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MARCH 2019

(Guardian, dated 3rd March 2019 author Kenan Malik)

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It’s the software that Amazon uses to tell you to buy a book you know you’ll never read. And Twitter to persuade you to follow some douchebag. And your local council to tell social workers how to act.

A report by Sky News’s Rowland Manthorpe, based on research by Cardiff University’s Data Justice Lab, revealed that at least 53 local authorities and almost a third of UK police forces are using “predictive algorithms” to determine how to intervene in everything from traffic management to benefits sanctions.

Bristol city council’s integrated analytics hub, for instance, uses data on benefits, school attendance, crime, teenage pregnancy and much more to give people a “risk score” that is then used to flag cases for social work intervention.

For local authorities, such algorithms provide cheap solutions in an age of severely reduced budgets. Their advocates insist that there is nothing to worry about, as computers never make the final decision – they simply aid humans. But as a report from the Data Justice Lab observed, in the “context of deskilling and resource limitations in the public sector, the results of data analytics may significantly constrain and guide decision-making”.

It’s one thing for Amazon to entice me to read Jordan Petersen or Twitter to push me to follow Piers Morgan. It’s quite another for public authorities to use similar algorithms, fed with a mountain of sensitive personal data, to determine who may commit crime or be at risk of abuse.

Such data practices, according to the Cardiff University report, “have become normalised before there has been a chance for broader public discussion”. The fact that these systems are already in place “will serve as a rationale for their continued existence and a means to foreclose debate”. Isn’t it time to have that debate before it’s too late?

uaware comment

Data analytics is a useful tool to help reduce the time taken to find potential solutions especially when staffing recources are scarce.

The problem with data analytics is who has access to that information (need to know within the organisation) and whether the information is kept securely and adequately anonamised if transported outside the secured area.

A couple of years ago I received an e-mail from a council Social Services team addressed to a NHS Psychiatric unit. The attachment within the e-mail was a 4 page detailed report on a vulnerable teenage girl who had been abused. I dont work for the NHS or council Social Services and neither was my email a council email. For some reason my email address was being held on the council server (previous correspondence with a councillor or council department ?) I never got to the bottom of that.

I replied to the orginator of the email indicating their error and warned them that I was reporting the situation to the Information Commissioners Office. On making the report to the ICO I was requested to forward the sensitive email to them; this I did. I then deleted the email after confirming the email had been received.

What happened then ? No idea !

- Was the report marked as sensitive, no.
- Was the report encrypted, no.
- Had the originator double checked that they were sending the report to the correct person, obviously not.

Data is ok, its the idiots that use it or allowed to use it that is the problem !

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 30th March 2019 author Steve Bird)

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Sajid Javid is to give police "hugely effective" stop and search powers to tackle the growing menace of knife crime.

The Home Secretary will today overturn two reforms made by Theresa May five years ago, allowing officers in seven regions to step up the use of the controversial tactic.

Lower ranked officers in the areas worst affected by violent crime will be able to sanction police to stop and search suspects in an attempt to remove knives from the street.

He has also made it simpler for police to use Section 60 powers of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allowing them to stop and search in specific areas for a set amount of time if it is feared there is a likelihood of serious violence.

The move allows police to stop people and vehicles to carry out searches regardless of whether they have reasonable grounds for suspecting they will find offensive weapons.

In 2014, Mrs May, the then Home Secretary, curtailed stop and search tactics amid concerns they unfairly targeted people who were black or from minority ethnic groups.

Her reforms meant all forces required an officer of chief superintendent rank to sign off a Section 60 authorising searches because there were reasonable grounds to believe violence was going to take place.

Under today's changes, a lower ranked inspector will be able to sign off the powers. It is estimated that this will result in at least 3,000 more officers being able to sanction the searches.

In addition, the degree of certainty required has been lowered, so that the authorising officer must reasonably believe serious violence "may" occur.

Mr Javid said: "Stop and search is a hugely effective power when it comes to disrupting crime, taking weapons of our streets and keeping us safe.

"That's why we are making it simpler for police in areas particularly affected by serious violence to use Section 60 and increasing the number of officers who can authorise the power."

Mrs May, who will host a summit on serious youth violence on Monday, said: "As a whole society, we also need to take a hard look at the root causes of these crimes so we can intervene earlier and stop young people from being drawn into violence in the first place."

Section 60 is often approved for major public events, such as last year's Notting Hill Carnival, or when police anticipate reprisal gangland attacks.

In 2017/18, police in England and Wales carried out 2,501 stops and searches under section 60, up from 631 in the previous year.

However, police stop and search activity has dropped significantly in recent years.

Mr Javid has backed the tactics since his appointment last year. He has already announced plans to widen the circumstances in which they can be deployed to combat acid attacks and misuse of drones.

The announcement forms part of the Government's efforts to tackle surging violence after a spate of fatal stabbings prompted warnings of a "national emergency".

There were 285 homicides where the method of killing was by a knife or sharp instrument in the year to March 2018 - the highest number since records started in 1946.

The Section 60 changes will initially apply in London, West Midlands, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Wales and Greater Manchester for up to a year.

Forces are expected to engage with communities on its use, and nobody should be stopped on the basis of their race or ethnicity, the Home Office said.

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 29th March 2019 author Rob Rinder)

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Come to my dinner party." Five words that fill me with utter horror. But I nearly always say yes, especially since I have run out of ageing great-aunts who I can pretend have just snuffed it. It's not just the toe-curlingly smug food I can't stand: "I couldn't get hold of everything at Waitrose so I gathered pondweed at midnight myself." It isn't even the crass seating plans designed to set me up with my table neighbour: "John our designer is gay, and you're gay so you're sure to love each other." It's the nauseating attitude these hosts - especially the famous ones - have to cocaine use.

Very little makes me more furious than the moral gymnastics of worthy middle-class cocaine-users. I may not have witnessed it personally but I've certainly been at parties where people will openly name political figures and well-known stars whose antics with the white powder they have seen. It is all laughed off as a bit of fun. I mean, it's not as if anybody is getting hurt - the drug turf wars and consequent knife crime happen to other people.

I don't care what people do in private. Take whatever you want, but take it and shut up. You have no right to talk on any moral issue if this is part of your life. The number of concerts where the performer denounces global warming only to guzzle mounds of this deforestation-driving, murder-fuelling, middle-class drug of choice up their artisinally crafted nostril is obscene. Offset your moral destitution by all means but just shut up about your do-gooding ways.

I heard a story from a very reliable source about a famous pop star standing under a fossil-fuel-burning patio heater at a party, saying: "You know, sometimes I think it's only me and Sting that care about global warming." At the same party there was more cocaine going around than at a Pablo Escobar re-enactment fair.

As a barrister, I used to defend cocaine mules. They were nearly always women who had been blackmailed and manipulated by their male masters, who might kill one of the woman's children and hold another one alive and hostage to keep her quiet.

Any lawyer who has dealt with this stuff will tell you that cartels deliberately choose the most vulnerable women as carriers. They will tell you about executions, about torture and about whole communities decimated. Women will be forced into prostitution and deliberately infected with diseases so that courts will treat them more leniently, meaning they can get back to work quicker. Cocaine's mobility across international borders relies on the deaths and misery of countless women and children. All the while, the middle and celebrity classes preach about the virtues of veganism while ignoring the dire consequences of this drug.

London is one of the cocaine capitals of Europe. They measure the figures by how much of it has worked its way out of the bladders of the populace and into the water system. Now, with cocaine readily available, use is merely a sign that your morals have died and crawled down the drain via your nose.

This is one issue where both sides of the political divide wallow in the moral low ground. There are currently no plans for tougher sentences for possession of cocaine. Why would there be?

Just try to remember that you are exploiting the poorest communities in the world and, better still, don't invite me to your dinner party. Sadly, my great-aunt has just passed away.

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 29th March 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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The father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence says Scotland Yard still has to prove it is no longer institutionally racist before it can be free of the label imposed by the inquiry into his son's death.

Dr Neville Lawrence said black youths in London were still being targeted unfairly by police and there was little progress in the promotion of ethnic minority officers into senior ranks.

Speaking at a conference at the London Metropolitan University with the title "The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 20 years on. What have we learnt? What still needs to be done?", he said: "The name that they were given, institutionally racist, as far as I am concerned, still remains. They will have to work very hard to get rid of that name."

Stephen was murdered by a racist gang in Eltham in 1993. Dr Lawrence said in the 10 years after the 1999 Macpherson report into failings in the police investigation "everything was being done" to implement its recommendations and change policing culture.

However, in the past 10 years a Home Office steering group set up to monitor the changes had been abolished and he said that "a lot of the recommendations have not been implemented and it is as if things have gone backwards."

Dr Lawrence added: "They have to get to the stage where people can see that they are no longer institutionally racist, in order to get rid of that name they have to progress."

He said: "There continues to be very little progress in promotion of black, Asian and minority ethnic police officers into the senior ranks and there is a huge disproportionality problem of misconduct and discipline for BAME officers."

Also speaking at the conference, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the force was more accountable, better governed and more diverse as a result of the Macpherson report. She said there was still a gap between police and communities but reducing that gap was one of her highest priorities.

In a statement the Met said that disciplinary processes were "in no way" influenced by an officer's ethnicity.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 28th March 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Child abusers who view indecent images of youngsters online could be escaping justice because some Met Police units only have the capacity to examine two of their electronic devices for evidence, a damning report has found.

A lack of resources means detectives who arrest people suspected of downloading illegal images, can only choose two of their electronic devices, such as laptops or mobile phones, at random, for full forensic examination.

This means huge swathes of illegal content could be overlooked during investigations allowing suspects to avoid prosecution for appalling material they have been viewing.

A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said the current system was "ineffective" and recommended the Met introduced more specialist officers who were equipped with the technology needed to fully interrogate electronic devices.

The report found huge disparities in the success rate of investigations that were carried out by specialist child sex abuse officers and those conducted by regular detectives.

When frontline officers carry out the investigation only 11 per cent of cases result in the suspect being charged.

But when specialist teams were involved that figure increased to 59 per cent, because they have the digital resources to fully examine all the devices used by the suspect.

The report stated: "We found that the current arrangements for investigating online cases involving indecent images of children and sexual exploitation are not working.

"We also have significant concerns that cases that are dealt with by non-specialists result in notably poorer outcomes than those that are dealt with by specialist teams.

"In addition, we found that the processes the MPS has in place for examining devices that are suspected of containing IIOC [indecent images of children] are ineffective. For example, because of the limited capacity of the digital examination team, only two devices can be sent for full examination."

The Met was heavily criticised in 2016 by the official watchdog over its failure to protect vulnerable children and for delays in investigating adults who were suspected of exploiting the young.

The report then found that of 384 cases that were examined by the inspectorate, three quarters were found to be substandard.

Since then the Met has been working hard to improve its services and the HMICFRS report acknowledged the progress that had been made.

But in the the latest follow up report of 34 online cases examined, 29 were still deemed to be inadequate or require improvement.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: "Since our 2016 inspection, the Met has taken some significant steps to improve its safeguarding practice for vulnerable children.

"This has resulted in better and more effective oversight of child protection practices across the force, but oversight isn't everything."

But the report went on: "We remain concerned about the current service the Met provides, given the extreme vulnerability of many of the children who come into contact with the force.

"We also have significant concerns about the Met's approach to tackling online child abuse and exploitation.

"Limited capacity in specialist teams, backlogs and resourcing pressures have all led to the force being overwhelmed by cases and not able to provide the service victims need and deserve.

"Although we recognise that the increase in online exploitation of children is a national problem, we have made a further recommendation for the Met to address in this area."

Responding to the report,  Commander Richard Smith, the Met's Head of Safeguarding, said: "We are pleased to see measurable improvement in our investigations since the last HMICFRS report was published."

But he added: "The scale of child abuse and sexual exploitation offending online has grown in recent years.

"This increased demand on police, coupled with the need to keep up with advancement of technology and adapt our methods to detect and identify offenders, means it is a challenging area for the Met and police forces nationally.

"However, we are committed to addressing these challenges to improve our response in this area."

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th March 2019 author Martin Bentham)

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Children in London are being left at risk of sexual exploitation because the Met is failing to do enough to protect them from paedophiles online and freed sex offenders, the police watchdog warned today.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said that despite improvements by the force over the past two years "opportunities to act quickly and decisively to protect children and prevent offending are still being missed".

In a report published today, it added that the officers were "overwhelmed" with cases - partly because of the growing scale of child abuse on social media - and that it had found "a serious problem" in nearly half the investigations it had examined involving indecent images of children online. The report says delays and backlogs result from issues such as a lack of specialist officers and technology limitations which mean that only two devices suspected of containing unlawful material can be examined at a time. Police are also unable to "routinely upload all the details of child victims and relevant images" to assist future investigations and quickly identify victims.

The report further warns that the officers responsible for handling freed sex offenders are overloaded - with an average of more than 100 cases each - and highlights deficiencies in the way that assessments of missing children are conducted. It says that in some of these cases repeated absences are inappropriately dismissed as normal behaviour for the child.

Vacancies for jobs in safeguarding roles and a shortage of detectives are further compounding the problems, the report warns. HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said the Met had taken "significant steps" since a highly critical report by the watchdog in 2016. But he added: "There has not been enough improvement to the actual protection provided to all children. We also have significant concerns about the Met's approach to tackling online child abuse and exploitation.

"Limited capacity in specialist teams, backlogs and resourcing pressures have all led to the force being overwhelmed by cases and not able to provide the service victims need and deserve."

Commander Richard Smith, the Met's head of safeguarding, said the force had a "comprehensive plan" to improve standards that had led to progress against a "backdrop on increasing demands on the policing overall", but he also admitted that more work needed to be done.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 28th March 2019 author Jack Hardy)

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A rise in keyless car thefts could hit insurance premiums, it has been warned as payouts were reported to have reached £1 million a day.

Motorists last year saw the average insurance premium fall for the first time annually since 2014, despite surging levels of car crime, according to the Association of British Insurers.

However, the RAC said this was mainly due to legal changes which have helped curb the cost of personal injury claims paid out by insurance firms.

It means expected savings which could have been passed on to motorists thanks to the legal reforms are likely to shrink as thieves increasingly target high-tech vehicles.

The ABI said a "worrying" explosion in vehicle crime saw insurers pay out record costs of £376 million to cover stolen cars and thefts from cars last year.

This represents a drastic 29% spike on 2017, while theft claims are now being made every six minutes, amounting to 56,000 in 2018 - a 12% increase on the year before.

The ABI's annual motor claims report expressed concern that many driveways now have vehicles that are vulnerable to hackers.

Tactics used against keyless cars include "relay thefts", which capitalise on key fobs that allow drivers to open and start their cars just by approaching them.

Criminals, usually working in pairs, will hold a device up next to a car to capture the signal it sends out to a key and then relay that signal to a second device outside the owner's home, thereby activating the key's own signal inside.

The car will then be fooled into thinking the key is two metres away - rather than in the owner's house - causing it to unlock and start the engine.

Motorists with such vehicles are advised to park them in a well-lit area, keep their keys away from doors and windows and turn off the signal overnight or keep keys in a "signal-block pouch".

Laurenz Gerger, the ABI's motor policy adviser, said: "The resurgence in car crime is worrying.

 "The record amounts paid to motorists by their insurers in part reflects the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft.

 "Action by motor manufacturers to tackle this high-tech vulnerability, allied with owners taking some simple, inexpensive precautions will help reverse this unwelcome trend."

 Levels of car crime have been surging across the country, with the Home Office recording a 50% increase in vehicle thefts over the past five years.

The ABI said the overall cost of motor claims shot up by £500 million to £8.6 billion in 2018, having remained "virtually unchanged" between 2016 and 2017.

(2nd April 2019)

(Guardian, dated 28th March 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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Government cuts left police retreating from the streets, solving just one in 10 offences and "really struggling" to deal with routine crime, the leader of Britain's police chiefs has said.

Sara Thornton steps down this weekend as chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, after a four-year tenure during which her and her colleagues battled to get the government to recognise cuts were leading to fewer officers and resources to fight crime.

In an interview to mark her departure as NPCC chair and after 33 years of policing, Thornton told the Guardian she wanted to see an end to the blame culture when policing goes wrong and for a recognition that officers were dealing with some of society's worst problems and not "running libraries".

Thornton also said the public was noticing the effects of cuts. "We can do the organised crime stuff, the big counter-terrorist stuff, but where we are really struggling is on the routine response to crime. How quickly we get in there, how many people are being investigated and how many people are then being charged or summonsed.

"What is happening is that fewer and fewer calls to the police are resulting in the deployment of an officer to the person who made the call."

She said some of that was due to efficiencies, and changes in public taste to interact online or over the phone. But too much of it was not, Thornton said. "I worry we have crossed the boundary between being efficient and making cuts."

She said that, unlike hospitals, the police cannot close their doors when overwhelmed by demand.

She said cuts made since 2010 when the Conservatives came to power and when Theresa May was home secretary, insisting police could cut crime with fewer officers, went too far.

Thornton said that "to begin with, you can make efficiencies," such as selling off old big buildings and forces working better together.

But a vicious circle developed. "The concern is … you end up taking quite a long time to get somewhere, and of course all your evidential leads are disappearing, you are less likely to find witnesses, and therefore less likely to arrest the culprit and therefore we end up with the last set of figures [which] showed that charges and summonses amounted to 9% of all crimes.

"Two things are happening. One is the absolute number of charges and summonses are declining, but also what is happening is the number of crimes is increasing."

Police are grappling with rising knife crime and this month won nearly £100m extra for an emergency increase in the number of officers in the worst hit areas.

Thornton said conditions in areas where there is gang-related drug violence had worsened in the last decade. "Undoubtedly [there is a] lack of infrastructure in the communities that [perpetrators] come from, whether that's in terms of youth provision, whether it's in terms of keeping them in school rather than putting them in pupil referral units, whether it's about social care, whether it's about a whole range of opportunities, [they] are just not there in the way they were 10 years ago.

"I can see in terms of serious violence the lack of that sort of provision is part of what's driving this."

But she said there are still ways police could make a big difference, such as the Met's success in driving down moped and acid crimes: "You treat these like epidemics and they can come down. There is nothing inevitable about it going up and up and up. Treat it as an epidemic; we just have to find what the treatment is."

Thornton said policing needed to reduce its "blame culture" and move to an airline industry-style approach to errors where the focus is on learning and fixing errors, not threatening officers with being fired.

She said policing had found it difficult to identify and learn from failure: "When confronted with failure the easiest thing to do, which we learn as children, is to blame. But as an organisation that's the worst thing you can do in many ways, because you never learn ... if you are looking for the scapegoat all the time."

She added: "Policing is difficult, it's high risk. We are not running libraries. We are dealing with difficult situations … things will not always go well."

Rules on holding officers to account also needed to change, she said.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 27th March 2019 author Dominic Nicholls)

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Defence chiefs have urgently recalled decommissioned rifles from insecure cadet units amid fears they could be converted and turned into weapons used by criminals and terrorists.

In a letter seen by The Telegraph, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned that almost 10,000 rifles used by cadet units "were not deactivated according to Home Office guidelines [and] have the potential to be converted to live firers".

The letter, sent by Headquarters Regional Command, refers to a break-in and theft of a number of so-called 'drill purpose' weapons. It calls for units as a matter of urgency to inform the command centre, based in Aldershot, how long it would take to move the weapons to "alarmed armouries".

The recall of the weapons is thought to have been triggered by the theft of firearms from a Fife army cadet unit, based in a wooden hut, in May last year. Three training rifles were taken in the theft.

Police tested the weapons, which were recovered in the summer, and discovered they could easily be converted to live firers, at which point the MoD was informed.

The Telegraph understands it was the Police Scotland tests that led to the urgent recall as the weapons could be easily turned back into live assault rifles "with the right tools and knowledge". 

The weapons had been kept in a cadet centre in Newport-on-Tay in a hut with little security.

Drill purpose rifles - converted live weapons with various parts cut out and welded up so they can't fire - are issued to cadet units across the country and are usually stored in their huts, often with minimal security. Cadets use the weapons for parade drill and rifle training practice.

However, as a result of the police action the MoD realised their cutting and welding failed to meet legal deactivation standards. This resulted in all cadet drill purpose rifles, numbering almost 10,000, to be reclassified as live assault rifles and prohibited under the Firearms Act 1968.

The imitation firearms were stolen from the Newport-on-Tay unit last year by Sean Barclay, 28, a former cadet at the centre. He smashed a window and fled with the drill purpose rifles before stashing them in woods down a single track lane near a farm.

Barclay was jailed for a separate offence and while in prison smuggled out a hand-drawn map showing where the weapons were hidden. Police raided an apartment and discovered the map leading them to the rifles. His lawyer admitted he had planned to sell the guns and Barclay was jailed for eight years when he appeared in court on Tuesday.

The weapons resembled the Army standard issue SA80 rifle.

Police Scotland warned that the rifles could have been converted to fire live ammunition. In a statement, Det Insp Christopher Mill said: "The theft and circulation of illicit firearms is completely unacceptable and when it occurs Police Scotland will take proactive steps to curtail this activity and bring those responsible to justice.

"While these were training weapons, they have the capacity to be converted into viable weapons, which could have caused real harm to the public.

"Thankfully these weapons were recovered and ultimately posed no risk to the Newport-on-Tay community."

A police source said: "The weapons were analysed by Police Scotland internal experts in the firearms unit. They discovered that with the right tools and knowledge the firearms could be repurposed."

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the recall letter had been sent out but declined to comment further. 

(2nd April 2019)

(Independent, dated 26th March 2019 author Helen Coffey)

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A woman who tweeted about watching out for "creeps" on flights has struck a chord with female travellers everywhere.

Newspaper bureau chief Joanna Chiu's thread about "airplane creeps" quickly went viral after she shared a story about a teenage girl being targeted by a male passenger during a recent flight.

"I'm on a plane from a late-evening stopover and was very tired and had a row to myself to sleep but couldn't avoid noticing what was going on in the row behind me," she said.

"A man appearing in his late thirties was obviously delighted to be seated next to a teenager separated from the rest of her family.

"He started off by asking about her career plans and laughed when she said she wanted to be CEO and kept giving her ridiculous advice."

Chiu said the girl was friendly, which the man seemed to take as a cue to "get very familiar". He allegedly started teasing the young woman and asked her out for dinner multiple times, which she ignored.

"At this point I had to stay awake in case anything went further than that," said Chiu.

"It did, and as soon as he asked for a 'dirty' photo while leaning close to her I turned around and rage-whispered exactly what I thought of that and he didn't say anything back and went off to use the washroom."

According to Chiu, another woman in the row behind had also been monitoring the situation and told the girl she was within her rights to change seats.

Chiu went and informed a flight attendant of the situation, and when the man returned to his seat the head flight attendant asked him to move.

"He resisted then started swearing at me and asked to talk to the boss and the head flight attendant said, 'I'm the boss, this is really serious and we could land the plane,'" added Chiu.

The man agreed to change seats, a report was written up and the situation was handled "well" according to Chiu.

However, she highlighted the fact that only female passengers seemed to notice what had been going on.

"Maybe fellow women are more likely to pick up on warning signs early on in the conversation because we used to be teenage girls too?" she said.

Chiu, who works for The Star Vancouver and Toronto Star newspapers, then shared her own memories of being pursued while travelling as a young girl, one of which culminated in an older man kissing her without her consent.

She emphasised the need for vigilance: "All adults need to be on guard and know there are things we can do to intervene even when a crime hadn't technically been committed yet.

"Men need to figure out how to 'spot creeps' in their vicinity as well and men can help too to prevent harassment or assault."

She added: "I'm sure the young woman he targeted will be CEO someday or some other position of influence. She was in the middle of studying when he started harassing her."

The thread has quickly gone viral, garnering more than 110,000 likes, 54,000 retweets and 1,000 replies since 25 March.

(26th March 2019)

(Computer Weekly, dated 26th March 2019 author Warwick Ashford)

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Law enforcement agencies from the US, Canada and Europe, including the UK, have joined forces to target suppliers and buyers of illegal goods on dark web marketplaces and warn buyers of risks.

International law enforcement agencies made 61 arrests and shut down 50 dark web accounts used for illegal activity in a joint operation, Europol has announced.

As a result of 65 search warrants, police were able to seize nearly 300kg of drugs, 51 firearms and more than €6.2m, including almost €4m in cryptocurrency.

By coordinating efforts and acting simultaneously, Europol said a strong signal has been sent to those active in selling and buying goods on the dark web that they can still be tracked down by police.

While the dark web is accessible only through special software such as the Tor browser and provides a safe environment for personal privacy and freedom, Europol said it is also a "fertile environment" for criminals and individual illegal activities.

"Investigating these illegal activities online has become a priority for law enforcement all over the world. While you may have a higher level of anonymity on the dark web, you still have an identity; dark web applications are not an invisibility cloak or an immunity vaccine against the law," Europol said.

Europol's executive director, Catherine De Bolle, said the dark web is not as dark as many users think. "When you buy or sell illegal goods online, you are not hidden from law enforcement and you are putting yourself in danger," she said.

"This international coordinated approach demonstrates law enforcement's determination to tackle crime on the dark web and to reduce the number of people who fall victim to criminals selling life endangering products or scamming them for their own gain."

Europol warned that the risks are higher for anyone who uses the dark web to buy illegal goods anonymously, because anyone carrying out transactions on the dark web exposes their sensitive data to scammers who are only after money and personal details.

In addition, Europol said activity on the dark web exposes users' devices to some of the most damaging malware around and exposes buyers to potential losses due to the non-delivery of goods as well as harm from lethal drugs, malfunctioning weapons and cyber crime services that work against the buyers.

(2nd April 2019)

(BBC News, dated 26th March 2019)

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Nearly two thirds of Scots (62%) are not confident that the justice system delivers sentences which fit the crime, according to a government survey.

However, more than 77% believe that the process allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of their background.

Overall, cases of crime in Scotland have fallen by 16% since 2016-17.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey also found that violent crime has almost halved since 2008-09.

Less than 1% of people experienced more than one violent crime in 2017-18, with this group accounting for three-fifths of all violent crime.

The proportion of alcohol-related violent crime was estimated to be down by about a quarter since 2008-09.

The survey was based on interviews with about 5,500 adults about incidents over the previous year, whether they were reported to police or not.

Other findings include:

- One in eight adults (12.5%) in Scotland experienced a crime in 2017-18, compared to one in five (20.4%) in 2008-09
- Property crime, including vandalism and housebreaking, fell by 41% between 2008-09 and 2017-18
- The rate of repeat violent victimisation fell from 1.6% in 2008-09 to 0.7% in 2017-18
- 77% of adults felt safe walking alone after dark - an increase of 11 percentage points since 2008 to 09
- The majority of adults (57%) said the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area
- 15.6% of adults said they had experienced at least one incident of partner abuse since the age of 16.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed the 16% fall in overall crime and highlighted "how safe people feel in their communities".

He said: Tackling alcohol-related harm has been a pivotal part of our pioneering public health approach to reducing violent crime over the last decade and it is heartening to see a fall in alcohol-related violence.

"I remain concerned about the level of repeat victimisation, and that people in the most deprived communities are more likely to experience violence.

"While these findings are not new, we must not simply accept them as a 'fact of life', and we will continue our work to further understand and reduce violence wherever it persists."

(2nd April 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 26th March 2019 author Marcus Hughes)

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Apprentice recruits at two of Wales' police forces have started their new jobs as officers.

The group of 75 South Wales Police recruits and 15 Gwent Police recruits are the first to undergo a new style of police training following an overhaul of the system.

There are now three ways to join the police and train to become a constable - all with different entry requirements and pathways to completing the courses.

We spoke to new recruits Hannah, Danielle, and Jordan on their first day of training to become constables for Gwent Police and South Wales Police.

Some have university degrees, some have some police experience, and some are completely new to the profession.

These are the new ways to become a police officer:

They are:

- Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship - Apprentices join as a constable and follow a course in professional practice that allows them to earn money and on the job experience while they learn. It normally takes three years to complete with both on and off-the -job learning. At the end of the programme, apprentices complete their probation and achieve a full undergraduate-level degree.
- Degree Holder Entry Scheme - Potential recruits who already have a degree in any subject can apply to join for an on the job training programme supported by some classroom learning. It normally takes two years to complete. A graduate diploma is awarded at the end of the course.
- Pre-join degree -  If you want to study first, you can do a three year degree in professional policing at your own expense, and then apply to a force and follow a shorter on-the-job training programme.

The new Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) has been drawn up by the College of Policing to improve consistency in policing roles across England and Wales.

According to the College of Policing, officers today face complex problems, often in dangerous situations, with growing demands from digital investigation and vulnerable people.

They say training structures that were in place before this framework were not "designed with these demands in mind".

(2nd April 2019)

(Independent (Ireland), dated 26th March 2019 author George Jackson)

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 A judge has said he will take a hard line against professional street beggars who flew to Northern Ireland every six weeks.

Barney McElholm made the pledge at Derry Magistrates Court yesterday when he jailed a 30-year-old mother of seven from Bucharest for two months after she admitted stealing a bottle of vodka from Tesco at Strand Road in Derry last Saturday.

The district judge said he did not believe Florica Crina Ispas was a genuine indigent street beggar as she had claimed following her arrest.

Instead, he said he believed the defendant was "a member of a professional gang of street beggars who could afford to fly into and out of Northern Ireland every six weeks, on a shift basis, to beg".

A police officer told Mr McElholm the defendant was stopped by supermarket staff as she attempted to leave without paying for the bottle of vodka.

He said the defendant had previous convictions for street begging in Belfast last December, January and last month.

Applying for bail, defence solicitor George Copeland said the defendant had no passport but had a visa visiting card which entitled her to travel from Romania to any EU country.

"She instructs that she flew in from Bucharest to Dublin six weeks ago and that she has been living on the streets of Dublin, Belfast and Derry since then.

"She was arrested as she walked through the check-out area while she was speaking on her mobile phone to her children in Romania and she forgot to pay for the vodka", he said.

Mr McElholm said the defendant had similar convictions dating back to last December, yet said she only arrived here six weeks ago.

"I don't believe a single word of what she has said and I'm going to take a tough line in such cases in future. This woman in my view is part of a professional group of people who come here to beg and who then fly out again. They can afford to fly in and fly out again", the judge said.
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Mr McElholm said he recently had a meeting with local agencies to discuss the issue of street begging.

"These people are not genuine indigent street beggars. They fly in and out on six weekly shifts," he added.

"These people are doing a great disservice to people who are genuinely homeless.

"They are a professional group coming here to street beg and to take advantage of the generous and good nature of the local people", he said before jailing the defendant for two months.

(2nd April 2019)

(Guardian, dated 25th March 2019 author Sarah Marsh)

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The sharp rise in adults using crack cocaine in England is being fuelled by a lack of police on the streets and aggressive marketing by dealers who offer customers "deals of the day", according to a government report.

Users featured in the Public Health England and Home Office report said the drug was being delivered "quicker than a pizza" at a cost of £20 to £25 for three bags or wraps, containing various combinations of crack and heroin, or as little as "pocket-money prices" of £5 per rock.

A lack of police on the streets was also given as a reason behind the surge in the drug's use, with those dependant on it rising by 8.5% between 2011 and 2017. The so-called county lines phenomenon, where dealers run drugs from cities to towns and rural locations, using children as mules, is also contributing to the increase, said the report.

There has been a 19% increase in adults starting treatment for crack cocaine use in England, Public Health England data showed. The latest estimates of opiate and crack use found a significant rise of 8.5% in the number of crack cocaine users in England between 2011 to 2012 and 2016 to 2017, from 166,640 to 180,748.

Crack users still account for a very small proportion of the population, at a rate of 5.1 crack users per 1,000 people in England.

The report said: "Respondents reported that dealers held mobile phones with the numbers of all local heroin and crack users, and sent blanket text messages with the latest 'special offers'. Dealers would also often give users free drugs in exchange for the numbers of other local drug users."

It added: "As well as advertising the 'deal of the day', some service users also reported receiving regular messages containing buzzwords (and street names for drugs), such as 'power', 'magic' and 'happy hour', designed to trigger cravings and nudge them towards placing their next order."

One drug user, anonymously cited in the report, said: "There is no longer the option to buy just one of anything."

County lines drug dealing operations were also noted as being a significant issue by people in three of the six areas visited for the report, with users saying "they thought it was linked to increasing availability and aggressive marketing of crack".

"In these areas, treatment workers, service users and police officers described how 'out of town' dealers from organised crime groups based in cities such as London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, had infiltrated the local market, sending runners to deal drugs and displace local dealers. They identified this as a trend that had begun or intensified in the past few years," the report said.

The minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said the government was committed to "protecting the most vulnerable and helping those with a drug dependency to recover".

But the charity Addaction's public policy manager, Steve Moffatt, said: "The government needs more up-to-date information on the trends in heroin and crack in order to take action sooner."

He added: "The fact people are being 'aggressively' marketed to makes it vital people have access to up-to-date facts and advice to make informed decisions and that drug and alcohol services are adequately funded. It's concerning how long it took for the rise in crack use to be clear at a national level."

Rosanna O'Connor, the director for drugs, alcohol, tobacco and justice at Public Health England, said the report would come as no surprise to those working in this area. She said more investment was needed to prevent a further creep of the highly-addictive drug.

"Treatment is cost-effective, with every £1 spent yielding a £2.50 saving on the social costs, including reducing crime. Services need to reach out to crack users and offer more attractive and tailored support to meet their specific needs," she said.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 25th March 2019 author Victoria Ward)

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Terrified and utterly disorientated after flipping her car into a ditch, Valerie Hawkett found herself stranded with absolutely no idea where she was.

After managing to pull herself and her four-year-old daughter free from the vehicle, she called the police. But she could not be seen from the road and was unable to direct them to the scene.

Incredibly, officers were able to pinpoint her exact location using new technology that assigns three random words to every 3m X 3m square on the planet.

As such, after being sent the relevant web link, the words "weekend foggy earphones" led officers straight to the scene - a field on the A36 heading out of Norton St Philip, Somerset.

The geocoding system, called What3Words has divided the world into 57 trillion squares, each of which has its own unique address.

Avon and Somerset Police were among the first in the UK to pilot the technology last year and Ms Hawkett, 33, and her daughter are believed to be the first rescued with it.

Two other police forces, Humberside and West Yorkshire, also use the system, as does the British Transport Police and three fire services; Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Call handlers can send a text to the caller with a link to a page that generates their three-word address.

Thousands of other organisations have also adopted the technology, including the UN, which uses it for disaster relief, Mercedes-Benz, which recently launched the world's first car with built-in What3Words voice navigation, and Domino's Pizza.

Individuals can also use it to meet in crowded places such as on beaches or at festivals.

The technology was the brainchild of  British entrepreneur Chris Sheldrick, who says it is more specific than postcodes, which were invented when posting letters was the main form of communication, and simpler than GPS co-ordinates.

Mr Sheldrick and his friend Jack Waley-Cohen, a mathematician, who met when they both played chess at Eton, came up with the idea in 2013 and spent a year developing the product. They ensure that words that have two different spellings and profanities are carefully screened out.

To generate 57 trillion three-word addresses, the company uses the cube root of that figure - a pool of about 38,500 words.

Sam Sheppard, of Avon & Somerset Police, said it had changed the way the force dealt with incidents when the location unknown.

He said: "We are moving away from the old style questioning - 'Where have you come from?', 'Where are you going?', 'What can you see?' etc.

"These questions take time and aren't always that accurate. Asking for a three word address or sending an SMS so they can easily provide their three word address, has meant we have saved valuable time locating incidents."

Ms Hawkett, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, said the system had proven invaluable.

"I was so disoriented after the crash that I didn't know where I was," she said. 

"It's a road I drive every week - but it was really wet weather.

"I was going round a really sharp bend, and I had slowed down, but I just lost control.

"The car fully took off from the road and went up and over a bush, and landed in a field.

"I could have been in that field all day, if it hadn't been for the three-word location.2

She initially tried to send police her location via Google Maps but they texted her the web address for What3Words and found her straight away.

(2nd April 2019)

(Mirror, dated 25th March 2019 author James Andrews)

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A single speed camera has been responsible for £5million worth of fines, after catching more than 300 drivers a week for three years.

The camera patrols a stretch of dual carriageway in Southampton where the limit is 30pmh, and has issued 51,049 tickets between the start of 2015 and the end of 2017.

AA president Edmund King said: "A 30mph road generating the highest number of speed camera activations in England and Wales is astonishing.

"However, the Department for Transport acknowledges that speed limits should be evidence-led and it may be that the dualling of the A3024 at that point means many think it has a higher limit. It would be interesting to see how many offenders are new visitors to Southampton."

Britain's busiest speed cameras

- 51,049 fines - A3024 Maybray King Way, Southampton
- 38,836 fines - M62 westbound, Junctions 20 and 19, Manchester
- 38,729 fines - A282 Dartford-Thurrock Crossing, Essex
- 37,950 fines - A127 Southend Arterial Road, Essex
- 36,753 fines - A12 near Stratford St Mary, Suffolk
- 35,884 fines - North Road, Cardiff
- 30,835 fines - A1 Barrowby Thorns, Lincolnshire
- 27,942 fines - A45 Ryton Bridge Flyover, near Coventry
- 26,810 fines - M11 near Luxborough Lane Road, Chigwell, Essex
- 25,548 fines - M4 Port Talbot, south Wales

The AA's King added: "The other section of road that jumps out is the number of activations at the Dartford Crossing.

"With a major incident capable of jamming the road network across the south east of England, the number of speeders chancing their arm makes you sit up.

"There again, how many are drivers racing to get through the crossing before the Dart Charge comes into force daily?

"Perhaps if the toll was abolished, as it was supposed to be after the project was paid for, there would be fewer vehicles speeding."

Hugh Bladon, founder o f the Alliance of British Drivers, said: "If a lot of people are being caught it may be that the speed limit on that road is ridiculously low."

He added: "The speed limit needs to be reassessed to see what the normal speed of the road is. The limit should be set at the speed that 85% of drivers take the road at.

"It is not uncommon that limits are lowered due to an accident, but it doesn't mean that the speed drivers are driving can be classed as unsafe."

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd March 2019 author Bill Gardner)

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The rise of Google's Street View tool has left homes across Britain vulnerable to burglars, police leaders have warned.

Householders should consider asking the internet giant to blur out images of their properties to prevent them being targeted, officers said.

It comes as the head of Neighbourhood Watch warned that Street View allows criminals to scout for "easy pickings".

Homes on nearly every major residential street in Britain have been made easily visible since Google launched the technology a decade ago.

Since then, a number of burglars have reportedly used the tool to 'case' potential targets. Last night a Google spokesman insisted that linking Street View to burglaries was like "blaming the motor industry for crime because criminals also use getaway cars".

But Richard Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, said the technology was "certainly a concern".

"I'm sure thieves are using this technology to make their jobs easier," he told the Telegraph.  "The police use Street View as a tool, and I believe criminals do too."

As part of its terms and conditions, Google has agreed to blur out images of people and properties on request.

Homes belonging to well-known figures including Sir Paul McCartney, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and singer Katherine Jenkins have already been obscured.

"I would urge homeowners who are concerned to ask Google to cover up their properties," Mr Cooke said. "It's the only way to be sure."

In 2014, an investment banker suggested burglars had used the technology to to raid his secluded mansion and steal £100,000 worth of jewellery.

Four years earlier, Google defended itself against claims that thieves repeatedly targeted a property in Bradford after spotting its door open online.

A number of burglars in the US have been convicted after allegedly using Street View to look for targets.

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said the technology could be "easily mis-used by burglars to locate properties that are easy pickings".

"Some people may think they are not at risk because many of the images on Street View are years old," he said.

"However, the images can still be used to see if a home is in an environment that allows a burglar a swift exit. For instance, if a house backs onto a pathway or if there are various hiding places nearby.

"It is important that the public know their rights and can ask Google to blur out their homes on Street View. If celebrities can do this citing security concerns, ordinary people should be aware that they have that right as well."

It comes as police forces across the country struggle to cope with a rising tide of violent crime.

Figures released last  year showed the number of unsolved domestic burglaries has risen from 47 per cent to 64 per cent - while in some areas nine out of ten cases are written off without any action.

After years of decline, burglary has suddenly seen a sharp upturn with more than 400,000 crimes recorded last year - around half of which took place at people's homes. 

A Google spokesman said: "The imagery available on Street View is no different from what people can see when walking down the street themselves or when viewing images which are already widely available on a number of real estate and directory sites. "Saying that Street View is enabling crime is like blaming the motor industry for crime because criminals also use getaway cars."

(2nd April 2019)

(IT Pro, dated 22nd March 2019 author Keumars Afifi-Sabet)

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 Malicious actors have hit the computer systems of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) with a malware attack that, at one point, threatened to spread across the entire organisation.

The association body representing near-120,000 officers was alerted to an attack on 9 March by its cyber security systems, which triggered experts into isolating the attack and stopping it spreading to its 43 individual branches.

The attack is not thought to have specifically targeted the PFEW, rather it is more likely to be part of a wider campaign, the organisation said. There is no evidence as of yet pointing towards who may be responsible, nor is there evidence the perpetrators extracted any personal or sensitive data from PFEW systems.

"Our priority has been to mitigate the damage caused by the attack and to protect the personal data of our members and others whose data we hold," said PFEW national chair John Apter, who apologised for the incident.

"We remain committed to representing police officers and ensuring they are supported. We have set up a dedicated webpage to help officers and other individuals with any questions they may have and have directed them to where they can find guidance on the risks associated with this type of incident."

 The PFEW is a statutory body responsible for protecting the welfare of its members, who range from junior officers through to the rank of Chief Inspector. The organisation also gathers the views of its constituent police officers with regards to policy and policing methods, and regularly communicates these to the government of the day.

"Being struck with ransomware at this level seems rare in 2019 but it just goes to show that the cyber criminals will continue to attack wherever there are vulnerabilities," said cyber security specialist with ESET Jake Moore.

"Organisations should never have the only backups online where the virus can attack, plus ransomware mitigation tools are easily accessible and feasible.

"However, there is always a cost involved in the prevention of such attacks and sadly the police does not have access to the amount of financial support required to fully protect itself. Corners will inevitably be cut and the police will remain a target whilst this is still the case."

The PFEW said there has been no evidence of data extraction, and that the malware did not spread any further than the systems based at Federation House, the organisation's headquarters in Surrey. None of its external branches around England and Wales were affected, according to the body.

However, the PFEW has been working with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to establish whether there could be any more indicators pointing to the scale and effects of the attack.

On the nature of non-targeted attacks, which the PFEW believes this to have been, Kaspersky's David Emm told IT Pro that it's interesting how many of these manage to successfully penetrate organisations.

"What was interesting in industrial facilities, the bulk of attacks were ransomware or spyware - just general purpose spyware. And I guess it's interesting for some reasons; one is there's a general understanding that if people are going to be going after those facilities, it's going to be really high-tech targeted attacks, whereas really most of it isn't.

"The second is that if I were an attacker, I'd be lurking around and saying 'wow, if these places can be hit be general purpose malware, what if we actually start trying?'"

Specialist officers from the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) are taking the lead on the criminal investigation. Meanwhile, the PFEW is liaising with the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to gain a better understanding of the fallout.

IT Pro approached the PFEW for comment but did not get a response at the time of publication.

(2nd April 2019)

(The Times, dated 22nd March 2019 author Kaya Burgess) [Option 1]

A group of "speedwatch" volunteers in a genteel seaside town have takne to wearing bodycams after recieving death threats from motorists caught driving too fast.

Armed with handheld speed cameras, the pensioners in Frinton on Sea, Essex, have a fearsome reputation for catchhing motorists who drive at up to 80mph in 30mph zones in the town.

They have caught 552 motorists this year after recording almost 3,000 last year. However, the group have been subjected to threats by drivers they film.

"On one occassion someone tried to assault me," Mike Carter, a retired detective sergeant, said. "A couple of days ago we recorded a chap on bodycam. He was snarling away at the three people on Speedwatch and threatening to get them. He said his wife had died and he was going to make ssure the same will happen to them. He disappeared of and we had all his car details."

Mr Carter, who leads the Frinton and Walton Speedwatch group, said that police took statements from a retired vicar, a former headteacher and retired nurse and traced the man.

"After a week he appeared at Clacton Police station, where he was given a caution", he said. "These are three pillars of the community, who do not deserve to be threatened in this way, to have someone snarling away at them like this. We are all retired and we are all over 60 - we aren't trying to cause trouble."

He added: "I have more experience than most with what dangerous driving can do. I picked my neighbours eight year old boy out of the road when he was hit by a car and killed.

"My Father was killed as a passenger during a road traffic accident. Another friend of mine, a police officer, was killed when the driver in front of his police motorcycle decided to do a U-turn while eating a Chinese takeaway on his lap."

The Frinton group and the Harwich and District Speedwatch group caught 6,500 drivers between them last year, almost a third of those recorded nationwide by the groups. The volunteers can issue warning letters to drivers and can work with police to identify speeding hotspots.

(2nd April 2019)

(The Sun, dated 22nd March 2019 author Mike Ridley)

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Just before 7am, a time when most teenagers are struggling to get out of bed, youngsters dressed in smart hoodies and expensive trainers are visibly on edge.

Eyes furtively scanning the station display boards, they make sure they buy the correct ticket for their journey so they will not attract the attention of ticket inspectors - or worse still, the police.

They are among Britain's 10,000 "disposable children" who shuttle drugs around the country for ruthless gangsters.

Groomed and hoodwinked, they are "going country" - heading out of London to work.

Their backpacks are crammed with thousands of pounds' worth of class-A narcotics, including heroin and crack cocaine.

They carry knives to protect their cargo and defend the £5,000-a-day racket to which they are enslaved - known as county lines.

At Euston we watched three pairs of youngsters heading out to the shires to work as part of a fast-expanding underworld network that has seen the number of British children used as slaves double in a year.

There are now 2,000 county lines operating in the UK, sending children as young as 11 and 12 from London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester to country towns the length and breadth of Britain to deliver drugs.

In just three months, British Transport Police patrols caught more than 100 child slaves using the rail network.

Now the force plans to use CCTV on trains and at stations to compile a list of youngsters at risk of being exploited.


County lines drug networks, which are estimated to make £500million a year, are blamed for the number of modern slavery cases involving children soaring from 676 in 2017 to 1,421 last year, according to shocking new figures released this week.

But experts believe the statistic is just the tip of the iceberg.

In a recent crackdown, police took 600 teenagers and 400 vulnerable young people away from county lines operations in just seven days.

And the charity Safer London reckons around 4,000 boys and girls from the capital are being used to package and deliver drugs.

This week a judge who jailed five dealers from two warring gangs in Bedfordshire claimed county lines were "the worst blight in the UK".

It followed a Parliamentary hearing on Tuesday when MPs learned that children as young as eight were at risk of being lured into gangs.

One youth worker told the Home Affairs Select Committee that young children were targeted because they are "easier to manipulate".

Now former gang leader Matthew Norford has revealed to The Sun how he deliberately groomed younger boys in Manchester to join his Rusholme Mandem Gang.

Matthew, who by the age of 15 had carried out shootings and kidnappings, says: "Grooming them was easy. These kids are poor and vulnerable. There is no love at home.

"They don't know the meaning of family and they have nothing. Most of them can't even afford to eat.

"So a nice guy comes along and starts buying them gifts and paying their bills. It's easy to get them on board.

"As much as I was grooming the young boys, I was grooming the mums, too.

"I would act as a father figure for the kids. They didn't have anyone else.

"Often the mothers were aware of what was happening but their boys were bringing in money from working with the gang."

Father of six Matthew, 36, now runs a charity, Mission 1, to help youngsters escape the clutches of gangs.

He says there is a stark reason why county lines crooks deliberately target white boys and girls.

He continues: "In rural areas the police will always suspect black kids from London roaming the streets.

"So you find and groom young white boys outside the school gates because they can sell the drugs without the police blinking an eye.

"I'd do the same with women. I would groom white women so that they could drive me and the drugs without raising suspicion.

"There were times that I would have a relationship with them but it wasn't love, it was convenience.

"It would be a place to eat, sleep and have sex but I would stash the drugs there."

Youngsters lured with the promise of smart trainers, cash and even drugs are led to believe the gang is their family.

But according to Detective Inspector Wendy Tinkler, of Cleveland Police, when youngsters are caught because of their age there is rarely a criminal investigation.

She says: "The perpetrator moves on to the next child. They are a commodity and disposable."

Last year Swansea cops became the first in Britain to use modern slavery laws to tackle gang leaders from London and

Liverpool who sent youngsters to South Wales to deal drugs, resulting in jail terms totalling 180 years.

Among them were Mahad Yusuf, 21, and Fesal Mahamud, 20, leaders in the Dem Africans gang in Edmonton, North London.

They used social media to lure a teenage girl with the promise of work, only to hold her prisoner in a flat in Swansea where they forced her to store drugs in her body for them.

And, in January this year, Swansea Crown Court heard how a 16-year-old boy from London was forced to "run the line" after his brother was jailed, owing drug money to Jerome Wallis, 20, and Savion Browne, 25, from Southwark, South London.

Under threat of violence he was moved between crack dens in Swansea before he managed to escape and call the police.

They then found an armoury of knives, a stash of cash and drugs.

Although the police operation - codenamed Blue Thames - took the kingpins off Swansea's streets, their place has been taken by more dealers sent from London.

A gangster from the capital, who took over the Swansea line following the police purge, gives his "workers" £500 a month to cut and package drugs in a terraced house and up to £1,000 if they are prepared to use violence.

They are paid monthly, rather than weekly, to stop them vanishing.

The man, in his early 20s, claims to make £100,000 a month from the operation.

He also admits to ordering his recruits to use baseball bats to attack and knock out a drug runner from Tottenham, North London, who had tried dealing on his patch in Swansea.

He brags: "The kids are useless in some ways, but there's something they're good for - the violence. I'm too old to be knocking people out or messing around with knives."

This modern-day Fagin recruits boys from West London and says local kids don't have the right temperament for going OT - or Out There, slang for working the line.

He says: "When I find the kids, they are already committing violent crimes but they're not making money. They're not doing anything, not going to school. At least they've got some money and focus here."

The younger of the two boys working for him in his smart flat in Swansea is a 15-year-old who spends three hours a day wrapping heroin into packets.

The lad, who has been excluded from school, sends money back to his mother in London.

He says: "She is probably glad I'm not with her. We don't get on.

"The police used to be at my door every day. I was excluded loads of times for fighting."

The 16-year-old working beside him adds: "One day I want to be running my own line. There's loads of money in Wales from selling heroin and crack."

It's a horrible cycle - but as long as the drugs sell and the trains run, the gangsters look likely to be exploiting the system from what they hope is a safe distance, their young "slaves" taking all the risk.

Rhiannon Sawyer, of the charity The Children's Society, which runs anti-child-exploitation programmes in London, Manchester and Birmingham, insists the baby-faced drug runners are no criminals.

She says: "These young people are all victims. We are hearing accounts of gangs trading very young children like commodities."

(2nd April 2019)



(Guardian, dated 21st March 2019 author Alex Hern)

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Facebook mistakenly stored "hundreds of millions" of passwords in plaintext, unprotected by any encryption, the company has admitted.

The mistake, which led to user passwords being kept in Facebook's internal servers in an insecure way, affects "hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users", according to the social networking site. Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook created for use in nations where mobile data is unaffordable or unavailable.

In a statement, Facebook's vice-president for engineering, security and privacy, Pedro Canahuati, said: "We have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed" the passwords, which "were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook". Affected users will be directly notified.

Nonetheless, the risk of misuse was high. According to security reporter Brian Krebs, who cited a "senior Facebook insider", "access logs showed some 2,000 engineers or developers made approximately nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plaintext user passwords".

Best practice for password security involves a number of precautions to ensure that, even if the company is hacked, stolen passwords cannot be used. Passwords should be "hashed", a one-way process which transforms every password into a unique "hash", and ideally "salted", ensuring that even two identical passwords produce different hashes. Those are the security practices that Facebook normally takes, and which were overlooked in this case.

Canahuati said Facebook has now fixed this particular issue, as well as some problems the company has discovered in other security features, such as the code by which users log in through other apps.

The information commissioner's office warns companies: "Do not store passwords in plaintext - make sure you use a suitable hashing algorithm, or another mechanism that offers an equivalent level of protection against an attacker deriving the original password.

"You should also ensure that the architecture around your password system does not allow for any inadvertent leaking of passwords in plaintext." The guidance refers to the exact sort of error that Facebook admitted to on Thursday.

The ICO has not issued a fine purely for storing passwords in an insecure fashion, although it has cited insecure storage as an aggravating factor when penalising more serious data protection breaches.

(AXIOS, dated 11th March 2019 author Ina Fried)

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For all the many controversies around Facebook's mishandling of personal data, Google actually knows way more about most of us.

The bottom line: Just how much Google knows depends to some degree on your privacy settings - and to a larger degree on which devices, products and services you use.

Google is the undisputed leader in the tech giants' race to accumulate user data, thanks to its huge array of services, devices and leading share of the digital ad business (37% to Facebook's 22%). It likely knows everything you've ever typed into your browser's search bar and every YouTube video you've ever watched.

But that's just the beginning. It may also know where you've been, what you've bought and who you communicate with.

What Google collects:

- The terms you search for.
- The videos you watch.
- Voice and audio information when you use audio features.
- Purchase activity.
- People with whom you communicate or share content.
- Activity on third-party sites and apps that use Google services.

- The ads and content you view on Google's sites, as well as interactions with that content.
- Chrome browsing history you've synced with your Google Account.
- Location data, which Google can either gather directly via GPS data or infer from other sensors and data, including IP addresses, nearby Wi-Fi routers and Bluetooth beacons.

What Google doesn't collect:

- Google Docs data from business customers who use the paid enterprise version.
-Internet traffic from its Google Wi-Fi home routers.
- The company used to use the content of emails in Gmail to choose ads to display, but it no longer does so, saying its other data is more efficient.

The big picture: Google isn't just its namesake search service. It also gets lots of data from its Chrome browser, as well as from YouTube, devices running its Android operating system, the Google Assistant, and Google Maps, along with hardware products like Nest and Google Home.

- Even those who don't actively choose Google's services still probably have a fair amount of information landing on its servers. It's a huge player in digital advertising, with widely used tools for serving ads and providing analytics.
- Google's privacy policy (which you probably haven't read) offers a good overview of its practices, while a separate tool allows users to see what information the company has been collecting.

Between the lines: A study last year by Vanderbilt University's Douglas Schmidt found that Google and Chrome are sending plenty of data to Google even without any user action, including location data (assuming a user hasn't chosen not to share such information). And nearly half the data came from people's interaction with Google's services for advertisers, as opposed to consumers directly choosing to use a Google service.

- Google challenged some of the study's points and highlighted some new privacy tools, but Schmidt says his key findings remain the same.
- "You can fiddle around with a few knobs and make yourself feel better," Schmidt tells Axios. "I don't think much has changed."

Location, location, location

Location data raises some of the thorniest issues for Google users.

- Letting Google track your location can help it learn where you work and live, predict when you need to leave the house and even tell you when you need an umbrella.
- At the same time, such data hands Google a picture of our lives so incredibly detailed that it will make many people uncomfortable.
- That picture will only grow in scope as Google expands the array of hardware products, from Nest cameras and thermostats to Google Home Hub and Pixel, that point more cameras and microphones at your life.

What else?

In addition to everything Google collects via its services, Google search aims to be a repository for all the world's information. That means there's a mountain of information accessible on Google because someone, somewhere in the world has put it online.

- If embarrassing pictures from your high school yearbook or information about your DUI is posted online, Google will help people find it. (An exception is for those in Europe, where the "right to be forgotten" lets people request certain info be removed.)

What can you do?

There's a fair amount you can do to at least limit what Google knows about you.

- You can use another search engine, like Microsoft's Bing or the even more privacy-centric Duck Duck Go.
- Choosing an iPhone alone won't get you out of Google's grasp. Google pays Apple billions of dollars each year to be the default search engine on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can change that default, but relatively few people do.
- On the browser front, you can choose to use Firefox or Safari, or also use Google's Chrome in private browsing mode, or choose something like the privacy-oriented Brave.
- You can choose not to stay signed in to your Google account when using its services. Outside of just not using Google products, this is probably the single biggest step you can take to hide yourself from the company - but it means you will need to log back in every time you want to, say, check a Gmail account or read a Google Doc.
- And you can go here to see what Google does know about you. Just make sure you are signed in (and check all your accounts if you have more than one).
- You can also clear your Google history, something Facebook has promised users but has yet to deliver. Clearing your history means Google won't use the information to personalize your Google experience. Deleting it is another matter.

Whatever steps you take, it can be incredibly tough to block out Google entirely, even if you want to, as Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill found, because Google's services power so many others. If you really wanted to shut out Google, you'd also have to give up Uber, Lyft and Spotify.

What's next: Today, Google uses its vast trove of data mostly to target ads at us. Increasingly, it will apply the same resource to powering and optimizing the artificial-intelligence-based services that it and its rivals are building.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 21st March 2019 author James Badcock)

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Spanish police have dismantled Europe's largest-scale TV piracy racket in an operation involving a series of raids on properties and server farms across the continent, including Britain.

The probe was launched in 2015 when England's Premier League football corporation reported a website in Malaga offering unlicensed subscription packages.

Spanish police led an investigation also involving British, Danish and Europol investigators that uncovered a highly sophisticated and far-reaching parallel network of TV subscriber packages spanning virtually all of Europe.

The investigation led to three arrests in Spain and two in Denmark.

Spanish police found that the website reported by the Premier League was only one of 20 sites directing customers to 10 different internet protocol television packages aimed at country-specific audiences.

Customer payments were made to a firm based in Gibraltar, behind which Spanish police found a web of companies and a criminal organisation with branches in Spain, Denmark, the UK, Latvia, the Netherlands and Cyprus.

The suspects used a network of 11 server farms to steal and relay transmissions from 800 TV channels, as well as offering a library of copyrighted audio-visual material and foreign radio stations for subscribers in 30 countries.

"The suspects' strategy was to use a multitude of servers and change them periodically, gradually creating new web pages to form a network of apparently unrelated elements. They thus hoped to avoid police detection and continue to profit from the crime," a source from Spain's National Police force said.

Police say the suspects had accrued at least €8 million from their systematic and sophisticated copyright theft operation, some of which they had spent on fuelling a high-octane lifestyle on the Costa del Sol.

The three arrested suspects in Malaga lived in luxury homes, and police said they had impounded 12 top-of-the-range cars.

Investigators said that it had not been easy to identify the gang's ill-gotten gains, however, as they had also created legal companies dedicated to telecoms, internet and IT hardware services.

They installed fibre-optic internet connections for clients and would also offer them subscription packages under a guise of apparent legality.

(2nd April 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 21st March 2019 author Rob Hull)

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More than 2.6million motorists in Britain have penalty points on their licence, according to official statistics.

But which postcodes have the highest percentage of drivers with points?

New research has revealed the number of motorists with penalty points in every postcode in England, Scotland and Wales - search for yours at the bottom of this page.

And we've also highlighted the areas with the most drivers halfway towards losing their licence altogether and locations with the highest level of disqualified drivers.

Racking up penalty points costs UK drivers more than £132million a year in higher insurance premiums, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

A staggering 1.45million people caught committing driving offences opted to take part in retraining courses just to avoid accumulating points - and hefty fines.

Despite this, more than 2.6million currently have points on their licences, based on the latest Department for Transport figures.

With around 48.8million motorists (40.6million full licence holders and 8.2million with provisional licences), it means around five per cent of the nation's drivers have points.

But which postcodes have drivers with the most?

According to a new investigation by Regtransfers, the postcode TS2 in Cleveland, North Yorkshire has the highest rate of motorists with points on their licence.

Of the 353 qualified motorists living in the area, 48 of them have points on their licence - working out at 13.6 per cent.

However, a closer look at the data shows that Bradford has two postcodes in the top five when it comes to drivers with penalty points per motorist.

This suggestion somewhat tallies with other research that suggests the quality of driving in Bradford is below par.

Direct Line said the city topped the charts for the number of accidents involving uninsured drivers in 2017, while data for the same year revealed by Moneybarn also found that Bradford had the lowest pass rates for driving theory tests, with just 42 per cent succeeding at the first attempt.

Similarly, three postcodes in the town of Taunton, Somerset appear in the top 10 worst postcodes for drivers with the most penalty points.

Regtransfers explained that this may be due to the 'result of particularly efficient speed cameras in the area'.

That's because five camera sites in the Avon and Somerset area have captured almost 135,000 speeding drivers between 2016 and 2018, making it one of the most active speed camera location across the country.

Other notable mentions in the top ten worst postcode districts in England, Scotland and Wales include the Scottish city of Perth and Bristol, which both had two postcode districts featured - (PH35, PH39 and BS13, B340 respectively.

Rick Cadger, of Regtransfers said: 'It's interesting to see that the top 10 worst postcode districts in the UK are spread across only five cities.

'There appears to be an equal divide of north and south postcodes in the top ten with five of the top ten postcodes emerging from the West Country, and the other five from more northern cities such as Cleveland, Perth and Bradford.

'While the number of points on a driver's licence may be an indicator of poor driving, it's interesting to consider factors such as road standards, the quality of driving education and the degree of road law enforcement in the area.'

10 postcodes with the highest percentage of drivers with points

1. TS2 (Cleveland) - 48 of 353 drivers with points - 13.6%

2. TA14 (Taunton) - 313 of 2,458 drivers with points - 12.7%

3. BD9 (Bradford) - 1,728 of 13,655 drivers with points - 12.7%

4. BD13 (Bradford) - 2,220 of 17,885 drivers with points - 12.4%

5. BS40 (Bristol) - 1,321 of 10,842 drivers with points - 12.2%

6. PH35 (Perth) - 30 of 247 drivers with points - 12.1%

7. TA11 (Taunton) - 909 of 7,486 drivers with points - 12.1%

8. BS13 (Bristol) - 2,030 of 16808 drivers with points - 12.1%

9. TA10 (Taunton) - 965 of 7,992 drivers with points - 12.1%

10. PH39 (Perth) 29 of 323 drivers with points - 12.1%

Source: RegTransfers using Department for Transport data

Areas with the most drivers with more than 6 points

A Freedom of Information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency has also revealed which locations have the most motorists with six points or more on their current driving record. 

According to Hippo Leasing, almost 650,000 drivers in Great Britain had six or more points on their driving licence at the end of January.

Per capita, Northumberland has the highest percentage of motorists with half a dozen points on their licences licence, crowning it the county in Britain with the least law-abiding drivers.

Greater Manchester comes in second place, with nearly 25,000 motorists holding six or more points on their licence. Two Scottish councils - Denbighshire and Angus - come in third and fourth place and West Yorkshire in fifth.

If a motorist obtains more than 12 points on their driving licence within a three-year period they will receive a driving ban - unless drivers appeal in court that it will impact whether they can work or not.

The number is even lower for new drivers, who are automatically disqualified if they receive six or more points in the first two years.

In Britain, 20,583 drivers are disqualified according to the DVLA.

uaware note

The original article provides further information on things such as points held by driver by postcode.

(2nd April 2019)

(Sky News, dated 21st March 2019 author Chris Robertson)

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Counterfeit olive oil is a problem in Italy, where it is thought organised crime rings distribute faked goods to make a profit.

Scientists in the US have devised a way of testing to see if olive oil is real without the use of hi-tech scientific equipment.

Researchers at University of California, Riverside used liquid nitrogen to quickly chill real, pure olive oil and then looked how that sample reacted to the change in temperature.

They then repeated the experiment with diluted olive oil and noticed a marked difference between the two, using software that produced a "chronoprint" image of the results.

The researchers said: "The difference was so big, so obvious and so consistent the researchers concluded that chronoprints and image analysis algorithms can reliably detect some types of food and drug fraud."

The research paves the way for law enforcement agencies to distinguish real and counterfeit goods.

Italy in particular has had real issues with counterfeit oil.

Back in 2017, Italian police say they busted an organised crime ring that had been exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the US that was labelled as the real deal.

taly's agricultural association estimate the gangs in Italy made about €16bn (£13.8bn) a year through illegal activities in the agriculture sector.

The Financial Times reported last year that organised crime in Italy were making up to a 700% markup on olive oil and that this sort of activity accounted for about 15% of their income.

(2nd April 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 21st March 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

New rating reveals the models with no security measures to prevent criminals stealing them remotely.

A new vehicle security rating scheme launched in the UK has highlighted the relay-theft risk motorists currently face, even if they buy the latest cars on the market.

Six of the 11 models reviewed by security experts Thatcham Research were labelled 'poor' due to the lack of built-in measures to prevent gangs from hacking the keyless systems and stealing them remotely.

Suzuki's £15,500 Jimny SUV was given the lowest rating available - 'unacceptable' - for its lack of security options.

However, in light of the recent spate of gang-operated relay thefts, the scheme has been slammed by the car industry body for 'signposting vulnerable models' to criminals and confusing the issue of relay thefts for consumers.

Thatcham's rating scale for vehicles is based on their vulnerability to thieves and has five category scores for security: 'superior'; 'good'; 'basic'; 'poor'; 'unacceptable'.

The first round of tests reviewed 11 new models motorists can buy in dealer showrooms today and found that most are easy targets for organised car gangs.

Six received a 'poor' score because they were susceptible to keyless thefts.

These included family cars like the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX and the British-built Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Even the £46,000 Porsche Macan SUV received a 'poor' rating.

All were found that have plenty of security features built into them, but none had preventive systems that could stop organised criminals from remotely mimicking the keyless entry and start systems leaving them vulnerable to theft.

These six models were all rated higher than Suzuki's compact offroader, though.

It was given the lowest possible score due to it performing 'badly across all criteria' and 'missing some fundamental security features that consumers might rightly expect should be fitted', according to Thatcham's chief technical officer Richard Billyeald.

'We've seen too many examples of cars being stolen in seconds from driveways,' he added.

'Most of the cars rated 'poor' would have achieved at least a 'good' rating had their keyless entry/start systems not been susceptible to the relay attack.

'Security has come a long way since vehicle crime peaked in the early 1990s. But the layers of security added over the years count for nothing when they can be circumvented instantly by criminals using digital devices.'

There were some models that the security experts did praise.

The remaining four cars tested earned 'superior' ratings, issued to the Audi E-tron, Jaguar XE, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes B-Class.

They were given the highest recommendation by Thatcham because they all feature more secure wireless technology for their keyless entry and keyless start systems or offer key fobs that go to sleep when idle, meaning they can't be hacked.

While the rating scale is designed to give consumers a clearer understanding of which new cars are least and most susceptible to the keyless theft crime wave, it was blasted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which said it had 'serious concerns' about the scheme's blanket approach to security.

'It doesn't compare like with like, failing to differentiate vehicles with keyless and traditional entry systems in a combined rating and failing to distinguish between different model grades and specifications,' said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

'It confuses rather than simplifies a very complex issue and will not help consumers, rather offering a signpost to thieves and increasing the risk of targeted criminal activity.'

Thatcham, which has independently been testing vehicle security since the 1990s, recommends owners of models vulnerable to relay thefts to check whether there are solutions available with the vehicle key fob.

This includes finding out if it can be turned off overnight or go to sleep when not being used. Faraday shielding pouches designed to block fob signals were also recommended.

Speaking about the new rating, minister for policing and the fire service, Nick Hurd, added: 'I am determined to take swift and decisive action against vehicle theft.

'In January I chaired the first meeting of the Vehicle Theft Taskforce, which brought together members of industry and the police to significantly strengthen our response to this crime.

'In addition to improving vehicle security standards, the Taskforce will work together to ensure that robust measures are in place to prevent criminals exploiting the salvage process, and to stop access to devices that may be used to commit this theft.'

'Having an updated understanding of vehicle security helps the public better understand the theft risk of new cars.

'I welcome the finding in Thatcham Research's work that some manufacturers are addressing vulnerabilities that exist, and would encourage others to see what more they could do. Together we can reduce the risks to the public that their vehicles will be stolen.'

First 11 cars rates for security by Thatcham Research

Audi e-tron: Superior
Ford Mondeo: Poor
Hyundai Nexo: Poor
Jaguar XE: Superior
Kia ProCeed: Poor
Land Rover Evoque: Superior
Lexus UX: Poor
Mercedes B-Class: Superior
Porsche Macan: Poor
Suzuki Jimny**: Unacceptable
Toyota Corolla Hybrid: Poor

How Thatcham tests security

Thatcham Research technicians conduct a series of tests, ranging from timed 'brute-force' attacks on locks and access points, to tests that identify digital vulnerabilities, namely whether the keyless entry/start system is susceptible to the Relay Attack or the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) Port allows blank keys to be coded.

Cars that fail the keyless entry/start and OBD tests move down a category per failure. The rating applies whether the keyless entry/start system is optional or standard-fit.

The categories are: Superior, Good, Basic, Poor and Unacceptable.

The level of car security you should expect based on vehicle price

Up to £20,000

Expected to have fundamental security features, but not some of the extra layers found on higher-priced vehicles. Typically, a vehicle within this value range would include a Thatcham Research certified immobiliser, perimeter alarm, double-locking to all doors, locking wheel bolts and attack-resistant mechanical security.

£20,000 - £35,000

Expected to have high standard security features, but not some of the extra layers found on higher-priced vehicles. Typically, a vehicle within this value range should include the security from the Up to £20k range plus a Thatcham Research certified alarm system.


The security should be to the very highest standard. Typically, a vehicle within this value range would include the security from the £20k to £35k range plus Thatcham Research certified alarm system with tilt sensor and a Thatcham Research tracking system.

(2nd April 2019)

(Guardian, dated 20th March 2019 author Sarah Marsh)

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A steep rise in the number of vulnerable children being lured into dealing drugs as part of the so-called county lines crisis has led to a doubling of modern slavery cases involving UK minors in Britain.

Data from the National Crime Agency (NCA) showed the number of modern slavery cases involving UK children rose from 676 in 2017 to 1,421 in 2018.

The increase comes amid concern around county lines gangs who use children to traffic drugs from inner-city areas to provincial towns, where they are used to sell drugs. Nearly two-thirds of the 2018 cases, 987, were linked to labour exploitation, including by county lines and other criminal gangs.

The annual figures come from the number of cases submitted under the national referral mechanism (NRM), used to identify instances of modern slavery. Across all nationalities, the number increased by 48%, from 2,118 in 2017 to 3,137 in 2018.

The NCA deputy director, Roy McComb, said: "The increase is undoubtedly the result of greater awareness, understanding and reporting of modern slavery and that is something to be welcomed.

"However, the more we look, the more we find, and it is likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking in the UK. Of particular concern is the increase in referrals made for county lines-type exploitation. These are often vulnerable individuals - often children - who are exploited by criminal gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking."

A report on the latest data by the NCA said: "This increase is due, in the majority, to a continued increase in the recorded NRM referrals related to the county lines criminal business model of exploiting vulnerable individuals and other forms of criminal labour exploitation."

An estimated 1,500 county lines networks operate in the UK, with every police force affected. They have been held up by police chiefs as a key driver behind the rise in violent crime in recent years.
In its annual assessment of the county lines trade, the NCA said phone numbers identified were linked to about 1,000 branded networks, with a single line capable of making £800,000 profits in a year.

The modern slavery figures showed that 6,993 potential victims were identified in 2018, up from 5,142 in 2017. The most common nationalities were British, Albanian and Vietnamese, although people from 130 countries were victims. For 2018, 1,625 cases involving UK victims were identified, compared with 819 the previous year.

The causes of the slavery included labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and organ harvesting. Two adults and four children were identified as potential victims of organ harvesting, although the NCA said no procedures had occurred.

Among the 6,993 referrals, 52 were referred to police in Northern Ireland, 228 to Police Scotland, 251 to Welsh forces and the remaining 6,462 to English forces.

"Our understanding of the threat is much greater than it was a few years ago, and modern slavery remains a high priority for law enforcement, with around 1,500 criminal investigations currently live in the UK," McComb said.

He added: "We cannot stop modern slavery alone, we need support and assistance from across the public and private sectors, NGOs and most of all the public themselves."

An NSPCC spokesman said: "Sadly, our child trafficking team knows only too well that children continue to be smuggled into the UK as if they were objects and not humans.

"These children are arguably some of the most vulnerable in society, with many smuggled in and forced to be sex slaves, carry out crime, or become domestic servants.

"We've worked on more than 2,000 child trafficking cases but we know this is but a fraction of the problem. More must be done to help the public know how to spot a trafficked child, and give them the confidence to report their concerns."

(2nd April 2019)

(Lifehacker, dated 20th March 2019 author Brendan Hesse)

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Antivirus software is meant to keep our devices free of malicious software, but what happens when it's the antivirus app itself that's the problem?

A recent report from AV-Comparatives discovered that as many as 138 Android antivirus apps available on the Google Play Store underperform in their antivirus detection duties, and they may even pose serious security risks to your Android device.

How they tested

AV-Comparatives evaluated 250 antivirus apps on the Google Play Store by attempting to install and run 2000 known malicious apps, plus 100 benign apps. The site then ranked each antivirus app based on how many threats it accurately caught, as well as how many false positives it made.

Of the 250 apps, 80 detected at least 30 percent of all threats and had no false positives, while 138 were found to be "risky." Apps received a "risky" rating due to one of the following factors:

- The app scored below AV Comparative's 30% threshold
- The app relied on dubious whitelists/blacklists that made false positives and/or left dangerous loopholes open
- The apps themselves were identified as trojan horses or potentially unwanted programs (PUAs)

While apps in the last category were left off the test results entirely, the report dedicates a section to discussing and comparing them. One of the more interesting discoveries was that these apps tend to use similar detection methods, whitelists, and even user interfaces.

It's also worth noting that some antivirus apps do not run properly in the background on Android 8 or above. These apps may well detect a majority of threats during manual scans but won't catch threats while running in the background. This is an obvious vulnerability, but since they otherwise perform well they aren't labeled as "risky," per se. You can read the full results of the report here.

How to pick an effective antivirus app for Android

If your antivirus app is listed in AV-Comparative's report as risky, or if it falls below the accuracy range you're comfortable with, there's an easy fix: Get a new antivirus app. And if you don't have an Android antivirus app and want recommendations, we've got you covered.

According to the report, 23 apps achieved a perfect score for accuracy, including zero false positives. We echo AV-Comparatives' recommendation to go with one of these:

Chili Security
G Data
Kaspersky Lab
Tencent (Not available in the US)
Total Defense
Trend Micro

 The report also gives Android users some tips on what to look for when choosing an antivirus app, including:

- Not relying on user reviews, since few users rate based on accuracy and many sketchier companies will pay for positive reviews. (This also goes for downloads and update frequency, since scam apps can often rack up large download numbers and be frequently updated.)
- Look for apps from trusted and well-known companies, especially those with respected desktop antivirus software.
- Free apps, even those from trusted developers, should only be used for a trial run before purchasing the premium version, and not relied upon for effective antivirus protection.

(2nd April 2019)

(Guardian, dated 19th March 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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The UK is to start issuing official threat-level warnings for far-right terrorism amid rising concerns about white supremacist murder attempts, the Guardian has learned.

The threat levels will be issued following assessments by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), an elite Whitehall unit that already produces similar warnings for Islamist and Ireland-related terror.

Friday's attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, when 50 Muslims were murdered as they prayed, allegedly by a white supremacist gunman, have triggered fresh concerns about whether the threat from the extreme right is being taken seriously enough.

Combating far-right violence was once the responsibility of the police but top-level plots and suspects are now being tackled by Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5. Public order issues and hate crime will remain with the police, and JTAC's formal assessment of the far-right threat is expected to start this year.

There have been 18 terrorist plots thwarted in the UK since March 2017, 14 of which were inspired by Islamist extremism, assessed as much the greater threat, and four emanated from the far right.

However, counter-terrorism officials believe white supremacist terrorism is an increasing threat. The stabbing of a teenager in Stanwell on Saturday is being treated as an alleged far-right terror attack and a 50-year-old suspect remains in custody on suspicion of attempted murder. Other incidents have been reported since the Christchurch attack, including online gloating.

On Tuesday, Theresa May's official spokesman said: "The incident which took place in Surrey on Saturday evening fitted a pattern of concern that the threat from the far right is on the rise.

"The prime minister said there could be no place for vile extremist views in society and people must be able to practise their faith without fear.

"She said that intensive work was taking place across government and by the police and security services to combat the threat."

In 2017/18 of the 394 individuals who received support from the Channel program to counter potential violent extremism, 45% were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism and 44% for concerns related to rightwing extremism.

Meanwhile, an Imam who attended an inclusion event with the home secretary, Sajid Javid, on Monday revealed he had been abused twice on his way home.

Mohammed Mahmoud said he was spat at and verbally abused after leaving the event at Regent's Park mosque in central London. He gained widespread praise after saving Darren Osborne from an angry crowd after he staged a terror attack in June 2017 by mowing down worshippers leaving prayers at Finsbury Park mosque, leaving one man dead. Osborne was cited by the Christchurch attacker.

Mahmoud, who denounced the far right after the New Zealand atrocity, told the Evening Standard: "A middle-aged white male on the bus told me I was "despicable" and a "shithole" … When I asked why - he said it was because I was wearing a dress."

In a second incident, he was spat at by a cyclist. Mahmoud said: "It was so sad to see such reckless hate and Islamophobia after the event and after all we have been through this week."

The Home Office has announced more money for mosque security. It will rise to £1.6m, previously £2.4m had been promised over three years. Another £5 m will fund security training over three years.

Javid said: "I know many Muslim communities are feeling vulnerable and anxious. But they should seek comfort from knowing we are doing everything to tackle hate and extremism.

"That's why we are doubling next year's places of worship fund - providing physical protection as well as peace of mind."

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the increase but said more needed to be done. "The increase in the Places of Worship fund, the simplified bidding process and the investment in non-physical security support, are all welcome first steps, in particular given the heightened concerns following the terrorist incidents targeting Muslims in New Zealand and at a smaller level, here in the UK.

"However, British Muslim communities may still question why the funding is not proportionate to the risks they face, given the Home Office's own figures last year showing that over half of religious hate crime is targeted at Muslims."

(2nd April 2019)

(iNews, dated 19th March 2019 author Matt Allan)

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The UK's most accident-prone cars have been named and it's bad news for Toyota Prius drivers, as well as owners of Vauxhalls, Seats and Mitsubishi.

An analysis of government crash data has revealed the makes and models most likely to be involved in a crash - with the Toyota Prius holding the unfortunate title of most accident-prone.

The study compared the number of recorded crashes in 2016 against the numbers of each car registered.

Prius problems

It found that the for every 10,000 Priuses on the road, 111 were involved in a crash.

The Citroen Saxo was close behind the Prius, with a crash rate of 106 for every 10,000 cars, followed by the BMW 330D, with 102 per 10,000.

Toyota Prius : 111 in 10,000
Citroen Saxo : 106 in 10,000
BMW 330D : 102 in 10,000
BMW 530D : 85 in 10,000
Peugeot 106 : 84 in 10,000

By brand, Vauxhall fared worst. There are around 3.6 million Vauxhall cars registered in Britain, and 2016 saw 22,490 accidents involving them. The 62 accidents per 10,000 Vauxhalls is higher than Daewoo and Seat - which tied for second place with 60 - Mitsubishi (56) and Renault (55).

Londoners the worst

The study by Go Compare also broke the crash data down by region and found that Londoners were twice as likely to be involved in a shunt than drivers anywhere else in the country.

In 2016, for every 10,000 cars on the road in London, 101 had accidents. The next closest region wsa Yorkshire & the Humber the closest with 47 accidents per 10,000 cars.

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th March 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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Images of some of London's "most wanted" criminals are to be displayed on vans in an effort to find them.

Pictures of 38 individuals will be posted on the side of two vehicles and driven round London this week in an appeal to the public for information.

The majority of criminals are linked to burglaries, violent moped-enabled crimes, street robberies and the violation of release conditions.

One named by police is John Macdonald, a 53-year-old wanted for 13 burglaries in north London and Essex between January 2017 and last December. Macdonald posed as a council worker or tradesman to enter homes where he stole jewellery and cash.

Others featured include Cameron Thorne, 18, wanted for the theft of a black moped on the Winstanley Estate in Battersea, and Konna Ward, 20, wanted for attempted GBH after allegedly driving a car at a police officer in Haringey in December. The officer was uninjured. Detectives from Operation Venice, which tackles moped crime, is widening its focus to include offenders who have committed crimes such as burglary or robbery.

Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, from Operation Venice, said: "These offenders have callously robbed, stolen or burgled from communities, commuters and tourists within London, often using violence and weapons, for their own financial gain. We are relentlessly pursuing violent offenders and bringing them to justice, but we need the help of the public as well.

"Somebody somewhere knows something about these criminals and I urge people to pass any information to us as soon as possible."

Contact police on 999 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(2nd April 2019)

(Then Sun, dated 18th March 2019 author Helen Knapman)

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CO-OP is trialling fog cannons in shops across the UK in a bid to crack down on theft in a move which it claims is a first among major retailers.

The cannons spray thieves with a special water that appears as a thick fog, which is designed to block vision and thwart any attempts to steal.

It also leaves an invisible residue on the body and clothes of the robber, which shows up using UV lights, and can be used to link criminals and stolen goods back to the scene of a crime.

The supermarket wouldn't tell us how many stores the new technology is being trialled at or how long the trial will last but said it will be across branches in London, Greater Manchester and South Wales.

There were over 950,000 incidents of theft estimated to have taken place in convenience shops in the year to March 2018, according to trade body the Association of Convenience Stores' 2018 Crime Report.

That's up from 575,000 in the previous year. Meat, cheese and alcohol - in that order - were the three items most likely to be stolen.

In addition, there were 9,304 incidents of robbery using force or the threat of force and 2,859 cases of burglary, which is where someone enters a property without permission.

It's hoped that signs in shops warning criminals of the fog cannons, which could be located by shop doors, windows, roofs or tills, will be enough to put people off.

But if it doesn't, once criminals cross a certain threshold the cannons will be automatically triggered by sensors to spray out a foggy mist.

Tiny particles in this so-called "SmartWater" contain a unique code which is then traceable to each location.

Co-op says the water is not DNA based, meaning it withstands heat and humidity, and it can last at least five years.

Andrew Needham, Co-op head of retail loss and costs, said: "Safety and security is our number one priority.

"We know that violence and crime is about much more than statistics, it is about its impact on people's lives and the communities in which they live and work.

"As a community-based organisation we see the impact of social issues in our stores, and we're committed to playing our part and working together to do all we can to protect colleagues and make our communities safer."

(2nd April 2019)

(Mirror, dated 16th March 2019 author Matthew Davis)

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Cops take up to 35 minutes to answer 999 calls and five hours and 15 minutes for 101 inquiries, a Sunday People probe found.

The worst waits for both services were in London and many people ring off in frustration, failing to get through.

Each day an estimated 500 999 callers and 12,000 ringing 101 give up, figures obtained under Freedom of Information rules from 30 of 43 police forces indicate.

David Spencer, of think-tank Centre for Crime Prevention, said: "It is a disgrace. Who knows how many lives are being lost and crimes going unsolved as a result?"

Police said there is a surge in 999 and 101 calls while resources are under pressure. They have admitted to partially closing the 101 line because of a lack of funds to man the system day and night.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said they were working to improve the emergency response service to Londoners.

Our table, right, shows where were the worst waits for 999 and 101 calls.

The worst waits for 999 calls

London Met : 35mins 27sec
West Midlands : 11min 7sec
Humberside : 10min 21sec
Staffordshire : 8min 29sec
Hertdordshire : 8min 24sec

The worst waits for 101 calls

London Met : 5hrs 15min
Greater Manchester : 4hrs 11min
Northumbria : 4hrs 8min
West Midlands : 2hrs 31min
Humberside : 1hr 47min

(2nd April 2019)

(MyLondon, dated 16th March 2019 author Tilly Gambarotto)

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Not a day goes by when we don't hear about a case of violence in London.

The city has been hit by an epidemic of knife crime , with the murder rate even overtaking that of New York for a short period in February and March last year.

But although we can't escape the headlines, it remains a fact that most of us have never been unlucky enough to witness a violent crime, let alone found ourselves the victim of one.

So where exactly are these violent offences taking place?

According to statistics from the Met Police, there were 279,879 violent offences recorded between January 2018 and January 2019.

The most frequently reported cases were of harassment in all boroughs, but there were also thousands of assaults, wounding and grievous bodily harm cases, and incidents involving an offensive weapon.

The city faced 134 murders across the year.

Richmond was the least violent of the boroughs, and the only area recorded with less than 4,000 incidents.

Read on to find out the ten most violent boroughs in London over the past year.


 Hackney is known for its hipster high streets and green-conscious residents, but there was also a fair amount of violent crime in the borough.

In the past year, there were 10,212 violent offences recorded by police, the majority of which were harassment incidents.

There were also 2,920 common assaults and 1,073 incidents of wounding or GBH. Police dealt with 301 offensive weapon carriers in the area, and eight reported murders.

In one of the more shocking crimes last year, the London Overground between Highbury & Islington and Stratford stations came to a standstill on October 2 after a man was stabbed on the train at Hackney Central .

Bunmi Ogunleye, who was on the same carriage when the man was stabbed, told My London: "A few people tried to help the victim once the train stopped because he was bleeding a lot.

"Before the train stopped everyone was running, screaming and falling on top of each other, it was a moving train."


The North London borough faced 10,289 incidents of violent crime between January 2018 and January 2019.

Police recorded 3,383 cases of harassment, and 2,807 incidents of common assault.

Eight people were murdered in Haringey in the past year, and police dealt with 331 offensive weapons.

A murder in Haringey in December 2018 brought the number of London killings up to a ten year high - 131 homicides and murders in one year.

A man was stabbed just off Tottenham High Road in the early hours of December 22, and later died in hospital.


In Ealing there were 10,795 violent offences over the past year. Police recorded 3,722 cases of harassment, 3,191 incidents of common assault, and 2,149 instances of assault with injury.

Although the number of murders were slightly lower than other boroughs at 3, over 200 people were found with offensive weapons.

 Residents will remember an incident in which police were called to The Broadway, Southall after shots were fired in October last year.

And just in December, two young men were rushed to hospital with multiple stab wounds after a fight broke out at Turtle Bay on Ealing High Street.


Police recorded 11,308 offences in Brent between January 2018 and January 2019. There were over 3,500 cases of harassment and common assault, as well as 2,202 cases of assault with injury.

1,175 people committed wounding or GBH offences, and 268 people were found to be carrying an offensive weapon.

Matching Ealing's figures, three people were murdered in the borough.

In one of the more shocking crime seen in the borough, CCTV footage released by police showed a masked gunman shooting at a female driver in a stationary car in May.

The woman was waiting at the traffic lights at the junction of Beverley Drive and Stag Lane, and was miraculously unharmed in the attack.


The borough has seen its fair share of violent crime over the past year. Police recorded 11,546 incidents of violence over the past year.

As in other boroughs, the most frequently reported was harassment, with 4,364 cases. Police also recorded 3,277 cases of common assault and nearly 2,000 cases of assault with injury.

 349 people were recorded with an offensive weapon, and five were murdered in the East London borough.

In the fifth murder and fourth stabbing in eight days in the capital, a man was killed in a knife fight in Bethnal Green and died at the scene.

And just last week police rushed to a luxury apartment in City Island Way, Poplar where a woman was found dead and with neck injuries. A man was arrested on suspicion of murder and a post-mortem will be held to determine the cause of death.


Lambeth was the fifth most violent borough in London over the past year, with 11,606 cases recorded by police.

Police dealt with 3,747 cases of harrassment, and 3,103 cases of common assault.

The borough faced 1,255 instances of grievous bodily harm, and six murders over the year.

Streatham locals will remember the death of Italian national Sabri Chibani, who was stabbed  in his home by housemate Ronny Padilla in November 2018.

Padilla claimed that the victim had run into his knife whilst he'd been cooking, but was jailed for murder last year.


Police recorded 11,610 violent offences in Southwark over the last year, 3,832 of which were harrassment.

Common assault incidents racked up to 3,158, and 1,230 were involved in wounding or GBH cases.

Southwark saw 11 murders, with police counting 443 offensive weapons.

Late last year Rocky Djelal from Bermondsey was killed in the borough, when he was fatally stabbed in broad daylight in Southwark Park on October 31st.


The third most violent borough was Newham , with over 3,500 cases of harassment and 3,475 common assaults.

Four people were murdered in Newham, and police recorded 1,182 incidents of wounding or GBH.

The borough also tallied up 2,265 cases of assault with injury, and 355 people were found to be carrying an offensive weapon.

In a particularly tragic case, 17-year-old Lord Promise Nkenda was run over in Newham on Valentines Day last year before being chased down by a group of boys and stabbed in an alleyway.

Four 18-year-olds and a 15-year-old were found guilty of his murder in Decmber.


Croydon was the second most violent borough last year, with 11,901 violent offences recorded by police.

Of the incidents, 3,985 were of harassment, 3,244 were of common assault, and 2,524 of assault with injury.

Although ranked as one of London's most violent boroughs, it also had one of the lower murder rates, with two murdered over the year.

Police recorded 369 offensive weapons.

Nobody could forget the terrifying moment Joshua Gardner attacked a car with a huge 'zombie knife' in a fit of road rage in May last year. It was caught on dashcam by horrified onlookers.

He was spared jail with a two-year suspended sentence, but later had his sentence upgraded to prison time by the Court of Appeal . He is currently serving three and a half years in a young offenders' institute.


Although only the most affluent live in the borough, Westminster is actually the worst in London for violent crime - and by a long way.

No less than 14,565 violent offences were recorded by police.

As in other boroughs, harassment cases were most frequent, with over 5,000 throughout the year.

Murder rates were low, with two killed in Westminster, but over 4,400 incidents of common assault and 2,533 incidents of assault with injury took place.

There were also 1,342 cases of wounding or GBH, and 401 offensive weapons recorded. The rest of the cases were classed by police as 'other violence.'

Amir Ellouzi was shot near the Houses of Parliament in February, later dying from his wounds.

And the whole country watched on as Salih Khater ploughed his car into pedestrians and crashed into a barrier in Westminster, injuring three people in August 2018.

He pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder and two alternate counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

(2nd April 2019)

(BBC News, dated 16th March 2019)

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Police forces across England and Wales have been criticised for not recording hundreds of thousands of crimes reported to them each year.

Inspections of force databases have found offences, including violent and sexual ones, have not been counted towards official figures.

One force, Derbyshire, was found to have not recorded about 30,300 crimes a year , more than a third of the total in its area.

Here are the answers to some of the questions you sent in about crime statistics:

What is the difference between reported and recorded crime?

When an offence is reported to police, officers may have investigated it fully but it only counts towards Home Office figures if they "record" it as a crime.

Recording crime means the police can work out where, when and how often crime is happening as well as how to respond, what resources to put in and how to support victims.

Has under-recording affected crime statistics?

In 2014 a report by the UK Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee said there was "strong evidence" of under-recording, which was exaggerating the rate of decrease in crime.

Police forces throughout England and Wales were found to have an " utterly unacceptable" rate of accurately recording crime .

The then HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), now HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), estimated almost one-in-five crimes were not being recorded.

Is this data useless?

No, but on its own recorded crime is not seen as a complete picture of crime in England and Wales.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes the Crime Survey for England and Wales , which asks people about their experiences of crime.

The survey selects about 50,000 households at random from the Royal Mail's list of addresses.

Its results provide an estimate of crimes that may either have not been recorded by police or may have never been reported to them in the first place.

In recent years the two measures have got closer to each other and the ONS says "increases in police recorded violence as a result of improved recording could continue for some time".

Crime in England and Wales

Number of offences each year : n=Police recorded crime [n]=Crime Survey for England and Wales

2003 : 6m [11.9m]
2004 : 6.1m [11m]
2005 : 5.5m [10.3m]
2006 : 5.4m [10.4m]
2007 : 5.3m [10.6m]
2008 : 5.0m [9.9m]
2009 : 4.5m [10.1m]
2010 : 4.2m [9.0m]
2011 : 4.0m [9.1m]
2012 : 4.3m [9.0m]
2013 : 4.0m [8.5m]
2014 : 4.0m [7.4m]
2015 : 4.1m [6.5m]
2016 : 4.5m [6.1m]
2017 : 5.1m [5.6m]
2018 : 5.5m [6.0m]

Source : ONS/Home Office (Crime Survey excludes fraud and computer misuse)

uaware note : figures are an interpretation of a graph within the original article.

Recorded crime figures are still useful, particularly when looking at types of crime people are more likely to report.

The ONS said people may be more likely to report a theft so they could have a crime reference number to make an insurance claim .

It added: "For types of crime that are well-reported and accurately recorded, police data can provide a valuable measure of trends."

What is being done about under-recording?

HMICFRS has been inspecting each police force and reporting on their " crime data integrity ".

As of this month, 32 of the 43 forces for England and Wales had been inspected, with the majority told they needed to do better.

How police forces are rated for recording crime

Number of forces inspected as of March 2019

Outstanding : 2
Good : 9
Requires improvement : 13
Inadequate : 8

Source : HMICFRS crime data integrity reports

Police forces have said the inspection reports do not show the work that goes into investigating crime.

Derbyshire's Chief Constable Peter Goodman said the force had invested in areas such as neighbourhood policing.

"This in no way reflects the care and support we offer to victims, witnesses and in particular vulnerable victims," he said.

"If a member of the public phones the police in Derbyshire and reports a crime we will record that. Where they're saying we're not good is when that victim reports to us or to another agency a history of offending against them, we are not particularly good at recording that and it's the historical context that we are not particularly good at doing and we need to do more in relation to that."

Under-recording of violent crime

Estimated percentage of reports that are not recorded by police forces

Derbyshire : 43%
Thames Valley : 31%
Lincolnshire : 27%
North Yorkshire : 25%
West Midlands : 22%
Lancashire : 22%
Leicestershire : 21%
Humberside : 21%
Cambridgeshire : 20%
Cleveland : 19%
Nottinghamshire : 17%
North Wales : 17%
Dyfed-Powys : 16%
Hertfordshire : 15%
Bedfordshire : 14%
South Yorkshire : 14%
Greater Manchester : 13%
Metropolitan : 12%
Wiltshire : 12%
Merseyside : 12%
Avon and Somerset : 12%
Gwent : 11%
South Wales : 10%
Hampshire : 10%
Staffordshire : 10%
Durham : 7%
Surrey : 7%
Devon and Cornwall : 7%
Northumbria : 6%
Cheshire : 5%
Sussex : 4%
Kent : 4%

Source : HMICFRS crime data integrity reports

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, from West Midlands Police, which has been rated inadequate twice, said: "It is frustrating that, despite substantial progress, our grading has remained as inadequate."

She said the force was confident its current position was "much improved" and it could not be criticised for failing to put more resources into crime recording.

And Leicestershire's Chief Constable Simon Cole said the inspections were focused on "numbers and categories", rather than the work that went into investigating crimes.

He said: "It is an area that comes with hundreds of pages of detailed guidance and outcome of the recent inspection isn't a reflection of the level of investigation into any given crime, personal integrity or how officers and staff liaise with victims, and nor should it be interpreted as such."

This article was written after we asked for readers' questions about the recording of crime .

(2nd April 2019)

(BBC News, dated 15th March 2019)

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The government has been told there are "failings" in the way it is planning to protect the UK's critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

The warning came in a National Audit Office (NAO) assessment of the UK's national cyber-defence plan.

The government is increasingly worried that these essential sectors will be targeted by foreign states seeking to disrupt UK life.

Modern life was now "totally dependent" on cyber-security, said one expert.

Complex task

The Cabinet Office's National Cyber Security Programme is intended to be funded until 2021, and has involved the establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The government-driven strategy to keep the UK safe in the face of constant cyber-attacks involves 12 "strategic outcomes" that cover such things as:

- understanding, investigating and disrupting threats
- defending against evolving cyber-attacks
- managing and responding effectively
- securing government networks
- developing cyber-skills in the UK
The NAO said that delivering the strategy was a "complex challenge" and added that the government did not know where it should concentrate efforts to "make the biggest impact or address the greatest need".

The only section marked as "red" in the report was the plan to protect power plants and hospitals. This meant that fewer than 80% of its projects to defend these institutions would finish on time.

These key targets were being "actively defended", said the report, but added that it was hard to gauge how effective this activity had been as methods to measure success were still being developed.

The government itself had "low confidence" in the evidence gathered for half of its strategic plans, said the report. Though it noted that this was an improvement on the "very low confidence" expressed late last year about the same topics.

The report noted the success of the NCSC, including the creation of a tool that has led to 54.5 million fake emails being blocked between 2017 and 2018. The UK's share of global phishing attacks also fell from 5.3% to 2.2% between 2016 and 2018.

The NAO said the Cabinet Office did not produce a business case for the programme before it was launched. This led to a mismatch of budget and strategy.

A total of £1.3bn was committed for the National Cyber Security Programme.

"It's a bit like putting the cart before the horse," Prof Alan Woodward, a computer security expert at the University of Surrey, told the BBC.

"The overarching thing that comes out from the NAO is that [the government] decided on the budget and then they decided on the strategy."

In addition, more than one-third of funding that had been promised for the National Cyber Security Programme over its first two years was loaned or transferred by the Treasury.

These funds were moved into areas including counter-terrorism, but also the troubled ID scheme, Verify.

"It's disappointing to learn that, quite early on, some of this was diverted to other purposes," said Prof Woodward. "Our society is now so totally dependent on cyber-security. It's becoming a bit like the National Health Service; it's something you can't afford not to do properly."

'Immediate action needed'

Meg Hillier, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said it is "yet another example of an important government programme launched without getting the basics right".

She added: "The increasing cyber-threat faced by the UK, and events such as the 2017 WannaCry attack, make it even more critical that the Cabinet Office take immediate action to improve its current programme and plan for safeguarding our cyber-security beyond 2021."

Another area of concern, according to Prof Woodward, is the comparative lack of focus on addressing the development of future cyber-talent. Of the £632m that has been expended to date, only £70.89m has gone on the programme's "develop" theme, encompassing educational projects like the NCSC's CyberFirst scheme.

"It's disappointing. The cyber-threat evolves all the time. If we need enough people with the right skills we need to step up on the 'develop' part."

Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said that the government has "demonstrated its commitment to improving cyber-security", but that there is uncertainty about how it will fund these activities after 2021.

"Government needs to learn from its mistakes and experiences in order to meet this growing threat."

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th March 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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Four of London's major tourist attractions have been hit with millions of cyber attacks as people's financial data is targeted, it was revealed today.

Figures show the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Kew Gardens and Tate recorded tens of millions of attacks in the past three years. Only a handful succeeded and none are thought to have resulted in membership details being stolen.

Experts said the hackers were targeting organisations holding large amounts of personal financial data.

The figures, compiled using Freedom of Information laws by the Parliament Street think tank, show 86 million security incidents at Kew last year. The figure included a big rise in attacks classified as spyware, up from 13.1 million in 2016-17 to 82.1 million in 2017-18.

The Imperial War Museum recorded the second highest number - more than 10 million over three years.

The Tate cited 494,709 incidents last year. About 10,000 were said to be malware attacks but the majority were classified as spam emails. Tim Dunton, of IT company Nimbus Hosting, said the high volume of attacks showed cyber criminals were going to "extreme lengths to obtain confidential information".

Charlie McMurdie, ex-head of the Met cyber crime unit, said: "It is good to see these organisations known for good physical security measures also have cyber security measures in place which are preventing and detecting attacks." She added that hackers use automated "bots" to carry out millions of attacks. Crime gangs then trade the data.

A Kew spokesman said: "We have observed a very significant increase in the number of cyber hack attempts … We can confirm these attempts were successfully blocked by our firewalls and perimeter defences … Security remains one of our primary concerns."

An IWM spokeswoman said it takes cyber-security "extremely seriously", adding: "We are satisfied our operations and data are well protected."

Ian Golding, of the NHM, said: "Ensuring we have the best cyber protection is of paramount importance as we continue to protect, display and digitise our collection."

The Tate declined to comment.

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th March 2019 author Tristan Kirk)

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An eastern European crime ring who ran an "Amazon-style" factory for fake IDs, passports and driving licences from a house in east London have been jailed for a total of more than 27 years.

The forgery factory in Stratford had printers capable of producing tens of thousands of bogus documents at a time and the gang offered custom-made paperwork to online clients.

When the operation was busted last summer, National Crime Agency officers seized more than 3,000 completed identity documents, 3,500 passport-style photos, and 300 construction skills certificates, as well as enough material to create 40,000 fake bank cards and £15,000 in cash.

NCA branch commander Mark McCormack said the majority of customers were from eastern Europe, especially Albania, and used the documents to gain a foothold in the UK.

"The organisation would provide cards to anybody, it is a very lucrative market," he said. "It was like the Amazon of false identity documents."

Ringleader Sergiy Mykhaylov, 38, was jailed for five and a half years after he admitted a string of fraud charges, and middlemen Genadijs Kalinins, 37, of Loughton, and Dmytro Mykhailytskyi, 40, from Romford, were jailed for six years and five-years-and-four-months respectively.

Street dealer Arsen Baculi, 24, of East Ham, was sentenced to five years and Oleksandr Sukhoviy, 39, was jailed this week for six years.

The gang received orders for the bogus documents by email or text message after they had been advertised online by Mykhaylov, with a fake UK driving licence on offer for £130.

Undercover NCA officers saw the middlemen distributing the documents at the direction of Mykhaylov, who used his home in Stratford as the centre of operations. Sukhoviy, a Ukrainian, had £11,000 in various currencies at his home in Slough when it was searched, Kingston crown court heard.

Mr McCormack said police have now "dismantled a whole supply chain", adding: "We are determined to target the organised criminal networks involved in the creation and distribution of false documents, to make it harder for criminals to ply their trade."

All five members of the gang admitted being involved in supplying the false identity documents.

(2nd April 2019)

(Mirror, dated 14th March 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

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A UK council has launched a new trial that will give authorities the right to fine drivers for playing music too loudly.

Bradford council has introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) and it means locals - and visitors - could be slapped with a £100 penalty for anti-social vehicle use.

Councillors on the Regulatory and Appeals Committee met at City Hall on Thursday, 7 March, where they approved the implementation of the PSPO covering the whole of the district.

It relates to a number of driving concerns - including causing a danger to other road users, playing loud music, shouting, swearing or making sexual suggestions from a motor vehicle.

The move comes after a public consultation found two third of residents in Bradford felt unsafe on the roads, citing noise nuisance as a contributing problem.

A further 76% supported a PSPO to help reduce the anti-social behaviour in roads.

What is a PSPO?

A PSPO is an order that introduces rules to an area that are designed to keep residents safe - council enforcement officers and police officers are authorised to act on them for the purpose of maintaining peace.

In this instance, the PSPO can be used to stop anti-social driving - or anything considered anti-social on the road, for example excessive wheel spinning and shouting from windows. The culprits can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100.

Councillor Abdul Jabar, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: "Dangerous, inconsiderate and anti-social vehicle use can have a significant effect on how safe people feel in the district.

"Without the PSPO, it is difficult for the Council or the police to combat anti-social use of a vehicle which does not constitute a breach of a specific motoring law.

"Any action we can take to improve this situation and increase community safety and improve the reputation of the district will be of benefit to residents, visitors and businesses."

Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "I support the step that Bradford Council have approved in the use of Public Space Protection Orders, a move which I believe will help to tackle a number of anti-social behaviour and road safety related issues."

"Road safety is clearly a significant area of interest in Bradford and for many communities across the county and remains a key focus in my Police and Crime Plan.

"The PSPO will complement the significant work already undertaken by West Yorkshire Police, the Council and other partners in the District such as Operation Steerside which targets wider road safety offences and behaviour."

When will it kick in?

Council officers should be able to install the legal framework to get it up and running in the next three months.

It will allow members of the public to report offences of anti-social vehicle use for Bradford Council to investigate and prosecute if appropriate.

Only the police have the powers to stop moving vehicles.

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 12th March 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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Thieves are targeting coffee shops in the Square Mile to carry out a spate of distraction thefts of mobile phones and valuables, police have warned.

City of London Police issued images of one theft in which a criminal places a written note on a table to steal a mobile phone.

Officers recorded 28 offences in the City in January, more than double the number of incidents in both November and December last year.

Most of the thefts took place in coffee shops as well as pubs and restaurants, usually at lunchtimes and the early evening.

The CCTV images released on Tuesday show how out criminals typically distract the victim by asking them for directions or begging for money and placing a written note on their table, before lifting items such as mobile phones and wallets.

Police say they are deploying plain clothes officers to tackle the thieves.

In February Magdalena Stanescu, 38, of no fixed address, was jailed for eight weeks after being caught stealing a mobile phone in a coffee shop by dropping her scarf on a table.

Detective Inspector Mark Forster, of the City Police CID, said: "Despite our efforts to help reduce the number of distraction thefts in the City, people still need to remain alert and vigilant. It is much easier to lift a small item from a table without the owner realising, such as a mobile phone, than it is to steal a whole bag. "

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 11th March 2019 author Ben Morgan)

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Thefts on the London Underground have risen by 25 per cent in a year with an average of 12 passengers a day having their belongings stolen, new figures show.

Last year, there were 4,448 incidents, up from 3,500 in 2017. Thefts are eight times more common on the Tube than any other UK transport network and thefts on Transport for London's trains, tubes and trams accounted for almost half of all incidents nationally in 2018.

The figures were released by the British Transport Police under a Freedom of Information request by insurer

Its director James Brown said: "Smartphones ... as well as an ever-growing number of tourists visiting the capital, means London's busy rail and Tube networks offer rich pickings for opportunistic criminals."

The Tube is used by 1.35 billion passengers annually.

According to TfL, the majority of thefts were from pickpocketing and it works with the police to target organised crime groups.

BTP Superintendent Ricky Twyford said high-visibility patrols and plain clothed officers are used "for catching thieves in the act".

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th March 2019 author Alex Shipman)

Police forces have been accused of "letting down" Britain's rural communities after it emerged only one sheep rustler was prosecuted last year despite the theft of nearly 10,000 sheep.

Sheep thefts rose significantly in 2018 amid fears gangs are looking to make a profit by slaughtering animals and selling the meat on the black market. According to reports, criminals can make up to £90 through each theft.

Figures from a freedom of information request, obtained by the BBC showed 9,635 sheep were stolen in 2018, up from 7,606 in 2017 and 6,337 in 2016. All 43 police forces across England and Wales responded to requests on the number of sheep thefts last year, with only Hertfordshire Police able to bring a charge against the offence.

Harry Fletcher, of the Victims Rights Campaign, said: "The victims are being let down. This shows it is a green light for thieves and perpetrators of crime. The only thing that deters them is being caught, and in this instance it is virtually zero.

PCSO Tom Balchin, one of Dorset Police's two dedicated rural officers, admitted the force's lack of resources had been "frustrating" for hime and the community. He told the BBC: "We're constrained to what we've got, and that's where we need the public to help us as well as people reporting things."

The Humberside force area saw the biggest increase in sheep theft incidents. Dorset and North Yorkshire had the joint second highest.

Last month, 142 sheep were stolen overnight from a farm in Rossett, near Wrexham. North Wales Police said it was the biggest rural theft - known as rustling in the past five years.

The sheep were taken from fields straddling the England-Wales border. They were herded across fields and through a gate to a wagon waiting on a track adjacent to the A483.

A fortnight later, 46 pregnant ewes were stolen from a farm in Llanfechain, Powys, 31 miles away.

The cost of rural crime rose to £44.5 million in 2017 - its highest since 2013 - with organised gangs stealing farm vehicles and equipment.

The Midlands was one of the worst hit regions. Figures released by NFU Mutual, which insures three quarters of UK farms, show the cost of crime increased by 13.4 per cent from 2016 - the fastest rate in eight years.

Sheep theft cost the UK £2.4 million in 2017, the insurers said, with livestock one of the biggest targets after machinery, tools and vehicle thefts.

Rural residents and businesses are turning to social media to combat crime in their areas by tracking locations of the latest victims of theft.

Tim Price, a rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said that last year a "significant number" of sheep were stolen from farms that had not been targeted before. He said: "its organised gangs. They've got big vehicles, they've got the skills to round up sheep and take them away. And very often they've got an outlet for them as well."

Mr Price said that "social media was fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside" with residents "reporting and recording of crime and bringing thieves to justice".

A tracing system that forensically marks livestock with thousands of coded microdots, named TecTracer, was launched last year to help farmers retrieve stolen animals.

Farmer Pip Simpson, of Troutbeck, Cumbria, started using TecTracer after thieves stole more than 300 sheep from his farm over a four year period.

John Hoskin, who runs a farm near Dorchester in Dorset, told the BBC that sheep thefts in recent years had cost him between £40,000 and £50,000.

He said: "Do we get rid of the sheep and say, 'forget it, we're not going to provide illegal income for someone else ?"

(2nd April 2019)

(The Register, dated 11th March 2019 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

Businesses waited an average of three weeks after discovering a data breach to report it to Britain's privacy watchdog before GDPR came into force - with many waiting until the end of week to 'fess up.

According to an analysis of the 181 data breach reports submitted to the Information Commissioner's Office in the year ended 5 April 2018, it took companies 60 days to realise that they had suffered a data breach.

One company took 1,320 days - among 14 that didn't notice for more than 100 days that their systems had been compromised. When broken down by sector, financial services and legal firms were quicker to report breaches to the ICO, averaging 16 and 20 days, respectively.

Businesses tended to take on average 21 days to report the breach after they had identified it.

One firm didn't tell the watchdog for 142 days - about 47 times longer than required under the GDPR, which states that breaches that pose a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals must be reported within 72 hours.

Another took 374 days, which - given that it was reported on 23 November 2017 - looks suspiciously like Uber as its breach hit the headlines the day before when the company 'fessed up in the States.

The data, released under Freedom of Information laws, showed that nearly half of all breaches (87) were reported to the ICO on a Thursday or Friday.

Pen-testing firm Redscan, which requested the data, reckoned that the preference for end-of-week submissions could have been to head off negative PR.

"This might be overly cynical but I suspect that in many cases, breach disclosure on these days may have a deliberate tactic to minimise negative publicity," said cybersecurity director Mark Nicholls.

The FoIs also show that 91 per cent of reports didn't include crucial information, like the impact of the breach, the recovery process or dates.

Some 93 per cent didn't say what the impact of the breach was, or said that they didn't know. Meanwhile, 21 per cent didn't report an incident date to the ICO, and 25 per cent failed to report the date they discovered the incident.

Saturday was the most common day not only for businesses to suffer a data breach, with more than a quarter happening on that day, but also for them to be discovered at about 30 per cent.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th March 2019 author Esther McVey)

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Day after day, we are witnessing more stabbings on our streets and more young lives tragically cut short. In such desperate circumstances, it's time for a rapid reassessment of our priorities and how we spend taxpayers' money.

There's no magic formula, but the Conservative Party I joined understood the need to trust the professionals. That means listening to the police when they tell us that with emergency funding they would be able to send a surge of officers into the hardest-hit areas, finally starting to stem the tide and bring the knife crime currently blighting our nation under control.
There is an obvious place where the money for this could be found. In 2017, the Government spent more on overseas aid than it did on the police in England and Wales. A full  £14.1 billion was handed to other countries, while the entire Home Office budget came to just  £13.1 billion. As far as I am concerned, this is a scandal.

Most people do not think we have enough police officers, and the figures bear this out. There are 212 officers per 100,000 inhabitants in England and Wales, while Scotland has 322. By contrast, Spain has 361, Italy has 453, Greece has 492 and Cyprus 573.

Some people and businesses have even begun to employ private security firms to compensate for the lack of police on the beat. When we cannot find enough extra money for policing, yet we are giving huge sums to other countries in aid, it is time to start a serious conversation. We have legislated to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income to assist people in developing countries, irrespective of actual need, project outcomes and value for money. More importantly this is spent regardless of priorities at home.

We have spent almost £89 billion on overseas aid since 2010, with the foreign aid budget rocketing by 66 per cent in just seven years, from £8.5 billion to more than £14 billion, at the same time domestic budgets have faced cuts. Just imagine if even some of those billions had been put into policing instead. How many more crimes could have been solved or prevent ? How many people could have been saved from becoming victims ? And as long as GDP increases, the foreign aid bill will go on rising.

We are a generous country and we should continue to help, but other countries are not paying out as we are. In some years, we have spent more than 0.7 per cent because, ridiculously, there are strict rules on what can be counted as aid. When Hurricane Irma struck in 2017, for example, we could not use our aid budget to help the British Overseas Territories, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands were considered too wealthy to qualify for assistance.

I see foreign aid is being about disaster relief first and foremost. If someone is suffering then we have a moral duty to help them. And in Britain we have a proud track record of helping those who face such situations. But when it comes to general aid spending, we now have an annual rush to spend as much as possible to hit and arbitrary target.

I doubt that many of us would set aside 0.7 per cent of our income to give to something without first knowing whether it was needed or what it was going to be spent on. I suspect we would also be keen to know it was going to do some good and that we definitely did not need it ourselves.

Yet this is the opposite of what seems to be happening with overseas aid.

What should we do ? Well, foreign aid needs to be looked at in light of growing needs in this country. Not being responsible with taxpayers' money goes against all my Conservative instincts.

We should immediately end the arbitrary 0.7 per cent target, dramatically cut spending on overseas aid, and abolish the Department for International Development, transferring its functions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. That way we can provide humanitarian assistance when needed and spend less on bureaucracy. And cuts to the aid budget could provide a much needed injection of cash into policing.

The Act compelling us to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income on overseas aid could b repealed by another Act of Parliament.

Alternatively, the Government could just decide not to spend the money.

The current legislation says that if the Government does not meet the target, it simply needs to make a statement to the House of Commons.

I appreciate that those in favour of a blank-cheque approach to aid will do their best to force ministers to stick to the 0.7 per cent target but, as far as I am concerned, this would be a geture politics at its worst.

It has become impossible to justify all this expenditure abroad when our streets are just not safe a they could or should be.

Esther McVey is Conservative MP for Tatton

(2nd April 2019)

(BBC News, 8th March 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

uaware comment

The original article contains the names and, where available, photos and profiles of those who have tragically lost their lives so far this year. These people are not just statistics; they are Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters, Aunts, Uncles, Nephews, Nieces and Friends. One hundred people taken and thousands have been affected by their loss.

The article

With the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales in 2017-18 the highest since records began - the BBC has tracked the first 100 killings in 2019 - revealing the people behind the headlines.

Stabbings were the largest single cause of death, totalling 40 fatalities out of 100, with the remaining 60 resulting from other causes such as assault or fire.

The Leading cause of death was stabbing - First 100 homocides 2019 (Source : BBC Research)

Stabbed : 40
Assaulted : 23
Fire : 8
Shot : 5
Strangled : 1
Not Known : 23

The age range of victims is strikingly wide.

A fifth of those killed this year were under the age of 20, but most commonly, victims were in their 20s and 30s.

The youngest was a one-month old baby boy and the oldest were twin brothers killed in Exeter, aged 84.

Men in their 30s were the most affected group (Source : BBC Research)

Homocides in the UK, 1st January to 6th March 2019

Female = n ; Male = [n]


0-9 : 5 [4]
10-19 : 1 [10]
20-29 : 5 [14]
30-39 : 6 [19]
40-49 : 5 [10]
50-59 : 3 [5]
60-69 : 2 [5]
70-79 : 1 [2]
80+ : [3]

About these figures

Information supplied by police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The list is comprised of manslaughters, murders and infanticides. These causes of death are categorised as homicides by the Office of National Statistics.

Figures are correct as of 8 March 2019 but may change as investigations progress and charges are brought or dropped.

The figures do not include the case of Sean Fitzgerald who was shot during a police raid in Coventry, or a police investigation into an assisted suicide in Hampshire.

Update 22 March 2019: The list has been updated as a result of new information supplied to the BBC.

(2nd April 2019)

(Wakefield Express, dated 7th March 2019 author Helen Johnson)

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X-rated websites will soon be automatically blocked by all internet providers, with users having to verify their age before they can proceed.

Users will be automatically blocked from using free sites like PornHub and YouPorn, unless they can prove their age.

Age-appropriate content

This automatic block, introduced under the Digital Economy Act 2017, is being put in place in an attempt to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content.

The Act states that commercial providers of pornographic content should have age verification checks on their websites, in order to prevent children from viewing explicit images and videos.

Proof of age

The terms of the Digital Economy Act 2017 state that online commercial pornography services which can be accessed from the UK must use an age verification system.

Mindgeek, the company that owns Pornhub and YouPorn, has developed a system called AgeID.

Users will be redirected to a non-pornographic page, where they will then be asked to enter their email address and password. Users will then have to verify their age using a driver's license, passport or credit card.

This AgeID system will then allow users to be able to log into any porn sites that uses this Age ID system with their username and password.


The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the UK's pornography regulator, states that pornographic websites which do the following will not be considered compliant with the new law:

- relying solely on the user to confirm their age with no cross-checking of information - for example by using a 'tick box' system or requiring the user to only input their date of birth
- using a general disclaimer, such as 'anyone using this website will be deemed to be over 18'
- accepting age-verification through the use of online payment methods which may not require a user to be over 18 - for example by asking for ownership confirmation of a debit card
- checking against publicly available or otherwise easily known information, such as name, address and date of birth

Any porn site that fails to comply with the news rules will face a fine of up to £250,000, or a blanket block by UK internet service providers.

The BBFC will also be able to block porn websites if they fail to show that they are denying under-18s access to their sites.

A spokesperson from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: "This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online.
"The government, and the BBFC as the regulator, have taken the time to get this right and we will announce a commencement date shortly."

(2nd April 2019)

(World Economic Forum, dated 7th March 2019 author Kayla Matthews)

Full article [Option 1]:

For people who struggle to remember complex passwords or those who work at companies where the IT departments mandate password changes on a set schedule, password managers are lifesavers.

Those tools work by requiring you only to remember one master password; the password manager then gives you access to all sites associated with the account connected to the master password.

Furthermore, many of these tools allow you to store payment information and even let other parties access it on a short-term basis - such as allowing your daughter to buy a book she needs for school.

Password managers are undoubtedly convenient, but they are not foolproof. And that means we need to take a deeper look at their vulnerabilities.

Targeted attacks could expose data

Users who consider using password managers typically only think about their positive aspects. But a recent report from US security consultancy Independent Security Evaluators found that certain kinds of malware can expose the user data kept by numerous well-known password managers - and most of the risks exist while the tools are in locked, running states.

The researchers involved in this study say they don't know how aware cybercriminals are of the flaws they uncovered. Nevertheless they recommend that users take a few precautions:

- Choose a strong master password

- Keep their operating system and apps updated

- Install antivirus scanners with malware detectors

Hacks have already happened

It's crucial not to assume that infiltrations of password manager software are only either theoretical events or those conducted by cybersecurity researchers in their labs. In May 2017, password manager OneLogin was hacked. The company confirmed the attack potentially gave the cybercriminals access to all its US customers' data, and that those to blame may have been able to decrypt encrypted data.

Popular password manager LastPass was also hacked in 2015. The company noticed the issue after detecting strange activity on its servers. Although the hackers stole information including email addresses and password reminders, the company noted it used an encryption method called "slow hashing" that kept its users' password data safe.

A few years ago, a Google researcher alerted LastPass to another issue related to the application's browser plugins. The problem could reportedly allow a hacker to execute malicious code or steal passwords. Fortunately, LastPass fixed it before any real-world cases occurred.

Data can become exposed in other ways

It's not just hackers that pose a risk to password manager users' data. In one recent instance that affected millions of users, a server issue at a password manager called Blur left encrypted passwords, names and email addresses exposed.

In another recent example, a 16-month-old bug associated with the Keeper password manager allegedly didn't keep passwords protected. The Google researcher who identified the flaw said it would enable any website to steal passwords stored in Keeper. Even worse, the password manager came bundled on some Windows computers.

Amid much controversy, Keeper filed a lawsuit against the journalist who covered the story, as well as the associated website - Ars Technica - and its publisher. Keeper asserted that the report had contained false statements.

But the company appears to have learned its lesson, too. After that incident, Keeper launched a vulnerability disclosure programme in partnership with Bugcrowd, a crowdsourced cybersecurity platform. This programme is a step in the right direction, but some critics have pointed out that people may become more reluctant to speak up about the bugs as a result of the legal fallout following the report on Keeper's alleged vulnerability.

In these cases, system or tool-related problems made the password managers less than secure. If providers don't take precautions - if they fail to test their software and take bug reports seriously - issues could arise even without the influence of hackers.

You still need a strong master password

Users have a responsibility to interact with password managers sensibly, too. As mentioned earlier, that starts with picking a smart master password. You should not choose master passwords that are easy to guess and make hackers' attempts more straightforward. Cybercriminals can crack a short, weak password in 10 to 15 seconds.

It's even simpler for them when you choose passwords based on the names of pets or children, repeated dictionary words or a combination of information that anyone could research, such as someone's initials followed by their birthday.

People have differing opinions about the worthiness of password managers. Some believe it's better for you to have one than not, while others wh opoint out the various ways a hacker could break into a password manager say that the best password manager is your memory. If you choose to use a password manager, picking a unique and hard-to-guess master password is essential.

Last year, Virginia Tech teamed up with Dashlane, a popular password manager brand, to analyze more tan 61 million passwords - and they uncovered some troubling findings. The researchers found password reuse and modification patterns among users that made their passwords startlingly insecure. The research indicated it was possible to crack 16 million password pairs in only 10 guesses made by a password algorithm.

The research also highlighted how people like to use a technique called password walking where they create passwords from letters adjacent to each other on the keyboard. Others chose passwords based on non-private information such as brand names or sports teams.

User processes on shared computers could steal credentials

Sometimes, hacking takes place unintentionally. A fascinating finding by researchers from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, both in Finland, showed that something called the inter-process communication (IPC) channel, which deals with software processes related to shared computers, may not always remain secure. It confirmed that several security-critical applications - including password managers - did not protect the IPC.

As such, the user processes occurring on a shared machine could reveal another user's private credentials due to the insecure nature of the IPC. The researchers also mentioned that IPC is something developers often overlook and don't understand.

Don't become lulled into a false sense of security

Using a password manager is not necessarily foolish, and it's probably a more secure approach than not using one. However, it's crucial to stay in touch with your password manager provider to get news of any possible issues, as well as to keep the software updated. Beyond that, choose your master password carefully and don't reuse passwords - especially after hearing about breaches that may affect you.

Password managers are handy, but they should not make you assume the data they protect is invincible to clever attacks by hackers and other data security threats.

EXAMPLES OF COMMON PASSWORDS (50 provided in orginal article)

1. 123456
2. 123456789
3. qwerty
4. password
5. 1234567
6. 12345678
7. 12345
8. 1234567890
9. 111111
10. 123123
11. 123321
12. 1q2w3e4r5t
13. iloveyou
14. 1234
15. 666666
16. 654321
17. 555555
18. gfhjkm
19. 7777777
20. 1q2w3e4r
26. qwerty123
29. princess
37. michael
38. lovely
44. sunshine
47. liverpool
50. computer

(2nd April 2019)

(The Times, dated 7th March 2019 author Kaya Burgess)

Full article [Option 1]:

Sadiq Khan has been accused of profligacy after his spending on staff was projected to be £25.8 million more than that of his predecessor Boris Johnson.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) staffing bill was £36 million in 2015-16, the year before Mr Khan took office. It will reach £57.2 million in 2019-20 and be £61.8 million by 2022-23.

There has been a 27 per cent increase in the number of posts since Mr Khan took office, rising from 897 full-time equivalent roles in 2016 to 1,140 in October last year, documents show.

Gareth Bacon, the leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly, said: "Londoners will rightly question how the mayor can splurge nearly £20 million on City Hall bureaucrats while simultaneously claiming that he can't afford to put more cops on our streets.That £20 million could have paid for over 300 police officers".

The Conservative group has said that an extra 1,400 police officers could be funded in London with a round of cuts to the GLA's public relations and staffing costs.

Mr Khan's office said the mayor was addressing issues that Mr Johnson had "totally ignored", adding that City Hall had taken on extra responsibiities. Next year City Hall will have an extra £2.2 million in staffing costs when it takes over adult education.

The wage bill in Mr Khan's own office roe from £3.8 million in 2016 to £6 million last year, with 66 people based there in September last year compared with 48 in March 2016. Such i the size of hi staff that more than £1 million was spent on an overflow office up from £638,000 in 2016.

The "external affairs" budget, which includes public relations, rose from £6.45 million in 2015-16 to £9.45 million for 2019-20, with more than £300,000 of this coming from extra staff costs, according to the Tories analysis. The GLA's "development, enterprise and environment department increased its staff from 180 in March 2016 to 271 in September last year.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: " There has been a small increase in public servants because Sadiq is delivering huge results in areas like housing and air quality that were totally ignored by the previous mayor, and because City Hall has taken over new responsibilities such as adult education and some areas of health and care policy."

The Labour mayor has also faced criticism this week for taking a minibreak to Morocco while the capital was faced with the knife crime crisis. He flew to Marrakech less than a day after the stabbing to death of Jodie Chesney, 17, last Friday. He said that he was away from his office for only one day and a spokesman said that he had remained in contact with police and officials.

His office has hit back at claims that Mr Khan could boost police numbers blaming the issue on "staggering" government to police cuts to police budgets. He has founded a violence reduction unit that will use a multi-agency approach to treat knife crime like a health epidemic.

His critics have cited examples of spending that they see to be wasteful, including a plan to spend £1.7 million on 100 drinking fountains. Mr Khan also came under pressure after it was revealed that the gender pay gap at Transport for London had widened to 21.5 per cent despite a pledge to narrow it.

(2nd April 2019)

(Lifehacker, dated 7th March 2019 author Brendan Hesse)

Full article [Option 1]:

Granting permissions to apps takes a certain level of trust-trust that an app is honest about the parts of your phone's hardware and operating system it has access to, and what it does with the data therein. Trust is especially crucial with VPN apps, the point of which is to obfuscate your mobile internet activity from unwanted data snoops. The last thing you need is an app that should be protecting your identity leaking out important information.

In the spirit of that transparency, the folks at The Best VPN performed an audit into the permissions asked by 81 Android VPN apps available in the Google Play Store. What they found is unsettling: several readily available VPN apps may be accessing more data than they should be.

How bad is it, doc?

The Best VPN's team pulled the permissions directly from the .apk file for each app they tested. These permissions were sorted into two categories: Normal (safe, commonly requested permissions with no privacy concerns) and dangerous (unusual requests that could potentially compromise user's data and identity). They also made sure to note how many custom permissions an app asks for, which can be counted either normal or dangerous depending on what the app is seeking access to. The apps were then assessed based on how many dangerous permissions were requested.

The good news is that many of the apps are on the relatively safe side, with 31 not asking for any potentially compromising permissions from the user or the OS. 50 apps, however, asked for at least one dangerous permission, and eight were identified as unsafe-meaning they asked for four or more unnecessary permissions.

Yoga VPN and oVPNSpider had the highest number of unnecessary permissions, including highly sensitive information like specific location data, access to your phone's status, and read/write permissions for both internal and external storage. oVPNSpider even asks for access to read your log files, which The Best VPN notes was previously disabled for third-party app due to the high level of security risks associated with access to such files. Other Android VPNs deemed unsafe by The Best VPN's testing are:

- Dash VPN
- Hola
- ProxPN
- Seed 4 Me
- SwitchVPN
- Zoog VPN

Unsurprisingly, all of the above are free VPN apps. As we've mentioned numerous times before, free VPNs tend to be shoddy products or straight up scams and should not be trusted.

Conversely, the safest VPNs (those with zero dangerous permissions) were almost all premium apps. Of those, the VPNs with the lowest total permissions asked were Torguard, with just one safe permission total, AstrillVPN with two, and LiquidVPN with three (none of these asked for custom permissions either, for what it's worth).

The full results for each app tested can be accessed in spreadsheet from a link in the original


To be fair, the scope of The Best VPN's research results doesn't include why the apps need access to these requested features and data, nor what they're doing with any potentially gathered info. Still, that these permissions are being requested at all is questionable at best. No VPN app needs access to your SD card storage so it can read and write data, for instance, but many ask to do that very thing. And even if they're ultimately innocent requests, the more places your data is being stored means more places from where it can be accidentally leaked.

If you're ever dubious about what your Android VPN-or any other app-has access to on your phone, here's how you can check:

1. Tap and hold the app's icon, then tap the "Info" icon.

2. Tap "Permissions"
3. You'll see a list of all the permissions the app has asked for, and which ones have been okayed by either you or the Android OS. You can change each permission by tapping the slider next to it.
4. Alternatively, you can open the Settings app then go to Apps & Notification > Advanced > App Permissions, then tap the specific permissions type to see which apps have access. You can revoke previously granted access from here by tapping the slider next to an app's name.

Uaware disclaimer

uaware does not recommend any app suggested within this article; or any instructions to check Android software.

(2nd April 2019)

(Guardian, dated 6th March 2019 author Matthew Weaver)

Full article [Option 1]:

One of England's most senior police officers has called for emergency funding and the convening of a Cobra meeting in Whitehall to help tackle the rise in violent crime.

Speaking before talks with the home secretary, Sajid Javid, the chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, Sara Thornton, said the recent spate of deadly stabbings involving young people should be treated as a national emergency.

"When you have an emergency, you get all the key people around the table to solve the problem, setting up Cobra with a senior minister holding people to account, because it is not just about policing, it's about all the other agencies and organisation. It's an emergency and it needs some emergency funding," she told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, backed the idea. In a letter to the prime minister, he said convening Cobra was necessary to "urgently improve cross-government efforts to tackle violent crime".

Speaking later to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Thornton stepped up her criticism of ministers. "We think we need much stronger leadership from government," she said. "The difficulty is that it is not being properly funded and it doesn't appear that anybody is really being held to account for that broad strategy."

Thornton, a former chief constable of Thames Valley police, said there was no doubt the rise in violence was linked to cuts in police numbers, despite Theresa May's claims to the contrary.

"Just look at the facts. There are fewer police officers doing less policing and there is more crime. We know that we are taking longer to get to emergencies, we are arresting fewer people, we are charging fewer people, so I think there is a link and we need to really look at what we can do in terms of policing to stop the violence and the killings now," she told BBC Breakfast.

"We need to have more officer hours on the streets. We know what tactics work about targeting hotspots, about using stop and search, about tackling county lines gangs, but we just haven't got the capacity. We just haven't got the officers at the moment, so we need some money now to pay for overtime, to pay for mutual aid between forces."

Alongside emergency cash, Thornton called for longer-term investment to reverse cuts in police funding that have led to a 21,000 reduction in officer numbers since 2010.

"We also need to think about the longer-term investment that we are willing to make into policing. The money this year is welcome, but there needs to be serious investment in the next spending review into police," she said.

Later on Today, Thornton suggested rising knife crime was also linked to cuts in school budgets. "We have seen, in a lot of our cities, a lot of young people roaming the streets during the day, who are vulnerable to recruitment," she said.

"The number of exclusions has been going up; apparently it's an average of 40 children a day who are excluded from school … And we also have higher levels of truancy, which because of cuts are going unchallenged."

Javid supports police calls for extra cash, but has been rebuffed by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and is thought to have clashed with May on the issue.

In an article in the Daily Mail, the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson called on police forces to "vigorously" step up stop and search operations and ignore those who claim the tactic is discriminatory.

Thornton said she would demand government coordination as well as cash at her meeting with Javid on Wednesday.

"We will be speaking to the home secretary about the case for more investment in policing, but also a senior minister getting the key departments and agencies round the table and saying what are you doing," she said.

"There was a really good serious violent crime strategy published last year. The plans are great for early intervention, for tackling county lines, as well as more policing, but we really need somebody to be holding departments to account to make sure this is all happening.

"It's about local officers building relationships with local communities that will make a difference, but the difficulty that we have is that we just haven't got the capacity; we haven't got the numbers to do that in the way we'd like to."

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 5th March 2019 author Martin Bentham)

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Met Commissioner Cressida Dick today admitted that police could call in the army to help fight the "horror" of knife crime as she called for a huge national effort to stem the wave of blade killings and stabbings.

Ms Dick said that she would be prepared to use military staff in support roles if it would assist police as they try to respond to the violent crime epidemic hitting the country.

The dramatic admission came as Ms Dick warned the "absolutely ghastly" killing of London teenager Jodie Chesney and another teenager in Cheshire had revealed "just how big a challenge" blade offending has become.

She said some of the problem in the capital was being driven by young black men growing up in streets where they were surrounded by criminals and former offenders, who were encouraging them to commit crime, amid conditions which have hardly changed for decades.

She added that "it breaks my heart" to see how little progress had been made in these areas and that the result was contributing to the disproportionate number of African Caribbean knife crime victims and offenders.

Ms Dick also repeated her criticism of middle-class drug users, whose habits are helping to fuel violence, by agreeing that they had "blood on their hands". She directly contradicted the Prime Minister by insisting that there is "obviously" a link between rising violent crime and lower police numbers.

The Commissioner said that "everybody would see that" and "we must have more officers on the streets of London" despite Mrs May's assertion yesterday that there is no connection between the cuts she has imposed and the increase in stabbings.

But Ms Dick's most striking admission came as she responded to a suggestion by the former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon that the Army could be brought in to help officers.

The Commissioner said that she found it "hard to imagine" that she would want to ask for soldiers to be deployed on the streets, but added that some military staff could perform support roles.

"I don't exclude it, I really don't," Ms Dick said in an interview on LBC. "I think we all need to work together on this and if there are things that the military would offer for us then of course I would think about it, not to carry out policing functions but other supplementary functions."

On the recent spate of fatal and serious stabbings, including the killing of 17-year-old Jodie on Friday at a park in Harold Hill, Ms Dick said the crimes were "absolutely ghastly" but insisted that the Met was not failing and had instead managed to reduce the overall number of young people being injured by knives over the past year.

She added: "We all need to pull together. I don't think we are failing. My people are working incredibly hard.

"We are taking more weapons off the streets, we are arresting more people, we are doing other disruptive activity, as well as record numbers of stop and search.

"Everybody is focused on this. Every single death, every single stabbing of a young person is absolutely awful, but I can see that we are having an impact."

Asked about the racial disparity in offending, the Commissioner warned that some black boys were growing up surrounded by negative influences.

"It's absolutely clear that knife crime homicides, knife crime under 25 in London, hugely affects black and minority ethnic communities and young people.

"That is as victims - horribly high levels - 62 per cent of homicides last year were people of African Caribbean origin, but also not just as victims but as offenders.

"This is a London phenomenon. When you look at our gangs, there is a much higher involvement in gang activity.. sadly from boys of African Caribbean origin than others.

"There is a real issue about people growing up in an  area where they are exposed to the influences of their older brothers, their uncles, whoever, they're not of course exclusively African Caribbean but in that area an awful lot of people who are involved in crime, or have been involved in crime, and are encouraging others to get involved in crime.

"It breaks my heart because I've worked as a police officer in this city for 35 years on and off and I can take you to streets that I patrolled in my very much younger days and you can see how little, in some respects, has changed. That's not just a policing issue."

On the link between police numbers and violent crime, the Commissioner said that extra funding from the Mayor and the Home Office would allow her to recruit 3,000 officers this year, which, after taking account of departures, would raise overall numbers by 1,500 police.

She said this would still leave the force below the levels earlier this decade.

She added: "There must be some link between violent crime on the streets and police numbers. Obviously there is. Everybody would see that. I absolutely agree that we must have more officers on the streets of London."

Sadiq Khan has blamed soaring levels of knife crime in the capital on police cuts, as well as cuts to youth and mental health services and schools.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: "We need much more resources from the Government to invest in preventative services and policing."

He added: "We have fewer police in London now in 2019 than at any time since 2003 - our population has grown by a million and a half since 2003.

"Also when it comes to youth services, over the last eight years dozens and dozens of youth centres have closed down, hundreds of youth workers have lost their jobs, thousands of young people who used to have youth centres to go to [now] haven't."

The Commissioner's comments today follow a furious row yesterday prompted by the Prime Minister's claim that lower police numbers are not to blame for rising violent crime.

Mrs May said: "If you look at the figures, you'll see there's no correlation between certain crimes and police numbers," adding that it was important  "to look at the issues that underpin this use of knives and that we act on those."

Home Office ministers have also pointed out that previous surges in knife crime have occurred at times when police numbers were much higher. But Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said today: "We do not have enough officers to deal with what is put in front of us.

(2nd April 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 4th March 2019 author Nic Brunetti)

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Police are carrying out surveillance operations on motorists from the top of double-decker buses in attempts to clamp down on mobile-phone use at the wheel, as it emerged prosecutions for the offence plummeted by nearly 50 per cent.

West Yorkshire police is employing the new tactic as figures showed the number of traffic officers in England and Wales had also fallen by almost a third from 3,766 to 2,643 since 2007.

The cut in resources has had an effect on the number of drivers convicted of using a mobile a the wheel, the RAC said, which has almost halved to just under 12,000 between 2012 and 2016 according to figures from the Ministry of Defence. 

According to the BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire current affairs programme, officers have been placed on double-deckers to catch drivers using their phone at the wheel.

The strategy has resulted in officers identifying motorists illegally armed with their devices but the high volume of sightings has meant investigators are unable to record some offenders details quickly enough, according to the programme.

The cash-strapped force, which trialled the initiative last year, has even appealed for the public's help to bring prosecutions - by asking regular bus passengers on the upper deck to video motorists that they see offending.

Nick Lyes, from the RAC, said: "If there's less police officers on the road enforcing the law, that means there's probably less prosecutions taking place as well.

"We're concerned that our most recent data shows that bad habits are creeping up again.

"What we've got to do in this country is to make the use of a handheld mobile phone whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink driving."

Figures from the RAC show a quarter of drivers admit to talking on a handheld phone while driving while 40% of drivers admit to texting at the wheel - so while prosecutions have fallen, bad habits have not.

The crime is believed to be difficult to detect in general anyway, as drivers hide heir mobiles in their laps while offending. It means officers need to get a look from a vantage point to be able to gather evidence, such as using the double decker buses. In recent years a HGV tractor and a lorry have been used by other forces.

Inside Out said driving while on the phone was still a danger motorists were willing to risk, despite a change in the law in 2017 which doubled the penalty points for offenders.

The RAC figures also show there were nearly 2,300 crashes caused by drivers using a mobile phone between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, 33 of these crashes were fatal.

David Kirk, from Horncastle, Lincolnshire, was killed in 2016 when a distracted driver, on her phone, veered onto the wrong side of the road and knocked him off his motorbike.

His widow Katie Kirk urged drivers not to drive while using a phone, saying: "I just want people to think. It's not worth it. What it can do to someone. It's just stupid."

In the West Yorkshire Police inititative, its officers pass on the drivers' details to traffic officers in patrol vehicles, but they are sometimes too many drivers seen offending at the same time to catch them all.

Russell Miller, a PCSO with West Yorkshire Police, said: "There was a point when we spotted one [offender] and started to pass on those details.

"Then literally out of the next 10 or 12 vehicles, about 70 per cent were using their mobile phone and we can't pass those details on and record them quick enough."

(2nd April 2019)

(World Economic Forum, dated 4th March 2019 author Einaras von Gravrock)

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Cybercriminals are using more advanced and scalable tools to breach user privacy, and they are getting results. Two billion data records were compromised in 2017, and more than 4.5 billion records were breached in the first half of 2018 alone.

Here are the most pressing cybersecurity issues in 2019, as well as rising trends into 2020.

Advanced phishing kits

Four new malware samples are created every second. Phishing remains one of the most successful attack vectors due to its speed, as most phishing sites stay online for just four to five hours. Users only report 17% of phishing attacks, and it is seen as a low-risk type of activity. As a result, today only 65% of all URLs are considered trustworthy. This puts a strain on both the consumer and any enterprise with an online presence.

We predict that 2020 will be known for advanced phishing attacks, due to the number of new phishing kits available on the dark web. These kits enable people with only basic technical knowledge to run their own phishing attacks. With more tools available, phishing will become an even more dangerous attack method.

Remote access attacks

Remote attacks are growing in number, as well as becoming more sophisticated. One of the main types of remote access attack in 2018 was cryptojacking, which targeted cryptocurrency owners. Another popular type of attack threatened perimeter devices.

According to our threat intelligence database, remote access attacks are among the most common attack vectors in a connected home. Hackers target computers, smartphones, internet protocol (IP) cameras and network attached storage (NAS) devices, since these tools usually need to have ports open and forwarded to external networks or the internet.

Top 10 device categories with most remote access attempts

1. Computers
2. NAS storage devices
3. Cameras
4. Streaming video devices
5. DVRs
6. Servers
7. Smart TVs
8. Thermostats
9. Access Points
10. Routers

Attacks via smartphones

One of the most common attack vectors to smartphones are related to unsafe browsing (phishing, spear phishing, malware). More than 60% of fraud online is accomplished through mobile platforms, according to RSA, and 80% of mobile fraud is achieved through mobile apps instead of mobile web browsers.

As most people use their phones to manage financial operations or handle sensitive data outside the security of their home network, this becomes a prominent threat. The fact that users typically hold all their information on their phone, and that smartphones are now used for two-factor authentication - one of the most widely used cybersecurity tools - increases the security risk if the device is lost or stolen.

Vulnerabilities in home automation and the Internet of Things

The consumer Internet of Things (IoT) industry is expected to grow to more than seven billion devices by the end of 2020, according to Gartner. Many consumers do not see IoT devices as a vulnerability, because a significant portion of them do not have a user interface. This could lead to issues understanding what kind of data the device collects or manages.

However, IoT devices are not only collecting valuable user data. They could become an entry point for an attacker or tool to launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. IoT devices are not secure by design, because putting a focus on security would significantly increase manufacturing and maintenance expenses.

According to CUJO AI threat intelligence data, 46% of all attack types that these devices experience are remote access attempts and 39% are used for detecting behavioural patterns. With the exponential growth of connected devices at home, these threats are likely to increase.

Home automation devices that received the most attack attempts

1. Thermostat
2. Alarm system
3. Smoke detector
4. Voice control
5. Garage opener
6. Sprinkler system
7. Keylock and doorbell
8. Kitchen appliance
9. Energy management
10. Lighting

Utilizing artificial intelligence

Most of the biggest industries already use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate their processes and improve overall performance. Cybersecurity and cybercrime are no exception.

AI is often considered to be a dual-use technology - while more cybersecurity companies are implementing AI-driven algorithms to prevent threats, hackers are also taking the opportunity to become more effective.

The majority of AI qualities serve malicious purposes. AI systems are cheap, scalable, automated, anonymous and they provide physical and psychological distance for the attacker, diminishing the immediate morality around cybercrime.

- Artificial intelligence for cybersecurity evasion. Cybercriminals are using various evasion methods to avoid detection, and AI helps to optimize different elements of this process.

- Artificial intelligence in phishing. AI could help to create content that can pass through typical cybersecurity filters, such as email messages that are indistinguishable from those written by humans.

- Artificial intelligence in social engineering. While social engineering is one of the most popular hacking techniques, it takes a lot of time to implement properly. AI could help in not only collecting information, but also by writing emails or calling potential victims.

With new advances in AI-driven technology, utilizing AI in cyber attacks will become an even more popular and dangerous trend.

(2nd April 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 4th March 2019 author George Dixon)

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Fewer than 500 of Britain's 48million motorists - which works out at around 0.001 per cent of all licence holders - have been fined in the last four years by police for leaving their engines running.

This undermines warnings about being slapped with fines for de-icing windscreens.

Leaving your car's engine to idle so the heater can defrost the windows is an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, with motoring organisations and companies seeking publicity regularly using cold snaps to issue warnings it can 'land drivers in hot water' with the law and a £40 penalty.

However, police records suggest this isn't necessarily the truth.

According to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request by This is Money, police forces around the country revealed just 494 fines had been handed out since 2015 for breaches of Section 42 - and many of them won't even be for de-icing a car outside the owner's home.

Of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, 34 responded to our FOI request.

Fine statistics were received from some of the largest forces in the country, including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, Thames Valley and South Yorkshire Police.

The Met handed out the most fines, but even covering an area with a population of eight million people, it has only fined 66 motorists since 2015.

It was followed by West Yorkshire Police, who fined 50 people over the same time period, and Merseyside Police, who handed out fines to 48 drivers.

While the daytime temperatures recently experienced in the UK are at record-breaking highs for February, motorists are still having to de-ice their cars in the morning due to chilly nights.

Those clearing their windscreens by leaving their engines running, if they are parked on a public road, could technically be breaking the law.

Motoring organisations, car insurers and other companies are often keen to grab some headlines when the weather turns cold, issuing warnings to motorists that they run the risk of a £40 fine for running engines to clear windscreens.

Under Section 42 of the RTA, you can be fined an initial £20 if your vehicle is stationary on a public road with the engine running.

Rule 123 of the Highway Code states: 'You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.' This rule is given legal force by the 1988 act.

However, we at This is Money weren't convinced and sent requests to every police force in England and Wales to find out how many motorists had been fined since 2015 for this offence.

If you used the average number of people fined per force and extrapolated it to include all 43 forces, then still only 624 people - or 156 a year - would have been penalised.

In fact six police forces - Cheshire, Cleveland, Durham, Gwent, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire - told This is Money that they had not handed out a single fine to anyone in that time period.

Meanwhile Devon and Cornwall Police's response showed they had prosecuted three men between May 2015 and January 2018, all for leaving their vehicles on a public road unattended with the engine running, along with fining 11 others.

The vast majority of those fined were men - 54 of those fined by the Met, 81 per cent, were male, while 78 per cent of the 50 people who received fines from West Yorkshire Police were too.

Just 16 people were fined by South Wales Police between 2015 and 2018, and all of those who had their sex recorded were male.

Only one of the nine people fined by Cambridgeshire Police in the last four years was a woman.

Some forces were also particularly fine-happy on certain years.

Leicestershire Constabulary handed out only seven fines over the four years between 2015 and 2018 but five of those were in 2016, while more than half of the 17 fines issued by South Yorkshire Police were issued in 2015.

The data shines a light on the difficulty to police an offence such as leaving a vehicle's engine idling, especially when you consider the number of job cuts at forces across the UK in the last decade.

Latest stats show that the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by over 20,000 between March 2010 and March 2018.

How many Section 42 fines have been issued by police forces since 2015 where you live?

Avon and Somerset: 3
Bedfordshire: 10
Cambridgeshire: 9
Cheshire: 0
Cleveland: 0
Derbyshire: 5
Devon and Cornwall: 11
Dorset: 6
Durham: 0
Essex: 15
Gloucestershire: 1
Greater Manchester: 13
Gwent: 0
Hampshire: 34
Hertfordshire: 22
Humberside: 19
Kent: 14
Lancashire: 30
Lincolnshire: 0
Merseyside: 48
Metropolitan: 66
Norfolk: 21
North Wales: 6
Northumbria: 12
Nottinghamshire: 11
South Wales: 16
South Yorkshire: 17
Staffordshire: 0
Suffolk: 18
Thames Valley: 16
Warwickshire: 9
West Yorkshire: 50
Wiltshire: 5

Total: 494

Source: This is Money FOI request to police forces in England and Wales

(2nd April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 1st March 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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Londoners will be asked to help police their neighbourhoods in a bid to "mobilise communities" in the fight against crime.

Scotland Yard is set to roll out a project in which residents walk the beat to combat drug dealers, burglars and anti-social behaviour. The scheme is already running in east London where 27 volunteers regularly patrol.

The Met is consulting communities about expanding the project across London as part of efforts to encourage local people to play a greater part in tackling crime.

Volunteers in east London deny they are acting as vigilantes, saying patrols are "non-confrontational". The Street Watch project is an extension of Neighbourhood Watch and comes amid rising crime and falling police numbers. Last year, the number of officers in the Met fell below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.

In Havering, 27 volunteers regularly patrol. Sally Miller, 46, who runs the project, said: "We walk about in high-vis jackets deterring low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. We are not vigilantes, we do not have a go. We don't go out 'tooled up'. We just go out with a pocket notebook. If anything were to happen the advice is to get to a place of safety and then call the police."

She said the group started in 2015 with five members and now has 27 volunteers from the age of 40 to 75. Members come from all walks of life and contribute what time they can spare, usually a few hours a week. The group, funded by local companies and fundraising quiz nights, patrol eight wards and say they have had success in deterring burglars and moving on low-level street drug dealers.

Their best moment was in reuniting two lost children with their parents, Ms Miller said. She added: "The police cannot be everywhere. We live in our neighbourhoods 24 hours a day and can see what is going on. This is just a means of helping police gather intelligence."

Police insiders say the Met is responding to a surge in public interest in helping to tackle crime. A Met spokeswoman said: "As part of the continuous improvement of neighbourhood policing we scan centrally for areas of best practice and share that across the Met.

"Street Watch is one such practice, and we are assessing what the benefits may be of rolling this scheme out across the Met area. This is a core part of our strategy, mobilising communities to help keep Londoners safe.

"We police London together with our communities and Street Watch is a clear example of that."

Volunteers are vetted by police. 

(2nd April 2019)

(i News/ The Economist, dated 27th February 2019)

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For a time in the 1960s, the Kray twins were unstoppable. From their billiard club in Mile End, east London, Ronnie and Reggie outsmarted the cops and took a cut of all trades. They were the Candy brothers of racketeering; the Saatchis of the underworld.

Yet their empire did not cross the Thames. Another crime family, the Richardsons, controlled the turf south of the river. Even Mr Bigs knew their place.

Such boundaries appear quaint now. Britain's criminal kingpins cross county and country borders. They smuggle drugs, guns and people to turn a profit, sometimes hundreds of miles from their home turf.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), one of the law-enforcement bodies fighting organised crime, says there are 4,542 gangs in Britain, employing 37,317 criminals.

Turf wars

Turf wars and the harm from the trade in drugs may explain a recent upsurge in violence. Crime rates in England and Wales have plummeted for two decades, but high-harm crimes are ticking up. There were more fatal stabbings in 2017-18 than at any time since records began in 1946. Drug deaths are also at a record high and gun crime is spiking.

In all, the Home Office thinks organised crime cost Britain £37bn in 2015-16, the latest year for which numbers are available. The drugs trade accounts for more than half that sum. The UK's cops have been slow to adapt.

The challenges facing police

Three problems hinder efforts to tackle the new Mr Bigs.

First, ministers have split responsibility for organised crime between a hotchpotch of agencies, some of which are struggling. The Government's latest organised-crime strategy, published in November, promises a "single, whole-system approach", but provides a baffling organigram listing 19 national bodies. It also charts nine regional organised-crime units, 418 local authorities and 43 police forces in England and Wales, most of which were familiar in the Krays' days.

At the apex of the system is the NCA, which replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013. Its £427m budget is smaller than that of some police forces, such as West Midlands and Greater Manchester.

Lynne Owens, its director-general, must work with regional units and local forces on operations, but they are not arranged consistently.

Some units have their own surveillance teams, while others rely on those of individual forces. "If I am going to task the system effectively, there has to be some coherence and there isn't so much currently," she admits.

Police and crime commissioners, as elected watchdogs, also muddy the waters. Most prioritise visible, local issues like antisocial behaviour over the less tangible menace of organised crime, says Harvey Redgrave of Crest Advisory, a consultancy.

The need for a centralised system

Ms Owens envies the hierarchical structure of counter-terrorism policing. Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police masterminds the response to terrorist incidents, wherever they happen.

Ms Owens knows that campaigning for such a "controlling mind" for organised crime would be unpopular with some forces. So she is working with the Home Office to define which roles should be allocated locally, regionally and nationally. "To be frank, that's never been a bit of work that's been done."

Scotland offers a model for it. Eight forces merged into Police Scotland in 2013. Cops share offices with other crime-fighting agencies, including the NCA, in a single national "crime campus" dedicated to organised crime in Gartcosh, near Glasgow. Officers working on an investigation can talk easily to customs officers or the forensics lab. A single "joint operations centre" allows staff from different agencies to see video streams of operations anywhere in the country.

Steve Johnson, an assistant chief constable who spent most of his career south of the border, says the Scottish structure is more agile, enabling him to put all surveillance teams on to a particular task without having to persuade several different chiefs.

A numbers game

A second problem is poor data handling. Until last year, the spreadsheet that forces used to map the threat of organised-crime gangs was not linked to the national police database. The two would be matched just four times a year. Merging the two has increased the number of gangs that officers can link to each other from 6 per cent to 45 per cent.

When the NCA set up a new co-ordination centre last year for gangs that traffic drugs across county boundaries, it found some forces unwittingly working on the same gangs. The agency is now setting up national data and intelligence units, but Ms Owens calls the funding from the Home Office "very small beer".

Narrowing targets

The final obstacle is the broadening definition of organised crime. Organised criminals traditionally distinguished themselves by working in groups for profit, especially by smuggling contraband or people. But ministers now class the sexual exploitation of children as organised crime, even though most of it is committed online by individuals for sexual rather than financial gain. The NCA must also tackle cyberattacks and fraud.

"It's a really broad and growing spectrum," says Ms Owens. Some officers grumble that this distracts attention from drugs, which yield most profit for organised-crime gangs. "We're not good at defining it," says one. "We throw everything into one bucket."

The police are playing catch-up. As they debate reforms, organised criminals go online to find more sophisticated ways of making money and covering their tracks. The NCA expects more use of the dark web to cut out middlemen. And messaging apps with built-in encryption software will make it harder to trace criminals. At least nobody gave the Krays a computer.

(2nd April 2019)

(iNews, dated 1st March 2019 author Cahal Milmo)

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The balaclava-clad figure who arrived under cover of darkness at the depot of Evans European Transport Ltd on the edge of a Grimsby industrial estate three weeks ago wasted no time in setting about his work.

After using an angle grinder to cut through the metal perimeter fence, the 6ft-tall intruder systematically looted the fleet of Mercedes vans operated by the family-owned delivery business.

The thief's target was not cargo on any of the vans. Instead CCTV footage showed him forcing open the bonnets of the vehicles one after the other and using the grinder to scythe out his quarry from the engine compartment - catalytic converters.

By the time the burglar left, he had removed the converters - metallic objects about the size of a vacuum flask - from 15 vehicles, causing some £30,000 of damage and leaving the company unable to make its deliveries of fish and ready meals across north Lincolnshire.

Don Nurse, the company's head of planning, said: "The first we knew of it was when staff turned up to make some early deliveries and couldn't get the vans to start. It was dreadful because it left us unable to serve our customers.

"Thieves like this don't care what sort of damage they cause, they cut through wires and anything else just to get to what they're after. The local garage pulled out all the stops so luckily we were up and running again after three days. But it was a pretty disgusting thing to do."

Coterie of criminals

The Grimsby raider, who went on to look vehicles in two other depots that same night, is just one of a growing coterie of criminals across the country whose modus operandi consists of cutting catalytic converters out of vehicles, in one case with such brazenness that thieves held up traffic in broad daylight on an east London street while they targeted a parked car.

The trend is part of a global push for profit - pursued by interested parties from Britain's marauding vehicle thieves to giant mines in South Africa and Russia to a number of tightly-guarded warehouses in Switzerland - from the stratospheric rise in the price of an ultra-rare metal vital in the functioning of catalytic converters.

Palladium - along with two other precious metals, platinum and rhodium - is used to line the honeycomb-like internal structure of the converters. The chemical properties of this cocktail of metals means the devices convert as much 90 per cent of the noxious hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in petrol engine exhaust into less harmful water vapour, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

A global squeeze on the supply of palladium, which is 30 times rarer than gold and is generally only found in deposits alongside nickel and platinum, has seen its price rocket by more than half since last summer to a record last month of $1,565 (£1,117) per ounce - comfortably higher than gold at $1,326. Palladium is used in jewellery and electronics but by far the greatest use of the metal is the car industry, which accounts for at least 80 per cent of palladium consumption by using it in catalytic converters.

According to the world's biggest palladium producer, Russian mining company Nornickel, global demand for the metal will this year outstrip supply from mining by some 38 tonnes. Hitherto, the shortage from the most palladium-rich mines, located in South Africa and Russia, has been met using existing stocks held in locations such as bonded warehouses in Zurich. But many in the industry believe those reserves are close to running out and factors such as the introduction of tighter vehicle pollution standards in China are driving increased demand.

The result is a worldwide thirst for palladium and crooks in Britain are seeking to cash in by raiding vehicles for converters - all the while leaving hundreds of owners with hefty repair bills. Each converter is worth up to £400 on the scrap market but the cost of repairs can range from £500 to £3,500 depending on the type of vehicle.

900 thefts in London

Figures provided under freedom of information rules suggest that there were at least 1,245 incidents of catalytic converter theft in 2017. The thefts are not systematically recorded in crime statistics but Home Office data shows there was a 14 per cent increase in items stolen from vehicles last year, making a total of 656,000 incidents. The Metropolitan Police has recorded 900 converter thefts since July 2018.

One law enforcement source said: "It's a crime that is on the rise. We're looking at a mixture of opportunists who think there's easy money to be made and organised crime groups who are doing it on a more systematic basis."

Experts are divided on where the stolen converters are ending up with some suggesting they are being collected by gangs and exported abroad, possibly to Eastern Europe, where they can be processed and the precious metals extracted.

Illegal scrapyards

But representatives of the recycling industry told iweekend that it is more likely the stolen devices are simply being diverted to illegal scrapyards in Britain which are flouting the law by offering cash in hand for converters and other metal.

Legislation introduced in 2013 banned cash payments for all scrap metal and required dealers to confirm the identity of sellers. It was was hailed as major success by ministers after the number of metal thefts - ranging from stripping lead from church roofs to stealing signalling cable from railways - fell by more than three quarters in the first four years.

But industry figures fear that trend has gone sharply into reverse because hard-pressed police forces and local authorities no longer have the resources to enforce the law.

Antonia Grey, public affairs manager for the British Metals Recycling Agency, said: "It is highly likely that these stolen catalytic converters are finding their way into the recycling system here by being taken to illegal scrap metal dealers who are openly offering to pay cash for materials.

"This is happening because there is now no enforcement of the law at a time when the budgets of police and local authorities have been eviscerated. The very real risk is that we are going to see increases not only in catalytic converter thefts but incidents like church roofs being stripped and disruption to railways because someone has stolen two miles of signalling cable."

The National Police Chiefs' Council told iweekend that data on catalytic converter thefts was not being collated centrally and the response to the problem was down to individual police forces.

Valuable metals inside

Once passed to a scrap metal dealer, stolen converters can be fed into the recycling system where the honeycomb "monolith" holding the precious metals is removed, pulverised and sold on to a specialist smelter. Depending on the size of the converter, it can hold up to eight grams of precious metals worth anything up to £800.

Globally some 120 tonnes of palladium, rhodium and platinum is recovered through recycling each year. All of which suggests that the spectre of masked thieves looting vehicles for precious metals in devices designed to protect the environment is unlikely to diminish soon.

What is a catalytic converter?

Required by law in all UK-made petrol vehicles since 1995, the catalytic converter is key to curbing the most harmful emissions from engines.

Roughly the size of a vacuum flask, it is a metal cannister through which all fumes produced by an engine pass before leaving through the exhaust.

As the gases enter the converter's honeycomb core they react with the layer of catalysts - chiefly the precious metals palladium, platinum and rhodium - and are changed into less polluting substances - water vapour, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

Diesel vehicles are fitted with a similar device known as a diesel particulate filter, which is designed to remove soot as well as noxious gases.

(2nd April 2019)

(Daily Record, dated 27th February 2019 author Edel Kenealy)

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Violent crimes have increased by more than a third in South Lanarkshire over a one-year period.

There were 234 violent crimes reported to Police Scotland in the local authority area between April and September 2018 - up from 179 for the same period the previous year.

The figures, revealed in Police Scotland's quarterly crime report, include some historic offences, but still show a marked increase in crime.

Victim support charities have described the figures as "deeply worrying".

The report also revealed that across South Lanarkshire, when compared to April to September 2017, sexual crimes increased by 25.7 per cent to 328, rapes or attempted rapes increased by 43.2 per cent to 53 and crimes of dishonesty rose by eight percent to 3374.

House breaking, including attempted house breaking, dropped by 24 per cent to 357 and drugs charges dropped by 12 per cent to 745.

Rob Hay, Superintendent at Lanarkshire Police, acknowledged the figures, but said that historic cases attributed to the statistics.

He explained: "Clearly any increase in crime is of concern to Police Scotland, but it is important that the public understand the context to these figures, as statistics on their own can be misleading.

"Of the increase in violent crime, 27 of these are offences recorded as part of the enquiry into historical child abuse at Smyllum House, meaning they occurred many years ago but are only being recorded this year.

"The remaining rise is therefore much more modest, but still a matter of focus.

"Lanarkshire division's response to this has been the high profile Operation Forward campaign between October and January targeting violent offenders.

"In terms of trends, the majority of violent offences are committed by and against persons involved in criminal behaviour."

Supt Hay said that police, together with partners, were working to support vulnerable members of the community, particularly those battling addiction and those shoplifters who present as "destitute".

Police efforts are, he said, focused on drug dealers "that pedal their misery and blight communities" and prolific offenders.

He further welcomed the increase in reporting of sexual offences, stating it is often an under-reported crime. Kate Wallace, CEO of Victim Support Scotland, said: "Any increase in violent and sexual crime statistics is deeply worrying. Behind every statistic is a person, a family and community affected by each crime.

"The psychological, physical and social impact of crime can be all-encompassing and devastating for the lives of an individual and their loved ones."

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis described the 43 per cent rise in rape and attempted rape as "significant".

She said: "While it's not possible to know whether this is a result of increased confidence in reporting or a rise in the number of offences committed, it's entirely possible that these figures are due to the latter. It's vital that anyone in South Lanarkshire reporting - or considering reporting - a sexual offence is reassured that there is both emotional and advocacy support available to them."

James Kelly, list MSP for Glasgow said: "These figures are alarming and will be of great concern to people in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.

"It is very worrying to see a rise of 30 per cent in violent crimes. People want to feel safe in their local community and it's vital that the police are properly resourced to combat these increases in crime."

But Clare Haughey, MSP for Rutherglen and Cambuslang and a Scottish Government minister, said crime has decreased across Scotland.

She said: "Since the SNP entered government, justice has been one of our top priorities. The overall number of crimes recorded in Scotland has fallen by 10 per cent since 2013-14, recorded violent crimes have fallen 49 per cent since 2006-7, robberies are down 47 per cent and crimes of dishonesty down 32 per cent.

"However, these figures for South Lanarkshire are worrying, and I will be looking to speak with the police to see how the figures correspond to a local level.

"I last met with them on January 18 and I'm incredibly grateful for their work in keeping us safe.

"The police do an incredible job across Rutherglen and Cambuslang, and I will continue to work closely with them and others to ensure that everyone feels safe in our communities.

(2nd April 2019)

(BBC News, dated 28th February 2019 authors Ben Butcher and Rachel Schraer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Gang activity often takes place under the radar of the authorities, and even defining what counts as a gang is not straightforward.

A report has estimated there are 27,000 children in gangs, as the Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield calls on professionals to "learn from the mistakes of child sexual exploitation" and treat children as victims not perpetrators.

So how did they reach this figure?

Each year, the Office for National Statistics runs a crime survey asking a representative sample of households about their experience of crime. For the past three years, it has asked children aged 10 to 15 whether they considered themselves to be a member of a street gang.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner in England did its own calculation using these figures.

Last year, of a sample of about 4,000 children, 0.7% (about 30 children) said they considered themselves to be in a street gang.

This figure was scaled up to give the estimated 27,000 figure for the whole population of England for a single year.

Children in England who are members of gangs or have connections with them

(Source : Children's Commissioner for England / British Crime Survey)

- 313,000 know a gang member
- 60,000 gang members or siblings of gang members
- 27,000 gang member
- 6,50 identified gang members

That's an estimate, but the report gives another much lower figure of 6,560 children actually known by youth offending teams or children's services to be involved in gangs.

Ms Longfield's report concludes that the difference between the higher and lower figure is down to the fact that most gang members are not known to authorities.

We do not know that for sure though - it is certainly likely that there is a group of young people involved with gangs who are not known to the authorities, but we cannot be sure as many as 27,000 children are in gangs.

Since these figures come from a bespoke analysis, comparable individual figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not available.

When it comes to gang violence and criminal activity, there is no national data.

But in London, the Metropolitan Police holds a database known as the Gangs Matrix, containing names of between 3-4,000 "persons of interest" at any one time.

The database has been criticised for disproportionately targeting young black men who might not have links to violent crime.

Last year the Met said that all its officers were "highly-trained and experienced in working with, and recognising the signs of, gang affiliation and gang membership".

"By identifying high-harm gang members and targeting them through intelligence-led enforcement, the number of violent offences committed by gang members has been reduced," a Met spokesperson said.

The Met also "tags" violent crimes as gang-related if it believes it has enough intelligence to do so.

In 2017, the last time it published estimates, one in every 500 violent crimes recorded by the Met Police was tagged as gang-related. Since 2010, 15% of homicides in the capital have been linked to gangs.

Knife offences resulting in caution or conviction (Source : Ministry for Justice)

Knife offences by age group, England and Wales, year ending Septembe

n = 18 years and over; [n] = 10 to 17 year olds

2008 : 21,800 [6,900]
2009 : 20,800 [5,700]
2010 : 17,700 [4,200]
2011 : 17,200 [3,900]
2012 : 15,200 [3,300]
2013 : 13,800 [2,600]
2014 : 13,500 [2,800]
2015 : 13,900 [3,500]
2016 : 15,200 [3,950]
2017 : 16,100 [4,500]
2018 : 17,000 [4,500]

Almost 21% of 21,380 knife possession offences last year were committed by 10 to 17-year-olds.

Since 2014, the number of knife possession offences committed by 10 to 17-year-olds has increased by 70%.

Hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object for 18-year-olds and under have also increased by 70% since the year to March 2014, reaching 813 last year.

Hospital admissions for assault by sharp instrument (Source : NHS Digital)
England, year ending March

n = 16 years and under ; [n] = 16 to 18 year olds

2011 : 155 [570]
2012 : 155 [480]
2013 : 98 [395]
2014 : 102 [375]
2015 : 110 [340]
2016 : 150 [430]
2017 : 165 [525]
2018 : 167 [650]

This data shows the problem is increasing, but it does not tell how many children are carrying knives in total.

Last year, 0.6% of 10 to 15-year-olds said they had personally carried a knife and and 5.7% knew someone who had, according to the ONS's crime survey.

This does not tell us whether they are carrying weapons for gang-related reasons, though.
In schools

Knife carrying also appears to be increasing in schools.

Data from 21 police forces in England and Wales obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed 363 sharp instruments were found on school property in 2017-18.

This is an increase from 94 in 2013-14.

Number of knifes found at schools
Number of knife or sharp instument possession offences on school premises, England and Wales

2014 : 90
2015 : 160
2016 : 240
2017 : 325
2018 : 365

Number is for 21 police forces who supplied information for relevant period. There are 43 forces in England and Wales. Source : Freedom of Information Request

The report said children who say they are involved in street gangs were more likely to have been excluded from school.

Research by centre-left think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) also suggests that children who have been excluded from school are more likely to enter the criminal justice system.

The Children's Commissioner's report points out there are multiple risk factors associated with children becoming involved with gangs.

The report says that children in gangs who are known to children's services are more likely than others in the system (already a vulnerable group) to have mental health problems, special educational needs and to come from homes where there is domestic violence or substance misuse.

Children who have been in gangs and are now in the criminal justice system are 76% more likely than other young offenders to have not been having their basic care needs met at home, according to professional assessments.


The rise of County Lines has also increased concerns of children being pulled into, and exploited by, drug gangs.

County Lines involve city-based drug gangs expanding their drug dealing into smaller towns and rural areas, with violence often being involved to protect the routes.

The National Crime Agency estimates that the number of dedicated phone lines dedicated to taking orders from users increased from about 720 to 2,000 between 2017 and 2018.

Individuals, often vulnerable people susceptible to exploitation, will then take the drugs from the base to consumers.

Two-thirds of police forces link County Lines to child exploitation by gangs.

Given the illicit nature of the operations, total involvement is difficult to capture but the majority of referrals received by the National Crime Agency concern 15 to 17-year-olds.

(2nd April 2019)


(London Evening Standard, dated 26th February 2019 author Rachael Burford)

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Fraudsters are targeting "Boris bike" users to get free rides on the cycle network in a scam leaving people hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Payment dodgers are operating at docks in tourist-friendly areas with a scheme known as "cycle surfing".

They hover around the payment machines and look at the codes people are given on their receipts to release the Santander Cycles. They then punch in the code at the docks before the legitimate user and cycle off.

The paying customer - confused or thinking there has been an error when they can't get a bike out themselves -goes to the machine and gets a new code, often none the wiser that they have been scammed.

But they are hit with huge costs when the bikes are used for hours or not returned. Charges of up to £300 are incurred if a bike is damaged or not returned.

Transport for London today issued a warning to people to keep their codes safe and have recently installed CCTV cameras at docks in Hyde Park Corner and South Kensington, where they have seen the most incidents.

Rachel Dickson, 25, was sightseeing in London when she was "cycle surfed" while hiring a bike at Hyde Park Corner. Days later she noticed £94 had come out of her account.

She told the Standard: "I was shocked when I saw how much money had been taken. I spent an hour on the phone with various people from TfL and Action Fraud and was told I'd been cycle surfed.

"It's beyond belief that people would spend their days loitering by docked bikes to rack up fines in someone else's name. That is a lot of money to me and is the difference between being able to afford my food shop or car insurance."

Miss Dickson was later refunded by TfL.

A TfL spokesman said there were 37 confirmed cases last year, but admitted the number could be much higher as some people may not report or realise that they had been scammed. Victims online say they have been charged £300 when "cycle-surfed" bikes taken out under their name are not returned. Code print-outs and stickers on docks carry warnings to users that codes should be treated with the same privacy as card pins.

Police are also working with TfL. In the summer, staff will be on hand at the busiest cycle stations to watch the machines. David Eddington, head of cycle hire at TfL, said: "We are aware of rare incidents of pin surfing ... and are committed to tackling this." A Met Police spokesman said reported incidents were rare, but added: "The Met is working with TfL and the Royal Parks Agency to tackle this type of offending … we will act if there is specific types of offending at certain locations."

The scheme works by cyclists paying £2 at a card machine then receiving a code that releases the bike. Users have access for 24 hours but it must be docked every 30 minutes or they will be charged an extra £2 every half-hour.

(10th March 2019)

(St Helens Star, dated 25th February 2019)

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 MERSEYSIDE Police will be recruiting an additional 80 new police officers and 14 police staff over the next year.

The force says this will help them "to stem the loss of approximately 40 officer posts".

Police chiefs say they will invest in the creation of a new team to target wanted fugitives and the introduction of a new Cyber Investigations Unit.

The force budget was announced on Friday February 22, 2019, at a public meeting held by Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke.

Funding for 40 of the new officer posts has been generated from the increase of the police precept on council tax.

The force says that savings it has identified throughout the last year, have also generated funding for a further 40 officers and will save approximately 40 police officer posts that were due to be lost.

The force will also bring in an extra 14 police staff in 2019/20.

In the last year Merseyside has seen an increase in knife crime, violence and robbery.

And the force admits it is still managing the threat that serious organised crime, which includes gun and drug related crime, brings to communities.

A centralised "Fugitive Team" will be set up to track and arrest wanted criminals.

The team will find those wanted on arrest warrants and who have breached licences and will support the force's local policing and targeted teams to locate suspects who commit crime in communities.

The additional posts mean the force will establish a new cyber investigations unit which will provide a specialist resource to tackle the threat of cyber crime, including online fraud and exploitation.

The force will also ring fence resources for Operation Castle, which was set up to target offenders and reduce burglary across Merseyside.

Additional resources will also be added to the force's digital policing team to continue to develop technology to help officers meet changing demands and transform the police's relationship with the public by introducing new digital contact channels for reporting crime.

Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "This investment is positive news for the force and the people of Merseyside and I would like to thank our communities for understanding the difficult position we are in and supporting us, so that we can make a direct difference to the number of officers we have on our streets and to the service we are able to provide.

"I know people are facing difficult times themselves but together we can make our communities safer.

"Since 2010 the force has lost £110m and more than 1,600 officers and staff due to funding cuts. Last year we dealt with 397,738 calls for service and 124,857 crimes and we are feeling the strain of less resources and increased demand. This investment will help to alleviate some of that pressure and give us the ability to try and deal with new, emerging crime in a different way.

"There's no doubt that the funding situation will continue to be challenging for us going forward and we will need to keep looking for additional ways of making savings now and in the future. The investment clearly doesn't take us back to the position we were in before 2010 but I am pleased that we are now in a position to recruit new officers and staff. This additional capacity will give us much needed support in protecting our communities, preventing crime and pursuing offenders"

Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "The Chief Constable and I know that the public of Merseyside want more, not fewer, officers on their streets. While the Government have provided more direct grant, this increase is not even sufficient to cover the cost of inflation.

"I am extremely grateful to our communities for stepping up and showing their support for local policing through the precept. Through their generosity, we have been able to raise an additional £9.9m, which will mean that for the first time in nine years we are in a position to increase the number of feet on the beat in Merseyside.

"This will be complemented by the money we have been able to generate from savings, which will also be reinvested in new officers and used to target those offenders who cause the most harm in our communities."

(10th March 2019)

(Guardian, dated 25th February 2019 author Robert Booth)

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More homeless people died in Manchester than in any other local authority area in England and Wales in 2017, according to the first national statistics capturing the pattern of deaths among rough sleepers and people living in homeless shelters.

In 2017, 21 homeless people died in the city, three more than in Birmingham and four more than in Liverpool. Overall, 136 people died in London - which is made up of 33 local authorities - including 17 deaths in Lambeth and 15 in Camden, according to the estimates.

The figures show that the relative poverty of an area is closely linked to the number of rough sleeper deaths. The most deprived areas had about nine times more deaths of homeless people relative to their population than the least disadvantaged areas, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.

The figures follow last December's estimate that 597 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2017 and a total of 2,627 had died in the five years from 2014.

Official rough sleeping counts in Manchester have soared from seven people in 2010 to 123 in 2018 and, in common with many other cities, it has become highly visible, with numerous people bedding down in city centre doorways and underpasses.

Manchester has one of the highest rough sleeping rates in the country, and one homeless man who has lost two friends has even been running homelessness tours to increase awareness.

But smaller towns recorded the highest numbers of homeless deaths per head of population. Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, appeared in the five highest rates in four of the five years from 2014, and in 2017 it had the highest rate in England and Wales, with nine deaths on record.

The next highest rate was in Oxford, followed by Camden, Barrow-in-Furness and Canterbury. The Guardian revealed last month that at least four homeless people had died in Oxford since November, and this month the body of another suspected rough sleeper was found in a churchyard. An estimated 10 homeless people died in Oxford in 2017, according to the ONS, and 33 in the five years from 2014.

The situation in Oxford has sparked widespread public anger and last week the city council asked the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board to review whether serious harm experienced by people with care and support needs was down to neglect or abuse and whether this could have been predicted or stopped.

In December Aron Gibson, 37, died in a McDonald's in Cornmarket, in Oxford city centre. Four days later Czeslaw Mazak, 36, who slept rough and often without a tent, was found dead near a city centre nightclub, and there were two deaths in housing projects funded by the government's rough sleeper initiative: Sharron Maasz, 44, who died on 21 January and a 50-year-old man who died on 29 January. A man in his 60s was also found in St Frideswide churchyard and died on 5 February.

Responding to the new figures, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said it was "shameful that hundreds of people across England and Wales with nowhere to turn have died while homeless".

"Governments must ensure local authorities, particularly in the most deprived areas, have the appropriate funding to conduct reviews into the death of every person who has died while homeless, to prevent more people from dying needlessly," he said. "They must also make sure that when people do become homeless, they are rehoused quickly, and with the support they need to keep their homes, whether it's help to find employment, mental health support or drug and alcohol services."

The ONS said: "These new estimates are important because of the need for high-quality health intelligence to inform local homelessness strategies and the most appropriate provision of services."

The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, said the data "will support us in our mission to end rough sleeping for good".
Why are homeless people still dying in one of Britain's richest cities?

"Every death on our streets is one too many and it is simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way," he said. "That's why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m to end rough sleeping for good. Councils have used this funding to create an additional 1,750 beds and 500 rough sleeping support staff."

He highlighted figures published last month that showed a small fall in rough sleeping across England and Wales for the first time in eight years, albeit with increases in major cities. Some councils have said that they were encouraged by the ministry of housing to use a snapshot street count rather than estimates that are also based on other information, leading to concerns of undercounting.

"I am also committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted, where appropriate, so that important lessons are learned - and I will be holding local authorities to account in doing just that," said Brokenshire.

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 25th February 2019 authors Stephen Hayward and James Andrews)

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Car cloning has more than doubled in the last two years - with innocent drivers increasingly targeted by crooks copying number plates.

New figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) show the dramatic increase - which has seen unwitting motorists rivers are ending up with speeding fines and parking tickets after their car number plates are copied by cloning gangs.

Criminals are copying legitimate number plates and using the fake identity to drive similar cars that may have been stolen or scrapped.

They then rack up speeding and parking tickets knowing their fines will be sent to someone else. In other cases, they have filled up with fuel and driven off without paying.

One unsuspecting motorist had a county court judgment made against her for somebody else's parking fines while another had his Range Rover Evoque towed away by police after it was found to be cloned.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson, who publishes car crime figures every six months to draw attention to the problem, says it's too easy to buy and sell number plates and wants the Government to tighten up regulations to protect innocent motorists.

He said: "Disreputable people are getting hold of materials to make the number plates or they are being ordered online. That's wrong, they should not be able to do that.

"We're seeing thousands of plates being stolen not just in the West Midlands - Merseyside, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire are seeing a huge rise as well.

"Manufacturers should make the number plates when they put them on very difficult to lever off."

Figures obtained under freedom of information laws by the BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours show 4,800 car cloning reports were made to the DVLA between April to December last year, compared to 2,600 for the previous year.

Cleaner Lisa Jones, 39, of Wrexham, fears bailiffs will try to seize her property after a private parking firm obtained a county court order against her over a £100 ticket that wasn't hers. She says the number plate of her Peugeot 307 appears to be have been copied on a similar vehicle.

The mum of one says the car snapped by CCTV cameras is a hatchback while hers is a convertible. She said: "It's ridiculous and plain to see that they two different cars and yet I'm having to prove it wasn't me. I don't think it's fair I'm getting all this hassle for something I haven't done."

What you can do about it

If you get a ticket or fine that you think could be a result of a cloned plate, the first thing to do is report it.

Martyn James, from complaints resolution service Resolver , told Mirror Money: "When it becomes apparent that your plates have been cloned you'd need to report the matter to the police. In theory, the crime reference number should be a major contributing factor to your complaint succeeding."

Contact the the police and DVLA straight away and report the fact you think your number plate has been cloned.

Once you have crime number, write to the people who issued the fine using the phrase:

"I am disputing this fine because this is not me or my vehicle. I have reported this to the police. Please confirm in writing that you are suspending charges and interest while this matter is looked in to."

James added that it also makes sense to gather as much evidence as you can to support your case. So if you have any receipts, bank transaction records, work records or anything else you can use them to help you out.

"Complaints succeed where people stay calm and present evidence to counter the claim. But reporting the dispute is the most important thing," he said.

(Mirror, dated 23rd February 2019 author Stephen Hayward)

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Car cloning has ­doubled in a year - with nearly 5,000 cases in only eight months.

Gangs copy number plates and use the fake identity to sell or drive similar cars that have been stolen or salvaged.

Criminals can rack up speeding and parking fines knowing they will go to someone else.

Others fill up with fuel and leave without paying.

In one case a man paid £17,000 cash for a Range Rover Evoque - only for police to tow it away after finding it was a clone.

And one woman had a county court judgment against her for somebody else's parking fine - ­despite CCTV showing a different car.

Cleaner Lisa Jones, 39, of Wrexham, said: "It's not fair I'm getting all this hassle for something I haven't done."

Car cloning has ­doubled in a year - with nearly 5,000 cases in only eight months.

Gangs copy number plates and use the fake identity to sell or drive similar cars that have been stolen or salvaged.

Criminals can rack up speeding and parking fines knowing they will go to someone else. Others fill up with fuel and leave without paying.

In one case a man paid £17,000 cash for a Range Rover Evoque - only for police to tow it away after finding it was a clone.

And one woman had a county court judgment against her for somebody else's parking fine - ­despite CCTV showing a different car.

Cleaner Lisa Jones, 39, of Wrexham, said: "It's not fair I'm getting all this hassle for something I haven't done."

(10th March 2019)

(Examiner Live, dated 24th February 2019 author Lauren Ballinger)

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West Yorkshire has been named the most dangerous county in the UK.

The Office of National Statistics' latest numbers show the crime rate in the year ending September 2018 was the highest in all areas across England and Wales.

West Yorkshire Police recorded a total of 284,271 crimes, giving the county a crime rate of 123.2 per 1,000 people.

But the force says this can be put down to the way in which crimes are recorded rather than a spike in crimes in the area.

West Yorkshire Police Temporary Asst Chief Constable Mark Ridley said: "In West Yorkshire we promote a culture of ethical crime recording and have made significant improvements to enhance the integrity of our crime statistics which has influenced an increase in recorded crime.

"From September 2017 to 2018, we recorded a 12% increase in recorded crime. Just over half of this relates to our ongoing work to improve crime recording practices and the rest relates to actual increases in crime. In West Yorkshire the rate of increase is slowing.

"We as a force have experienced real rises in violent crime, burglary and robbery, similar to other forces nationally. Conversely we have seen a reduction in other areas of crime including vehicle crime and theft from the person.

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

"Please be assured that the victim remains at the heart of all that we do. Protecting vulnerable people and attacking criminality together with reducing crime and providing value for money remain a priority for the force.

"We continue to also focus our efforts in work with statutory and voluntary partners to provide a quality of service to victims of crime in West Yorkshire.

 "West Yorkshire Police is recognised by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary as a 'Good' Force and our officers and staff work extremely hard to provide the best quality service to people across the county. However, we 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.

"The public can also contact us by having a look at our website, the Ask the Police site, or using our on-line chat facilities. This helps us manage demand and target our resources where they are needed most."

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd February 2019 author Hannah Boland)

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Drones are being used for stalking and vandalising people's homes, police forces have revealed, as reported incidents involving the gadgets jumped 40pc in two years.

Freedom of Information requests, filed by Sky News, revealed that across 20 of the 45 UK police forces, there had been more than 2,400 reports of incidents involving drones last year, much higher than the 1,700 reports in 2016.

They included cases where drones were linked to stalking and harassment, as well as to hate crimes. One report, from Gwent in south-east Wales, detailed an incident where a member of the public complained they had been filmed naked by a drone.

In Cambridgeshire, there were reports of drones being used to drop paintballs into people's gardens, and in Northern Ireland, around 30 cases involved anti-social behaviour.

Under existing laws in the UK, pilots must avoid flying their drones within 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot, and any pictures taken with a drone camera are subject to privacy laws.

The findings comes just days after the Home Office unveiled new legislation which would give police new stop and search powers for drone pilots near airports, and would widen existing no-fly zones around runways to 5 kilometres.

Although the review centred around preventing "widespread disruption" at airports in future, like that seen at Gatwick and Heathrow airports over the Christmas period, the bill also revealed that the Government would be keeping "the operational requirements and needs of the police in relation to other drone offences" under careful review.

The National Police Chiefs' Council on Saturday said it was working with the Government and the aviation regulator Civil Aviation Authority  "on future legislation to meet the challenges and risks posed by drones".

"At the same time all forces are working together to ensure consistency in the way these incidents are recorded and investigated," said the NPCC lead for the criminal use of drones, deputy chief constable Serena Kennedy.

"Those who choose to use drones for a criminal purpose should be in no doubt that they face serious consequences and police will use all available powers to investigate and prosecute them."

Pressure has been mounting for the Government and police forces to clamp down on rules surrounding drones in recent months, after more than 100,000 passengers were left stranded at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in December and January when drones were spotted near the runways.

The police forces which responded to the Freedom of Information requests said there had been dozens of reports over the past two years of drones being flown into flight paths.

Drone flying rules - What are they?

There are strict rules for flying a drone. Ignoring them could land pilots in prison in extreme cases.

- Always keep your drone in sight
- Stay below 400ft
- Every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer's instructions
- Keep 50m away from people and properties
- Keep 150m away from crowds and built-up areas
- Stay away from aircraft, airports and airfield as endangering an aircraft is a criminal offence

(10th March 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd February 2019 author Jacob Jarvis)

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A police officer reject was discriminated against in his application due to him being straight, white and male, a landmark tribunal has found.

Matt Furlong was described as a "white heterosexual male without a disability" as he attempted to follow in the footsteps of his police inspector father when he applied for Cheshire Constabulary.

Mr Furlong did not make the cut in November 2017 after completing an assessment and interview for his "dream job", despite being told "it was refreshing to meet someone as well prepared as yourself" and that he "could not have done any more".

Instead of receiving a place as a constable on the intake, he was informed he had been put on hold as there were not enough vacancies for all who passed that stage and an employment tribunal ensued.

The judgement, which said it explored "untraversed waters" of the equality act, came to the conclusion the force had unlawfully treated people from underrepresented groups with "protected characteristics" more favourably in its recruitment process.

Following this the force was determined to have conducted direct discrimination under Section 13 of the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and gender.

Mr Furlong's lawyer, Jennifer Ainscough of Slater and Gordon, told the Standard: "Matthew was denied his dream job simply because he was a white, heterosexual male.

"This is the first reported case of its kind in the UK where positive action has been used in a discriminatory way. Matthew's courage in pursuing this will hopefully ensure it is the last."

The action was deemed to be as a result of a drive to improve groups under-represented in policing, such as people from BME backgrounds or those with a disability.

The tribunal was told the force had found 127 candidates to be equal in merit and following this "positive action" was put in place to recruit applicants with "protected characteristics".

However, the tribunal panel disputed the assertion that 127 applicants could not be differentiated from in terms of suitability, scrutinising aspects of the process which did show ranking systems.

A document detailing the decision said: "The claimant would have succeeded in his application and been appointed as a Police Constable, had the respondent, not applied positive action at the interview stage."

The decision added the force had: "Obtained and ignored qualitative data and where he [the claimant] was a relatively strong candidate and likely on our assessment to have been positioned on the right side of the number needed to fill the vacancies."

The tribunal heard Cheshire Constabulary had put measures in place to broaden the demographic of its workforce.

Section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 states that it can be legally decided that a candidate from an underrepresented group be chosen over one from a more widely employed demographic but it must be determined that both are equally qualified for the trait to be used as a tie breaker.

The tribunal judgement directly mentioned Janette McCormick, who was then acting chief constable and is now deputy chief constable of the force, commending her pursuit of diversity within the ranks.

It stated it was accepted "Ms McCormick was a witness of truth who feels passionately about positive action and a diverse Police Force".

"She is clearly a trailblazer who feels strongly that the Force requires some significant change," the judgement said.

The force has been awarded previously for its commitment to inclusivity and last November it was ranked 13th in The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List for 2018/19.

Mr Furlong's lawyer Mrs Ainscough said: "Positive action is an important tool to support a diverse workforce that reflects the community in which we live.

"However it must be applied lawfully to ensure the highest calibre of candidates are recruited regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation and to ensure standards in police forces are maintained to properly protect our society."

Following the tribunal judgement a remedy hearing is set to be held over two days at a date after April 1.

A spokesman for Cheshire Constabulary said: "We have been notified of the outcome of the tribunal and will review the findings over the coming days."

The force declined to comment further ahead of the remedy hearing.

(10th March 2019)

(Guardian, dated 21st February 2019 author Dal Babu)

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Leaders say the police force is 100 years away from reflecting London's multiculturalism. The discrimination is depressing.

The question that needs to be asked is not "are the Metropolitan police institutionally racist?", or "why does black and minority ethnic recruitment for the police still lag so far behind the diversity of London as a whole?" It should simply be: "Why do young black and minority ethnic people reject the Metropolitan police as a career choice?"

This week, marking 20 years since the landmark Macpherson report on institutional racism in the police, the Met said it would take 100 years for the force to mirror the wider diversity of London and will remain disproportionately white. Why?

The answer can be found in the experiences of black and minority ethnic communities of the police, which continues far too often to be marked by incivility, suspicion and distrust. The continued disproportionate use of stop and search and the vanishingly low numbers of stops that result in a substantive charge, never mind conviction, cements in young black consciousness an underlying enmity - a feeling that the police are "other".

From those new recruits who manage to overcome this feeling of alienation, I've heard how the recruitment process can often make BAME individuals feel unwelcome.

Those who make it to become serving officers also experience a continued canteen culture which, while muted in its vocal expressions of racism compared with 35 years ago when I joined, nevertheless still has subtle ways of excluding BAME staff as well as LGBT officers. There has been significant progress both in terms of the initial recruitment and promotion of female officers, but this has not been mirrored for BAME staff. Promotion for black, Asian and minority ethnic officers continues to take longer, and come up against more obstacles than for white colleagues. As recently as 2008, I set up a mentoring and coaching programme to raise promotion rates for BAME officers, which had some early successes. Unfortunately, when I tried to extend the programme, the initiative was rubbished by senior officers.

Access to further and specialist training, and hence jobs with special squads, is holding BAME officers back: selection continues to be based on who you know rather than what you can do. That means the police service is missing out on talented individuals who could contribute to specialist teams, and help reduce the impression, for example, that responders are less careful about the safety of BAME suspects.

This depressing picture reflects a failure to fully engage with the Macpherson message that "processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping disadvantages minority ethnic people".

This week Cressida Dick, the force's head, claimed the Met is not institutionally racist: "I don't feel it is now a useful way to describe the service and I don't believe we are," she said. "I simply don't see it as a helpful or accurate description."

But in saying this, the commissioner is effectively rejecting the reality of the unconscious bias that certainly exists. She is also fostering the unhelpful idea that naming the problem amounts to a slur on individuals. This failure to recognise discrimination where it exists has stymied the progress that the Met could and should have made, both in its attitude to the general public and to BAME recruits and officers. It has sabotaged attempts to bring the Met into the 21st century, and will continue to do so.

Only when discrimination - whether implicit or explicit, wilful or unwitting - is recognised can it start to be addressed. And only when it is addressed will the daily experience of black and minority ethnic Londoners encourage them to join the police to create a virtuous upward spiral of respect, acceptance and diversity.

- Dal Babu is a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan police

See also

(Guardian, dated 4th February 2019 author Sandra Laville)

Full article [Option 1]:

(10th March 2019)

(This is Money, dated 21st February 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

The locations with the most tax-evasive car owners have been revealed, with London topping the list.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency released the data along with a stark warning to car owners up and down the country to 'tax it, or lose it' as part of a new advertising campaign.

It listed 11 areas where a total of 464,542 enforcements had been carried out for attempts to swerve paying car tax in 2018 - does your region feature?

Furthermore, data suggests that since paper tax discs were scrapped in 2014, the number of tax dodgers has tripled. 

The capital was named the nation's hotspot for Vehicle and Excise Duty dodging.

DVLA records showed that 122,155 total enforcements had been made for motorists attempting to evade paying their car tax in London last year. Of these, 27,605 had their vehicles clamped.

Some 94,550 registered keepers received fines or penalties after the online VED database had flagged their motor as not being taxed. Drivers may have experienced their cars being clamped and been fined or penalised.

Statistics show that London was at epidemic levels compared to the rest of Britain, having almost 50,000 more cases of enforcements due to unpaid vehicle tax than any other region.

Tallying up as second highest on the list was Northern Ireland with 73,460 cases of unpaid VED enforcement.

This resulted in 5,516 cars being clamped and 67,944 fines or penalties being issued.

Taking the final spot on the rostrum of areas with the most untaxed drivers in 2018 was Birmingham, which had 55,121 enforcements issued for VED-free car owners in the Midlands city.

The league table of regions with the most untaxed motors in 2018 is further evidence that the 2014 switch away from paper tax discs has encouraged more motorists to attempt to avoid the annual payment.

The Government said the move to an online system would save it £10million a year, however recent figures released by the Department for Transport suggests it has cost ten times that amount.

Statistics for 2017 showed that three times as many drivers were evading paying VED that in the final years of the paper tax disc, costing the Treasury £107million over the 12 months. 

The DfT confirmed that 1.8 per cent of vehicles - the equivalent of 755,000 cars, motorcycles and vans, were untaxed in 2017.

That compares to just 0.6 per cent in 2013, before the paper tax disc was abolished.

Just the examples from the 11 worst areas for unpaid VED alone in 2018 account for 464,542 tax-related enforcements, suggesting the problem continues to exist.

The DVLA now hopes the new advertising campaign focusing on the consequences of not paying VED - including financial penalties, court action, clamping and even loss of a car - will strike the fear of life into anyone who attempts to evade paying tax. 

An official statement from the DVLA said: 'A giant clamp at the centre of the campaign image reflects the fact that DVLA take enforcement action against untaxed vehicles on streets across the country and it will happen to you if you don't tax your vehicle on time.'

Head of enforcement Tim Burton said it has never been easier to tax a vehicle, so there is no excuse for those who are caught not doing so.

'This campaign has a clear message for anyone who flouts the law in this way - tax it or lose it,' he commented.

'We would rather not have to clamp or remove vehicles, but this campaign highlights the consequences of not taxing a vehicle.

'Having your vehicle clamped is expensive and inconvenient - and you could end up losing your car.'

From 1 April, many car owners of new and older vehicles are set to see the cost of VED rise as part of government measures to increase car tax in line with inflation glossed-over in Philip Hammond's latest Budget.

For most drivers, annual car tax costs will increase by £5.

The most significant rise for existing owners is for those with older - high emissions - models, who will be charged up to an additional £15, while new car buyers could be hit for an extra £65 on first-year car tax.

Vehicles not being taxed

n= total offences [n] = Clamped (n) = Fines or penalties

London : 122,155 (94,550) [27,605]
Northern Ireland : 73,460 (67,944) [5,516]
Birmingham : 55,121 (50,045) [5,076]
Manchester : 33,787 (26,214) [7,573]
Glasgow : 32,371 (29,705) [2,666]
Sheffield : 29,278 (25,291) [3,987]
Cardiff : 27,619 (24,598) [3,021]
Nottingham : 24,853 (21,346) [3,507]
Bristol : 23,908 (20,412) [3,496]
Leicester : 22,540 (19,196) [3,344]
Coventry : 19,450 (18,193) [1,257]

Car tax is going up on 1 April - find out how much extra you'll pay

Owners of new and old cars can use our VED calculators to work out how much tax they will have to pay for their vehicles from 1 April 2019 :

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 21st Febuary 2019 author Gareth Davies)

Full article [Option 1]:

A man who daubed "No Blacks" on the home of a family from Africa has been remanded in custody "for his own protection" before he is sentenced next month.

Vaughan Dowd, 54, painted the front door of the home of Jackson Yamba, 38, just five days after he moved from a neighbouring block to the same flats where the defendant lived in Irlams o' th' Height in Salford, Greater Manchester.

After seeing the graffiti as he and his young son, left home, the youngster became tearful and Mr Yamba said the attack had left him fearful and angry.

Dowd, who lived close to the Yambas in Irlam Square, covered his face during the attack but was caught by the CCTV installed in the flats and by police checking the record of key-fob entries to the housing association apartment block, Manchester Magistrates' Court heard.

He pleaded guilty to a single count of racially aggravated criminal damage on February 8 and was remanded into custody for sentence on March 21.

District Judge Mark Hadfield told him: "I'm satisfied a remand in custody is necessary for your own protection."

Prosecutor Ann Deakin said a possible bail address in south Manchester for Dowd was inappropriate because of the "ethnic diversity" of the area, adding: "There's a clear risk to the defendant's safety.

"Greater Manchester Police has received complaints from America - that's how far it's gone viral about the victims being abused in this way."

The judge said the maximum sentencing powers of a magistrates' court, of six months in jail, were insufficient to deal with the case.

The case only came to light after Mr Yamba, 38, a solicitor who came to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, tweeted a photo of his front door and complained that no police officers had been to see him after he reported the attack.

It led to outrage online, and an apology and prompt response to the tweet from Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

Ms Deakin, prosecuting, told the court the victim and his son were leaving for work and school on the morning of February 8 when they discovered the graffiti.

The youngster said: "Daddy, something is written on the door."

Ms Deakin continued: "Mr Yamba looked and saw painted on his brown wooden front door was 'No Blacks' twice. This was underlined.

"Mr Yamba is described as being shocked and distressed and his son was becoming upset."

The same graffiti was also daubed in the same white paint on an internal communal door and the entry door to the block of flats.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Yamba said: "This incident has left me feeling very angry.

"The idea someone has the audacity to attack my front door of my home address and target me in this way has affected me in a lasting way.

"I'm now constantly on edge and worried about every little noise outside and it has affected my ability to sleep.

"My son is very anxious about being alone and I can see this has worried him greatly."

The court heard that Dowd had "exercised his right to silence" in police interview, but the judge asked his solicitor for an explanation for his behaviour.

Lorna Wincote, defending, said: "The facts are fully accepted. There's no issues with regard to any drugs or alcohol, there's some suggestion of some underlying mental health issue, because there is no other underlying explanation."

The court then heard from an "intervention team" nurse based at the court, who said that, having spoken to the defendant in the cells, there was evidence of issues of depression and anxiety.

She also said Dowd "acknowledged a level of compulsivity" and regarded what he had done as a "completely stupid act" without any explanation.

(10th March 2019)

(This is Money, dated 20th February 2019 author George Nixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Personal login details for some of the world's biggest brands, including Amazon, British Airways, Facebook and Netflix - as well as for the viral free video game Fortnite - are available for as little as £7 on the dark web, data shows.

Analysis of listings on five major dark web marketplaces; Berlusconi, Dream, Empire, Tochka Free and Wallstreet Market, found personal details for everything from shopping sites and streaming services, to identity documents to bank details are on sale.

It means your entire personal identity could be bought for around £800, comparison service Top10VPN claims.

Bank details remained the most coveted and expensive item according to the latest dark web market price index, listing for nearly £350.

However, credit and debit cards and driving licence and passport details were available for far less.

Credit cards could be found listed for an average of £24.91, debit cards £5.69, driving licence for £13.28 and passport for £9.93.

The virtual private network comparison service said a series of data breaches over the last 12 months contributed to the 'thriving' online black market trade in personal details, while it found that some products had jumped in value, often by huge percentages.

Details for British Airways accounts could be purchased for an average of £31.94, a whopping 375 per cent increase in value since 2018.

The report says: 'Criminals need to travel too. In accessing BA accounts, fraudsters can siphon off points that can be used on multiple airlines - making these logins even more valuable.'

The airline said last year that around 244,000 payment cards were put at risk by a data breach that occurred between 21 August and 5 September 2018, meaning scammers could potentially get hold of customer's names, email addresses, and credit card details - including the three digit CVV code on the back of the card.

The airline's owner International Airlines Group added that up to 77,000 customers who made reward bookings using a payment card between 21 April and 28 July 2018, a month before the larger breach, could also have had their personal and card details stolen.

Other details that spiralled in price over the last 12 months include logins for the dating website, which rose 168 per cent to around £6, as well as personal details for accounts with tech firms Amazon and Facebook, ride hailing app Uber, and streaming service Netflix.

Both Facebook and Uber faced scandals over data breaches in 2018, with Facebook announcing last September that almost 50million accounts were vulnerable to a takeover by hackers, while Uber was fined nearly £115million by UK and US authorities following a 2016 data breach that affected 35million customers and 3.7million drivers.

The price of Facebook details increased by 86 per cent to £6.96 in 2019, and Uber details by 52 per cent to £7.61.

The comparison site said the Facebook price increase reflected its 'heightened potential for fraud as its users increasingly tether payment details to the site to play in-app games and use the Marketplace.'

Meanwhile, for Uber, it added: 'As with stolen BA details, hacked Uber accounts allow users to get around using someone else's details.

'There have also been reports of scammers using hacked Uber accounts for their everyday travel, usually deep in Russia.'

However Amazon topped both with the average price of personal details rising by 114 per cent over the last 12 months to £14.53.

The online shopping giant admitted it exposed an unknown number of customer names and email addresses after a 'technical error' on its website last November, days before Black Friday, but refused to give any more details.

The report claims: 'Stolen Amazon accounts have tripled in price, which may be in anticipation of a wider rollout for Amazon Go - thieves would be able to wander in, fill a trolley and leave without detection.'

Netflix account details are selling for an average of £8.19, an increase of 37 per cent on last year, which is slightly more than the £7.99 it costs per month for your own account.

Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN, said: 'Just any like other marketplace, dark web markets are susceptible to the ebbs and flows of supply and demand.

'Last year's serious security breaches involving Facebook and British Airways customers led to vast quantities of personal data flooding these black market sites.

'The high profile nature of these hacks has also created quite the appetite for these stolen account details, meaning that prices have notably jumped since last year too.'

One name that might not instinctively make sense is Fortnite.

The Battle Royale game became a global phenomenon among young and old alike attracting more than 125million players, including celebrities like England footballers Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard.

While it is free, it offers in-game micro-transactions like unique skins and items, which can be purchased with an in-game currency 'v bucks', bought using your own money.

They offer no competitive advantage but are often purchased because they look cool aesthetically.

Simon added that it was these items scammers were after, saying: 'Hacked Fortnite accounts are actually more appealing for using stored credit cards to splurge on highly desirable in-game perks than for broader fraudulent schemes.'

The game fell victim to a data breach of its own last year, with developer Epic Games alerted to a hole last November that allowed hackers to control customers' accounts and make purchases.

Epic has confirmed it has since the flaw, discovered by cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies.

Simon said: 'Storing payment information across a whole range of online accounts - even social media - is now par for the course for the majority of consumers as it's simply so convenient.

'The downside is that if a fraudster gains access to one account they then, essentially, have the keys to the kingdom.

'What this all serves to underline is how web users need to remain constantly vigilant as identity thieves can access personal details in a variety of ways.

'As well as always using unique passwords, encrypting connections to WiFi hotspots with a VPN is a must.

'It's otherwise all too easy for hackers to swipe sensitive data transmitted via these public networks.'

Paul Ducklin, senior technologist at cybersecurity firm Sophos, said: 'You need to take price lists like this with a pinch of salt.

'Prices can vary by seller for many reasons, including the likelihood of the password actually working, the usefulness of the account, the amount you are willing to haggle, and the age of the stolen data.

'It's not like the price of a litre of petrol, where the quantity and quality of what you are buying is regulated and consistent across all sellers, so that prices can be directly compared.

'Nevertheless, the price lists do make both fascinating and worrying reading.

'Online accounts have genuine value to crooks, and that makes them an attractive target.

'The existence of a "password bazaar" is also an important reminder that cybercrooks can and do specialise - the crook who stole your password doesn't also need the skills to milk your account, write malware or hack your website.

'He can simply sell the data on to the next guy, so what happens to you tomorrow depends on who's buying today.'

What your financial details and ID documents could be selling for on the dark web


Bank details :    £347.68
Credit Card :    £24.91
Western Union : £22.47
PayPal     : £14.06
Driving Licence : £13.28
Passport : £9.93
Debit card : £5.69

What your online shopping account could be selling for on the dark web


Morrisons : £15.95
Amazon     : £14.53
eBay     : £13.89
La Redoute : £13.00
Foot Locker : £11.33
Studio     : £10.86
JD Williams : £9.87
Nectar : £7.02
Gap : £5.37
Nike : £4.20

The personal information that's gone up the most on the dark web since 2018
(Source: )

British Airways    : £31.94 (+375%) : £6     (+168%)
Amazon : £14.53 (+114%)
Facebook : £6.96 (+86%)
Uber : £7.61     (+52%)
Netflix : £8.19 (+37%)
Twitter : £1.54 (+8%)

(10th March 2019)

(Surrey Live, dated 20th February 2019 author Tom Smurthwaite)

Full article [Option 1]:

A "middle lane hogger" was tracked by police for three miles driving down an empty motorway.

The Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) released a video of the pursuit on February 11, calling the habit "drivers' biggest pet hate".

At one point a car overtakes the driver and moves into lane one. However, this move appears to confuse the middle lane driver, who then veers right into lane three.

In a brief statement accompanying the footage, CMPG says: "Lane hoggers. Drivers' biggest pet hate. This driver has been reported after being followed down an otherwise empty toll road for three miles. The video speaks for itself."

Rule 264 of the Highway Code states that motorists should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.

"If you are overtaking a number of slow-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past," the code says.

"Middle lane hogging is when vehicles remain in the middle lane longer than necessary, even when there aren't any vehicles in the inside lane to overtake."

The CMPG video was taken on the M6 toll road in Cannock, Staffordshire, however the Surrey roads policing unit is also active in tackling the issue.

In August last year officers pulled over a driver who they said appeared to "enjoy holding up the traffic" on the A3 southbound approaching Guildford.

Three months earlier, in May, police pulled over what they called a "classic middle lane hog" on the A3 near the junction with the M25.

And in the same month road cops stopped a driver on the M3 after following them in the middle lane for more than a mile.

uaware note

Original article has footage of the vehicle.

(10th March 2019)

(The Times, dated 20th February 2019 author John Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain's largest police force says it is 100 years from having staff as ethnically diverse as the people it serves unless recruitment improves.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said yesterday that the force was no longer institutionally racist. However, senior staff in human resources admitted that there was still a dearth of officers from black, Asian and other ethnic minorities, particularly at higher ranks.

Fourteen per cent of Met officers are from such backgrounds: 4 per cent of chief officers; 10 per cent for other senior roles; and 16 per cent of constables.

That puts the Met well ahead of most other forces but it serves the most diverse population. In the 2011 census 40.2 per cent of London residents identified as black, Asian, mixed race or from another minority group.

Officers and staff from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities were more likely to resign or raise grievances, Clare Davies, the Met's head of human resources, said.

The force wants to boost recruitment of BAME officers by another 250 a year.

Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the Macpherson report, which branded the Met institutionally racist after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Ms Davies said: " For many the progress is too slow. Some would say that we need to do more than we have done, particularly in terms of our recruitment and representation. If we continue, even with the great progress we've made, it would take over 100 years to be representative of London.

Me Dick said that the report by Sir William Macpherson had "defined my generation of policing" but no longer rang true in its account of an institutionally racist force. "I simply don't see it as a helpful or accurate description. This is an utterly different Metropolitan Police," she said.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed in a racist attack by a gang of white men while waiting for a bus in Eltham, southeast London, in April 1993. His wounds were fatal.

A first bungled investigation into his death was hampered by claims of racism, corruption and incompetence and it took nearly 20 years before two of his five or six killers were jailed.

Ms Dick paid tribute to Mr Lawrence's parents, Baroness Lawwrence of Clarendon and Neville Lawrence for fighting "absolutely tirelessly' for justice.

"Its very hard to think of any other one event which has made such a big impact on policing" she said of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

"We're not at all complacent, London keeps on changing and there are lots of challenges for us in policing it well and giving the best possible service to all our communities.

"We are ambitious for the future. We are not going to forget Stephen or his legacy and we will continue to educate our officers about why it is that this police service does what it does now, and how that comes from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry."

The Met admitted last year that it had no new leads in the Lawrence investigation, but Ms Dick said that a small handful of officers of officers were still working on the case.

"We are constantly on the alert for any changes in information and intelligence and technical possibilities,"she said. "It's a small team, that's all we need at the moment, but if and when we get a really significant breakthrough then obviously we would scale it straight up.

"The Met doesn't forget big, significant, egregious cases and there couldn't be a more significant stain on our country than this case."

The Macpherson inquiry concluded that the initial Lawrence investigation had been "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership'.

(10th March 2019)

(BBC News, dated 20th February 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

Thousands of websites are being hit by cyber-thieves who implant code to scoop up payment card numbers, research suggests.

Security giant Symantec found more than 4,800 websites were being hit by these "form-jacking" attacks every month.

High-profile victims of these attacks include airline BA and Ticketmaster.

Online crime groups had turned to the attacks as other more established techniques proved less and less lucrative, Symantec said.

'Attack code'

"It's a sign we're in a world where security is tighter and tighter and it's getting harder to carry out this type of activity," said Orla Cox, director of Symantec's security response unit.

Formerly profitable ventures involving ransomware and mining crypto-currencies now made gangs much less money, she said.

Instead, they were now inserting "attack code", either when sites failed to update core software to close loopholes or via insecure third-party apps, such as chat apps, analytics packages or other extras.

"It's a tiny line of code in there and that's enough for attackers to monitor payment card info being entered and they siphon it off," she said.

"Its often not obvious that the website has been compromised.

"To the naked eye everything would look fine."

Make money

Last year, Symantec had stopped more than 3.7 million form-jacking attacks, said Ms Cox, adding that the figure was a measure of the technique's sudden popularity.

"Cyber-criminals are continuing to find new ways to make money," she said. "And when they do, they pile in."

Ransomware was also still widely used, said Ms Cox, but better back-up practices by businesses and home users meant it was harder for criminals to secure a payday. And infections from ransomware had fallen by 20% over the past year.

"In a lot of cases people are not paying up because its got easier for them to get their data back as they often have it in the cloud somewhere," she said.

(10th March 2019)

(BBC News, dated 19th February 2019 author Danny Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

Twenty years ago, an inquiry into the death of teenager Stephen Lawrence called for an overhaul of police procedures and attitudes towards race. But how much has changed?

One of the first acts of the Labour government in 1997 was to announce a public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The black teenager had been stabbed to death in a racist attack in south-east London four years earlier. The case achieved national prominence amid claims of police ineptitude, racism and corruption.

The inquiry - led by retired High Court judge Sir William Macpherson of Cluny - heard evidence from 88 witnesses and considered 100,000 pages of statements and documents.

When the inquiry report was published, in February 1999, it created shockwaves through policing.

'Institutional racism'

Its central conclusion was that the investigation into Mr Lawrence's killing had been "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership".

The findings in the 350-page report, particularly the charge of "institutional racism", have had a profound effect on the culture, operations and practices of the Metropolitan Police Service, other forces across England and Wales and the wider criminal justice system.

Sir William's inquiry made 70 recommendations. By the time of the 10-year anniversary, the Home Office said 67 of them had been partly or fully implemented.

They included a number of practical proposals to improve murder investigations and the treatment of victims of crime, such as first-aid training and dedicated family liaison officers - fundamental changes that have made a lasting difference.

The inquiry also paved the way for a change in the law so that suspects acquitted of serious crimes could be prosecuted again where fresh and compelling evidence emerges. This legal reform - which was resisted by some lawyers and judges - enabled one of the men suspected of Stephen's murder, Gary Dobson, to be put on trial for a second time: in 2012, he was convicted, along with David Norris.

Restoring trust

Importantly, the inquiry also heralded an overhaul of the police disciplinary and complaints system, enhanced powers to inspect forces and measures to promote diversity and tackle racism in schools.

Indeed, Sir William said a key aim of his proposals was the "elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing". He devised a series of performance indicators to hold police to account, among them measures to ensure racist crime was logged and dealt with effectively.

Since 2000, there has been consistent recording of "racially aggravated offences" in England and Wales, which shows a rise from 21,750 to 55,557 in 2018.

Racist incidents reported to the police

Number of police-recorded racially or religiously-aggravated assaults
(uaware comment : Approximations have made in translating BBC graph)

2000 : 22,000
2001 : 25,000
2002 : 30,000
2003 : 31,000
2004 : 35,000
2005 : 37,000
2006 : 41,000
2007 : 43,000
2008 : 38,000
2009 : 36,000
2010 : 35,000
2011 : 32,000
2012 : 31,000
2013 : 30,000
2014 : 31,000
2015 : 38,000
2016 : 41,000
2017 : 50,000
2018 : 55,000

Source: Home Office

That's an increase in the number of incidents recorded by the police. But data from official surveys asking people about their experiences of crime suggests racist incidents have fallen - from 280,000 to 101,000 over roughly the same time period.

This indicates that there has been a decline in racially aggravated offences but, where they do occur, people are more willing to report and police are better at recording them.

Racist incidents reported by individuals

Year 1999 : 280,000 incidents
Year 2008 : 155,000 incidents
Year 2018 : 100,000 incidents

Source: Crime Survey of England and Wales, British Crime Survey

The inquiry said government ministers should make it a "priority" to "increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities".

Figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales suggested there was a similar level of satisfaction with the police among white and black people in 2017-18, with 78% and 76% respectively saying they had confidence in their local police force.

But breaking this down further suggests that people from the black Caribbean community have lower confidence in the police (71%) and people of mixed-white-and-black Caribbean heritage have lower confidence still (67%).

Sir William said the need to re-establish trust between minority ethnic communities and the police was "paramount". One obstacle he identified was the use by police of stop-and-search powers, saying that "the majority" of officers who testified accepted that discrimination played a part.

Statistics at the time showed that black people were five times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched for drugs, weapons or stolen goods. He recommended that police record the details of each stop and log the ethnic identity of those involved.

Although the overall number of stops has fallen - particularly after they were singled out as a source of tension that had contributed to the 2011 riots - they still disproportionately affect black people.

Stop and searches by ethnicity (Original article provides a graph)

In his 2017 review of the treatment of black and minority ethnic groups (BAME) by police and the courts, David Lammy MP said this disparity led to a view among BAME communities that the justice system remained "stacked against them".

However, the Met, which carries out more stops than any other force, has robustly defended the tactic, saying that boys and young men, particularly of black Caribbean heritage, are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of street violence and knife crime than other ethnic groups.

Figures on the ethnic background of people who are arrested also show that black people are disproportionately affected, though the gap is not as great as it was when the Macpherson report was published.

Arrests by ethnicity (Arrests per 1,000 population by ethnicity in England and Wales)
Source: Home Office

n = 1999 [n] = 2018

Asian : 45 [12]
Black : 115 [35]
Mixed : Not quoted [20]
White : 28 [10]

Ethnicity was based on 'appearance' until 2008 when it changed to 'self-defined' based on census options. Mixed race became a category in 2008.

The figures take into account the changing ethnic mix of the population over the past 20 years. Britain has become a more diverse country, which has only served to strengthen the argument, put forward by Sir William, for the police service to better reflect the communities it served.

Uaware comment

The remainder of the article provides further graphs and analysis for :

- Ethnicity of England and Wales
- Minority police officers
- Police ranks by ethnicity

(10th March 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 18th February 2019 author Ross Lydall)

Full article [Option 1]:

A dramatic increase in the number of cyclists being killed or seriously injured has sent London casualty ­statistics soaring.

Provisional figures published by Transport for London today indicate a year-on-year increase of up to 26 per cent in road casualties.

There were 1,220 people killed or seriously injured between July and September last year, up from 966 in the same three-month period a year earlier, according to the draft statistics.

The number of deaths rose from 28 to 31 and included five cyclists - Shane Murtagh, Soren Aarlev, Dr Peter Fisher, Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz and Peter Harris. Three of the fatalities were pedestrians in collision with TfL buses.

The figures reveal that the total number of cyclists killed or seriously injured increased 83 per cent, from 153 to 280. Incidents involving motorbikes or scooters rose 20 per cent, from 288 to 345.

A TfL report said that more cyclists were killed or seriously injured as a result of collisions with cars.

It said the warm, dry weather over the three months had seen a 7.5 per cent increase in cycling levels in central London.

There is concern that TfL is consistently failing to spend money set aside to make roads safer.

The Green Party on the London Assembly revealed that £142 million of the cycling budget - which is also used to improve pedestrian safety - has been underspent. Spending has fallen for three successive years since Sadiq Khan became Mayor in 2016.

This comes amid growing concern that radical action is needed if TfL is to hit the Mayor's wider Vision Zero target of eliminating deaths and serious injury on the transport network by 2041. Mr Khan spent an hour speaking with survivors at a private City Hall summit last month. He says he has been frustrated by councils such as Westminster in his efforts to build safer infrastructure, such as the CS11 cycle superhighway at Swiss Cottage and improvements to the north side of Lambeth bridge.

TfL said the casualty figures were likely to reduce once they had been verified by the police, as a number of serious injuries would be reclassified as minor injuries.

Transport chiefs have come under pressure to name every person killed on London's transport network.

TfL board member Lynn Sloman said publishing the names would make every tragedy "much more real".

Stuart Reid, interim director of Vision Zero at TfL, said: "No death or serious injury should be treated as acceptable or inevitable, and this year we're doing more than ever before to improve road safety across London.

"This includes introducing a Direct Vision safety standard to remove the most dangerous lorries from London's streets, implementing safety improvements to London's buses, and continuing our investment in high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure to make our streets and junctions safer across the capital."

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 16th February 2019 author David Jarvis)

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Garden sheds are proving easy pickings for criminals, with more than 60 break-ins a day.

Hundreds of thousands of sheds are not properly locked and thieves are having a field day. Bicycles are their top target followed by lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and drills.

But research showed the culprits are not fussy and will grab anything.

Hairdressing gear, oil paintings and pets have all been lifted too.

A survey of police forces in England and Wales from 2014 to 2018 found an average of 22,500 shed burglaries a year, which is just over 60 a day.

Worst hit was Lancashire with 12,592 shed thefts over the period, followed by Greater Manchester and Humberside with 11,946 and 10,733 raids respectively.

One of the safest places to have a shed was Norfolk with just 259 thefts reported.

Manufacturer Tiger Sheds sent freedom of information requests to all police forces asking about the number of shed ­burglaries from 2014 to 2018.

Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland declined to respond.

In a separate survey the firm found that 17 per cent out of 1,005 adults did not try to lock their sheds.

Of those taking security seriously, 68 per cent used padlocks, 46 per cent had outdoor sensor lighting, 16 per cent had outdoor alarms and 13 per cent fitted anti-tamper screws. Just 15 per cent of people said they removed valuables overnight.

Jack Sutcliffe of Tiger Sheds said: "A lot of us have the 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality for our sheds.

"But this lack of security can prove irresistible for burglars.

"If your shed is only used for ­storage, blocking out windows is helpful as thieves are more likely to break in if they can see your valuables.

"Using opaque stick-on security sheets makes windows harder to break and prevents glass shattering."

Top 20 shed thefts by county from 2014 to 2018:

1.  Lancashire - 12,592
2.  Greater Manchester - 11,946
3.  Humberside - 10,733
4.  West Yorkshire - 9,760
5.  Cleveland - 8,062
6.  Nottinghamshire - 6,232
7.  South Yorkshire - 6,074
8.  Devon and Cornwall - 6,063
9.  Dorset - 6,063
10. Derbyshire - 4,973
11. Leicestershire - 4,578
12. Essex - 4,078
13. Lincolnshire - 3,566
14. Bedfordshire - 3,406
15. Hertfordshire - 3,427
16. Gloucestershire - 3,247
17. Staffordshire - 3,131
18. North Wales - 322
19. Norfolk - 259
20. Gwent - 103

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 16th February 2019 author Zoe Chamberlain)

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People are being warned to stay vigilant after heartless thieves targeted lone women and elderly motorists in a cunning new con.

The trick sees heartless crooks knocking on car windows of women drivers and asking for directions.

Once the windows are wound down, the men then take off with handbags and other valuables which have been stolen from the passenger seat.

One woman has revealed a shocking incident to Birmingham Live which saw her own elderly grandmother targeted.

"I wanted to warn your elderly readers about a worrying scam I've heard of in the Solihull area of Birmingham from my grandmother who is 92," said Becky Lawrenson.

"Recently a couple of her friends have been the victim of attempted or actual robberies in quite a specific way and it is only through sharing the experience that she has avoided being a victim as well.

"It's happened when the elderly women have got into their cars to drive somewhere on their own and put their handbags on the front passenger seat next to them.

"A young man has then knocked on the window of the passenger side door to ask for directions.

"If the driver opened the window then the handbag was stolen from the front seat.

"The incidents have been reported to the police.

"I thought it was worth sharing this with your readers in case it helps someone else avoid having their bag stolen in this way."

In another shocking incident a dad from Birmingham was stabbed when carjackers tricked him into stopping his vehicle on a quiet country lane.

The robbers lay in wait on Bickenhill Lane in leafy Catherine-de-Barnes after scattering several wheelie bins across the road - forcing motorists out of their vehicles to move them.

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 11th February 2019 author Zoe Forsey)

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Police are becoming increasingly worried about a terrifying new technique burglars are using to break into people's homes.

Two men wearing balaclavas were caught on camera using a blow torch to burn off the locks on the front door of a family home in Bradford.

Once inside they grabbed a set of car keys and stole a £30,000 Audi S3 Quattro - even using the torch to defrost the windscreen before driving off.

Police say the technique is becoming increasingly common as thieves come up with new and unusual ways to break into properties.

The latest incident, which happened at 4am in the morning, follows a spate of similar crimes across the north of England.

Police believe criminals are targeting homes with PVC doors, melting the locks to gain entry to the property.

Taira Abdul-Khaliq, 41, who owns the car in the latest incident, said police had been unable to find any evidence at the scene due to the burnt out locks.

She said: "I'm so angry, it's unbelievable.

"I'm off work at the moment because I'm furious. It's a violation. They came in with blowtorches.

"I work in a local school and there's not many women who drive high-powered cars so lots of people know who I am.

"We were advised by police that if burglars break in, they'll come and wake you up for car keys and they might hurt you.

"So every night, we leave the keys on the stairs so they don't come and threaten us.

"And that's exactly what they did, they searched our coats, stole our wallets and then started coming upstairs."

Last April, police in Bradford warned of at least eight incidents where a blowtorch was used to gain access to a house.

Other burglaries involving the flame-throwers have been reported in Sedgefield and Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, and Sutton-in-Craven and Crosshills, north Yorkshire and Keighley and Bingley, west Yorks.

As the pair drove away, Taira's phone briefly connected with her car's dash cam and recorded the burglars' comments as they realised the windscreen was iced up.

Clearly unable to see, one of them can be heard saying: "Lighter...get the lighter. Stick your head out of the window man!

Teacher Taira added: "It's just a few seconds but I can hear their voices and they're local.

"It's so upsetting, it could be anyone I know.

"My neighbours' CCTV captures them using the blowtorches down the road to defrost the windscreen.

Craven Inspector Geoff Crocker urged homeowners to update outdated locks and review their home security.

He said last year: "I want to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to apprehend the criminals who are committing these crimes.

"I would also recommend that residents review their home security arrangements and consider having snapsafe locks fitted to external doors front back and patio doors."

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th February 2019 author Martin Evans)

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The number of motorists completing speed awareness courses has soared by a third in the past five years, with police forces now pulling in more than £50 million annually from the schemes, new figures have revealed.

Last year around 1.2 million drivers opted to attend a course rather than accept a fine or penalty points on their licence.

That was up from just 280,000 a decade ago and means a quarter of all British drivers have now been on a speed awareness course at some point.

The four-hour classroom based tutorials cost between £75 and £99, depending where in the country you are, with police forces permitted to claim a maximum of £45 from that figure to cover administration costs.

The amount of money the police are allowed to claim was increased in October 2017, and comes at a time when all forces are having to cope with shrinking budgets.

In 2011 around 1.5 million drivers were caught speeding with some 19 per cent opting to attend a speed awareness course.

But by 2017 that figure had rocketed to 2 million drivers caught with 50 per cent choosing a course over points.

It means that last year police forces around the country pulled in approximately £54 million from the schemes. 

Forces are not supposed to profit from the schemes, but campaigners claim the huge rise in the number of motorists attending, is evidence of the clear financial incentive for the police to funnel speeders towards them.

A spokesman for the National Police Chief's Council said: "More drivers are attending these courses as an alternative to prosecution. The course aims to educate motorists to improve their knowledge and behaviour whilst on the road, and is designed to contribute to reducing deaths and casualties.

"These courses are offered to people who commit low level traffic offences. Police forces do not make money from the courses; they only receive processing costs."

But Hugh Bladon, of the Alliance of British Drivers, disagreed that the police were not receiving income.

He said: "Police forces are clearly making money from these courses. There is obviously an incentive for the motorist who does not want to get points, but there is clearly an incentive for the police forces, and that is to make money.

"The police are almost acting like judge and jury and it does not seem to me to be correct."

Claire Armstrong of the Safe Speed campaign group also questioned whether the speed awareness courses did anything to improve road safety.

She said: "Speed cameras are the lazy option and there is no evidence that they are making the roads any less dangerous.

"People who have been on these courses often become so fixated with keeping to the speed limit that they spend all their time looking at the their speedometer and not concentrating on what is around them.

"Speed is only a factor in a tiny number of accidents but little is being done to address the other more dangerous issues. These course prioritise the protection of a driving licence over the protection of people and property."

Speeding - The 10 per cent 'rule'

The rule, actually guidance, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (2015), offers the following table which allows for some leniency when issuing speeding fines.

If, for example, the speed limit is 30mph, you won't get a fine unless you are going 10% plus 2 mph faster than the limit. In this example, this would mean that you would have to be travelling at 35mph or faster in order to receive a speeding ticket.

20 mph limit - Device tolerance : 22mph - Fixed Penalty : 24mph - Speed Awareness : 24 - 31mph
30 mph limit - Device tolerance : 32mph - Fixed Penalty : 35mph - Speed Awareness : 35 - 42mph
40 mph limit - Device tolerance : 42mph - Fixed Penalty : 46mph - Speed Awareness : 46 - 53mph
50 mph limit - Device tolerance : 52mph - Fixed Penalty : 57mph - Speed Awareness : 57 - 64mph
60 mph limit - Device tolerance : 62mph - Fixed Penalty : 68mph - Speed Awareness : 68 - 75mph
70 mph limit - Device tolerance : 72mph - Fixed Penalty : 79mph - Speed Awareness : 79 - 86mph

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 10th February 2019 author Dean Dunham)

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Data breaches are a real hot topic. Sensitive, private ­information about you can be misused or ­disclosed by firms or hackers.

Your data includes things like credit card details and passwords to email accounts. Even your birth date could be used by ­criminals to open accounts.

A reader called Wendy, from Leicester, asked for her details to be removed from a marketing list several times.

Yet she continued to be ­bombarded with emails and text messages from a big-name brand.

And Keith, from Lancaster, made a request for information from a car dealership he used.

He was concerned about what personal information they had about him because there had been a report in his paper saying their ­computer had been hacked.

The dealership said they had only his name and address, which Keith knew was wrong.

Your rights for your personal data

Most people have heard of GDPR, which is an EU directive put in place to provide greater ­protections for your personal data.

The UK implemented these rules within the Data Protection Act 2018. This act gives you lots of rights, including.

- The right to be informed when personal data is collected and used.

- The right to access your personal data held by a company by making a request for information or freedom of information request.

- The right to have your ­personal data erased.

- The right to restrict processing of your personal data.

- The right to object to the use of your personal data.

How to complain

If you feel a company is ­flouting the law and therefore breaching your data rights, put your ­complaint in writing to them.

Make sure you fully set out what you are complaining about and mention that the matters you ­are complaining about amount to a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Escalating your complaint

If your complaint is ignored or you are not satisfied with the response, you can report it to the regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office and/or go to court.

But before spending your money on going to court, I would ­recommend asking the company if they will agree to alternative ­dispute resolution.

There is a specialist scheme called Data Arbitration that deals with disputes in relation to ­breaches of data rights.

Find out more at :

(10th March 2019)

(Guardian, dated 7th February 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

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A police force that axed all its uniformed community support officers is hiring casual workers on zero-hours contracts to perform some of their duties.

Norfolk police are taking on a bank of "scene guards" to watch over crime scenes for £10 an hour. It is believed to be the first force in the country to take such a radical step, which critics say is policing on the cheap.

Labour said it was a sign of how far police forces were being stretched by government cuts.

Norfolk police say they believe it is the best way of getting value out of the resources they have. Those being recruited could be former police officers or people who have worked in the military.

Last year Norfolk eliminated its police community support officers, a decision that affected 150 people. The force said the money spent employing them had risen to the point where they cost almost the same as a fully trained police officer.

The more than £1m saved has been partly used for more police officers, who have wider powers, while some of the money will go to scene guards, who will be paid as and when they are required.

The advert for the role says duties will include "preserving the integrity of the crime/incident scene, detailing all persons entering/leaving the scene" and "dealing with enquiries from the public and media".

Applicants need a set of skills including "ability to maintain concentration for prolonged periods" and it helps if those applying have "experience of working with confidential and sensitive information … experience of working in a police environment or similar … ability to problem-solve" and "experience of dealing with confrontation".

Pay is £10.01 per hour and applicants must be free to stand guard four times a year at least. The advert also said: "Hours of work are on an ad hoc basis in line with the spontaneous nature of the policing environment. This post is offered on a casual (zero hour) basis."

The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, said: "This is just the latest consequence of the Tories' cuts to community policing. Personnel on zero-hours contracts should not be asked to secure a crime scene in the aftermath of, for instance, a serious violent attack or a murder; they have neither the accountability nor the training of PCSOs. This is policing on the cheap."

Norfolk police said they were changing how they work after a review, adding: "One aspect of a PCSO's role was to attend scene seals. Our review work has shown that this is a duty which can be performed without a policing warrant.

"Scene guards will have zero-hours contracts and, when required, will assist at police cordons at certain low-risk crime or incident scenes which need to have a visible police presence on a 24/7 basis whilst investigations are completed."

The force said it had no plans to introduce casual workers on zero-hour contracts for any other roles.

The Norwich South MP, Clive Lewis, said: "Now we find that the role once performed by uniformed officers will be outsourced to a casualised civilian workforce on zero-hours contracts, a practice that should be banned rather than imported into the public sector.

"It raises serious questions about the reliability and integrity of police services that are the heart of keeping local people safe. Even worse, I fear this is just the first step with more privatisation and cuts on the way, and the status of policing weakened even further."

(10th March 2019)

(Hampshire Chronicle, dated 7th February 2019 author William Rimell)

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 MORE than £16 million is to be raised for Hampshire's police force, after civic chiefs unanimously voted through plans to increase the county's precept tax.

Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane confirmed this will allow the force to recruit an extra 200 officers, 65 investigators and an unconfirmed amount of PCSOs.

However, this means that locals will now have to pay an extra £24 a year (for a Band D home) for the 2019/20 financial year.

"This is an opportunity to protect local policing services," said Mr Lane, who confirmed that 76.38% of the 6,659 that undertook the consultation supported the increase.

He added that the force was currently facing a £14 million funding shortfall, and if the increase was instead halved to £12 a year, 150 current staff would need to be let go.

But, following the announcement, Southampton City Council community wellbeing chief, Dave Shield, demanded that both Southampton and Portsmouth get a 1/3 of these additional front-line cops - as the two cities share a 1/3 of the county's total crime.

He said: "As a 1/3 of all the crime is happening in the two cities, it will not be unreasonable to have a 1/3 of these new officers deployed to these areas.

"In Southampton I would be expecting around 30/40 additional front-line officers."

It comes just a week after crime in the city was revealed to have risen for a fourth consecutive year. Serious knife crime, hate crime, and rape were the biggest offences to increase during the 2017/18 financial year.

Mr Lane said: "There is only one option if we're to keep our communities and residents safer.

"This increase will raise £16 million of additional funding.

"Policing in Hampshire is under significant financial pressure. We are underfunded by £14 million compared to the standard force, despite being one of the biggest forces in the country.

"All the additional money raised will go to protecting local policing."

However, members of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel also raised concern that this extra cash was being lumped on the local taxpayer, instead of coming from government.

Gosport borough councillor John Beavis said: "This local tax is to cover government funding shortfalls.

"A 13% increase to local taxation is a significant amount above the rate of inflation."

Havant councillor Gary Hughes added: "You have the goodwill of the people [in support of the increase], but I would raise caution that if you continue this year on year rise, this goodwill will be lost."

Mr Lane confirmed he was not looking to bring in another rise in 2020/21,

The plans were agreed by all 18 members of the panel.

As reported the increase comes as part of the new national budget allowance, which was unveiled by Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing, at the end of last year.

He announced that force's across the country would get a slice of £970 million in extra cash from 2019/20 - with £500 million of this coming from increased precept rates.

This will see the budget increased to £14 billion.

Breaking down the £970 million of national funding, £161 million will come from Government grants, with a further £150 million will be available to pay into police pension pots.

An extra £59 million will be given towards counter-terror policing and £90 million is being made available to tackle economic and cyber crime, as well as child sexual exploitation.

(10th March 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 6th February 2019 authors Will Hayward and Debora Aru)

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Latest police figures have revealed 23,692 street-level crimes were reported in Wales in December.

The four police forces in Wales publish the location and outcome of these crimes every single month. This allows people to see the crimes that are happening near them (

There were a huge range of alleged crimes recorded during December including:

Anti social behaviour - 4,443
Burglary - 911
Bicycle theft - 167
Criminal damage - 2,613
Drugs - 736
Violence and sexual offences - 7,741

The total equates to an average total of more than 764 crimes being reported to Wales' four forces on a daily basis.

The following maps show the reported locations of crimes across Wales in December. Please note that the locations are approximate and do not necessarily show the exact place a crime is alleged to have taken place. Additionally if an alleged offence did not have a specific location it will not be recorded on the map.

The maps may take up to 10 seconds to load. Once they load you can click on an individual marker to see more details about the alleged crime.

Crimes by area

South Wales Police - 10,595 crimes

North Wales Police - 11,074 crimes

Gwent Police       - 4,396 crimes

Dyfed Powys Police - 6,326

(10th March 2019)

(The Register, dated 6th February 2019 author Keiren McCarthy)

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Nest has urged its customers to not reuse passwords between their smart home gizmos and other websites and services.

This comes after miscreants were spotted taking usernames and passwords leaked or stolen from other websites, and using them to attempt to log into Nest accounts and hijack the internet-connected home gadgets, a type of attack known as credential stuffing.

Rishi Chandra, general manager of the Google-owned smart home outfit, sent an email to all Nest customers on Wednesday noting that the manufacturer had "heard from people experiencing issues with their Nest devices" before running through some security tips to secure their accounts.

Last week, we reported how one bloke, Arjun Sud, realized with horror that trolls had got into his family's account, and used it to change the temperature of their home in Illinois, USA, as well as talk to his seven-month-old baby and shout obscenities into the family's living room. They had no idea how long the scumbags had been watching the family that reportedly had 16 security cameras dotted around their home.

It seems this was not the only occasion. And according to Nest, the likelihood is that dirtbags are trying out usernames and passwords dumped online from unrelated website security breaches, to access Nest accounts where credentials have been reused.

"Even though Nest was not breached, customers may be vulnerable because their email addresses and passwords are freely available on the internet," Chandra's email warned. "If a website is compromised, it's possible for someone to gain access to user email addresses and passwords, and from there, gain access to any accounts that use the same login credentials."

Nest claims to proactively look out for passwords being spilled online, "and when compromised accounts are found, we alert you and temporarily disable access. We also prevent the use of passwords that appear on known compromised lists."

It's a big ugly world out there, though, and so the gizmo biz provides some tips for better account security: use its two-factor authentication service; choose a strong password that you use only for your Nest account; don't share your account login but use the company's shared access service to allow others to your account; keep your router software up-to-date; and be on the lookout for phishing emails.

Internet of Rubbish

Internet-of-things and smart home products are notorious for their terrible security, though Nest is one of the few companies that bakes protection mechanisms into its products from day one. It doesn't matter how many defenses a manufacturer crams in, however, if someone uses the same username and password elsewhere, without multi-factor authentication, or uses a weak password.

Given the extremely creepy nature of a complete stranger having access to your home remotely, any security cameras, smoke alarms, thermostats and even potentially the front door if someone has the Nest-Yale door lock, netizens should be highly motivated to lock down their accounts, suggesting that it is a simple lack of awareness that causes them to be lax.

Nest could, of course, do more. It doesn't, for example, provide users with an access log so they can see if something unusual has happened. And it doesn't provide advanced security options such as limiting access to approved IP addresses.

That said, the recent account hacks can no doubt be put down to the nearly universal lack of understanding of electronic security that exists among the majority of internet users.

Even if you don't have a Nest, don't reuse the same passwords across your devices. Also, set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication where possible, and be vigilant for phishing emails that try to trick you into entering your username, password, and authentication code.

(10th March 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 4th February 2019 author Guy Walters)

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Have you ever had to stop your car on a motorway without a hard shoulder? I had to do so last month, and it is one of the most terrifying experiences any motorist can face, made worse by the fact that my wife, children and two dogs were on board.

Our unplanned halt took place on a stretch of the M25 which is designated as a piece of 'smart motorway' - a section that uses various traffic management strategies to reduce congestion and increase capacity. In this case, that meant using the hard shoulder as another lane.

But after what happened to us, I can only ever regard smart motorways as being very, very dumb indeed.

The reason I had to stop was because some computer gremlin had caused the car to lose engine power completely, and the best I could do was to nurse it, with hazard lights flashing, across all four lanes before coming to an involuntary halt in the slow lane - which on a normal, 'non-smart' motorway would have been the hard shoulder.

Hard shoulders are dangerous enough places, but they are havens of security compared to the feeling of sitting motionless on an active motorway lane with a car full of loved ones, while in your rear-view mirror you see a juggernaut approaching at speed.

There was no way we could have all got out in time. We just had to pray the lorry driver was concentrating, otherwise we would have been pulverised.

Mercifully, I saw his indicator lights come on and the lorry pulled out. But there were still more cars approaching, and I knew it would take just one dopey driver to send us all to hospital - or the morgue. It was terrifying.

In desperation, I turned off the ignition, counted to ten and then restarted it. The engine roared gratifyingly to life. I thanked God, accelerated hard and continued the rest of our journey without mishap - although boy, did I need a drink when we finally arrived.

My family was lucky, but others haven't been.

Take the 62-year-old woman who was killed on a 'smart' stretch of the northbound M1, north of Woodall Services near Sheffield, last September after she broke down in the slow lane.

Or how about Duncan and Ellie Montgomery and their three daughters, who were extremely fortunate to survive their broken-down car being slammed into by a lorry travelling at 50 to 60 mph on a 'smart' stretch of the M6?

Three of them were knocked unconscious, and Mrs Montgomery ended up in a neck brace. I could list more examples, but what should be abundantly clear is that breaking down in an active motorway lane is incredibly dangerous.

And because of the fatalities and near-misses, more and more people are questioning the wisdom of these supposedly 'smart' motorways.

Among them is Tracey Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, who is part of an all-party group of MPs which is backing campaigners who maintain that the absence of a hard shoulder puts motorists and recovery workers at risk.

Ellie Montgomery ended up in a neck brace after her broken-down car was slammed into by a lorry travelling at 50 to 60 mph on a 'smart' stretch of the M6

Ms Crouch wants a halt to the introduction of smart motorways without hard shoulders.

'We need the Government to pause and reflect on whether we're getting this right … until we have a better understanding about how we can protect those who have broken down and the recovery workers that come to assist them,' she said in a recent interview.

Ms Crouch is not the only respected voice who has such misgivings. Joining her is Dave Blundell of the Police Federation, who said last week that such motorways are making it hard for police patrols to do their jobs properly.

Smart motorways are 'difficult for the police to operate on', he said. 'There's no hard shoulder, so where do we safely stop another motorist if they have committed an offence or we want to give them some advice?'

'The answer is that we can't. We have to wait miles and miles and miles until there is a hard shoulder and we are able to do that. There are lots of questions that need to be asked.'

Indeed there are. And here are just a few for starters.

What exactly is a smart motorway? What are they for? What do they cost? How many miles of smart motorway are there? Are they not just revenue-raisers? And finally, just how smart are they?

There are essentially three different types of 'smart' motorway, but what is common to all is that they have variable speed limits, indicated by overhead gantries. According to the Highways Agency, having variable speed limits helps traffic flow more smoothly, thereby enabling quicker journey times.

The differences between the three types of smart motorway revolves around the hard shoulder.

On a 'controlled motorway', there are three or more lanes and a permanent hard shoulder - just as there is on a normal motorway.

Meanwhile, on a 'dynamic hard shoulder' motorway, the hard shoulder is semi-permanent and used as a lane during busy times of the day.

Finally, there is the 'all lane running' option, in which there is no hard shoulder at all. Instead, there are occasional 'refuge areas'. In total, there are some 100 miles of 'all lane running' smart motorway - known as ALR for short - and a further 225 miles are planned by 2025.

Overall costs are hard to establish, but the most reliable estimates run to about £6 billion spent so far, with the final estimated total being £20 billion, perhaps more.

And what are we getting for our money? Well, we get lots of people in control rooms all over the country watching the traffic and then deciding whether to activate the variable speed limits or to 'turn' the hard shoulder on or off. But is this making the traffic run more quickly, and - vitally - more safely? According to the Highways Agency, it does.

Journey 'reliability', it is claimed, is improved by 22 per cent, personal injury accidents are reduced by more than half, and where accidents do occur, severity has been much lower overall.

Furthermore, as the Agency estimates that congestion on the motorway and major road network in England costs the UK economy £2 billion every year, with 25 per cent of this resulting from various incidents, the smart motorways could end up saving more money than they cost.

Impressive, yes. But what these figures don't factor in are the absurd number of delays and the huge congestion caused by converting normal motorways into 'smart motorways'.

As someone who regularly uses the M3, I am well aware of how many hours I've wasted in traffic jams caused by years and years of roadworks that appear to have done very little apart from turn a hard shoulder into an extra lane.

In addition, like many other motorists, I'm not convinced that the variable speed limits improve my journey times. Too often there is no apparent logic to their use. Frequently, I find myself being told to crawl along a near-empty motorway at 40 mph.

According to campaigners, this is what happens when controllers are slaves to computer modelling and algorithms, rather than allowing the common sense of most drivers to find their own appropriate speeds.

Of course, the temptation to break an unnecessary speed limit is immense, and herein lies another problem: I can get fined for travelling at 45 mph on a nearly empty motorway.

This has prompted critics to question whether smart motorways are, in fact, just another cunning form of revenue-raiser rather than genuine traffic management solutions.

In the four years from 2013 to 2017, 210,538 motorists were caught by cameras enforcing variable speed limits on smart motorways, and fined a total of £21 million.

Although that figure is a drop in the ocean of the billions spent on smart motorways, being fined for travelling below the normal motorway speed limit because an algorithm orders you to do so must really stick in the craw.

Finally, do smart motorways really make traffic run faster overall? Some think not. One 16-mile 'smart' ALR section of the M25, for example, recorded journey times that were, in fact, eight per cent longer during peak periods than before.

And there is a dearth of statistics to support the notion that journeys on smart motorways are any quicker; being, merely just 22 per cent more 'reliable', whatever that means.

There are some who argue that motorways will not truly be smart until roads are embedded with wi-fi-enabled sensors and cables that can communicate with cars and control centres, and immediately warn drivers directly or via gantries if there has been an accident, tailbacks or other incidents, and alert them to lane closures via 'glow-in-the dark' road markings.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, in which all our - possibly driverless - cars effectively 'talk' to each other is another way in which our roads could be made a lot more smart, as vehicles will be able to warn those travelling far behind that there has been a problem.

But while some countries - the U.S. and the Netherlands - are already introducing some of these innovations, they remain decades away and will doubtless be cripplingly expensive and involve more disruption and tailbacks in order to install them.

Highways England are, of course, defensive of their smart motorways and claim they're performing better than conventional ones.

'Evidence proves they are as safe as traditional motorways, which are already among the safest roads in the world,' a Highways England spokesman said yesterday.

I am not convinced. With fears about safety and doubts about supposed improvements, it really does look as though the roll-out of smart motorways should be stopped.

Smart motorways, it seems, are actually just a bit thick.

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 4th February 2019 author Gavin Heaton)

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Every year, close to £1.3 billion is defrauded from the NHS. It is a shocking attack on an organisation that needs every penny for patient care. What may surprise those who don't know about the scale of fraud against the health service is how much of that money is stolen by insiders.

Individual doctors, dentists, opticians, members of hospital senior management and administrative staff have all been found guilty of substantial frauds, swindling hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the NHS.

In one case, investigated by Scotland's NHS counter fraud service, a hospital worker stole surgical equipment worth £1.3 million, which was spent on lavish holidays.

But these crimes don't go unchecked.

I myself have worked as an NHS fraud investigator for ten years. My organisation, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, is the subject of five-part BBC documentary Fraud Squad NHS, being shown every day this week.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority is responsible for gathering intelligence on fraud, bribery and corruption, and, wherever possible, preventing these crimes before they happen. Before joining the NHS, I was an investigator at the Department for Work and Pensions for 15 years. I dealt with everything from individuals claiming extra benefit money for themselves, to organised gangs defrauding the system with forged cheques and hundreds of fake identities.

At the NHS, the amount of money stolen can be just as significant, whether opportunists inside the organisation are behind it, criminals on the outside, or a toxic combination of the two. For the lowest paid, desperation can play a part, but highly paid professionals usually have no real reason to steal other than greed.

Over the years, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority has dealt with, for instance, the case of the dentist who wasn't really a dentist. She had failed her exams overseas then purchased fake degree papers. To prosecute, we flew in witnesses who could testify she had lied.

Then there was the senior manager who tricked her hospital into paying for animal sperm for her private business, a stud farm, by disguising them as legitimate payments for NHS items including a "titanium skull plate".

It is still surprising to see how senior staff members put their careers in jeopardy for relatively small amounts of money. Recently, one chief executive of a trust was prosecuted for stealing £11,000 by awarding a contract to her husband and trying to cover up that the work wasn't delivered. She lost her job and was convicted of criminal offences.

Most of our cases come to us via tip-offs to our reporting lines from staff members (the majority being very honest and hardworking), or the public. A patient might let us know that they have received an NHS bill from a dentist who has already charged them for the work privately. We see a number of cases involving dentists, such as one who stole more than £1 million by charging for work she hadn't conducted and making claims for people who were dead or didn't exist.

My most significant case to date was the investigation of a group of perfusionists, specialists who operate heart-lung machines during certain types of surgery. The group was employed full time at Basildon University Hospital, but during their paid NHS hours, its members were working off-site on private contracts at other hospitals. They billed the service for 14,000 hours of work that they didn't conduct, cheating it out of more than £1 million pounds.

When the case landed on my desk, I didn't expect a conspiracy of this scale. I could imagine one or two people being involved - but this was a large part of the team, led by the manager, John Mulholland. He was a well paid, world-renowned perfusionist, hired to set up the unit and decide what staff and resources it needed.

As the case built, staff members gradually revealed how fearful they were of Mulholland, who some believed had the power to make or break their careers in the UK and beyond. He was a controlling person, but he could also be quite charming. Under his peer pressure, these intelligent perfusionists acted illegally. Had they been in another hospital, I don't know if they would have turned to crime.

We trawled through car park records and building swipe card data to see who was in the hospital when they were meant to be. We discovered Mulholland and three other members of staff were running a private company called London Perfusion Science, which employed Basildon staff to work at two other NHS hospitals on top of their full-time salaries.

In some instances, staff would be on call at multiple hospitals at once. In others, they would lie about where they had been working.

We brought in Essex Police and raided Mulholland's home, where we found a wealth of incriminating information: spreadsheets listing which hospital each member of staff was at every day; an email that said: "We're the villains, aren't we?"

The result of our investigation was the return of £577,000 to the NHS and four technicians - Mulholland, Ann Clements, Tom Cumberland and Martin Oliver - being jailed for a total of nine years.

In a recent case I worked on, a fraudster was caught out when he went on holiday. Andrew Taylor was a locksmith at Guy's Hospital, London, who cheated the NHS out of £600,000, which he used to fund private school fees and a car worth £27,000.

Taylor seemed to act largely with impunity as the hospital's sole locksmith from 2006, ordering new keys, padlocks, key chains and fobs without sufficient oversight. He was the first to work, last to leave each day.

But when he was away on holiday, an urgent order came through, which led his colleagues to look up the main supplier that Taylor used: Surety Security. There was no answer from the number listed for the company and then, with a bit of digging, we discovered Taylor had once been listed as a director of the company.

My team was brought in to look through Taylor's company's invoices, and found that he had marked up the price the hospital paid for supplies by up to 1,600 per cent, on hundreds of occasions. He bought toilet locks for £11.82, but created invoices to charge the hospital £78. Thousands of key blanks that cost him 17p each from a wholesale provider were billed at £1.70.

As soon as Taylor returned from his holiday and discovered that he was being investigated, he resigned and shut down Surety Security. In court, he tried to justify his mark-ups, saying had enhanced each product to make it more secure. These included a 1,000 per cent mark up on a key chain. The judge didn't believe his defence, and last year he was sentenced to six years in prison in March.

It amazes me how people can be so greedy and steal from an organisation that is designed to save lives. That said, it is always satisfying to see them prosecuted for taking money from the NHS health system, which belongs to you and me.

(10th March 2019)

(Guardian, dated 3rd February 2019 author Sarah Marsh)

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The rapid growth in the use of computer programs to predict crime hotspots and people who are likely to reoffend risks locking discrimination into the criminal justice system, a report has warned.

Amid mounting financial pressure, at least a dozen police forces are using or considering the predictive analytics. Leading police officers have said they want to make sure any data they use has "ethics at its heart".

But a report by the human rights group Liberty raises concern that the programs encourage racial profiling and discrimination, and threaten privacy and freedom of expression.

Hannah Couchman, a policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said that when decisions were made on the basis of arrest data it was "already imbued with discrimination and bias from way people policed in the past" and that was "entrenched by algorithms".

She added: "One of the key risks with that is that it adds a technological veneer to biased policing practices. People think computer programs are neutral but they are just entrenching the pre-existing biases that the police have always shown."

Using freedom of information data, the report finds that at least 14 forces in the UK are using algorithm programs for policing, have previously done so or conducted research and trials into them.

The campaign group StopWatch said it had "grave concerns around the effectiveness, fairness and accountability of these programs". Its chief executive, Katrina Ffrench, said: "We cannot be sure that these programs have been developed free of bias and that they will not disproportionately adversely impact on certain communities or demographics. For proper accountability there needs to be full transparency."

These programs are often referred to as "black boxes" because the role each piece of data plays in the program's decision-making process is not made public.

"This means the public can't hold the programs to account - or properly challenge the predictions they make about us or our communities. This is exacerbated by the fact that the police are not open and transparent about their use," the Liberty report concludes.

The programs used by police work in two main ways. Firstly, predictive mapping looks at police data about past crimes and identify "hotspots" or areas that are likely to experience more crime on a map. Police officers are then directed to patrol these parts of the country.

Secondly, "individual risk assessment" tries to predict the likelihood of a person committing, or even be the victim of, certain crimes.

Durham is among forces using such programs and has a system called Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart), says the report. Hart uses machine learning to decide how likely a person is to commit a violent or non-violent offence over the next two years. It gives an individual a risk score of low, medium or high, and is designed to over-estimate the risk. The program bases its prediction on 34 pieces of data, 29 of which relate to someone's past criminal history.

West Midlands police are also leading on a £48m project funded by the Home Office called National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS). The long-term aim of the project is to analyse vast quantities of data from force databases, social services, the NHS and schools to calculate where officers can be most effectively used. An initial trial combined data on crimes, custody, gangs and criminal records to identify 200 offenders "who were getting others into a life on the wrong side of the law".

Supt Iain Donnelly, who is the project manager for NDAS, said: "[The project] seeks to use advanced analytics, otherwise known as data science techniques, to generate new insights from existing data already in the possession of police."

He said the datasets being used were crime recording, incident logs, custody records, crime intelligence and conviction history from the police national computer (PNC) system. "We are not using data from non-police agencies," he said.

Tom McNeil, strategic adviser to the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said: "We are determined to ensure that any data science work carried out by West Midlands police has ethics at its heart … These projects must be about supporting communities with a compassionate public health approach." He said they have adopted a "transparent approach" working with human rights charities.

Until last March, Kent police used PredPol, a mapping program widely deployed in the US. The force is looking to invest in a similar predictive policing program available at a lower cost, or may develop its own. Kent said the £100,000 a year system was part of its focus on "finding innovative ways of working resourcefully" and that it was under ongoing analysis.

Avon and Somerset police use both mapping programs and a broad range of controversial risk assessment programs. They use the latter to explore, among other things, a person's likelihood of reoffending, of being a victim of a crime and of being reported missing.

"With so many predictive analytics programs or algorithms now in use it's even more important than ever to be asking questions about how an individual's risk is calculated, which factors are included and what is the margin of error when using these factors, [and] is someone asking whether the 'risk factors' are as accurate for black or BME people as they are for white people?" said Zubaida Haque, the deputy director at the Runnymede trust.

(10th March 2019)

(Mirror, dated 2nd February 2019 author Keir Mudie)

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Rising numbers of domestic violence victims are having to wait more than 24 hours for overstretched police to respond to emergency calls.

Figures show three times as many last year were left in potential danger for at least a day after calling 999, compared with in 2014.

And the number of call-outs where police were able to respond in under 15 minutes fell by almost a fifth.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said that the figures were "truly shocking".

She said: "On average two women are killed every week by a current or former partner.

"Now we see that our overstretched officers are increasingly unable to respond within a day. For some, over 24 hours will be too late."

Eleven forces responded to our request for figures under the Freedom of Information Act - a quarter of the police forces in England and Wales.

Overall, the statistics showed a 218 per cent increase in 999 domestic violence reports where police visited more than 24 hours afterwards.

For domestic violence calls to the non-emergency 101 number, there was also a rise in those left waiting more than 24 hours, up by 51 per cent.

And while 999 calls getting a response in under 15 minutes fell by 18 per cent, the same quick response to 101 calls plunged by 50 per cent. The figures vary between the different forces.

Thames Valley Police took 21,554 domestic violence calls last year and responded to 8,517 within 15 minutes - 40 per cent of cases.

Their response rate left fewer than two per cent waiting more than 24 hours, although that was still 409 victims.

Ms Abbott, MP for London's Hackney North constituency, added: "Our police forces are central to combating domestic violence, and the first responders to violent incidents.

"But their work is completely undermined by Tory cuts and the loss of over 21,000 officers." 

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 2nd February 2019 author Phoebe Southworth)

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Police have attempted to use the UK's largest family tree website to solve identity fraud cases, it can be revealed.

British officers requested user data from industry giant Ancestry three times in 2017, according to the company's transparency reports.

Some 10 million people use the site to find out about their family history and track down long lost relatives.

As well as creating family trees, customers can trade their DNA for genetic insights, receiving a report on what percentage of their DNA is estimated to be from different regions of the world and being matched to relatives.

Between 2015 and 2017, a total of 57 requests for Ancestry user data were made by law enforcement bodies from around the world, 52 of which were granted.

Figures show that the number of requests has more than doubled in that period, suggesting that police forces across the world are increasingly turning to ancestry sites to help solve crimes.

The 44 requests for information submitted between 2016 and 2017, of which 39 were granted, were criminal subpoenas related to investigations involving credit card misuse and identity theft.

City of London Police, whose fraud squads investigate some of the UK's most complex cases, were unsure what kind of information police would have been seeking from Ancestry.

But the force suggested officers may have been using the family tree site to find out if a name being used by an identity fraudster was of someone who had died.

None of the requests were for genetic material, though the possibility of accessing this information is thought to be of increasing interest to police following the use of the GEDmatch DNA database to arrest a suspect in California's Golden State Killer cold case.

Police uploaded crime scene DNA believed to be from the murderer to the GEDmatch database, which unlike Ancestry is public, and found relatives as close as a third cousin which led them to a pool of suspects.

To use GEDmatch, users have to agree to make their information public and attach at least an email address to their profile.

Ancestry told The Sunday Telegraph: "Protecting our customers' privacy and being good stewards of their data is Ancestry's highest priority.

"This commitment to privacy includes not sharing customer DNA data with insurers, employers, or third-party marketers.

"In addition, Ancestry will not share customer personal information with law enforcement unless compelled to by valid legal process, such as a court order or search warrant."

(10th March 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 1st February 2019 author Rebecca Camber)

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This haul of 24 firearms, seized by police in just over a month, provides a chilling picture of rising gun crime in the UK.

The arsenal includes a sawn-off shotgun, Beretta pistols and a Kalashnikov.

In one instance, 60 patients and staff at a GP surgery were embroiled in a terrifying gun incident when a patient took a Beretta pistol and a magazine of blank ammunition into an appointment. Astonishingly, the GP kept calm and left the room when the patient took out his gun.

Police raced to the surgery in Greenwich, south-east London and arrested the gunman without any casualties on January 21. A day earlier, Scotland Yard caught a gunman after he threatened to shoot his ex-partner.

On December 14, a criminal who threatened a victim with a gun was found in Bromley, south-east London carrying a sawn-off pump action shotgun and a potentially live grenade. Dozens of car keys were also seized.

On December 28, a drunken man was found in Westminster holding a loaded pistol.

The 24 guns, which were seized, confiscated or handed in to forces between December 15 and January 27, were not confined to London. West Midlands Police seized three guns - a loaded pistol, shotgun and handgun - in as many days last month.

One of the weapons, a .45 self-loading pistol with five bullets, was found after police stopped a drink-driver in Edgbaston.

Days later, the force found an X26 police-issue Taser in the hands of a criminal.

In Kent, a firearms surrender included a deactivated Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifle.

The shocking incidents, revealed on police Twitter feeds, come as the number of firearms on the streets of Wild West Britain is at its highest in a decade.

Martin Parker, of the national ballistics intelligence service, said the amount of guns and ammunition sent to its labs for analysis is set for a ten-year high. He said: 'The highest year for us was 2010-11 - just under 1,300. This year, we can expect it to be just as busy, if not more so.'

Since 2012, the number of firearm possession offences has jumped by 87 per cent to 8,039.

(10th March 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 1st February 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Shoplifting offences are on the rise following the introduction a £200 threshold before criminals are pursued.

Figures obtained from 25 police forces across England and Wales suggest there has been at least a seven per cent increase in the number of offences reported by supermarkets over the past four years.

Officers were called to investigate more than 78,000 shoplifting incidents in 2017, up from just over 72,000 in 2014.

The figures also suggested a rise in the number of pick-pocketing incidents at supermarkets, where shoppers have their purses and wallets stolen by opportunistic thieves.

But the true scale of the problem is thought to be hidden because many smaller stores do not bother to report shoplifting offences because they have no faith that anything will be done.

Last year the Telegraph reported how retailers were angry at the introduction of a £200 threshold for shoplifting offences.

Most hard pressed police forces will only now dispatch an officer to investigate if there has been a threat of violence against a member of staff.

The £200 threshold was introduced as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and means anyone accused of "low value shoplifting" no longer has to attend court and can plead guilty by post in the same way as a speeding motorist.

It was hoped the threshold would save the courts time and money on cases, but it is feared that it has led to the effective decriminalisation of shoplifting.

Organised gangs of shoplifters are thought to be exploiting the system by travelling around the country and hitting multiple stores, while always remaining careful to stay under the £200 threshold.

But the cost to the businesses is often passed onto shoppers in the form of rising prices.

James Martin, crime and security adviser to the British Retail Consortium, said: "These figures indicate that, despite the best efforts of our members, criminals are increasingly targeting supermarkets.

"Ultimately, the costs are borne by everyday shoppers and those who rely on retail for their livelihoods.

"We acknowledge the difficult resourcing and prioritisation decisions which police forces face, but it is clearly time that every police force gives retail crime the strategic priority it deserves."

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: "The numbers of reported thefts pale in comparison to the reality of retail crime. In total, we estimated over 950,000 incidents of theft in convenience stores last year.

"In the convenience sector, more than half of thefts are now not reported due to frustration with police forces not investigating or prosecuting thieves. Some police forces have introduced arbitrary thresholds below which they no longer investigate thefts, ranging from £100 to £200.

"Adopting these thresholds effectively prices small stores out of receiving any response to thefts against them, and publicising these policies encourages more theft and gives the impression of these offences being decriminalised.  

"Challenging offenders in store often leads to violent incidents which have a huge personal impact on retailers and shopworkers. Only Government action can break the cycle of more theft, violence, inadequate police response and ineffective sanctions."

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation acknowledged that shoplifting was not a priority crime for stretched forces.

He said: "These figures mirror the increase seen in many other types of crime. And, although they may not be considered the most serious of offences, it is important those responsible are not allowed to do as they wish without the fear of being caught.

"The reality is that officers can be tied up, sometimes for hours dealing with shoplifters, preventing them from answering other 999 calls which may be more urgent. It's all about priorities."

He went on: "The sad fact is that as forces struggle to meet 999-call demand, incidents such as these are increasingly likely not to be attended by officers at all which, as a serving police constable with 26 years' service, I find quite shocking."

(10th March 2019)

(Sun, dated 8th November 2019 authr Erica Doyle Higgins)

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In the image, a woman can be seen in a large bay window wiping the glass - but can you spot what's wrong with it?

POLICE have shared this seemingly innocent image of a woman cleaning a window - but can you spot what's wrong with it?

Across the UK, members of the public are being warned to be vigilant if they spot someone carrying out household jobs - because the real reason could be much more sinister.

In the image, a woman can be seen in a large bay window wiping the glass.

But in a shock warning, Avon and Somerset Police said: "Do you see someone who is always inside the home cleaning? They are also never out of the home on their own?

"This could be an indicator of domestic servitude. Many victims won't know they're being exploited and need you to be a voice for them."

Domestic servitude is a form of modern slavery, the other indicators of which can include victims being dropped off and collected by one vehicle, isolation, poor living conditions and signs of abuse.

Avon and Somerset cops said in the last two years they have seen an increase in the number of reports about modern slavery.

"It's likely this increase is due to increased media interest in modern slavery at car washes and nail bars," they said.

A spokesperson said: "We rely heavily on the public to be our eyes and ears, to be in the places we can't always be in. Intelligence plays a huge role in our fight to tackle crime; information received from the public could be the missing piece of a puzzle or break-through in a case.

Avon and Somerset cops said in the last two years they have seen an increase in the number of reports about modern slavery.

"It's likely this increase is due to increased media interest in modern slavery at car washes and nail bars," they said.

A spokesperson said: "We rely heavily on the public to be our eyes and ears, to be in the places we can't always be in. Intelligence plays a huge role in our fight to tackle crime; information received from the public could be the missing piece of a puzzle or break-through in a case.

What is modern slavery and how can you stop it?

Slavery is defined as forced to work under threats, being owned or controlled by an "employer", usually through mental or physical abuse or threat of abuse, being bought and sold as property and having restrictions placed on his or her freedom.

Modern forms of slavery can include debt bondage - being forced to work to pay off a debt - child slavery, forced marriage, domestic servitude and forced labour.

According to Unseen UK, there are several signs of modern slavery, including:

- Signs of physical or psychological abuse, appearing malnourished, unkempt, anxious, perhaps with untreated injuries
- Isolation, rarely allowed to travel alone and appearing to be under the control of others
- Poor living conditions, for example, being kept in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation and/or living and working at the same address
- Having no ID documents, few personal possessions and always wearing the same clothes everyday
- Unusual travel times such as being dropped or collected very early or very late at night
- Those caught up in modern slavery may be reluctant to seek help, avoid eye contact and appear frightened. They may also be reluctant to speak to strangers and fear law enforcers

If you believe someone is being trafficked you should call 999 straight away or report suspicions of trafficking by calling 101 or visiting your local police station.

You can also dial the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, which can provide help, support, advice or report suspicions of trafficking.

(10th March 2019)


(Wired, dated 31st January 2019 author Matt Burgess)

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On January 17, security researchers published details of the world's largest online dump of personal data. Collection #1 contained passwords and usernames relating to 772,904,991 individual email addresses. These were spread across 2,692,818,238 spreadsheet rows in 12,000 files. Then along came Collection #2-5.

The new Collection leak, which was first reported by Heise, contains 2.2 billion unique usernames and passwords. In total it contains 845GB of data and more than 25bn records.

There are almost three times as many unique records in Collection #2-5 as in Collection #1. It's a goldmine for hackers. The files have been analysed by security researchers at Germany's Hasso Plattner Institute and cybersecurity firm

Chris Rouland, the founder of Phosphorus, told that more than 130 people were making the data available to download and there have been more than 1,000 downloads so far. This increases the scope for the information to be abused and the fact that there isn't only one copy of the information means it'll never be removed from the web.

Like Troy Hunt, who publicised the Collection #1 database and allows people to see if their details have been compromised through haveibeenpwned?, there's a way to check if your details are caught up in the later Collection files. Hasso Plattner runs an Info Leak Checker. This allows anyone to enter their email address and find out if their details are included in the huge database.

And chances are you're in there. The data checker has details from 8,165,169,702 accounts spanning 810 leaks. It'll not only tell you if your email and password have been compromised over the last decade but in addition, it'll give you details about other personal information, such as telephone number, date of birth, or address.

While the details in the Collection dumps may not be new, they still pose a threat. Through credential stuffing, hackers are able to compromise accounts across the web that have use the same login details.

Earlier this month, video sharing platform Dailymotion has confirmed its users were being targeted with credential stuffing. "The attack consists in "guessing" the passwords of some Dailymotion accounts by automatically trying a large number of combinations, or by using passwords that have been previously stolen from websites unrelated to Dailymotion," the company said in a statement. Reddit has also prompted its users to reset passwords after it saw a rise in credential stuffing this month. Neither site has said the attacks are directly linked to Collection #1 or Collection #2-5.

As ever, the usual password advice applies. You should use a password manager to create and store secure passwords for all of your accounts. Never reuse passwords across different services: your Facebook password shouldn't be the same as your bank account.

And as it's likely that your details have been caught up somewhere in Collection #2-5, you should make sure you're using two-factor authentication wherever it's available.

(10th February 2019)

(Independent, dated 31st January 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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A man has been fined after refusing to be scanned by controversial facial recognition cameras being trialled by the Metropolitan Police.

The force had put out a statement saying "anyone who declines to be scanned will not necessarily be viewed as suspicious". However, witnesses said several people were stopped after covering their faces or pulling up hoods.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch said one man had seen placards warning members of the public that automatic facial recognition cameras were filming them from a parked police van.

"He simply pulled up the top of his jumper over the bottom of his face, put his head down and walked past," said director Silkie Carlo.

"There was nothing suspicious about him at all … you have the right to avoid [the cameras], you have the right to cover your face. I think he was exercising his rights."

Ms Carlo, who was monitoring Thursday's trial in Romford, London, told The Independent she saw a plainclothed police officer follow the man before a group of officers "pulled him over to one side".

She said they demanded to see the man's identification, which he gave them, and became "accusatory and aggressive".

"The guy told them to p*** off and then they gave him the £90 public order fine for swearing," Ms Carlo added. "He was really angry."

A spokesperson said officers were instructed to "use their judgment" on whether to stop people who avoid cameras.

"Officers stopped a man who was seen acting suspiciously in Romford town centre during the deployment of the live facial recognition technology," a statement said.

"After being stopped the man became aggressive and made threats towards officers. He was issued with a penalty notice for disorder as a result."

Eight people were arrested during the eight-hour trial, although only three were a direct result of facial recognition technology.

A 15-year-old boy identified by the cameras was arrested on suspicion of robbery but released with no further action.

A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and another man, 35-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of breach of a molestation order.

The other arrests were two teenage boys accused of robbery, a 17-year-old boy accused of firing a gun and two men, aged 25 and 46, for drug possession.

The deployment trial was due to continue on Friday, but rescheduled because of forecast snow and cold temperatures causing "low footfall".

Monitors saw several other people stopped outside Romford station, in north east London, including a student who had pulled his hood up and a man handcuffed and put in a police van.

Activists from the Liberty human rights group said they spoke to a youth worker who was stopped because he "looked like someone" on a watchlist, but had been misidentified.

Scotland Yard said the two-day deployment of cameras in Romford would be the last of 10 trials of the controversial technology.

The Independent revealed that more than £200,000 was spent on six deployments that resulted in no arrests between August 2016 and July last year. Two people wanted for violent offences were arrested after a trial in December.

Critics have called the force's use of facial recognition a "shambles" and accused Scotland Yard of wasting public money.

Automatic facial recognition software compares live footage of people's faces to photos from a watchlist of selected images from a police database.

Any potential matches are flashed up as an alert to officers, who then compare the faces and decide whether to stop someone.

The Metropolitan Police has described the deployments as "overt" and said members of the public were informed facial recognition was being used by posters and leaflets.

But no one questioned by The Independent after they passed through a scanning zone in central London in December had seen police publicity material, and campaigners claim the technology is being rolled out "by stealth".

Detective Chief Superintendent Ivan Balhatchet, Scotland Yard's lead for facial recognition, said a full independent evaluation will be carried out.

"The technology used in Romford forms part of the Met's ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area, with a specific focus on tackling violence," he added.

"As with all previous deployments the technology was used overtly. We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology."

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian, dated 31st January 2019 author Sam Jones)

Full Article [Option 1]:

A drug trafficker who managed to evade capture for 15 years by cutting and burning the skin of his fingertips and having it replaced with micro-implants has been arrested by Spanish police.

The man, who has not been named, was arrested on Tuesday by officers from the national police force in the city of Getafe, near Madrid.

In a statement, the Policía Nacional said the man, originally from the north-western Spanish region of Asturias, had been on the run for 15 years before specialist anti-drugs officers caught up with him.

"The suspect had modified and changed his fingerprints to such an extent that they were no longer recognisable," said the statement.

"As well as cutting and burning, he had used micro-implants of skin. He had also had a hair transplant to avoid being recognised."

A police spokeswoman told the Guardian: "He'd used very sophisticated methods to alter the fingerprints of both hands so that he couldn't be identified. He used skin implants to change the shape of his prints so that the scars beneath couldn't be detected. It was a very sophisticated, specialist process that took place over a number of years."

The man, who had been the subject of four arrest warrants, had used false documents in the name of a Peruvian citizen to travel around the world. He had also adopted the cover of being a Croatian citizen to avoid being tracked down.

"Officers have managed to ascertain that the arrested man travelled to Morocco on numerous occasions over the past few months, presumably to engage in activities related to drug-trafficking," said the statement.

"When he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of two encrypted phones - the kind of equipment usually used by criminal organisations."

Spanish media reported that the arrested man was an associate of the Galician smuggler and drug-trafficker Sito Miñanco, who this week was jailed for four years and ordered to pay €6m (£5.25) fine after being convicted of laundering the proceeds of his drug trafficking.

Miñanco's lawyer was recently fined €2,000 for vaping in court during the trial last November.

(10th February 2019)

(Mirror, dated 30th January 2019 authors Martin Fricker and Jeanette Oldham)

Full article [Option 1]:

Officers at one police force do not have enough breath-test kits to tackle drink-driving, it is claimed.

Cash-strapped West Midlands Police has 302 kits for 3,500 frontline officers.

It is feared some suspected drink-drivers are going free due to shortages.

Sgt Richard Cooke, chair of West Midlands Police Federation, said: "If there has been an accident or someone's clearly drunk, they'll be taken to the station and tested.

"But in cases where they appear compos mentis but you have a slight suspicion, being without a kit means you won't test them. They wouldn't be detained and taken to the station as that wouldn't be proportionate."

He said he recently pulled over a suspected drink-driver but no officer was available to bring him a breathalyser.

Sgt Cooke added: "Collea­gues are telling me this is a common thing." WMP, which has been hit by Government cuts, is the second-biggest force in England and Wales, with more than 6,500 officers.

Figures show arrests for driving when over the limit in its area fell 26% in four years.

Nearby Northamptonshire Police has some 1,100 officers in total yet 400 breathalysers.

Sgt Jon Butler, of WMP's road safety team, said they had a "zero tolerance" policy.

He added: "We carry out intelligence-led operations to catch those who drive under the influence and never hesitate to prosecute. We have a range of powers to arrest drivers suspected of [this]."

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 30th January 2019 author Ross Ibbetson)

Full article [Option 1]:

- Iceland - with a population of under 400,000 - has been crowned the safest
- The study considers war, crime and the risk posed by natural disasters
- Europe dominated the list with 15 out of the top 20 safest countries in the list
- The US came 65th, due to its high murder rate and risk of natural disasters

Iceland is the world's safest country while the Philippines is the most dangerous, according to a new study.

Global Finance Magazine considers war and peace, crime rates and the risk of natural disasters in working out its Safety Index Score for each nation.

Iceland came top due to its tiny crime rate, with under 400,000 residents - and although the island contains active volcanoes - there is a low risk to life.

The US was one of the exception's to the rule for economically developed countries - placing 65th - in large part due to its homicide rate.

World's safest countries 2019

Best Countries

1. Iceland : 6.16
2. Switzerland : 7.01
3. Finland : 7.04
4. Portugal : 7.07
5. Austria : 7.08
6. Norway : 7.27
7. Qatar : 7.28
8. Singapore : 7.34
9. Denmark : 7.41
10. New Zealand : 7.42

Worst Countries scores

1. Philipines : 17.7
2. Yemen : 15.93
3. Guatemala : 15.81
4. El Salvador : 15.43
5. Nigeria : 14.88
6. Pakistan : 14.8
7. Colombia : 14.79
8. Bangladesh : 14.66
9. Chad : 14.31
10. Mali : 14.15

Global Finance magazine included 128 of the 193 states recognised by the UN on its list, with notable absences including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is not clear why such states - which regularly rank among the most dangerous in the world - did not feature in their calculations.

According to the FBI there were 5.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, this is more than double most of its European economic counterparts.

On the other hand, Iceland is said to be filled with guns but had just a single murder in 2009, according to the BBC.

Many believe the low per capita murder rate in Iceland is down to lack of a class system, which prevents jealousy and also low drug usage.

As well as America's high homicide rate the continental mass of North America puts US citizens at more risk of natural disaster than their European cousins across the Atlantic.

Japan was also an anomaly among the top economies for that reason, placing 43rd, due to their high risk of natural disaster with earthquakes in the region.

European countries scored particularly well, accounting for seven countries out of the top ten and 15 out of the top 20.

Global Finance attribute the scores to developed economies and healthcare systems which protect people from dangers such as undernourishment and disease.

The UK placed 38th, coming after Romania and Kuwait on the safety index. Australia was ranked 18th.

Yemen, which is a violent famine-ridden war zone, placed second-bottom on the list, with the Philippines found to be the most dangerous place to live.

Although Yemen is an active war zone, and people face a greater military and security risk, the magazine deemed the risk from natural disasters in the Philippines to be so grave it takes its score higher.

The Ukraine and Russia placed far down the list compared to other European countries.

This is due to a civil war raging in the Ukraine, in which Russia is playing a part.

Meanwhile the magazine said that Russians face disproportionate levels of violent crime and the dire economic situation puts them at a further security risk.

They used data from the World Economic Forum and the Global Institute for Peace to create their list.

Further information (uaware)

Global finance magazine website [Option 1]:

The best countries from eleven to Forty

11     Canada     7.42
12     Slovenia     7.44
13     Sweden     7.50
14     Czech Republic     7.68
15     Spain     7.81
16     Ireland     7.82
17     Estonia     7.89
18     Australia     7.95
19     Belgium     7.98
20     Germany     8.09
21     United Arab Emirates     8.21
22     Croatia     8.27
23     Oman     8.34
24     Latvia     8.45
25     Lithuania     8.49
26     Slovakia     8.53
27     Poland     8.54
28     Hungary     8.61
29     Mongolia     8.74
30     Bhutan     8.79
31     Netherland     8.82
32     Cyprus     8.88
33     Romania     8.88
34     South Korea     8.93
35     Uruguay     8.93
36     France     9.01
37     Kuwait     9.10
38     United Kingdom     9.21
39     Malaysia     9.22
40     Italy     9.23

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th January 2019 author Ross Ibbotson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Somalia is the most corrupt country in the world, Denmark the least, while America's falling score is a 'red flag', according to a global corruption watchdog.

Transparency International highlighted Hungary and the United States in their Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018, with America being knocked from the top 20 'cleanest' list.

Trump's America lost four points and dropped out of the top 20 least corrupt nations for the first time since 2011, while Hungary's politics has taken on more autocratic overtones, according to the researchers.

'A four point drop in the CPI score is a red flag and comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balance, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power,' the Berlin-based organization said.

If this trend continues, it would indicate a serious corruption problem in a country that has taken a lead on the issue globally -this is a bipartisan issue that requires a bipartisan solution.'

Zoe Reiter, the watchdog's acting representative to the US, said they had serious concerns over the Trump administration but that corrupution had been a mounting problem for years.

'Conflict of interest wasn't a new problem, but it was illuminated in its glory when you have someone who is basically breaking norms.

'Trump is a symptom not a cause. His presidency is illuminating some of the problems.'

The US, Hungary and Brazil were all listed as countries to watch.

The most improved were Estonia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guyana; and decliners included Australia, Chile, Malta and Mexico. 

Somalia was rated the most corrupt with a score of 10, followed by Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, North Korea, Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Afghanistan and Libya.

Many of the most corrupt regions are in throws of warfare which has ravaged government and any prospect of democracy.

The Corruption Perceptions Index showed more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50, on its scale where 100 is very clean and zero is very corrupt.

In a cross-analysis of its survey with global democracy data, Transparency said a link could be drawn between corruption and the health of a democracy.

Full democracies scored an average of 75 on the corruption index, flawed democracies averaged 49, and autocratic regimes averaged 30, the organization said.

The US score dropped from 75 to a below average 71.

It noted that Hungary dropped eight points and Turkey nine over the past five years, to scores of 46 and 41, respectively.

At the same time, the report cited Freedom House's annual democracy survey, noting Turkey was downgraded from 'partly free' to 'not free,' while Hungary registered its lowest score for political rights since the fall of communism in 1989.

The ratings reflect the 'deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media,' the organization said.

'Our research makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy and successfully fighting public sector corruption,' said Delia Ferreira Rubio, the head of Transparency.

'Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.'

Overall, Denmark led the survey as the least corrupt nation, with a score of 88, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.

Rounding out the top group were Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany and Britain.

Since 2012, only 20 nations had significantly improved their scores, including Argentina and Ivory Coast, which scored 40 and 35 respectively, up from 35 and 29.

At the same time, 16 have declined significantly in that time, including Australia, which slipped from a score of 85 to 77, and Chile, which dropped from 72 to 67.

The index is calculated using 13 different data sources that provide perceptions of public sector corruption from business people and country experts.

These include the African Development Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, the World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey and the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey.

Considered ranking of countries corruption

(List edited to compare European countries - for full list see original article)

1. Denmark (Best)
2. New Zealand
3. Finland
3. Singapore
3. Sweden
3. Switzerland
7. Norway
8. Netherlands
9. Canada
9. Luxembourg
11. Germany
11. United Kingdom
13. Australia
14. Austria
17. Belgium
18. Estonia
18. Ireland
21. France
22. United States
30. Portugal
36. Poland
36. Slovenia
38. Cyprus
38. Czech Repubic
38. Lithuania
41. Spain
51. Malta
53. Italy
57. Slovakia
60. Croatia
61. Romania
64. Hungary
67. Greece
77. Bulgaria
78. India
87. China
99. Albania
138. Russia

(1st February 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 29th January 2019 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have expressed concern over the roll out of new smart motorways, warning they will make it more difficult to catch dangerous drivers.

Large stretches of Britain's motorway network is being upgraded with new technology intended to improve traffic flow and ease congestion.

Among the initiatives being rolled out is the removal of hard shoulders from around 300 miles of the busiest stretches.

But senior officers have warned that the lack of an emergency lane will mean it is impossible to pull over problem drivers.

David Blundell, who leads on roads policing for the Police Federation, said: "The difficulty with smart motorways is that they are difficult for the police to operate on, there's no hard shoulder, so where do we safely stop another motorist if they have committed an offence or we want to give them some advice?

"The answer is we can't and we have to wait miles and miles and miles until we're able to do that. There are lots of questions that need to be asked."

Smart motorways without hard shoulders have emergency lay-bys every 1.5 miles, but a recent RAC survey found the the majority of road users had no idea what to do if they broke down.

An all-party committee of MPs has also warned about the potential dangers of removing hard shoulders and has said it could put recovery drivers' lives at risk.

John Apter, the chair of the Police Federation, also warned about the impact of reducing the number of traffic patrols.

He said Britain's roads were beginning to resemble "The Wacky Races", with a significant increase in anti-social driving such as tailgating, speeding and drivers using their mobile phones while at the wheel.

The number of dedicated road traffic officers has fallen by 11 per cent over the last two years, with speed cameras and other remote technology taking their place.

But speaking at the National Roads Policing Conference, Mr Apter said cameras did not provide the deterrent that an officer in a marked car did.

He said: "It's like The Wacky Races out there with some of the stuff we see. A lack of a visible deterrent for motorists will mean that their behaviour is not moderated.

"And those who wish to drive in an anti-social dangerous way, without fear of being caught, will do so.

"On journeys now, you'll see motorists regularly driving in an anti-social dangerous and aggressive way. They're just not being caught. They're driving without a care."

"What we need are police officers on the ground, the visible deterrent. We need the drink, drug, aggressive, dangerous driver to be fearful of being caught."

He added: "The motorway is a hostile environment to be on out of the vehicle. Tragically, we see more people killed who have been involved in a relatively minor collision who get out their vehicle on the hard shoulder and are hit.

"We have police officers who have been killed or have been seriously injured when they stop on the hard shoulder. Smart motorways must take all of that into account as it does cause a greater risk."

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th January 2019 author Joel Adams)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than half of boys held in young offender institutions in 2017-18 were from a black or minority ethnic background (BME), a watchdog report has indicated.

The percentage of BME detainees was the highest recorded since HM Inspectorate of Prisons began carrying out the analysis in 2001.

The figure of 51 per cent was three percentage points up on the previous year's 48 per cent.

Only two years ago a landmark review by Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy raised concerns that the proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic youth prisoners had increased despite an overall fall in under-18s in custody.

Commenting on the latest findings, Mr Lammy said: 'This is deeply alarming and now must be viewed as an urgent national crisis.

'We are not only failing to make progress to address these racial inequalities; things are getting significantly worse.

'From childhood right through to courts and adult prisons, our justice system entrenches and exacerbates the divides in our society.'

Researchers found the proportion of boys who identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background varied significantly from facility to facility.

At the Keppel Unit - Her Majesty's Young Offenders Institute (YOI) Wetherby, a male juvenile prison outside York - it was one-in-five (21 per cent).

At HMP Feltham, a male juvenile jail in Hounslow in west London, in was nearly three-quarters (71 per cent).

The figures are detailed in a study of perceptions of those between 12 and 18 who were held in YOIs or secure training centres (STCs) in England and Wales from April 2017 to March 2018.

The assessment, published today, covers the experiences of boys in five male YOIs, plus a specialist unit for boys; and children, including a small number of girls, held in three STCs.

Black and minority ethnic children accounted for 42 per cent of the STC population, according to the paper. The percentage identifying as being from a BME background also varied between STCs, from 33 per cent at Oakhill in Milton Keynes, to 55 per cent at Medway in Rochester.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: 'For the first time, more than half of boys in prison identify as being from a black or minority ethnic background.

'Sixteen months after the Lammy Review was published, it is disturbing that disproportionality it is growing.'

In other findings:

- More than half of children (56 per cent) in STCs [and 50 per cent in YOIs] reported they had been physically restrained in their establishment.
- Three in 10 STC respondents had been 'victimised' by other children by being shouted at through windows.
- Children in STCs were more likely to report that staff treated them with respect (87 per cent compared with 64 per cent in YOIs)

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the number of children, including 18-year-olds, held in YOIs, STCs and secure children's homes fell by 24 per cent from 1,318 to 997, the report found.

The watchdog warned that too many youngsters feel unsafe while in custody.

It found that signs of improvement have yet to translate into a significant shift in children's perceptions of their treatment and conditions.

HMIP's analysis, based on a survey of 686 children detained in 2017-18, found just over a third (34 per cent) of those held in STCs reported feeling unsafe at some point since arriving at the centre.

Forty per cent of those in YOIs had felt unsafe during their time there.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: 'I trust that the details of this report will prove useful to those whose responsibility it is to provide safe, respectful and purposeful custody for children.

'As we all know, the perceptions of children in custody, will, for them, be the reality of what is happening.

'That is why we should not allow the recent improvement in inspection findings to give rise to complacency.'

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'We are fundamentally reforming youth custody to make it safer and more focused on rehabilitation and, as the Chief Inspector recognises, there have been encouraging signs of improvement in safety.

'As part of our reforms, we are increasing frontline staff in public-sector YOIs by 20%, improving training for officers working with young people, and have recently announced a £5 million investment in a new secure school at Medway.

'But we recognise there is still more to do, including tackling disproportionality in the justice system, and a dedicated team is addressing this issue head-on.'

Source: Lancashire Safeguarding Children's Board

There are three types of secure accommodation in which a young person can be placed:

Young Offender Institutions

YOI's are facilities run by both the Prison Service and the private sector and accommodate 15- to 17-year-olds. Young people serving Detention and Training Orders can be accommodated beyond the age of 17 subject to child protection considerations. The majority of YOI's accommodate boys, although there are four dedicated female units

Secure Training Centres

STC's are purpose-built centres for young offenders up to the age of 17. STC's can accommodate both male and female young people who are held separately. They are run by private operators under contracts, which set out detailed operational requirements. There are four STC's in England;

Secure Children's Homes

SCH's accommodate children and young people placed there on a secure welfare order for the protection of themselves or others, and for those placed under criminal justice legislation. SCH's are generally used to accommodate young offenders aged 12 to 14, girls up to the age of 16, and boys 15-16 assessed as vulnerable.

Boys in young offender institutions from a black or minority ethnic background

2001-03 : 23%
2004-06 : 23%
2010-11 : 39%
2011-12 : 42%
2012-13 : 45%
2013-14 : 41%
2014-15 : 42%
2015-16 : 47%
2016-17 : 48%
2017-18 : 51%

(Guardian -Opinion, dated 30th January 2019 author Kehinde Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

The latest figures to emerge showing racial inequality are sadly as unsurprising as they are shocking. Reading that more than half of the people locked in young offender institutions in England and Wales belong to an ethnic minority should be a cause for national alarm. Somehow things are actually worse than in 2017, when the Lammy review put the figure at 41%. But we have become so desensitised to institutional racism that the nation is numb to the reality. We are sleepwalking into the next crisis on the streets for a generation of black and brown young people.

A rise in violent crime involving young people has brought with it the expected hyperventilation of the rightwing press, as well as hollow words of concern from politicians, and calls to strengthen the powers of the police against the "gangs" who are supposedly to blame. Let's ignore for a moment that most knife crime is committed by white people, making the idea that this is somehow a black issue absurd. Even if the sentiment behind these responses really was in an effort to help black communities, it would be entirely misplaced. Rather than blaming the family, community or music we should address the real cause of the problems in our inner cities, which is that successive generations are being marginalised from society.

It is no coincidence that violent crime is on the rise as the impact of almost a decade of austerity bites. Social research is usually the last place to look for general laws governing society (one of the reasons we should stop pretending to be scientists), but on the causes of crime the evidence is clear. The young black male unemployment rate across London is 29%, masking far higher figures in the most deprived areas. This unemployment crisis demands more well-paying jobs and not more police. When the government attacked the social safety net it, surely knowingly, set in process the chaos we are seeing on the streets.

In response to the moral panic about crime in the "ghettoes", the government response just makes the situation worse. More police, disproportionate use of stop and search, and locking up increasing numbers of minority people, both young and older, only increases the marginalisation. It's like we are stuck in a feedback loop, where the criminal injustice system is continually offered as a solution to a problem that it is one of the principal forces in creating.

Relations with the police continue to be marked by suspicion and distrust. Campaigns for justice for people who have died in custody or after contact with police, continue to fall on deaf ears, with the case of Kingsley Burrell being the perfect example. Following his death in hospital days after being forcibly detained by police in 2011, one officer was sacked in 2019 for lying to an inquest - but all the police officers involved were cleared of causing his death. Making things worse, organisers of a protest recently called off the march because of concerns over police surveillance and interference. When the police are seen as an occupying force, it only further alienates the community and its most disadvantaged from society.

Since the 80s, when the first mass generation of black young people who were born in the country expected our birthright to command equal treatment under the law, we have seen the result of racist policing. Frustration with the police boiled over in different parts of the country in 1981, 1985, 1995 and in 2011, with people taking to the streets in acts of either rebellion or riot, depending on your perspective. The latest stats on the make-up of the young offender institutions is just more fuel added to the impending crisis. History tells us that it only takes one spark to turn anger into disorder. In 1981, it was caused by Operation Swamp 81 flooding police on to the streets of Brixton. The death of Cynthia Jarrett after a police search set Broadwater Farm ablaze in 1985 and the police killing of Mark Duggan in 2011 also led to nationwide mayhem. By continuing to harass, arrest, charge and incarcerate ethnic minority young people at excessive rates, society is creating what Malcolm X called a "racial powder keg" in our cities.

It impossible to predict what will ignite the next explosion of frustration and resentment - but it is undeniable that the acceptance of racist treatment of minority young people in the criminal justice system - and beyond - makes another crisis inevitable.

- Kehinde Andrews is professor of black studies at Birmingham City University

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian, dated 29th January 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Criminal networks funnelling drugs into smaller towns and rural areas, a trade known as "county lines", have rapidly expanded in the past year, the National Crime Agency has said.

As part of the county lines trade gangs and organised criminal networks use children and vulnerable adults to move drugs around the country using dedicated mobile phone lines.

Nikki Holland, the director of investigations and county lines lead at the NCA, told the home affairs select committee the number of individual phone numbers used for drug deals linked to established county lines networks has nearly tripled from about 700 to about 2,000.

The phone numbers - also known as deal lines - are central to the county lines trade, as each number has the potential to connect to hundreds of drug users and facilitate thousands of drug deals.

"We now have 2,000 lines in operation for county lines," Holland said. "Multiple lines obviously being in operation allows this business model to be flexible and gives resilience to the gangs themselves, so as a line is taken out of operation then they can be flexible in their response as they have multiple lines.

"Obviously you will see county lines is increasing in terms of those lines, but this doesn't necessarily indicate a worsening of the problem; what it actually indicates is an increasing awareness of law enforcement and our partners as to the scale of the problem."

Duncan Ball, a Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner and the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for county lines, told the committee the greatest number of county lines continue to originate from the areas covered by the Met, West Midlands police and Merseyside police.

Jacqueline Sebire, an assistant chief constable with Bedfordshire police and the NPCC's serious violence coordinator, told the committee the county lines trade was reaching a peak, and much younger victims were being identified.

Sebire said the police were also seeing new crimes such as "cuckooing" - when gangs set up dealing bases in the homes of addicted or otherwise vulnerable people.

In an annual assessment of county lines published on Tuesday, the NCA said boys and girls aged between 15-17 made up the bulk of the vulnerable people involved in county lines.

Grooming techniques similar to those used in child sexual exploitation and abuse cases are common, the NCA said, and young people often do not think of themselves as victims.

Exploitation methods continue to involve sexual abuse and exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking, and the threat of violence and injury to ensure compliance, the NCA said.

Holland added: "Tackling county lines is a national law enforcement priority. We know that criminal networks use high levels of violence, exploitation and abuse to ensure compliance from the vulnerable people they employ to do the day-to-day drug supply activity.

"Every organised crime group trafficking drugs is a business which relies on cashflow. County lines is no different. What we will continue to do with our law enforcement partners is disrupt their activity and take away their assets.

"We also need to ensure that those exploited are safeguarded and understand the consequences of their involvement. This is not something law enforcement can tackle alone - the need to work together to disrupt this activity and safeguard vulnerable victims must be the priority for everyone."

(London Evening Standard, dated 29th January 2019 author Martin Bentham)

Full article [Option 1]:

Street gangs and local criminals in London are fighting for control of the "county lines" drug trade, police chiefs warned today as they gave MPs evidence about rising violent crime.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said that more than four out of five of the violent organised crime gangs in the capital were involved in drugs distribution, and that half of all violent criminals had a drug offending background.

At the same time, the National Crime Agency (NCA) disclosed that as many as 2,000 "county lines" networks, in which children are used by older gang members to ferry drugs from cities to smaller towns, were now operating nationwide.

The NCA said that "serious violence" was resulting as gangs sought to "defend territory, intimidate rivals, and protect commodities that can be traded for significant profit".

It said the gangs were exploiting "vulnerable adults and children, trafficking them across the UK, placing them into debt bondage, and taking over their homes in a practice called 'cuckooing'.

"Victims are coerced and controlled through physical and psychological methods, which often involve violence in the form of firearm, knife and acid attacks," the NCA added.

Today's warnings, which follow police complaints that middle-class cocaine users are prompting street violence, came as senior figures from the NCA and NPCC appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Met deputy assistant commissioner Duncan Ball said "turf wars" provided "plenty of examples of violence by drug dealers or users to establish territory or control a situation".

The police chiefs added that social media was "escalating violence between young people and enabling content that glamorises or encourages violence and crime".

The NCA said that more than 600 people had been arrested in a coordinated national crackdown last week during which 140 weapons, including 12 firearms, machetes, swords, axes and knives, had been seized, as well as cash and drugs. Forty potential slavery victims had been rescued.

In numbers

82 per cent - proportion of London's violent organised crime gangs involved in drugs distribution

2,000 - number of county lines networks sending drugs out from cities
600 - number arrested in a crackdown on county lines last week

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th January 2019 author Eleanor Hayward)

Full article [Option 1]:

Private security guards are handcuffing violent suspects in Lake District towns after part of the region was left with just six frontline police officers on duty at a time.

Over-stretched police can be up to an hour's drive away in the area, which is home to 100,000 people and visited by 15million tourists a year.

Security firms in South Lakeland have now trained staff to use handcuffs so they can detain suspects while waiting for the police to arrive.

The district in south Cumbria, which is the same size as Greater London, is covered by officers based at Kendal police station. Cuts mean a maximum of six frontline officers are on duty in the day and even fewer at night.

Karl Newton, manager of a security firm used by 30 venues in towns including Kendal and Windermere, said police agreed his staff could use handcuffs in a six-month trial. His firm employs around 30 staff at bars, hotels and restaurants across the Lake District.

He told the Daily Mail: 'The police never make any arrests because they are never around.

If someone is being extremely violent we call police but often end up waiting for 40 minutes. It is much safer for us to use handcuffs, then we can hand the suspect over when police arrive.

'Eight of the security staff have been trained in handcuff use. We will be sitting down with police in April to review it.'

Mr Newton said he lost all his bottom teeth after being assaulted at work, but police did not collect CCTV of the alleged incident. Instead they sent him a letter saying the case will be closed, which added: 'Good luck with the rest of the reconstructive surgery.' Cumbria Police say they are now reviewing the incident.

The Cumbria force has lost 10 per cent of frontline officers in the past decade, and is having to sacrifice neighbourhood policing resources to battle an epidemic of 'county lines' drug dealing.

Martin Plummer, chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, warned the force's capacity had fallen since gunman Derrick Bird killed 12 people in a 2010 shooting spree.

He said the nearest available firearms cover could be up to a 90-minute drive away. Mr Plummer said: 'We are England's third largest county, but have one of the smallest police forces.

'In rural areas like Cumbria, our village police stations have been sold off. Unfortunately we can no longer deal with crimes that were routine for us to attend five years ago. British policing is broken. Private security firms are having to plug gaps.'

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, whose constituency includes Kendal and Windermere, said cuts meant criminals 'knew they could get away with it'.

Last week, Cumbria's council tax policing charge, or precept, was raised to fund an extra 20 police officers this year. Tory Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said he believed 'Cumbria is a policing success story' but added: 'At certain times resources do get stretched perilously thin and I understand people want to see more officers. But we are dealing with a growth in county lines drug dealing, child sexual exploitation and mental health issues.

'I was surprised to learn security guards are using handcuffs in Cumbria. Obviously it is not a route we want to go down.'

Demand for security companies all over the country has soared as crime has risen while the number of officers has fallen by 22,000.

Security guards are allowed to use handcuffs as long as they are trained and licensed. They have no powers of arrest beyond an ordinary citizen's arrest.

Superintendent Matt Pearman from Cumbria Police said: 'The decision to carry and use handcuffs by these security staff has been made independently by that security company.

'Cumbria Constabulary have not trained or delegated any powers or equipment in relation to this. The fact that this security firm has chosen to use handcuffs does not impact on the number of police officers available or where they are located.' '

He added: 'In 2018, Cumbria Police attended 84% of all emergency deployments within the historically agreed timescale of 15 minutes to urban and 20 minutes to a rural location, anywhere in the county.

'Our priority is to protect the public and we will always attend an emergency incident in as quickly and as safely as possible.

'The suggestion that such a small number of officers are routinely deployed at our peak times, such as when licenced premises are at their busiest is simply untrue.

'When officers are not attending emergency calls they will be deployed at locations across the South Lakes, making them available to serve the public effectively.'

(10th February 2019)

(The Times, dated 26th January 2019 author Fiona Hamilton)

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Cleveland has been branded Britain's worst police force after it was revealed that it is facing multiple inquiries into racism, intrusive surveillance and suppression of evidence.

The northern force, which lost its fifth chief constable in six years this week, is accused of systematically targeting Asian officers in false corruption and misconduct cases. Joint legal discrimination action by a string of officers could cost it hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds.

Cleveland has also been found guilty of misuse of surveillance powers in relation to whistleblowers, lawyers and journalists, including some of the Asian officers claiming discrimination. The Times understands an investigation by the policing watchdog into the force's spying scandal is examining potential criminal and misconduct offences.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched further, seperate inquiries into accusations linked to the racism scandal and the dumping of a sensitive dossier containing the names of paedophiles and their victims on a street in Hartlepool. Seperately and internal inquiry is examining the alleged suppression of evidence relating to a detective who was a sex pest.

The sudden resignation of Mike Veale as chief constable last week, after "serious allegations" we referred to the IOPC, will add to the pressure on Barry Coppinger, the force's police and crime commissioner. Mr Coppinger is already facing calls for his resignation over the hiring of Mr Veale, despite his controversial handling of abuse claims against the late Edward Heath.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said that rank and file officers, and the public, had been let down by what appeared to be institutional failings at the force. He is seeking a meeting with the home secretary to ask him to consider disbanding the force.

Ben Houchon, Conservative mayor of Tees Valley, branded it the country's "worst police force". He said: "There should be an independent review into Cleveland police. History shows that its senior manaegement is completely rotten and [the force] is failing to protect the public and frontline officers."

A dossier compiled by Mr Houchen list nearly 20 major scandals in the last two decades, They range from allegations of officer corruption to missed opportunities to stop PC Wayne Scott, a serial rapist who was jailed in 2013 but served as an officer for nearly a decade after his first recorded sexual attack. The most notorious incident was the 2012 dismissal of the police chief Sean Price, after he lied about his role in recruiting the daughter of the former chairman of the authority.

In 2016 PC Nadeem Saddique, a firearms officer who gaurded Tony Blair and the royal family, was awarded 457,000 after claiming that hiss superiors racially abused him to force him out.

The case lifted the lide on alleged racism at the force, which has a tiny number of Asian officers but is accused of systematically targeting them in professional standards inquiries. One serving officer and three of his colleagues are now suing for discrimination in a joint legal action. Court papers seen by The Times claim they were not investigated because of any intelligence or reasonable belief that they were corrupt, but because they were Asian. There were claims of "intrusive surveillance solely on the basis of race", while the employment tribunal will also hear that one of the officers was unfairly subjected to a gross misconduct case, which could have resulted in his sacking, when his dog bit a postman.

In 2017 the force was found to have broken the law by spying on journalists and a whistleblower who was pursuing a racial discrimination claim. Officers illegally seized the phone data of Mark Dias, an acting inspector who was suing the force over racism, and Steve Matthews, chairman of the local police federation, who was assisting him.

Mr Dias confirmed that he had made a complaint that officers perverted the course of justice by attempting to cover up the extent of the scandal.

A senior police officer has also been suspended while the IOPC investigates claims that evidence about the detetcive and serial sex pest Simon Hurwood was suppressed.

All of the claims predate Mr Veale's time at Cleveland. Mr Coppinger said he had pushed a programme of reforms ad supported the force against "unfair criticism", pointing to an award for equality and diversity it received last year. He said: " The force is now on a journey of improvement and transformation, particularly in addressing and exposing poor behaviour and conduct."

(10th February 2019)

(Independent, dated 26th January 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

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Tens of thousands more crimes are not being prosecuted amid warnings of a worsening "crisis" in Britain's criminal justice system.

Almost 92 per cent of offences do not result in perpetrators being charged or summonsed in England and Wales, with the number of offences taken to court dropping by almost 30,000 in a year.

Lawyers, police officers and victim support workers interviewed by The Independent blamed a perfect storm of police cuts, rising crime, rows over disclosure, falling confidence and the backlash to a series of collapsed rape cases.

Figures published by the Home Office show in the year ending September 2018 only 8.2 per cent of 5 million recorded crimes were prosecuted, down from 9.5 per cent the previous year.

The proportion of offences charged fell across all categories - from violence to drugs, robbery, weapons possession and theft.

The lowest figures were for sexual offences (4 per cent), with only 1.9 per cent of recorded rapes prosecuted - down from 2.4 per cent the previous year.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour's shadow solicitor general, said the statistics made "very worrying reading".

"This is, sadly, no surprise given the swingeing government cuts to both police and Crown Prosecution Service budgets," he added.

"The government has to step up to the plate and provide the resources needed to properly support victims and ensure that no stone is left unturned in bringing people to justice."

The reason for closing almost half of investigations was that no suspect had been identified, but almost a third were listed as "evidential difficulties".

There was a sharp rise in the proportion of cases recorded as "victim does not support action", increasing to 42 per cent for violence, 35 per cent with rapes and 29 per cent of sexual offences.

The victims' commissioner, Baroness Newlove, raised concern that lengthy delays, poor conviction rates, demands for phones and personal records, and the prospect of cross-examination were making women drop claims.

"The very low percentage of rape and sexual violence cases that result in a trial is a huge concern, as are the increasing number of victims who do not want to endure the criminal justice process," she said.

"I am often hearing from victims of sexual crime that their criminal justice journey is as harrowing as the crime itself. This is just not acceptable. I fear we are letting these victims down badly."

Baroness Newlove warned of a "breakdown in confidence" between victims of sexual violence and authorities, calling failures "systemic and widespread".

Alex Mayes, policy adviser at Victim Support, said falling prosecution rates could make people "reluctant to report crime if they feel that they're unlikely to achieve justice". 

Lawyers describe waiting years for a decision on some cases, and accused successive governments of "total disregard of our justice system".

Richard Atkinson, co-chair of the Law Society's criminal law committee, said plummeting prosecutions were "just one symptom of underfunding".

"We are facing a crisis within our justice system, we are starting to see it crumble around us," he added.

A solicitor who works with victims of rape and domestic abuse raised fears for the safety of women who report crimes but see the perpetrator go free. 

"A lot of women go through the system," said Kate Ellis, of the Centre for Women's Justice. "Offenders in these areas often reoffend."

Repeating allegations made by police officers and lawyers last year, she accused the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of "weeding weak cases out of the system" to raise conviction rates.

"The CPS is demanding a very high evidential standard," Ms Ellis added. "Women are coming in with compelling cases and CPS is dropping it. That means the victims are not getting justice at all, it's absolutely devastating."

The CPS insists it has not changed its code, which states that only cases with a "reasonable prospect of conviction" can progress.

But Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor, said the fact conviction rates have risen for serious offences "suggests cherry picking of those cases most likely to lead to conviction, and less risk-taking, which of course leads to the conclusion that they are looking for a higher threshold of evidence".

Police say that bar is becoming harder to reach following the loss of more than 20,000 officers since 2010, an explosion in mobile phone data, and pressure to examine and disclose more messages following a scandal about collapsed rape cases.

Martin Plummer, chair of the Police Federation's national detectives' forum, said thousands of detectives' positions were unfilled.

"With violence, sexual assaults and serious crime on the increase, the workload is up but there are fewer detectives to pick up those jobs," he added.

"They are still being done to the very best of officers' ability, but unfortunately most forces now have got to prioritise.

"We need more money for more officers, and to rebuild the foundations of the British police services that have been dismantled by the government's funding cuts."

The National Police Chiefs' Council said it would be making its case at an upcoming spending review, while trying to make further efficiencies and respond to increasingly complex cases like grooming and historic sex abuse.

A CPS spokesperson said it only makes charging decisions for the most serious crimes, with 60 per cent left to police.

"The CPS can only prosecute cases which are passed to us by police to consider, and this drop reflects the overall fall in caseload numbers," they added.

"Charging decisions must be made based on the merits of each individual case. We are increasingly offering early investigative advice to police - especially in rape cases - to make sure they are robust and appropriate for prosecution."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the police to look at ways to help forces better respond to reports of crime. We have also announced the biggest increase in police funding since 2010 and expect to see major progress in investigations as a result."

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 26th January 2019 author Rob Hull)

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The number of vehicles stolen in Britain has almost doubled in the last five years, new Home Office figures show.

Official stats show that 111,999 cars were pinched in 2017-18, up from 75,308 in the 2013-14 financial year.

That means, on average, a vehicle is stolen in Britain every five minutes, which amounts to 300 motors being nabbed every day.

Experts say the rise in vehicle crime is the result of organised gangs using advanced keyless technology to remotely steal cars and policing budget cuts that has seen officer numbers dwindle in recent years.

n the last half a decade, car thefts are up a staggering 48.7 per cent, according to the Home Office's new data published this week :

While the figures don't specify how vehicles have been stolen, there's no question that the spike directly correlates with the advent of remote keyless technology.

Criminal gangs are use gadgets to hack into vehicles, allowing them to break into the car and drive it away without ever having to see a set of keys.

The majority of cars targeted are high-priced models from premium brands, such as Audi, BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes, which have strong resale values on foreign markets.

These vehicles can also be broken down into component parts and sold at high prices to unaware consumer.

But the RAC has warned that a plunge in policing numbers is also to blame.

In the last five years alone, forces have pulled 5,975 officers from their departments.

Forces up and down the country have reduced their officers by 15 per cent since 2006 - accounting for a loss of 21,958 personnel - meaning the police presence is the lowest it has been since the 1980s.

This could also explain why statistics for thefts from vehicles are also up.

Some 280,032 cases of cars being broken into a belonging taken from them were reported in the previous financial year, which was up from 258,356 just 12 months previous - an 8.4 per cent hike.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey described the increase in vehicle crime as 'alarming' and said the latest data suggests the situation continues to get worse.

'The current financial year has also not started well, with nearly 60,000 vehicle thefts already recorded up to the end of last September,' he explained.

'They [the stats] also paint a very depressing picture of a society where it is all too easy for gangs of thieves to break in and steal vehicles, and where there are fewer police officers to catch them and bring them to justice.'

Mr Godfrey also warned that motorists are suffering from this crime wave on two fronts.

Not only are their vehicles less secure and more at risk, the rise in thefts is also reflecting on more expensive insurance premiums.

'Every vehicle stolen and not returned safely to its owner represents a cost that is borne by every motorist who lawfully pays their insurance,' he added.

'If the number of thefts could be reduced, then insurance premiums would undoubtedly be lower.

'Aside from this it is impossible to underestimate the impact on individuals and business who suffer from this type of crime.'

Cars vulnerable to relay theft

Audi: A3, A4, A6
BMW: 730d
Citroen: DS4 CrossBack
Ford: Galaxy, Eco-Sport
Honda: HR-V
Hyundai: Santa Fe CRDi
Kia: Optima
Lexus: RX 450h
Mazda: CX-5
Mini: Clubman
Mistubishi: Outlander
Nissan: Qashqai, Leaf
Range Rover: Evoque
Renault: Traffic
Ssangyong: Tivoli XDi
Subaru: Levorg
Toyota: Rav4
Volkswagen: Golf GTD, Touran 5T

Source: German Automotive Club as reported by This is Money in December 2017

Seven major car hacks

1. Relay hack keyless entry

Although, usually, your car keys signal cannot reach the car from inside your home, criminals using a 'relay box' can boost the signal from your car keys even when they're away from the vehicle and imitate the exact signal - causing your car to unlock and allowing the thief access.

Stay safe: The best way to protect yourself from this type of crime is to disable your key signal when not using your car or keeping your keys safe in a secure container that blocks the signal.
2. Keyless jamming

Another method used by criminals is preventing the car key locking signal from reaching your car - it means your car remains unlocked when you move away from it and the thieves are then able to access your unsecured vehicle.

Stay safe: To prevent this from happening, make sure to check your car doors manually and use a steering wheel lock that will stop thieves from being able to take your car, even if it is unlocked. 

3. Tyre pressure monitor systems

A less obvious - and not well known - method is hackers who are able to interact with sensors inside a vehicle's tyres.

This means they are able to track the vehicle and display false tyre pressure readings - this could then lure you to check the pressure at a garage and for thieves to pounce.

Stay safe: When you check your tyre pressure, lock all doors when you do and seek advice from a car garage if in doubt.

4. App flaw local remote control

Many cars possess telematics, often without the driver's knowledge, as many vehicle tracking apps integrate with their technology.

Although this can be handy for those with internet connected cars, it does mean that if a server is misconfigured or can be deliberately altered, hackers can locate, unlock and potentially start the engine of nearby cars.

Stay safe: Speak to your car manufacturer for support. 

5. Controller Area Network disabled safety features

Hackers can access the internal car network through vulnerabilities in a car's wi-fi or phone connections and send 'denial of service' signals which can shut down air bags, anti-lock brakes, and even door locks.

Stay safe: Changing your passwords regularly can help prevent hackers gaining access.

6) On-board diagnostics hack

Cars possess a feature called an 'on-board diagnostic port' which allows garages to access the internal data of a vehicle to perform tasks such as checking service light faults and programming new keys for their owners.

However, it is possible to buy kits which can use this port to program new keys for as little as £50, allowing hackers to use them to create new keys to access vehicles.

Stay safe: Use a steering lock to protect yourself and get advice from a reputable garage. 

7) Phone phishing

If you use wi-fi in your car, hackers may be able to access it through phishing schemes.

They can send emails with links to malicious websites and apps that, if opened, take your details and even take control of any apps that you have on your phone that allow you to interact with your vehicle.

Stay safe: Be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders and do not open links within these emails if you do not know the source.

(10th February 2019)


(Ipswich Star, dated 25th January 2019 author Tom Potter)

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Police recorded a 37% increase in robbery to 436 recorded between September 2017 and 2018, according to the latest annual figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Overall crime increased by 5.8% in Suffolk - against an 8% rise across England and Wales.

The rate of crime per 1,000 residents remains lower in Suffolk (71.1) than on average across the country (86.4).

While weapons possession increased by 18% to 421, offences involving the actual use of knives or sharp instruments fell by 15% - although the reported fall is likely to be related more to how crime is recorded than the number of offences having taken place, and police are working with the Home Office on a way of better reflecting the proportion of crimes in future data.

here were also falls in other types of crime, including and drugs and public order offences (both down 7% to 1,360 and 4,944).

In the same time, Suffolk Constabulary hired 50 officers but dispensed of 14 PCSOs and 28 specials.

A restructure of neighbourhood policing then put more than 100 police officers into Suffolk safer neighbourhood teams in October.

The Home Office workforce figures were released on the same day as publication of the annual crime statistics - and as the Home Secretary announced aggregate amount of grants for each force in the latest police funding settlement for 2019/20.

Suffolk stands to gain £41m in core funding, almost £23m from the former Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) funding formula, along with a £6.8m in legacy council tax grants, payable to local policing bodies which chose to freeze or lower their share of council tax between 2011 and 2016.

The police and crime commissioner proposed a council tax precept increase this year to pay for the recruitment of additional officers.

Suffolk police are continuing to investigate an attempted armed robbery in Beccles on December 18, when two men entered the Oliver & J jewellery store just before 4.30pm and threatened members of staff with a knife before leaving empty handed.

This week, detectives released CCTV images of two men with their faces covered by scarves - both wanted in connection with the attempted armed raid.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged commissioners to make tackling violence against shop workers a key priority.

It welcomed new commitments from Home Office minister Victoria Atkins to address the issue of violence and abuse against retailers.

An extraordinary meeting of the group on will focus exclusively on violence and abuse toward shop workers in February.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said violence against shop workers was a serious issue, affecting thousands of people on a regular basis.

He added: "Tackling violence against shop workers must be a key priority for all authorities - all the way from central government, through to police and crime commissioners and local beat police, and this must include targeted action to deal with shop theft, which is one of the most common triggers of abuse, along with challenging attempted underage sales."

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler said: "The Suffolk figures show a similar picture to that seen nationally.

"Some of the additional offences we record are down to the increasing confidence that victims have in reporting to us. However, we have continued to review and adapt the way in which we work to ensure we keep communities and individual safe and focus on preventing crime.

"In order to ensure we remain able to respond appropriately it is important that our policing model has the flexibility, capability and resilience that is required.

"We continually monitor and analyse where and what type of crime occurs so we can ensure our response is dynamic and effective. We gather information and intelligence from a wide array of sources to ensure we are can take the appropriate actions at the first opportunity.

"Our skilled and capable workforce of police officers, Police Community Support Officers, police staff, Special Constabulary and police volunteers work together to make Suffolk a safe place.

"It is not only the increase in the numbers of crime we are managing but also the increase in their complexity. Crime committed on-line, crimes against the most vulnerable and the national threat from County Lines drug operations mean we need to make challenging decisions on how to make the very best use of the resources and the budgets that we have.

"We remain absolutely determined to ensure that as a Constabulary we continue to do everything we can to protect the communities we serve and those who are the most vulnerable in our society."

"We can't do this by ourselves and the support and assistance we receive from the public is absolutely key.

"We do not take this public trust and confidence lightly and continue to work tirelessly to the benefit of our communities. The response we receive each time we appeal for help to prevent crime or catch criminals is really important to us. Preventing and detecting crime also requires effective partnerships and in Suffolk we have strong support from a range of partners in the public, voluntary and private sectors."

(Hull Daily Mail, dated 25th January 2019 author Sophie Corcoran)

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Violence, robbery, stalking and harassment has risen dramatically in our region in just 12 months, figures show.

Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics show a huge 24 per cent increase in offences recorded in Humberside involving violence against another person in the year October 2017 to September 2018.

Humberside Police also recorded a 19 per cent rise in sexual offences, recording 2,964 in the year, which had gone up from 2,4217 in the year September 2016 to September 2017.

Robbery has also gone up by 17 per cent, rising from 810 to 955 in just a year.

Violence with injury had also risen by seven per cent, going from 9,951 to 10,648. Violence without injury had also risen by 17 per cent from 10,506 to 12,292.

Figures of crime regarding stalking and sexual harassment has gone up 95 per cent in a year from 1,051 to 3,615.

Overall, crime has gone up 13 per cent in the Humberside region from around 517,380 to 563,948 incidents recorded in the year from October 2017 to September 2018.

However, there was also a decrease in some areas of crime in the region.

Burglary is down nine per cent with just 8,443 burglaries recorded from September 2017 to 2018 and criminal damage and arson is down by three per cent, with just 12,939 recorded.

In the year September 2016 to September 2017, 9,284 burglaries were recorded and 13,340 reports of criminal damage and arson were recorded.

Humberside Police say that although the force has seen a rise in crime, the figures fit in with the picture nationally.

The Office for National Statistics recorded an eight per cent rise in recorded crimes in England and Wales.

These figures include a national three per cent increased in vehicle offences, a 17 per cent increase in robbery, a one per cent decrease in burglary and a one per cent decrease in shoplifting, which follows a longer period of increases.

National figures also show a 14 per cent increase in the number of homicides and a 4 per cent decrease in the number of police recorded offences involving firearms.

he force say the figures do not necessarily mean the level of crime has increased, rather the increase in the number of crimes recorded by the police.

Speaking about the national figures, Helen Ross, from the Office for National Statistics Centre for crime and justice, said: "In recent decades we've seen the overall level of crime falling, but in the last year, it remained level.

"There are variations within this overall figure, depending on the type of crime.

"Burglary, shoplifting and computer misuse are decreasing but others, such as vehicle offences and robbery are rising.

"We have also seen increases in some types of 'lower-volume, high-harm' violence including offences involving knives or sharp instruments."

What Humberside Police say

In response to the quarterly crime figures released, Humberside Police deputy chief constable, Chris Rowley, said: "We have seen a slight rise in crime in our area, however this is also the picture nationally with an increase across all crime types and is attributed to a variety of factors.

"The improvements of crime recording by police forces has resulted in more offences being recorded, rather than more crimes actually being committed and is one of the factors that has been associated with the increase.

"In our area, we have seen positive results and reductions in vehicle theft and drug offences, in addition to a nine per cent reduction in burglary. Burglary is an incredibly intrusive crime that can leave people afraid to be in their own homes.

"With the decrease in this type of offence type, which equates to 841 less burglaries in the 12-month period of October 2017 to September 2018 when compared to the same period for the year before, it is a positive indicator that our efforts to tackle this type of offending is really beginning to have an impact.

"Sexual offences continues to see a rise, again nationally, which given the current climate and the high profile reporting in the media over recent years, can be attributed to people having more confidence in the police and in coming forward to report this type of offending, knowing they will be listened to and taken seriously.

"Robbery in our policing area has also increased, however is in line with the national average rise. This by no means we are complacent and there is no continued work taking place to tackle this area of crime and ensure our communities are safe and protected.

"Violent crime has seen an increase which is above the national average, and in our force area can be largely attributed to the recording improvements around stalking and harassment, in particularly in relation to malicious communication offences.

"Our priority is to protect the public and ensure we have a good understanding of our communities so that we can work closely with them to help them prevent crime. However, when a crime is committed, we want people to feel reassured we will investigate thoroughly to hold those responsible to account."

(Salisbury Journal, dated 25th January 2019 author Benjamin Paessier)

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 WILTSHIRE Police is one of only four forces to see a reduction in overall crime, according to the latest figures released by Office for National Statistics.

The police is bucking the national trend of increasing crime figures by seeing a reduction of 1 per cent, as well as a reduction in knife crime by 18 per cent since September 2017.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: "The impact of knife crime can be devastating, not only for the victim and perpetrator, but also their families and friends.

"We are not seeing the same problems in Wiltshire that there are nationally because of the work being done by Wiltshire Police alongside the local authorities and other partners to tackle knife crime.

"This year I want to be able to allocate funding for a renewed focus on crime prevention using a range of tactics to target those who may commit crime in future.

"But the reality is that the police cannot tackle this alone and need to draw upon the strength of communities to play an equal part.

"Parents and schools can play their part by checking what their children are carrying in their bags; it's a good way to educate youngsters too that being caught with a knife could mean they end up in serious trouble as well as risking being injured themselves.

"Long term - good education and prevention means the wider community becomes a safer one.

"I am determined that we will continue to do as much as we can to eradicate knife crime in Wiltshire. Just one knife related incident is one too many and I am acutely aware of this."

Assistant Chief Constable Deborah Smith, the Force lead for crime, justice and vulnerability said: "Wiltshire still remains one of the safest counties to live and work in, and the crime statistics released today show us as one of only four UK forces reporting an overall reduction in crime.

"Due to national media coverage of knife crime problems across the UK, we know this is an area that people have particular concerns about.

"However, here in Wiltshire, we have seen an 18 per cent reduction in knife crime since September 2017.

"There is still a lot of crime prevention work to do around people carrying knives, as incidents of weapon possession are up 3 per cent, but overall we are making very good progress.

"If you suspect someone of illegally carrying a knife, I'd urge you to report it to the police immediately by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.

"Alternatively information can be passed to Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111."

(Eastern Daily Press, dated 26th January 2019 author Luke Powell)

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Norwich's Operation Moonshot team has made more than 100 arrests and seized 65 vehicles since its launch in November.

The mobile unit, which is made up of eight officers, focuses on disrupting organised crime groups as they enter or leave the city by road.

In just 42 shifts the team has recovered £11,000 worth of stolen property, made 109 arrests and seized everything from high-end vehicles to drugs and weapons.

Two Operation Moonshot teams are now active in Norfolk following a successful trial in the west of the county. The Moonshot City team has been operating in Norwich since November last year.

Supt Terry Lordan, from Norfolk police, said: "The team in the city is a 100pc proactive unit that uses technology and intelligence systems to target organised crime groups.

"Part of our strategic aim is to make Norwich a hostile environment for these criminals. This operation aims to disrupt and protect."

The Moonshot City unit has access to police cars fitted with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, which allow them to spot vehicles of interest within seconds.

It is also supported by the roads policing team, and has access to dog units and drone technology.

Some of the team's recent successes include:

- January 8, 2019: The team gave chase to a vehicle that failed to stop at Dereham Road in Norwich.

Once the car was pulled over, a search revealed containers filled with stolen fuel and cloned number plates.

Three men were arrested for failing to stop, fuel theft, cloning a vehicle and going equipped.

- January 19, 2019: The team spots an advert on the website Gumtree for pepper spray.

A vehicle was later stopped and a search revealed a canister or pepper spray, resulting in the driver's arrest.

That led to a further search of the suspect's home address, which uncovered more cans of pepper spray.

Operation Moonshot was launched in west Norfolk in April 2016 as a six-month pilot scheme under Norfolk Constabulary's 2020 restructuring review.

As of May last year, the operation in the west of the county has resulted in more than £1m-worth of items being returned to victims.

More than six-year's worth of jail time was also handed out by the courts as a result of the operation.

(Wales Online, dated 28th January 2019 author Richard Youle)

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Violent, domestic abuse and sexual offences are among the 3,300 reported crimes Dyfed-Powys Police fails to record each year, say Government inspectors.

The inspectors blamed a lack of understanding by police staff and limited supervision to correct errors.

They said the force's crime data recording required improvement.

Dyfed-Powys Police and crime commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, said he wanted to see higher standards, but added that improvements had been made.

The report, by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), said the force had an 87.8% recording rate, based on analysis of six months of crime recording data.

It said: "We estimate the force is not recording over 3,300 reports of crime each year.

"These failings are potentially depriving many victims of the services they are entitled to."

The average recording rate of reported violent crimes was 84.4%, meaning more than 1,500 reports of violent crime were not listed each year.

The HMICFRS report singled out domestic abuse reporting as a concern, and made a number of recommendations to remedy the issue, including that all identified crimes were recorded without delay and in all cases within 24 hours.

Sexual offences recording was higher at 93%, while nearly every offence of taking and sharing indecent images of a young person had been listed.

Six out of 68 rape reports had not been correctly recorded.

Inspectors acknowledged that, overall, improvements had been made since the previous inspection of the force in 2014.

Measures have included the introduction of an incident, crime and allocation team.

Addressing the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel, Mr Llywelyn said the rating from the inspectorate was "not the standard we should be at".

But he said the previous inspection in 2014 had found a 67% recording rate.  "The improvements have been quite dramatic," he added.

The Plaid Cymru commissioner said the force was looking into acquiring a new record management system, and added: "I'm confident that will see us improve even further."

Panel member, Professor Ian Roffe, described the inspectorate's report as "relatively mixed".

He said: "Here we are with that old chestnut again - the recording of crime."

Mr Llywelyn, who was elected to his post in 2016, said: "It is not unique to Dyfed-Powys Police. Crime data integrity is something every force is grappling with."

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked HMICFRS how Dyfed-Powys Police's 87.7% recording level compared with other forces, but a spokesman said: "For various reasons related to how the data is collected and analysed from forces, comparing rates between forces is not something that we'd recommend."

(10th February 2019)

(Sun, dated 25th January 2019 author Hana Carter)

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VICIOUS claws that spring up from pavements have been created by an inventor in a bid to cut down on pedestrian deaths and poor parking.

Yannick Read, 47, who has a grudge against dodgy parkers came up with the tyre-shredding device to deter pavement mounting.

Catclaw' is a metal spike concealed in a dome, that when driven over by rogue drivers will plunge down and push the sharp point upwards - puncturing tyres.

The inventor, from Environmental Transport Association (ETA), told Bristol Live: "We're addressing road danger - there's a real problem with drivers parking on the pavement or driving on the pavement because they can't be bothered to wait.

"In one terrible incident a four-year-old girl using a scooter and a delivery driver crushed her to death in front of her mother - it's an extreme example but it happens far more than it should.

"When you think you're safe on the pavement you aren't safe.

"Last year 43 people were killed by cars as they walked on pavements," he added.

"It's illegal to drive on the pavement, there's no excuse to do it. So if you're not breaking the law your tyres are safe."

He mentioned that the new precautionary measures could prevent terror attacks similar to the London Bridge attack last year where a terrorist plowed through commuters on the pavement.

Current law dictates that pavement parking is only illegal in London, and has been since 1974.

The devices are said to be cheap and simple to construct, but given the nature of the design they may be tricky to get the go ahead by councils.

It has not been made clear whether the Catclaws are safe for people to step on.

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian, dated 24th January 2019 author Matthew Weaver)

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The number of homicides in England and Wales increased by 14% in the year to September 2018, according to official figures that have fuelled calls for more investment in policing.

The Home Office figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that homicide offences, which include murder, manslaughter and infanticide, increased from 649 in 2017 to 739 last year.

The 2017 figure excludes the 35 victims of the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. If these victims are included, the number of homicides still increased by 8% last year. The ONS said excluding the victims of exceptional events such as terrorist attacks provided a more accurate picture of trends over time.

The ONS said homicides had been rising since March 2014 after a previous long-term decline. However, it pointed out that the rate remained relatively very low, at 13 homicides for every one million people in the population.

Homicides in England and Wales rose by 14% to 739 in the year to September 2018

2010 : 620
2011 : 639
2012 : 553
2013 : 558
2014 : 533
2015 : 539
2016 : 595
2017 : 649
2018 : 739

The figures have heightened concern about violent crime, although there was no change in the commonly occurring types of violent crime such as assault and violence without injury. The number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was involved increased by 10% last year, to 276.

Separate figures from the police and NHS suggest violence causing harm is increasing. The number of police-recorded offences involving knives or sharp objects rose 8%, and admissions to hospitals in England after assaults involving sharp objects were up 15%.

Overall, crimes recorded by police went up by 7% last year, to a total of 5,723,182. The ONS said there were 80,947 burglaries in the year ending September 2018, a 17% increase on the previous year. Vehicle offences were up 3% to 457,433.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: "Serious violent crime continues to rise yet the government remains in denial about the effects of its own policies. The Tories have cut police officer numbers. They have also exacerbated all the causes of crime, including inequality, poverty, poor mental health care as well the crisis in our schools, especially school exclusions."

David Jamieson, the crime commissioner for the West Midlands, where recorded crime increased by 10%, said the figures highlighted the need for more police resources.

"West Midlands police has faced £175m in central government cuts since 2010. Despite being recognised by independent inspectors as a highly efficient force, we have lost over 2,000 officers since 2010, meaning we are having to do more with less," Jamieson said.

"These figures highlight the government's short-sighted approach by continuing to apply real-terms cuts to police forces' funding at a time when the pressures on policing are increasing. This is hampering proactive policing that prevents crime."

Alex Mayes, a policy and public affairs adviser at Victim Support, said: "Working with bereaved families through our national homicide service, we know just how destructive these shocking crimes are. Too many families and communities are being shattered by these crimes and we must focus on a joined-up approach with all agencies and organisations taking responsibility to tackle this together."

The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said the government was doing "everything possible" to reverse the rise in crime, particularly violent crime.

He said: "We have listened to police's concerns about rising demand and have proposed the biggest increase in police funding since 2010. I'm confident the new settlement, which delivers up to £970m of additional public investment into policing in 2019/20, will help the police continue to recruit more officers."

(Guardian - Opinion, dated 16th January 2019 author Kate London)

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In August 1982, 17-year-old Yiannoulla Yianni was raped and murdered in her home while preparing food for her family. Thirty-four years later, in 2016, my former team at the Metropolitan police led an investigation that convicted her killer. After the trial, Yiannoulla's brother, Rick, commented that the family never gave up hoping and were "truly grateful to the police for finally bringing him to justice".

Every murder cries out for justice. That's why the Met never closes an unsolved homicide.

The Met has been justifiably proud of its conviction rate for homicide. For a decade it has hovered at around 90% but now it has fallen to 72%. The police commissioner, Cressida Dick, says that with the increasing proportion of stabbings by groups of young people, murders are getting harder to solve. A painful fact hides inside her comments.

In London, murder victims are disproportionately black and young - in the rest of the country numbers are more proportionate to the wider population. The commissioner's words suggest that the murders we are struggling to detect are of these young people. So here's another reason why homicide detection matters; if we want to save young lives in London we have to show others that they cannot kill with impunity. We also need to prove that every killing matters, not just to the families of the victims, but to all of us.

It's in this desperate context that we have learned that the number of police officers investigating homicides in London has shrunk by more than 25% since 2008.

Investigating murder is a painstaking, labour-intensive business. I once watched 48 hours of CCTV of people going in and out of lifts in the hope of seeing one suspect with his hood off. Since 2010 the Met's annual budget has been cut by about 20%. Cuts have consequences: in 2014 some homicide teams were merged so that detectives could be deployed elsewhere. Homicide teams don't operate in a vacuum either - they need firearms officers, administrative support and the intelligence that comes from neighbourhood policing. But the service has lost a third of its support staff, two-thirds of community support officers and around 10% of police officers.

It's not just about numbers, but about training and experience. The Met has 15% fewer detectives than it needs and so, rather than the qualified, experienced detectives I worked with, the homicide directorate recruits officers at police constable level and trains them on the job.

Impossible workloads and the associated stress mean that the Met struggles to recruit and retain detectives. In some units the hours are brutal. A former colleague recalled working 14 long days in succession. She was so tired, she told me, that she had to stop her car and get out to be sick. For many the demands have been too much - sickness has increased and resignations have doubled in four years.

Falling detection rates for murder are the canary in the mine. Police have long been frustrated that they can't deliver a better service or convince the public that the crisis in policing is real and important. That they are not, in Theresa May's discredited words, crying wolf.

The police are part of a social system that is being played like a game of Jenga. The building blocks are being removed one by one - education, housing, support for families, mental health services, domestic violence refuges - and the tower is falling. The police are at the sharp end because the damage manifests itself most urgently in increases in violent crime. But this violence also has a relationship with women not being supported to leave violent partners, people with mental health issues struggling to access services and those boys on London streets, excluded from school, falling prey to individuals offering them something that society isn't: money, a sense of belonging and respect.

A 2017 report from the National Crime Agency shows some street gangs evolving into more serious criminal enterprises: networked, technologically savvy, internationalised, more predatory and sometimes more violent.

Things can get worse. We have to wake up to what is happening, and quickly. Policing is only one, albeit important, ingredient in combating this.

• Kate London is a former homicide detective and the author of the novel, Gallowstree Lane, published by Corvus

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 24th January 2019 author Martin Bentham)

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Knife crime in London remains at near record levels with more than 40 blade offences committed every day, official figures revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said a total of 14,847 knife offences was recorded in the capital during the 12 months to the end of September last year.

The tally - which included 83 knife killings and 161 rapes or sexual assaults carried out with a blade - is 140 fewer than the all-time high of 14,987 registered in the previous rolling annual statistics released three months ago.

But it is still one of the largest 12 month totals ever in the capital. It also amounts to an increase of more than 50 per cent since 2015.

Today's statistics highlight the challenge faced by the Met as it strives to reduce knife crime through a concerted campaign which has involved the increased use of stop and search, weapons sweeps and other tactics designed to deter and catch those carrying blades.

They came as national figures painted a similarly bleak picture with knife offending across England and Wales rising to its highest total since 2011 with an 8 per cent increase in such crimes recorded during the year to the end of September.

The nationwide statistics - which are significantly influenced by trends in London - also show a 15 per cent rise in admissions to hospital with knife injuries, a 14 per cent increase in homicides, and a 17 per cent leap in the number of robberies.

The figures for the capital will, however, add to concerns about the extent of street violence, often fuelled by the drug trade and gang conflict, and the deaths and injuries that are occurring as a result.

They show that on overall knife offending, today's 12 month total of 14,847 knife crimes is 8 per cent up on the equivalent total a year earlier and far higher than many of the annual total recorded by the Office for National Statistics over the past decade.

Figure released by the statisticians show, for example, that in the year to the end of March 2015 a comparatively low total of 9,684 offences was recorded. The tally for the following 12 months was also below 10,000, while the only previous occasion before this year that the year total topped 14,000 was in 2012.

Meanwhile, on knife killings, today's figures show that the latest total of 83 is virtually identical to the 82 a year earlier, but significantly down on the 110 recorded in the year to the end of March 2018.

It is, however, much higher than the knife homicide totals for much of the previous decade, with most years showing totals between 50 and 60 such killings.

In response, Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the causes of violent crime were "extremely complex and deep-seated" and fuelled by problems such as "poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people" which had been worsened by government funding cuts.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said today's figures showed the challenges that London was facing and that recent investment from City Hall would allow police to devote more officers to tackling violent crime.

(10th February 2019)

(Computer Weekly, dated 24th January 2019 author Warwick Ashford)

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The latest crime survey for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the 12 months to September 2018 shows cyber crime is more likely than physical violence or robbery.

The survey found that 1.83% of adults experienced a computer misuse crime, making it more likely than violence (1.75%), theft (0.8%) or robbery (0.3%).

Overall, there was a 33% decrease in computer misuse offences estimated by survey, which is attributed to a 45% decrease in crimes involving malware. However, stats contributed by Action Fraud - which include businesses in their data - found reported compute misuse increased by 12%.

This correlates with the finding of a report from the Parliament Street think tank published in December 2018, which said police investigations into cyber crime were up 14% in a year, with officers forced to follow up over 2,500 complaints of Instagram, Facebook, email and website hacking, and bitcoin ransom, despite a rise in violent crime.

Action Fraud also logged a drop of 25% in reported malware, but saw a significant rise in social media and email hijacking, which increased by 35% in the 12 months under review.

The findings suggest hackers are switching tactics to become more covert, attempting to hijack social media and email accounts and profiteer through spying on organisations and impersonating victims, according to Fraser Kyne, CTO for Europe at malware protection firm Bromium.

"Once again we've seen a drop in computer misuse, but what's particularly interesting is that Action Fraud - which collects data from businesses - saw a 12% overall rise in reported cases, driven by an increase in email and social accounts being compromised," he said.

The results support what Bromium has seen in the past few years. "As hackers have become much more resourceful, changing their tactics to get the best results," said Kyne.

The statistic show that while there was a 145% rise in malware in 2017, that dropped by 25% in 2018 as hackers switched tactics to hijack email and social media accounts.

"The risk here for organisations is that hackers are still exploiting the weakest link in security - people. Business email compromise can be particularly effective for spying on organisations or impersonating users to gain funds, hijack further accounts or attempt to gain access to critical IP [intellectual property]," said Kyne.

It is also worth noting, he said, that Action Fraud's stats reflect only reported crime. "These detected events prove that hackers are still bypassing defences. But we must also assume that malware is breaking through and remaining undetected.

"This is why we need tools that can protect us from the things that we can't see or detect, particularly as hackers are constantly changing tactics," he said.

According to Kyne, organisations in the UK need to stay vigilant, adopting layered defences that utilise application isolation to take the responsibility of security away from users. "Keep critical IP protected and ensuring they can stay one step ahead of resourceful cyber criminals," he added.

At the International Security Expo 2018 in London, detective chief superintendent Pete O'Doherty, lead of cyber and head of economic crime at the City of London Police, described cyber crime as the "most significant harm" in the UK facing police, but said cyber crime is still "significantly under-reported", which is a big problem.

"We want every victim of crime, which includes businesses, to report those crimes - because if we know what the true scale of the problem is, we can start to develop an intelligence-led, coordinated response," he said.

(10th February 2019)

(Mirror, dated 23rd January 2019 author Bradley Jolly)

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Scotland Yard continues to tackle the horrific knife crime epidemic which plagued London, and other large cities, in 2018.

And in just two weeks, the force has seized a shocking number of weapons - including a machete and a hunting knife.

It has tweeted almost 50 pictures of the confiscated knives, used in robberies, left in bushes and gathered in stop and searches.

One terrifying image, shared by the Metropolitan Police, shows a crook's attempt to conceal a razor-sharp knife in a plastic shopping bag.

Officers also discovered a discarded weapon lying by a walkway on an estate in Tottenham, north London.

Meanwhile, a machete, at least 25 inches long, was recovered following a moped chase in Catford, southeast London.

Other large blades were seized from children as young as 15 over a two-week period.

In one incident in Camden, north London, three knives were taken from the same thug after he decided to use a meat cleaver as a weapon.

And a sickening picture tweeted by police in Islington shows a 20-inch sword a suspect was allegedly carrying along with several bags of cannabis.

Affluent areas like Notting Hill and Highgate - home to celebrities including Kate Moss and Jude Law - aren't free from those who choose to carry blades either.

One was unearthed on a Highgate street, while officers attending a disturbance in upper-class Notting Hill allegedly took a kitchen knife, baseball bat and a rolling pin from a group of three men.

And according to Kensington and Chelsea Police's Twitter account, a Batman-shaped knuckle duster was discovered on an estate during a stop and search for driving offences.

Last year was one of the worst in recent years for murders in London.

Figures show the number of people killed hit a 10-year high with more than a fifth of victims teenagers or children.

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

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

It was London's highest homicide total since 2008, which saw 154 people killed, and a 15 per cent rise year-on-year.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick had recently named street violence as her "number one priority" and acknowledged that 2018 was "challenging".

Knife crime campaigners have welcomed the ongoing work to remove weapons and praised police for putting the images on their Twitter accounts.

Patrick Green, of the charity Ben Kinsella Trust, said: "It's really important to take knives off the streets.

"Some of the work the Metropolitan Police have been doing extends beyond stop and search - we know that they are now doing sweeps of parks and public areas.

"That's really an important piece of work for us because we know that habitual knife carriers who are fearful of being stopped will place knives in locations so they can go to that location and retrieve them so the work being done by the police there is really welcomed.

"We have also seen that they are doing a lot of those searches in conjunction with members of the public or community groups so there is a sense of helping other members of the community support to them in their work.

"That's good because local people have a lot of intelligence about where things might be hidden.

"Targeted use of stop and search done in an intelligence led way we are happy with - it's an important police tactic.

"We are really pleased to see the police take a proactive stance however as good as the measures the police take are, they will not on their own solve the knife crime problem.

"Part of the issue we have got to address is the step before someone carries a knife.

"Preventative work and early intervention is as important as everything the police do."

Dr Mark Prince runs the The Kiyan Prince Foundation, which works with young people to end violence.

His son Kiyan, 15, was stabbed to death on May 18, 2006, receiving a single lethal knife wound as he intervened to stop the bullying of another teen.

Dr Prince said: "Work like this does make a difference because every area has to be responsible for the part that they play and for enforcing the law.

"You could have been on the way to using that knife and because you've been caught you've saved a life, so there is sense behind the enforcement and we need that.

"It's collective - everybody needs to be doing their part."

MP Stephen Timms, who was stabbed at one of his constituency surgeries in May 2010, added: "I'm pleased the Met is putting so much emphasis on confiscating knives.

"But we also need to stop people getting them in the first place. That means tackling the online platforms which supply them."

(10th February 2019)

(Mirror, dated 23rd January 2019 author Ian Morris)

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Email scams and phishing are a real problem for many people who get drawn in to realistic looking emails that trick them into giving over their usernames and passwords to nefarious people.

Google is taking the problem seriously, and has released a short interactive quiz that is designed to help educate you on what to look for in a phishing email.

During the quiz you'll be shown emails and you have to say if they are real or phishing scams.

You'll need to look for subtle clues, because most aren't obvious. That includes hovering over the "log in" link and checking the URL of the site you're being sent to.

In some cases this would look legit, but little clues will show that it's phishing.

For example, a Google log in might direct you to the address instead of It's subtle, but not impossible to spot.

The quiz is quite hard, and one question seemed like it was a bit unfair as it asked about a PDF, which isn't necessarily a phishing attempt.

You can find the quiz on :

What is phishing?

Unlike hacks, which may use password cracking software to gain access to your account, phishing uses social engineering to get you to hand over details willingly.

The usually take the form of an official looking email and they are often warning you that your account might be suspended or that you've purchased something expensive.

The idea is to trick you into panicking and thus forgetting the rules of safe online practices.

By saying "your account will be locked if you don't act" or "thank you for your purchase, please log in here to cancel your order" they encourage you to abandon common sense through worry.

How does phishing work?

You'll be sent an email that will look like it's from Apple, PayPal, Google or pretty much any other company. Phishing emails tend to use big name companies because there's a good chance you have an account with one of them.

The email will look legitimate and might be copied from a real email that a company would send.

But instead of taking you to a real account log in page, they forward you to a lookalike site that harvests your details.

How do I avoid a phishing scam?

The single best way is to not click links in an email. So, for example, if PayPal emails to say your account is locked because of a big purchase then simply go to and sign in.

You should also use two-factor authentication on any site that allows it.

What is two-factor authentication

It's a second password, basically. When you log in to Google you can be sent a second code via text message, or press a button in the Google app on your phone, which will confirm your login.

If an attacker has your email and password, two-factor will stop them from being able to log in.

It adds a lot more security for a minimal amount of extra hassle.

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd January 2019 author Isobel Frodsham)

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A COUPLE's keyless car was stolen from their driveway in just 30 seconds by thieves who hacked into its key fob signal from 25 feet away.

Three masked and hooded thieves were caught on CCTV using an aerial antenna to unlock the £ 40,000 Ford Focus R S. Video shows the trio approaching the £1.3 million home in Hampton, while one waves the aerial in the direction of the house.

Despite the key fob being 25 feet from the driveway, apparently safely stashed in an upstairs bedroom, the aerial picked up its signal. Once the signal was scanned from the fob, the thieves only had to press the "start" ignition button to drive the car away. The theft technique is known as relaying.

Video from a doorbell-mounted security camera shows the thieves were able to strike in just 30 seconds.

The victims said the "creative and very clever" thieves had struck while they were asleep early last Thursday. The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "I woke up at 5am and saw a notification on my phone from my security camera at 1.25am. I opened up the video and I couldn't understand what was happening so I showed my husband. He said, 'They just took my car!'

"He saw they were hacking the signal to the car key. They did it very efficiently. In about 15 seconds, the guy holding the antenna was able to find where the keys were by moving it about, and then they opened the car, pressed the button, and off they went."

She added: "It's very creative and very clever. I wish they would use that cleverness to do something more positive to people's lives." The couple have been left feeling unsafe in their home and fitted more security at the weekend.

Police are investigating. They warned owners of keyless cars to use signalblocking pouches to store their fobs.

(10th February 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd January 2019 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Police officers are having to deal with three knife offences a day on Britain's railways, new figures show.

Knife crime on the rail network has more than tripled in the past three years, with British Transport Police (BTP) recording 1,059 offences involving a knife or bladed article last year, up from 338 in 2015.

The number of people caught carrying a knife rose steeply as possession of an offensive weapon increased more than five times from 24 in 2015 to 136 in 2018.

Figures for having an article with a blade or point in a public place rose from 103 in 2015, to 164 in 2016, 222 in 2017, and 387 in 2018.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell from BTP insisted the chance of being a victim of crime on the rail network is "rare", with 19 crimes recorded for every million passenger journeys in the year to March 2018.

Mr Furnell said: "Tackling any rise in crime and removing weapons from the rail network remains our top priority and nationwide, officers have been working tirelessly in the battle against knife crime.

"In response to a national rise in violence and knife crime, officers have conducted a number of intelligence-led operations, focused on cutting knife crime.

"These operations involve plain clothed and uniformed officers and have been highly successful in knives being seized and surrendered.

"Likewise, these targeted operations act as a deterrent to those intent in carrying weapons, these types of offences will be rigorously tackled and our overriding interest is protecting people who use the rail network."

A range of offences involving a knife were recorded by the force, including violence against the person, sexual offences, criminal damage, robbery, theft and drug crime.

Violence against the person involving a knife, which includes crimes such as murder, attempted murder, GBH and possession of a bladed weapon, showed a stark increase from 180 offences in 2015 to 695 last year, the figures show. The number had nearly doubled from the 402 offences recorded in 2017.

"It's comes as no surprise that in a time of brutal cuts to police funding, crime is rising," Nigel Goodband, Chair of BTP Federation told The Telegraph. "This increase on the railways reflects the worrying rise in knife crime in communities across the UK. I know the proactive approach taken by our colleagues has an impact in identifying offences but it's not the full story."

"Policing is being hampered by the Government's desire to cut spending to the bone. Communities are being harmed by these decisions. Ministers have got to come down from their ivory towers and see what's happening on the streets."

The safety of those travelling was brought into fresh focus earlier this month when a 51-year-old man was stabbed to death on board a train travelling from Guildford to London.

IT consultant, Lee Pomeroy, was killed in front of his 14-year-old son after getting into a dispute with another passenger.

A 35-year-old man, Darren Pencille, has been charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, told the Telegraph:  "These alarming figures show the utter failure of Tory Ministers to protect people from crimes involving offensive weapons, especially knives.

 "The number of dangerous incidents that police forces across the country have to respond to has grown sharply. Yet this Conservative Government has cut their budgets by £700 million, putting officers in ever greater danger.

 "The Home Secretary said he is determined to tackle knife crime, but we have yet to see actions to match his words. He should start by urgently investing in community policing and putting more officers on the streets."

The new figures come after the Telegraph revealed earlier this month that violence on the rail network has soared by 75 per cent over the past five years with experts claiming a lack of ticket barriers at stations is helping to fuel lawlessness on trains.

Oliver Lewis, from the Bring Back British Rail campaign group, said the new figures "underlie the importance of having visible staff on trains and at stations, to ensure the personal safety of the travelling public."

He added: "For far too long Britain's privatised railway has had cost savings and economy as its number one priority, de-staffing stations and reducing overall staff levels as much as possible".

(Guardian, dated 18th Janaury 2019 author Amy Walker)

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Violent crime on the London Underground has risen by more than 43% in the past three years, figures have shown.

Data from British Transport Police (BTP) showed 2,838 reported incidents took place between November 2017 and September 2018. Between November 2015 and October 2016, there were 1,980.

King's Cross St Pancras, one of the capital's busiest stations, had the highest number of recorded offences. There were 1,339 incidents during the three-year period.

The London assembly, which published the findings, noted almost 11 million passengers travelled on Transport for London (TfL) services every day, "with very few of them ever experiencing or witnessing crime".

The data, released after a request from Greater London Authority Conservatives, covered the period up to September last year because figures for October were not available.

Weapons offences have increased by 126% since 2015, from 42 to 95, while sexual attacks have risen from 925 to 1,047.

The figures also showed a 25% increase in the number of criminal offences recorded on the tube network, from 10,450 in 2015-16 to 13,101 in 2017-18.

The RMT union blamed government cuts to TfL's budget for the increase.

"We now routinely have reports of stations being left unstaffed and the safety culture being ripped apart as London Underground is turned into a thugs' paradise," said Mick Cash, the RMT general secretary.

"Those cuts to staffing and budgets must be reversed and these appalling figures should serve as a wake-up call to those calling the shots."

Between November 2017 and September 2018, Stratford was the scene of the highest number of violent crimes, followed by Oxford Circus.

Robin Smith, an assistant chief constable at BTP, said: "London has one of the busiest transport networks in the world and the chances of being a victim of crime remains incredibly low, with less than 10 crimes recorded for every million passenger journeys made.

"In the past year, crime involving a weapon has increased. However, it is important to bear in mind that these figures also include the many knives seized in our targeted, intelligence-led operations against knife crime."

TfL funds more than 2,500 Metropolitan police, BTP and City of London police officers to patrol the capital's transport network.

Susan Hall, a Conservative London assembly member, called on the mayor, Sadiq Khan, to cut the millions of what she called "City Hall waste" to provide more officers on London's streets.

(10th February 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 17th January 2019 author Martin Evans)

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Candidates wanting to join the police are being asked to submit photographs showing any tattoos they have - even if they are in intimate areas.

Current rules mean hopefuls wanting to join the force are barred if they have inked designs which are deemed inappropriate or offensive.

Some forces only allow tattoos if they can be hidden from view while on duty, while others permit designs on the arms but not on the neck or face.

But applicants wanting to join some forces are being asked to declare all tattoos wherever they are on the body and submit two photographs of the design for consideration.

Among the forces that ask for photographs of all tattoos are Kent, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.

According to South Yorkshire's Appearance and Standards Policy, having a tattoo does not automatically prevent someone from successfully becoming an officer, but each design has to be assessed by senior officers.

The guidelines state: "Tattoos visible on your forearms or visible in an open collared/short sleeve are not considered appropriate for those in public facing roles and must be covered.

"If you have tattoos you will need to make a declaration at the time of application. We will ask you to send in two digital pictures of each tattoo. Please note you must declare ALL tattoos, whether visible in uniform or not.

"One distance photograph clearly showing where on the above body area the tattoo is located and a second close up photograph that we can use to assess this against our standards."

In 2017 the College of Policing issued new guidelines intended to relax the rules around visible tattoos in the police.

With almost a third of young people having inked designs on their bodies, there was concern that bans in the police was affecting recruitment.

The Police Federation, which represents 120,000 rank and file officers, also expressed concern that different policies being adopted across the country was making it difficult for people to transfer between forces.

In 2012, the then Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, ordered that all visible tattoos must be covered up while on duty claiming they damaged the professional image of the Met.

But last year that policy was relaxed under the current Commissioner, Cressida Dick, who said the ban on visible tattoos was putting many young people off joining.

Officers joining the South Yorkshire force are also barred from having any facial or tongue piercings.

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th January 2019 author Sean Morrison)

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Upskirting is set to become a criminal offence in the spring, with the offence carrying up to a two year jail sentence.

A new law passed its final legal hurdle yesterday when it received its third reading in the House of Lords' Upper Chamber.

The legislation is now only awaiting the formality of Royal Assent.

It comes after campaigners argued existing laws for voyeurism and public decency did not provide enough scope for a conviction.

Gina Martin was a victim of upskirting at a gig in Hyde Park and following this launched a campaign to make the act a sexual offence.

The campaigner, who lives in London, said she was "over the moon" that the bill passed its final stage in the Lords.

In a statement, she said: "We have change the law!! I always thought politics was impenetrable, but with the right help and the willpower you can do it."

(Independent, dated 16th January 2019 author Caitlin Morrison)

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Upskirting is to become a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to two years in prison, and it's about time.

It is a resounding success for an 18-month campaign by activist Gina Martin. She began the fight for legislation after being upskirted at a music festival, only to be told that police could not deal with it as it wasn't a specific offence.

By and large, however, the law has been slow to get to grips with how technology can be used to make people's lives miserable, and specifically how it's used against women.

Upskirting was made possible by new technology that has become part of everyday life. The same goes for revenge porn, which was made a criminal offence in England and Wales in 2015, and also carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Incidentally, the passing of this new law is also a depressing reminder of how Northern Ireland is failing to protect the rights of the women (laws on upskirting have been in place in Scotland since 2010). No upskirting legislation exists there - and with Stormont still at a standstill it's likely to be a long time before it does.

Revenge porn offers a chastening example of how the legal system is playing catch up when it comes to tech, and how victims have been badly served by a failure to get ahead of sinister trends.

A law may have been introduced, but victims who have had sexual images or video footage shared by a former partner prior to 2015 have little recourse to justice through the courts, forced to rely on older legislation that refers generally to malicious communications. In other words, a victim who is alerted to posts today would not be helped by the new law if the images were shared before 2015.

The law also requires proof of "intent to cause distress", which makes securing convictions pretty difficult. The phrase seems redundant. It's rare that a case of revenge porn won't cause distress.

Tech-facilitated stalking is another growing problem. Social media has given stalkers more access to victims than ever before, often providing multiple platforms through which to communicate with them.

It's also much easier to track a person these days, and what makes it truly terrifying is that a person does not need to be active on social media to have a presence online. So much can be gleaned about someone solely through the accounts of friends and family members, which must make it unspeakably frustrating for stalking victims used to being advised against sharing too much personal information online. That's official advice handed out by police, who clearly are yet to find a way to really tackle the use of social media by stalkers - which suggests it will be a long time before the authorities are ready to deal with the threat posed by newer technologies.

Last summer, the domestic violence charity Refuge reported that it had seen an alarming rise in the number of incidents of technological abuse, which included stalking via smart home and web-connected gadgets.

When you stop to consider how quickly these devices have proliferated and become everyday items in so many people's homes, it's perhaps unsurprising that the perpetrators of abusive behaviour have almost as quickly found ways to use them to do harm. 

There have been widespread calls for specific laws relating to cyber stalking and harassment to be put on the books - at the moment, the legal principle is what's legal offline is legal online. But online offenders are harder to track down, and offline stalking is hard enough to prove. Meanwhile, the number of stalking offences reported has gone up in recent years, while prosecutions have sunk.

So while the upskirting legislation is definitely to be welcomed, the application of the law should be monitored carefully. We've got the words - including the 100,000 signatures Gina Martin gathered on her petition to criminalise the act - now it's time to see some action.

(10th February 2019)

(BBC News, dated 15th January 2019)

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West Midlands Police is "failing victims" and not recording more than 16,600 violent crimes each year, a watchdog has said.

The force was rated inadequate by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, who said victims felt let down and not believed.

Only 78% of violent crime and 89% of sexual offences reported were recorded, it found.

The force said it had made "substantial progress".

About three-quarters of police forces around the country have already been inspected and of those, two-thirds were rated as either "inadequate" or "requiring improvement".

Reports from inspections were first published in 2016, after police forces throughout England and Wales were found to have an "utterly unacceptable" rate of accurately recording crime.

The recording rate by the West Midlands force remained "unacceptable and must be urgently addressed", the watchdog said.

"Too often the force is still failing victims of crime, including domestic abuse victims," it said.

Victim Support, an independent charity for crime victims in England and Wales, said the findings had "the potential to undermine public trust in the criminal justice system".

An "unrecorded" crime is one that has been reported to the police but not recorded as an offence, and means the alleged crime may not have been investigated.

In 2017 HMICFRS said five out of six reported crimes were recorded by West Midlands Police but 38,800 crimes each year were not.

It was re-examined for violent crime and sexual offences in 2018, with inspectors auditing a sample of reports from 1 March to 31 May.

But they could not look at other types of crime because the force was updating its systems.

Of the 2,176 reports of crime audited, 470 related to domestic abuse - of these 354 were recorded.

Of those not recorded, 95 included offences classed as violent, such as common assaults, ABH, harassment and malicious communications.

The report said: "We found several examples of attending officers letting down victims by simply not believing them.

"Some incident logs contained closing comments that were completely different to the initial call and recorded no crime, without an adequate explanation."

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, from West Midlands Police, claimed the watchdog had failed to recognise its strengths in recording crime overall.

She said: "It is frustrating that, despite substantial progress, our grading has remained as inadequate."

Ms Rolfe said the force was confident its current position was "much improved" and it could not be criticised for failing to put more resources into crime recording.

The watchdog also published a report on Leicestershire, which was again rated as "inadequate".

When it was first inspected in 2017, Leicestershire had the worst rate for recording crime out of 30 forces reported on.

While there were some improvements for 2018, the watchdog found the overall recording rate and the rates for violent crime and sexual offences were too low.

In 2018, the force recorded about 84% of reported crime, up from 75% the previous year, and 79% of violent crime, rising from 66%. For sexual offences, 88% were recorded.

In terms of cancelled crimes, HMICFRS said Leicestershire's standards had become worse. Among 49 victims who should have been told a crime had been cancelled, 15 were not informed, which the watchdog said "remains a concern".

Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole said: "Crime recording is a complex issue and this inspection looks at our technical compliance with a national crime recording system - something which is focused on numbers, categories, how crimes are manually logged on systems and then audited."

Diana Fawcett, of Victim Support, said: "By not recording crimes accurately the police are not then in a position to help victims access the help and support they need.

"These reports have the potential to undermine public trust in the criminal justice system and deter people from reporting crimes in the future."

Kate Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England & Wales, said the reviews were "seriously concerning".

"Anyone who reports a sexual offence should be treated with respect, empathy and impartiality and have their report properly investigated," she said.

Under-recording of violent crime (Source: HMICFRS crime data integrity reports)

Estimated percentage of reports that are not recorded by police forces

Thames Valley : 31%
Linconshire : 27%
North Yorkshire : 25%
West Midlands : 22%
Lancashire : 22%
Leicestershire : 21%
Humberside : 21%
Cambridgeshire : 20%
Cleveland : 19%
Nottinghamhire : 17%
North Wales : 17%
Dyfed-Powys : 16%
Hertfordshire : 15%
Bedfordshire : 14%
South Yorkshire : 14%
Greater Manchester : 13%
Metropolitan : 12%
Wiltshire : 12%
Merseyside : 12%
Avon and Somerset : 12%
Gwent : 11%
South Wales : 10%
Staffordshire : 10%
Durham : 7%
Surrey : 7%
Devon and Cornwall : 7%
Northumbria : 6%
Cheshire : 5%
Sussex : 4%
Kent : 4%

(10th February 2019)

(The Times, dated 15th January 2019 author Andrew Ellson)

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Councils are spending millions of pounds spying on residents despite cutting services in almost every other area.

Local authorities in England have spent more than three quarters of a billion pounds on CCTV over the past decade, an increase of 17 per cent a year since 2010. Over the same period councils have reduced spending on street cleaning by 12 per cent, food safety by 16 per cent, trading standards by 32 per cent and libraries by 35 per cent.

Critics said the increase in spending on CCTV while other departments had their budgets cut was "offensive".

Silkie Carlo, of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: "Research consistently shows that public cameras are ineffective at deterring, preventing or even solving crime, but that CCTV does curb citizens freedom. The UK is already one of the most surveilled nations in the world, with six million CCTV cameras recording us every day.

"Surveillance is no substitute for policing and this will prove to be a terrible waste of money."

John O'Connell, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers will want to know exactly how effective these CCTV cameras are in preventing and investigating crimes.  Any spending decisions should prioritise the safety of residents and the most effective means of delivering public services." The figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government show that England's councils spent £78.5 million on CCTV last year compared with £66.3 million in 2010.

Local authorities also appear to be recruiting additional staff to monitor their cameras as more councils use CCTV networks to fine residents for minor traffic and other offences, such as straying into bus lanes or dropping litter. The figures show that local authorities spent £31 million on wages for CCTV staff, up more than 20 per cent on 2010.

Over the same period, £60 million was wiped from the street cleaning workforce and £38 million taken from the Trading Standards payroll, with thousands of road sweepers and inspection officers made redundant.

The higher spending on CCTV follows concern about the effectiveness of the cameras. In 2016 Westminster council decommissioned its network of fixed cameras syaing that there was only "limited evidence" that they helped deter crime.

However, under pressure from Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, the council has since agreed to help to fund a new network of cameras.

Councils say that the higher spending is justified. Simon Blackburn, of the Local Government Association, said: "CCTV plays a vital role in protecting the public by dissuading crime and antisocial behaviour, assisting police officers on the ground and supporting prosecutions for offences ranging from fly-tipping and traffic violations to acts of theft, robbery and serious violence.

"Public surveillance cameras have helped bring criminals to justice, help increase conviction rates after crimes are detected, and are an important tool in tracking terrorist suspects.

"CCTV also reduces costs to the public purse as anyone caught committing an offence on camera is likely to plead guilty, saving time on trials. This is why councils have continued to prioritise investment in CCTV where possible, while improving the value for money they get from their systems."

Big Brother Watch is calling on councils to report statistics on the number of crimes detected, investigated and solved by each camera to demonstrate their necessity.

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th January 2019 author Sean Morrison)

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Scotland Yard's murder investigation unit has lost a quarter of its officers and staff over the past decade, data shows.
The unit's overall strength decreased by a huge 26 per cent between 2008 and last year, the figures suggest.

And the number of major investigation teams (MITs) appears to have decreased from 26 to 18.
The revelation comes amid a rising tide of violence on London's streets, with the number of homicides reaching 128 in 2018.

This is the highest level seen in a calendar year this decade, according to analysis.

Last year there were 315 fewer police and civilians working for the Met's homicide and major crime command (HMCC) than there were in 2008, the same data revealed.

Data from Britain's largest police force showed that there were half the number of officers within the specialist HMCC and MIT teams last year than there were a decade earlier.

The figures were released to the Press Association under freedom of information law.

Scotland Yard said its HMCC includes murder detectives as well as specialist operations, such as Winter Key - its child sex abuse probe - and investigations into alleged electoral fraud and the Grenfell Tower fire.

Explaining the figures, a spokeswoman for the force said: "The Metropolitan Police Service frequently adjusts resources to respond to violence in London."

However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan blamed a shortfall in police funding, which has seen the overall number of police officers drop below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.

"This is the stark reality of years of damaging government cuts that have seen the Met having to make colossal savings of £850 million," a spokesman said.

The revelations come amid a rising tide of violence in the capital with the number of homicides reaching 128 in 2018 - according to PA analysis - the highest level in a calendar year this decade.

London has seen a bloody start to 2019, with six murder probes launched so far, including one into the death of 14-year-old Jaden Moodie.

The youngster was rammed off a moped and repeatedly stabbed in east London last week in what detectives believe was a targeted attack.

Data showed that the total strength of the Metropolitan Police's HMCC dropped from 1208 in 2008 to 893 in 2018 - a 26 per cent decrease.

The number of HMCC officers dropped from 850 to 715 - a dip of nearly 16  per cent - over the period, while the number of other staff members fell from 358 to 177 - a 50 per cent plunge.

In 2008, the Met had 717 police officers and 168 other staff working across 26 MITs. But last year there were 402 officers - 43 per cent fewer - and just 36 other staff - a 78 per cent reduction -working across 18 MITs, which represents a 50 per cent overall decrease in MIT strength, according to the data.

Scotland Yard's HMCC dropped to its lowest staffing levels across the period in 2017, when there were just 590 officers and 168 other staff, making a total strength of 758.

However, a boost in officer numbers to 715 and civilian staff members to 177 last year, saw an increase in total HMCC strength to 893 - a percentage increase of almost 18 per cent from the previous year and a return to its highest level since 2014.

Figures released separately in December by the Mayor's office show the overall strength of the Met police went from 31,460 on October 31 2008 to 29,654 on the same date last year - a decrease of 5.7 per cent.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: "This is the stark reality of years of damaging government cuts that have seen the Met having to make colossal savings of £850 million, which has resulted in officer numbers falling below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.

"While even the Home Office admits there is a link between the increase in violence and a decrease in officer numbers, it's fallen on deaf ears with ministers failing to reverse the cuts which could see the number of police officers fall still further by 2022."

Scotland Yard said last week: "The Metropolitan Police Service frequently adjusts resources to respond to violence in London.

"The remit of the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) incorporates murder detectives as well as a number of specialist operations including the Met's special enquiry team, operation Winter Key and enquiries into election fraud.

"HMCC staff figures also reflect those working on the Grenfell Tower fire investigation."

Reporting by the Press Association.

(10th February 2019)

(The Times, dated 15th January 2019 author Fiona Hamilton)

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Police used an interpreting company that recruited unqualified translators even after a criminal trial collapsed because one of its linguists told a suspect what to say.

Three police forces paid £1.1 million to ITL North East despite concerns over its employees because the interpreter told a suspect: "Don't tell them too much." Jan Kartak, 76, a Czech citizen, continued to be used as an interpreter after the transcript of the police interview resulted in the collapse of the trial in 2016.

Concerns over translations by the company also caused delays in the trial of an eastern European slave gang, costing the taxpayer about £200,000.

ITL, run by Grace Tia Bon Bon, recruited students at jobs fairs and used an untrained woman who had been in the UK for only a few months as a translator in a police interview.

Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces have now stopped using the company but their expenditure on ITL was uncovered in a freedom of information request.

Stephen Bishop, of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, said: "I'm really concerned that people are being picked up off the street because they can speak a language and then are being used as interpreters. This seems to me to be a complete misunderstanding of what interpreting is about - it needs specific skills and a high level of language ability."

Mr Kartak had been brought in to a police interview to interpret for a juvenile suspect but was unable to explain the police caution in full, meaning that the interview was not compliant with legislation. Transcripts obtained by BBC Newcastle revealed that Mr Kartak interrupted the suspect and said: "Listen, don't tell them too much - just tell me what I ask you."

The youth was tried at Teesside crown court with Jioi Istok and Michal Cina, charged with blackmail, in August 2016 but because of the quality of the interpretation the case collapsed. When it was heard again in October 2016 the juvenile was acquitted and the two men were convicted and jailed for three and a half years each.

Last year Mr Kartak worked on the case of the Rafael family, a gang of Slovakian gypsies jailed for 40 years for keeping slaves in the cellars of their homes. The trial, also at Teesside crown court, was delayed for three weeks while qualified interpreters examined the work of Mr Kartak and two of his ITL colleagues.

Northumbria police, which leads on interpreting services for the forces, requested a full audit of all ITL interpreters' qualifications after concerns were raised at the slavery trial. It said that interviews were independently re-examined but this did not lead to any substantial change to the prosecution case. It confirmed that "the force has instructed a new supplier".

The BBC investigation found that Eugenija Steponkut was among the students recruited by ITL at job fairs. She was driven to a Newcastle police station to interpret an interview with a Lithuanian man accused of attacking his partner. She said: "It had only been two or three months since I'd been in England in total so when I came there I didn't get everything the policeman was saying. I tried my best."

Ms Steponkut said that she had no interpreting qualifications and was given no training by ITL.

ITL said: "All interpreters supplied by ITL meet the qualifications required and are suitably registered. Students may be recruited but are only used when trained and registered."

(10th February 2019)

(Belfast Live, dated 15th January 2019 author Sarah Scott)

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A con artist has scammed a pensioner in Northern Ireland out of her £45,000 savings in what police have described as an "absolutely despicable crime".

The woman, based in Craigavon and aged in her seventies, had tried to access her email last week but kept getting a message telling her she was typing in the wrong password.

On Tuesday, January 8, she contacted her telecoms provider in a bid to resolve the issue and, after a short time, she could access her email.

But then she was called by a man claiming to represent the same telecoms and internet provider. He asked her to complete a number of things on the computer, claiming it was all part of checks he was conducting.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "Among the instructions the fraudster gave the woman was to log on to her banking app. It appears software - TeamViewer - was subsequently installed giving the fraudster remote access to the victim's computer, her bank account and the ability to transfer close to £45,000 from her account.

"This is an absolutely despicable crime.  The women has lost her hard earned savings and this has left her extremely distressed. "

But this was not the only report of fraud last week and on Friday, January 11, police received a further 11 reports of fraud, including reports of people being targeted by scammers claiming to represent HMRC.

Chief Superintendent Walls added: "A second woman was contacted on social media, via Facebook. She replied to a message which she believed was genuine and was from someone she knew informing her she'd won a competition. Replying, she was re-directed to a site which advised she would have to transfer £2,000 before she could get her winnings. As a result of the communication, she unknowingly passed her personal details to the scammer and lost £2,000.

"Sadly, this is just another example of how easy it is for scammers to fool people. This is why it is so important that people become scam aware. Families also need to keep an eye on their loved ones, especially older members of their family. Have the conversation; sit down and talk about these types of scams and what they need to do to protect themselves online, on the phone and post.

"While it's reassuring some people are able to spot these scams, and they are picking up the phone to report them to us, other people are being still being caught out. I would continue to urge members of the public to always err on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service.

"If you are at all suspicious about a call you receive, hang up and phone the organisation the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally, make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line. Never be pressured into a transaction over the phone.

"Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.

"Telecoms providers will never call to tell you they have found a problem with your computer; they will never ask for payment details over email or live chat; and they will never call out of the blue and ask for remote access to your computer or other devices.

"Internet/Broadband providers will never call to tell you your router or IP address has been compromised or that your broadband has been hacked. They will also never call to threaten to disconnect your service if you don't make a payment immediately.

"If you have received any calls asking for any of these details or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101. "

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th January 2019 author Justin Davenport)

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Two London postcodes are ranked in the top 20 of the country's most burgled hotspots, according to research.

The worst postcode for burglary in the capital is said to be Clayhall, or the IG5 postcode, in Redbridge, east London.

The Ilford suburb is ranked third in the country for burglary hotspots, behind Ingatestone in Essex and Henley-in-Arden on the outskirts of Birmingham, which recorded the most burglary claims in the UK.

Also in the top 20 is ­Teddington, or TW11, which is ranked 19th, a fall from eighth in the previous year's list.

Buckhurst Hill on the borders of Essex and London - one of the ­settings for reality television show The Only Way Is Essex - came 20th in the rankings.

The data, compiled by price ­comparison site MoneySuperMarket, analysed more than 2.5 million home ­insurance quotes from the last two years to identify burglary hotspots.

The top five burgled postcodes in London were Clayhall, which registered 47 claims per 1,000 quotes, followed by Teddington, Hampton (or TW12), Woodford Green (IG8) and the HA3 postcode in Harrow.

The five least-burgled postcodes in London also included some of the wealthiest, and the best policed. They were SW3 in Chelsea, the EC1Y postcode in Barbican, SW1X in Belgravia, SE11 in Kennington, and the Westminster SW1P postcode, which includes the Houses of Parliament.

While only two London postcodes made the top 20 burglary hotspots, the website also released survey data showing that 28 per cent of Londoners believe their area is a burglary hotspot, while the UK average is 19 per cent.

The MoneySuperMarket data indicated the number of burglary claims to be rising at a rate of 16 per cent nationally, compared with Met police data showing break-ins in London rising at a rate of 11 per cent.

Emma ­Garland, data scientist at Money­SuperMarket, said burglars tended to target suburbs and urban areas, with small towns and villages the safest places to live.

She advocated more use of deterrents such as window locks and burglar alarms.

She said: "It's surprising that almost half of people haven't put any additional protection in place, despite one in five believing they live in a burglary hotspot. For thieves, it's all about risk versus reward - if the reward looks likely to exceed the risk, they are going to target that home. Homeowners must do as much as possible to tip the balance in their favour and make things harder for burglars."

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 15th January 2019 authors Ian Drury and Rebecca Camber)

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Gangs are ruthlessly exploiting a legal loophole to get away with luring children as young as 12 to become 'county lines' drug mules, police revealed yesterday.

Hundreds of vulnerable boys and girls have been groomed by gangs based in Britain's biggest cities to carry cocaine and heroin to small market towns and seaside resorts, exposing them to horrific violence.

Gangs tell the children that if they are caught by police peddling drugs they should cite Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act - effectively protecting them from prosecution.

MPs were told yesterday that 'Mr Bigs' are abusing the law, introduced by Theresa May as home secretary in 2015, to safeguard their illicit networks.

Meanwhile, police chiefs said that 505 suspects had been arrested since Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to strengthen the fight against crime gangs.

The gangs' operations are named after the phone lines used to organise the trade.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, modern slavery lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council, said that under Section 45 anyone aged under 18 is not guilty of committing a crime if it is carried out as a 'direct consequence' of 'exploitation'.

He told the Commons home affairs select committee: 'Section 45 is a brilliant piece of legislation but it is having an unintended consequence. It is enabling top-end serious and organised crime people to coerce others by building it into their defence.'

However, it also emerged that county lines gang bosses will be charged with slavery offences. Police and prosecutors believe the labels of 'slave master' and 'child trafficker' are more likely to deter gang bosses than if they were solely prosecuted under drugs laws.

The modern slavery laws also enable the courts to impose tougher penalties.

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 14th January 2019 author Sophia Sleigh)

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A Met chief today said it would take "many decades" for the force to accurately reflect the make-up of London's population at present rates.

Black and ethnic minority officers account for 14 per cent of the Met's 29,700 police officers, despite constituting 40 per cent of the capital's population. Only 27 per cent of the force are women.

Deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House said: "The rate that we are going, it's going to be many decades before we get there."

He told the London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee that figures for ethnic minority officers were "very poor" and said the force was not retaining mothers returning from maternity leave.

He added that the Met's decision to temporarily lift a ban on recruits from outside the capital would further reduce the proportion of black and Asian officers.

Sir Stephen said: "It was a very difficult decision. There was agonising around what this would do to the mix of our recruits. But eventually we felt we were simply not making progress in increasing our numbers."

The Met recently launched a recruitment campaign focused specifically on women. However, co-leader of the Green Party and London Assembly member Siân Berry said more needed to be done to remedy the disparity.

She calculated that at the current rate of change it would take until 2070 before black and Asian officers represent their numbers in the population.

Ms Berry told the Standard: "They should be going out and specifically recruiting cohorts from particular communities. We do have a problem with trust with the police in particular groups. The only real way [to solve this] is for the police to look, sound, feel and be part of these groups and communities."

Sir Stephen told the meeting he had "reservations" about affirmative action. At the last census 40.2 per cent London's population were recorded as from ethnic minorities.

In November the Met extended its recruitment drive for officers from outside London as part of efforts to recruit more than 2,500 officers to bring total officer numbers up to 30,700.

(10th Febraury 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 14th January 2019 author Ross Lydall)

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New concerns about road safety emerged today as dozens of people were revealed to have been hit by London buses at pedestrian crossings.

There were at least 71 collisions at zebra and traffic light-controlled crossings between January 2016 and last November, according to figures provided by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The true figure could be far higher due to weaknesses in the way bus companies report crashes to Transport for London.

Eight people were killed and 719 seriously injured in collisions involving London buses in the year to last June, a separate analysis of TfL data by the GMB union revealed.

Mr Khan, who has a Vision Zero policy of eliminating road deaths in London, has described this as "chilling".

He told bus safety campaigners last month: "It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our transport network."

Today's figures, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, reveal Oxford Street to be the most common location for pedestrian injuries involving buses at "designated crossings".

There were two incidents involving the 159 bus, one involving the 94 and one the 390. There was also a crash in New Oxford Street involving the 19.

TfL and Westminster council want to reduce the number of bus routes on Oxford Street to no more than four, but they have fallen out over the Mayor's wish to part-pedestrianise the street.

Lib-Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who obtained the figures, said: "Despite all the rhetoric about achieving zero deaths and injuries on our roads these figures are a stark reminder of how far we need to go to make our roads safer for everyone.

"It is absolutely vital that we ensure pedestrian crossings are a place of total safety for pedestrians."

TfL is cutting speeds to 20mph on its roads in central London and will launch a new training course for all 25,000 drivers in April. All buses will be required by 2024 to have automatic brakes that operate when a pedestrian is detected in front of the vehicle.

Technology trials will begin later this year. Claire Mann, TfL's director of bus operations, said: "We are taking every action possible to reduce the unacceptably high number of people killed or seriously injured on our streets.

"We are introducing better bus driver training and a range of improvements to the buses themselves.

"This focus will take us towards our aim of reducing to zero the number of people killed in or by a London bus by 2030 or sooner, and for all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions to be eliminated."

The total number of road deaths in London increased from 116 in 2016 to 131 in 2017 - including 73 pedestrians.  Buses or coaches account for five per cent of injuries to pedestrians. Cars account for 61 per cent.

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian, dated 14th January 2019 authors Paul Torpey, Pablo Gutierrez and Cath Levett)

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uaware note : The original article provides names of the victims and London borough where their life was taken.

Last year 135 people were murdered or unlawfully killed in London - the highest total since 2008. Many of the victims were teenagers or in their twenties and most were stabbed.

Of the 132 victims of homicide in London last year for whom data is available, 76 were stabbed, 15 were shot and 41 were killed by other means. Every borough bar Harrow, Sutton and Bexley saw at least one killing.

A deadly year

News of several fatal stabbings in London over New Year's Eve 2017 foreshadowed the year to come. A high rate of killings was evident throughout the first half of 2018 with March the single deadliest month. Two teenagers were shot and killed on consecutive days in early April; the deaths of 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake in Tottenham and 16-year-old Amaan Shakoor in Walthamstow heightened a sense of crisis.

In September the homicide toll hit 100 at the earliest point of the year since 2008. The tally then became the highest overall for a decade in mid-December when the 2009 figure of 130 was surpassed.

Young male victims predominate

More than two-fifths of all people killed in London in 2018 were men aged under 30. These deaths were heavily concentrated in the 15-24 age group. Five teenagers died in both February and April, when two of the dead were women aged 17 and 18. Overall, there were almost three male victims of homicide for every woman killed. Female victims were more evenly distributed throughout the age groups and more likely to die by means other than stabbing or shooting, including domestic abuse.

Most homicides are stabbings

Those killed under the age of 30 were predominantly stabbed to death and all but three of last year's fatal shootings also involved victims in this age group. Surgeons have spoken of how horrific gun and knife injuries are now commonplace. The high number of deadly stabbings is reflected nationally, with 2018 the fourth worst year on record for knife deaths among under-20s in England and Wales.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has faced criticism for the high number of deaths. Middle-class cocaine use fuelling drug-related gang violence, cuts to police budgets and the normalisation of carrying knives for personal security and status have all been blamed. Khan has announced a number of initiatives including a £45m fund for educational and cultural projects to steer young people away from crime, as well as an attempt to replicate a successful Scottish approach that treated violence in Glasgow as a public health issue.

With 2019 off to a similarly lethal start, pressure to reduce the number of killings is unlikely to relent. Two people were stabbed to death in the early hours of New Year's Day and on 8 January 14-year-old Jayden Moodie was hit by a car and stabbed in Leyton.

Data sources: Metropolitan police, Murdermap and Guardian research. The Met's current total for homicides in London in 2018 is 135 but the force does not habitually provide an itemised list.

Murdermap weebsite :

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 12th January 2019 authors Richard Spillett and Connor Boyd)

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Britain's postal areas and occupations with the highest rate of drink and drug driving convictions on their car insurance policies have been revealed.

Hereford emerged with the greatest number of drink and drug driving convictions at 2.30 for every 1,000 drivers - an increase of 0.8 compared to last year.

Crewe, 1.86, and Blackpool, 1.68, follow closely behind, while Sunderland, which last year took the top spot, has dropped to fourth place with a rate of 1.62 convictions per 1,000 people.

At the other end of the scale, London dominates the list of postcodes with the lowest conviction rates for the third year in a row.

North West London boasts the lowest rate, with just 0.45 convictions per 1,000 drivers, while four other London postal areas also feature in the bottom ten.

North, 0.56, East, 0.61, South West, 0.61, and West London, 0.67. Outside of London, the Scottish town of Galashiels is joined by Bradford, Perth, Cambridge and Luton as areas with the lowest drink and drug driving offences.

When it comes to gender, the data reveals that men, 1.34, are more than twice as likely to drink and drug drive as women, 0.66, while the total number of convictions for women has halved over the last year (1.20 to 0.66).

The analysis looked at over six million car insurance quotes run on MoneySuperMarket over 12 months - from 1 November  2017 to 31 October 2018.

In terms of occupation, plumbers are most likely to get behind the wheel while under the influence, an increase of 17.26 per 1,000 since 20174.

Students still remain in the top two, though numbers have decreased considerably since last year, from 28.48 to 5.93 per 1,000.

Scaffolders, ground workers and builder labourers are also amongst the top five with a greater likelihood of drink or drug driving.

Despite this, the data from MoneySuperMarket reveals that the overall drink and drug driving rate has decreased by 29 per cent since last year, from 1.47 to 1.05 per 1,0005- though this trend doesn't apply to 17-24-year olds, for whom rates have risen by 10 per cent.

Toyota, Fiat and Porsche owners have significantly reduced their drink and drug driving conviction rates in the last 12 months, nearly halving the number of offences from 1.18 to 0.56 (Toyota), 1.95 to 0.99 (Fiat) and 0.82 to 0.47 (Porsche).

Emma Garland, data scientist at MoneySuperMarket, said: 'With Christmas parties and festivities coming up, there is more chance of people getting behind the wheel under the influence as they may not realise how much alcohol they've had.

'Driving the next morning while unknowingly still over the limit is also a key factor, especially for those who may have particularly early starting times, such as labourers and plumbers. However, it's reassuring to see that convictions have decreased since last year and hopefully they will continue to do so year on year.

'Drink or drug driving can be damaging not only to your licence, but also to yourself and others - so if you are doubting your sobriety, don't put yourself or others at risk by driving, even if it seems like an inconvenience at the time.'

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 11th January 2019 author Charlie Bayliss)

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More than a third of people have not seen a police officer or community support officer on the beat in their area for the past year, according to new figures.

The survey of more than 17,000 people in England and Wales also provided the latest indication of public views on police visibility.

Research found two in five people in England and Wales believe crime and anti-social behaviour are a big problem in their area.

The survey was commissioned by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to assess the public's perceptions of police and crime in 2018.

The percentage of people who believe crime and anti-social behaviour in their area is a 'very big' or 'quite a big' problem also rose from 30 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent last year.

Respondents are split as just over half (56 per cent) believe there is not much of a problem, or none at all, the report said.

It added: 'Nonetheless, compared to 2017, more people now think that crime and ASB (anti-social behaviour) are a problem.

'This is a trend that can be seen since 2016 when only 26% said that crime and ASB were a problem in their area.' 

When it comes to seeing an officer or PCSO on foot at least once in the past year, 36 per cent of respondents said they had not. Of those that had, 35 per cent said the frequency of seeing a police office had decreased compared to the previous year. 

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the findings were not surprising 'when you consider our neighbourhood and response teams have been cut back to the bone'.

He added: 'Our communities deserve better, and we want to deliver, but in order to do that we need an immediate and significant, centrally-funded investment from the Government.

'Without this my colleagues will struggle to provide the service they joined up to provide.'

Following sustained pressure to provide a cash boost, Home Secretary Sajid Javid last month announced nearly £1 billion of additional police funding.

Minister for policing Nick Hurd said: 'I am pleased to see public perceptions of the police have improved over the last year and also that visibility of police officers on the front line has risen.

'The funding settlement we have proposed for 2019/20 is the biggest increase in police funding since 2010 and will see up to £970 million additional funding for policing next year, including money raised through council tax.

'This extra funding will enable police to recruit more officers, better respond to reports of crime, and tackle serious and organised crime, while also meeting the financial pressures they face.'

(10th February 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th January 2019 author Telegraph Reporters)

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A mechanic saved a victim from a stalking ordeal after spotting a tracking device fitted to the underside of her car during an MOT.

Nigel Lamberth's victim had no idea she was being traced, and was able to alert the police after the discovery on November 8 last year.

Officers then searched Lamberth's flat and found the receipt for the tracker and a small torch that police found was a working "electronic stun gun".

It also emerged he had stuck new number plates on to her car with a twisted message claiming the two were lovers under the registration. 

The 50-year-old had already been convicted of stalking the woman, who was not named, and was serving a suspended sentence at the time.

The court heard how the victim, who hasn't been named, had previously moved home and changed jobs in an attempt to escape Lamberth's advances.

Appearing at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday Lamberth, from Leeds, was jailed for two years and 11 months.

Prosecutor Andrew Horton said Lamberth had left his victim "sick with worry" and "close to suicide."

Judge Tahir Khan, sentencing, said: "At one point she described how she felt close to suicide, constantly looking around to see where you were."

The defendant had also sent the victim numerous letters and parcels and one card which included the words 'If I could turn back time' from a Cher song.

He admitted stalking, having a stun gun and breaching a restraining order.

Abbi Whelan, mitigating for Lamberth, said: "He accepts his actions have caused her considerable upset."

(10th February 2019)

(Mirror, dated 11th January 2019 author Bradley Jolly)

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The UK's burglary hotspots have been revealed in a huge study into crime across the country.

More than 2.5million home insurance quotes over the last two years have identified the areas worst-hit by lowlife thieves.

And worryingly, burglary increased by 16% in 2018 on the previous year.

But Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, an affluent town where average house prices exceed £460,000, tops the list with a rate of 50.46 claims per 1,000 insurance quotes in the last two years.

It knocks Guildford, Surrey, off top spot.

Ingatestone, near Chelmsford, Essex, is not far behind with 49.76 claims per 1,000 insurance quotes.

But Whitehaven, Cumbria, had the lowest burglary rate with 0.76 claims per 1,000 quotes.

Cockermouth and Mayport, both in the area, are also areas least likely to be burgled, the study shows.

Other areas successfully keeping burglars at bay include Falmouth, Cornwall and Aberystwyth, Wales.

10 postcode areas with the highest burglary rates

Contents theft rate (per 1000)

B95 - Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire 50.46
CM4 - Ingatestone, Essex 49.76
IG5 - Ilford, Essex 47.56
EH4- North-west Edinburgh, 46.43
LS8 - Harehills and Roundhay, Leeds 46.30
B94 - South Solihull, West Midlands 45.80
GU23 - Woking, Surrey, 45.30
SK8 - Cheadle, Greater Manchester, 45.29
EH13 - Portobello and Joppa, Edinburgh 43.99

Those in Leeds (31%) and London (28%) are the most likely to believe they live in a burglary hotspot.

The data has been compiled by MoneySuperMarket, which found that, on average, those who have been subject to a burglary over the past five years pay an average of 16.8% more for their contents insurance policy.

Emma Garland, data scientist at the firm, said: "Over the past 12 months, burglars have mostly been targeting suburbs and urban areas, with the safest areas dominated by smaller towns and villages.

"Anyone that has ever been burgled will tell you that the cost goes beyond the value of the items stolen, from the psychological impact of your home being violated to the difficulty of replacing things with sentimental value.

"That's why it's surprising to see that almost half of people haven't put any additional protection in place for their home, despite one in five believing they live in a burglary hotspot."

10 postcode areas with the lowest burglary rates

Contents theft rate (per 1000)

CA28 - Whitehaven, Cumbria 0.76
TR11 - Falmouth, Cornwall 0.92
CA13 - Cockermouth, Cumbria 1.08
SY23 - Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales 1.08
CA1 - Botcherby and Garlands, Carlisle 1.10
PL19 - Tavistock, Devon 1.23
DD10 - Montrose, Angus, Scotland 1.24
NR10 - Hevingham, Horsford, Cawston, Badersfield and surrounding areas in Norfolk 1.29
KY4 - Cowdenbeath, west Fife, Scotland 1.32
KY5 - Lochgelly, Fife, Scotland 1.35

Ms Garland added: "For thieves, it's all about risk versus reward - if the reward looks likely to exceed the risk, they are going to target that home. Homeowners must do as much as possible to tip the balance in their favour and make things harder for burglars.

"People who have been targeted by thieves previously pay an average of 16.8 per cent more for contents insurance, so it pays to ensure your home is as protected as possible.

"If you take precautions - such as fitting new door and window locks, installing bar windows where necessary and using security cameras - you can reduce both your contents insurance and your anxiety about getting burgled.

"Looking for the best deal possible at every renewal will also help keep premiums low."

(10th February 2019)

(Mirror, dated 10th January 2019 author Louie Smith)

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Desperate police are signing up "Miss Marple volunteer detectives" to help solve serious crimes including murders and rapes.

Successful applicants will work alongside Major Crime Unit detectives in Essex where the force faces a £16.8 million budget shortfall.

In a recruitment drive, DSI Stephen Jennings asks: "Want to help investigate the most serious crimes in Essex, including murders, attempted murders, stranger rapes and kidnappings?

"Could you help us investigate complex fraud and corruption cases, money laundering and electoral fraud?

"If so, you could be a great fit for our Major Crime Unit or our Serious Economic Crime Unit."

Forces across the country already rely on unpaid "special constables" to free up regular PCs.

But Essex Police is believed to be among the first to allow volunteers to work on serious crimes.

DSI Jennings promises volunteers will "execute warrants, capture evidence and give crime prevention advice for a minimum of 16 hours a month".

But Essex Labour councillor Michael Lilley was one of several officials to blast the move, saying: "We don't want people to come in and play Miss Marple, we need properly trained officers.

"I believe the public deserve better. If they report a crime serious enough to warrant a detective, a detective should turn up.

"It just seems like policing on the cheap by the government and it just isn't right."

Councillor Dave Harris added: "I think it is disgraceful. Detectives should be trained to a high standard.

"It all comes down to cuts, it is disgusting - that thin blue line has become even thinner. My residents are sick to their back teeth of calling police and there being no one there to answer."

And Essex-based solicitor-advocate Laura Austin added: "It's most concerning that unpaid and possibly untrained volunteers are being sought to work in an area where the highest standards of investigatory techniques are required."

Essex police has more than 600 fewer officers than in 2012, with just 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents.

The force is preparing to ask for more council tax for the second year running, with households having to stump up an extra £16.8 million to help balance its budget.

Last year bills were raised by 7.62% to fund 150 extra police officers.

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, defended the volunteer move saying: "This is not policing on the cheap. Volunteering as a Special Constable is a great way for people to get involved in keeping their communities safe.

"Many people have specialist skills who may not want to be full time police officers and this is an ideal way that they can contribute to society and use their expertise to help others.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police added: "The recruitment offers people a fantastic opportunity to experience life on the frontline without making the commitment to joining full-time."

And Steve Taylor, chair of Essex Police Federation, said: "We are talking about special constables. When you have been as chronically underfunded as we have they are one of the few rays of light.

"It isn't a question of taking a job over from a regular officer, it's supporting busy roles regular officers have to do."

(Sun, dated 11th January 2019 author Rob Pattinson)

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CASH-strapped cops are recruiting volunteer detectives from the general public to help solve murders and rapes.

Essex Police is advertising for two unpaid roles a year after it emerged it had 600 fewer officers than in 2012.

Yet the county's council tax is about to go up for the second year in a row - and the force is getting a £3.3million grant after an appeal to central government.

The job ad seeks "driven, organised and self-motivated individuals who can volunteer for a minimum of 16 hours a month as special constables alongside serving detectives".

Temporary Det Supt Stephen Jennings said investigations with the Major Crime Unit and Serious Economic Crime Unit will include "murders, attempted murders, stranger rapes, kidnappings and fraud".

Volunteers will help to execute warrants and capture evidence.

A recruitment event will be held next week. But kitchen designer Paul Walker, 53, of Chelmsford, said: "Why are special constables being introduced to murder cases? They need experience. It's bonkers."

Last year it emerged that Essex struggled with 0.17 police officers per 1,000 residents. This year households will have to stump up an extra £16.8million in council tax to help the force balance its budget - equal to an extra £2 per month for a Band D household.

Essex Police Federation chairman Steve Taylor said: "Due to funding cuts we have to rely on special constables and they continue to do a fantastic job."

(10th February 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 10th January 2019 author Charles Hymas)

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More than a third of people have not seen a single police officer on the beat in their local area in the last year and say the situation is getting worse, according to a survey for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

More than a third said the frequency of seeing police on foot in their local area had decreased in the past year while a fifth said they had not even seen any officers in a police car in the past year, almost double the proportion of the previous year.

Almost half (48%) said they were unhappy with the number of times they saw police on foot in their local area and 35% were dissatisfied with the frequency of car patrols.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the findings reflected the loss of almost 22,000 officers since 2010 which meant neighbourhood policing and police response teams had been "cut to the bone."

"Our communities deserve better - and we want to deliver - but in order to do that we need an immediate and significant, centrally-funded investment from the Government, without this my colleagues will struggle to provide the service they joined up to provide," he said.

It comes amid a rise in violence with knife crime up by 22% to an eight-year high and gun crime up by 11% and will increase pressure on the Government in the run-up to the comprehensive spending review this Autumn.

The findings, based on a survey of 17,000 people by BMG Research, found more than three quarters of the public believed a visible police presence was important to prevent crime, deter criminals and provide "reassurance" and "peace of mind."

More than a fifth (22%) of the public felt the service provided by police had got worse in the past year, against 8% who said it had got better. Some 58% reported no change.

They also perceived crime to have risen. Some 40% said crime and anti-social behaviour in 2018 was either a very big or quite a big problem in their local area, up from 30% in 2017.

Overall satisfaction with the police, however, remained high with 61% were satisfied with their local police, up on the level for 2017. Only 12% were dissatisfied.

Of those who were unhappy with the police, the most common reasons were their perceptions that police had not taken action against crimes or lack of visibility.

Asked to list what crimes police should prioritise, they cited terrorism or extremism (49%), child sexual exploitation or abuse (46%) and violent crime (41%). The least important were commercial or business crimes (27%), online abuse (22%) and anti-social behaviour (19%).

Some 42% of respondents felt local police were dealing effectively with anti-social behaviour and crimes that mattered to them in their area, with only 19% disagreeing.

There was more consensus that online crime was a problem (81%) and most (63%) considered it to have got worse over the past 12 months.

Confidence in local police to effectively deal with online crime has increased  to 34% against 26% in 2017, which HMIC acknowledged was still relatively low.

There was a majority in favour of stop and search (51%) as an effective strategy to prevent crime, with just 14% against, though a third admitted they did not know enough to pass judgement.

Most respondents (60%) had had no contact with the police in the past year and where they had, it was either as a witness (11% of all respondents), or as a victim of crime (10%).

Six in 10 (61%) were happy with their contact with police.

Mr Apter said it was reassuring that most people still supported policing but it also showed "the cuts are increasingly evident to the communities we serve."

Last month Sajid Javid, the home secretary, announced a £970m cash boost for police which was hailed as the first significant increase since 2010, but most police chiefs see the comprehensive spending review as a more critical test.

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 9th January 2019 author James Morris)

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A crime victim praised the "great technique" of his assailants on their bikes on Twitter after his phone was snatched in a London street.

London sports journalist Michael Timbs said the speed and efficiency of the crooks was akin to Great Britain's gold medal winning 4 × 100 metre relay team from the 2017 World Championships.

He tweeted: "Just had my phone stolen walking back home ffs. Two geezers on bikes emulating the GB 4x100m team in the 2017 World Champs. Very clean exchange on the bend, no fumbling or loss of speed. Great technique to be fair.

"I just hope the t**** enjoy my phone. There's some quality content on there, and maybe a cheeky semi-nude from yours truly in the camera roll too. If you use my apple pay, remember I like fruit and veggie pret."

It's not clear where the theft took place.

Research by the BBC last year found there were more than 23,000 moped offences, most involving phone snatches, in the capital last year.

The huge spike, from just 827 offences in 2012, prompted the Met to change introduce "tactical contact" by ramming moped gangs.

The technique came under fire from shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who said "knocking people off bikes is potentially very dangerous".

Some forces have reported success in dealing with the crimewave, with Islington Police - which covers one of the traditionally worst affected areas in London - reporting 397 moped enabled theft snatches between June and November last year. For the same period in 2017, there had been 2,715 in the north London borough.

(10th February 2019)

(Cornwall Live, datd 8th January 2019 author Ginette Davies)

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The festive season can be extremely difficult for many, particularly those who have ended up in debt.

A steep rise in the use of bailiffs by local authorities saw more than 2.3 million debts passed over in 2016/17, according to the Money Advice Trust. Figures for 2018 are not yet available.

Bailiffs, also known as enforcement agents, have the right to visit a property to remove and sell goods to repay certain debts, including council tax arrears, parking notices and other debts owed to councils.

Research by the charity which runs the National Debtline shows the the figure jumped by 14 per cent in just two years.

This is despite government guidance stating that bailiff action should only ever be used as a last resort.

However, the Money Advice Trust said an increasing number of councils are working hard to improve their debt collection practices - and that four in 10 (38 percent) actually reduced their reliance on bailiffs in that time.

Council tax arrears accounted for 60% of cases sent to bailiffs in that period, while parking referrals were up by 27% on the previous two years and referrals for Housing Benefit overpayments up 20% in that same period.

At the same time, nearly four in 10 local authorities in England and Wales (38 percent) reduced their reliance on bailiffs over the two years, and the Money Advice Trust's survey of council debt collection found many examples of good practice.

The vast majority of local councils surveyed signpost residents in financial difficulty to free debt advice, and more than 50 councils signed up to the Local Government Association's joint Council Tax Protocol with Citizens Advice.

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "The growing use of bailiffs to collect debts by many local authorities is deeply troubling. Councils are under enormous financial pressure, and they of course need to recover what they are owed in order to fund vital services.

"However, many councils are far too quick to turn to bailiff action - which we know can seriously harm the wellbeing of residents who are often already in vulnerable situations. It can also push people even further into debt."

In December the Government's Justice Committee launched an inquiry into the enforcement of debt by bailiffs in England and Wales.

The Committee's inquiry will run alongside an MOJ consultation and will focus on High Court and Civil Enforcement Officers, who collect debts such as Council Tax, parking fines and utility bills.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 which aimed to provide protection to debtors from the aggressive pursuit of their debt from enforcement agents, whilst balancing this against the need for effective enforcement and the rights of creditors.

However, debt advice charities suggest that the reforms have had only a limited effect and that there are still widespread problems with the conduct of bailiffs.

What is a bailiff?

Bailiffs are enforcement agents who are instructed by creditors (the people you may owe money to) to retrieve any debts.

Before you let a bailiff in, you should always ask for proof of their identity, such as a badge, ID card or enforcement agent certificate.

You can ask for proof of a bailiff's identity and authorisation even if they've visited before - for example, ask them to put it through the letterbox or show it at the window.

All bailiffs must have a certificate unless they're exempt or they're with someone who does have a certificate.

When and why would a bailiff be called?

According to the Government website, a bailiff may visit your home if you don't pay your debts - such as Council Tax bills, parking fines, court fines and county court or family court judgments.

This will happen if you ignore letters saying that bailiffs will be used.

A bailiff may also visit your home for other reasons, for example to serve court documents or give notices and summons.

There are different kinds of bailiffs, known as:

- 'certificated enforcement agents'
- 'high court enforcement officers'
- 'county court and family court bailiffs'
- 'civilian enforcement officers'
How much notice must bailiffs give before visiting your home?

Bailiffs must usually give you at least seven days notice of their first visit.

If you think a bailiff might visit you to collect debts, you can stop this by paying the money you owe. Get advice about how to pay your debt from whoever you owe money to as soon as possible.

Do I have to open my door?

You usually don't have to open your door to a bailiff or let them in.

Bailiffs can't enter your home:

- by force, for example by pushing past you
- if only children under 16 or vulnerable people (with disabilities, for example) are present
- between 9pm and 6am
- through anything except the door

Bailiffs are allowed to force their way into your home to collect unpaid criminal fines, Income Tax or Stamp Duty, but only as a last resort.

What if I don't let them in?

If you don't let a bailiff in or agree to pay them:

- they could take things from outside your home, for example your car
- you could end up owing even more money

If you do let a bailiff in but don't pay them they may take some of your belongings. They could sell the items to pay debts and cover their fees.

What bailiffs can and can't take

If you let a bailiff into your home, they may take some of your belongings to sell.

Bailiffs can take luxury items, for example a TV or games console.

They can't take:

- things you need, such as your clothes, cooker or fridge
- work tools and equipment which together are worth less than £1,350
- someone else's belongings, such as your partner's computer

You'll have to prove that someone else's goods don't belong to you.

Paying a bailiff

You can pay the bailiff on the doorstep - you don't have to let them into your home.

Make sure you get a receipt to prove you've paid.

If you can't pay all the money right away, speak to the bailiff about how you could pay the money back.

Offer to pay what you can afford in weekly or monthly payments. The bailiff doesn't have to accept your offer.

Help or advice

You can get free help or advice on dealing with bailiffs from:

- National Debtline :
- the Money Advice Service :
- Citizens Advice :
- StepChange Debt Charity :

(10th February 2019)

(BBC News, dated 7th January 2019)

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Organised criminals selling illicit cigarettes target Wales due to a lack of investment in enforcement, a senior investigator has said.

Powys Council Trading Standards' Clive Jones said tobacco control strategies will be undermined unless central enforcement is introduced.

New figures show some 150,000 illegal products were seized in Wales since 2013.

The Welsh Government said it was considering proposed strategies.

Up to 15% of all tobacco sold in Wales - equating to about a million cigarettes a day - is illegal, according to a survey of 2,500 people carried out by Ash Wales in 2014.

At the time, Wales had a higher proportion of illegal product than any English region.

New figures obtained by BBC Wales show more than 150,000 illicit products - including cigarettes and rolling tobacco - were seized by council-run Trading Standards departments across Wales.

"The real threat to Wales is that we don't become a dumping ground for criminals to make money from the fact that the enforcement ethos and capability is not there," said Mr Jones.

"I think criminals see it as an open door to make money in Wales from this type of criminality. And that is a challenge to Welsh Government - to say, as part of their strategy, where is the emphasis on enforcement?

"It's great having tobacco control strategies but the enforcement arm of that needs to be in place, and if it's not it completely undermines the wider strategy."

Experts say counterfeit cigarettes, in particular, can contain poor quality tobacco, plastic and human or rat faeces; they can also pose a greater fire risks due to the way they are produced.

Suzanne Cass, chief executive of Ash Wales, said the Welsh Government should back the antismoking charity's plan to tackle illicit trade via a central communication and enforcement programme.

"We know that illegal tobacco is a real problem here in Wales," she said.

"We know that children are accessing cheap cigarettes through the illicit market. We also know that people are continuing to smoke because the illegal tobacco is available and ready for them to buy."

Trading Standards and public health fall under the remit of the Welsh Government or local authorities and, while tackling crime is funded by the Home Office, the proposed scheme would be need to be funded by Cardiff Bay.

Aside from Trading Standards, the big tobacco firms also carry out their own investigations into, and prosecutions of, black market sales.

Among them is Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which has run undercover buys throughout Wales.

Steve Wilkins, a former Dyfed-Powys Police detective chief superintendent who is now anti-Illegal trade operations director at JTI, said there were "vast amounts" to be made from illegal tobacco.

"It is the commodity of choice for organised crime because the profits are high, the chances of getting caught are low and the actual sanctions are very, very low," he said.

John Parkinson, who runs Broadway Newsagents in Penrhyn Bay, Conwy, said a "dramatic increase" in illegal sales had harmed local businesses, including a Colwyn Bay kiosk which closed after an illicit seller took some of their trade.

"You will find most young people have bought from an illicit source," he added. "People selling illicit tobacco or cigarettes aren't worried whether you're over 18 - they are only interested in the profit."

The Welsh Government said it was considering Ash Wales' recommendations.

A spokesman said: "Illegal tobacco can undermine our efforts to protect young people from buying tobacco, as it is offered at much lower prices, without age restrictions.

"It also removes the motivation of saving money for those trying to quit. Reducing the number of smokers in Wales requires us to stop young people from starting to smoke, and to support smokers to quit."

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian, dated 7th January 2019 author Hannah Devlin)

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Less than 10% of police forces have met basic quality standards for fingerprint evidence, the government's forensic science regulator has warned.

All UK forces were ordered three years ago to ensure their laboratories met international standards for analysing prints found at crime scenes. But only three forces have complied, with almost every force missing a deadline set by the regulator to gain accreditation by November.

Police forces that have failed to obtain accreditation, which include the Metropolitan police and Greater Manchester police, will have to declare this in court, prompting concerns that cases could collapse as a result of unreliable evidence.

Gillian Tully, the government's forensic regulator, said: "The shortcomings identified do not mean that all fingerprint evidence is of poor quality, but they do highlight risks to the quality of evidence.

"The risks are greatest in situations where the comparison is complex, for example because the fingermark is partial or distorted."

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for forensics, Ch Const James Vaughan, said: "We are treating delays in in gaining accreditation as a critical incident, with a chief officer overseeing forces' progress and assisting them in gaining accreditation as soon as possible."

The failures are the latest problems to have affected forensics in the past year. Alleged data tampering at Randox Laboratories in Manchester led to dozens of criminal convictions being overturned and required thousands of samples to be reanalysed.

Problems in digital forensics caused the collapse of a number of rape trials and police were criticised for outsourcing digital work to unaccredited private labs that are subject to no regulatory oversight.

In a recent submission to a House of Lords inquiry, the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science raised broader concerns about the way fingerprints, tool marks, footwear, tyre marks and ballistics evidence were being used in courts.

Prof Niamh Nic Daéid, the centre's director, said: "The majority, if not all of those techniques, are not robustly researched. In a lot of cases, the comparative process is left to the subjective opinion of the person doing the comparison. It often could be described as no better than spot the difference."

She said more rigorous research was needed on error rates associated with this type of evidence.

In her submission to the same inquiry, Tully said there had been a resistance in fingerprint evidence to move away from the traditional approach of an expert declaring an identification towards a more transparent, scientific approach, with objective measures and an acknowledgement of the possibility of false matches.

Vaughan said forces that had failed to meet official standards had been asked to consider outsourcing work to existing accredited labs, and that they would be open in providing declarations to court if analysis was carried out at unaccredited facilities.

"It is then for the court to test the veracity and admissibility of the evidence and, to date, no concerns raised have been raised by courts," he said.

(10th February 2019)

(Ipswich Star, dated 5th January 2019 author Megan Aldous)

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A Suffolk man has created a website which locates your closest 24-hour defibrillator and provides you with directions on how to get to it.

The site, which is called Defibsearch, covers Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

###uaware warning - this website asks for details of your location

Simon Herbert, a computer science graduate, spent several weeks creating the tool.

He said: "I was building a new website for my computer business and initially I just wanted to add something to add some local value to it.

"To start with it was just a simple local defibrillator list but I thought I could make this much better. I used an online database, the Google maps API, a few tricks and some web HTML code.

"It was something I just got interested in and then it just grew and grew. At the beginning it was intended to only cover around a 10-mile radius - now it covers all of East Anglia.

"It is a useful free tool and I just want people to use it."

Mr Herbert had to locate each defibrillator and manually add it into a database for the tool to work.

There are currently more than 1,600 defibrillators listed but the database is constantly growing.

Mr Herbert only lists the defibrillators which are available 24/7.

He added: "I have found rural postcodes can cover a large area and are unsuitable for accurate position location. So I used longitude and latitude coordinates rather than postal addresses and postcodes."

The Hitcham man is still working on ways he can advance his creation.

He said: "I am currently working on a feature which will push the data to a Bluetooth device for those who are driving in the car.

"I haven't come across any other tools which does this."

Suppliers of defibrillators can add themselves to the map and have access to amend their listing at anytime.

(10th February 2019)

(Independent, dated 5th January 2019 author Tim Wyatt)

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Universities across Britain are paying the police to protect their students from crime.

More than £2m has been paid out to 17 police forces over the last three years by 27 universities, and a further £1.2m allocated to current academic year.

The figures were unearthed after freedom of information request by The Times.

Northampton University has earmarked £775,000 over the next three years for one sergeant and five constables.

Sheffield, Durham and Liverpool are among the campuses taking part in the project, where universities can ensure they keep a team of dedicated officers at a time when the numbers of regular neighbourhood patrols have fallen.

Police budgets have reportedly decreased by 19 per cent since 2010 and the overall number of officers has fallen by around 20,000 over the same period.

Densely-packed campuses containing valuable equipment including computers, laptops and mobile phones can be a target for thieves, and drug dealers have been reported on campuses and in other student areas.

A Northampton University spokesman told The Times that it signed up "at a time when central funding to officers is reducing", adding they wanted to support the police in town "rather than stretch it further".

Five universities have begun paying for their own police in the past year.

At some universities, the police are being called in not just to deter theft but also drugs.

The University of Buckingham is not among those who pay for campus police but it does request officers and sniffer dogs visit to look for illegal substances.

Vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon said: "We also offer advice to help improve mental health. To act as a deterrent, however, we invite police and sniffer dogs onto campus.

"Our students are involved in formulating our drugs policy and work with us to implement it.

"Universities must put far more resources into preventing students taking drugs in the first place, rather than paying a fortune on mental health services to pick up the bits, or on policing to keep drug-pushers away from students."

The university aims, with student involvement, to have a drug-free campus by 2020.

Labour's shadow minister for policing Louise Haigh, told The Times the revelations were creating a "two-tier system" where poorer areas missed out from public services.

"This is yet another example of the police, who have been shrunk to their lowest ever level, being unable to protect the public in the most basic sense."

John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, told The Times: "The universities involved obviously see and value the need for campuses to be properly policed and this of course is only right.

"It is, however, astonishing that the government continues to ignore what is staring them in the face - the fact that we do not have enough police officers."

(10th February 2019)

(BBC News, dated 5th January 2019)

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Dashcam footage sent to police has led to hundreds of motorists being fined and prosecuted in Welsh courts over the last year.

As well as dangerous driving and using a phone behind the wheel, two drivers were caught with dogs on their laps.

Operation Snap was rolled out across Wales to process footage as police try to tackle "bad driving".

More than 2,300 dashcam films were sent in and action was taken in more than 650 cases.

Insp Lee Ford of Gwent Police said the public response had been "exceptional".

"It has been a practical way for various forms of bad driving to be addressed," he added.

Depending on the seriousness of the motoring offence, drivers have been fined, sent on awareness courses or prosecuted in court.

Teresa Ciano, partnership manager at all-Wales road safety partnership, Go Safe, explained the project was set up to gather footage being sent to police forces already and which is now used formally.

A pilot project in north Wales in 2016 led to 150 motorists being punished.

"Sometimes the footage shows out-and-out dangerous driving but some are a lapse of judgement," said Ms Ciano.

According to GoSafe, a total of 2,353 clips were submitted between November 2017 and October last year.

In a request for further details under the Freedom of Information Act, South Wales Police said it had received 1,000 submissions, with 100 fixed penalty fines issued, 83 court prosecutions and 90 drivers sent on an awareness course.

A further 53 warning letters were sent to drivers advising them about their driving.

North Wales Police confirmed it had received 650 clips over the same time with 81 drivers sent on a "retraining course", along with 25 prosecutions and 24 fixed penalty fines issued.

Gwent Police received 231 submissions between January and October with action taken in all but two cases after the footage highlighted "dangerous driving, using a mobile phone whilst driving and speeding".

Dyfed-Powys Police said it had received 430 video submissions with 120 offences being considered for possible prosecution.

So far, 25 people have been sent on an awareness course with 11 others prosecuted.

In November, the Department for Transport announced it was setting up a unit to analyse video evidence submitted to police in England following the "successful" north Wales pilot.

And police from Hong Kong and Japan have also met with Go Safe staff to learn more about the project.

(10th February 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 4th January 2019 author Faith Ridler)

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Neighbours on a street plagued by burglaries and car thefts have clubbed together to hire private security guards to patrol the road.

Around 140 homeowners living in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, have decided to pay £504-a-month for a team of guards to safeguard their homes three times a week.

Those on Warwick Street connected through WhatsApp after they noticed a spike in the number of burglaries and car break-ins on the road since November.

Some 69 of the families opted to pay an extra £10-per-week for added security.

John Edkins, 67, and wife Janice, 61, put forward the idea to hire a team of guards from security firm Innovative Security Control.

Mrs Edkins said: 'Home break-ins and car thefts started happening every four or five days, and at any time of the day or night.

'Recently, residents had noticed a number of unknown cars driving up and the street.

'We felt like we were being watched, it made us scared to leave the house. 

'We decided to run a five week-long trial period to hire private security for the street.

'We offered to pay the first week on behalf of our community. We didn't want to use resident's money if our idea didn't work.

'As more residents discovered what we were doing, they put their names on the list.'

West Midlands Police, which covers the town, has seen a 24 per cent decline in its total funding since 2010, a report by the National Audit Office revealed.

This is the second biggest cut in the country - behind Northumbria Police which suffered a 25 per cent reduction. 

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said the lack of police on the streets is to blame for the residents' 'deeply concerning' action.

He said more than 2,000 officers have been lost due to cuts of £175 million in the past nine years.

Innovative Security Control, which employs the guards, has erected signs letting would-be criminals know the area is patrolled.

Company director Riz Dean said: 'The residents came across our website and got in touch, so our operations manager went there for a meeting.

'We do mobile patrols across several business, but residential was nothing we had thought about up until now.

'Since our patrols started, they feel a lot safer.

'It's also making the street a more community-driven place.

'We think it's a great idea for residents, because it makes criminal think twice when they know there's an extra layer of protection in the area.'

The neighbours plan to maintain patrols for as long as they think they need it.

Mr Edkins said: 'The area hasn't always had this many problems, but we've taken note of the increase and decided to supplement our local police force by coming together and helping where we can.

'We understand the police are stretched at the moment. We want to help where we can.'

Mr Jamieson said: 'West Midlands Police is largely funded by central government.

'Over the last nine years it has cut the force's budget by £175 million, which has resulted in the loss of more than 2,000 officers.

'Despite this, West Midlands Police has managed to maintain a very effective service.

'However, it is deeply concerning that communities feel they need to pay private contractors to patrol their area.

'The message to the government is clear: The public are not prepared to tolerate an under-funded police service any longer.'

(10th February 2019)

(The Times, dated 4th January 2019 author Graeme Paton)

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Motorists have been warned over a spate of thefts of catalytic converters as criminal gangs use hydraulic jacks to steal precious metal from beneath cars.

Figures obtained under freedom of information laws suggest that almost 13,000 catalytic converters, part of the exhaust system, have been stolen by thieves since 2013.

Manufacturers have gone to extra lengths to make converters more difficult to access in recent years but police figures indicate that 1,245 were still taken from driveways, roads and car parks during 2017.

Experts insisted that thefts were likely to grow in coming years because of a failure to enforce new laws that are supposed to make it harder to sell on precious metal.

Separate figures from the Home Office show that all thefts from vehicles increased by 14 per cent last year to 656,000 incidents, despite improvments to security measures.

Catalytic converters turn toxic gases into water vapour and less harmful emissions. They contain metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium that can be recycled for use as jewellery and in electrical components, commanding prices up to twice as high as gold.

The AA warned that taller vehicles typically 4x4s, were particularly at risk as they were higher from the ground, making it easier to get beneath them.

Last month police warned that thieves were using high-powered hydraulic equipment to lift cars and strip out catalytic converters in daylight. In one incident a number of cars in the same supermarket car park in southeast London were targeted in a few minutes.

The Times submitted freedom of Information requests to 43 police forces for data on thefts. Of the 22 that were able to submit data, 637 incidenst were report in 2017. Extrapolated for all forces it was equivalent to 1245. Numbers have come down each year in the areas that provided figures.

Over the past five years, 6632 thefts were recorded by forces, equivalent to 12,963 nationally.

In Lincolnshire 156 thefts were reported in 2017, the same as 2016, although incidents peaked at 506 in 2013. Essex police said 96 thefts were logged in 2017 compared with 65 a year earlier.

Many forces that provided data insisted they were successfully tackling the issue, with thefts in the West Midlands declining from 284 in 2013 to 43 in 2017.

A crackdown on all types of metal theft was launched in 2013 when the government made it illegal for metal recyclers to pay cash for scrap and forced sellers to produce identity documents.

However, the British Metals Recycling Association warned that custs to council and police budgets meant that the requirement was "no longer being enforced". Antonia Grey, the associations public affairs manager, said:" Illegal operators are so unconcerned that they are openly advertising cash for scrap and many of them will no longer have the required scrap metal dealer licence. It is highly likely that people stealing catalytic converters will head to these cash-paying yards rather than legitimate sites".

The AA said that it had received 31 insurance claims since February relating to thefts of catalytic converters. Model targeted included the Honda Accord, Honda Jazz and Toyota Prius. It urged motorists to park cars in garages if possible or in well lit areas and suggested that owners consider marking the metal shell of the converter so that it could be traced if removed.

(10th February 2019)

(Guardian Opinion, dated 3rd January 2019 author Pragna Patel)

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In recent days the abhorrent practice of the Foreign Office whereby it forces British nationals who are victims of forced marriage abroad to pay for their protection and rescue has again hit the headlines. It is left to the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to say he wants "to get to the bottom of the issue".

But this is not a new issue that has only just come to light. Southall Black Sisters, the charity I run, has sounded the alert about this for some time, but without success. The Guardian reported that this was happening over years ago. This is why Hunt's appeal to British embassies for"more humanity and compassion" appears disingenuous.

Victims of forced marriage abroad are required to pay for the costs of their rescue before they board a plane to the UK. Those who cannot find the money have to sign up to a loan, usually around £700, which they are required to repay within the stipulated six months, subject to a 10% surcharge thereafter. Any passport in their possession is retained until they have repaid the loan in full. Most will sign up to the loan out of desperation, without any understanding of what they are signing or of the legal consequences of doing so. When faced with the alternative - enslavement, rape, sexual and physical violence, martial captivity, fear and even death in the form of so called honour killings - what choice do they have?

Successive governments have proclaimed that protecting victims of forced marriage is a priority; that young women have "rights", "freedom" and "choice" in marriage. But that clearly comes with a heavy financial price tag for some minority women and girls.

Five young British girls - rescued from appalling violence, abuse and torture at a so called "correctional school" in Somaliland - were shown little compassion by the British embassy, which arranged for them to be repatriated to the UK. Following their return to the UK, they told us at Southall Black Sisters that what weighed most heavily on their minds was the financial debt that they incurred in order to obtain their protection: they had been required to sign up to loans of £740 each to cover the costs of their flights, accommodation and food. For them - highly vulnerable, acutely traumatised and isolated young women, who were brutalised at the hands of the very people they trusted and loved - the debt was a cause of palpable distress and anxiety; it hung around them like a hangman's noose, preventing them from starting new lives, from imagining a future free from fear and violence.

What is particularly disturbing and shocking is that there appears to be a chain of financial exploitation running through the entire story in this particular case, beginning in the private sphere and ending with British state complicity. The owner of the "correctional" school saw an opportunity to exploit parental anxiety about their girls becoming "too westernised" in the UK: preventing "westernisation" is a familiar trope in cases of forced marriage where the key goal is to control women's bodies and minds. At the school, the girls experienced serious institutional abuse consisting of imprisonment, sexual and physical assault, and torture for the purposes of re-education into religious and cultural norms on gender roles, including conformity to the practice of forced marriage. This continued until one of the girls escaped and raised the alarm. The British embassy - and those from other countries - stepped in to repatriate the girls to their respective countries.

But this intervention provided the British government with an opportunity to effectively penalise the girls for their own predicament. The sums involved are really a paltry amount to the state, but deeply overwhelming to the young victims involved. Would we accept the Home Office inflicting a call-out charge on victims of domestic violence, or any other type of crime, when they pick up the phone to the police?

When questioned about the practice of seeking reimbursement with interest for the costs of protection, the Foreign Office has provided no meaningful justification for the demand for reimbursement. With regard to the demand for interest, they said initially that none was charged. However, when faced with written evidence produced by SBS, they said they were only applying a surcharge of 10%, required because the state has an obligation to the public purse, comparing the practice to that applied to tourists who get into trouble abroad.

This goes much further than the need for "humanity and compassion" urged by Jeremy Hunt. What is at stake here is not a question of rescuing tourists in trouble abroad but a question about the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society: the right of forced marriage victims to be protected as British citizens; those who, but for being taken abroad, would be entitled to protection without discrimination in the UK.

The British government is undoing its stated aim of addressing forced marriage as an abuse of human rights. The clear obligation to protect victims of forced marriage and repatriation appears to be routinely flouted. The current practice amounts to discrimination and a derogation of duty. Protection from forced marriage is being reduced to a racket, a commercial transaction into which the state coerces victims of the crime of forced marriage: those who, through no choice of their own, are taken abroad by abusive families and then made to pay for their return by the state. This is why the current practice of charging victims for protection amounts to complicity in the enslavement and exploitation of young vulnerable minority women and girls. It is morally and politically indefensible. It must stop.

• Pragna Patel is the director of the Southall Black Sisters

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd January 2019 author Bonnie Christian)

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Young women sent abroad for forced marriages are being charged hundreds of pounds for the cost of being rescued by the Foreign Office, it has been revealed.

The department has helped 27 victims of forced marriage return to the UK in 2017 and 55 in 2016, according to figures acquired by The Times under freedom of information laws.

The victims are asked to pay for the price of plane tickets or basic food and shelter themselves.

Those who are over 18 and cannot pay are made to take out emergency loans with the department before boarding their flight home, the paper reported.

Their passports are confiscated until they repay and if they do not clear the debt within six months, officials add 10 percent to their bill.

In the past two years the Foreign Office has lent £7,765 to at least eight forced marriage victims who could not pay for their repatriation.

Around £3,000 has been repaid, although debts of more than £4,500 are outstanding.

The Foreign Office said that it has an obligation to recover money spent on repatriating victims when public money is involved, such as the cost of a flight back to the UK.

It is understood the women are not charged for staff costs and the department does not profit from the repatriations.

In 2018 four young British women sent by their families to a "correctional school" in Somalia, where they were imprisoned and physically abused, were charged £740 each, the paper said.

Left destitute by the loans, two are living in refuges and two have become drug addicts since returning to the UK, they told the paper.

The practice of making the women pay for the costs of their repatriation has been criticised by MPs, including heads of the influential foreign and home affairs committees.

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which monitors the work of the Foreign Office, said the Times' report was "astonishing".

"(The Committee) will ask questions about this decision to charge forced marriage victims to be rescued," he tweeted.

"(The Foreign Office) is rightly proud of the work the @FMUnit (forced marriages unit) does. They should be. But we shouldn't be charging the most vulnerable for their own protection or dissuading them from asking for it."

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee, said she was "completely appalled".

"Forced marriage is slavery. For Govt to make victims pay for their freedom is immoral. Ministers need to put this right fast," she tweeted.

The Prime Minister once described forced marriage as a "terrible practice" and a "tragedy for each and every victim".

In August Home Secretary Sajid Javid said forced marriage was "despicable, inhumane (and) uncivilised" and vowed to "do more to combat it and support victims".

The Foreign Office said on Wednesday that whenever it is asked to help people return to the UK it works with them to access their own funds, or help them contact friends, family or organisations that can cover the costs of repatriation.

"However, many of the victims who the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) help are vulnerable, and when offering any type of support their safety is our primary concern," a spokeswoman said.

"In very exceptional circumstances, including in cases of forced marriage overseas, we can provide an emergency loan to help someone return home.

"We recognise that an emergency loan can help remove a distressed or vulnerable person from risk when they have no other options, but as they are from public funds we have an obligation to recover the money in due course."

The FMU also provides funding for safe houses and NGOs overseas and in the UK to help victims of forced marriage get to a place of safety as soon as possible.

"We do not charge British nationals for this service and work with organisations in the UK to support them on return," the spokeswoman said.

The Foreign Office said the UK is a "world-leader in the fight to tackle the brutal practice of forced marriage, with our joint Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit leading efforts to combat it both at home and abroad".

(Daily Mail, dated 16th August 2016 author Deni Kirkova)

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British girls being taken abroad for forced marriages are being urged to hide spoons under their clothes in order to alert authorities to their plight.

As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims, one campaigning group says the trick has saved some youngsters from coerced unions in South Asia.

The concealed cutlery sets off the metal detector at security control in Britain. Girls - and sometimes boys - can then be taken away from their parents to be searched, which gives them a last chance to seek help from airport staff.

The British school summer holidays, now well under way, mark a peak in reports of young people - typically girls aged 15 and 16 - being taken abroad on 'holiday', for marriage without consent, the government says.

The bleep at airport security may be the last chance they get to escape a union to someone they have never met in a country they have never seen.

The spoon trick is the brainchild of the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse.

Based in Derby, central England, it fields an average of 6,500 calls per year from around Britain. However, the organisation says this number has already been reached with another four and a half months to go until the end of 2013. It says this increase is due to increased awareness of the issue.

When petrified youngsters ring, 'if they don't know exactly when it may happen or if it's going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,' said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana's operations manager.

When the spoon sets off an alarm, 'they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they're being forced to marry,' Rattu told AFP.

'We've had people ring and tell us that it's helped them and got them out of a dangerous situation. It's an incredibly difficult thing to do with your family around you - but they won't be aware you have done it. It's a safe way.'

The charity is working with airports - so far London Heathrow, Liverpool and Glasgow, with Birmingham to come - to spot potential waring signs, such as one-way tickets, the time of year, age of the person and whether they look uncomfortable.

'These are quite general points, but there are things that if you look collectively lead you to believe something more sinister is going on,' said Rattu.

People who come forward can be escorted out of a secure airport exit to help outside.

Marriages without consent have led to suicides and so-called honour killings.

Officials fear the number of victims coming forward is just the tip of the iceberg, with few community leaders prepared to speak out and risk losing their support base.

One woman, whose identity has been protected by Essex Police in southeast England, was forced to get married in India.

She said she was threatened by her father 'because he said if I thought about running away he would find me and kill me'.

'I was shipped off with a total stranger.

'That night I was raped by my husband and this abuse continued for about eight and half years of my life.' She eventually fled.

Last year, the Foreign Office's Forced Marriage Unit dealt with some 1,500 cases - 18 per cent of them men.

A third of cases involved children aged under 17. The oldest victim was aged 71; the youngest just two.

The cases related to 60 countries: almost half were linked to Pakistan, 11 per cent to Bangladesh, eight per cent to India, and two per cent to Afghanistan. Other countries involved included Somalia, Turkey and Iraq.

Calls to Karma Nirvana tend to spike before the British school summer holidays and again at the end, said Rattu.

'The holidays are a really good time for young people to go missing because there is nobody accounting for where they are at school,' she said.

Since Ramadan ended last week, calls have risen again, including one from an 18-year-old who has fallen pregnant - her family is trying force her into marriage to conceal it.

Burdened by codes of 'izzat', or family honour, youngsters can be put under extreme physical and emotional pressure to marry relatives in a culture and country they were not brought up in.

If they refuse, they are often threatened with being thrown out of the family - or worse.

'It really takes a brave person to stand up against their family,' said Rattu.

What the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK say

'In June 2012, the Government announced that forced marriage will become a criminal offence and by doing so we are sending out a clear message that this brutal practice is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK.

'The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) provides direct assistance to victims as well as undertaking a full programme of outreach activity to practitioners and communities, to ensure that people who are in contact with victims are fully informed about how to approach such cases.  Statutory guidance is already available to support those agencies that exercise public functions to safeguard children or vulnerable adults.  

'This year the FMU is handing out "Marriage: it's your choice" cards, to all professionals across the UK, including airport staff, safeguarding professionals, teachers and NGOs.  These cards will provide victims and potential victims with key information, in addition to signposting them to where further confidential advice and support can be obtained.'

(10th February 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd January 2019 authors Justin Davenport and Rachael Burford)

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Sadiq Khan was today criticised over plans to axe a scheme providing ­hundreds of police officers working for councils.

City Hall and the Met police are reviewing the Patrol Plus scheme in which the Met funds a new police officer for every one paid for by a local authority.

Dubbed "Buy One Get One Free", it was launched by former mayor Boris Johnson and is currently funding 339 police officers.

More than half of London boroughs take part in the scheme, with Kensington and Chelsea council running 34 officers, Hammersmith and Fulham 48, Tower Hamlets 38 and Newham 40.

They tackle local priority issues such as gangs and anti-social behaviour.

However, Mr Khan said the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime was looking at funded officer roles as part of budget cuts.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the initiative is "skewing" the activities of the Met when the force is short of resources.

Police are concerned that the scheme is too inflexible and does not allow officers to be transferred to meet alternative demands such as violent crime.

But London Assembly Conservative member Tony Devenish said the scheme's success was "widely acknowledged" and that without the incentive to recruit from match-funding, boroughs could simply not invest in frontline officers.

He added: "This is yet further evidence that Sadiq Khan has completely the wrong priorities. The Mayor is looking to cut frontline policing while millions more has been spent on crime bureaucrats at City Hall."

Kensington and Chelsea, which pays for extra officers to tackle gang-related crime, said scrapping the scheme would mean "a reduction of extra police officers of around 20 per cent in the next financial year".

A spokesman for the council said it "could halve the number of officers on some streets in some boroughs pretty much overnight".

The local authority's leader, Elizabeth Campbell, added: "Crime is on the rise and council budgets are stretched. The Mayor must make policing and fighting crime on the streets the priority for 2019."

Newham council spends £1.4 million a year employing its officers, many of which are placed in Stratford town centre to help deal with anti-social behaviour.

Matthew Hooper, its director of enforcement, said: "It is something councils are worrying about. We have a couple of years left on our contract, but we are not sure what will happen after that."

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: "Government cuts will have forced the Met to make £1bn of savings since 2010 and seen officer numbers fall below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.

"In light of this, the Met Patrol Plus scheme is being reviewed but no decisions have been taken. The Mayor is showing leadership by investing in the Met's violent crime taskforce and creating a new Violence Reduction Unit to tackle the root causes of crime.

"However, this alone will not fill the huge gap left by government cuts. Assembly members should be working with City Hall to put pressure on Ministers to reverse their cuts to policing so we can put more officers on our streets."

The Met said in a statement : "The scheme has delivered benefits for both the Met and Local Authorities in terms of police visibility and overall officer numbers.

"However as our operational demands have grown and overall officer numbers have fallen, the scheme has become difficult to sustain because it is limited to delivering contracted objectives, and the officers are therefore unavailable to fulfil core roles targeting Met priorities, such as violent crime and safeguarding."

The force added that it was talking to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime about a replacement scheme to allow councils to continue funding officers.

(10th February 2019)


The following information is from the British Transport Police annual report:

Total notifiable recorded crimes dealt with by BTP

2017/18 = n, 2016/17 = [n]

Violence against the person : 11,711 [9,263]
Sexual crime : 2,472 [2,132]
Criminal Damage / malicious mischief : 5,510 [4,540]
Line of route crime : 1,047 [1,485]
Theft of passenger properly : 13,006 [11,844]
Motor vehicle / cycle crime : 9,140 [8,089]
Robbery : 553 [362]
Theft of railway property and burglary : 4,397 [3,888]
Public Order : 10,313 [7,713]
Fraud : 454 [353]
Drug Crime : 454 [353]
Total other notifiable crime / offences : 942 [965]

In the last 10 years

Violence against the person : +47%
Sexual Offences : +167%
Criminal damage and malicious mischief : -30%
Serious line of route offences (crossing railway line) : -57%
Theft of passenger property : -33%
Motor vehicle and cycle offences : -7%
Robbery offences : -49%
Theft of railway, commercial property & burglary : -35%
Serious public order offences : +28%
Serious fraud offences : -60%
Drug offences : -61%

British Transport Police Numbers

Ethnic minorities = (n)
Women = [n]

Police Officers :                   3,079 (280 - 9%) [649 - 21%]
Police Community Support Officers : 271 (46 - 17%) [271 - 29%]
Special Officers :                  322 (45 - 14%) [45 - 14%]
Police Staff :                      1,526 (352 - 23%) [802 - 53%]

British Transport Police budget 2018/19

We have agreed with the British Transport Police Authority an overall gross budget of £298.3m for 2018/19. Of the overall gross budget, £250.9m is for core overground policing and £47.4m is for core underground policing.

Other income, including Enhanced Policing Service Agreements, is £20.4m.

A drawdown of reserves has also been agreed at £9.03m.

Further information

(Telegraph, dated 12th January 2019 authors Martin Evans, Yohannes Lowe and Ashley Kirk)

Full article [Option 1]:

(10th February 2019)


Personal Safety

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


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


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


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


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

(7th January 2019)