund, but someone who falls victim the following day would get their money back.

Jack Warwick of ActionScam, a fraud recovery service, said: "What is the difference between a victim from two years ago and a victim from today? Every day the banks delay is a day when consumers will lose thousands."

Telegraph Money calls for the finalised rule book to be applied to those who have fallen victim since Sept 28, when the consultation was published.

At a glance | Popular scams

After recent attempts to con people out of their money by mimicking Royal Mail's 'while you were out' cards, we outline some of the most popular scams coming between you and your money.

Technical support After you search for "tech support" in your browser and call the first number that comes up, the results of which will have been manipulated, scammers offer expensive solutions to repair bogus hardware or software problems.

Fake locksmiths A scam that, again, manipulates search engine results so its "service" appears first. Locked out of your car or home, you call the first locksmith you find on Google, they send over a contractor who charges a premium for poor service.

Re:Re: Order Update A phishing scam that asks the user to open an e-mail which contains malware. Often these will appear as a response to an order you've made and might come from a brand you trust or contact you know.

In arrears? The sort of scam meant to prey on your fears. You receive a fake council tax bill or are told you are late in paying money, and asked to pay immediately over the phone.

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 8th November 2018 author Martin Evans)

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A criminal gang who made almost £1 million by submitting fake insurance claims for restaurants they said had been flooded by burst water mains have been jailed.

The five strong group made more than a dozen claims for commercial premises they had leased across the country.

After deliberately smashing water pipes in the bars and restaurants, they contacted insurers claiming thousands of pounds for loss of earnings for having to close the businesses.

But in reality the businesses had never actually been open for trade and each of the claims was entirely fictitious.

The gang operated the scam between 2012 and 2016 raking in a total of £944,206 from 15 successful insurance claims.

To avoid detection the gang used different geographic locations when leasing the premises, undertook checks to make sure the same loss adjuster was not used twice and even changed their names by deed poll.

But they were eventually caught when insurance investigators in Lincolnshire discovered that a bar they had claimed to have been running did not have an alcohol licence and had not been open for trade at the time of the claim.

Yesterday five men all from London were jailed for a total of 14-years after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Kashif Bhatti, 35, from London, was sentenced to two years in prison; Ramone Carty, 36, from London, was sentenced to three years in prison; Jurelle Hayles, 30, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years; Nyron Hughes, 35, was sentenced to four years in prison and Tarquinn Orgill, 34, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Confiscation proceedings will now be started under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to recover any criminal benefit gained from the gang's fraudulent activity.

Detective Constable Daniel Dankoff, who led the investigation for the City of London's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said: "The group used a complex set of tactics to try and remain undetected and defraud numerous members of the insurance and banking industries for several years - which shows that the bigger the lie, the more the insurance industry may believe.

"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. Fraudsters, such as the members in this organised crime group, cause significant financial harm to the insurance industry which then leads to higher premiums for everyone who need insurance, whether it be for personal or commercial cover."

Scott Clayton, Head of Claims Fraud at Zurich, which first uncovered the scam, said: "This was a very complex case due to the scale of fraud and the level of detail to which these fraudsters organised their operation."

(1st December 2018)

(BBC News, dated 8th November 2018)

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Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of drugs trafficking after Class As worth an estimated £5m were seized in a series of raids.

About 30 warrants were executed in Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South Wales, Devon and Cornwall.

It follows a major investigation into the trafficking of drugs into the south west and South Wales between March 2017 and November 2018.

Heroin, cocaine and amphetamine with an estimated value of £5m were seized.

t is alleged that members of organised crime groups in Merseyside relocated to Devon to arrange the supply of drugs in a so-called county lines operation.

The term refers to the practice of criminal gangs exploiting vulnerable people and using them to transport, deal or store drugs.

Eight men, aged between 19 and 53, were arrested at a number of locations in the south west, including Plymouth, Exeter and Cullompton.

A further four people were arrested in Merseyside and three in South Wales.

Det Insp Ben Davies from Devon and Cornwall Police said: "This type of crime preys on some of the most vulnerable in our society, who are then coerced and exploited as part of the drug trade".

(1st December 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 8th November 2018 author Charles Hymas and Ashley Kirk)

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ewer than one in 100 thefts in some police force areas are being solved, an analysis shows, prompting criticism of police priorities.

While the number of thefts from people have doubled to 100,000 fuelled by the boom in mobile phones, the proportion where the offender was caught and charged have halved since 2014/15.

In Greater Manchester, City of London, Avon and Somerset and North Yorkshire, the proportion where anyone was charged dropped to 0.6 per cent or under, according to the analysis by The Daily Telegraph of home office data.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain's biggest force, charged an offender in just 1.1 per cent of the thefts. Nationally it averaged 1.5 per cent, down from 3.2 per cent four years ago.

Victims' campaigners criticised police for downgrading investigations into theft and screening out crimes that affected tens of thousands of people. The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday some police forces are developing algorithms to weed out hard-to-solve crimes.

Search for your police force below to find out how their charge rates for key crimes compares.

London Metropolitan Police charge rates performance

NOTE : Actual article has an interactive table enabling reader to check for their area.

Charge rate is the total number of charges and summonses as a proportion of total police-recorded offences for year ending March 2018

Number of offences = (n) Charge rate [n]

Criminal damage : (57,608) [6.5]
Domestic burglary : (57,074) [3.4]
Other theft offences : (101,576) [1.7]
Robbery : (32,684) [6.2]
Theft from a vehicle : (59,884) [1.1]
Theft from the person : (46,804) [1.1]
Theft of a motor vehicle : (31,481) [3.5]
Violence with injury : (77,103) [15.7]
Rape : (7,712) [3.2]
Possession of weapons : (7,581) [52.9]

"Open avenue" to keep offending

Baroness Newlove, the government's victims' commissioner, said she was "shocked" by the figures which would undermine victims' confidence to report thefts and give criminals an "open avenue" to keep offending.

"I am concerned about the overall trend which shows a decline in charging rates. We have to remember these are not just numbers. Each crime will have a victim, someone whose life has been has been affected, sometimes shattered, as a result," she said.

"It raises questions about public confidence in the police and the wider criminal justice system. If the only contact you have with the police is a burglary and you see no further action being taken, how can you feel that the justice system is there to protect you and your family."

Marian Fitzgerald, professor of criminology, warned it could lead to vigilantism if crimes where there were witnesses or CCTV evidence were not investigated.

"It has major implications for the public's willingness to report such offences," she said. "What you will get then is the public deciding to sort it out for themselves."

Tens of thousands of theft offences left without charges

More than 530,000 other theft offences were recorded but there were only 13,600 which resulted in an offender being charged, a rate of 2.5 per cent.

In five of the biggest forces in Britain covering 17m people - Greater Manchester, the Metropolitan Police, West Yorkshire, Surrey and West Midlands - just one in 50 (two per cent) or fewer saw anyone charged. Out of almost 200,000 thefts, only 3,460 were charged in the five areas.

Thefts from vehicles are among the most common with 280,000 such crimes and have been steadily increasing in the past three years but just 1.7 per cent, or 4,700, resulted in a charge.

The decline comes as police forces including the Met have introduced policies where they screen out investigations if a theft or criminal damage is worth less than £50 and where the suspect is not known.

One in 20 burglaries results in charges

Fewer than one in 20 burglaries (4.6 per cent) resulted in an offender being caught and charged, down from 9.3 per cent in 2014/15.

In police forces with the lowest rates, there was less than a one in 30 chance of a burglar being charged. In Wiltshire and Northamptonshire it was 2.8 per cent followed by Bedfordshire (three per cent), Hertfordshire (3.1 per cent), and Greater Manchester (3.3 per cent).

The chances of an offender being charged with robbery has fallen below 10 per cent, almost halving in four years.

The City of London recorded the lowest rate at 5.4 per cent followed by the Metropolitan Police at 6.2 per cent, which recorded more than 32,000 robberies but only 2,035 charges. Greater Manchester was third lowest with 8.1 per cent.

Declining charge rates for violence with injury

For violent crime where a victim was injured, the charging rate fell from more than one in four in 2014/15 (26.1 per cent) to one in seven (14.7 per cent).

There was a less than one in 10 chance of an offender being charged in Wiltshire (9.8 per cent), the force with the lowest rate, followed by Devon and Cornwall (10.7 per cent), Greater Manchester (10.9 per cent), Hertfordshire (11.3 per cent) and Kent (11.7 per cent).

While criminal damage offences have risen by 40 per cent to more than 560,000, the proportion resulting in charges has fallen from 8.9 per cent to 5.9 per cent in four years. By contrast, possession of a weapon including knives had one of the highest charge rates at 41 per cent.

Police forces have been "forced to prioritise"

Harry Fletcher, director of the Victims Rights' Campaign, said: "The harm that people felt from burglaries and thefts was taken seriously by the police 10 years ago but because resources are so restricted, they have been forced to prioritise.

"It is quite clear that what are deemed minor crimes no longer get an adequate response. This is severely letting victims down and undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system."

Rory Geoghegan, head of criminal justice at the Centre for Social Justice, said: "Every failed detection is a missed opportunity to intervene, to cut crime, and protect vulnerable communities.

"Driven in part by the continued erosion of proactive community policing, the fall in detection rates will be a boon for the most prolific and organised offenders - enabling them to continue and even escalate their offending with impunity."

(1st December 2018)

(The Moscow Times, dated 7th November 2018)

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Russia's police chief has said that the number of murders recorded in the country has gone down by more than a quarter in the past five years.

Russia reformed its law enforcement system in 2011, revising legal guidelines and raising salaries for employees while renaming the Soviet-era "militia" as a "police" force. The country's Interior Ministry reported an annual drop in crime rates of nearly 5 percent for 2017, with crime rates in Moscow last year reaching a decade-low.

"Over the past five years, the number of murders has decreased by 27 percent," Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told the Argumenty i Fakty weekly on Wednesday.

Aggravated assaults and robberies were down by nearly a half over the same period, he said in an interview in the run-up to Russia's Police Day on Nov. 10.

The crime rate has gone down despite police force numbers dropping by half a million to 895,000 full-time deputies following the 2011 reforms, Kolokoltsev said.

"We had to redistribute the staff, place more emphasis on the district and those who work 'on the ground'," he was quoted as saying.

Within its own ranks, Kolokoltsev boasted that drug trafficking prosecutions of police officers went down 20 percent last year - with 80 police officers being charged or convicted for drug possession or dealing nationwide.

"Is that a lot or a little? I think that for such a huge team, it's still a lot."

(The Moscow Times, dated 12th February 2018)

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Prosecutors in Moscow have said that fewer crimes were recorded in 2017 than in any year in the past decade thanks in part to major drops in robbery and murder rates.

Crime rates in the Russian capital ranged from 170,000 to 195,000 in the past decade, according to the state-run TASS news agency. Last year, the Prosecutor General's Office placed Moscow at the top of the nationwide crime count as the only Russian city to post six-digit numbers.

The 140,000 crimes committed last year marked a drop of 19 percent compared to 2016, in which 174,000 crimes were committed, the Moscow prosecutor's office said Friday.

Theft, burglary and armed robbery dropped up to 38 percent in the past year, the prosecutors said, while the murder rate dropped by 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Russia's Interior Ministry reported an annual nationwide drop in crime rates of 4.7 percent.

(1st December 2018)

(The Register, dated 7th November 2018 author Richard Chirgwin)

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Dutch police claim to have snooped on more than a quarter of a million encrypted messages sent between alleged miscreants using BlackBox IronPhones.

The extraordinary claim was made in a press conference on Tuesday, in which officers working on a money-laundering investigation reckoned they had been able to see crims chatting "live for some time."

The suspects had been using the IronChat app on their IronPhones, which uses a custom implementation of the end-to-end off-the-record (OTR) encryption system to scramble messages.

Netherlands police said the BlackBox smartphones cost "thousands of Euros" -BlackBox charged a seriously premium subscription of around €1,500 for six months of use - and sport a panic button that's supposed to delete all a user's messages when pushed.

While the officers did not detail how they got hold of and cracked the encrypted IronChat messages, they had seized BlackBox Security's server. It sounds as though the encrypted conversations were routed through that system. Therefore, once collared, that box - or a server masquerading as it - could have been set up to decrypt and re-encrypt messages on the fly, or otherwise intercept the connections, allowing the cops to spy on the chats.

An error or weakness in the encryption implementation could also have been exploited by investigators, allowing them to crack messages intercepted over networks.

In any case, intelligence from these conversations was then used to snare folks suspected of laundering money and other crimes.

Specifically, the clog-plod seized the website and server of the Edward Snowden-endorsed company BlackBox Security after arresting two men apparently behind the business: a 46-year-old from Lingewaard, and a 52-year-old from Boxtel. Another three men were nabbed in Almelo and Enschede, and police expect to make "hundreds" more arrests in the course of their investigation.

Aart Garssen, Head of the Regional Investigation Service in the Eastern Netherlands, said there have been 14 arrests so far in total, including folks cuffed at a suspected drug lab in Enschede where officers seized €90,000 in cash, automatic weapons, and "large amounts" of drugs like ecstasy and cocaine.

He added that police moved on the criminal operation to forestall "retaliatory action" between members accusing each other of snitching to the cops.

Speaking to De Telegraaf, Fox-IT researcher Frank Groenewegen called the police probe a "nice piece of research work," and noted that using encrypted chat apps that rely on central servers "puts your fate in someone else's hands."

(1st December 2018)



(Guardian, dated 7th November 2018 author Sarah Marsh)

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Rural hospitals need more support to deal with the growing number of young people arriving at major trauma units and A&Es owing to violence linked to the drug trade, charities and doctors have said.

County lines drug dealing involves urban gangs moving drugs and cash between city hubs and provincial areas. Young people are groomed and offered money to sell drugs in out-of-town locations. It has been linked to an increase in violence, with a rise in knife crime across the country.

"We are dealing with it more and more and it's so sad and such a waste. The whole culture is needless and a waste of young lives," said David Kirby, a consultant in emergency medicine at Luton and Dunstable University hospital.

In Bedfordshire, where Luton is situated, a Home Office report found that knife crime has risen 86% since 2014. "We have seen increase in woundings of all methods - so beatings, stabbings and [the use of] firearms," said Kirby.

He said it was hard to know what the story behind each case but that the hospital was working with the youth charity called Redthread, which comes in to help young people who may be involved in organised crime.

"Violence is always best tackled by prevention rather than cure and targeted input into these areas and working with youths and criminals to get out of it always going to be better option," he said.

John Poyton, the chief executive of Redthread, said a growing number of hospitals were asking for help and that these were increasingly ones in less urban areas.

"What is really important is getting the rest of the country, not just urban centres, to recognise there are issues around violence and vulnerability for local young people," he said.

"Health professionals are amazing at fixing physical and mental health problems but they are very wary of trying to ask questions unless they know an answer. I have a lot of clinicians, doctors and nurses, who may be starting to see these early signs of violence and vulnerability in emergency departments and either they just accept the answer from a child on how it happened, for example they fell on broken glass … which they can accept at face value or they can start to delve."

He added: "Clinicians may feel it irresponsible to open a pandora's box unless they can help with answers, and that is where there needs to be more cross-sector linking up. It's not just charities but it is about joining up all services to support a young person."

Evan Jones, of the charity St Giles Trust, said knife crime and drug activity had increased across the country and that stabbing, for example, could also be an opportunity to offer positive interventions at a time when a young person may be most receptive to offers of help.

"It makes sense to provide hospitals with the skills and expertise from charities like us to offer support at this crucial moment. This helps minimise the possibility of the young person returning to the life which put them in hospital in the first place and reduces the likelihood of them being re-admitted in the future … If we act now, we will help prevent lots of problems further down the line. These will not only put further pressure on already limited hospital resources but also result in more young people becoming victims of serious violence."

David Hornsby, matron of emergency medicine at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS foundation trust, said it was difficult for doctors to establish a definite link between a trauma case and county lines drug dealing, although they were aware of an increase in "violent mechanisms of injury overall".

He said youth worker charities could add value to any hospital experiencing an increase in the number of young people presenting symptoms of exposure to violence or other forms of exploitation.

Last month the Guardian revealed the scale of the knife crime problem. Figures from nine of the NHS's 11 regional major trauma centres in England show that number of stabbing victims with life-threatening injuries increased from 1,697 in 2015-16 to 2,278 in 2017-18, a rise of more than 34%. Cases involving under-18s have jumped by 24.4%

Doctors are also reporting an increase in the severity of attacks, with more cases of multiple puncture wounds.

"Previously we used to see one or two wounds per victim. Now we are frequently seeing five or sometimes 10 stab injuries," said Dr Ross Davenport, a consultant trauma and vascular surgeon at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

(Daily Mail, dated 8th November 2018 author Darren Boyle)

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Police arrested 14 people and seized £5 million in cocaine, heroin and amphetamines following coordinated dawn raids against county lines drugs gangs across England and Wales.

Officers In Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South Wales, Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay simultaneously raided more than 30 properties in an effort to smash the gang.

Footage released by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit showed officers burst through the door of a suspect's home using a battering ram.

Today's raids followed a 20-month investigation into county lines drugs lines. Officers began surveillance on the gang on March 2017.

Merseyside Police said around 30 warrants in total were executed this morning.

Some 160 officers were involved in the operation in South Wales, targeting properties in Neath.

Devon and Cornwall Police said 'a covert operation' was still under way in the region.

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: 'The investigation identified members of Organised Crime Groups in Merseyside, Devon and South Wales who are suspected of conspiring together to arrange the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine in the Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay areas of Devon and amphetamine in South Wales.

'During the investigation, heroin, cocaine and amphetamine with a total estimated street value of £5m has already been seized from Merseyside, Devon and South Wales.

'It is alleged members of the Merseyside group relocated to Devon to arrange the supply of drugs in a County Lines operation, targeting vulnerable members of those communities and storing drugs in the area. County Lines is when criminal gangs typically vulnerable people to transport and/or deal drugs.'

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Hussey said: 'Vulnerable people are being coerced, groomed and threatened by violence to take part in illegal activity across the North West and further afield.

'Many of these people feel that they have not got a choice and struggle to find a way to escape from the hurt and harm that they are enduring on a daily basis.

'We are targeting those people we believe are exploiting vulnerable people to profit from the misery of others.

'Across Merseyside, we are working to tackle this issue day in day out and today's action has re-enforced to those involved in this type of criminal activity that we will not put up with it.

'Alongside our colleagues at the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and forces around the country, we will use a range of tactics to put a stop your criminality and take you off our streets.

'We have also been working with a range of partners, to go into schools and youth groups, to educate vulnerable young people on how they can avoid becoming a target to these criminal group and give those vulnerable people caught up in this the confidence to break out of the cycle.'

DCI Hussey added: 'As well as enforcement and education amongst young people, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make themselves familiar with the signs of someone they know might be being exploited and I would encourage anyone who has concerns to get in contact - speak with us directly or anonymously through Crimestoppers.'

Gwent Police said 11 people have been arrestedtoday on suspicion of drugs charges, child sex crimes, human trafficking, cyber-crime and money laundering.

Luxury goods including an Audi A3 and Q5, along with large quantities of designer clothing and jewellery, cash and high value electrical equipment were seized.

Tests are being done on substances believed to be class A drugs.

Detective Inspector for Organised Crime, Andrew Tuck said: 'This morning's raids are a culmination of months of meticulous work across Gwent Police to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups operating within Gwent.

'Today builds on a number of arrests and seizures of drugs, cash and possessions already made from this organised criminal network and will hopefully send a clear message to others involved in the supply of drugs that we will disrupt these most serious crimes in Gwent.

'Criminals involved in serious organised crime are a daily threat to our communities, they have complete disregard for everyone, far too often that personal greed for wealth and status outweighs any morals.

'The associated serious violence, large scale drug supply and fraud, to name but a few, have enormous consequences creating pain and suffering in our communities - which far too often, people don't see as part of the bigger picture of serious organised crime.

'Seeing the wealth generated by criminals can also be corrosive and dispiriting for our hard working, law abiding residents. It is wholly unfair or legitimate.

'Serious organised crime and the perceived rewards can seem deceptively glamourous to the young and vulnerable who can be exploited and drawn into a life of criminality, including drug dealing, drug misuse and drug addiction but what they do not always see from the outset is the violence and misery that underpins this life and the lengthy prison sentences offenders will serve.

DCI Hussey said anyone worried that a friend or a relative might be exploited by a county line drug gang should check out this website :
(1st December 2018)

(Guardian, dated 6th November 2018 author Denis Campbell)

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Stabbing victims are getting younger, the time of day when they're typically stabbed is changing and more of them are sustaining more injuries. That's what we have found from data on the 1,824 patients under the age of 25 who have been stabbed and who have been treated in our major trauma centre between 2004 and 2014.

In the 1980s in the same part of the city we cover, east London, a stabbing victim was, on average, in his late 20s and had sustained a solitary stab wound. Our average is now 18, and 25% of knife victims we see are of school age. It's now not unusual to treat victims with multiple stab wounds.

Five, seven, nine or more wounds are commonplace in our practice. We routinely see increasingly severe injuries. The injury patterns - bladed weapons, blunt trauma from beatings or being run over, caustic agents - and structures injured represent a much greater threat to life than injuries I saw in my surgical training. I suspect that these young people are the victims of multiple assailants.

No injury is minor. Every one takes a mental and physical toll. This year we will admit 800 stabbing and 60 gunshot victims with life- or limb-threatening injuries. Knife/gun injuries are about 30% of our workload. This year we've seen double the number of stab wounds we saw in 2012. For the first time, knife injury is the most common reason London air ambulance helicopters with doctors on board are dispatched.

Stabbing victims look scared. There are no heroes in a resuscitation room. Most of those who are conscious fear for their lives. They've never seen their own blood spilt and don't want to die. Patients present in all states, from awake and talking to ventilated and actively bleeding, with every possible permutation in between.

Young people over 16 tend to be injured in the late evening; that hasn't changed. But we've identified a previously undocumented and disturbing pattern relating to injuries to children on weekdays. Under-16s tend to be injured between the hours of 4pm to 6pm and close to their home. I suspect this relates to large numbers of children travelling from school and congregating in places such as bus stations, shopping centres and food outlets.

What triggers these assaults? Young people are often injured in robberies, old beefs or incidents related to the drug trade. But we also commonly encounter individuals who are injured for seemingly little or no reason. Respect and ratings are hugely commonly cited as reasons. I recall a young girl being shot in the head for making a joke about another girl at a party. The girl's partner felt bound to respond with violence.

The rules of the game dictate why people get hurt. If you don't show the appropriate respect to a local "face", or you step on the wrong person's trainers, it's obvious what happens next. History is littered with fighting rituals and duelling. Challenge and counter-challenge have been part of youth culture for as long as history has recorded youth violence.

About half the people we come across are stabbed by their own weapon. Often there's been hand-to-hand combat, with lots of shouting and swearing, and during that knives get taken away from people and used on them.

Why are victims getting younger? Every older generation thinks younger ones grow up much faster than they did. I suspect that the world is a much smaller place: information travels near instantaneously and, more importantly, technology gives children access to unfiltered, fully formed opinions and belief systems without the opportunity to challenge or even understand what male and female roles are. We have all been empowered to voice our opinion remotely, for example via social media, without the need or willingness to explain our position or compromise.

For those who have no experience of living the lives our patients live, these facts must seem unsettling. I don't condone any of the acts that I see, but if you understand the rules of the game, you understand the actions. The lack of empathy or even the willingness to want to understand the drivers and logic behind the violence we see is as much a problem as the violence itself. I suspect society feels more comfortable demonising a portion of society - the police, educators, social services, housing or parents - than taking a considered view. Why are you scared of 14-year-olds standing on a corner?

I go into schools to talk about the realities of knife violence. I show pupils some pretty graphic photographs of stabbing victims, sometimes with a surgeon's hand inside their chest, to help them realise the impact of a knife wound. The most common question I get asked by pupils is: is there a safe place to stab someone? I say: in your dreams - no, there's not. I've seen people die after being stabbed in the calf, shoulder, face or arm. Some people think it's safe to stab someone in the buttocks, but there are a lot of big blood vessels there, and the bowel is near there, too. There is no safe place to stab someone.

Some kids think: if I can inflict an injury that's not life-threatening then I can get some respect for doing that. But the truth is, that's a myth. If you hurt someone with a knife and they survive, they will be out for revenge - on you, your brother or your mum. Plus, the police may catch you and you may go to prison. So it's madness to think like that. People need to connect action and consequence. They have another choice, of course, which is not to stab someone.

The news about knife crime is relentlessly grim. But behind the headlines there are some good things going on. For example, we have reduced the proportion of stabbing victims who come back to us after being knifed a second time from 45% to just 1%. We've had tremendous success in reducing rates of retaliation violence readmission in young people. We work in partnership with the St Giles Trust, a charity that works to reduce youth violence, and it has played a key role in that. It helps victims from the moment they arrive all the way through their treatment, rehabilitation and return to their community, and works with their families, too.

Youth knife violence can be reduced. I've also seen tremendous benefit from well thought-out and delivered secondary prevention - or "gangs call-in" - programmes in which at-risk youths receive focused support. There is amazingly strong data documenting the benefit of supporting children and parents in early life, promoting strong parental relationships, education and engagement with empowering non-academic activity, but they are long-term, decades-long interventions.

The key is forming consistent, supportive and nurturing relationships between youths and people they trust and respect, who are culturally competent and appropriate. We need to have services that are fit for purpose and are allowed to deliver, such as policing, education and housing. But each individual needs a solution that's unique to them. It's like making a pizza: what's perfect for a 16-year-old-girl in Basingstoke isn't right for a 14-year-old boy in south-east London.

- Dr Martin Griffiths is a consultant vascular and trauma surgeon at the Royal London hospital, lead for trauma surgery for Barts Health NHS trust and a co-author of a new research study which found that a large proportion of stabbing victims treated at a London trauma centre were children.

- This article was amended on 7 November 2018. An earlier version referred to 1,823 stabbing victims under 25 who were treated at the hospital's major trauma centre since 2012. That figure is the number of such patients treated there between 2004 and 2014.

(1st December 2018)

(i News, dated 6th November 2018 author Matt Allan)

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Drivers should be made to pay in advance for their fuel to cut the growing number of drive-away thefts, according to police chiefs.

Simon Cole, the head of local policing for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), has said that the practice - common in many other countries - would wipe out the crime "in 30 seconds" and allow police to focus on violent crimes.

Mr Cole told the Telegraph that fuel retailers were putting profits ahead of crime prevention by sticking to a business model which encourages drivers to go into forecourt shops and spend more money on food and drink.

The chief constable for Leicestershire said: "The petroleum industry could design out bilking in 30 seconds by making people pay up front, which is what they do in other countries.

"They don't because the walk up in their shops is part of their business offer."

Rising crime

The number of drive-off fuel thefts has risen to around 25,000 a year, according to police, with some forces seeing a 40 per cent increase in cases.

Some forces are no longer investigating thefts under £50 unless there is proof of criminal intent or other criminality and Mr Cole warned that as officer numbers dropped forces were increasingly struggling to investigate crimes.

He argued that bilking is a crime which could be "designed out" by changing how we pay for fuel, which would free up officers to focus on more serious offences.

Closures and rising prices

However, the RAC has warned such a move could threaten some smaller forecourts and lead to increased fuel costs.

Its fuel spokesman Simon Williams commented: "While a blanket approach of compelling every forecourt to introduce pre-payment, pay-at-pump technology could solve the problem of bilking, it could also have some unintended consequences.

"Firstly, there would be an immediate financial impact on forcing fuel retailers to upgrade their pumps - this might be a cost easily swallowed by larger fuel retailers, but for the thousands of independent forecourts who already make a small margin on selling fuel, it could be a different matter altogether, possibly threatening the viability of some smaller operations. Arguably, some retailers may believe they have no choice but to charge more for fuel to cover their costs.

"Some independent forecourts also rely on drivers spending money in their on-site stores in order to make ends meet - something that could disappear if every driver paid at the pump. It could also mean people no longer having the option of paying for fuel using cash.

"It would certainly make sense however for those retailers who suffer regular fuel thefts to consider investing in pre-payment systems, or demand drivers pay in person before they top up."

(1st December 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th November 2018 author Rohan Silva)

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We've all seen the statistics. Knife crime in London has now risen to its highest levels since records began - with almost 15,000 attacks in the past year alone.

That adds up to around 40 offences each day - truly a shocking state of affairs. Five people have been murdered in London in the past week.

Faced with this, it's easy to feel powerless, or end up convincing yourself that high levels of violence are inevitable in major cities such as London.

But that's simply not the case. If you look at urban areas around the world you find politicians and police forces pulling out all the stops to make a difference on crime rates.

In the latest in this series on Changing Cities, we're going to be exploring some of these strategies and seeing how technology is opening up new possibilities for fighting criminals - for better and for worse.

If you want to see how public policy can have an impact on lawlessness, there's no better place than New York. Between 1990 and 2017, the city's murder rate fell by an astonishing 87 per cent - and overall crime has now fallen every year for the past 27.

It's a remarkable achievement, and one that's widely attributed to novel ways of thinking - such as so-called "broken window" policing, which involves treating low-level crime seriously (like petty theft or jumping on buses without paying).

If New York shows what has been possible on crime over the past few decades, which cities point the way forward for the future, using technology and new techniques in an attempt to make citizens safer?

The truth is that not all innovations are positive ones - and this is certainly the case when it comes to criminal justice. All around the world you find governments desperate to look tough on crime, and increasingly turning to digital tools to impose law and order, no matter what the cost. So let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of policing innovations in global cities.

Let's start with the ugly. In China, the authorities have already started using armed robots to patrol crowded places - which other places will no doubt copy. At Zhengzhou railway station, for example, 1.6m-tall robots stand guard - equipped with cameras and facial recognition software that enables them to track and follow suspicious people or wanted criminals. According to the Chinese newspaper People's Daily, the robot is also equipped with an "electrically charged riot control tool" that can be used to bring a suspect to justice. All very futuristic - and a bit scary.

In Beijing's Tiananmen Square, robots armed with stun guns are used to watch over the crowds - like a scene from a cheesy science fiction film. It's a similar story in Dubai, which has set a target that robot police should make up 25 per cent of the overall force by 2030.

Meanwhile, in the Uttar Pradesh region of India, politicians have purchased drones equipped with loudspeakers and strobe lighting to try to break up crowds. And if that doesn't work, the flying machines can also shoot pepper spray and paintballs - while also firing tear gas pellets.

You can understand why authorities might be tempted to go in this direction. It's potentially cheaper - after all, robots don't ask for pay rises, and don't threaten to go on strike (Not yet, anyway). But ultimately there's more to maintaining law and order than simply carrying an ever bigger stick to scare criminals. So if using robots falls into the category of "ugly", let's move onto the merely "bad".

In Newark, largest city of the US state of New Jersey, the police force has decided to try to use technology to involve the public in a novel way. The initiative, Citizen Virtual Patrol, enables people to log into video feeds from the city's CCTV camera network and inform police of anything suspicious. Again, it's easy to see why Newark's leaders decided to roll out this scheme. The crime rate was soaring, and the police were overworked - so why not use technology to marshal help from potentially thousands of engaged local citizens?

This raises big concerns about personal privacy if anyone can sit at home, track your movements and check who you're hanging out with at any time. As the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey puts it: "It's not just Big Brother, there's an infinite number of siblings here."

What's more, it's unclear that untrained citizens are best placed to know how to react to grainy CCTV images they're seeing on their screen.

According to Professor Eric Piza, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice: "Not only is the programme not likely to reduce crime, it has the potential to lead police to respond to situations they should not be responding to."

If we've looked at the ugly and bad of policing innovations, where can we find the good?

Here it's slimmer pickings - perhaps because the success of New York's approach means many cities are understandably copying that strategy, rather than coming up with something new.

But perhaps the best way new technologies are being used to fight crime involves the smart analysis of data to help police do their job.

Cities are increasingly using algorithms to predict where crime might happen in the future - such as the PredPol system deployed by the Los Angeles Police Department to try to work out where serious crimes are more likely to occur at specific times.

This has come to be known as predictive policing - and it's now being deployed in more than 90 urban areas across America.

In the words of Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Daniel Neill: "Police already know where the bad neighbourhoods are. What they don't always know is the dynamics - like when a bad neighbourhood is suddenly going to see a flare-up in crime. Those are the sorts of questions that predictive policing can answer."

Other cities are fast following suit. Kyoto in Japan now uses a computer system that analyses 100,000 past crimes to identify when and where similar incidents may recur. This allows the police to put more officers on the beat at key moments - and it's also enabled the authorities to use data patterns to identify suspects in cases like indecent assaults and bag snatchings.

Time will tell just how effective this will be. But what's positive is that it's about using technology to help the police focus their resources, rather than replacing human officers altogether.

Because as you look around the world at how new technologies are being used to fight crime, you can't help but come to the conclusion that the old ways are best. That means empowering the police, backing them with the resources and powers they need and empowering communities to play their part. As Tony Blair put it, you need to be "tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime". It might not be rocket science, but as the dramatic fall in crime in New York shows, it certainly works.

(1st December 2018)

(The Register, dated 5th November 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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The trials require people to bring personal identification before they are allowed to vote, and were rolled out in five cities earlier this year.

The idea is to crack down on election fraud, but critics have said the plan risks damaging voter turnout - especially in less well-represented groups - and tackles a non-problem, as the Electoral Commission found there were just 44 allegations of impersonation in 64 million votes in 2016.

Nonetheless, the Cabinet Office is ploughing ahead, today announcing 11 new regions that will pilot the approach in the 2019 local elections in May.

In Pendle, East Staffordshire and Woking, people will be asked to show photo ID before they are given their ballot papers - this might be a passport or driving licence.

In Ribble Valley, Broxtowe, Derby, North Kesteven and Braintree, people will be given the option of showing two forms of non-photo ID or a photo ID.

Voters in Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire are testing pre-issued poll cards, which are seen as a less restrictive solution. If someone turns up without the card on polling day, they must present another form of ID.

This method requires the biggest IT spend, as the poll cards have barcodes that are scanned with tablets on election day. In the May trials, the cost of the software licences and hiring the IT kit and other equipment was, on average, £659 per polling station in Swindon; in Watford, where no additional licenses were needed, it was on average £332 per station.

Peterborough, and Pendle, will also run a postal vote pilot that aims to assess the security of postal votes. Peterborough - which was involved in postal and proxy vote trials in May - will also requite proxy voters to show ID before they can cast their ballot.

The May pilot reported in July, and according to the evaluation (PDF), a public opinion survey found "no indication that the ID requirements impacted the reasons for not voting for any specific demographic group". The main reason in all areas was "too busy/other commitments".

The evaluation report added that in the areas where a photo ID was needed, confidence in how to vote, and satisfaction with the process, "significantly increased".

In areas that trialled the poll card, this was the favoured method of proving identity, and polling station staff in particular gave positive feedback on the process.

That report was written by the Cabinet Office, though; the Electoral Commission will carry out an independent evaluation of the pilots and publish its findings in the summer of next year.

(1st December 2018)

(Mirror, dated 5th November 2018 author Bradley Jolly)

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Twisted hackers took over a first-time mum's nanny cam and spied on her and her son for weeks.

The 35-year-old victim, who has not been named, realised what was going on when she found the camera turning without her operating it.

The teacher, from Essex, said: "I freaked out, I thought right OK that's not me, so I logged on to check the settings and I could see there were four active IP addresses and I only have two devices."

She reported the fraud to police who since contacted the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

The mum, whose son is said to be a toddler, added: "The fact someone has been watching me and my son is horrific.

"I still feel sick thinking about it now.

"Watching me walking round the house playing with my son, its sick and twisted.

"But what bothers me the most is the fact they could have been paedophiles taking pictures or screenshots of my child.

"No one has even come back to me with an update, I even received an email saying there wasn't enough evidence to investigate even though they never called me or even took the IP addresses.

"When I raised this, they then claimed the e-mail was a mistake and say they are looking into it.

"I just want to warn others who may be thinking of getting home cameras, to go to a specialist and realise how easily these things can be hacked into."

A spokesman for City of London Police, said: "Action Fraud received this report on October 15 2018 and it is currently being assessed by our National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

"The person who reported this to Action Fraud will be updated on its progress either via post or e-mail."

uaware comment

To reduce the likelihood of hacks like this occuring on the internet system within your home, change passwords.

Hacks rely on Broadband users not changing the name of their router and the router default passwords. The router name normally denotes the Broadband supplier (ie. BT, PlusNet etc). Once a hacker has determined that there are only a limited number of passwords used by each of the Broadband suppliers. When I say a few passwords, I actually mean a few million, but that doesnt take a hackers computer software long to "number crunch".

(1st December 2018)

(Brussels Times, dated 4th November 2018 author Alan Hope)

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The city of Antwerp has joined forces with the Dutch NGO Terre des Hommes to tackle the problem of so-called loverboys - young men who enter into relationships with young girls with the aim of forcing them into prostitution.
The phenomenon is growing in Belgium, according to a report last week by the VRT.

The NGO explains that the loverboy seduces the young girl, either in person or, increasingly, over the internet, creating a romantic dependence which leaves her vulnerable to his persuasion. He then convinces her to turn to prostitution. In other cases, the loverboy convinces her to send him compromising photos via internet, which he can then use to blackmail her into prostitution by threatening to put them on social media or send them to the girl's family.

Many of the loverboys are turning to girls in Belgium, said Gideon Van Aartsen of Terre des Hommes, access to whom is now available online, without involving the loverboy in the time-consuming business of a real-life seduction. Antwerp is particularly vulnerable given its relative proximity to the Netherlands. And the problem is not restricted to vulnerable girls.

"Flemish girls and boys are prostituted in the Netherlands, and Dutch girls and boys are prostituted in Belgium. For the young people, that of course has the additional unfortunate effect of increasing their isolation."

Terre des Hommes has now contacted the Antwerp city authorities, as well as the prosecutor's office, to help combat the phenomenon here. According to Lieve Huijskens, a consultant on prostitution to the city, the various parties will exchange information, which could be successful in at least stopping the growth of the phenomenon in Antwerp.

(1st December 2018)

(The Times, dated 3rd November 2018 author Ryan Watts)

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Dog thefts are soaring because of wealthy bankers moving to the country, taking up country pursuits and requiring well-trained animals at short notice, campaigners say.

The number of dogs stolen from farms has tripled in three years - from 25 to 87 - and border collies and cocker spaniels, popular working breeds, have joined Staffordshire bull terriers and labrador retrievers at the top of the most-stolen list. Gangs are targeting these breeds because well-trained dogs fetch higher prices.

Analysis by The Times of 120,000 adverts posted on shows that dogs are at more risk of disappearing from the countryside than from urban areas. More than 70 per cent of the top 50 postcodes where dogs were reported missing were in areas classified as predominantly rural. One area in Bedfordshire recorded 300 reports.

Jayne Hayes, who started the website when her French bulldog was stolen 15 years ago, claims that inexperienced Londoners are moving out of the city, picking up country pursuits and driving up demand for well trained gun dogs.

"It's London bankers who take up country sports, which are not cheap," she said. "They pay £5,000 for a gun and £2,000 for a days shooting, but they also have to have a working dog. They have no time to train dogs so they're buying them for ther performance and not asking where they came from."

Sarah Lee, of the Contryside Alliance, said: "Working dogs are particularly targeted as a result of their training, pedigree and perceived status. Our message to anyone who would like a working dog is please buy from a responsible breeder, not from a man down the pub".

The ananlysis of shows that this has already been a record breaking year for reports, with 18,000 owners listing their pets as missing this year, 200 more than in 2014.

Police data also shows that dog theft has doubled since 2012, with almost 2,000 reports last year. Campaigners claim that the total number of dogs could be higher as the police record incidents and not how many animals are taken.

The Stafforshire bull terrier is this years most frequently lost breed and has been for the past ten years. It tops the list of stolen breeds too, with more than 200 taken last year - more than double the number of Jack Russell terriers, the second most frequently snatched dog.

Most Wanted

- More dogs are reported missing in January than any other month. Disappearances are also frquent in July and August.

- Almost 100 chihuahuas, a record number, were stolen last year. Thefts of French bulldogs have increased the most, rising from 34 to 86 in two years.

- French bulldogs and Siberian huskies were more likely to go missing in Leeds than anywhere else in the UK. Reports of lost Labradors and Jack Russells were made most often in Cornwall.

- Milton Keynes had 200 more reports of missing Staffordshire bull terriers than anywhere else.

(1st December 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 2nd November 2018 author Connor Boyd)

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Cyber criminals based in Russia are offering to sell 81,000 Facebook profiles after hacking into more than 120 million accounts.

The hackers were attempting to sell the accounts online for as little as eight pence (10 cents) per profile.

They published private messages from the compromised accounts to encourage people to make the purchase.

Many of the users whose details have been compromised are based in Ukraine and Russia - but some are from the UK, US, Brazil and elsewhere.

Their advert - placed on an English language forum - has since been taken offline.

Examples of the messages published included an intimate chat between two lovers, complaints about a son in-law, photos of a recent holiday sent privately between two Facebook friends and a chat about a recent Depeche Mode concert

The perpetrators claim they have details from a total of 120 million accounts, according to the BBC Russian Service.

Facebook said its security had not been compromised and that the data was likely obtained through malicious browser extensions.

The social media giant assured users it had taken steps to prevent further accounts being affected.

'We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores,' Facebook executive Guy Rosen told the BBC.

'We have also contacted law enforcement and have worked with local authorities to remove the website that displayed information from Facebook accounts.'

The data breach was first picked up in September, when a user named FBSaler began advertising 'personal information of 120 million Facebook users' on an English-speaking internet forum.

The BBC investigation found that more than 81,000 profiles advertised online contained private messages.

Sensitive information from an additional 176,000 accounts was also published - although some of the information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, could have been taken from users who had not concealed it.

The IP address of one of the websites selling the data was traced back to St Petersburg.

Its IP address has also been used to spread the LokiBot Trojan, which allows attackers to gain access to user passwords.

###How can you tell if your Facebook account was hit by hackers ?

Facebook said it believes 30 million users were affected a result of the data breach it was hit with in late September.

That's a marked decrease from its initial estimate of 50 million users.

Along with that update, it said 15 million users out of the 30 million had their names and contact information accessed by hackers. Approximately 14 million had that information stolen, in addition a myriad of other data, including username, birthdate, gender, and 15 of their most recent searches.

The social media giant has launched a dedicated webpage to check if you've been hit by the hack :

Here's how you can tell if you've been hacked:

- Visit the Facebook Help center link after logging into your Facebook account.

- Scroll down to the section with the header: 'Is my Facebook account impacted by this security issue?'

- Users will be given a 'Yes' or 'No' answer. For users that weren't affected, they don't need to take any immediate steps.

- For users who were affected, Facebook will give users a list of data they believe was accessed by hackers.

- Affected users will be able to discern whether they were part of the 15 million users whose name and contact information was accessed, or the 14 million that had broader information accessed.

- They may also be part of the 1 million users whose access token was stolen, but no personal information was accessed.

- Users should receive a 'customized message' in the next few days telling them further preventative measures they can take to protect their account.

(1st December 2018)

(Independent, dated 1st November 2018 author Grant Bailey)

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An author has penned the first ever "edutainment" crime fiction novella - to help Britons keep their homes secure.

Sophie Hannah wrote A Dark Time to pass on security hints and tips to homeowners who find themselves at increased risk of burglary during the winter months.

Seven homes in the UK are burgled every minute over the course of a year.

A survey of 2,000 homeowners carried out by a home security firm to coincide with the launch of the book found 14 per cent of Britons have no security measures in place whatsoever.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed have fitted a security alarm to warn off potential intruders, and 57 per cent keep their house lights on to make it look like someone is home.

UK homes are at an elevated risk of burglary after the clocks go back, according to research.

December was revealed as the peak time for break-ins across the UK, with 13 per cent of Britons experiencing a burglary in the last year alone.

And six in 10 Britons surveyed feel more vulnerable to a break-in when the nights grow longer.

However, keeping our homes warm and making sure energy bills are paid are the nation's top concerns after the clocks go back - ahead of securing our castles.

A further 48 per cent close their blinds or curtains while they're out, and just under a tenth have bought a dog to deter burglars from targeting their property.

Lee Jasper, security expert at ADT Security Services, said: "Year on year, we have seen a 10 per cent increase in burglaries during the darker months.

"So it's vital that people put the right security measures in place to help protect their homes to avoid falling victim.

"The research shows we're feeling more vulnerable as a nation when the clocks go back, however there is a clear lack of awareness when it comes down to preventing burglaries.

"We're hoping that the launch of A Dark Time can help the nation safeguard their homes, in an entertaining and engaging way."

(Independent, dated 27th October 2018 author Chris Baynes)

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Burglaries spike by more than a third during daylight savings time, insurance claim figures suggest.

Homeowners have been warned to be on guard ahead of an expected increase in break-ins when clocks go back this month.

Co-op Insurance, which analysed customer claim figures since 2013, said burglaries spiked by 34 per cent on average during the five months of daylight savings time each year.

Clocks will go back by an hour on the 28 October this year. They go forward again on 31 March.

Ian Kershaw, head of claims at Co-op Insurance, said: "Unfortunately darker nights lead to more burglaries so as the nights draw in we're urging people be really vigilant when it comes to their personal safety, as well as the safety of their home.

"Nobody should have to go through the trauma of having their property burgled.

"Whilst in a lot of cases it is simply bad luck, there are things that home owners can do to deter thieves such as installing CCTV cameras, or at least dummy ones, and having a professional burglar alarm fitted to make burglars think twice."

More burglaries happened on Fridays than any other day, according Co-op's analysis.

Burglaries were more likely to be targeted raids involving forced entry into unoccupied houses during the winter months, the firm said.

In summer, break-ins were more likely to be opportunistic and involve deception rather than force.

The number of motor insurance claims also increases by 10 per cent during daylight savings time, Co-op added.

(1st December 2018)

(Huffington Post, dated 10th November 2018 author Sara C Nelson)

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Eight years ago, the remains of a 22-year-old British Royal Marine were found in a shallow field grave by a river in the Netherlands. DNA testing carried out by Dutch Army experts identified them as belonging to a Royal Marine, David Williams, who born to a single mother and given up for adoption.

David, who was unable to swim, drowned during a military operation near Waalwijk, North Brabant, in 1945. He lay in the ground undiscovered for 65 years, and was finally buried at a nearby cemetery in the presence of Royal Marines in 2016.

But while he was unaware of any living relations during his short life, in death he found his family, a link was only made possible thanks to the detective work of the Ministry of Defence's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC.)

Thanks to their investigations, the only existing photograph of David now takes a prized spot in the home of the half-sister he never knew he had.

The JCCC comprises of a team of six women based at Imjin Barracks in Gloucester, all of whom are dedicated to identifying and burying the remains of recently discovered service personnel killed in historic campaigns from world war one onwards.

The identity of some soldiers remains unknown, but for those like David, the work of the JCCC means these young men can eventually go to their graves having been claimed.

Louise Dorr personally oversaw David's case and remains in touch with his half-sister.

His half-sister, Sheila Clough, had no idea of his existence. Her mother Gertrude had given him up for adoption before having five further children - Sheila herself and four sons, who have since passed away.

Dorr said: "[Clough] found out all in one day that her mum had had a previous child, that he'd been given up for adoption, gone off to war, been killed and never come home - and had now been found again.

"I went to visit her soon after the discovery and over the months as we planned his burial, we spoke regularly. By the time we laid him to rest it was if he had always been part of her family. She is so proud of him."

There are two strands to Dorr's work: cases which entail physical remains, where the group aims to identify the individual and organises a burial with a current regiment as military support; and those where members of the public make applications where they believe they have sufficient evidence that the remains of an unknown soldier are related to them.

For Dorr, the nature of the work is especially significant. She has a great-uncle who went missing in the Battle of Passchendaele, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. It lasted 105 days, with 500,000 casualties. The bodies of 42,000 were never found.

Dorr said: "My great uncle Stephen is still missing and I thought about how rewarding it would be to be able to bring some closure to other families in the same position."

Sometimes there is no surviving family for the JCCC to match with remains, such as in the case of 22-year-old Donald Noble, a Lance Corporal in the Wiltshire Regiment whose remains were found in the Netherlands, 69 years after he was killed in the Battle of Arnhem.

The young man's body now lies at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, along with a handful of soil from his mother's grave in Leeds - a touching familial link only made possible thanks to the detective work of JCCC.

Dorr and her colleagues were the ones to discover Donald was the only child of Dorothy Noble, an unmarried mother in Leeds, who raised him on her own before proudly waving him off to the army when he was just 16. She died in her mid 50s, 10 years after her son was killed in action.

Dorr says: "Dorothy Noble never married or had other children and she went to her grave never knowing what happened to her only child."

The headstone on her grave reads: "In proud and loving memory of my son, Donald, lost at Arnhem, age 22. Abide with me." After the JCCC discovered the link, Donald's headstone now reads: "In proud and loving memory of Donald, son of Dorothy. Abide with Me."

Dorr said: "It was so touching to be able to bury him, and although we weren't able to find any living family for him, we duplicated the inscription on her headstone to his so the two graves are linked if nothing else.

"I attended the ceremony and I made sure a bit of the earth from her grave was buried with him. It's all about the person who's sacrifice we are honouring. I can't imagine the terrors and the horrors that they went through, so what I want to do for them is the best I can to give them the sort of burial they should have had at the time, had the circumstances been different."

Dorr said when the team isn't able to identify remains, or reunite them with families, "it is a really sad feeling to have to lay them to rest without knowing who they are."

Today, the bodies of those who die while serving overseas are repatriated, but during both world wars, and up to the 1960s, the policy was to bury personnel in the country where they died alongside their comrades.

Metal identification tags were not widely used during the first world war and many paper records from that time were destroyed in the Blitz, so obtaining a positive identification is often difficult. The regiment of an individual may be identified from the location of the find or uniform recovered with the remains, as can personal items, such as letters or other artefacts.

Earlier this week an unidentified British soldier who died in the First World War was laid to rest with full military honours in Ypres, Belgium. The coffin of the unknown man, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers regiment, was draped in a Union flag, with a wreath of poppies laid on top alongside a belt and hat of the regiment.

His grave, as is custom with all unidentified soldiers, was marked by a headstone marked: "Known Unto God."

(18th November 2018)

(Telelgraph, dated 1st November 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Technology to secretly spot suspects carrying knives in crowds is being developed by the home office.

They are offering funding of up to £500,000 to scientists who can develop radar or screening technology that would be able to pick out people carrying steel-bladed knives with blades longer than 7.62cm (3ins) in busy areas where there might limited or no police presence.

The technology to help police tackle surging levels of knife crime will need to be "unobtrusive and potentially covert" and capable of picking out knives from other metallic items such as jewellery, keys, phones, buckles or watches that a person might have on them or in a bag.

The offer of funding is also open to scientists developing psychological techniques that can detect potential behavioural indicators of a person carrying a knife or someone intending to use the weapon.

Techniques are being sought that would allow police to carry out screening at "pinch points" such as ticket barriers or escalators or in busy areas where movement is "essentially unconstrained" - for example, on the approach to a major event.

The move follows a 20% rise in knife crime in England and Wales last year, compared with 2015 with a significant increase in fatal stabbings and serious injuries.

"Whilst this increase in knife crime is a complex problem with many influencing factors, the ability of the police to determine if knives are being carried by people is one fundamental aspect to potentially reducing incidents," says the bid document for scientists.

"This is particularly challenging when knives are concealed and carried in public. The use of current detection systems is limited."

The weapons identified include household kitchen knives and other knives designed specifically to cause serious harm or death.

The competition is being run by the Defence and Security Accelerator, a body set up to find and fund innovations with potential benefits for UK safety and prosperity.

(1st December 2018)

(Guardian - Opinion, dated 1st November 2018 author Suzanne Moore)

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Beware common sense, I say. Those who cheer it on are inevitably dull enforcers of the status quo. Witness the headlines around Sara Thornton's comments to the annual National Police Chiefs Council about the police not having the time or resources to investigate misogynist abuse.

She understands why treating misogyny as a hate crime may be desirable. "But we do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving … I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes." And a chorus of the usual suspects joins in, of course: what we want are old-fashioned police on the streets solving proper crimes. Who doesn't want that? Only, apparently, members of "the PC brigade" - a somewhat shadowy organisation formed decades ago. We operate almost as freemasons with our weird attitudes about not wanting to be hated and abused on the basis of our gender, ethnicity or disability.

Thus common sense is pitted against out-of-control political correctness as though I have the simple ultimatum of having my burglary solved or reporting wolf-whistling to the police. The terms in which this is all debated are antediluvian.

For the record, I have never had a burglary solved, nor ever really expected to. I have had very PC policemen sit in my living room telling me that they understand how being burgled makes a person feel violated, as they too have been violated. But any suggestion of catching the bastard? Never.

So yes, I would like the police to sort out this stuff. Just as I would like the horrific knifing around the city to be stopped. If this is the core policing work that Thornton wants doing, we can all agree on this. This requires more resources, and the party of law and order has systematically cut police numbers.

Crimes of violence frighten all of us, but this throwing out of misogynistic abuse and historical child abuse as issues that unjustifiably take up valuable police time is not the way forward. Common sense, I am afraid, does not recognise that policing has changed because society has changed. Nor does it make the links between different types of crimes.

Wolf-whistling does indeed sound harmless, but what women are really complaining about is street harassment with an implied threat of violence. Is this a crime or merely anti-social behaviour? If the police won't take it seriously, who will?

Domestic abuse used to be seen as a private and trivial issue, but we now see it differently. Two women a week are murdered by their intimate partners. There is domestic violence in the background of many of those who go on to terrorise others.

The real issue is that evidence-gathering in a digital age is a hugely time-consuming business. This is partly why we currently have the lowest convictions for rape for a decade, as victims' texts are used as evidence of supposed consent. The Crown Prosecution Service is in a state of chaos and the relationship between the police and the CPS is part of the problem. The police are also having to deal with the effects of austerity, operating as the frontline of social services, often dealing with homeless and mentally ill people. None of this is crime-solving, but where else are people to go?

An over-stretched service cannot deal with this new hate crime of misogyny, although no one is suggesting that attacks based on race, religion or disability should be decriminalised, are they? What is being said then, is that crimes against property are more important than crimes against women, which is how the law has operated for a long time. Common sense tells us this is just the way it is. If every case of child abuse were brought to court, there would be no time for anything else. In the justice system, it really is not a case of women and children first, but last.

When it comes down to priorities, I would rather the police investigate a man threatening my daughter on the bus than whether a car has been scratched. Thornton said: "It is this core policing which is seriously stretched. This is surely part of the police covenant with the public."

Half the public are women. I know I am deranged with political correctness to say this. But where are we in this covenant?

(1st December 2018)


(BBC News, dated 1st November 2018)

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The threat posed by organised crime in the UK is now greater than terrorism, the National Crime Agency has said.

Its latest report said there were 4,600 serious and organised crime groups, committing offences including child abuse, trafficking and drug dealing.

Director general Lynne Owens said that crime cost the economy £37bn a year.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said he wanted to target groups - such as accountants and estate agents - who launder money for the criminals.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that those at the "bottom of the pyramid", who were dealing drugs or laundering money for crime bosses - who he referred to as "foot soldiers" of organised crime - needed to face "the same weight of the law" as those at the top.

The government, which has published a report into organised crime, will later announce a new strategy and £48m of public money to tackle the gangs.

The last figure, published five years ago, showed the cost of such crimes was £24bn.

Ms Owens said some of the cost was direct, such as the impact of blackmail on business, but others were indirect, including the impact on the mental health of victims.

She described the range of serious crimes that had changed rapidly in volume and complexity over the last five years.

"It means children being abused, the vulnerable being trafficked, it means cyber crime," she said.

"It means criminal markets that trade drugs, trade firearms, trade in people and make profit as a result."

She added: "Each year it kills more of our citizens than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined."

How will the government respond?

Later, minister for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, will say: "Many serious and organised criminals think they are above the law.

"They think they can defy the British state. And they think they are free to act with impunity against our businesses and our way of life. They are wrong.

"Our new strategic approach not only improves our government and law enforcement capabilities, but also ensures the private sector, the public and international partners are integrated as part of our response."

He will also announce £48m to fund the National Economic Crime Centre, training police fraud investigators, and extra data and intelligence capabilities.

(Sky News, dated 1st November 2018)

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Organised and serious crime have a more significant impact on the UK citizens than all other national security threats combined, new research has found.

The activities of around 4,600 serious and organised crime groups cost the country at least £37bn every year, according to the National Crime Agency, up from £25bn five years ago.

The new figures were released ahead of the announcement of a new serious and organised crime strategy and £48m in funding to tackle the most dangerous offenders.

These criminal networks are targeting the most vulnerable and controlling communities with violence and intimidation, according to the Home Office.

"It means children being abused, the vulnerable being trafficked, it means cyber crime," NCA director general Lynne Owens said.

"It means criminal markets that trade drugs, trade firearms, trade in people and make profit as a result."

She said the problems kill more UK citizens than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined, affecting more citizens more often than any other national security threat.

The £37bn figure is a combination of direct cost - the impact of drug use, fraud, cybercrime, blackmail and extortion on big business - and secondary cost.

This is when somebody is left with a serious mental health issue because they were seriously abused as a child, or when somebody who is a drug user shoplifts or harms themselves.

The £48bn investment announced in response to the numbers will seek to boost funding for a crime centre focused on organised crime, recruit more officers and invest in data and intelligence assessment.

Ben Wallace, the minister for security and economic crime, warned institutions like private schools, football clubs and luxury car garages that they could be complicit in money laundering by turning a blind eye to huge purchases that amount to money laundering.

"Many serious and organised criminals think they are above the law," he said.

"They think they can defy the British state. And they think they are free to act with impunity against our businesses and our way of life. They are wrong."

The new strategy will improve government and law enforcement while including the private sector, public and international partners in the response, he said.
(Daily Mail, dated 1st November 2018 author Press Association)

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Criminal kingpins who see themselves as "untouchable" will be relentlessly pursued by the full force of the state, the Government has vowed.

On Thursday it emerged authorities now estimate that serious and organised crime costs the UK at least £37 billion annually.

Launching a fresh drive to tackle the scourge, ministers warned its impact could be even greater, as a large amount of the activity remains hidden or under-reported.

Criminals prey on the most vulnerable in society, target members of the public to defraud and use intimidation to create fear within communities, a Home Office strategy document says.

Serious & Organised Crime has hidden depths - and anyone can be a target.

Today we're launching a new strategy to tackle the ruthless criminals that seek to defraud, manipulate and exploit the public.

It adds: "Enabled by their lawyers and accountants, corrupt elites and criminals set up fake companies to help them to hide their profits, fund lavish lifestyles and invest in further criminality."

The report warns serious and organised criminals have learnt to become more adaptable and resilient, adding: "Some think of themselves as untouchable.

"In some countries overseas, criminals have created safe havens where serious and organised crime, corruption and the state are interlinked and self-serving."

The assessment also warns that organised criminality, corruption and kleptocracy are "increasingly severe impediments" to the UK's overseas policy and development objectives.

It says: "They distort and impede inclusive and sustainable economic growth, corrupt the democratic process, threaten legitimate, sustainable livelihoods, damage social cohesion and exacerbate exclusion.

"All of these factors challenge the UK's ability to help the world's poorest people, reduce poverty and promote global prosperity."

It flags up the need to sustain co-operation on tackling the threat after Brexit, saying criminals will look to exploit any vulnerabilities in border and security arrangements following the UK's departure from the EU.

The National Crime Agency assesses that there are around 4,600 organised crime groups operating in the UK.

The Government's strategy says the "full force of the state" will be mobilised to ensure the gangs are subject to "relentless disruption".

Underpinned by a £48 million cash injection, the blueprint outlines measures including:

- A new "lifetime management" regime for keeping track of priority offenders as they pass through the criminal justice system.

- Pilot programmes aimed at overseas communities which feed recruits into organised crime groups active in the UK.

- Efforts to prevent border controls being undermined by corruption.

- Powers to identify, seize and deny criminals access to their finances.

Serious and organised crime, as defined by authorities, covers offence categories including child sexual exploitation, the illegal drugs trade, human trafficking and cyber crime.

Launching the strategy, Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace said: "Serious and organised crime is the deadliest and most damaging national security threat faced by the UK.

"It undermines our economy, damages our international reputation and has a corrosive effect on individuals and communities."

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary David Gauke described prisons as "a new front line in the fight against crime".

He said: "The fact is, new technology and sophisticated approaches mean that prison walls alone are no longer effective in stopping crime - inside or outside of prison.

"Crime is being fuelled by organised gangs and networks who see prisons as a highly lucrative and literally captive market to push drugs like Spice, as well as mobile phones and other contraband into prisons. This creates a thriving illicit economy within a prison."

Warning that jails cannot be allowed to become "incubators of crime", he said: "That puts prison officers and prisoners at risk, undermines rehabilitation and ultimately makes our streets less safe.

"That's why we have been taking measures to make our prisons safer, crack down on the criminal gangs exploiting our prisons and we have been denying prisoners the space and means to prey on innocent - and often vulnerable - members of the public."

(1st December 2018)





(AIG, dated 2018)

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Sisters, Mothers, Daughters and Wives

Whether they are business leaders, students or stay-at-home moms, this empowering travel guide contains tips to minimize risks and help women make their journey safe and enjoyable. Travel, either domestic or international, poses risks for anyone. It is possible to become a victim of a crime, experience a medical emergency or become impacted by a natural disaster. Travelers may not be familiar with the language, culture, or security threats of a particular destination, leaving them vulnerable to potential harm.

AIG Travel recognizes that in addition to the safety, medical and security needs of all travelers, women may also have unique travel considerations. With a reputation for providing a complete range of travel insurance and global assistance services, we have products and options to help women prepare for the unexpected when exploring the world.

In fact, according to a Women's Safety Survey commissioned by AIG Travel:

- 45% of female travelers feel less safe or much less safe about traveling than they did five years ago.

- 84% reported that their employers either did not provide travel safety tips/resources or that they weren't aware of any such tools.

- 63% of women think about safety always or frequently while traveling.

- The top four risks that women consider before or during a trip center on theft and scams, such as pickpocketing/purse snatching (93%), credit card fraud (86%), identity theft (63%), and taxi scams (62%).

- The top two actions that women take with a goal of increasing their personal safety before or during a trip are sharing an itinerary with a friend or family member (93%) and purchasing travel insurance, emergency travel medical coverage, and/or emergency travel evacuation coverage (87%).

Based on a Maiden-Voyage Women in Business Travel survey:

- 24% of women travelers suffered an adverse situation when traveling on business (e.g. theft, physical assault, sexual harassment or attack, attempted kidnap, and intruders in hotel rooms).1

- 67% were uncomfortable on public transit and walking in an unfamiliar city.

- 55% said they didn't feel safe alone in a cab.1

- 31.4% of female business travelers have encountered sexual harassment while traveling.

Yet only 5% had received female business traveler safety training and 31% said their employer didn't adequately take care of them.

Whether they are novice or seasoned travelers

Women need to take extra precautions in order to be aware, alert and confident; especially when traveling by themselves. Women may be at a higher risk for being a target of a crime, kidnapping or other adverse situations. In celebration of Women's History Month in March and Women's International Women's Day on March 8, we included advice from professional women within the AIG organization to share their personal travel knowledge. Below are specific travel tips for women:

Tips and Advice from Female Travelers at AIG

When was the last time you talked about travel tips with your relatives, friends or colleagues? Whether it was on social media or during conversation - you likely discussed travel news or advice recently in some form or another. In celebration of International Women's Day on March 8 we gathered candid advice from the women road warriors of AIG to share their professional travel knowledge.

The world is an unpredictable place, and while you can't be prepared for everything, knowing and planning for potential risks can help you travel confidently. Ask your relatives, friends and colleagues for their best travel advice and share yours to amplify the message for women to be aware and alert when traveling!

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

- If you are going on a personal trip make sure to research and buy travel insurance or if you are going on a business trip ask your employer about their business travel insurance program.

Save an electronic and hard copy of the travel insurance benefits. Share your travel insurance details with a trusted family member.

If you have access to the AIG Travel Assistance App and Website log in to stay a step ahead with the latest travel, security and health information.

- Share your itinerary with a trusted family member or friend and establish regular check-ins, especially if traveling alone.

- Print out your itinerary in order to have flight, hotel, important contacts on-hand in case your smartphone is lost or stolen.

- Check your government's website and if the option is available to enroll your trip you can receive alerts from your embassy and your embassy can contact you in the event of an emergency. Share your itinerary with trusted family, friends or colleagues.

- Temporarily buy international service on your smartphone or buy a local mobile SIM card to stay connected.

- Look into renting pocket Wi-Fi such as Teppy if you are traveling to a country where Wi-Fi is limited so you can have your own private wireless hotspot.

- Look into buying a portable power bank to charge your mobile device on-the-go in the event you can't get to an outlet.

- Save the 24/7 emergency phone number from your travel insurance in addition to the country's local emergency numbers in your mobile device.

- Pack a travel-friendly first aid kit.

- Check the weather in advance to make sure you pack appropriate clothing.
Try to avoid checking in bags to minimize the amount of items you have to carry.
If you need to check in bags, do not pack outerwear in your check-in just in case there is a baggage delay and you are temporarily stuck without a jacket in cold or rainy weather.

Safety and Security

Try to avoid booking arrivals for late at night in order to avoid dangerous situations and businesses being closed. Instead, try to book arrival times in the afternoon.

- Check your smartphone for the latest local news and alerts as soon as you arrive just in case an incident occurred while you did not have service. For example, a colleague was en route to New York City when a bombing attack happened in Times Square and she was able to avoid the area.

- Avoid wearing fancy and expensive jewelry, watches, purses, shoes or other accessories.
Never look lost.

- Use the term "We" a lot when making small talk If you are traveling alone.

- Keep your ears clear. Situational awareness is not possible if you are listening to music or a podcast.

- Avoid direct eye contact with men....that doesn't mean look down. Look confident and in control, but don't make direct eye contact.

- If you are uncomfortable or have a gut feeling about not entering an elevator or stairwell because of someone else in there that gives you a bad vibe hang back and then go in when it is clear or if there is a group of people. On the flip side, if you are alone and someone enters the elevator or stairwell that gives you a bad vibe get off at the next floor or exit door.

- Don't keep all your credit cards, identification and cash in one place. We learned this after a colleague lost everything; she was unable to travel without her ID, had no money or credit cards and was also unable to obtain an emergency wire-transfer since she did not have an ID.

Instead, keep a decoy wallet in your purse with a small amount of cash and expired credit cards. Wear a hidden money belt with your "real" wallet contents.

- If you are approached by an armed robber, do not resist under any circumstances.

- Make copies of your passport ID page to assist in filing a report and getting a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a trusted contact at home, and carry one with you.

uaware disclaimer

The existence of this advice appeared in an article on the Travel Pulse website.

AIG is an insurance company. The uaware website does not promote or advertise this company's products. Similar travel advice is probably provided by other insurance companies.

(1st November 2018)

(Sun, dated 31st October 2018 author Dan Elsom)

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SOME 1,500 vehicles are being seized each year due to British drivers making a simple insurance mistake.

Motorists are getting behind the wheel of other people's cars incorrectly thinking they are legally covered, according to a recent investigation.

Data from The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) found more than 3,000 cars were seized between July 2016 and June 2018 as drivers unwittingly broke the law.

Over 40 per cent of the calls made to MIB's Police Helpline by police officers on whether the policy holder had the "Driving Other Vehicle" (DOV) extension on their policy resulted in the vehicle being seized.

Police are able to verify whether a motorist is insured to drive a vehicle if they are pulled over and found not to be the owner.

But data revealed a large number of drivers simply assume they have the DOV extension on their comprehensive policy without actually checking their conditions.

Earlier this month, we revealed how driving someone else's car without the proper insurance condition could leave you with an unlimited fine and a disqualified licence.

And it can also have an affect on the car's owner, who will be forced to pay to retrieve their vehicle from authorities.

In the past, cover for driving other vehicles was included on comprehensive policies by most insurers, giving motorists third-party cover to drive vehicles not listed on their insurance.

But a number of insurers will now only offer this kind of cover if you specifically ask for it.

And even if you do have DOV cover, it's only supposed to be used in an emergency, meaning your insurer may refuse to pay out if there's an accident and you don't have a good reason for being behind the wheel of another car.

The DOV extension is also only valid if you are the policy holder on a vehicle, not a named driver on someone else's.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement Services at MIB, said: "What may seem like a quick trip in your mate's car could result in you losing your vehicle, fines to pay and points on your licence.

"We want all drivers to think before just jumping in another vehicle. Are you actually insured to drive it?

"People should also remember that if you are involved in an accident and you are uninsured, you remain liable for any costs so it really isn't worth the risk."

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 31st October 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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A senior police chief has said officers should not have to deal with reports of misogyny and it should not be a criminal offence, calling for them to focus instead on "core policing".

Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), told her organisation's annual conference that while recording complaints of misogynist abuse might be desirable, police did not have the time or resources.

Thornton said the funding crisis meant police chiefs should focus on core policing. "It is this core policing which is seriously stretched. This is surely part of the police covenant with the public."

She said: "Treating misogyny as a hate crime is a concern for some well-organised campaigning organisations. In July, chiefs debated whether we should record such allegations even when no crime is committed.

"But we do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving … I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes."

Thornton later told reporters: "I'm not saying misogyny is not an issue. What I'm saying is recording it as a crime necessarily the best way to reduce that, to have a criminal justice solution to an issue which is about the way people behave and treat each other?

"What I'm questioning is whether making it into a criminal offence, and thinking of it as solely in terms of a criminal justice solution, is the best way to deal with what is essentially an issue about how we all behave and treat each other."

Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said Thornton had got it wrong. "Covering the basics is important, but we note that the chair of the NPCC doesn't say that attacks on people because of their race, religion, or disability should stop being treated as a hate crime," she said.

"All we are asking is that abuse and harassment aimed at women, because they are women, should be taken seriously for what it is - a hate crime. The police need to have resources to carry out the responsibilities society demands of them. But they cannot abdicate their responsibility to women. We have to start taking misogyny seriously."

In an apparent rebuke to the criminal investigation into child abuse claims regarding the former prime minister Edward Heath, Thornton said: "Historic[al] investigations are another example of issues that matter very much to some, but they undoubtedly take resources away from dealing with crime today. While I understand those who have been harmed seek answers, I remain unconvinced that it is appropriate to commit significant resources investigating allegations against those who have died."

Thornton, who stands down as chair next year, added: "Neither investigating gender-based hate incidents nor investigating allegations against those who have died are bad things to do necessarily. They just cannot be priorities for a service that is overstretched. Giving clarity to the public about core policing is a priority, and it has not received enough attention in recent years."

She also said figures from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Services showed that violent crime took up 14% of officers' time, concerns for safety, missing people and suspicious circumstances 25% and domestic incidents, not crimes, 10% .

She said data from 23 forces showed that mental health demands on police are rising and that they are used as an emergency health service when the NHS is unavailable. "The peak time for incidents is around 4pm Monday to Friday, likely to coincide with when health services close."

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, told police he would try to secure more funding, but that they could still do more to improve that did not rely on more resources.

He said police had an extra £1bn in funding over the past three years, and that some forces were more effective than others: "This can't all be blamed on funding," he told the NPCC and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

(Telegraph, dated 31st October 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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nvestigating hate crime risks distracting police from their core role of handling emergencies, solving violent crime and burglaries and neighbourhood policing, the head of Britain's chief constables warned today.

Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), told the summit on Wednesday that historical probes into potential crimes committed by dead people and widening hate crime to include misogyny had also had an impact.

She said police were being asked to provide more and more bespoke services that were "desirable" but "the simple fact is there are too many desirable and deserving issues."

The head of Britain's chief constables cited historic investigations into crimes by dead people as another responsibility that was stretching slim resources even further and questioned their validity.

"Historic investigations are another example of issues that matter very much to some but they undoubtedly take resources away from dealing with today's crime today," she said.

"While I understand those who have been harmed seek answers, I remain unconvinced that it is appropriate to commit significant resources investigating allegations against those who have died."

"Neither investigating gender-based hate incidents nor investigating allegations against those who have died are bad things to do necessarily - they just cannot be priorities for a service that is over-stretched. Giving clarity to the public about core policing is a priority - and it has not received enough attention in recent years."

She said the public "expect the basics - responding to emergencies, investigating and solving crime and neighbourhood policing. It is this core policing which is seriously stretched. This is surely part of the police covenant with the public?"

Ms Thornton revealed chief constables had in July discussed recording misogyny as a hate crime after pressure from campaign groups. This would have meant recording such allegations even when no crime had been committed.

She told the NPCC conference in London Wednesday: "It was argued that this information might be useful to highlight the issue, send a message about acceptable standards of behaviour or to put pressure on Government.

"But we do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving."

Instead she said she wanted police to "solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes".

The law commission is currently considering whether to make misogyny a hate crime but Ms Thornton hoped the review "takes account of the pressure on forces before suggesting the law is changed."

However, Ms Thornton warned police were increasingly stretched in face of cuts that have seen a reduction in the number of officers by 22,000 since 2010, while also facing increasing crime. "We are seeing fewer police, less police activity and more crime," she said.

Police recorded crime had risen 9 percent, murder had hit the highest point for more than 10 years, knife crime was up 12%, robbery up 22 percent and vehicle theft up 7 percent, she said.

"Arrests have halved in a decade and the number of charges - at 9% - is the lowest during my service," she added.

"Whether there is a causal link between numbers of police and levels of crime has been hotly debated over the years. Many experiments have demonstrated that focusing police resources on crime hotspots reduces crime and provides reassurance.

"Recent randomised trials in Western Australia have shown that if a crime hotspot is unpatrolled for five days then crime is five times higher than in comparable crime hotspots that have 13 minutes patrolling a day."

Yet police were increasingly being drawn into areas that were not directly related to crime. Research by inspectorate showed concerns for safety, missing people and suspicious circumstances now accounted for 25 percent of police time while non-crime domestic incidents took up 10 percent.

Javid warns Britain's top officers their forces have to improve

Sajid Javid promised to prioritise extra police funding today but warned Britain's top officers they had to improve their forces' performance in return.

The home secretary told the National Police Chiefs' Council that a "significant minority" of forces were struggling to meet demand and deliver services the public expected according to inspectors.

Reform in these forces was too slow, standards were inconsistent and innovation had not spread wide enough. "These problems can't be blamed on funding levels," he said.

"When it comes to the spending review next year, my priority will be policing. But if we are making the case for more funding, this has to go hand in hand with further reforms…to improve policing."

Mr Javid said he was also working with the chancellor Philip Hammond to ensure the police had the resources they needed for next year in time for the police settlement due in December.

Police chiefs have warned they face losing another 10,000 frontline officers because of a £417m pension shortfall, on top of the 22,000 officers lost since 2010.

Mr Javid laid out a four-point action plan to make forces "even more effective than they are", starting with "increased capacity" to fight crime. This included tackling shortages of detectives and boosting cybercrime fighting.

"We need to make sure more of our officers spend more of their time on core policing and provide a better services to the public. The best police forces are already doing that," he said.

It also included more support for frontline officers to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and building a "smarter and better" police system that "joined up" the 43 forces who often seemed to have different ways of working.

Fourthly, he said there needed to be a greater emphasis on crime prevention which too many forces did not see as a priority. Some did not even have a plan, he said.

Citing the success of a crackdown on moped crime in London that had halved attacks in July, he said he wanted prevention to be at the heart of tackling serious violent crime which was "worryingly" on the rise.

Responding to Mr Javid's statement that the government was investing £1bn more in police than three years ago, David Jamieson, West Midlands police and crime commissioner told him he "didn't recognise the world you paint in terms of funding."

He warned the pension shortfall meant West Midlands faced losing 450 officers which might only be averted if council tax rose by 20%.

"Will we still be having to face these cuts that are being announced or will you find more funding," he said. "We need to know that now so we can do the planning."

(1st November 2018)

(Independent, dated 31st October 2018 author Chris Baynes)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan Police is to lend its branding to a range of clothing, homeware, toys and souvenirs as it seeks to raise money for frontline policing.

Scotland Yard is looking to ease the impact of funding cuts by emulating US forces such as the New York Police Department (NYPD), which makes millions of dollars a year selling popular merchandise.

The Met has been forced to find savings of £720m since 2010 and must reduce spending by a further £325m by 2021, according to the London mayor's office.

To create a new revenue stream, the force has licensed the use of its logo, font and colour scheme, pictures of the spinning sign outside its New Scotland Yard headquarters, and images of its officers on patrol.

Branding firm The Point.1888 has been chosen to establish a range of Met-branded products, which could include clothes, toys and games, stationery, homeware and souvenirs.

Scotland Yard said the merchandise would not allow people to impersonate police officers.

A spokesman said: "Absolutely no products will be produced which directly reflect the uniform of the Metropolitan Police Service and any products which attempt to do so will be charged with intellectual property infringement."

The NYPD's merchandise range has been hugely successful internationally, while other forces such as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have also launched popular product lines.

Branding experts said the Met's licensing deal could potentially be worth millions of pounds, but predicted Britons were unlikely to snap up the London force's wares.

"I think it has more of a hope to succeed as a foreign export," public relations guru Mark Borkowski told the Evening Standard. "It's that image you have of Beefeaters, Bobbies, telephone boxes and the Routemaster buses."

He added: "I don't think you'll see floods of Londoners buying their cuddly Met plod toy with their uniforms.

"If you think about NYPD or LAPD - I don't think people in New York or Los Angeles have the same sort of romance about that police force."

The Point.1888, which has previously worked with Tate galleries, Team GB, and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, has signed a licensing deal with the Met until 2021.

Will Stewart, the company's managing director, said: "I grew up in London, so to be able to generate revenue that puts more bobbies on the beat in my home town is an honour."

The deal was brokered by Transport for London, which already sells its own range of gifts and merchandise.

The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents staff, said last month that the force had "run out of things to sell" after disposing of property worth more than £1bn over the past six years.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 31st October 2018 author Natasha Bernal)

Full article [Option 1]:

Lie detectors equipped with artificial intelligence are set to be tested at border points in Europe as part of an EU-funded project to combat crime and terrorism.

Travellers will be asked to upload pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds, and will then use a webcam to answer questions such as "what is in your suitcase" from a computer-animated border guard.

The €4.5m project, called iBorderCtrl, will be tested at the borders of Hungary, Latvia and Greece for six months. The aim of the project is to speed up traffic at the EU's external borders.

The UK, Spain, Poland, Germany and Cyprus also plans to participate in the project following initial trials.

The technology is advertised as having a "unique approach to deception detection", analysing the micro-expressions of travellers to figure out if the interviewee is lying."

Travellers deemed low risk during the pre-screening stage will go through a short re-evaluation of their information for entry, while higher-risk passengers will undergo a more detailed check.

According to early testing, the system is around 76pc accurate, but the iBorderCtrl team say they are confident they can increase this to 85pc.

The AI will be backed by human border officials, who will use hand-held devices to automatically cross-check information, comparing facial images captured during the pre-screening stage to passports and photos taken on previous border crossings.

George Boultadakis, project coordinator of European Dynamics in Luxembourg, told the European Commission: "We're employing existing and proven technologies - as well as novel ones - to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks."

Earlier this year the Government announced plans to step up facial recognition at British borders to cross-check for visa applications or while solving crimes.

Police, immigration and passport control departments proposed creating a central system to upload and share DNA, fingerprint, photograph and potentially voice data so they can cross check for visa applications or while solving crimes.

(1st November 2018)

(Leeds Live, dated 30th October 2018 author Samantha Gildea)

Full article [Option 1]:

There are almost 2,800 sex offenders living in West Yorkshire - a rise of 68 per cent compared to eight years ago.

Figures show there were 2,792 registered sex offenders living in the West Yorkshire police force area at the end of March 2018.

This is the equivalent of one sex offender for every 716 people aged 10 and over.

The number of sex offenders per head in the police force area is 23 per cent higher than across England and Wales as a whole, which has one sex offender for every 878 people.

The number of sex offenders in West Yorkshire has risen by 6 per cent compared to March 2017.

It is also 68% higher than at the end of 2010/11, when police force level figures began being published, when there were 1,658 registered sex offenders living here.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice cover offenders managed by Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) aimed at preventing further offences.

Sex offenders are required to notify the police of certain details, with further notification required if any of those details change (sometimes referred to as 'being on the sex offenders register').

In 2017/18, seven sex offenders being monitored in West Yorkshire were charged with a serious further offence, and four were convicted.

As well as this, 13 serious sex offenders were returned to prison for breaching their licence conditions.

Last year, 47 sex offenders in West Yorkshire were also cautioned or convicted of a breach of notification requirements.

More restrictive orders can also be imposed on sex offenders, such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and previously Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPOs), or notification orders.

There were 337 SHPOs and SOPOs imposed in our area in 2017/18. A legal challenge in 2010 means offenders can apply for a review of lifetime notification requirements, after at least 15 years for adults and eight years for juveniles.

A total of three offenders in the area had these requirements revoked in 2017/18.

Across England and Wales

- Across England and Wales, there were 58,637 registered sex offenders being monitored by police at March 31, 2018.

- This was a 6% rise compared to 55,236 offenders being managed in March 2017.

- The number of registered sex offenders has risen by 87% over the past 10 years, from 31,392 in 2006/07.

The increase in the number of sex offenders is influenced by sentencing trends, in which the number of people convicted of sexual offences is increasing.

Additionally, many sexual offenders are required to register for long periods of time, with some registering for life.

This has a cumulative effect on the total number of offenders required to register at any one time.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: "As the number of sex offenders being monitored grows it's important to understand how these arrangements will continue to reduce the risk of reoffending.

"Just this week a Home Affairs Select Committee report warned of forces struggling to cope with the huge pressures placed on their resources.

"With more offenders breaching their orders, it's vital police are given all the tools they need to both effectively monitor child sex offenders in the community and combat the increasing threat posed by complex online abuse."

(1st November 2018)

(Mail Online, dated 30th October 2018 author Phoebe Weston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Government auditors have traced a malware infection back to one prolific porn-watching employee.

Investigators found the employee - who worked within the US Geological Survey - had an 'extensive history' of watching porn on his work computer.

The unnamed employee visited 9,000 different porn pages containing malware which he downloaded onto his computer.

'Our digital forensic examination revealed that [XXX] had an extensive history of visiting adult pornography sites', the report found.

'Many of the 9,000 web pages [XXX] visited routed through websites that originated in Russia and contained malware'.

'Our analysis confirmed that many of the pornographic images were subsequently saved to an unauthorised USB device and personal Android cell phone connected to [XXX] Government-issued computer'.

They were connected to the work computer against agency protocol, the report said.

Once a computer is infected with the software, cyber criminals can access data by logging keystrokes or monitoring the computer's activity.

The employee in question no longer works at the agency, Affairs Director Nancy DiPaolo told NextGov.

Proactively blocking adult websites 'will likely enhance preventative countermeasures', the report found.

The Interior Department watchdog recommended improving security protocols in light of the incident.

Earlier this year a Department of Education employee infected his government computer with a virus by searching for 'naked toddlers', 'little boys' and references to child rape.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by show the staffer typed in at least 18 illicit searches on his taxpayer-funded computer - included references to child porn.

The phrases he looked for in September, 2014, included: 'Very young little girls', 'naked toddler' and 'too young boy'.

Other search terms allude to bestiality involving children and child rape.

As a result, his computer was infected with malware, putting massive databases at risk, including student loan information.

Investigators then searched his government computer and found 'graphic images of nude and nearly nude children as well as graphically drawn images of children engaging in sexual acts with adults'.

They then searched the employee's home and found 13 images of child porn on his computer.

The employee, whose name has been kept hidden in the files, denied any wrongdoing and insisted he entered the search terms to test the system's website-blocking protocols.

He was suspended during the investigations but then retired from government employee.

What are the most common types of virus from porn ?

There are ten digital STIs that can harm your device when you're looking at adult content, according to computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

These are:

1. Trojans - They might masquerade as innocent programs, but they carry a harmful payload.

2. Drive-by downloads - Cybercriminals look for insecure web sites and plant a malicious script into the code on the pages. These take advantage of any unpatched applications on your computer and infect them automatically

3. Click-jacking - Click-jacking involves tricking someone into clicking on one object on a web page while they think they are clicking on another. Clickjacking can be used to install malware, gain access to a victim's online accounts or to enable their webcam.

4. Tinder bots - These are automatic programs designed to masquerade as real people on a dating site to lure users into clicking on them, with the aim of tricking the victim into disclosing confidential data.

5. Cat-Phishing - This is when cybercriminals pose on dating sites or chat rooms, encouraging people to click on links for live sex chat or adult images.

6. Ransomware - Cybercriminals use 'blockers' to stop the victim accessing their device, often telling them this is due to 'illegal pornographic content' being identified on their device. Anyone who has accessed porn online is probably less likely to take the matter up with law enforcement.

7. Worm - This is a program that replicates, but does not write its code to other files: instead, it installs itself once on a victim's device and then looks for a way to spread to other devices.

8. Pornware - This could be a legitimate program, but might be adware installed by another malicious program, designed to deliver inappropriate content to the victim's device.

9. Spyware - Software that enables an attacker to secretly obtain information about the victim's online activities and transmit it covertly from their device.

10. Fake Anti-virus - Fake anti-virus programs prey on people's fear of malicious software which they believe may have been installed whilst looking at porn.

(1st November 2018)


(Mail Online, dated 30th October 2018 author Joe Pinkstone)

Full article [option 1]:

- Facebook, Twitter and Google all scored full marks for their cybersecurity

- Trip Advisor and Asos came bottom of the list of the most secure websites

- Websites were ranked based on the robustness of their two factor authentication

- Cybersecurity firm Dashlane claims greater transparency is needed in order to help users maximise their security online

The safest sites on the internet have been revealed by cybersecurity experts - and Facebook and Google top the list as the most secure.

Security firm Dashlane studied the protection of personal data with two-factor authentication to find which sites protected their customers the best.

Popular sites Trip Advisor and Asos were ranked as the worst performing commercial sites by the firm.

Two-factor authentication is a term which includes a variety of different systems in order to make it harder for people to access an account.

It adds an extra layer of protection to a service or account before the login can be completed.

This works alongside the password and commonly includes SMS, email, an application or a hardware token such as a USB stick.

The different types of security are broken down into three different categories: SMS and/or email, software-based token or a hardware-based token.

One point was awarded for the presence of SMS/email authentication and a software toke but three points were awarded for the use of hardware tokens.

The cybersecurty firm considered anything less than full marks and the presence of all three security measures to be a fail.

Dashlane looked at 17 popular UK consumer websites and developed a points system based on what protection was in place for users.

Only four of these scored a 'pass' with adequate security measures.

These included the much beleaguered social media sites Facebook and Twitter as well as the search giant behemoth Google., a gaming website, was the only other site to score full marks.

'Through the course of our research we found that information on two factor-authentication is often presented in a way that is unclear, making it difficult for consumers,' said Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of Dashlane.

'In fact, our researchers were forced to omit a large number of popular websites from our testing simply because the sites don't provide any straightforward or easily accessible information.

'It's reasonable to conclude that many consumers are not taking full advantage of the security options available to them due to this lack of transparency.'

The analysis also found that only five websites offered no two factor-authentication at all and 76 per cent of sites do not offer a full set of security options.

Dashlane evaluated the options the sites for logins on desktop browsers only and did not account for login attempts on mobile apps, mobile browsers or desktop apps.
The team checked the security measures that the websites claimed to have with live logins on Chrome and Safari.

A spokesperson for Trip advisor told MailOnline: 'We take safeguarding our customers' information seriously. The security landscape is ever-changing, and we are continuously evolving and adopting industry best practices to ensure we are keeping our customers' personal information safe.

'TripAdvisor's security policies are consistent with other similar businesses in our industry and we deploy appropriate security measures to protect our customers.

'In the instances that we detect fraudulent activity, TripAdvisor's 24/7 security team and systems take immediate action to safeguard travellers using our site and mobile apps.

'The study that named TripAdvisor was sponsored by a company that sells cybersecurity services and only focuses on a small aspect of the comprehensive security programs that most companies like ours have in place.'


Cybersecurity firm Dashlane looked at 22 different websites and ranked them based on how secure they are and their login protocols.

One point was awarded for the presence of SMS/email authentication and a software token for of authentication but three points were awarded for the use of hardware tokens.

The cybersecurty firm considered anything less than full marks and the presence of all three security measures to be a fail.

2018 UK Rankings

5/5 Points - PASS


2/5 Points - FAIL


1/5 Point - FAIL


0/5 Points - FAIL

Trip Advisor

(1st November 2018)

(Wirral Globe, dated 30th October 2018 author Harriett Clugston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 63 drivers in the Wirral area have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence - the usual threshold for losing a licence.

Road safety charity Brake has slammed the current system, which it says is allowing "repeat offenders" to exploit loopholes in the law.

It has accused the Government and courts of being "complicit" in putting the public at risk.

Currently, if a driver can convince a magistrate that they, or an innocent party such as a family member, will face 'exceptional hardship' as a result of losing their licence they may be permitted to keep it.

The latest figures, which record penalty points as of July, show there are almost 11,000 drivers across Great Britain who have retained their licences despite passing the points limit, some with more than 40 or 50 points.

In Wirral the highest number of points received by one driver who is still allowed to drive is 22.

Around 23 in every 100,000 local drivers have at least 12 points on their licence, in line with the national average.

The data is recorded by postcode district, so some drivers could live just across the border in neighbouring local authority areas.

The country's worst serial offender is a 44-year-old man from Wolverhampton or the wider south Staffordshire area, with 54 points.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said it is "hugely concerning" that so many offenders are being allowed to keep driving.

He continued: "By ignoring the exploitation of the 'exceptional hardship' loophole that allows unsafe drivers to remain on our roads, the Government and courts are complicit in increasing the risk to the public.

"This dangerous loophole must be dealt with as a matter of urgency so that drivers who reach 12 points are automatically disqualified, protecting the general public from harm.

"Driving is a privilege, not a right and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it must be taken away."

The charity is calling for the loophole to be closed as part of its Roads to Justice campaign, which says an urgent review should be carried out on the "fundamentally flawed road traffic framework".

Drivers can pick up penalty points - also known as endorsements - for a range of offences.

Minor offences, such as speeding or failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing, might attract three points and will stay on your licence for four years unless it is wiped clean.

Serious offences, such as drink or drug driving, could get you up to 11 points, and these will stay on your licence for 11 years.

If a driver gets 12 or more points in three years they will usually be banned from driving for six months.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The vast majority of drivers who get 12 penalty points are automatically disqualified.

"The courts have access to DVLA records which are taken into account, but sentencing is rightly a matter for independent judges based on the facts of each case."

John Bache, Chair of the Magistrates Association, added: "The process for establishing exceptional hardship is robust - magistrates scrutinise every case very carefully and an individual would only avoid a ban if the magistrates sitting in the case are confident that exceptional hardship would genuinely be caused."

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 30th October 2018 author Harriett Clugston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Almost 100 "dangerous drivers" are still on the roads in Coventry, despite racking up enough points for a ban.

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 92 drivers in the Coventry area have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence - the usual threshold for losing a licence.

In Coventry the highest number of points received by one motorist who is still allowed to drive is 27.

Around 34 in every 100,000 local drivers have at least 12 points on their licence, well above the national average of 23 per 100,000.

(1st November 2018)

(BBC News, dated 30th October 2018 author Mark Smith)

Full article [Option 1]:

The new crime-fighting weapon of choice for a growing number of police forces around the world isn't a gun, a taser or pepper spray - it's data. But can computer algorithms really help reduce crime?

Imagine a gang of bank robbers arriving at their next heist, only to find an armed response unit already waiting on the corner.

Or picture walking down a dark alley and feeling afraid, then seeing the reassuring blue lights of a police car sent to watch over you.

Now imagine if all of this became possible thanks to mathematics.

Ever since the Philip K Dick novel The Minority Report, which was later turned into a Tom Cruise blockbuster, was published in the 1950s, futurists and philosophers have grappled with the concept of "pre crime".

It's the idea that we can predict when an offence is going to occur and take measures to prevent it.

Now artificial intelligence and machine learning mean this concept has leapt straight from the pages of science fiction into the real world.

Tech firm PredPol - short for predictive policing - claims its data analytics algorithms can improve crime detection by 10-50% in some cities.

It takes years of historic data, including the type, location and time of crime, and combines this with lots of other socio-economic data, which is then analysed by an algorithm originally designed to forecast earthquake aftershocks.

The software tries to predict where and when specific crimes will occur over the next 12 hours, and the algorithm is updated every day as new data comes in.

"PredPol was inspired by experiments run by the University of California in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department," says PredPol co-founder and anthropology professor Jeff Brantingham.

"That study demonstrated that algorithmically driven forecasts could predict twice as much crime and, when used in the field, prevent twice as much crime as existing best practice."

Predictions are displayed on a map using colour-coded boxes, each one representing a 500 sq ft (46 sq m) area. Red boxes are classed as "high risk" and officers are encouraged to spend at least 10% of their time there.

Prof Brantingham says machine learning allows PredPol to analyse data, draw conclusions and make connections between large amounts of data that human analysts simply could not cope with.

Sceptics say this is pseudoscience, because crunching crime data to make informed decisions on police deployment is nothing new.

Many forces have traditionally used "hot spot analysis", where past offences are recorded and overlaid onto a map, with officers concentrating on those areas.

But PredPol and others working in this space, such as Palantir, CrimeScan and ShotSpotter Missions, say that traditional hot spot analysis is just reacting to what happened yesterday, not anticipating what will happen tomorrow.

AI and machine learning can spot patterns we've never noticed before.

"Machine learning provides a suite of approaches to identifying statistical patterns in data that are not easily described by standard mathematical models, or are beyond the natural perceptual abilities of the human expert," says Prof Brantingham.

Alexander Babuta, of the National Security and Resilience Studies group at the Royal United Services Institute, agrees, saying: "Retrospective hotspot mapping does not distinguish between two types of 'risky' locations, those that simply experience a high volume of crime over time because they are more attractive to criminals, such as insecure car parks and busy shopping areas, and areas where the likelihood of crime has been temporarily increased due to crime events that have recently occurred.

"But machine learning predictive policing technology does."

Police forces certainly seem to be buying in to the idea.

More than 50 police departments across the US use PredPol software, as well as a handful of forces in the UK. Kent Constabulary, for example, says street violence fell by 6% following a four-month trial.

"We found that the model was just incredibly accurate at predicting the times and locations where these crimes were likely to occur," says Steve Clark, deputy chief of Santa Cruz Police Department.

"At that point, we realised we've got something here."

But predictive policing has its critics.

Frederike Kaltheuner, data programme lead at civil rights group Privacy International, wonders whether it will also be used to predict police violence and white collar crime, or simply used against communities that she says are already marginalised.

"We're moving away from innocent until proven guilty towards a world where people are innocent until found suspicious by opaque and proprietary systems that can be difficult, if not impossible, to challenge," she says.

There are also concerns about racial and other biases hidden within the datasets. The Los Angeles Police Department, which has been working with Palantir for its predictive policing project, has attracted criticism from local activist groups worried about threats to civil liberties and racial profiling.

Rand Corporation, a policy research institution, has produced a number of studies looking at predictive policing.

(1st November 2018)

(Computer Weekly, dated 29th October 2018 author Lis Evenstad)

Full article [Option 1]:

The lack of digital capabilities in the UK's police forces has become a "systemic problem", according to the Home Affairs Committee.

In its report Policing for the future, the committee found that most forces are struggling with out-of-date technology and poor digital capabilities.

A lack of digital capability is evident across different fields, including online fraud, cyber security and child sexual abuse, the report found.

The committee said it has "serious concerns about the police service's digital capabilities, including the skills base of officers and staff and the technological solutions available to them".

However, it was impressed with the digital skills of counter-terrorism, and called on the government to create a national digital exploitation centre for serious crime, similar to the National Digital Exploitation Service used by counter-terrorism.

"It would also have the purchasing power to invest in innovative methods of digital forensics and analysis, from which all forces could then benefit," the committee said.

The committee also highlighted a huge lack of interoperability between the systems and databases used by different police forces - and is not the first to do so.

In a report in April 2017, chief inspector of constabulary Thomas Winsor said public safety was being "imperilled" by a lack of functional and interoperable IT used by the police.

The government is establishing a "network code", which will set minimum operating standards for forces when upgrading or buying IT systems, which aims to encourage interoperability. However, police forces do not have to sign up to the code.

"Police forces' investment in and adoption of new technology is, quite frankly, a complete and utter mess," the Home Affairs Committee said, adding that it welcomes policing minister Nick Hurd's admission that extra funding and training are needed for the police service to "meet the challenges of the 21st century".

It said the government should move to a longer-term funding structure to enable the police to "frontload investment in the technology that will enable it to make the best use of its resources and assets".

The committee added that the Police Transformation Fund, which recently awarded funding to a range of digital policing projects, "is a piecemeal and ad-hoc method for funding innovation and new technology in policing, and a much more coordinated, long-term approach is required".

But the committee does not think funding is the main issue for police technology. "We believe that the biggest failing in this area is not the level of funding, but rather the complete lack of coordination and leadership on upgrading technology over very many years," it said in the report.

"This is badly letting down police officers, who are struggling to do their jobs effectively with out-of-date technology. It is astonishing that, in 2018, police forces are still struggling to get crucial real-time information from each other, and that officers are facing frustration and delays on a daily basis.

"Stronger national leadership from the Home Office on technology is essential. Ministers need to take ultimate responsibility for the failure of this crucial public service to properly upgrade its technology to deal with the threats of the 21st century."

The committee also highlighted the government's troubled and delayed Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme as "an example of what can happen when national projects are poorly managed".

(1st November 2018)

(Mail online, dated 29th October 2018 author Claire Anderson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A policeman has revealed that victims of petty crimes are being forced to carry out their own investigations due to a lack of officers.

Sergeant Simon Kempton said that officers can no longer look into reports of minor crime like bike theft.

He confessed that victims are now being urged to trawl websites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook in a bid to track down their stolen possessions themselves.

If they are successful, the victims should call the police again and officers will then look into the matter.

Sgt Kempton, of Dorset police, said the practice has been happening within his force for several years.

He confirmed it during a recent cyber security conference in London hosted by Gumtree.

Sgt Kempton, who is the Police Federation's lead officer for technology crime, said: 'In the past, someone would steal a mountain bike and end up selling it at the local pub.

'Now, within literally minutes, it's up for sale on online platforms.

'If your bike is stolen and you call the police, an officer will take down all the details but is not able to monitor all the online platforms that is could appear on.

'For this reason, officers tend to advise victims to look online themselves, unless they think they know where the bike may have ended up.

'This started around six or seven years ago because police just don't have the resources.

'It doesn't have a very high success rate because they are often sold very quickly for below the market value as any money represents profit to people like that.

'That is something we should be able to do. The reason we can't is based purely on resources.'

Sgt Kempton, 41, said that neighbourhood policing has been 'decimated' by cuts.

He fears that policing will become 'purely reactive' and that 'people will only see officers when something goes wrong'.

The officer spoke at a 'cyber security symposium' which was hosted by Gumtree and saw leading experts come together to discuss the emerging issues connected with policing the internet.

Addressing a crowd of around 100 guests, Sgt Kempton said officers are falling behind in the fight against cyber crime.

He claimed that police technology consists of 'creaking archaic systems' which cannot compare to what criminals have at their disposal.

He added that online marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree are now being used to facilitate crimes such as harassment, stalking and even sexual offences.

Sgt Kempton said: 'Criminals are in a far stronger position than we are when it comes to technology.

'Their tech is better than the tech we use to stop them and we are lagging behind with creaking, archaic systems.'

He added: 'We know this particular website (Gumtree) can be used for things like fraud, theft and disposing of stolen goods.

'The emerging threat for online platforms like these is that they can be used to facilitate harassment and stalking, as well as sexual crimes.

'If you use Tinder, for example, you might be naturally warier when you get messages, or if you're going to meet people.

'However, if you're buying a table from someone on Gumtree, you haven't necessarily got the same guards up.

'Predators are using platforms like these to meet victims who aren't necessarily thinking about their safety.

'Criminals are wily, and they will turn their hand to all sorts of things to carry out their activities.'

The comments come shortly after the Commons Home Affairs Committee said that policing was becoming 'irrelevant' as forces in England and Wales 'struggle to cope'.

(Daily Mail, dated 30th October 2018 author Tom Payne)

Full article [Option 1]:

Theft victims could soon be told to carry out their own criminal investigations by struggling police forces, a frontline officer has warned.

Sergeant Simon Kempton, of Dorset Police, said neighbourhood policing had been 'decimated' by cuts.

Forces no longer have the staff or technology to investigate everyday crime, he warned.

Speaking at a cyber- security conference in London, he said police were 'getting to the point of almost asking people to do their own investigations'.

Sergeant Kempton, who is also a national Police Federation representative, suggested that instead of calling police, victims of theft should scour websites such as eBay and Gumtree in search of their stolen possessions.

He warned that police forces across England at Wales were at serious risk of becoming 'purely reactive' to the amateur detective work of crime victims.

He said: 'I'm also concerned about our use of technology. Criminals are in a far stronger position than we are.

'Their tech is better than the tech we use to stop them. We are lagging behind with creaking, archaic systems.

'In the past, someone would steal a mountain bike and end up selling it at the local pub.

'Now, within literally minutes, it's up for sale on online platforms. Police are getting to the point of almost asking people to do their own investigations to see if they can find their bike for sale online. That is something we should be able to do. The reason we can't do that is based purely on resources.' His remarks at the event, which was hosted by Gumtree, come amid the growing Wild West UK crime wave.

In June, official figures revealed that violent crime was on the up in 42 of 43 police force areas in England and Wales - in some by more than 50 per cent.

Yet in some areas, the rate at which criminals are brought to justice has plummeted.

Last year, just one in ten knife robberies and fewer than a quarter of violent crimes were solved by the Met Police.

Police numbers have fallen by 21,000 since 2010 as forces are hit by punishing budget cuts.

Dwindling resources mean many victims of crime are being told that police are effectively powerless to help them.

In one example, housewife Sharron Jenson, 44, was told to carry out her own investigation after her £700 bike was taken.

When she saw it for sale on Gumtree five days after it was stolen from Kingston High Street in south-west London she went to police. But they told her to contact the seller herself posing as a buyer.
Terrified, she was forced into a direct confrontation with the thief, but managed to steal the bike back while taking it for a test ride.

She contacted police after her ordeal, providing the thief 's name, the address he sold from, description and phone number - but she said officers told her 'it was my word against his'.

(Daily Mail, dated 31st October 2018 author Joe Middleton)

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A pensioner who told police he had been robbed and threatened with a hammer by a thug was asked to find out the criminal's name himself- four days later the attacker returned and killed him.

Nicholas Churton, 67, was killed by Jordan Davidson, 25, in March 2017 at his home in Wrexham.

He was bludgeoned to death with a hammer and hacked with a machete by Davidson, who was in court twice in the week before the murder - and let go on both occasions.

Davidson who referred to himself as 'the devil' was sentenced to at least 23 years in prison in December last year.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation found that when a policeman visited Mr Churton after Davidson had tried to steal his TV and taken his house keys, the crime was recorded as theft rather than robbery.

Three senior officers also reviewed the incident and failed to see the seriousness of the crime.

And the inquiry found that when Mr Churton later gave the police the name 'Jordan', he was asked by an officer to ask his friends to find out more about the criminal.

Mr Churton got back in touch with police on March 23 to tell them the full name, Jordan Davidson, but four days later he was found brutally murdered.

The IOPC has now said the officer involved has a case to answer for misconduct over the events that lead to Mr Churton's death.

Davidson, a convicted burglar, was caught with a knife while on parole days before the murder.

He was released on bail over the knife charge, and while plans were made to send him back to prison, he killed Mr Churton.

As the retired businessman's body lay undiscovered, a notice to recall Davidson to jail was issued.

IOPC Director for Wales Catrin Evans said: 'This was a horrific murder and the responsibility for Mr Churton's death lies squarely with Jordan Davidson.

'My thoughts remain with Mr Churton's family and friends.

'Our first investigation found there were areas for improvement in police recognising Mr Churton's vulnerability and ensuring all available information was recorded accurately.

'Police requesting a vulnerable victim of crime to carry out a line of enquiry themselves to find out who the offender was, has, in my view, the potential to increase the risk to the victim.

'I am discussing the learning identified during the course of this investigation with North Wales Police.

'We are progressing our further enquiries into how the force handled Davidson after his release from prison and their liaison with other agencies.'

The IOPC added that while not amounting to misconduct, performance issues were identified for another police sergeant and an acting inspector over their supervision, and they are being dealt with by the force by way of management action.

A call handler who took the initial call on 14 March 2017 left their role in August 2018.

North Wales Police Detective Superintendent Dan Tipton said: 'I recognise that this is a difficult time for Mr Churton's family and I know how important it is for the family to fully understand the circumstances leading up to his tragic death.

'Since Mr Churton's murder we have reviewed our policies and procedures in relation to risk assessment following calls made to our control room and the deployment of officers.

'We will now be holding a number of formal disciplinary proceedings in line with the IOPC recommendations.'

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th October 2018 author Richard Spillett)

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The equivalent of 1,000 officers - as Scotland Yard currently works on 700 separate investigations

An extra £160million is to be ploughed into helping Britain's police fight the growing threat of terrorism.

It emerged last week that Scotland Yard and the security services are running a record high of more than 700 live investigations into suspected terrorists.

Chancellor Philip Hammond today unveiled a new pot of money to make sure authorities can keep pace with the spiralling problem.

The extra money announced today is said to be the equivalent of 1,000 extra officers.

The new fund is being pushed as a signal that 'austerity' policies are finished and the government is again investing in public services.

Police officer numbers have fallen by 21,000 since 2010, prompting a series of warnings by top police officers that continued squeezing of budgets will have an impact of levels of crime.

Last week, the head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, told the Home Affairs Select Committee the battle against terrorism is 'entirely' dependent on well-resourced local police forces.

Reacting to the budget announcement, he said: 'Today's announcement of an extra £160million of funding is welcome news, and I am grateful to the Government for helping us strengthen our country's defence against terrorism, domestic extremism and hostile state activity.

'Just last week I told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the number of live counter terrorism investigations has reached a record high of more than 700 and that we require a longer-term funding arrangement to continue investing in recruitment to meet the unprecedented demand, as well as deliver two huge national ICT infrastructure projects.

Mr Basu added: 'While this funding increase allows us to continue these vitally important projects, I still believe we need to rethink how we fund our world-class counter terrorism network.

'I would also like to reiterate my belief that counter terrorism specialists depend on well-resourced local police forces, and that any move to improve our network will only be truly effective if my Chief Constable colleagues see similar investment in the near future.'

The budget was criticised by the body that represents rank-and-file officers.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'This is just another example of the contempt in which the Government holds police officers. What does it say when a Government prioritises potholes over policing?'

Police and MI5 are mounting a record 700-plus live terrorism investigations.

There are around 3,000 active 'subjects of interest', plus a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in inquiries.

While activity inspired by Islamic State or al-Qaida accounts for the largest share of the counter-terror work, agencies are also confronting a mounting far-right threat.

Britain was hit by five attacks last year, while police and the security services have foiled 17 terror plots since March 2017.

Calls for forces to get a cash boost for general policing have intensified in recent weeks following a string of warnings about their ability to tackle crime.

Figures released last week showed the number of arrests by police in England and Wales has halved in a decade.

The reduction was revealed at a time when recorded-crime is going up across a number of categories, including violence and knife-related offences.

The Chancellor acknowledged that policing is 'under pressure from the changing nature of crime'.

He added that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will review police spending power and 'further options for reform' when he presents the provisional police funding settlement in December.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said last year that the Met Police has had to make £600 million of cuts since 2010.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said his city's police force has faced cuts of £215m in the same time frame.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Bill Gardner)

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Police have been accused of leaving families to "fend for themselves" after new figures showed the number of theft arrests has dropped by more than a quarter.

Home Office figures revealed a sharp fall in the number of suspects held for offences including burglary, despite a rise in reports of violent crime. Overall, the number of arrests in England and Wales has halved in the last decade.

It comes amid growing concern that criminals are increasingly allowed to roam the streets without fear of being caught. Victims' campaigners last night described the figures as "appalling", and suggested many families no longer feel safe in their homes.

Police leaders warned that a lack of resources threatened their ability to "prevent crime and protect the public".

The Home Office data from all but one of 43 forces show officers arrested 698,737 people in the year to March, compared with 1,427,387 in 2007/08.

Arrests for theft including household burglary fell from 190,019 in 2015/16 to 139,447 in 2017/18 - a drop of 26pc in two years. It means fewer than one in 25 reports of theft now result in an arrest.

The number of motorists caught speeding, however, is at a record high with more than two million offences recorded last year.

It comes at a time when police are recording rising numbers of crimes across a number of categories including violent, knife-related and sexual offences.

Data released last week showed forces registered 5.6 million crimes in the 12 months to June - the highest total since the year ending March 2005.

"These are appalling statistics," said Harry Fletcher, Victims' Rights Campaign, director of the Victims' Rights Campaign.

"Victims are already complaining that the reaction time for burglaries is quite often hours, if not days. Theft can be extremely traumatic and can leave a lasting impact on the victim.

"Families are effectively being left to fend for themselves in their own homes, unprotected by law enforcement agencies. This is a crisis for government, and it must be resolved."

The findings come amid intense scrutiny of the state of policing in England and Wales.

A Commons report published yesterday suggested forces risk becoming "irrelevant" amid vanishing neighbourhood presences and low investigation and detection rates.

The findings chimed with a recent assessment from Whitehall's spending watchdog, which found arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels were on the slide.

Earlier this month, one of the country's most senior officers warned policing had reached its "tipping point", with slower emergency responses, more crimes dealt with over the phone and fewer offenders brought to justice.

The Home Office report also revealed falls in stop-and-search activity and roadside breath tests.

In the year to March, police conducted 282,248 stops and searches - a fall of 7% on the previous 12 months and the lowest number since current data collection started in the year to March 2002.

Individuals from black and minority ethnic groups are four times as likely to be stopped and searched compared with those who are white, the figures show.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for operations, said the number of arrests was at "the lowest level since data has been captured".

He said: "This reinforces our concern about growing demand and our ability to meet it with the resources we have. Our proactive capabilities that prevent crime and protect the public are significantly curtailed."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Last year, the police made nearly 700,000 arrests across England and Wales.

"However, arrest is just one of the powers police have to tackle crime.

"Arrest figures do not capture trends such as an increase in voluntary attendance at police stations and a greater use of other outcomes, such as community resolutions."

(1st November 2018)


(Trip Wire, dated 25th October 2018 author Graham Cluley)

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Most people in the world would describe it as a company "admitting they've been hacked."

But if you're the breached company and want to apply the maximum amount of PR spin, you might instead issue a release saying you're "announcing a data security event affecting customer data."

Cathay Pacific announces data security event affecting passenger data
Full announcement [Option 1] :

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Cathay Pacific announced today that as part of its ongoing IT security processes, it has discovered unauthorised access to some of its information system containing passenger data of up to 9.4 million people. Upon discovery, the company took immediate action to investigate and contain the event. The company has no evidence that any personal information has been misused. The IT systems affected are totally separate from its flight operations systems, and there is no impact on flight safety.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg said, "We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers. We acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and to further strengthen our IT security measures.

"We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves. We have no evidence that any personal data has been misused. No-one's travel or loyalty profile was accessed in full, and no passwords were compromised."


Read beyond the headline, however, and you'll discover that the Hong Kong-based airline has admitted that hackers gained unauthorized access to its internal systems and accessed the passenger data of up to 9.4 million people.

With Hong Kong's population being approximately 7.4 million people, it's clear that this is a data breach that impacts travelers around the world.

The personal data accessed by the hackers includes passenger names, nationalities, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, passport numbers, identity card numbers, frequent flier membership numbers, customer service remarks and historical travel information.

In addition, 403 expired credit card numbers were accessed by the hackers as well as 27 credit card numbers without CVV information.

It's obviously good that more financial information wasn't taken by the hackers, but in many ways, it's a red herring. After all, it's relatively simple to freeze a credit card and apply for a new one. It's a lot more difficult and time-consuming to apply for a new passport or Hong Kong identity card.

In isolation, personal information such as that described above may not be enough for a criminal to commit - say - identity theft, but combined with other pieces of personal data, it can help a fraudster complete the jigsaw.

Although Cathay Pacific has only just announced that it has suffered a hack, that doesn't mean that the company has only just discovered it has a problem.

The airline says that it first detected "suspicious activity" on its network in March and confirmed that there had been unauthorized access to personal information in early May.

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg apologized for any concern raised by the "data security event":


We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers. We acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and to further strengthen our IT security measures.

We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves. We have no evidence that any personal data has been misused. No-one's travel or loyalty profile was accessed in full, and no passwords were compromised.


In the statement, Cathay Pacific attempts to reassure people that it has seen no evidence of the data being criminally exploited, but frankly, such a statement isn't worth much. An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - if some of the stolen data has been misused by fraudsters and spammers, it wouldn't necessarily have been linked back to this breach.

Put simply, it's perfectly possible that Cathay Pacific has no visibility on data being misused by online criminals.

There will also be inevitable criticism that although it took "immediate action" to contain the security incident, Cathay Pacific chose not to inform the public in a prompt fashion. The airline's share price nosedived as Cathay Pacific came under fire as to why it had taken months to admit it had been hacked.

Under European GDPR legislation, breaches should be reported within 72 hours. Cathay Pacific would be wrong to assume that EU legislation has no bearing on its business simply because it is based in Hong Kong. GDPR is relevant to companies anywhere in the world if EU-based customers are put at risk.

In an attempt to explain its delayed announcement, Cathay Pacific said "We believe it is important to have accurate information to share, so that people know the facts and we can support them accordingly."

Cathay Pacific says it has informed the Hong Kong police force and has asked that customers who believe they may be affected consult the website

Cathay Pacific is not the only airline to find itself under the cybersecurity spotlight in recent months.

Last month, British Airways announced that hackers had stolen 380,000 customers' personal and payment card information from its website. And in August, Air Canada warned that approximately 20,000 customers could have had their personal information compromised after a data breach in its mobile app.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

(Huffington Post, dated 25th October 2018 author Chris York)

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British Airways owner IAG has said that 185,000 further customers may have had their personal details compromised during a cyber attack.

The group said in a stock exchange announcement that as part of an investigation into a cyber attack that took place earlier this year, it is contacting two groups of customers not previously notified.

This includes the holders of 77,000 payment cards whose name, billing address, email address, card payment information - including card number, expiry date and card verification value - have potentially been compromised.

A further 108,000 people's personal details without card verification value have also been compromised.

Last month the airline said it was "deeply sorry" after the online theft of customer data that "compromised" around 380,000 payment cards and vowed to compensate those financially affected.

BA faces a possible fine of around £500 million over the breach, with regulators now investigating the incident.

The data breach took place after the introduction of the new Data Protection Act, which includes the provisions of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Under the new regulations, the maximum penalty for a company hit with a data breach is a fine of either £17 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater.

In the year ended December 31 2017, BA's total revenue was £12.2 billion, meaning the company could face a fine of around £500 million if the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) takes action.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 25th October 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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Policing is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" as the number of officers on the beat is slashed and vast numbers of crimes go unsolved, a parliamentary report warns.

Neighbourhood policing in England and Wales has been cut by more than a third since 2010, with some forces having lost more than two-thirds of neighbourhood officers, the home affairs committee found.

Its report on the future of policing warned that there would be dire consequences for public safety if police funding was not prioritised in the forthcoming budget.

After removing three forces that were unable to provide like-for-like figures, the committee found that, of the remaining 33 forces, all but one reported a decline in neighbourhood officers, with falls averaging 35%. If the three removed forces were included, the reductions were still 21%.

The wide-ranging report also found:

- While recorded crime has risen by nearly a third (32%) in three years, charges or summonses have fallen by 26% and the number of arrests is also down.

- The proportion of fraud cases investigated is "shockingly low" in the context of 1.7m offences a year: "It appears highly unlikely that more than one in 200 victims ever sees their perpetrator convicted."

- Internet child sexual abuse is reaching "epidemic" levels, with law enforcement estimates suggesting that 80,000 people may present some form of sexual threat to children online, the committee found. MPs also called for the private sector to do "much more" to reduce the demand on policing from the two types of crime.

The report said police forces were struggling to cope in the face of changing and rising crimes as a result of falling staff numbers, outdated technology and a "complete failure of leadership" from the Home Office.

Flagging up the role played by neighbourhood teams in tackling terrorism and gang crime, it said: "It is absolutely vital that this cornerstone of British policing is reaffirmed throughout the country, to ensure that trust and legitimacy is maintained.

"This is particularly important in communities in which distrust of the police - and in public authorities more widely - is rife, and in which those local links are all the more important. Nevertheless, in all neighbourhoods, without local engagement, policing is at risk of becoming irrelevant to most people, particularly in the context of low rates of investigation for many crimes."

The chair of the committee, Labour's Yvette Cooper, said: "Crime is up, charges and arrests are down, and the police service is struggling to respond effectively to emerging and growing challenges, such as online fraud and online child abuse. Policing urgently needs more money. The government must make sure policing is a priority in the budget and spending review, or public safety and communities will pay the price."

Stephen Doughty, a Labour member of the committee, said: "Neighbourhood policing lies at the heart of British policing, and it has reached an unacceptable state … Once those crucial local relationships are lost, it is very difficult to rebuild them, and they are vital to so many areas of policing, from counter-terrorism to serious organised crime."

Tim Loughton, a Conservative member of the committee, said: "We found that the police are bringing a shockingly low number of charges for the possession of child abuse images, even though they are recording tens of thousands of offences. Whatever the cause, it is unacceptable that children are being put at risk by the collective failure to get a grip on this problem."

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: "Police cuts have consequences. You can't have safety and security on the cheap, but the government has been in total denial. The all-party committee is clear when it says there will be dire consequences for public safety, criminal justice and community cohesion if police funding is not increased."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The home secretary has already been clear that he will prioritise funding for the police … The policing minister has spoken to leaders in every force in England and Wales to better understand the demand and changing nature of crime faced by forces.

"We are now working closely with the police to gather the evidence to ensure they continue to receive the resources they need at the next spending review."

See also

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Kate McCann)

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(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 25th October 2018 author Patrick Scott)

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: The orginal article contains explanatory diagrams to support the text.

A record 2.02 million speeding tickets were handed out in England and Wales last year, according to figures from collated by the Home Office.

This is the first time that more than two million tickets have been handed out in any given year, with the figure for 2017 representing a rise of 48,000 (2.4 per cent) compared to 2016.

The number of speeding tickets dished out in England and Wales has dramatically increased in recent years with fewer than 1.5 million in 2011.

During this time the proportion of motorists caught on automated cameras has also increased to the point where 96 per cent of speeding offences are now caught on camera. This is up from 89 per cent in 2011.

Excluding the City of London, Avon and Somerset police handed out the highest rate of speeding fines in 2017 with 124 for every 1,000 people living under their jurisdiction.

Norfolk (94 per 1,000), Bedfordshire (93), Cumbria (86) and West Yorkshire (67) made up the rest of the top five areas with the highest rate of fines. Nationally, there were 37 speeding fines for every 1,000 people.

Some forces recorded significantly lower rates of speeding fines, however, in some cases this will be because the forces themselves do not control all of the speed cameras in their area.

Earlier this year Highways England launched a review into the use of 'smart motorways' after it was revealed that 70,000 drivers were fined on stretches of motorways with variable speed limits.

Edmund King, AA president, said: "The increase in speeding tickets and the higher proportion caught on camera is probably a reflection of a far higher level of enforcement on motorways than ever before.

"In the past few years we have seen long sections of motorway (i.e. M1, M3, M25) turned into 'Smart' motorways with cameras fitted onto overhead gantries. Previously many of these cameras were never activated but that has changed in the past few years. Hence many drivers who assumed these cameras don't work are now getting caught out.

"Linked to the 'Smart' motorway development construction phrases, we have seen miles of motorway roadworks set at 50mph and policed by average speed cameras. This has also contributed to the increased number of tickets."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "These numbers suggest that many cameras are not having the desired effect of encouraging safer, slower driving by all drivers.

"All authorities should be looking closely at their own local data, and where a camera generates a high number of fixed penalty notices they should immediately be asking themselves whether there would be a better - more effective - road engineering solution to manage the safety risk."

Half of offenders now go on speed awareness courses

The figures also show that a record one million people attended a driving awareness course after being caught speeding last year.

Motorists can pay to go on an awareness course instead of taking a fine and penalty points on their licence, an option that has grown increasingly popular.

Of the 2.02 million people given fixed penalty notices for speeding tickets in 2017, half (49.9 per cent) chose to attend a course rather than go to court or take the points. This figure was as low as 18.8 per cent, as recently as 2012.

It is the first time on record that more than a million people have attended speed awareness courses for speeding offences in any given year.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, 22nd October 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Thieves on bicycles were committing more than 30 crimes a day in London at the height of a surge in offences this summer, new figures reveal.

They carried out a total of 910 offences in June, including 166 muggings and 618 snatches or thefts - the highest monthly total in three years.

The spike in cycle crime this summer came as the Met recorded a reduction in the number of offences involving mopeds and scooters.

One senior detective said there was evidence that some criminals were switching to cycles to avoid new police tactics targeting moped thugs .

The data shows there was a total of 6,900 offences involving suspects riding bicycles in 2017 compared with 4,379 crimes in 2015, a rise of nearly 60 per cent. Latest figures from the Met show cycle crimes continuing to rise this year, although at a lower rate.

There was a marked increase in the number of thefts, which has risen from 3,226 in 2015 to 4,693 offences last year. The number of robberies on bikes more than doubled over the same period with 586 offences in 2015 and 1,185 in 2017.

Figures also show that while the number of offences was rising, there was a significant fall in the number of crimes being solved.

Overall, less than three per cent of all offenders using bikes were caught in the eight months to last August, compared with more than four per cent in 2016. In cases of theft - usually phone snatches from pedestrians which are more difficult to solve - police solved just 26 out of 3,095 cases over the same period.

Keith Prince, a Tory member of the London Assembly, who obtained the figures, said: "While the number of cycle-enabled crimes has rocketed, the proportion of offenders being caught is consistently falling.

"This is deeply damaging - criminals know that there is a dwindling possibility that they will be brought to justice, meaning that they have an incentive to offend over and over again."

Detective Superintendent Lee Hill said: "We have in place policing tactics and are proactively targeting through daily operations those who use any stolen two-wheeled vehicle to commit crime, including pedal cycles."

Day bike thugs took tv crew's £15k camera

Crime by bicycle robbers in London came to global attention when masked raiders forced an Australian TV crew to hand over a £15,000 camera as they recorded a news item in June on the Grenfell fire.

Reporter Laurel Irving and cameraman Jimmy Cannon were at Islington's Exmouth Market working for Channel 7's Sunrise show when they were approached by two men in balaclavas.

One threatened Mr Cannon with a gun in his jacket, forcing him to hand over his camera. Ms Irving tried to wrestle it back before Mr Cannon convinced her to let go and the robbers, above, rode off.

Ms Irving said: "We weren't scared, just annoyed. I just grabbed the camera and Jimmy said 'He's got a gun', so I said 'Show me the gun', and it was at that point I realised that I was being silly and it was dangerous so I let go."

There have been no arrests.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd October 2018 author Laura FitzPatrick)

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Car washes will be given a Kitemark-style scheme to crack down on modern slavery.

The Responsible Car Wash Scheme, which is a collaboration of government bodies, is launching on Monday in response to a lack of compliance within the hand car washing industry.

It aims to target labour abuse and lack of adherence to regulations as well as tackling environmental waste and pollution caused by car washes.

Following the scheme's pilot in November, the public will be able to choose a car wash based on a logo displayed at responsible sites which have passed an audit.

Consumers can be reassured that sites displaying the logo protect the environment and deal with pollution appropriately and operates safe and ethical conditions for its workers.

The scheme comes after the UK Modern Slavery Helpline received more than 10,000 reports of slavery in its two years of operation.

Last year, it received 493 reports of potential cases of labour exploitation in car washes across the UK, with 2,170 potential victims.

New research from the University of Nottingham and the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner revealed last week that even in sites that do not necessarily run on slave labour, the average wage for a day's work is £40.

They reported the number of hand car washes in the UK could be a result of an inadequate enforcement of environmental policies.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Audit Committee published evidence that these sites are also harming biodiversity and impairing local water quality.

It said car wash effluent generally contains phosphates, detergents, oils, sediments, traffic film remover, rubber, copper and other metals.

If car washes fail to treat the chemicals properly on site, the water, dirt and oil drains off into nearby rivers.

The scheme is in conjunction with Waves, a company that washes millions of cars a year at their supermarket, retail and car park sites.

Through the new scheme, Waves wants other car washes to follow its lead in regulating car washes.

A spokesperson for Waves said: "We have a robust and stringent training and auditing processes to prevent the exploitation of workers and a full-time national team committed to ensuring our practices are followed on every site.

"We ensure that every worker has provided full documentation to prove their identity and their right to work in the UK before they can start to work on a Waves site.

"All workers are provided with comprehensive training courses with a chance to progress within the company and given appropriate clothing for working outside throughout the different seasons."

(1st November 2018)

(Gazette Live, dated 21st October 2018 author Mike Brown)

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Everyone has an opinion on speed cameras - with many frustrated motorists often venting their anger at them.

North Yorkshire Police has addressed 10 common myths about the devices, and hopes to change people's views of them.

They include how effective camera vans are at reducing casualties, why certain locations are chosen over others and whether enforcement cameras are a "money-maker" for the force.

Called 'If you saw what I saw', the police campaign uses the first-hand experiences of officers who deal with fatal crashes to urge motorists to drive more carefully.

Andy Tooke, Criminal Justice Operations Manager for North Yorkshire Police, said: "There's no doubt that there are a lot of myths out there about safety cameras.

"Everyone's got an opinion about them. But not everyone knows the full facts about why we use them.

"By busting some of the myths out there, we hope that next time people drive past a camera van, they'll have a better understanding of why we use them and think about why we want them to drive safely."

Andy said that safety cameras are just one of a raft of measures used by North Yorkshire Police to reduce deaths and injuries on the county's roads.

He added: "We want people to drive safely because day in, day out, our officers see the horrific consequences of collisions. They see bodies that have been horrendously injured and have to tell families that they'll never see a loved one again.

"There's only one reason we use mobile safety cameras - to reduce the number of casualties on our roads. And it's independently proven that they do this.

"If you saw what we saw, you'd understand why that's so important to us."

Myth 1: Camera vans don't improve road safety.
Mr Tooke : Casualties on North Yorkshire's roads have dropped by 20% as a direct result of us introducing camera vans, according to independent studies by Newcastle University.

Myth 2: They're just a money-maker.
Mr Tooke : They're not - last year they cost slightly more to run than they generated. Finances are made public every year. We use them because we genuinely want to make our road safer.

Myth 3: You park camera vans in the locations that make the most money.
Mr Tooke : We decide where to deploy our camera vans based on lots of different factors based on threat, risk and vulnerability. These include intelligence around previous collisions, traffic flow, events happening in an area, demand from communities and even the weather. We never consider locations based on the revenue they could generate

Myth 4: Camera vans are everywhere nowadays.
Mr Tooke : There are 12 police safety camera vans and one motorcycle covering 6,000 miles of roads in North Yorkshire.

Myth 5: I only see camera vans on dual carriageways and A-roads.
Mr Tooke : We cover hundreds of sites that include villages, towns and other residential areas. In fact, these are often a priority for us. More people see camera vans on dual carriageways as these are generally the roads with the highest traffic flows and unacceptably high speeds, and single carriage A-roads are statistically our most dangerous. We also run Community Speed Watch - a scheme to help residents tackle speeding and improve road safety in their community

Myth 6: You try to catch motorists out by using camera vans stealthily.
Mr Tooke : Our camera vans are covered in reflective markings so they're highly visible, even at night. We assess all camera van locations to ensure there's a clear eyeline with no obstructions.

Myth 7: If I fit a laser jammer to my car, I can avoid getting caught by blocking the camera's laser.
Mr Tooke : Our operators are trained to tell if a laser jammer is used. We investigate and charge people who use laser jammers and some motorists have been jailed for using them.

Myth 8: Police officers should be out solving crimes, not spend hours sitting in a camera van.
Mr Tooke : All our mobile speed cameras are operated by highly-trained police support staff, not police officers. This allows police officers to focus on dealing with other offences and has no impact on frontline policing numbers.

Myth 9: Camera vans only catch speeders - they don't tackle other motoring offences.
Mr Tooke : This is simply incorrect. They enforce a range of offences including driving while using a mobile phone or other distractions, failure to wear a seatbelt, contravening double white lines along with dangerous and careless driving. In addition, they are fitted with automatic number plate recognition cameras to gather intelligence about drivers who come into North Yorkshire and commit crimes such as drug dealing or theft.

Myth 10: You're just out to penalise innocent motorists.
Mr Tooke : Our cameras record an average of 5.8 violations per hour across North Yorkshire. If you comply with the rules of the road, you'll never hear from us - it's your choice entirely!

(1st November 2018)

(Mail On Sunday, dated 21st October 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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Trials could collapse and criminals walk free because the police have failed to meet strict new rules governing fingerprint evidence.

Every force in the UK was ordered by the forensics watchdog three years ago to ensure their laboratories met international standards for studying marks found at crime scenes.

But The Mail on Sunday has learned that just one in ten hit the deadline to gain accreditation from the watchdog, the Forensic Science Regulator, confirming they met these standards at the start of October.

Police from forces without this accreditation will now have to admit in court that they have missed the target before the start of trials where fingerprints are presented as evidence.

These could include rape and murder cases. Defence lawyers are also more likely to challenge fingerprint evidence presented by police from these forces and order their own tests.

Police chiefs have created an emergency group to make sure their labs gain accreditation as soon as possible.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, national lead for forensics, said: 'We are treating delays in gaining accreditation as a critical incident.

'If police labs do not have the appropriate accreditation, forces are open in providing declarations to courts and evidence of the activity undertaken to ensure high standards of work.

'It is then for the court to test the veracity and admissibility of the evidence.'

A spokesman for Dr Gillian Tully, the Forensic Science Regulator, said last night: 'The consistent failures to meet the Regulator's quality standards are unacceptable.'

Dr Tully has led a drive for police-run laboratories to meet international standards. At a meeting in July, chief constables complained 'about how high the bar was being set in terms of accreditation'.

But Dr Tully said 'there would have been ample time to approach the process over a longer time period, had there been earlier action'.

(1st November 2018)

(Quartz, dated 20th October 2018 author Justin Rohrlich)

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When you fire a gun, it leaves a "ballistic fingerprint" on the shell casings, markings that are unique to that weapon. Shell casings recovered at US murder scenes can be subsequently entered into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, where they are compared against all the guns already in the NIBIN database. Even if there's no match, the information is stored away for future use.

"Down the line, if a person is arrested with a firearm on him, you test fire the gun then you take the casings and enter them into NIBIN," Luke Laterza, a former Newark, New Jersey police sergeant who ran the city's ballistics lab before retiring in 2016, told Quartz. "If those match, you've got the gun used in the murder."

Access to the technology can be of huge assistance, especially to smaller police agencies that don't have their own tracking systems.

"When you pull that trigger and that explosion occurs, a couple of things are happening," Laterza explained. "Hardened steel against a substantially softer metal like brass-the harder metal's going to imprint on the softer metal, indicating the toolmark unique to that firearm and that firearm only."

Once the spent shell casing is physically loaded into the NIBIN apparatus, which Laterza says looks "sort of like a Keurig coffee machine," the system takes an extremely detailed high-definition image of it and picks up markings not visible to the naked eye. These photographs are then entered into the NIBIN database to be shared with all other connected agencies.

The value of database does have its limits. Even if a match is found, Laterza said, "it doesn't necessarily mean that person did the shooting, because there are things called 'community guns'"-shared firearms used by multiple members of a gang or other criminal organization. (A single .40-caliber "community" Glock recovered in Syracuse, New York had been used 37 times, killing one and wounding nine.)

US officials are now planning to open the network to 22 more state and local law-enforcement agencies, enabling police to link a gun's "fingerprint" to crimes within and beyond their jurisdictions.

"Investigators will now receive investigative leads within 48 hours. They will have new opportunities to disrupt the shooting cycle and make our communities safer," Thomas Brandon, deputy director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in a statement.

The network "is to ballistics what CODIS [the FBI's Combined DNA Index System] is to DNA," said Joe Giacalone, a former New York City police cold-case squad commander who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Still, a "hit" on NIBIN is only the beginning. "It puts you in the right direction, but you need a trained eye to make the call that it's a match," said Laterza. "You still have to compare it under the microscope."

NIBIN's usefulness has one major gap: It only processes shell casings, not bullets themselves. This means NIBIN is virtually useless unless the gun used in a crime was a semiautomatic, said Laterza.

"Revolvers do not discharge cartridge casings," he continued. "NIBIN works excellently for firearms that discharge cartridge casings through the ejection port. But revolvers? Lemme tell you something-they start getting keen, [crooks] will start using more revolvers."

According to former Newark lieutenant James O'Connor, who spent time assigned to a joint ATF-Newark task force, the NIBIN system helped him "track a lot of bad guys down."

"One guy, he had a machine gun and he was going around robbing all the bodegas in the south and west districts of Newark," O'Connor told Quartz. "And he'd always fire a shot. We were able to trace him to 28 armed robberies by the shell casings. We finally caught the guy. We got lucky because his TEC-9 [semiautomatic machine pistol] jammed."

There are some other obstacles that prevent NIBIN from being used to the maximum extent. As recently reported by Ann Givens of The Trace, only 25% of all ballistics evidence collected nationwide is entered into NIBIN. Cost can be a sticking point. Although some local police departments in California have deployed NIBIN, the state crime lab hasn't. The California Department of Justice said it would take more than $12 million for it to do so.

The cities with departments receiving NIBIN access include Anchorage, Alaska, Des Moines, Iowa, and Lexington, Kentucky. A handful of others, including Detroit, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, will be getting extra equipment to upgrade their existing systems.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian - Opinion, dated 19th October 2018 author Helen Pidd)

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If I am being perfectly honest, the austerity cuts haven't affected my life much over the past eight years. I've written about them so I know about the resurgence of rough sleepers, the proliferation of food banks, the increase in NHS waiting times and the closure of libraries and youth clubs.

But have they hurt me? Not really. My bins got collected a bit less frequently, it took even longer to get answers out of council press offices and everything seemed to grow a bit grubbier. I got angry at what was happening to others, sure. But for me, life essentially continued as before, just with a lower mortgage rate and a larger tax-free allowance from HMRC.

Then three members of my cycling club were mugged on separate occasions while riding on one of the key traffic-free routes in Manchester - a path going from the velodrome, near Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, to the southern suburbs of Didsbury and Chorlton. They were the victim of the sort of mid-level crime that is becoming an ever more frequent occurrence: new crime statistics released yesterday showed a 22% year-on-year increase in robberies in England and Wales, along with a 30% jump in public order offences.

One victim, Sian, is a club hero: last year she cycled from London to Edinburgh and back again in under five days, nine weeks after a hysterectomy. She fought back at her attacker and escaped with her bike and a few bruises. She called 999 and told them her teenage attackers were still on the path. The police said they would "try" to send a patrol down. They didn't.

Within the hour another cyclist was attacked in pretty much the same spot. Martin had just recovered from cancer: stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He'd bought the bike to get fit and raise money for the Christie, Manchester's cancer hospital. He was stamped on and kicked. Later, his £900 bike showed up on sale for £40 in Openshaw, half a mile away. Someone tipped him off about who might be responsible. He gave the police their names; they said they couldn't investigate because it was hearsay.

Greater Manchester police (GMP) finally confirmed on Tuesday that 10 cyclists had been violently robbed on that stretch in the previous six weeks. All were attacked in broad daylight. As the superintendent for the area put it: "This offending cohort doesn't worry about being seen." They had established a "crime series", he told me. Officers would be investigating properly now. Why? Might it have been something to do with the mass cycling protest that took place in Manchester on Wednesday night?

It was the first protest I've ever organised. But I felt so furious and powerless that it was the only thing I could do that didn't involve hiring a gang of heavies and sorting out the robbers in their own language. About 350 cyclists turned up, brandishing banners saying, "If I wanted to be treated second class I'd take the train", and "Muggers: bugger off". A few police community support officers joined us on the ride, but had to be prompted to follow Sian when she went chasing after two lads carrying a suspiciously expensive Cannondale bike frame on one particularly ropey bit of path.

We sympathise with the police - GMP is down almost 2,000 officers since 2010. But if they are now so stretched that they cannot properly investigate violent robberies then we have a problem that will see more Sians - well-meaning, ordinary, frustrated citizens - trying to do their jobs for them.

All over the country, people are starting to say enough is enough. In Dukinfield town hall in Tameside, Greater Manchester, more than 400 people crammed into a room meant for half that number on Monday night. All wanted to take their local police chief to task following a spate of burglaries. "If somebody murders somebody, it's awful - but it probably isn't going to affect my life," said one woman. "What's affecting us is everyday crime. That's what's getting us down."

In Page Hall in Sheffield two weeks ago, St Cuthbert's church hall was packed out as residents begged the police and council to listen to their concerns about antisocial behaviour they blamed on Roma incomers. One man suggested the community form its own civilian police force "like the Jewish community do in Golders Green". In that part of London a voluntary organisation called the Shomrim operates as a "mobile neighbourhood watch", acting as "eyes and ears" to the police.

In the wealthiest pockets of London - Belgravia, Mayfair and Kensington - residents pay £100 to £200 each month for My Local Bobby, a subscription service providing high-end security patrols supported by experienced detectives, and the ability to privately prosecute offences. Elsewhere, residents are being tempted to take matters into their own hands. At the meeting in Sheffield, the threat of vigilantism loomed large. One man said he had already called his cousins from out of the area and they were ready to come to Page Hall, "60 of them", for a fight. Another threatened "a riot like you have never seen before in your lives".

We are already living through the era of the amateur paedophile hunter. Will we soon be seeing the same for bike-jackers and fly-tippers? If the government wants to avoid the creation of a parallel justice system, it needs to get more proper bobbies back on the beat - fast.

(1st November 2018)

(Independent, dated 18th October 2018 author Andrew Griffin)

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Tumblr has found a major security bug in its platform that could have leaked people's most personal information, it has said.

A problem with the innocent looking "recommended blogs" screen could have given up people's email addresses, passwords, old accounts, and where they were.

The issue has now been fixed and there is no evidence that it was actually used, Tumblr said. Users don't need to do anything to keep their account secure.

The bug was discovered through Tumblr's bug bounty programme, which pays security researchers if they are able to find problems with its software. That means that experts can get money for discovering the loopholes but not use them to steal people's information.

It was fixed within 12 hours of it being reported and Tumblr has taken extra steps to make sure that it is able to see and spot any similar bugs in the future.

The recommended blogs feature usually does exactly what it says: showing other blogs that a person might be interested in, if they're logged into their account.

But the bug meant that when a blog appeared in that module it could be hacked to find out information about the person who runs it.

Tumblr said it wouldn't be able to find out what specific accounts had been affected by the bug, but that it was "rarely present".

"It's our mission to provide a safe space for people to express themselves freely and form communities around things they love," the company wrote in a blog post. "We feel that this bug could have affected that experience. We want to be transparent with you about it. In our view, it's simply the right thing to do."

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th October 2018 author Martin Bentham)

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Knife crime in London has risen to its highest ever level with nearly 15,000 offences committed during the past year, according to figures out today.

The Office for National Statistics said the total of 14,987 knife crimes in the year to the end of June was a 15 per cent rise on the comparable figure 12 months earlier.

It includes 91 knife killings, 170 rapes or sexual assaults carried out with a blade, and 8,363 knife-point robberies.

There were also 5,570 knife crimes which either resulted in injury or involved an attempt to inflict serious harm on the victim.

The statisticians added that the increase in offending had taken London's knife crime total to the highest ever recorded.

The disclosure of the bleak statistics will heap pressure on both the Metropolitan police and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Both have insisted that they are doing everything possible to tackle knife crime, with police ramping up the use of stop and search and carrying out a succession of anti-knife crime operations.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick also claimed during the summer that violent crime in the capital was stabilising following a surge in the number of murders carried out in the early months of this year.

Today's statistics appear to dash those hopes, as do national figures revealing significant increases in homicide, other "high harm" violence, robbery, burglary and vehicle crime.

They mean that an average of 40 knife crimes a day are now being carried out in the capital, with the 91 knife killings representing an 11 per cent increase over 12 months.

Confirming the rise, the Office for National Statistics said: "While knife crime remains a rare crime, today's figures show knife crime recorded by the police in London is at the highest level since data started to be collected for the year ending March 2009."

Among the victims of the latest surge in knife offending was law student Sami Sidhom, 18, fatally stabbed as he arrived home in Forest Gate from a West Ham match in April. Others include Sabri Chibani, 19, knifed in the chest in Streatham on February 11, and Lewis Blackman, 19, a rapper from Kentish Town who was stabbed to death in Kensington a week later.

A detailed breakdown of the figures shows that as well as these killings and the 89 other homicides carried out with a blade, there were 68 attempted murders using a knife and 725 threats to kill with a blade in the year to the end of June.

The figures do not include an additional 3,209 offences of possession of a bladed article as they cover only those incidents in which a knife was used.

Meanwhile, national crime figures showed that offences recorded by police increased by almost 10 per cent during the past year, fuelled by rises in homicides, knife-related offences, robberies and theft.

The increase, which is partly driven by the rise in London, means that forces in England and Wales registered a total of 5.6 million offences in the year to June. This was a rise of 9 per cent compared with the previous 12 months and included a 14 per cent nationwide increase in police-recorded homicide offences, from 630 to 719. These figures exclude the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

There were also jumps in the numbers of recorded robberies, which were up 22 per cent, sexual offences, which rose 18 per cent, vehicle-related theft, up 7 per cent, and burglaries, which were 2 per cent higher.

The figures will add to support for a "public health" approach to reducing knife crime in London, modelled on methods used with success in Glasgow. The idea was recommended in a report by the Youth Violence Commission and has since been backed by the Mayor.

Knife crime in London

Number of selected offences involving a knife each year for the Metropolitan and City of London forces, according to the Office for National Statistics

Period Knife crimes
Apr 2010-Mar 2011 : 13356
Apr 2011-Mar 2012 : 14184
Apr 2012-Mar 2013 : 11386
Apr 2013-Mar 2014 : 10078
Apr 2014-Mar 2015 : 9684
Apr 2015-Mar 2016 : 9752
Jul 2016-Jun 2017 : 13061
Jul 2017-Jun 2018 : 14987

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 18th October 2018 author Dan Bloom)

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Police have recorded a 12% rise in knife crime in just a year, new figures show.

Officers noted almost 40,000 knife or "sharp instrument" crimes in the 12 months to June as violent crime surged by 19% - which Labour branded the highest rise since 2011.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott declared: "These figures are truly shocking and must put an end to Tory austerity and police cuts.

"You can't keep the public safe on the cheap. The Tories are failing in their duty to protect the public and keep our citizens safe."

It comes amid fears over soaring knife crime and youth violence.

Police recorded a 14% rise in murders after the rate fell for several years.

Overall the number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales increased by 9% in the year to June.

A statement by the Office for National Statistics said: "Over the last year, we have seen rises in some types of theft and in some lower-volume but higher-harm types of violence.

"This is balanced by a fall in the high-volume offence of computer misuse and no change in other high-volume offences such as overall violence, criminal damage and fraud."

There are two measures of crime - police-recorded crime, which shows offences up 9%, and the Crime Survey of England and Wales which shows a 1% drop.

Officials tend to prefer relying on the Crime Survey, saying it gives a more accurate picture.

Both both sets of statistics are officially sanctioned and officials warned there had been a "genuine increase" in knife crime.

The knife crime figure excludes Greater Manchester Police, who were left out of this season's statistics after a review discovered officers were under-recording knife crime in the city.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 18th October 2018 author Annie Kelly)

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Does slavery exist in the UK ?

More than 250 years since the end of the transatlantic slave trade, there are close to 41 million people still trapped in some form of slavery across the world today. Yet nobody really knows the scale and how many victims or perpetrators of this crime there are in Britain.

The data that has been released is inconsistent. The government believes there are about 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, while earlier this year the Global Slavery Index released a much higher estimate of 136,000.

Statistics on slavery from the National Crime Agency note the number of people passed on to the government's national referral mechanism (NRM), the process by which victims of slavery are identified and granted statutory support.

Labour and sexual exploitation are the most common types of modern slavery reported

Victims reported April to June 2018 (Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

n=Adults [n]=Minors

Labour : 472 [448]
Sexual : 330 [156]
Domestic servitude : 101 [19]
Unknown : 52 [79]

While this data gives a good snapshot of what kinds of slavery are most prevalent and who is falling victim to exploiters, it doesn't paint the whole picture. For every victim identified by the police, there will be many others who are not found and remain under the control of traffickers, pimps and gangmasters.

There are also many potential victims who don't agree to go through the mechanism because they don't trust the authorities, or are too scared to report their traffickers. Between 1 November 2015 and 30 June 2018, the government received notifications of 3,306 potential victims of modern slavery in England and Wales who were not referred to the NRM.

"The only figures we have are adult victims who have chosen to engage with the authorities or kids who have been correctly identified as victims by social services," explains Andrew Wallis, chief executive at UK anti-slavery charity Unseen.

The police recorded 3,773 modern slavery offences between June 2017 and June 2018.

What does UK slavery look like?

While the slavery of the transatlantic trade was visible, modern slavery is often harder to identify. The physical shackles of the past have often been replaced by forms of coercion and control such as debt, fraud and false promises, as well as violence and physical intimidation.
The industries identified as most at risk in the UK are:

- Construction
- Agriculture
- Hotel and restaurants
- Care homes
- Car washes
- Nail bars

Victims are also kept in domestic servitude behind the closed doors of private residences.

Convictions under the UK's Modern Slavery Act last year included a gang who trafficked Vietnamese women into nail bars and a Slovakian family who forced people with mental health problems into working for them without payment.

Last year, the Modern Slavery Helpline received 493 reports of potential cases of labour exploitation in hand car washes across the country with 2,170 potential victims. Of these, 401 were referred to law enforcement. Of these referrals, only one case led to an arrest.

Wallis has advice on the tell-tale signs that a business may be employing slave labour.

"If the cost is too good to be true, payment is only accepted in cash and English might not be spoken, you need to ask yourself: 'Why is this so cheap and what might I be contributing to here?'" says Wallis. "For example, the true cost of a hand wash for the average vehicle is £20. If you're paying less, you have to ask why and how."

In 2017, car washing was the most prevalent industry reported to the Modern Slavery Helpline
(Source: Modern Slavery Helpline annual report 2017)

Car wash : 27%
Construction : 12%
Hospitality : 12%
Nail bar : 8%

Who are the victims?

In 2017, 5,145 potential victims of slavery were referred to the NRM, a 35% increase on 2016 figures.
They included people from 116 different nationalities. Of the total number of victims identified, 207 were found in Scotland, 193 in Wales and 31 in Northern Ireland. The other 4,714 were reported in England.

Nationals from Albania, China and Vietnam are the most commonly reported victims of adult slavery
Victims reported April to June 2018 (Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

Albania : 177
China : 106
Vietnam : 98
Romania : 65
UK : 55
India : 45
Pakistan : 36
Sudan : 35
Poland : 33
Nigeria : 32
Other : 273

The most recent snapshot of slavery in the UK is provided by the number of victims identified between April and June this year. In these three months 1,658 victims were identified from 81 different countries; 58% (955) were adults and 42% (703) children.

As with the data from 2017, the figures show a spike in the numbers of child slavery victims identified. Last year there was a 66% leap in children going into the referral mechanism.

This was largely to do with the fact that children are starting to be identified as victims of county lines drug trafficking and other forms of criminal exploitation, and also that more unaccompanied child asylum seekers are being recognised as having faced trafficking or modern slavery.

"However," says Wallis, "this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and the real number of children being exploited in the UK is likely to be much higher because we still don't have any specific training for social and children's workers to recognise and identify victims of trafficking."

Data from this year shows that this trend in child slavery referrals is continuing.

Between April and June 2018, 332 British children were identified as victims of slavery
(Source: NCA: National Referral Mechanism statistics)

UK : 332
Vietnam : 67
Sudan : 52
Eritrea : 48
Albania : 40
Iraq : 14
Nigeria : 13
Romania : 13
Afghanistan : 12
Ethiopia : 10
Other : 102

British children were by far the largest number of child slavery victims found between April and June this year, with 223 identified, more than four times as many as any other nationality. As was the case last year, they had been largely subjected to forced labour and criminal exploitation. Most were boys, although 102 girls were also found to have been the victims of sexual exploitation.

The majority of the other child slavery victims came from Vietnam, Sudan, Eritrea and Albania. Those from Vietnam had also largely experienced labour exploitation, most likely trafficked into cannabis cultivation or nail bars.

Albanians were the largest group of adult victims, followed by China, Vietnam, Romania and then the UK. Most Albanian victims were women who had been sexually exploited. Adult victims from other countries were most likely to have faced forced labour or other forms of labour exploitation.

There has also been a rise in the exploitation of homeless people. The London charity Hestia found that of the 218 male slavery victims it had helped this year who had been forced to work in farms, construction sites and cannabis farms, 54% had slept rough after escaping their traffickers and 92% had mental health issues.

Outside of the NRM statistics, frontline charities say the numbers of people they believe to have been enslaved or trafficked is on the rise. Hestia, a London organisation, says that last year there was a 30% rise in the number of victims it helped; two-thirds were women who had been forced into prostitution. In 2017, this one charity supported 624 victims of modern slavery.

In the two years since it launched, the Modern Slavery Helpline has also received more than 10,000 calls, tip-offs and reports of potential slavery cases from the general public.

Where is it happening?

Slavery occurs in every part of the UK but, according to government data, the majority of victims referred to police between April and June this year were in London, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Scotland, Merseyside and Essex.


Between 2010 and 2017 there have been 1,671 prosecutions for slavery offences, resulting in 1,109 convictions.

The average slavery case takes the police three years to bring to trial and costs the taxpayer an estimated £330,000.

Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 27% rise in the number of police prosecutions of slavery and trafficking crimes with 239 suspects charged. There were 185 modern slavery and trafficking convictions in the same time period. Yet these represent a fraction of the cases reported to the authorities.

How does slavery affect us?

We are also all likely to consume or use goods that may have been produced with slave labour as we go about our daily lives. Billions of pounds' worth of laptops, mobile phones and clothing likely to be made by slave labour are being bought by UK consumers, according to the Global Slavery Index. In a report, it found the UK had imported £14bn of goods from countries with a high risk of slavery in 2017.

What are the signs of slavery?

- Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn

- They may be isolated, rarely allowed to travel on their own

- They may be living in dirty or overcrowded accommodation

- They may have no identification documents and few belongings

- They may be reluctant to seek help, avoiding eye contact and remaining wary of talking to authorities for fear of deportation or of violence from their captors

The Modern Slavery Helpline is on 0800 0121 700

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 18th October 2018 author Francesca Marshall)

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Crimestoppers has voiced how the public's frustration over police failing to answer 101 calls has led to the crime reporting service being busier than ever.

The charity's chief executive has said the demand for the service has continued to grow as many people want to do the right thing but "they know if they call us they will be answered pretty quickly" in comparison to making a 101 call.

Today the charity revealed a significant rise in information they were passing on to police, documenting a near 40 per cent increase in two years.

New figures show that between July 2017 and June 2018 the organisation, which is in its 30th year, passed on 152,000 reports to police across the UK - up six per cent on the previous year and 33 per cent on 2015/16.

The increase is thought to be partly due to an overall rise in offences recorded by police in England and Wales - as well as problems people have reaching the police non-emergency number, 101.

Crimestoppers also operates a simpler online reporting service.

Chief executive Mark Hallas said: "There is in some parts of the country an element of frustration with 101. They know if they call us they will be answered pretty quickly.

"Sometimes people will contact us because they are struggling to get through on 101."

Some two-thirds of the calls and online messages the service receives aren't passed on to police as staff are aware of the increasing demands on police forces nationally.

However the information contained in 144,000 reports passed on in 2016-17 led to 3,300 people being arrested and charged; 16,700 dealt with in other ways, such as informal warnings; £7.4m worth of drugs seized and property valued at £814,000 recovered.

Mr Hallas explained that surveys had found Crimestoppers was being used by hundreds of thousands of young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

Almost half of those that contact the charity, both by phone and online, are under the age of 35, which can be attributed to youngsters trusting the anonymous service.

One in five people who contact Crimestoppers are from black or minority groups, something the charity puts down to communities feeling uncomfortable about speaking to the police.

Mr Hallas, a former brigadier whose 30-year military career included a spell in charge of Army intelligence, told BBC News: "Surveys we've carried out indicate that there's a hardcore of about 20 per cent of people who find it very difficult to talk to the police directly under any circumstances - but many of those people want to do the right thing and we provide the avenue to let them do that."

The charity also revealed that around 60 per cent of the reports Crimestoppers sends to police forces - 92,000 cases - are drugs-related.

(1st November 2018)

(The Bulletin, dated 17th October 2018)

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While there's little violent or drug-related crimes in the wealthier neighbourhoods of Brussels, there's a much greater risk of burglary

While almost everyone living in Brussels reports that they find their own neighbourhoods safe, some are safer than others when it comes to crime, according to the regional Prevention & Safety agency. The agency looked at reported robberies of homes, cars and persons, as well as crimes involving physical violence and drug trading.

The report for 2016-17 shows that 88% of residents think the neighbourhood in which they live is safe when it comes to crime. The report, however, only gives a low to very low crime rate to about half of the neighbourhoods.

The report splits the capital up into 118 neighbourhoods, leaving out 27 with very low residential populations. Of the 118, some 56 are rated low in crime (with 500 or fewer reported incidents per year).

The safest neighbourhoods overall are in Uccle, Anderlecht and Woluwe Saint-Pierre, where nearly all areas fell into the below 500 reported crimes per year category. Many neighbourhoods in other municipalities, however, also scored well, including Haren in Brussels-City, Potaarde in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and Josaphat Station in Schaerbeek.

Lock your doors and windows, Anderlecht

The neighbourhoods that fared the worst, with between 1,500 and 2,500 reported crimes per year were mostly in Brussels-City. The neighborhoods with the most reported crimes were: Quartier Nord, Grand Place, Mantonge, Porte de Hal and Brabant. That last one is the North Station district in Schaerbeek.

The report also splits up the specific crimes, with Uccle, for instance, faring worse when it comes to home burglaries. Anderlecht and Woluwe Saint-Pierre, too, lose a bit of their shine when violent crimes are removed and only burglaries figure. Northwest Anderlecht, in fact, has one of the worst home burglary rates in the capital, followed by Saint-Paul and Chant d'oiseau, both in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.

When it comes to the touristy Grand Place, meanwhile, much of the reported crime involves theft, but physical attacks also rate higher than in other areas of Brussels-City. The Prevention & Safety agency points out, however, that, home burglaries are much more likely to be reported than theft of personal belongings.

Crime in general, however, has decreased overall in the capital over the last decade by 22%, according to the report, despite an increase in residents of 15%.

(1st November 2018)

(Bury Times, dated 17th October 2018 author Matthew Calderbank)

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The new Citizens' Contract is a seven-point programme issued by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), urging the public to assume more responsibility for keeping communities safe as the force is made to save a further £67m in by 2020.

"We need you to protect yourself, your property, your family and communities", reads the contract.

The contract this week clarifies what help the public can expect from police as crime rates continue to climb across Greater Manchester.

It suggests the public must play a larger and more active role in crime prevention.

The document illustrates in seven points "what we (GMP) will do and what we need you to do", to keep communities safe.

n It stresses the need for communities to tackle anti-social behaviour from youths before it escalates into more serious criminality.

The public are urged to "make the right contact to the right agency at the right time".

This summer, GMP launched a Live Chat service for people to report incidents without having to call 999. It has proved popular as an alternative to traditional 999 calls.

GMP urges people to continue reporting criminal behaviour, despite increased waiting times for calls to be answered on the 101 non-emergency number.

"We need you to provide information to help tackle crime and make communities safer", it reads.

Police resources mean officers must respond to reports based on a scale of priority.

The public are asked to try and "understand and trust police decision making on use of resources".

Neighbours should come together to "actively keep communities safe".

In turn, GMP pledge to "listen to people" and use feedback to "help build stronger communities."

People are encouraged to speak to neighbourhood police officers and give their views on community safety.

The public are asked to become more involved in their communities and "consider being a part of policing".

GMP want community groups to engage with the wider community and help protect vulnerable and elderly neighbours.

It is hoped the initiative will embolden communities to take ownership of crime prevention by acting as the first line of defence.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th October 2018 author Martin Evans)

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The drive to target hate crime is forcing police officers to spend valuable time investigating wolf-whistles, bad manners and impolite comments, a police leader has warned.

Sergeant Richard Cooke, the recently elected chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said forces were expected to record and follow up reports of hate crime, even when no criminal offence had taken place.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Cooke warns police officers would be dispatched to offer words of advice to people, but this meant they had less time to focus on "genuine crimes" such as burglary and violence.

Mr Cooke said he did not believe this was what the public expected of its police service. While applauding the principle behind protecting those at risk of hurtful abuse, officers have expressed their frustration at being drawn into what they see as social rather than criminal issues.

Mr Cooke, who represents 6,500 rank and file officers in the country's second largest police force, said: "I fear a dangerous precedent could be set, where our scant resources are skewed further and further away from the genuine crisis in public safety taking place on our urban homes and streets.

"Nobody, especially police officers, would ever want to see any elderly person or woman subjected to any sort of crime. The same goes for any other innocent member of the community. But we do have laws to address all manner of crimes and anti-social behaviour already."

Earlier this week the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that he had asked the Law Commission to consider whether misogyny and ageism should be added to the list of categories that constitute a hate crime.

It is hoped that by broadening out the definition of the offence, police and prosecutors will have more power to tackle and punish those who deliberately target vulnerable groups.

Newly published figures show how religious hate crimes rose by 40 per cent last year with attacks on Jewish people representing 12 percent of all offences.

Abuse against gay and transgender people and the disabled has also risen.

But there are increasing warnings that in the drive to identify and tackle the problem, police priorities are being impacted.

Mr Cooke said: "We all abhor and want to end genuine crimes motivated or aggravated by intolerance and prejudice. They should be investigated, and those who commit them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as should those who incite them."

But he went on: "Let us focus urgently on genuine crime, supported by basic evidence. Let's not encourage people to think we can solve deep social problems or give impolite people manners.

"Are we really going to be required to routinely record, and potentially act on, incidents like a builder's wolf whistle or an insensitive comment towards an elderly driver?

"I do not believe for one second that this is what the public, outside of the politically correct 'court of Twitter', expects or wants us to do."

South Yorkshire Police recently came in for criticism after urging people to report insults that did not necessarily constitute hate crimes.

Last month the newly elected chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, warned that common sense policing was disappearing with officers forced to spend time intervening in trivial social media disputes rather than attending burglaries and other serious crimes.

He said it was time for a debate sensible debate about what the public expected of its police service.

"Where we get drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground, the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched," he said.

(1st November 2018)

(New China, dated 17th October 2018 author Xinhua)

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The African continent is exhibiting one of the fastest growth rates in internet penetration worldwide with digital connectivity almost tripled in the last five years, the African Union (AU) revealed on Tuesday.

The pan African bloc AU, organizing the first African forum on cyber-crime from Oct. 16 to 18 in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, however warned the increasing threats that emanate with the continuous development of information and communication technologies towards more sophisticated services and applications.

According to the AU, as Africa witnessed fastest growth in internet penetration during the past few years, governments and private sector entities in the continent have been experiencing an equally increasing trend of cyber-attacks.

The First African forum on cyber-crime is expected to focus on cyber-crime policies and national legislations, with respect to regional and international standards and relevant implementation practices.

Large-scale theft of personal data, computer intrusions, bullying, harassment and other forms of cyber violence, sexual violence against children online, are said to be among the major human rights abuses that are pervasive in the continent in recent days, it was noted.

Hate speech, xenophobia and racism on line are also indicated as contributing factors behind radicalization and violent extremism in Africa.

According to the AU, the forum would play an important role in improving the effectiveness and exchange of information regarding common challenges and tasks across the continent.

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 17th October 2018 author Isobel Frodsham)

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Attacks on rail staff have more than halved since an operator introduced body worn cameras, new figures show.

Virgin Trains said the number of assaults on its employees has fallen month by month following the introduction of 275 cameras in February to ensure all frontline workers are covered.

Incidents dropped from 20 in March to six in September.

Footage from the cameras has led to one conviction, when a man pleaded guilty to a public order offence following an incident on a train at Wolverhampton in April.

Research across the rail industry found that attacks on staff at station barriers fell by 47 per cent when they were wearing the cameras during a pilot last year.

Lewis Komodromou, a revenue protection team leader for Virgin Trains, said he feels safer with a bodycam after previously being assaulted by a passenger with an invalid ticket at London Euston station.

The 26-year-old, who suffered a shoulder injury, recalled: "I was extremely shocked after the ordeal. I hadn't really been in that type of situation before so I didn't know how to react.

"Since the bodycams have been introduced it has stopped lots of situations that could otherwise get out of hand."

British Transport Police recorded 6,960 incidents of assault against rail staff in 2015/16, although many attacks are believed to go unreported.

Chief inspector Lorna McEwan said the cameras will provide the force with "vital evidence".

She added: "Being assaulted or verbally abused simply for doing your job is completely unacceptable."

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "One assault against a rail worker is one too many. We're now working together as an industry to develop plans to roll out this technology nationwide."

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 16th October 2018 author Matthew Weaver)

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Note : The original article has two explanatory graphs

The number of recorded hate crimes has more than doubled in the past five years and is likely to be related in part to the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the spate of terrorist attacks last year, according to the Home Office.

Hate crime offences recorded by the police rose by 17% to 94,098 in the 12 months to March, figures for England and Wales show. This represents an increase of 123% since 2012-13, when 42,255 hate crimes were recorded.

The Home Office said the increase was largely driven by improvements in the way police record hate crime. But it also noted "spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017".

Religious hate crime increased by 40% in the two years to March, to 8,336 incidents. The Home Office said this was likely to be due to offences after the in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester Arena terrorist attacks.

Religion was the motivating factor in 9% of recorded hate crimes in the year to March, while race was the factor in 76% (71,251 incidents). Sexual orientation was a factor in 12% of incidents (11,638), disability in 8% (7,226), and transgender in 2% (1,651).

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public's experience of crime, indicate a drop of 40% in hate crime incidents in the past decade. These figures are unaffected by changes in reporting rates or police activity, and they do not include crimes against businesses or households on short lets such as care homes.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: "The fact that hate crime has more than doubled in the last five years must serve as an urgent wake-up call. We must stand up to hatred and discrimination wherever it is found.

"The Tories promised to tackle burning injustices but they are clearly not tackling the injustice of people being attacked simply because of their religion, sexuality, the colour of their skin or their disability."

The MP David Lammy, who is part of the pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign, blamed the rise in hate crime on the rhetoric of Brexiters. "The extent to which hate crimes have risen in recent years is shameful. It comes from the very top. Divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from politicians and leaders trickles down into abuse and violence on our streets," he said.

"It is no surprise that Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women who wear veils rose in the days following Boris Johnson's 'letterbox' insult. Similarly, it is no coincidence that the type of anti-immigrant language used by some mainstream politicians has corresponded with spikes in hate crimes."

Separate figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service on Tuesday showed courts giving tougher sentences in most hate crime cases. In the year to March, prosecutors successfully applied for uplifts in sentences in more than two-thirds of convictions, it found.

Chris Long, chief crown prosecutor and the CPS hate crime champion, said: "The continuing increase in the number of offenders who receive increased sentences is a testament to the work of the CPS in building the cases correctly and providing the courts with the information they need to sentence appropriately."

The figures come after officials announced a review of what constitutes a hate crime. The Law Commission will consider whether to include misogyny and misandry (prejudice against men) , as well as antagonism towards alternative lifestyles, such as goth subculture, as part of a broader definition of hate crime.

Announcing the review, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said: "Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law."

(Telegraph, dated 16th October 2018 author Ashley Kirk)

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Hate crime has surged across the country, new figures have revealed, with those directed at people because of their religious beliefs doubling since 2015.

Data from the Home Office has revealed that there were 94,098 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2017/18 - up by 17 per cent on the year before.

This annual increase rises to 40 per cent for religiously-aggravated hate crime, with crimes increasing from 5,949 to 8,336 in the last year alone. Since 2014/15, offences have soared 153 per cent from a total of 3,293.

The majority of these crimes - some 52 per cent - were directed at Muslims.

The Home Office noted that there were peaks in racially or religiously aggravated offences following terrorist attacks such as the Lee Rigby murder in July 2013 and the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017.

A sharp increase was also seen in hate crime in June 2017 following terrorist attacks in May and June, leading to a peak of 6,042 offences in June 2017.

This is an average of over 200 a day.

This exceeded the previous peak of 5,605 offences, set in July 2016 - just after the result of the EU referendum campaign.

There were increases in all five of the centrally monitored strands of hate crime in the last year, continuing a five-year trend.

In the last year, race-based hate crime increased 14 per cent, while those based on sexual orientation increased 27 per cent, disability 30 per cent and transgender 32 per cent.

Where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, 52 per cent of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims - a total of 2,965 offences. 4.8 per cent of the population of England and Wales identified as Muslim, according to the 2011 census.

The Jewish community were the next most commonly targeted group, being targeted in 12 per cent of religious hate crimes.

Two thirds of religious hate crimes are directed at Muslims and Jews

Number and proportion of religious hat crimes recorded by the police, by the percieved target religion (2017/18). Source : Home Office

Muslim : 2,965
Jewish : 672
Christian : 264
No religion : 237
Sikh : 117
Hindu : 58
Buddhist : 19
Other : 311
Unknown : 1,174

Some 56 per cent of the hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences, while a further third were for violence against the person.

These accounted for the vast majority of hate crimes in 2017/18, although six per cent of offences were classified as either criminal damage or arson.

The police-recorded figures reveal that the number of hate crimes has more than doubled since 2012/13. An offence is classified as such when the victim considers it to be driven by hostility against their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

The Home Office stated that some of the increases in police-recorded hate crime is likely to be related to better reporting methods and a greater willingness on the part of victims to come forward.

(Chronicle Live, dated 17th October 2018 author Jonathan Walker)

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Incidents of hate crime have increased once again in the North East.

There were 4,148 hate crimes recorded by North East police forces over 12 months, new official figures show.

That's around 80 incidents every week.

And it's a significant increase from 3,450 incidents last year - and 2,191 incidents the year before that.

It means the number of hate crimes has increased by 90 per cent over two years.

The picture in the North East is similar to the rest of the country, where hate crime has also increased.

According to the Home Office, the rise may be connected to Brexit and to incidents of terrorism.

The figures include hate crimes recorded by Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham forces.

Of the 4,148 hate crimes over the past year, 2,559, were recorded by Northumbria Police. There were 711 in the Durham police area and 878 recorded by Cleveland police.

The figures show there were 2,980 hate crimes in the North East region where race was a factor.

Police recorded 340 hate crimes where religion was a factor, 456 involving sexual orientation, 452 where disabled people were targeted and 97 where the victim was transgender.

###Increase may be connected to terrorism and Brexit

According to the Home Office, the rise in numbers across the country may be partly down to the police doing a better job of recording incidents - but there have also been real increases which appear to be connected to terrorism and to Brexit.

A Home office report said: "In 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year.

"This continues the upward trend in recent years with the number of hate crimes recorded by the police having more than doubled since 2012/13 ... this increase is thought to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, although there has been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU Referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017."

Hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic".

###Government announces new measures to fight hate crime

The Government announced plans to review the law to consider whether crimes sparked by hostility to women or to men, or prejudice against the elderly, should be considered hate crimes.

The Home Office has tasked the Law Commission to carry out a review of current hate crime laws as part of a series of new measures.

The review is expected to be published by the end of next year.

It forms part of a refreshed strategy aimed at improving the response to hate crimes and incidents.
New measures include taxi drivers and door staff being given guidance on spotting hate crime.

Advice will be included in the Department for Transport's best practice guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, which is scheduled to be updated in 2019 and will be considered for adoption by all 293 licensing authorities in England, the document says.

It also notes that new guidance for door supervisors sets out how they can ensure transgender people can have a safe and enjoyable time going to pubs, clubs, festivals and events.

The updated action plan is being published as the Home Office releases the latest annual statistics on hate crime in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect - and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out.

(Birmingham Mail, datd 16th October 2018 author Jonathan Walker)

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Incidents of hate crime have increased once again in the West Midlands.
There were 4,678 hate crimes recorded by West Midlands Police over 12 months, new official figures show.

That's around 90 incidents every week.

And it's an increase from 4,244 incidents last year - and 3,780 incidents the year before that.

It means the number of hate crimes has increased by 23 per cent over two years.

The picture in the West Midlands is similar to the rest of the country, where hate crime has also increased.

In the past year, there were 4,151 hate crimes in the West Midlands where race was a factor.

Police recorded 303 hate crimes where religion was a factor, 410 involving sexual orientation, 106 where disabled people were targeted and 36 where the victim was transgender.

###uaware note

Final paragraphs of this article were a repetition of "North East" article.

(Get Surrey, dated 20th October 2018 author Alice Cachia, Annie Gouk and Jamie Phillips)

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Religious hate crime in Surrey has soared by more than three-quarters in a single year.

Surrey Police recorded 161 crimes motivated by religion in 2017/18 - equivalent to three every week.

That is an increase from 90 recorded crimes in 2016/17 and a total rise of 79%.

All types of hate crime, including disability, sexual orientation and race, increased across the county with the overall number rising by 10% from 1,673 offences in 2016/17 to 1,849 in 2017/18.

Sim Sian, head of diversity at Surrey Police, said the force was pleased to see a rise in the reporting of hate crime.

"We know hate crime is happening in Surrey and we want people to feel that they can come to us, tell us about it and feel that we will take it seriously. So we are pleased to see an increase in the number of hate crimes reported.

"While it may sound incongruous that a police force views an increase in reported crime positively, this increase shows that victims of hate crime are firstly, recognising that what has happened to them is a crime, and secondly, feeling confident enough to report it."

Hate crime is defined as any crimes that are targeted at a person because of a hostility or prejudice towards that person's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or alternative subculture identity.

It was specifically racial hate crime that made up the majority of all hate crime, increasing from 1,055 to 1,279 across the same period.

The only figure that fell was transgender hate crime, decreasing by just a single offence - 30 to 29.

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 16th October 2018 author Press Association)

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The UK will be hit by the most serious type of cyber emergency at some point, an intelligence chief has warned, as it emerged that a specialist unit is repelling more than 10 attempted attacks every week.

Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said he had little doubt it would have to deal with a "category 1" case in the future.

The bracket covers incidents that result in severe economic or social consequences, or loss of life.

On Tuesday the NCSC will publish a report that lays bare the scale of the danger it is confronting, with "hostile states" said to be responsible for the bulk of thwarted strikes.

Since it became fully operational two years ago, the centre's frontline teams have dealt with 1,167 cyber incidents.

Mr Martin, the NCSC's chief executive, said: "The majority of these incidents were, we believe, perpetrated from within nation states in some way hostile to the UK.

"They were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security.

"I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead, what we would call a category 1 attack."

The NCSC defines a category 1 incident as a national cyber emergency, which causes "sustained disruption" of essential services or affects national security, leading to severe economic or social consequences or to loss of life.

Although there have been several "very significant" incidents, Mr Martin said the UK has so far avoided a category 1 event.

He added: "But even if this continues, we must be alert to the constant threat from countries who will attack critically important national networks to steal information for strategic or commercial reasons, and give themselves a starting point - 'pre-positioning' - for a significant attack in the future."

The assessment comes less than a fortnight after Britain accused the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, of being behind a campaign of cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

Mr Martin stressed there is "much, much more" to the cyber security threat faced by the UK than just Russia.

While nation state activity represents the most acute threat, he said, low-sophistication but high-volume cyber crime is the "most chronic" one.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative to protect the UK from "high-volume commodity attacks" that affect people's everyday lives.

Since its introduction, the UK share of visible global phishing attacks dropped from 5.3% to 2.4%, according to the report.

The NCSC, which is part of intelligence agency GCHQ, was established to spearhead efforts to counter the mounting danger from cyber criminals and hostile states.

GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said the NCSC has become a "world-leading organisation" and thanked its staff for their "outstanding work".

He added: "Whether that's thwarting the growing cyber threat from hostile nation states, providing excellent incident management services to large and small businesses, or pushing the boundaries of research and innovation, the NCSC operates on the front line of efforts to keep us all safe online."

Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington said the NCSC has "more than risen" to the challenge of delivering ambitious proposals set out in the Government's national cyber security strategy

(Sky News, dated 16th October 2018 author Rowland Manthorpe)

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There is "little doubt" a major life-threatening cyber attack on the UK will take place in the near future, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.

In its second annual review, published on Tuesday, the NCSC revealed it has handled more than 10 attacks a week in the last two years - the majority of which it traced back to "nation states in some way hostile to the UK".

Since it became fully operational in 2016 it has handled 1,167 cyber incidents, including 557 in the last 12 months.

The majority of the attacks "were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries," writes Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security."

None of the incidents fell into the so-called category one - a strike with potential risk to life.
However, Mr Martin warned that such an attack was highly likely.

"I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead," he said.

Category-one attacks are "national emergencies, causing sustained disruption of essential services, leading to severe economic or social consequences - or to a loss of life", the NCSC said.

The most prominent cyber attack on the UK, the WannaCry malware attack on the NHS, was classed by NCSC as a category two attack, defined as having "a serious impact on a large portion of the population, economy or government".

The Department of Health revealed last week that the WannaCry attack, which affected at least 80 out of the 236 hospital trusts across England, as well as a further 595 GP practices, cost the NHS a total of £92 million - including £72m for IT support.

US authorities identified Park Jin Hyok, a 34-year-old North Korean, as being part of the group behind the ransomware.

Earlier this month, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Russia's intelligence service, the GRU, of waging a campaign of "indiscriminate and reckless" cyber strikes targeting institutions across politics, businesses, media and sport.

And in 2017, the Ministry of Defence issued warnings about a Chinese espionage group known as APT10 hacking IT suppliers to target military and intelligence information.

Mr Martin describes nation state activity as "the most acute threat", but says the most "chronic" risk comes from "high-volume cyber crime", which is handled by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

As well as defending the UK against targeted attacks, the NSCS also handles what it describes as "high-volume commodity attacks", such as phishing emails designed to fool people into installing malware on their devices.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative in 2017 to deal with these attacks.

According to the report, the UK's share of visible global phishing attacks has dropped from 5.3% to 2.4% since the scheme's introduction.

City AM, dated 16th October 2018 author Alex Jones)

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The UK has faced more than 10 cyber attacks per week on average in the last two years, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) today revealed, with most coming from "hostile" nation states.

Since it became operational in 2016, GCHQ's cyber crime defence centre has been forced to defend Britain against 1,167 threats, 557 of which happened in the last year, it said in its second annual report.

The majority of the attacks were carried out by hackers "directed, sponsored or tolerated" by foreign governments, NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said in the report.

"These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security," he said.

Meanwhile, the NCSC has more than halved the UK's share of global phishing attacks - where hackers attempt to trick victims into sharing personal data - from 5.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent, said the report.

The NCSC said it worked to prevent "high-volume commodity attacks that affect people's everyday lives", removing 138,398 phishing sites between September 2017 and August 2018.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington praised the NCSC, saying it had "risen to the challenge", but experts warned business against complacency.

Chris O'Brien, director of intelligence operations at threat intelligence firm EclecticIQ, called cyber security a "never-ending battle on a constantly changing battlefield".

Despite NCSC efforts, he said, major incidents such as last year's Wannacry attack on the NHS were inevitable.

"There needs to be a plan in place for every public or private organisation to limit the impact of such disruption to essential services over a prolonged period of time," he added.

Emily Orton, director of cyber security firm Darktrace, said cyber attacks were getting "faster and more furious".

"As guardians of our data, companies of all sizes need to take responsibility and embrace more sophisticated technologies to protect themselves from advanced attacks," she added. "The increasing trend towards AI is going a long way to bolster businesses' cyber resilience."

(Independent, dated 16th October 2018 author Samuel Osborne)

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Britain will be hit by a life-threatening "category 1" cyber emergency in the near future, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.

The NCSC's annual review revealed it is currently repelling around 10 attempted cyber attacks every week, with "hostile states" said to be responsible for the bulk of thwarted strikes.

Since it became fully operational two years ago, the centre's teams have dealt with 1,167 cyber incidents.

Ciaran Martin, the centre's head, said he had little doubt it would have to deal with the most serious type of cyber emergency in the future.

"The majority of these incidents were, we believe, perpetrated from within nation states in some way hostile to the UK," he said. "They were undertaken by groups of computer hackers directed, sponsored or tolerated by the governments of those countries. These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security."

He added: "I remain in little doubt we will be tested to the full, as a centre, and as a nation, by a major incident at some point in the years ahead, what we would call a category 1 attack."

The NCSC defines a category 1 incident as an attack which causes "sustained disruption" of essential services or affects national security, leading to severe economic or social consequences, or to loss of life.

Although there have been several "very significant" incidents, Mr Martin said the UK has yet to witness a category 1 event.

He added: "But even if this continues, we must be alert to the constant threat from countries who will attack critically important national networks to steal information for strategic or commercial reasons, and give themselves a starting point - 'pre-positioning' - for a significant attack in the future."

The assessment comes less than a fortnight after Britain accused the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, of being behind a campaign of cyber attacks which targetted political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

Mr Martin stressed there is "much, much more" to the cyber security threat faced by the UK than just Russia.

While nation state activity represents the most acute threat, he said, low-sophistication but high-volume cyber crime is the "most chronic" one.

The NCSC launched the Active Cyber Defence initiative to protect the UK from "high-volume commodity attacks" that affect people's everyday lives.

Since its introduction, the UK share of visible global phishing attacks dropped from 5.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent, according to the report.

(1st November 2018)

(Sky News, dated 16th October 2018)

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More than 200 suspects have been arrested by dozens of police forces in a national crackdown on "county lines" drugs gangs.

Some 58 vulnerable people, including children, who had been caught up in the gangs were also rescued, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Officers found tens of thousands of pounds in cash and drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.

A loaded gun, an axe, a meat cleaver, hunting knives and a samurai sword were among the weapons recovered during the week-long operation.

There are an estimated 1,500 "county lines" gangs operating across the UK.

County lines refers to organised gangs extending their drug dealing network from big cities to other areas.

The gangs commonly use one phone line that drug users call to order illegal substances, which make up to £5,000 per day.

Inside the gangs, urban dealers force children to carry drugs to customers in more rural areas and "cuckoo" the homes of vulnerable or drug-addicted people to use to stash illegal substances.

Sue Southern, county lines lead for the NCA, said: "Supply gangs are responsible for high levels of violence and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, and every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity.

Some of those arrested were criminals already serving prison sentences who were charged with involvement in the supply of class A drugs from behind bars.

The new national county lines co-ordination centre, set up in September, is mapping the activities of the gangs, which are mainly based in large cities such as London, Liverpool and Birmingham, but operate all over the country.

Ms Southern said: "There are currently hundreds of live county lines investigations across the UK, and this period of intensification highlights the range of co-ordinated activity taking place to identify perpetrators, reduce violence, take away the proceeds of crime and safeguard the vulnerable.

"While these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response," she added."

(Independent, dated 16th October 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Police have arrested more than 200 people and rescued children being used as drug mules in a nationwide crackdown on "county lines" gangs.

The city-based groups, who deal drugs via branded phone lines, target small towns and rural territories where they violently control the lucrative supply.

The growing phenomenon has been partly blamed for a rise in stabbings across England and Wales, as the proportion of murders involving people using or dealing drugs rose to 57 per cent.

A week-long operation has seen more than 200 suspects arrested and 58 vulnerable people, including children, put under protective measures.

Officials said the sweep has "substantially disrupted" several gangs, after a report revealed that children as young as 12 were being exploited in the brutal trade.

Police seized weapons including a samurai sword, axe, meat cleaver, gun and ammunition, and hunting knives, alongside tens of thousands of pounds in cash and "significant quantities" of heroin, crack cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Dozens of police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units were involved in the national crackdown, executing search warrants, gathering intelligence and arresting people already serving prison sentences on new evidence.

Officers also visited vulnerable people believed to be at risk of "cuckooing", where county lines gangs take over their homes to use as a makeshift base, and contacted landlords and private hire drivers who may come into contact with offenders.

The drive was launched by the new National County Lines Coordination Centre, which was started last month under joint leadership by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

Sue Southern, the NCA's national county lines lead, said: "Supply gangs are responsible for high levels of violence and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, and every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity.

"There are currently hundreds of live county lines investigations across the UK, and this period of intensification highlights the range of coordinated activity taking place to identify perpetrators, reduce violence, take away the proceeds of crime and safeguard the vulnerable.

"While these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response."

There are an estimated 1,500 county lines operating across the UK, with each one generating between £3,000 and £5,000 per day.

It is often children who are sent long distances to deal the drugs, and they will frequently be subject to violence and threats, while gangs use violent and intimidating tactics to defend their territory.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, the NPCC lead for county lines, said: "Our primary aim in dismantling these networks is protecting the young and vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs and are subject to violence, fear and intimidation.

"This week's intensification has protected 58 people from that violence, as well as removing a significant amount of drugs from the supply chain and disrupting gangs who profit from spreading fear and suffering throughout the UK."

The crackdown came after research by the St Giles Trust showed some children were dealing drugs for county lines gangs to support their families financially, putting themselves at risk of arrest or attacks by rivals.

One police officer told researchers that gangs viewed children as "expendable foot soldiers - if one gets sent down or killed, there are plenty more to take their place".

Most of the teenagers involved were found to be from deprived backgrounds or in care, and excluded from school, although some were from "well ordered and materially comfortable families".

Researchers said the diversity was partly caused by gang leaders recruiting local drug mules and dealers to "blend in" with the target market, ranging from universities to homeless people, without attracting attention from police.

There is no set protocol for responding to a child found working on county lines, meaning police officers must choose whether to arrest them, refer them to the national referral mechanism for modern slavery or let them go in each case.

The inconsistencies mean the scale of the problem, and the number of children involved, is unknown, while researchers said it is ultimately being driven by the "continuing and growing demand for drugs".

The National County Lines Coordination Centre, which was given £3.6m of Home Office funding, is working to build up intelligence on the complexity and scale of the threat.

(BBC News, dated 16th October 2018)

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A police unit has been set up to stop children as young as 10 being recruited by organised crime gangs.

South Yorkshire Police said the team would work with partners in housing, education and justice to identify those at risk of being exploited.

According to government figures, 2,738 gangs involved in drugs and violence operate across England and Wales.

The force said it hoped identifying children at risk and diverting them away from gang life could "save lives".

Det Supt Una Jennings said there were 52 gangs in South Yorkshire, including 20 operating in Sheffield, one of which had links to 30 children.

She said nationally the age profile of children becoming involved with gangs was dropping and the force has seen children "from 10 years up" involved in criminality.

"If you have committed a very serious violent offence - for example a robbery - by the time you're 11, you're 15 times more likely to then go on to commit much more serious criminality over the next number of years," she said.

"By the time I'm dealing with them in a police cell everybody else has failed, so identifying those people early and using evidence-based interventions is going to be key to stemming the flow."

Precise details of how the team will work and its budget have not been revealed by the force but it said it hoped by sharing information with other agencies it could devise "the right interventions for an individual child".

Rhiannon Sawyer, from the Children's Society, said that while the issue was not new there had been "an increased use of children over the years" and said the charity welcomed South Yorkshire Police's "multi-agency approach".

"It's not just a police problem, we can't police our way out of this," she said.

(1st November 2018)

(Guardian, dated 16th October 2018 author Gaby Hinsliff)

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If it is to protect the elderly and women, Sajid Javid's review must also examine misandry. It's the only way things are going to change.

Are men the real victims now?

At first glance, it seems as if the home secretary is taking that idea seriously. Sajid Javid has just announced a review of hate crime, to consider whether ageism as well as misogyny should be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia where they lead to criminal offences. But perhaps more surprisingly, he's also asking the Law Commission to consider adding misandry (hatred of men) to the list too.

First glances, however, are rarely what they seem. Ministers are falling over themselves to play down the importance of tacking misandry on to the consultation at the last minute, insisting it's "not where the emphasis is", despite the efforts of a small but vociferous men's rights lobby. Ministers' chief concerns are firstly bullying and abuse of vulnerable elderly people, amid fears that many don't report it because they are too afraid of repercussions from care workers on whose mercy they depend, and secondly crimes seemingly fuelled by hatred of women, such as online abuse and street harassment.

By throwing misandry into the mix alongside other options such as prejudice against Goths (following the murder of teenager Sophie Lancaster by a gang of thugs in a Lancashire park) ministers seem to be delegating the politically toxic job of sorting all this out to the Law Commission.

And when they do so, the commissioners will presumably bear in mind what exactly a hate crime is. The popular misconception is that it's the hate itself that is the crime; but that's not how it works. Hate crime is defined as the committing of an offence - such as assault, or harassment, or vandalism - specifically motivated by one of five recognised categories of prejudice. It usually leads to a stiffer sentence to reflect the wider fear and intimidation caused to a community. But without an offence, there's no hate crime. What that means is that anyone determined to spend their life consumed with bitter hatred of others is welcome to it, so long as they can manage not to end up on the wrong side of the law as a result.

So the test for misandry to join the list would be the same as for any other form of hate: is there evidence of a serious problem with men being stalked, beaten up by strangers on the street, having bricks chucked through their windows or being otherwise persecuted by women motivated by dislike or contempt for men in general? If so, then misandrist hate crime must be acknowledged in law and rooted out. But a general sense that #MeToo might have gone too far doesn't meet the threshold and although some crimes against men clearly are tragically underreported, including male rape and domestic violence, the picture is complicated by cases where both perpetrator and victim are male.

Could any of this work in practice? Nottinghamshire police have already been experimentally logging misogyny-driven offences (ranging from wolf-whistling, taking "upskirting" photos and following women home to sexual assault and online abuse) as hate crimes for two years. An evaluation survey carried out by the University of Nottingham found a narrow majority of residents thought such behaviour was criminal, almost half the rest thought it antisocial, and less than 5% went for "non-criminal" (in other words, not a police matter). That's a reasonable conclusion since out of 174 incidents reported to police, 73 were logged as actual crimes and the rest as "incidents" - in other words, upsetting to the victims but it's not obvious any law was broken. The vast majority of residents, interestingly, thought the policy had been a good idea.

West Yorkshire police, meanwhile, have already added ageism to the options on their hate crime reporting app simply because it cropped up so often in reporting.

It's easy to see how expanding the definition of a hate crime could put serious pressure on an already overworked and underfunded criminal justice system. But the alternative is things being swept under the carpet that shouldn't be, victims being discouraged from coming forward for fear they won't be taken seriously, and missed opportunities to understand (and therefore tackle) the root cause of some crimes. It's going to be an uncomfortable business, recognising just how much violence and distress is driven by irrational hatred of the "other". But it's ultimately the only way things are going to change.


(LBC Radio, dated 16th October 2018)

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Note : You can see the debate in full in the video at this webpage

Nick Ferrari had questions he wanted answered when he heard offences motivated by a loathing for men, elderly people and goths could soon be classed as hate crimes.

The Law Commission will look at whether prejudice based on age, sex or hatred of certain subcultures such as goths and punks would be a hate crime.

The review is part of an updated government plan published alongside the Home Office's annual statistics on hate crime in England Wales.

The report revealed a 17% rise in hate crime in 2017-18 compared to the previous year.

A hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic".

But, Nick wanted to know why existing laws already in place were not protecting victims.

"Why would the Law Commission be thinking about new laws when we've quite rightly got laws in place which protect people?" The LBC presenter asked law expert Dr Loretta Trickett.

"There are whole parts of abuse which are not picked up against people," Dr Loretta replied.

Nick responded again: "If I steal a handbag from a disabled woman in a wheelchair this afternoon, I'm going to get done - we don't need additional laws."

The guest answered: "Yes we do actually. You don't seem to understand what hate crime is.

"I think that is a misconception of the general public, they think it is a pure hatred of people, what it is about is you're targeting a person on the basis of their identity."

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 15th October 2018 author Danya Bazaraa)

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A simple mistake could invalidate your car insurance - and millions of drivers are potentially at risk.

Drivers could have modifications on their car they are simply not aware of, but failure to tell insurers of any modifications could invalidate the insurance, experts say.

Any modifications to your car , which aren't classed as factory standard - even aesthetic changes such as specialist paintwork or decals - will affect the cost of replacing your vehicle should it be damaged or stolen.

Anything classed as non-standard on the car is classed as a modification.

Research has found that only 1.6 percent of drivers are claiming to have modifications on their vehicle, suggesting drivers simply may not be declaring any added extras.

GoCompare are warning motorists to double check what the factory standard is for your car's model, and let insurers know of any changes made.

Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare car insurance, said: "While modifications may ring bells of the bygone boy racer, it's worth remembering that insurers don't just class body kits, exhaust systems or suspension changes as vehicle modifications.

"The average used car buyer could find there are modifications they're simply not aware of.

"Typically, modifications are anything which isn't standard on a car, which could include alloy wheels, a satellite navigation system or even tinted windows - so it's always worth checking what the factory standard is for your model of car to avoid landing in hot water when it comes to making a claim.

"Under two percent of drivers are claiming to have car modifications, but we estimate this figure to be much greater, which leaves potentially millions of drivers open to invalidating their insurance and having their claims rejected."

Mr Oliver added: "Different insurers have different views on what constitutes a modification - so it's always wise to tell your insurer of changes or additions you make to your vehicle at the time of making them.

"Otherwise you could find yourself in the situation of having a claim rejected and possibly your car insurance declared void - that could affect your ability to be insured full stop, and not only for car insurance.

"Shop around and look for the best deal that suits you and your car, and if in doubt, check the service history for any modification and speak to your insurance provider."

Top Modifiications (% of customers with Mods with specified mods)

Alloy wheels (non-standard) : 25.2%
Exhaust system changes : 15.1%
Suspension changes : 15.1%
Alloy wheels (optional extra) : 14.0%
Tow bars : 13.3%
Tinted windows : 10.7%
Air filters : 9.4%
Parking sensors : 9.4%
Chipped / Engine Management : 7.4%
Complete body kit : 4.8%

(1st November 2018)

(Mail on Sunday, dated 14th October 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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Millions of shoppers had their faces secretly scanned by controversial high-tech cameras looking for criminals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Every visitor to the Trafford Centre in Manchester over a six-month period was monitored by CCTV to see if they resembled anyone on a criminal 'watchlist'.

In what is thought to have been the biggest UK pilot so far of so-called Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR) technology - which picks faces out of a crowd so that police can arrest that person - Greater Manchester Police supplied about 30 images of missing persons as well as suspects.

But the trial at the centre, which has 30 million visitors a year, was dramatically halted after Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter warned it was wrong to monitor so many innocent people in the hunt for a handful of suspects.

He said: 'The police were interested in a tool that could help identify people missing from home and people wanted for crimes. However, compared to the size and scale of the processing of all people passing a camera, the group they might hope to identify was minuscule.'

He said it was to the police's 'immense credit' that they contacted him before proceeding further, adding: 'At this point the police have stepped back from engagement, having recognised that their approach is not currently proportionate.'

While the trial at the Trafford Centre is thought to be the biggest test, other forces have used the technology at specific public events.

Scotland Yard used cameras to look out for known troublemakers at the Notting Hill Carnival, while South Wales Police has deployed AFR at more than a dozen public events including the Champions League final, rugby internationals and even an Elvis festival.

Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The lawless growth of facial recognition surveillance in this country is chilling. These identity checkpoints are being quietly rolled out in public places with almost no public awareness, in complete absence of any public debate or even a legal basis.'

Greater Manchester Police confirmed it 'has had discussions about the potential use of CCTV systems and facial recognition'.

(1st November 2018)

(Manchester Evening News, dated 13th October 2018 author Rebecca Day)

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A top police chief has promised to introduce a dedicated neighbourhood officer to a Salford village after it was revealed more than 50 crimes were reported in a month but only one person is being prosecuted.

A total of 54 crimes were reported to police in Boothstown, an area of 10,000, that month, but only a single shoplifter is facing prosecution, according to data published on

The figures for crime in the village have become steadily worse over the last few months.

In May, there were 37 crimes in the Boothstown and Ellenbrook ward, in June there were 32 and in July 45.

Angry locals accused GMP of letting the village down and allowing it to become an easy target for criminals.

One local, who asked not to be named, told the M.E.N: "We're forgotten about. The message is being sent to criminals that they can get away with it. And the more they get away with it, the more they're going to try.

"Criminals think Boothstown is an easy target - it invites it."

Now the Chief Insp responsible for Salford has responded, saying he understands why residents are angry, and will introduce the neighbourhood officer early next year to clamp down on crime.

Chief Insp Lee Parker said: "We understand the frustration that residents of Boothstown feel and would like to reassure the community that we are taking steps towards tackling concerns in and around the area."

Officers regularly patrol the area, and target hotspots, he said.

He said there was 11 pc less crime in the Boothstown area between June and August this year, compared to the same period last year.

"We will endeavour to reduce this even further during the next few months", he said.

"However, we are aware that crimes are continuing therefore the area's local police officer is developing an operation to combat crime in the area and we will keep local residents updated on this.

"We also have plans in place for early next year which will be to bring a dedicated neighbourhood officer to the area. It's vital that people continue reporting crime to us so that we can consider the overall picture of crime when targeting offenders and crime hot-spots.

"We are committed to continuing to work closely with the public, partners and wider communities across the area to reduce crime and build relationships."

(1st November 2018)

(Daily Post, dated 12th October 2018 author Amelia Shaw)

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Reports of hate crime in North Wales have risen by almost 30% in just a year, it's been revealed.

The number of cases reported to North Wales Police went from 358 to 455 - a rise of 27% - with incidents involving race and religion featuring prominently.

People can be subjected to hate crime because of their sexual orientation, race, body shape, age or a host of other personal characteristics.

The new figures were released to coincide with National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which begins on October 13.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said it's vital to raise awareness about the problem, which he said causes "untold misery".

"Hate crimes are committed against an individual person because of who they are and what they are - and that is intolerable in a civilised society," he said.

"North Wales Police rightly takes these crimes very seriously, and it is important that we encourage victims to come forward and report what has happened, either directly to the police, via another agency or the Victim Help Centre in St Asaph, which was established to provide support and guidance for victims of all crimes.

"I also urge people to report those inciting or committing hate crimes.

"As North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, I am firm in my stance that we must stand up to the scourge of racism.

"I was pleased to see from the latest figures that there continues to be a steady increase in the number of victims reporting the hate crimes perpetrated against them.

"I encourage our communities to counter the racist narrative by standing up to those carrying out such abuse and reporting them immediately to the police.

"North Wales Police and I will do everything within our powers to protect everyone who lives and visits North Wales whatever their country of origin and will prosecute those who commit hate crimes.

"North Wales Police is determined to handle complaints of this kind sensitively and not to expose the victim to further risk from the person who has made them a victim."

A week of activities to spread awareness of National Hate Crime Awareness Week will culminate with a football tournament in Wrexham on Saturday, October 20.

Among the teams taking part will be Wrexham Inclusion FC and other community-based teams, while two teams of North Wales Police Cadets will play against each other.

The event will also mark the debut of a police car in a rainbow livery which will be used to promote the anti-hate crime message.

(1st November 2018)

(Birmingham Mail, dated 12th October 2018 author Sanjeeta Bains)

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West Midlands Police has taken more than 100 firearms off the region's streets so far this year.

The haul includes deadly handguns, sawn-off shotguns and even a semi-automatic pistol that was forensically linked to a fatal shooting in Nottingham six years earlier.

Officers working in the Birmingham Organised Crime & Gangs Unit have also seized a crudely constructed homemade shotgun made out of two pieces of steel tubing to fire cartridges.

These are some of the shocking crimes that the seized guns have been used in:

Lee McDonald
The seizures include a sawn-off shotgun and bullet-proof vest found in the loft of Lee McDonald's home in Hillsmead Road, Kings Norton, during a West Midlands Police raid on 15 March.
He was later jailed for eight years.

Ryan Kopacz
Ryan Kopacz is also now behind bars after the force executed a warrant at his Barretts Road home - also in Kings Norton - on 12 April where one handgun was found in a stairs cupboard and another in a lean-to.

The teenager went on a burglary spree in South Birmingham which netted him thousands of pounds worth of goods.

He was captured on CCTV using bank cards he had taken from victim's homes at cash machines.
Jason Pegg, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said Kopacz, who probably had an accomplice, took items including laptops and digital cameras and also stole a BMW and a Jaguar from a driveway.

He was arrested at his home where officers found a large amount of stolen property in his bedroom.
Kopacz was given a five-year prison sentence.

Selina Jarrett
Last week mum-of-two Selina Jarrett was also jailed for five years after the Gangs Unit found a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol stashed in a hallway cupboard of her home in Bellevue, Edgbaston, on March 16.

The mum-of-two laughed during police interviews and claimed the semi-automatic had been stashed at her Bellevue property without her knowledge.

But a jury at Birmingham Crown Court saw through the lies and she was jailed for five years on Friday.

Detective Inspector Al Teague, head of West Midlands Police's Organised Crime and Gangs Team, said: "It came out at trial that there was no secret we were saying she was holding the weapon for someone else. I'm not willing to name that person but he is linked to gang activity in central Birmingham."

Ballistics experts from NABIS - the National Ballistics Intelligence Service - test fired the pistol and microscopic examination of the bullet markings indicated the same weapon was used in the fatal shooting of Malakai McKenzie in Nottingham on 21 April 2012.

Inspector Al Teague added: "Taking 104 firearms off the streets and out of the reach of dangerous criminals is a great achievement: it shows that we're acting on quality intelligence to target the right people.

"The mini Glock, an American make, is not a firearm we commonly recover. It is a highly effective weapon and would be worth thousands on the black market, especially with the ammunition it had with it.

"I've no doubt that the recovery of that weapon has prevented people from being seriously injured and even possible further murders. Each one of the rounds recovered constitutes a potential murder that we've now prevented."

February saw the most firearms recovered in a single month this year - with a total of 15 being found - followed by May (14) and March (13). Three firearms have so far been seized during October.

Anyone who suspects someone is in possession of an illegal firearm, or is storing one at their home, is asked to call the force on 999 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Callers will not be asked their name and the call cannot be traced.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 12th October 2018 author Joseph Archer)

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Murderers can be tracked down using ancestry websites under a new technique developed by Stanford University scientists.

Detectives in California have already used a public ancestry database to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, who is believed to have committed at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes.

However, Stanford's new computational tool could speed up investigations and make them much easier.

It works by providing new ways for police forensics databases - which can often be patchy - to be used alongside the wealth of data contained in public gene databases, such as and 23andMe.

These are used by consumers who send in their own DNA samples for analysis to discover more about their family history.

The data on these sites is so large that experts believe it's possible to use them to identify six in every 10 people in the US who are of European descent, even if they have never provided a DNA sample.

Creating the new tool was a technical feat because the two databases use completely different systems of genetic markers.

Only 2 percent of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone's genetic information to be represented in the data.

While it could help solve crimes, it raises wide-ranging privacy questions: if someone uses a consumer website to trace his ancestry, should that information also be used to identify members of his own family in a criminal case?

Javier Ruiz Diaz, a policy director from the Open Rights Group, said: "The current use of genetic databases by US police is deeply unethical, and possibly unlawful in Europe. The consequences for research could be very negative if people, understandably, refuse to provide samples because of concerns about police access."

Dave Curtis, who is an honorary professor at UCL's Genetics Institute and the Centre of Psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London, said: "This could be easily done in the UK, it's very doable, all it takes is for people to make a genetic profile on these databases and agree to be contacted by people who match with them.

"This means the police could easily make their own profile, upload the DNA from the crime scene, and then match up with the private database, which will allow them to see all the suspect's cousins...They may be breaking the company's rules but they won't be breaking the country's rules."

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 12th October 2018 author Hannah Boland)

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Families across the UK complained of being locked out of their houses on Friday, after a system failure at smart security company Yale left many reportedly unable to open their front doors.

Yale had warned customers on Wednesday that it would be undertaking "unplanned maintenance" which it said could cause some "connection issues".

However, in an update on Thursday, it said while carrying out this maintenance it had come across an "unforeseen issue", which had meant its app was temporarily unavailable. This glitch appears to have prevented customers from being able to get in and out of their homes, and from being able to arm and disarm their alarms.

Writing on Twitter, one customer wrote: "We're stuck in the house now. This isn't good enough Yale."

Another said: "Wondering if there is something going on with @YaleHome servers as can't login to the app to switch my alarm off! Ridiculous! Friends with the same alarm having problems too!"

Yale claimed nobody had been locked in or out of their home by the glitch, saying: "Customers can still enter and leave their home using their smart locks, as these are operated independently."

It said this afternoon that it was restoring its system to normal operation, and said most of its customers should now have access to all app features.

However, some still complained they were unable to turn their alarms on and off, with one having written on Twitter: "Sorry Yale, but the issue hasn't been resolved. I've deleted & reloaded the app & it either crashes or, when it does eventually log in, says my smart hub is offline & won't arm or disarm!"

This is not the first time smart systems have failed, and over the summer, Google Home and Chromecast devices went down across the world due to a glitch.

An outage at Amazon Web Services last year, meanwhile, prevented users from being able to turn on their lights and control their locks.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th October 2018 author Matthew Field)

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A devastating global cyber attack that crippled computers in hospitals across the UK has cost the NHS £92m, a report from the Department of Health has found.

The so-called WannaCry hack, which shut down hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with messages from hackers demanding ransom payments, hit a third of hospital trusts and 8pc of GP practices. Around 1pc of all NHS care was disrupted over the course of a week.

The hack caused more than 19,000 appointments to be cancelled, costing the NHS £20m between 12 May and 19 May and £72m in the subsequent cleanup and upgrades to its IT systems.

The cyber attack caused 200,000 computers to lock out users with red-lettered error messages demanding the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The attack was blamed on elite North Korean hackers after a year-long investigation.

At the time of the attacks, the NHS was criticised for using outdated IT systems, including Windows XP, a 17 year-old operating system that could be vulnerable to cyber attacks.

In a report from the Department of Health, the Government said it had continued to invest in its cyber security and infrastructure to prevent similar attacks.

The NHS has increased infrastructure investment of £60m this year to the most vulnerable services, such as major trauma centres and ambulance services. The Government said it had committed £150m to upgrading its technology systems over the next three years.

The NHS also this year signed a new deal to upgrade local NHS computers to Microsoft's Windows 10.

The report said: "The results have shown that organisations have made good progress in implementing the data security standards related to people and process, but that those relating to technology continue to be challenging."

The WannaCry cyber attack hit businesses around the world, including Renault and FedEx and crashed thousands of ordinary peoples' computers.

Last month, US prosecutors pinned blame for the attacks on North Korean hackers the Lazarus Group. While the attack didn't specifically target the NHS, it spread over the internet using a leaked hacking tool developed by the US spy agency the NSA.

(1st November 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th Octobr 2018 author Adam Williams)

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Tens of thousands of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers are being issued with new credit cards after their details were compromised during the Ticketmaster data breach.

Customer data was stolen from the ticketing website by hackers earlier this year, with personal details and payment information being exposed.

As a result, tens of thousands of Lloyds Banking Group customers will now have their credit cards blocked and replaced by new cards.

Affected customers are being notified by letter, with their existing card being blocked from Oct 15 and a replacement card being issued within five working days. This means customers may be without their credit card for up to a week.

Customers with debit cards will not be issued with new cards, the bank confirmed.

Lloyds is not the only provider that has reacted to the Ticketmaster breach in this way, Barclaycard also confirmed that it had issued new cards to customers as a result of the cyber attack.

Drastic measures

Telegraph Money reader Blake Welton received a letter from Halifax - days before he was due to go on holiday - informing him that his travel credit card would be cancelled.

"When I phoned I was immediately told a number of Halifax Mastercards were being blocked due to the belief they may have been compromised during the recent Ticketmaster security breach," he said.

"I was initially told that as the letter had already been sent out there was nothing I could do to delay the the cancellation, but after spending nearly an hour on the phone Halifax agreed the process would be temporarily postponed while I go on holiday and resolved on my return.

"Halifax is obviously concerned enough to take these drastic measures, even though customers will be left without a working card for a week."

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said: "Lloyds Banking Group uses a range of approaches to protect customers from the risk of fraud, including reissuing cards on occasion. In all cases, we take all possible steps to minimise time without a card."

(1st November 2018)

(Techradar, dated 11th October 2018 author Anthony Spadafora)

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New research has revealed that 64 per cent of working adults don't know what ransomware is raising concerns over the general public's understanding of cybersecurity risks.

Wombat Security, a division of Proofpoint, recently released its 2018 User Risk Report that surveyed 6,000 working adults in Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the US and Australia to better understand how end-user actions and capabilities affect device, data and system security.

The report was based on testing respondents on their understanding of cybersecurity fundamentals including their knowledge of phishing, ransomware, Wi-Fi security, password management and social media use.

Wombat Security found that many respondents had a limited understanding of common cybersecurity risks with 64 per cent unsure of what ransomware was and 32 per cent admitting they did not understand malware.

The survey found that 67 per cent knew about phishing, 36 per cent knew about ransomware and 68 per cent understood malware. When it came to password usage, 33 per cent of respondents said they used a password manager and 21 per cent of those that do not said they use the same one or two passwords for all of their accounts.

Poor personal cybersecurity practices

In terms of personal cybersecurity, many respondents failed to take the proper security cautions in their own lives which could certainly present a number of issues for companies that allow their employees to bring their own devices to work.

When it came to securing their wireless networks, 44 per cent admitted to not password protecting their home Wi-Fi networks and 66 per cent had not changed the default password on their routers. Additionally, 55 per cent of those surveyed whose employer gives them a device admitted to allowing their friends and family members to access the device.

The poor security habits of many respondents to Wombat Security's survey highlight the need for organisations to better educate their employees on the risks of online threats and the proper security measures that must be taken.

(1st November 2018)

(Surrey Live, dated 11th October 2018 author Thomas Johnson)

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A petrol tanker, hot tubs, electric bikes, generator, diggers and £10,000 in cash were among items seized as part of an ongoing police operation to tackle rural crime.

Two warrants were obtained: the first to search a plot of land off Southfields Road in Woldingham on September 27; and the second for the Caterham part of the site off Paddock Barn Farm, off the A22, on October 2. Three men were arrested as part of the effort.

Tandridge Neighbourhood Inspector Dan Gutierrez said: "Although in the early stages, this operation has proven hugely successful with the items we have seized and was made all the more effective with specialist support from our partner agencies.

"Surrey is a vastly rural county and we are well aware of the impact that rural crime has on our communities, with plant machinery theft having a huge effect on businesses who are left to pick up the pieces.

"Operations such as this take many months of planning and hard work and will hopefully send a message that we do take this seriously and are proactively targeting organised crime groups."

He added: "Fortunately we have been able to identify owners of some of the items we've seized as they had been properly marked by their rightful owners.

"If you own any kind of equipment it is vital that you do the same by ideally etching your details into items, or by using forensic marking kits so if they are stolen and we find them we can return them to you."

Surrey Police said the items seized in Caterham were:

- A lawnmower, ladder, rake, rucksack, spade saw and chain, which were returned to the owner whose name was marked on them;
- An industrial strimmer;
- Electric bikes;
- Petrol tanker;
- Two hot tubs;
- Two diggers;
- A truck; and
- Approximately £10,000 in cash.

While in the Woldingham raid, a stolen generator was seized.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said: "Criminality such as the theft of plant machinery and farm equipment can seriously damage the livelihoods of hard-working people and cause misery in our rural communities.

"Operations like this are vital in disrupting those gangs who target our rural areas and I hope this sends a warning that we will continue to pursue anyone involved in this kind of criminal activity."

The two pre-planned search warrants were led by Surrey Police but involved a number partner agencies including South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.

Gain Disruption Team, Tandridge District Council, Vehicle Crime Intelligence Police Service and the Environment Agency were also involved.

Surrey Police arrested a 62-year-old man and a 35-year-old man, both from Caterham, and a 37-year-old man from Epsom. All three have been released under investigation.

(1st November 2018)

(Stoke Sentinal, dated 11th October 2018 author Richard Ault)

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Young people have been asked to use an anonymous hotline to report friends who might be carrying knives - after figures showed a dramatic rise in crime across Staffordshire.

Independent charity Crimestoppers has launched a two-week campaign in the county, aimed at protecting young people from harm.

It comes as the latest figures show that from April 2017 to April 2018, Staffordshire Police recorded 1,175 knife crimes - a 22 per cent increase on the previous year when 957 offences were committed involving blades.

The Crimestoppers campaign is aimed at people aged 25 or younger, and is focusing on social media with Facebook and Instagram posts and leaflet handouts.

It aims to help raise awareness and encourage people to report knife crime, while remaining anonymous.

Pauline Hadley, Crimestoppers West Midlands regional manager, said: "The recent rise in knife crime - not only across the country but also here in Staffordshire - is hugely worrying.

"Knife crime devastates families and harms communities and if you carry a knife, you increase the risk of being injured, sometimes fatally.

"While I understand it's a difficult area for some people to talk about, it's completely wrong to believe that you can protect yourself from danger by having a weapon on you such as a knife.

"We all need to work together to help make our communities safer. If you're concerned about someone you know, perhaps a friend, relative or workmate, who's resorting to taking a knife out with them, you can pass on that information via our charity 100 per cent anonymously.

"In over 30 years of Crimestoppers, our charity has always kept its promise to protect everyone's identity who contacts us."

Recent violent incidents involving knives which have taken place in across North Staffordshire have include:

- A 17-year-old old boy was taken to hospital after being stabbed repeatedly in a street attack on Hartwell Road, Meir.

- A 22-year-old man suffered life threatening injuries after he received multiple stab wounds in an attack at Pennycroft Court Flats, Corporation Street, Stafford.

- Two people were taken to hospital with suspected stab wounds following a disturbance in Minton Street, Wolstanton.

- A 42-year-old man was stabbed in the abdomen following an incident at a property in King Street, Longton.

n July StokeonTrentLive reported how all 15 high schools in Stoke-on-Trent had joined forces to organise activities aimed at preventing pupils getting drawn into street gangs and knife crime.

Then last month it was announced that Potteries-based Engage Communities had been awarded almost £30,000 of Government funding to tackle knife crime in the area.

The cash will allow the non-profit organisation to expand its Safer Stoke programme, which delivers mentoring, training and diversionary activities for at-risk and vulnerable young people.

Engage Communities founder and director Yaser Mir said: "I think the Crimestoppers campaign will help.

"We've been doing a lot of diversionary work with young people, and providing sporting sessions, like cricket and boxing. We work with a lot of young people to keep them out of trouble and off the street, I think it is working."

Superintendent Ricky Fields, Staffordshire Police's strategic lead for knife crime, said: "Knife crime continues to go up and so we are keen to do everything we can with partners to deter people from using and carrying knives. We wholeheartedly welcome this campaign from Crimestoppers as it focuses on educating young people about the dangers of carrying and using a knife.

"We will be providing support to the campaign where we can and continuing our own efforts, alongside partners, to educate young people and reduce knife crime in Staffordshire."

Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at

(1st November 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th October 2018 author Katy Clifton)

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Women have been urged not to wear headphones or use mobile phones while walking alone near a north-west London Tube station after a string of sex attacks.

In the last eight months, 10 lone women have been sexually assaulted in the Cricklewood area in late night or early morning attacks which police believe are linked.

Most of the attacks have taken place as the women were walking from Willesden Green Tube station before being approached by a man, Scotland Yard said.

The suspect tried to speak to the victims, asking for a kiss or a huge, before touching them.
During the most recent attack at around 3.20am on Sunday, the victim was approached on Walm Lane after catching a train to Willesden Green Tube station.

The Met Police said: "[The suspect] tried to engage in conversation before sexually assaulting her."
Women walking in the area have now been urged to "be alert in your surroundings" and have been warned not to use earphones or mobile phones while alone.

Detective Constable Laura Avery, of Brent CID, said: "I would appeal to women in the local area to take care when they are walking, especially if they are alone. Always stick to well-lit streets.

"If possible, let someone know when you are coming home and the route you are taking and always be alert in your surroundings, so don't use earphones or handheld devices.

"This is a series of shocking sexual assaults on lone women and I am appealing for anyone who has information that could help identify and apprehend this suspect to contact police immediately."

Police believe that the assault on Sunday is linked to nine separate incidents between February and September 2018, taking place mainly over the weekend.

The suspect has been described as a black man of medium build, aged in his 20s or 30s and wearing dark clothing.

A 37-year-old man was arrested on July 19 on suspicion of sexual assault but was later released under investigation.

Investigations into the assaults continue, police say.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brent CID on 07747476161.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(1st November 2018)

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 10th October 2018 author Claire Harrison)

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An urgent summit has been called with the Home Office in a bid to protect front line policing in Warwickshire.

The move comes following the shock divorce between Warwickshire and West Mercia police announced yesterday.

Both forces have shared budgets and some back room functions since 2012 but the plug was pulled out of the blue by the West Mercia force.

There are now concerns the thin blue line could become even thinner as the fall-out of the breakdown is feared have 'significant' implications.

Both Warwickshire Police Force and Warwickshire Federation say it is too early to give finer details on the impact of the divorce.

But Marcus Jones, MP for Nuneaton, said he is calling on an urgent meeting with Home Office ministers to ensure local policing is not put at risk following the shock announcement.

"West Mercia have not indicated their intention previously so this is a surprise," Mr Jones said.

"I am reassured that Warwickshire Police are focused on continuity of service to the public, which I'm glad has recently included taking on more police officers.

"I am speaking to other Warwickshire MPs and seeking an urgent meeting with Home Office Ministers, as I want to see policing maintained and improved in our area, and don't want that put at risk."

'Significant' implications

Phillip Seccombe, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, shares the growing concerns and said that the fall out of the surprise decision could have 'significant' implications on the local force.

It is no secret that Warwickshire Police is one of the smallest forces in the country and, without the alliance, it will have to go back to relying on its budget alone.

Under the alliance, the forces shared a combined budget and some back office functions but, following the decision, Warwickshire Force will revert back to post 2012 when it was a stand alone operation.

"The implications of this decision are significant and I will be working with Chief Constable Martin Jelley to minimise any impact on our communities, partners and workforce," said Phillip Seccombe.

"I want to assure the public that throughout this period, Martin and I are determined to ensure that Warwickshire Police continues to deliver a high-quality service to our public."

A spokesperson for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said ensuring that hard working officers are protected is key to them.

"We have always said that alliances should not just be money-saving exercises, must not be detrimental to police officers and would have to be beneficial for the public," the spokesperson said.

"Without knowing the full details of the rationale behind the decision, we can't comment on it specifically but we would be keen to ensure again, that any division is not detrimental to the hard-working police officers who will be affected by this and the communities which they serve."

Warwickshire Police statement

It has emerged that Warwickshire was only advised of West Mercia's decision on Monday.

Warwickshire's chief constable Martin Jelley said: "I am surprised and disappointed at having been served notice by the West Mercia PCC and Chief Constable terminating our strategic alliance arrangements.

"This is clearly a decision which has been taken solely by West Mercia's PCC and Chief Constable and one which myself and the Warwickshire PCC do not support.

"Our two forces entered into a strategic alliance in 2012 which has been recognised nationally for the extensive nature of its collaboration and has demonstrated significant benefits from shared working.

"In fact, it has allowed both forces to save more than £35m and maximise resources to frontline policing.

"Despite this announcement we are committed to ensuring the day-to-day operational focus of Warwickshire Police continues to be on protecting the public from harm and keeping our communities safe."

Under the notice given by West Mercia Police, the partnership between the two forces will end on October 8 2019.

(1st November 2018)

(Huffington Post, dated 8th October 2018 author Jasmin Gray)

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Police in England and Wales are "screening out" almost one million crimes a year without fully investigating them, an investigation has revealed.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme has uncovered that more than a quarter of crimes reported to police are dropped with "little or no investigation" by officers.

The data, obtained through Freedom of Investigation requests to 25 police forces, also showed that this figure is much higher in some areas of the country.

Bedfordshire and Greater Manchester Police reportedly failed to investigate 40% of crimes, while West Yorkshire Police was found to be screening out almost half of reported offences (46.5%).

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the force had set an "optimum" screen-out rate of 56% of crimes - the equivalent of approximately 145,000 offences a year. West Yorkshire Police is thought to be the first force to impose such a target.


Based on data provided by 21 police forces, the BBC programme found that while 438,000 burglaries were reported in England and Wales in 2017, 36% of these offences were screened out by officers.

Meanwhile, 16% of reports of aggravated burglary - where the intruder is armed - were dropped at an early stage of investigation by West Yorkshire Police.

Vehicle Crime

On average, almost 60% of vehicle offences - which include the theft of cars and items from inside them - were screened out by police officers at 21 forces.

This figure jumped by a third when looking at West Yorkshire Police alone, with officers failing to investigate 81% of vehicle offences beyond the preliminary stages. Meanwhile, 72% of this kind of crime was screened out by police in Wiltshire.

Violent Crime

Freedom of Information responses from 23 forces questioned in the investigation showed that, on average, 1 in 10 violent offences were being screened out by police.

However, more than a quarter (26%) of violence with injury cases were dropped by Warwickshire Police.

Sex Offences

Finally, the investigation found that 3% of sex offences were being screened out by officers without a full investigation.

The analysis comes just two months after police officers in Lincolnshire were accused of failing victims of violent crime, rape and domestic abuse for failing to record almost one in five crimes reported to the force.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said the government expects police "to take all reports of crime seriously, to investigate and to bring the offenders to court so they can receive appropriate punishment".

"The government remains alert to changes in trends and new methods used by criminals and we will continue to work with the police, industry and others to consider the evidence and what more can be done to prevent these crimes taking place," they continued.

"The deployment of resources is a matter for Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners."

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police denied setting a target for the number of crimes to drop, calling it an "optimum 'screen out' rate…of crime" based on a "…risk assessment model, proportionality & solvability factors".

A spokesperson for the force told Dispatches that "all crime gets a primary investigation either by a police officer attending in person, or over the telephone".

(Manchester Evening News, dated 9th October 2018 author Damon Wilkinson)

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Victims of burglary, theft and criminal damage have reacted with anger after figures showed almost half the crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police are not being investigated.

Yesterday we revealed most theft, shoplifting, burglary, criminal damage, arson and public order offences were not followed up by GMP officers last year.

And a staggering 17,000 violent crimes were not investigated, according to figures released to the Manchester Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act.

Police chiefs blamed budget cuts for the pattern, with assistant chief constable Rob Potts saying reports are 'prioritised' so officers can 'focus on the most serious crime which represents the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public'.

But after the story was published several readers shared their experiences - and their anger - of being the victims of crimes which haven't been investigated.

Writing on our Facebook page Amy Miller said: "I had my credit card stolen last month, had the cctv footage (that I had to go and get myself) to be told nothing is going to happen. So he just got away with it ."

Jolene Dodd posted: "Had my bag stolen last week. I found out there is CCTV available of two people.

"Police still haven't been out. I've done a timeline of their movements with places/amounts etc but still no police to follow up.

"Criminals don't care and will continue because there is no deterrent."

Graham Corfield wrote: "Had my house broken in to.... after my car key.... have CCTV of one of the gang and now have name of him.... police done nothing .....
"Getting out of control.... something needs to be done."

And Duran Mhofu told how a spate of tyre slashing in Hulme didn't get a police reponse.
He wrote: "Eighteen cars had tyres slashed in Hulme no police even visited us despite all residents making complaints, 101 police number a waste of time and you will luck to get through after 10 minutes, shame on present government."

Since 2014 the overall number of incidents reported to GMP has increased by nearly three quarters.

At the same time more and more incidents have been 'screened out', with no officer allocated to look at them.

Some 47 per cent of reported incidents were not investigated in 2017, compared to 39pc three years earlier.

That included more than three quarters of vehicle offences and thefts such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, 70pc of bike thefts, 62pc of criminal damage and arson reports and most burglaries.

But the force has lost 2,000 frontline officers under the Government's austerity programme.

And despite the figures there was also a lot of support for GMP, with many readers blaming funding cuts for the situation.

Commenting on our website BigJohn84 said: "It is sad state of the times

"There is much more crime occurring than there are police officers to investigate it. So this is what happens. Sadly the police have become social workers and investigating crime is just a side line."

Writing on Facebook Sid Windsor said: "They don't have the staff to investigate credit card fraud etc and still have officers to send to the rapes, stabbings, armed robberies, domestic assaults etc. One officer simply can't be in two places at once.

"The police service has been warning people for ten years this would happen. People ignored them, the government said they were crying wolf. Now do you believe it?"

And Chris McGlyn added: "Less money for police means less police spread too thinly, allowing crime to rise. Colossal mismanagement of public safety under the last two governments."

In a statement released yesterday GMP's assistant chief constable Rob Potts told how GMP assesses which crimes it decides to actively investigate.

He said: "We prioritise our workload to focus on the most serious crime which represents the greatest threat, harm and risk to the public. We also make decisions on investigations based on 'solvability factors' which basically assesses the realistic likelihood of a positive outcome to ensure we maximise the impact of what are public resources at a time when reported crime has significantly increased.

"In many crimes there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensic opportunities, which means there are often no leads for the officer to investigate further.

"Where strong lines of enquiry exist, officers will investigate and we rely on the public to help us do this by reporting suspicious activity or telling us about anybody they know who is involved in crime.

"The fact that we choose not to continue certain investigations following an initial assessment does not mean that no positive action is taken. Investigation is only part of the support that is available to victims of crime; the Victim Services Partnership in Greater Manchester helps support and signpost victims of crime.

"I cannot emphasise enough that it remains vital that the public report all crime to the police; the overall picture of crime is carefully considered when targeting offenders and crime hot-spots. We will continue to work closely with our partners and communities to problem-solve within neighbourhoods to prevent crimes reoccurring."

Type of recorded crime

Percentage of crime screened out for years : n=2014 (n) = 2017

Burglary in a dwelling : 37.9% (51.79%)
Possession of weapon : 9.38% (23.96%)
Shoplifting : 19.18% (45.92%)
Theft from the person : 60.4% (75.05%)
Violence with injury : 11.12% (20.82%)
Violence without injury : 12.71% (26.94%)
Public order offences : 15.65% (51.52%)

Note : actual article has 21 categories of crime and quotes screening for four years.

(Telegraph, dated 9th October 2018 author Laura FitzPatrick)

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Police closed an arson case without visiting the scene of the alleged offence after the victims carried out their own investigation.

Carlee and Kylee Barnes, both 31, phoned police after their moped was destroyed in a blaze on their housing estate in Camborne, Cornwall, on Saturday between 1am and 3am.

The couple claimed they were told by Devon and Cornwall police that officers would visit them "in a couple of days" after they reported the suspected arson attack.

They decided to launch their own enquiries by speaking to neighbours and checking the local area for CCTV.

The police then informed the couple that there was nothing more they could do and subsequently closed the case the day after the attack.

Mrs Barnes said: "They could not even give us five minutes to come and see me and take a statement. They said they closed the case but it was not even opened as far as I'm concerned.

"It's just disgusting. I went to Camborne station and said it was wrong and he said there were just not enough resources.

"They're up at my childrens' school every day trying to give us parking tickets and can't investigate a real crime?

"I can see why people take the law into their own hands."

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed the circumstances.

A spokesman said: "The victim had carried out house to house and CCTV enquiries, as the officers would have done. Therefore leaving no need for the officers to repeat.

"As there are no viable lines of enquiry at this time, the crime has been closed, however, as in every case, if any new evidence comes to light, it will be investigated."

(Mirror, dated 4th October 2018 author Jeanette Oldham)

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Cuts-ravaged West Midlands Police is also now failing to attend half of the most serious 999 calls within the required 15-minute deadline, Birmingham Live reports.

Startling new statistics show that response times to the highest priority emergencies have plunged dramatically over the last two years, while demand from the public has rocketed.

Sources the lack of officers has led to several Birmingham householders who have caught burglars themselves eventually being told to let them go after calling the police - because there were no available officers to attend.

The "P1" calls are officially classed as the most serious incidents.

They can include situations where there is a danger to the public or property, where offenders still at scene or a crime is in progress.

But stark figures show how the loss of 2,000 officers since 2010 is affecting day-to-day crime fighting at West Midlands Police.

In January 2017, the force received 52,648 emergency calls, 12,100 of them in the P1 category.

The percentage of those priority 999 calls that officers attended within 15 minutes was 77.69 per cent.

That plunged to just 63 per cent by December last year, when the over-stretched force received 15,122 of the highest priority incidents out of 56,520 calls to 999.

And last month, was the worst on record for response times. In September the force received 65,098 calls to 999, of which 16,292 were classed as P1 emergencies.

But officers hit the 15-minute deadline in just 52.41 per cent of those cases.

The worrying statistics also show the increasing 999 demand faced by the force as crime rockets in Birmingham.

The city has seen a terrifying week of violence, including a triple stabbing in Dale End.

In 2017 calls to 999 had peaked in the July at 65,147. Yet that figure has been beaten three times this year, with 66,994 calls to 999 in June, 74,975 calls in July and 66,081 in August.

Richard Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: "In the last two summers, demand has set a new record with demand from the public in terms of 999 calls.

"We've lost 25 per cent of our number, one in four of our officers, we've got the least number of officers since 1974.

"We're clearly not investing properly in the police service nationally - we've got an epidemic of violent crime. And clearly the penny is dropping with the public.

"Perhaps in the past it wasn't as clear cut, when the cuts first started, but now we've got stations that have been at the heart of communities for decades being ripped out.

"And this is the symbolic presence of policing in communities and it's disappearing."

He added: "The criminals are cottoning on to it, the public are cottoning on to it, they're becoming alarmed by it.

"Yes, it's a big issue for the Government but equally the PCC and Chief Constable can't get off the hook entirely.

"They are responsible for organising the force and they have got to do the best they can with the diminishing resources. It's very difficult.

"But what I would say is that the centralisation of response policing I think is a problem, because we've organised the force in centralised departments."

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "We have lost a quarter of our budget since 2010, and despite a relentless efficiency drive have lost over 2,000 officers.

"West Midlands Police's funding is still falling in real terms, so we will continue to have to make difficult decisions for the foreseeable future.

"The closure of police buildings is just one of them. We have had to choose between police officers and buildings.

"By closing buildings, we have protected 100 officer posts.

"In years gone by it was possible to protect both."Either the Government needs to increase the funding it gives to forces like the West Midlands, or be honest and say that 'we can't do everything'.

"I am being honest with the public, the Government needs to be too."

(1st November 2018)

(Mirror, dated 9th October 2018 author Carl Eve)

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A list of police codewords and acronyms have been revealed - including the ones they don't want you to know.

The vast majority of them are merely a shorthand way of explaining important information, roles, incidents or titles.

But occasionally, they create special codewords which aren't entirely PC.

They learn them by heart, pick them up from older officers and accept them from seniors.

You may have even heard a few - perhaps on a TV cop show.

Here's Plymouth Live's guide to police slang.

You'll find the official terms at the top - and a few unofficial phrases at the end of the article.

###The official terms

LOS - Lost or Stolen ("The car's LOS, Sarge…")

CRO - Criminal Records Office or Criminal Record ("Sarge, he's got a CRO)

PNC - Police National Computer

RTC - Road Traffic Collision, which used to be RTA (Road Traffic Accident) until, as any Hot Fuzz film fan knows, vocab guidelines state police no longer refer to such incidents as 'accidents', they're now collisions. Because 'accident' implies there's nobody to blame.

Misper - a Missing Person ("Sarge, is Lord Lucan still a misper?")

TWOC - Taking Without Owner's Consent ("Ere, bey, have you been done for twokking cars again?")

PSU - Police Support Unit is a team of officers trained in public order and are used in major incidents, support other officers and bashing in doors with the Big Red Key (see later). In Devon and Cornwall they are now called the FSG - Force Support Group. The Metropolitan Police had a similar team called the SPG - Special Patrol Group. They were heavily criticised following their policing of an Anti-Nazi League demonstration where a demonstrator was struck with a baton and died. They were then renamed the TSG - Territorial Support Group.

FLO - Family Liaison Officer. These are officers who work closely with victims of serious crimes, such as the family of murder victims, or tragic deaths such as fatal road collisions.

TK - Telephone Kiosk. One officer admitted that in their early days on the job they were told to attend an incident at a "TK at Royal Parade". They spent several minutes interviewing staff at TK Maxx before being told over the radio they were in the wrong place.

PS - Personal Radio

CHIS - Covert Human Intelligence Source. Alternatively known in court as "an informant". Known in common parlance as a "grass" or "snitch" who may eventually come to a violent end. Hence the phrase "snitches get stitches".

POLAC - Police Accident. Usually a road accident involving a police vehicle. This will inevitably lead to the aforementioned driver having to purchase a large quantity of cakes for his laughing colleagues back at the station. ("Sorry Sarge, I think I may have reversed the riot van into your new Audi").

OIC - Officer In Case ("Right, Constable Crap-driver, you're now the OIC on this abducted-by-alien complaint").

SIO - Senior Investigating Officer.

POLSA - Police Search Advisor - a specially-trained officer who advises on the best approach to carry out searches in Misper cases or suspected murders where bodies are yet to be found.

Code 11 - Off duty ("Sorry Sarge, I can't attend that alien abduction, I'm Code 11 as of 10 minutes ago")

ASNT - Area Search No Trace. When police have searched area for a suspect but there's no trace of them.

DL - Driving Licence ("Sarge, got a little green man here with what looks like a dodgy DL")

Code 4 - a meal break. ("Can someone else go to that Sarge, I'm Code 4?")

RJ - Restorative Justice. ("Well Sarge, could he at least repaint the fence he's drawn a k**b on? The victim is okay with some RJ")

CIM - Critical Incident Manager. Invariably an Inspector rank officer who oversees all the live "critical" incidents going on in the area and makes the decisions which ensure these situations don't get any worse.

NFP - Normal For Plymouth ("Sarge, we found the naked bloke wearing a tutu, off his head on mushrooms and mumbling something about 'Green Army'." "Yes lad, that's NFP".)

NFA - No Further Action. When police either cannot get the evidence to convince the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) to go for a charge, the case is dropped and the person is told there will be NFA.

RUI - Released Under Investigation. Since bail has been hurled out the door by the Government, people are told they are not on bail, but they are RUI and can be arrested at any moment as inquiries continue. This has been sold to the public by the Government as a good thing. No-one in the police thinks it is a good thing.

NPAS - National Police Air Service. As part of a cost-cutting exercise police helicopters were taken out of police force's control and a single body was created to cover the country.

FPN - Fixed Penalty Notice. Effectively a fine handed to you by police.

AIO - All In Order ("Sarge, I've check the house where the Demis Roussos was being played louder than a jet engine. It's AIO").

WOA - Words Of Advice ("Sarge, we pulled the driver over who had a cow in the back seat of his Land Rover and, as it's NFP we've given him WOA").

UNIFI - Unified Police Intelligence. The police's crime, intelligence and custody computer database. It sends officers mad trying to get it to work. Imagine Windows 89 but on its last legs.

NOIP - Notice of Intended Prosecution. Effectively a note which tells you your future may well involve a court visit.

SOCA - Serious and Organised Crime. As opposed to Jocular and Erratic Crime. This is the environment where you encounter men called Dave with broken noses and leather jackets who keep money in large rolls, run a scrap metal merchants and can get you a shooter to go with a kilo of coke.

SOCIT - Serious and Organised Crime Investigation Team. Where Detectives go when they want to be their childhood heroes, Bodie and Doyle.

SOCO - Scene of Crime Officer ("Sarge, can you get CIS down here for forensics?" "No Constable Savage, this isn't CSI Miami - in Plymouth we call them SOCOs")

SODAIT - Sexual Offences and Domestic Abuse Investigation Team.

SOPO - Sex Offenders Prevention Order. An order by the court which attempts to keep sex offenders from committing sex offences.

SOR - Sex Offenders Register. You can end up on this list from doing everything from patting a person of the opposite sex on the bottom against their wishes to the serial rape of children.

ASBO - Antisocial Behaviour Order. Considered by some to be a badge of honour, although not an ideal addition to your CV.

ABE - Achieving Best Evidence. Where victims of serious sexual assaults are video interviewed for their very first statement, which can then be used in court.

BCU - Basic Command Unit is the largest unit into which territorial British Police forces are divided. Plymouth is populated enough to be an entire BCU. Remarkably, the entire county of Cornwall is just one BCU. In the same way that it's one sandwich short of a p