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(Daily Post, dated 30th September 2018 author Steve Bagnall)

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New figures released by North Wales Police have highlighted the most popular makes and models of cars among thieves.

According to the statistics, Vauxhall cars are the ones stolen most across the region.

Between April 2013 and March 2018, Vauxhalls were stolen 189 times according to figures released under the Freedom of Information request.

In second place were Fords with 149 stolen, while 73 Peugeot cars were taken by car thieves during the same period

Renaults and Volkswagens were stolen 60 times each - making 120 in total - while 55 Land Rovers were stolen in the same period.

At least 40 BMWs, 30 Citroens, 26 Audis, 21 Nissans, 19 Toyotas, seven Fiats, five Hyundais and five MGs were also pinched.

More than 730 cars in total were taken by thieves over the five-year period.

A Vauxhall spokesman said: “Vauxhall has been a best-selling British car brand since 1903, so there are proportionally more on the road than other less popular models.

“There are no security or design issues with our model range.

“If a thief is determined enough, they can steal any make of car, as the data shows.”

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: “Most stolen cars are planned and are carried out to order, with most finding their way overseas.

“The higher number of Vauxhall thefts compared to other manufactures in North Wales is probably due to a higher volume of Vauxhalls in the region.

“Regardless of the badge on your car, having it stolen is a horrific experience.

“Simple steps such as parking the vehicle in a locked garage or in a well-lit area covered by CCTV can be enough to deter thieves.

"You can also install a vehicle tracker and immobiliser to further protect your car.”

Mr Cousens said the simplest way to steal a car is by having the keys, so make sure they are secured at all times.

“Thieves are now going high-tech as a number of cars have keyless entry and, if they are too close to the car, it could mean it is actually unlocked and open," he said.

"A metal shielded RFID pouch will stop this and protect the car when you are away from home too.”

(5th October 2018)

(The Sunday Times, 29th September 2018 author Andrew Ellson)

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The City watchdog will investigate home and car insurers in response to concerns that loyal customers are being exploited by huge increases in premiums every year.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that it had been concerned for some time about longstanding customers being charged more for some financial products than those that had just joined.

The watchdog has powers to change how markets operate to increase competition and ensure that customers are treated fairly. Previous market studies have led to enforcement action.

Citizens Advice recently lodged a “super-complaint” with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), finding that households pay almost £900 a year too much for staying loyal to mobile phone, broadband, insurance, savings and mortgage providers.

The authority must publicly respond to the the complaint within 90 days. The CMA said that it would work with the relevant regulators in each area.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said: "Citizens Advice has raised a number of important issues and we will work closely with the Competition and Markets Authority as it investigates this super-complaint.

"We expect firms to look after the interests of all customers and treat them fairly, whether they are new or longstanding. It is important to get balance right so that existing customers do not miss out on the benefits of competition and innovation, including when they purchase or renew their general insurance products.

"The study was have announced today will help us examine the issues we have already identified in the markets in more detail."

The average cost of hom insurance incrased by almost 8 per cent- triple the rate of inflation - in the year to April, according to the consumer group Which ? It did not differentiate between new and existing customers but the average increase for those who did not shop around is likely to have been significantly higher.

The super-complaint raised concerns about competition in the mortgage and savings markets but the FCA said that it had already undertaken work in these areas. It did not indicate whether it intended to complete further investigations into these markets.

The Association of British Insurers says that it had already taken voluntary action to ensure that longstanding customers did not lose out. Huw Evans, its director general, said: " This includes commitments from firms to review premiums charged to customers who have been with them for five years and the industry publishing a report on progress within two years."

This year the FCA said that it was taking action against insurers who failed to show the insurance premium that customers had paid the previous year.

In April the watchdog said that it had found that some companies, including the RAC, were still failing to implement the rules. The RAC agreed to contact affected customers.

Further reading (uaware additions)

(The Sunday Times, dated 29th September 2018 author Mark Atherton)

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Home Insurance

The Golden rule is never to automatically accept your renewal quote. Insurers will typically bump up your renewal premium and hope that you dont notice. Go on to price comparison sites and find out whats on offer. Ideally you should use several sites, because each might have a slightly different approach. Its also important to check out those insurers, such as Direct Line and Aviva, that can offer competitive rates, but don't appear comparison sites.

Money Saving Expert, a price comparison site, looked at the best time to buy home insurance and found you could get the cheapest price about three weeks before the renewal. The average annual premium for a combined buildings and contents policy was £148 if you bought 21 days before renewal, but £180 if you left it until the day itself.

Gary Cafell, th money editor at Money Saving Expert, says: "knowing when to pounce is a game-changer".

Car insurance

Again, never accept a standard renewal quote from your insurer. By searching price comparison sites you will almost certainly be able to get a better deal. Ifyou are midway through your policy you might be able to make money by switching., if you can cancel your existing policy for a modest fee and get the rest of the years premiums refunded.

The time when you are likely to be quoted the cheapest premium is 21 days before your renewal date.

(5th October 2018)

(BBC News, dated 29th September 2018 author Dave Lee)

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Facebook says almost 50 million of its users were left exposed by a security flaw.

The company said attackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in a feature known as “View As” to gain control of people's accounts.

The breach was discovered on Tuesday, Facebook said, and it has informed police.

Users that had potentially been affected were prompted to re-log-in on Friday.

The flaw has been fixed, wrote the firm’s vice-president of product management, Guy Rosen, adding all affected accounts had been reset, as well as another 40 million "as a precautionary step".

Facebook - which saw its share price drop more than 3% on Friday - has more than two billion active monthly users.

The company has confirmed to reporters that the breach would allow hackers to log in to other accounts that use Facebook's system, of which there are many.

This means other major sites, such as AirBnB and Tinder, may also be affected.

Who has been affected?

The firm would not say where in the world the 50 million users are, but it has informed Irish data regulators, where Facebook's European subsidiary is based.

The company said the users prompted to log-in again did not have to change their passwords.

"Since we’ve only just started our investigation, we have yet to determine whether these accounts were misused or any information accessed. We also don’t know who’s behind these attacks or where they’re based. “

He added: "People’s privacy and security is incredibly important, and we’re sorry this happened."

The company has confirmed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and its chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were among the 50 million accounts affected.

What is 'View As'?

Facebook's "View As" function is a privacy feature that allows people to see what their own profile looks to other users, making it clear what information is viewable to their friends, friends of friends, or the public.

Attackers found multiple bugs in this feature that "allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens, which they could then use to take over people's accounts", Mr Rosen explained.

"Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don't need to re-enter their password every time they use the app," he added.

What does this mean for Facebook?

The breach comes at a time when the firm is struggling to convince lawmakers in the US and beyond, that it is capable of protecting user data.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call on Friday that the firm took security seriously, in the face of what he said were constant attacks by bad actors.

But Jeff Pollard, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester, said the fact Facebook held so much data meant it should be prepared for such attacks.

"Attackers go where the data is, and that has made Facebook an obvious target," he said. "The main concern here is that one feature of the platform allowed attackers to harvest the data of tens of millions of users.

"This indicates that Facebook needs to make limiting access to data a priority for users, APIs, and features."

When asked by the BBC, Facebook was unable to say if the investigation would look into why the bugs were missed, or if anyone at the company would be held accountable for the breach.


(London Evening Standard, dated 28th September 2018 author Jacob Jarvis)

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A Facebook data breach which has seen 50 million accounts compromised has been blamed on a code issue with the 'view as' feature for users.

This appears to have been disabled for now, though the extent of the issue surrounding it is not yet clear.

Due to the issue, which was discovered on Tuesday, some users had been logged out of their accounts and asked to sign back in.

In a Facebook post, the site's founder Mark Zuckerberg said: "On Tuesday, we discovered that an attacker exploited a technical vulnerability to steal access tokens that would allow them to log into about 50 million people's accounts on Facebook.

"We do not yet know whether these accounts were misused but we are continuing to look into this and will update when we learn more."

What exactly happened?

The feature allows users to go on their own profile then see what it would like from another’s perspective.

They can look at how it appears publicly or from a specific account.

It was this function that, somehow, led to the breach.

"Our investigation is still in its early stages. But it's clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook's code that impacted 'view as', a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else,” said Facebook's vice president of product management Guy Rosen.

How does the 'view as' feature work?

In an instruction page on how to use it, Facebook explains that the feature is found by users first going on to their own profile.

They then click the three dots in the bottom corner of their cover photo, which leads to a drop down menu, and select ‘view as’.

From here, people can type in any user name and see how that person sees what their profile looks like.

It reads: “You’ll see what your profile looks to the public. To see how your profile appears to a specific person, like a friend or coworker, click View as Specific Person, type their name and press enter.”

What is happening with it?

At time of writing, it appears to have been taken down.

When trying to access ‘View as’ the message ‘Preview my Profile disabled’ in bold is displayed.
A line below adds: “The ‘Preview my Profile’ feature is temporarily disabled. Please try again later.”

However, in the breach, hackers are said to have exploited this feature to gain “access tokens” which they could use to “take over people’s accounts”.

“This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people's accounts.

"Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don't need to re-enter their password every time they use the app."


(Metro, dated 29th September 2018 author Martine Berg Olsen)

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Hackers are selling Facebook logins for as little as £2 on the dark web, an investigation has revealed.

Research on several dark web marketplaces uncovered that criminals can buy your details on the dark web – which is part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymous browser called to be accessed – for less than a takeaway coffee.

This comes as Facebook revealed that an attack on the social network has exposed personal information of 50 million users

The research by Money Guru found that Facebook logins can be bought from £2.30 and email logins for as little as £2.10, while credit cards can be bought from £10.40 and debit cards from £14.90.

Online banking details could be bought from £13.19. Logins for AirBnb goes from £7.70, while eBay logins are being sold from £4.40.

The investigation conducted by the price compare site found that you could purchase the majority of someone’s online life for £744.30.

This includes usernames, passwords, email addresses and any personal details associated with your account, such as name, address and phone numbers.

The investigation by Money Guru said: ‘What people may not know is that it takes less than 10 minutes to create an anonymous account, select someone’s data from the marketplace and reach a payment screen.

‘All criminals need to access the dark web is the Tor Browers, a VPN and an internet connection’.

Social media accounts are frequently stolen to sell to companies with low morals when it comes to targeted advertising.

Stolen social media accounts is also a way into identity theft and can be used to cause serious damage to someone’s reputation.

Commenting on the research James MacDonald, Head of Digital at Money Guru said: ‘Our research into personal data and how much it’s actually worth on the black market is shocking to say the least.

‘For less than £750 criminals can access not only your bank details, but online shopping, social media and email information too.

‘This just goes to show how vital it is to protect your data where possible to avoid facing costly consequences.’

While the amount stolen from a UK fraud victim is often relatively small, 39% of cases result in £250 or more being stolen.

The cost of personal data sould on the dark web

- Finance (credit cards, debit cards, online marketing, PayPal) = £619.40

- Online shopping (Amazon prime, Groupon, eBay, Tesco) = £30.30

- Travel (Airbnb, British Airways, Uber, Experian) = £26.40

- Entertainment (Apple ID, Netflix, Spotify, Tidal, Steam) = £27.90

- Social media (Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter) = £18.40

- Email and Communication (AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, T-Mobile) = £21.90

(5th October 2018)

(The Times, dated 29th September 2018 author Sean O'Neill)

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Dirty money is being moved out of Britain in the face of a crackdown on illicit wealth, the country’s most senior anti-corruption investigator told The Times yesterday.

McMafia-style suspects are trying to sell or move assets, including multi-million-pound London properties, as Britain seeks to create a hostile environment for laundered and stolen fortunes.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has frozen or repatriated a record £750 million in international corruption inquiries and is poised to implement unexplained wealth orders in as many as nine inquiries if it wins a High Court test case on the new power next week.

Donald Toon, head of economic crime at the NCA, said that suspected organised crime bosses and corrupt former public officials were beginning to change their behaviour.

"We are starting to see an impact initially around the positioning and movement of money and assets", he said. "That noise is getting out into the corrupt elite space and is starting to have an impact on decision making. We have indications that people are not moving money into the UK and are looking to divest themselves of assets in the UK."

The focus on illicit wealth has intensified because of concerns over the activities of the Russian state and oligarchs with close links to the Kremlin. Mr Toon said that his officers were aware of people trying to sell large London properties that they had owned for many years. Some "persons of interest" had approached the NCA seeking to explain their fortunes. The agency seeks an undertaking that assets will not be sold before entering into any discussion.

Other jurisdictions are also taking a close look at the super-rich applying for residency. It emerged this week that the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich withdrew a Swiss residency application after a police intelligence report alleged that he had links to money laundering and organised crime.

Lawyers for the billionaire, who has denied reports that he wants to sell Chelsea football club after his British visa was not renewed, have described the allegations of criminal links as "totally false".

Much of the £750 million that has been restrained or repatriated by the NCA is linked to Nigeria. The Crown Prosecution Service is considering charges in two cases, one involving a former banker and the other implicating a former government minister.

Investigating suspicious Russians was "really difficult". Mr Toon said, because of the lack of co-operation with the authorities in Moscow.

Mr Toon said that his unit's investigations involved a wide range of people of many nationalities who had found London a "very attractive place" to base themselves. "We have Russian assets in the pipeline, we have African assests," he said. "We have cases linked to South Asia and to former Soviet republics."

An estimated £90 billion per year is laundered through London with the assistance of lawyers and accountants.

Further reading (uaware addition)

(Reuters, dated 14th September 2018)

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(The New York Times, dated 21st May 2018 author Stephen Castle)

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(Newsweek, dated 27th February 2018 author Owen Matthews)

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(The Observer / The Guardian, dated 14th January 2017 author Jamie Doward)

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(5th October 2018)

(The Scotsman, dated 28th September 2018 author Chris Marshall)

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Police Scotland has launched the UK’s first-ever dedicated unit for dealing with major incidents such as terror attacks.

The Major Incident Support Co-ordination Unit, which brings together disaster victim identification and a “casualty bureau”, is based on lessons learned following last year’s attacks in Manchester and London.

The national force said the unit would provide a “single point of contact” for police officers and the other emergency services.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clark Cuzen, who heads up the new unit, said: “This unit will play an integral part in major incidents and has been put in place to provide a better service for police officers, police staff and the public.

“After feedback from last year’s terror attacks, we devised a central department that would provide a single point of contact for police officers and partners.

”He added: “Previously there could be difficulties communicating with each other, co-ordinating resources and a lack of understanding of each individual discipline.

”The unit will be responsible for disaster victim identification (DVI), the process of recovering and identifying bodies and human remains in incidents where there are multiple deaths.

It will also be responsible for administering Holmes, an electronic police database used for major criminal investigations.

And the new unit will include a casualty bureau, which is usually used in incidents where there are large numbers of fatalities / casualties, but can also be activated in incidents such as severe flooding where there are large numbers of survivors or evacuees.

DCS Cuzen added: “This unit means there’s a more joined up approach and information can be shared quicker amongst emergency services and to the public.

“We are the first police force in the UK to introduce this unit and I believe this is a positive step towards providing an improved response to any major incident.”

The new unit will be based at the Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire.

A total of 22 people were killed in last year’s bomb attack at Manchester Arena, while a further 13 died in attacks at Westminster and at London Bridge.

The official inquiry into the Manchester attack found a series of failures in the emergency response, including firefighters being sent away from the scene.

Survivors complained of having to carry each other out of the arena on makeshift stretchers.

Last year police and other emergency services held a major counter-terrorism exercise in Edinburgh involving the simulation of a vehicle attack within the grounds of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters.

(5th October 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th September 2018 author Patrick Grafton-Green)

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I'm not trying to cause alarm, we want people to know about crime

The founder of a Twitter account about the latest stabbings and shootings from across the capital has insisted he wants to give Londoners "factual" information about crime.

Amid the current knife and gun crime wave in London, London 999 Feed has soared in popularity with its regular tweets about the latest violent incidents.

The account, which is run by two people, has been through a busy patch recently, with the number of murders in London in 2018 passing the 100 mark this month.

It is the earliest it has reached the figure in 10 years.

Many of the deaths have involved youths, sparking fears that gang related violence is on the up.

Over the weekend a 19-year-old was killed in a drive-by-shooting in a residential street in Walthamstow, while hours earlier a 20-year-old DJ was stabbed to death at a party in Stamford Hill.

The man who manages the account, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Standard that he is simply trying to keep the public informed.

He said: “We want it to be factual. We are not doing what we are doing to create unnecessary alarm or panic.

“We are doing it to create public awareness, in particular at the moment gang related knife crime.

“People want to know what is going on in London. More and more this will be a stabbing or shooting.

“There are a lot more of these incidents than anything else, and we are getting more and more tip-offs. We went through a period in the summer where we were tweeting one or two stabbings a day.

“Of course this generates interest from followers but it doesn’t give us any pleasure.

“When writing tweets we do not start them with ‘London bloodbath’ or ‘murder Britain’ which could be perceived by some as scare mongering or exaggerating.”

The man, who works as a senior sales manager at a property development company, described running the account as “big commitment” but added that the praise he gets from followers makes it worth it.

He said: “The motivation is to break news to the public in and around London.

“We are interested in crime, in breaking news, trying to get the story out first.

“It is just a personal interest. Sometimes I think I am in the wrong job and should be a crime reporter.”

He added that he hopes the account, which was set up in 2015, may eventually evolve into a website, with the goal of eventually running it for profit.

(5th October 2018)

(The Register, dated 28th September 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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International health insurance business Bupa has been fined £175,000 after a staffer tried to sell more than half a million customers' personal information on the dark web.

The miscreant was able to access Bupa's CRM system SWAN, which holds records on 1.5 million people, generate and send bulk data reports on 547,000 Bupa Global customers to his personal email account.

The information – which included names, dates of birth, email addresses, nationalities and administrative info on the policy, but not medical details – was then found for sale on AlphaBay Market before it was shut down last year. The ad read:

DB [database] full of 500k+ Medically insured persons info from a well-known international blue chip Medical Insurance Company. Data lists 122 countries with info per person consisting of Full name, Gender, DOB, Email Address plus Membership Details excluding CC Details.

The staffer was one of 20 users with unfettered access to search, view and download data onto personal drives from SWAN, and worked at in the Partnership Advisory Team at Bupa Global's Brighton Office.

In June last year, an external partner spotted the data was for sale on a site accessible via ToR, and reported it to Bupa, who sacked the culprit and 'fessed up to the UK's privacy watchdog.

After investigating, the Information Commissioner's Office fined the insurance company £175,000 for systemic failures to protect personal data, which is a breach of data protection laws.

Bupa should have had a system that flagged up unusual activity like bulk data extraction, but it was defective.

According to the ICO's report (PDF), because Bupa failed to routinely monitor the SWAN activity log it didn't notice a defect that resulted in certain reports being logged incorrectly or not at all.

It also criticised the fact some staff could not only run and generate bulk data reports but also download or export them to separate applications, including file-sharing platforms and social media (yes, really).

In this case, the employee – who took the information between January and March 2017 – attached the data to emails in zip files and Excel files.

The ICO noted that the reason the staff had these abilities was in order to respond quickly to broker enquiries, which it said "illustrates the tension between customer satisfaction and information security".

Bupa failed to undertake adequate risk assessment of the abilities granted to these users, or to the 1,351 others who could access customer data.

"That was a material organisational inadequacy, given the volume of personal data accessible through SWAN, the number of data subjects involved, the number of individuals with access to SWAN, and the ease with which they could access it," the ICO said.

The watchdog also noted that the firm's domestic CRM system, SWIFT, which contains 2.3 million records, doesn't allow reports to be generated directly from the system by Intermediary Team members, and has a functioning system for recording accurate logs.

Bupa has until 29 October to pay up, and if it does so by 26 October the penalty will be reduced by 20 per cent.

(5th October 2018)

(Mirror, dated 28th September 2018 author Nicola Oakley)

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Parents are being warned to delete an app from their children's phones following a father's concerns over the death of his teenage son.

In June, Greater Manchester Police issued a warning about the free-to-play game, Doki Doki Literature Club, after 15-year-old Ben Walmsley was found dead.

Officers urged parents to be vigilant after concerns were raised about the app, calling it a ‘risk to children and young people’, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Images circulating online show characters in the game stabbing themselves or being hung in a noose.

Now, a school in Cornwall has issued a letter to parents asking them to check their children don't have the game downloaded on their phones.

Paula Mathieson, Assistant Principal at Callington Community College, wrote: "There is a new app that is going viral among many primary and secondary school age pupils.

“The app is called DOKI DOKI (literature club). The game is advertised as a school dating app and does not require parental checks to download.

“The app begins as a colourful and light-hearted game but takes a sinister turn within an hour of children playing.

“Their online friend starts to talk about depression and eventually commits suicide.

“Please could I kindly ask all parents and carers to check that your children do not have this app installed because of the associated dangers.”

The coroner has not established an official link between Ben Walmsley's death and the use of the game, but Ben's said signs were pointing to the app after his death.

Mr Walmsley said: “Children are curious but they can get sucked in. The characters are clearly designed to drag young lads in.

“Ben was intelligent and funny with a great sense of humour. He was a gent, loving and caring. We just want to find out why and at the moment, it’s all pointing to this game.”

The game comes with the warning: “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.”

It features four animated young girls and a boy who wants to join a school literature club.

There are alternative endings depending on choices made during the course of the game.

It features graphic references and images of violence, suicide and self-harm.

Mirror Online has contacted the game's creators for comment.

Anyone looking for further online safety advice can contact the O2 NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002 or pop into an O2 store where an O2 Guru can help.

Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or

Online safety advice is also available on the NSPCC website, while detailed information on various platforms can be found on the NSPCC’s Net Aware guide.

If you have been bereaved by suicide, support is available from Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide – .

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit to find your nearest branch.

(5th October 2018)

(The Times, dated 28th September 2018 author Graem Paton) [Option 1]

More than 1,000 pieces of luggage are stolen from airports each year amid warnings that an increase in hand luggage carried through terminals makes it an easy target.

Figures from police forces show that more than 5,000 thefts have been reported in the past five years. This includes luggage stolen from baggage reclaim areas and security zones.

In one case, two people are believed to have stolen 44 bags from the domestic reclaim area of Edinburgh airport over the course of two months in 2016.

Some thefts may be the work of gangs who buy cheap tickets between European destinations to gain access to airside locations such as bars and shops where passengers are off guard.

A security guard at one London airport said recently that gangs "prey on passengers in the early morning when people are half asleep" or at peak times when they are distracted by children.

The Times obtained data under freedom of information laws and learnt that there had been 5,040 reports of thefts of or from luggage btween 2013 nd last year. This included 2,600 to the Metropolitan Police which covers Heathrow and London City, 1,887 for Manchester, 238 at Gatwick, 86 at Luton and 70 at Edinburgh.

Only a handful of charges were brought in the past five years. Of those caught, some were airport staff or contractors. In 2014 two airport workers were caught at Liverpool airport, and at Manchester 23 staff or contractors have been arrested in five years, leading to eight court cases. It is likely that many thefts are not reported.

One security expert said that there were various reasons why thieves found it so easy to prey on harrassed travellers. Norman Shanks, an aviation security consultant, said:'A lot of it could be because people stand around for so long and even forget how many pieces of luggage they put through the x-ray machine.

"Most often they leave it too late to call someone to report it because they are in danger of missing their flight so they won't bother. Some baggage may be left lying aound because people don't realise that they had two or three pieces of luggage".

He also said that there was "absolutely no control" over the baggage reclaim area, leaving passengers vulnerable to opportunits thieves.

A spokesman for the Airport Opertors Association said: " Airports work closely with their security staff and local police forces to ensure that the nearly 300 million passengers that travel through UK airports every year do so in a safe and secure environment. Thanks to this secure environment, incidents at UK airports are extremely rare. Airports will continute to focus on providing passengers with peace of mind during their travels."

(5th October 2018)

(iNews, dated 27th September 2018 author Matt Allan)

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The UK’s speeding hotspots and the locations of the country’s most active speed cameras have been revealed by new research.

A freedom of information request to forces across the UK has uncovered where drivers are most likely to be caught and fined as well as revealing the shocking excess speeds of some drivers.

The data shows that the worst offender caught between January 2016 and May 2018 was a driver in Merseyside, who was recorded doing 98mph above the posted speed limit – 148mph in a 50mph zone.

In terms of outright speed, one driver in Gloucestershire was charged with hitting 167mph in a 70mph zone.

Double trouble

The research, which allows users to view the data for their local force, was carried out by comparison site GoCompare. It found that Avon and Somerset police recorded by far the most speeding offences – more than twice the next closest force.

In total it recorded 386,969 speeding offences between 2016 and 2018, with Bedfordshire Police reporting the second highest number of offences at 143,052 and West Mercia reporting 143,039.

At the opposite end of the scale, Cleveland Police recorded just 5,754 offences over the same period.

Speed cameras

In keeping with Avon and Somerset recording the highest number of offences, the force also had eight of the ten most active speed cameras in the country.

The camera on the M32 at the Severn Beach bridge has caught 22,350 speeders this year, closely followed by one on the westbound M4 between junctions 19 and 20, which recorded 21,009 offences in 2016.

Outside the region, two cameras in Bedfordshire – on the M1 and A1081 complete the list of ten most active speed cameras.

You can find out the most active speed cameras in your area :

Top ten regions for speeding offences

1. Avon & Somerset – 386,969 recorded offences
2. Bedfordshire Police – 143,052
3. West Mercia Police – 143,039
4. South Wales Police – 135,315
5. Cheshire – 112,540
6. Hertfordshire – 109,854
7. Kent Police – 107,494
8. North Wales Police – 105,295
9. Merseyside Police – 104,621
10. Devon & Cornwall – 102,508

Ten most active speed cameras

1. Avon and Somerset, M32, Severn Beach rail line overbridge to end of M32 southbound, 2018 – 22,350 recorded offences
2. Avon and Somerset, M4, J19-20 Westbound, 2016 – 21,009
3. Avon and Somerset, M4, J20-19 Eastbound, 2016 – 19,137
4. Avon and Somerset, M5, J16-17 Southbound, 2017 – 19,088
5. Avon and Somerset, M5, J17-16 Northbound, 2016 – 17,082
6. Avon and Somerset, M32, Severn Beach rail line overbridge to end of M32 southbound, 2017 – 12,980
7. Avon and Somerset, M5, J17-16 Northbound, 2017 – 12,176
8. Avon and Somerset, M4, J20-19 Eastbound, 2017 – 10,833
9. Bedfordshire Police, M1 Motorway, 2016 – 10,339
10. Bedfordshire Police, A1081 Airport Way, South West bound, 2017 -10,024

Fast and Furious

The data also examined the offences committed, looking at the actual top speeds recorded and how far above the local speed limit they were.

As well as the drivers in Merseyside and Gloucestershire it revealed one reckless motorist who hit 113mph in a 30mph zone and another recorded driving at 137mph in a 40mph area.

Ten highest recorded speeding offences

1. Merseyside Police, 2017 – limit: 50mph, speed recorded: 148mph
2. Gloucestershire, 2017 – limit: 70mph, speed recorded: 167mph
3. Hertfordshire, 2017 – limit: 40mph, speed recorded: 137mph
4. Hertfordshire, 2016 – limit: 40mph, speed recorded: 132mph
5. Avon and Somerset, 2018 – limit: 70mph, speed recorded: 162mph
6. West Mercia, 2017 – limit: 40mph, speed recorded: 124mph
7. Suffolk, 2016 – limit: 30mph, speed recorded: 113mph
8. Hertfordshire, 2018 – limit: 40mph, speed recorded: 123mph
9. Kent Police, 2018 – limit: 70mph, speed recorded: 152mph
10. South Yorkshire, 2017 – limit: 70mph, speed recorded: 151mph

(5th October 2018)

(Metro, dated 27th September 2018 author Jane Wharton)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers using mobile phones were responsible for 33 deaths on Britain’s roads last year, according to new figures.

There were a total of 1,793 people killed in vehicles and the number of those dying as a result of a driver being distracted by a phone has risen.

Figures released by the Department for Transport also shows a worrying trend of an increasing number of people being killed because they are not wearing a seatbelt.

More than a quarter of those who died on the roads (27%) did so because they were not restrained.

Today road safety campaigners said more is needed to be done to stop the hundreds of deaths, claiming that it should be a ‘wake-up call to the British government.

Using a hand held phone behind the wheel is illegal in the UK and new deterrents were introduced in March last year.

This doubled the previous penalty and being caught using a mobile phone while driving now carries a penalty of six points and a £200 fine.

At the time Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the penalties would act as a ‘strong deterrent’ to mobile users but an RAC poll earlier this year found only 36% of people were aware of what the rules are.

Earlier this month two devastated families put out a video of a fatal crash that killed a mother and three children to highlight the dangers of using a phone while driving.

In 2016, there were 32 deaths on the roads but 33 people were killed last year despite the new penalties.

Overall the number of serious accidents, slight accidents and total accidents caused by mobile phone use has fallen year on year.

In 2016, there were 105 serious accidents, 341 slight accidents and 478 total accidents. The respective figures for 2017 were 90, 308 and 431.

The overall number of people killed on Britain’s roads in 2017 was 1,793 including 787 in a car.

This was one more total death than in 2016 and was fractionally lower than the 2010-14 average of 1,799.

There were a total of 170,993 casualties of all severities in 2017. This was 6% lower than in 2016 and the lowest level on record.

AA president Edmund King said that progress in reducing road fatalities had been stalled for ‘far too long’ and ‘more effort is clearly needed to improve safety across the UK for all road user.’

He called for a target which aimed to reduce annual road deaths to zero in 10 years and improved “driver education, police enforcement and indeed engineering of some of our most dangerous roads.’

RAC road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said that road fatality levels remained ‘stubbornly high’.

He said: ‘It also remains the case that casualties among some vulnerable road user groups, specifically pedestrians and motorcyclists, are rising which is a concern.

‘Speed limit compliance also remains a real problem, with more than half of vehicles recorded speeding on 30mph roads and nearly one-in-five drivers travelling at 30mph or more in a 20mph zones.

‘With traffic levels rising, and people’s dependency on the car also increasing, a shift in focus is needed at both national and local levels to begin to tackle the problem’.

Joshua Harris, director of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘Today’s figures highlight the shocking lack of progress on road safety improvement in Britain and must be a wake-up call to the Government to take action now.

‘Progress on British road safety has stagnated and yet the Government sits on its hands and rejects the introduction of policies which are proven to save lives.’

What is the law on using a mobile phone ?

It’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must have hands-free access, such as:

- a bluetooth headset
- voice command
- a dashboard holder or mat
- a windscreen mount
- a built-in sat nav

The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.

The law still applies to you if you’re:

- stopped at traffic lights
- queuing in traffic
- supervising a learner driver

When you can use a phone

You can use a hand-held phone if either of these apply:

- you’re safely parked
- you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop

Penalties for using a mobile 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)

What is the law on seat belts and car seats ?

- You must wear a seat belt if one is fitted in the seat you’re using.

- There are only a few exceptions such as being a driver when reversing or having a signed medical note to exempt you.

- You are only allowed one person in each seat fitted with a seat belt.

- Failure to wear a seat belt carries a minimum penalty of £100, and can be up to £500 if the case goes to court.

- You must also make sure that any children in the vehicle are in the correct car seat for their height and weight. They must be in a seat until they reach 135 centimetres in height or their 12th birthday – whichever comes first. After that they must wear a seat belt and the adult driver can be fined up to £500 if they don’t.

(5th October 2018)

(The Times, dated 27th September 2018 author Stephen Gibbs [Option 1]

The entire police force of Mexico’s coastal city of Acapulco has been disarmed, amid fears that drug cartels have successfully infiltrated law enforcement in the once glamorous resort.

Security has been temporarily taken over by marines, the army and state police, while background checks on all 1,500 officers in the municipal force are completed.

The state authorities said that drastic action had been necessary “because of suspicion that the force had probably been infiltrated by criminal groups” and “the complete inaction of the municipal police in fighting the crimewave”.

The municipal police headquarters was surrounded by heavily armed soldiers and marines and two police commanders were arrested on suspicion of murder. Security forces were seen confiscating weapons, body armour and communications equipment from uniformed officers. The director of the city's transport police was also detaind after he was found to be carrying unauthorised weapons.

The US embassy in Mexico retweeted an existing warning advising US citizens against all travel to Guerrero where it said "homocide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery is widespread".

Acapulco has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Last year about 900 people were murdered out of a population of 800,000. That is more that 100 times the rate of London. Just minutes from the Pacific resorts palm fringed, crescent-shaped bay, dotted with high-rise tourist hotels, lie grimy backstreets where small but intensely violent gangs compete for territory. Kidnapping and extortion rackets are commonplace and gun battles sometimes spill into the streets. The city is also an export centre for cocaine and heroin, produced from poppies andgrow abundantly in surrounding Guerrero state.

Last week a man was shot dead and two others were wounded inside a restaurant on Caletilla beach, a popular spot among the manly Mexican tourists that still come to Acapulco.

It is a far cry from the sun kissed city's heyday in the 1940's and 1950's when it was renowned as a playground for the Hollywood elite. Elizabeth Taylor married Mike Todd, the third of her seven husbands, in a civil ceremony in Acupulco in 1957. John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned in the city in 1953. Its cliff divers became world famous.

Following an upsurge in violence it is now more reliant on domestic tourism. Earlier this year pictures emerged showing torists driving round burnt and dismembered bodies left in the street after drug cartel violence.

The crackdown is thought to be related to the arrival next week of a new mayor, Adela Roman, a member of the leftwing party of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Mexican president-elect. She had warned that members of her team have already received death threats from local gangs.

(5th October 2018)

(Metro, dated 27th September 2018 author Zoe Drewett)

Full article [Option 1]:

A mace was handed in to police alongside 400 other weapons during a week-long amnesty aimed at tackling knife-crime.

The terrifying haul also included a number of swords and crossbows, as well as hundreds of knives.
Police in County Durham – where collection bins were set up at 11 police stations – said that had the mace got into the wrong hands it could have caused ‘terror and serious injury’.

Other items handed in during the force’s Operation Brassen included samurai swords, machetes and crossbows.

Officers said they hoped the amnesty would provide the chance to take potentially-deadly weapons off the streets and raise awareness of the potential harm caused by knife crime.

Detective Chief Insp Paul Gray, from Durham Constabulary, said: ‘I would like to thank everyone for supporting our knife amnesty, Operation Brassen, which was held in support of the national Operation Sceptre knife crime awareness campaign.

‘I want to reiterate that County Durham and Darlington is a really safe place to live, but with the support of those members of the public who have handed in these knives, this operation has made it even safer.’

In total, 381 weapons were handed in including 314 knives, 22, swords, 14 machetes and 27 pen-knives.

An army trench knife attached to a knuckle duster – believed to date back to the First World War – were also handed in anonymously.

Police say the weapons will all be disposed of safely over the coming days.

The amnesty was held alongside a campaign in schools and on social media against knife crime, organised by the force’s Crime Prevention and Cohesion Unit.

Inspector Rachel Stockdale said: ‘There has been co-ordinated work in terms of action, education in schools and work with our partners to get as many knives and weapons off the streets.

‘Some of the knives which have been surrendered aren’t typical of those officers would see day-to-day, but the amnesty has made sure those weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands and we can continue to keep the people of County Durham and Darlington safe.’

(5th October 2018)

(This is Money, dated 26th September 2018 authors Victoria Bischoff and Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

Their plan to dodge refunds for scams costing families £1million a day are EXPOSED in leaked letter

- Letter was sent by Stephen Jones, chief executive of trade body UK Finance
- Claimed it wasn't right that banks should be ‘financially responsible’ for scams
- Spokesmen for UK Finance and Payment Systems Regulator refused to comment

Shameless banks have mounted a secret lobbying campaign to avoid having to refund victims of fraud.

Watchdogs will spell out tomorrow the steps banks must take to tackle scams costing families £1million a day.

It was hoped the measures would include a proper compensation fund.

However a letter leaked to MoneyMail reveals that banks have told regulators and government officials they should not be made responsible. Figures published yesterday show that around £145million was lost to ‘authorised push payment’ fraud in the first six months of the year. Only £31million was refunded.

Many of the victims were persuaded by fraudsters to transfer cash to another account for safety – only to see it vanish.

‘The banks are shameless,’ said Suzanne Raftery, a former Scotland Yard detective and fraud expert at Requite Solutions. ‘They often don’t care about the devastation these scams cause for people. They care about money.’

Gareth Shaw, of Which? Money, said: ‘It’s two years since we highlighted a real lack of protection for people targeted through no fault of their own – but people are still losing life-changing sums of money every day and action from the banks has been woefully insufficient.

‘The finance industry and regulator must quickly introduce measures to stop these scams from happening in the first place and commit to reimbursing all victims who are not at fault – otherwise they risk further eroding trust in the banking system.’

f fraud continued at the current rate, banks would be on the hook for an extra £200million of losses this year.

The biggest five, Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered, made profits of £9.3billion between them in the second quarter of the year.

The Mail is campaigning for clearer rules to protect victims, help them to trace their stolen money as well as get access to compensation.

The leaked letter was sent last month by Stephen Jones, chief executive of trade body UK Finance, to a number of officials including Andrew Bailey, who heads the Financial Conduct Authority.

Mr Jones said: ‘I speak for all payment service providers (banks) involved to date when I state that they do not believe they should be required to compensate a consumer for the (presently) unquantifiable ‘residual risk’ to which your letter refers.

‘This is not because they do not wish a consumer who has acted reasonably to be reimbursed in such circumstances.

‘They do. It is because PSPs do not accept they should or could be automatically liable for this risk.’

He claimed it was not right that banks should be ‘financially responsible’ for scams that start with data breaches in other sectors such as telecoms and retail.

He warned that a code of conduct that did not put more onus on the customer might lead to more fraud. It is not known whether the rules will demand better compensation for victims.

The code is the result of eight months of work by banks, charities and consumer rights organisations, which were part of a steering group appointed by the Payment Systems Regulator.

The rules are likely to include giving customers timely warnings if they notice suspicious activity on their account and taking measures to prevent criminals opening accounts in the first place.

The idea is that if banks then fail to meet these minimum standards of care they must refund victims.

The proposed code, which should come into force at the start of next year, will be voluntary but it is expected that most major banks will sign up. It will also include a requirement for customers to take reasonable steps to protect themselves against fraudsters.

If they behave recklessly or negligently banks would not be expected to refund them.

However, experts say that most scams these days are so sophisticated that even the smartest of people are at risk of being conned.

But while banks admit that it is right that these victims should be refunded, they refuse to accept this is their responsibility.

Nicky Morgan, the Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury committee, said: ‘As online banking and payments become more prevalent, millions of customers are exposed to the risk of economic crime. As part of the Treasury committee’s inquiry into economic crime, we’ll look at how consumers are affected, and the response of the regulators and financial institutions, including banks.

‘Whilst we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves against fraud, financial institutions also have a role to play in stamping out such criminal behaviour.’

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, said: ‘For too long banks have been able to place the blame on intelligent and careful individuals when they are conned by sophisticated fraudsters manipulating the banks’ processes.

‘It is high time the financial services industry faced up to the fact that these people are not wilfully making payments – they are being tricked and the results are devastating.

‘Banks need to face up to the problem and reimburse their customers when they fall victim to scams instead of washing their hands of them. I am in full support of the Daily Mail’s campaign.’

When the code is published the steering group is expected to continue to work together over the next couple of months in a bid to find a solution for a compensation scheme for ‘authorised fraud’ victims.

Spokesmen for UK Finance and the Payment Systems Regulator refused to comment.


1. Follow the stolen money

Criminals bounce stolen money from account to account - often within the same bank - so it becomes 'lost'.

At present, once money leaves someone's account it is typically gone for good.

Banks must set up an industry-wide system that enables them to trace where that stolen money goes - to give them a chance of clawing it back.

2. Make banks accountable

If they have not done enough to stop fraudsters opening accounts they use to store stolen funds - for example if scammers have used fake ID - the banks must be responsible for the losses and refund the missing money.

3. Set up fraud hotlines

All banks must have a dedicated fraud hotline that victims can call 24 hours a day / seven days a week.

Currently delays reduce the already small chances of banks being able to claw bank their money.

4. Phone firms must help

Telecom providers should identify and stop scam text messages and calls getting through.

Untold numbers of victims are caught out because the scam message appears within a sting of genuine communications from their bank.

5. Watchdogs with teeth

The Payment Systems Regulator should draw up clear rules on exactly when banks should refund fraud victims - and police these rules strictly.

The Financial Ombudsman should be given more power to investigate fraud regardless of who the customer banks with.

6. Compensate victims

A total of £130million is sitting in frozen bank accounts once used by criminals. With a simple change in the law it could be used to compensate victims.


- Hang up on ALL cold callers.

- If you are worried that your bank really might need to talk to you, put down the phone and call it using the number on the back of your bank card or on its website.

- Use a different telephone from the one the call came in on – fraudsters often remain on the line after people hang up. If you have to use the same phone, wait at least 30 minutes before calling back.

- Remember banks will NEVER ask customers to move money to another account to keep it safe from fraudsters.

- Be suspicious if the caller seems to be in a rush and eager for the transaction to go through quickly.

- Never disclose personal information even if the caller sounds convincing and appears to know personal details.

- Never respond directly to unsolicited emails or texts.


- Call your bank straight away but only on a number taken from your bank card or its website.

- Tell the call handler that you think you have been scammed and ask for the money to be recalled straight away.

- Do not ask for the fraud team as there may be a queue – the crime can always be investigated later.

- If the money has already gone out of your account, tell the call handler to contact the receiving bank and freeze the money so it cannot be cleared from the account.

- Note the time of the call and any time spent waiting in telephone queues. If there are delays this could be used to support a complaint later.

- Write down everything about the fraud. Ask the bank to explain what happened to the money when it left the account.

(5th October 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 25th September 2018 author Simon Johnson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Crime in Scotland has increased for the first time in 12 years and sex crimes have surged to a record high, according to official figures.

Scottish Government statistics showed crime increased by two per cent in 2017/18 if a new offence of handling an offensive weapon is included.

But the total still increased by one per cent if this was omitted, with fewer than half (49.5 per cent) solved after the clear-up rate to the lowest level since Police Scotland was established.

Sexual crimes surged by 13 per cent in a single year and have almost doubled in a decade. They are at their highest level since comparable figures were first produced in 1971.

This was partly due to 421 offences involving “revenge porn” following new legislation last year. However, rape and attempted rape increased by 20 per cent compared to 2016/17.

The proportion of sex crimes cleared up by the police has also fallen to the lowest level since 1981, with four out of ten cases not solved.

Among the other crimes to experience increases over the past year are robbery (eight per cent), shoplifting (nine per cent) and common assault (one per cent).

Humza Yousaf, the Justice Minister, said the small rise in overall crime was "disappointing" but argued it remained at historically low levels.

But Holyrood's opposition parties said the increase still translated into thousands of incidents and attacked the SNP government for cutting front-line policing.

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Tories' Shadow Justice Minister, said: "The police always do the best they can but the SNP simply have to resource them properly.

“The situation in Scotland now is that, should you commit a crime, you have more chance of not being caught than being brought to justice."

Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour's justice spokesman, said: "With crime sky rocketing by double digits in some areas, and more than half of crimes going unsolved, it is clear something is going seriously wrong."

The figures showed the number of sexual assaults increased by 13 per cent last year and by two-thirds since 2011/12.

Rapes and attempted rapes have doubled since 2010/11 and a fifth over the past year to 2,255 cases.

Other sexual crimes, including public indecency and possessing and distributing indecent photos of children, have almost trebled since 2010/11 and surged by 14 per cent in 2017/18.

The report said at least 40 per cent of the 12,487 sexual crimes recorded in 2017/18 involved a victim under the age of 18.

But the clear-up rate for rape and attempted rape fell five points to 54.6 per cent, while it dropped by 1.8 points for other sexual crimes.

Crimes of dishonesty accounted for almost half (47 per cent) the overall total and increased by one per cent last year. Only 37 per cent were solved.

However, housebreaking dropped by seven per cent in 2017/18 and has fallen by 41 per cent over the past decade.

The council with the biggest increase in recorded crime last year was Falkirk, up 15 per cent, followed by East Renfrewshire (14 per cent), Scottish Borders (12 per cent) and Edinburgh (11 per cent).

Mr Yousaf highlighted research showing muggings have halved over the past decade and argued Scotland's streets are now safer.

He said the Scottish Government has "set up an expert group looking at new action to prevent sexual crime, of which we know increases are being driven by a growth in online crime, greater confidence in reporting and a long-term rise in historical cases."

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: "The increase in recorded sexual crime suggests victims feel more confident coming forward to report to us and we want to support and encourage people to continue doing this."

(5th October 2018)

(The Times, dated 25th September 2018 author Mark Bridge) [Option 1]

Some of the world’s most popular apps have harvested users’ data in “troubling” ways that risk breaching privacy laws, an investigation has found.

The consumer group Which? has found that programs for tablets and smartphones were, in different cases, tracking users’ movements without clearly notifying them and not stating who developers were sharing data with, among other concerns.

Four months after the introduction of new data rules designed to enshrine transparency and “privacy by default”, Which? studied 29 popular apps and said it feared that some practices broke GDPR data rules while others “were probably lawful, but had disturbing implications for the future of privacy”.

It added that many of the apps “risk confusing users with over-complicated and long winded privacy policies and T&C's. The terms and privacy policies of all 29 apps totalled 333,336 words.

Among the most concerning examples identified by Which? was Accuweather, a weather app, which asked users to agree to share data with 199 partners for advertising purposes before they could use it for free. Users could not see details of the partners and the company admitted that 199 was a "best attempt" to estimate the number the number of firms that users data could be shared with. Which? believes the app breached GDPR. Accuweather sadi that the setup process was a "mistake" and that it had subsequently made changes to enable users to see complete details of data-sharing before agreeing.

Which? also cited the iOS (Apple) version of Amazons app, which tracks users general location withot explicitly asking permission during setup.

A solicitor told The Times that a lack of clarity in Amazon's privacy notice about how data was collected and used meant that the app was at risk of breaching GDPR. Amazon sadi that it used information as described in its data policy and in accordance with customers' expectations and legal obligations. It added: "Protecting our customers privacy has always been a priority."

With the British digital advertising market worth more than £10 billion a year, Which? is calling for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urgently investigate how the industry operates. The consumer group said that it should work closely with the Information Commissioners Office.

Alex Neill, of Which? said: " We were concerned that some of the troubling examples we've found didn't match the spirit of the new GDPR rules."

The CMA said: "We are very aware of the interest in how peoples data is used online and are considering whether to take further action regarding how such data is used by big tech firms. If people have concerns about how personal data is used, they should raise these with the Information Commissioner's Office."

(5th October 2018)

(BBC News, dated 24th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police Scotland has outlined plans to invest £298m in its computer systems over the next nine years.

The force said many of its IT systems were out of date and could not be made to work in an integrated way.

The investment proposal will be presented to the Scottish Police Authority board later this week.

A paper prepared for board members said officers were still using paper notebooks and then typing the information into different systems.

It is claimed that every £1 invested will generate £1.29 of savings.

'New threats'

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said police were facing a growing threat from sophisticated criminals who ruthlessly exploited technological advances.

Ms Taylor said: "Taylor said: "There has been significant under-investment in technology in policing since well before 2013 and we've not been able to make use of some of the investment that has been available.

"Despite this, our officers and staff have continued to deliver to the best of their ability by making huge personal commitments to get the job done.

"But the present situation is unsustainable. The pressure on our officers and staff to work around the failings in our technology and meet the new threats will move beyond their ability to cope.

She added: "At a time when the pressure on public services is immense, we are operating an economically inefficient police service."

(5th October 2018)

(Surrey Live, dated 23rd September 2018 author Thomas Dean)

Full article [Option 1]:

There were 2,312 crimes reported in Aldershot between January and July this year.

Hampshire Constabulary has divided the town into separate north and south areas and using the force's data we can reveal exactly how many crimes were reported and the nature of the offences.

It may not come as a surprise to learn that the most reported crimes in both areas were violent and sexual offences along with antisocial behaviour.

There were almost three times more shoplifting offences reported in north Aldershot than in south Aldershot and across both areas, almost 100 public order offences were called in.

If you live or work in Aldershot, find out how dangerous or safe your area is. Here, we compare the crime figures from the two sides of the town.

North Aldershot

A total of 1212 crimes were reported to police in north Aldershot between January and July this year.

Almost a third of those were crimes of a violent or sexual nature with 60 offences reported in the months of January, March and June.

16% of the crimes reported were related to antisocial behaviour however, there has been a dramatic reduction in crimes of this nature as the year has progressed.

In January 62 antisocial behaviour related crimes were reported, a figure which has plummeted to just 6 in July.

Arson and criminal damages makes up another 10% of crimes reported, a crime on the rise this year with 11 reported in January compared to 26 in July.

Another 10% of crimes reported were public order offences with the rest made up of bike theft, burglary, drugs, robbery, vehicle crime, theft and miscellaneous crimes.

South Aldershot

A total of 1100 crimes were reported to police in south Aldershot between January and July this year.

Similarly to north Aldershot, A third of those crimes were violent and sexual offences with 365 being reported over the seven months.

Mirroring the figures shown on the other side of town, 16% of crimes reported in south Aldershot were antisocial behaviour.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines antisocial behaviour as acting in a manner that has "caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household".

Shoplifting figures came out at only a third of the numbers seen in north Aldershot, perhaps because of the location of the shops.

Vehicle crime makes up around 7% of all crimes reported in the area with 81 reports over the seven months and 98 reports of arson and criminal damage.

106 public order offences were reported making up 10% of the total figure, likewise with theft of any kind.

Crimes reported in North Aldershot and [South Aldershot] in 2018

Violent at Sexual offences : 377 [365]
Antisocial behaviour : 197 [177]
Shoplifting : 173 [50]
Criminal damage and arson : 113 [98]
Public order : 108 [106]
Vehicle crime : 59 [81]
Burglary : 37 [46]
Drugs : 29 [28]
Bike theft : 18 [16]
Possession of a weapon : 11 [11]
Theft from a person : 9 [0]
Robbery : 7 [5]
Other crime : 7 [17]

(5th October 2018)

(Irish Independent, dated 22nd September 2018 authors Charlie Weston and Amy Molloy)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers have been warned their insurance will be cancelled if they buy policies for cash from so-called ghost brokers.

Fraudsters are selling fake motor insurance policies, but many of those buying them, typically in car parks, know the cover is based on counterfeit documents.

The warning comes after four people were arrested and more than 600 motor insurance policies will now be cancelled following an investigation into ghost brokers operating in Dublin.

Gardaí conducted a number of searches over the past few days. One person has been charged in connection with theft and fraud offences, and was due to appear in court.

The investigation involved the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Economic National Crime Bureau and the traffic corps.

Rob Smyth, head of fraud with Aviva Insurance, said anyone who had a false policy bought from a ghost broker would end up having the policy cancelled, and they would be out of pocket for any money given to the fraudster. He said the ghost broker problem was far bigger than most think, and affected all insurers.

A ghost broker claims to have a commercial relationship with insurance companies and falsely claims they can procure insurance, usually at a discount.

The con artists typically advertise through Facebook or by using pop-up shops.

Transactions usually take place in car parks, and for cash.

Fraudulent policies are sold by the ghost brokers buying cover from a legitimate insurer by using false information, and then selling that on to a motorist for cash.

They also use fake policy documents, especially insurance discs and no-claims bonus certificates, and sell these on to innocent drivers.

Mr Smyth said many people buying from ghost brokers often knew well they were buying a dodgy policy.

"If you are getting the policy for half the price, and are paying cash in a car park then you know there is something not right with it.

"Some are innocent, but many of those buying insurance from these ghost brokers know it is not legitimate," he said.

He said insurers were in constant contact with Facebook asking for accounts of ghost brokers to be taken down.

As soon as they are removed they reappear in a different guise.

Cloned credit cards are being used by the ghost brokers to buy polices, often with fake no-claims certs. When the payment is refused, the policyholder finds they have no cover.

In some cases the fraudsters are charging fees of up to €300 for securing the insurance policies and demand payment in cash.

Liberty Insurance said it was currently investigating 10 separate ghost brokerage practices.

Insurance Ireland encouraged customers to be vigilant, and to check the list of approved brokers on the Central Bank's website before buying insurance.

(5th October 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st September 2018 author Owen Bowcott)

Full article [Option 1]:

Christian Weaver likes to keep it concise. His video series 'TheLawin60Seconds' is pioneering legal advice for an age of supposedly limited attention spans.

The 24-year-old lawyer has begun teaching people about their rights in online talks to camera that aim to simplify the complexity of legislation into a few basic principles.

He may not be the first person to deliver consumer-friendly lectures over the internet but his tight timeframe presents a unique challenge in compressing arcane information into a one-minute broadcast.

Weaver's first online lecture was on Stop and Search. His most recent have been on tenants' and consumer rights.

"It's important that people know the law and their legal rights," he explained. "People are busy so it's a matter of condensing everything into 60 seconds.

"I've had very favourable reactions. Some schools have said they will use them for their lessons. It's not just about your rights but also interesting points of law.

"Law has always interested me. I feel it's a real injustice that peoples' human rights can be violated simply because of the lack of money for a lawyer to take their case. This is about ensuring that people's human rights are protected and assured."

After studying at Nottingham Law School and training to be a barrister, Weaver is working at the London-based charity Inquest which supports relatives in coroners' courts. He has lined up a pupillage place next year at a barristers' chambers that specialises in human rights.

Weaver chose to talk about stop and search powers due to the rise of street violence in London and in his home city of Nottingham. The police tactic is an effective way of combating crime, he says, providing it is intelligence-led. He wants to ensure that everyone knows their rights.

"Often people don't know how to act in such a situation," Weaver said. "These are rights that you should know when you come across the police."

He highlighted tenants' rights because as a student so many of his friends had been "ripped off" by landlords. He sees himself more as a lawyer than a full time vlogger.

Having sat in on some of the Grenfell inquiry hearings, he is considering delivering his next talk on the legal implications of the high-rise tragedy.

"People think that the law is too inaccessible or difficult but by promoting it as 'The Law in 60 Seconds' they are aware from the get-go that it's not going to be too long."

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, welcomed Weaver's initiative. "Bite-sized information is a good starting point for anyone considering taking legal advice, as long as they know that there will most likely be a need to seek more in-depth knowledge from a qualified lawyer," a spokesperson said.

"It is encouraging to see a member of the bar coming up with an innovative way of helping the public get a better understanding of how the law affects them in an age when the consumption of fast, easy-to-understand information is the norm."

A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: "We all know the law is complicated and all too often people don't understand it. Knowing your rights and how to enforce them is a necessary step to ensuring our laws are as effective at protecting us as parliament intended them to be. We'd be interested in talking to Christian to see if we can work together on some of his ideas."

(5th October 2018)

(The Register, dated 21st September 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

The use of machine learning algorithms by UK police forces is unregulated, with little research or evidence that new systems work, a report has said.

The police, not wanting to get left behind in the march of progress or miss out on an opportunity to save some pennies, are keen to test out new technologies.

But the willingness to get started and the disparate nature of policing across the UK often means there is a lack of overall guidance or governance on their use.

In a report, published today, defence think tank RUSI called for greater regulation and for codes of practice for trials carried out in live operational environments that focus on fairness and proportionality.

Although algorithms are used by cops in a variety of ways - perhaps most well known are automated facial recognition or to pinpoint crime hotspots - the report focused on those uses which most affect individuals. For instance, those that identify which people are more likely to reoffend, such as Durham Police's Harm Assessment Risk Tool.

The report pointed out that, as with much nascent technology, it is hard to predict the overall impact of the use of ML-driven tools by police, and the systems may have unintended, and unanticipated, consequences.

This is exacerbated by a lack of research, meaning it's hard to definitively say how systems influence police officers' decision-making in practice or how they impact on people's rights. The RUSI report also pointed to a limited evidence base on the efficacy or efficiency of different systems.

Some of the main concerns are algorithmic bias - as the report said, even if a model doesn't include a variable for race, some measures, like postcodes, can be proxies for that. Durham Police recently mooted removing a postcode measure from HART.

Others include the fact models rely on police data - which is can be incomplete, unreliable and is continually updated - to make predictions, or fail to distinguish between the likelihood of someone offending or just being arrested, which is influenced by many other factors.

###It's going on, in the field, but no one knows about it

But any such concerns haven't stopped police from trying things out - and the report's authors expressed concern that these trials are going ahead, in the field, without a proper regulatory or governance framework.

The RUSI report also identified a lack of openness when it comes to such trials. The furore over police use of automated facial recognition technology - high rates of inaccuracy were only revealed through a Freedom of Information request - exemplifies this.

It called for the Home Office to establish codes of practice to govern police trials "as a matter of urgency" (although the department's lacklustre approach to biometrics, having taken half a decade to draw up a 27-page strategy doesn't bode well here).

The report also recommended a formal system of scrutiny and oversight, and a focus on ensuring accountability and intelligibility.

In this context, the use of black box algorithms, where neither the police nor the person can fully understand - or challenge - how or why a decision has been made, could damage the transparency of the overall justice process.

Different machine learning methods provide different levels of transparency, the report noted, and as such it suggested the regulatory framework should set minimum standards for transparency and intelligibility.

It also emphasised the importance of humans being involved. Forces need to demonstrate a person has provided meaningful review of the decision to ensure algorithms are only used to support, not make, a decision.

But the report noted officers might be unwilling to contradict a model that claims a high level of accuracy. (One needs only look at the continued presence of lie detectors in the US - despite a weight of evidence against them - to understand people's willingness to accept that a piece of kit is "right".)

As such, the report called for be a process to resolve disagreements, and for public sector procurement agreements for ML algorithms to make requirements of the providers. That includes the provider being able to retroactively deconstruct the algorithm and being able to provide an expert witness.

The report also noted the need to properly train police officers - not just so that they can use the kit, but so they fully understand its inherent limitations and can interpret the results in a fair and responsible way.

It recommended that the College of Policing develops a course for officers, along with guidance for the use of ML tools and on how to explain them to the public.

Commenting on the report, Michael Veale, a UCL academic whose focus is on responsible public sector use of ML, emphasised the need to build up evidence about whether such interventions work, and added that the government should back these efforts.

"It may surprise some readers to know that there is still a What Works Centre for Policing that could, if properly funded, play this role," he said.

"Algorithmic interventions need testing against other investments and courses of action - not just other algorithms, and not just for bias or discrimination - to establish where priorities should lie."

Veale also warned that there is wider organisational use of predictive technologies in policing, such as for determining staffing levels, timetables, patrols and areas for focus.

"We've learned from the experience with New Public Management [a model developed in the '80s to run government bodies] and the NHS over the last few decades of the danger that the gaming associated with target culture can bring - look at Mid Staffs.

"We need to be very careful that if these new technologies are put into day-to-day practices, they don't create new gaming and target cultures," he said.

(5th October 2018)

(Daily Post, dated 21st September 2018 authors Charlotte Cox and Tom Molloy)

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Every September, new number plates are released so everybody can know if you have a shiny, new car.

Thousands more people splash out on personalised number plates with an assortment of numbers and letters which vaguely resembles a name or something similar.

However, if you have a car and you were planning on getting a rude personalised number plate for it, think again.

This year, more than 400 number plates have been banned from use by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), reports the Manchester Evening News.

Decisions on which plates are too offensive for the roads are made at a meeting held twice a year, before each bi-annual plate change.

Many plates are refused because of offensive language or for political, racial or religious reasons.

Plates can be banned regardless of whether they are standard or personalised and the new '68' registrations which became available in September have caused problems.

That's because a '6' can represent B, G, C or S - while the 8 can also double up as a B.

The new banned combinations have been added to a list of plates that drivers should never be allowed to get, including any that end with the three letters ARS or DAM.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Press Association, the DVLA revealed the 436 banned plates include **68 OMB, *A68 USE, BA68 TAD and OR68 ASM.

MY68 DCK, NO68 EAD and SH68 AGR are also among the no-go plates.

Other banned plates include those with references to Brexit (EU68 BAD), the KKK (UK68 KKK) and drugs (DR68 GGS).

The DVLA's income from selling personalised registrations reached £111 million in the past financial year.

The DVLA also has the power to force drivers to hand back number plates if one is found to have slipped through the net.

Some of the '68' number plates banned by the DVLA:


Here are some number plates that are always banned:


(5th October 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st September 2018 author Juliette Garside)

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The Russian-speaking caller refused to give a name but the threat was explicit: "Do you really feel you can walk home safely at night?"

It was 2013 and officers at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank were beginning to realise they had taken on some very unpleasant customers. After a tipoff, a member of staff had travelled to Moscow and started asking questions. The team was trying to trace the identity of people hiding behind anonymous corporate vehicles, which had opened accounts and were now using them to transfer huge sums of money. That was when its staff began to receive anonymous threats. "This bank will sink," one caller warned.

Today, Danske is still very much in business, but its chief executive, Thomas Borgen, has resigned. He fell on his sword after a report produced by lawyers for his board, published on Wednesday, revealed the full extent of problems at the Estonian branch. It had thousands of suspicious customers, responsible for €200bn (£180bn) of transactions over a nine-year period. The realisation is dawning that what has been uncovered is probably the largest ever money-laundering scandal in history.

"Europe has a major money-laundering problem," said anti-corruption expert Nienke Palstra, at campaign group Global Witness. "Until we see senior executives held fully accountable for criminal wrongdoing and serious fines for the banks involved, this kind of scandal will continue for decades to come."

Regulators and law enforcement agencies are slowly beginning to respond. Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed it is investigating an anonymous corporate vehicle linked to the scandal. For the moment, this is a civil, not a criminal case, which means no individuals will be prosecuted.

The US is taking an interest. The justice department, the treasury department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates US stock markets, are reportedly involved.

Denmark's regulator, the Financial Supervisory Authority, has reopened an investigation that it had closed in May. Its first inquiry resulted in a reprimand, but no fine. Now the authority will look at whether management should face legal action. Its head, Jesper Berg, told the Financial Times: "It's easy to understand that there's a lot of public uproar. It's a continuation of the financial crisis. There's this sense of unmet consequences for the financial sector."

Before being rewarded with the top job, Borgen had been responsible for Estonia as Danske's head of international operations from 2009-12. The chief executive, in his resignation statement, said the report concluded he had "lived up" to his legal obligations. There are concerns, however, that the person at the helm during a catastrophic failure of the bank's internal controls is not leaving immediately. Borgen is being retained until a replacement is found and, as part of his contract, he is entitled to collect a year's pay.

Many questions remain unanswered. Even as the number of law enforcement agencies trying to tackle the Danske problem grows, doubts are mounting about their ability to bring prosecutions. Money laundering is a transnational crime. The Danske scandal involves 32 currencies, companies from Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands and the Seychelles. Customers of the Estonian branch have been traced to Russia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

One scheme run through the branch reportedly involved Azerbaijan's ruling elite, and a $2.9bn (£2.2bn) fund used to pay European politicians and lobbyists.

"Money laundering is a globalised industry and if you operate on a domestic basis you might as well not bother," said Tom Keatinge, the director of the centre for financial crime and security studies at the Royal United Services Institute. A former investment banker, Keatinge worked at JP Morgan for 20 years before turning his attention to combating fraud. "The borders are immaterial to you when you are structuring these transactions, whereas the borders are not immaterial for the cops who are trying to chase you."

Last week, the European commission put forward proposals to create the EU's first genuine cross-border anti-money laundering force. The European Banking Authority will see its relevant investigations team increased from two people to 10, and the agency is to be handed the power to intervene where it believes national regulators are failing. But its mandate is limited to taking action against banks - it cannot prosecute their criminal customers.

Neither this week's 87-page report, produced for Danske by an independent law firm, Bruun and Hjejle, nor a 19-page memorandum by the Danish FSA outlining Danske's failings in May, have confirmed the names of any of the bank's suspicious clients. Five years after staff in Estonia began raising the alarm, the only revelations in this area have come from investigative reporters.

The Bruun and Hjejle report makes a glancing reference to the most eye-catching name: the Putin family. It confirms that in December 2013, a whistleblower's account was sent to a member of Danske's executive board. The whistleblower named a UK registered company with an account at Danske whose beneficial owners were suspected to include "the Putin family and the FSB".

Bruun and Hjejle referenced reporting by the Danish newspaper Berlingske, which last year named Igor Putin, a businessman and cousin of the Russian president, and a number of his associates, as the individuals suspected by Danske staff of having transacted money through its Estonian accounts. Putin did not respond to a request for comment from Berlingske.

The transactions centred on a UK-registered company called Lantana Trade LLP. England's limited liability partnerships are notoriously popular for money laundering, because the information they are obliged to disclose is minimal. Companies House lists 50,000 active LLPs.

Lantana had filed accounts claiming to be dormant, according to the Danish FSA report from May. But Danske staff noticed in the summer of 2012 that it had an extensive history of transactions and a credit balance of nearly $1m. The alarm was raised with managers, but instead of closing the account, they allowed Lantana to remain a client until September 2013.

The NCA will not name the company it is investigating. The only detail given is that it is an LLP. In a statement, the agency did acknowledge the role often played by English companies in illegal schemes. "The threat posed by the use of UK company structures as a route for money laundering is widely recognised and the NCA is working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use them in this way."

The government says it is considering how to bolster the ability of the Companies House team to check the information provided by entities on its register. But for Keatinge, information gathering is not enough. "We know that supervision doesn't get the bad guys," he said. "It's investigation that gets the bad guys."

(5th October 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 21st September 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Britain will step up its cyber crime offensive against the threat from Russia and terrorist groups with a new £250m joint taskforce between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, it was reported last night.

The unit, which will be made up of some 2,000 recruits from the military and security services industry, is set to quadruple the number of people in offensive cyber-crime roles.

They will also be expected to take on and monitor domestic crime groups as well as hostile states, The Times reported.

It comes after Britain vowed to retaliate against Russian aggression after it blamed the country for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

According to reports, defence secretary Gavin Williamson will announce the new force soon after he ordered a review.

The unit is likely to be set up at a military base as the headquarters of GCHQ in Cheltenham - home of the the Government's top secret cyber intelligence agency - is already at full capacity.

A Government spokesman said: "The MOD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together, including on the National Offensive Cyber Programme.

"We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces from a range of hostile actors."

In July, a parliamentary committee warned that ministers are failing to get to grip with the shortage in cyber security experts despite the "potentially severe implications" for national security.

MPs and peers said the situation is of "serious concern", but the Government response lacks "urgency".

In a report, they warned the WannaCry attack in May 2017, which hit the NHS, showed the need to protect critical national infrastructure (CNI) from cyber threats.

But the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said: "We are struck by the Government's apparent lack of urgency in addressing the cyber security skills gap, which is of vital importance to both national security and the economy."

The committee said the Government and private sector was affected by the shortage in skilled cyber security workers.

Developing cyber security skills strategy should be the Government's first priority, the committee said.

"It is a pressing matter of national security that it does so," it added.

In July, a Government spokeswoman said: "We have a £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber security knowledge, skills and capability."

About - UK cyber security (National Cyber Security strategy 2016-2021)

The British government will invest £1.9bn on cyber security between 2016 and 2021. This figure includes the MoD, GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre.

The government's vision of ensuring the UK is 'secure and resilient to cyber threats' will be achieved in the following ways:

Defend : Citizens, businesses and the public sector has the knowledge to defend themselves

Deter : Detect, understand, investigate and disrupt hostile action taken against us

Develop : Nurture growing cyber security industry

ABOUT - WannaCry (Source: Press Association)

What is it?
Also known as Wanna Decryptor or wcry, it is a piece of malicious software that encrypts files on a user's computer, blocking them from view and threatening to delete them unless a payment is made.

How is it installed?
The virus made it onto computers thanks to a vulnerability in Windows that was exploited using a tool named EternalBlue, believed to be first developed by America's NSA. Many computers had not been updated with protection against the exploit.

What does it do?
Once opened, the virus is able to encrypt files and block user access to them, displaying a pop-up window on-screen telling users they have been blocked and demanding payment - often via a digital currency such as Bitcoin.

Can you remove it without paying?

Yes, by using advanced anti-malware software. The malware can also be removed manually with a computer in "safe mode", however security experts warn this runs the risk of damage to a PC as users must go through sensitive system files in order to find and isolate files created by the Wanna Decryptor software.

(5th October 2018)

(Mirror, dated 21st September 2018 author Grainne Cuffe)

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High street discount store B&M has been ordered to pay almost £500,000 for selling knives to underage children.

It comes as staff were repeatedly caught selling the weapons to teenagers as young as 14.

The company was exposed following an undercover operation by police and trading standards officers in areas of east London where knife crime is rampant.

The company was today ordered to pay £480,000 in fines and £12,428 in costs - the fine is thought to be the largest ever of its kind.

Although it is illegal to sell knives over three inches long to anyone under 18, two teenagers, aged 14 and 15, managed to buy blades at Chadwell Heath B&M last September.

Two days later B&M's Barking store sold a 16-year-old a three-piece knife set and on January 18 a 14-year-old came out of a store in Dagenham with another three-piece set.

B&M admitted selling the knives on June 22.

The company was fined for each separate incident, the fines rising each time because of its failure to put measures in place to stop selling the knives to youths.

Handing out the fine at a sentencing hearing at Barkingside Magistrates' Court, District Judge Gary Lucie referenced soaring crime levels involving knives in the capital.

He said: "The stark fact is that knife crime is at record levels across the country, particularly in London.

"In the year ending March 2017 there were 35,700 offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument in England and Wales, the highest in seven years.

"There were 215 homicides recorded using a sharp instrument, including knives and broken bottles, accounting for 30 per cent of all homicides.

"In the year ending March 2018, Redbridge was shown as having the highest knife crime in London.

"Barking and Dagenham was the 17th highest.

"Young people themselves are particularly vulnerable and should not have access to knives from shops, not just for the protection and safety of society, but for their own.

"For these reasons, I take the view that the selling of a knife to a juvenile will inevitably involve a high risk of harm.

He said the offences were not "deliberate" but "concerning" and added: "Clearly these offences were not deliberate nor were there serious or systematic failures within the organisation regarding the underage sales of knives.

"However, it appears to me that whilst systems were in place they were deficient and sufficiently adhered to or implemented at these stores.

"The volunteers were as young as 14 which is a long way short of 18 and substantially less that B&M's own Challenge 25 policy.

"In each case there were inadequacies in the training and refresher training of staff and other faults with labelling and signage.

"One of the most concerning failures is that B&M did not consider and implement further measures for these stores in what it accepts are high risk areas."

He added: "If it can be done for expensive items such as perfume it can equally be done for knives.

"Furthermore, these failings could not be properly considered as minor or isolated, there were three offences in a five month period at two different stores."

Retailers can face unlimited fines for selling knives to youngsters - the largest fine was £20,000 which Decathlon was ordered to pay after selling a blade to a teenager in Wandsworth.

B&M turnover was just over £2.6 billion in March of this year.

Judge Lucie said: "In my view the appropriate starting point for each offence, considering the very large size of the organisation, top end of medium culpability, high risk of harm and so as to ensure that it fulfils the objectives of sentencing is £300,000.

"That is just a starting figure and must be adjusted to take account of the aggravating and mitigating features."

He said there was a previous conviction in relation to selling a knife if 2008, a formal caution for selling one in April 2016, and the fact that they were not isolated incidents.

He fined B&M £200,000 for the incident at Goodmayes on September 19.

He said: "For the incident on September 21 at Vicarage Fields, £220,000 to reflect that this was committed only two days after the offence at Goodmayes and B&M should have been acutely alert to the issue but also reflecting that B&M had little chance to change systematic procedures during that time.

"For the incident on January 18 at Vicarage Fields, £300,000. This offence is substantially aggravated by the commission of the previous two offences and has been increased accordingly to reflect B&M has time to reflect and consider other options.

"The guilty pleas were entered at the very first opportunity and B&M is entitled to full credit of a third and is the total fine will be reduced from £720,000 to £480,000."

B&M was given 28 days to pay the fine.

Judge Lucie said: "I hope that this fine will bring home to the management and shareholder of B&M and other retailers of knives of the need to ensure that none of their premises sell knives to youths."

(5th October 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th September 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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More than a million calls to the police non-emergency number in London were abandoned in the past 12 months because people were waiting too long for an answer, figures have revealed.

The statistics obtained by Conservative London Assembly member Tony Arbour showed that a total of 1,257,858 101 calls were "aborted" in the 12 months to July this year.

The number is 50 per cent higher than the previous 12 months, raising fears that people trying to report low-level crimes are giving up in frustration. Callers waited an average of 15 minutes to speak to an operator, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary found.

Mr Arbour said: "The police inspectorate said in November that the Met was too inefficient, but this surge in waiting times indicates that the situation is getting worse, not better." He added: "So many potential crimes are failing to be reported through 101, meaning that London's crime epidemic could be even worse than the statistics show."

The figures reveal that the Met received 2,648,188 calls to the 101 number in the 12 months to July, when 57 per cent of callers failed to complete their call. In April 2016 the figure was only 3.6 per cent.

Mr Arbour urged the Mayor Sadiq Khan to divert more cash into the police saying he had "splurged millions" on increasing the culture budget and bolstering bureaucrats at City Hall.

A Met spokeswoman said: "Since the introduction of interactive voice recognition four weeks ago, the average answering time has reduced to 85 seconds. We have also recruited an additional 169 contact centre staff and a further 37 supervisors, and the Met opens a new recruitment campaign for a further 200 staff later this month."

(5th October 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 20th September 2018 author Karrie Kehoe)

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Once the number of walking trips is taken into account, Barking and Dagenham is the borough where pedestrians are most in danger of death or injury

Every 12 hours, a pedestrian is seriously injured by a car, lorry or bus on London's streets - and one person is killed every week.

Eleven people on foot were killed in the borough of Westminster in the three years to 2016; another 11 in Hackney and 11 more in Tower Hamlets. Ten people died in both Havering and Greenwich.

But those stark numbers hide the real risk, according to research by Dr Rachel Aldred at the University of Westminster. Once the number of walking trips is taken into account the borough where pedestrians are most in danger of death or injury is Barking and Dagenham.

The risk to pedestrians in the east London borough is twice as high as that in Kingston upon Thames or Richmond - and 28% higher than the Greater London average.

While Barking and Dagenham has one of the lowest figures for pedestrian fatalities or injuries - a total of 40 between 2014 and 2016 - the risk to pedestrians is high once the low number of walking trips in the borough is taken into account.

Aldred started with a previously unpublished version of the London Travel Survey which included daily walking trips by London residents, broken down by borough. Her analysis included tourism figures and commuting data at borough level from the Census and London Data Store.

For every billion walking trips that occur in London, 600 people are killed or injured on average, the analysis showed. The number rises to 825 in Barking and Dagenham.

Four more boroughs averaged more than 700 deaths or injuries per billion walking trips: Hackney at 796, Brent with 793, Redbridge at 790 and Haringey with 770.

At the other end of the spectrum were Kingston upon Thames (365), Richmond (389) and Greenwich (417).

"We don't know why this gap exists, although it fits with other evidence suggesting pedestrians from lower income backgrounds are at higher risk of injury than are better off pedestrians," said Aldred. "It reinforces the need for proven measures to reduce road danger across London, such as reducing speed limits and ensuring that drivers stick to those lower speeds."

Every day there are more than 24 million walking trips in Greater London. In some boroughs it may take several years for a billion journeys on foot to take place, but a matter of months in more congested areas.

In July, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced the city would adopt the Vision Zero programme. The scheme has a target of no road deaths or serious injuries by 2041 - and a 65% reduction by 2022.

By 2020 all roads within the congestion charging zone will be subject to a 20mph speed limit. A person hit by a car travelling at 30mph is five times more likely to die than someone hit by a car travelling at 20mph, Khan's office said.

Richard Lambert, London manager of Living Streets, said he was encouraged by the adoption of Vision Zero. "By making our streets safer for the most vulnerable road users, including those with wheelchairs, buggies and those living with sight loss, we make streets better for everyone," he said.

Vision Zero :

uaware comment

Sadly the numbers of deaths of pedestrians are correct, you can't mistake a death caused by a person being struck by a car or any other vehicle for that matter.

As for the other data, that can be "taken with a pinch of salt". The number of walking journies is based on a survey of perhaps a thousand to 10 thousand people (if the survey originator had the budget). Also respondents have a tendency to exagerate in their responses either upward or downwards (either to impress - look how fit I am, or, I have to walk - I haven't got a car).

The most telling statistic is the number of deaths and injuries.

(5th October 2018)

(BBC News, dated 20th September 2018)

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The UK government is considering "all options", including a regulator, as part of new legislation governing the internet.

It has previously said it will publish a White Paper in the coming months, laying out its proposals.

According to Buzzfeed News, the White Paper will propose a regulatory body similar to Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters and telecoms companies.

The government told the BBC it would publish the White Paper this winter.

But a spokesman for the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had nothing to share at this time.

A cross-party committee investigating misinformation and fake news has already suggested areas for new legislation ahead of the White Paper.

In July, it recommended:

- reforming electoral law for the digital age - including clear rules about political advertising online.

- taxing social networks to pay for digital literacy programmes in schools

- greater transparency around online advertising

However, Buzzfeed News said the government's proposals would go further. It said it had seen details of the White Paper, which included:

- forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a specific time period or face penalties. A similar law is in force in Germany

- making social networks verify the age of their users

- punishing social networks that failed to remove terror content or child abuse images

- restricting advertisements online for food and soft drink products that were high in salt, fat or sugar

A spokesman for the DCMS said the report was speculation.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, it said: "We are considering all options, including what legislation will be necessary and whether a regulator is needed."

(5th October 2018)

(The Yorkshire Post, dated 19th September 2018 author Mark Burns-Williamson)

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LAST week the National Audit Office highlighted the financial sustainability of policing in order to meet the ever-growing complexity of crime. Its findings resonate here in West Yorkshire, given real terms budget reductions of around £140m since 2010.

The last policing settlement gave PCCs some additional flexibility to increase their local police precept, but the funding formula administered by Government has - for a long time - been a subject of discussion among police and crime commissioners.

There is currently little cognisance of the fact that some areas, such as West Yorkshire, face greater challenges than others and therefore needs additional resources to manage them.

The NAO report provides much of the evidence needed to recognise why we are in this position, and that a bigger conversation - and urgency - from the Government is required if we are to address the issues. There are examples within it which clearly encapsulate the frustrations and discrepancies.

For instance, it reveals reductions of around 25 per cent for a force in the North and 11 per cent for a constabulary in the South. As the formula hasn't been reviewed for more than 20 years, these differences have been exacerbated.

This prolonged period of inaction has contributed to more uncertainty and unfairness, along with the significant overall reductions in central grant.

Both must be tackled if the overall financial position of policing and community safety is to improve.

Until we achieve a greater level of resources and equity in the way funding is allocated centrally, we will continue to see many forces with the greatest obstacles struggling to overcome them in order to help keep the public safe.

Solely relying on PCCs to raise ever more funds locally, passing a greater burden to local taxpayers, is not fair the answer.

Many things have changed in society during this time, including crime types, which means the original criteria for the funding formula is no longer fit for purpose.

At the moment we are at a distinct disadvantage, particularly as we see regional and national rises in criminal exploitation, serious organised and violent crime, whilst new offences have emerged such as cyber crime and modern day slavery, with most crimes now having some form of digital or technological involvement.

These are key themes within my recently refreshed Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire and are issues which I am committed to tackling along with Dee Collins, the Chief Constable. However, since 2010, my force has seen in the region of £140m in cuts, which has meant working to significantly reduced budgets and the loss of around 2,000 police jobs.

These financial forecasts do not appear to be getting any brighter, with millions more in future savings still expected without any predicted uplift in the central Government grant, which accounts for about 70 per cent of our budget - or changes to the aforementioned funding formula.

It is something which I have had to contend with year on year in setting the local policing precept, ensuring that we have enough resources to balance the books and help bolster frontline capacity.

What is obvious, however, is that there is no real strategic central overview of the consequences of the significant cuts we have faced over the past 10 years, and as set out in the NAO report. It is now time to look again at the overall strategic direction of policing.

The comments of the last few days from frontline officers about the things they have to deal with are in no way unusual and show why we must give policing the priority it deserves. Not just in my role as West Yorkshire PCC, but as Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), I will continue to raise the issues of resources and demand on a national platform.

We need to provide the best service we can with the resources that we have, but there just isn't enough money available for quality of policing which is recognised by the wider public.

I will be working closely with my PCC counterparts, the National Police Chief's Council and the Home Office to review these issues and ensure they are fully considered prior to the next Spending Review by the Government.

Mark Burns-Williamson OBE is the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the National Association of PCCs (APCC).

(5th October 2018)

(The Register, dated 18th September 2018 author John Leyden)

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The UK's TV Licensing agency has admitted that 25,000 viewers were induced into sending their bank details over an insecure connection.

The organisation ran transactional pages for bank debits through an insecure connection before being called out on the practice earlier this month.

In response to criticism by techie Mark Cook and others as well as press criticism in The Register and elsewhere, the publicly funded agency temporarily took its website offline as it migrated everything over to HTTPS.

TV Licensing already had an HTTPS website but it was running an HTTP site in parallel hosting forms that invited the submission of sensitive personal information. This issue ran from 29 August until around 3.20pm on 5 September 2018, as per the FAQ. Running an insecure version of its site simply to provide information in this era of HTTPS ubiquity would have been inadvisable, but TV Licensing went far beyond that.

The agency pushed to get the insecure site to appear at the top of search engine rankings and there was no attempt to redirect users over to HTTPS, even when it came to filling out sensitive bank direct debit payment application forms, as The Register previously reported.

Privacy, performance and search optimisation be damned. The setup was wrong-headed and TV Licensing compounded its errors by initially ignoring complaints from infosec types.

Its online support staff at one point even told surfers to ignore any warning Chrome might throw up because of the HTTP page, as evidenced below.

Our website is secure and security certificates are up to date. Pages where customers enter data are HTTPS. Non HTTPS pages are safe to use despite messages from some browsers (e.g. Chrome) that say they are not.

- TV Licensing (@tvlicensing) September 5, 2018


Card payments were managed by an external provider and always went over HTTPS.

TV Licensing eventually admitted the error of its ways. On Monday, it supplied a post-slip-up statement admitting that 25,000 customers had been sent down an insecure route for submitting their bank details, lower than initial estimates of 40,000.


We can now confirm that fewer than 25k customer sent over unencrypted bank details and that credit and debit cards numbers were always secure. We mailed 40k people who may have entered bank details and sort codes as a precaution but we've now been able to confirm that the actual number was much lower.


The UK's National Cyber Security Centre has recommended that websites should use HTTPS "even if they don't include private content, sign-in pages, or credit card details".

Any information submitted to an unencrypted site might be stumbled upon by hackers. An unencrypted site might also be more easily targeted by people impersonating others and some forms of man-in-the-middle attacks.

TV Licensing has started to contact affected customers directly. Its support service has been telling people to be wary about phishing emails.

(5th October 2018)

(Sky News, dated 18th September 2018)

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Europol has warned of 15 ways in which people can fall prey to cyber criminals as it launched a report on the dangers of the web.

The report, the fifth annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), is being presented today at the Interpol cyber crime conference in Singapore.

Europol described the report as offering "a unique law enforcement view of the emerging threats and key developments in the field of cyber crime over the last year".

It added that the assessment "describes anticipated future threats" and "only has one goal in mind - to stop cybercriminals from making you their next victim."


1. Ransomware

Ransomware - malicious software that encrypts your computer and demands a ransom to make the files accessible - has become a standard attack tool for cyber criminals.

Europol is warning that criminals are moving from random ransomware attacks, such as the WannaCry attack which hit the NHS, to specifically targeting companies and individuals who might be able to pay larger ransoms.

How to protect yourself?

- Keep your computer updated
- Use a reputable anti-virus program

2. Mobile malware

Europol warns that malware for mobile phones is likely to grow as people shift from online to mobile banking.

How to protect yourself?

- Check apps are legitimate before installing them
- Use a reputable mobile anti-virus program

3. Stealthy malware

Europol warns that cyber attacks have become increasingly stealthy and harder to detect.

Attacks using so-called "fileless" malware are increasingly common. This malware doesn't write itself onto the victim computer's harddrive, but only exists in parts of the computer memory, such as the RAM

How to protect yourself?

- Keep your computer software updated.
- Be wary of using macros in office program

4. Extortion

The EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduces severe financial sanctions, up to 4% of global turnover, for companies that fail to protect users' privacy.

GDPR requires that data breaches are reported within 72 hours, and Europol warns that criminals may try to extort organisations because of this.

"While this is not new, it is possible that hacked companies will prefer to pay a smaller ransom to a hacker for non-disclosure than the steep fine that might be imposed by the authorities."

How to protect yourself?

- Never pay extortion attempts without contacting the authorities first

5.Data for data's sake

Europol warns that the motive behind a lot of network intrusions is the illegal acquisition of data.

This data could be used for a variety of purposes, from developing leads for phishing or payment fraud, through to commercial or industrial espionage.

How to protect yourself?

- Keep your computer updated
- Use a reputable anti-virus program


Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are very unsophisticated and involve sending so many requests to a network resource that it is overloaded and can't respond to any of them.

There are tools widely available allowing unskilled individuals to launch these attacks, and there are limited ways to protect against them because of the way the internet is engineered.

Fortunately, DDoS attacks can't steal data or cause any damage beyond making a website or internet resource unavailable.

7. Social engineering

Social engineering describes a form of attack in which someone exploits human traits, such as kindness or compassion, as part of a cyber attack. The famous Nigerian prince scams are a form of social engineering fraud.

Europol warns that West African fraudsters are likely to have a more significant role within the EU in the future, as Africa continues to have the fastest growing internet usage globally.

How to protect yourself?

- Always remember that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

8. Cryptocriminality

There are a range of cryptocurrency crimes taking place, according to Europol, and cyber attacks which historically targeted financial instruments are now targeting cryptocurrency users and businesses.

Cryptomining has been exploited by financially motivated cyber criminals, who for instance hack legitimate websites to cryptojack users visiting those sites - hijacking their CPU power to mine more of the currency.

How to protect yourself?

- Use a legitimate browser plug-in to avoid running javascript on unfamiliar web pages.

9. Privacy-orientated cryptocurrencies

Europol states that it expects "a more pronounced shift towards more privacy-oriented currencies" and said "an increase in extortion demands and ransomware in these currencies will exemplify this shift".

How to protect yourself?

- Report all extortion attempts to the authorities
- Keep your software updated to avoid ransomware

10. Volume of child abuse material

The volume of child sexual abuse is growing to levels "that were unimaginable ten years ago" according to Europol, "partly because of the growing number of young children with access to internet-enabled devices and social media".

How to react?

Seeing images and videos of child sexual abuse can be upsetting, but the right thing to do is report it to the Internet Watch Foundation here. Your report could lead to the rescue of a young victim from further abuse.

Internet Watch Foundation :

11. Self-generated material

A large amount of child sexual exploitation material is self-generated. These images are often initially produced and shared voluntarily by young people, but end up in the hands of online child sex offenders. Offenders have also obtained images through sexual extortion.

How to protect yourself and others?

- Educate children about the risks of sharing nude images online and encourage them to report any harassment or extortion attempts to a responsible adult.

12. The "Darknet"

Europol says that offenders are continuously seeking new ways to avoid detection from law enforcement, including by using anonymisation and encryption tools - and in some cases even the Bitcoin blockchain.

Almost all of this material is available on the open internet, but very extreme material can be found on hidden services that can only be accessed on the "Darknet" according to Europol.

How will they catch these criminals?

The widespread use of encryption on the web today has repeatedly been described as an issue for law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies.

According to a report by Parliament's Security and Intelligence Committee, in 2016 GCHQ was engaged in a major ongoing project called FOXTROT, which was designed "to increase GCHQ's ability to operate in an environment of ubiquitous encryption".

13. Live streaming

Live streaming of child sexual abuse is a very difficult crime to investigate. Europol states: "It often leaves few forensic traces and the live streamed material does not need to be downloaded or locally stored."

It has been on the rise for some years as video streaming technology has improved.

This form of abuse "will most likely move to other parts of the world, where legislation and law enforcement are not always able to keep up with the rapid developments in this area," warns Europol.

How to tackle it?

Internet businesses currently use the Child Abuse Image Database, which contains 30 million cryptographic hashes (digital fingerprints that can be used to identify files) to automatically detect when someone attempts to upload a known indecent image to their platforms.

However, this form of filtering is unable to capture new indecent images that haven't been reported before - nor can it address child abuse material which is being streamed.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, has pledged £250,000 towards the development of technologies which can detect live-streamed abuse.

14. Skimming

Credit card skimming is still successful as magnetic stripes on cards continue to be used. The presence of cameras alongside chip and pin skimmers can also allow criminals to capture the PIN alongside their attempts to clone the chip.

How to protect yourself?

- Check instant payments on your banking app to be aware of fraud attempts
- Make sure you cover your PIN when at an ATM

15. Telecommunications fraud

Fraudsters on the phone is an old but growing trend in fraud involving non-cash payments. Fraudsters can pretend to be from financial institutions or banks when attempting to collect details from you.

How to protect yourself?

- Never hand out financial information, including card details, over the phone
- Always double-check that someone claiming to be a representative from your bank is a real person, and call them back on a publicly listed number


Europol's executive director Catherine De Bolle said: "Cyber crime cases are increasingly complex and sophisticated.

"Law enforcement requires additional training, investigative and forensic resources in order to adequately deal with these challenges.

"The policing opportunities arising from emerging technologies, such as big data analytics and machine learning, need to be seized.

"Europol will continue its efforts to enhance co-operation with international law enforcement and government agencies, tech companies, academia and other relevant stakeholders. Only if we do this, can cyber crime be combated effectively."

(5th October 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 17th September 2018 author Callum Adams)

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Tailgating is to blame for one in eight serious accidents on motorways and major A-roads, Highways England has warned, as it urges drivers to 'snap out of autopilot'.

Highways England, which manages the roads, said more than 100 people are killed or seriously injured each year in accidents where a vehicle has driven too close to the one in front.

Of the 16,233 casualties on motorways and major A roads in England in 2016, 1,896 involved tailgating.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at the state company, said: "We think that most of it is simply unintentional, people don't realise they're driving too close to people ... sometimes they're on autopilot.

"Most of us just do it ... we drive on autopilot and sometimes on autopilot you do creep up to the vehicle in front of you, you don't realise you're doing it."

He described tailgating, the third highest contributing factor for all motorway casualties, as a "key issue".

The highest contributing factor is a failure to look properly and the second highest cause is failing to judge another driver's path or speed, such as when someone pulls out at a junction.

The Highway Code says drivers should allow at least a two-second gap between vehicles, which is doubled on wet roads.

More than one in four drivers in England admit they have driven so close to the car in front it may have been difficult to stop in an emergency in the last three months, according to a poll of 1,109 people. This suggests that millions of drivers are tailgating on the country's roads.

Mr Leonard said: "Tailgating makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimised, distracting their attention from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake.

"If that leads to a collision, then people in both vehicles could end up seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safely, so the advice is - stay safe, stay back."

Highways England has launched a campaign named Don't Be A Space Invader, which is based on the popular arcade game.

The campaign is supported by Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell, who described tailgating as "a driving habit I utterly deplore".

(5th October 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th September 2018 author Sophie Williams)

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A spike in the number of dockless bikes being stolen and spray painted to disguise them has been reported in London.

It comes as bike sharing firms struggle to deal with rising levels of thefts.

Earlier this month, the Mobike firm announced that it would be leaving Manchester due to the rising numbers of bikes going missing. It also reduced its London operating zones.

Pictures of broken and damaged bicycles belonging to the Ofo firm have also been shared on social media. Many have had their tracking devices removed and have been spray painted a different colour.

Images show the lengths the thieves will go to in order to steal the bikes while some wanting to keep the cycle for themselves have even locked them up outside their houses.

A majority of the bikes were pictured in the capital while others were spotted in cities including Cambridge.

Dockless bikes are incredibly popular and allow users to trace their nearest bike, scan its code and ride it to their destinations using an app on their phones.

The user is then charged through the app for using the service.

A spokesperson for Ofo told the Standard: "While there has inevitably been a small amount of misuse of bikes, the vast majority of our fleet is used responsibility by our users for affordable and convenient urban travel - with thousands of trips every day.

"It's regrettable where vandalism occurs, but we're hugely encouraged by the take up of our bikes in London and would not allow the actions of a minority to ruin the service for the whole community."

According to Ofo bike, when a person attempts to move a bike without hiring it through the app, an alarm sounds.

Earlier this year, smart bike hire companies including Ofo revealed that they were cracking down on vandalism and dumped bicycles.

Earlier this year, the company told the Standard that it is using technology to ensure that vandalism is not a common experience.

A spokesperson explained that the company has a large team of marshals who patrol London and other cities with a custom smartphone app that shows where the bikes are and when they were last hired.

The marshals check on the while fleet to make sure they are in good working order and parked responsibly.

A spokesperson from TfL said: "It is vital that dockless operators work closely with us and the boroughs to ensure their schemes are safely and responsibly managed, so we can avoid the disruptive and dangerous clutter of abandoned bikes that we have seen in some cities around the world.

"We are pursuing a pan-London approach to managing dockless operators with London Councils which could include a new bye-law to help ensure that schemes are safe and responsibly managed with local issues in mind."

(5th October 2018)

(Daily Post, dated 15th September 2018 author Owen Evans)

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Average speed cameras installed on the A55 can detect whether drivers are using mobile phones or not wearing a seatbelt.

The cameras, switched on in June, are examples of the new "yellow vulture" devices, which are so advanced that they can accurately detect drivers eating, using their phones and even smoking behind the wheel.

Thousands of people have already been snared for speeding along the downwards stretch of the road, but it has now emerged that the cameras are capable of snaring drivers for other motoring offences.

Cameras installed on the A5104 between Corwen and Llandegla earlier this year are also capable of detecting the same thing.

GoSafe, Wales' traffic safety partnership, has said they have been detecting such offences "for years".

A spokesman said: "GoSafe have been detecting speeding offences, non-wearing of seatbelts and the use of mobile phones for several years.

"These offence offences significantly increase the risk of serious injury and casualties on our roads.

"Through Operation Snap GoSafe can also deal with a large majority of road traffic offences.

"GoSafe also contributes to Operation Tramline in conjunction with the four Welsh police forces which utilises an unmarked HGV cab to detect road traffic offences."

Operation Snap is a scheme in which members of the public can submit video and photographic evidence of driving offences being committed on the roads.

The secret behind the new devices' pin-point accuracy is new technology which helps them detect motoring offences any time of day or night and even in very bad weather.

The cameras are equipped with new LED infrared equipment which means they can capture sharper footage and leave little room for ambiguity when it comes to catching offending drivers in the act.

They feature an accompanying LED box system which is positioned 20 yards away from the camera.

The new cameras do not run out of film, cannot be fooled by changing lanes and can catch motorbikes.

(5th October 2018)

(The Register, dated 13th September 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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The UK government breached human rights rules by failing to ensure proper oversight of its mass surveillance programmes, according to the European Court of Human Rights.

In a judgment handed down today, the court said the safeguards within the government's system for bulk interception of communication were not robust enough to provide guarantees against abuse.

The court said this violated the right to privacy under the European convention - as did the way in which GCHQ obtained communications data from service providers.

However, the court said the sharing of information with foreign government was not in breach of the rules.

The case, brought by a number of human rights and journalism organisations, is one of many challenges launched after the US whistleblower, former NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations that GCHQ was secretly intercepting communications traffic via fibre-optic undersea cables.

It is the first time the court has considered these UK regimes, and the first time it has ever considered intelligence-sharing programmes.

The court did not say that carrying out bulk interception was unlawful in and of itself - but rather that the oversight of that apparatus was insufficient.

Although the case considered procedures governing bulk cable-tapping that are no longer in force - since replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act - campaigners have hailed it as a further nail in the coffin of state surveillance.

"The Court has put down a marker that the UK government does not have a free hand with the public's communications and that in several key respects the UK's laws and surveillance practices have failed," said Dan Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, which acted for some of the parties.

"The pressure of this litigation has already contributed to some reforms in the UK and this judgment will require the UK government to look again at its practices in this most critical of areas."

Critics argue that the new law has simply made a lot of what was previously going on under the radar more transparent, and does not change the material concerns about the lawfulness of the activities themselves.

"Many of the legal flaws slammed in today's decision are baked into that law," said Corey Stoughton of Liberty, one of the organisations that brought the case. "The wind is in our sails today."

Incapable of keeping interference to what is necessary'

The case - which joined together three separate challenges - considered three aspects of the UK's spying laws: the regime for bulk interception of communications (under section 8(4) of RIPA); the system for collection communications data (under Chapter II of RIPA); and the intelligence sharing programme.

The first two were found to breach the convention, while the latter did not.

The court said the system governing the bulk interception of communications was "incapable" of keeping interference to what is "necessary in a democratic society" for two reasons.

"First, the lack of oversight of the entire selection process, including the selection of bearers for interception, the selectors and search criteria for filtering intercepted communications, and the selection of material for examination by an analyst.

"Secondly, the absence of any real safeguards applicable to the selection of related communications data for examination."

On the second point, the court noted particular concern about the way in which the government could search and examine this related data - the who, when and where of a communication - "apparently without restriction".

It said it was not persuaded that the collection of this information was less intrusive than the acquisition of content, pointing out that content might be encrypted or, if decrypted, might reveal nothing of note.

In contrast, related communications data is capable "of painting an intimate picture of a person" through mapping social networks, location tracking and insight of who they interacted with.

The court had also been asked to consider whether there had been violations of other parts of the convention, but found that the arguments put forward for a number of these challenges were inadmissible.

It did, however, rule that there had been a violation of Article 10, the right to freedom of expression for two of the parties, as there were insufficient safeguards in respect of confidential journalist material.

The court has been ordered to pay the first group of applicants, led by Big Brother Watch, €150,000 of their claimed costs and the second group (the Bureau and Ross) €35,000. The third group, of 10 human rights organisations, made no claims.

'New regime poses an ever greater threat to civil liberties'

Today's ruling is the latest in a long line that have found against the government's former snooping law, which has since been superseded by the Investigatory Powers Act.

The court did not consider the newer law, as it was not in force at the time of its examination of the case - and so the ruling refers to the system as it was.

The former system of data collection has previously been ruled unlawful by the UK's own Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which found that the spy agencies engaged in indiscriminate and illegal bulk surveillance for 15 years, up to October 2016.

However, the Investigatory Powers Act is also being challenged, based on a 2016 judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union that ruled indiscriminate data retention illegal.

That said access to retained data must only be granted for cases of serious crime, and that authorisation should come from an independent body, not public authorities.

It was followed by similar decisions in the Court of Appeal and High Court, which said the Snooper's Charter did not comply with the EU ruling. The High Court, whose ruling applied to Part 4 of the Act, gave the government until 1 November to change the law.

The government has since proposed changes to the law that it says will bring it in line with the CJEU's decision - but campaigners are eyeing up fresh challenges.

"Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the UK has adopted the most authoritarian surveillance regime of any Western state, corroding democracy itself and the rights of the British public," said Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch.

"This judgment is a vital step towards protecting millions of law-abiding citizens from unjustified intrusion. However, since the new Investigatory Powers Act arguably poses an ever greater threat to civil liberties, our work is far from over."

(5th October 2018)

(ZDNET, datd 12th September 2018 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

One in every hundred emails sent around the globe has malicious intent, likely to deliver malware, conduct spear-phishing, commit fraud or other activity conducted by cyber criminals.

It's not a theoretical threat, either: recently published documents by the US Department of Justice detail how email played a key role in in the 2014 Sony Pictures breach and other attacks by North Korean cyber attackers. In many cases, it just takes one malicious email being successful to provide attackers with a doorway into the back end of a target network and a route to significant damage.

Researchers at FireEye have examined over half-a-billion emails sent between January and June 2018 and found that one in 101 emails are classed as outright malicious, sent with the goal of compromising a user or network. When spam is discounted, only one third of emails are considered 'clean'.

One particular trend that FireEye details is that while attackers are still attempting to dupe victims into installing malware, ransomware and other forms of malicious software via weaponized attachments in emails, these only accounted for ten percent of blocked attacks in the six-month period.

The remaining 90 percent of attacks involved no malware in the initial attack, but rather used social engineering and impersonation to conduct campaigns for directly stealing data or installing malware later down the line.

SEE: What is phishing? Everything you need to know to protect yourself from scam emails and more

One way attackers are doing this is by increasingly turning to impersonation attacks. In these attacks, the culprit pretends to be a colleague, boss -- or even CEO -- within a workplace and leverages the relationship to convince the victim to part with sensitive data or to make a financial transaction. Sometimes, this only comes after a back and forth in order to avoid any initial suspicion by the user.

"When you're dealing with your text-only messaging, you have to lean very heavily on your imagination to take action on what you've been sent. You really have to imagine it's your boss or whoever it is you're having a conversation with," Ken Bagnall, VP of email security at FireEye, told ZDNet.

"Once you're convinced of that, you're easily pushed over into situations where you're taken advantage of and fraud can occur. It's because you have so little evidence when it's text-only, that you put yourself out on a limb and you're really vulnerable -- they've really caught onto that lately," he added.

The attacks are relatively simple to carry out, because rather than needing to spoof an entire domain, they can much more easily spoof a display name or email address -- particularly if the victim is using a smartphone.

"If you look at the inbox, all it gives you is the display name -- anyone can type anything in there," said Bagnall.

One particular means of impersonation attack FireEye points to as on the rise are those leading to phishing sites and other malicious links. Rather than sending individual messages, the attacker sends a more general message containing what looks like an internal company link, which once clicked, can lead to a malware payload or credential-harvesting site.

Researchers point to the FIN7 group as one cyber-criminal operation which has taken advantage of this particular type of attack. Also known as the Carbanak Group, the attackers have targeted businesses around the world in highly successful campaigns.

However, there are relatively simple things organisations can do to decrease the likelihood of falling victim to these attacks, be they phishing, impersonation attacks or anything else.

"You should never be in a situation where you can transfer $10m because you've had an email conversation with someone that hasn't been confirmed outside that line of communication. That's one obvious thing," said Bagnall.

Security awareness training can also help improve awareness about these type of attacks -- but human error will always have a part to play in these campaigns.

"It's good to get security awareness training for your users -- but a small amount of people will always respond to these," he added.

(5th October 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 11th September 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Scotland Yard is to boost the fight against violence by transferring 122 officers from traffic policing to a task force tackling gangs and knife crime.

The officers will be seconded to the Violent Crime Task Force from the Met's Roads and Transport Policing for the next three months as violent offending usually surges in the autumn.

Officials described the move as a temporary measure.

It came as the Met tackles rocketing knife crime and violence, with more than 100 homicides in London so far this year.

In another measure Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announced plans for a new "Dad's Army" of officers to boost police numbers in London.

All those who have retired in the last two years are to be asked to rejoin at the same rank while officers who are about to leave are being asked to stay on.

The move could mean an extra 2,500 officers engaged in fighting crime.

The task force, launched in April with funding from the Mayor Sadiq Khan, has made 895 arrests so far targeting gangs and violent offenders in high-crime boroughs.

With a new total of 272 officers, it will be able to patrol more areas.

(5th October 2018)

(Sky News, dated 11th September 2018)

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Police forces are "struggling to deliver effective services to the public" due to cuts to funding and staffing, a new report has warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) - the government spending watchdog - has published an in-depth review covering policing across England and Wales, with arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels both found to be on the slide.

Crimes are also said to be leading to fewer charges and less is being done to proactively tackle offences such as drug trafficking and drink-driving.

In a damning assessment of the current state of police funding, the report suggests that the situation "could get worse" if the Home Office does not "direct resources to where they are needed".

The report accuses the department of a "light touch" approach, with falling funding and staffing levels in the last eight years contributing to increased levels of "high harm" crimes and a heightened terror threat.

Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "There are signs that forces are already experiencing financial strain and struggling to deliver effective services to the public.

"If the Home Office does not understand what is going on it will not be able to direct resources to where they are needed, with the risk that the situation could get worse."

The total police budget for 2018-19 is £12.3bn, but the NAO says overall funding to forces - made up of central government grants and council tax - has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010-11.

Job cuts are the main way in which forces have attempted to manage the financial squeeze, with the number of PCSOs, police staff and officers down 40%, 21% and 15% respectively since 2010.

Even cash held in reserves for "exceptional" events has dropped 20% in the past two years, now standing at £1.7bn.

According to the NAO, the Home Office produced its own internal report back in November, in which it concluded that forces were facing increased pressure in meeting demand.

Home Secretary Savid Javid has since pledged to prioritise police funding in the next spending review, but as it stands the NAO has said the department's oversight of policing does not represent "value for money".

Mr Javid will address the Police Superintendents' Association on Tuesday, during which he will emphasise his commitment to ensuring forces are "equipped to deal with the changing crime landscape".

Ahead of his speech, a Home Office spokesman said: "Our decision to empower locally-accountable police and crime commissioners to make decisions using their local expertise does not mean that we do not understand the demands on police forces.

"In addition, the report does not recognise the strengths of PCCs and chief constables leading on day-to-day policing matters, including on financial sustainability.

"We remain committed to working closely with police and delivered a £460m increase in overall police funding in 2018/19, including increased funding for local policing through council tax."

(5th October 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th September 2018 author Charles Hymas)

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Police have warned gangs are stripping cars of catalytic converters with some jacking up vehicles in broad daylight to steal valuable metal.

Thieves are cashing in on six-year highs in prices for the rhodium, palladium and platinum in the devices.

The metals, which clean cars' toxic gases, can be recycled for use in jewellery, dentistry and electronics and command prices of up to £2,000 an ounce, twice the value of gold.

BMW, Audis and VWs are being targeted, according to the police who have urged car owners and businesses to take protective steps to make the catalytic converters harder to steal.

Met police superintendent Ricky Kandohla said they were increasingly concerned about the thefts, some of which he believes are linked. Officers are targeting areas suffering the biggest increases in an effort to track down suspects.

"We have identified specific owners of vehicles that may be targeted and provided them with crime prevention advice," he said.

The crimewave reverses a decline in the number of metal thefts from a peak six years ago which led to the introduction of new laws making it illegal to buy scrap metal for cash.

Industry experts attributed much of the decline to a fall in metal prices but say thefts are now increasing as prices jump to new highs.

The British Metals Recycling Association said there were rising thefts of lead and copper from church roofs, copper rail signalling cable and even iron drain grates. The 600-year-old All Saints Church in Northampton faces closure after a £160,000 raid on its copper roof this summer.

4X4s such as Shoguns have also been targeted by the gangs, because they have have a high clearance off the road making their catalytic converters accessible. Honda Jazzes and Accords are also favoured because their older devices are particularly easy to reach and rich in the precious metals.

A professional gang can jack up a car and use a battery-powered steel cutter or angle-grinder to steal the catalytic converter within five minutes.

One theft in Tooting, south London, this month was so brazen that the gang stole the converter from a Honda Jazz in broad daylight in front of neighbours who thought the criminals were garage mechanics. Other have used the cover of dimly-lit streets and rain to mask the noise of their cutting machinery.

Police have advised etching security details into the converters, installing extra bolts or protective sleeves to make them harder to cut out and "defensive parking" against a wall or by another lower-slung vehicle to make it more difficult to reach under.

Businesses or even homeowners with high numbers of vehicles parked overnight are recommended to deploy CCTV, secure perimeter fencing and security lighting which stays on from dusk until dawn.

While thieves might make £300 from a catalytic converter, car owners are left with repair bills of £2,000.

Ian Crowder, of the AA, said it was rural as well as urban as gangs often targeted county shows where hundreds of vehicles were parked for long periods.

He said: "It's not an amateur job to recover precious metals as they are toxic and you need various chemical treatments to extract them. They are done by factories particularly overseas. When sufficient are collected, they will put them in a container and ship them off."

(5th October 2018)

(Essex Police Community Messaging, dated 11th September author Kevin Blake)

As the autumn nights draw in the tell-tale signs of the empty house become more apparent.

FACT: Most burglars will prefer to target the empty house unseen and avoid any confrontation.

As the days get shorter if you work away from home, or even pop out to get the children from school by the time you return home it may already be dark. A house in darkness says no one is in especially if your neighbour's houses either side have lights on and show other signs of being occupied. If you back onto open farmland or have parking areas or footpaths to side or rear this may be even more apparent.

Create the "Illusion of Occupancy", when its dark make your home look like you are in. Leave lights on or put them on timers or daylight sensors to come when it gets dark. Remember though no one lives in the hall or on the landing so if you leave these lights on supplement these with lights on in rooms that you would normally occupy at that time of day i.e. lounge and kitchen. A carefully placed imitation TV or "Fake TV" can further add to that illusion of occupancy by making it look like the television is on. Some burglars may also listen at windows or letterboxes for sign of activity, so consider leaving a radio on within your home.

Don't forget the outside of your property too, if burglars see that it is lit they are less likely to approach for fear of being seen.

Leave lights on, with energy efficient bulbs it costs very little now days and yet may save you lots!

(5th October 2018)

(Metro, dated 10th September 2018 author Zoe Drewett)

Full article [Option 1]:

A couple claim to have discovered a secret camera hidden in a digital clock in the Airbnb flat they were renting.

Dougie Hamilton and his girlfriend say the camera - which was pointed towards their bed in the holiday apartment - was disguised as a clock but looked suspicious.

The 34-year-old said he started investigating the clock after a day of exploring in Toronto, Canada.

He had recently watched a YouTube video on secret 'spy' cameras hidden in cuddly toys and buttons, Dougie said.

But when he picked up the clock he managed to slide its face off quite easily and was horrified to find a tiny lens that may have been recording them.

On September 7, Dougie, from Glasgow, posted about his discovery on Facebook, writing: 'If you use Airbnb, then you'll definitely want to read this and possibly stop using them.'

He explained: 'We booked a one night stay in a lovely apartment in the centre of Toronto for last night (September 6).'

'We had a crazy busy day around the city and finally were able to get to the Airbnb and relax or so we thought.

'I was laying on the couch and this digital clock is facing into the living area and open plan bedroom

'Left with my thoughts, that video pops into my head, "imagine if it was the spy camera in the clock".'

After removing the clock's charger and discovering a lithium battery in the back of the device the front face of the clock cam off and revealed the camera.

The couple have since alerted Airbnb and police in Canada, who are both investigating.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Dougie said: '(Airbnb) told us the property owner has six other properties and hundreds of reviews, so it looks like we've been lucky.

'We were only in the place for 20 minutes when I noticed the clock.

'It was connected to a wire like a phone charger which wasn't quite right.

'I felt a bit weird even thinking it and I kept telling myself not to be daft. But there was just something.'

Dougie and his girlfriend - who asked not to be named - said they found the encounter 'creepy'.

A spokeswoman for Toronto police said: 'We received a call last Thursday regarding what appeared to be a video camera in a clock in an apartment.

'The investigation is continuing.'

Airbnb has also told Dougie its security team are looking into the claims and offered him a full refund.

'They said they would be cancelling upcoming reservations for the owner's properties,' he added.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: 'We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero tolerance policy for this behaviour.

'We have removed the host from the platform while we investigate and are providing the guest with our full support.'

(5th October 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 9th September 2018 authors Sarah Marsh and Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police are increasingly dropping investigations into serious crimes such as sexual offences, violent attacks and arson within hours of them being reported, the Guardian can reveal.

The UK's largest force "screened out" 34,164 crimes without further investigation on the day they were reported in 2017, compared to 13,019 the year before. In the first five months of 2018, 18,093 crimes were closed in 24 hours, putting the number for the year on track to exceed last year's total.

The figures, obtained under freedom of information rules, included a growing number of sexual offence cases that were closed in a day, rising from 20 in 2016 to 49 in 2017 and 32 in the first five months of 2018.

Critics said that the disclosures demonstrated the effect that austerity was having on the force's ability to carry out its duties.

Screening out is the process whereby the Met decides which offences to stop investigating after a primary assessment. In October 2017, in a move denounced as a "green light to thieve", the Met said it would screen out more investigations, saying that it would end investigations into many reports of crimes, including burglaries, thefts and assaults, where there was judged to be little prospect of identifying a suspect. The force said the step was necessary to balance the books.

Discussing the policy at the time, deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons said: "We are not talking about things like homicide, kidnap, sexual offences, hate crime or domestic violence, but the lower level, higher volume offences." He gave the example of damage or theft at a value of less than £50.

Data obtained by the Guardian showed that 303 cases of violence with injury have already been screened out in 2018 so far, compared to 290 cases in the whole of 2016. In 2017, 4,670 cases of arson and criminal damage were dropped on the same day they were reported, compared to 2,284 the year before.

In response to the new figures, the Met said that the policy was necessary to ensure the best use of resources and pointed out that investigations were sometimes reopened. But the release prompted an outcry from victims' charities, campaigners and MPs.

Diana Fawcett, chief officer at independent charity Victim Support, said that 50 sexual offences being screened out on the same day they were reported was "very concerning".

"We know that victims of sexual assault already face barriers to reporting to the police and this news is likely to undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and could deter victims from reporting crimes in the future," she said.

She added that the police should help victims to understand why a crime is not being investigated further by clearly explaining the reasons for this decision, signposting them to independent support to help them deal with the impact.

Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow home secretary, called the findings "deeply troubling".

"If the Met police are 'cherry-picking' cases, victims of serious crimes will not be getting the justice they deserve," she said.

Abbott argued that funding cuts made by the Conservative government are having a huge impact on the police's ability to carry out their work.

Last year, mayor of London Sadiq Khan closed 38 police station front counters to save £8m per year, and warned Scotland Yard was "running out of options" regarding resources.

Chris Hobbs, a retired police officer who spent 32 years in the Met, including special branch, said that increased demand on the police, cuts to budgets and struggles to recruit in the criminal investigation department meant that things were "falling through the cracks".

"It's not just sexual offences, but all offences - what used to be regarded as a serious offences, burglaryfor example - they have now slipped right down the ladder [in terms of importance]. All sexual offences are heinous crimes but a detective who has a considerable caseload will have to prioritise what they are dealing with in terms of solvability and the seriousness of a crime."

The Met provided data on the number of crimes that were closed on the same day they were reported from 2013 to 2018. Crimes reclassified as no crimes and resolved cases were removed from the figures.

Previous reporting has shown that the Met screened out around a third of the 2,203,027 crimes reported between 2014-2016.

The Metropolitan police said that all crimes are subject to an initial investigation to identify those that are more likely to be solvable. "The Met deal with nearly 800,000 allegations of crime every year. Investigations must be proportionate and timely - to utilise the best possible evidential opportunities."

They added: "As soon as a proportionate investigation has been completed and reasonable lines of enquiry have been pursued and exhausted, an investigation will generally be completed. However, this does not necessarily mean an investigation is over. For example, forensic evidence is an important line of enquiry that may result in investigations being re-opened."

It continued: "Under Home Office counting rules, the category of sexual offences includes a range of offences including exposure and sexual touching.

"In a number of these cases, the victim did not want to proceed with an allegation, but simply wished to alert police to the issue. This can lead to a wider intelligence picture which may result in operational activity in the future."

uaware comment

Sadly the police are the victims of their own mismanagement. I am not describing the Bobbies on the beat, but their bosses. It has already been proven in the past that crime statistics were purposely distorted downwards. In accountant speak, if crime is falling, why do you require the numbers of police officers ?

Again, it has already reported, due to cuts elsewhere the police have had to become social workers and pyschiatrists.

Then there are the additional public security demands caused by terrorism. There are meant to be approaching 800 ongoing terrorism cases.

During September it was announced by the Met that they were going to re-hire some retired detectives to deal with a backlog of work and the current knife crime epidemic. Then during a Nick Ferrari interview on LBC with a senior Met Police officer who admitted that this wasnt a new policy. That it was common practice to rehire retired police officers, but via a employment agency; at a cost of 250 million pounds a year ! If we say a Police Officers salary and incidentals (pension etc) costs around 35,000;  that equats to 7,000 extra police officers. Why is this money being wasted on adding to a employment agencies profits ?

So it is a case of what does the public want from a limited resource, burglary, car crime and shoplifting investigations or the reduction in the chances in being blown-up ?

(5th October 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 7th September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Some of the country's largest police forces are failing to identify suspects in more than 90 per cent of car thefts, as critics claim criminals no longer fear being caught.

After years of decline, the number of vehicles now being stolen has risen to its highest level in almost a decade.

Organised criminal gangs often steal high value cars in order to ship them overseas.

Keyless technology has also been blamed for a rise in offences, with thieves using special devices to bypass vehicle security.

But the rise in offences has not been matched by a rise in the number of criminals being brought to justice.

Analysis of the the latest crime statistics reveals that nationally 77 percent of vehicle theft investigations are closed by police with no suspect having been identified.

In some parts of the country, including the West Midlands, that figure rises to over 90 per cent.

In London only 15 percent of car thefts result in a suspect being identified with even less eventually being convicted of the offence.

In the year up to March over 106,000 offences of theft of or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle were reported to police forces in England and Wales. This represented the highest annual total since 2009.

But of those offences, more than 80,000 were eventually classified as "investigation complete - no suspect identified".

This is used when a reported crime has been investigated "as far as reasonably possible" and the case is closed pending further investigative opportunities.

All but five forces closed over half of these cases without identifying a suspect.

West Midlands Police said it is committed to following the trail of evidence in all cases but if an investigation finds no witnesses, CCTV or forensic evidence then the chance of identifying offenders is "vastly reduced".

But RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said motorists will be "shocked" by the findings.

He said: "This is a sign that thieves have found ways around car security systems and have ways of selling vehicles on with little or no fear of being caught."

"The fact fewer suspects are being identified is very worrying and no doubt a symptom of the declining number of police officers and the resulting reduction in time that can be dedicated to investigating these crimes."

(11th September 2018)

(BBC News, dated 7th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways's boss has apologised for what he says was a sophisticated breach of the firm's security systems, and has promised compensation.

Alex Cruz told the BBC that hackers carried out a "sophisticated, malicious criminal attack" on its website.

The airline said personal and financial details of customers making or changing bookings had been compromised.

About 380,000 transactions were affected, but the stolen data did not include travel or passport details.

"We are 100% committed to compensate them, period," Mr Cruz told the BBC's Today programme.

"We are committed to working with any customer who may have been financially affected by this attack, and we will compensate them for any financial hardship that they may have suffered."

BA said the breach took place between 22:58 BST on 21 August and 21:45 BST on 5 September. Shares in BA parent group IAG closed 1.4% lower on Friday.


Mr Cruz also told the Today programme: "We're extremely sorry. I know that it is causing concern to some of our customers, particularly those customers that made transactions over and app.

"We discovered that something had happened but we didn't know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack.

"The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that's when we began immediate communication to our customers."

BA said all customers affected by the breach had been contacted on Thursday night. The breach only affects people who bought tickets during the timeframe provided by BA, and not on other occasions.

Mr Cruz added: "At the moment, our number one purpose is contacting those customers that made those transactions to make sure they contact their credit card bank providers so they can follow their instructions on how to manage that breach of data."

The airline has taken out adverts apologising for the breach in Friday's newspapers.

BA data breach: What do you need to do?
(Author Simon Read, business reporter)

What data was stolen?

"It was name, email address, credit card information - that would be credit card number, expiration date and the three digit [CVV] code on the back of the credit card," said BA boss Mr Cruz.

BA insists it did not store the CVV numbers. This is prohibited under international standards set out by the PCI Security Standards Council.

Since BA said the attackers also managed to obtain CVV numbers, security researchers have speculated that the card details were intercepted, rather than harvested from a BA database.

What could the hackers do with the data?

Once fraudsters have your personal information, they may be able to access your bank account, or open new accounts in your name, or use your details to make fraudulent purchases. They could also sell on your details to other crooks.

What do I need to do?

If you've been affected, you should change your online passwords. Then monitor your bank and credit card accounts keeping an eye out for any dodgy transactions. Also be very wary of any emails or calls asking for more information to help deal with the data breach: crooks often pose as police, banks or, in this instance they could pretend to be from BA.

Will my booking be affected?

BA says none of the bookings have been hit by the breach. It said it has contacted all those affected to alert them to the problem with their data, but booked flights should go ahead.

Will there be compensation for me?

If you suffer any financial loss or hardship, the airline has promised to compensate you.

Data duty

BA could potentially face fines from the Information Commissioner's Office, which is looking into the breach.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, said: "British Airways has a duty to ensure their customer data is always secure. They need to show that they have done everything possible to ensure such a breach won't happen again.

"The risks go far beyond the fines regulators can issue - albeit that these could be hefty under the new [EU data protection] GDPR regime."

Under GDPR, fines can be up to 4% of annual global revenue. BA's total revenue in the year to 31 December 2017 was £12.226bn, so that could be a potential maximum of £489m.

The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre also confirmed they were assessing the incident.

'Flesh wound'

This is not the first customer relations problem to affect the airline in recent times.

In July, BA apologised after IT issues caused dozens of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport to be cancelled.

The month before, more than 2,000 BA passengers had their tickets cancelled because the prices were too cheap.

And in May 2017, problems with BA's IT systems led to thousands of passengers having their plans disrupted, after all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

"It does not indicate that the information systems are the most robust in the airline industry," Simon Calder, travel editor at the Independent, told the BBC.

However, he does not think BA will be affected in the long term by the breach.

"The airline has immense strength. Notably it's holding a majority of slots at Heathrow, and an enviable safety record, so while this is embarrassing and will potentially cost tens of millions of pounds to resolve, it's more like another flesh wound for BA, rather than anything serious."

(BBC News, dated 7th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways has revealed that hackers managed to breach its website and app, stealing data from many thousands of customers in the process.

But how was this possible?

BA has not revealed any technical details about the breach, but cyber-security experts have some suggestions of possible methods used.

Names, email addresses and credit card details including card numbers, expiry dates and three-digit CVV codes were stolen by the hackers.

At first glance, the firm's statement appears to give no details about the hack, but by "reading between the lines", it is possible to infer some potential attack routes, says cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward at the University of Surrey.

Take BA's specification of the exact times and dates between which the attack occurred - 22:58 BST, 21 August 2018 until 21:45 BST, 5 September 2018 inclusive.

"They very carefully worded the statement to say anybody who made a card payment between those two dates is at risk," says Prof Woodward.

"It looks very much like the details were nabbed at the point of entry - someone managed to get a script on to the website."

This means that as customers typed in their credit card details, a piece of malicious code on the BA website or app may have been furtively extracting those details and sending them to someone else.

Prof Woodward points out that this is an increasing problem for websites that embed code from third-party suppliers - it's known as a supply chain attack.

Third parties may supply code to run payment authorisation, present ads or allow users to log into external services, for example.

Such an attack appeared to affect Ticketmaster recently, after an on-site customer service chatbot was labelled as the potential cause of a breach affecting up to 40,000 UK users.

Without further details, there is no way of knowing for sure if something similar has happened to BA. Prof Woodward points out it may just as easily have been a company insider who tampered with the website and app's code for malicious purposes.

Because CVV data, the three-digit security code on credit and debit cards, was also taken in the attack, it is indeed likely the details were lifted live, according to Robert Pritchard, a former cyber-security researcher at GCHQ and founder of private firm The Cyber Security Expert.

This is because CVV codes are not meant to be stored by companies, though they may be processed at payment time.

"This means it was either a direct compromise of their... booking site, or compromise of a third party provider," he told the BBC.

Prof Woodward added that private firms using third party code on their websites and apps must continually vet such products, to ensure weak points in security don't emerge.

"You can put the strongest lock you like on the front door," he said, "but if the builders have left a ladder up to a window, where do you think the burglars will go?"

(The Telegraph, dated 7th September 2018 author Katie Morley)

Full article [Option 1]:

British Airways was warned by IT experts that it was vulnerable to a hack in which criminals could steal customers' card details earlier this year, it has been claimed.

The airline announced on Thursday that it had suffered a major hack compromising the bank card information of around 380,000 customers.

Due to strict new data protection laws British Airways is now facing a fine of up to £897m, or 4 per cent of its parent company's turnover, if regulators find it has not done enough to keep customer data safe.

The Telegraph can reveal that last year the airline failed an industry standard for consumer data protection, which is required by card providers Visa and Mastercard for all companies accepting, transmitting or storing any cardholder data.

The standard, called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is a set of security standards designed to ensure that companies which accept, process, store and transmit credit card information keep it secure.

British Airways said it had a number of fully operational monitoring tools which it used to check for suspicious activity. It added that the Standard related to the protection of customer accounts, none of which were compromised during the attack.

An IT expert told this newspaper they had warned British Airways it was vulnerable to being hacked, accusing it of "sticking its head in the sand" over the state of its IT systems. British Airways denied it received any such warnings.

Derwyn Jones, chief executive at payment provider Ultracomms, said: "This latest breach is a serious wake-up call, particularly to the travel industry, that we live in a new era of sophisticated hacking where no company is invulnerable."

The airline admitted "criminal activity" had compromised the personal and financial details of customers who made bookings on its website or app from just before 11pm on August 21 until 9.45pm on Wednesday.

British Airways confirmed Friday morning that hackers had obtained names, addresses, credit card numbers, expiry dates and the three-digit security codes on the backs of cards, enough for them to make fraudulent payments.

Furious British Airways customers have been left having to cancel their credit cards with many reporting they had money taken from their accounts and rogue direct debits set up in their names.

Alex Cruz, British Airway's chairman, revealed the hackers were "very sophisticated criminals" who had not hacked the company's encrypted data, but rather gained "illicit access" to the airline's system.

This meant the breach went unnoticed for more than two weeks, he claimed. The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre are also investigating the hack.

An ICO spokesman said: "British Airways has made us aware of an incident and we are making enquiries."

The NCA warned that fraudsters could piggyback on the incident in a bid to con people out of money. A spokesman said: "We know that 'opportunist' criminals often use incidents like this to conduct secondary fraud attacks.

Anyone who thinks they may be affected should remain vigilant of potential fraudsters seeking access to personal details. Any suspicious activity should be reported to Action Fraud via "

British Airways has said all customers will be compensated for losses as a result of the hack.


(11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 3rd September 2018 author Lucy Burton)

Full article [Option 1]:

The new boss of the Serious Fraud Office has warned fraudsters hoping to take advantage of the computer failures of banks that she will make the UK an "inhospitable" place for them to conduct crime.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Osofsky used her first speech in the role to flag that the type of crime which stemmed from this year's TSB meltdown, which left many customers vulnerable to fraud attacks, should not happen under her watch.

"As head of a crime fighting agency, I am committed to making our country an inhospitable place for criminals like these," she said in a speech at Cambridge University. "My goal is to make sure our country is a high risk place for the world's most sophisticated criminals to operate."

Ms Osofsky, who has prosecuted over a hundred cases for the US government, also reiterated that the white-collar crime agency would remain independent. She last year supported an idea by Theresa May to fold the SFO into the National Crime Agency, to create an organisation that has been dubbed "Britain's FBI".

"I started a five-year term with the Attorney General's support and commitment to maintaining the independence and prominence of this organisation," she said. "That's the basis on which I took this job and what I expect to find throughout my tenure."

Ms Osofsky's appointment was confirmed in June after months of speculation. She started her role last week and is expected to make a series of changes to the agency, having last year told The Daily Telegraph that the SFO has been on a "knife-edge for years" and had a chequered history of success.

A dual US-UK citizen, she has joined the agency from financial compliance company Exiger and replaces previous head David Green. She has also worked for the Department of Justice, the FBI and Goldman Sachs.

"The SFO I find in 2018 is a different animal from the SFO of my Department of Justice days. And I will be a different kind of director," Ms Osofsky said.

Her appointment was welcomed earlier this year with CMS lawyer Simon Morris saying at the time: "[The SFO] is shambolic in a way you can't imagine in the US. If she has a zero-tolerance approach to shambolism then that's great".

(11th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 3rd September 2018 author Josh Gabbatiss)

Full article [Option 1]:

Teachers, a children's entertainer and a former police officer were among 131 people arrested on suspicion of online child sex offences as part of a massive crackdown by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police forces across the country.

Over the course of a week-long operation, over 200 raids took place and 164 children were safeguarded, the NCA said.

Of those arrested, 19 held positions of trust and 13 were registered sex offenders, it added.

The news comes as home secretary Sajid Javid revealed at least 80,000 people in the UK are believed to pose a sexual threat to children online, and vowed to make it his "personal mission" to tackle this abuse.

UK law enforcement has called on internet giants to take more action to stop access to sexual abuse images and videos.

Technology companies doing more to remove indecent images from circulation would be a "monumental landmark" in child protection, the NCA said.

The task is made more difficult for officers by sophisticated encryption tools allowing more effective anonymity for online predators, it added.

"Investigators still have to deal with significant numbers of offenders committing preventable crimes such as viewing and sharing indecent images and videos known to law enforcement," said Rob Jones, NCA lead for tackling child sex abuse. The technology exists for industry to design-out these offences, to stop these images being shared."

The NCA received 80,000 referrals over indecent images and videos last year, and predicted that this trend is likely to "exponentially increase".

The number of child abuse images referred to the agency have already surged by 700 per cent in the last five years.

"Whilst some online platforms have taken important steps to improve safety, we are asking them to take it to the next step," said Mr Jones.

"That would significantly reduce the trauma to the victims whose images are shared, prevent other individuals from developing a sexual interest in children through accessing these images, and disrupt the methods used to access them.

"Securing agreement from industry to do this would represent a monumental landmark in protecting children."

In June NCA's director for vulnerabilities, Will Kerr, called for a "fundamentally recalibrated approach" involving internet service providers and hosting platforms to tackle these crimes.

"It is not sustainable for companies to simply identify indecent images on their servers and report it to law enforcement, when we know that technologically you can prevent it at source," he said.

(11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 3rd September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Motorists who are stopped by police will have their licences immediately revoked if they fail a simple roadside eye test.

The tough new crackdown aims to catch some of the thousands of drivers who get behind the wheel each day despite having defective eyesight.

Every motorist who is stopped by officers in three pilot areas will have to pass a basic vision test before being allowed to continue driving.

If they are unable to read a number plate clearly from a distance of 20 metres they will have their licence revoked on the spot and will not be allowed to continue on their journey.

As well as removing dangerous drivers from the roads, the scheme will allow the police to collect data on the extent of the problem nationwide.

The initiative is being rolled out across Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, and is being supported by road safety charity Brake.

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity" and under new powers can request the immediate withdrawal of a person's licence from the DVLA.

The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

Last year a pensioner was jailed for four years after killing a three-year-old girl on a pelican crossing, weeks after being told his eyesight was too poor for him to get behind the wheel.

John Place, 72, who was not even wearing his glasses, only stopped when he was flagged down by another driver.

Just three weeks earlier he had been told by two opticians that his eyesight had dropped below the minimum driving standard even when he was wearing his glasses.

Under current rules, a learner driver must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres when they are taking the practical part of their driving test.

But once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to assess their own vision and inform the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.

Is is thought at least half of all drivers on British roads are unaware of the minimum eyesight standard required to be on the roads.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.

"Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads."

Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third of patients who had been seen in the previous month had continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA also estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.

Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, which is also supporting the initiative said: "We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable.

"Drivers mustn't just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what's ahead."

Explained - What happens if you fail the eyesight test

A mandatory sight test was introduced in the UK in 1937 and is one of the few elements of the driving test that has barely changed.

Immediately before the driving test, the examiner asks a candidate to read a number plate on a parked vehicle at 20 metres (65ft). If it can't be read, the candidate is asked to read a second one.

If they can't read that, the examiner measures the distance to a third registration.

If that can't be read, the driving test is cancelled, the DVLA informed and the candidate's provisional licence is revoked.

At a glance - The history of the driving test

1931 The first edition of the Highway Code is published.

1935 A practical driving test becomes compulsory. There were no test centres, so the examiners met candidates at pre-arranged locations such as railway stations. Since then more than 46 million tests have been taken.

1939 Driving tests are suspended on 2 September 1939 for the duration of World War II. Examiners are redeployed to traffic duties and supervision of fuel rationing.

1969 A separate test for automatic vehicles is launched.

1996 The theory test is introduced, replacing questions about The Highway Code during the practical test.

1999 The length of the driving test is extended. Candidates can now be asked to make an emergency stop, and can be failed for committing 16 or more driving faults or "minors". Photocard licences are also introduced for the first time.

2002 A hazard perception element is introduced to the theory test.

2003 'Show me tell me' vehicle safety questions are added to the driving test.

2010 Independent driving is now part of the practical driving test. Candidates have to drive for 10 minutes with very little instruction from the examiner.

2017 The driving test changes on December 4 2017 to include following directions from a sat nav, testing different manoeuvres and answering a 'show me' safety question while driving.

11th September 2018)

(BBC News, dated 3rd September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers who fail to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away when stopped by police will have their licences revoked immediately in a new crackdown.

Three forces in England are planning to test every motorist they stop in a bid to clamp down on drivers with defective eyesight.

Police say data from the tests will be used to improve understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.

The forces taking part are Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands.

Officers can request an urgent revocation of a licence through the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of a driver's vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a number plate from 20 metres.

After a person has obtained a licence, it is up to them to inform the DVLA if they have vision problems.

Sgt Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity".

The power to revoke licences was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

11th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 2nd September 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

A computer programme that calculates whether a burglary is worth investigating, is "insulting" to victims and risks alienating the public, the head of the Police Federation has warned.

Norfolk Constabulary has been trialling a new system which uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether there is any point attending a break in.

Officers input various details about the offence, such as whether there are clues including fingerprints or CCTV, and then the computer will suggest whether it is worth devoting any police time to.

The system is intended to help police chiefs work out how best to deploy resources as forces everywhere struggle to cope with reduced budgets and increasing demands.

But John Apter, the recently elected chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, warned the introduction of such systems represented a slippery slope which threatened to erode the trust that exists between the public and the police.

He said burglary remained one of the most personally intrusive and devastating offences and all victims who wanted to see a police officer should be allowed to.

Mr Apter said: "I think we should always encourage officers to work effectively with new technology where appropriate.

"But my concern is that we can sometimes rely too heavily on technology, especially algorithm based technology.

"I have been a police officer for 25-years and burglary is still one of the the most intrusive, invasive and personal types of crime that anyone can face.

"If a victim wants to see a police officer to talk through their concerns and get some reassurance that it is being taken seriously then that is absolutely what should happen.

"I can think of nothing more insulting for someone who has been a victim of this crime than to discover that a computer algorithm has told a police force not to investigate because there is little chance of catching the culprit.

"This is the consequence of Chief Constables having to battle with ever decreasing budgets but we cannot allow victims to be treated this way."

Victims Rights campaigner, Harry Fletcher, also warned that schemes like this risked underestimating the impact burglary had on those whose homes had been violated.

He said: "It is far better that an individual makes these decisions than a computer because they can take into account the impact on the victim.

"If the victim is elderly or vulnerable the effect of a burglary will be immense. A failure to consider this will risk further losing public confidence."

Earlier this year the Telegraph revealed that police forces are failing to properly investigate two thirds of burglaries, despite evidence that home break ins are on the increase.

Many forces have stopped routinely attending all burglaries in person, preferring in many cases to deal with the victims on the phone.

The householder will be asked to supply a police call handler with basic information about the offence and if there are no obvious clues available the case will be closed without further investigation.

Last year almost 130,000 burglaries across England and Wales were closed without any suspect having been identified.

Recent rises in violence, cyber crime and sexual offences, along with increased focus on tackling terrorism, has forced some police chiefs to make difficult choices in how to deploy their stretched resources.

A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary insisted that all crimes reported to the force were reviewed by a member of staff and insisted the use of the computer system remained just a trial.

The spokesman said: "Using the analysis of thousands of burglary cases in Norfolk, the algorithm is based on 29 factors including solvability, against which each burglary incident is assessed.

"This generates a recommendation on whether the cases should be allocated for further enquiries."

The spokesman added that the computer decision could be overridden by a member of staff and no decision had been made yet whether the system would be rolled out permanently.

How often do your police force hit a dead end?
Proportion of crimes ending in no suspect being identified (National average)

Residential Burglary : 89.7%
Criminal damage to a vehicle : 79.8%
Theft of bicyle : 90%
Theft of vehicle : 79.1%

Note : The orginal article has access to a database that provides % figures based on postcodes.

(11th September 2018)


(Huffpost, dated 31st August 2018 author Amardeep Bassey)

Full article [Option 1]:

Passengers who fear they are about to be forcibly taken abroad can alert authorities from airport toilets by using a new colour-coded warning system installed in cubicle doors.

The scheme is aimed at helping potential victims of forced marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as those suffering domestic abuse or at risk of being trafficked.

Vulnerable passengers can walk into a toilet cubicle at Birmingham airport and call a number displayed on different coloured stickers pasted on the inside of male and female stalls.

The colour of the sticker instantly alerts authorities to the correct cubicle, where victims are told to sit and wait until help arrives.

It is not known how many times the number has been called or how many successful interventions have been made in the two years that the West Midlands Police initiative has been running.

A spokeswoman for the force said it had deliberately kept the scheme under wraps for fear of alerting traffickers, but that social media had made people aware of its existence.

She added: "This is the only scheme of its kind in the country and the stickers have been strategically placed mainly on male and female toilet cubicle doors that are airside, after people have passed security so that exit routes are blocked.

"It's been quite successful but we do not have the exact figures."

The discreetly-placed small rectangular stickers advise potential victims to call 101 and tell the operator what colour their notice is, so that they can direct help to the correct cubicle.

The scheme drew a mixed response from airport passengers yesterday, who were mainly supportive but questioned whether all victims would have access to a telephone.

Joanne Hayes, 43, from Wolverhampton, told HuffPost UK: "I think its a great idea but what if you don't have a phone to call the number? There should be a way you can call the authorities from inside the cubicle but I suppose this is better than nothing."

Alice Hughes, 20, from Stafford agreed. She said: "I suppose you could ask someone to call the number for you, but it's a smart way to discreetly let someone know you're in trouble."

A Birmingham Airport spokeswoman said the scheme targeted those at risk of a forced marriage, human and drug trafficking, modern day slavery, child sex exploitation and FGM.

FGM involves removing part or all of a girl's outer sexual organs and is carried out in many African countries, as well as areas of the Middle East.

It has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and since October 2015 healthcare professionals, social care workers and teachers in England and Wales have been required to report cases of FGM in under-18s to the police.

Anyone who performs FGM can face up to 14 years in prison and a person found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can face up to seven years behind bars.

The West Midlands region has some of the country's highest recorded figures of FGM.

A recent NHS Digital report revealed staff in the region attended 1,010 incidents last year where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was carried out.

A spokesperson from the Orchid Project, a charity working against female genital cutting, said: "Female genital cutting (FGC) impacts over 200 million women and girls globally, and at least 3.9 million girls are at risk of being cut each year around the world.

"The physical and psychological impacts of the practice are often devastating, and can last a lifetime.

"These impacts include pain, haemorrhage, HIV transmission due to unsterilised instruments, post-traumatic stress disorder, urine and menstrual fluid retention due to infibulation (Type III FGC), flashbacks, scarring and obstetric fistula."

The charity said there are an estimated 137,000 girls in the UK at risk of FGC, but said the extent of the number of girls at risk of undergoing the practice in this country or being taken overseas to be cut is not known.

News of the airport scheme comes after students at an academy in Leeds were all given their own metal spoon as part of a programme designed to raise awareness about "honour" based abuse and forced marriage.

According to Harinder Kaur, the social, culture and ethos leader at the Co-Operative Academy, a spoon can easily be hidden in underwear to trigger metal detectors at airports.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK is a world leader in tackling the horrendous crime of forced marriage and FGM and work to tackle it is an integral part of our cross government violence against women and girls strategy.

"We continually work with charities and police to highlight this important issue to the public and the work being done to tackle it, via the media and community engagement.

"The Border Force, the police and other agencies also regularly work together to raise awareness of harmful practices through joint operations aimed at individuals travelling to or from the UK, to countries where these practices are prevalent."

The Home Office said it was aware the school holidays carried an increased risk of incidents and advised those seeking help to call its Forced Marriage Unit, which last year supported or advised on 1,196 possible forced marriage cases.

The Forced Marriage Unit's helpline number is 0207 008 0151.

Adults worried about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and children can call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak anonymously to a trained counsellor.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 29th August 2018 author Press Association)

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Pension schemes are being warned they may be being too generous when offering cash lump sums to people considering transferring out of their gold-plated deals.

A letter sent by the Pensions Regulator to defined benefit (DB) pension schemes suggests that trustees think about whether they should cut the amounts on offer for workers leaving the pension scheme.

The letter has been sent to 14 schemes where the regulator is aware there has been a particular increase in transfer requests from members. The regulator is not calling on all schemes to consider cutting transfer values.

DB schemes are often described as gold-plated because they promise people a certain level of income when they retire, such as final salary pensions.

Such schemes give members the reassurance of knowing they will not run out of money in later life.

But in recent years people have been offered large cash sums in return for transferring away from their DB pension as schemes are finding it expensive to meet their pension promises.

The letter was obtained by Royal London following a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Giving a general indication of how much those who transfer out may potentially receive, Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, told the Press Association that people are routinely offered 25 to 30 times their annual pension as a lump sum transfer value - but some schemes have been known to offer as much as 40 times.

This could mean that for a £10,000-per-year pension someone may find they are offered £250,000 to £300,000. But the amount on offer could be as high as £400,000.

The former pensions minister said a particular concern appears to be a situation where workers transferring out are offered a cash lump sum on relatively generous terms at a time when the pension scheme itself is in deficit or the employer is regarded as vulnerable.

If large numbers of members transfer out on generous terms there would be a risk that the funding position of the scheme could worsen and the risk of remaining members not getting their full pensions could increase.

Sir Steve said: "I would hope that well-run pension schemes would be taking expert advice when deciding how much to offer to members wishing to transfer out.

"But the regulator's letter is a helpful reminder to all schemes that they need to be fair not only to those transferring out but also those left behind, especially where the scheme in question is in deficit."

The letter tells schemes: "We would expect you to take advice from your scheme actuary about whether the basis on which CETVs (cash equivalent transfer values) are calculated remains appropriate.

"We would also expect you to consider whether a new insufficiency report should be commissioned from the actuary.

"This would allow you to judge whether a reduction or further reduction should be applied to CETVs in light of their assessment of covenant strength."

The letter says the regulator is aware that the level of transfer activity in the pensions industry has increased significantly in recent years.

It says: "Taking a CETV presents certain risks and we believe it is likely to be in the best financial interests of the majority of members to remain in their defined benefit (DB) scheme."

Trustees are expected to explain that, in transferring away from their scheme, members would be giving up a guaranteed future pension income in return for income that is not guaranteed and will vary depending on how they manage it, the letter says.

A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator said: "Transfers from defined benefit schemes to defined contribution schemes are unlikely to be in the best interests of most members, although there are certain circumstances where they may be appropriate."

"We are working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Advisory Service to provide an increased level of support to trustees and scheme members where there is uncertainty around the future of a DB pension scheme."

uaware comment

The previous article doesn't describe fraud, but it could lead to a scam.

Pension fraud is one of the major growing crimes. Unscrupulous crooks (bogus financial advisers) are promising greater growth in investment if an individual (target - sucker) withdraws their pension pot at invest with them.

Always take a deep breath and think about it, don't be rushed. Get some advice from a qualified Financial Adviser at your bank branch.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th August 2018 author Mark Blunden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Nearly 1,000 domestic abuse victims have contacted a London charity for help this year after their partners exploited "everyday technology" to control and stalk them.

Support network Refuge revealed an "alarming trend" of smart home and web-connected gadgets being deployed against women in abusive relationships. Staff uncovered 920 cases since January and now alert survivors about how to spot tell-tale signs and unusual patterns.

It follows research by University College London, which found devices such as voice-activated home assistants, thermostats, smart watches and webcams had been used against partners by recording them, using spyware or by appearing to change their physical environment - such as temperature and humidity levels - to make them "think they're going mad".

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Tower Hamlets-based Refuge, said: "Frontline staff have recorded an alarming trend in the misuse of everyday technology by current or former partners to control, isolate, humiliate and dominate their victims. We have seen technological abuse in cases of domestic violence, stalking, economic abuse, trafficking and modern slavery, rape and sexual assault.

"We have already supported 920 survivors this year who had suffered some form of technological abuse, from online harassment, stolen online identities, hacking, spoofing, revenge pornography , to stalking and surveillance.

"In addition to protecting survivors, our work focuses on empowering them to use technology safely in the future and avoid further isolation, a frequent consequence of domestic abuse."

Dr Leonie Tanczer, who led UCL's study at its Petras Internet of Things (IoT) research hub, said abusers were moving on from sending barrages of text messages, stalking movements by GPS and registering fake social media accounts. She said many take advantage of in-depth knowledge about the victim's behaviour and digital preferences.

The study resulted in a cybersecurity resource guide for abuse survivors targeted through smart gadgets.

Dr Tanczer said: "Because IoT devices collect so much data and we have so many different accounts and shared passwords, this exacerbates the forms of abuse we see. If someone was to suspect something fishy was going on in their home, our guide tells them how to check specific devices and features, physically and online."

She added: "With smart home devices you have the ability to know far more granular data about the person's habits, when they leave, and what services they are using.

"Victims say to charities, 'I think I'm going mad, I think someone is listening to me or why does (my partner) always know where I am and what I'm doing. (The abuser) can video and audio record, there are sensors that can track humidity levels, heat levels and preferences."

Adam Simon, chairman of the Smart Homes & Building Association Group, said manufacturers have a duty to build security into their devices, and retailers should tell customers how to protect themselves when they buy devices.

He added: "We advise consumers to take responsibility for their own security by ensuring that they put in place effective password protection."

Refuge can be contacted on 0808 2000 247

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 26th August 2018 author Jamie Phillips)

Full article [Option 1]:

One in three bobbies on the beat have been axed since 2015.

In total, more than 7,000 neighbourhood police officers have either left the force or have been re-assigned to administrative and back-office roles in the last three years.

The analysis of Home Office statistics by The Sunday Times found the numbers of bobbies on the beat fell by a third, from 23,928 in March 2015 to 16,557 in March 2018.

The number of community support officers also fell by 18 per cent over the same period.

Ministers had made pledges to protect frontline policing, but the number of officers assigned to administrative roles has grown by a quarter.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics found that recorded incidents of violent crime in England and Wales have nearly doubled since 2015. There were 778,000 recorded incidents in 2015 compared to nearly 1.4million from March 2017-18.

Lord Stevens, former commissioner of Scotland Yard, said: "If the increase in violent crime carries on escalating, you are going to get a very dangerous tipping point where there is no control, and it is a very difficult thing to bring back.

"I don't think we've reached that point yet and, God willing, we won't."

Neighbourhood police officers act to reduce fear and contribute to greater interaction between the community and local police forces. However, only just over 10,000 now remain in England and Wales.

The number of knife crime incidents has also increased from 26,025 in 2015 to over 40,000 from March 2017-18. Homicides, meanwhile, rose from 539 to 736 in the three-year period.

The Home Office said: "Decisions about frontline policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for chief constables and democratically accountable police and crime commissioners."

Such is the lack of policing available in the village of Martock in Somerset, local residents have hired a security firm to patrol the streets at night because of safety concerns. There are fears that villages in the surrounding areas will follow suit.

Sussex Police has suffered the biggest impact from the cuts and have the fewest officers on the beat per member of the population. The police force now has just 8.3 neighbourhood officers on patrol per 100,000 people.

uaware comment

The hiring of private security companies will not solve any problems, neither will it persuade the councils or central Government to make more funds available. A potential persuader will be if groups of citizens take legal action with financial penalty against their county council on the principle of failing their duty of care. Financial loss sadly always appears to be a decider and not loss of life.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 24th August 2018 author James Morris)

Full article [Option 1]:

NOTE : To view the video go to the original article via the above link.

A father has been hailed for creating a brilliant knife attack "self-defence" class video in which he simply tells people to "run away."

The clip, created by anti-knife crime campaigner Garvin Snell, has been viewed more than two million times online and praised by police officers across London.

Mr Snell said he was "overwhelmed" at the response to the video, which features his teenage son clambering over a fence and running away after his father pulls a knife on him.

He told the Standard: "If it saves one life, then it will have been worth it."

Mr Snell recorded the video in his back garden in Feltham, west London, and began by introducing himself and saying he would be giving a "self-defence class".

He promised to teach young people how to defend themselves against attackers wielding knives before picking up a blade and pretending to come at his son, 13-year-old Kyian.

Kyian then simply runs away from his "attacker", climbing over the fence and jumping.

The camera then flips back to Mr Snell, who said: "There's no shame in running away. If someone pulls a knife on you, get the hell out of there, get as far away as possible."

The video has has 36,000 retweets on Twitter and more than two million views.

Mr Snell told the Standard: "I wanted to give advice, and the message is nice and simple.

"If someone pulls a knife on you, the best thing to do is get away. The message is there's no shame in running.

"Too many 'brave' people end up in the morgue. If you have the opportunity to get out, then get out."

After the video went viral, Mr Snell, who stood as an independent candidate in Hounslow during May's local council elections, said: "We were a bit overwhelmed.

"Kyian and I were sat there watching as the number of shares grew and grew. But if it saves one life, then it will have been worth it.

"Knife crime in London is at the highest it's been for six years. Youth centres are being shut left, right and centre. People are living on top of each other.

"It breeds all these postcode wars and I wanted to offer a simple message."

At least 58 people have been stabbed to death in the capital so far this year.

It won the approval of former top cop Gerry Campbell, who called it "common sense", and Croydon's town centre police force, which said: "Don't get involved in a knife fight, we need you alive!"

(4th September 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 24th August 2018 author Greg Dickinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

The UK's leading aviation authority has warned plane passengers that they will face the "full weight of the law" - up to five years in jail - if caught behaving in a drunk and disorderly manner on a flight this weekend.

With 32,000 flights due to depart UK airports for this Bank Holiday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a public statement reminding passengers that drunken and abusive behaviour in an airport or on an aircraft is unacceptable, and could come with a hefty penalty or even imprisonment.

Richard Stephenson, director at the CAA, said in the statement: "The aviation industry will be working hard this weekend helping everyone going on holiday to have a trouble-free journey. We therefore call on all passengers to act responsibly as drunken and abusive behaviour is totally unacceptable. Not only does it cause distress to fellow travellers, but it can jeopardise flight safety.

"Passengers need to know they will face the full weight of the law should they be found guilty of disorderly behaviour."

The CAA's statement makes it explicit just how severe the consequences could be. It reads: "While we hope everyone enjoys the last Bank Holiday of the summer, the CAA continues to remind passengers that drunken and abusive behaviour at an airport or on an aircraft is totally unacceptable and offenders can face a sentence of up to five years in jail."

In the last five years there have been 1,472 incidents of disruptive passenger behaviour on planes, with a year-on-year increase from 98 in 2013 to 417 last year. Before the summer season began, there were already 202 reports of disorderly behaviour so far this year.

Phil Ward, the Managing Director of Jet2, has this week made comments outlining their zero tolerance policy on drunk and disorderly passengers. "Disruptive passenger behaviour caused by drinking too much alcohol is an unacceptable issue that impacts airports, airlines, our crew and our customers.

"Although our crew and colleagues are highly-trained and do a fantastic job in sometimes difficult circumstances, it is unfair that they must be left to manage the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. At the same time, our customers travelling on their well-earned holidays should not be subjected to such behaviour on such occasions."

"As a family friendly airline flying millions of people on holiday every year, we will continue our zero tolerance approach to disruptive passenger behaviour. As well as taking steps such as issuing lifetime bans, we continue to have a number of successful court rulings in our favour, demonstrating that there can be very serious consequences if you act in a disruptive manner onboard an aircraft."

Last month a government-backed campaign launched to prevent inebriated passengers from boarding airplanes. The One Too Many initiative was rolled out at ten airports - Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Southampton, Bristol and Newcastle - where passengers were met with warnings about alcohol consumption posted on digital display screens, in duty-free shops and on leaflets handed out by the police.

"Disruptive passengers have the potential to ruin other people's flights," said Baroness Sugg, the aviation minister. "This campaign is an important new step to ensure all passengers are aware of the consequences they face if they behave disruptively after drinking before or on board a flight."

In a recent survey, Telegraph Travel asked "Should there be a crackdown on the sale of alcohol at airports?" and of the 6,300 respondents so far, 72 per cent said that they thought airport drinking has got out of hand. The minority, 28 per cent, said that it's on the individual to moderate their intake.

Reports of disruptiv plane passenger - UK airlines (Source : Civil Aviation Authority)

2013 : 98
2014 : 145
2015 : 195
2016 : 415
2017 : 417
2018 : 202 (up tp 16th July 2018)


(Telegraph, dated 24th August 2018 author Gavin Haines)

What are the consequences of drunken behaviour?

Passengers found to be intoxicated on a plane could be fined up to £5,000 and jailed for up to two years for breaching air navigation orders. If the plane is diverted due to their behaviour then they may also have to pay a fine of up to £80,000 to cover the cost of an unscheduled landing.

Some airlines have also threatened to ban drunk passengers from flying. Last month Jet2 made good on such threats when it imposed a lifetime ban on an inebriated man, who allegedly forced a Belfast-Ibiza flight to be diverted to Toulouse.

Are fines actually handed out?

Yes. In January 2018, Nicholas Springthorpe, an insurance salesman from Doncaster, was fined £3,205 by magistrates after admitting to being drunk on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Birmingham.

The same fate befell Stephen Hays, who was ordered to pay £667 by North Tyneside Magistrates' Court in May 2018, after pleading guilty to one count of being drunk on an aircraft.

In 2016, Jet2 took matters into its own hands by invoicing a female passenger for £6,800 after it was alleged her unruly behaviour forced a Tenerife-Newcastle flight to be diverted to Shannon Airport, Ireland.

Is drunkenness becoming more of a problem?

One industry insider told Telegraph Travel that airports were becoming like the "Wild West" during the busy holiday season as fliers take advantage of early morning opening hours at airport bars.

Official figures seem to support this. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers in 2017, more than double the total five years earlier.

Airlines such as Jet2 and Ryanair have hit out at UK airports, claiming they could do more to limit the sale of alcohol. However, the Airport Operators' Association (AOA) has hit back, claiming airports are being responsible in the sale of alcohol.

Is the government-backed campaign likely to work?

Alcohol awareness campaigns - backed up by fines, prison sentences and bans - have helped reduce the number of drink driving casualties on Britain's roads, which dropped from 31,430 in 1979 to 8,210 in 2014.

It wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that similar measures could have a corresponding impact on passenger drunkenness. However, while booze is as ubiquitous as it is in airports and on planes, inebriation will inevitably be an issue.

What should I do if I spot a pie-eyed passenger?

If you're concerned about the behaviour of a passenger - drunk or otherwise - you should inform the airline or airport police, or you may have a tedious journey ahead.

(4th September 2018)

(The Times, dated 23rd August 2018 author John Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A driver found with a plastic knuckle-duster is believed to be the first person prosecuted in Britain for possession of a weapon made by a 3D printer.

Adrian Grey, 40, was in possession of a white and grey knuckle-duster, a small amount of cannabis and a cannabis grinder when he was stopped by police who searched his car in Brecon, south Wales.

Prosecutors said yesterday that the case demonstrated the "many forms" in which dangerous and potentially lethal weapons come.

Concerns have been raised over the possibility that a 3D-printed gun might be developed for use by terrorists to bypass metal detectors and board planes or access other "hard targets" such as government buildings.

Grey admitted possession of a controlled drug but initially denied having an offensive weapon, claiming that the fact that the knuckle-duster was plastic made it a toy.

He changed his plea on the first day of the trial at Merthyr Tydfil crown court yesterday and was given a three month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £250.

Grey said that the knuckle-duster had been made by his friend on a 3D printer. He wanted to use it as a reference when drawing tattoos and did not know it was illegal, the court was told.

Alex Scott,of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was an unusual case. Adrian Grey claimed this 3D knuckle-duster was just a toy because it was plastic.

"The CPS presented evidence to the court, including the weapon itself, and showed it could cause serious harm if used maliciously.

"This conviction demonstrates offensive weapons now come in many forms."

(4th September 2018)

(The Times, dated 23rd August 2018 author Fiona Hamilton)

Full article [Option]:

Britain's most senior police officer will not allow frontline officers to use spit guards despite their endorsement by the home secretary.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that the controversial protective equipment should only be fitted to suspects in custody suites and not during arrests on the streets of London. The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, yesterday expressed its disappointment at the decision.

Sajid Javid has previously endorsed the use of the spit guard, a mesh device that has a reinforced section around the jawline to prevent spitting and biting. He said in a speech in May that it was "ridiculous" that all forces did not use them, adding: "I cannot understand why any chief constable would put public perception before protecting police officers."

Many officers have asked for spit guards to be made part of their equipment but some senior police are concerned about the public perception of using hoods on suspects.

Liberty, the campaign group, has described the devices as cruel and degrading. They are used by half of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Police endorsed their use in custody suites last summer after carrying out a trial.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, confirmed in a written answer to the London Assembly published yesterday that their use would not be extended. "Following the completion of the spit and bite guards pilot the commissioner has taken an operational decision to continue their use in custody suites only."

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that the "bizarre" result of the decision was that British Transport Police officers would be able to use spit guards on the streets of the capital while the Metropolitan Police would not. He said that officers were regularly spat at by suspects and needed protection, a point that he said he had made to Ms Dick.

Susan Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, called on Mr Khan to intervene and reverse the "deeply Disappointing" decision. She added: "Police Officers run towards danger and put their own safety at risk to protect us. The least we can do is ensure that they are protected from risks such as spitting and biting."

She said that the decision was made despite their being no central record of the number of spitting or biting attacks on officers and was a "reckless move based on a lack of information".

Matt Twist, a deputy Assistant Metropolitan Police commissioner, said: "Spitting and biting is a particularly unpleasant form of assault and rightly generates a lot of concern among officers. Aside from the fact that as an employer the Met cannot expect its staff its staff to be spat at, or think this is acceptable, some of the follow-up treatment required after such an assault can be prolonged and unpleasant. We would of course encourage officers to always report when they are assaulted including when they are spat at."

He said that the use of spt guards would continue to be monitored. Mr Khan's spokeswoman said that any attack on police officers was unacceptable.

Further information - uaware

(BBC News, dated 23rd August 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Since July 2017 the Metropolitan Police has deployed spit guards 151 times.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 22nd August 2018 author Tricia Phillips)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of Brits will be heading abroad this bank holiday weekend as summer begins to run out - many of us in our cars.

So it's worth swotting up on the highway codes of the continental countries you'll be travelling through to ensure you don't end up having to fork out a heavy fine you hadn't bargained for.

For instance, speeding abroad could land you a ticket topping £600 if you fail to stick to the kph limits. That's a holiday wrecker for starters.

10 ways to stay safe when driving overseas

We've teamed up with Halifax Insurance to bring you 10 top tips on keeping yourself and your wallet safe:

1 - Don't forget it : People remember their passports but leave their driving licences behind. Also make sure a GB sticker is clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn't already include it.

2 - Spot the signs : Familiarise yourself with local driving laws - an RAC country guide is online. Learn speed limits, road signs and markings and which side of the road to drive on.

3 - Insurance needs : Make sure you have adequate breakdown cover and car insurance for driving abroad. If in an accident, call your insurer immediately and take plenty of pictures of damage caused to your vehicle.

4 - Drink and drive : Water, of course. With much of Europe still baking take a big pack of water and keep picnic items in cool bags. Avoid rush hour jams that could overheat your engine. Check tyre pressures as heat and under-inflation can increase the risk of punctures.

5 - All aboard : In many countries you must carry a ?rst aid kit, ?re extinguisher, warning triangle, re?ective jacket, headlamp beam re?ectors and spare bulbs. It's the law.

6 - Breath test : In France, drivers must carry a breathalyser with two disposable testing units. Kids under 10 in the front need a special child restraint. Heading to Paris, Lyon and Grenoble? You must display a 'clean air' windscreen sticker showing your emissions levels.

7 - Toll ahead : Many European countries have toll roads. You can use cash or card. Be ready to pay quickly at the toll booth.

8 - Auto know better : Some rules abroad may seem obscure to British drivers, but are the law. In Spain and Switzerland, you must carry a spare set of prescription glasses. In Spain you can't drive in flip-flops. In Italy you must park in the direction of traffic flow.

9 - Be adaptable : Make sure you modify headlights if driving on the right. Use a beam convertor or cheap adapter stickers.

10 - Sat's the way to do it : Download the relevant satnav maps in advance. Check to see if the countries your driving through have special rules concerning use. For instance, in France it is illegal to use satnavs which alert you where fixed speed cameras are located.

Uaware comment

In some area's of Spain the Gardia Civil have a tendency of imposing on the spot fines for speeding and expect immediate cash payment (no travellers cheques please). But they do give you a receipt !!!

(4th September 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd August 2018 author Gareth Davies)

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A large-scale illegal gun factory has been discovered on a Sussex industrial estate, the National Crime Agency has announced.

Investigators responded to what was believed to be gunshots coming from inside what the NCA called a warehouse unit describing itself as a gearbox repair business on an industrial estate in Hailsham, East Sussex.

Officers raided the building on Saturday night and found what they believe to be a "sophisticated" operation producing guns, of which the NCA has subsequently seized around 30.

Three men found leaving the building were arrested and police had to use a Taser on one of them, an NCA spokesman said.

On the weekend, two guns were found as well as ammunition, but further searches uncovered the true magnitude of the factory.

Rob Hickinbottom, head of the national firearms threat centre at the NCA, said on Wednesday afternoon: "We believe we have disrupted a group involved in the criminal production of firearms, and as a result we have prevented a potentially large quantity of weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and being used in violence on our streets."

The NCA and Sussex Police officers have remained at Diplocks Way, combing the industrial estate for more evidence.

Mr Hickinbottom added: "That search has taken several days, but during that time we have found what we believe to be a sophisticated gun factory.

"We have found a range of machinery and components used in the criminal manufacture of firearms and ammunition from scratch.

"We have found what we suspect are a number of handguns in various stages of production, as well as templates and metal for use in their manufacture.

"Those are now being analysed by forensic experts to determine what category of firearm they fit into."

Mr Hickinbottom, citing operational reasons, said he could not comment on how the NCA were tipped off about the site, but told reporters at a news briefing: "Officers heard loud bangs consistent with gunshots emanating from inside an industrial unit on the estate.

"The unit was an engineering workshop, with signage outside showing it to be a gearbox repair business."

The NCA believe the factory was producing ammunition as well as the weapons, and could not rule out whether or not the guns were in circulations.

A source told The Telegraph no 3D laser printers were found in the industrial unit, but rather decades-old metalworks machinery typically associated with pre-21st century classrooms.

Among the machines were a lathe and a milling machine, both used to manipulate metal.

Phil Davies, a retired metalworks teacher who worked for 30 years in Cardiff, said: "The green lathe on the left-hand side of the picture is typical of the type of machine you'd get at schools back in the day.

"Schools have been decimating their workshops over the past couple of decades and selling off equipment like this, but they're perfectly sound to do the job, very accurate and very easy to use.

"Every engineering workshop around the country that use shaping metal in their trade will have a lathe like this one. It's used to to manipulate metal, make it rounded.

"It would also be used to create the slots for bullets in the cylinder of an older, traditional handgun and would be used to form the barrel of a gun.

"The milling machine - the machine on the right - would be used to very accurately create grooves on the outside of the gun.

"Between those two machines, you've got all you need to create the basic shape and starting point of a gun."

The NCA believe that the two weapons recovered on Saturday night had been made in the unit, and that the bangs heard inside were likely to have been the discharging of those weapons.

Greg Akehurst, 29, of no fixed address, and Mark Kinman, 63, of Bramwell Mews, Hailsham, were both charged with possessing a firearm.

Kyle Wood, 30, of Gratwicke Drive, Littlehampton, was charged with the same offence as well as possessing ammunition.

The trio were remanded in custody and are due to appear at Kingston Crown Court on September 17.

(4th September 2018)

(Wired, dated 22nd August 2018 author Carl Miller)

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Cybercrime is not like any other kind of crime. Perpetrators are elusive; arrests are rare; stolen goods are immaterial assets, such as data, cryptocurrency, personal information.

It straddles borders and legal jurisdictions, with victim and criminal often residing in different countries, and only communicating through encrypted messages and bitcoin transactions. The public is barely aware of its pervasiveness - but it has been steadily on the rise for years. National police forces worldwide are scrambling to mount an effective defence, but what are the chances of success? In this extract from his book, writer and researcher Carl Miller asks Stephen Kavanagh, Britain's highest-ranking digital policeman.

"Stephen, are we living through a crisis of law enforcement?"

Stephen Kavanagh is chief constable of Essex Police, the chair of the Digital Policing Board at the National Chief Police Council, and the national policing lead on Digital Investigations and Intelligence. The UK's 'top digital cop', as the newspapers call him.

There was a pause. "Unless we start moving at pace, it could become a crisis. We need to transform at pace. Four years ago, I heard a chief constable say they didn't have a digital crime problem. I don't think there's a chief constable in the country now who doesn't recognise the scale of the issue."

Speaking to Kavanagh and others at the top of the police, it was clear none of this was being ignored. If anything, the police are frustrated with how long it is taking us, the public, to wake up to how big a problem digital crime now is. "There's a real risk", Stephen continued, "that this is seen as being all down to the police. But we, the police, can't do it alone, based on the scale of cybercrime that we've now seen."

One of Stephen's colleagues, commander Steve Head, said something similar in 2015: "Because there is this hidden element to cybercrime we are not having a sensible debate about it because we do not understand what a huge threat it is. My view is that cybercrime is more of a threat to this country than drugs. This is not a problem that policing can solve. We cannot investigate our way out of this issue; we have to look at it in a different way." Again and again, the police had started to say that it couldn't just be them that took responsibility for law and order in the online world.

"Take the jurisdictional problem," I continued. This problem, of all of them, had stayed with me. "If a criminal is in Russia, and the Russian authorities are not going to cooperate with British law enforcement, the criminal basically can't be caught."

"I think it's a brilliant challenge. The policing model is very reactive. It is not set up to deal with a spotty teenager from the Ukraine hitting 40 million IP addresses. How do we get on the front foot? Will we get into that country and secure that custodial sentence? Probably not. But are there other means of securing justice for that victim? If we know you've been defrauded and where the money is, we should be able to hack the account - freeze the funding - and shut that account down."

"Like mini-GCHQs?"

"They only deal with the top end of criminality. Most cybercrime will still need to be dealt with by local policing arrangements. There needs to be ways for some of the top-end skills that people like GCHQ have to be passed on to local police, of course with public support and the right legislative safeguards."

It's clear that the police are contemplating some very big changes in what law enforcement looks like in digital spaces. Penalties for cybercriminals and justice for victims are likely to end up very different from their online equivalents. Equally clear, however, is that the problem is too big for the police to handle themselves.

They have been saying, increasingly loudly, that a new contract needs to be forged; perhaps a new kind of agreement that refreshes Peel's for the digital age. This agreement can't just include the general public; it must also include the technology companies whose platforms and products are often the new front line in the fight against cybercrime.

"I do not think the likes of Facebook and others are taking responsibility at the moment," said Kavanagh. "These are multi-billion-dollar organisations, but are they delivering public safety? It's not being evidenced at the moment. They need to start stepping up. We've tried to be patient. There are moments of brilliance, but that's not good enough for victims." But they are also looking more broadly to the public to help too. "I can't be optimistic until I see us working across government departments - from the Ministry of Justice to the Department for Communities and the Home Office. This is not just a law enforcement problem, this is a social problem."

"This is the most profound shift the police have experienced since [Sir Robert] Peel [the Conservative statesman considered the father of modern policing]," Kavanagh continued. "We will adapt in a way more fundamental than anything since Peel's reforms."

Yet while everyone accepts that change at a profound level is needed, it wasn't what I saw happening. For all of the efforts [of law enforcement officers across the country], the reaction hasn't been anywhere near as great as the change in crime itself has been.

Fewer than a quarter of forces have a dedicated cybercrime unit. The situation has probably got better in recent years, but in 2014 a report by HM Criminal Justice Inspectorate found that only three of the 43 UK police forces had developed comprehensive plans to tackle cybercrime, and that only two per cent of police staff had been trained in how to investigate it. Just fifteen UK police forces even acknowledged cybercrime threats within their Strategic Threat and Risk Assessments.

The report also identified "a generally held mistaken view among those we interviewed that the responsibility for responding to a large-scale cyber incident was one for regional or national policing units and not for forces." The average spend on cybercrimes across nine UK police forces (which responded to requests for budgetary breakdowns) was just one per cent of their budget. One 2017 estimate by law firm RPC put the number of UK police officers specialising in cybercrime at just 250. And this, let's remember, for a kind of crime that in volume is around half of the total that happens to people in the UK.

The reason that the police are not reforming anything like as quickly or as profoundly as they need to is, partly, down to money. We have recently lived through a dangerous political fiction: that cutting police budgets was accompanied by a decline in crime. At the moment when crime began to migrate online, everyone thought crime figures were falling. And because everyone thought they were falling, revenue for the police began to be taken away too.

In 2014, before the scale of cybercrime was known, Theresa May declared: "Police reform is working and crime is falling [...] we have achieved something no modern government has achieved before. We have proved that, through reform, it is possible to do more with less." Overall, funding for police has dropped by around a fifth between 2011 and 2016, and in 2016 there were 21,000 fewer police officers than in 2010. So the period when the police force needed to begin to reshape itself in a fundamental way to respond to cybercrime was exactly the time when its budget was being slashed. Indeed, it looks like some police forces are actually decreasing spending on digital infrastructure.

"This is one of the fundamental issues," said Kavanagh. "What is the bandwidth of any local force at the moment - from dealing with anti-social behaviour on a council estate to homophobic abuse on Twitter? The bandwidth does not exist. My force is still trying to find savings after eight years of austerity and also finding resources for policing in the digital world... The infrastructure that underpins the transformation is missing"

"What we are seeing," he continued, "is that victims and others are turning to other bodies to deal with their concerns." What is at stake here is the basic relevance of police to cybercrime at all.

Carl Miller's The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab is out now

Uaware comment

Other books on the subject are available !!!

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 19th August 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

There has been a sharp rise in the number of grenades seized from criminals trying to smuggle the explosives into the UK, according to government figures.

In the first four months of this year, 17 devices were discovered by UK authorities, compared with 40 seized between 2013 and 2017. The explosives are usually smuggled overland in lorries or underneath cars that arrive by ferry and mainly come from the former Yugoslavia.

Devices have been seized in Sussex and Scotland this year. In the largest haul, Police Scotland recovered six grenades and 1.5kg of dynamite. The spike has prompted concern among investigators that criminals are stashing weapons.

Chris Farrimond, the deputy director of investigations at the National Crime Agency, said: "If we just work on the figures that we know about, the ones that have been recovered over the past four years and the ones that we know of that have been exploded, then somewhere, somehow in the UK there are a number of grenades that are in criminal hands and have not been used."

Such devices were used three times in buildings and once against a vehicle between 2013 and 2017.

"They don't get used very often, but where they have [been used] we have fortunately seen them not used in crowded areas, but they've been used quite specifically against either buildings or a vehicles," said Farrimond. "Not one of these was actually used against a person, they were used to create fear and/or criminal damage. It was almost a warning device."

The murderer and drug dealer Dale Cregan used grenades as his "calling card" in three of the four killings he carried out in 2012, throwing them at the bodies of his victims after they had been shot.

Farrimond said there were concerns the weapons could get into the hands of terrorists.

Grenades currently have a street value of between about £250 and £750.

Farrimond said: "The bottom line is that firearms do get offered up for sale and so then the question is how accessible is that criminal sale area to somebody who wants to create a terrorist offence of some type. Of course we have a concern that they could fall into terrorist hands and they could be used in a particular way."

Of the 17 seized so far this year, 12 were military and viable, one was improvised, three were imitation or deactivated, and one was real but not viable.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 19th August 2018 author Maya Oppenheim)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of girls being forced into marriage ahead of the summer holiday period has increased by more than a third in recent years, according to a leading charity which has accused the government of an abject failure to get to grips with the problem.

Karma Nirvana condemned the Home Office for shelving a campaign raising awareness of the practice, which sees girls taken abroad to be married off to strangers, in the "critical" run-up to the summer break - the time of the year when the problem is at its peak.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, the national charity - which provides training to the police, NHS and social services - revealed it learned of 150 new cases of forced marriage from May to July, a rise of more than a third on the figure seen in the same period in 2015, when it received 99 new cases.

The charity also found cases of forced marriage soared by 40 per cent at the start of the school holidays this year, and revealed it was receiving reports of cases at a rate of two a day in July, more than double the average of 25 seen in the first four months of the year, with 44 cases reported in May and June.

And the figures do not reflect the full scale of the problem, as forced marriage continues to be starkly underreported - with the Home Office describing it as a "hidden crime".

Jasvinder Sanghera, CBE, founder and chief executive of the charity, warned thousands of girls would not be returning to school in September, having had their educations cut off and - in many cases - been left trapped in a cycle of poverty after falling victim to the offence.

Ms Sanghera, who set up the charity in 2008 after escaping a forced marriage by running away from home aged 16, demanded that sex within such unions be treated as rape.

She said the Home Office had planned an awareness campaign ahead of the summer holidays but decided to drop it at the last minute, postponing it until later in the year, a strategy she said was "missing the point".

She said the pre-summer holidays campaign had been running for the past few years and would have seen the Forced Marriage Unit work with police and local authorities to raise awareness of the problem. She explained the campaign would have used social media and disseminated posters, literature and information about helplines with the objective of increasing the number of victims coming forward and raising public understanding.

"It was wholly irresponsible of the government to drop a campaign devoted to awareness, pre-summer holidays. This is the most critical time of year," she told The Independent.

"There will be thousands of children across Britain that are now being prepared for engagements and forced marriages in Britain and [who] will be taken out of this country over the summer break. The family use the opportunity of this long holiday to marry them off."

Young girls are often told they are going back to their country of origin to visit family, and remain unaware of what is happening until they arrive.

"We have heard of cases where people are engaged or married and just think it is a party, and do not realise until afterwards," she said.

"There is no doubt there will be thousands of girls across Britain who will not return to school in September. You are talking about people under the age of 16, and [aged] 16 to 18. When it comes to September, teachers will notice they are missing but the alarm bell will not necessarily ring because the first person to be alerted are the parents, who will often say they are being educated abroad. The parents are the perpetrators of the crime of forced marriage. The parents' story will be heard and the victims' will not."

Laws making it illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were implemented in 2014. Anyone found guilty of doing so can be imprisoned for up to seven years.

Ms Sanghera, who also acts as an expert witness and lobbies government, said her organisation had found schools are often reluctant to work on the issue of forced marriage, despite being in a good position to help prevent it. She said she had contacted schools in Luton and Tower Hamlets, but they had ignored her outreach efforts.

"Very few schools are willing to engage. We write to them and we go into the school and a survivor does a presentation - on average we receive three disclosures [of forced marriage] for every school we go into," she said. "We went to one school in Birmingham and within seven days of being there we had dealt with over 11 disclosures."

She said the charity has heard "the most distressing" stories which displayed a dearth of awareness among teachers and social workers. She added teachers often view the issue as a cultural one, and fear it is not their place to intervene.

"After they have heard the presentation, teachers will come up to me and recall multiples cases of girls going missing and say 'I just thought it was cultural'. Some will say 'I did raise it but it wasn't taken seriously. I was told: 'It's their culture, respect it''."

The charity CEO said it was difficult for victims because they have never heard a counter narrative to their parents' plans for forced marriage - and argued they are subject to years of conditioning at home.

She also drew attention to the fact forced marriage is a hidden crime and is vastly underreported, adding: "Even government say that we are dealing with the tip of an iceberg - we are seeing just a scratch on the surface."

A teacher at a secondary school in Islington said she had not received any training from the school she works in about forced marriage. She also said she had never been told to be specifically alert during the lead-up to the summer holiday break.

"I don't think I've ever been told to in particular look out around the summer holidays for forced marriage," the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Independent.

"The training that school staff receive to help them spot these issues is really poor, meaning that a lot of people who work in schools have no idea how to even recognise that it is happening.

"Rather than there being any attempt to understand a different culture or why this happening to young girls it often becomes this very uncomfortable anti-Muslim conversation. Ultimately the really crap training that school staff get around this issue only puts these kids even more at risk because nobody knows what to look out for."

This echoes research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) from last year which found less than half of teachers said they had been given training to recognise the signs of forced marriage.

Rubie, a forced marriage survivor who is now in her 30s, said she was forced to leave the UK during the summer break.

"I and my younger siblings were taken to Bangladesh for the summer holidays but ended up staying there for 11 months in total," she said. "For the first six months, I enjoyed exploring my culture and the experiences of my parents' homeland; this was until my father told me that I would be getting married. Unknown to me, all along I was being held like a prisoner.

"I soon got married to a man twice my age, I got raped until I became pregnant as a guarantee for his child to be British born - to enable him to come over to the UK."

Rubie, whose Bangladeshi parents moved to the UK in the 1970s and lived in Wales, then became seriously ill and returned to the UK, where she tried to kill herself.

"I tried to take my own life," she said. "I didn't succeed and became desperate so I ran away from home with another man and had a second child from an abusive relationship. I lived my life in a dysfunctional way and became very depressed."

She has spent the last six years investing in education. The survivor, a member of Karma Nirvana's survivor ambassador panel, said: "I have started to enjoy my life and work towards achieving my passions and hobbies, which I did not have before."

Helen Porter, who chairs the ATL's equalities and diversity committee, also rang alarm bells about the issue of forced marriages spiking during the summer holidays.

Ms Porter, a teacher for 30 years, told The Independent: "It's an erosion of the girl's human rights if she is being taken from education and being forced to marry someone she is not choosing to marry. As a teacher, you know your pupil's aspirations and ambitions and suddenly it's all over for them. Her life chances are greatly reduced."

She argued the disappearance of girls has huge repercussions for their peers and the wider school community - with people left "disorientated" and "upset" by their absence.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK is a world leader in tackling the horrendous crime of forced marriage, and work to tackle it is an integral part of our cross government violence against women and girls strategy.

"We continually work with charities and police to highlight this important issue to the public and the work being done to tackle it, via the media and community engagement.

"[The] Border Force, the police and other agencies also regularly work together to raise awareness of harmful practices, including forced marriage, through joint operations aimed at individuals travelling to or from the UK, to countries where these practices are prevalent."

The Home Office said it was aware the school holidays may be a period of increased risk. It said earlier this month Border Force officers at Birmingham Airport had been leading an "operation to detect, intercept and provide assistance to potential victims who may be travelling abroad for the purposes of having FGM [female genital mutilation] conducted on them and/or being forced into a marriage overseas".

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office, leads the government's forced marriage policy, outreach and casework.

The FMU gave advice or support related to 1,196 possible forced marriages last year.

- Karma Nirvana's helpline number, for victims and professionals who need guidance, is 0800 5999 247

- The Forced Marriage Unit's helpline number is 0207 008 0151

- Adults worried about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and children can call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak anonymously to a trained counsellor.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th August 2018 author Olivia Tobin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have discovered hundreds of cannabis farms in London over the last few years, official figures show.

One cannabis farm is found every two days in the capital, according to the Scotland Yard data.

The full scale of cannabis farming operations have been revealed in figures obtained via a freedom of information request.

The figures show that from January 2016 to April 2018, the police uncovered 314 cannabis farms, with instances of more than one farm appearing on the same street.

There were over 100 found in 2016 and 2017 and in four months of 2018, 37 have been found.

Cannabis farms, or factories, were found in every single borough of London, with a high amount being found in south London.

A policeman who works in Croydon, Sutton and Bromley also revealed that he has encountered a serious problem of Vietnamese teenagers who are being forced to work in such farms.

Detective Superintendent Lee Hill said there is a "human, emotional level" to recovering cannabis farms because he is often finding children being exploited and in dangerous situations.

Vietnamese boys and young people, he found, are being asked to watch over properties in case of police raids or rival gangs arriving.

He said: "I've recovered children who are being exploited. They are there to protect the properties."

He added this was a "big concern" to police, saying that often they are encountering victims of modern slavery and the operation of farms is "destroying young people's lives".

Of all the boroughs, Croydon had the highest number of cannabis factories, with 30 in total being found.

DSI Hill explained that the number in Croydon was high "for a number of reasons".

Its large population - the biggest in London - was one, as well as the area having gang and violent activity in it.

He said: "I think we can make links to gang activity. Some of the recoveries are within gang territory areas. A lot of it does comes down to organised criminality."

He added: "There's a link between violence and drugs, we do recognise that drugs underpin some of that."

He said: "When we look [at the number of] these raids, probably two thirds comes from information that has been generated by Crimestoppers and community intelligence."

From there, DSI Hill said the police are "really proactive" and "robust" in their approach to uncovering such farms.

After Croydon, the borough with the second highest number was Lewisham, 18, then Newham, with 17 and then Lambeth, with 16.

By contrast, the boroughs with the lowest number of factories were jointly Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea, with only two.

Addresses across the capital where factories were found have also been revealed by the police.

Busy high streets such as Kingsland Road, in Dalston and Streatham High Road, in Streatham were among the 292 streets the police said factories were found.

DSI Hill explained that, historically, farms were uncovered in industrial estates but the police is finding it more common to find them in attics, or residential properties.

The numbers of factories found do appear to be falling, though.

In 2016, there was 143 found and in 2017, this number fell to 134.

Although it is too early to tell about the numbers in 2018, DSI Hill says this is because locating and uncovering cannabis farms is a "priority" for the police.

Peter Reynolds, from CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform said he believed the number of farms in London would have been higher.

Mr Reynolds posed this may be because the police are not as tough as they once were in terms of cracking down of cannabis possession, saying they were "disinterested".

He added it was "right" the Metropolitan Police were discovering farms and prosecuting though.

He said: "There's just as many, if not more [farms] then there has been. It's absolutely right that the police should crack down on major operations.

"These are operations ran by wicked people that are associated with violence and trafficking. It's a good thing to see operations like that stopped."

Mr Reynolds argued it would be safer for all parties concerned if the distribution of cannabis was done legally.

He said: "You can get it properly run, under licence and employing people properly, regulated and safely."

Cannabis factories

Number of cannabis factories discovered by the Metropolitan Police between January 1, 2016 and April 30, 2018

Years (2016), [2017], 2018 - Jan to April

Barking and Dagenham : (9) [8] 0
Barnet : (7) [6] 2
Bexley : (5) [6] 2
Brent : (1) [5] 2
Bromley : (4) [7] 0
Camden : (0) [4] 1
Croydon : (14) [11] 5
Ealing : (4) [3] 2
Enfield : (6) [5] 3
Greenwich : (7) [2] 3
Hackney : (8) [2] 2
Hammersmith and Fulham : (2) [5] 0
Haringey : (6) [1] 0
Harrow : (3) [1] 0
Havering : (7) [4] 0
Hillingdon : (0) [3] 1
Hounslow : (5) [7] 0
Islington : (1) [2] 0
Kensington and Chelsea : (0) [2] 0
Kingston upon Thames : (1) [3] 1
Lambeth : (9) [6] 1
Lewisham : (5) [9] 4
Merton : (0) [2] 1
Newham : (9) [8] 0
Redbridge : (6) [2] 1
Richmond upon Thames : (2) [2] 0
Southwark : (4) [4] 0
Sutton : (1) [3] 0
Tower Hamlets : (9) [6] 1
Waltham Forest : (7) [4] 4
Wandsworth : (0) [2] 0
Westminster : (3) [3] 0

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th August 2018 author Nadeem Badshah)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of prosecutions in England and Wales has reached a record low despite an increase in recorded crime overall, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

The data showed 1.61 million people were either prosecuted or given an "out-of-court disposal" in the year ending March 2018, a fall of 7% and the lowest number since records began in 1970.

Out-of-court disposals are sanctions given by police on admission of guilt, and include cautions, cannabis warnings, fixed penalty fines and restorative justice.

A decrease in prosecutions for motoring offences resulted in the number of people prosecuted at magistrates courts falling by 5% to 1.38 million compared with 1.45 million the previous year, the Criminal Justice Statistics published on Thursday reveal.

The report also shows there has been an 11% increase in overall crime, a total of 5.5m offences, although not all offences recorded result in a charge or prosecution.

The MoJ put the rise down to "improved recording among police forces and victims' greater willingness to report crimes".

The fall in prosecutions comes amid a rise in violent crime, with the latest annual police figures published in April showing a 22% year-on-year increase in knife crime and an 11% rise in gun crime.

The figures for 2017 from the Office for National Statistics showed police forces recorded 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year to December 2017, the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010.

In May, Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick said she was "sure" cuts to her force's budget have contributed to a rise in violent crime.

Responding to the latest figures on prosecutions, an MoJ spokeswoman said: "Under this government the most serious offenders are more likely to go to prison, and for longer - helping protect the public and keep communities safe.

"Sentencing is a matter for independent courts, who take into account the circumstances of each case."

Decisions on whether to prosecute suspects are taken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

In 2017/18 the CPS prosecuted 533,161 cases and secured 448,327 convictions. In magistrates courts, its conviction rate was 84.8% while the rate for crown courts was 79.9%.

A CPS spokeswoman said: "We will always prosecute cases referred to us by the police where there is enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest.

"Last year the CPS prosecuted more than 530,000 cases, with a conviction rate of 84%. Although the number of cases has decreased, there has been an increase in the complexity of the cases we prosecute.

"This is reflected in the growth in digital evidence and, in the case of sexual offences, reliance on vulnerable victims and witnesses."

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th August 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Scotland Yard is deploying convoys of vehicles with 70 or more officers to knife crime hotspots in a fresh tactic to combat violence.

The line of police vans, unmarked cars and patrol vehicles arrive on estates or streets blighted by crime - but instead of raiding homes, police meet and talk to local people.

The tactic is being used by the Met's Violent Crime Taskforce in an effort to engage with communities battling a surge in gang activity and stabbings.

Detective Superintendent Sean Yates, head of the task force, said: "The public are saying they do not see so many police any more so this is a highly visible message of reassurance. We go into shops, talk to people on the streets and carry out weapon searches, but it also gives people a chance to talk to us and tell us what they want us to do."

Police deployed a convoy of 14 vehicles to Peckham yesterday - racing through London with lights and sirens - before arriving at Pulse leisure centre. There were traffic officers on motorbikes, local borough police, detectives from the task force and firearms officers. The local borough has seen two murders of young men in recent weeks, including drill rapper Siddique Kamara, 23, known as Incognito. The member of Moscow 17 was stabbed in Camberwell.

Residents had a mixed reaction to the initiative. Anne Thomas, 57, said: "It's a good idea but you don't see any of them when there is a crime. We need more police on the streets."

Jacqui Fergus, 58, said: "It is a joke, a PR stunt. These crimes are happening because there is nothing for these children to do. There are no community centres or play areas for children." But Adeleke Labake, 49, said: "Police cannot stop the killings on their own, they need the help of the community and this is going to help. They have closed the local police station so people want to see more officers on the street.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick, who joined yesterday's operation, said: "We have had a very positive reaction. We want to make an impact in a short period of time, obviously we come and then we go, but we leave a trace and the knowledge that we will be back. This shows that the Met are here, that we want to protect them, we want to find out what they think, and at the same time it sends a strong message to criminals."

She added: "We are being thanked for providing a presence everywhere we go, even in places where in previous times people have felt upset by police actions. They are coming up and thanking us."

There have been more than 90 murders in London this year. The Met claims the surge in violence is stabilising, with a fall in the number of murders each month and fewer stabbings involving young people. Operations involving the Violent Crime Taskforce have resulted in more than 1,000 arrests since April.

(4th September 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th August 2018 author Gareth Corfield)

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is enforcing new rules that obligate banks to publicly reveal the number and frequency of online outages - including whether these were caused by malicious actors.

Billed as part of consumer-friendly changes to the small print for online banking services, new rules from the FCA and the Competition and Markets Authority will make financial institutions proactively reveal how often they have had to report "major operational and security incidents".

The move was telegraphed by the FCA over the past few months, having begun with the TSB fiasco in April.

Banks will have to "publish the information on their websites in a consistent format" according to the FCA, while big banks will be expected to dish it up via an API compliant with the Open Banking Standards specs.

A quick squint at the Bank of Scotland's OBS API (other flavours of moneymen are available) reveals four public incident reporting metrics are currently in use: "total number of incidents reported"; "incidents affecting telephone banking"; "incidents affecting mobile banking"; and "incidents affecting internet banking".

"More than any other industry, banks still contain a mix of archaic legacy systems, new cloud platforms, and yet are under pressure to accelerate their software development to combat the threat of their 'digital-first' competitors," opined Dave Anderson, a marketing bod from API-making biz Dynatrace, in a canned quote.

Another marketer, Andrew Stevens of customer service biz Quadient, gravely intoned: "Banks should see this as an opportunity to improve their relationship with customers. By opening up a conversation and being clear about any disruptions to service, internal changes, or even changes to accounts will go a long way in positioning the bank as a trusted provider which cares about its customers.."

Small comfort for folk who were locked out of their TSB accounts earlier this year. Still, better to bolt the stable door before the rest of the herd make a dash for it.

(4th September 2018)

(Guardian, dated 15th August 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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The investigation into the alleged terror attack outside parliament is one of hundreds being conducted by authorities in the UK.

Downing Street officials revealed on Tuesday that counter-terror police and MI5 had 676 investigations open at the end of June.

Police and the security services have previously said there are around 3,000 active "subjects of interest" plus a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have featured in inquiries and are kept under review.

The staggering numbers raise questions - particularly when an individual slips through the net - about how security services decide where to focus their resources. The Met police on Tuesday said the suspect in Tuesday's incident, Salih Khater, did not appear to be known to authorities.

Since 2011, MI5 and the counter-terror police network have used a "triage" process for sorting incoming threat intelligence. The system is regularly reviewed for adjustments according to the "waxing and waning" of risk.

On receipt, new intelligence is checked for links to existing investigations. If there is a connection to an ongoing inquiry, the information is passed to the relevant team. If not, the intelligence is assessed to establish whether a new lead or investigation should be opened.

A lead is intelligence or information not linked to an ongoing investigation that, after initial assessment, suggests activities of national security interest.

Investigations are given a priority according to the risk they carry. There are four broad categories:

- Priority 1: investigations into individuals or networks where there is "credible and actionable" intelligence of attack planning.

- Priority 2: investigations into high- and medium-risk extremist activity, such as a serious intent to travel overseas and fight, terrorist training or large-scale fundraising.

- Priority 3: investigations into uncorroborated intelligence, where further action is needed to determine whether a threat exists.

- Priority 4: investigations into individuals who have previously posed a serious threat to national security, who are not currently deemed to be involved in such activities, but where there is a risk of "re-engagement".

Targets will be prioritised according to their position or importance within most investigations. These can fall into three tiers: the main targets of an investigation; key contacts of the main targets; and contacts of tier 1 and 2 targets who are likely to be involved only in marginal aspects of any activities.

There are no strict rules for what resources are given to a particular investigation.

Priority levels are regularly tested at senior level and can be changed to take account of shifts in activities or the aspirations of individuals or networks being monitored.

A report from parliament's intelligence and security committee published in December revealed that MI5's counter-terrorism activities were increasingly focused on "high-risk casework".

This typically relates to individuals who have received terrorist training or are attempting to procure the means to carry out an attack, but who may not yet have a current plan.

Previously, such cases represented a smaller share of MI5's work, with a greater proportion being "slower burn" and requiring less resource-intensive monitoring, such as radicalisation or fundraising cases.

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th August 2018 author Mark Blunden)

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Squeezing in and out of London's tight parking spaces can be infuriating, especially if you return to find your car has been clipped.

Now the boroughs where drivers have the highest chance of being in a prang have been revealed.

Such accidents include hitting a bollard or barrier, or shunting another driver's car while it is stationary.

Manoeuvring into spaces in ­Richmond and Kingston proved the most precarious, with the neighbouring ­boroughs accounting for nearly a fifth of London's total prangs, or 9.75 per cent each.

Accidents in ­Bromley made up 9.14 per cent of the capital's bumps and scrapes, while the Square Mile was third, with 9 per cent, and Greenwich fourth, at 8.7 per cent. Male and female drivers were about evenly matched for their number of minor crash claims.

Pensioners made up the largest age group for such claims, at 15 per cent, and drivers aged between 17 and 24 accounted for 7 per cent of the total. Although drivers in Westminster were most likely to get a parking ticket, they were least likely to get bumped by another car, according to the data.

The central London borough accounted for just 4.7 per cent of all claims, followed by 5.2 per cent in ­Barking and Dagenham and 5.4 per cent in Camden.

The figures come from motoring insurer Admiral, which last year paid out a record £123 million on £151 million of policies bought by customers.

Payouts were up from £106 million the previous year, with Admiral blaming much of the rise on thousands of low-speed crashes in ­London.

Sabine Williams, Admiral's head of motor product, said: "Parking prangs are common car insurance claims and account for one in 10 cases we deal with.

"Parking is a set manoeuvre on the driving test so all drivers should know how to park correctly, and safely.

"While things like parking sensors can assist with manoeuvring into tight spaces and can reduce the risk of bumping into something as you park, they certainly aren't fail-safe."

Best / Worst London boroughs for parking accidents


=1 Richmond 9.75%
=1 Kingston 9.75%
2. Bromley : 9.14%
3. City of London : 9.09%
4. Greenwich : 8.7%
5. Havering : 8.6%


29. Hackney : 5.76%
30. Newham : 5.70%
31. Camden : 5.40%
32. Barking and Dagenham : 5.23%
33. Westminster : 4.7%

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 15th August 2018 author Staff Reporter)

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Scientists believe they can identify paedophiles based on characteristics of their hands, and potentially track their movements around the world.

Dame Professor Sue Black, of Lancaster University, has developed a forensic technique to identify suspected offenders based on pictures of their hands.

She has worked on the process since 2006 and hopes eventually to automate it. She began building a database to work out the probability of two hands having the same features while working at the University of Dundee.

She said: "If we're able to automate, then we would be able to use these algorithms that we'll develop, to sift through the millions of images that are held on databases by police forces around the world."

"The chances of you being able to link them before have been close to zero, so we can maybe get to a point of being able to track where these perpetrators have been going around the world."

Currently all analysis is performed by eye, Prof Black said.

She added: "It's a spot-the-difference type comparison, that game you used to play as a child. I've got this image, I've got that image. What's the same and what's different?"

"We will look for patterns of skin pigment. We will look for vein patterns, superficial vein patterns. And we will look for the pattern of creases of skin over the knuckles."

The technique will now feature in a BBC documentary, The Hands That Convicted A Paedophile.

The broadcaster said Prof Black's analysis technique had already been used to secure the conviction of one paedophile.

Jeremy Oketch, now 38, was convicted in 2015 of raping a two-year-old girl and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He had filmed himself doing so, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said, and the footage was described as "exceptionally disturbing".

Scientists compared footage of Oketch's hands with photographs taken in custody, and matched "every anatomical feature", Prof Black said.

Pharmacist Oketch pleaded guilty, GMP said in a press release at the time.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Larkin, who investigated the rape, told the BBC for the documentary: "It was brilliant. It had gone beyond my expectations. She had proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he was guilty."

(4th September 2018)

(CNN, dated 15th August 2018 author Amanda Jackson)

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Don't worry, Los Angeles commuters, your time rushing through the metro system won't be held up by these body scanners.

Instead, these new high-tech scanners, at the bottom of the escalators, will scan you as you walk by. They scan your naturally occurring body waves looking for any indication of concealed weapons or explosive devices.

The Transportation Security Administration partnered with LA Metro to test the portable passenger screening devices and announced on Tuesday that Metro will be the first in the nation to equip its surface transportation agency with them.

"Metro has been an industry leader in testing new technologies to meet the evolving threat to our nation's public transportation infrastructure," said Sheila Kuehl, LA County supervisor and Metro Board chairwoman, in a statement.

"This new technology will augment our aggressive safety and security posture and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system."

So how do they work ?

They scan your body for objects that are blocking your naturally produced body waves. Both metallic and nonmetallic objects can be picked up by the scanner.

"When an object is hidden in clothing or strapped to a person, these waves are blocked and detected by the system's software," reads a news release from LA Metro. "The software generates generic avatars and creates either a black spot on the area of the body where the item is concealed or overlays a color indicator."

No radiation is emitted and the scanners will not display anatomical details. The technology has been tested this past year at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station.

"TSA is pleased to have been a partner during the evaluation and testing process, which ultimately led to the purchase of a recommended system to help detect and deter potential acts of terrorism while keeping the traveling public safe," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the news release.

(4th September 2018)

(Belfast Live, dated 14th August 2018 author Joseph Wilkes)

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Think you know the Highway Code like the back of your hand?

We have compiled a list of 32 things you might do while you're driving that are actually illegal - and we're not talking about obvious offences like drink driving.

You might already unintentionally do some of these things, such as using your phone as a sat-nav in an unfixed position.

Here is a list of laws to be aware of, as reported in the Cambridge News (dated 24th February 2018)

1. Using your mobile phone as a sat nav in an unfixed position

It is illegal to use your phone as a sat nav if it is not fixed on your windscreen or dashboard. The phone must also be in clear sight for use while driving, without you having to hold it.

Due to the recent law change, if you are caught breaching this, you will receive six points on your license and a £200 fine. If you have had your licence for less than two years, you could also face a driving ban.

2. Flashing your lights to give way

Many of us will flash our lights to other motorists to let them go through, but you are not legally allowed to use your lights to do this.

Headlamp flashes should only be used to warn other drivers of your presence. If you are caught flashing your headlights for any other reason, such as using them to warn others of a speed trap, you could face a minimum of a £30 fine.

3. Eating or drinking while driving

While eating or drinking behind the wheel might not be strictly against the law, it is frowned upon. But if you're distracted by doing things such as snacking, drinking, applying makeup or changing a CD in your car, the police can prosecute you, as you may not be in complete control of your vehicle.

If you are distracted and not in control, you could face a £100 fine and anything from three to nine penalty points.

4. Splashing a pedestrian with rain water

Believe it or not, if you splash a pedestrian on the pavement with rain water, you could face a fine of anything from £100 - £5,000. This is because it is classed as an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons."

5. Paying with your phone at a drive through restaurant

Whilst it may seem like the easiest option to swipe your phone through the machine and go, you could face a maximum £1,000 fine or six penalty points if you use your smartphone to pay for your meal at a drive thru.

If you do prefer to use your phone rather than a contactless card, you must make sure your engine is switched off and your handbrake is applied.

6. Driving in the middle lane of the motorway

If you spend most of your time in the middle of the motorway and don't pull into the inside lane after overtaking, then you could see yourself slapped with a fine.

Staying in the middle lane falls into the category of 'careless driving' and punishment for this is three penalty points and up to a £100 fine.

7. Having a dirty number plate

If there's one thing you should do before getting behind the wheel, it's check your number plates. This is because dirty and 'unreadable' number plates could leave you with a fine of up to £1,000. Cars are inevitably going to get dirty on the roads, but just don't let them get too filthy.

8. Letting pets out of the car if you're broken down on the hard shoulder

If you are broken down on the hard shoulder you are not allowed to let your pets out of your car. This a rule that is stated in the Highway Code. It is only in an emergency you can actually let them out. Failing to do so can land you with a driving-offence charge.

9. Beeping your horn in anger

We've all had those days where we've experienced a little road rage and been tempted to honk our horns in frustration. But it is important to always avoid doing this. Beep your horn for any other reason than alerting someone of your presence and you could receive a £30 fine.

10. Sleeping in your car when drunk

If you find yourself over the limit DO NOT think that sleeping in your car to sober up is a good idea. The law states that those in charge of a motor vehicle should not be inebriated. Police have been known to class sleeping as being in charge - so always avoid doing this to be on the safe side. You could potentially get a minimum of 10 points and a fine.

11. Not clearing your windscreen before driving

The Highway Code states that when driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

This means getting rid of any snow or frost on your windows.

It's also the law that all your mirrors are clear and de-misted, and all lights are clearly visible too.

12. Undertaking

This is quite tempting when you confront one of the aforementioned middle lane hoggers. Don't let yourself succumb to the temptation though.

Undertaking is a criminal offence. Not only is it dangerous, you could find yourself in court.

13. Taking prescription drugs before driving

In March 2015 new road-side drug screening devices were introduced, along with new driving limits for a string of prescription drugs.

Over-the-counter drugs including codeine, for example, could see you banned from driving. While many other drugs could potentially cause problems because they induce drowsiness. Obviously illegal and recreational drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are included in the drug-driving laws, but there is a long list of prescription drugs that could see you banned.

The legal medication that could result in a drug-driving charge:

- Amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
- Temazepam
- Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
- Oxazepam
- Clonazepam
- Lorazepam
- Methadone
- Diazepam
- Flunitrazepam

14. Getting out of the car on a single yellow line

You're taught that you can't park on single yellow lines, so naturally you'd expect that the driver shouldn't really get out of the vehicle.

Single yellows are fine for dropping people off or picking people up, but the driver should not get out of the vehicle at any time.

15. Smoking

Since October 2015 it has been illegal to smoke in your car if any passenger is under the age of 18.

As the driver, you are also responsible for other passengers who choose to smoke if there is a child in the vehicle.

16. Crawling

While there is no minimum speed limit on most UK roads, driving too slowly can still be a punishable offence if it proves to be hazardous to other motorists.

Roughly 140 accidents are caused by slow drivers annually, according to The Department for Transport.

The maximum penalty for slow driving could be as many as nine points on your licence and an unlimited fine.

17. Driving with snow on the roof

You might be late for work, or freezing cold but in the eyes of the law, you need to clear the snow before you go.

The Highway Code says that you must have a clear view of the road when driving in adverse weather conditions.

This means that you must be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle, by law.

Failure to do so could lead to a fine, reports the RAC, and could place you and others in danger.

Comment 1 - Can I drive with snow on the roof of my car?

Ask The Police website states that while there is no specific offence relating to snow on a vehicle's roof, it could lead to other offences.

If snow slips onto the windscreen or flies into the path of another road user it could cause a hazard to you and other road users and leave you open to being penalised.

Offences could include driving without due care and attention or 'using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition'.

Comment 2 - Demisting

Make sure you demist all your windows inside your car so you can see out of them. Mirrors also need to be de-misted - you could find yourself open to a £60 fine and three points on your licence if you don't do this.

Comment 3 - Lights and plates

It is also law that all lights and number plates are clearly visible too.

This is especially important in winter so it might be wise to drive with your sidelights or dipped headlights on so other drivers can see you.

18. Leaving a car parked with the engine running

Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code which states: "You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road."

Of course, it doesn't mean you've got to cut your engine at every red light: you are allowed to leave your engine running if you're stationary in traffic or diagnosing faults.

19. Throwing something out of the window

Most of us wouldn't throw a McDonald's bag out of the car window when we're finished (though we've probably seen it done). But you might have chucked out an apple core (it'll rot, right?) or a cigarette butt. Well, you can't do that either.

20. Using your phone

Checking Facebook? Got a text? It is illegal to use a mobile phone held in the hand while driving or while stopped with the engine on.

21. Leaving a child alone in the car - even at a petrol station

We've all been there. You're filling the car up at the petrol station and your child is fast asleep in the back.

Do you wake them up and take them with you when you go in to pay for your fuel, or do you leave them?

According to, it is illegal to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.

Parents are urged to use their judgement on how mature the child is before they decide to leave them alone - whether that be in a car or at home.

It warns that parents can be prosecuted if they leave their child unsupervised 'in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health'.

Chris Cloke, head of safeguarding in the communities at the NSPCC, told the Hull Daily Mail : "When left alone in a vehicle, young children can very quickly start to get anxious and distressed.

"Even if they're sleeping peacefully when you leave they could well wake up and get very upset when you're not there to look after them.

"They would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency and may even try to leave the vehicle to find you.

"As children become older parents need to exercise their own judgement. if they can see the car the whole time it may be sensible depending on your child's maturity.

"Every child is different and every parent knows their child's readiness to be left in this scenario."

22. Misusing the hard shoulder

Highways England is using cameras on smart motorways to catch people misusing the hard shoulder, normally only opened if there is an incident in another lane.

If you drive in the hard shoulder when it is closed, you could be issued with a fine from March 2018.

Highways England has reportedly sent 80,000 letters to motorists ignoring signs not to misuse the hard shoulder, and will be punishing motorists with fixed charges of £100 and three penalty points from spring.

23. Parking at night

Drivers must not park on a road at night, facing against the flow of traffic, unless in a dedicated space.

24. Placing babyseats in seat with airbag

A rear-facing baby seat must not be used in a seat with an activated front airbag.

25. Towing speeds

Vehicles towing a caravan or trailer on a motorway must not exceed 60mph.

26. Picking children up outside school

Drivers must not stop to set down and pick up passengers on school entrance markings.

27. Car seat weight

Children must use a car seat suitable for their weight, up until their 12th birthday, or until they reach 135cm tall - whichever comes first.

28. Incorrect use of lanes

On roads with more than one lane, you must stay in the left hand lane unless overtaking, or turning right.

29. Going off road

You must not drive on a pavement, footpath or bridleway, unless gaining access to a property, or in an emergency.

30. Parking close to junctions

Drivers must not stop or park within 10 metres of a junction, unless in an authorised space.

31. Not telling the DVLA about changes to your details

It is illegal to change your name and address and not tell the DVLA.

32. Not telling the DVLA about medical conditions

It is illegal to not tell the DVLA of a medical condition, or disability, such as epilepsy, strokes, neurological and mental health conditions, physical disabilities and visual impairments.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 13th August 2018 author Holly Thatcher)

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When it comes to following the rules of the road, most of us have a pretty good handle on what is - and what isn't - allowed.
Even so, there are still some unusual rules that can land you in hot water if you're not aware of them.

Here are six laws that could affect each and every driver in the UK - but which you might not have known about...

Offence 1: Splashing pedestrians

It's infuriating when it happens: getting drenched from head to toe in muddy water after a careless road user drives through a puddle. Worse still is the fact that it's not always accidental.

We've all wished we could see justice for this type of driver, but in actual fact they are breaking the law and the penalty is pretty severe.

Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons", and this includes any instance of "driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed".

The maximum punishment is a level five fine of £5,000 in instances where driving "amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience or aggressiveness".

You are more likely to be be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points if you are caught.

But if you refuse to pay and take the matter to court you could see a maximum fine of £5,000 imposed.

Offence 2: Buying from a drive-through using your smartphone

We all know that using our phones while driving is strictly forbidden, and quite rightly so. But what is sometimes forgotten is that this rule also applies on private roads and land where the public has access.

Feel like paying for your tasty takeaway or refreshing iced coffee using contactless on your smartphone? Think again.

While it would take a particularly strict law enforcement officer to penalise you for this crime, it is technically possible for an officer to issue a fixed penalty of £200 and give you six penalty points.

Offence 3: Leaving your engine running

One of the more surprising rules of the road is that you must have your engine switched off when stationary. This law was not, originally, to prevent pollution - it was designed to reduce noise. The fine is £20, although in London it could be higher (up to £80) because of strict emissions rules.

The law itself dates from the 1986 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Act, but it doesn't mean you have to turn off your engine when in a traffic jam or stopped at lights. That said, if you're stuck for a while, switching off is a great idea.

Offence 4: Sleeping in your car

We all know that drinking and driving a car isn't acceptable, but if you find yourself stuck after a night of heavy drinking then you might be tempted to sleep in your car.

This may seem like a sensible idea if there's no other way to get home, but it's actually illegal and you can be prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. It doesn't matter if the keys are out of the ignition and you're sat in the backseat, you could face a fine and a maximum of ten penalty points.

Offence 5: Using a phone in the passenger seat

Using your phone while driving is illegal and if you're caught you can get six points and a £200 fine. But what a lot of people don't realise is that this same law applies to anyone teaching a learner driver too.

Learners need to be supervised at all times and so the law takes a dim view of their instructors - professional or not - being distracted by mobile phones. So no witty social media updates and absolutely no Spotify playlist curation while you're teaching someone to drive.

The answer, therefore, is the same as it would be for anyone driving a car. Either keep your phone in your pocket, bag or invest in a mobile phone holder.

Mounting the phone to the windscreen keeps you legal although the drivers view must not be obstructed.

Offence 6: Driving with a broken brake light

If your vehicle has something wrong with it, e.g. a broken brake light or no screenwash, the police may give you a 'vehicle defect rectification notice'.

You'll need to get your vehicle fixed and provide proof that it's been fixed (for example, a receipt for the work from a technician). You have 14 days from the date of the notice to show the proof to the police.

Uaware comment

It appears this article was sponsored by Halfords.

(4th September 2018)

(Sunday Times - Driving, dated 13th August 2018 author James Allen)

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THE METROPOLITAN Police weren't able to solve 97% of crimes committed by scooter (often erroneously described as 'mopeds') riders - despite the force increasing its capacity to tackle these incidents.

According to data released by the London police service, just 2.6% of all cases involving scooter gangs were successfully solved in the 12 months preceding May 2018. In contrast, the same period the previous year was mildly higher, at 3.1%.

The statistics also revealed the remaining 97% of unsolved reported cases amounts to a rather high number of crimes, with the Metropolitan Police being unable to bring about justice in 23,651 recorded incidents.

However, more recent statistics show a slight improvement in the numbers of offenders being detained. In April and May this year, Scotland Yard solved 4.1% of the 2,436 offences that occurred in the capital.

The increase is likely in response to a wave of measures the Met Police introduced from October 2017, following a boom in crimes involving scooter gangs and related increase in media attention.

The new techniques range from increased motorbike police patrols to DNA tagging sprays and remotely-operated tyre deflation technology.

Speaking to The Times, the Met's Detective Superintendant Lee Hill confirmed: "Following the introduction … of slim-line motorcycles, DNA forensic tagging and our dedicated Operation Venice teams, we have seen a decline in offences and more offenders being caught and brought to justice."

An additional statement from the force reiterated that point, by highlighting how the London constabulary is "actively targeting moped-enabled criminals to ensure we maintain public safety and make offending difficult for those intent on committing these crimes".

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 13th August 2018 author Henry Bodkin)

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An "invisible barcode" which can be sprayed onto joints of meat and scanned by consumers using a smartphone will thwart future food fraud, scientists have claimed.

The accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) is developing an edible signature with an agent used in spices and powdered milk that promises to reveal how the animal was raised, what it ate and where it was processed.

The new electronic etching procedure is due to be launched in Australia and China within the next 12 months.

Once in widescale use, the technology should help regulators and shoppers avoid food fraud such as the horse meat scandal which rocked the British meat industry in 2013.

The procedure begins at the abattoir, where meat is sprayed with fine particles of silicon dioxide.

This can create a distinctive pattern which is capable of being recognised by a hyper-spectrum gun, which shines a light onto the microparticles and reads back a unique wavelength.

The tagging could be done at every stage of the meat production process, potentially enabling individual steaks or other cuts of meat to be identifiable.

Initially, however, the micro tag will be embedded into meats's primary packaging only.

This is while PWC obtain regulatory approval to use the silicon, which is used as an anti-caking agents in some food stuffs, to be used for tracking and serialisation.

A similar system is already in use in the pharmaceutical industry for tracking drugs.

The accountancy firm described the technology as "step one in a multi-step approach to beat the fraudsters".

PWC is trialing the system with an Australian beef producer, Vic's Premium Quality Meat, and is planning to roll it out next year.

It is also developing the software into an phone-supported app.

Anthony Puharich, from the butcher's firm, told Financial Review: "The public will be ecstatic but there are a lot of people who have profited from selling products that aren't what they claim they are.

"This will enable full transparency of the product's provenance."

Food fraud is estimated to cost the the UK food and drink industry up to £11 billion a year.

The horsemeat scandal unfolded from January 2013 when Irish food inspectors revealed they had found the substance in frozen burgers sold as beef.

This prompted a number of retailers and manufacturers to admit their "beef" products contained horse DNA.

Following the revelations, some surveys showed that only just over half of consumers felt confident they were buying exactly what was advertised.

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 12th August 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Attacks on the police is on the rise as a Scotland Yard officer warned officers are being sent to respond to crimes alone. Around 72 police officers are attacked attacked every day in England and Wales, according to the latest statistics, which translates to an attack every 20 minutes.

Home Office data from all 44 police forces found that a total of 26,295 police constables were assaulted on duty between April 2017 to April this year.

That equates to a 34 per cent rise from figures from 2013, when a total of 19,670 police officers were attacked while in uniform and a rise of 10 per cent on last year, where just under 24,000 cops were assaulted.

The Met Police recorded the highest number of assaults with 3,975 in the past year, with West Yorkshire second with 1,366 assaults, followed by Hampshire with 1,159, Kent with 1,112 and Greater Manchester with 1,031.

The numbers of attacks, however, are likely to be "far higher" as many officers don't report some attacks as crimes.

One officer, who has been in the Met for more than 10 years, said assaults on officers were going up at the same time as officer numbers were going down.

He said: "Most of us don't report minor assaults, so the figures will be far higher than 26,000.

"The problem is that there are less and less officers to deal with crime, so when we turn up to an incident we are more often than not by ourselves.

"If we don't get the situation under control pretty quickly it can easily escalate and that's when things get dangerous."

He added: "The simple statistics show that one officer is assaulted every 20 minutes - that's just not acceptable."

Speaking to Police Federation magazine Police in the most recent edition, John Apter, the new chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said prison sentences needed to be tougher for those convicted of assaulting police officers.

He said that officers faced "daily" dangers by not have adequate access to equipment such as Taser and spit guards.

He said he planned to tackle "the inadequacies that exist in law and sentencing, which mean that there is not a strong enough deterrent to prevent assaults on police officers" .

Nick Smart, the chair of the West Yorks Police Federation, said that a two-year prison term was "not unreasonable" for anyone who assaults a police officer.

The Home Office said: "In 2017/18 there were over 26,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales.

"18,114 were crimes of "assault without injury on a constable" recorded across all forces, an increase of 10 per cent compared with 16,536 in the previous year.

"8,181 crimes of assault with injury on a constable recorded across all forces

"There were also just over 250 assaults involving injury reported to force health and safety teams by Police Community Support Officers."

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 12th August 2018 author Nada Farhoud)

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Fifteen acid attacks take place in Britain every week, a Daily Mirror investigation has found.

And disturbingly, many involve children - both as victims, and as attackers.

We found one case where a child of just two years old was the target, and another carried out by a boy of six.

From January 2015 until May this year, there were a total of 2,602 such crimes - equivalent to 15 a week. Yet from 2007 to 2011, only 100 were logged in total.

Acid attack survivor Adele Bellis told us: "The thought that children as young as two have been caught up in these barbaric attacks is heartbreaking.

"We have to act now to protect others in the future."

Even the figures we have may not give the full picture - four police forces did not respond in time to our requests for data. And many victims fail to report the crime for fear of being targeted again.

The Mirror is campaigning for tighter laws on the sale of acid, found in household products from paint stripper to drain cleaner. We are also demanding a crackdown on online sales.

Web giants Amazon and eBay both removed a 91% sulphuric acid cleaner from sale after we highlighted the ease with which it could be bought.

The product had been used in several attacks that led to hefty jail sentences. The number of crimes involving children is especially alarming. They include attacks in Cumbria by boys aged six and nine, targeting girls of just four and five.

In Manchester a "violent offence" was logged, using bleach against a six-year-old boy, and teens aged 14 and 15 were attacked on the train network.

And in Hertfordshire, two 11-year-olds were charged for attacks on older teens, while 12-year-olds used acid against others of the same age.

Gwenton Sloley, 34, a community out­­reach worker and former gang member from Dalston, East London, said acid and similar substances were now playground weapons.

And he called for primary schools to show the lifetime of harm attacks can cause.

Gwenton said: "It will play on their consciences later."

Almost three quarters of attacks - 73 per cent - took place in London. Substances used also included bleach, paint stripper and caustic soda.

Beautician Adele, of Lowestoft, Suf­­folk, suffered horrific injury when acid was thrown over her on the orders of former boyfriend Anthony Riley in 2014.

Adele, 26, said: "One moment of evil changed my life forever, it was worse than murder. I'm left scarred, broken and with my own life sentence.

"I wholeheartedly support the Mirror's campaign to stop these deadly substances falling into the wrong hands."

(Mirror, dated 8th August 2018 author Rob Grant)

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Police have recorded 2,000 acid attacks in the past three years - including one alleged rape and numerous serious assaults.

Devon and Cornwall Police revealed they are treating an alleged rape that took place in 2016 as an acid attack.

The force identified a suspect but problems with evidence meant they couldn't proceed any further.

The case was among 2,006 given in response to the Mirror's enquiries from 30 police forces around the UK that took place from January 2016 to May 2018.

His former girlfriend Katie Leong was jailed for life after being found guilty of trying to murder him by pouring acid on him while he slept at home in Leicester.

He was left with severe scars following the attack - but he revealed last year that he has now found love with girlfriend Anna Catanga, who he met as she cared for him in recovery.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain : "The acid took something from me that I'm never going to get back. I will never be the same.

"I will never forget the shock, then the pain as the acid burnt through my skin and the helplessness of not being able to stop it. Then the realisation my life changed forever.

The shocking statistics were revealed after the Mirror sent FOI requests to all police forces in the UK asking for cases of acid attacks from January 2016 to May 2018.

We defined acid attacks as any criminal offence where someone threw acid or a similar chemical on their victim in order to harm them.

Thirty forces sent us back data, although different forces defined acid attacks differently.

Many police forces said they knew of cases where the criminals used acid or similar corrosive substances to carry out wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent.

This is a serious crime punishable with a possible life sentence behind bars.

In West Yorkshire there were four cases of acid attacks on police officers during this time.

The vast majority of the cases were in London.

Some 63 per cent of this year's cases in London were violent crimes such as burglary and sexual offences.

Newham in east London had the most acid attacks recorded in the capital with 273.

In London the average victim was about thirty years old and the average suspect between 24 and 25.

Men were more likely to be both victims and suspects in London acid attacks than women.

Acid attacks, Jan 2016 to May 2018

2016 : 749
2017 : 1,011
2018 : 193

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th August 2018 author Sophie Evans)

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A terrifying new drug that 'turns users into the Incredible Hulk' has sparked a crisis in a UK city - where it's bought for as little as £2 a hit.

The synthetic drug, dubbed 'monkey dust', is sending increasing numbers of people into violent and psychotic episodes in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Police have sounded the alarm over the psychoactive substance, which has been blamed for a series of gruesome 'face-eating attacks' in the US.

Also known by the sinister monikers 'Zombie Dust' and 'Cannibal Dust', it stops users from feeling pain and causes hallucinations, agitation and severe paranoia.

It can also induce hypothermia by producing high body temperatures.

One officer described how users of the drug appear to have superhero-like strength.

PC Rich Frost told Sky News : "When you are trying to restrain them it's like you are dealing with someone who thinks they are the Incredible Hulk."

He added: "The strength is unbelievable."

Meanwhile, a West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedic reportedly described how driving through Stoke was "something like a scene from the Living Dead".

Emergency services are said to be dealing with an "epidemic" in the city, where they encounter violent, psychotic patients hooked on the substance nearly every day.

Although 'monkey dust' has emerged over the last two years, local police, paramedics and hospital workers have reportedly seen a surge in cases this summer.

It is being used in other cities and there are fears it could sweep across the country.

Worryingly, the drug, also called MDPV, can be picked up for as little as £2.

Footage, obtained by Sky, shows one alleged user fighting paramedics with a bone protruding from his arm, and another leaping from the rooftop of a building.

More than 170 incidents involving 'monkey dust' have been logged by WMAS since April - with a staggering 131 of these calls made in North Staffordshire.

As well as making users feel impervious to pain, the drug is also known for making their sweat smell distinctively like prawns, Gloucestershire Live reports.

And it can make them believe they are being chased.

Earlier this year, the substance was said to be prevalent in Worcestershire - prompting West Mercia Police to issue a warning about the effects of it.

Detective Chief Inspector Carl Moore said at the time: "It is our duty to alert people to the fact that there appears to be a particular drug called Monkey Dust in circulation within Worcestershire.

"It completely distorts reality for the user and they often have no recollection of their actions while under the influence.

"Heavy use can cause lesions to appear on the skin and they have a pronounced after-smell of vinegar or prawns emanating from their sweat.

"The health risk associated with taking this drug could be even higher. It is not only illegal to buy and sell drugs but can also be very dangerous and potentially fatal.

"We are urging the public not to be tempted to take any illegal drugs - you don't know what they are made of, where they have come from or what effects they may have on you."

'Monkey dust', similar to PCP, typically comes in the form of a powder

The effects of the dangerous substance can last two or three days, with the most serious cases requiring emergency hospital treatment.

Despite Staffordshire Police raids, the source of the supply in Stoke remains unclear.

(4th September 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th August 2018 author Julie Delahaye)

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Dubai is renowned for being filled with glitz and glamour from its epic shopping mall and breathtaking sights to the picture-perfect beaches.. and then of course its incredible bar and restaurant scene.

But for those wanting to check out the nightlife be warned - UAE laws on alcohol are very, very different to those in Britain.

There's a common misconception that you can't drink in Dubai, which is untrue - but there are some strict laws, and if you break them you could face some hefty punishments.

Essentially you can drink in Dubai if you're a tourist; but you have to stick to the designated areas, and you can't be drinking, or intoxicated, in public.

We take a look at the main rules you need to know before setting off, as well as the FCO travel advice :

What is the drinking age in Dubai?

You need to be aged at least 21 years old to drink alcohol in Dubai.

Where can tourists drink in Dubai?

You can only drink in approved venues which hold the correct alcohol licences such as hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and clubs.

However, take note; it is illegal to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public . That means any time you are out and about whether you're walking in the street or soaking up the rays on the beach.

The FCO warns: "British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour".

Can you buy alcohol in shops?

No - it's an offence for tourists to buy alcohol from an off-licence. The only exception is you hold a UAE-issued alcohol licence which allows you to purchase alcohol to drink at home, but this is available to residents only.

Think about what you post on social media

Yes, your cocktail might be really pretty, but if you can it's worth avoiding alcohol-related posts. If you do post, considering the captions and hashtags you use - try to avoid mentioning alcohol/drinking. Stick to sharing the beautiful views and sights instead!

FCO advice on alcohol in Dubai

"Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor licence to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. These licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues.

"Liquor licences are not available to non-residents, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs.

"However, you should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.

"Generally, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi, but a Ministry of Tourism by-law prevents hotels from serving alcohol to those under the age of 21. In Dubai and all other emirates besides Sharjah, the drinking age is 21. Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is illegal.

"Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 10th August 2018 author Nadeem badshah)

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Butlin's has said up to 34,000 guest records may have been accessed by hackers.

The holiday camp firm said the customer data at risk included names, home addresses, email addresses and phone numbers, but that payment details were secure.

The incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The firm is contacting people who may have been affected to inform them and tell them what they should do.

Butlin's said its own investigations had not found any fraudulent activity related to the data breach.

People who believe they may have been affected should be cautious about giving any additional details when contacted by individuals purporting to be from the leisure company.

Butlin's managing director, Dermot King, said: "Butlin's take the security of our guest data very seriously and have improved a number of our security processes. I would like to apologise for any upset or inconvenience this incident might cause.

"A dedicated team has been set up to contact all guests who may be affected directly. I would like to personally reassure guests that no financial data has been compromised."

Meanwhile, Liverpool football club is writing to a group of supporters who used online ticketing services or telephone sales in 2012 to advise them to change their password after "unauthorised external access to an employee account".

The club has reset the online ticketing passwords for fans and is recommending other steps to a wider group.

It said there was no evidence that any supporter accounts had been accessed and no financial information was involved.

A number of large companies in Britain have been targeted by hackers in recent years.

Carphone Warehouse was fined £400,000 by the ICO in January for a series of "systemic failures" uncovered after a data breach in 2015.

The fine, one of the largest ever issued by the ICO and the same as the fine given to TalkTalk in 2016, came after the personal data of more than 3 million customers and 1,000 employees, including credit card details, names, addresses and phone numbers, was accessed.

During the investigation, the ICO discovered 11 separate issues with the company's data protection and security practices that would have breached the Data Protection Act on their own.

In May, Grant West, 26, who carried out cyber-attacks on companies including Sainsbury's, Asda, Uber, Argos, Ladbrokes and Coral before selling customers' data on the dark web, was jailed for more than 10 years.

He obtained the email addresses of more than 160,000 people and sent them phishing scams masquerading as the online food order and delivery service Just Eat to get their personal data.

West, who used the online identity "Courvoisier", sold the information on the dark web, stashing his £1.6m profits in online caches of bitcoin.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 8th August 2018 author Miles Brignall)

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The Essex towns of Romford and Ilford have been named as the UK's worst places for car theft, with Birmingham coming in a close third.

Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, is the safest place to keep a car, alongside Jersey and neighbouring Guernsey, which reported no car thefts last year according to an analysis by the comparison website Moneysupermarket.

It examined 5m car insurance enquiries over the year to June and found that drivers in Essex faced the highest risk of car theft, with a reported rate of 13.5 per 1,000 in Romford, followed by 13 in Ilford.

Gangs are known to have targeted Essex in the past because of the large numbers of high-end cars owned in the area made infamous by the TV programme The Only Way is Essex.

Birmingham had a claims rate of 9.5 - considerably higher than the West Midlands as a whole, which sits at 6.1. Halifax came in fourth with a rate of 8.6, followed by Liverpool at 8.2 and Southend, also in Essex, at 8.1.

Kirkwall, Dumfries, Inverness and Perth all had tiny theft rates, making Scotland the safest area in the UK, the analysis found.

Kevin Pratt, a consumer affairs expert at Moneysupermarket, said: "When it comes to car thieves, it turns out that the only way is Essex, as the county has three of the UK's car theft hotspots.

"Make sure your vehicle is protected with the right insurance, but prevention is always better than cure. No matter where you are in the UK, it's important to defend your property against planned and opportunistic theft, whether of the vehicle itself or belongings left inside."

He said east London was in seventh pace in the rankings, with a car theft rate of 7.2 per 1,000 capita - significantly higher than London as a whole, which sits at 6.1. Bromley in Kent, Bradford, and Stockport experienced the same theft rates as east London.

Truro in Cornwall and Exeter in Devon were rated as the two safest places in England to leave a car.

Those aged 30-49 are the most likely to report their car stolen, while drivers under 19 face the least risk as they drive the least attractive cars to thieves.

The company advises the owners of cars with the latest key-less entry systems to consider old-school devices such as a steering lock. It also says owners should avoid leaving keys near their front door where they can be easily grabbed by an opportunist thief.

(4th September 2018)

(i News, dated 7th August 2018 author Claire Schofield)

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Staying safe and healthy is paramount to all holiday-makers, but some locations require extra precautions to reduce the risk of becoming ill.

While travellers may be keen to jet off, sometimes that holiday bliss can be ruined by picking up a common bug in one of the world's most popular travel destinations.

The countries with the biggest health risk

According to research by medical travel insurance provider GetGoing, India tops the list of countries that pose the biggest threat to holidaymakers and is notorious for the infamous 'Dehli Belly' - known more formally as traveller's diarrhoea.

Diseases including Typhoid fever and Hepatitis A are also common there due to poor sanitation, putting tourists at high risk of illness.

Kenya followed as a hotspot for contracting sickness, with the East African nation on the danger list for as many as five travel-related illnesses, including Malaria and Dengue, resulting in travel insurance claims as high as £11,746.

More than 216 million people have contracted the deadly Malaria virus while abroad, and diarrhoea affects 30 per cent of travellers, with countries including India and Kenya among the highest risk locations.

Thailand, Peru and Indonesia were also named as high risk countries, with Typhoid fever and Hepatitis A being among the most prevalent diseases.

The 12 most dangerous nations for travel bugs

- India (high risk)
- Kenya (high risk)
- Thailand (high risk)
- Peru (high risk)
- Indonesia (high risk)
- Sri Lanka (intermediate risk)
- Dominican Republic (intermediate risk)
- Mexico (intermediate risk)
- South Africa (intermediate risk)
- Costa Rica (intermediate risk)
- Cuba (intermediate risk)
- Egypt (intermediate risk)

The most common travel bugs

While travel-related illnesses can include everything from diarrhoea to sunburn and motion sickness, these are the most common, more serious travel bugs and where they are typically contracted:

- Dengue - most commonly contracted in Africa, South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean; symptoms of the virus include high fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

- Malaria - transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, the symptoms are much the same as Dengue, although Malaria is typically contracted in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, and the Dominican Republic.

- Typhoid fever - caused by ingestion of food or water that is contaminated, typhoid is common in most South Asian and African countries, and in Central and South America.

- Hepatitis A - typically transmitted through food or water contaminated by human faeces, symptoms include jaundice, loss of appetite, fever and nausea, travellers are most at risk of Hepatitis A in developing countries.

- Yellow fever - caused by mosquito bites, yellow fever induces jaundice, bleeding and internal organ damage, and is common in the majority of Central and South America and Africa.

How are bugs transmitted?

While tourists may be keen to sample new cuisines on holiday, contaminated food is one of the main sources of illnesses, with under cooked or unwashed foods contributing to illnesses like traveller's diarrhoea.

Contaminated water and ice can also put travellers at risk of contracting diseases such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, cholera and diarrhoea, and while many believe freezing the water will kill the bacteria, doing so will actually preserve it.

Poor sanitation also ranks highly for causing illness, with travellers advised to steer clear of tap water and ice in drinks to avoid disease in risky locations where there are open sewers and a lack of clean water.

Travellers should also be wary of insect bites when abroad; particularly mosquitoes which result in more than one million deaths every year.

Avoiding danger zones for Malaria and Dengue is advisable.

How to stay healthy abroad

To ensure a safe and healthy holiday, travellers are advised to take the following precautions when heading abroad - especially in high risk areas for illness:

- Visit your doctor prior to travelling to ensure your vaccinations are up to date, and to find out if you need any other medication before visiting your destination

- Avoid ice and drinking water from taps - stick to branded bottles of water instead

-Use a repellent containing DEET to keep insects such as mosquitoes, fleas and bugs at bay

- Wash your hands or use hand sanitisers after handling money and before eating

- Make a note of the country's emergency services number and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 7th August 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Police have have been ordered to improve the way they record crime after an inspection found domestic abuse survivors and other victims were not being given support.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) found that almost one in five violent crimes reported to Cleveland Police "never make it onto the books" amid a nationwide rise in stabbings.

The assessment was one of three published in the latest batch of nationwide inspections, which have recently exposed that other forces including the Metropolitan Police are failing to properly record tens of thousands of offences.

Cleveland Police was ranked "inadequate" after a probe found that more than 3,100 violent crimes are not being recorded every year and domestic violence abuse victims were being put at risk.

"When a crime isn't recorded properly, victims might not receive the support services they need and, in some cases, an investigation may not begin," Inspector Matt Parr said.

"In Cleveland Police, we found that only around a quarter of domestic abuse victims received adequate safeguarding when a crime was not logged. This leaves them exposed to an unacceptable level of risk and, potentially, harm."

But he concluded that the force "has the right team in place to respond to our recommendations and make changes for the better".

Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless said: "Whilst all calls to our control room are recorded and assessed, we recognise that we need to improve. "Since this inspection in 2017 we have already implemented changes and will continue to do so to ensure we provide the best possible service."

South Yorkshire Police's crime recording was graded as "requires improvement" by HMICFRS but inspectors found a "high level of accuracy in the recording of sexual offences" in the wake of the Rotherham grooming scandal.

"However, South Yorkshire Police still fails to record more than 17,000 crimes each year," Mr Parr said. We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office's crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims.

"Early support can be crucial for victims of crime, and these delays are preventing victims accessing the support they need."

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber said South Yorkshire Police had made "significant progress" since 2014, and in particular highlighted a victim-focused approach to crime recording.

"We do recognise there is further work to do to eliminate some identified administrative failings," he added.

"In those highlighted within the report, such as the sexual offence crimes, the majority of these are where a second crime has occurred, but not recorded. Where vulnerable victim crimes were not recorded, safeguarding was still undertaken in all appropriate cases.

"South Yorkshire Police has made a commitment to a victim-focused service and we take these recommendations seriously."

Bedfordshire Police's crime recording was also found to be requiring improvement, although 90 per cent of all reports were recorded.

"There is more work to do," Mr Parr said. "Violent crime is still under-recorded, with only 86 per cent of reported violent crimes making it onto the books.

"We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office's crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims. Our case file audit identified 32 crimes involving vulnerable victims, but just over half were not recorded by the force."

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said the force was in the top six forces of the 26 inspected so far, adding: "We have put robust measures in place to improve this even further.

"While we may have missed recording in some instances due to procedural errors, there was never an occasion where someone hadn't been appropriately safeguarded. Work is already ongoing in force and a plan is in place to address those procedural issues and we are confident that this will lead to further improvements in our recording rate."

The inspections were published days after research published exclusively by The Independent found that victims are losing confidence in the criminal justice system as police "routinely" fall short of standard codes of practice.

Fifty-five per cent of those surveyed said the system failed to meet their needs, while only a quarter felt they were properly supported after reporting incidents to the police, a survey by Victim Support found.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 6th August 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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A no-deal Brexit will put public safety at risk and reduce policing capacity in Britain, leaders of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) have warned the government.

In a letter they said the loss of key EU databases, the European arrest warrant system and full Europol membership "could pose significant risks to our local communities".

"These shared tools, measures, initiatives and capabilities which have been developed over the last 40 years of cooperation across the EU have saved many lives," said the document, which was seen by The Independent.

"Considerable additional resource would be required for policing to operate using non-EU tools and that such tools would be suboptimal - potentially putting operational efficiency and public safety at risk.

"It is also recognised that recruitment, vetting and training of staff to use these tools would take a substantial amount of time."

The letter, which was sent to the Home Office last week, said ongoing Brexit negotiations come at a time when the threat posed by foreign offenders targeting the UK from abroad is increasing.

Britain risks losing access to systems including Europol, the European arrest warrant and Schengen Information System II (SIS II) - a huge database containing information on terrorists, criminals, missing people and objects, to which the police say there is "no alternative".

British officers checked it 539 million times in 2017 alone, with their equipment currently searching SIS II and the police national criminal database simultaneously.

At the end of 2017, there were 76.5 million alerts in relation to people and objects on the system, including 1.2 million from the UK.

The UK could also be excluded from the European arrest warrant system, which drives the extradition of up to 10,000 foreign offenders every year as well as allowing British criminals to be brought back to face trial.

The government has proposed a security treaty that it claims would allow information sharing to continue, but its refusal to be governed by the European Court of Justice could block transfers because of data protection laws.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said the UK would be locked out of policing and security databases in June, adding: "If you leave this ecosystem you lose the benefits of this cooperation."

He said that while there would still be some security cooperation, it would "rely on effective and reciprocal exchanges, but not on access to EU-only or Schengen-only databases".

The APCC's Brexit working group, which contains Conservative, Labour and independent commissioners, said 32 law enforcement and national security measures are currently used on a daily basis in the UK.

"Unless the government is able to negotiate the retention of these measures following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, police and law enforcement agencies face a significant loss of operational capacity," the group's letter read.

"A 'no-deal' scenario could cause delays and challenges for UK policing and justice agencies."

It called on the home secretary to prioritise access to EU-wide systems, while developing "effective contingency plans" for a no-deal Brexit and give the work the funding needed.

(London Evening Standard, dated 7th August 2018 author Sean Morrison)

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A hard Brexit would pose a risk to public safety, police chiefs have warned.

Police and Crime Commissioners have called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to draft contingency plans for a "no-deal" Brexit immediately.

They said police forces would face a "significant" loss of operational capacity and lose access to cross-border investigative powers.

In a letter to Mr Javid, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) said for this to be avoided a deal with the EU must be struck.

The letter, which emerged on Monday, read: "We understand that considerable additional resource would be required for policing to operate using non-EU tools and that such tools would be sub-optimal - potentially putting operational efficiency and public safety at risk."

It continues: "There are 32 Law Enforcement and National Security Measures [Lens] that are used on a daily basis in an operational policing context.

"Unless the Government is able to negotiate the retention of these measures following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, police and law enforcement agencies face a significant loss of operational capacity.

"As Police and Crime Commissioners, we are increasingly concerned that such a loss of capacity could pose significant risks to our local communities."

The police chiefs also state the Brexit negotiations come at a time when the in-country threat from foreign national offenders targeting the UK from abroad is increasing, and when international co-operation is a key element of the fight against crime.

They further said that with the implementation period unlikely to be known until October this year, the five-month window until the end of March 2019 is "likely to be very challenging".

"We are therefore concerned that a 'no deal' scenario could cause delays and challenges for UK policing and justice agencies," the letter states.

The Commissioners have asked Mr Javid to ensure the need to retain Lens tools is prioritised, that he works closely with the APCC, NPCC and NCA to get a detailed understanding of the potential risks.

They asked also that he considers the financial provisions and extra resources needed to support contingency planning in the event of no security treaty being achieved.

The cross-party Brexit working group has requested a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss "preparations, contingencies and the financial implications of post-Brexit policing".


uaware comment

The article implies that unsolved crimes will get worse. Worse than the current 90% of unsolved crimes quoted by the media ?

The media has also quoted that the UK's GCHQ is the envy of the World with its data gathering. In fact GCHQ supply intelligence to Europol. I did not realise that this information was "for Europol eyes only" !

So who will be depriving who ?

Perhaps it will be the current British Director of Europol who will be deprived of his job come March 2019 ?

Police and Crime Commissioners and their associations are paid to come up with nationwide contingencies. They have had 2 years to make suggestions and question the Home Secretary and Government on perceived problems and they have left it to the remaining 240 days !

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 6th August 2018 author Haroon Siddique)

Full article [Option 1]:

Farmers are resorting to medieval methods to combat rural crime which has risen to its highest level in four years, an increase being blamed on organised criminal gangs and policing cuts.

Offences against farmers and other rural businesses cost an estimated £44.5m last year, an increase of 13.4% from 2016, according to insurer NFU (National Farmers Union) Mutual.

The biggest increase was in in Wales, up 41%, followed by the Midlands, up 32%, and the south-east, up 30%. Only Scotland and north-east England showed falls compared with 2016.

The most targeted items were quad bikes/all terrain vehicles, followed by tools and machinery. But activities such as hare coursing and fly-tipping can also be devastating to farmers, injuring livestock and contaminating the environment.

Tim Price, the rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "There's no doubt that rural crime has changed massively in the last decade.

"Ten years ago it was largely unstructured, stealing from the next village, trying to sell it at a car boot sale. Now we are seeing organised criminals who have links to drugs and the county lines issues, money laundering, even in some cases, human trafficking."

In an attempt to frustrate the criminals, farmers are incorporating medieval measures into their security, according to the 19th Rural Crime report. It says farmers are putting up earth banks and dry ditches to block criminals who use 4 x 4 vehicles to get on to farm land.

In Kent, one farmer has spent 18 months surrounding his 4,500 acres with ditches and barriers to deter criminals from hare coursing and fly-tipping.

Others are using animals including geese, llamas and dogs as a low-tech alarm system, much as landowners did hundreds of years ago.

NFU Mutual, which calculated figures based on its claims data, said agricultural vehicle theft accounted for 13% (£5.9m) of the total cost of rural crime. In many cases, organised gangs were taking expensive machinery and shipping it across the world, in some cases winching it on to a vehicle and taking it straight to a port.

There have also been cases where loaders have been stolen and used to smash into village shops to steal cash machines.

Price said that as thieves had become more sophisticated, police forces had reduced resources because of budget cuts.

The impact, he said, was not just the cost, which can be recovered by insurance, but disruption to farmers' work and fear of being targeted again.

"The knowledge that people are hanging about watching homes and farms, what machinery they've got, that really does cause a lot of worry [among farmers]," said Price.

"We've had cases where people have decided to stop using livestock or stop use of fields because the mental anxiety someone will target them is so great."

The estimated cost of livestock theft last year reported to NFU Mutual was £2.4m. Thefts of large numbers of lamb have raised concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain.

Guy Smith, the NFU deputy president, said crime was "one of the most pressing, impactful and devastating issues farmers are dealing with at the moment". In response, the union has launched a dedicated anonymous rural crime reporting line with Crimestoppers UK.

(4th September 2018)

(Independent, dated 6th August 2018 author Alex Matthews-King)

Full article [Option 1]:

Online doctor sites are doling out powerful painkillers and dangerous prescription medicines to UK patients, including recovering addicts, with few checks and no oversight from medical watchdogs, an investigation has found.

A loophole in the regulatory system means that firms operating in the UK but contracting GPs overseas to see patients and prescribe over email or video chat cannot have their safety inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The watchdog called for a change in law after a BBC Panorama investigation, to be broadcast later today, found vulnerable patients could access drugs through online doctor sites which would not be issued in person.

Former opiate addicts Sarah and Sunny were easily able to order drugs - including opiate painkiller dihydrocodeine and another drug, pregabalin, dubbed "the new valium" - through a company called UK Meds.

Volunteers for Panorama gave false medical histories when completing the online questionnaire and asked that their own GPs were not contacted.

"The package has arrived so quickly, less than 24 hours since I ordered the pills and they're here. How surprising is that? It's shocking and disgusting," said Sarah, after receiving her pregabalin delivery.

The company cannot be inspected by the CQC because it uses GPs based in Romania, contracted through its sister company EU General Practitioners.

TV medic Dr Christian Jensen features prominently in pictures and videos on its website, though he says he does not endorse any specific brand or prescribe medications.

UK Meds told the programme that patient care and safety is at the core of its business. A spokesperson added they are regulated by the UK drug regulator the MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council, and all the doctors they contract through the Romanian company, EU General Practitioners, are registered with Britain's General Medical Council.

The CQC inspects private and NHS GPs and hospitals, including online services, on a range of standards including the safety of their care and prescribing.

Another company, EuroRX, was set up by a former UK doctor Julian Eden, the Britain's first online doctor, who was struck off in 2009 after prescribing to a 16-year-old boy through his website E-Med.

Eleanor, who was treated for anorexia as a teenager, was able to order a three month supply of prescription slimming pills after giving false information in an online questionnaire.

The drugs were prescribed by a Romanian doctor hired through EuroRX and delivered in days.

"I've got so many diet pills here, and if I'd still been in the depths of my illness it would have been so dangerous for me, literally a massive, massive box of them," Eleanor said.

Julian Eden later told Panorama that he respects the CQC and has never sought to evade it's oversight. He said his shareholding in EuroRX is simply a sensible business investment in wider markets, all of which are subject to their own regulators.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice for the CQC, said of the programme's findings: "As a GP it makes me very angry that patients are put at risk, and as a regulator it makes me even more certain that we need to try and get the legislation changed so that people can't just bypass our regulatory activities."

(4th September 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 5th August 2018 authors Patrick sawer and Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

The cost of rural crime has soared to more than £44 million with organised gangs stealing farm vehicles and equipment and even targeting country businesses during busy shift changes to cover their tracks.

A new study will tomorrow reveal that the cost of crime in agricultural areas is now at its highest since 2013, with the Midlands one of the worst hit regions..

Estimates from NFU Mutual, which insures more than 75 percent of farms in the UK, will show the cost of thefts from rural homes, businesses and farms currently stands at £44.5m, an increase of 13.4 percent and the highest year-on-year rise since 2010.

With police forces overstretched rural residents and businesses are increasingly having to turn to social media in an attempt to combat crime and help each other monitor the activities of thieves in their area.

Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "With police facing huge challenges - including budget cuts and extra workload - forces are finding it hard to resource rural policing and this may be one of the reasons for the rise in thefts we are seeing.

"However social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside, strengthening the community ties that help in the reporting and recording of crime and bringing thieves to justice."

In one particularly brazen case thieves tried to hotwire a farmer's pickup vehicle while he was working in fields and he had to chase them off.

But within days, his 750-acre Staffordshire farm was targeted again, when thieves sawed the locks in half on an outbuilding in broad daylight to steal tools.

Matthew, a third generation farmer who preferred not to give his full name, said: "There are half a dozen farms in the area that are being targeted. We are near the Shropshire border and between police forces, so they know it takes them a while to respond.

"They even target farms to coincide with shift changes to make it even less likely that they will be caught. Over the years we must have reported more than 50 registration numbers and we all have CCTV that records vehicles and people, but it doesn't seem to make any difference."

Matthew added that he has been forced to take desperate measures in an attempt to keep out the thieves.

"There is nothing you can buy that is strong enough to keep them out, so we are starting to make things ourselves. We have surrounded the workshop with concrete walls and built earthworks," he said.

Matthew said his family has had more than £50,000 of vehicles, fuel, tools and even lambing pens stolen as well as having machinery tampered with and his young daughter has been left becoming increasingly frightened by disturbances on the farm.

His wife Jacqui said: "We had one week where we were up three or four times because we heard noises and it has got to the point where it was really upsetting her. We managed to get her through it but is horrible not knowing when it is going to start again. It is relentless, it's crazy the lengths you have to go to try to keep the farm and everyone safe.".

Matthew added: "I've lived here all my life and to be honest it's quite scary knowing that you can be targeted day or night and it looks like it's only going to get worse."

(4th September 2018)

(Huff Post, 3rd August 2018 author Steven Hopkins)

Full article [Option 1]:

Renting a motorbike on holiday is a rite of passage for many young Brits holidaying abroad, despite many having little experience on two-wheels.

In Thailand, high-powered mopeds can be hired for the equivalent of just a few pounds a day and inexperienced riders are often tossed the keys after proving little more than an ability to navigate a car park.

But an increase in serious accidents over the last year has prompted the Association of British Travel Agents to issue a warning: British travellers should not hire mopeds or quad bikes while travelling abroad.

So is the warning justified?

What Is The Advice?

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) urged travellers to hire cars rather than mopeds and said quad bikes should only be used as part of organised tours.

Quad bikes are popular with tourists in places such as Cape Verde, Greece and Turkey.

"We're advising holidaymakers who have little experience on mopeds to think twice before hiring these vehicles, and only ride quad bikes if they are part of a properly supervised off-road excursion," Abta's Nikki White said.

Why Has A Warning Been Issued?

UK travel companies reported 36 quad bike accidents and seven moped accidents in 2017, but Abta said the actual number of incidents was likely to be much higher.

The organisation said travellers ignoring their advice risked "serious injury" and judging by recent tragedies involving Brits on motorcycles abroad, the advice seems well worth considering.

Last month, Swindon teenager Kieran Roche was killed after crashing a quad bike while riding with friends in a small village outside Crete, Greece.

In December 2017 Ross Davidson, 23, had a leg amputated after a moped crash in Thailand. Two months earlier, a 25-year-old woman nearly died in a moped crash in Vietnam.

And in May of that year pregnant Briton Sophie Anderson was killed while riding a moped with her partner, Danny Glass, in Thailand.

What's Causing The Accidents?

White said many holidaymakers who are involved in crashes have "little experience" of using the vehicles involved and are "unfamiliar with the local roads and driving standards".

What Are The Other Risks Involved?

As well as risking serious injury, White said tourists face being hit with huge financial costs if they have accidents abroad as "many travel insurance policies" do not cover activities like quad biking.

The BBC cited the case of Lewis Evans as an example. The 18-year-old from Thornbury, near Bristol, suffered "devastating injuries" when he came off a quad bike on the Greek island of Zante in 2016.

His family later raised almost £30,000 to bring him home via air ambulance as his holiday insurance did not cover quad biking.

(4th September 2018)

(The Register, dated 2nd August 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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The British government has sunk £100m into efforts to link up cops' IT systems, boost resource-sharing and develop digital forensics.

The UK's police forces have been battling to improve outdated systems for years. Multiple annual reports into the state of policing have concluded that cops lag far behind in their use of tech, and that failure to fix this puts public safety at risk.

In a bid to address the problem, the Home Office launched a Police Transformation Fund in 2016, and this week announced the second phase of investment.

Most of the budget, some £70m for 2018-19, is for four national police-led programmes, which emphasise the lack of interoperability and collaboration within and between forces.

They include projects to create a unified IT system that encourages joined-up work across forces, which is led by the City of London force, and to improve resource sharing between forces in key areas like cyber crime, which is being led by the Metropolitan Police.

There is also cash for a single online hub where people can report low-level incidents, so police officers don't have to spend time manually recording that information.

The final project is in a more controversial area, being aimed at boosting the use of biometrics and digital forensics. The police's use of such technologies has come under fire from civil rights groups and the biometrics commissioner Paul Wiles.

In his latest annual report, Wiles voiced concerns that the police's use of new biometric tech isn't always organised or systemic, with a "worrying vacuum" in governance and lack of oversight.

The latest funding round also hands out £42.7m to 15 other projects over the two years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

A Met-led project to develop a national technical capability and infrastructure for law enforcement agencies rakes in the most, some £14.8m over the two years.

The National Crime Agency pulls in £6m for three projects, including £4m for a National Data Exploitation Centre, while the West Midlands won £4.5m to develop a national analytics solution.

The Police ICT Company has been awarded £1m for the 100-day foundation phase of its ICT transformation programme, while Derbyshire police were handed £4.8m for work on cyber crime.

The first phase of the overall programme, which ran from 2016-17 to 2017-18, awarded more than twice as much cash as has so far been announced in phase 2 - some £223m - to 98 projects.

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 2nd August 2018 author Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Home Office has failed to protect British women and teenage girls forced into abusive marriages by granting their foreign husbands visas, charities have said.

Officials dealt with nearly 90 cases of victims trying to block visas last year, although almost half were still issued, data obtained by the Times suggests.

Women and girls are being physically and sexually abused by the men whose cases go unchallenged by authorities, charities say.

One group said some immigration officials were "turning a blind eye" amid concerns over cultural or religious sensitivities.

A Home Office source said it "categorically denies" the allegation.

Figures released under freedom of information laws showed the Home Office had received 175 inquiries about victims trying to block spouses' visas last year.

Of these, 88 became full cases, which included direct requests from victims, known as "reluctant sponsors", requests from third parties or instances where an official suspected a forced marriage.

The women had been forced to marry men in countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.

Visas were still issued in 42 cases, while in 10 more the decision is still pending or an appeal is being heard.

There are concerns that the number of victims is far higher than the reported cases due to rules that require complainants to sign a public statement.

The founder of the forced marriage victim support charity Karma Nirvana, Jasvinder Sanghera, told the Times: "Even when officials know it's a forced marriage, they see tradition, culture or religion and they're reticent to deal with it. They are turning a blind eye."

Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom, which also supports victims, said it had seen "a number of cases like this and they go unchallenged".

"The girls are physically and sexually abused by the men that come over," she told the Times.

Laws making it illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were introduced in 2014.

Anyone found guilty of doing so can be jailed for up to seven years.

As well as banning the practice, police were given powers to issue forced marriage protection orders to help victims, breaches of which are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Speaking at the time, Theresa May, then home secretary, said forced marriage was "a tragedy for each and every victim".

In 2013, the year before laws were introduced, the government's forced marriage unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1,300 people.

In 2017 the unit gave advice or support in 1,196 cases.

The Home Office said on Thursday that the UK was a world leader in tackling the "horrendous crime of forced marriage".

A spokeswoman said: "Work to combat it is an integral part of our cross-government violence against women and girls strategy, published in March 2016.

"We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. If an individual refuses to act as the sponsor for a visa application then under the immigration rules, that visa should not be issued.

"There are a number of reasons why cases are referred to the forced marriage unit, not all of which are the result of a reluctant sponsor getting in contact. In some cases it will be decided, following inquiries, that no further action is necessary and a visa will be issued."

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah said the situation seemed "alarming". She told Sky News: "I certainly will be writing to the home secretary to make sure that we are looking at changing the law to protect the victims.

She added: "There is nothing racist about highlighting the fact that a girl is being forced into a marriage, or protecting that victim. Abuse is abuse regardless of any cultures, and that needs to be understood loudly and clearly."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 2nd August 2018 author Associated Press)

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is considering ending screening of passengers at smaller airports across the country to focus security efforts at the largest airports.

It is unclear how advanced the proposal is and whether it will ever be adopted.

Still, aviation security experts reacted with alarm, saying that dropping security at smaller airports could make those flights an inviting target for terrorists.

CNN reported that the TSA is considering whether to end passenger screening at about 150 airports that serve planes with 60 seats or fewer. The report cited senior agency officials and internal documents from June and July.

In a statement, TSA said no decision has been made. The agency said that any changes "to better allocate limited taxpayer resources" would be preceded by "a risk assessment to ensure the security of the aviation system".

Security experts said that while passengers would still be screened before boarding the largest jets - the types used in the 9/11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon - terrorists could still target regional planes at small airports. Those flights still carry dozens of passengers.

"I find that unbelievable, totally beyond comprehension," said Glen Winn, who spent more than 30 years in airline security, retiring as United's chief security officer, and now teaches security at the University of Southern California.

Terrorists, he said, "will just begin their plans immediately".

Jeffrey Price, an aviation security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the TSA would save money by shutting down screening at smaller airports. The agency could take screeners who have a lot of time on their hands between flights at small airports and move them to bigger ones where there is more passenger traffic.

Price said smaller planes that would go unscreened are lighter and carry less fuel, making them less dangerous as weapons in the hands of terrorists like those who crashed four planes on 9/11.

But, Price added, a crash involving a smaller regional jet could still kill dozens of passengers. He said terrorists could also fly from an unprotected small airport and attack after reaching a bigger airport, where they would already be beyond the current ring of security checkpoints in terminals.

Ending screening at smaller airports would reverse a trend of tighter security measures under the Trump administration. Since last year, the TSA has introduced new procedures to help screeners examine laptops and tablets that might contain bombs.

TSA has backed away from controversial plans before. In 2013, the agency dropped a plan to let passengers carry small knives - something that was allowed before 9/11 - after an outcry from the public and flight attendants.

Broaching the idea of cutting back screening could also help TSA argue for more money from Congress.

The TSA said in its statement that as part of its yearly budget process, it is asked to discuss "potential operational efficiencies - this year is no different".

(4th September 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd August 2018 author Fiona Simpson)

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One in 10 Britons has been a victim of stalking, shocking new statistics show.

A YouGov poll commissioned by media outlet Broadly and anti-stalking charity Paladin, showed nine per cent of 1,150 adults asked said they had been stalked.

A further one in five people (21 per cent) said they knew someone who had been stalked.

The majority of Brits believe more could be done by UK authorities to tackle the issue, the survey showed.

Fifty-six per cent of people polled said the government don't do enough to combat stalking while 53 per cent said police did not take reports of the issue seriously.

Three out of five people said they didn't report stalking to police.

Paladin has recently issued proposals for a new stalking register to be launched.

It would allow people to find out if their partner has previous convictions for stalking or domestic violence.

Seventy-seven per cent of people asked would support a register being introduced, the report showed.

A second survey of 13 to 24-year-olds who follow website Vice on video and photo messaging app Snapchat suggested young people are particularly vulnerable to stalking.

Of the 12,000 Snapchat respondents, 35 per cent said they had been victims of stalking while 56 per cent said they knew a victim of stalking.

The shock results came just days after a man convicting of stalking TV presenter Christine Lampard was handed a nine-month suspended sentence after waging a hate campaign over Twitter.

Christof King even turned up at Mrs Lampard's home in a two-and-a-half year campaign that left her too scared to leave the house.

The 39-year-old was handed a nine month sentence, suspended for two years, at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday.

In May, the Met Police became the first force in the country to set up a specialised unit to tackle stalking.

The Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) is a joint initiative in partnership with Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust (BEH) and victims advocacy service the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

The £1.4m project is part of Sadiq Khan's bid to stop violence against women and girls in the capital.

It will aim to improve the police response to stalking, offer specialist advice to borough officers and protection to victims.

The service, staffed by eight officers, two nurses, a nurse manager, a psychiatrist, psychologist and a victim advocate, will also offer rehabilitation services for offenders.

There is no legal definition of stalking, however, it has been described as a pattern of unwanted and persistent behaviour that is motivated by a fixation or obsession that causes a victim to suffer alarm, distress or a fear of violence, according to the Met Police.

Over 1,000 reports of stalking were recorded by police in London last year and there were 12,000 reports of harassment.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said of the two-year pilot scheme: "When we think of the impact on victims, violence is the most obvious concern that comes to mind, but, psychologically, stalking can also have a devastating impact that can leave victims feeling like they have no options but to alter their entire way of life.

"Our new approach to responding to stalking is through a fantastic multi-agency partnership that puts victims at the very heart of what we do."

(4th September 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 1st August 2018 author Sarah Marsh)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of vulnerable people in the UK are having their homes taken over by drug gangs who use the premises to stash weapons and sell illegal substances, the Guardian has learned.

The scale of cuckooing, as it is known, has been revealed and officers warn that the problem, which involves dealers befriending vulnerable individuals whose homes they turn into a place to keep and sell drugs - known as a traphouse - leaves victims facing violence and abuse. Diane Hill, a Metropolitan police sergeant, said: "Thousands of people across the UK are affected by this. In the last month in Greenwich West we have had three cuckooing incidents. Across the whole of Britain it's a vast problem,."

She added: "[The gangs] befriend people who are too vulnerable to realise what's going on … They are using their flat for [dealing] and it is not good thing. Maybe [the dealers] will pay the electricity bill or buy a TV and then they take over the flat and people are so vulnerable they don't realise the consequences."

Hill said those who fall victim tend to have mental health problems or addiction issues: "It could be a bigger problem than we realise … we dealt with one person last week and the mental health worker was aware of an issue but it took them months to tell us."

Commander Simon Bray, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead on drugs, said the number of people having their houses taken over could well be in the thousands. "It's hard to say whether it's a growing problem. What tends to happen is that more focus is put on a problem the more people become aware of it."

He added: "Cuckooing persists as a problem … it is a big problem. There has been investment in coordinating a national hub to bring in information form all forces to gather information."

Cuckooing has risen with the growth of county lines drug trading, also known as "going country" or OT (out there), where urban gangs move class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and provincial areas.

Urban dealers target homes of vulnerable individuals in small, rural and coastal towns where they can set up and sell drugs. They befriend the person whose home it is and then move in, taking over the property to operate from.

Police forces across the UK are launching campaigns to raise awareness about the problem. Wiltshire police said that during their last regional days of action, which assessed people's vulnerability, they came up with 70 names of those at risk of being cuckooed. "In addition, there are those who are not so obvious, such as females contacted through social media," they said.

In North Yorkshire, 75 householders are either victims of cuckooing or are vulnerable to it. The force said it was a growing issue and they have launched an awareness campaign.

Dorset police's county lines lead, superintendent Caroline Naughton, said in Weymouth alone there were about 25 properties containing vulnerable people they were concerned about. "One chap started taking drugs … then county lines started and his house got taken over. In the last four years he has had his teeth pulled out and been beaten up really badly. Earlier this year he got brain damage … it's really horrendous."

She added: "For the most part in Dorset it goes under the radar. We don't want to scare people but we need to be clear what is going on."

Naughton said that those susceptible tend to have drug habits. "It starts as a friendly relationship and it becomes worse and then the vulnerable person gets into debt to the dealer and there is violence."

Surrey police said they monitored all of the "partially closed" premises under the ASB Crime and Policing Act. These are locations where vulnerable occupants have been cuckooed but have remained in their homes after police powers have been used.

This year there have been 17 closure orders across Surrey, they said, the majority of which were partial closures, which allowed the occupant to remain in their home. In these cases support is put in place, the police said. They added that the information they have gathered so far indicates that once a closure occurs dealers tend to move on.

Paul Andell, a criminologist from the University of Suffolk, said: "The impact of this kind of behaviour is disproportionate in relatively deprived neighbourhoods and local residents usually suffer from intimidation from the gangs involved in selling the drugs and from human waste deposited in stairwells from desperate customers."

Andell noted that the business model of the distribution of crack and heroin can be ruthless in "its manipulation of vulnerable people for financial gain". He said it seemed that parts of the drug trade had changed, moving away from the social supply between friends towards a more organised business at the lower tiers.

"There is a need to assess local activities and involve communities in the development and feedback on interventions. A mix of targeted enforcement, tenancy support for vulnerable residents and exit and prevention strategies for those caught up in supply networks are needed," he added.

(4th September 2018)

(Huff Post, dated 1st August 2018 author Natasha Hinde)

Full article [Option 1]:

There are around 3,000 cases of Lyme disease - transmitted by ticks - in England and Wales each year. However a new report from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggests this might actually be more of a baseline figure, as there is no requirement to notify cases to local authorities.

The latest statistics from Public Health England show there were 133 cases in England during the first quarter of this year, compared to 200 in 2017. Of these, many were from London, the South East and South West.

While the decrease in cases is a positive sign, it's worth noting we did have a particularly cool start to the year and ticks thrive in the heat. There is currently no data available on whether cases have risen during the heatwave, and with some people going undiagnosed, the best thing to do is be aware.

What causes Lyme disease?

The disease is caused by a type of bacteria that is present in many animals, including mice, deer and pheasants. If a tick bites one of these animals it becomes infected and can then pass the bacterial infection on to humans by biting them.

It's useful to know that being bitten by a tick doesn't immediately lead to infection. One doctor, Richard Besser, previously told ABC News: "You think it bites you and you get the infection but actually you have about 36 hours from the time of the bite to remove it before you get sick."


One of the first signs of an infected tick bite is a rash, which looks like a bull's eye on a dart board. Other early symptoms include aching joints and muscles, plus a stiff neck and fever.

Symptoms are thought to begin showing at around 30 days after a person has been bitten.

If the condition is left untreated, symptoms can progress to numbness of the limbs and temporary paralysis of your facial muscles. In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to inflammation of the heart muscles, which can cause the heart to beat irregularly.


Oral antibiotics are the most common treatment used for Lyme disease. In severe cases, antibiotic injections are sometimes used.

The good news is that if Lyme disease is spotted early, treatment can be effective.


- Ticks are more common in wooded and moorland areas, especially in long grass. If you walk your dog, or go on walking holidays, try to avoid these areas and stick to paths.

- Wear long sleeves and trousers, tucking the bottom of trousers into socks. By wearing light-coloured clothing you will be able to see if ticks are crawling on you.

- When you come back from the outdoors, check yourself, children and pets thoroughly for ticks.

- Wear insect repellent specifically designed to repel ticks.

- Remove any ticks found on your body as quickly as possible.

(4th September 2018)

JULY 2018

(CNN, dated 30th July 2018 author Rene Marsh)

Full article [Option 1]:

In a previously undisclosed Transportation Security Administration program, federal air marshals are tracking American citizens not suspected of a crime, not under investigation or who are not on any terrorist watch list, the Boston Globe first reported and CNN has confirmed.

The aim of the program, known as "Quiet Skies," is to gather details about the peoples' behavior on the plane to try to thwart any potential aviation threats, the Globe reported and a TSA official confirmed to CNN.

Before people board a plane and are watched by federal air marshals, officials use information from the intelligence community and their previous travel patterns to help choose whom to target, according to the TSA official. The official added the program has been in existence in some form since 2010, and said Congress is aware and provides "robust" oversight.

The Globe reported that thousands of what it called unsuspecting Americans have been the target of surveillance in the airport and aboard flights by small teams of air marshals, according to government documents it obtained. According to the Globe, officials look for such behaviors in those who are under surveillance as being abnormally aware of surroundings; exhibiting behavioral indicators such as excessive fidgeting, excessive perspiration, rapid eye blinking, rubbing or wringing of hands; with an appearance that was different than information provided; or if the person slept during the flight.

The TSA said the program is not targeting ordinary Americans. "The program absolutely isn't intended to surveil ordinary Americans. Instead, its purpose is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel -- no different than putting a police officer on a beat where intelligence and information presents the need for increased watch and deterrence. The program analyzes information on a passenger's travel patterns while taking the whole picture into account and adds an additional line of defense to aviation security," the agency said in a statement.

An air marshal source told CNN some marshals have concerns about the program, saying focusing on passengers who "look suspicious" pulls the marshals away from their mission of protecting the cockpit because they are keeping up surveillance of the individual. That means rearranging marshals' seating and how they are deployed, meaning which flights they are on.

Marshals observe the people for behavioral cues that officials have previously associated with those of terrorists, the TSA official said.

All American citizens who enter the United States are automatically considered for inclusion in the program as officials check their names against watch lists and examine their patterns of travel, according to agency documents obtained by the Globe.

The TSA official would not divulge more details but said individuals are not targeted based on race or nationality.

Officials would not say whether any terrorist plots have been thwarted because of this program.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 30th July 2018 author Chloe Chaplain)

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Shocking CCTV footage shows the moment a woman is attacked outside a Paris cafe after telling a man to stop sexually harassing her.

The video has sparked nationwide outrage in France and kick-started a debate in the country over how women are treated while walking the streets.

Student Marie Laguerre was walking past a cafe in the north east of the French capital when the man made comments and noises at her.

When she confronted him, they exchanged words and he forcibly slapped her round the face in front of a restaurant of shocked diners.

The man also threw an ashtray at her but missed.

Ms Laguerre shared the video online, and reported the incident to police, in a bid to take a stand against street harassment.

The CCTV footage has since been viewed thousands of times and sparked outrage across France, where new laws are poised to come into place making street harassment a finable offence.

Ms Laguerre, 22, said in a Facebook post that she was walking in the 19th district of Paris on Tuesday when a man began making humiliating and degrading comments to her, as well as noises of a sexual nature.

She said the harassment was not the first she had been subjected to "that day, that week or that month"

She said she told the man to "shut up" "because I don't tolerate this kind of behaviour".

The man then became angry when his advances were spurned, she said, and tried to throw an ashtray at her.

The pair exchanged jibes and the man walked back towards her. He is then seen striking her, with people sitting nearby jumping up in shock.

Ms Laguerre said in a radio interview she knew he was going to hit her when he walked towards her.

"I could have run off but there was no question of that. I wasn't going to look down and certainly wasn't going to apologise."

She added in a newspaper interview: "I felt hatred. I refused to be demeaned."

Witnesses remonstrated with the man and Ms Laguerre initially went home, before returning to the café to take witness statements. She said the owner let her use the CCTV and she filed a complaint to the police.

"Harassment is daily," she wrote on Facebook. "These men who think they're all allowed on the street, who can humiliate us and don't stand to be offended, that's unacceptable.

"It's time for this kind of behaviour to stop."

She told Le Parisien that she was "overwhelmed" by the response that the video has got since she shared it on her page.

"It's not about me now, it's about all women. It happens every day, women talk about it. As long as the phenomenon continues, we can never talk about it enough."

Equalities minister Marlène Schiappa, responsible for the new street harassment laws being introduced, told local media she was outraged by the incident.

An inquiry has been opened but, according to the BBC, the man has not yet been traced.

The new fines will come into play in the Autumn, with offenders paying up to €750 if guilty of street harassment.

(1st August 2018)

(Mirror, dated 30th July 2018 author Anna Slater)

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Tourists heading to Amsterdam are being warned to go home after dark because it is becoming a "lawless jungle."

The city becomes dangerous at night - with groups of unruly young men prowling the streets, drag racing, stealing, shouting with drunkards peeing in the streets.

But police are powerless to stop the gangs and "no longer have a handle on the situation".

Arre Zuurmond, the official city ombudsman, said these men are from the UK and other parts of the Netherlands.

They cause trouble during stag parties and pub crawls, particularly in the red light district.

Mr Zuurmond told Dutch paper Trouw issues have increased during illegal car and bike racing, and open drug trading.

He said: "The city centre becomes an urban jungle at night.

"Criminal money flourishes, there is no authority and police can no longer handle the situation."

Authorities set up cameras in the busy Leidseplein Square, near the bars and clubs, to asses the issue.
Leidseplein is a nightlife hotspot too.

But they were shocked at the results at one night, encountered 900 offences between 2am and 4am.

"The atmosphere is grim," Mr Zuurmond added. "There is an air of lawlessness.

Scooters race through the pedestrian areas. There is a lot of shouting. Drugs are being bought. There is stealing. People pee and even poop on the streets.

"There is violence but no action. You can even pee on the van of a mobile (police) unit and the driver won't say anything."

Mr Zuurmond has moved into the city for two weeks during the height of summer to observe the problem with his own eyes.

He claims 2,000 illegal taxis are also roaming the streets for fares.

The Red Light district has become so unsafe and so packed that it is unlikely an ambulance or a fire truck would be able to get through.

Solutions include cleaning the city up one area at the time, similar to the way the new York underground was dealt with 20 years ago.

(1st August 2018)

(Mirror, dated 29th July 2018 author Kara O'Neill)

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Drivers could be fined up to £5,000 for splashing puddles over pedestrian with their cars.

Two cases in recent years have hit the headlines, including the above video of a driver splashing children at a bus stop in Plymouth in 2009.

Police threatened prosecution - but the driver claimed she only did it because the children were enjoying it.

Then last year, police in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, launched a hunt from driver who "unbelievably" splashed a mum and her two kids - including one in a pram - by driving through a huge puddle.

The puddle - which had built up due to poor weather and a blocked drain - could apparently "easily be seen by motorists ". It is unclear if the culprit was ever caught.

While it may be highly unlikely that a person guilty of such an offence would be sentenced at the top end of the scale, it is still possible such a harsh penalty could be handed down in extreme cases.

Under British law, drivers could be hit with a maximum fine of £5,000 if they are caught driving through a puddle which causes a pedestrian to be splashed.

It is illegal to splash a pedestrian with water from the road while driving your car and you could also be slapped with a public order offence if you are seen to deliberately drive through puddles to target pedestrians.

Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons", and this includes any instance of "driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed".

The maximum punishment is a level five fine of £5,000 in instances where driving "amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience or aggressiveness".

You are more likely to be be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points if you are caught.

But if you refuse to pay and take the matter to court you could see a maximum fine of £5,000 imposed.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "Anyone unfortunate enough to have suffered a drenching by an inconsiderate motorist splashing them when driving through a puddle would probably welcome a sizeable financial penalty for the driver.

"Since 2013 careless driving can be dealt with by a Fixed Penalty Notice with a £100 fine and three penalty points.

"This is a take it or leave it offer for the motorist if they accept that they have committed the offence.

"If, however, they refuse then they will face a magistrate who could impose a fine up to £5,000, although the maximum is very unlikely.

"In such a case the fine would be appropriate to the level of distress and inconvenience caused and would hopefully send a clear message that inconsiderate and potentially aggressive driving is simply not acceptable.

"Drivers have a duty to show respect and care for their fellow road users and pedestrians."

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 28th July 2018 author Mattha Busby)

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Cuts to policing are endangering the public, a police and crime commissioner has said, as national organisations expressed their concern over declining police numbers with many forces receiving record numbers of emergency calls.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson warned that having fewer officers to deal with rising crime is a "deadly equation" as a catalogue of crimes such as modern-day slavery and gang crime which need to be investigated grows.

Recent figures have shown how various serious crimes are on the rise, with almost 40,000 knife and gun crimes involving a knife or a sharp instrument recorded last year, as homicides across England and Wales rose 12 per cent in 2018, to 701.

Meanwhile, police forces in England and Wales have less money in real terms than they did in 2010.

"The homicide team in the West Midlands is actually at bursting point at the moment dealing with the many serious incidents they've had," he said, noting that homicides are going up rapidly.

"Add to that the sexual and domestic crime which has been much more important in the public's mind in the last one or two years.

"We really are at a point now where it's extremely difficult to see how we can sustain what the public would call an acceptable level of policing," he told the BBC's Today programme in an interview on Saturday.

Asked if cuts to police funding in recent years are endangering the public, he replied: "I think that's the inescapable conclusion.

"And I leave your listeners to work this out. You know, we have far fewer officers, we're not able to deal with all the incidents we could deal with. It's a deadly equation, isn't it?"

His remarks were echoed by the vice chair of the Police Federation, an organisation representing the majority of rank and file police officers, who said that policing is in a "critical condition".

"Even government investing significant financial resource into policing right now won't make an immediate difference," Che Donald, who has previously criticised the 18 per cent fall in officers' pay since 2009-10, told The Independent.

"This is because numbers have consistently been decimated over the last eight years. There is no magic box to go to and replace these officers.

"However, if moves are not made to reinvest in policing now, the time it will take to get policing out of critical condition will take significantly longer."

In the West Midlands, the force's chief constable said it had been forced to draw "the bar higher" on what it would investigate, although he stressed that this did not refer to offences such as serious assaults.

Accordingly, the "reality" of modern-day policing means the public are sometimes not getting the service they expect, he said.

"We may be dealing with it over the phone where they would like to see us, and I'm sorry about that but that is the reality of where policing is now," he said.

"And on some occasions ... the service will not meet what I want it to do and it will not meet the response that the public absolutely will want when they're at a time of vulnerability."

According to the latest inspection of police forces in England and Wales, the public were being provided with a good service, however a National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman noted the strain they are under "as they deal with rising crime and demand that is more complex and an unprecedented terror threat with fewer officers".

"This summer many forces have received record numbers of emergency and non-emergency calls," he added.

The Home Office says total investment in the police system will be increased by more than £460 million in 2018-19, with West Midlands Police receiving a cash increase of £9.9 million compared with 2017-18.

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that police budgets fell by 14 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15; while the BBC has reported that there was around a 20 per cent cut in police funding in real terms between 2010 and 2017.

Home secretary Sajid Javid used his first major speech after his appointment in May to offer an olive branch to rank-and-file personnel, following years of acrimony over the funding cuts and staffing reductions.

He pledged to provide "tools, the powers and the backup that you need to get the job done", adding: "I am listening and I get it."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th July 2018 author Damien Gayle)

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More people have been using cocaine and ecstasy than at any point in the past decade, official statistics show.

About one in 11 people admitted to using drugs of any kind in the past year, according to the 2017-18 Crime Survey of England and Wales, about the same as the previous year's survey.

But responses also showed year-on-year rises in the numbers of people using class A stimulants, which have returned in popularity to levels not seen since 2008-09.

The figures will be a blow to the government, which has previously insisted its hardline approach to enforcement was cutting the numbers of people using drugs. The Home Office said it was worried about the rise in use of class A drugs.

Cocaine remained the most popular illegal stimulant. It was used by an estimated 875,000 people in the previous 12 months - the highest number in 10 years and a 15% year-on-year rise. There was a particular surge in consumption among young people, with the number of 16 to 24-year-old users up almost 22% year-on-year to an estimated 361,000.

The purity of street cocaine across Europe has hit its highest level for a decade, the EU's drugs agency reported last month. It was the most widely used illegal stimulant across the continent, but the highest rates of use were in the UK.

Prof Harry Sumnall, who researches substance use at Liverpool John Moores University, gave a cautious interpretation of the figures, saying that cocaine use prevalence had been relatively stable in recent years.

He added: "I do think it is worth monitoring what is happening with respect to powdered cocaine use, particularly in young adults.

"Anecdotally, cocaine is represented more on social media, hospital admissions have increased and police and border force seizure data shows cocaine is at its highest purity for many years, although the price hasn't increased in response, which makes it a more attractive purchase."

The second most widely used stimulant was ecstasy, or MDMA, with an estimated 550,000 recent users - 25% more than the previous year's survey. In recent years, a glut of high-strength MDMA has led to stronger pills and an increase in the numbers of deaths.

Overall, drug use prevalence has fallen since a high in 1998 when about one in eight people admitted to using a substance in the past year, which has been linked to a long-term decline in cannabis use.

Drugs devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities, a Home Office spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: "While overall levels of drug misuse are similar to a decade ago, we are concerned about the increase in use of class A drugs and remain absolutely committed to reducing the use of these drugs and the harms they cause.

"Our drug strategy brings together police, health, community and global partners to prevent drug use in our communities and help those with drug dependency to recover and turn their lives around.

"As part of our drug strategy we will continue to support programmes which have a positive impact on young people, giving them the confidence, resilience and risk management skills to resist drug use."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Police firearms operations rose by 19% in the past year as the number of armed officers was increased and they took to the streets more often amid a growing threat from terrorism and violent crime.

The Home Office, which released the statistics on Thursday, said such operations in England and Wales had reached their highest level in seven years. Police in England and Wales carried out 18,746 armed operations in 2017-18.

Officers opened fire on 12 occasions, up from 10 the previous year, including the fatal shooting of three terrorists to stop the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017.

There were increased firearms operations in most regions, with the biggest increase in the West Midlands, which had a 53% rise in armed deployments, to 1,145. Gun crime in the West Midlands has been a problem, but in the north-west, which is broadly similar in terms of crime levels, there was a fall in armed deployments of 4%.

West Midlands police said: "We now have more armed patrol vehicles out and about on the streets than ever before keeping people safe and, as a result, we have the capacity to respond to more incidents."

Simon Chesterman, the national lead for armed policing with the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "The threat from international terrorism and increases in violent crime have both contributed to an increase in the numbers of armed deployments. A significant proportion of these will be where armed officers have been deployed as a contingency, for example at public events where there are large crowds."

The three regions with the most armed operations in England and Wales were London with 5,142, 27%, of the total number, followed by the West Midlands with 3,312 (18%) and Yorkshire and the Humber with 2,130 (11%).

The areas with the fewest armed police deployments were the north-east with 461 (2%), the east Midlands with 973 (5%) and Wales with 1,137 (6%).

The Home Office said the number of authorised firearms officers in England and Wales increased to 6,459, a rise of 181 or 3%., following a decision to increase the number to better cope with the threat of an armed terrorist attack.

The vast majority, 84%, of armed operations were carried out by officers in special gun cars called armed response vehicles, which drive around ready to be deployed.

The figures cover the "authorised deployment of armed officers where they may have to protect themselves or others from a person who is in possession of a firearm, has immediate access to a firearm or is otherwise so dangerous that the officer's use of a firearm may be necessary", the Home Office said.

"The use of firearms by the police should always be a last resort, considered only where there is a serious risk to public or police safety," it added. "However, where an operational need arises, specialist armed officers should be available to be deployed."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Twenty-three people died during or after police custody in 2017, the highest number for a decade, the police watchdog has said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said three people died after being held in a police cell, and another five died after being held in a cell, becoming unwell and then being pronounced dead in hospital.

It said another nine people died in hospital after falling ill at the scene of an arrest.

The IOPC also said that 17 people had been subjected to the use of force or restraint "by the police or others" before they died, but that did not mean the use of force was a factor in their deaths. Of the 17, those restrained in custody numbered 11, the IOPC said, while six were not classed as having been in custody or detained.

The figures are open to interpretation, but the IOPC said the vast majority of those who died had prior problems involving mental health, drugs or alcohol.

Twelve had "mental health concerns", the watchdog said, and 18 "had links to drugs and/or alcohol".

Of the 17 cases where force was used, the IOPC said nine people were white and eight were black. That means the proportion of black people dying after the use of force or restraint continues to be higher than the proportion of black people in the population of England and Wales.

The number of deaths after the use of force or restraint rose last year, as did the number of people from an ethnic minority background who died after a clash with police. Of 11 deaths after police restraint or the use of force in 2015-16, three were from ethnic minorities. The figure for 2016-17 was five out of 15.

Among the deaths covered by the latest statistics are high-profile cases such as Rashan Charles and Edson da Costa in London. Those deaths led to tension in the streets between police and communities.

The spike in deaths will be of concern to ministers. Theresa May, while home secretary, was concerned about the issue and met families to hear their experiences and concerns.

A ministerial board to examine the issues has been set up. A report commissioned by the government and published last year called for sweeping reforms and said the system treated families badly.

The IOPC's director general, Michael Lockwood, said: "Numbers across the categories of deaths fluctuate year on year, and care needs to be exercised in considering them against a backdrop of the numerous interactions the police have with the public each year.

"The rise in deaths in police custody this year, which includes at the point of arrest, in transit, in cells or in hospital, is concerning viewed against a trend of falling numbers over the last decade. Each of these tragic deaths is subject to investigation and we await formal causes of death for most of them.

"What is clear is that many present a complex and challenging set of factors, with links to drugs and alcohol and mental health concerns being very prevalent among those who have died.

"The issues go wider than the police service, as officers can often be dealing with vulnerable people whose needs and risks may not have been adequately managed elsewhere. However, it is important when the police are involved that they are properly trained and equipped to manage the challenges they inevitably face, and that they learn from past mistakes."

Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, which helps bereaved families, said: "These figures, the highest for over a decade, are an indictment of the failing systems of investigation, learning and accountability which follow police related deaths.

"Too many highly vulnerable people with mental ill health and addictions are ending up in the criminal justice system. The solution does not lie within policing. Many of these preventable deaths illustrate the impact of austerity and the historic underfunding of health and community services.

"The disproportionality in the use of force against black people adds to the irrefutable evidence of structural racism embedded in policing practices.

"Following the Angiolini review, this has been a year of widespread promises of change and learning lessons. Clearly real systemic change remains to be seen."

• This article was amended on 26 July 2018. An earlier version said that of the 23 people who died during or after police custody, 17 had been subjected to the use of force. In fact, not all 17 had been in custody.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th July 2018 author Duncan Campbell)

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It is almost a hundred years since Charles Penrose wrote the popular music hall number, The Laughing Policeman - "He's too kind for a policeman/ He's never known to frown/And all the people say he is the happiest man in town" - but maybe it's time for a new version called The Dancing Policeman.

Six officers from North Wales police demonstrated their Zumba skills in the Big Bang Bounce at Prestatyn Carnival last weekend. They had asked a local dance and fitness instructor at the festival to coach them for a brief routine and duly performed it for the festival-goers. Inevitably, a video of their performance emerged and - equally inevitably - came the baleful tweets: "fantastic, they won't come round if your house is burgled, but can behave like prats," said one. "No wonder police have lost confidence of public." And another: "No wonder you can never get a cop when you want one. They're poncing about at carnivals."

Their local force stood up for them. "The officers, many of whom were specials and who were at the event anyway, took just a few minutes out of the day to join in the carnival fun with the community they serve," said a spokesperson.

It's not the first time police officers have been lambasted for larking about on duty - a few years ago, for instance, two uniformed Thames Valley officers were criticised after footage emerged of them pushing each other around in a shopping trolley late at night in Newbury.

So should we encourage such silly behaviour in this hot summer? Former detective Graham Satchwell, who wrote the entertaining memoir An Inspector Recalls - in which he records how one of his colleague's specialties when chasing villains was shouting "stop or I'll let the dog loose!" followed by a very realistic Alsatian bark - defended the dancers. "If it's something spontaneous like that, it's absolutely fine. I think it's a bit different when you see all those pictures of the police dancing at Notting Hill carnival that appear every year and you think, oh no, not again."

Still, while the police in France are in the news for beating up demonstrators, the people of North Wales may prefer that their officers were attracting attention for putting their left leg in - provided, of course, that they remember to take their left leg out when duty calls.

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 24th July 2018 author Joe Sommerlad)

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A "stand-your-ground" law is a justification used in a criminal case permitting a person under physical attack to respond in kind.

A right to self-defence, the rationale assumes that any individual has the right to expect absolute safety in any place they have a right to be in. Any immediate or direct threat of bodily harm they are subjected to can be met with an equivalent retaliatory act to protect themselves.

This means the intended victim has no duty to retreat and can instead use "reasonable force" to fend off an assailant.

What constitutes "reasonable force", however, is open-ended and might be left to a court of law to decide on the appropriateness or otherwise of a defendant's actions in relation to the specific circumstances of the case.

Whether that defence is applicable might also be called into question depending on the context, for instance if a burglar were to fight back after being attacked by a home owner, given that they had no right to be on the premises in the first place, a common law notion known as a "castle doctrine".

In the US, several states have formal stand-your-ground legislation in place. These are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

This does not mean its application is free from controversy.

The case of a Florida man who was not charged after shooting and killing a fellow shopper following an argument over a parking space at a convenience store which had escalated violently drew local protests in mid-July 2018.

Florida's law entitles people to use "deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so."

There is no equivalent law in place in the UK although the possibility that inflicting harm might be necessary in self-defence is recognised.

Instead, citizens are expected to minimise harm as far as possible and consider whether retreating or running away might be the more appropriate response.

In the event that the victim's response to an attack is deemed to amount to a show of "excessive force" rather than "reasonable", they could be liable for prosecution, as in the case of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, jailed for shooting a would-be burglar in August 1999.

An online petition to have a UK law enshrining "stand-your-ground" introduced under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government attracted just 39 out of the 10,000 signatures needed to push its discussion in Parliament.

(1st August 2018)

(i News, dated 23rd July 2018 author John Sutherland)

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The headlines are telling us that crime is rising.

Offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up as much as 16 per cent in the first three months of 2018, according to police-recorded crimes published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Meanwhile the total number of homicides - which includes both murder and manslaughter - rose 12 per cent.

But the figures can't tell us why this is happening. So here are ten brief suggestions from a retired police officer.

1. Falling Police Officer Numbers

There is an absolute connection between the number of police officers in England & Wales and the number of crimes committed in England & Wales. Whilst it is impossible to set out detailed cause and effect (crime is affected by a thousand different things), to deny the connection would be to abandon both common sense and professional experience.

There are 20,000+ fewer police officers in England & Wales now, compared with just eight years ago. That's a heck of a reduction.

2. Falling Police Community Support Officer Numbers

It's not just the reduction in warranted officers. PCSO numbers have been decimated - with inevitable consequences for street visibility and local community engagement.

3. Falling Police Staff Numbers

It's not just the reduction in warranted officers and PCSOs. Police staff numbers have also fallen very significantly - with inevitable consequences for a number of vital operational support functions which support frontline officers from behind the scenes, such as intelligence analysis and briefing.

4. Falling Investment in Neighbourhood Policing

The strain on police numbers has had direct consequences for neighbourhood policing. There have been huge reductions in the numbers of officers and staff dedicated to local crime prevention and problem solving.

5. Falling Investment in Specialist Police Resources

The pressure on police budgets has had hugely damaging consequences for the provision of specialist support functions - including dogs, horses and helicopters. Each of these is proven and effective in dealing with crime and each has been cut dramatically.

6. Falling Police Proactivity

The fall in overall police numbers and the movement of officers and staff from the frontline into important investigative and safeguarding roles - combined with deeply misinformed and damaging rhetoric on the police use of stop and search powers - has had a significant impact on police procativity in all its forms.

7. Rising Demand from Other Public Services

There has been an overwhelming increase in the demand placed on policing as a consequence of the huge gaps that have appeared in the provision of other critical frontline public services: Mental Health; Children's Services; Youth Services; Adult Social Care… the list goes on.

And every time the police pick up a responsibility that belongs to someone else, it has an immediate impact on their ability to fight crime.

8. Government Policy

Each of these first seven factors is - unavoidably and undeniably - the direct consequence of conscious, deliberate government policy. And we are beginning to see the first indications of the inevitable long term costs of short term cuts. Crime is not down. Police reform is not working.

9. Increasing Complexity

Policing has always been complicated, but it has never been more so than now - particularly in relation to the investigation of cyber crime. The web - and the dark web in particular - has become the enabler of an avalanche of enormously sophisticated criminality and, the more complicated it gets, the more people, time and resources it will take for policing to respond.

10. Beyond Policing

There are endless additional considerations that have little to do with law enforcement, but everything to do with the condition of the wider world - factors such as poverty and inequality and aspiration and hope.

Policing is in urgent need of new investment. And society is in urgent need of a helping hand.

John Sutherland - served in the Metropolitan Police from 1992 until February 2018 and is the author of Blue: A Memoir. This post originally appeared on his blog, Police Commander :

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 22nd July 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Scotland Yard's anti-corruption unit is facing an investigation over claims of "serious corruption and malpractice" within its ranks.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said the claims related to the Metropolitan police's directorate of professional standards. Among the allegations against the force are interfering in investigations, racism and turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.

The IOPC said one officer was under criminal investigation. That officer and two others have been formally notified they are under disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct. The watchdog is also considering whether it should investigate the conduct of around 10 other officers, but has made no decision yet on whether they need to.

The Met is Britain's biggest police force and the DPS is supposed to guard against lapses in its ethics, integrity and standards.

Jonathan Green of the IOPC said: "I can confirm we have begun an investigation into allegations of serious corruption and malpractice within the directorate of professional standards of the Metropolitan police.

"The investigation includes alleged interference in, and curtailment of, investigations by potentially conflicted senior officers, failure to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, systemic removal of the restrictions of officers under investigation and racial discrimination.

"As part of this investigation, three officers have been served with gross misconduct notices and one of those officers is also under criminal investigation. Assessments on the status of a number of other officers remains ongoing.

"Our investigation, named Operation Embley, followed a referral from the Metropolitan police service. It is still at an early stage and it is premature to be detailed about its scale and scope."

News of the investigation was not made public through an announcement by either the IOPC or the Met, but was first reported by the Sunday Times, which said the watchdog was examining claims including that the DPS shielded officers facing child abuse allegations, and allegations of fraud and physical assault.

The Met said no officers had been suspended or placed under restricted duties. It said it had referred the claims to the police watchdog.

In a statement, the Met said: "We can confirm the Metropolitan police service has referred allegations regarding the conduct of a number of MPS personnel to the IOPC which is conducting an independent investigation. The MPS is fully cooperating with the IOPC investigation."

The notices informing officers that they face investigation for breaking disciplinary rules do not mean they are guilty. They are supposed to allow an investigation and protect the officer's rights.

(1st August 2018)

(City AM, dated 22nd July 2018 author Adam Hignett)

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Fears that the growth of cryptocurrencies are opening up further opportunities for criminals to launder money have led to the establishment of a new training programme by the City of London Police.

Describing it as a "first of its kind", a spokesperson for City of London Police confirmed the addition of a cryptocurrency course at their Economic Crime Academy in response to officer's concerns that they are ill prepared to cope with the new technology.

"It is designed to provide delegates with the skills and knowledge required to recognise and manage cryptocurrencies in an investigation.

"On successful completion of this course, participants will understand how to detect, seize and investigate the use of cryptocurrencies in an investigative context.

"It will be the first of its kind and has been developed in response to feedback from police officers nationally who felt there wasn't enough training available in this area," she said, adding a pilot of the programme has already been undertaken, with another to take place in August.

Given its role in enforcing law and order in the heart of the world's pre-eminent financial centre, the City of London Police has been designated the National Lead Force for Fraud.

In this capacity it has a responsibility to share best particle on tackling fraud with other forces around the UK.

Once the second pilot scheme has been completed, City of London Police aim to roll out the cryptocurrency course nationwide during the autumn.

Earlier this year the head of Europol warned criminals could be laundering up to £4bn via cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in Europe.

The announcement of specialist police training in tackling cryptocurrency comes shortly after City of London Corporation stated its intention to develop a new "cyber court" specifically designed to tackle cybercrime, fraud, and economic crime.

The new flagship 18 courtroom legal centre is to be built on the site of Fleetbank House, on the edge of The City.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st July 2018 author Stephen Burgen)

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Much as Barcelona would love to shed its reputation as the bag-snatching capital of Europe, it is not in the gift of the city authorities to do much about it. Under Spanish law, if you steal something worth less than €400 (£357) it's a falta (misdemeanour), not a delito (crime). If you are caught, you will be fined, probably around €50, but however many times you re-offend, it remains a misdemeanour and as an offence it is not cumulative.

As a result, the thieves, who mostly operate in groups, do so with a sense of impunity, seeing the fines as little more than a tax. Understandably, the police find it demoralising, knowing that when they arrest a culprit he/she will be back on the street within hours.

There have been moves to change the law but the legal system is so bogged down with serious cases it has yet to proceed, and there is little appetite for further burdening the system by making bag-snatching and pickpocketing crimes. All the city authorities can do is warn people of the risks.

They have also made it easier to make a claim - necessary for insurance purposes. Before you could only do this by spending hours at a police station but it is now possible to do it online. The website is available in a variety of languages.

For most Barcelona residents, it's a source of shame. Friends come to visit, you tell them the dos and don'ts, and still they get robbed - the young, the elderly, in the street, on the metro, queuing to visit some sight. It's a plague.

Most of us warn people when we see them putting themselves at risk. And yet, despite all the warnings, in guide books and websites, over the public address system at the beach and on the metro, in several languages, we see so many people with their wallets in their back pockets, handbags draped over the back of the chair in a bar, or a camera or mobile on the table, and you think, well, what did you expect?

We sought a response from Tourisme de Barcelona and from the Ajuntament de Barcelona but as Guardian Money went to press had not received a reply.

How to beat the robbers

Lots of people responded to last week's story with advice for holidaymakers, especially those going to Barcelona.

Margot, who has a house just north of Barcelona, said: "No handbags. Never leave a rucksack or bag in the floor in a cafe or restaurant - you can buy hooks for attaching them to tables. Use money belts for keys, cards and cash. Never stop if anyone asks for directions, or if anyone offers to remove bird excrement from you. Never have a wallet in front or back pockets."

Many people recommended money belts. Many also suggested you keep a secondary wallet with valueless goods to hand to muggers, including Ducksis: "Carry your cash and credit cards in a money belt, but have a cheap plastic wallet filled with Monopoly money and old membership cards in your back pocket. Shout but don't fight back."

Many recommend taking photocopies or phone pictures of your essential documents. "I keep a photo of my passport and driving licence on my phone, and as email attachments. I know that itself carries some risks, but for me, the pros outweigh the cons," said one holidaymaker to Turkey.

Others say place everything in your wheelie bag until you get to your hotel. "Just put your easily pickpocketable goods in your suitcase and then lock it until you get your hotel, from where you can organise the cash you carry by day, so your wallet isn't bulging out of your front pocket," said BoyoUK.

Readers share their stories

Alison W from Kent said: "Exactly the same thing happened to us about four weeks ago. Yep, just off the plane, same station, same technique. I was suddenly surrounded by big burly men who pushed past me rudely and then shut the doors as I was trying to get on the train. I fell over these men and when I'd righted myself I saw they'd all jumped off. I knew immediately they had stolen something and, lo and behold, my purse had gone.

"The purse had about €150 in it but the evening before we left home I had carefully removed absolutely everything else of value and either left it at home or stored it in a belt inside my clothes."

"I was very lucky on the metro in Barcelona," said gixxerman006. "As I boarded a crowded train with my three friends a group of three men pushed and shoved to get on too. Thankfully the thief dropped the contents of my wallet, lifted from a zipped bum-bag under my clothing. He even had the audacity to hand a passport back as if helping me!

"I think what saved the situation was that I had two bum-bags clipped on, one more or less over the other, which made things difficult for the thief. They got off at the next stop, pretty much before we'd worked out what had happened. It was all so fast, the pushing and shoving to get on helped to create the confusion.

"Mind you, I thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona, lovely city."

Meanwhile, Follow_The_Bear wrote: "The train to and from Barcelona airport must be the worst route on earth for these criminals. I've witnessed a number of muggings, a friend who I was travelling with had a similar experience to the writer."

Thewookieisdown was among regular visitors who said that theft was rampant. "I think I have been to Barcelona six times, dating back to 1990, and every single time I have seen people attempting this sort of thing on public transport: the distracting kerfuffle. It obviously isn't the only city where this happens but perhaps it's the one where it's most prevalent?"

Moribola was robbed using the old "bird droppings on shoulder" trick while in Barcelona's Park Güell. "Hot, sunny, the park empty apart from a family approaching with a pushchair." As they drew near him the birdsong was idyllic. Then one of the family leapt forward to clean the "bird droppings" from his shoulder. He said it was all right, but they continued. After they left, he discovered there wasn't a bird in sight: they had a cassette of birdsong playing in the pushchair and a can of spray foam. The episode cost him more than €400.

In one terrible story, SH wrote of the dreadful consequences of fighting back. "My niece's boyfriend was sat on a bench with friends in Las Ramblas on his first night in Barcelona a few years ago. He felt his wallet being taken from his back pocket and chased the thief who turned and stabbed him. The victim ended up on a life support machine and his distraught parents had to make the decision to turn off the machine attached to their only child. The 14-year-old culprit was caught but many lives were devastated."

Many readers highlighted how muggings and robberies are common in popular tourist destinations and the "distraction" techniques used are standard worldwide. PamelaButler warned about a new threat - from selfie sticks near cash machines. "We were on our way home after a week in Copenhagen. At the railway station as I bought our train tickets from the automatic machine there was yet another young person with a selfie stick. We rushed on to the crowded train.

"Thank God we decided to get a coffee as soon as we arrived at the airport - as I immediately discovered my purse had been stolen. The youth with the selfie stick had been recording me as I keyed in my pin."

Meanwhile, LiverPlate wrote about his robbery on the number 38 tram in Lisbon, victim of the same pushing and shoving group routine. "I was also guilty of the same stupid and one-off forgetfulness about splitting the money. The tourist police station was crowded; it all seemed depressingly routine."


(The Guardian, dated 14th July 2018 author Patrick Collinson)

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It happened within an hour of arriving at Barcelona airport - and just a day after I had filed a piece on holiday money for these pages. What I hadn't reckoned on was the organised gangs that are out to target tourists, particularly, it has to be said, in Spain. And how, with just a few simple steps, I could have protected myself (and my money).

This is what you're supposed to do before you go abroad:

Take your wallet and empty it out. Remove all the things you really don't need for a week or two in Spain, that if they were lost or stolen would just be a pain. Your work /staff pass. Your Tesco Clubcard or Boots Advantage or Waitrose card. Your library or cinema membership card. Your driving licence (if you're not hiring a car). Credit cards you know you are not going to use. All those other little loyalty cards, receipts and general rubbish you keep in your wallet. Why take them abroad? Just leave them in the sock drawer until you're back home.

The next stage is to split things up. Why have everything in one wallet? By all means take two credit cards, one as a back-up. Secrete credit cards in pockets or toiletry bags. The same with your physical cash - leave some of your euros/sterling in your wallet to use while travelling, and hide the rest elsewhere among your bags and belongings.

It's what I always used to do. But of course, for some reason I didn't this time. Maybe it was the exceptionally early flight from Stansted (never again). Maybe it was the lackadaisical way I now treat flying. So there I was, with my partner, standing on a dark and humid platform at Barcelona's El Prat de Llobregat station, waiting for a connection to Sitges. Absolutely everything in one wallet, bulging out of my front pocket. Stuffed in the other pocket my phone and my passport. One hand dragging a wheelie bag, the other a small holdall.

I hope I am painting a cliched picture of a victim, for that is what I was. There were a bewildering few seconds before we even realised we were being mugged. As the train pulled in and we walked up to the sliding doors, there was a commotion as some people pushed and shoved to get off. Others, behind us, were aggressively pushing on. But it was entirely fake - devised by a gang to separate us, then rob us.

I looked down, to see my wallet in the hand of one of the men. Weirdly, as I wrestled it back, there was a pained expression on the thief's face, as if I were falsely accusing him. Meanwhile, my partner's bag was being slashed. Fortunately, we are both big enough (or stupid enough?) to fight back, and after a short tussle they scarpered.

These incidents must be rife in Barcelona, judging by the only mildly sympathetic shrugs we got from fellow passengers on the train. The Renfe security staff at our destination were similarly uninterested. At our hotel, the Spanish receptionist said an English tourist had arrived the week before, and was robbed of everything at the same station. Never use El Prat de Llobregat, she told us.

Fortunately, we lost little: two €20 notes nicked from the top of my pocket that weren't in the wallet that I had been able to grab back. My phone and passport were also safe. But it was a deeply upsetting way to start a holiday.

I don't blame myself - I'll save that for the nasty, vicious toerags who attacked us. But to anyone heading off this summer, take precautionary steps first. I wish I had practised what I preach.


(1st August 2018)

(The Times, dated 20th July 2018 author Richard Ford) [Option 1]

Murder, knife crime and gun offences soared in England and Wales last year and nine in ten crimes overall did not result in any charges, figures have shown.

The proportion of offences that led to a charge fell by two percentage points to 9.1 per cent in the year to March compared with 15 per cent three years ago.

In the 12 months to March 443,000 crimes out of 4.6 million resulted in a charge or summons, the Home Office said. The fall came as separate figures showed violent crime rising and the number of police officers down 738 to 122,404, its lowest level in 22 years.

Other nations appear to be doing better. In Germany crime fell overall by 9.6 per cent to 5.7 million offences last year; in France violent crime fell between 2016 and last year. The US murder rate rose by 1.5 per cent during the first six months of last year, but robberies fell by 2.2 per cent.

In Britain police figures showed that knife crime had risen by 16 per cent to 40,147 offences. The number of murders rose by 12 per cent to 701 - the highest for a decade. There was also a 30 per cent surge in recorded robberies, which may reflect a "real change" as well as improvments in recording.

Overall, recorded crime rose by 11 per cent to 5.5 million offences, the highest level in more than a decade. Trends were said to be "stabilising" after decades during which they had been downward from a peak in the 1990's.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly, the national policing lead for crime statistics, defended the charging rate fall, "Police forces are improving the way they record crime, including crimes that have no suspect and little prospect of a criminal justice outcome," he said.

"There are also significant rises in cases that are complex to investigate such as child sexual exploitation, abuse and online fraud. In many of these cases, multiple crimes are recorded which victims may not wish to take through to prosecution."

David Wilson, emeritus professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said " We need to recognise that crime is going up, the proportion of crime being detected is going down and this has something to do with cutting police officer numbers by 10,000.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, told the Daily Telegraph that inmates should be given hope to stop the cycle of reoffending. He said that prison should "change the lives" of criminals instead of solely punishing them.

Nick Hurd, the police minister, said that the likelihood of being a victim remained low, but that the government was acting to tackle violent crime.

(1st August 2018)

(The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, dated 20th July 2018 authors Rob Grant and Robert Sutcliffe)

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The number of recorded crimes rose 11% in West Yorkshire last year - meaning a crime is committed every two minutes.

There were 265,520 offences recorded by West Yorkshire Police in the 12 months to March 2018.

Sexual offences were up 33% and robbery was up 28%. There was one crime committed for every 8.6 people in West Yorkshire last year, the third-highest in the country behind the City of London and Greater Manchester.

Overall, police recorded crime was up 13% in England and Wales. Knife crime was up 16% across England and Wales according to the police crime figures.

Meanwhile, NHS data shows a 15% rise in people admitted to hospital after being assaulted with a knife. The number of homicides rose for the fourth year in a row. Authorities measure crime in two ways - by the number of offences recorded by the police as well as using victim surveys carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

These victim surveys have shown that crime has generally fallen since a peak in the mid-1990s.

According to the crime survey most types of crime stayed a similar rate to last year, although vehicle-related thefts rose while crimes involving computers fell.

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins said: "The latest figures show an 11% increase in recorded crime across the county - just over half of this relates to our ongoing work to improve crime recording practices and the rest relates to actual increases in crime.

"Across the country there was a rise of nearly 13%, however here in West Yorkshire the rate of increase is slowing.

"We are experiencing unprecedented levels of demand which remains a major challenge. In fact, last year we answered an extra 23,000 999 calls.

"Many of these were from vulnerable people requiring urgent help in increasingly complex situations including organised and cyber crime and often requiring our safeguarding expertise. Our experience is that this high demand has continued into the summer.

"We continue to work closely with our partners to provide a multi-agency approach to preventing crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues which harm our local communities.

"Our officers and staff are working extremely hard to provide the best quality service to people across the county but will always prioritise those in the most vulnerable circumstances.

"We would urge our local communities to support us by taking appropriate crime prevention measures and also thinking before they call either the 999 emergency number or the 101 non-emergency number. We have to prioritise our calls and ensure that we deal with emergencies first.

"There are lots of other ways people can contact us either by having a look at our website, the Ask the Police site, or using our on-line facilities. This help us manage demand and ensure that we target our resources where they are needed most."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 19th July 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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Crime has surged while officer numbers have hit a record low, according to figures that reveal a bleak picture of policing in England and Wales.

A decades-long fall in overall levels of crime appears to be stabilising, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while police-recorded offences involving knives and guns have increased, and murder and manslaughter is on the rise too.

Meanwhile, figures released on Thursday show that the number of police officers has hit a record low and the proportion of recorded crimes that result in someone being charged or summoned to court fell to another record low at 9% - fewer than one in 10.

Rank and file officers have said they are not surprised by the rise in recorded violent crime as the number of police officers falls. The Police Federation said: "We are sleepwalking into a nightmare."

Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, who has campaigned against knife crime, declared a "public health emergency" and warned of an "epidemic".

It does not look good. Offences involving knives or sharp instruments rose by 16% to 40,147, according to figures recorded by police. Gun crime rose 2% to 6,492 offences over the period, which was a less pronounced rate than knife crime.

The total number of homicides - murder and manslaughter - rose by 12% from the previous year to 701, excluding exceptional incidents with multiple victims such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

There were also increases in police-recorded burglaries and robberies, which rose by 6% to 437,537 and 30% to 77,103 offences, respectively.

Some caveats, however, temper the picture painted by some of these headline figures.

Firstly, the ONS acknowledged an increase in the number of crimes recorded by the police does not necessarily mean the level of crime had risen.

For many types of crime, police-recorded statistics do not provide a reliable measure of levels or trends in crime, statisticians warn. They only cover crimes that come to the attention of the police and can be affected by changes in policing activity, recording practices and the willingness of victims to report.

The latest estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), which runs alongside the police-recorded data and measures people's experience of crime shows that most types of offences remain at levels similar to the previous year.

Furthermore, most people did not experience crime, according to the CSEW. The latest survey estimates showed that two in 10 adults experienced any of the crimes asked about in the survey in the previous 12 months. This figure has fallen considerably over the long term. Around four in 10 adults were estimated to have been a victim of crime in 1995, although this was before the survey included fraud and computer misuse.

The drop in officers to 122,404 as of 31 March, from 123,142 a year ago, was also incontrovertible. But with regards to the link this has with falling or rising levels of crime, there was room for doubt. Violent crime as recorded by police has been increasing since 2014 but it was falling between 2009 and 2014 - as police officer numbers were being cut.

Home Office research also stated that - on a force-by-force breakdown of violent crime offences - not all forces with falling officer numbers were experiencing rises in violent crime.

What should perhaps cause most alarm was not the levels of recorded crime - but the already very low and falling detection rate.

A Home Office document released at the same time as the police workforce and crime data showed that police forces closed almost half - 48% - of cases with no suspect identified. It rose to 75% when looking at theft offences.

And the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or summons to court fell by two percentage points from 11% to 9% - fewer than one in 10. This is the lowest since the new system of measuring the detection rate was launched in 2015.

There is one caveat here, too: a changing mix of crime with rising numbers of complex crimes such as sexual abuse and an increasing volume of digital evidence, which may require more intensive work to investigate, may have had an impact on the detection rate.

Nonetheless, the fact that fewer than one in 10 of recorded crimes result in a charge or court summons will be deeply concerning for those unconvinced that England and Wales are living through a violent crime epidemic.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 19th July 2018 author Martin Bentham)

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Londoners are suffering nearly half of all the robberies that take place nationwide in a fresh indication of the surge in violent crime in the capital, official figures revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said there had been a 30 per cent surge in robberies in England and Wales, with 77,103 offences in the 12 months to the end of March this year.

But it said London had seen a "disproportionately high" number of the crimes and accounted for 42 per cent of all robberies in the two countries, with 32,751 muggings taking place in the capital during the year.

The statisticians also disclosed that a quarter of the robberies in London - which include muggings carried out by offenders on mopeds - had been committed using a knife.

Today's revelations were part of official national crime figures, which also show that there were 98 knife killings in London during the period covered by the statistics. That represents two thirds of all homicides.

The figures show that in London there were also 101 attempted murders involving a blade, 159 knifepoint rapes or sexual assaults, and 5,581 assaults with intent to cause serious injury carried out using a knife.

The overall number of knife offences in London totalled 14,721 - the highest level since 2011, and an increase of more than 50 per cent on the total of 9,688 recorded in 2015, when such offences were at their lowest.

Caroline Youell, of the Office for National Statistics, said most forms of crime were stable but that there had been increases in "high harm" crimes such as homicide and knife offending. She said these were "consistent with rises over the past three years" but that the nationwide rise in gun crime had been "much smaller than previously seen".

(1st August 2018)

(Computer Weekly, dated 19th July 2018 author Warwick Ashford)

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Cyber fraudsters are registering domains that appear to belong to UK universities so they can defraud supply companies, according to Action Fraud, the UK cyber crime reporting centre.

These domains are used to contact suppliers and order high-value goods such as IT equipment and pharmaceutical chemicals in the university's name.

Suppliers receive an email claiming to be from a university, requesting a quotation for goods on extended payment terms. Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier that is similar to a real university purchase order.

The purchase order typically instructs delivery to an address, which may or may not be affiliated with the university.

The items are then received by the criminals, but no payment is ever received by the supplier, with fraudsters impersonating one particular UK university estimated to have netted around £350,000 worth of goods in this way.

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud said this this type of fraud can have a serious impact on businesses, which is why it is so important to carry out all the necessary checks, such as verifying the order and checking any documents for poor spelling and grammar.

"We know that there is a lack of reporting by affected companies and without this vital intelligence, a true picture of this type of fraud cannot be reflected," she said, urging any company that has been targeted in this way to report it to Action Fraud.

Official statistics show that cyber crime is on the rise in the UK, but the size of the problem in the business world is really unknown because not all victim organisations are reporting incidents. For this reason, UK law enforcement is encouraging all businesses to report cyber crime as soon as possible, regardless of the size of the organisation.

To combat this type of fraud, commonly known as European distribution fraud, Action Fraud is advising suppliers to verify and corroborate all order requests from new customers using telephone numbers or email addresses found on the organisation's website, not the details provided by email.

If the order request is from a new contact at an organisation that is an existing customer, Action Fraud advises that suppliers verify the request through an established contact.

According to Andy Norton, director of threat intelligence at security firm Lastline, this type of cyber criminal activity is similar to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, except that, impersonation not compromise has taken place.

In BEC attacks, fraudsters typically gains access to a corporate email account and spoofs the owner's identity to defraud the company or its employees, customers or partners of money. The FBI recently warned that global losses related to BEC scams have risen by 136% since December 2016 and global losses in the past five years are estimated at more than $12.5bn.

In this variation of BEC attacks, Norton said the best defence is to have robust policies and procedures that ensure a second pair of eyes validates business transactions and the shipment of goods, services or payment.

Spoofing sites big business

Kevin Bocek, chief cyber security strategist at Venafi, said spoofing sites is now big business, with more than 14,000 certificates used to set up phishing sites spoofing PayPal alone in 2017.

"This shows the power of the padlock for cyber criminals, allowing them to appear trusted so that they can trick unsuspecting businesses out of huge sums and damage brand reputations across the internet," he said.

According to Bocek, these attacks are part of a much larger problem that jeopardises the system of trust used throughout the internet and shows why a new system of trust built on reputation is needed.

"The padlocks [based on legitimate security certificates] are supposed to signify a trusted machine identity - a digital certificate that means a website is genuine.

"But now cyber criminals can obtain certificates allowing them to look authentic for virtually nothing," he said. "This is a high-risk, high-impact threat that security teams cannot ignore anymore."

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th July 2018 author David Cohen)

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The current approach to tackling the violent crimewave is failing and should be replaced by a pioneering system that has reduced the murder rate in another British city, according to a landmark report published today.

The Youth Violence Commission brands the bloodshed a preventable "national shame" and recommends that London adopts a public health-focused model that has more than halved the murder rate in Glasgow from 39 in 2005 and cut the teenage murder rate to zero.

Vicky Foxcroft, chairwoman of the commission and one of the authors of the interim report, accused Mayor Sadiq Khan of failing to show leadership on the issue and called for him to set up a body with London-wide authority to copy the Glasgow model.

London detectives are investigating at least 82 killings this year, many of people under 25, including Katerina Makunova, 17, who was stabbed to death at a block of flats in Camberwell on Thursday last week.

The report, prepared with cross-party support after 18 months of fact-finding, says London should learn from the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in Scotland.

Led by Karyn McCluskey, a forensic psychologist, the VRU transformed Glasgow from the most violent city in western Europe to one of the safest.

Speaking to the Standard in the wake of our special investigation into serious youth violence, Ms Foxcroft, the Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, said: "I am loath to criticise City Hall because we need to work with them and Sadiq is a good mayor, but they need to embrace a different way of working. The problem is that we have 32 boroughs and each borough does its own thing.

"Sadiq needs to step up and create a central unit that has city-wide authority to cut youth violence and he needs to find a dynamic figure to lead it who will be the Karyn McCluskey of London."

Ms Foxcroft added: "Sadiq's approach has been to back a police-led approach through Mopac, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, but the lack of trust between communities and the police in London means that a public health approach cannot be effectively led from within Mopac."

Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, rejected the criticism, saying: "The problem in London is not lack of leadership, it's lack of funding. We don't have enough police officers and vital support services. Mental health and youth workers have been cut by central government.

"Our crime strategy published last June focused around enforcement and giving police the resources they need. As for leadership, we adopt a partnership approach with the Metropolitan Police and London councils which I co-ordinate on behalf of the mayor."

But Ms McCluskey told the Standard: "It isn't about money, it's about leadership. The Scottish VRU only had about 20 people and was run on a budget of less than £1 million. It's about getting people to use money they already have better."

The Scottish VRU's goal was to diagnose the problem and treat its cause - just as a health epidemic would be tackled. It recognised that police tactics could only be part of the solution and instead brought in a co-ordinated response involving mental health services, schools, housing, social services, police and community groups.

Ms McCluskey also cast doubt on the Mopac-led strategy of City Hall. "When I started in 2005, our murder rate was the highest in Europe," she said. "At that time, we looked at youth violence through the prism of police and justice and we filled our jails. The breakthrough moment was understanding that violence works like an infectious disease - it's passed on, you can catch it.

"We realised that most young people caught up in violence have been victims at some point and that the violence clusters in hotspots, just like in Tottenham, Lambeth and Waltham Forest. Once you see this, you realise that it needs a public health approach that focuses on early years and prevention.

"I think Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick gets this. The police can do a lot but they cannot lead a public health approach. Fundamentally it's about a different type of emphasis and leadership. That leadership needs to be city-wide and it needs to come from the top at City Hall."

The new model

What is it?

The public health model recognises that most people involved in serious youth violence have a history of trauma. It understands that police tactics - from stop and search to stiffer sentences - can be only part of the solution. Instead, it seeks to approach youth violence with the same preventative and wrap-around care you would deploy to contain and disrupt the outbreak of an epidemic, but instead of cholera or HIV, here the "infectious disease" is violence.

Where has it been deployed?

It has been used to reduce violence in Scotland and in Chicago and in London it is being piloted by Lambeth council.

What are its hallmarks?

In Scotland they created a central Violence Reduction Unit with the authority to co-ordinate a response from mental health services, schools, housing, social services, police and community groups.

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 18th July 2018 author Stephen Burgen)

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Spain's socialist government is to introduce a law on consent aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases.

Under the law, consent would have to be explicit. It states that "yes means yes" and anything else, including silence, means no. Sex without explicit consent would therefore be considered rape.

The move follows outrage over the verdict in the la manada (wolf pack) case. The five men involved were accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona during the bull-running festival.

Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is silent and passive. The judges interpreted this as consent - one judge even commented that she appeared to be enjoying herself - and the charge was dropped from rape to the lesser crime of sexual assault.

Under Spanish law, rape must involve violence and intimidation. The la manada ruling provoked outrage and led to demonstrations across the country. The five men are out on bail pending an appeal against their nine-year sentence. Among them are a soldier and a member of the civil guard, both of whom have been returned to duty.

In her summing up for the prosecution, Elena Sarasate said: "The defendants want us to believe that on that night they met an 18-year-old girl, living a normal life, who after 20 minutes of conversation with people she didn't know agreed to group sex involving every type of penetration, sometimes simultaneously, without using a condom."

Proposing the law, which was originally drafted by the leftwing Podemos party, Carmen Calvo Poyato, Spain's deputy prime minister and equality minister, said: "If a woman does not expressly say yes, then everything else is no."

Patricia Faraldo Cabana, a law professor at the university of A Coruña, who helped Podemos draft the legislation, said the proposal understood consent not just as something verbal but also tacit, as expressed in body language.

"It can still be rape even if the victim doesn't resist," she said. "If she is naked, actively taking part and enjoying herself, there is obviously consent. If she's crying, inert like an inflatable doll and clearly not enjoying herself, then there isn't."

In a letter to a Spanish TV station, the la manada victim wrote: "Don't keep quiet about it because if you do you're letting them win. No one should have to go through this. No one should have to regret having a drink, talking to people at a fiesta, walking home alone or wearing a miniskirt."

The law mirrors similar legislation that came into force in Sweden at the beginning of July.

(1st August 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 18th July 2018 author Helena Horton)

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Social media may be a driving force behind a record number of teenage deaths on railways, British Transport Police have said.

With seven teenagers killed on Britain's rail tracks in the space of 12 months, and a further 48 receiving life-changing injuries, there are fears that casualty rates will continue to rise following the deaths of three young graffiti artists who were hit by a train at Loughborough Junction, south London, in June.

A BTP spokesperson told The Telegraph that social media "could be a factor" in influencing young people to trespass, as they launched a new campaign with Network Rail, urging teenagers and children not to play on train tracks.

The BTP has previously warned the public against taking photographs for social media on the tracks.

A Network Rail spokesperson added their research shows young people do not realise the dangers of trespassing on tracks.

Trespassing by minors has increased by 80 per cent since 2013, rising by 21 per cent in the last year alone. In a study by Network Rail, one in ten teenagers admitted to illegally walking on a railway.

A video posted by the campaign tells the story of a teenager who received life-changing injuries from overhead power cables he did not even touch after trespassing on rail tracks as a friend filmed him on a smartphone.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explained: "Hundreds of people each year unintentionally take on the railway and lose. This year we have already seen a record number of young people losing their life or being injured on the track.

"The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers. The electricity on the railway is always on and always dangerous. Trains can also travel up to 125 miles per hour, so even if a driver can see your child, they can't stop in time and they can't change direction. Parents - please help us keep your children safe by educating them about what they take on when they step on the track."

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: "The tracks are not a playground. They're incredibly dangerous and can easily result in serious injury or worse.

"We hope the campaign will help young people to understand the risks, and help them to make the right decision and stay away from railway lines.

"Equally, it will also help them understand that bad decisions don't just affect them, but they will have a deep and lasting impact on their families and friends as well. This campaign is not just for our young people but also their friends and family."

(1st August 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th July 2018 author Kevin Rawlinson)

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Nearly 10,000 crimes, including violent crimes, sexual offences and domestic abuse, have gone unrecorded by a UK police force over the course of a year, the police watchdog has said.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that nearly one in five crimes reported to Lincolnshire police were undocumented, potentially leaving some victims shut out from support services.

The issue was "of very great concern", the inspector of constabulary, Zoë Billingham, said. "Although safeguarding measures were in place for many of the victims of crimes, there was little evidence of investigations being undertaken where the crime had not made it on to the books. This is particularly true for cases of domestic abuse.

"The importance of correctly recording crime cannot be overlooked, or simply passed off as a bureaucratic measure. If a force does not correctly record crime, it cannot properly understand the demand on its services, nor provide support to those who need it most."

Victims can only access certain support services when a crime is recorded and a lack of accurate statistics can leave senior officers with insufficient information when allocating resources.

The watchdog examined records from the period 1 June to 30 November 2017 and estimated that about 9,400 reported crimes were not recorded per year - more than 18% of the total reported to Lincolnshire police.

The report said a "large proportion of common assaults and malicious communication offences and a small number of more serious crimes, including sexual offences, grievous bodily harm and rape", were not recorded.

Of particular concern was violent crime, where only 72.7% of reported incidents were recorded, with some crimes of grievous bodily harm and wounding where victims were badly injured not being properly documented.

"This means that on too many occasions, the force is failing victims of crime," the watchdog said.

Lincolnshire police's deputy chief constable, Craig Naylor, said measures had been put in place to improve recording and insisted the force's "service has not slipped".

He said: "We are deeply disappointed by this report and absolutely committed to ensuring we resolve the problem quickly and effectively. We have made mistakes and we will not shirk from accepting and correcting them."

Naylor added: "There are no 'missed' victims or offenders - what we have missed is the correct procedure for recording them."

A force spokeswoman said many of the cases in question were ongoing inquiries where previous, historical incidents had not been correctly recorded - for example, if a victim of domestic violence reports crimes stretching back years.

In a separate report, Humberside police were graded as "requires improvement" for recording reported crime. They were estimated to have failed to record 14.3% of the total crimes reported to the force per year. These included sexual offences, public order and violence offences.

(1st August 2018)

(Metro, dated 15th July 2018 author Kate Buck)

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Earlier this year, headlines claiming London's murder rate was higher than New York City's sent shockwaves around Britain.

It followed a violent start to the year in the capital - with 18 murders in February alone, compared to 14 in New York.

However, the month proved to be a one-off according to new figures.

In every other month of 2018, there has been more murders in New York than London, despite it having a smaller population.

With a population of around 10.6 million, London is considerably larger than the Big Apple, which has around 8.6 million residents.

Between January and June, there were 80 homicides in London, reports the BBC.

But in the same six months, New York has had almost twice as many murder cases - 141 so far.

A surge of violence in February saw police open up 18 homicide inquiries in the British capital, while the New York Police Department only opened up 14.

While the exact reasons for this are unknown, is it thought the extreme snow conditions may have contributed to the reduction in the American city.

The statistics prompted Donald Trump to wade into the debate during a speech to the National Rifle Association in May, claiming there 'was blood all over the floors' of a London hospital, although he failed to declare which one.

He added: 'They say it's as bad as a military war zone hospital. Knives, knives, knives, knives.

'London hasn't been used to that. They're getting used to it. It's pretty tough.'

What is noticeable is that the numbers of homicides in London began to fall when Scotland Yard established a violent crime task force in February.

London's murder rate compared with New York'


New York : 20
London : 10


New York : 14
London : 18


New York : 21
London : 16


New York : 22
London : 14


New York : 34
London : 13


New York : 30
London : 9

(1st August 2018)

(Tech New Statesman, dated 14th June 2018 author Oscar Williams

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The UK is a prime destination for hackers to spend and launder dirty money, according to Charlie McMurdie, the former head of the Met Police's cyber crime unit.

In a speech at a Datto-sponsored cyber security summit today, McMurdie said London is particularly attractive for cyber criminals seeking to cash out the proceeds of their crimes.

"If you're making millions from cyber crime you don't want to be in the back of beyond, where you can't spend your lovely cash and bitcoins," she said. "You want to be in the UK where you can go down to Harrods and Knightsbridge."

McMurdie, who left the Met in 2013, said the speed at which British banks transfer money is another reason cyber criminals gravitate towards the UK. "If you're making loads of money, you need to bounce it around the banks, to launder that cash," she said. "In the UK, it doesn't take two days to move money from A to B."

"The only bad side for cyber criminals is our banks are good at recognising these transactions and they're also pretty hot at working with law enforcement," she added.

In recent years, the UK has been named the top target for cyber criminals in Europe. While McMurdie said Brits are a prime target for hackers, citing affluence and the prevalence of tech, she cast doubt on the claim.

"We're more cited on what's actually happening, how it's happening, the scale of the problem, perhaps than our European and international counterparts," McMurdie suggested. "Perhaps our other partners are suffering the same sort of issues, but pushing them under the table, not sharing that information and not reporting it as much."

Research conducted by a criminologist at Surrey University earlier this year revealed that cyber crime now generates $1.5tn (£1.1tn) annually. By the same estimates, if cyber crime was a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world.


(Symantec Corporation, dated 6th June 2018 author Beth Stackpole)

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To most, the world of cyber crime exists as a shadowy universe of hoodie-wearing hackers or nation state gangs pilfering identity data and hawking intellectual property (IP) on the dark web for big bucks. In reality, however, cyber crime has morphed into an economy in its own right, spawning new platforms and illicit marketplaces now generating close to $1.5 trillion in revenues every year.

The evolution of cyber crime from an overt criminal act or specific attack vector to a booming economy was the subject of a study conducted by Dr. Michael McGuire, senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, in England. The Web of Profit research, presented at April's RSA conference, makes a case that cyber crime is now a hyper-connected economy capable of generating and supporting revenue at an unprecedented scale. In fact, McGuire argues that the cyber crime economy is nearly a mirror image of contemporary capitalism, including the rise of disruptive business models built on platforms and a place where data reigns supreme as the commodity currency used for trade.

"Both the legitimate and illegitimate economies come together within an increasingly cyber-criminogenic world-one where the tools and cultures of information crime become blurred and interchangeable with the tools and cultures of an information society and vice versa," writes McGuire in the 178-page report.

The $1.5 trillion annual revenue figure, equivalent to the 13th highest ranked global GDP, takes into account money made in illicit and illegal online markets ($860 billion), theft of trade secrets and IP ($500 billion), and data trading ($160 billion), among other sources. Because the illegitimate cyber crime economy is increasingly interconnected to legitimate business, McGuire contends companies must radically broaden their perspective in order to rally the right tools and partnerships that will ensure the enterprise is adequately protected.

"Cyber security professionals tend to look at the point of the attack vector, which results in most responses being very limited to a few types of criminality," he explains. "If we take a more holistic view of how the system is working, we can intervene more effectively."

Platform Criminality

One of the more significant themes of McGuire's research is that cyber crime, following in the footsteps of mainstream business, is shifting to a platform economy mimicking what you see with Facebook or Uber. Those existing platforms as well as new crimeware platforms serving up everything from hired cyber talent to DIY Criminal-Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities are now the frontlines for nefarious activity with data the coveted asset, McGuire maintains.

Existing online platforms are enabling and supporting crime (whether unwittingly or not) in a variety of ways. They've become key targets for data theft and hacks as witnessed by the Yahoo and SnapChat data breaches; they are fertile ground for malware distribution; they are increasingly used to distribute or sell illegal products and for money laundering; and they have become a resource for connecting criminals with victims, McGuire's research found. Another interesting parallel with the legitimate economy: McGuire says criminal enterprises are embarking on their own digital transformation journeys, diversifying resources to explore new areas of crime. In fact, McGuire claims cyber crime enterprises are reinvesting up to 20% of their revenue streams back into new efforts to advance criminal activities-a figure he estimates at about $300 billion.

All along the way, data is the centerpiece, requiring C-suite and security professionals to rethink enterprise security protections. "The cyber security attitude towards data is prehistoric," McGuire contends. "We need a more flexible attitude in understanding what data is and how it can be used so we can design more effective policies and strategies. It's not just about protecting access to data in a simplistic sense, but a ground up rethinking of what cyber security is doing."

McGuire's report makes a number of recommendations to help cyber security professionals revamp strategies to address the new realities of the cyber crime economy. Among them:

- Approach cyber crime more holistically, as a dynamic and evolving field of multiple actors and interdependencies.

- Consider cyber attacks through the lens of economic gain, not just damage or data breaches, which creates a path to different solutions in areas like visualization or scanning and tracking technology.

- Recognize the shift towards platform criminality, including new illegal online markets, which will require new tools for infiltrating and blocking activities.

- Initiate more sensitive policy solutions and invest in software tools that go beyond simple surveillance and monitoring to mitigate corporate IP theft.

- Work closely with financial agencies and law enforcement to identify strategic nodes and weak points within the ecosystem where protections and interventions can be applied.

- Evolve data protection beyond privacy-data needs to be handled like traditional currencies and safeguarded with the requisite restrictions.

The bottom line, McGuire says, is that security professionals need to move beyond firefighting mode to something bigger and more strategic. "We have to move beyond locking up [the enterprise] with keys to thinking about the whole terrain in which crime occurs," he says. "That's the most productive way to take cyber security forward."

(1st August 2018)

(Huffington Post, dated 12th July 2018 author Thomas Tamblyn)

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People who use their phones behind the wheel may soon be caught out by new smart road signs that pick up active phone signals.

The road signs, which are being trialled in Norfolk, can tell the difference between active phone calls and other activities based on the strength of a signal and how long it lasts. When it detects activity, it will flash up a red warning signal to drivers.

In case you're wondering if it'll wrongly call you out, the system is able to simultaneously detect bluetooth signals so that anyone legally in a call via their car's speakers is not wrongly issued a warning.

The technology cannot yet log number plates or be used to help catch offending drivers, but it is hoped it will act as a deterrent.

Holding a phone while driving is illegal in the UK but remarkably, 23% of people admitted to taking a call in last year's RAC Report on Motoring.

Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing said: "Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed. Using a mobile phone at the wheel is one of the fatal four road offences which can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision.

"We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council's road safety team to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple - leave your phone alone whilst you're behind the wheel."

Norfolk County Council's road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the signs, which are a first for UK roads.

Although the signs are unable to log offending number plates, such a feature is being considered for development in the future. There is also no facility for the signs to record footage.

For now, a counter will keep track of phone usage on the road to help authorities understand driver habits.

Diane Steiner, deputy director of public health said: "Our priority in public health is to make Norfolk a healthy and safe place to live and the new technology enables us to provide a reminder to drivers who may be using their handset whilst driving.

"Whilst this is still not a perfect science, the new generation of sign is significantly more accurate and reliable than the first."

(1st August 2018)

(ZD Net, dated 12th July 2018 author Danny Palmer)

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Cyber criminals are offering remote access to IT systems for just $10 via a dark web hacking store -- potentially enabling attackers to steal information, disrupt systems, deploy ransomware and more.

The sales of backdoor access to compromised systems was uncovered by researchers at security company McAfee Labs looking into the sale of remote desktop protocol (RDP) access to hacked machines on underground forums -- some of which are selling access to tens of thousands of compromised systems.

RDP access is a standard tool which allows one user to connect to and control another user's computer over a network. The process is often used for support and administration, but in the wrong hands, RDP can be leveraged with devastating consequences -- researchers point to how SamSam ransomware campaigns begin with RDP access as an example of this.

Leveraging RDP access also provides a bonus to the attacker because they don't need to use tools like spear-phishing emails or exploit kits.

Systems advertised for sale on the forum range from Windows XP through to Windows 10, with access to Windows 2008 and 2012 Server most common. The store owners also offer tips for how those using the illicit logins can remain undetected.

Examining the IP addresses of compromised machines listed in one online store led researchers to discover that three belonged to a single international airport.

"This is definitely not something you want to discover on a Russian underground RDP shop," said John Fokker, head of cyber investigations for McAfee Advanced Threat Research.

Further investigation found that two of the IP addresses were presented alongside a screenshot of a login screen which could be accessed via RDP with three user accounts tied to the system -- one of which being the administrator account.

Perhaps most significantly, McAfee says the accounts are associated with two companies which provide airport security: one in camera surveillance, and one in security and building automation.

But with tens of thousands of RDP logins for sale, the airport wasn't the only sensitive system found up for sale -- researchers discovered criminals selling access to devices in government, hospitals and nursing homes.

All of those organisations which have been identified as having access to their systems up for sale have been informed and McAfee is working with them to uncover how machines were compromised.

In order to protect against this type of attack, researchers recommend the use of complex passwords and two-factor authentication, and disabling RDP connections over the internet. It's also recommended that system administrators keep an eye out for suspicious IP addresses and unusual login attempts.

"Even a state-of-the-art solution cannot provide security when the backdoor is left open or carries only a simple padlock. Just as we check the doors and windows when we leave our homes, organizations must regularly check which services are accessible from the outside and how they are secured," said Fokker.

(1st August 2018)

(Independent, dated 9th July 2018 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

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Cyber criminals are sending text messages that appear to come from Argos in an attempt to fool customers of the retail giant into sharing their personal information, including their payment details.

One scam message shared by a would-be victim on social media, stated: "Your Argos credit card has a refund of £270 from an overpayment." The message includes a link to what appears to be the Argos website, however leads to a phishing website designed to steal a person's personal information.

Even more confusingly for recipients, the message appears in a messaging thread that includes legitimate texts from Argos in the past.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, issued a warning to any potential victims. "These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you're owed a refund," the agency said.

"Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text."

The official Twitter account for Argos customer service, @Argos Helpers, has been responding to tweets from concerned customers by telling them to ignore it.

One message read: "It is a scam and we have been made aware of it. Our team ourdoiing everything to investigate and protect our customers [sic]."

A spokesperson for Argos told The Independent: "Customers should always be mindful of phishing scams. These messages are not from Argos and we are advising customers to delete them."

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th July 2018 author Olivia Tobin)

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Nearly 300 children under the age of 12 were arrested for carrying a weapon in London over the last three years, figures show.

Metropolitan Police figures from 2015 to 2017 reveal children as young as ten being arrested in London - including arrests over serious violent crimes including rape and drug trafficking.

In the last three years, 1,423 children aged between 10 and 12 have been arrested in London, with the highest number of these arrests taking place in Bromley and Bexley.

Schoolchildren have been arrested on suspicion of committing arson, rape, harassment offences, possession of a weapon and drug trafficking.

The largest number of arrests among children was for weapons offences.

Between January 2015 and December 2017, 270 children were arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

During the same time period, 243 children were arrested over 'assault with injury' offences, according to the data from Scotland Yard.

In the three year period, seven children were arrested on suspicion of rape. Children as young as ten were arrested in Camden, Barking, Hackney, Bexley, Richmond, Croydon and Hounslow. It is not clear how many of these youths were charged.

There was also 36 arrests for "other serious sexual crimes" in London.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McDonagh explained how support is given to youngsters who are arrested through a partnered approach with police and local authorities.

He said it was of "paramount importance" to make sure a child is not arrested again, and they are set on the right path.

The boroughs with the highest number of children under 13 arrests were Bromley, with 124 youths arrested, Barking, with 90, and Bexley, with 86.

The boroughs with the fewest arrests were Kingston with only 16 arrests each in three years and Richmond, with 17.

DCI McDonagh, for Croydon, Bromley and Sutton, has sad a "combination" of factors could contribute to the high figure in the borough.

He said: "We have to look at things like the size of the youth population, although it is not as big as Croydon's, there are about 70,000 young people living in Bromley. We also have the issue of transient population of people coming in to the borough for schools and to visit.

"The other significant issue is people coming into the borough just for the shopping centre [The Glades]."

There is evidence that the number of children arrested for serious crimes is falling.

In 2017, 86 fewer children were arrested than in 2016. DCI McDonagh said this could be down to media campaigns and early intervention work by police.

DCI McDonagh added: "I would like to think there's less young people getting involved in crimes.

Total number of children under 13 arrested in each borough

Bromley : 124
Barking : 90
Bexley : 86
Southwark : 74
Sutton : 69
Newham : 66
Tower Hamlets : 63
Croydon : 55
Greenwich : 54
Enfield : 50
Harringey : 48
Brent : 46
Hammersmith : 45
Waltham Forest : 44
Lewisham : 44
Lambeth : 43
Islington : 42
Camden : 36
Havering : 35
Ealing : 32
Hackney : 32
Redbridge : 30
Hillingdon : 29
Westminster : 27
Barnet : 25
Kensington : 24
Wandsworth : 24
Harrow : 18
Wimbledon : 18
Richmond : 17
Hounslow : 16
Kingston : 16

(1st August 2018)

(ZD Net, dated 5th July 2018 author Charlie Osborne)

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The UK government has announced the creation of a specialist court to hear cases relating to cybercrime.

The deal has been inked between the City of London Corporation and the judiciary and will result in the establishment of an 18-courtroom center, the UK government said on Wednesday.

First announced back in October and now given the go-ahead, the court will be built from the ground up at Fleetbank House on Fleet Street.

The new center will replace the civil court, Mayor's and City of London County Court, and the City of London Magistrates' Court, which has been described as "aging." A new police station has also been thrown into the deal.

The purpose-built court will deal with civil, business, and property cases.

Lord Chancellor David Gauke said the deal represents a "message to the world that Britain both prizes business and stands ready to deal with the changing nature of 21st-century crime."

"This is a hugely significant step in this project that will give the Square Mile its second iconic courthouse after the Old Bailey," added Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation. "I'm particularly pleased that this court will have a focus on the legal issues of the future, such as fraud, economic crime, and cybercrime."

According to the Office for National Statistics' latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), 4.7 million incidents of criminal fraud and cybercrime were experienced by UK residents in the past year, with bank and credit card fraud forming the majority of cases.

Norton suggests that in 2017, £130 billion was stolen from the general public by cybercriminals, of which £4.6 billion in losses were experienced specifically by British consumers.

Now cybercrime is becoming ever more common, the launch of specialist courts with judges versed in not only the law but the applications of new technologies to crime is an important step in tackling, if not the source, at least the aftermath.

However, it will likely be some time before the building is ready, let alone for cases to be heard. Subject to planning permission and funding, the court is not expected to be complete until 2025.

(1st August 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd July 2018 author Sophia Sleigh)

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Moped gangs are impersonating traffic police to pull over vehicles and threaten the occupants, in an escalation of the two-wheeled crimewave sweeping London.

Police warned motorists to be aware of the latest ploy after they were called when a cab was boxed in on Chelsea Embankment by two riders pretending to be undercover officers.

Both had fitted their helmets with blue flashing lights, which they switched on as they pulled alongside the car taking American tourists back to their hotel in Battersea at about 1.40am last Friday.

The black-clad, masked bikers told the occupants, a 44-year-old woman and her friends, that the cab had run a red light, but the passengers became suspicious when the riders refused to identify themselves.

They called 999, and the bikers fled.

In an email to residents, a police officer wrote: "Worrying report today where a taxi was made to stop by suspects on a moped and motorcycle… Suspects stated that they were undercover police.

"Luckily the taxi and passengers were able to get away unscathed … however it's an intimidating situation to be in. I would like to reassure all that police would not use mopeds to stop a moving vehicle." The number of crimes using mopeds in London has soared from 827 in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.

In an incident on June 21, four thugs attempted to rob a mother while she was with her child in Richmond.

The Met police are using new tactics to deal with moped crime, including decoy bikes, identifying sprays and remote-controlled puncture spikes.

Former Met detective David Videcette said: "Police are struggling to deal with moped-enabled crime and criminals are taking advantage of the difficulties police have legally, professionally and practically."

(1st August 2018)

(i News, dated 22nd June 2018 author Gary Flockhart)

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Prospective tenants in the UK have lost more than £22m in rental fraud over the past four years new figures show, causing Action Fraud to warn those looking to rent property to look out for potential scams.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, has revealed that between April 2014 and March 2018, victims of property scams have reported losing £22,103,940, or an average of £1,396 per person.

Potential tenants - and students in particular - have been warned to look out for signs of potential rental fraud such as being asked to transfer large sums of money online instead of paying with a credit or debit card, or being asked to pay without first seeing a property.

Hundreds lost £5,000 or more

"Rental fraud happens when prospective tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time," says Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.

"Victims will lose the upfront fee they have paid and are not able to rent the property they thought they had secured. In 429 cases, victims reported losing £5,000 or more."

According to Action Fraud, scammers will often make contact with their victims online.

Students targeted

"The adverts will seem genuine and are often accompanied by photos and contact information. In some cases the victim will view the property in person, but in most cases the payment is made without prior viewing," says Action Fraud.

Action Fraud sees a spike in reporting levels in July and August. This yearly peak is likely due to people looking for holiday accommodation during the summer months, with holiday fraud accounting for approximately 27 per cent of all rental fraud reports during this period.

"Fraudsters will often target college and university students ahead of the new term with fake lettings in local accommodation, taking advantage of the huge demand to collect fees up front to secure a deposit.

"Between April 2014 and March 2018, 930 reports of university-related rental fraud, with losses of £1,103,416, were made to Action Fraud. However, the true figure is believed to be higher, as the figure is dependent on victims making their student status known when reporting to Action Fraud."

Impact on health

The number of reports peaked each year in September when students are likely to be organising their accommodation for the academic year. Sixty one per cent of university rental fraud victims reported a 'significant' impact on their health or financial wellbeing as a result of being defrauded.

"Whether you're booking a well-earned holiday or looking to secure university accommodation, it's important to be wary of devious fraudsters who are looking to take your money," says Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud.

"The impact of rental fraud can be severe, both emotionally and financially. By taking simple steps such as visiting the property you intend to rent or checking that the owner is on an approved accommodation list, you will be able to protect yourself from this type of fraud.

"If you think you have been a victim of rental fraud, contact Action Fraud."

Protect yourself from rental fraud

- Visit the property before you pay: Watch-out for adverts with no photos, or where multiple adverts have the same photos as they could be fake. Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord.

- Be cautious about how you send money: The safest way to make a payment is by a credit card in person at the letting agent's office. Be skeptical if you're asked to transfer money via a money transfer service.

- Don't be pressured into transferring large sums of money: Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or another trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

- Check that the owner is on an approved accommodation list: Check with your student union or accommodation office as many universities and colleges will have an approved housing list. Also look for accreditation membership such as National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

(1st August 2018)

(City AM, dated 28th June 2018 author Simon Migliano)

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As I write, thousands of employees are opening up Macs in cafes and trendy workspaces across the country, sipping on cortados, and getting ready to start their days.

These workers are part of what's being called the "remote working revolution", and they represent a movement away from the presenteeism that previously defined office working.

A blessing and a curse

Technology is at the centre of this non-traditional working boom - thanks to communication applications like Skype and Slack, staff are readily accessible anywhere in the world where there's a half-decent wifi connection.

The rise of virtual and augmented reality also means that employees can attend meetings despite being on the opposite side of the globe.

Unfortunately, these flexible working habits present a big cyber security risk, which companies and employees often aren't prepared to tackle.

Let's talk about wifi

We're an increasingly wifi-dependent society. For remote staff, good wifi is essential, so business owners and employees inevitably gravitate towards stronger hotspots - whether they are password-protected or not.

The problem is that when workers head to their favourite cafe and log into the convenient wifi that doesn't require a password, they are placing a huge amount of trust in the hotspot's owner and hoping that there aren't any would-be scammers around.

Newer routers are more secure, but rely on their owners to keep the hardware updated. The bigger threat is from fraudsters, who can eavesdrop on unencrypted activity using simple software, or even create fake wireless spots to mimic legitimate ones by naming their network after a cafe to make it look authentic.

Once hackers have done this, it's simple to intercept unencrypted data, wait for you to open unsecured sites, or even create phony versions of real sites in order to steal your private data.

This has created a bit of a perfect storm for small businesses and companies adopting more flexible attitudes to where their staff work.

Unlike banks, which have sophisticated security systems in place, it doesn't take much for businesses to open themselves up to potential fraud.

Most employees use email programs like Outlook or Gmail - and while the latter offers some protection due to its two-factor authentication, it wouldn't take much for a scammer on an unencrypted network to mimic a web-based email client, and then scrape a users' details when they try to log in.

Once that's done, hackers can log into accounts, and scan through reams of emails in order to dig out juicy company details such as payslips, invoice details, and personal data. Before you know it, scammers have access to the internal mechanisms of your company.

Securing your business

Businesses can protect themselves from attacks by: encouraging staff to avoid sites that aren't secure and don't display HTTPS in the URL; install firewalls, antivirus, and malware software on staff computers to make sure there aren't any chinks in the company's armour; and regularly install software updates, as they typically contain security patches.

It's also worth considering installing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on work devices - VPNs essentially create encrypted tunnels through which your staff's online traffic can travel through securely. These can be set to work automatically, so require very little heavy lifting from employees.

It makes sense to dodge onerous overheads like offices while startups are getting up to speed - it's not unusual for startup owners to work out of cafes in the first few months of their existence - but they must be diligent, and secure themselves against cyber risks.


(Sky News, dated 9th July 2018 author Alexander J Martin)

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BAE Systems has launched a new industry forum and lobbying group called The Intelligence Network to address increases in cyber attacks.

In April, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre and NCA warned that criminals were launching more online attacks against British businesses than ever before.

Attempts to tackle this by the biggest companies have included sharing intelligence on the attackers' methods, but this has been blighted by insufficient data-sharing occurring on an ad-hoc basis.

Speaking in London on Monday, James Hatch, the director of cyber services for BAE Applied Intelligence, acknowledged that collaboration between companies wasn't working well enough.

In a new report by BAE, with contributions from Vodafone, think-tank RUSI, startup accelerator CyLon and others, the Intelligence Network has called for more transparency in how businesses tackle cyber crime.

Although there may be an expectation on government to address this issue, the international nature of cyber crime and the rapid pace of change means that the political process can't address the issue.

Instead, a more formalised approach - although not to the level of collective NDAs - would enable herd defence, said Dr Adrian Nish - the head of BAE's cyber threat intelligence team.

Mr Hatch added that the consortium could work together to lobby the government for better laws which would encourage a high level of cyber security.

Alongside an increase in attacks from nation states including Russia and North Korea, both of whom have been explicitly criticised by the British government, other concerns need to be addressed.

The number of connected devices - with everything from toasters to thermostats now forming part of the internet of things (IoT) - has increased the opportunities for cyber criminals to wreak havoc.

In 2016, a botnet consisting of compromised IoT devices caused rolling internet service blackouts across the US when its controller forced the devices to target a domain name system provider.

Stating that "it's time to stop victim-shaming" businesses that have suffered a security breach, BAE has called for "like-minded organisations and individuals" to join the network.

(1st August 2018)

JUNE 2018

(Independent, dated 27th June 2018 author Joanna Whithead)

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Online travel agents attracting customers with 'too-good-to-be-true' budget deals have been discovered inflating prices and demanding further additional payment.

A Which? Travel investigation found cases of prices rocketing during the booking process, while other customers have received phone calls demanding more money under the threat of cancelling bookings just hours after they made a payment.

Other sneaky tactics used by companies include the sale of unnecessary add-ons. Gotogate is one of the worst offenders according to the investigation, with a list of 11 "extras".

These include a "platinum support" package costing £19.90, which guarantees customers will have their queries responded to quickly, and a bag tracking service through a company called Blue Ribbon costing £9, which can be bought directly from Blue Ribbon for just £3.80.

Gotogate also charges customers £39 for the US ESTA Visa, a document that can be purchased for just $14 (£11) directly from the US government website.

"Our business is based on offering our customers the cheapest available air fare," Gotogate told Which?. "We then offer several add-on products so they can customise their trip."

The suspect tactics don't just apply to extras, however. Holidaymaker John-Michael Clow used Gotogate to book a flight to India that was almost £200 cheaper than other flights he had looked at.

Upon arrival at the airport, Thomas Cook informed Mr Clow that his ticket was invalid and that they had notified Gotogate that there was a problem with the ticket at the time of booking.

When Mr Clow contacted Gotogate, they refused to accept responsibility and would not help him.

After eventually securing a refund from Gotogate, the company deducted £17 as a "refund fee". It took Which? Travel getting in touch for the company to accept liability, stating that it had made a mistake "due to human error". The company refunded the cost of booking a second flight and issued compensation of just over £300.

Gotogate told Which?: "We have many customers and, of course, make mistakes now and then. When that happens, we try to correct the mistake as soon as possible and compensate if necessary."

A woman who booked an urgent flight to Canada through Checknfly, meanwhile, was sent a message the following day asking her to call and confirm her flight. When Mrs Hughes did so, she was told that if she didn't pay a further £79, her flight would be cancelled.

When Which? contacted Checknfly it refused to accept responsibility, saying that the price had increased by £160 while she was making her booking. Checknfly said: "We were ready to bear half the loss and requested that Mrs Hughes pay £79 in order to secure the flights. When she refused we processed the full refund back onto the card she paid from."

Travellers are advised to research companies thoroughly before parting with any money and to opt for established, reputable brands; prices that seem too good to be true often are.

uaware comment

Is this a scam or "hyper" marketing where the words "buyer beware" are more appropriate.

So before you buy:

- Carry out comparative research between suppliers
- Check the terms and conditions
- If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is. Walk away.

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 25th June 2018 author Ben Chapman)

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Thousands of food businesses across the country are failing to meet hygiene standards as overstretched local authorities struggle to carry out their inspection duties, new research has revealed.

Birmingham City Council and Hyndburn Borough Council were ranked as the worst areas in the UK for food hygiene enforcement for the second year running by consumer group Which?.

In Birmingham, 43 per cent of high and medium-risk food businesses didn't meet compliance standards while 16 per cent of the 8,000 businesses in the sector are yet to be rated by the council.

Hyndburn in Lancashire was the second worst area in the UK for food hygiene in 2016-17, analysis of data collected by the Food Standards Agency found.

Almost all businesses in the borough had been rated for risk but just two in five of medium and high-risk food companies met food hygiene standards, compared with 98 per cent in Harrogate, which is about an hour away in North Yorkshire.

Erewash Borough Council in Derbyshire was rated the best out of 390 local authorities for the second year running. The borough carried out planned interventions on all failing premises while 97 per cent of its medium and high-risk establishments are compliant with hygiene standards.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, both in Hampshire, were close behind with 96 per cent of medium and high-risk premises meeting food compliance standards and 99 per cent of food businesses inspected and rated for risk.

Three Rivers District Council, in Hertfordshire, saw the biggest improvement from the previous year. It jumped into the top 100 after being ranked among the worst 25 per cent of areas in 2015-16.

Which? analysed and ranked 390 local authorities across the UK using the following criteria: percentage of high and medium-risk food businesses compliant with food hygiene standards; percentage of food premises opened but not visited or rated for risk; and interventions required that have been carried out.

The consumer group warned that Brexit could further stretch local authorities' food safety inspectors as the UK will need to step up checks on imports and potentially look to negotiate trade deals with countries with lower food standards.

Alex Neill, a managing director at Which?, said: "When it comes to food, British consumers expect the very best standards for themselves and their families.

"But our enforcement regime is under huge strain, just as Brexit threatens to add to the responsibilities of struggling local authorities.

"Effective food enforcement must be a government priority, including robust checks on imports as well as cooperation with the EU and other countries on food risks".

uaware comment

Every food business must be assessed for their hygiene management of food they prepare and / or sell. If you are purchasing pre-prepared food the minimum standard (score on the door) you should accept is a 3. If the establishment does not display the certificate on their entrance door or elsewhere within the establishment there is a strong likelihood they do not do not meet the minimum standard for food hygiene and as a result your health maybe at risk.

Remember, Scores on the Doors is nothing to do with food quality, it is NOT a "Michelin star" rating, it is purely for hygiene.

The other problem is the age of the "Scores" certificate. Assessments are normally carried out every two years. A lot can happen in that time, employee's can change (Trained staff leave), businesses can be sold to new owners who haven't bothered to have training.

For the latest score of food outlets :

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 23rd June 2018 author May Bulman)

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Police are failing to solve 63 per cent of knife crimes committed against under-25s as stabbing incidents soar, The Independent can reveal.

So far this year in London alone there have been 21 youth murders - while knife crime against young victims across England and Wales has surged by 69 per cent in the last four years.

Politicians and youth workers accused the government of failing to act on the rise in stabbings, and warned of the "disastrous" effect cuts to police and youth services were having on young people.

Figures obtained through freedom of information requests show the overall number of knife incidents against victims under the age of 25 surged from 3,857 in 2013-14 to 6,503 in the year to March 2018. The number of knife-related incidents involving youth that led to no further action by police increased in the past four years from 33 per cent to 63 per cent.

The number of these crimes that led to criminal charges plummeted, with the proportion of perpetrators who faced charges falling from more than one in three (35 per cent) to just 15 per cent, raising questions about why a growing number of these crimes are going unsolved despite the rise in young people getting caught up in knife violence.

Other outcomes included youth cautions and community resolutions. Collated from responses by 21 out of 43 police forces, the data paints a stark picture of the knife crime epidemic gripping the nation. All the forces were approached but many refused to hand over their figures.

Ministers have cited drug-related gang culture and social media as key drivers, but police have called for more funding to turn around the loss of thousands of officers while voluntary groups have condemned cuts to youth services.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told The Independent the increase in knife crime was "disastrous for our communities" and accused the government of failing in its "basic duty to keep the public safe".

"With this government's scathing cuts of 21,000 officers since 2010, it's no surprise that understaffed and overstretched police forces are struggling to cope," she said.

Vicky Foxcroft, Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, who established the Youth Violence Commission, said: "Cuts in police numbers - particularly community support officers - are having an impact in terms of trying to get intelligence on these crimes. Young people need to know that if they've got an issue they can go to the police and they will keep them safe.

"The government's serious violence strategy contains warm words on prevention, but it must back that up with the necessary resources if we are to see a genuine reduction in serious violence.

"That means sustainable funding for youth workers, community support officers, mental health support in schools; you can't cut millions from youth work and schools funding and sure start and early childhood centres and not expect this to have a knock-on effect."

In London, the number of youth knife crimes soared by 79 per cent in the four years, from 910 to 1,630, with the number of young people killed by knives more than doubling, from 19 to 40, according to figures provided by the Metropolitan Police.

Yet the proportion of offences that led to charges dwindled from a third (33 per cent) to just 18 per cent over the same period, while those resulting in no further action increased from 62 per cent to 80 per cent of crimes committed, the data shows.

Thames Valley Police showed an even steeper rise in unsolved crimes, soaring from just 4 per cent in 2014-15 to more than half (58 per cent) in the year to March 2018, while the proportion of charges dropped from 44 per cent to just 16 per cent. The overall number of youth knife crimes in the area rose more than twofold, from 150 to 325.

The data also reveals a worrying upward trend in victims who decline to identify the suspect or do not support police action, which youth workers said was due to a fear of retaliation that has increased due to the rise of social media and diminishing trust in police.

In Northumbria, the number of young knife victims who did not support police action rose from just one in 2013-14 to 28 (26 per cent) in 2017-18. In Merseyside, it increased from two (2 per cent) to 26 (22 per cent) in the same period. A similar trend was seen across other police forces.

Leroy Logan, a former superintendent who retired from the Met Police in 2013 after 30 years of service, told The Independent the country was in a "crisis situation that is not showing signs of improving".

"This government has got blood on its hands because they have allowed vital services to erode and failed to understand the long-term impact of this," he said.

"When I was in the police, if someone had committed a murder you had a good chance of resolving it. Now, there's a good chance that person will get away with it.

"But when you cut all the police numbers, young people just don't feel safe. They don't have that relationship with the officers so they're not going to speak to them, and unfortunately they buy into the street justice and feel the need to carry a knife.

"So you get this vicious cycle of young people being sucked into that lifestyle, and it's not being offset by the safeguarding agencies which, like police, have also been run into the ground."

Tom Isaac, manager of Oasis Youth Support, a service that offers youth support to victims of violence in the emergency department of St Thomas's Hospital in London, said he frequently saw young stabbing victims who do not want to tell police about what happened.

"The biggest indicator for many of the young people we work with is the fear factor. They feel it will put them at more risk because if things aren't solved or they aren't protected and relocated, they could be labelled as 'snitching', and then might be at greater risk of further violence," he said.

"They feel that police can't protect them - they tell us they think it will make the situation worse.

"Young people often get direct threats after they get stabbed, often through messages or videos on social media. Things can spread quicker and get filmed these days."

Ebinehita Iyere, a youth worker in south London, said she had witnessed many young people taking situations into their own hands, describing a "cycle of retaliation".

"We're breeding kids who are leaving hospital beds, and the first thing they are going to do is pick up a knife," she said, adding: "There isn't enough emotional support for these young people."

In response to the figures, a National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) spokesman said: "Knife crime is on the rise and it is more important than ever for police forces across the country to robustly deal with this heinous crime.

"All police forces across England and Wales took part in the most recent phase of Operation Sceptre, which ran for a week in February. This major police operation saw forces carrying out weapon sweeps, knife surrenders, testing whether retailers are prepared to sell knives to children and holding educational events."

He claimed that although officers were using a range of powers available to them to crack down on knife crime, it was not something police forces could do alone and that it required a "whole system approach".

"We continue to work with schools, charities and community schemes to educate young people and explain why carrying a knife is never the right choice. This early intervention plays a vitally important role in stopping young people from turning to a life of crime," he added.

A government spokesperson said: "This government is taking action to end the deadly cycle of violence that has such a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities.

"Our new serious violence strategy puts a greater focus on steering young people away from violence alongside a tough law enforcement response, and our Offensive Weapons Bill will go further in restricting access to knives.

"Repeat offenders who carry a knife are more likely than ever to go to prison."

(17th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 20th June 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

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The delivery of knives and acid bought online to people's homes will be banned under laws proposed by the government to tackle a nationwide rise in serious violence.

The new Offensive Weapons Bill aims to make it harder for young people to purchase deadly weapons and make the possession of knuckle dusters, "zombie knives" and "death stars" illegal - even in private.

Sellers will be required by law to impose rigorous age verification measures to prove that anyone purchasing blades or corrosives is over 18, or face prosecution.

The proposals would also make it a criminal offence to sell a minor a corrosive product, either online or offline, and to possess a corrosive substance in a public place.

The Home Office said it had listened to concerns raised by police officers, who have struggled to stop people suspected of carrying acid and seize liquids for testing under current laws.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said: "It is totally wrong that young people are able to get their hands on dangerous weapons such as knives and harmful acids. That is why we are making the laws around this even tighter.

"Earlier this week I saw the great work our frontline officers do to keep our communities safe - and I am determined to do everything I can to help them keep weapons off our streets."

The government said the law, which was first announced in April but delayed by Amber Rudd's resignation, allows exemptions from the home delivery ban for bladed items that cannot cause "serious injury", are made to order, are used for sport or are for historical re-enactments.

Delivery companies transporting products to under-18s on behalf of sellers outside the UK would also be prosecuted under the proposals.

It will be illegal to possess rapid-firing rifles and "bump stock" devices of the kind used to massacre 58 people in Las Vegas last year, with owners of prohibited items allowed compensation.

An existing law banning possessing offensive weapons in schools is also being expanded to cover other educational institutions.

Violent crime has risen by 17 per cent across England and Wales over the past year, causing fierce debate over the underlying cause of a bloody wave of attacks.

More than 70 people have been murdered in London alone, where officials vowed not to "accept that this horrifying situation is the new normal".

Steve O'Connell, chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, said: "We need to understand the reasons why our communities have become susceptible to this malign criminality."

The new bill is part of the government response set out in its serious violence strategy, which was heavily criticised after leaks revealed that a Home Office document suggesting police budget cuts may have "encouraged" offenders was cut from the published version.

The document attributed increasing violence to factors including changes to the drug market and incitement on social media, while critics have pointed to the loss of 20,000 police officers since 2010 and cuts to youth services and mental health provisions.

On Tuesday, policing minister Nick Hurd told the Home Affairs Committee it was "too simplistic" to put the rise in violent crime down to a lack of police resources.

"I think the context has changed," he added. "The police system has been very stretched in recent years and in light of the evidence in front of us, we have taken steps to put more resources in the system - £460m more this year, £1bn more than three years ago, and we intend to do something similar for the 2019-20 settlement."

In a dramatic departure from his two predecessors, Mr Javid acknowledged that resources were "an issue" for struggling British police forces last month and vowed to fight for more cash in a government-wide spending review.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the influential committee, raised concerns that "across the board we are seeing more criminals getting away with it".

She pointed at figures showing a drops in arrests, charges and summons for violent crime, robbery and sexual offences, which are all rising.

"Serious crime is starting to go back up and the number of crimes brought to justice is dropping," Ms Cooper said. "It looks like the Home Office is not exercising its fundamental responsibility to keep people safe."

Mr Hurd argued that the changing nature of crime and dramatic rise in the amount of evidence being examined from digital devices meant offences were taking longer to progress through the criminal justice system.

He said that moped-enabled crimes were already falling, thanks to government and police initiatives, and vowed to help forces work more effectively.

In the same session HM chief inspector of constabulary warned that criminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated tactics fuelled by their exploitation of modern technology.

Sir Tom Winsor told MPs the "complexity and volume" of demand is the biggest challenge for police, after criticising technology companies for letting terrorists, paedophiles and organised criminals conceal their activities.

(17th July 2018)

(BBC News, dated 19th June 2018 author Zoe Kleinman)

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A security researcher has built a system for detecting illegal images that costs less than $300 (£227) and uses less power than a lightbulb.

Christian Haschek, who lives in Austria, came up with the solution after he discovered an image showing child sex abuse had been uploaded on his image hosting platform Pictshare.

He called the police, who told him to print it out and bring it to them.

However it is illegal to possess images of child abuse, digitally or in print.

"Erm... not what I planned to do," Mr Haschek said.

Instead he put together a homegrown solution for identifying and removing explicit images.

Mr Haschek used three Raspberry PIs, powering two Intel Movidius sticks, which can be trained to classify images. He also used an open source algorithm for identifying explicit material called NSFW (Not Safe For Work), available free of charge from Yahoo.

He set it to find images which the system could say with 30% or more certainty was likely to contain pornography - he said he set the possibility low so as to be sure not to miss anything.

He has since discovered 16 further illegal images featuring children on his platform, all of which he reported to Interpol and deleted.

He then contacted a larger image hosting service, which he declined to name, and found thousands more by running images uploaded to their platform through his system as well.

"When I first started working on my open source image hosting service PictShare I didn't think anyone but myself would use it," Mr Haschek said on his blog.

"Over the years the usage has increased and with increased usage of a site where you can upload images anonymously, there will be those who upload illegal things.

"There are thousands of images on PictShare - I can't look them through even in a year so I had to think of something else."

Prof Alan Woodward from Surrey University said Mr Haschek's project was encouraging.

"Law enforcement agencies around the world are struggling to find this horrible material and have it taken down. Sadly, the police have to work with tech firms and that takes time," he said.

"I like the idea that this particular site has taken responsibility and found a solution that mitigates the problem.

"The scale of the problem faced by the large tech firms is admittedly enormous and although these solutions could be scaled up, it takes money and effort. However, where there's a will there's a way."

(17th July 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th June 2018 author Robin De Peyer)

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Scotland Yard today admitted there is "more work to be done" as it emerged only about one in 20 burglaries in London are solved.

The Metropolitan Police said sanction detection rates, the way it measures cases that are solved, were 5.5 per cent for burglary and 7 per cent for robbery between April 2017 and April 2018.

That compared to an overall rate of 13.2 per cent for all offences included in the statistics.

The force also said it is putting a "huge amount of effort" into tackling a rise in moped-related crime after The Sunday Times revealed two streets in London are the worst-affected in the UK.

Holloway Road and Highgate Hill, both in north London had the highest number of moped crimes between 2012 and 2017.

Holloway Road saw 111 robberies last year, only one of which has been solved, while Highgate Hill saw 48, with none solved.

It came as Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed he fell victim to thieves on a moped who stole his phone near Euston station while, earlier this month, comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed of his watch by moped-riding crooks in a violent incident.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said the Met is "doing all we can to cut crime, pursue offenders and support victims to make London even safer".

She added: "Burglary presents particular challenges in regard to identifying those responsible and we accept there is more work to be done - and are always seeking ways to increase the number of these crimes we solve.

"A number of robbery offences can be attributed to scooter-related crime. The Met has been putting a huge amount of effort into stemming the rise in these offences and bringing offenders to justice."

According to the Sunday Times, national police data shows the proportion of suspects who are caught and punished for all crimes has more than halved to 9% over the past five years.

The figures also suggested only 4% of robberies were solved in England and Wales in 2017, while it was 9% in 2013.

Data for the same period indicated the burglary detection rate halved from 6% to 3%.

The National Police Chiefs' Council's spokesman on crime recording and statistics, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, told the Sunday Times there had been improvements in how police record their crimes.

Among the offences recorded are those with "no suspect and little prospect of a criminal justice outcome", he told the paper.

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th June 2018 author Press Association)

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Britain's largest police force has said it is doing all it can to bring thieves to justice after figures suggested 95% of burglaries and robberies across the UK are not being solved.

The Metropolitan police said they were putting a "huge amount of effort" into tackling a rise in crime related to motor scooters, which they said had reduced.

They said burglary presented particular challenges in finding culprits, however they have accepted more work needs to be done to tackle such crimes.

There are fears over a wave of criminality in parts of the country, with scooter thefts attracting particular concern after a number of high-profile incidents.

On Sunday the home secretary, Sajid Javid, revealed he fell victim to thieves on a motor scooter who stole his phone and earlier this month, the comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed of his watch by scooter-riding thieves.

Scotland Yard said its London sanction detection rates - the way it measures cases that are solved - were 5.5% for burglary and 7% for robbery between April 2017 and April 2018.

That compared with an overall rate of 13.2% for all offences included in the statistics.

"Solving crime is a key priority for the Met and we are committed to doing all we can to cut crime, pursue offenders and support victims to make London even safer," a spokeswoman said.

"Burglary presents particular challenges in regard to identifying those responsible and we accept there is more work to be done - and are always seeking ways to increase the number of these crimes we solve.

"A number of robbery offences can be attributed to scooter-related crime. The Met has been putting a huge amount of effort into stemming the rise in these offences and bringing offenders to justice."

National police data shows the proportion of suspects who are caught and punished for all crimes has more than halved to 9% over the past five years, according to the Sunday Times.

The figures also suggested only 4% of robberies were solved in England and Wales in 2017, compared with 9% in 2013. The burglary detection rate halved from 6% to 3% in the same period.

(17th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 16th June 2018 author Steven Swinford)

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###Note : The original article includes a dropdown facility for the reader to check crime in their area.

Police should increase the use stop-and-search to tackle soaring tackle knife crime and violence in London, the former head of Scotland Yard who oversaw a huge decline in the use of the powers has said.

Lord Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police between 2011 and 2017 when Theresa May was Home Secretary, believes that the surge in violence means "we now need to increase the amount of stop and search again".

Nearly 50 people have been fatally stabbed in London since the start of the year, while the overall number of knife offences in the capital rose by more than 20 per cent last year to 14,680.

He also linked migration and higher birth rates in parts of London to increased violence because it means that there are growing numbers of young men.

He said that "London is getting younger" that there is a "high correlation" between areas which have seen a significant rise in the number of young men and violence.

Speaking in the House of Lords last week, he said that one of the "large problems" in London is that so many people carry knives, meaning that "too often an argument is turning into murder".

The use of stop and search peaked in 2008 when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London in response to a significant rise in violence.

The powers were used 600,000 times in that year, but reforms introduced by Mrs May led to a dramatic decline in the use of the powers.

In 2015/16 they were used 160,000 times. It came after Mrs May introduced changes in 2014 that meant police were only allowed to stop people when there were "reasonable grounds for suspicion" amid concerns that the policy was alienating black and ethnic minority communities.

Lord Hogan-Howe said: "In my time as commissioner, we reduced stop and search very significantly. I cannot blame the present Prime Minister for this, because I believe it was the right thing to do.

"Yet even though we reduced stop and search over the succeeding four years by 60 per cent, we arrested more people-rising from 43,000 to 45,000 people-and we saw crime reduce by 20 per cent, including knife crime and violence.

"I think we now need to increase the amount of stop and search again, but it must be intelligently targeted or its risks will outweigh its benefits."

He said that the Home Office must help produce new scanning devices to make it easier for offices to find knives on people or in cars.

He also called for the development and role out of facial recognition technology to make it easier for police to identify suspects.

He called for more front-line police in parts of the capital which are struggling to cope with increasing levels of violence, linking the trend to increased birth rates and migration.

He said: "London getting younger is contradictory to what is happening in the rest of the country; there are contradictions, too, within London.

"It is in the north-east of the capital where we are seeing more young people. This is caused by higher birth rates and migration.

"Research shows us that where there are more young men in society we tend to see an increase in crime generally and an increase in violence in particular.

"If we look at a heat map of the violence in London during the past 18 months to two years, we see a high correlation between the increase in the number of young men and the increase in the incidence of violence."

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 14th June 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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One of Britain's most senior police chiefs has intervened in the debate about rising crime, saying social inequality is a cause that needs tackling and that those arrested and jailed tend to be people with less money and opportunity.

The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan told the Guardian that "children are not born bad" and called for a wider effort to deal with inequalities that leave people feeling like "they do not have a stake in society".

Gallan said: "I think we deal with the symptoms and the outcomes, but society at large has got to think about how we solve some of the other issues about what has been causing the crime in the first place. I don't think children are born bad. I don't believe that for one moment."

She added: "If we don't invest at the beginning we'll have to invest in it in terms of criminal justice and in the prison system."

Gallan leads Scotland Yard's specialist crime and operations, spearheading the fight against gun crime, homicides and high-harm and high-profile crimes. She sits on the Met's management board of senior leaders and is a key adviser to the commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Police chiefs have for years talked privately about the link between social inequality, poverty and crime, but Gallan commenting publicly is unusual and comes as she prepares to retire as a senior frontline officer.

She also said her race and gender meant she had faced extra challenges, but the police were a fairer employer than others.

Her comments are an attempt to kickstart a debate about the wider social factors behind crime, which is rising and driving law and order up the political agenda.

Gallan said her views were based on her experience first as the child of a church minister who saw the effect of poverty, then as a police officer over a 31-year career. She said she was offering "an explanation, not an excuse" for the deeper causes of offending behaviour.

"I think there are lots of causes of crime. This is a very personal view. If you start looking at where crime impacts, it happens in the poorest areas of society. Those that end up in the criminal justice system tend to be the people who have less money and less opportunity in our society.

"I think that is not good for society, for social cohesion, but also it is not good if people do not feel they have the stake in society. We have to look at and ask ourselves individually and collectively: why do people feel they do not have a stake in society?

"Because once you are involved in crime and once you go into the criminal justice system, it starts to get far more difficult for you, whether it is staying out of prison or getting a job."

Asked about the link between poverty and alienation and people committing crime, Gallan said: "I think if you are a young person and you haven't got opportunity necessarily - and this isn't an excuse for it, it is explanation - what's your risk? You've got a sense of belonging if you are in a group or a gang … and you get the material aspects that you would like, so that's part of the challenge. We're also a very instantaneous society now in lots of what we do."

Gallan said police forces should look like the communities they serve. The Met is thousands of minority ethnic officers short of this, and Gallan said: "I am disappointed that we still look as we do. I think we made great efforts but then we collectively in policing and probably in society thought, well, we've kind of done that, and I think the problem is you can't stop doing it, you've got to keep at it."

She added: "If you see people look like you, there might be some understanding of what it's like to be you."

Gallan said the fallout from the Met's errors in the Stephen Lawrence case, which led to the damning Macpherson report in 1999 that found the force was institutionally racist, had paved the way for people from her background.

"If it was not for Baroness Lawrence [Stephen's mother] and the Macpherson inquiry, I would not be sitting here today," she said. "We had a mirror held up to us, which many people didn't like but was the truth in my view."

Gallan said she had received extra abuse from the media and on social media because she was a black woman. "I do think there is an issue. Whether people agree or not with [the Labour MP] Diane Abbott, I think she's spoken the truth. She's spoken about people saying various things about her and targeting her because she is a black woman.

"If a man is direct that is fine and if a woman is direct people find it difficult. And if a black woman is direct they find it even more difficult. I'm pretty direct and straightforward. Not everybody likes that."

Gallan said austerity had affected policing, and reduced police numbers and rising demands placed the Met under strain.

She served mostly in the Met in London but also in the Merseyside force. Gallan said her two biggest mentors were former Met commissioner Ian Blair, appointed under Labour, and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, appointed under the Conservatives.

She said she was leaving policing proud of the force and of her fellow officers. "I have great confidence in the police and I have great confidence in the Met."

(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 13th June 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

An online dating platform has been spanked by the Competitions and Markets Authority as the UK government issued love match websites an etiquette guide for fair play.

Venntro Media Group - which has about 3,500 websites targeted at specific interests, hobbies, localities, ethnicity or religion - was the subject of a probe by the CMA after complaints about misleading claims and unclear data-sharing.

The Berkshire-based biz has more than 55 million users worldwide, but concerns were raised about how their data was shared between the various sites, as well as a lack of clarity over the terms and conditions of use.

The CMA's investigation found that some users were unaware that their information would be stored in a central database - and that their profiles might be visible on other sites.

Others complained that they had signed up for sites featuring explicit adult content without realising what was on offer.

The CMA said that the end result was that customers may not have been shown people who shared their interests - the whole point of being on the sites.

"We took action against Venntro because we were concerned people's profiles were being placed on sites without their knowledge or permission, and that they were being misled about how likely they were to meet someone with common ground," said appropriately named George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA.

Venntro has pledged to mend its ways, committing to make the cross-registration process more clear, issue a warning before auto-renewal of long subscriptions, and scrap a clause that gave it the right to unilateral variation of its Ts&Cs.

In addition, the CMA said it had sent warning letters to 14 other leading dating websites and app providers demanding they review their terms and practices to make sure they are in line with data and consumer protection laws.

The CMA, together with the Information Commissioner's Office, has issued a set of dos and don'ts for such firms. The sage advice includes ensuring customers know what information is collected on them, how it is used and asking permission to share it with other sites.

Firms should not make untrue claims or promises about the nature or membership of the service - such as fluffing up the number of users by using historical figures - or misleading them by creating company-controlled profiles to communicate with them.

"With millions of people trusting dating sites to find their perfect match, it's important they fully understand how personal information will be used, before they sign up, and that sites tell the truth about what they can offer," said Lusty.



Online dating and consumer law - advice for business (Published 13th June 2018)

Link [Option 1]:

If you provide an online dating service, we strongly encourage you to review your terms and conditions, as well as your business practices, to ensure that they are fair. We recommend that you read the CMA's summary which explains the terms and practices we consider to be a problem.

Do's and don'ts for online dating service providers:


- clearly and prominently tell customers from the beginning what personal information you collect about them, where it is collected from, and explain how it is used. For example, explain if you collect information from linked social media accounts

- before sharing customer's data with any other dating websites (including any controlled by you), explain to your customers that you do this and provide them with a list of websites where their data may appear. You should also obtain their permission to do so

- explain to customers what filters and/or search functionalities are available on your service

- be clear from the beginning about how and when customers' subscriptions renew and how they can cancel this

- let your customers know a reasonable time before if their subscription is about to renew, and before payment is taken

- allow customers to exercise their statutory right to cancel within 14 days of signing up to any contract, or renewing a fixed term contract

- give customers adequate notice of any changes to your prices or terms of service, and give them the right to cancel with a pro-rata refund if they do not wish to accept these changes


- make claims or promises about the nature or membership of your service that you cannot back up or are untrue. For example, claims about how many members you have should be based on the number of regular users rather than historical figures for all current and previous users of the website

- mislead customers by creating your own dating profiles to communicate with them and not making it clear and prominent that these profiles are provider generated

- require customers to accept that they may communicate with profiles generated by you, or on your behalf, without any recourse to your business

- make it difficult for customers to cancel their membership and/or delete their data when they cancel their membership

Why is this important?

People need clear information about your services so that they know what to expect and can make an informed choice about whether your dating service meets their needs.

Under consumer law, if your terms or practices are unfair (including because the terms are unclear and/or the practices are misleading), you could face action by the CMA or Trading Standards Services, as well as directly from consumers in certain cases. Unfair terms are also not binding on consumers.


(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 13th June 2018 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Retailer Dixons Carphone has gone public about a hack attack involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records.

In a statement (PDF), Dixons Carphone said that "unauthorised access" of data held by the company had prompted an investigation, the hiring of external security experts and efforts to shore up its security defences. It has informed police, regulators at the Information Commissioner's Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.

It goes on to offer the not-entirely-reassuring reassurance that it has "no evidence to date of any fraudulent use of the data as result of these incidents" before admitting the compromised information included (incomplete, in some cases) payment card data.


Our investigation is ongoing and currently indicates that there was an attempt to compromise 5.9 million cards in one of the processing systems of Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores. However, 5.8 million of these cards have chip and PIN protection.

The data accessed in respect of these cards contains neither PIN codes, card verification values (CVV) nor any authentication data enabling cardholder identification or a purchase to be made. Approximately 105,000 non-EU issued payment cards which do not have chip and PIN protection have been compromised.

As a precaution we immediately notified the relevant card companies via our payment provider about all these cards so that they could take the appropriate measures to protect customers. We have no evidence of any fraud on these cards as a result of this incident.


The retailer has suffered hacks before. Three years ago a seemingly similar incident exposed the credit card details of 90,000 Dixons Carphone customers.

The latest incident also potentially exposed the personal details of 1.2 million people (name, address, email address), leaving customers more exposed to potential phishing attacks as a result.


Separately, our investigation has also found that 1.2 million records containing non-financial personal data, such as name, address or email address, have been accessed. We have no evidence that this information has left our systems or has resulted in any fraud at this stage. We are contacting those whose non-financial personal data was accessed to inform them, to apologise, and to give them advice on any protective steps they should take.


Dixons Carphone chief exec Alex Baldock apologised to customers for the inconvenience, adding (as is standard in post-breach statements) that the company takes security seriously.

"We are extremely disappointed and sorry for any upset this may cause," he said. "The protection of our data has to be at the heart of our business, and we've fallen short here. We've taken action to close off this unauthorised access and though we have currently no evidence of fraud as a result of these incidents, we are taking this extremely seriously."

Some security experts said that the leaked personal information was arguably a greater threat than the compromised card data.

Chris Boyd, lead malware analyst at Malwarebytes, commented: "Cancelling cards is always a pain, but the bigger issue is the personal data harvested by the criminals. The possibility of phishing attempts using this information is a good one, and people could be caught off-guard if they can't remember buying something from Dixons Carphone in the first place.

"Treating all communications with suspicion for the next few months is probably a good idea, especially in situations where any form of login details are required."

Others compared the Dixons Carphone breach to the compromise of US retailer Target in arguing lessons have not been learned. Paul German, CEO at Certes Networks, commented: "Despite the well-publicised Target data breach, it seems that other retailers are still not adopting appropriate cybersecurity strategies. As a multinational organisation, Dixons Carphone would have been well aware of the Target breach."

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 8th June 2018 authors Patrick Greenfield, Anne Perkins and Pamela Duncan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Officers from the Metropolitan police are being disguised as takeaway delivery drivers as part of operations to catch and disrupt moped-riding criminals in London, the Guardian can reveal.

The covert tactic forms part of a range of measures deployed by authorities to combat last year's surge in thefts, robberies and violent crime involving mopeds, when delivery drivers were frequently targeted. More than 23,000 moped-enabled crimes were recorded in London in 2017, compared with fewer than 900 in 2012.

The tactic is understood to be entirely operational and police officers are not delivering takeaway food to members of the public.

More police resources have been dedicated to tackling moped crime since protests last July when hundreds of delivery drivers gathered outside parliament after an acid attack in east London on Jabed Hussain, an UberEats driver.

On Friday Theresa May said new powers for the police to pursue moped thieves were under active consideration in Whitehall after meetings between the Met police and the Home Office.

"One of the things we're looking at is in terms of the pursuit," she said. "We are ensuring that they have the powers they need and are able to pursue them and to take the action that we all agree that they ought to take."

The increased efforts come during a deadly period for food delivery workers in the capital. On Tuesday a 14-year-old boy was charged with murder over the death of Mark Fontaine, 41, who was reportedly working as a delivery driver when he was fatally stabbed in Kensington, west London, on 30 May. Some drivers are refusing to work in parts of the capital after dark due to safety concerns.

Moped-enabled crime in London has fallen by more than 55% since it peaked in July last year, when 2,593 offences were recorded in a single month, but hundreds of crimes are still being committed every week. In May, 1,154 crimes were recorded by the Met, the lowest monthly figure since January 2017.

Food delivery companies have also recorded a fall in incidents, but they emphasised that serious violent crime against their drivers was the primary concern and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in parts of the capital was a daily issue.

On Friday a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old were arrested on suspicion of robbery in connection with an incident that left a 24-year-old woman in a critical condition after she was punched when two men on a moped stole her mobile phone and bag.

A 14-year-old boy who has been charged in connection with seven moped robberies in the capital is due to appear at Highbury Corner magistrates court on Saturday.

The teenager is alleged to have been a pillion passenger on a moped during a string of incidents in the space of an hour on Thursday.

Scotland Yard said robberies were reported in Hornsey, Crouch End and Muswell Hill, all in north London, between 1.15pm and 2.15pm.

Police identified two suspects on a moped in nearby Middle Lane at about 2.20pm, and detained the passenger. The driver of the moped fled.

The teenage suspect, from Tottenham, was taken into custody. A total of 13 mobile phones were found in his possession, Scotland Yard said.

Although the vast majority of moped-enabled offences in the UK have occurred in London, delivery companies have also raised concerns about parts of Birmingham. Last year a freedom of information request by Birmingham Live revealed that more than 80 moped-enabled offences had been committed in the city, including thefts, robberies and assaults. On Tuesday in the south of Birmingham a Ford Fiesta was stolen after the driver was threatened at knifepoint by a group of people on mopeds.

Jordan, a delivery driver in Birmingham, was robbed at knifepoint by two people riding a moped in December. "They came up to me as I was delivering a parcel, so I just gave it to them. It's much worse in London though. I had my phone stolen in January by a moped rider with the guy on the back swinging a hammer," he said.

In London, food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and UberEats have stepped up cooperation with the Met and the Home Office to help tackle moped-enabled crime. Deliveroo has hired 50 staff to help improve rider safety across the UK.

Last October the Met started using slimline motorcycles that can drive down narrow streets, remotely activated spikes and a fluorescent DNA spray with a unique code that stays on skin for up to eight weeks and on clothes indefinitely.

The government is consulting on new police pursuit rules that would make suspects responsible for their own driving and prevent officers from being prosecuted for their driving during a chase. The law currently allows emergency services to break the speed limit, but police officers can be prosecuted for driving considered dangerous or careless. This has led some officers to avoid pursuing suspects due to fears they could be prosecuted.

When asked to comment on the use of delivery driver disguises, a Met spokesperson said: "We cannot confirm or deny the existence of such an operation or tactic, nor can we comment on covert policing methods or tactics due to operational reasons.

"We are using a range of tactics, both overt and covert, and every borough is mobilised to tackle offenders using local knowledge to tailor the policing required for their area, which may include automatic number plate reader deployments, conducting proactive investigations and operations which focus on high-volume offenders, and DNA capture."

A campaign has been launched encouraging drivers to lock, chain and cover their scooters and motorbikes. More than 15,000 were stolen last year in London, accounting for about half of all vehicles taken in the capital.

Since the start of this year, the Met has recorded a 22.2% reduction in scooter theft.

The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said: "The Metropolitan police is working hard to tackle moped crime, which has been falling virtually month on month in the capital since its peak in July last year.

"We are determined to support the police in their fight against crime and that is why we are consulting to change the law to give officers greater confidence to chase suspects on the roads."

Moped-enabled crimes have risen sharply in every major crime category since 2015


Theft : 3266
Robbery : 632
Vehicle offences : 349
Violence against the person : 67
Other : 313


Theft : 5625
Robbery : 1536
Vehicle offences : 1068
Violence against the person : 184
Other : 629


Theft : 12155
Robbery : 2902
Vehicle offences : 1352
Violence against the person : 364
Other : 831

(17th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 7th June 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police in London dealt with an average of more than 430 crimes committed using mopeds per week over the past year, it has emerged in the wake of a series of high-profile muggings in the capital.

However, while the figures represent a sharp increase on the previous 12 months, police said moped crime has been falling steadily since last July and there were significantly fewer instances in the past four months than in the previous four.

In the 12 months to May 2018, there were 22,025 such crimes, or about 423 on average per week, while in the previous 12 months there were 14,699, or about 282 on average per week.

Yet the figures also show that scooter-enabled crime has more than halved in London since it peaked in July last year.

In May, police recorded 1,154 incidents in which a scooter, moped or motorcycle was used to commit a crime, a fall of more than 55% since July 2017 when 2,593 offences were recorded.

The news comes as a woman remains in a critical condition in hospital after she was attacked during a moped robbery in north London on Monday evening. The 24-year-old was punched by the pillion passenger after two men on a moped approached her, stealing her mobile phone and bag.

The same day, comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed by moped thieves armed with hammers as he waited to pick up his children from school. The 42-year-old was forced to hand over a watch during the robbery after the windows of his black Range Rover were smashed with hammers.

The Met has employed a range of new tactics to combat the surge in scooter-enabled crime over recent years, which has exploded from 827 incidents in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.

The police introduced slimline motorcycles that can drive down narrow streets, plus remote-control activated spikes and a fluorescent DNA spray which stays on skin for up to eight weeks in October last year.

A new campaign to encourage drivers to lock, chain and cover their scooters and motorbikes has also been launched. More than 15,000 were stolen last year in London, accounting for about half of all vehicles stolen in the capital.

Since the start of 2018, the Met has recorded a 22.2% reduction in scooter theft, but thousands of motorcycles were still stolen.

Speaking at the police crime committee at City Hall on Wednesday, Met assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said: "We are prioritising our resources where there is the greatest risk, harm and threat to communities. Moped-enabled crime is a huge priority and we've seen significant reductions."

The recent spike in moped crime has been felt mainly in London, but other areas are not immune. On Tuesday, thieves on mopeds forced a driver from his car at knifepoint on a residential road in Birmingham and stole the Ford Fiesta.

A West Midlands police spokeswoman said: "We were called to an armed robbery on Beechwood Road , Birmingham at around 3pm yesterday afternoon [5 June].

"It is believed a number of people on mopeds, armed with knives, threatened a driver before making off in a stolen Ford Fiesta. Police arrived at the scene within minutes, but the offenders had already fled the scene."

(17th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 5th June 2018 author Kat Hall)

Full article [Option 1]:

Just one in three police forces in the UK are able to tackle cybercrime such as DDoS, malware attacks and online fraud, a Home Affairs Committee heard today.

Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, told MPs that research conducted last year revealed a lack of skills across the country's 43 police forces.

"Work has been drawn up to build cyber units within forces," she said, adding that agreements have been put in place with the National Crime Agency on what that structure might look like. "We've got some plans, but it is still a work in progress."

The National Crime Agency recently warned that UK cybercrime activity rose in "scale and complexity" last year. It blamed encryption for making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect dangerous offenders.

Thornton also welcomed plans by Home Secretary Sajid Javid for MI5 to declassify and share information on UK citizens suspected of having terrorist sympathies.

In his counter-terror strategy yesterday, Javid said new detection techniques, data analytics and machine learning all have the potential to dramatically enhance counter-terrorism capabilities.

However, handling the volume and complexity of data remains a key challenge for forces, said Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner. She told MPs she was "deeply concerned about the exponential rise in digital data and the impact that is having".

Cops have said that 90 per cent of crime has "a digital element", meaning an increase in the amount of data stored and seizure of phones.

Dick added there were also "ethical and legal issues that the data age poses to law enforcement" - citing police use of controversial facial recognition technology.

"There is a whole series of things that are moving extremely fast and the ability of the law to keep up with that... in a meaningful way in the absence of ethical discussions and legal frameworks is a real challenge for us."

uaware comment

Have you been in a Met Police station recently (well those that still exist anyway). Many are still using Microsoft XL. So here we are critising the police officers because for their lack of cyber-savviness. With decreasing numbers, extra overtime to cover depleted numbers how will they fit in the training ?

(17th July 2018)

(CITY AM, dated 4th June 2018 author James Booth)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has appointed an ex-Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) lawyer as its new director.

Lisa Osofsky joins the SFO from Exiger where she was Europe, Middle East and Africa regional leader and head of investigations.

A dual American-British citizen, she was previously the deputy general counsel for the FBI and was also the money laundering reporting officer at Goldman Sachs.

She will join the SFO on 3 September for a five-year term, replacing interim director Mark Thompson who will return to his role as chief operating officer.

Osofsky said: "I am honoured to be the next director of the Serious Fraud Office. I look forward to building on the SFO's successful record in the fight against economic crime and leading an emboldened SFO to even greater heights."

Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, whose office oversaw Osofsky's appointment, said: "The SFO will continue to undertake crucial work to investigate and prosecute serious and complex economic crime, as an independent body that works closely and collaboratively with other UK and international authorities to best protect the public.

"I have no doubt Lisa is the exceptional candidate we were looking for to lead the SFO at such a critical time. It is clear that economic crime is committed across national boundaries and Lisa's experience of working at an international level will enhance the SFOs capabilities in this area."

Osofsky's appointment has been widely expected but it is not without controversy.

In the past she has publicly supported Prime Minister Theresa May's long-held desire to merger the SFO with the National Crime Agency (NCA), in the face of widespread opposition in the legal sector.

The plan was in the last Conservative manifesto but was quietly shelved after the party's disastrous performance in the polls.

She has since said: "My comments about the NCA and SFO were in relation to my assessment on an announced policy at that time. They did not represent my own view of the preferred future direction of the SFO. The SFO's independence is not up for debate and I look forward to leading the SFO as an independent organisation when I assume the role of director, continuing the investigation and prosecution of serious economic crime."

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Robert Amaee, former head of anti-corruption at the SFO, said: "Her plate will be pretty full from day one, getting to grips with the heavy case load under investigation and in court, and keeping the DPA train on track."

The SFO has had some recent success, Four Barclays traders were convicted over the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) rigging and in March Christian Bittar, a former star trader with Deutsche Bank, pleaded guilty over rigging the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor).

The SFO has also piloted the use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) which have seen companies such as Rolls Royce and Tesco pay millions to settle cases.

However, its case against Barclays connected with the bank's Qatari capital raising during the financial crisis was thrown out by the High Court last month.

Read more: SFO writes to justice committee over witness debacle in Libor trials

It has also faced criticism over the use of an expert witness in the Libor trial who it later emerged was texting friends mid-trial for help explaining the evidence.

Former chief David Green QC stepped down in April to be replace by Thompson on an interim basis. Green is now reportedly in talks to join magic circle law firm Slaughter and May.

(17th July 2018)

MAY 2018

(The Telegraph, dated 31st May 2018 author Patrick Sawer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The increased targeting of luxury watches by ruthless street robbers and smash and grab gangs has led to a dramatic rise in the number of stolen timepieces being registered with a crime prevention database.

The surge in thefts - which has seen more than £1m of watches stolen in central London in the first quarter of this year alone - has led to a rush of owners using the Watch Register in a bid to trace their items.

The register, an offshoot of the Arts Loss Register - set up in 1990 to locate stolen works of art - allows dealers to check whether a watch brought to them for sale has been stolen.

It also allows police, insurers, individual owners and jewelry shops to search for stolen watches being sold on elsewhere.

With a surge in scooter gangs snatching designer watches from passers-by or breaking into high end jewelry shops to steal fashionable brands, 10,000 stolen watches have been added to the Watch Register in the past 12 months.

That compares to the 60,000 registered with the Arts Loss Register in the whole period between 1990 and 2014, when the Watch Register was set up as a separate database.

There has also been a significant increase the number of stolen watches recovered as a result of the register being searched, with brands such as Omega, Rolex, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Cartier and Patek Philippe found and returned to their rightful owners..

In 2016 at least 45 stolen watches were recovered, though the number is likely to be higher with other stolen watches found by police as a result of the search.

By last year that figure had nearly doubled to at least 8. That number seems likely to be exceeded this year, with 44 already recovered and in the first five months of 2018.

Katya Hills, the director of the Watch Register, said: "The increase in the number of watches on our database is certainly in part due to the increase in the number of thefts from smash and grab raids on jewellers and street snatches.

"The fact that luxury watches are being targeted will have led more people to use our services in an attempt to combat that increase in thefts."

In a striking success for the Watch Register Nadeem Malik, a London-based dealer, was last year jailed for 18 months on two counts of "concealing and converting criminal property" after he tried to sell a Rolex worth £13,500 to a trader in the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter.

When the trader checked the watch against the Watch Register it showed the Rolex had been stolen from shop in Mayfair in 2016 as part of a smash and grab robbery by a moped gang.

Scotland Yard says the rise in watch thefts has been partly fuelled by the growing popularity if luxury watches with a high resale value.

Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad, told the Financial Times: "There has been a huge explosion in watch crime in recent years, much of it due to the fact that there are now many, many more dealers specialising in pre-owned models, but also because of increased brand awareness - for a long time, Rolex was the only name many people recognised."

In a separate move a 20-year-old student whose family run a luxury watch business in San Remo, Italy, last year set up a service to reunite owners with their missing watches.

Fabio Giannone's currently holds the details of around 30,000 watches lost and stolen worldwide.

(16th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 30th May 2018 author Gareth Corfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

New drone laws will be brought forward by the British government today in Parliament - but we won't see the long-awaited Drones Bill.

The new laws will make it illegal to fly a drone weighing more than 250g without first registering with the Civil Aviation Authority and passing online safety tests.

In addition, the existing 400ft legal maximum height for drone flights will be applied to drones weighing between 250g and 7kg (at the moment that only applies to craft weighing more than 7kg) and a 1km exclusion zone will be applied around all airport boundaries, defined as EASA certified aerodromes, licensed aerodromes and government aerodromes.

This suggests that unlicensed but active aerodromes such as Popham airfield in Hampshire, as well as farmyard "field strips" used for microlights and other light aircraft, will not be subject to the 1km exclusion zone rule.

Failing to register with the CAA or pass the online tests before flying will become a criminal offence carrying a £1,000 fine.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman confirmed that these new laws will not repeal the existing 1,000ft height limit for consumer drones fitted with first-person-view tech, telling The Register: "Certainly for the time being, FPV flying will not change," and emphasising that FPV flyers must follow the existing guidelines in the exemption.

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said in a statement: "Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies. These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly."

She was joined by Gatwick Airport's chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, who chipped in to say: "These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public."

The laws will be introduced through amendments to the Air Navigation Order, which are said to be laid before Parliament this afternoon. The height and airport proximity rules will come into force (if passed) from 30 July this year, while the registration and online testing moves will become binding from 30 November 2019.

It's a 'mixed bag', says industry

The drone industry has mostly welcomed the proposed new laws while awaiting precise detail in order to assess its likely impact. At the commercial end of the scale, Chinese drone-maker DJI's European public policy chief, Christian Struwe, said the amendments "strike a sensible balance between protecting public safety and bringing the benefits of drone technology to British businesses and the public at large". He also praised DfT's "commitment to accessible online testing as a way of helping drone users to comply with the law".

In contrast, drone security researcher Ian Povey of Clear View Security, while agreeing that the 400ft height limit and airport exclusion zone are good things, branded the rest of it "a rushed, half-baked, temporary measure to plug some gaps", adding that in his view "it does nothing to improve the educational environment or public awareness".

Fellow licensed drone operator Ian Hudson told The Register that the changes were a "mixed bag", praising the 400ft legal limit as being helpful to courts in prosecutions of "deliberately high flying, of which there are many examples on YouTube and Facebook", but branded the drone register as "a token gesture that will be of little practical benefit".

Hudson also pointed out that current enforcement is lax, raising the question of whether new laws will be any better enforced than what we currently have.

"The question is," said Hudson, "given existing legislation isn't routinely enforced, why should we expect these amendments will be? If the plan is to say 'register or else the police will prosecute you' that will have little to no effect as everyone can see enforcement isn't happening so it's a blunt threat. I'd also raise the rhetorical question: 'Why isn't anyone pressuring YouTube and Facebook to take down irresponsible drone videos to begin with?' That will remove the motivation for the internet narcissists to show off."

A rather thoughtful Phil Tarry, another licensed drone operator who spoke to The Register in a private capacity (and not with his Royal Aeronautical Society drone committee hat on), opined: "It's not going to be a comprehensive solution to the problem of people flying drones illegally ... hopefully, as happens in society in general, society will tend to self-regulate, so once people become more aware of what is required, other people will start to approach people flying and say hey, have you done your tests, or have you registered your drone, and then society starts looking after itself because it's been given the tools to do so."


When we say licensed drone operator, we, of course, mean someone who has the appropriate permission slip from the Civil Aviation Authority. There is, pedantically speaking, no such thing as a UK drone licence. Yet, if it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it's a duck. And if it looks like a licence, and is required like a licence, then, well...

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 28th May 2018 author Hannah Summers)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 3,500 reports of forced marriage were made to police over a three-year period, a Guardian investigation has found, as charities warned that there were thousands more victims living in conditions of modern slavery in homes across the UK.

Data shared exclusively with the Guardian revealed 3,546 reports between 2014 and 2016. But experts warn that the figures, collected by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation under the Freedom of Information Act, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the same three-year period, one national helpline run by another NGO received 22,030 calls from individuals or agencies concerned about a forced marriage. In 2017, the NGO Karma Nirvana received a further 8,870 calls, including more than 200 from or about children under 15, and gave advice regarding eight new clients under 10.

The new figures reveal the shocking extent of forced marriage in Britain - a crime that experts say should be investigated and prosecuted as a form of modern slavery.

They point to the fact that a guilty verdict last week against a mother who trafficked her daughter to be married in Pakistan was the first of its kind in the country despite the large number of reported offences.

Legal experts and campaigners say modern slavery legislation could lead to an increase in convictions for a crime that is notoriously hard to prosecute because victims are reluctant to testify against family members.

Last week's landmark conviction resulted in a mother from Birmingham being jailed for four-and-a-half years for duping her 17-year-old daughter into travelling abroad and forcing her into marriage.

The woman had threatened to rip up her daughter's passport if she did not marry the 34-year-old Pakistani national who had got her pregnant when she was just 13.

Karma Nirvana said the case was typical of reports it heard every week from those suffering domestic and sexual servitude within forced marriages.

Its director, Jasvinder Sanghera, said: "We know there are thousands of women and girls in Britain - but men, too - living behind closed doors in forced marriages, yet the crime is woefully under-reported.

"Treated as slaves and subjected to threats and violence, victims endure the added burden of their own families pressurising them to stay in these marriages to avoid bringing them shame."

The majority of callers to its helpline are British citizens. Others have been brought to the UK by a British spouse before being exploited. Threatened with deportation, often unable to speak English and without access to public funds, they find themselves in a cycle of abuse.

A teenage girl confined to the house and raped on a daily basis; a Moroccan woman made to marry her gay British groom to conceal his sexuality and then used as a cleaner; and a West Yorkshire man coerced into handing over all his wages to his in-laws are among forced marriage victims who have contacted UK charities in recent months.

A leading barrister and adviser to the United Nations has warned the government is failing to recognise these people, and thousands like them, as requiring the same protection as those suffering other forms of exploitation.

Parosha Chandran said: "The modern-day meaning of slavery doesn't require in law that you own somebody. Instead it means you treat someone as if they were your property. It's crucial authorities acknowledge this in forced marriage cases.

"There has been no proper consideration in legal terms that a forced marriage involves elements of slavery - where a person is treated as if they are the property of the family they were married into."

While forced marriage is among the acts prohibited under human trafficking EU law adopted by Britain in 2013, the legal provision has not translated to policy.

Referring to last week's conviction, Chandran said: "This was also a human trafficking case with the girl taken abroad for the purposes of exploitation.

"Had the mother also been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, not only would she have faced a more severe penalty, but the judge should have considered ordering her to pay compensation to her daughter for effectively allowing her to be raped at 13 and forcing her to marry the perpetrator at 18."

Forced marriage is not listed as an indicator of modern slavery under the national referral mechanism drawn up by the Home Office. Nor is there prosecuting guidance linking forced marriage and slavery crimes.

There have been just two convictions for forced marriage since it was criminalised in 2014. Last week's conviction was the first to be secured after a victim gave evidence against a relative.

Chandran said: "Prosecuting guidance should include forced marriage among the exploitative purposes for which someone could be trafficked. Families who force their children to marry should know that is also a modern slavery offence carrying a sentence of up to life in prison."

Mark Burns-Williamson, the national lead for human trafficking for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, agreed that a better understanding of the links between forced marriage and slavery was needed.

He said: "We are still working through the nuances of the Modern Slavery Act and how to apply the legislation to cases that could include forced marriage in order to secure the best outcomes at court."

Victims of such crimes seldom recognise the abuse they suffer as unlawful because they have been groomed from a young age. Sanghera said: "Nowhere in their psyche do they own the abuse as a criminal offence. They are not thought of as slaves but if you have not consented to that marriage - you will be raped in that relationship - that is sexual slavery.

"And with victims moved between countries for the purpose of exploitation, the link with trafficking is clear."

She said that although leaders including David Cameron and Theresa May had referred to forced marriage as a form of slavery, repeated calls to translate this into policy have been unsuccessful.

Sanghera added: "The crime has not been given the same spotlight as slavery but there remains a clear opportunity to raise the debate of forced marriage as part of the human trafficking agenda in the form of a national campaign."

The national police lead for "honour" crime, commander Ivan Balhatchet, said: "It is unfortunate to hear repeated stories of newly-married women, often in forced marriages, complaining of a form of modern slavery. Undoubtedly, there needs to be much more awareness to detect and prevent these abuses."

The Home Office said the government's forced marriage unit provided support in almost 1,200 potential cases last year. Since its introduction in 2008, there have been more than 1,500 forced marriage protection orders issued. "This week's forced marriage conviction shows that these appalling crimes do not have to be a hidden crime and, with the courage of victims, perpetrators will be prosecuted," it added.

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 27th May 2018 authors Owen Bowcott and Hannah Devlin)

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Artificial intelligence software capable of interpreting images, matching faces and analysing patterns of communication is being piloted by UK police forces to speed up examination of mobile phones seized in crime investigations.

Cellebrite, the Israeli-founded and now Japanese-owned company behind some of the software, claims a wider rollout would solve problems over failures to disclose crucial digital evidence that have led to the collapse of a series of rape trials and other prosecutions in the past year. However, the move by police has prompted concerns over privacy and the potential for software to introduce bias into processing of criminal evidence.

As police and lawyers struggle to cope with the exponential rise in data volumes generated by phones and laptops in even routine crime cases, the hunt is on for a technological solution to handle increasingly unmanageable workloads. Some forces are understood to have backlogs of up to six months for examining downloaded mobile phone contents.

The use of AI and machine learning is slowly spreading into police work, though it remains controversial in areas such as predictive policing. Durham police have been experimenting with AI to assess the suitability of suspects for release on bail.

Earlier this year the chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, Sara Thornton, said her organisation was working with the Crown Prosecution Service on disclosure problems and could explore machine learning and AI solutions.

Cellebrite says it has been working with a dozen UK forces, including the Metropolitan police, trialling sophisticated software to help process digital evidence taken from mobile phones and computers. The company cannot name the other forces, it says, due to commercial nondisclosure agreements. The Met confirmed it has been exploring AI developments with Cellebrite.

Until now extracted data has been routinely provided in the form of PDF documents running sometimes into tens of thousands of pages. By contrast, the latest system sold by Cellebrite, called Analytics Enterprise, allows, it is claimed, officers to carry out sophisticated filtering, visualise social networks and feed in data from multiple phones to highlight, via geo-tagging data, when people were in the same place at the same time.

Built-in AI algorithms enable images and videos to be tagged according to whether the content includes weapons, faces, cars, nudity, drugs, flags and other categories. The system can also extract text from screenshots.

"Police officers are under mountains of cases they have to investigate and they don't have the time or knowledge to go through everything," said David Golding of Cellebrite. "If you present it in a more intelligible way, it will be much easier."

While AI software may present material in a more intelligible and accessible form, it is unlikely, lawyers say, to provide a simple fix to disclosure problems. Police and prosecutors stress that they cannot hand over all downloaded data in an investigation to defendants' lawyers but must screen evidence for relevance, confidentiality and a host of other legal issues.

Nick Baker, deputy chief constable of Staffordshire police and lead officer on digital forensics for the National Police Chiefs' Council, confirmed that a number of forces, including his own, are working on AI systems.

"AI is the next bit we are exploring," he said. "It's early days in terms of its application. This is an area the police need to look at sensitively and proportionately."

Simply hiring more officers for a "manual solution" to the vast quantities of digital data being produced is "not feasible", Baker said. "AI is not a panacea but it's part of the solution," he said.

"It will have to be used in a set of standards that gives reassurance to the courts so that the reality of what the machine is doing is understood. There are many problems with disclosure but speed of processing data is one of them and AI will certainly help with that."

Baker said he appreciated there were concerns about bias, reliability and privacy but that there would ultimately always be human control of AI investigative systems - which he expects to become "part of mainstream policing".

He did not know whether AI has yet been used on active cases: "The trial phase is where it's sat next to more traditional processes to ascertain its reliability. This is not just some magic solution where police sit back and let a robot sort it out."

Millie Graham Wood, a solicitor at the campaign group Privacy International, said: "The use of AI and machine learning is hugely controversial. It's so opaque. What implication does this have for people whose names come up in these communications? It will be like the gangs matrix used by police. There are huge issues with the databases the police hold already."

Corey Stoughton, advocacy director at Liberty, said: "Once again police forces appear to be secretly adopting radical new technology that threatens our privacy and digital security, without any democratic oversight or debate.

"Powerful tools like this could mean that rape victims are doubly victimised by unnecessary incursions into their privacy, or that bias is built into decisions about what is relevant and what is not. The home secretary must stop allowing police forces to 'trial' potentially harmful technologies without first allowing parliament and the public a say."

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: "Over the past two years we have been proactively exploring more advanced artificial intelligence systems that will enhance our investigative quality and help us to better protect the most vulnerable in society while bringing offenders to justice more swiftly.

"At one stage, this did include liaising with Cellebrite for approximately six months last year - however, this was not contracted but as part of continuous research into business improvement and development. We are currently assessing the scope for another trial within this field."

The Home Office declined to comment.

How Analytics Enterprise works

Cellebrite's system features face-recognition software, meaning the police could feed in the photograph of a person of interest to see whether they crop up in mobile phone pictures. An entire database of images could also be fed through the software, according to Cellebrite.

Machine learning algorithms have trained the software to recognise images of child exploitation, it is understood. Such a facility, the firm says, reduces the need for police officers to view so many pictures of child abuse, since visual comparisons are automated. "[Police] have to see these images which are unbelievably horrible," said Golding.

"Using a system like this, they don't have to do that. If you have pictures of a room where a victim was and there was a poster, we can look for that poster on all the other pictures. It can save months of trying to go through this."

The system, the firm claims, is a powerful tool for exposing links and patterns in gang-related crimes. It is already being used by some US police forces.

Cellebrite already supplies self-service kiosks to UK police forces that officers use to download the contents of mobile phones, laptops and other devices so they can pursue investigations.

The company also provides training and support to police high-tech crimes units and runs a service unlocking encrypted mobile phones for law enforcement agencies. Its warehouse in Israel reportedly contains 23,000 types of mobiles. Until January, when it opened a new unit in London, mobiles whose security was difficult to crack were sent to Cellebrite's offices in Munich.

"The main issue is that there's so much data and the police are under enormous pressure," Golding said. "Manpower has been cut and, because of 28-day bail [limits], they need to solve cases much quicker."

These types of technological capabilities have prompted criticism of retention of custody images by police - regardless of whether individuals are subsequently charged or convicted.

A report published last week by the Commons science and technology committee found that in 2016 the Police National Database contained 19m facial images, 16.6m of which were searchable using facial recognition software.

"What's of real concern is that these things are happening on the ground without any real debate about how much this infringes on our individual liberties," said Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the committee.

There are also concerns about the accuracy of such technology, with a facial recognition trial at the 2017 Notting Hill carnival incorrectly matching people 98% of the time.

There is also evidence of racial bias in some existing image recognition systems, which have been shown to correctly match white faces more frequently than black faces.

(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 27th May 2018 author Joel Adams)

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A judge has proposed a nationwide programme to file down the points of kitchen knives as a solution to the country's soaring knife crime epidemic.

Last week in his valedictory address, retiring Luton Crown Court Judge Nic Madge spoke of his concern that carrying a knife had become routine in some circles and called on the Government to ban the sale of large pointed kitchen knives.

Latest figures show stabbing deaths among teenagers and young adults have reached the highest level for eight years, and knife crime overall rose 22 per cent in 2017.

In the past two months, he said, there have been 77 knife-related incidents in Bedfordshire, including three killings.

Judge Madge told the assembled judges, barristers and court staff: "These offences often seem motiveless - one boy was stabbed because he had an argument a couple of years before at his junior school."

He said laws designed to reduce the availability of weapons to young would-be offenders had had "almost no effect", since the vast majority had merely taken knives from a cutlery drawer.

He said: "A few of the blades carried by youths are so called 'Rambo knives' or samurai swords. They though are a very small minority.

"The reason why these measures have little effect is that the vast majority of knives carried by youths are ordinary kitchen knives. Every kitchen contains lethal knives which are potential murder weapons.

"Accordingly, it is very easy for any youth who wants to obtain a knife to take it from the kitchen drawer in his home or in the home of one of his friends."

As a result - said the judge - the most common knife a youth will take out is eight to ten inches, long and pointed, from his mother's cutlery tray.

He asked: "But why we do need eight-inch or ten-inch kitchen knives with points?

"Butchers and fishmongers do, but how often, if at all, does a domestic chef use the point of an eight-inch or ten-inch knife? Rarely, if at all."

"Acknowledging that any blade could cause injury, the judge pointed out "slash wounds are rarely fatal."

So, he said: "I would urge all those with any role in relation to knives - manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities, the government - to consider preventing the sale of long pointed knives, except in rare, defined, circumstances, and replacing such knives with rounded ends.

"It might even be that the police could organise a programme whereby the owners of kitchen knives, which have been properly and lawfully bought for culinary purposes, could be taken somewhere to be modified, with the points being ground down into rounded ends," he said.

Office for National statistics figures published in February revealed 215 fatal stabbings had been recorded by police in the 12 months to March 2017.

This was on par with the previous year's 212 stabbing deaths but a marked increase on the 186 in the year to March 2015.

The latest figures show ten 16 or 17 year olds lost their lives in the year to March 2017, as well as 51 people aged between 18 and 24. The combined total is the highest since 2008/9.

In the first 100 days of 2018, 53 people were killed in the capital alone, many of them victims of knife crime.

New tougher sentencing guidelines for knife crime were introduced in March, with gang membership or carrying a concealed weapon both identified as aggravating factors which can increase a jail term handed down for a knife offence.

The Sentencing council said the reforms were intended to "reflect Parliament's concern about the social problem of offenders carrying knives."

Knife possession has soared in the last four years

Police-record crimes for possession of article with blade or point in England and Wales
(Annual figure for April to March)

2009 : 13,985
2010 : 10,885
2011 : 10,474
2012 : 9,762
2013 : 8,425
2014 : 9,050
2015 : 9,876
2016 : 11,493
2017 : 14,171

(16th July 2018)

(Independent, dated 26th May 2018 author Tom Embury-Dennis)

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Sainsbury's customers are complaining about "creepy" CCTV screens being placed above self-service checkouts at hundreds of the company's stores.

The supermarket giant insisted the screens, which show people a live feed of themselves as they pay for their produce, were in place to keep "customers and colleagues safe".

But shoppers said they were "intrusive" and "Orwellian", with some claiming key pads were clearly exposed if they were to enter their pin numbers.

Civil liberties campaigners called on Sainsbury's to ditch the surveillance screens, which were branded a "gross intrusion" of privacy and a "blatant attempt to intimidate customers".

One Sainsbury's regular, who did not want to be named, told The Independent she had been a customer for decades but was "shocked" to find herself being filmed while purchasing her groceries at a branch in central London.

"Not only does it feel like there is mistrust and that you are potentially guilty of something, but there's also the fear they will be storing your data."

She added: "I shan't be using their self-service machines ever again. I felt violated."

Another shopper, Alex Durham, said he encountered the screens at an outlet in Fitzrovia, London. The 27-year-old filmmaker said: "It struck me as bizarre really. I don't want to seem all tinfoil hat, but it just seemed a little bit Orwellian.

"It's a bit bizarre just to be looking at your face while you're doing something, because it really feels like someone is over your shoulder while you're just getting a packet of crisps and a coke.

"It just felt a little bit strange."

After asking Sainsbury's about the cameras, he was told they were to help "facilitate a better customer journey".

Other customers complained on social media to the supermarket. One said a screen "clearly" showed the pin machine, while another posted an image showing a Sainsbury's monitor displaying a keypad.

"What's up with recording customers entering their PINs at the self-checkout?" Gabriel Currie asked.
One Twitter user said the CCTV meant "you could see down my top and this image was displayed on the screen".

Complaining to Sainsbury's, Chloe Heatlie said: "It's pretty creepy to be frank with you. Certainly didn't benefit my customer experience."

Multiple social media users vowed to boycott the machines, and even Sainsbury's itself, until the screens were removed.

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said the cameras were part of a "security measure" to increase safety at its stores.

"The safety of our customers and colleagues is really important to us so we have invested in a range of measures to keep everyone safe, and this is essentially an example of that," she said.

When asked how the move would benefit customer safety, Sainsbury's said it could "not go into specifics".

But it is understood one reason for the installation of the CCTV cameras is to crack down on the number of shoppers stealing low-value items. The screens act as a deterrent to customers by making them more aware they are being watched.

Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties watchdog Big Brother Watch, said: "Sainsbury's new self-surveillance screens are a gross intrusion of shoppers' privacy, broadcasting the contents of our wallets and baskets.

"These new cameras are a blatant attempt to intimidate customers and make us feel more closely watched than ever.

"It is absolutely disgusting for Sainsbury's to treat its loyal customers like criminals, especially as it is now nigh on impossible to get a human checkout. Big Brother Watch calls on Sainsbury's to remove these surveillance screens urgently."

Sainsbury's said it had installed the cameras at more than 300 stores, but refused to say if they would be rolled out to its remaining 1,100 outlets or whether the monitors were proving an effective deterrent.

The supermarket said footage from its self-facing cameras, some of which were installed last year, were kept for 31 days before being overridden.

According to a recent study, £3.2bn worth of goods is stolen from UK self-service tills every year.

(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 25th May 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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A concert pianist who raped a student was able to flee the UK after his arrest because EU freedom of movement rules allowed him to board the Eurostar without a passport, a court has heard.

Jacek Serafin, 30, who studied piano performance at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, had his passport confiscated by police after he was arrested for the sexual assault of his 22-year old victim, whose drink had been spiked.

But on April 26, just days before he was due to face a retrial for rape, Serafin used an ID card to board a Eurostar train bound for France and vanished.

It is thought he is now in his native Poland but police have not been able to make contact with him despite efforts to track him down.

Serafin, a former graduate of Music Academy in Kracow, was yesterday (FRI), jailed for 14 years in his absence, having been found guilty of rape and assault by penetration.Judge Anthony Cross QC, told the jury at Manchester Crown Court: "He was due to attend on the first day of the trial but didn't turn up. Following his failure to attend police made enquiries and discovered a person holding the defendant's identity left England for France by Eurostar.''

EEA citizens can travel on the Eurostar with either a passport or a national identity card.

The judge called for an inquiry at the Royal Northern College of Music, condemning staff for failing to intervene as his unconscious victim was subjected to a horrific ordeal.

He criticised the supervision of student functions after the court heard that Serafin sexually assaulted the woman in a practise room having earlier spiked her drink with a date rape drug at a fresher's party.

Serafin from Hulme, Manchester, was spotted by a guard forcing himself on his victim as she lay helpless on the floor but Serafin urged him not to call the police.

Afterwards, he was seen dressing the woman then carrying her "like a dead weight" to a taxi before he took her back at his flat.

Mr Cross said: "In my judgement there ought to be an inquiry by the Royal Northern College of Music into the staff supervising events such as these.

"The defendant was observed by witnesses acting strangely. One described him observing what was going on, staring as though he was recounting events.

"He isolated his target and waited for her outside a toilet and when they were in a practice room she was unconscious and she was brutally raped. I am satisfied a drug was used by the defendant to incapacitate the victim.

"By 2am he was disturbed by a security guard and it was quite plain that he feared discovery and asked the guard not to report the matter to the police. Sadly he did not.

"That remark should have triggered alarm and should have caused him to take action. For what he saw was a young woman unconscious. Not asleep - unconscious."

The judge added: "Once awake he tried to avoid detection by weeping. But she had the courage to complain to the police. These offences are grave matters irrespective of his previous good character."

At a glance - EU freedom of movement rules

The European Union's "citizens" rights" are intended to allow EU nationals to settle and work seamlessly in other countries of the bloc.

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council defines these rights as follows:

- For stays under three months, EU citizens need only a valid form of ID, such as a passport

- For stays over three months, they must demonstrate that they have sufficient resources (employment, savings or pension) to not be a burden on the host nation's social services. Authorities may require some sort of residence permit in order to access government services

- For the right to permanent residence, EU nationals need to have resided in their host country for five uninterrupted years. They lose the right of residence if absent from the country for two years

- Regardless of permanent residency rights, EU citizens may be expelled from the country for reasons of public policy, public safety or public health. These must not be on economic grounds, or otherwise discriminatory

- These rights can also be withdrawn in the event for abuse - for example, marriages of convenience

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th May 2018 author Press Association)

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A hacker who carried out attacks on a string of companies before selling customers' data on the dark web has been jailed for more than 10 years.

Grant West, 26, carried out cyber-attacks on high street brands including Sainsbury's, Asda, Uber, Argos and bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral.

He obtained the email addresses of more than 160,000 people and sent them phishing scams masquerading as Just Eat to get their personal data.

West, who used the online identity "Courvoisier", sold the information on the dark web, stashing his ill-gotten bitcoin profits in online caches.

He was sentenced to 10 years and eight months at Southwark crown court on Friday. The judge, Michael Gledhill, described West as "a one-man cybercrime wave" and said he had "secreted away" some of the £1.6m worth of cryptocurrency that is unaccounted for.

He said: "Regrettably, as this case has demonstrated, security of information held electronically is at best poor. When such inadequate security is confronted with a criminal of your skills and ambition it is totally unfit for purpose and worthless.

"This case should be a wake-up call to customers, companies and the computer industry to the very real threat of cybercrime."

He added: "You have a deep and impressive knowledge of computers and if you had decided to use your abilities lawfully I have no doubt at all that you would have had a very successful career.

"Unfortunately you saw the potential of using your skills to make a great deal of money not lawfully but by crime, blatant crime and your crimes were highly sophisticated."

West's two-and-a-half-year scam came to an end in September last year when he was arrested in a first-class train carriage in the act of accessing the dark web. He had been returning from a trip to visit his girlfriend and co-defendant, Rachael Brooks, in north Wales.

West, who was living in a caravan park in Sheerness in Kent, used the stolen email addresses to send out messages posing as Just Eat with offers of cash rewards in exchange for customers filling out a survey.

Respondents were asked to confirm personal emails and supply extra details in order to obtain the reward, which were then harvested by West. The information, which included everything needed to make purchases online, was then advertised and sold to customers from his dark-web shop.

He built up huge caches of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency in online "wallets". Police also found £25,000 in cash and a stash of cannabis when they raided his home last year.

The prosecution estimated that the total loss to customers and businesses was more than £1m.

A total of £84,000 was fraudulently taken from compromised accounts held at Barclays, costing the bank more than £300,000 to remedy. British Airways also suffered a £400,000 loss after Avios accounts were targeted.

Just Eat said no financial information was obtained in West's fraud, but estimated the cost of combating the scam at more than £200,000.

Brooks, of Denbigh, north Wales, was previously given a community order after she admitted using the details of two of West's victims to buy herself a bikini online.

West previously admitted a string of charges including conspiracy to defraud, unauthorised modification of computer material, possession and supply of cannabis, possessing criminal property and money laundering.

He has a number of previous convictions, including drug offences and other frauds.

Anna Mackenzie, defending, said West has been a cannabis user since the age of 14 and suffered from low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety and depression.

"He has expressed remorse and shame and acknowledges his irresponsibility, selfishness, greed and hunger to succeed," she said. "He wishes to offer apologies to the victims and businesses affected by his actions."

(16th July 2018)

(The Register, dated 25th May 2018 author Kat Hall)

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The UK government's digitization of its Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - a system for checking criminal records - is "a masterclass in incompetence," according to a damning report by the government's spending watchdog.

In a dossier published today, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the modernisation programme was yet another example of a Home Office project "marred by poor planning, delays, spiralling costs, and a failure to understand what service users want".

The programme is over four years late and costs are expected to be £229m more than the £656m initially planned. It has seen just a fraction of the demand expected by the Home Office in 2012.

The DBS enables employers to check people's background against police databases such as criminal records and government lists of people considered unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults.

After the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority were merged in 2012 to create the DBS, the body embarked on a "modernisation programme".

That was supposed to improve the service offered to customers by moving away from a paper-based system to one that is digital, aka on the internet.

The government had contracted Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) to design, build and run a new IT system for the provision of DBS and transition existing services, including the update service, from Capita.

But instead of providing savings, DBS is charging customers £13 a year for the update service instead of the £10 expected in 2012. DBS is holding onto cash generated from the rest of the services it provides, building up a surplus of £114m at the expense of its customers.

"The Home Office and TCS now accept that, when the contract was signed in 2012, no one had a good enough understanding of what it would take to make the programme successful," said the report.

The contract specified 450 requirements for business processes and 1,350 requirements for the IT system.


DBS is now negotiating with TCS to deliver the programme, including agreeing a date for when modernisation will be complete. There is a strong risk that they may run out of time before the contract ends in March 2019, said the report.

A TCS spokesman told The Register: "TCS and DBS are discussing the recommendations made by the PAC and will incorporate these, as appropriate and feasible, in the remainder of the modernisation plan."

PAC head Meg Hillier said: "Government has a crucial role to play in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults but the handling of this project has been a masterclass in incompetence.

"These are testing times for the Home Office. We continue to have serious concerns about its largest project, the Emergency Service Network, which is critical to the ability of our emergency services to do their jobs and keep citizens safe.

"The department also faces huge challenges arising from the UK's departure from the EU - not least, potential threats to security at the border from day one of Brexit.

"On both DBS and ESN the Home Office appears either to have ignored or not fully understood the needs of the end user.

"It does not fill us with confidence that all is rosy on the department's other major projects. Although we received verbal assurances that they are running smoothly, these are not enough."

The PAC has previously warned the Home Office that the UK border could be left exposed after Brexit as departments have failed to plan for new IT systems.

Separately, DBS has taken a gamble by opting to use the Government Digital Service's floundering online ID system authentication portal Verify.

(16th July 2018)

(City AM, dated 24th May 2018 author James Booth)

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The survey by Thomson Reuters found that 47 per cent of companies had been victims of financial crime with cybercrime and fraud the most common offences.

The survey of 2,300 senior executives showed that financial crime had cost their companies an estimated aggregated lost turnover of $1.45 trillion (£1.08 trillion), or around 3.5 per cent of their global turnover.

Forty one per cent of those surveyed said they knew of incidents of financial crime that had not been reported, either because they involved someone internally, because of concerns about reputational damage and financial loss or worries about the impact on investor confidence.

Jeremy Summers, a white collar crime partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, said there was still a problem with companies not reporting crimes to regulators and the police.

"Financial crime is far more on the agenda of boardrooms than it was historically, but authorities like the SFO [Serious Fraud Office] still have to grapple with creating a landscape where companies will be as keen to self-report issues as the SFO would hope they might be."

"The root of the problem is the SFO and other enforcement agencies take a very long time to process matters and come to a resolution. If you look at the current SFO case load for example there are a number of very significant cases that have been going for a long time and if you start from the premise of businesses liking certainty I am not sure the system as it is provides that quickly enough," he said.

The survey showed some of the other difficulties companies face fighting financial crime.

The organisations questioned dealt with an average of five million customers or clients last year and nine per cent dealt with over 10,000 third party suppliers or partners over the last year.

However, only 36 per cent of relationships are regularly screened for criminal connections.

According to the survey 41 per cent of counterparties were not screened at all.

Financial crime is high on the agenda for the companies surveyed who spent an aggregate of $1.28 trillion fighting it last year.

However, executives ranked growing turnover and profit, developing new markets and increasing market share above regulatory issues as the greatest pressures they faced.

(16th July 2018)

(Reuters, dated 22nd May 2018 author Huw Jones)

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Banks and other financial firms have rejected over a million new customers and cut off 370,000 existing ones due to financial crime concerns, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday.

The watchdog published findings from its first annual financial crime review based on surveys of 2,100 regulated firms until December 2017, showing the scale of cybercrime in Britain's biggest economic sector.

Banks should arm themselves with better technology to tackle crime such as phishing and identity theft, now the most widespread fraud risks being faced, said Megan Butler, the FCA's executive director of supervision for investment, wholesale and specialist firms.

Phishing refers to fraudulent emails from someone posing as a bank or other firm asking for individuals to reveal their passwords or credit card details.

Cybercrime in general now accounts for nearly half of all recorded crime in Britain, Butler noted.

Firms sent 2,117 terrorism-related reports to the National Crime Agency, with 13,000 restraint orders to freeze customer accounts.

Over 1.1 million prospective customers were refused services due to financial crime concerns, with a further 370,000 existing customer relationships "exited" for the same reasons, Butler said.

Banks have faced criticisms for cutting off individuals and companies from banking services without giving clear reasons, raising concerns among lawmakers.

British banks alone spend some five billion pounds a year combating financial crime, a billion more than the country spends on prisons, Butler told a conference on steps to counter money-laundering.

Butler said that innovating with technology is increasingly essential for combating financial crime, but warned that "cheap technologies that aren't tested and don't work properly are not acceptable alternatives to old, expensive tech systems that do".

Many banks are still employing thousands of investigators to manually review high-risk transactions and accounts, but Butler acknowledged there is reluctance around innovating, especially when it is judged to add regulatory risk.

She urged firms to tell the watchdog about methods, innovations or technologies that help them combat crime - and not be afraid to be the first to use them.

"Excessive risk aversion is not going to help us win an arms race that is so heavily rooted in automation," Butler said.

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 22nd May 2018 author Press Association)

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Rules on police vehicle pursuits are to be overhauled after warnings that they could be undermining efforts to tackle criminals on mopeds and motorcycles.

Rank-and-file leaders have said officers could find themselves in the dock over high-speed chases as they can be prosecuted for dangerous or careless driving in the same way as any other motorist.

Under government proposals published on Tuesday affecting forces in England and Wales, laws surrounding the offences will be amended to recognise police drivers' high level of training.

The changes also aim to smash the perceived belief that officers cannot pursue riders who are not wearing helmets.

The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said: "People must be able to go about their daily lives without fear of harassment or attack and criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way or on a certain type of vehicle.

"Our proposed changes will make sure that skilled police drivers who follow their rigorous training are protected, while ensuring the minority of officers who do cross the line are robustly held to account."

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) cautiously welcomed the announcement, pointing out that it had been calling for reforms for years.

Ministers launched a review of the legislation, guidance and practice surrounding police pursuits in September. The issue came under the spotlight after a rise in the number of reported offences perpetrated by criminals on mopeds and scooters, particularly in urban centres.

All emergency services, including the police, are exempt from speed limit, traffic light and sign violations when undertaking a 999 response. However, under the current law, the same legal test for careless and dangerous driving offences is applied to police officers as to the general public.

Police have raised concerns that officers have to rely on prosecutors' discretion to avoid criminal charges, and face lengthy watchdog investigations and suspension from duty only to be cleared eventually.

Under the government's proposals, police drivers would be subject to a separate test when determining whether they should face action after incidents. It would require an officer to drive "to the standard of a careful and competent police driver of a similar level of training and skill", using appropriately authorised driving tactics that are necessary and proportionate to the circumstances.

A consultation document says: "This standard would allow investigators, prosecutors and the courts to take account of the driver's level of training and skill, not only to make allowance for driving beyond that expected from the public but also if manoeuvres or tactics are employed that the driver is not trained or authorised to carry out."

Instances in which the test could be applied include "hard stops", where trained drivers are required to make contact with a suspect vehicle. Officials are also seeking feedback on whether the changes should cover police response driving, such as when officers are called to a terrorist incident, as well as pursuits.

In addition, the government is proposing to make clear in law that a suspect is responsible for their own decision to drive dangerously and that blame should not be attached to the pursuing officer.

This measure aims to dispel the perception that officers cannot chase suspects who are not wearing helmets.

The PFEW's roads policing lead, Tim Rogers, welcomed the announcement.

He added: "I do, however, say this with caution as this has been an issue we have been campaigning on now for several years and, although it is a positive step that the government have finally agreed that a legislation change is required, they must now act quickly to prevent more officers suffering unnecessary and often mendacious prosecutions."

There were around 10,000 police pursuits and 500,000 response drives in England and Wales in 2016/17.

Richard Bennett, of the college of policing, said public safety was crucial in officers' decision-making and in some circumstances it was appropriate to pursue suspects on mopeds.

He said: "Police have to balance the need to take immediate action to pursue an offender against arresting them at a later point.

"The most important thing is that the public are not put at unnecessary risk and criminals are caught and brought to justice."

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st May 2018 author Press Association)

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Vulnerable women are being sexually exploited on an industrial scale in "pop-up brothels" run by trafficking gangs, according to a report.

The brothels, often set up in residential properties using short-term leases, allow gangs to keep a step ahead of police and retain control over the women, the all-party parliamentary group on prostitution and the global sex trade said.

The APPG called for the UK to follow the lead of other European countries by criminalising people who pay for sex, but decriminalising the selling of sex, in an attempt to cut demand.

t also said the government should stop websites advertising and profiting from sex work.

Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP for Luton South and APPG chairman, said: "A revolving door of vulnerable women, predominantly from eastern Europe, are being supplied by trafficking gangs into residential properties and hotels in order to be sexually exploited by UK men.

"Commercial websites that advertise prostitution enable this trade, making sizeable profits and directly benefiting from the exploitation of others.

"But it is the minority of men in the UK who pay to sexually access women's bodies who are funding sex trafficking and driving this form of modern-day slavery.

"Right now, the traffickers are winning. The UK is currently a low-risk destination for organised crime groups seeking to sexually exploit vulnerable women."

The report, Behind Closed Doors: Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales, found sexual exploitation of women by organised crime was "widespread".

It said there were at least 212 active police operations in the UK into modern slavery cases featuring sexual exploitation, "overwhelmingly" involving foreign nationals working in brothels.

About 85% of the victims were foreign, with Romanians making up the biggest proportion.

Romanians were also the largest nationality group among suspects, with Britons the second-biggest.

The report also suggested a national register of landlords and new guidance for the short-term letting sector to help prevent sexual exploitation.

It noted: "A handful of explicit prostitution procurement websites enable this trade, making sizeable profits, directly benefiting from the exploitation of others.

"But rental landlords, online booking companies and hotel sites all indirectly profit from the practice, as exploiters take advantage of poor safeguards to hire new sites for pop-ups."

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 20th May 2018 author Alex Moshakis)

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A couple of Tuesdays ago, after a difficult day at work, a thing that happens to me more often than I'd usually care to admit happened once again. At a supermarket self-checkout machine a frozen pizza I tried to swipe wouldn't register, leaving me irked and full of spite. As a kind of reproach, I prepared to bag the item in any case, but a pang of weary guilt set in. Two choices sprung to mind. Carry on as though nothing untoward had happened, and knowingly steal. Or hail the cashier, who at the time was busy at another till, to fix the machine and right the wrong.

I picked the second option, eventually. Though, to be honest, on another day I might have swayed the other way. Plenty of us do. Need proof? Look online, perhaps at a Reddit thread, and you'll find anecdotes of petty self-checkout theft delivered with something like a stick-it-to-the-man pride. Expensive grapes are scanned as inexpensive carrots. Prime steaks are swiped as potatoes. The barcodes of pricey objects - wine, beer, spirits, cosmetics - are deliberately obscured by stickers removed from significantly cheaper on-sale items. Some scams have names - "the banana trick" (steaks as potatoes), "the switcheroo" (cheap barcodes for pricey ones), "sweethearting" (when a checkout supervisor only pretends to scan an object before handing it to a loved one, gratis) - though there are so many techniques not all of them do.

Everyone's at it

For an idea of how close to home the issue really is, try mentioning it to your friends, like I did. Several of mine confessed to pilfering something from a self-checkout machine at some point, though nearly all of those added a caveat: only small stuff. One recently got away with an umbrella. "Must have forgotten to swipe it through," she said. Another regularly declares chocolate croissants as bread rolls. And more than a few said they bagged items that failed to scan, half-shifting the blame on to a faulty machine. "A couple of times I tried exotic fruits as potatoes," a friend wrote in a text one morning. "But a checkout lady once caught me with mangoes, very embarrassing, and I didn't do it much after that." He ended the message with an Emoji of a face beneath a halo. "Now I'm a saint, although sometimes I'll take a five-pence bag if I've already paid and realise I need extra." In a WhatsApp message, one friend confessed to regularly placing a single banana on the scales while nabbing an entire bunch, though that wasn't all. Sometimes he fills the bagging area "so there's no room left for more shopping and I'm forced to put items on the floor," which circumvents the "unexpected item" message we all dread. "I really like the game," he said. "It's about being crafty, sneaky - and outwitting them."

When they turned up last decade, self-checkout machines were supposed to represent a new dawn in minimum-fuss shopping, though they'd been around since 1984. The till's inventor, David R Humble, had introduced the technology at an LA trade convention, describing it at the time as "a revolutionary product" that "will sweep all of retail". (To hammer home the point, he had an 11-year-old provide a demonstration. "Many marvelled," the Los Angeles Times reported.) When they reached stores, the machines offered customers unexpected levels of autonomy, and the opportunity to avoid long queues at traditional checkout tills. And though the machines were outwardly advertised as being strictly beneficial for the customer, they offered retailers perks, too, notably the freedom to slash labour costs. The more self-checkout machines a supermarket had, the fewer cashiers it required. There were savings to be made.

But any financial gains now appear to be marginal, at least in part due to unforeseen spikes in self-scanning theft. In a recent study a team at Voucher Codes Pro, a sales coupon website, quizzed 2,532 shoppers about their supermarket habits and found that close to a quarter had committed theft at a self-checkout machine at least once. (A figure from the same report suggested that the total cost of items stolen through self-checkout machines in 2017 came in at more than £3bn, up from £1.6bn in 2014, though the numbers are speculative.) Some steal by accident, the study found, perhaps on account of a scanning error - honest mistakes. But many perpetrators know exactly what they're doing.

In 2016, criminologists at the University of Leicester published a paper that reported on the impact of recent developments in mobile-scanning technology. The study was led by Adrian Beck, an emeritus professor of criminology, who has spent more than 25 years researching losses in the retail industry. In the report, he'd suggested that retailers who rely on self-scanning technology inadvertently create environments that encourage theft. In the self-checkout aisle, for example, human interaction is often pared back to a minimum, which reduces the perception of risk on the part of a potential perpetrator. "It's about the degree of opportunity it provides people who wouldn't normally do something deviant," explains Beck. "It presents them with opportunities they wouldn't normally have."

As Beck sees it, the customer who reaches the self-checkout machine and knowingly bags a frozen pizza after it fails to register isn't a typical thief. "This guy didn't get out of bed that morning and say, 'I can't wait to be a shoplifter today,'" Beck told me. "And he didn't walk down an aisle and put something in his pocket." In most cases, perpetrators are otherwise honest. They tend not to employ traditional shoplifting techniques, and are unlikely to steal in circumstances in which an opportunity is not presented to them. Psychologists call this Opportunity Theory - when an offender consciously decides to take advantage of an opportunity for crime that has appeared in his normal routine. But there is other psychology at play, too. Often, perpetrators will construct what they perceive as legitimate excuses for theft. Some feel justified in taking items when the checkout machine they're using doesn't operate smoothly (it's the machine's fault). Others consider the items they steal as a kind of payment for work they're completing on the supermarket's behalf.

Still more reach the self-checkout machine, look around, and see nothing but the inhuman trappings of a faceless corporation. Few would steal from an individual grocer. But from a multinational conglomerate? What difference does it make? "There's a mountain of good socio-cognitive criminological research that explains this under the heading of Neutralisation Theory," says Shadd Maruna, a criminology professor at the University of Manchester. I'd asked him to take me through the psychology of self-checkout theft, to help me get to grips with the "why". "Individuals can neutralise guilt they might otherwise feel when stealing by telling themselves that there are no victims of the crime, no human being is actually being hurt by this, only some mega-corporation that can surely afford the loss of a few quid. In fact, the corporation has saved so much money by laying off all its cashiers that it is almost morally necessary to steal from them."

Maruna offered a personal example to illustrate the point. "Twice in the past month I have handed back change to a cashier when I was given too much," he said. "I did this because I was worried that the individual, working for minimum wage, would have the money taken out of their own pocket if the cash till was short at the end of the workday. Had the same thing happened and a machine gave me the wrong change, there's no question I would have pocketed it." He finished with a flourish: "Screw them!"

Frictionless shopping

When I asked several supermarkets to comment on this story, they all declined. Later, when I visited a few of my local stores and asked cashiers about their experiences, most seemed initially open to revealing all before loyalty (or self-preservation) led them to pass the request up the chain to their shift managers, who each delivered a variant of the same message: "Ask head office." Supermarkets, it seems, would prefer not to spill the beans.

Which isn't unwise. The subject is fraught with uncertainty. Often it is difficult for retailers to discern between malicious actions and honest mistakes - was the customer absent-minded or consciously fraudulent? - and proving intent can be perilous. Charge an honest shopper with theft and lose their business. Let a perpetrator off the hook and suffer a reduction in profit. Beck describes the scenario as "a legal and customer relations minefield".

Still, supermarkets are persevering with self-checkouts. According to a BBC report, by 2021 there will be 468,000 around the world, up from some 240,000 in 2016. And retailers aren't stopping there. Amazon is pursuing plans to create stores in which checkouts are eradicated entirely. Computer vision and artificial intelligence will align to keep track of the items in a shopper's basket, allow them to walk in and out of the store without any human interaction, and later email them a receipt and charge their account. Chinese retailers aren't far behind.

Soon, supermarkets might be entirely human-free - what they refer to in the industry as "frictionless".

Where will that leave us? Customer convenience will rise. The conflicts we sometimes face on a shopping run will reduce to faded memories, and long till queues will be vanquished. So, too, will staff. Cashiers will be diverted to different sections of our stores, ostensibly to better help customers mid-shop, until they will disappear altogether, along with human interaction, the one thing that seems to keep us on the straight and narrow.

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 17th May 2018 author Vikram Dodd)

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Police leaders have discussed frontline constables carrying guns amid concerns it would take too long for fully trained armed officers to reach an attack in rural areas, a police chief has said.

Simon Chesterman, the national lead for armed policing, said the routine arming of regular officers remained an option given an elevated terror threat to Britain that security officials believe is here to stay, with 12 terrorist murder plots known about in the last year.

The Guardian has seen details of the plans presented to police chiefs that would see beat officers being given two weeks of training.

Police chiefs want to keep the tradition that just a fraction of officers are armed, and only after being highly trained. But the heightened terror threat, the rising availability of firearms and their increased use have led to a focus on how each force would respond.

A paper written by Chesterman for a meeting of police chiefs to discuss routine arming said: "Depending upon the level of training required, an officer would require approximately two weeks initial training to deploy with a handgun. This would include weapons handling and retention together with some basic tactics. Officers would require approximately two days per annum refresher training and to perform qualification shoots.

"Aside from the costs associated with abstractions for training, there would be significant implications and costs associated with supporting infrastructure such as access to suitable ranges and firearms instructors. Ranges and instructors are already significantly stretched by the Uplift Programme. The cost of a handgun is £500."

The discussion paper was written for a police chiefs meeting last July and came after Britain suffered a string of deadly terror attacks in London and Manchester. It also said: "Routinely armed response officers would be trained to intervene in extremis before the specialist firearms response gets there."

Chesterman confirmed discussions had taken place about "whether some form of routine arming might be appropriate".

He said it was best that the first police response to a terror attack was fully trained firearms officers who are stationed in armed response vehicles, and whose numbers have grown in the last two years.

But studies by officials find in some rural areas it would take too long for fully trained armed officers to reach, so police have been devising plans for how that gap might be plugged.

One option in an area such as Devon and Cornwall, is for regular constables who volunteer to openly wear guns on their belt; another is for the guns to be stored securely in patrol cars. Another two rural forces are understood to be considering similar plans.

Chesterman said: "I think that it does not need to happen at the moment as the threat is not there," but he stressed the option remained open.

Any decision on arming officers is a matter for the chief constable of each of the 43 local forces covering England and Wales, as well as the national British Transport Police. Officers in Northern Ireland are routinely armed while on patrol.

But Chesterman said that in the last year, five attacks that got through and seven plots to shed blood by jihadis had been thwarted, and that was a trend, not a spike.

He said efforts to boost armed officers who patrol in cars had hit their target, but police were still short of 100 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs).

They come from existing trained armed officers and are trained to special forces levels with the ability to storm areas by fast-roping out of helicopters and ending sieges.

Chesterman revealed that CTSFOs will have new special weapons and sub-sonic ammunition so they can shoot terrorist suspects silently: "The barrels will become thicker as they will be silenced."

They will also have night-vision sights mounted on their helmets and both new tactics will help them end sieges.

Chesterman described the advantage it will give police in tackling terrorist suspects: "We can see them, they can't see us and they can't hear us."

Police are also working on new technology to burst tyres or immobilise engines to thwart lorries driving into crowds, and armed officers have new tactics to shoot suspected terrorists driving such vehicles to bring them to a stop.

After the November 2015 attack on Paris, the British government ordered extra armed officers for Britain's streets to counter the threat of a rampaging armed gun attack.

There are now 1,351 more armed officers with 6,465 in the 43 local forces and another 3,305 in the civil nuclear, Ministry of Defence and British Transport forces, who could be called upon.

Routine arming is controversial within policing and many chiefs do not support it, but attitudes are shifting in favour.

(CNN, dated 17th May 2018 author James Masters)

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Britain is considering plans to arm police officers in rural areas to help combat potential terrorist attacks, police chiefs have said.

The move comes after the National Police Chiefs' Council revealed that forces don't have enough specialist counterterrorist firearms officers.
Concerns have grown that areas in southwest England and other rural communities could struggle to deal with a terrorist incident given their distance from the nearest counterterrorism team.

Local police in Britain are not routinely armed, and police said such a move is viewed as a last resort in areas that cannot be reached quickly enough by armed response vehicles, which carry officers trained in the use of firearms and the handling of other high-risk situations.

"The overwhelming majority of England and Wales has very good coverage from armed response vehicles. We are continuing to review and discuss options with some forces with harder to reach rural communities, including arming of some response officers," Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for armed policing, said in a statement.

"Any change would (be) decided by chief constables based on threat and risk and with wide consultation. Our analysis suggests this is not necessary now but it remains an option on the table.

"Overall, though, forces are now better equipped to respond swiftly to serious threats to public safety, such as the recent terror attacks."

Britain first revealed plans to bolster the number of armed officers in the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 dead and hundreds injured.

Since announcing a £143 million ($193 million) program to increase firearms capability in 2016, the 43 police forces under Home Office control have ensured an extra 874 armed officers across England and Wales, increasing the number to more than 6,400 as of April 2017.

While there has been a 70% increase in highest-trained armed officers in two years, police chiefs say they are still 100 recruits short of their target for counterterrorist specialist firearms officers.

In addition, an extra 3,300 armed officers in the British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police can be deployed to support a major incident.

But police said the demands of the role of a counterterrorist specialist firearms officer has led to a high turnover rate.

Police admit officers are often discouraged by the level of scrutiny they face when opening fire in the line of duty as well as the lengthy investigations that can follow.

The shortfall in counterterrorist officers has led to a tentative consideration of arming frontline officers in rural communities.

"Of course there are communities within England and Wales where an attack is highly unlikely, where it is very unlikely that something will happen, but ultimately if something does happen, we have got to be able to provide an armed response," Chesterman said.


(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 16th May 2018 author Martin Evans)

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Vulnerable victims are being left to pursue their own crimes as cash strapped forces increasingly conduct investigations by telephone, it has been claimed.

With officer numbers being cut across the country and budgets shrinking annually, many police chiefs are now turning to telephone based crime management units to tackle many offences.

Call handlers assess what evidence might be available before deciding whether to dispatch a detective to the scene.

But a report by the BBC's Panorama programme has found such units are closing a huge number of cases without any police involvement at all.

It is feared the shift to phone based investigations could be responsible for a large drop in prosecutions, with around 65,000 fewer people being charged each year.

Analysis of recent Home Office figures by the programme, found that while reported burglaries had risen by five per cent, the number of charges over the same period had fallen by 26 per cent.

Similarily an 18 per cent surge in robbery had been matched by a 17 per cent drop in charges over the same period.

A recent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) warned that some telephone investigation units were carrying out little more than administrative procedures in an effort to close an inquiry as quickly as possible.

Inspectors criticised the way some victims were asked to collect their own evidence or preserve a crime scene, because detectives were too busy to attend.

Zoe Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary told Panorama that there is "a very real risk that the force could be pushing back, particularly onto vulnerable victims, the responsibility of investigating their own crime".

But the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police denied such units were "dumping" crimes, insisting the approach was "pragmatic" against the backdrop of shrinking resources.

Dee Collins said: "We are where we are because of the resources that we have. I wouldn't say we're dumping crimes...I would say that that's having to make a pragmatic decision".

Ms Billingham said: "It's no surprise to us that the charge rate is falling, but that is not an acceptable position. We are seeing in a minority of forces their service is significantly stretched and there are really significant cracks appearing in the system that nobody wants to see".

She went on: "There is a national crisis in the shortage of detectives in England and Wales.

We simply have not got enough properly trained staff to be able to deal with complex crimes".

BBC Panorama: Police under Pressure, Wednesday 16th May at 9pm on BBC One.

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 15th May 2018 author Owen Bowcott)

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Police officers are trampling over vital forensic evidence, are under-trained, and often do not know what they are looking for, MPs investigating digital disclosure problems have been told.

Giving evidence to a justice select committee inquiry into failures to hand over material that have led to multiple court cases collapsing, leading digital forensic experts warned of funding shortfalls and inadequate skills.

"One of the problems is the sheer amount of digital evidence the police have to look at," said Dr Jan Collie, of Discovery Forensics, who specialises in defence work. "You have to consider the cloud [for digital storage], too. There's evidence everywhere. With cuts in funding, officers don't have the time to do all that.

"When I first started, the police had their own digital forensic units and knew what they were about. Now you are getting very sketchy evidence. People give me screenshots of pictures of a phone. I need to see [a copy of the] original, be able to repeat and verify tests."

Police forces do not have sufficient resources, she added: "When they have the people, they haven't got the money to send them on courses." Officers do not always understand the context of where digital information is found - whether it has been inadvertently hoovered up through a browser or purposefully searched for, Collie said.

"A lot of police stations have [mobile phone extraction kiosks] where they put a mobile phone in and press a couple of buttons, but it's not enough analysis. A police officer who has been trained for about a day can use the equipment. He can click it in and handle the buttons, [but] often they spoil the evidence by mishandling. It's like they have trodden on the evidence. Interpretation of data is being carried out by ordinary officers - they are not trained to do it."

Many recent cases that collapsed involved rape charges where crucial text message exchanges were either missed by investigators or only released belatedly.

Prof Peter Sommer, an expert witness in digital forensics cases, told MPs: "These kiosks are designed for preliminary inquiry, to see if it is worth pursuing. They don't really produce reliable evidence.

"It's cherry picking. The posh phrase is confirmation bias. It's got worse because the volumes you have to deal with have got much greater. These tools have deskilled [people]. Unless you know what you are looking for, the results can be very misleading."

He also pointed out that underfunding of the criminal justice system was leading to many digital forensic experts to quit. "People are ceasing to do it because it's uncompetitive," he said. "In criminal work, it's £72 an hour. If you work for civil case clients, it's £250 an hour."

Dr Gillian Tully, who is the official forensic science regulator, told the committee: "Police digital forensic units are quite good at extracting information and making copies. They then pass copies to the general police, and investigators don't necessarily have the tools to search the information or make good use of it."

Tully has called for additional funding for forensic science, adding: "When it comes to legal aid funding, it's largely awarded to the business with the lowest quote - which is not helpful for quality."

Sommer suggested one way to solve disclosure failures would be for all the digital material to be handed over to the defence. But Rebecca Hitchen of charity Rape Crisis, told the committee that disclosure of highly personal evidence often leads to victims refusing to testify, particularly in sexual assault cases.

"When a complainant learns of the level of intrusion into their lives, they often decide it's not in their best interest to continue," she said. "There's incredibly high levels of withdrawal [from police investigations] around the issue of personal history, for example if someone had an abortion at an earlier stage and the police can't give an assurance that it won't be revealed. The sensation of sex crime survivors is often that they are being put on trial."

(16th July 2018)

(The Local, dated 15th May 2018)

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A survey of Danish business and organisations has found that up to one in eight attempted cyber attacks are successful.

The survey, carried out by the Danish Society of Engineers' IT subsidiary IDA-it, asked a total of 668 individuals employed in IT or personal data-related roles in private or public organisations.

Two out of three businesses said they had been on the receiving end of cyber attacks within the last year, with one in eight of those attacks being successful, according to the results of the survey.

IDA-it's chairperson Kåre Løvgren said that businesses and organisations should be better at sharing their experiences and methods for combatting the problem.

"Only around one third report a cyber attack to the police or (police security agency) Centre for Cyber Security [Center for Cybersikkerhed, ed.]. To me, that is a sign that there is a lack of a safe way to raise the alarm to prevent the infection from spreading," Løvgren told Ritzau.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Cyber Security, a subdivision of Denmark's national police security agency PET, described the threat against Denmark from cyber espionage and cyber crime as "very serious" in an annual evaluation announced on Monday.

The serious threat comes from foreign states and criminal networks that carry out online attacks in an attempt to access state secrets or personal data, Ritzau reports.

Denmark must accept that it is now a target for threats of this kind, Centre for Cyber Security head Thomas Lund-Sørensen told the news agency.

"[The threat] is particularly from cyber espionage, in which foreign states try to access our secrets through public systems or private companies," Lund-Sørensen said.

"This may be of foreign policy, defence or military character. It is a threat that has existed for many years but is now digital in character," he added.

A high level of threat is also reported to come from criminal networks who attempt to use data stolen from private individuals or businesses in order to make money, according to the agency.

The Centre for Cyber Security also considers the majority of Danish authorities and businesses to be subject to the threat.

"At management level, whether in private businesses or public authorities, there should be an awareness of the risk of cyber attacks associated with digitalisation," Lund-Sørensen said.

"They should take relevant and sensible precautions to protect their networks, or ensure they have a plan for what to do if they are hit by a cyber attack," he added.

(16th July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 15th May 2018 author Damien Gayle)

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Serious crime soared in London in the past year, police figures have revealed, with the murder rate up by 44% and youth murder, personal robbery and home burglary all up by about a third.

The snapshot figures from the Metropolitan police, which show the number of crimes in the year to March, also showed a 23% increase in gun crime with discharges, a 21% rise in knife crime and an 18% increase in the number of rapes.

They were released to coincide with a hearing of the London assembly's police and crime committee on Tuesday. Its chairman, Steve O'Connell, called the rise "unacceptable" and "deeply troubling".

"Still the figures go the wrong way, and still we're losing far too many of our young people," O'Connell said.

The Met assistant commissioner Helen Ball said the force's new violent crime taskforce had so far recruited 113 of 158 officers. She also pointed to a large increase in the use of stop and search, with more than 12,000 carried out by Met officers in April - "a very high number," she said.

"What we are very glad to see is that there is a really strong sense of purpose, that the taskforce themselves absolutely want to be doing the work they're doing," she said. "And they're seeing some results; it's early stages but it looks as if at the moment the increase in some of those crime types is stabilising."

Later on, she explained that this meant "the increase [in knife crime] had stopped increasing", while homicides in April and May were "considerably below" February and March. However, she was careful to note that it was too early to hail this as a success.

The rise in violent crime comes despite Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, publishing a knife crime strategy for the capital last June, as well as a number of other initiatives from both local and central government. So far in 2018, the Met has launched more than 60 murder investigations, and the increase in violent crime has been reflected in urban areas in many other parts of the country.

Not all crimes were up. The Met recorded a 9.5% drop in antisocial behaviour calls, a 3.2% drop in incidents of domestic abuse and a 1.4% fall in shoplifting. Several categories of hate crime were down, including disability hate crime down a third, transgender hate crime down 13%, and antisemitism down 5%. Islamophobic hate crimes were up by almost a third, however.

Sophie Linden, the deputy mayor for policing and crime, defended her office's record. "It's very, very early days," she said. "We're talking about knife crime with injury and we're seeing that stabilising.

"But in terms of the murders, every murder is so appalling on the streets of London that there is no complacency here whatsoever. And that's why the violent crime taskforce is out there all the time focusing on really serious violence."

(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 11th May 2018 author Francesca Marshall)

Full article [Option 1]:

Online delivery services are fuelling a rise in moped crimes as they increase 30 fold in five years in the capital.

The number of offences carried out on mopeds in London has jumped from 827 in 2012 to 23,000 in 2017, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

Experts have warned that the rising figures can be blamed on a boom in delivery services such as Deliveroo with criminals targeting drivers to steal their mopeds.

Dr Simon Harding, a criminology expert from the University of West London, said the surge was partly due to criminal gangs being able to get their hands on mopeds more easily.

He explained that the proliferation of food or goods delivery services such as Deliveroo had created a "perfect storm" for criminals.

"In the last few years we have seen the number of food delivery services such as UberEats and Deliveroo expand rapidly," he said.

"And in turn that has fuelled people riding around on mopeds more often. They're cheaper and faster to get around on and now have become easy targets for criminals who are looking to steal the bikes to carry out further crimes."

Delivery drivers are an easy way for criminals to get their hands on mopeds as they are often in unfamiliar surroundings and have to leave their scooters when delivering an order.

Criminals are then able to carry out moped-enabled crime including drive-by thefts of pedestrians' phones and bags.

"This is a prime example of adaptive criminal behaviour and now I really feel bad for these Deliveroo drivers who have become targets and for those who have their possessions stolen," added Dr Harding.

However police insisted they had not lost control of moped crime but admitted that "there was more work to do".

During the period covered by the figures, more than 40% of offences happened in just two boroughs; Camden and Islington.

Met Police Det Supt Caroline Haines, who leads the operation tackling moped crime in Camden and Islington, was asked if her team had a handle on the issue.

She said: "Yes we do, absolutely. Yes, there is a significant increase on last year overall, and that is very disappointing.

"Since January we've deployed a number of new tactics that are now starting to see dividends. "But we're not done yet, and we're not complacent. We do understand there's a lot more work to do."

Hotspots for moped related crimes are often at transport hubs when commuters are looking for directions and where there are easy escape routes for offenders.

See also (uaware)

(London Evening Standard, dated 11th May 2018 author Chloe Chaplain)

Full article [Option 1]:

London's worst streets for moped crime

Highgate Hill
Holloway Road
Tottenham Court Road
Worship Street
Green Lanes
Clerkenwell Road
Haverstock Hill
Charterhouse Buildings
Russell Square
Mallow Street

Bunhill in Islington is ranked as the worst neighbourhood in London, according to the figures.
In the last five years the area saw 1,931 moped crimes and more than 1,000 of these were in 2017 alone.

This was was followed by Bloomsbury and Holborn, both in the borough of Camden, the West End and Clerkenwell, Islington.

(16th July 2018)

(Mirror, dated 7th May 2018 author Sean Seddon)

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Today is set to be one of the hottest days of the year so far and dog owners have been warned not to lock their animals in their cars.

But if you are walking past a vehicle and see a distressed dog struggling inside a vehicle what can you do?

Instinctively, you want to do something to help - but what are your legal rights if you feel you need to take drastic action to protect the animal?

The RSPCA are concerned about the numbers of reports they've received about dogs being left in dangerously hot conditions inside cars, reports ChronicleLive :

- If you have to take drastic action you could get prosecuted for criminal damage

- If you see a dog trapped in a hot car you are advised to call 999 straight away

On April 19, the first really hot day of the year, they received over 100 calls and had over 8,000 last year.

The first port of call should always be to contact the emergency services - but what if you feel the circumstances are extreme you need to break the window?

Solicitor Matthew Reynolds, who works for Kirwans law firm based in Merseyside, set out what your rights are.

He said: "Although smashing a window to rescue a distressed dog in a locked vehicle could lead to a charge of criminal damage, you would have a lawful excuse to smash the window if you believed that the owner of the vehicle would have consented to the damage, had they been aware of the circumstances.

"It would also be a defence to a charge of criminal damage if you smashed the window to protect the owner's property (the dog) in the belief that the dog was in need of immediate protection and that smashing the window was reasonable in the circumstances to achieve that aim.

"If you do remove a dog from a car, tell the police what you intend to do and why.

"It would also be a good idea to take photographs or video of the dog and contact details of any witnesses to the incident."

He added that you could also technically be charged with theft but, in the circumstances, its "hard to see" how you could be prosecuted successfully on that basis.

The RSPCA maintain a line dedicated line for circumstances like this which you can reach on 0300 1234 999 for advice but they say calling 999 should always be the first step if the animal is in immediate danger.

Official advice on their website states: "Many people still believe that it's okay to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but truth is, it's still a very dangerous situation for the dog.

"A car can become as hot as an over very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm. When it's 22 degrees, in a car it can reach and unbearable 47 degrees within the hour."

The RSPCA urges anyone who sees a dog in a car on a warm day to dial 999, particularly if they are displaying any signs of heatstroke or distress.

(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 5th May 2018 author Steve Bird)

Full article [Option 1]:

A record £17 million of bogus or illegal erectile dysfunction pills were seized last year at ports and postal sorting offices as organised gangs try to flood Britain with 'fake meds'.

Between April 2017 and March this year, UK Border Force officers confiscated the highest number of pills ever as part of a crackdown on potentially dangerous tablets.

In just three years, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has ordered the destruction of impounded medications worth more than £55 million that are said to treat male impotence.

The latest figures show how the illicit trade in erectile dysfunction pills has increased, despite a version of Viagra being made more readily available since November as an over-the-counter treatment.

While it was hoped that move would reduce demand for fake drugs, criminals appear to be determined to continue supplying illegal medicines that could be either dangerous or ineffective.

According to the MHRA, fake pills worth a total of £17,666,007 were seized at British ports, letter sorting depots or through raids at suspected dealers' homes in the year to March 2018. That figure represents a 980 percent increase compared to five years ago when just £1,635,343 such tablets were confiscated.

The vast majority of unlicensed drugs seized are often from India, and include both branded and generic versions of a pill and gel called Kamagra, which has not been licensed for sale in the UK.

Counterfeit versions of Viagra now only make up a small amount of seized 'fake meds', compared to 15 years ago.

While prescriptions of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction tablets containing sildenafil have tripled in Britain in just a decade - there were nearly three million prescriptions in 2016, compared to just over one million in 2006 - there is still a huge black market, possibly because demand is high as it is estimated one in five men suffers from the condition.

Although the MHRA shuts down more than 3,500 websites a years selling 'fake meds', it is believed the trade in male impotence pills is partly down to drug dealers selling them alongside street drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy which can cause male impotence.

An MHRA spokeswoman said: "The large volumes seized reflect the demand that exists - increased accessibility to medicines through illegally trading websites is a contributory factor.

"However, medicines purchased outside the regulated supply chain can be risky. There is no guarantee the products will be authorised medicines and no guarantee they meet standards of quality and safety.

"They may contain dangerous ingredients with devastating consequences to your health. Criminals have no interest in your health and wellbeing; they are only concerned with making money."

Last year, a drug dealer was jailed following a raid at London hotel which illustrated just how these pills are sold alongside street drugs.

Mehdi Rezougbertin, 30, was found with a suitcase filled with drugs and Viagra pills that he traded while staying at different hotels around the capital.

Earlier this year, Janice Sofoulakis, 64, was jailed for more than two years after using a bogus embroidery company to launder profits from a £10 million counterfeit Viagra racket.

She, along with 12 other members of her gang, ran more than 100 bank accounts to process the money from the sale of the pills before their arrest in 2015.

When MHRA officials tested the pills, they were found to contain drugs with potentially serious side effects.

Peppino Fiori, a pensioner, was jailed last year for importing more than £200,000 of fake Viagra, as well as antidepressants, and selling them to people of his own age.

(16th July 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 5th May 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police force has defended its use of facial recognition technology after it was revealed that 2,000 people at the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff were wrongly identified by the software as potential criminals.

South Wales Police began trialling the technology in June last year in a bid to catch more criminals, using cameras to scan faces in a crowd and compare them against a database of custody images.

As 170,000 people descended on the Welsh capital for the game between Real Madrid and Juventus, 2,470 potential matches were identified.

However, according to data on the force's website, 2,297 - 92% - were found to be "false positives".

South Wales Police admitted that "no facial recognition system is 100% accurate", but said the technology had led to more than 450 arrests since its introduction.

It also said no-one had been arrested after an incorrect match.

A spokesman for the force said: "Over 2,000 positive matches have been made using our 'identify' facial recognition technology with over 450 arrests.

"Successful convictions so far include six years in prison for robbery and four-and-a-half years imprisonment for burglary. The technology has also helped identify vulnerable people in times of crisis.

"Technical issues are common to all face recognition systems, which means false positives will be an issue as the technology develops.

"Since initial deployments during the European Champions League Final in June 2017, the accuracy of the system used by South Wales Police has continued to improve."

The force blamed the high number of false positives at the football final on "poor quality images" supplied by agencies including Uefa and Interpol, as well as the fact it was its first major use of the technology.

Figures also revealed that 46 people were wrongly identified at an Anthony Joshua fight, while there were 42 false positives from a rugby match between Wales and Australia in November.

All six matches at the Liam Gallagher concert in Cardiff in December were valid.

Chief Constable Matt Jukes told the BBC the technology was used where there was likely to be large gatherings, as major sporting events and crowded places were "potential terrorist targets".

"We need to use technology when we've got tens of thousands of people in those crowds to protect everybody, and we are getting some great results from that," he said.

"But we don't take the use of it lightly and we are being really serious about making sure it is accurate."

The force also said it had considered privacy issues "from the outset", and had built in checks to ensure its approach was justified and proportionate.

However, civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch criticised the technology.

In a post on Twitter, the group said: "Not only is real-time facial recognition a threat to civil liberties, it is a dangerously inaccurate policing tool."

(16th July 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th May 2018 author Mark Blunden)

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Google is designing a hi-tech neighbourhood watch that will link streets to police stations.

Intruders triggering a digital "tripwire" inside one home would have their break-in livestreamed to the local police station. Home security devices would also flash warnings to nearby homes.

According to a new European patent for smart home security, Google wants to create a "neighbourhood security network" that would group entire streets and blocks of flats.

Smart doorbells, door knobs, lights, locks, security webcams and even plug sockets in the future "multi-sensing" home will be "armed", according to the patent. If an intruder is detected, the system would even "interrogate" the burglar's phone to identify them.

The patent also suggests turning on all the lights and beaming alert phrases such as "intruder detected" in "large font" on walls, floors and ceilings.

Motion, pressure and heat sensors would be trained to identify the family pet so it would know a human burglar's motion from a dog's, and Google's always-on smart home could even be trained to detect a suspicious car parked on the road.

The patent says: "If an individual is quickly moving from room to room at a time when occupants typically are not at home and according to a pattern that is not associated with any of the occupants, the system may infer that this is a burglar moving from room to room searching for valuable items.

"Notification of an emergency or event occurring in one home can trigger responses in other homes in the 'neighbourhood'."

Friends and family approved by facial and fingerprint recognition would be granted access to unlock their neighbour's front door, the patent says.

The householder's social network friends would also be told if an elderly resident had a fall or if there was a "contractible illness" so people stay away from the property.

The patent proposes that the "approaching individual's name and/or status as being a neighbour may be announced, a video of him approaching may be displayed, and his image (such as a photograph taken from his social networking account) may be displayed inside the smart home".

(16th July 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd May 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

City of London police have launched a campaign to make businesses more resilient to cyber attacks amid a surge in the number of hacking crimes.

The force warned that it had witnessed a 30 per cent rise in "pure" cyber attacks such as hacking in the past three months. Its new campaign, called Cyber Griffin, will see specially trained officers holding briefings for City firms on the latest threats and how to defeat them, as well as exercises in how to respond to online attacks.

Sergeant Charlie Morrison, of the City police cyber unit, said the acceleration in attacks was alarming. "We are seeing a rise in the number of attacks being reported but this is a dark figure, most of them are not reported," he warned. "All the assessments show that the attacks are more severe in their effect, more frequent and more sophisticated."

He said the City was a natural target for hackers because of the concentration of commercial HQs, but companies were still failing to take measures to protect themselves.

"We are seeing companies continuing to fall down on the basic measures such as password security," he added.

He said cyber attacks were more financially motivated than before and the rise of cryptocurrency made it easier for criminals, who simply bought malware off the dark web, to move ill-gotten gains around the world.

The Standard yesterday revealed how master hacker Grant West, operating under the name Courvoisier, was arrested on a train after selling details from up to 200 firms and amassing £500,000 in Bitcoin.

(3rd July 2018)

(EuroNews, dated 2nd May 2018 author Stephanie Burnett)

Full article [Option 1]:
Sexual abuse and rape. The difference between two terms in the eyes of Spanish courts have prompted outrage and the dawn of the country's own #MeToo movement after a group of men in the "Wolf Pack" trial were cleared of rape and found guilty of the lesser charge of sexual abuse.
Spanish law says that rape must involve violence or intimidation, whereas sexual abuse does not. The verdict in the Pamplona trial ignited calls for legal reforms that dictate rape is non-consensual sex regardless of whether violence or intimidation occurred.

While Spain is currently in the spotlight for its legal technicalities - it is not the only European country that does not recognise sex without consent as rape.

Anna Blus, Amnesty International's researcher on women's rights in Europe, has focused her latest research on rape laws throughout the continent and found that only seven countries within western Europe and the EU have legislation that define sex without consent as rape.

The UK - including the courts of Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales - Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Iceland, Ireland and Germany define non-consensual sex as rape. Sweden is slated to join the list in July, when parliament is expected to pass legislation.

Amnesty International's definition of rape is guided by international human rights law, and refers to the Istanbul Convention, which is considered the most comprehensive legislation on tackling violence against women, for the legal definition of rape. The convention defines rape as the absence of consent, stating that "consent must be given voluntarily", and requires all signatories to include laws that define rape as such.

Twenty European countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention - but most have yet to change their laws to bring them in line, according to Blus.

Pamplona: A different verdict?

For the accused in Pamplona, known as the "Wolf Pack" after the name of their WhatsApp group where they shared recorded video of the attack and joked about the incident, critics say the lesser charge of sexual abuse did not go far enough and that the nine-year sentence was too lenient.

"This case really shows exactly what can happen if legislation doesn't recognise sex without consent as rape. Because I think this judgment is exactly what it did," said Blus.

Without finding intimidation, threats or violence, according to Blus, "The [judges] were unable to find that the sex without consent, in her case, was actually rape."

"So I think this case really shows society how even such a technical thing, such as changing the legislation to be human rights compliant…the judges may have been able to arrive at a different conclusion in her case."

Effective rape legislation in Europe?

Even when considering the seven countries who define non-consensual sex as rape, the continent still has a ways to go, she says.

"The vast majority of European countries are not up to speed," Blus said to Euronews.

"It's really an issue throughout the region. This can be, from what I'm discovering, on the one hand, basic things such as not recognising legislation that sex without consent is rape and, on the other, practice: the widespread myths and stereotypes, the cases where we see how it's the victim who is questioned in court, it's asking questions such as 'Were you drunk?' and really victim blaming."

"It's something that happens all the time to women throughout Europe. So I don't think we can say, unfortunately, there is one country that has been doing something extremely positive."

"What is kind of giving me hope at the moment is the fact that Iceland recently changed the law and that Sweden is very likely to do so as well."

Are consent-based definitions enough?

A high-profile rape trial in Belfast involving two Irish international rugby players and two of their friends drew protests across the UK and Ireland after the four defendants were acquitted on all charges. The case proved highly divisive on the island of Ireland, and protesters took to the streets and social media to take part in the 'I believe her' campaign. Others were also quick to defend the accused.

Northern Ireland is one of the jurisdictions that defines non-consensual sex as rape, but, Blus says, it is one example of how legislation is only one step of a package of reforms that are needed to prevent rape and to bring about justice.

"In that case the alleged perpetrators were acquitted because the court didn't find that, even though there is a consent-based definition in that jurisdiction, they didn't find that the prosecution proved that a rape has occurred."

According to Blus, steps need to be taken to protect complainants, such as having a lawyer also represent the victim during a trial.

"What was extremely problematic in that whole trial was the treatment of the complainant: the way it was reported by the media, the way she was questioned in court for a very long time by four defence lawyers without having a lawyer that would represent her in any way, or even accompany her… her credibility was questioned constantly. It was almost as if she was the one who was on trial."

Blus adds that those involved in the criminal process - judges, prosecutors and police - also need more education on what happens when someone is sexually assaulted.

"For example, the fact that many people freeze (when they are sexually assaulted). So looking at getting all these people trained in addressing and preventing sexual violence and recognising gender stereotypes - these are all parts of the package," said Blus.
"I think that this Belfast case really shows that even when you have very good legislation and when you have human rights compliance legislation - that is only one element of this package that should be there for survivors to access justice in rape cases."

European countries definition of non-consensual sex (Source: Amnesty International)

Austria : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Belgium : Rape is defined as sex without consent
Bulgaria : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Croatia : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Czech Republic : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Denmark : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Estonia : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
France : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Finland : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Germany : Rape is defined as sex without consent
Greece : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Hungary : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Iceland : Rape is defined as sex without consent
Ireland : Rape is defined as sex without consent
Italy : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Latvia : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Lithuania : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Netherlands : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Norway : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Poland : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Portugal : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Romania : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Slovakia : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Slovenia : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Spain : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
Sweden : Parliament is expected to pass in July a bill that defines non-consensual sex as rape.
Switzerland : Non-consenual sex is not defined as rape
UK : Rape is defined as sex without consent

(3rd July 2018)

(The Times, dated 2nd May 2018 authors Richard Ford and Frances Gibb)

Full article [Option 1]:

Judges and probation staff have agreed to cut the use of suspended jail sentences amid concern that the number of criminals breaching them will cause a surge in the prison population.
In an unprecedented agreement, senior judges have asked courts and probation officers to avoid recommending suspended sentences - even when this would be justified by the seriousness of the offence - because when offenders breach the sentences they end up in jail.

There was a ten-fold rise in the use of suspended sentences in the ten years to 2015 and a halving in community punishment orders. At the same time jails have faced rising violence and severe overcrowding. The number of community orders fell from about 203,000 to 108,000 in the decade to 2015 while the number of suspended sentence orders rose from fewer than 4,000 to 52,000.

A guideline due to be released this month, which will tighten up rules on when an offender should be sent to jail for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence, iss behind the deal. The guideline could lead to many more offenders being sent straight to prison.

Magistrates were informed of the deal in a letter from the Sentencing Council, the watchdog that advises courts. It reminds them that a suspended sentence "is a custodial sentence and not a more severe form of community order".

Lord Justice Treacy, chairman of the council, wrote that he had agreed with the director of the National Probation Service that probation officers "will refrain from recommending suspended sentence orders (SSOs) in pre-sentence reports". He added: "This does not mean that the court should never suspend a custodial sentence."

In seperate guidance, probation officers have been advised that suspended sentence orders must not be proposed "even when the courts indicate that a custodial threshold has been crossed".
In his letter, Lord Justice Treacy said that the action was being taken because courts have not changed their sentencing behaviour, despite guidance a year ago on correct use of suspended suspended jail terms.

Last night there remained concerns among magistrates who insisted that it was for courts to decide on sentences. John Bache, national chairman of the Magistrates Association, said: "Suspended prison sentences can .... be an effective option and magistrates should not be deterred by this letter from using them when appropriate".

Ian Lawrence, general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: "We are not convinced this is the best way to approach this issue. Whilst it may increase community orders it runs the risk of having the opposite effect as well .... We would urge Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service to educate sentencers on how best to use suspended sentences rather than on preventing them being proposed."

(3rd July 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 1st May 2018 author Jessica Elgot)

Full article [Option 1]:

Journalists and IT specialists should join the UK's reserve forces to help the counter fake news and cyber-propaganda, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said.

Williamson said the armed forces needed more specialists with skills in "getting messages across" and said the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force needed to do more to entice tech-literate and communications professionals to consider careers in the forces.

In an interview with The House magazine to be published later this week, Williamson said the armed forces needed skills that could be used to combat propaganda on social media.

He said army recruitment should be about "looking to different people who maybe think, as a journalist: 'What are my skills in terms of how are they relevant to the armed forces?'

"They are more relevant today than anything else, having those skills, whether it be journalists, those people with amazing cyber and IT skills, those people with the ability to really understand about getting messages across."

Williamson said warfare was evolving rapidly and needed a new approach for the next generation. "We have to start changing the armed forces in terms of actually attracting those people as well.
"Sometimes people see the armed forces as being quite traditional in terms of its approach. But in this disinformation age, this cyber-age - people often look at cyber as something that's separate. 

Actually, it's completely relevant to every other different part of our services."

Williamson has previously spoken about the threat Russian disinformation poses to the UK, saying after the Salisbury chemical attack that the Kremlin should "go away and shut up".
He later revealed that his "undiplomatic language" had earned him a ticking off from Downing Street.

He compared the tactics used by Russian internet trolls to Nazi propaganda, saying last month that it "completely distorts the narrative of what people think about things … effectively the Lord Haw-Haws of the modern era".

(3rd July 2018)

(BBC News, dated 7th September 2017 author Dominic Casciani)

Full article :

Are you scared of being a victim of crime?

Today, for the first time, BBC News, working with the Office for National Statistics, is providing you with a way of understanding your risk of being a victim of crime in England and Wales. If you are interested in Scotland, you can find out more about the Scottish Crime Survey on its official website.

The tool below uses national crime statistics, your address and your personal characteristics to tell you what's happened to people similar to you in the last year - and therefore something approaching a personal estimate of how likely you are to be a victim.


So were you surprised?

Week in, week out, journalists like myself report on the big crime trends across the nation. And you will almost certainly notice the tool tells a different story - a personal one.

Now, it's worth pointing out that it has some limitations. The Crime Survey of England and Wales, which provides most of the data in the calculator, captures a wide range of real experiences of crime, but some things are very difficult to measure, such as risky lifestyles and behaviour.

Be that as it may, the tool does tell us a lot. And if you try changing your age - and even your gender - you learn a lot more about how crime affects us depending on who we are and our stage in life.

Young men vs old ladies

So, for instance, the tool shows that people like me, living in an area like mine, have a very low risk of being a victim of violence. If I were aged between 16 and 29 (sadly those days are gone) and living in the same area, my risk of being assaulted is five times greater.

If I were a woman in my 60s, I'd be even less likely to be a victim.

Put most simply, young men in areas of higher deprivation are the most likely victims of crime. Old ladies living in the same areas - among those who are most likely to fear crime - have a lower risk. 

There is a dividend for living in a posher area - but age and gender remain key factors too.
Now, there are a lot of nuances in here - and you can drill into the ONS's data tables for the full facts - or read this highly digestible analysis from Victim Support.

But many of these differences come down to how we live our lives.

Younger people spend more time out at night. They're more likely to come into contact with people who become violent after they have had one too many drinks.

How many parents have had to console a teenager who's had their bike or mobile phone stolen?

When kids move out of home, start work or become a student, they're likely to be living in cheaper, less-secure, rented accommodation.

But as they get older, the security of stable employment leads to security at home and family life. And you're less likely to be burgled if you've sunk into the sofa watching a box set, rather than if you've gone to the pub.

Every time a home is renovated, it's harder to break in to than before. Each new car we buy tends to be more secure than its predecessors.

But here's the thing.

That's not actually how we perceive crime and our personal risk. In fact, what we think is happening can be at complete odds with what is actually going on.

According to the most recent data from the ONS, people generally have a pretty good idea about how much crime is close to them. Their perceptions seem to match the reality. But 60% also thought that crime is rising across the country as a whole - even though the long-term trend is down.

The people with the highest risk of being a victim - the young - were less likely to be worried than older generations, even though the older you become, the safer things generally become.
Dr Jane Wood, a forensic psychologist at the University of Kent, says a range of factors influence this perception gap. Women for instance fear crime because they know they cannot fight off a younger man. But our perceptions are also influenced by what we see around us - and how we hear about.

When the ONS asked interviewees to choose from a list of what most influenced their perceptions of national crime levels, people talked about television, radio, newspapers (tabloid and broadsheet), the internet and word of mouth. And, Dr Wood says, the more we read or watch about crime, the more we think about it.

All of which may be an argument for not listening to a word that journalists like me tell you.
But while I wait for the hue and cry to drag me from the newsroom, please share a link to the crime risk calculator.

(3rd July 2018)

APRIL 2018

(BBC News, dated 20th April 2018 author Clive Coleman)

Full article :

Mark Taylor's account was one of 20,000 at Tesco Bank plundered by hackers who broke through its online security systems in 2016.

"I felt physically ill," he says. "£2,400 for me is an awful lot of money."

Tesco refunded the money to customers whose accounts had been raided, but it took time and caused customers like Mark real concern.

Next month, a new law will make the consequences of failing to protect personal data for banks and others far more serious.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, is the biggest shake-up to data privacy in 20 years.

A slew of recent high-profile breaches has brought the issue of data security to public attention.

Claims surfaced last month that the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from millions of Facebook users without their consent.

It has been a wake-up call for data security. People are increasingly realising that their personal data is not just valuable to them, but hugely valuable to others.

The growth of technology and electronic communication means that every day, almost every hour, we share our personal data with a huge number of organisations including shops, hospitals, banks and charities.

But that data often ends up in the hands of marketing companies, analysts and fraudsters.

Now the law on data protection is about to catch up with technological changes.

"GDPR is designed and intended to embody a data protection regime fit for the modern digital age," explained Anya Proops QC, a specialist in data protection law.

"It seeks to put power back in the hands of individuals by forcing those who process our data to be both more transparent about their processing activities and responsive to demands for privacy-invasive processing to be curtailed."

Among the many changes are measures that make it:

- quicker and cheaper to find out what data an organisation holds on you

- mandatory to report data security breaches to the information commissioner, rather than just "good practice"

- more expensive if fined for breaches - up from a maximum £500,000 to about £17.5m or 4% of global turnover, whichever is the greater

"This is legislation which can literally sink those organisations who fail to respect our data privacy rights," said Ms Proops.


Organisations will have to review their systems and the way people work.

They will have to focus on technical security, including the use of encryption and the robust application of security patches.

But they will also have to use data minimisation techniques, including pseudonymisation - a technique that replaces some identifiers with fictitious entries to protect people's privacy.

Ensuring that staff members are reliable will also be a priority. Taking personal data "off site" on mobile devices and memory sticks poses particular risks. A failure to ensure that such devices are encrypted can immediately expose organisations to a fine.

Unwanted emails

We've all had those unwanted emails, annoying targeted adverts, and phone calls from a total stranger who somehow knows that we have been involved in a car accident - when we have no recollection of it at all.

These come from companies who have managed to get hold of our personal data without our knowledge or consent.

It's long been unlawful for such communications to be sent without our consent. But GDPR significantly tightens up the rules.

Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. It cannot be buried in lengthy terms and conditions.

That makes it much harder for marketers to establish that they have the requisite permissions, which is why your inbox has probably been littered recently with emails asking for your consent to continue receiving messages.

Oh, and it must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Conflicting advice

The strengthened "consent" is good news for consumers, but preparing for GDPR can be difficult and confusing for businesses.

Emma Heathcote-James runs a small company making natural soaps.

"One consultant told us if we'd emailed people within the last six months we're absolutely fine to contact them as long as it's not subscribed and it was clear they could have had the option to opt out," she recalled.

"Another consultant said, 'No, no - that's absolutely wrong.'"

Businesses with large client lists run the risk that many customers will ignore their requests and their client lists will shrink accordingly.

Data protectors

Most public authorities and organisations that monitor and track behaviour must appoint a data protection officer.

DPOs' duties will include monitoring compliance with the law, training staff and conducting internal audits.

They will also be the first point of contact for supervisory authorities and for individuals whose data is processed, including customers and employees.

They must be given the resources to do their job, cannot be dismissed for doing it, and must have direct access to the highest level of management.

Message to self, don't mess with a DPO.

Policing the law

The watchdog responsible for all this in the UK will be information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

"We will have more powers to stop companies processing data, but we only take action where there has been serious and sustained harm to individuals," she explained.

"What this new fining power gives us is the ability to go after larger, global and sometimes multi-national companies where the old £500,000 fine would just be pocket change."

She added that she accepted that some companies will need time to become fully compliant.

"The first thing we are going to look at is, have they taken steps, have they taken action to undertake the new compliance regime," she added.

"Do they have a commitment to the regime?

"We're not going to be looking at perfection, we're going to be looking for commitment."

Large fines will be reserved for the most serious cases, she said, when a company refuses to comply voluntarily.

Overall effect?

Companies will be obligated to clearly inform individuals about why they are collecting their personal data, how it is going to be used and with whom it is going to be shared.

All of which means that the GDPR should make our personal data safer and less easily obtained by those we don't want to have it.

But there will be teething pains and some organisations that do not adapt in time will suffer.

And forget the idea that this could all become moot post-Brexit.

Although GDPR is a piece of EU law, the government has made it clear that the UK will remain signed up.

There are probably two reasons for this: first, if the UK watered down its data protection laws after Brexit, this might result in other Europeans treating the country as a pariah state, which would have an impact on trade.

Second, in the current privacy-preoccupied era, there is unlikely to be much public appetite to dilute GDPR's protections.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 30th April 2018 author Gareth Davies)

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The British public are being urged to sign up to a crisis relief scheme to respond to terror attacks in their hometowns as it emerged the British Red Cross had one of its busiest post-war years in 2017.

Two London terror attacks, the Manchester Bombing and the Grenfell Tower disaster meant the charity assisted 9,300 people last year - among the highest figures since the end of the Second World War.

More than half of people feel it's more likely that their community could be vulnerable to a major incident in the future amid heightened awareness of crisis response, but two thirds believe more could be done in the community to help with relief if residents knew how.

The Red Cross and Aviva are hoping to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers in Britain by the end of 2019.

Among those backing the campaign is actress Amanda Redman, who said: "During the London terror attacks and devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, I was amazed to see British Red Cross volunteers on the news, and realised just how much they do to support people in crisis.

"Like many of us, my life is so hectic, but as a community reserve volunteer, you would only be called upon if there's a crisis in your area. Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference."

Volunteers who sign up will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community and they will undertake jobs like packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding.

Thomas Milburn, 26, signed up as a community reserve volunteer after being assisted by British Red Cross volunteers when he was badly burnt in the Shoreham Air Show disaster.

He said: "I looked up into the sky and this plane was coming straight towards me. The next split second I was engulfed in flames.

"I thought 'I'm not sure I'm going to make it out of this alive'. The British Red Cross got me sat down, checked all my vital signs, and made sure I was alright.

"If I had been away from their help I'd potentially have had much more serious injuries.

"In the aftermath of the crash the British Red Cross did a lot to help the emergency personnel on the scene and people in the community can help with in those extreme circumstances.

"I think the community reserve volunteer initiative is a really great idea because not everyone has the time to volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis but people do want to get involved when something major happens. It's something that I'll be proud to help the Red Cross with."

As part of the report published today, the British Red Cross and Aviva surveyed more than 4,000 adults about how prepared they are for a local emergency.

Simon Lewis, Head of Crisis Response at the British Red Cross, said: "The British Red Cross responds to a UK emergency every four hours.

"Last year we faced a huge number of major emergencies like those in London and Manchester. They brought tragedy to so many people, but we witnessed remarkable acts of kindness and saw that people really want to give practical help when crisis hits.

"The findings of our report with Aviva show that despite this desire to help, people often don't know how best to assist or worry they don't have the right skills to get involved.

"By creating a national taskforce of community reserve volunteers we want to put local people at the heart of emergency response, to help communities rebuild and recover faster.

"Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. It's quick and easy to sign up online community reserve volunteers, you don't need specialist skills and we need your help now more than ever."

The report, When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities, found more than nine in ten people who had experienced a major emergency helped or had wanted to help.

Graham Brogden, Head of Property Technical Claims at Aviva UK, said: "At Aviva we understand how traumatic and disruptive major events can be to communities.

"Our own claims teams are often among the first on the ground when incidents occur and we see first-hand how important it can be for communities to pull together in times of crisis.

"That's why we're proud to be launching the community reserve volunteer programme as part of our ongoing partnership with the British Red Cross.

"By recruiting 10,000 volunteers across the UK, we hope to support the vital work of emergency responders and the British Red Cross teams in helping communities manage the unexpected, as well as help prevent or limit the damage caused.

"The community reserve volunteer programme is the latest initiative in our three-year partnership with the British Red Cross to help make communities stronger and safer.

"Sadly not every emergency can be prevented, but by equipping volunteers with the skills they need, we can help bring neighbours together to make the difference they want to should the worst happen."

It takes just ten minutes to sign up at

(1st May 2018)

(Guardian, dated 27th April 2018 authors Caelainn Barr, Niko Kommenda and Connor Ibbetson)

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Reports of violence, stabbings and murders have hit the headlines in recent months, with daily occurrences in London. But how widespread is violent crime, why is it growing and who are the victims?

The vast majority of people will not be a victim of violent crime. In England and Wales, four in five people did not experience crime in 2017 and overall crime has been steadily decreasing since 1995.

Although people are experiencing less crime, high-harm incidents, including offences involving knives and firearms, are on the rise. In 2017 there was a 22% increase in knife crime and an 11% rise in gun crime, according to offences recorded by the police. These crimes don't occur very often, but they do attract a lot of media attention.

"These types of offences are typically disproportionately concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas," says Mark Bangs, deputy head of crime statistics at the Office for National Statistics. "While they are very serious crimes in the context of the overall population, they are very rare."

The rise in crimes involving knives can also be seen in hospitals. In the five years to March 2017, the number of admissions for stab wounds increased by 13% in England and 17% in London.

Last year, 39 children and teenagers were killed by knives in the UK and more than half of those were in the capital. Reports indicate there were more than 50 homicides in London in the first 100 days of 2018.

Most police forces report steep increases in knife crime since 2012

Note: The percentages quoted are an interpretation of graphs within the article

Change in police recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments (2012-2013/Q1 - 2017-2018/Q3)

Met Police : 3820 (25%)
West Midlands : 790 (100%)
West Yorkshire : 648 (150%)
Lancashire : 498 (300%)
Greater Manchester : 331 (-10%)
Thames Valley : 308 (50%)
South Yorkshire : 225 (100%)
Merseyside : 261 (130%)

While the figures suggest serious violence is on the rise, there is no consensus about the causes or solutions. The latest Home Office policy targeting violent crime points to changes in the nature of drug sales and use, highlighting crack cocaine, social media and music glamorising violence as among the issues fuelling the problem.

However, policy experts and criminologists put the increase down to a combination of complex factors, and say longer-term public health-style approaches may be key to reducing serious violence.

Simon Harding, associate professor in criminology at the University of West London, says the rise is partly because of cuts to youth services and police community support officers (PCSOs).

One in four PCSO jobs have been cut in the past decade in England and Wales. However, in London that trend has accelerated: three in five PCSO positions no longer exist in the capital.

"Cuts to youth services mean young people no longer have premises on their immediate doorstep that they can go to, and between the reductions in policing and community safety, there is not a lot of partnership work or community engagement taking place," Harding says.

According to research published by the Green party, 88 youth centres in London have had their borough funding cut or were closed between 2011 and 2017. Figures reported to the Department for Education by local authorities also show steep cuts to the provision of universal and targeted children's services.

Although most people will never experience serious violent crime, figures indicate young black men are disproportionately the victims of knife crime, particularly in London.

"I think this has been one of the problems with policy: we say our risk of being a victim of violence is much lower, but who are 'we' and who are we not including in that category?" says Richard Garside, director at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

"There are particular age groups and localities where being young and male - and particularly being young, male and black in some parts of London and other major cities - is potentially lethal in and of itself. They are at much higher risk of being a victim of a violent assault than the general population."

Garside is urging a rethink of how we respond to violence in society, possibly with a longer-term public health-style approach.

"What we're seeing here is the product of a whole set of other social forces that are playing out in, at times, really lethal ways in some communities up and down the country. There's a reason why this is a problem in Tottenham, Wood Green, and it's not a problem in Richmond and South Kensington," Garside says.

"If you adopt a whole-population approach then everyone benefits, including those who are most at risk of being victims of knife violence."

(1st May 2018)

(The Register, dated 27th April 2018 author Keiren McCarthy)

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A plan to kill off 300,000 British-owned .eu web domains has itself been killed off by European bureaucrats in yet another baffling Brexit backtrack.

Last month, the European Commission unexpectedly announced that for UK-based owners of .eu domains, Brexit would mean Brexit - and their dot-EU domains would not be renewed following the UK's exit from the European Union in 2019.

The decision was met with astonishment, not least from the company that operates the .eu registry, Eurid, which had not been informed of the decision.

Not only would killing off 300,000 domains (actually 318,482) go against the long-held norms of the internet, it would actually cut into the EU's budget since it takes all the excess profits from the registry.

On Friday, the same idiocrats found a way to backtrack while not losing face: by deciding to open up the .eu registry to anyone who wants a .eu domain, regardless of where they live.

The commission is painting the decision as one that will introduce "more flexibility in the .eu top-level-domain" and "simplify the existing legal framework," although it is notable that there is no mention of its own formal decision literally last month to do the complete opposite and restrict the registry to EU residents, to the extent of deleting non-residents' domains.

To be fair to the EC, the decision this week follows a review process that it ran this time last year but had gone oddly silent. It is possible that two completely different groups within the EC - one looking at .eu as part of normal ongoing reviews, and one slowly going through all the various Brexit implications - reached different conclusions while failing miserably to communicate with one another.

Dust off that report

It is just as likely, though, that the idiotic decision to kill off 300,000 domains sparked the European Commission to find a face-saving measure, and the review team from last year suddenly found that everyone was keen to hear their recommendations.

Incidentally, the conclusion - to open up the .eu registry to everyone in the world - is the same one reached by an increasing number of other domain registries that had previously insisted on evidence of local residency before granting someone a country or region-tied domain name.

For example, if you want a .kr domain, you need to prove you have some kind of presence in South Korea, whereas Colombia's .co is open to anyone.

The truth is that there is very little real benefit from being able to say that everybody with a .gf domain names lives in Grand Fenwick, especially with all the extra checking and bureaucratic systems that it requires.

No one thinks any less of the .uk domain space because lots of non-UK citizens and organizations have .uk internet addresses. The reality is that if someone wants a .eu domain name, it is because they want to demonstrate some kind of willingness to provide services or goods to Europe.

There are some examples - especially with the explosion of new top-level domains in the past few years - where restricting domain names does make sense. For example, the .nyc domain name is only for those individuals or businesses that can prove they reside in the New York City area. And there is some real value to that that could be undermined if anyone in the world could grab a .nyc domain.

Likewise, the .cat internet registry is for proud Catalans rather than feline fanatics.

But, overall it makes sense for the .eu registry operator not to have to check that everyone that wants a .eu domain lives in the European Union, especially given the fact that registrations across all legacy top-level domains have slowed.

But even so, you have to wonder what on earth is going on within the European Commission when it can emit two directly contradictory statements within a month of each other.

Presumably they are hoping no one will notice, transfixed as everyone will be on this lovely infographic.

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 27th April 2018 author Alex Hern)

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Amazon is rife with potentially dangerous counterfeits and other knockoff goods despite years of attempts to crackdown on mis-selling on its platform, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

The global internet giant, which this week revealed that its daily revenues had hit a record $550m (£400m) a day, now spans a huge range of businesses from TV production to web hosting but faces an ongoing challenge to police its own online retail platform.

In one order from the retailer, the Guardian received:

- Knockoff Apple AirPods, mis-sold on the site as genuine items but arriving in packaging labelling them as "HBQ-i7S".

- Genuine Apple iPhone chargers, sold on the site as new but in reality separated from returned and refurbished devices and sold second-hand.

- Multiple examples of counterfeit streetwear and accessories, including a Supreme/Louis Vuitton iPhone case and an Anti Social Social Club hoodie.

- Counterfeit Kylie Jenner lip gloss, manufactured by a Chinese company and almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

The items were all sold through Amazon's Marketplace, a long-running feature on the site allowing third parties to use the company's infrastructure to sell direct to consumers, with Amazon taking a cut of the revenue.

It is an increasingly large part of the company's business. Marketplace's $9.2bn revenue in the last quarter accounts for about 20% of Amazon's total income, and it ships about the same amount of goods as Amazon's entire online and physical retail operations combined.

Some items, including the counterfeit AirPods, were sold using the "Fulfilled by Amazon" service, which allows independent retailers to ship their products to Amazon, where it stores the items in its own warehouses, uses its own staff to pick and pack them, and ships them using Amazon Prime delivery and Amazon Logistics drivers alongside its own orders.

When contacted by the Guardian, Amazon removed five counterfeit items from sale, and updated the information on the chargers to correctly describe them as used rather than new.

Fighting counterfeits on Amazon Marketplace has been a multi-year project for the company. In 2016, the sandal-maker Birkenstock announced it would stop selling products on the site due to widespread imitations. The German firm was tempted back a year later by the launch of the Amazon "brand registry", which allows manufacturers to register their own trademarks on the site to gain increased authority over product listings with their brand names.

In a 2016 lawsuit against the former Amazon supplier Mobile Star, Apple described buying more than 100 iPhones, power adapters and lightning cables sold as genuine, to discover that almost 90% of the products were counterfeit. Apple declined to comment for this story. Supreme, Anti Social Social Club, and Kylie Cosmetics did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In recent years, Amazon has succeeded in limiting some of the most egregious counterfeiting on its platform.

The company said: "Amazon investigated and took action on 95% of all notices of potential infringement received from Brand Registry within eight hours. With our proactive innovations that learn from the information in Brand Registry, brands in Brand Registry on average are finding and reporting 99% fewer suspected infringements than before the launch of Brand Registry."

But complaints of damaging counterfeiting continue, particularly from smaller manufacturers who cannot provide the staffing required to monitor the site for fakes on Amazon's behalf.

In early March, ElevationLab, a small iPhone accessory manufacturer, described discovering a counterfeit version of its Anchor headphone dock being sold on Amazon at a price that undercut its own legitimate offering by two cents - and took every resulting sale for five days.

ElevationLab argued that Amazon's refusal to allow manufacturers the power to impose a blanket ban on third-party sellers "makes them complicit in the rampant counterfeiting on their platform".

The company's founder, Casey Hopkins, added: "Amazon can hide behind the fact that independent sellers are doing the counterfeiting (though most people, like my mom, wouldn't read the fine print of who it's technically 'sold by' - they are just buying from Amazon when they buy something on Amazon)."

The board games manufacturer Asmodee has described similar problems. "We believe for some games that more than 70% of all sales in the US market have been counterfeit," the company's North America chief executive, Christian Petersen, said in January.

"There used to be a guy that could open up his trench coat and show you some counterfeit watches in an alley. Now you are getting that counterfeit merchandise under the guise of what seem very, very legitimate sources," Petersen said. "The legit market simply can't replicate the price of Chinese-made counterfeit goods selling directly from, for example, [a Fulfilled by Amazon] store in the US."

The enforcement of counterfeiting is largely considered a civil matter, with intellectual property holders bringing manufacturers and importers to court. Some counterfeits purchased by the Guardian were sold by Amazon sellers based in other countries, making their interception a UK Border Force responsibility.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Border Force works closely with companies who hold the rights to goods and partner law enforcement agencies to ensure co-ordinated action against those who attempt to import fake merchandise, making regular seizures both of bulk importations and individual counterfeit items."

A spokesman for the Intellectual Property Office, the government body responsible for co-ordinating intellectual property enforcement, said: "In terms of advice for consumers, the main thing - apart from being aware who you are actually buying from, and looking for the usual indicators that something might be amiss, such as unusually good prices - is to check the platform's standard process for raising complaints if there is an issue. It's also worth being aware that this is usually time-bound."

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 26th April 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Scotland Yard today pledged to put hundreds more officers on the beat as new figures showed a surge in offences of murder, knife crime, violence and muggings in London.

Figures released by the Met show there were 827,225 offences in the capital in the 12 months to the end of March, a 6.4 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

There were sharp increases in the number of homicides, up 44 per cent, knife crime offences, up 21 per cent, and violent robberies, up 36 per cent.

Police said there were 157 homicides in the last 12 months - including eight deaths in London's terror attacks - compared with 109 in the previous period. Senior officers say the increase in the murder rate is a real concern.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, responsible for territorial policing, said part of the increase was due to "greater levels of violence being used by individuals, often involving groups of multiple offenders".

Overall the number of violent offences rose by five per cent while knife crime offences jumped by 21.2 per cent - 12,115 to 14,680 offences.

The number of stabbings also rose by 5.7 per cent, from 4,446 to 4,700 offences, but police insisted the number involving young people under the age of 25 had "stabilised" with offences increasing by three per cent compared with a 24 per cent increase for the same period last year.

There were 30,609 violent muggings in the last 12 months, a rise of 36 per cent and the equivalent of 83 a day.

The number of thefts from the person - many phone snatches - leapt by 25 per cent, up from 38,013 to 47,587.

However, the Met claimed to have stemmed the rise in moped robberies In April 2017, there were 1,512 scooter, moped and motorcycle thefts - or 50 offences a day. In March 2018 the number had halved to 756.

While gun crime was down 4.6 per cent, shootings rose by 23.3 per cent - up 313 to 386 offences.

There was also a rise in the number of sexual offences, up 11 per cent, with the number of rapes rising by 18 per cent. There were 7,707 reported rapes in London in the last 12 months.

The total of burglaries in homes and businesses also rose by 11 per cent.

Mr Hewitt said the force was targeting violent crime "with hundreds more officers on visible patrols in affected communities".

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th April 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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A website linked to more than 4m cyber-attacks worldwide, including against some of Britain's biggest banks, has been shut down following a UK- and Netherlands-led operation. had 136,000 registered users and could be rented for about £10 to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, in which high volumes of internet traffic are launched at target computers to disable them.

Following an investigation led by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Dutch national police, servers were seized at 11.30am on Wednesday in the Netherlands, the US and Germany, effecting a takedown of the website.

Suspected members of the group were arrested on Tuesday in Scotland, Canada and Serbia, the NCA said. Croatian police said they had arrested a 19-year old man who faces charges of criminal acts against computer systems. The operation was supported by Europol and Police Scotland, as well as law enforcement in 11 countries.

NCA officers also raided a property in Bradford, where the agency believed a suspect linked to the address used the Webstresser service to target seven of the UK's biggest banks in attacks in November last year. The banks, which have not been named by investigators, were forced to reduce their operations or shut down entire systems, incurring costs in the hundreds of thousands.

Jo Goodall, senior investigating officer at the NCA, said: "A significant criminal website has been shut down and the sophisticated crime group behind it stopped as a result of an international investigation involving law enforcement agencies from 11 countries.

"The arrests made over the past two days show that the internet does not provide bulletproof anonymity to offenders and we expect to identify further suspects linked to the site in the coming weeks and months as we examine the evidence we have gathered."

Individuals with little or no technical knowledge could use the Webstresser service to launch crippling cyber-attacks across the world.

Other targets have included government institutions and police forces, as well as victims in the gaming industry.

Gert Ras, the head of the national hi-tech crime unit at the Dutch police, said: "By taking down the world's largest illegal DDoS seller in a worldwide joint law-enforcement operation based on NCA intelligence, we have made an unprecedented impact on DDoS cybercrime. Not only were the administrators of this illegal service arrested, but also users will now face prosecution and civil liability for caused damage.

"This is a warning to all wannabe DDoS-ers: do not DDoS because, through close law-enforcement collaboration, we will identify you, bring you to court and facilitate that you will be held liable by the victims for the huge damage you cause."

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-Cat) supported the investigation by assisting the exchange of information between all partners. A command-and-coordination post was set up at Europol's headquarters in The Hague, in the Netherlands, on the action day.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 25th April 20181 author Patrick Sawer)

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Police officers should be required to have experience of dealing with major child abuse cases before being promoted to the most senior ranks in the force, an official report has concluded.

The interim report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), says officers should not be allowed to rise to chief officer rank unless they have already acquired an operational knowledge of abuse cases and have received proper training in dealing with child exploitation issues.

Professor Alexis Jay, the chairwoman of the inquiry, yesterday urged the Home Office to amend its entry entry requirements for chief police officers and called on the College of Policing to develop the necessary training for senior officers.

Her recommendations follow what the IICSA found were years of institutional failures over the issue of child sex abuse, with political leaders all too frequently willing to place their own reputations ahead of protecting its victims.

Police forces and local authorities have been criticised for their apparent lack of urgency following reports of street grooming gangs and other child abuse scandals in places such as Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford and within institutions such as the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

In its report IICSA said: "The Inquiry considers that all too often institutions are prioritising the reputation of political leaders or the reputation of their staff, or avoiding legal liability, claims or insurance implications, over the welfare of children and tackling child sexual abuse."

The 109-page report concludes that "specific steps should be taken to raise the awareness of child sexual abuse within police forces, and to ensure that the right culture is developed and maintained".

Professor Jay also called for wide-ranging reform of the civil courts to make sure that abuse victims receive a fairer hearing when seeking compensation for their ordeal.

She said victims should receive "the same protection as vulnerable witnesses in criminal court cases" and criminal compensation rules should also be revised so that awards were not automatically refused when an applicant's had previous convictions "likely to be linked to child sexual abuse they endured".

The interim report revealed that as a result of its inquiry, 1,575 referrals were made by the inquiry team to a central police group dubbed Operation Hydrant between March 2015 and June 2017. These led to a total of 2,402 referrals being made to police forces and other law enforcement agencies.

However, of these, 1,749 in England and 117 in Wales resulted in no further action - 78% of the referrals made.

In England, a total of 457 are under ongoing investigation, 14 have resulted in charges and 14 convicted. In Wales, 15 are under investigation, none have been charged or convicted.

Professor Jay found there were several reasons for this low conviction rate, including "a lack of evidence, being unable to trace or identify a perpetrator, a perpetrator being deceased, or a victim and survivor no longer wanting to continue with the criminal process".

The inquiry has been dogged by controversy and setbacks since it was set up in 2014 by Theresa May in response to the growing number of revelations about historic and current child sex abuse cases.

Professor Jay, who took on the role in August 2016 after the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard, is the fourth person to chair the inquiry.

It found there was still a reluctance among the public to discuss child abuse and revealed that one radio advert for the IICSA Truth Project - set up to listen to abuse survivors - had been pulled following a complaint from a listener who said it might be heard by children. To date 1,040 accounts of sexual abuse have been heard by the Truth Project.

Professor Jay also said the language used around abuse cases was often hurtful to victims: "Children are still accused of 'child prostitution', 'risky behaviour' and 'promiscuity' and, as a result, continue to feel blamed or responsible for the sexual abuse they have suffered rather than being the victims of serious criminal acts," her report states.

The report's 18 recommendations also include the setting up of a register of workers in children's residential homes and the use of chaperones for children receiving medical care.

It also said the Government should apologise and pay financial compensation to Britons who were abused as children after being forcibly sent to Australia in the post-war years.

The inquiry will go on to look into what the internet industry is doing to protect children online and examine its response to online child sexual abuse.

There has been widespread criticism of social media companies for being slow to respond to fears over their platforms being used to groom children for abuse.

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 25th April 2018 authors Jennifer Newton and Joe Pinkstone)

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If you thought your electronically secured hotel room was safe, think again - because security experts have revealed that electronic lock systems found in global hotel chains can be hacked, allowing thieves to break into rooms without a trace.

The revelation comes from a group of researchers who hacked a lock system to produce a master key card that could open any door in the building.

It has raised fears that thieves could exploit these systems to make room key cards 'out of thin air'.

The research was conducted by Finland-based cyber security company F-Secure, which hacked a system called the Vision by Ving Card made by the world's largest lock manufacturer, Assa Abloy. It's a system that's used to secure millions of hotel rooms around the world.

The hack involved taking an ordinary electronic key card and using a small hardware device to read the information on it to produce multiple keys to the hotel.

These were then tested against multiple locks and within minutes the device was able to generate a master key that could open any door in the building.

The researchers said that even an expired key from a stay five years ago will work, along with cards that are used to access utility spaces such as garages or closets.

Although F-Secure stressed that during the research no hotel rooms were actually broken into and that the attack tools were not made available, Tomi Tuominen, the practice leader at F-Secure, said: 'You can imagine what a malicious person could do with the power to enter any hotel room with a master key created basically out of thin air.'

He added, however, that he didn't know of any group performing this attack in the world right now.

The researchers' interest in hacking hotel locks was sparked a decade ago when a colleague's laptop was stolen from a hotel room during a security conference.

When the researchers reported the theft, hotel staff dismissed their complaint given that there was not a single sign of forced entry, and no evidence of unauthorised access in the room entry logs.

The researchers decided to investigate the issue further, and chose to target a brand of lock known for quality and security.

It took a thorough understanding of the whole system's design to identify small flaws that, when combined, produced the attack.

The research took several thousand hours and was done on an on-and-off basis, and involved considerable amounts of trial and error.

Timo Hirvonen, Senior Security Consultant at F-Secure, added: 'We wanted to find out if it's possible to bypass the electronic lock without leaving a trace.

'Building a secure access control system is very difficult because there are so many things you need to get right.

'Only after we thoroughly understood how it was designed were we able to identify seemingly innocuous shortcomings. We creatively combined these shortcomings to come up with a method for creating master keys.'

F-Secure notified Assa Abloy of the findings and has collaborated with the lock-maker over the past year to implement software fixes and updates have been made available to affected properties.

Mr Tuominen explained: 'I would like to personally thank the Assa Abloy R&D team for their excellent cooperation in rectifying these issues.

'Because of their diligence and willingness to address the problems identified by our research, the hospitality world is now a safer place. We urge any establishment using this software to apply the update as soon as possible.'

###How thieves can hack electronic lock systems (Source : F-Secure)

First they need to obtain an ordinary electronic key - even one that's long expired, discarded, or used to access spaces such as a garage or closet.

They then read the key and use a small hardware device to derive more keys to the hotel.

These derived keys can be tested against any lock in the hotel and within minutes the device is able to generate a master key to the facility.

The device can then be used in place of a key to bypass any lock or alternatively to overwrite an existing key to contain the newly created master key.

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 24th April 2018 author Annie Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of popular Android apps targeted to children may be illegally scraping their personal information.

A study conducted on 5,885 apps meant for children in the Google Play Store found that more than half of the apps were improperly collecting data on kids.

This potentially puts them in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which limits data collection for kids under the age of 13.

Researchers from the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley downloaded apps on a smartphone between November 2016 and March 2018.

They then used an automated testing process where they ran the apps as a simulated user.

'Each of the apps studied was installed, on average, more than 750,000 times, which means they may be potentially in use by millions of devices on a global scale,' said the IMDEA Networks Institute, which also participated in the study, in a statement.

Of the 5,885 apps included in the study, 281 of them collected the phone's contact or GPS location data, while 184 of them sent the device's location to advertisers.

Over 1,000 of the apps also collected personal information and shared it with third parties.

Further, thousands of them appeared to violate Google's terms of service meant to prohibit those kinds of trackers in kid's apps.

The study also found that many apps aimed at children were transferring their data in a non-secure way.

Among the apps analyzed were games like Duolingo, Minion Rush, and Fun Kid Racing.

Tiny Lab Productions, which produces Fun Kid Racing, said it requires users to enter their age when they open the app and that if the user is under 13, they don't collect data.

Upon viewing the research, Google has said it's taking the report 'very seriously' and investigating its findings.

'Protecting kids and families is a top priority and our Designed for Families Program requires developers to abide by specific requirements above and beyond our standard Google Play policies,' the firm told NBC News.

'If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action'

'We always appreciate the research community's work to help make the Android ecosytem safer,' Google added.

However, it's very easy for users to enter a different age and skim the user agreement which explains all the data collected on them.

YouTube has been subject to various controversies since its creation in 2005.

It has become one of Google's fastest-growing operations in terms of sales by simplifying the process of distributing video online but putting in place few limits on content.

However, parents, regulators, advertisers and law enforcement have become increasingly concerned about the open nature of the service.

They have contended that Google must do more to banish and restrict access to inappropriate videos, whether it be propaganda from religious extremists and Russia or comedy skits that appear to show children being forcibly drowned.

Child exploitation and inappropriate content

By the end of last year YouTube said it had removed more than 50 user channels and has stopped running ads on more than 3.5 million videos since June.

In March last year, a disturbing Peppa Pig fake, found by journalist Laura June, shows a dentist with a huge syringe pulling out the character's teeth as she screams in distress.

Mrs June only realised the violent nature of the video as her three-year-old daughter watched it beside her.

Hundreds of these disturbing videos were found on YouTube by BBC Trending back in March.

All of these videos are easily accessed by children through YouTube's search results or recommended videos.

YouTube has been getting more stringent about deleting videos. One example is the wildly popular Toy Freaks YouTube channel featuring a single dad and his two daughters that was deleted last year.

Although it's unclear what exact policy the channel violated, the videos showed the girls in unusual situations that often involved gross-out food play and simulated vomiting.

The channel invented the 'bad baby' genre, and some videos showed the girls pretending to urinate on each other or fishing pacifiers out of the toilet.

Adverts being shown next to inappropriate videos

There has been widespread criticism that adverts are being shown on some clips depicting child exploitation.

YouTube has now tightened its rules on who qualifies for posting money-making ads.

Previously, channels with 10,000 total views qualified for the YouTube Partner Program which allows creators to collect some income from the adverts placed before their videos.

But YouTube's parent company Google has announced that from February 20, channels will need 1,000 subscribers and to have racked up 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 12 months regardless of total views, to qualify.

This is the biggest change to advertising rules on the site since its inception - and is another attempt to prevent the platform being 'co-opted by bad actors' after persistent complaints from advertisers over the past twelve months.

In November last year Lidl, Mars, Adidas, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Diageo and other big companies all pulled advertising from YouTube.

An investigation found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands.

One video of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views.

Issues with system for flagging inappropriate videos

Another investigation in November found YouTube's system for reporting sexual comments had serious faults.

As a result, volunteer moderators have revealed there could be as many as 100,000 predatory accounts leaving inappropriate comments on videos.

Users use an online form to report accounts they find inappropriate.

Part of this process involves sending links to the specific videos or comments they are referring to.

Investigators identified 28 comments that obviously violated YouTube's guidelines.

According to the BBC, some include the phone numbers of adults, or requests for videos to satisfy sexual fetishes.

The children in the videos appeared to be younger than 13, the minimum age for registering an account on YouTube.

It can also be very difficult for parents to identify these security risks on their own.

'While accessing a sensitive resource or sharing it over the internet does not necessarily mean that an app is in violation of COPPA, none of these apps attained veriable parental consent: if the [automated testing we performed] was able to trigger the functionality, then a child would as well,' the researchers wrote.

The issue has highlighted how challenging it can be to enforce rules set out in regulations like COPPA.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has come under fire recently as nearly two-dozen campaign groups say it's in violation of the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act because it's collecting personal data to target advertising to those aged under 13.

YouTube could be fined billions of dollars if the complaint is upheld.

The coalition accuses YouTube of violating COPPA and deliberately profiting off luring children into what Chester calls an 'ad-filled digital playground' where commercials for toys, theme parks or sneakers can surface alongside kid-oriented videos.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 24th April 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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A Company director, jammed speed cameras with a laser in order to escape fines whilst sticking his finger up at them, a court has heard.

The 67-year-old fitted a laser jammer to his white Range Rover which meant that his speed came up blank.

The perpetrator drove past mobile speed camera vans on the A19 near Easingwold, Thirsk and Crathorne three times in December and each time he was photographed gesturing to the camera with his middle finger.

But his actions were spotted by police, who noted his distinctive personalised registration plate.

When officers traced the vehicle to perpetrators home in the Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington, the businessman threw the device in the River Wharfe, which runs behind his home.

He also attempted to cheat justice by claiming he was working 60 miles away at the time and was not behind the wheel. But when later questioned, he admitted the offence.

The perpetrator appeared at Teesside Crown Court where he was jailed for eight months and banned from driving for a year for perverting the course of justice.

Although North Yorkshire Police were unable to find out how fast he had been travelling, Judge Simon Hickey said what he had done "strikes at the heart" of the justice system. The judge said he had a duty to pass a deterrent sentence.

After the case, Traffic Constable Andrew Forth said: "If you want to attract our attention, repeatedly gesturing at police camera vans with your middle finger while you're driving a distinctive car fitted with a laser jammer is an excellent way to do it.

"It's also an excellent way to end up in prison.

"As this individuals case shows, perverting the course of justice is a very serious charge which carries a custodial sentence."

"It's our job to keep road users safe across all 6,000 miles of North Yorkshire's roads. Mobile safety camera vans are an important tool to do that - they are proven to reduce collisions and they help save lives.

"Drivers who fit laser jammers may mistakenly feel smug about 'getting one over' on the police. But we can tell if motorists are using these devices, and we will always endeavour to bring them to justice."

(1st May 2018)

(New Scientist, dated 21st April 2018 author Chris Stokel-Walker)

Full article [Option 1]:

Card skimmers are so passe. More scammers ar directly hacking into cash machines to make them spit out money in Central and Western Europe, while the use of card skimmers that capture card details as someone uses an ATM is in decline.

Malware scams and "logical attacks", in which computers are plugged into a cash dispenser to get it to give up its loot, rose by 230 per cent between 2016 and 2017, according to the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST), which tracks ATM crime. About E1.5 million was lost that way last year. Card skimming incidents fell 23 per cent in the same period.

Robbing individual accounts is also on the decline, but the number of physical attacks against cash machines, including trying to blow them out of the walls, has risen. Overall, fraud attacks on ATM's in Western Europe have dropped 11 per cent.

The increasing use of chip and PIN on European cash cards is behind the decrease in card skimming, says Lachlan Gunn of EAST. "Organised criminals may be switching to malware and logical attacks to cash-out at ATMs instead," he says.

Different versions of ATM malware, including one called Cutlet Maker, which overrides the ATM operating system and sends instructions to empty the machine's cash reserves, have been offered for sale on the dark web for as little as $5000.

There may be another explanation, though. Card skimming incidents reduced significantly in July 2017, around the same time as Alexandru Sovu, who manufactured card skimmer circuit boards, was arrested by UK police. "Once you destroy the market, you destroy the crime," says Nick Webber of CELT, a digital forensic analysis consultancy.

Gangs focused on installing card skimmers on ATMs are thought to have refocused on the US, where chip and PIN is less widely adopted.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 21st April 2018 author Edward Malnick)

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Britain's spy agencies cannot offer "absolute protection" against Russian cyber attacks and are instead focused on preventing assaults that would "most impact on our way of life", in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, GCHQ is warning.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency's cyber defence unit, says it is a matter of "when, not if" Britain faces a "serious cyber attack".

He added that its focus was now on building "resilience" in "the systems we care about the most", believed to be Britain's power and water supplies, internet and transport networks, and health service.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that senior representatives of utility, transport and internet firms and the NHS have attended intelligence briefings at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the specific methods - known as "attack vectors" - being used by Russia to target Britain's critical national infrastructure, following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury last month.

Separately, the NCSC is understood to have written to the Government setting out urgent actions that departments and individual officials should take to protect Whitehall from cyber assaults.

These are in response to retaliatory measures against the Kremlin following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with a nerve agent last month.

Mr Martin, the NCSC's chief executive, confirmed GCHQ was on "heightened alert" for "follow-up activity" following the Salisbury attack - an explicit link the agency fell short of making when it issued an unprecedented joint warning with the FBI last week about cyber attacks by the Russian Government.

"Turning off the lights and the power supply by cyber attack is harder than Hollywood films sometimes make out," he writes.

"But we've seen enough malicious cyber attacks across the world, including against UK health services by a North Korean group last year, to know how services can be disrupted.

"Absolute protection is neither possible nor desirable; it's about having more resilience in the systems we care about the most, those where loss of service would have the most impact on our way of life.

"We have said that it is a matter of when, not if, the UK faces a serious cyber attack. So last week we presented detailed plans to Government departments about the priority areas where the NCSC will work with them, industry and law enforcement to improve the cyber resilience of the most important systems."

The Sunday Telegraph understands that, in addition to setting out the "priority areas" it will focus on protecting, the NCSC provided the Government with fresh advice on preventing attacks, based on the latest intelligence about attempted intrusions by Russian hackers.

The advice is believed to have ranged from highly technical measures that should be taken by particular departments, to more basic preventative steps that could be adopted by all civil servants.

Separately, the agency is understood to have called in representatives of organisations involved in the UK's critical national infrastructure for a series of briefings on ongoing activity in recent days, with the sessions including information on the warning signs to look out for, and advice on how to guard against the threats.

(The Telegraph, dated 23rd April 2018 author Jillian Ambrose)

Full article [Option 1]:

The UK has already suffered stealth cyber attacks on more than 80 manufacturing plants, with criminals deploying tactics that could put critical national infrastructure at risk.

Britain's spy agencies have warned the bosses of utilities, transport and health services that Russian hackers are invading unprotected networks ahead of a potentially serious attack.

But new evidence shows the attackers are already targeting UK factories. In an anonymous survey of manufacturers, almost half admitted that they have fallen prey to cyber warfare, according to trade group EEF.

Stephen Phipson, the boss of EEF, said 48pc of those surveyed said they have at some time been subject to a cyber security incident, and half of these suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result.

Almost 170 manufacturers across the country took part in the survey.

"There seems little doubt that many more attacks will have gone undetected," Mr Phipson added.

Oliver Welch, EEF's security expert, said it is possible that manufacturers may not even be aware. "There's evidence out there that there is quite a lot of malware that is designed to sit in the background, not really do very much, while the person infected doesn't even know that it is happening," he said.

A cyber security expert at INSINIA Security, speaking to The Daily Telegraph, said: "Russia has been probing us for years and years. This is far more than reconnaissance. Anyone who is burying their head in the sand and saying that Russia aren't attacking us is mad."

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st April 2018 author James Tapper)

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Organised criminal gangs are behind a growing wave of countryside crime, a rural police commissioner has warned.

Julia Mulligan, the head of the National Rural Crime Network and police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, said that so-called "county lines" drug-dealing and a sharp rise in thefts and burglaries targeting farms and villages showed that organised crime was growing.

More than 720 county lines drug networks have been set up by gangs in Manchester, Liverpool, London and other cities to sell crack cocaine and heroin in small towns and other parts of the countryside. Rural areas have also seen a 13% rise in thefts and burglaries so far this year, according to the leading farm insurer NFU Mutual.

Mulligan said police should take a more intelligence-led approach, and warned that people in the countryside say they will "take matters into their own hands".

"I think it's getting worse," she said. "People are extremely worried about drug dealing - they are seeing it far more often than they ever used to, and it's really a growing concern.

"It's not limited to drugs. I think we've got a serious and organised crime problem. They are opportunistic and make money from anything they can. They know they can go out into the countryside and they have a supply chain for getting rid of things they steal."

NFU Mutual's rural affairs specialist, Tim Price, said two tractors worth a total of £96,000 were recovered from Lithuania after they were stolen in Scotland in 2016, and nine tractors were discovered in northern Cyprus.

The groups scope out farms to see where equipment is kept, then bring a lorry to carry off hi-tech tractors, Land Rovers, all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes, he said.

Monica Akehurst's livestock farm in East Sussex was one of seven targeted over the Easter weekend by a gang who stole quad bikes and chainsaws. They returned the next night at 2.30am, when she was still awake helping a ewe deliver a lamb.

"I heard the strangest noise," she said. "It really unnerved me. You think the place is your own, and to think someone is there was scary. You feel vulnerable. I couldn't believe they would be so brazen as to come back the next night."

Mulligan said rural communities did not believe they were getting enough of a response from police.

"You talk to farmers and landowners and they say, 'We'll deal with this, there's no point reporting it to the police'. They're worried that if someone comes on to their land that they will do something that they could get into trouble for, but they're so exasperated that sometimes they feel that that is the only option that is open to them."

(1st May 2018)

(The Times, dated 17th April 2018 authors Deborah Haynes, Mark Bridge and Patrick Maguire) [Option 1]

A global Russian hacking offensive has targeted millions of computers to spy on governments and lay the foundation for an attack on infrastructure, Britain and the United States warned last night.

Tens of thousands of devices in British homes including wifi boxes are in the sights of Kremlin-backed cyber-experts who are searching for weaknesses such as easy-to-guess passwords and expired anti-virus software.

Security officials said yesterday that Russian hackers were seeking to find ways to sit invisibly within networks enabling them to launch a cyberattack should the order be given. Businesses have also been targeted as hackers have sought to steal intellectual property.

In an unprecedented warning, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the White House signalled that the extent of the penetration was so deep and wide spread that it had given President Putin a "tremendous weapon".

The public attack on Moscow's "malicious cyberactivity" by the two allies was an attempt to deter President Putin from unleashing his full cyber potential. It comes at a time of rising tensions between Moscow and the West after Britain, the US and France launched airstrikes on Syria, a close ally of Russia, following the suspected use of chemical weapons by President Assad's regime. The US accused the Kremlin yesterday of blocking efforts by international chemical weapons inspectors to visit the site of the chemical attack in Douma.

Theresa May has addressed MPs to defend her decision to strike. Britain has drawn a link between the action it took in Syria and a nerve agent attack in Salisbury attributed to Russia.

Ciaran Martin, head of the NCSC, part of GCHQ, said that the warning over Russia's activities was "a significant moment in the transatlantic fight back against Russian aggression in cyberspace". Russia-backed cyber attacks have directly targeted the UK government and elements of the country's critical national infrastructure, he said in the briefing with US officials.

Rob Joyce, the White House's outgoing cybersecurity co-ordinator, signalled that the United States was ready to hit back against Russia with offensive cyber-operations. "All elements of US power are available to push back on these types of intrusion," he said.

It can also be revealed that Labour MPs were warned of an attempt to hack parliamentary emails. It was not immediately clear whether the hack had been successful or whether it was linked to Russia. The emailed warning went out on Sunday night. The first UK-US "technical alert" was released to the public, governments and private firms, including internet service providers and other communications companies.

The alert revealed that :

- Tens of thousands of British devices have been scanned by Kremlin-backed hackers looking for soft targets.

- Routers, including some made by Cisco, one of the largest internet infrastructure companies, have been penetrated by Russia.

- Hackers are sitting invisibly in networks and routers, spying on private communications and positioning themselves if needed for a wider assault.

- Spoofing "man in the middle" attacks are being conducted whereby a hacker is able to intercept messages passing between two people and delete or distort the content.

"once you own the router, you own all the traffic (that flows through the router), to include the ability to harvest credentials, passwords, essentially monitor all traffic," Mr Joyce said. It is a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary."

Russia has been targeting Britain's networks and those of other countries for the past 20 years but this is the first time that the UK has published its actions so aggressively.

Mr Putin is also using disinformation and other forms of fake news as a weapon on social media and via state sponsored media outlets to sow dissent among countries, including Britain, as part of a goal to undermine European unity and the Nato alliance.

Britain led a multinational move in February to blame President Putin's military for the crippling global Not-Petya cyberattack a year ago. "Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace," Mr Martin said.

The ability to control networks and household devices that connect to the internet means Russia can launch denial-of-service attacks, potentially knocking out services such as healthcare, energy supplies and water supplies.

A British government spokesman said: " The attribution of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russia - we know what you are doing and you will not succeed."

Q & A

What is a router ?

The device that connects your computer and network to the internet. They often have a built-in "firewall" to stop viuses or hackers. If your router is compromised it can allow intruders in.

How is Russia hacking them ?

Mostly there is no hacking; the internet is scanned to find devices that offer an open goal. This includes some routers from Cisco where a system enabling remote configuration by admins can be exploited. It also includes routers that have default passwords such as "0-0-0-0" that owners have not changed, or older routers that no longer get security updates.

Why would they do that ?

A router is a gateway into a person or organisation's network so they can be used for espionage and to extract information. Once malicious actors have access to a network they can attack that network or use it as a springboard to attack others. That could include attacks on energy grids.

What is a man-in-the-middle attack ?

One in which information is hacked without the sender or recipient knowing.

Who is infected ?

Intelligence agencies say that millions of networks have been targeted by Russia.

What can I do to protect myself ?

Home and small business users should ensure they have the firewalls on their PCs enabled so they are not relying on any firewalls built into their router.


uaware addition - see also

Russia government hackers attacking critical national infrastructure in UK and US
(Sky News, dated 16th April 2018 author Alexander J Martin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Has a Russian intelligence agent hacked your wifi ?
(The Guardian, dated 17th April 2018 author James Ball)

Full article [Option 1]:

Russia is hacking tens of thousands of British home computers for a crippling cyber attack
(Mirror, dated 16th April 2018 author Ben Glaze)

Full article [Option 1]:

US and British governments warn businesses worldwide of Russian campain to hack routers
(Washington Post, dated 16th April 2018 author Ellen Nakashima)

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(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th April 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

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Brothels are being given the green light by police as a senior officer has suggested that they should not be raided if sex workers are safe.

Officers are turning a blind eye and avoiding "crackdowns" on brothels, which are said to be ineffective, as long as the prostitutes are there through their own free will.

One brothel owner, himself a former police officer, says that he is aware that he could be arrested but he is so confident that he will not be that he has even called police himself about two of the women working in his premises.

It is not illegal to buy and sell sex, but some activities associated with it are criminalised including running a brothel or to coercing women into selling sex.

National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Lead for Prostitution & Sex Working, Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic, said that their "priority is to keep these people safe and crack down on those who use their position to exploit the vulnerable".

He added: "Enforcement alone has proven to be an inadequate response to prostitution. Officers will now consider a range of factors, including the safety of those sex workers involved, before deciding on whether prosecution is the most appropriate response to an offence.

"An effective overall approach requires the police to work with key agencies, organisations, individuals and local communities, which we will continue to do."

A former detective, named only as Karl, now owns a brothel in central London and told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that he operates in the full knowledge of the police and they leave him alone as long as the women are safe.

"If they close us down, I could go to prison," he admits. "But then there's 15 to 20 girls who've got to find somewhere to work."

Karl added: "We don't allow drugs, no under-age girls. We check everyone's passports.

"If we've got any doubts that they're not there under their own free will, we will call the police."

He says that he has called in concerns of this kind on two occasions in the last 15 years.

The father-of-one, who makes around £60,000 a year from his limited company which is registered as an escort agency, said his teenage daughter does not know what he does.

One the women working at the brothel is British student Louise is British, who is using sex work to pay off £20,000 student debt from her diploma in marine biology.

She chooses to work three or four days a week for £900 than for minimum wage in a petrol station.

"I'm stubbornly defiant about my right to do this kind of work without people inflicting their moral judgements on me," she said.

"I don't want people to think I'm on drugs or that I've been forced or coerced or trafficked.

"I'm just here as a normal person who wants to make money, secure a future for myself and do this kind of work because I choose to."

Pictures of the women are posted on social media every day to attract clients, who are charged £70 for each half hour which is split £45 to the women and £25 to the brothel.

The issue of the legal response to prostitution is a hotly debated topic. Whilst some argue for a zero tolerance approach arguing it is inherently exploitative others say it is a matter of personal choice for people who need protecting by police.

It is widely recognised that those who are working off the street are safer. In some areas red-light districts have been turned into prostitution "safe zones".

The latest NPCC guidance, which is distributed to police forces across England and Wales, says that officers should take a "victim centred approach" to sex workers treating them not as "offenders per se but people who may become victims of crime for whom police services have a responsibility to protect".

It stresses that police should avoid "inappropriate tactical responses" as "these can have lasting harmful impacts on relationships between the Police, local outreach and support networks and individual sex workers".

As part of their approach to brothels some forces categorise them in risk categories and the give consideration to "the use of legislation relating to the management of a brothel as well as measures to address any related anti social behaviour".

The guidance states: "If the tactical decision is taken to enforce the legislation, consideration must be given to risk, harm and threat to sex workers who are likely to choose to continue to work, albeit in other areas which may be less safe or familiar to them.

"Moreover, brothel closures and 'raids' create a mistrust of all external agencies including outreach services. It is difficult to rebuild trust and ultimately reduces the amount of intelligence submitted to the police and puts sex workers at greater risk."

(1st May 2018)

(BBC News, dated 16th April 2018)

Full article :

The home secretary has apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation, saying it was "wrong" and "appalling" that some face deportation.

Many immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children have been told they are here illegally.

Amber Rudd said they would be helped to attain required documents for free and added she was concerned her department "sometimes loses sight" of individuals.

Labour's David Lammy said it was a "day of national shame".

The Tottenham MP said it was "inhumane and cruel" that it had taken the government so long to act.

Thousands of people arrived in the UK as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration 70 years ago.

They are known as the Windrush generation - a reference to the ship, the Empire Windrush, that brought workers from the West Indies to Britain in 1948.

Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.

However, the Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it, meaning it is difficult for the individuals to now prove they are in the UK legally.

Changes to immigration law in 2012, which requires people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, has highlighted the issue and left people fearful about their status.

Michael Braithwaite, who moved to the UK from Barbados when he was nine, was let go from his 15-year job as a special needs teaching assistant after his employers ruled he was an illegal immigrant.

He said: "I fell to pieces inside. I didn't actually show it externally until I came home and I sat and I cried.

"My whole life sunk right down to my feet. I was distraught."

Home Secretary Ms Rudd confirmed new measures to the House of Commons to help the Windrush generation.

These include:

- A new taskforce dedicated to helping those affected

- Plans to work with departments across government to gather evidence on behalf of immigrants - documentation for every year is usually expected, such as bank statements or payslips

- A pledge that all cases will be resolved in two weeks

- All fees for new documentation waived so people are not "out of pocket" - normally £229

- A new website will be set up with information and a direct contact point

Ms Rudd also said she was "concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy, and sometimes lose sight of the individual", but it was why she decided to act.

###'Warm words are not enough'

When asked how many of the Windrush generation had been deported as a result of this issue, Ms Rudd said she was "not aware of any person being removed" and would have to speak to High Commissioners of different Commonwealth countries to find out.

Earlier, immigration minister Caroline Nokes was asked by ITV News if any people had been deported. She said: "There have been some horrendous situations, which as a minister have appalled me."

Told by the reporter "that's a yes", and asked how many, she said: "No, I don't know the numbers, but what I'm determined to do going forward is we'll have no more of this."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the government should consider compensation for anyone who had been wrongly deported.

A Home Office spokeswoman said that any people who believe they or a family member have been wrongly deported should get in contact so their case can be reviewed.

The prime minister reversed her decision not to meet Commonwealth leaders to discuss the issue after the letter from Mr Lammy and MPs across the house. A meeting is now set for Tuesday.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed Mrs May's decision to meet other leaders, but added: "She must now go further and make an immediate commitment to recognise and secure the rights of Commonwealth citizens."

The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates there are 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971.

People born in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are thought to be more affected than those from other Commonwealth nations, as they were more likely to arrive on their parents' passports without their own ID documents.

Many have never applied for a passport in their own name or had their immigration status formalised, as they regarded themselves as British.

The Guardian newspaper has highlighted a number of cases of such people being threatened with deportation. [Option 1]

uaware Editors comment

How is it that some people that I probably went to school with (in the 1960's), went to work with, met socially with. Who paid their taxes and National Insurance, may even have fought for our (their) country; are now being told they have no legal right to live here.

This is bureacracy gone made, or plain incompetence. Not just of the current Tory government but of past regimes (including Labour) allowing this to go on since the 1950's .... nearly 68 years.

On the 4th May 2018 there was an article on Sky News of an 81 year old lady who lost her passport 9 year ago whilst visiting family in the West Indies. Her original passport showed that she was a British Citizen of several decades. She was refused entry to the UK (her home) for 9 years.

Why have I placed this article on this website; because this an example of a crime !

It also leads me onto the thought of what does a UK citizen require to prove their identity and that they have a right to live within the UK ? This is regardless of colour or ethnicity. I class myself as white but I have a tan. An Ancestry DNA test shows that I am 59% British, 11% Irish and 30% Western European (wherever that came from !). I have worked within the UK for decades, paid taxes, National Insurance and received NHS treatment over the years.

But if I can't PROVE who I am, I could end up like the Windrush people.

(1st May 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th April 2018 author Andrew Orlowski)

Full article [Option 1]:

GCHQ's cyber security advice group has formally warned of the risk of using ZTE equipment and services for the UK's telco infrastructure.

The National Cyber Security Centre, the cyber part of the UK's nerve centre, founded in 2016, has written to UK telecoms companies warning that using gear from the Chinese firm "would present risk to UK national security that could not be mitigated effectively or practicably".

In a statement, the British spooky agency confirmed the veracity of an FT report, but declined to elaborate on what specific vulnerability or threat had prompted the assessment:

"NCSC assess[es] that the national security risks arising from the use of ZTE equipment or services within the context of the existing UK telecommunications infrastructure cannot be mitigated," the agency told us in a statement.

Both Huawei and ZTE have been singled out by US spooks and Congress-critters as posing a potential threat. Unlike privately owned Huawei, with its roots in the bustling Hong Kong trading area, ZTE is a state-owned enterprise, and that's something the NCSC has pointed out.

However Huawei worked hard to address concerns, establishing a centre in Banbury, close to GCHQ, Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, nicknamed "the Cell". This allowed spooks to examine Huawaei's wares, including its source code. After initial issues about oversight, officials declared the Cell a success.

"HCSEC fulfilled its obligations in respect of the provision of assurance that any risks to UK national security from Huawei's involvement in the UK's critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated," the third annual report by the centre's Oversight Board noted last year. HCSEC demands the full source code to Huawei's products so it can rebuild the binaries and replicate their functionality. This isn't always easy, the report noted, due to "complex and subtle technical issues".

No backdoor has ever been found in any Huawei phone, but in 2012 one was found in a ZTE phones.

Last March we exclusively revealed that ZTE's Tier 2 visa licence had been suspended by the Home Office.

uaware comment

A similar warning was made nearly 20 years ago when BT was looking for alternatives to UK suppliers. This subsequently led to the demise of Marconi Telecommunications a UK manufacturer. Giving up national security for cheaper components and greater profit.

(1st May 2018)

(The Sunday Times, dated 15th April 2018 author Caroline Scott)

Full article [Option 1]:

Just as most people are turning in for the night and double-locking their doors, in some parts of the UK, small teams of concerned residents are pulling on combat gear and berets, and hitting the streets in an effort to keep their own communities safe. And before you ask, they insist that they're not vigilantes.

The 15-strong Night Angel Patrol Group, mostly former servicemen - maroon beret, red fleece - cover Pitsea, a small town east of Basildon, Essex. Three miles to the north, the similarly clad Wick Patrol Group - motto: walk, observe, report - cover Wickford. They say they are preventing break-ins, deterring vandals and breaking up fights, stepping into the gap left by the loss of nearly 400 police officers in Essex over the past six years.

The issues of crime and security are deadly serious, but there is a slight whiff of Dad's Army to all this. Patrollers reply to my inquiies in a covert fashion via Facebook: "Yer, Thas me. Leader Night Angel Patrol."

Duncan Lamont, as friendly father of five, formed the Night Angels in December last year after a spate of robberies and crime in the Basildon area. "People are fed up with the crime rate going up and up," he says. "There are stabbings every day, cars getting broken into and houses turned over. People are threatened and assaulted, and there are no police on the beat any more".

The incident that really touched him involved a young mother overwhelmed by a group of youths at a cashpoint. "They grabbed the baby from her pram and refused to handher over unti the lady got money out for them."

Originally from Glasgow, Lamont, 46 who works in the construction industry, has served in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. After an appeal for volunteers on Facebook, Lamont and his team set out in five groups of three, wearing uniforms bought on eBay. "I don't want vigilantes, and I've been lucky so far. We have to be extremely careful how we approach people committing crime or it could be us in front of a judge for assault."

Lamont believes the Night Angels act as a deterrent as much as anything else. "At 2am, I'm going to find "undesirables" looking for something to steal. They see us and think twice."

Basildon Police have naturally cast a wary eye over their operations, and they had an awkward relationship until recently, when both the Night Angels and the Wick Patrol Group approached Andreas Schoyen, assistant directorof the Alliance of Guardian Angels Europe, and asked if they could join forces. The Guardian Angels first appeared in London in the 1980's, then seemed to disappear, but Schoyen insists that they never really went away. "We have 5,000-plus members on six continents," he say.

Next year, they celebrate 40 years as an organisation and 30 years in the capital, moving around to wherever they are needed. Having patrolled the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing, they are now concentrating efforts in Lambeth and Wandsworth. Schoyen, 54, who works for a mental health trust, says there are more requests daily from all over the UK, with new chapters in development in Bristol, Swindon, Manchester and parts of Scotland.

Mainly comprising ex-police officers or armed foces, the Angels never disclose their exact numbers for security reasons, but, Schoyen says, "the feeling on the streets is that we are never enough. There are a lot of nervous neighbourhoods. Our aim is to encourage them to become courageous communities."

Among other stories, he mentions a cashpoint outside a pub in Kilburn, northwest London, where customers were routinely robbed as they drew out money. The police were "too busy" to come out, but the presence of the Angels acted as a deterrent.

"We work in a partnership with the police and local authorities as well as local businesses," Schoyen says. Training new Angels takes three months and all recruits undergo police and criminal record checks. Neither he nor any of the volunteer Angels is paid. So why does he do it ?

"We want to act as positive role models to get young people engaged in being part of the solution, rather than the problem," he says.

Two former Metropolitan Police Officers, Tony Nash (commander) and David McKelvey (detective chief inspector) have turned the Angels community spirit into a business model, forming what might be the first private police force since the establishment of the Bow Street Runners. "We spent three months walking around Belgravia, Mayfair and Hampstead, and we didn't see a single policeman on the street," McKelvey, 55, explains. "Yet there was an increase in moped robberies, car crime and house break-ins. People have been bundled to the floor and had their watches stolen. They've had knives held to their throats. Moped robbers are like modern-day cowboys - completely out of control."

McKelvey wanted to bring back the concept of the old fashioned bobby people know by name, My Local Bobby was born. These bobbies are former policemen or ex-military, who know the law, are experienced at risk assessment and have trained in close protection. "The last thing you want is someone who is going to get involved in knifepoint robbery and get attacked himself."

Currently, only four Bobbies are out and about in Belgravia, where the local police station has just closed. "But I have a team of 30 detectives and we have better surveillance capability and equipment than most forces," McKelvey says.

The subscription based service starts at £100 - £200 a month; for this, your local Bobby will patrol about 250 houses, watching out for "undesirables". Additional services include key holding and chaperoning should you feel particularly vulnerable, your Bobby will walk you home. Even Dixon of Dock Green didn't do that.

It's not just about stopping crime," Mckelvey says. "If something does go wrong, you know you're gong to get one of the best detectives in the UK. Between us, we've investigated hundreds of murders and thousands of break-ins. We're not setting out replace the police, we're a complimentary service".

The timing is serendipidous, with Britain's police forces forecast to lose £700m in the next two years, a steadily rising crime rate and 38 of the 73 police stations in the capital earmarked for closure. People want crime prevented, McKelvey says. "If it does happen, they want an officer to come to their homes. Sadly, people no longer feel confident those two things are going to happen."

Superintendent Tania Coulson of the Met Police says: "The Met does not support activities by individuals or groups who target suspected criminals. This type of action could jeopardise or interfere with ongoing investigations. Anyone who has information about a suspect or witnesses a crime should contact police as soon as possible so it can be investigated."

Home Security

"We are seeing an increase of break-ins when people are in their homes", says Roberto Fiorentino, chief executive of Croma Security Solutions, which caters for private properties as well as Ministry of Defence premises. "Most properties have alarms and locks, so the easiest thing is to grab the occupant and force them to hand over valuables." He suggests training household members in what to do in an emergency, as well as installing high-security locks that can be opened with one key for a quick escape.

Following the death of Henry Vincent, who was attempting to burgle a property in southeast London, homeowners are questioning what they can legally do to defend themselves. "Police advice is that you should phone them first, but this is not always possible," says Marie Bourke, senior associate at Russell-Cooke solicitors.

"According to the law, a person can use reasonable force against an intruder in their home, reasonable force is not defined under current legislation.

A homeowner must act honestly and instinctively when confronting an uninvited visitor. They must have the genuine belief that they are in danger and that they must protect themselves."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 13th April 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Murders are become harder to solve, the head of Scotland Yard has said as she defended a falling conviction rate.

As the number of murder investigations launched in London so far this year reaches 57, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said that officers were finding the cases "very challenging" as they increasingly see younger victims targeted in group attacks.

Police officers are often met with a "wall of silence" and struggle to prove to the standard required to charge them who was responsible, the commissioner admitted.

It comes as London's monthly murder rate overtook New York for the first time amid a surge in knife violence.

"The fact is that we have had over 50 people killed in the first few months of this year. A high proportion of those who lost their lives were young people, a high proportion were stabbings and a high proportion involved extreme violence in groups," Ms Dick said.

When asked whether she was concerned that the murder detection rate fell to 72 per cent in London last year from its normal levels of around 90 per cent she said that officers faced a "challenging environment".

"Not only in terms of the volume," she said. "In fact a bigger issue is the complexity. These cases are not a classic whodunnit where somebody is deceased and we have no idea who has done that. More often than not we have a very good idea very early about who was involved in that fight on the street.

"Proving which one of those people did that is hard, proving that when we are met very frequently by a complete wall of silence, where very often nobody wants to tell us anything initially. Proving to standard where CPS will charge is a very big challenge.

"Also, you have got a group on group, that's complex. You have got less cooperation and less intelligence than we would like, that's complex, and very frequently I am sorry to say that the person who has died was armed as well and that leads to claims of self defence. There may not other evidence to suggest what has happened.

"These are hard cases to prove, tragic for the families if we cannot."

She argued that a detection rate above 70pc was still "strong and good and great".

Commander Jim Stokley, head of the Met's Gangs and Organised Crime Command, added that the "age demographic is changing", pointing out: "The victims are getting younger and younger and the suspects are getting younger."

The Commissioner admitted that weapons were "too freely available on the streets of London" and that there was an onus on officers to get "better and better" at monitoring and reacting to events on social media as "the ease of some of their communication and the speed from a slight disagreement into serious crime has increased enormously".

Ms Dick said tackling violent crime was her "highest priority", but she admitted that her homicide detectives were "very stretched" and City of London Police had taken over one the investigation into the death of a man in Hackney.

"If they can help I will be asking for it," she said. "I am not proud."

She said that "of course" she would like more officers, but added that they had prioritised homicide and had moved people into the unit from other parts of the force.

In an effort to crackdown on rising violent crime the Metropolitan Police have also launched a taskforce which has so far been deployed to two problem boroughs, understood to both be in north London.

David Musker, Commander North London, said that in what has been described as "Al Capone"policing the task force will be embedded in communities looking at tactics they can use to arrest those responsible for crime.

"We will use old fashioned policing," he said. "The people that I have recruited in that are street wise borough based cops from local communities."

(Guardian, dated 13th April 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police commissioner has defended the use of controversial stop-and-search powers after she reported a more than fourfold increase in their use in London over the last year.

Cressida Dick said there had been 106 uses of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in the year to March 2018, compared with 23 in the same period a year earlier.

Section 60 allows officers to stop and search any person without suspicion within an area designated by a senior police officer if they believe violence has occurred, or is about to occur. For every use of section 60 several people could be searched.

The legislation was criticised by Theresa May in 2014, when she was home secretary, for damaging community relations. Statistics have repeatedly shown stop-and-search powers are disproportionately used against black and minority ethnic people.

Dick said police would use the power sparingly, but rising arrest rates supported its use. Her comments come against a backdrop of more than 50 murders in London so far this year.

"We're absolutely determined that our stop-and-searches will be professional, captured on body-worn video [cameras] by well-trained officers who are using intelligence, and that it is of course lawful to do it," she said.

Leaflets and social media, such as Twitter, are used to advise the public of section 60 authority areas when the power is implemented.

Dick said: "We also make sure local people are aware of what we're doing, particularly when section 60 is in place. We put messages out across the community about what we either fear is about to happen or what has just happened which is putting fear into the community."

Her comments in support of the powers contradict findings in the government's serious violence strategy. Documents detailing the measures, unveiled on Monday to great fanfare amid a rise in knife and gun crime, said changes in the level of stop-and-search use had had a "minimal effect".

"Personally I've looked at a lot of the research over the years and I think that it is conflicting, that's for sure," Dick said. "I don't think anybody has done the definitive piece of work."

She said, however, that officers knew "absolutely" that for certain types of crime in certain areas the tactic was effective. "We scrutinise the levels of stop-and-searches all the time and involve local people in looking at what we're doing, why we're doing it and I can tell you the public are overwhelmingly supportive of it."

The serious violence strategy unveiled by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said data did not support claims that a reduction in the overall use of stop-and-search was behind an increase in violent crime.

"Research by the College of Policing and the Home Office has also shown that changes in the level of stop and search have only minimal effects - at best - on trends in violent crime, even when measured at the local level," the document read.

(Independent, dated 10th April 2018 author May Bulman)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of children aged 16 and under treated for stab wounds in hospitals has soared more than 60 per cent in the last five years, highlighting a "disturbing" trend towards younger victims, The Independent can reveal.

NHS figures show the number of stab victims in England aged 10 to 16 rose by 63 per cent between 2011-12 and 2016-17 - four times the rate of increase in the population as a whole.

It comes amid a spate of violence in London involving young people, which has seen 10 teenagers killed since the start of the year alone, seven of them with knives.

An analysis of the most recent data available shows 285 youngsters below 17 were treated for "assaults with a sharp object" in 2016-17, compared with 175 in 2012-13.

The biggest increase was among 15-year-olds, with the number of children this age seen by consultants for knife wounds up by 85 per cent since 2012, from 52 to 96.

These figures mark a considerably starker rise than the overall number of stabbings treated in England, which rose by 14 per cent in the same period, from 3,888 to 4,434.

Tom Isaac, a youth worker who supports stabbing victims at a paediatrics unit in south London, said there had been an "obvious and disturbing" fall in the ages of young people being treated for knife wounds.

Oasis Youth, the service he heads at St Thomas' Hospital, has seen a spate of referrals this year, with 2018 set to be the busiest year since it began. Last year, the most commonly referred age group was 15 (26 per cent), followed by children aged just 13 (14 per cent).

Mr Isaac said: "We have sadly always seen a regular amount of young people referred to Oasis Youth Support since we started the service back in 2010. However, the last 12 months we have noticed an obvious and disturbing shift in the average ages.

"Two years ago, those who attended our A&E due to stabbings where usually 17 years old and up; now it starts from 15 year olds."

Ebinehita Iyere, a youth worker in south London, said young people were falling into violence at a younger age in part because they are "getting smarter" due to technology and are able to "absorb negativity more quickly" from violence going on around them.

"A lot of these children live on estates and in communities that are prone to high levels of policing, and the lack of realisation of the impact on everyone around them," she said.

"Some of these kids live in households where their parents, uncles, cousins or siblings have been a victim of perpetrator of violence, and many services have failed to holistically support them. Police didn't help, services didn't help.

"The thing with this is that when they are younger, they don't see it as drastic because they react on impulse. It's a reenactment of what they see everywhere around them, from the games they're playing to the violence on their estates."

Rhammel Afflick, who works in the youth sector, said the figures showed that the increase in violence with injury wasn't just down to improvements in the recording crime, which has often been cited as a reason for increases.

He added: "We've always known that young people are more at risk as they reach secondary school age. Concern has been raised repeatedly since the spikes in 2008 and 2009 about the importance of prevention work starting at an early age because of the rises in young people getting involved at a younger age.

"This should serve as a wake-up call. We can't only be concerned about serious youth violence when it results in death, when we know so many young people are victims of serious attacks from a young age."

The government has faced questions this week over the recent surge in violent crime, which has resulted in more than 50 killings in London since the start of the year.

Six teenagers were stabbed within 90 minutes in the capital last Thursday, with a 13-year-old boy among the victims of four separate knife attacks. The incidents took place as protesters gathered elsewhere in the capital to demand action to prevent young people dying.

Tottenham MP David Lammy said violence in London was the "worst I've ever seen it", and warned there was "absolutely no sign" of an end to the bloodshed following a spate of murders as drugs drive turf wars between gangs.

The Home Office published its £40m serious violence strategy on Monday, which vowed to tackle violent drugs gangs and introduce prevention incentives, among other pledges.

But Amber Rudd came under fire after the strategy neglected to mention cuts of more than 20,000 police officers since 2010.

The home secretary said she had not seen a leaked Home Office document, which threatened to overshadow the launch of her much-hyped strategy by suggesting police cuts had "likely contributed" to rising violence and "encouraged" offenders.

In a speech about violent crime on Monday, Ms Rudd said: "We need to engage with our young people early and to provide the incentives and credible alternatives that will prevent them from being drawn into crime in the first place. This in my view is the best long-term solution."

She announced a new £11m Early Intervention Youth Fund to help communities run early intervention and prevention programmes for young people, saying she wanted local communities to be "front and centre of our response to violent crime".

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th April 2018 authors Lizzie Edmonds, Jonathan Prynn and Naomi Ackerman) [Option 1]

Title of core article :

Gold hero Tom's gay rights rallying cry - Diver lashes out at Commonwealth over 37 countries where it's illegal "to be who I am" before London summit.

Tom Daley today made an impassioned appeal for anti-gay laws to be scrapped across the Commonwealth as he won a diving gold medal at the Games.

Harsh Punishments

More than half of the 71 countries in the world whose laws criminalise homosexuality are in the Commonwealth.

Sexual relationships between women are banned in 45 countries worldwide.

Anti-gay laws are in place in 37 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, with punishments ranging from flogging and imprisonment to death.

In eight countries worldwide, anti-gay laws include the death penalty, according to an annual report released last year by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). These include Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Gay people in Bangladesh and Sierra Leone face life imprisonment, and Barbados and Pakistan the same law stands, though it is rarely enforced.

Trinidad and Tobago has a 25 year prison sentence, Malaysia has a penalty of 20 years, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia 14 years, and in Jamaica and St Kitts punishments including up to 10 years jail and hard labour.

The law in Botswanna allows seven years imprisonment for engaging in a gay relationship, whaile courts in Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzania can impose up to five years, and Ghana it is up to three years.

More than 120 countries have decriminalised homosexuality and more than two dozen recognise same sex marriage.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Argentina all legalised homossexuality in the 19th century, while England and Wales changed the law to allow men aged 21 and over to have sexual relationships in 1967. Scotland followed in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982.

(1st May 2018)

(Action Fraud, dated 13th April 2018)

Fraudulent websites alleging to offer cryptocurrency investments are dishonestly using the image of Martin Lewis, the founder and editor for, as an endorsement for their companies.

The adverts using Martin Lewis to promote illicit schemes can be found on social media and other websites. Clicking on the advert takes you to the full article where Martin Lewis image is presented along with fake quotes recommending investments in bitcoin and other digital currencies with the fraudulent "company". Alternatively clicking on the advert will take you to a page where you are required to input your contact details, the suspect company then phones you and encourages you to invest.

Martin Lewis has published a warning to the public saying "I don't do adverts. If you ever see one with my face or name on it, it is without my permission, and usually a scam". The full article can be found here;

Similarly these fraudulent websites are also misusing images and fabricating recommendations from the investors on Dragons Den. These adverts also claim the investors on the panel trade in cryptocurrencies using their services to try and legitimise their company.

What you need to do

- Don't assume it's authentic: Professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don't indicate that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can exploit the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.

- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision: A genuine bank or financial organisation won't force you to make a financial transaction on the spot. Always be wary if you're pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.

- Stay in control: Avoid unsolicited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you're thinking about making an investment, get impartial advice from an independent financial adviser - never use an adviser from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam.

- Visit Take Five ( and Cyber Aware ( for more information about how to protect yourself.

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th April 2018 author Ben Morgan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Motorists were today warned about thefts in a public car park in the heart of theatreland that has been dubbed the "most unsafe in London".

Father-of-two Sam Callear, 37, today called on operator NCP to boost its security after a "shocking" number of crimes were reported to police at the 330-space Parker Street compound in Covent Garden.

Mr Callear, a project manager, fell victim to thieves when they broke into his VW Tigran and stole a £1,500 laptop as well as cash and other items on January 9. He had used the car park while he took his wife to a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana at the Royal Opera House and returned four hours later to find his front passenger window smashed and his possessions gone.

After feeling let down by NCP he submitted a Freedom of Information request to Scotland Yard and found a total of 92 crimes were recorded at the four-storey underground car park in one year. They included 71 thefts from vehicles, seven cases of criminal damage and a slew of minor incidents.

Mr Callear said: "This must be the most unsafe car park in London… there's more than one vehicle broken into each week. It's staggering."

He said the items stolen from him were all hidden from view inside the car, which had tinted windows. Other drivers have written scathing online warnings about the car park. One said: "Had car broken into on level B. Brick through the window and a guy round the corner on the same level had his car done as well. Local told me it was a nightly occurrence in that car park."

Last year Co-op Insurance published a list of the 10 most dangerous places to park vehicles, with Meridian Street in Stratford topping the list. Parker Mews, near the entrance to the NCP car park in Covent Garden, was seventh on the list. Four out of the 10 crime spots were car parks.

Mr Callear said: "NCP say theirs is a manned car park, that there's staff on site, and CCTV. But NCP are just hiding behind their terms and conditions by saying it's the drivers' responsibility if anything is stolen… with that level of criminality going on, paying £12 an hour is just not good enough."

NCP admitted that the high crime figures were "not news" to the company, but said it did everything it could to ensure security and urged drivers not to leave valuables in their cars.

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 11th April 2018 author Robin De Peyer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Fewer than three per cent of sexual offences reported using a flagship text message service on London's transport network have led to criminal charges, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Just 14 people have been charged as a result of the 505 reports made in the 18 months to January this year through the service.

No suspect was identified in almost half of all cases, while victims decided not to take further action in 127 of the reported incidents, according to British Transport Police.

The Report It To Stop It campaign was launched four years ago by Transport for London, the British Transport Police and the Met to encourage victims of sexual offences to use the BTP's 61016 text message service as a discreet way of reporting a crime.

The figures also showed the Tube lines which had the highest number of sex offences reported using the service.

Police today urged victims to use the service to "build up a profile" of offenders.

The committee's deputy chairwoman, Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry, said the rates of charges brought would increase the more incidents were reported as offenders are likely to have struck before.The figures, requested by City Hall's Police and Crime Committee, found there were 348 reported incidents on London Underground alone, of which 100 were on the Central Line - nearly double that of the next most reported line, the Victoria Line at 55.

"If we get the numbers then we can get the convictions," she said. "People who are sex pests on the Tube are going to be repeat offenders and the idea is to get as much information about them as possible so they can be caught when they eventually make a mistake.

"We've got to get across to people that there is a point in reporting all of this; we have to build up a picture of the scale of the problem."

The figures also revealed that almost twice as many sex offences were reported by text on the Central line as any other Tube route in the time period.

One hundred incidents were recorded on the line between July 2016 and January 2018 via the 61016 service.

The Central line is currently one of only two Underground routes without on-board CCTV. The Bakerloo line, on which 25 reports were made through the service, is the other.

Ms Berry added: "It's certainly worrying that there's two lines which don't have CCTV and there's quite a lot of offences that happened on both."

The figures relate to sex offences reported through the 61016 service on London's whole rail network, including the Tube, Overground, DLR and national rail services.

British Transport Police said the service had "revolutionised" the way victims can report assaults.

Detective inspector Brett Walker added: "We understand victims' concerns that they will not be taken seriously by police and we continue to work hard with our partners, including TfL, to change these perceptions.

"Every report, with as much detail as possible helps to build a picture of the offender and to prevent further offences from occurring."

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women campaign group, said the service was "important" but warned of a greater scale of offences that went unreported.

"Encouraging women and all victims of this sort of harassment to report it and not to feel like they just have to put up with it is really important. It's progress in itself," she said. "505 in 18 months is probably a massive underestimation of the scale of sexual harassment that's happening in public spaces."

TfL said Central line trains would be equipped with CCTV by 2023, adding that there are already 12,000 CCTV cameras operating on trains and at stations across the Tube network.

Siwan Hayward, TfL's Head of Transport Policing, said: "We know that for too long these crimes have gone unreported, but as a direct result of our Report It to Stop It campaign the number of people reporting these disgusting crimes is increasing.

"Every single report matters and helps build a picture of the offender so they can be caught and brought to justice."

Last week a viral Twitter thread by journalist Harriet Marsden shone a light on how commonplace harassment is on public transport.

She told how passengers looked on as a "drunk" male Tube passenger pestered and insulted a woman on the Circle line before calling her a "f***ing slag" and a "disgusting b****" by a man when she intervened. Her story was echoed by many commentators who had experienced similar behaviour.

A report to TfL's board earlier this year warned that rush hour delays and cancellations on the capital's Tubes and railways could be contributing to "a rise in aggression between passengers" as well as "threatening behaviour".

Crime on the TfL network was found have increased by almost seven per cent year on year, driven by increased reporting of sexual offences on the Tube.

Sexual offences reports on the Tube

The number of reports to police via the 61016 service between July 2016 and January 2018

Central Line : 100
Victoria Line : 55
Northern Line : 46
Jubilee Line : 45
Piccadilly Line : 25
Bakerloo Line : 25
District Line : 22
Hammersmith and City Line : 14
Metropolitan Line : 12
Circle Line : 4

Breakdown by rail grouping of the number of reports to police via the 61016 service between July 2016 and January 2018

London Underground : 348
Mainline train operators : 95
London Overground : 39
Docklands Light Railway : 9
TfL Rail : 7
Network rail : 7

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th April 2018 author Kate McCann)

Full article [Option 1]:

Car crime in middle-class neighbourhoods is rising, figures have revealed, as police say drivers should buy steering wheel locks and Faraday bags to block radio signals because new vehicles are easier to steal.

Research by The Telegraph reveals more than three quarters of investigations into car theft in England and Wales are unsolved and it is new high-tech keyless models being targeted, not older vehicles.

Over 78 per cent of car theft cases end with police failing to identify a suspect, amid claims forces are so stretched they don't have time to properly investigate car theft.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the man in charge of crime prevention for the West Midlands force, Mark Silvester, encouraged people to buy steering wheel locks and Faraday bags to keep their key fobs inside to prevent thieves hacking into their vehicles.

Keyless models, which have become increasingly popular with middle-class families, provide criminals with a new way of stealing cars by copying the electronic information and conning the car into thinking the key is present, allowing a thief to drive off.

Vehicles are being stolen from driveways around the country, but research shows wealthier areas just outside the capital and other big cities have been hit hardest.

Mr Silvester also warned owners to be careful when handing their fob over to valet parking services or car washes, as keys can be cloned "in seconds", allowing thieves to take the car at a later date without any external signs of damage.

His force, the West Midlands, has one of the worst car crime rates in the country - a 39 per cent increase in just one year between 2015/16 and 2016/17, according to the ONS.

He told The Telegraph: "We know cars are more difficult to steal by conventional means but from what we've seen on CCTV captured by witnesses and our own research we've got to say it's a known method of stealing a vehicle using electronic compromise.

"This isn't just unique to more expensive brands, we've seen all sorts of cars that have electronic technology on board - we've not just seen that with the prestige brands, a lot more run of the mill, volume car manufacturers are being affected in the same way as the prestige brands now.

"It can happen anywhere not just at home on the drive at night - a lot of this is software based, we do ask people to be aware of the software updates."

He also suggested people buy an inexpensive Faraday bag to keep their key fob in which prevents criminals from cloning it using radio frequencies.

Earlier this month Dave Thompson, the head of the West Midlands force, admitted his team grades calls based on how vulnerable the victim is because officers are too stretched to attend every call.

He told the Financial Times car crime had risen "quite dramatically" and is was affecting mainly middle-class areas.

Office for National Statistics figures analysed by The Telegraph show car theft has risen by 30 per cent in three years and jumped 20 per cent in 2017 alone.

Between March 2014 and March 2017 the number of recorded car thefts rose from 70,053 to 91,361, hitting levels not seen since 2011.

Overall 30 of the 44 forces in England and Wales saw an increase in car theft between 2012/13 and 2016/17 and some of the largest increases were in middle-class areas bordering London.

Hertfordshire and Surrey saw car theft increase by more than 35 per cent in the last four years, while Hampshire saw the largest spike in theft since 2012/13, rising 56 per cent.

Overall the Metropolitan Police had the largest number of offences in 2016/17 at 26,958 - a 25 per cent increase on the year before.

Just 14 forces saw a decline in car theft, with Dorset, Cheshire, South Wales, Lincolnshire and Dyfed-Powys recording the largest falls.


The police forces to have recorded the highest increase of offences in theft or un-authorised taking of a motor vehicle between 2012/13 and 2016/17 (%)

British Transport Police : +113.8%
Hampshire : 56.3%
West Yorkshire : +51.4%
Lancashire : +48.2%
Leicestershire : +44.3%
Greater Manchester : +43.3%
West Midlands : +43.1%
Surrey : + 41.4%
Bedfordshire : +40.2%
Hertfordshire : +36.8%
Kent : +33.5%

(1st May 2018)

(Mirror, dated 8th April 2018 authors Millicent Cooke and Helen Whitehouse)

Full article [Option 1]:

Parents are being urged to check their children's phones in an effort to keep them safe online.

One police force has posted a warning to parents asking them to look out for certain mobile phone apps in a bid to increase their awareness of cyber safety.

The list - titled "10 apps teens are using that parents need to know" - has been shared by Ivybridge and Rural Police on Facebook, reports the Plymouth Herald.

It is accompanied with the caption: "This is a list of some apps that teens may use....sharing for parents to increase awareness of cyber safety."

The force also includes the hashtags #keepthemsafeonline and #keepuptodateonline on the Facebook post.

The list itself was created by an American tech blogger called April Requard - and includes a number of apps that many parents might never have heard of.

Speaking about the list on her blog, Appsolutely April, Requard said: "We have to talk to our kids and teach them how to navigate through this online world.

"I believe strongly in not blocking everything but, in my opinion, there are certain apps that are just off-limits and I will share those with you in this [list]."

1) Omegle

One of the more recognisable names on the list, Omegle is a free online chat room that lets users talk anonymously to complete strangers.

Omegle, which was launched in 2009, randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they can chat to people all around the world.

The site now provides a mobile app that lets users chat with strangers from mobile devices.

2) Yubo (formerly called Yellow)

This app has had quite a lot press in the past for its similarity to adult dating apps - and it's been criticised for letting young users exchange texts and photos with nearby strangers.

Users are also able to "swipe" other users that they are interested in and swap selfies with each other.

Requard explained: "This app is designed to allow teens to flirt with each other in a Tinder-like atmosphere."

The app has been criticised due to concerns that the photo-based dating app could be used to trade naked pictures.

3) Calculator App lock

There's a lot more to this sneaky app than meets the eye - it allows users to hide private photos and videos in plain sight by disguising itself as a humble calculator.

It also allows users to write and store private notes and securely browse the internet with a private browser.

Requard explained: "This app might look like a calculator but it actually functions as a secret photo vault."

Other apps with similar settings include Secret Calculator Vault and Calculator + Photo Lock Vault.

See also :

4) is a social networking site where users create profiles and send each other anonymous questions.

Requard claimed that the app had been "linked to the most severe forms of cyberbullying" as it allows users to send cruel questions and messages completely anonymously.

The site, which was launched in 2010, came under fire following the deaths of two English teenagers who killed themselves after they were bullied on the site.

5) Kik messenger

Kik is a free instant messaging mobile app that allows users to send and receive messages, photos, videos and mobile web pages.

You can also join special groups and video chat using the app.

Requard said: "Kik has in built apps and web content that would be filtered on the home computer."

Kik is known for its features preserving users' anonymity, such as allowing users to register without providing a telephone number.

6) Hot or Not

Hot or Not is a game where you upload your best pictures and get rated by other users in your area.

The app also lets you see how "hot" your friends are and browse through a list of the "hottest" people nearby.

Requard said: "Strangers rate your profile. The goal is to lead to a hook up.

7) Burnbook

Burnbook is an anonymous gossip app that lets users post rumours about people through audio, messages, texts and photos.

Named after the "burn book" in teen movie Mean Girls, users can download the app for free, search for school "communities" within 10 miles, and share text, photo, and audio messages with other community members.

8) Wishbone

Wishbone is a controversial comparison app that allows users to compare whatever they want to.

Requard said she was concerned about it because it "allows users to compare kids against each other and rate them on a scale."

9) Whisper

Requard describes Whisper as an "anonymous app where the creators promote sharing secrets and meeting new people".

The service allows users to post and share private photo and video messages completely anonymously.

The posts, known as "whispers", consist of text superimposed over an image - which can be uploaded or selected from an in-app search engine.

The app was launched in 2012 and now has 250 million monthly users across 187 countries.

10) Instagram

Probably the best-known app on the list, Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service that is owned by Facebook.

Requard's concern is that users can have more than one account. She explained: "Many social media platforms allow for more than one user account.

"Kids will use one profile to interact with their friends and the other one is their "angel" account where they'd only post what they'd want their grandmother to see.

"In Instagram, kids call it a 'finsta' which means 'fake Instagram' account. Kids also like to text using Instagram because messages are deleted once a user deleted once a user leaves a conversation."

She also says that kids are more likely to use this app to message each other, as it is easy to delete private message.

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 7th April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain's most burgled district is in a leafy corner of Surrey where wealthy residents have been blighted by repeated break-ins.

The postcode of GU3, which includes parts of West Guildford, as well as the military town of Pirbright and villages like Fairlands, overtook Redbridge in east London as the burglary capital, according to

In Fairlands a thriving Neighbourhood Watch scheme has been launched in order to try and tackle the scourge.

A number of residents have even erected CCTV around their homes in the hope of deterring would-be burglars.

Former Surrey Police officer Shelia Willis, who runs the Neighbourhood Watch scheme said: "There was a break-in in Fairlands recently where two burglars smashed in the conservatory door to get in to the house.

"This happened at about 5.35 pm and it seems they may have been monitoring the movement of the family to determine when the property is vacant.

"The police were called. The neighbours were very kind and supportive throughout and it's great to have that community spirit."

One local burglary victim, who did not want to be named, said: "It was a bit ridiculous. We found two footprints in the garden, and they sent some new officers out. They told us it wasn't TV and they couldn't do anything."

The recent spike in burglaries across Britain, including in places like Surrey, has led to surge in the number of communities launching Neighbourhood Watch schemes.

Last month saw more than 900 new areas joining the scheme - up from around 150 in an average month.

Neighbourhood Watch - which was first launched in Cheshire in 1982 - encourages communities to be each other's eyes and ears, particularly in areas that do not have regular police patrols.

Around 8.7 million different schemes have now been registered across the UK.

Most schemes are launched after burglars move into a particular area and a number of homeowners are hit.

The recent surge in new members is in line with the current upturn in burglary offences across the country, which last year topped 410,000 across homes and businesses.

John Hayward-Cripps, the CEO of Neighbourhood Watch said: "We know from speaking with our members who have been victims of burglary what a devastating impact this crime can have on people who are left feeling vulnerable in their own homes where they should feel safe.

"From our experience the impact of burglary extends beyond the immediate victim to their wider community.

"When a burglary occurs it is a main driver for neighbours to come together and start Neighbourhood Watch Schemes and we have seen a significant upturn in the numbers of Neighbourhood Watch schemes being registered on our national database recently - 915 new schemes registered in March 2018 - up from an average of 150 new schemes registered per month over the preceding 6 months.

"Prevention is key to keeping people reassured and feeling safe from crime in their homes and in their neighbourhoods.

"Neighbourhood Watch builds stronger communities where people know and look out for each other, making burglaries more difficult to commit and reducing the number of victims who suffer the appalling effects of these crimes."

Burglary vs Postcode checker

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th April 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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As she prepares to mark one year in the job, Britain's most senior police officer today spoke of her pride in the Met for keeping London going in the "worst possible circumstances".

Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick highlighted the "resilience" of the force and the "amazing individuals" who responded to the four terror attacks in London and the Grenfell blaze which killed 71 people.

She admitted the spate of knife crime made her "angry" - and pledged that tackling violent crime was her priority.

Ms Dick, 57, the first female commissioner in the Met's 189-year history, said: "We have done a very good job. We have been very resilient. The city has been able to carry on going about its business because of good policing after each of those terrible events.

"I think we have been able to provide a good service in the worst possible circumstances to the people affected by the attacks."

She said her darkest hours were attending the funeral of PC Keith Palmer - the officer killed in the Westminster terror atrocity - and the scene at the Finsbury Park attack.

"That was so hard on the heels of the Westminster Bridge and the London Bridge attacks and people were really wondering, 'What is going to come next? Are our communities beginning to fight with each other in a way that is just the exact opposite of what London is all about?' In fact it did not prove to be thus at all - but it was a tense time and really sad time."

Ms Dick recently visited Glasgow where police have halved knife crime in a decade using a public health approach. She believes a similar strategy can work in London, though the capital is more complex.

"I would be naive to think we can reduce violent crime to zero but I definitely think we can reverse some of these trends," she said.

The Met chief agrees with Labour MP David Lammy that drugs are fuelling some of the street violence.

"We still have a high demand for drugs from people with heavy habits and recreational users, many of whom do not stop and think about the kind of horror and misery that lies behind the trade."

Speaking just days short of her first year in office, she praised a scheme in Brixton which has helped divert youngsters away from crime.

New statistics show that offences involving knife crime with injury rose in the last 12 months by six per cent. "I am not happy about that, it is too much, but it is not this enormous epidemic that people are talking about," she said. "There are plenty of us who can go about our business pretty certain that we are not going to be affected by this knife crime.

"These homicides are predominantly, tragically, affecting young people from certain areas of London and certain communities and that makes me angry and motivated to do something about it. But London remains a very safe city."

Ms Dick praised the force's counter-terrorist teams for thwarting "plot after plot" last year. The Met chief is also dealing with the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and her officers are reviewing 14 other deaths which some allege were Russian-sponsored assassinations.

However, she said she was not willing to waste resources on cases that had already been thoroughly investigated, adding: "We need people to come forward with evidence. Conspiracy theories are not particularly helpful."

On the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann in 2007, she said the extra cash granted to the Met to continue the inquiry was worth it. "There is a serious line of inquiry," she declared but wouldn't be drawn further.

Ms Dick said the Met was "wrestling with demands going up in some areas" notably sex offences and trafficking. She welcomed an extra £112 million from Mayor Sadiq Khan which will help keep officer numbers above 30,000 "for the next two or three years".

uaware comment

As of the 17th April 2018, according to Sky News, there has been one knife murder every other day so far this year. When does the term epidemic become definitive in the eyes of politicians and the London Police Commissioner ?

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th April 2018 author Nicholas Cecil)

Full article [Option 1]:

A row erupted today as Boris Johnson's former police deputy claimed officers had been withdrawn from parts of London where killings have spiralled.

Stephen Greenhalgh claimed that the Met could learn from New York by pouring more officers into neighbourhoods where gun and knife crimes are expected to be committed.

"The reality is that we have seen the police withdraw," said Mr Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing between 2012 and 2016.

"We need to get police officers into these neighbourhoods blighted by violence otherwise they will fall in on themselves. We also need the Mayor and all senior politicians to give political cover to police officers to use intelligence-led, targeted stop-and-search to take knives and guns off the streets."

Government minister Kit Malthouse, who was also a deputy mayor for policing when Mr Johnson ran City Hall, criticised Mayor Sadiq Khan over the spate of shootings and knifings. He retweeted another former top aide of Mr Johnson, Daniel Moylan, who messaged: "Tragic events in London in recent days show that @SadiqKhan can only get so far by self-publicity and blaming the Government."

However, Sophie Linden, Mr Khan's deputy mayor for policing, argued that funding cuts were leading to the "glue of society" becoming unstuck. She stressed that £110 million allocated from City Hall would ensure 1,000 more officers on the streets to respond to the rise in stabbings and shootings.

"But the police can't do it alone," she added. "It's about communities and families working together, with schools, with mental health services."

uaware comment

I wonder where the £110 million has come from ? Why are they only spending it now ?
Where are a 1000 more police officers coming from, you can's just take a person off of the streets. It takes at least a year before they can be classed as probationary. Or, are they going to make existing police officers work extra hours, that will help their stress levels.

Update (6th April 2018) : It appears there are not going to be 1000 extra officers. They are just not going to sack a 1000 officers for now !

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 3rd April 2018 author Christian Gysin)

Full article [Option 1]:

A Home Office official was at the centre of a £6million conspiracy which allowed hundreds of illegal immigrants into the country.

Shamsu Iqbal, 61, was the lynchpin of a gang which exploited his 'trusted' position to falsify records for at least 437 people.

Yesterday all four men involved in the scam were found guilty following a trial and will now be sentenced at a hearing next week.

They face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

The potential loss to the taxpayer was assessed by Home Office statisticians as £56million, based on the amount the 437 illegal immigrants could have falsely claimed in benefits over the six years of the fraud.

However, exactly how many immigrants were given 'ghost' identities may never be known.

The conspiracy netted the gang themselves more than £6.18million, with much of the money spirited back to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Dubai, where the criminals have strong links.

When ringleader Iqbal was arrested investigators found bank accounts containing more than £1million in cash.

His job at the Home Office would have earned him around £23,000 a year.

Iqbal and his three co-conspirators would split the £14,000 fee they charged to the illegal immigrants they helped.

Prosecutors explained how Iqbal would access Home Office records of migrants who had been granted the right to stay in Britain and swap them for details of imposters.

Investigators with the Home Office's Anti-Corruption Unit spent three years identifying at least 437 cases of documents being faked.

The 'ghost' imposter would get a new identity of a real migrant who had been given either 'leave to remain' or 'no time limit' status to stay in Britain.

A senior Home Office source told the Mail: 'The bottom line is that we may never know the true number of people this gang helped stay in the country.

'There could be literally hundreds more on their books that we simply haven't found.

'The deception that has been allowed to go on for years is highly embarrassing to the Home Office.

'Some of those given new identities could even be potential terrorists. Many of them have simply melted away meaning we will never trace them.'

Iqbal's co-accused were Sheikh Muhammad Usman, 45, legal case worker Mohammad Khawar Aftab Hussain, 49, and worker Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, 48.

Usman is a qualified lawyer of Pakistani origin who worked at a number of firms in London. British citizen Hussain, who was born in Pakistan, and Ali, who came to Britain from Bangladesh aged 12, both worked at solicitors' practices in London.

This enabled them to 'engage in the criminality' as they would facilitate correspondence with the Home Office on behalf of the 'impostors' to help 'straighten out' their immigration status, the trial heard.

Iqbal had his own secure log-on to a Home Office system which records details of individual cases and applications to remain in the country.

Croydon Crown Court heard the gang were caught out when they tried to alter the details of a legal migrant from Ghana who had been jailed for robbery and was liable for deportation.

Iqbal, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Usman, from Wandsworth, South London, Hussain from Colliers Wood, South London, and Ali, from Ilford, Essex, all denied 13 charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration spanning from January 2010 to April 2016.

(Daily Mail, dated 14th January 2018 authors Christian Gysin and David Churchill)

Full article [Option 1]:

A gang including a Home Office worker masterminded a conspiracy to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country, a court has heard.

Shamsu Iqbal was allegedly the lynchpin of the group that used his 'trusted' Home Office position to falsify documents - with investigators identifying 437 potential cases over five years.

The 61-year-old changed the records of migrants who had permission to stay in the UK, giving their identities to people who were in Britain illegally, jurors heard.

Iqbal's co-accused - lawyers Sheikh Muhammad Usman, 45, Mohammad Khawar Aftab Hussain, 49, and Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, 47 - would then allegedly contact the Home Office to 'straighten out' the status of 'impostors' who had taken on another identity.

Alexandra Felix, prosecuting, told Croydon Crown Court: 'The result would be the impostor would end up with documents in their own names which enable them to be in the UK should they ever be challenged when they were not properly entitled to be here.

'This case is about these defendants engaging in conduct as part of an agreement which enables people who are not entitled to be in the UK to stay in the UK. Mr Iqbal is the lynchpin. It is his ability to access Home Office records that really enabled it.'

The court heard Iqbal had a secure log-on to a Home Office system known as the Case Information Database, which holds details of applications to remain in the UK.

Investigators found he had been 'looking at data he should not have been looking at' while allegedly changing details and issuing documents that could allow people in Britain illegally to remain.

Jurors were told one man, Azad Passa, came to Britain as a child in 1989 before being granted citizenship in 2005. It is alleged his Home Office record was manipulated to submit a fake request for a Biometric Residence Permit identity card - so that it could then be issued to another man, Gufranur Rahaman, who was in the UK on a time-limited student visa.

The court was told that, in the fake application, the address given to the Home Office for Mr Passa was linked to Usman, who represented Mr Rahaman.

Miss Felix said: 'Mr Usman was acting for and assisting in facilitating Mr Rahaman remaining in the UK, disguising himself as Mr Passa. This was not coincidence or a mistake. These were deliberate acts.

'Iqbal and Usman, clearly by their actions, were engaged with Rahaman to pass him off as Mr Passa. They wanted to legitimise and regularise him to enable him to stay in the UK when he was not entitled to do so.'

The court was also told of Ghanaian national Kofi Norman, who had entered the UK in 1996 and was granted indefinite leave to remain. It is claimed that, in March 2014, Iqbal logged that Mr Norman had called the Home Office to request a Biometric Residence Permit.

However, Mr Norman had been jailed for five years for robbery in 2000 and was liable for deportation. Miss Felix told the court the plot, also allegedly involving Hussain, was to allow another man, Nurul Islam, to remain in the country when he was not entitled to do so.

She told the court: 'The Crown says that what we have here demonstrates that Iqbal, Hussain and the impostor were heavily involved in claiming the identity of Kofi Norman.'

The court heard that by February 2016, Home Office investigators had identified 437 potential cases, but these were narrowed down to more than 20 for the ten-week trial, which opened on Thursday, because there was not time to investigate them all.

Iqbal, an administrator working for the asylum workload and administration team, was suspended in May 2015 and sacked in October. Iqbal, Usman, Hussain and Ali had each other's numbers saved on their mobile phones and data shows they corresponded with one another.

Miss Felix said money went in and out of an account of a south London restaurant in which Iqbal had a business interest, even though the restaurant was shut at the time.

Iqbal, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Usman, from Wandsworth, south London, Hussain from Colliers Wood, south-west London, and Ali, from Ilford, Essex, all deny charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Ali also faces a count of unlawful possession of two British and 11 Bangladeshi passports relating to someone else, which he also denies. The trial continues.

(Telegraph, dated 26th September 2009)

Full article [Option 1]:

Aliya Ali, a senior member of staff in the Croydon office, was even promoted during the period in which she was allowing the illegal immigrants into the country.

Only a handful of the immigrants have been captured by the authorities and it is unlikely the rest will be found, the court heard.

At Croydon Crown Court on Friday, mother-of-two Ali, of Merton, south London, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to 12 charges of misconduct as a public officer, and asking for 37 offences to be taken into consideration.

Ali claimed she did it to help Asian families settle in and earn a living but Judge Ruth Downing said: "They could have been criminals or terrorists."

Shahnaz Ahmed, prosecuting, said Ali, whose children go to a private school, worked as an executive officer at the immigration unit in Croydon, Surrey, and was elevated to higher executive.

"She was able to grant leave to stay by falsifying records, using random computer numbers and manipulating false applications from asylum seekers."

Those she helped were mainly Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans and Afghans. Suspicious investigators, who spent two months full-time on their searches, have only been able to trace five of them.

When interviewed in July last year, Pakistan-born Ali, wife of an £80,000-a-year finance director, said:" I just wanted them to earn some money."

Joan Mitchell, defending, said:"She is highly regarded in the community, and always ready to help others. They were people who had families and wanted to earn money. Being an intelligent woman, she would have realised the risks she was running.

"She is utterly ashamed. Her family has been torn apart and her husband may have to give up his job because of the children."

Judge Downing told Ali: "I am genuinely shocked. This is a most serious offence. You, single-handedly decided on a course of action that enabled people to break the rules. Many speak of your high standing in the community and you should reflect on the disservice you have done to your community.

"It was a breach of trust in a senior position and you were promoted in the course of criminal activity.

"You say you only did it to assist because they wanted an honest life in this country but you had no idea whether they fitted into that category and whether, hidden among them, there were criminals, terrorists or the like. I accept you didn't do it for financial gain."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police should stop using a lack of resources as an excuse for failing to attend "low level crimes", the Victims' Commissioner has said.

An increasing number of offences are now dealt with by email or telephone and last year the Metropolitan Police announced a new policy meaning thousands of relatively minor crimes are only investigated if a suspect has been identified.

The shift in policy has been blamed on cuts in police budgets, with chief officers arguing they need to concentrate dwindling resources in order to tackle terrorism, cyber-crime and historic child sex offences.

But Baroness Newlove, who was appointed by the government to speak up for the victims of crime, said people whose homes had been vandalised or burgled were just as deserving of attention as those reporting more serious offences.

While she acknowledged there would always be priorities in policing, she said the shift towards dealing with crimes on the phone or via email, was damaging confidence in the service.

The Conservative peer - whose husband Garry was kicked to death by a group of youths outside their Warrington home in 2007 - told the Daily Telegraph: "It is not always about money and constantly talking about the lack resources is the wrong sort of rhetoric for the victims of crime to be hearing from the police.

"Victims want to feel supported, especially by those who are there to protect them. Getting an email or a phone call is not the same as a face to face response. It is not just about getting a crime number."

She said crime victims were often so sympathetic to the police over the financial pressures they faced, that they were reluctant to report minor offences for fear of adding to their burden.

"I do not look at the crime, I look at the victim and what I hear from many people whose homes have been broken into, or whose lives are being blighted by anti-social behaviour, is 'oh the police don't have the resources to deal with this kind of thing'.

"If you have a burglary victim then they have a huge amount to deal with from tidying up the mess and dealing with insurance as well as having to cope with the trauma and the fear. They should not have to deal with the police via email or telephone.

"It is as if they are making the excuses for the police, but it isn't all about money. There was money available years ago but they still didn't come. Garry's case started off with criminal damage and he ended up losing his life."

She added: "What message does it send when they are constantly told that the police won't come out to cases of vandalism and criminal damage?"

Baroness Newlove warned that ignoring so called "low level" crimes was allowing anti-social behaviour to "fester" in communities and this was inevitably resulting in more serious offending.

The mother of three said anti-social behaviour had not gone away over the last decade and still needed the police's focus.

She said: "I get very frustrated when I hear anti-social behaviour described as low level. It is not low level, it is impactive, both mentally and physically. You have people who are terrified in their own homes and neighbourhoods and that is not acceptable.

"It doesn't go away because you put up some CCTV. I am passionate about neighbourhood policing. Having that one to one contact is so important."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

London's monthly murder rate has overtaken that of New York Cityfor the first time, after the worrying surge of stabbings continued across the capital.

The death of a 20-year-old man in Wandsworth yesterday (Sun) took to 30, the number of people stabbed to death in the London since the start of 2018.

Soaring levels of knife crime has helped the UK capital outstrip New York in terms of murders for the last two months running.

In February, London recorded 15 homicides compared to New York's 14, while in March there were 22, as opposed to 21 in the US city.

Eight Londoners, most of them under 30, were murdered in the six days between March 14 and March 20.

The latest victim was stabbed to death after leaving a bar in the Earlsfield area of south West London in the early hours of yesterday morning, getting April off to a bloody start.

Police were called at around 1.10am following reports that a man had been found injured in Ellerton Road.

When officers and paramedics arrived at the scene they discovered a 20-year-old man suffering from a stab wound.

Despite their efforts they were unable to save his life and he was declared dead at the scene shortly before 2am.

It is believed the victim had been drinking in nearby bar and was attacked after leaving.

Scotland Yard said the victim's family had been informed, but he is yet to be formally identified.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody at a west London police station.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said: "Sadly, another family has been left devastated with the tragic death of a young man from an act of violence. We are appealing to anyone who was in the area to come forward."

While the populations of London and New York are similar with around 8 million people living in each, the number of murders in the US city it still around twice that here.

But the gap has been narrowing in recent years with the experts crediting the NYPD's zero- tolerance neighbourhood policing model with driving down the homicide rate from a high of around 2,000 in 1990 to some 230 last year.

Crime statistics also suggest you are almost six times more likely to be burgled in the British capital than in the US city, and one and a half times more likely to fall victim to a robbery.

London also has almost three times the number of reported rapes, although differences in the way the figures are recorded is thought to impact on the overall statistics.

The Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has vowed to tackle the epidemic of knife crime across the capital and has suggested that social media could be responsible for street violence.

She has announced a new task force of about 100 officers to help tackle violent crime in London.

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd April 2018 author Eleanor Rose)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police gangs unit in Islington is behind an innovative scheme that has helped to secure a dramatic drop in youth knife violence as rates soared elsewhere in the capital.

Detective Inspector Will Lexton-Jones of the Met's Integrated Gangs Team put the reduction down to the unit's work to reach potential offenders earlier "when the seeds are being sown".

Islington saw the dramatic drop in youth stabbings after the team was launched two years ago with not a single under-25 person killed by a knife since then.

In the past 12 months there have been 72 stabbings of under-25s, said DI Lexton-Jones, down 13 per cent on the previous year, while the figure rose by 15 per cent elsewhere across the capital.

13 Londoners were killed in two weeks this month and fatal stabbings in England and Wales rose to their highest levels since 2011.

Neighbouring Camden which is now policed by a joint team of officers since a merger last year saw an increase to 99 incidents in 12 months.

Camden was also the scene last month of the tragic stabbing deaths of Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam Mohamed, 20, knifed within hours of each other on February 20.

DI Lexton-Jones said of the comparison: "It isn't a matter of good and bad practice. But it is a borough where you might expect relatively similar crime figures, yet knife crime is an area where Camden is simply far higher.

"There are a lot of reasons behind knife crime in Camden. But it's also true that they don't have as developed an integrated approach."

Islington's £500,000-a-year highly integrated scheme was launched in mid-2016 after a spate of knife deaths the previous year, including the brutal killing of 18-year-old Stefan Appleton who was stabbed through the heart in a local park.

Forty staff from police and young offenders support officers to probation services, the NHS and the Job Centre, work together from the same office with a group of up to 70 people aged 10 to 24 deemed at risk of offending.

It can be challenging because agencies approach the issue from different "philosophies", said DI Lexton-Jones, but being on the same site helps, and: "Our shared vision in this partnership is to stop the kids hurting each other."

The team's welfare-oriented approach echoes that of Glasgow's Violence Reduction Unit, which hit headlines after its mission to treat knife crime as a public health problem halved the city's murder rate over ten years.

DI Lexton-Jones said: "The VRU is going into families far earlier in the timeline, asking who is going to be a murderer in 15 years' time and working to understand the evolution of violence from birth.

"We are also trying to understand who could become entrenched in violence, although the difference is we are working with people from 10 to 24, so we are further along that timeline.

"But we are taking an approach where we are not simply trying to arrest our way out of it," he said, adding that law enforcement is not "mutually exclusive" with giving young people support.

Islington, where a third of people are thought to be living in poverty, is a hard place to grow up for some, and disenfranchisement feeds into youth offending.

"Some young people lead difficult lives. They live in rough estates, maybe near where gangs are operating. It can be quite a concerning walk to school," said DI Lexton-Jones.

Teens sometimes turn to knives in a bid to make themselves feel safer - not realising they are statistically more likely to become a victim of crime if they are carrying a blade.

And those from tougher backgrounds being supported by the state find much of that help falls away when they turn 18, yet their problems have not disappeared.

With the IGT, they can meet once or twice a week with a case worker who supports them as they seek education, training or employment.

There is still much work to be done, he said, but: "It does appear to have worked in this challenging environment, and it is certainly something worth looking at in other parts of London."

The scheme is funded until 2020.


(1st May 2018)

MARCH 2018

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Mark Bridge)

Full article [Option 1]:

MPs are widening the scope of their fake news inquiry to investigate data brokers after claims that companies may have obtained personal details from Facebook without users' consent.

Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said that there was "a lack of scrutiny on who's holding our data and where it ends up".

He said: "It's part of the question of whether data gathered for commercial or research purposes has been used to spread hyper-partisan messages in political campaigns."

This month Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook executive, told the committee he feared that data from the social network had been sold to brokers. He said he suspected that companies were exploiting the same lack of checks that enabled a researcher to collect data on 50 million users and sell it to Cambridge Analytica, a British firm accused of electoral meddling.

Facebook closed this loophole in 2015 but Mr Parakilas believes it is likely that others exploited it to gather datasets of hundreds of millions of users to sell to third parties.

Facebook announced this week that it would end partnerships with data brokers that enabled advertisers to use the information to target consumers.

The company is trying to regain users trust after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the leak of a 2016 internal memo from Andrew Bosworth, an executive. He said: "maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack co-ordinated on our tools." Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chairman, said that the disagreed with the memo.

Mr Collions said that there was a lack of transparency in the data industry. He claimed that the Information Commissioner should be able to search data companies and seize their files without a court warrant. The committee has not said which companies it may look at.

The data companies in Britain include Oracle, which claims to access "over 700 million social messages daily via feeds from more than 40 million" sites. The company declined to say how it obtained this data.

MicroStrategy previously claimed to have data from 17.5 million Facebook users who "opted in". The company says it has not used social data since 2014. The companies say they comply with all applicable laws. Cambridge Analytica denies any wrongdoing.

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Mark Bridge)

Full article [Option 1]:

Anger at Facebook's failure to protect millions of users whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica has prompted many people to check for the first time what information tech companies hold on them.

Many users have been surprised at the sheer volume of information retained. A series of posts on Twitter by Dylan Curran, a consultant, highlighted this week the "preposterous" scale of surveillance after he found that Google and Facebook stored 6.1GB of data - equivalent to more than 300,000 Word documents - tracking his daily life.

The Times asked two regular users of Google and Facebook to download their own data to see what the companies stored on them.


Searches and Voice Commands

Mat Taylor, this newspaper's digital development editor, found that his Google "takeout" archive totalled almost a terrabyte (the equivalent of 1,024GB, or tens of millions of Word files). He said:" It includesvery video I've watched on YouTube, audio recordings of every voice command I've made to my Google Home smart speakersor my phoes and every search I've made going back to 2010."

A map of all your movements

Google tracks your location when you log into Google products or have location history enabled on your phone. The company's terms state : "We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS and other sensors." In other words, Google can map Matt's precise
movement on a given day.

All your photos

Google Photos is the default photo app on many Android phones. Google keeps users' photos along with "metadata" specifying where and the photo was taken. Matt's file contains 110,110 photographs.

All your emails and chats

Google stores all emails sent vis its Gmail service, as well as Google Hangout chats. It Matt's case, the company holds 181,822 emails.

Every website you've visited

Google's Chrome overtook Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the most widely used web browser four years ago. This shows users actions even when they're not using Google search or Gmail. Matt's Chrome file contains a browsing history of 9,668 websites, 222 bookmarks and 66 passwords, with details of ads seen.

Documents you've deleted

Some people who have downloaded their Google takeout have expressed surprise that documents they deleted years ago appeared in their files. Google says these files were stored only where they were not "cleared from trash" or where people work collaboratively in Google Drive and destroying a file could inconvenience their colleagues.


Your friends, your ex-friends, the people you've rejected

Laura Greatrex, a third year student in English at Newcastle University, has been on Facebook for eight years. Her download was 1.46Gb, more than a million Word documents. The file includes a list of 575 friends, 329 friends whom she deleted and 125 declined requests, with the dates. She said: It's worrying that informtion I've deleted still appears."

Friends Addresses

If you use Facebook's "events" feature, the company probably holds your postal address and the addresses of your contacts.Ms Greatrex said: " This means they have a record of my address and my friend's addresses."

Your contacts and call data

Facebook doesn't only know your friends but your other contacts and their mobile numbers. In the case of Android phone owners, Facebook holds a complete log of calls and text messages. People have expressed shock that Facebook would collect details of calls and texts that weren't made on the company's apps.

Your Documents

Facebook keeps copies of any documents and photos you send on Facebook Messenger app. Ms Greatrex's file contained 360 messenger conversations and 187 documents relating to university.

A record of every login

Facebook stores a record of every time you log in to your account, noting IP address, time and device. It also keeps track of your whereabouts and records everytime you "check-in" in a specific place. It keeps records of all your posts, messages, "likes" and ads viewed.


Google and facebook both say they only store data that users give them permission to store, the data is available for people to see and they offer privacy settings.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 31st March 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police forces across country have been quietly rolling out technology which allows them to download the entire contents of victim's phone without a warrant.

At least 26 forces now use technology which allows them to to extract location data, conversations on encrypted apps, call logs, emails, text messages, photographs, passwords and internet searches among other information.

The searches can be done instantly at a local police station and are used by many forces for low level crime - regardless of whether or not someone is charged - and can be used on victims and witnesses as well as suspects.

The Metropolitan Police, which was the first force to introduce the extraction devices during the London 2012 Olympics, has admitted that when a single photograph is required from a victim's phone every one is downloaded.

The revelations have led to concern that it could prevent victims coming forward, particularly in domestic abuse or rape cases.

Naz Shah MP, who sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "We have a situation where people who do not even know their data has been downloaded.

"If police want to search someones house then they have to get an arrest warrant , but there is less information in a house than on the phone, which contains crucial information about conversations."

She has called on the Government to investigate the use as a matter of urgency, adding: "We currently have no legal framework or scrutiny, which leaves people open to abuse".

Privacy campaigners are calling for a change in the law to force the police to obtain a warrant before they using extraction technology.

There are no clear rules on how long the data can be held, but a procurement document from the Met from 2015 says that it could require "maintenance for an indefinite period extending for many years".

Some forces, each of which provide different guidance, have even equipped officers with portable mobile phone extraction kits which can be used on the go.

The technology has been rolled out despite concerns raised by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, who found in a review that in half of cases officers had not received authorisation to download data and potentially sensitive data was lost.

The Metropolitan Police in their instructions for using the devices admit that the kiosk will "obtain all data of a particular type, rather than just the individual data that is relevant to a particular investigation."

Continuing: "For example, if a photograph on a 'witness' mobile phone is relevant, because it shows an offence being committed, then the kiosk will acquire all photographs on that phone, rather than just the photographs of the offence. If text messages to a victim of harassment are required to investigate the harassment allegations, then the kiosk will acquire all text messages on that phone."

Wiltshire Police's guidelines, which are currently under review, note that "collateral intrusion" is "unavoidable".

Unlike a search of a home in which an inventory of confiscated possessions is provided, police are not required to inform people what data has been extracted.

Though guidelines say consent should be obtained from a witness before their phone is accessed, it is possible for this need to be overridden.

A series of Freedom of Information requests by Privacy International revealed that 26 police forces are now using the technology and a further three are about to begin trials.

Their report concludes: "Traditional search practices, where no warrant is required, are wholly inappropriate for such a deeply intrusive search.

"Searching a mobile phone is not like searching a home or even a physical body search. A phone search is far more exhaustive, because of the vast amount of personal data that we now store on our devices."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Government is committed to ensuring that police officers have the appropriate powers to tackle crime. As part of this it is important that they can, in limited circumstances, access data that may be vital to their investigations.

"Current legislation allows data to be accessed when there are reasonable grounds to believe it contains evidence in relation to an offence and only then in adherence with data protection and human rights obligations.

"The Government is clear that the use of all police powers must be necessary, proportionate and lawful."

The National Police Chiefs Council say that the decision to use the technology is made in a case-by-case basis and "defined by the investigative requirements of the case".

Senior officers say it is not practical to obtain a warrant in each case and information is often needed quickly to prevent crime.

(1st April 2018)

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Graeme Paton)

Full article [Option 1]:

A serious air rage incident is logged on at least one British flight every day, the latest figures show.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers last year, much the same total as in 2016 but more than double the number five years earlier.

One passenger tried to open an aircraft door during a flight, another threw coffee over one of the cabin crew when his debit card was rejected. The CAA has begun a social media campaign to warn of the consequences of misbehaving. It reminds passengers that drunkenness on an aircraft can result in a fine of up to £5,000 and two years in jail. Passengers may also have to reimburse the airline
for diverting a flight, which can cost up to £80,000.

The number of air rage incidents has failed to drop over the past three years, running at between 422 and 417, despite the introduction of a code of practice in 2016 to cut drunkenness. This includes reporting yobbish behaviour to the police and preventing drunk passengers from boarding planes.

Man airlines say that tougher action is needed at airports. Figures from airlines UK, which represents British carriers, show that lower-level drunken incidents on flights rose by 12 per cent last year compared with 2016.

The Home Office is preparing a call for evidence on plans to extend the Licensing Act 2003 to "airside" bars, restaurants and shops located beyond the passport and security checks. Local authorities could then restrict the hours of sales or shut down problem bars. Richard Stephenson, a CAA director, said: " The very small number of passengers who behave in a disruptive manner (must) understand that this is unacceptable."

The CAA figures show that 162 serious incidents were logged in 2013. It increased to 209 in 2014 and 422 in 2015 before levelling out at 418 in 2016 and 417 last year. Almost three quarters of the incidents involve alcohol.

Airlines UK said: " There is no reason why outlets selling alcohol airside are treated any differently to those.....on the high street.

Karen Dee, of the Airport Operators Association, said the levelling off of incidents over three years showed that its code of practice was working, particularly as passenger numbers had risen.

###Worst Offenders

- A man travelling with three young children tried to buy food but had his card declined. He three coffee over a cabin crew member, causing burns to the arm. The passenger was removed by police on landing.

- A drunk passenger on a flight to Budapest was refused more alcohol. He attempted to force open a door and had to be restrained by other passengers. He was escorted from the flight by Hungarian police.

- A man drank a litre of vodka and attempted to smoke in the lavatory. A friend attempted to restrain him, leading to a violent altercation. Cabin crew pleaded with the captain to divert to another airport, where the passenger was arrested.

(1st April 2018)

(BBC News, dated 30th March 2018 author Danny Shaw)

Full article :

Thousands of suspects under investigation for violent and sexual offences have been released without condition since a 28-day limit on police bail was introduced a year ago.

In one three-month period, 12 forces released more than 3,000 violent crime, murder, rape and sexual offences suspects, figures seen by the BBC show.

A police watchdog previously warned this could endanger vulnerable victims.

The Home Office said it had asked forces to review their use of bail.

Under the new measures, which were introduced in England and Wales last April, bail should only be used when deemed "necessary and proportionate" and must be limited to 28 days.

Extensions of up to three months must be authorised by a senior police officer, and longer periods only granted by a court in exceptional circumstances.

The changes were brought in to stop police bailing suspects for extended periods of time without resolution, following a series of high-profile cases.

The figures for April to June 2017, disclosed to the BBC under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, reveal the number of suspects bailed has fallen by two-thirds since the restrictions came into force.

Among the suspects released were 1,692 people arrested for violent crimes, 768 rape suspects and 31 questioned on suspicion of murder.

'Alarming' findings

Pre-charge bail is when police release an arrested suspect but continue their investigation before deciding whether to charge them.

Suspects who are still subject to police inquiries but spared bail conditions are released "under investigation" - without a date to report back to authorities.

The BBC contacted the 43 forces in England and Wales to find out how many people suspected of violent and sexual offences had been released in this way.

The 12 constabularies who provided data were Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall, Kent, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Yorkshire.

Last week, England and Wales' policing watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) said vulnerable victims could be put at risk by suspects who were released without bail conditions.

The BBC findings reinforced HMICFRS research that found the use of bail had fallen by 65% and in suspected domestic abuse cases by 75%.

Zoe Billingham, inspector of constabulary, said a "blanket" ban on bail use had emerged, potentially putting vulnerable people, like domestic violence victims, at risk.

"Bail is a demonstration that someone is looking out for them," she told the BBC.

"The pendulum has swung too far in one direction, we suspect," she said, adding there had been "a lack of direction" about the new arrangements.

The charity Women's Aid described the figures as "shocking" and "alarming", saying it had warned the Home Office the reforms could have a "negative impact" on the protection and safety of domestic abuse survivors.

A spokeswoman said: "We need certainty that the police are applying bail conditions in domestic abuse cases.

"There needs to be clear understanding of the risk and threat of harm to domestic abuse victims."

Implementation 'under review'

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) recognised that concerns "have been raised" about the bail reforms and welcomed the HMICFRS' recommendations.

NPCC lead for bail management, Assistant Chief Constable Darren Martland, added that the implementation of the changes were under "constant review."

Prior to their implementation, the College of Policing branded the reform plans "dangerous".

The Home Office said a large drop in the use of bail was expected but should not affect the police response to incidents of domestic abuse.

It said conditional pre-charge bail "continues to be available where it is necessary and proportionate, such as to protect victims and witnesses".

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 29th March 2018 author Kieren McCarthy)

Full article [Option 1]:

Brexit has hit the internet, and not in a good way.

In an official statement Thursday, the European Commission announced it will cancel all 300,000 domains under the .eu top-level domain that have a UK registrant, following Britain's eventual departure from the European Union.

"As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organizations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names," the document states, adding, "or if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date."

Going even further, the EC suggested that existing .eu domains might be cancelled the moment Brexit happens - expected to be 366 days from now - with no right of appeal.

"As a result of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a holder of a domain name does no longer fulfil the general eligibility criteria... the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts."

According to the most recent statistics available, there are just over 317,000 .eu domains registered in the UK - roughly a tenth of the registry's total. Cancelling them would have a huge impact on the company that runs .eu, EURid, and on the EU itself which receives millions of euros annually in surplus funds.

Even more remarkably, EURid made it plain that it was not consulted over the plans or even informed what they were before the news was made public. A statement on the registry's site begins: "Yesterday afternoon, EURid, the registry manager of the .eu TLD, received the link to the European Commission's communication concerning Brexit and the .eu TLD."


The EU has the right to decide the policies for registering .eu domains; it wrote the rules and contracts and was awarded the extension in 2005 by domain name overseer ICANN. This was a largely diplomatic effort to get Europe on board with supporting the US-based organization, overseen at the time by the US government, when others wanted the job moved to the United Nations.

Giving the task of setting up a new internet registry to a bureaucracy did however land EURid - which was chosen as the operator following an open tender - with a host of unnecessary red tape in a highly competitive market. That over-bureaucratic approach was due to be revised this year following an EC public consultation.

The consultation closed in August but it remains unclear what is happening and industry insiders have been critical about how little the European Commission has engaged with industry experts. That same lack of engagement was on display in this week's domain Brexit announcement.

The news was greeted with bafflement from an industry that has a long-held norm and best practice that registered domains are retained, or "grandfathered", whenever there is a structural change.

That has even applied to top-level domains that have been officially removed from the internet - such as the .su extension (Soviet Union) that was officially phased out when the .ru Russian extension was added to the internet in 1993.

There are numerous examples of grandfathering in the domain name industry, perhaps the most recent and high profile being when .uk operator Nominet allowed owners of domains the first right to register .uk domains when those domains were allowed for the first time.


The internet has always adopted a general philosophy of accepting all connections. This approach has caused problems but remains fiercely protected within internet institutions because it is a big part of why the global communications network has been able to grow exponentially while remaining stable.

There is a glimmer of hope for those 317,000 individuals and organizations in the UK that have registered .eu domains, however. Today's announcement notes that its decree is "subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement" - meaning that it could form part of a large Brexit agreement between the UK government and EU.

In that sense, it is likely that .eu domains have simply been swept up in a broader sweep and strategy (if you can call it that) over how to handle the departure of the UK from Europe. But that doesn't make this policy from the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology any less stupid.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 29th March 2018 author Kat Hall)

Ful article [Option 1]:

The details of 600,000 foreign visitors have slipped through the cracks of the Home Office's database thanks to its "shambolic" exit checks system.

A report by the chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Bolt, examined the department's Initial Status Analysis (ISA) system database and how ISA-produced data had been used by the Home Office and other agencies.

It found that as of 31 March 2017, there were no departure records of 88,134 non-EU visa nationals with ISA "identities" - whose visas typically last six months - nor for 513,088 identified non-visa nationals.

Staff told the inspector they lacked confidence in the system, which they said had been "mis-sold", while an airline official described it as "shambolic".

Bolt said: "Overall, the sense was that the Home Office had overpromised when setting out its plans for exit checks, and then closed the exit check programme prematurely, declaring exit checks to be 'business as usual' when a significant amount of work remained to be done to get full value from them."

Since 2004, as part of the troubled "e-Borders Programme" (currently running eight years late at a cost of £1bn) 16 airlines have been required to share advanced passenger information with the Home Office.

Carriers transmit API data via an encrypted link to the Home Office, where it is received into Semaphore, an IT system created to test the e-Borders concept in advance of the intended procurement of the main e-Borders system.

Between April 2014 and April 2015, as part of the Exit Checks Programme, the Home Office developed the ISA database, which matches inbound and outbound travel data received via Semaphore with data recorded on its other immigration related systems.

Between April 2015 and March 2017, the Home Office received over 607 million UK data records relating to outbound travel. But somehow it lost track of the details of 600,000 foreign visitors.

The Home Office said that a lack of evidence of departure was not confirmation that an individual remained in the country, only that they had not been matched to a departure record.

However, it does not bode well for the further challenges facing the department after Brexit.

The Public Accounts Committee has already warned that the border could be left exposed after Brexit because departments have failed to plan for new IT systems.

Around 30 of the 85 IT systems used at the border will need to be replaced or updated in some way. This includes requirements for five entirely new systems and three replacements, along with systems provided by the EU.

(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 27th March 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

A thief has admitted a scooter crime mugging spree after he was caught thanks to a pioneering forensic spray deployed to tackle the thugs on two wheels plaguing London's streets.

Spencer Duarte, 21, admitted stealing a scooter, seven counts of theft, driving while uninsured and disqualified and absconding from custody when he appeared at Blackfriars crown court.

The court heard that Duarte, from Stansted, Essex, grabbed seven phones in just one hour, targeting pedestrians in Islington, Covent Garden and New Oxford Street, between 10pm and 11pm on February 8 this year.

Duarte came to police attention last year after officers found two abandoned scooters in Camden and Haringey, both of which had been marked with the invisible spray.

Each can has a unique chemical formula so can be linked to a specific incident and is fired by officers from a trigger-operated gun at suspects they cannot pursue. It clings to clothing and equipment and remains detectable for several weeks. Duarte, a known scooter-related crime suspect with numerous convictions, was found hiding in a cupboard at his girlfriend's flat in Islington. Jade Clapham, 18, admitted assisting an offender. Both will be sentenced on May 16.

On his arrest, Duarte complained of stomach pains and was taken to hospital but escaped from custody as he was being transferred to a police station. He was found a week later on February 22 hiding at a friend's home in Camden. Police recovered 13 phones and found Duarte's fingerprints on one of them.

New statistics show there were 24,356 moped and scooter offences in 2017 - around 66 a day - compared with a total of 9,283 in 2016. However the Met said the rate of offences fell significantly in November after the spray was launched in October, along with other measures such as stinger devices to puncture tyres and scrambler bikes for police to pursue suspects.

Duarte was convicted in 2016 for his part in a £50,000 raid on a Louis Vuitton store in Sloane Street. He was sentenced to 13 months in a young offenders institute for conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

(1st April 2018)

(BBC News, dated 26th March 2018 author Rory Cellan-Jones)

Full article :

Suddenly lots of people are waking up and asking themselves questions about Facebook. How much data am I sharing with the social media giant? Did I really give permission for it to be collected and stored?

And, even more seriously, have I handed over my friends' data to be stored on some Californian server?

I am one of those people and what I've discovered has left me somewhat shocked. Over the weekend I got hold of my Facebook data. It's easy enough, you go to settings, then general account settings and click on download my data.

An hour or so later an email arrived with a link to click and I was downloading a 675MB folder chronicling all of my life on the network since I signed up in 2007.

At first sight there was nothing very troubling - I would expect all the photos and videos I'd ever posted to be there, and scrolling down my timeline provided an entertaining glimpse of my life over the last decade.

I did notice that for some years every song I'd listened to on Spotify was listed, a handy reminder that when you link any external app to Facebook it then gathers a lot more data about you.

But then I clicked on a file called contacts. I was taken aback to find my entire contact list, thousands of phone numbers. Now this was not limited to Facebook friends and included many people in the public eye who might be disturbed to find that their private numbers were stored in this way.

I cannot remember what happened when I set up my Facebook account back in 2007 - in those naive days I could well have clicked yes when invited to upload my contacts so that I could see who else was part of this new young community. So, my fault I suppose.

Then I noticed that at the top of the list were some numbers that cannot have been sucked into the Facebook machine a decade ago because I had only added them in recent weeks. They included, ironically, the mobile number of Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who has blown open the whole story of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

So this means that every time I enter a new number into my phone's database, it somehow ends up with Facebook - the company is in effect monitoring me.

This is not the most startling example of Facebook's data collection. At least one user has reported that all of his text messages from an Android phone have somehow ended up being stored by Mark Zuckerberg's company.

Even if Facebook users agree to share this data, their friends whose numbers or text messages are being collected almost certainly have not. And even if those people have never joined Facebook - or have decided to delete their accounts - it looks as though some of their data will stay with the social network as long as the people who provided it remain.

Facebook says that uploading your contacts is a normal part of signing up with many messaging or social apps - and insists that users are given a clear choice.

People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone - it's explained right there in the apps when you get started. People can delete previously uploaded information at any time.

The company is right to say this is common practice. And if you think it is creepy that Facebook is storing this information, what about Apple's iCloud where millions store their iPhone data, including their contacts?

In any case, Facebook insists it never shares this data with anyone else. The problem is that its business model, unlike Apple's, depends on exploiting its users' data. And given what they have learned over the last week about how that information may have been used, many Facebook users may not be inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

How much data does Facebook have on one user ?

(Data downloaded by Rory Cellan-Jones since 2007

- 2,500+ Contacts + phone numbers
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(1st April 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th March 2018 author Rebecca Ratcliffe)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 5,000 potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery were reported to UK authorities last year, the highest number on record.

For the first time, British citizens made up the highest number of potential victims, a shift driven by an increase in the use of child drug mules by criminal gangs. Overall, the number of possible child victims grew by two-thirds compared with 2016.

Will Kerr, the director of the National Crime Agency, said the figures were likely to underestimate the scale of the problem, and that the government was facing an evolving threat.

"The criminals involved in these types of exploitation are going into online spaces, particularly adult services websites, to enable their criminality," said Kerr.
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The rise in the number of young people being exploited for sexual purposes or drug trafficking was a concern, he said.

Almost half of the 5,145 cases reported - 41% - involved the possible exploitation of a child aged under 18. The figures show the number of reports made to the national referral mechanism, the system for identifying victims of trafficking.

Last year, 819 potential British victims were referred to the NRM, up from 326 in 2016, according to the National Crime Agency. The increase is due to a rise in city-based gangs using children to transport drugs to rural areas, allowing them to expand their operations.

Albania was the second largest national group recorded, followed by Vietnam, China, Nigeria and Romania. Albanian and Nigerian cases most commonly involved sexual exploitation, while the majority of Vietnamese cases involved labour exploitation.

The referrals included possible victims from 116 countries. A total of 2,352 cases, almost half of those reported, involved potential forced labour. A third of cases, 1,744, involved suspected sexual exploitation. The NRM was also alerted to three possible cases of organ harvesting.

Kerr said authorities had seen greater crossovers between slavery and organised immigration crime outside the UK. "Often the same criminal networks are involved in transportation, and migrants themselves are vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation during their journeys and after," he said.

Overall, the number of referrals grew by more than a third, from 3,804 in 2016 to 5,145 in 2017.

Last year, about 10% of individuals referred to the NRM were assessed to be modern slavery victims, while the majority of cases are still pending. Of the cases involving people from outside the EU, less than 3% of individuals were assessed to be modern slavery victims.

While cases involving EU or British individuals are dealt with by the NCA's modern slavery human trafficking unit, non-EU cases are handled by the Home Office.

Patrick Burland, the senior project officer for the ?UN Migration Agency IOM, warned of a "potential bias against recognising people as victims of trafficking if they are from countries where their right to residency in the UK is not pre-established".

The government recently announced that UK visas and immigration will no longer make decisions on trafficking cases, with responsibility handed to a new expert body within the Home Office. But Burland warned there was still a potential conflict of interest. "The most effective way for the UK government to build an effective firewall between victim identification and immigration concerns is to move this process outside of the Home Office," he said.

Victoria Atkins, the minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said the government was "leading the world in our response to this horrendous crime", but added: "We know there is more to do, and we are working to improve the system for identifying victims and supporting them to leave situations of exploitation and begin to recover and rebuild their lives."

(1st April 2018)

(The Sunday Times, dated 25th March 2018 author Tom Harper)

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Hundreds of police files seen by The Sunday Times show that a fear of breaching paedophiles' rights is deterring officers from sharing information with social workers about children at risk of abuse.

Bosses in Britain's biggest police force have ordered rank-and-file officers not to share concerns automatically with children's services, as disclosing "personal information" about suspects may need their "consent".

The order appears to breach Scotland Yard's own safeguarding procedures, set up after Peter Connelly, 17 months, known as Baby P, was tortured to death in 2007.

"Records contain personal information," says one email to police child abuse teams from the senior officer in charge of safeguarding, "and unless certain criteria are met then consent from the relevant individual must be explicitly agreed before police disclose this information".

The message, sent in November 2013, emphasised that officers "should not routinely disclose" records to other agencies".

A review by Lord Laming found that Scotland Yard, children's services and the NHS all had chances to save Baby P. It emphasised the importance of a free flow of information among agencies.

But the leaked papers reveal communications between Scotland Yard and children's services departments have more than halved since 2010.

The email is one of hundreds of documents showing that the Met is failing to investgate some crimes against children.

Anne longfield, children's commissioner for England, said she would investigate. "This evidence is deeply concerning as it suggests senio Metropolitan Police officers are taking executive decisions to withhold vital information about "at risk" children, which they have no right to do, and it could be putting children's lives in danger.

"We know from some of the most tragic cases and child deaths that when police aren't sharing information with other professionals, things can go very wrong."

The documents reveal that detectives failed to follow procedures that could have saved Jahzara Forde, 22 months, who was murdered by her father, Roland McKoy in 2014.

Officers missed repeated chances to stop the handyman from killing Jahzara and her mother, Valerie Forde, who had recently ordered McKoy to leave the family home. Seven weeks before her death Forde told police McKoy was threatening to kill her and her child. Detectives recorded the allegation as "criminal damage" and failed to enter details on an intelligence databse set up to alert social services to children at risk.

In another case, Scotland Yard refused to tell Newham council in east London about 24 criminal offences committed by Michael Pleasted, 77, a vicious paedophile who went on to abuse two young boys.

Town hall officials had given Pleasted a council flat and allowed him to work with children, before they started receiving reports about his behaviour. Scotland Yard refused three times to answer questions about Pleasted's crimes because they felt it "inappropriate" with his consent.

Pleasted's assault on the two boys caused outrage in the local community: Sarah Sands, a mother, stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife.

Tim Loughton, the former minister for children and member of the home affairs select committee, said it was a "complete disgrace" that Scotland yard was still "hiding behind confidentiality" despite previous reviews. "They really should have learnt their lesson by now," he said.

Scotland Yard said: " We accept there are significant concerns in this important area and we are implementing a plan to improve our services.

"We take our legal responsibilities regarding the sharing of personal data extremely seriously, and are careful to ensure that this is done in accordance with legislation."

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd March 2018 author Martin Evans)

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Police are taking days to respond to 999 calls, despite telling victims they will be there within the hour, a report has found.

Thousands of victims of serious crimes, including violence, burglary and sexual offences, are being forced to wait in queues, until officers are dispatched to deal with their case.

In some instances it can take officers several days to turn up to see the victim, despite their calls being classed as requiring a "prompt" response.

Around a quarter of all forces in England and Wales were identified as having problems in responding to emergency calls, something inspectors warned was "putting vulnerable people at serious risk of harm".

In an annual review of police performance, conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Services (HMICFRS), inspectors acknowledged that the system was under "severe strain" and "cracks were beginning to show".

But the watchdog warned that some constabularies - including some of the country's largest forces - had to act urgently to ensure that victims of crime received a better service.

HM Inspector, Zoe Billingham said: "In the face of increasing pressures, dramatic increases in demand and rising number of complex crimes, like sexual abuse, child abuse and domestic abuse, most forces continue to do a good job in keeping us safe.

"But I have major concerns that policing is under significant stress. On occasions that stress stretches some forces to such an extent that they risk being unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing."

She went on: "We are concerned that in a minority of forces, the service is overwhelmed in some aspects of policing. In these forces vulnerable victims are all too often not getting a timely police response, as their calls to the police have not been allocated for officers to respond.

"This is because in some forces there are so many calls that staff have not been able to allocate them quickly or there are not enough response officers to send to incidents."

She added: "Almost a quarter of forces are not meeting enough of their demand in as timely way as we would expect, or are managing demand inappropriately. In some case these practices are putting vulnerable people at serious risk of harm."

In the 2016 report, inspectors found that some forces were deliberately suppressing demand in busy periods by suggesting a 999 call was less serious than it actually was.

Ms Billingham said while that no longer seemed to be the case, it was now clear that many forces were struggling to cope with demand.

She said: "HMICFRS is concerned by this finding because it shows that the system is under severe strain and in some forces the cracks are showing."

The report identified problems with response times for both West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police, meaning vulnerable victims of crime often did not receive the service they needed in those areas.

In Cambridgeshire during one month, inspectors found that the average response time for 999 calls, categorised as requiring a one hour response, was actually 15 hours.

In four other areas - Staffordshire, Warwickshire, South Yorkshire and West Mercia - it was found that officers were not responding to emergencies immediately, and were not considering the needs of the victims during the subsequent delay.

The report also acknowledged that in cases of dire emergency, where lives were at risk, or a crime was actually in progress, response times were generally good, with officers getting to the scene quickly.

Responding to the findings, Greater Manchester Police's Deputy Chief Constable, Ian Pilling, said the force had lost 2,000 officers and still received more than 3,000 calls a day for assistance.

He said: "Managing this demand with reduced resources is extremely difficult and it is a challenge every day to allocate resources to incidents. Unfortunately, as the report highlights, this means that we sometimes don't deal with incidents as quickly as we would like to."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said it was acting on the HMICFRS findings in order to improve response times.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd Marach 2018 author Sarah Knapton)

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Cocaine is now so prevalent in society that one in 10 people who have never used the drug have traces on their hands, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University Surrey tested the fingerprints of 50 drug free volunteers and 15 drug users who had taken cocaine or heroin in the past 24 hours.

Around 13 per cent of fingerprints of those who had never used the drugs were found to contain cocaine, while one per cent contained a metabolite of heroin.

The findings throw up concerns that people could be wrongly accused of drug use simply because the environment is contaminated.

In 2015, bus driver Alan Bailes won a claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked for failing a drugs test because he handled banknotes which contained traces of cocaine.

A study by the Forensic Science Service estimated that every banknote in Britain is contaminated with the class A drug within two weeks of entering circulated. The old cotton banknotes which are being phased out are notorious for picking up substances, which is one the reasons that the Bank of England is moving to plastic notes.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate has also previously warned that the metabolised form of cocaine - benzoylecgonine - is present in tap water, while traces of the drugs are regularly detected in public buildings.

Dr Melanie Bailey, Lecturer in Forensic Analysis at the University of Surrey, said: "Believe it or not, cocaine is a very common environmental contaminant - it is well known that it is present on many bank notes.

"Even so, we were surprised that it was detected in so many of our fingerprint samples.

"By establishing a threshold for significance on a fingerprint test, we can give those tested the piece-of-mind of knowing that whatever the result of the test may be, it was not affected by their everyday activities or shaking hands with someone that had taken drugs."

In recent years, investigations have found evidence of cocaine use at St Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the Bodlein Library at the University of Oxford.

Gordon Ramsay, the chef, claimed that cocaine use is so rife in the restaurant industry that diners have asked him to sprinkle the class A drug over a soufflé and a customer at one of his venues took a plate to the toilet so they could snort lines of the drug.

Around 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain and about 40,000 people use heroin but it can be difficult to test drug users from those who have become accidentally contaminated.

To try and combat the problem of false testing, researchers at the University of Surrey have now set a 'cut-off' level above which show a genuine drug users.

Researchers showed it was possible using their method to differentiate from someone who had picked up cocaine by shaking hands with a drug user, and the drug user themselves.

Mahado Ismail, lead-author of the paper from the University of Surrey, said: "It's clear that fingerprint testing is the future of drug-testing.

"There are many factors that set fingerprint testing apart - it's non-invasive, easy to collect and you have the ability to identify the donor by using the sample. Our study will help to add another robust layer to fingerprint drug testing."

The new research was published in the journal Clinical Chemistry.

Cocaine in the environment

Banknotes - at least 80 per cent of banknotes are thought to contain traces of cocaine, either because they have been rolled up to snort the drug, or have been contaminated by other currency.

Rivers - an estimated 4.4 lbs, roughly 80,000 lines of coke ends up in the River Thames each day via the sewage system. Italy's Po river in Milan was found to have double that amount.

Oxbridge - swabs showed cocaine at Oxford University in the Oxford Union building, the Ruskin School of Fine Art, the Oxford University Language Centre and the Bodleian library. At Cambridge University the drug was found in, 21 out of 31 toilets and washrooms.

Churches - traces of cocaine were found in 11 British cathedrals and churches, including St Paul's, St Leonard's in Shoreditch and Canterbury cathedral. St Leonard's said it tolerated drug use if it meant addicts were coming to the church for help.

Parliament - nine toilets in the Palace of Westminster have previously tested positive for cocaine including areas near MPs offices where there is no public access. In 2005 a German television station found traces of the drug in 41 out of 46 lavatories at the European Parliament in Brussels.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 20th March 2018 author Kate Morley)

Full article [Option 1]:

Shoplifting reports have doubled in a year as retailers blame the police for turning a blind eye, new figures show.

A report by the Association of Convenience Stores' 2018 Crime Report has revealed that there were over 950,000 incidents of theft reported in corner shops over the last year, rising from 575,000 in the previous year.

It means more than 200 thefts are being reported an hour with many more going uncaught.

The significant rise in shop thefts is also linked to aggressive behaviour towards retailers and their staff, the report said.

It comes after leading retailers accused Ministers of helping to fuel a sharp rise in shoplifting after it emerged that a £200 threshold for pursuing criminals has been introduced.

Most police forces now no longer attend reports of routine shop theft and will only send an officer to investigate if there has been a threat of violence against a member of staff.

Those caught stealing less than £200 are now dealt with by post, in the same way as speeders, leading to the effective decriminalisation of shoplifting.

Back in December the Daily Telegraph revealed that retailers had held private meetings with the Home Office at which they warned that "prolific and persistent" offenders were now exploiting the rules by moving around high streets stealing just under £200 worth of goods.

According to the report the total cost of crimes committed against the convenience sector over the last year was £193 million, which equates to a 7p "crime tax" on every transaction in stores.

In addition small stores are also battling against fraudulent payment in the form of counterfeit notes and credit and debit card fraud, which amounted to £24 million in costs last year. With the introduction of the new polymer notes and the new "highly secure" 12-sided £1 coin it is hoped that this figure is set to fall.

The ACS's chief executive, James Lowman, said: "Retailers and their staff are facing violence and abuse on a regular basis for enforcing the law, whether it be through challenging shop thieves, refusing the sale of age restricted products like tobacco and alcohol, or refusing to serve people that are intoxicated.

"Allowing shop theft to go unpunished means that these people go on to commit other offences, and where they have addiction problems they are not treated. We need fresh thinking from government and the police, because when shop theft is not tackled properly, it has wider implications for communities."

(1st April 2018)

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have lost track of 485 registered sex offenders across Britain including rapists and paedophiles, Sky News can reveal.

Figures released by 41 forces revealed the number of convicted sex offenders whose whereabouts are unknown has risen by more than 20% in the last three years.

Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse of children were among the crimes committed by the missing offenders, including some who disappeared more than a decade ago.

It comes as victims of black cab rapist John Worboys fight the decision to release him from prison after he spent less than a decade behind bars.

Sky News submitted Freedom of Information requests to the UK's 45 police forces asking for details of registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Four forces did not respond, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), meaning the actual number of registered sex offenders who are missing is likely to be higher.
Forces refused to name the missing sex offenders, with most saying it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, said it did not know the whereabouts of 227 registered sex offenders, including 38 who had been missing for at least eight years.

West Midlands Police said 46 registered sex offenders were wanted or missing - including one offender who disappeared in 2006.

Greater Manchester Police said the whereabouts of 19 registered sex offenders were unknown, with one vanishing in July 2006.

Police Scotland said 12 registered sex offenders were wanted, all of whom are believed to be outside the UK.

Kent and Northumbria Police each had a registered sex offender who went missing in 2005, while Lincolnshire Police said the whereabouts of a registered sex offender who disappeared in 2006 was still unknown.

The total number unaccounted for across the UK is up by 22% compared with March 2015, when 39 police forces revealed they did not know the whereabouts of 396 registered sex offenders.

Duncan Craig, who set up the charity Survivors Manchester after being a victim of sexual abuse, told Sky News that police need to work more with organisations in contact with victims and offenders.

He said: "Victims deserve the right to know that those that have committed these crimes against them are being dealt with correctly and managed properly.

"We can't keep going for the same rhetoric because we won't get anywhere if we do.

"Einstein said the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is exactly what we are doing in this country with management of sexual offending."

Alex Mayes, from the charity Victim Support, said: "These figures will potentially be very alarming to victims of sexual offences and could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

"To ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of sexual offences, as well as local communities, it is vital that the police strictly monitor sex offenders."

Registered sex offenders are required to inform police and probation officers of their addresses so they can be monitored.

They are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa), where authorities manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent criminals living in the community.

A Ministry of Justice report published last October showed there were a total of 55,236 registered sex offenders living in England and Wales in 2016/17.

A Home Office spokesman said the figure of 485 represented less than 1% of the total.

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has blamed Government cuts for the sharp rise in registered sex offenders going missing across Britain.

Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter was killed in 2000 by a convicted paedophile, said the country has become "a sex offender's playground" following years of austerity measures.

Her remarks come after Sky News revealed UK police forces have lost track of 485 registered sex offenders including rapists and paedophiles - a 22% rise on March 2015.

Dr Payne, who works with The Phoenix Post campaign group for victims of paedophiles, told Sky News: "The Government have used the austerity argument to virtually deconstruct child protection in this country, until it is exactly what you see before you - a sex offender's playground, protected by an anti-victim prejudice-groomed government, unwittingly force-funded by good and decent taxpayers.

"For the sake of the children, it's long past time that we change the way this works."

A Ministry of Justice report published last October showed there were a total of 55,236 registered sex offenders living in England and Wales in 2016/17.

They are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappas), where authorities manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent criminals living in the community.

Peter Kirkham, a former detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police, said cuts to forces and the probation service meant it had become more difficult to monitor registered sex offenders.

He told Sky News: "The Government keeps pursuing the idea that you can keep doing more with less.

"There is no mystery to police work. If you have more officers and resources, you will have better results.

"There has been a massive increase in the number of people on the sex offenders' register. At the same time, there have been massive cuts to the police and probation service.

"The probation service has suffered from privatisation which has been an unmitigated disaster."

The Home Office has insisted the UK has "some of the toughest powers in the world" to deal with registered sex offenders and the number missing is less than 1% of the total on the register.

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

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Police forces across the UK were asked to reveal the number of registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown on 17 January.

The forces were also asked when each of the sex offenders went "missing" and to provide their names and convictions.

Police said the information was "dynamic" and likely to change as arrests are made or new cases come to light.

Forces refused to name the missing sex offenders, with most saying it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Avon and Somerset Police

The force said there were 11 registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Two had been missing since 2010, one since 2011, one since 2012, two since 2013, two since 2014 and three since 2017.

Bedfordshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of three registered sex offenders were unknown.

They went missing in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the offences were sexual assault, rape and sexual assault of a child.

Cambridgeshire Police

The force said nine registered sex offenders were recorded as wanted because their whereabouts are unknown from 2017.

Offences included sexual assault of a girl under 13, sexual assault and indecent images.

Cheshire Police

The force said two registered sex offenders had been missing since 2017. Both were convicted of sexual assault.

City of London Police

The force said it had no registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Cleveland Police

The force said there were three registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One went missing in April 2016. It refused to reveal when the other two disappeared.

Offences included sexual assault, indecent assault and grooming.

Cumbria Police

The force said the whereabouts of one registered sex offender was unknown.

Derbyshire Police

The force said there were seven registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One had been missing since June 2006, two had been missing since February 2008, one since January 2012, one since May 2010, one since January 2012 and one since September 2017.

Offences include rape, indecent assault of a boy under 14, sexual assault on a child under 13, gross indecency with a girl and sexual assault of a boy under 13.

Devon and Cornwall Police

The force said six registered sex offenders were missing including four known to be abroad. Two went missing in 2016 and four in 2017.

Dorset Police

The force said the whereabouts of five registered sex offenders were unknown including three who are "firmly believed to be overseas".

One went missing in 2014, three in 2016 and one in 2017.

Durham Police

The force said one registered sex offender was missing since 2013.

Dyfed Powys Police

The force said the whereabouts of four sex offenders were unknown.

They included one offender who had been missing since January 2008, one since March 2015, one since February 2017 and one since January 2018.

Their offences included gross indecency with a boy, indecent assault on a boy under 14, indecent assault on a female aged 16 or over and sexual assault.

Essex Police

Sky News did not receive a response.

Greater Manchester Police

The force said the whereabouts of 19 registered sex offenders were unknown.

One offender had been missing since July 2006 and two others since 2009.

Gwent Police

The force said the whereabouts of one sex offender was unknown.

Gloucestershire Police

The force said the whereabouts of four registered sex offenders were unknown. One had been missing since 2015, one since 2016 and two since 2017.

Hampshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of seven registered sex offenders were unknown.

Hertfordshire Police

The force said three registered sex offenders were recorded as wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

One has been missing for more than a year, while two had disappeared within the last six months.

Humberside Police

The force said the whereabouts of nine registered sex offenders were unknown.

One registered sex offender went missing in 2008, one in 2011, one in 2010, one in 2015, one in 2016 and four in 2017.

Kent Police

The force said nine registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

One had been missing since November 2005, one since June 2008, one since November 2014, one since June 2016 and five went missing in 2017.

Offences included exposure, grooming, gross indecency, indecent assault, indecent images, intercourse with a girl under 16 and sexual assault.

Lancashire Police

Sky News did not receive a response.

Leicestershire Police

The force said the whereabouts of one sex offender were unknown.

Lincolnshire Police

The force said there were four registered sex offenders whose exact locations were unknown - all of which are believed to be outside the UK.

One had been missing since 2006, one since 2014, one since 2015 and another since 2016.

Their offences included rape, indecent assault and possession of indecent images.

Merseyside Police

The force said six registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

They went missing between March 2016 and January 2018.

Metropolitan Police

The force said it did not know the whereabouts of 227 registered sex offenders, including 38 who had been missing since 2010 or earlier.

Norfolk Police

The force said one registered sex offender had been missing since March 2014. He is believed to have died. He was convicted of raping a woman.

A further two convicted sex offenders failed to comply with register requirements after travelling abroad and not returning to the UK.

The details of the countries where they travelled to are known but not the specific addresses, the force said.

North Wales Police

The force said there were two registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown. They were reported missing in January 2011 and May 2017.

North Yorkshire Police

The force said no registered sex offenders were currently missing.

Northamptonshire Police

The force said there were 10 registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One went missing in 2008, one in 2011, three in 2012, four in 2013 and one in 2017.

Offences included sexual assault, attempted rape of girl under 13 and rape.

Nottinghamshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of seven registered sex offenders were unknown.

They had gone missing in December 2011, June 2012, December 2012, December 2013, September 2016, January 2017 and February 2017.

Northumbria Police

The force said five registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown. One had been missing since 2005, two went missing in 2017 and two went missing in 2018.

Offences included a sexual assault on a girl, attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child, rape of a boy under 16, sexual assault on a girl under 16 and indecent assault on a girl.

Police Scotland

The force said 12 registered sex offenders were wanted, all of whom are believed to be out of the UK.

Two have been wanted for nine years, four have been wanted for between one and five years, and six have been wanted for under eight months.

Their offences included rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, possession of indecent images of children, sexual assault, voyeurism, indecent assault on a female aged 16 or over and indecent assault on a boy aged under 14.

Police Service of Northern Ireland

Sky News did not receive a response.

South Wales Police

The force said eight registered sex offenders were missing or wanted.

One had been missing since January 2008, one since November 2013, one since February 2016 and five since 2017.

South Yorkshire Police

The force said 10 registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

Their offences include assault on a female by penetration, indecent assault on a female under 14, making indecent photos of children, rape, sexual assault, sexual activity with a female under 16, sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photos of children.

Staffordshire Police

The force said five registered sex offenders were missing.

Suffolk Police

The force said there were two registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown. It refused to provide any further information.

Surrey Police

The force said the whereabouts of six registered sex offenders were unknown.

Two had been missing since 2012, one since 2016 and three since 2017.

Thames Valley Police

The force said the whereabouts of 13 registered sex offenders were unknown.

Warwickshire Police

The force said three sex offenders were missing. Two went missing in 2014 and one in 2016.

West Mercia Police

The force said one sex offender had been missing since 2006.

West Midlands Police