The articles on this page are either produced by the operator of the website, from national publishers or Government departments. Where the information is from an external source all information on the origins of the article will appear under the title. 

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

NEWS 2018 will soon be found within the ARCHIVE menu, labelled ARCHIVE 2018

MAY 2019

(Sky News, dated 30th May 2019 author David Chipakupaku)

Full article [Option 1]:

Children are lightening their skin with make-up to avoid racial bullying, according to a report from the NSPCC.

The number of race hate crimes against under-18s rose by more than a fifth between 2015 and last year, new research by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children showed.

Some bullied children told their counsellors they had tried to change the colour of their skin by using make-up after being racially abused.

A 10-year-old girl told Childline: "My friends won't hang out with me anymore because people started asking why they were friends with someone who had dirty skin. I was born in the UK but bullies tell me to go back to my own country.

"I've tried to make my face whiter before using makeup so that I can fit in."

The number of offences recorded by police went up from 8,683 between 2015 and 2016, to 9,752 between 2016 and 2017, and then to 10,571 between 2017 and 2018.

This was a rise of 1,888 or 22% across the three years.

Babies under the age of one were amongst the more than 10,000 child victims who had racist abuse shouted at them in 2018.

The NSPCC also reported they held 2,617 counselling sessions for race and faith-based bullying between 2015 and 2018 via its helpline Childline.

Girls were more likely to contact the helpline, while the most common age group was those between 12 and 15.

Head of Childline John Cameron said: "Childhood bullying of this nature can cause long-term emotional harm to children and can create further divisions in our society.

"If we see a child bullying another because of their race we need to tackle it head-on, by explaining that it's not OK and how hurtful it is."

The charity requested data from all UK police forces under the Freedom of Information Act.

They received figures from 38 out of 45 forces.

The report comes days after an 11-year-old boy told Cornwall Live that he had been racially bullied at school after moving from Merseyside to Cornwall.

Ashley Davies, who is mixed race, has been subject to abuse from other children, including being referred to as a "black idiot", a slave and a n******.

The child told Cornwall Live: "When I wake up in the morning, it's like a burden. But it shouldn't be a chore really, it should just be going to school but every morning before going to school I feel nervous about what's going to happen there."

Police figures for all hate crime showed sharp rises around the time of the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 terror attacks on London Bridge and at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

In March this year, monitoring group Tell Mama said there had been a spike in race hate crime in the UK, following the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.

Aside from these spikes, longer term figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales suggested that hate crime had reduced by 40% in the decade to 2018.

(1st June 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 30th May 2019 author Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

Two thirds of knifepoint robberies in England and Wales go unsolved each year, figures suggest.

Data obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act showed that thousands of the investigations ended with no suspect identified.

round three in 10 incidents of violence against the person involving a knife also went unsolved, as did around one in six of possession of a bladed weapon.

A request was made for the total number of each of the following crimes recorded, and the outcomes of the investigations, in 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to March:

- Robbery involving a bladed weapon
- Violence against the person
- Possession of an offensive weapon where that was a bladed article; and possession of a bladed article

Among 22 forces in England and Wales which provided data in a comparable format, a total of 12,783 robberies involving a knife or bladed weapon were recorded in 2017; 15,588 in 2018, and 3,540 up to March 2019.

Of these, in 2017 a total of 8,837 ended with no suspect identified - 69% of the total recorded. Of those 7,319 were classed as Home Office outcome 18 (Investigation closed - no suspect identified) and 1,518 as outcome 14 (victim declines or is unable to support action to identify offender).

For 2018, a total of 10,456 ended with no suspect identified, 67% of the total. Of these 8,800 were outcome 18, and 1,656 were outcome 14.

For the first part of this year up to early March, 1,739 investigations ended with no suspect identified - 49% of the total recorded. These included 1,501 with outcome 18 and 238 with outcome 14.

Che Donald, national vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "While the number of unsolved knifepoint robberies and other knife crimes appears to be slightly decreasing year on year, according to the Press Association figures, there is no denying that the numbers are uncomfortably high.

"Combined with an 8% overall increase in knife crime across England and Wales, what is blatantly apparent is that our over-stretched and under-funded police forces are battling an explosion in violent crime which shows no sign of abating."

He said that while there were nearly 5,000 hospital admissions due to knife violence in England last year and knife crime is at its highest since 2011, budget cuts mean there are nearly 20,000 fewer police officers than in 2010. There is also a national shortage of detectives.

Mr Donald added: "Our detective ranks have been decimated, with huge gaps in investigation teams across all 43 forces. This means that following up crime reports becomes increasingly difficult, particularly in complex drawn-out investigations.

"Some vulnerable victims of crime need to be dealt with appropriately by specially-trained officers in order for cases to proceed and eventually succeed in court. If we don't have enough specialists to do that, more offenders will then slip through the net."

He said police must be properly resourced to tackle the rising tide of violence.

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: "It is deplorable that nearly two third of criminals who use knives to commit robberies are not put in front of the courts.

"While it is clear that the police are doing all they can to tackle this increasing problem with the resources they have available, more needs to be done.

"It is vital that the police get the support and funding they require to take knives and those who carry them off our streets.

"But the police can't do this on their own.

"It is equally important that we do far more to tackle this menace much earlier by resourcing programmes that stop knife carrying becoming a way of life.

"Early intervention and prevention programmes are a proven way to change young people's mindsets and ensure that they take positive pathways in life.

"Turning them away from crime and deterring from ever carrying a knife."

Figures from the 22 forces for violence against the person, which covers a wide range of offences, revealed around three in 10 were unsolved in 2017 and 2018, and just under a fifth so far in 2019.

For 2017 4,310 out of 14,750 recorded incidents ended with no suspect identified - 29.2% of the total; 2018 saw 4,663 out of 16,139 end this way - 28.9%.

For just over the first two months of 2019, the figures were 608 out of 3,250, 18.7%.

Where a breakdown by offence type was given, the data indicated that most of the unsolved offences of this kind were assaults.

Data for possession of a knife or bladed weapon showed that around one in six recorded crimes went unsolved in 2017 and 2018, and around 19% so far in 2019.

The figures were: 2,027 out of 12,825 in 2017 (15.8%); 2,359 out of 13,983 in 2018 (16.9%) and 422 out of 3,235 up to March 2019 (13%).

Deputy chairman of the London Assembly Tony Arbour, who has previously highlighted low knife crime detection rates in the capital, said: "A major driver of criminal activity is the belief that it will go unpunished. These figures show that criminals are likely to get away with it.

"We will not reduce knife crime unless the detection and conviction rate is improved. A stronger stop and search policy would be a start."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "This Government recognises the devastating impact that violent crime has on victims and we want offenders charged and brought to justice in the courts.

"That's why this year we have an additional £100 million funding for police to tackle violent crime, of which £65 million has already been allocated to police forces to strengthen their response to serious violence.

"We are committed to tackling violent crime and our Offensive Weapons Act will make it harder for young people to buy knives, and our Knife Crime Prevention Orders will deter young people from carrying a knife in the first place."

(1st June 2019)

(The Times, dated 30th May 2019 author Jonathan Ames)

Full article [Option 1]:

British companies were hit with a 30 per cent increase in fines last year for breaching privacy rules and even bigger penalties are forecast for this year.

Businesses and other organisations were fined £6.5 million by regulators in 2018, over £2 million more than in the previous year. The private sector accounted for 86 per cent of the cases.

However, figures from the office of Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, showed that while more fines were imposed, fewer cases were brought in 2018. Last year, 67 enforcement actions were taken, compared with 91 in 2017.

Analysts said that more than 290 million people had been affected by the 67 breaches that triggered enforcement action in Britain.

The annual privacy and security enforcement report published yesterday by PWC, the accountancy firm, said that marketing activities had triggered the largest number of infringements last year, accounting for half the cases, with 64 per cent of those resulting from telephone gambits. A quarter of enforcement actions related to personal data security breaches.

Of the 67 actions launched by the commissioners office last year, nine involved criminal prosecutions under the Data Protection Act 1998. In another 41 cases, the watchdog imposed monetary penalty notices that resulted in fines.

There were 16 enforcement notices which require the guilty organisation to take specified steps to ensure future compliance with data protection laws.

There were four cases in which the commissioners office imposed undertaking orders that commit the business or organisation to taking action to improve compliance with the rules.

Stewart Room, a partner at PWC described 2018 as "a transitional year for data protection in the UK". He said that despite the European Unions general data protection rules coming into force a year ago, "the trend of enforcement remained constant in comparison with previous years, with marketing and security infringements dominating the regulatory agenda".

Mr Room noted that no fines had been imposed last year for breaches of the EU rules. That was "not surprising as it takes many months for cases to work through the system", he said.

However, Mr Room warned that data experts expected that position to change soon. "We know that they are on their way," he said of GDPR fines.

Lawyers said multinational corporations were particularly struggling to comply with the EU rules. Mark Taylor a partner at Osborne Clarke, a law firm, said they were finding it difficult to determine the roles of the data controllers and data processors. "Companies and regulators in different jurisdictions are taking a slightly different approach to enforcement so far," he said.

"While GDPR has made international compliance easier, it hasn't unfortunately made it a one size fits all approach everywhere." Mr Taylor predicted that "enforcement activity will step up, with companies that are undertaking higher-risk processing likely to be most at risk".

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 30th May 2019 author Gabriella Swerling)

Full article [Option 1]:

Children abused by religious figures are less likely to report crimes because of the belief that community leaders have "automatic morality", a government report has found.

Child sex abuse survivors have told of their shame, guilt and embarrassment which prevented them from reporting their ordeals, amid calls for an end to the secrecy of religious institutions which they claim enabled abuse.

An official report has now revealed that victims of sexual abuse in religious institutions were less likely to report the crimes at the time than those who had been abused in other institutions such as children's homes, schools, secure care units and foster care.

The Truth Project, which runs alongside the government's Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), invites survivors to share their experiences and make reccomendations for change. Its findings were published today in the first survey of its kind comparing the experiences of abuse among religious institutions.

The report collated responses from 183 people who were sexually abused as children in religious institutions or by clergy or church staff in other settings and found that they were far less likely to report abuse than those whose abuse was linked to other institutions.

Researchers found that those abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69%) than survivors (54%) in other institutions.

They also found that victims in almost half of cases (48%) knew of someone else being abused at the time. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral.

Most participants reported sexual abuse by individuals from Anglican and Catholic Churches in England and Wales. However abuse within other Christian denominations and other religions - including the Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam and Judaism - was also reported and is included in the analysis.

The report said survivors from "particularly closed religious communities" had described how inquiries by outside bodies had been hindered by community members and leaders.

They insisted that secrecy in religious organisations and an assumption around the morality of perpetrators needs to change in order to prevent abuse happening in future.

One survivor told how they had been "pretty much fobbed off with a cup of tea and biscuits" after disclosing their abuse, while another said they had been blanked - "no return call, no missed calls, no messages, no letters, nothing" - when they tried to follow up their report with the institution.

The report concluded: "Culturally, participants stated that the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption of the automatic morality of those involved in them had to be addressed.

"Politically and professionally, it was suggested that victims and survivors needed to be at the centre of all concerns, actions and support relating to sexual abuse.

"Religious institutions and their leaders needed to take responsibility for abuse that has happened, come together to effect required change and ensure child protection policies and procedures were fully implemented in the best interests of the child."

More than half of survivors - all of whom shared their experiences in person, in writing or on the phone between June 2016 and November 2018 - said they had engaged with the Truth Project because they wanted change to prevent abuse happening to someone else.

Dr Sophia King, principal researcher, said: "This report examines their accounts in order to paint a clear picture of abuse in religious settings. It is clear that feelings of shame and embarrassment created a huge barrier to children disclosing abuse, as did the power and authority bestowed upon their abusers."

Earlier this month the IICSA announced its 14th strand of investigations, which will review the current child protection policies, practices and procedures in religious institutions in England and Wales.

A preliminary hearing will take place in July and public hearings are expected to begin next year.

Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church's lead safeguarding bishop, said: "The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has recently published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, including the Anglican Church.  It is based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project, and its conclusions and findings are disturbing and in many places shocking.

"One of the report's key findings includes that those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in other institutions. We would urge anyone who wants to report abuse and find support to come forward and we promise they will be heard.

"IICSA continues to shine a light on the safeguarding practices of religious institutions, including the Church of England, and we are working constructively with the Inquiry as we approach our wider Church hearing on July 1.  We commend those survivors who have had the courage to come forward to share their experiences to the Inquiry and in particular to the Truth Project, knowing how difficult this would have been. 

"We welcomed the findings and recommendations published by IICSA this month, on the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. This states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors but it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in both these reports and also strengthen our resolve to make the Church a safe place for all."

Anyone who wants to get in touch with the Truth Project can visit, call 0800 917 1000 or email
(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 29th May 2019 author Sian Cain)

Full article [Option 1]:

Austerity cuts in the police force could lead to an increase in miscarriages of justice, a leading forensic scientist has warned, as constraints on funding lead to in-house forensic teams performing more selective tests.

Speaking at the Hay festival, Angela Gallop, who worked on cases including Stephen Lawrence, the Cardiff Three, the Yorkshire Ripper and James Bulger, said she feared the results of a cognitive bias in the police force, as they were both investigating criminals and performing forensic tests themselves, instead of employing third parties.

"I have got huge admiration for the police. Obviously there are some not so good officers among them but, by and large, I think they do a difficult job really well. Quite a lot of my career has been supporting the police," she said.

"But they have been under the cosh with cuts and austerity, because forensic science is a very small part of their budget but a very large part of their external spend … it sticks out like a sore thumb. So when they're thinking about cutting things, an easy thing to cut is their forensic science budget. To try and make up for that, they've brought more of the work in-house."

Gallop estimated 80% of forensic science had been taken in-house.

"I worry about cognitive bias," she said, citing research by London University that found forensic scientists were more likely to find the results they were looking for if they expected to. "I can't imagine an organisation of people, however good they are, can at the same time hunt down criminals and also produce impartial independent scientific evidence. I worry about that."

When she started working in forensic science in the 70s, she was employed by the Home Office, she said. "How proud we were to be in the Home Office and not employed by the police - but that is not the case any longer."

She said another direct result of austerity was that testing had become "commoditised", meaning police asked scientists to perform fewer and more particular tests. "The narrower your focus in forensic science, the more likely you are to introduce a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you only test for certain things, you will only find certain things. The dangers are absolutely there, however good you are. It is a serious concern."

On the cases she felt she could have contributed to, Gallop said she felt the parents of Madeleine McCann had been "badly served by forensic science, partly because some of it was done in a country that has got a little less structure than we have. But a little was done in this country, a very sensitive DNA technique was used, and I think it was overinterpreted. And I think that added to the problems".

She also said she was "not at all happy" about the conviction of Brian Parsons, a Devon man who was found guilty of murdering Ivy Batten, 84, in 1987 after fibres from a hammer and gloves used in the crime were found in his car and coat. Parsons attempted to appeal his conviction several times but it was upheld in 1999. He served 15 years of a life sentence and was released in 2003.

"Interestingly enough, one of the lawyers involved, who later became a judge, has said in recent times that the one case he worries about is the Brian Parsons case. And the police force who did an investigation of the original police investigation, I know the chap who lead that, and he says he's very worried about it because they could never pin it down.

"So if you get a judge and a police officer and a forensic scientist saying we think something is wrong with a case, then that is very worrying."

(1st June 2019)

(The Register, dated 29th May 2019 author Gareth Corfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

Nearly 90 per cent of hacking prosecutions in the UK last year resulted in convictions, though the odds of dodging prison remain high, an analysis by The Register has revealed.

Government data from the last 11 years revealed the full extent of police activity against cybercrime, with the number of prosecutions and cautions for hacking and similar offences being relatively low.

Figures from HM Courts and Tribunals Service revealed there were a total of 422 prosecutions brought under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA) over the last decade, with the figure rising to 441 including the year 2007.

Criminals convicted of CMA offences were quite likely to avoid prison in 2018, with just nine (including young offenders sent to youth prisons) receiving custodial sentences out of 45 convictions. Among those were Mustafa Ahmet Kasim, the first person ever to be prosecuted under the CMA by the Information Commissioner's Office. A further dozen CMA convicts received suspended sentences in 2018.

Between 2008 and 2018, 79 people - 24 per cent of the total prosecuted in that period - were found not guilty at court or otherwise had their cases halted. Of the guilty, 16 per cent were given immediate custodial sentences. That number comes up to 45 per cent if suspended sentences are included.

The CMA is the main statute used to prosecute hackers, as well as some data-related crimes such as securing unlawful access to computers and their contents.

The odds of getting off with a police caution instead of a full-blown prosecution for a CMA offence were exactly 50:50 in 2018, with 51 cautions being issued as well as 51 criminal court cases. In those 51 prosecutions, 45 defendants were found guilty, a rate of around 90 per cent - slightly above the usual average across all criminal offences of around 75-80 per cent of prosecutions resulting in a guilty verdict.

The 2013 jump in prosecutions could be explained by that being the statistical year after Theresa May, as Home Secretary, withdrew her extradition order against accused hacker Gary McKinnon, signalling a greater willingness to prosecute at home rather than extradite.

Among the lucky six to be found not guilty in 2018 or who otherwise had their cases stopped was Crown court judge Karen Jane Holt, aka Karen Smith, whose prosecution under the Computer Misuse Act was halted by order of another Crown court judge.

The most common range of fines fell between £300 and £500, with one criminal having been fined more than £10,000 last year - the only one to be so punished since 2012. In general, around five fines were issued per year for the last 11 years.

In the 11 years' worth of data analysed by The Register, just one person got away free with an absolute discharge from court (in 2017) after being found guilty. A maximum of six people per year received conditional discharges, with last year featuring just three. Community sentences accounted for a total of 95 disposals from court since 2007, with 15 of those having been handed out last year.

Don't worry about rotting behind bars

Even when a prison sentence was handed down by judges, the duration was relatively short. Over the past decade, the most frequent sentence lengths fell between 6-9 months and 18-24 months. Current UK sentencing laws automatically halve prison sentences in favour of release on licence, with release from prison usually being a bit earlier again than half the headline figure, as a criminal barrister explains on his website.

The figures could be interpreted to show that Britain is a relatively forgiving jurisdiction for computer hacking crimes, something this story advertising an IT security startup staffed with young grey hats may or may not bear out.

Not every CMA prosecution is started because of hacking, it is important to note, though the law is often used for hacking cases. In 2017, a former Harrods IT worker, Pardeep Parmar of Hitchin, pleaded guilty to a CMA offence after being let go from the posh department store and taking his work laptop to a local computer shop, asking to have it taken off their domain. Similarly, a former Santander bank clerk, Abiola Ajibade of Consort Road, Southwark, pleaded guilty after having been caught accessing and sending customers' details to her then boyfriend.

"Cybercrime has become accepted as a low-risk, potentially high-reward activity for organised criminals. If they act professionally, they can make substantial sums of money with very little chance of being caught," opined Richard Breavington of law firm RPC, which also obtained some of the data.

(1st June 2019)

(Sky News, dated 29th May 2019 author Deborah Haynes)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 1,000 British nationals were being detained in over 100 different countries last November despite not having a prison sentence, Sky News has learnt.

While the number includes people who were then released on bail or without charge, it also includes detainees like Andrew Neal, a former soldier, who have spent months and on occasion years in jail abroad without even being found guilty of an offence.

Mr Neal, a father of two, has been imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates since last October accused of selling drugs - an allegation he denies.

He appeared in court in Abu Dhabi this morning but his family says a police officer who was supposedly going to be giving evidence for the prosecution never showed up so the decorated Army veteran was given a new court date in July and sent back to his cell.

"We are feeling terrible," said Sue Neal, his mother, who has been tracking her son's plight from the family home just outside Nottingham.

"It is getting harder and harder to remain positive. We have to for Andrew's sake but we just cannot believe it."

Countries holding at least one Briton without being sentenced include those run by authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records and arbitrary systems of justice such as Egypt, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Figures released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under a Freedom of Information Act request show that 2,335 British nationals were known to be in detention overseas as of last November.

"This includes British nationals in immigration detention, in police custody, and those on remand awaiting trial, in addition to sentenced prisoners," the Foreign Office said.

Asked how many British nationals have been charged with a crime overseas but have yet to be found guilty or cleared, the department said it was aware of 1,012 individuals "who have yet to be sentenced".

British nationals arrested overseas in each year

2015 : 4,890
2016 : 5,568
2017 : 5,301
2018 : 5,359
2019 : 1,245

The figure was subsequently described as a snapshot of the detention situation for British nationals recorded on a single day in November 2018.

It includes a range of scenarios from individuals who have been convicted of crimes and are awaiting sentence to those who were picked up but later had charges against them dropped as well as those languishing in jail without being formally prosecuted.

The department listed 108 countries that it said were holding Britons during this snapshot.

Among those in jail, pleading their innocence and not yet convicted of any crime, is Jagtar Singh Johal, 32, a Scottish Sikh who lives in Dumbarton.

He has spent nearly 19 months in an Indian prison accused of being connected to the murders of a number of Hindu nationalists. His brother says he is innocent and claims he was tortured in detention.

Of the total number of British detainees, 89% were men and 11% were women.

Crimes they were accused of or found guilty of ranged from assault and paedophilia to drugs and fraud.

The Foreign Office data reveals a total of 1,245 British nationals have been arrested in a foreign country since the start of this year.

For the whole of last year the number of British citizens arrested overseas was 5,359. This compared with 5,301 Britons arrested in 2017 and 5,568 arrested the previous year.

The number of arrests dropped to 4,890 British nationals in 2015.

The true figure of British nationals who fall foul of the law overseas could be a lot higher.

"It should also be noted that it is not mandatory for British nationals to report incidents to the FCO (or one of its diplomatic missions) so consequently the figures provided only cover incidents where cases have been reported to us," the Foreign Office said.

It added that its consular services are also used by some EU nationals as well as Commonwealth nationals in non-Commonwealth countries.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We do all we can to help Brits detained overseas, whatever stage of the judicial process they are in. We help around 5,500 people who are arrested or detained each year. Last year, 82 per cent of those to whom we provided consular services gave us a satisfaction rating of 8 out of 10 or higher.

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th May 2019 author Tristan Kirk)

Full article [Option 1]:

Three tobacco smugglers who fled Britain while on bail for evading duty on 2.1 million cigarettes have been jailed after a two-year hunt traced them to Poland.

Customs investigators caught Jakub Mloduchowski, 23, and Dariusz Szwarc, 28, unloading 335,700 illegal cigarettes, worth an estimated £85,000 in duty, at a lock-up in Wembley.

When officers searched the premises they found another 1.8 million non-duty-paid cigarettes and 341 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.

A carrier bag with £62,750 of cash was also seized in June 2016, Harrow crown court heard.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) arrested Mloduchowski and Szwarc, both of Harrow, and Andrzej Wozniak, 42, of Wealdstone, who was found hiding in women's lavatories.

But the trio fled the UK when granted bail with conditions that they surrendered their passports.

The men were tracked to Poland and brought back to the UK last November and December after HMRC applied for European Arrest Warrants.

Duty due on the 2.1 million cigarettes and tobacco was calculated at £634,404, an HMRC spokesman said.

Jobless Mloduchowski admitted three counts of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and was sentenced last week to 13 months.

Builder Szwarc and electrician Wozniak received 10 and nine-month jail terms respectively after admitting one charge of evasion of duty.

(1st June 2019)

(The Times, dated 28th May 2019 author Graeme Paton)

Full article [Option 1]:

A surge in "keyless" car thefts has driven motor insurance claims to their highest level in seven years.

Insurers settled 16,000 theft claims in the first three months of this year, or one every eight minutes.

Analysis by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) showed that payouts for stolen cars or thefts from vehicles had risen 14 per cent in 12 months to the highest quarterly total since 2012.

The conclusions will add to concerns that new vehicles are vulnerable to high-tech criminals and that manufacturers are failing to install basic security systems.

Most new cars are opened and started using a fob rather than a key. Thieves can use relay boxes - one near the car and another close to the house where the fob is usually kept - which can lengthen the radio signal produced by the fob to make it appear to be within range of the car. The thieves can then open the doors and start the engine.

Earlier this year a study by Thatcham Research, an automotive safety group, warned that half of new models could be opened and started using the keyless theft system.

The study said some carmakers had addressed the weaknesses by switching to more secure wireless technology that could not be hacked. In certian cases, manufacturers also used key fobs fitted with an accelerometer, which detects vibrations, so they "go to sleep" when left idle and do not transmit a signal.

However, many companies wre said to be too slow to introduce the technology, een though keyless thefts have been carried out by criminals for years.

Laurenz Gerger, the ABI's motor insurance adviser, said: "The continued growth in car crime must be reversed. Car security needs to keep pace with the ingenuity of car criminals.
"The rising number of theft claims paid by insurers in part reflects the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft. Action by manufacturers to tackle this high-tech vulnerability, allied with owners taking simple, inexpensive precautions, will help put the brakes on this unwelcome trend."

According to the ABI, there were 16,000 claims for stolen vehicles or thefts from a vehicle in the first quarter of this year, 2,000 more than the same period last year. The cost of payouts for thefts was £108 million, up 22 per cent in 12 months.

Motor manufacturers have been under pressure to improve car security. In response, industry bosses have called for action to stop the sale of relay devices used in the crimes. Mike Hawes from the Society of Motor Maunfacturers and Traders,  said recently that car theft was an "ongoing battle".

"Technology can only do so much and that is why we call for action to prevent the open sale of devices used by criminals," he said.

The ABI study showed that the cost of repairing vehicles over the first three months this year was £1.2 billion, the highest quarterly figure on record. This is said to be linked to more sophisticated vehicle design and technology, which costs far more to repair.

The ABI said that the cost of a single headlamp for a popular model has risen more than 400 per cent from £163 in 2012 to £840. Average replacement windscreens for another popular model soared from £147 to £468.

Soft Targets (Source : Tracker car security)

The UK's most stolen cars

1. BMW X5
2. Mercedes Benz C-class
3. BMW 3 Series
4. Mercedes Benz E-class
5. BMW 5 Series
6. Range Rover Vogue
7. Range Rover Discovery
8. Range Rover Sport
9. Mercedes Benz S-class
10. Mercedes Benz GLE

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 28th May 2019 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of Met officers on sick leave is soaring as a police leader warns that they are dealing with a "war zone" on London's streets.

Figures show that the number of Met staff on long-term sick leave has nearly doubled in the past four years. In 2014, 1,399 officers and staff were recorded as off sick for more than a month, rising to 2,731 in 2018.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: "There has been an increase in long-term sickness, rather than short-term sick leave.

"Officers are facing more traumatic situations than ever faced before. They are regularly being called to serious stabbings and are the first to attend. You can equate it to a war zone.

"They have to deal with these situations and then before they can recover, they are back out there again."

He said there had been a big rise in the number of officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

The figures, obtained by the London Assembly Tory group, emerged as police have faced record levels of knife crime.

Mr Marsh added: "I cannot think of any other employment where people have to work the sort of hours that my colleagues have to, and they have no choice over this. We need more officers, they are constantly having to cancel rest days."

The figures show that the number of officers recorded as sick rose under the last years of Boris Johnson's term as mayor, as well as during Sadiq Khan's first two years in the post.

Steve O'Connell, the Conservative London Assembly spokesman for police and crime, said: "London is fortunate enough to be served by thousands of world-class police officers who regularly put themselves in harm's way to keep others safe.

"But these escalating sickness rates show that we are not sufficiently looking after them or giving them the support they deserve. This failure means fewer cops on the streets, making Londoners more susceptible to crime.

"The reduction in police numbers has put officers under increasing pressure and taken a toll on both wellbeing and morale."

He claimed that Mr Khan could recruit hundreds more officers by cutting "waste" at City Hall.

A spokesman for the Mayor blamed "crippling" funding cuts which had resulted in officer numbers in London dropping to below 30,000 for the first time since 2003.

He said Mr Khan was "doing everything within his power" to support police "including funding the Met's Violent Crime Taskforce".

(1st June 2019)

(City A.M., dated 28th May 2019 author James Warrington)

Full article [Option 1]:

Less than one per cent of cyber crimes result in prosecution, new figures have revealed, highlighting the difficulty of tracking down online hackers.

There were 65 prosecutions for computer hacking in the UK last year, up 38 per cent on the 47 recorded in 2017, according to City law firm RPC. But the figures still represents less than one per cent of all reported cyber crimes in the UK.

The data showed there were 17,900 reported cases of computer hacking in 2018, a sharp increase on the year before, with social media and email accounts the most common targets for cyber criminals.

The low success rate in prosecuting cyber attackers shows the challenges faced by police to identify criminals from around the world and bring them to justice.

"Cyber crime has become accepted as a low-risk, potentially high-reward activity for organised criminals," said Richard Breavington, partner at RPC.

"Understandably the priorities for policing cyber crime have been in areas which have a potential nation state impact. A result is that the rise of less sensitive cyber crime has gone largely unchecked and it has been left largely to the private sector to deal with."

The stark figures come amid growing concern about the potential impact of cyber attacks on businesses.

A 2018 report by Mcafee and the Centre for International & Strategic Studies estimated cyber crime costs the global economy as much as $600bn (£473bn), or 0.8 per cent of global GDP.

Earlier this month the UK partnered with other EU member states to bring out tough new sanctions, including travel bans and a freeze on assets, as part of a crackdown on cyber criminals.

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 26th May 2019 author Agence France-Presse)

Full article [Option 1]:

A German government watchdog has issued a warning to Jews not to wear skullcaps for their own safety, amid growing concern over a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

Felix Klein, the German government's official anti-Semitism commissioner, warned at the weekend that it is not safe to wear traditional yarmulke or kippah skullcaps in public.

"I cannot recommend Jews to wear the kippah at any time, anywhere in Germany," Mr Klein said in an interview with several local newspapers. "Sadly I have to say this. My evaluation of the situation has changed."

Mr Klein's warning comes a year after similar advice from Germany's largest Jewish organisation, and follows a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic attacks.

According to official figures, 1,799 hate crimes were committed against Jewish people in Germany last year, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to 2017. They included 62 cases of violence against Jews, up from 37 in 2017.

There has been concern in recent years that Muslim immigration could be fuelling the rise in violence against Jews, but an official report published earlier this month found that 90 per cent of 2017's anti-Semitic attacks came from the far-Right scene.

Mr Klein blamed "increasing social disinhibition and brutalization" for the rise. "The Internet and social media have contributed greatly to this, as well as the continued attacks on our culture of remembrance," he said, referring to German attitudes to the Holocaust.

Björn Höcke, a senior politician from the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), called in 2017 for a "180-degree turn" in the German culture of atonement for the crimes of the Second World War and described the national Holocaust memorial as a "shameful monument".

The head of Germany's largest Jewish organisation backed Mr Klein's warning. "It has long been the case that Jews are at risk in some major cities if they are recognizable as Jews," Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"It is therefore to be welcomed if this situation gets more attention at the highest political level."

IHRA working definition | Anti-Semitism

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance hopes that providing a strict definition of anti-Semitism will help organisations to combat it. The definition is as follows:

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."

The IHRA gives examples such as:

- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (eg. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

(Telegraph, dated 28th May 2019 author Justin Huggler)

Full article [Option 1]:

A German government watchdog has called on people across the country to wear Jewish skullcaps this weekend in an act of solidarity against anti-Semitism.

The appeal follows a U-turn on an official warning to Jewish men not to wear skullcaps in public for their own safety.

Felix Klein, the German government's anti-Semitism commissioner, warned Jewish men at the weekend not to wear traditional kippah or yarmulke skullcaps amid a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

The warning was backed by Germany's largest Jewish organisation, the Central Council of Jews, but was widely criticised.

President Reuven Rivlin of Israel described it as a "capitulation to anti-Semitism", while Angela Merkel's spokesman said: "The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can move around safely in our country while wearing a kippah".

Mr Klein later backed away from his initial warning, saying it was intended as "a way of raising the alarm".

He called for people across the country to wear skullcaps in a sign of solidarity with Israel and Jewish people this weekend as Muslims mark Al-Quds Day, an annual event in support of the Palestinians.

"I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippah next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of Al-Quds Day in Berlin," he said in a statement.

Bild, Germany's highest-selling newspaper, produced cut-out-and-wear skullcaps for people to wear.

Previous Al-Quds Day events in Berlin have seen anti-Israel demonstrations, and there is a widespread popular perception that Muslim immigration has fuelled a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. 

But official police figures released show that 90 per cent of anti-Semitic attacks in Germany last year were in fact linked to the indigenous far-Right scene.

According to official figures, 1,799 hate crimes were committed against Jewish people in Germany last year, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to 2017. They included 62 cases of violence against Jews, up from 37 in 2017.

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd May 2019 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Scotland Yard is considering trials of scanners which can detect hidden weapons in public places.

The Met says it is liaising with a private security firm over testing the technology as a means of tackling violent crime.

Police said they were considering trials of the "scanning software" as Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey pledged to deploy £800,000 scanners if he was elected.

He said one company, Thermal Matrix, had scanners being used by law enforcement in the United States and Indonesia.

The technology uses thermal-imaging cameras and software to detect concealed weapons and Mr Bailey said they could be deployed to scan large crowds at events.

He said: "Technology alone won't solve the crime epidemic that is threatening London but it can and must be part of the solution."

Mr Bailey claimed he would fund the technology - plus 2,000 extra officers - by cutting "the irresponsible waste at City Hall".

His comments come weeks after the Government announced plans to fund the development of scanners to check crowds for weapons and alert police.

A Met spokeswoman said it was liaising with a company over "scanning software for use in public spaces as a preventative measure in regards to violent crime".

(1st June 2019)

(Sky News - Opinion, dated 23rd May 2019 author Rowland Manthorpe)

Full article [Option 1]:

From photography and home video to webcams and internet streaming, the next wave of technology has been often heralded by porn.

Today, that pattern is being repeated. Only this time the technology in question isn't a new way of consuming porn, but a new way of policing it - and it is driven not by sexual desire, but government regulation.

In less than two months, the UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age checks for online porn. Anyone visiting a porn website will be required to prove they are over 18, using a variety of methods (more on which later).

Beset by poor planning and bad handling, porn block, as it is known, has been treated for the most part as a bizarre one-off, an online equivalent of Brexit. The New York Times called it "a distinctly British moral crusade".

That may be true. But the porn block is anything but a one-off. It is a testing ground for a system of digital identity checks, which could become an integral part of everything from internet shopping to social media.

A crucial - yet, strangely, barely recognised - milestone in the death of anonymity online. That might sound like an exaggeration. In fact, it's on its way to becoming government policy.

In mid-April, a few days after the launch of the government's long-waited Online Harms white paper, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced a code of practice for age-appropriate design online, proposing strong restrictions on the way under-18s are treated online.

Whereas the white paper addresses harms once they've happened, the code is designed to change the broken business model that produces them in the first place.

Its measures are ingenious and far-reaching. They include restricting the collection of data and limiting "nudge techniques" - a move which could spell an end to "likes" and "streaks" on social media.

Yet the most important aspect of the code - which is currently out for consultation, but expected to come into effect before the end of the year - is not its policy proposals, but the very idea that young people can be identified and treated differently online.

The ICO suggested a way to accomplish this. If tech firms couldn't treat everyone like young people, it said, then they should introduce a system to make sure young users didn't see anything they shouldn't.

The name for that system? Robust age verification. In other words: a porn block, only this time for the entire internet.

The word "robust" is significant. According to people familiar with its operations, the porn block is not intended to be impermeable. Rather than trying to prevent every young person seeing porn (something which would be impossible, short of confiscating computers from every teenager in the country), it will aim to keep out the majority; adding friction to a currently friction-less process.

A robust age verification system goes one further. Under this system, the barrier is designed to be inescapable. ID checks are built into the foundation of browsing.

The government is already rolling this out in other areas. On 7 May, it introduced strict age verification for online gambling. Now, gambling websites have to verify the name, address and date of birth of each customer - often more, as the gambling commission considers these requirements "a minimum".

Age checks are also being introduced for online sales of knives and alcohol. At present, big retailers "remind" customers - as if they didn't know - that knives and alcohol are age-restricted products.

As a barrier, it's hardly insurmountable. That's why the home office is exploring the use of, you guessed it, age verification technology. It's the perfect technological fix - if you're a minister.

"It is an area where more needs to happen, and more will happen," the CEO of one company in the field told me recently, as he ran me through his plan for rapid expansion.

"It'll be introduced for vaping, websites that sell alcohol, all the way through to places like Netflix and YouTube."

It will - as long the porn block proves successful. That is the key test. If politicians believe it's gone well, they'll happily extend age verification everywhere it will go.

Is this a problem? Libertarians won't like it; but then, they wouldn't. And for many parents, the introduction of age verification would come as a blessed relief.

But, on the internet, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. In the absence of digital ID cards, creating a robust age verification system often involves amassing an enormous store of personal data.

Did you know, for instance, that the companies which set exams send your data to the government, which then passes it on for age verification? Or that data brokers such as Experian collect electoral roll and tax information for the same purposes?

Privacy-protecting alternatives are emerging. One company, OCL, has created a "porn pass", which can be picked up in person, so no personal data is exchanged across the internet. Another, Yoti, promises to encrypt user data, so that even its employees can't see what's been entered.

With demand growing swiftly, these firms are racing to do more. OCL is preparing to offer identity cards for students. Yoti is working with nightclubs, supermarkets and the government of Jersey. Both are aiming at one of the holy grails of technology entrepreneurs: to "own" identity on your smartphone.

And this is what gives me pause - because once you start to think about all the places digital ID checks could be introduced, and how powerful the companies that provide those checks would be, you realise how profound this shift is.

Thanks to its ill-conceived porn block, the government has quietly blundered into the creation of a digital passport - then outsourced its development to private firms, without setting clear limits on how it is to be used.

Shouldn't there be a public debate before this happens? Shouldn't we be told? Or are we too busy being distracted by what Sajid Javid calls the "monsters" of the internet to notice what is happening right under our eyes?

(1st June 2019)

(The Sun, dated 23rd May 2019 author Dan Elsom)

Full article [Option 1]:

Flip flops will soon become part of Brits' daily wardrobe as temperatures start to climb.

But those who choose to drive in their summer shoes could find themselves in hot water if they're involved in an accident.

While driving in flip flops isn't illegal in itself, wearing them could lead to a careless driving charge if they impede your ability to drive safely.

Under Rule 97 of the Highway Code, drivers are advised they must have "footwear and clothing which does not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner".

Flip flops could slip off, become wedged under pedals or prevent you from pressing the pedals with enough force to brake quickly, which could cause you to drive erratically or even lead to a collision.

If you are stopped by police while driving in a potentially dangerous manner or your footwear is a reason for an accident, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention (careless driving).

Careless driving carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your licence.

But in more serious cases, or those that are contested in court, the charge can attract a maximum £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban.

A study by insurance brand ingenie previously found a whopping 27 per cent of motorists could be risking this penalty as they ditch their shoes in favour of flip flops behind the wheel.

And despite the large number of Brits taking the risk, around one in three actually thought it was illegal to drive in loose fitting footwear.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, told Sun Motors: "Before setting off, you should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.

"If flip flops stopped you being in control you could be prosecuted, as you are breaking Highway Code Rule 97.

"Careless driving is mostly judged on the impact your driving has on others around you, so if you are spotted swerving or braking erratically and then stopped and found to have inadequate footwear, you could be prosecuted.

"If you do cause a crash, then it could also be an aggravating factor against you in court and lead to a slightly higher fine or longer ban."

Selim Cavanagh, Chief Executive at ingenie, said: "It's promising that almost a third of drivers assume driving in flip flops is illegal, because it's really dangerous.

"They slip off, slide under the pedals, get caught between your feet and the pedals and if your feet are wet, they'll affect your ability to brake if you need to.

"Aside from the actual rules though, driving in flip flops can create a dangerous driving environment, and put you, your passengers, and other road users at risk."

RAC's guidelines for suitable driving footwear

According to the RAC there are some guidelines for what footwear is suitable when driving:

- Have a sole no thicker than 10mm, but the sole should not be too thin or soft.
- Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals.

- Not be too heavy.

- Not limit ankle movement.

- Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.

(1st June 2019)

(The Sun, dated 22nd May 2019 author James Gratton)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police figures analysed by financial comparison website GoCompare revealed the Ford Focus as the most frequently stolen motor in 2018.

Freedom of Information data was collected from 17 of the 43 police forces across England and Wales, including Avon and Somerset, Hertfordshire, Kent and Northumbria.

One of the most popular cars in the country, the Focus was pinched 530 times just last year in the 17 constabularies analysed.

Britain's favourite car, the Ford Fiesta, was the next most common vehicle to be targeted by crooks, with 508 models stolen from these regions.

However despite featuring high on the list, it's likely Ford's compact models were among the most common theft targets due to their high popularity and sheer number on the road.

Thieves also targeted the Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, with 344 and 340 models stolen, respectively.

The Vauxhall Corsa was another popular choice with criminals, according to the figures, as 306 vehicles were stolen last year.

As the figures only cover just over a third of the police forces in the UK, they don't represent the nature of car theft for the entire country.

Last year we revealed the models most likely to be stolen from streets all over Britain, with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class most at-risk.

Most commonly stolen models

Ford Focus : 530
Ford Fiesta : 508
Vauxhall Astra : 344
Volkwagen Golf : 340
Vauxhall Corsa : 306
Audi A3 : 43
BMW 1 Series : 35
BMW 3 Series : 32
Volkwagen Polo : 31
Renault Clio : 31
Vauxhall Zafira : 31
Land Rover Range Rover : 29
Land Rover Defender : 29
Audi A4 : 23
Land Rover Discovery : 23
Ford Mondeo : 22

The study by GoCompare also revealed some of the UK streets where your motor is more likely to be stolen.

Streets with the most vehicle thefts

Staffordshire Police (High Street) : 55
Leicestershire Constabulary (Cornwall Road) : 22
Humberside Police (Anlaby Road) : 18
Bedfordshire Police (High Street) : 16
Northumbria Police (Station Road): 11
Nottingham Police (Pilcher Gate) : 11
Dorset Police (Hinton Road) : 11
Merseyside Police (Great Howard Street, Liverpool) : 11

Common mistakes putting your motor at risk of theft - here's how to keep it safe

Former offender turned security expert Michael Fraser explains how you could be making your car a target for thieves:

- Relying on your car's security system: "If you have bought a new car, you might think it comes with a security system which will protect your car but many motors are quite vulnerable to theft; using a visual deterrent like a steering wheel lock which looks like a big strong dustbin lid that covers your entire steering wheel will put them off."
- Parking with straight wheels: "Most people straighten up their wheels when parking, making it easy for thieves to drive away quickly. By parking your car with the wheels turned into the kerb, thieves will have to make more manoeuvres to drive off. Parking in a row of cars or facing a wall will also deter criminals."
- Failing to hide key fob: "Many car owners believe that locking their keys in a drawer or placing them out of sight in a secure home is enough to protect their vehicles but criminals can use devices that relay the signal from keys and unlock devices remotely. Keep your keys at least 20m away from any doors, criminals can't pick up a signal. You can also use an RFID Wallets which provide a casing for your keys."
- Leaving a mess in your motor: "One of the biggest mistakes that car owners make is leaving rubbish and mess lying around. When a criminal walks past they will see this as an opportunity to find something valuable. Keeping valuables out of sight and tidying away any rubbish is an effective way to deter criminals.
- Not using a dash cam with surveillance mode: "All dash cams are designed to record your drive, but some dashboard cameras can also monitor your car when you are not there. It is a very useful feature to guard against any would-be thieves or if you are worried about any potential vandalism on your car."
- Michael also noted leaving ownership documents in the car and failing to check the door is actually locked are other common mistakes drivers make.

(1st June 2019)

(The Times, dated 22nd May 2019 author Mark Bridge)

Full article [Option 1]:

Instagram is investigating after the data of 49 million users, including celebrities and "global influencers", was exposed to hackers online.

In the biggest leak on record affecting users of the social media app, email addresses and phone numbers for the accounts were left unsecured in a database belonging to an Indian marketing company.

Anurag Sen, the security researcher who discovered the database, said that the data set had been "growing every hour" until it was secured. It contained private information and could be freely accessed. Mr Sen did not name the celebrities whose details were exposed but said that some were British.

People whose data was included in the breach told TechCrunch, the technology website, that they had had no involvement with Chtrbox, the marketing company in Mumbai. Chtrbox pays "influencers" to post sponsored content from brands such as Adidas and Ray-Ban on their accounts. The database include calculations to estimate the value of each person's instagram account based on their number of followers and engagement.

It was unclear yesterday whether the private data was provided by Instagram to Chtrbox. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it was possible that Chtrbox obtained the data from a source unrelated to its service. Chtrbox said that no data had been sourced through unethical means, and that it had not brought data obtained in any breach of social networks.

The incident put users at greater risk of crimes including hacking and fraud, and is the latest in a series of privacy scandals affecting Facebook and its subsidiaries. It could lead to a fine of $2.2 billion for Facebook under European data laws.

Facebook has been criticised for providing its users data to companies and researchers without ensuring that users were aware or that the data was secure. The lack of safeguards enabled the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to obtain the data of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Two years ago it was reported that a glitch in Instagram's software had enabled hackers to learn users' phone numbers and email addresses. It is unclear whether that incident was related to the latest breach because it was known to involved only six million users' accounts. The previous breach occurred shortly before the account of Selena Gomez, the American singer, was used by hackers to post nude photos of her ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber.

Sam Curry, of Cybereason, a security company, said: "Personal data is a privelege to hold, not a right and, if you don't recognise that, times look dark in the coming months. Facebook desperately needs to rethink privacy and security."

Instagram said that it took the matter seriously and was investigating whether a third party improperly stored its data but that was unclear whether the phone numbers or emails in Chtrbox's database were from Instagram.

Chtrbox told the CNet website : "This database did not include any sensitive personal data and only contained information available from the public domain, or self-reported by influencers.

"Our database is for internal research use only, we have never sold individual data or our database and we have never purchased hacked data resulting from social media platform breaches."

It said that the database was exposed for about 72 hours, although Mr Sen responded that it had been exposed since May 14.

The Irish data protection authorities, which regulate Facebook and Instagram in Europe, said that they were aware of the reports.

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd May 2019 author Danielle Demetriou)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police app that scares off molesters has become a runaway hit in Japan, where women have long faced high levels of groping on packed rush-hour trains.

The free Digi Police App, created by Tokyo Metropolitan Police, aims to help women raise the alarm if confronted with molesters, in particular while commuting on trains.

The app can either blast out a loud voice shouting "stop it" or produce a full screen SOS message which victims can show other passengers reading: "There is a molester. Please help."

Since launching three years ago, the app has attracted growing attention among Japanese women, with the number of downloads topping 237,000 and rising fast, according to Keiko Toyamine, a police official.

Key to the app's success was the fact that it enabled even the most shy of victims to raise the alarm, according to experts.

Akiyoshi Saito, a social worker who has supported 800 former molesters through a rehabilitation programme, told AFP: "Molesters tend to target those who appear shy and reluctant to lodge a police complaint." 

"Thanks to its popularity, the number is increasing by some 10,000 every month,"  Keiko Toyamine  told AFP.

Highlighting how victims are often too scared to say anything when confronted by molesters on often-silent commuter trains, she added that the SOS message mode enables them to "notify other passengers about groping while remaining silent".

The problem of groping - known as chikan in Japanese - has soared over the years in Japan, despite initiatives such as women-only train cars which aim to create a safe haven for female commuters.

Close to 900 groping and harassment cases were reported on trains and subways in Tokyo in 2017, although the actual figure is expected to be significantly higher as many victims are reluctant to report incidents or press charges.

The Digi Police app was initially launched in 2016 as a tool for informing elderly people, parents and children about scams and prowlers, but its so-called "repel molester" quickly emerged as a key appeal.

The app also links to maps of nearby safe havens such as police stations, while users can also send emergency emails to families informing them if they are in danger and alerting them to their location.

The app was cast into the spotlight last year when a female pop idol who was assaulted reportedly spoke about it in an online conversation, fuelling a boom in sales, according to AFP.

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 21st May 2019 author Katy Clifton)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 500 suspected members of county lines drugs gangs have been arrested in a week.

Police forces across the UK carried out a crackdown co-ordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre Between May 13 and 20, seizing £312,649 in cash.

In the week long operation, 500 men and 86 women were arrested, while 519 vulnerable adults and 364 children were safeguarded.

Some 30 people were referred as potential victims of slavery or human trafficking and 46 weapons were seized, including four guns, swords, machetes, an axe, knives, samurai swords, and a crossbow

Drugs including cocaine worth £176,780, crack worth £36,550 and heroin worth £17,950 were also seized

National Crime Agency (NCA) County Lines lead Nikki Holland said: "Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority and these results demonstrate the power of a whole-system response to a complex problem that we're seeing in every area of the UK.

"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."

Young people and vulnerable adults are "groomed" and forced into a life of crime by members of county lines drug gangs, that courier banned substances from urban centres into more rural areas, taking orders on phone lines.

Ms Holland added: "We are making progress in our fight against County Lines but we need the help of professionals working with people at risk of being involved in or exploited by County Lines.

"It's the nurses, teachers, social workers, GPs, and anyone who works with young or vulnerable people, that can really help to make a difference."

Signs that a young person may have fallen prey to a county lines gang are suddenly having new unaffordable belongings; going missing a lot; having friendships with older people or having unexplained injuries.

The National Crime Agency estimates there are around 2,000 county lines gangs in the UK, and every police force in England and Wales is affected by their activity.

The number of cases of modern slavery involving UK minors went from 676 in 2017 to 1,421 in 2018.

Iryna Pona, policy manager at The Children's Society, said: "It is good to see police are stepping up their fight against the horrors of county lines trafficking with enforcement operations like these.

"But everyone, including professionals, needs to know how to spot the signs that something is wrong and accept that these young people are not troublemakers, but vulnerable children who are being groomed and need help."

(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 20th May 2019 author Jamie Grierson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hostile state actors - spies, assassins or hackers directed by the government of another country - are to be targeted by refreshed espionage and treason laws, the home secretary has announced.

In a speech to security officials in central London, Sajid Javid revealed plans to publish a new espionage bill to tackle increased hostile state activity from countries including but not limited to Russia.

Javid said officials would also examine treason laws to see whether the legislation could be updated to include British nationals who operate on behalf of a hostile nation.

One measure under consideration is to introduce a "foreign agent registration requirement", similar to legislation in the US, under which agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" disclose their relationship with the foreign government as well as information about related activities and finances. In the past, the legislation has allowed the US to expel key figures from the country in response to alleged hostile state activity.

Javid said: "We have to ensure that we have the necessary powers to meet current and evolving threats to the UK, both domestically and overseas.

"Getting this right and having the right powers and resources in place for countering hostile states must be a post-Brexit priority. So, I can announce today that we are preparing the way for an espionage bill.

"This will bring together new and modernised powers, giving our security services the legal authority they need to tackle this threat.

"The areas this work will consider includes whether we follow allies in adopting a form of foreign agent registration and how we update our Official Secrets Acts for the 21st century."

He added: "I have also asked my officials to consider the case for updating treason laws.

"Our definition of terrorism is probably broad enough to cover those who betray our country by supporting terror abroad.

"But if updating the old offence of treason would help us to counter hostile state activity, then there is merit in considering that too."

Javid said the need to refresh the legislation evolved from discussions following the Salisbury poisoning attack last year, which the UK government alleges was directed by the Russian state.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, came into contact with a deadly nerve agent called novichok in March 2018. Both survived the attack but four months later, a bottle of novichok was found in a bin in Salisbury, a discovery that ultimately led to the death of the British national Dawn Sturgess, who sprayed the chemical on her wrists, believing it was perfume.

The suspects - Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin - were identified as Russian intelligence officers.

But answering questions from journalists after the speech, Javid said it was "not just Russia" that posed a threat to UK security.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act, which passed into law last month, included new powers to investigate hostile state activity at the border.

Using the power, the police or designated immigration or customs officers will be able to stop, question, search and detain an individual at a port, an airport or a border area to determine whether he or she is, or has been, engaged in hostile activity.

But Javid said there were still gaps in the legislation.

In the speech, the home secretary said he shared concerns from intelligence partners - including the US and Australia - over telecommunications infrastructure and would take them into account as the government makes a final decision on 5G.

The comments follow warnings about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei, its role in developing 5G infrastructure in the UK and other countries, and the influence the Chinese state has on its operations.

Javid's speech was wide-ranging, touching on the impact of no-deal Brexit scenarios on security, as well as unveiling a new independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Jonathan Hall QC. The role has been vacant since November.

He also revealed how he intends to use a controversial new power, which makes it a criminal offence to enter or remain in a "designated area" overseas.

Idlib in Syria's rebel-held north-west, where there has been devastating fighting in the past eight years, as well as the country's north-east, a region controlled by Kurdish forces but once overrun by Islamic State militants, are to be targeted by the measure.

A person convicted of entering or remaining in these areas, once designated, could face a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine, or both. The power was written into the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act.

Javid said: "I've asked my officials to work closely with the police and intelligence agencies to urgently review the case for exercising this power in relation to Syria, with a particular focus on Idlib and the north-east. So anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice."

Isis lost its final stronghold in Syria in March after a push by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

A person already in a designated area at the time of designation will not commit an offence if they leave the area within one month of such an order being made.

Javid said there may be a need to apply the power to parts of west Africa, where there has been a resurgence in al-Qaida affiliates as well as an ongoing battle with the terror group Boko Haram, adding that the use of the tactic would not hamper humanitarian efforts in the region.

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 20th May 2019 author Naomi Ackerman)

Full article [Option 1]:

Scores of "smart" traffic cameras capable of monitoring air pollution and catching "banned" lorries are to be rolled out in Islington to fight toxic air.

It is understood to be the first London borough to install the sophisticated "smart CCTV" roadside cameras, at a cost of £4.5 million.

A report released by the council reveals it expects them to bring in more than £1 million a year in additional traffic fines and enforce a proposed borough-wide ban on HGVs over 3.5 tonnes from residential streets.

The cameras will be able to sense the size of vehicles going past. Up to 150 HD cameras will carry sensors allowing them to collect data and map changes in air pollution to help shape future traffic schemes. They will also monitor noise patterns through decibel detection, and determine the weight of vehicles driving past. This information could then be used to trigger a fine if new rules are brought in banning lorries from Islington's streets.

They will be installed over the next two years from July, and the council plans to place many near schools to assess air quality for children.

A pilot camera is currently running near Drayton Park primary school at Highbury, with further trials to come this summer on busy streets in Canonbury and Stoke Newington.

Each camera will have automatic number plate recognition and use 4G connections to report traffic violations spotted up to 85 metres away to the DVLA. Camera data will not currently be used to enforce the area's 20mph speed limit, but the council said it hoped to "open up discussions" on how local authorities could get greater powers to use technology like smart CCTV. The council added that it is "committed to tackling poor air quality".

(1st June 2019)

(Coventry Telegraph, dated 18th May 2019 authors Michael Goodier and Ben Eccleston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Less than 10 per cent of burglaries were solved in a total of 13 areas across Coventry and Warwickshire in the space of a year.

And in one council ward in the region not a single suspect was identified and brought to justice over a 12-month period.

A total of 14 burglaries listed as taking place in the Wellesbourne East ward in Stratford-on-Avon between April 2018 and March of this year.

But every single case there was closed without the culprit being identified.

The ward was followed closely by Brailes & Compton and Wellesbourne West Wards - both also in Stratford - which had 24 burglaries each. On 23 of the occasions in each ward no suspect was ever identified.

 In Coventry, 168 out of 183 burglaries in the Whoberley ward were recorded as unsolved (91.8 per cent).

The worst rate in Nuneaton and Bedworth was in Galley Common where 93.3 per cent went unsolved.

There were eight other wards where burglars got away with it more than 90 per cent of the time.

The statistics were compiled from crime records listed on the website. Each burglary record comes assigned to a nearby map co-ordinate.

We then matched those co-ordinates to the latest council ward boundaries to get a total for each area.

Police investigations

 According to the data, West Midlands Police was the worst force in the country when it came to catching burglars.

According to the data, 87 per cent of burglary investigations ended with no suspect being identified in 2018/19.

Over the border in Warwickshire, 77 per cent of burglaries reported by the county's police force had their investigation completed with no suspect identified last year.

They are both compared to an average 63 per cent of burglary investigations across the UK ending with the burglar getting away with it.

That figure rises to 71 per cent once cases with no available outcome status are removed.

In 2018/19 there were at least 424,944 burglaries reported to police.

In less than one per cent of cases (3,956) the offender was sent to prison.

After West Midlands Police, the worst force was Greater Manchester Police (86% of burglaries ending without a suspect), followed by Northamptonshire Police (83%).

Some forces were better - only 49% of burglaries reported by Lancashire Constabulary closed without a suspect being identified.

Warwickshire Police statement

Detective Superintendent Neil Harrison said: "Burglary is a crime that has a huge impact on victims and we are committed to tackling it. Where possible we always look to identify and follow up on evidential opportunities.

"The number of burglaries in Warwickshire has reduced in the 2018/19 performance year due to a sustained focus on targeting prolific offenders, working with partner agencies and colleagues in other forces, and making it as difficult as possible for criminals to operate in the county.

"While we don't detect every offence and link every crime to an offender, we do use intelligence to ensure the most persistent and dangerous offenders are taken off the streets and brought to justice. This is a primary function of our offender management unit.

"This approach meant there were 134 fewer victims of house burglary in Warwickshire during the last performance year and it is important to recognise the hard work that has gone into achieving this.

"With further investment in frontline policing from the police and crime commissioner we are confident we can continue to cut the number of burglaries.

"The data quoted does not take into account several ongoing investigations that may lead to a significant number of offences being detected."

CoventryLive twice asked West Midlands Police for comment, but were instead requested to watch a video of the Chief Constable speaking on the force's Facebook page.


Simon Kempton, Police Federation of England and Wales' operational lead, said: "It is frustrating to see so many investigations being dropped due to lack of evidence, 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.

"There are now almost 22,000 fewer officers than there were in 2010.

"Our members are trying to meet growing demand with dwindling numbers and we simply cannot do everything we once could, or that the public expect us to do, therefore forces are having to prioritise and be realistic about what they can and can't investigate until the Government starts to take the service seriously.

"We also know that in some areas forces are struggling to answer 999 calls, neighbourhood officers are being pushed into response roles and frontline officers are made to undertake investigative work due to a shortage in detectives.

"These findings do not surprise me and the Government needs wake up to what is happening. What is urgently needed is a significant centrally-funded investment, so our hard-working members can provide the best level of service to keep the public safe." slightly obscure the co-ordinates of crimes to protect the anonymity of victims.

Therefore, it is possible that some burglaries which took place near the border of a council ward have been assigned to a neighbouring ward.

Some burglaries were missing co-ordinates, so have not been included in the ward totals.

(1st June 2019)

(uaware - Editorial, dated 1st June 2019)

Reading the following articles there is a strong inference that monitoring an area using CCTV is kind of acceptable, but the State automatically identifying an individual is not.

In the "age of tech" everybody or the majority of people are walking around with mobile phones that are capable of recognising their users face, tracking their location and where they have been. But where does that data go and who uses it ? Our faces "roaming" around the Cloud (internet) along with our names, phone numbers, addresses and even banking details. We download Apps that require as a condition of use access to our personal contact lists, photos and even other Apps. The majority of users dont even know who created the App and its country of origin. Is that acceptable ?

Other articles have described how the Amazon Echo is listening to every word we say even without the owner mentioning the activation word. Some of the range of Echo devices also have video screens and cameras which monitor there surroundings (sometimes bedrooms) without the activation word. Is this monitoring acceptable ?

BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon, Sky and Now TV monitor what you watch and your viewing habits in your own home or on the move. Is this acceptable ?

Supermarkets and department stores monitor your movement within their buildings to build a picture on how their customers shop, also for security and theft prevention. Is that acceptable ?
Supermarket loyalty cards also "steal" your privacy by monitoring what you purchase day after day, month after month to build a picture of you as an individual. Think what you purchase, from that marketeers can categorise you into a wage group, demographic group (Class) and education (from what you read). They can then sell on this information to a third party; your personal information becomes a commodity. As a sweetener for you giving up your privacy they give you reward points. Is this acceptable ?

Banks, building societies, insurance companies, stock brokes, local councils, car dealers, loan companies, credit agencies all have personal information on you. Some of it sourced from the shops where you shop. Is this acceptable ?

Many people have concerns about the Orwellian "Big Brother" state, but we appear to have given over our civil liberties to corporations, many of which are not even within the UK.

(The Times, dated 30th May 2019 author John Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Scotland Yard should cease using facial recognition cameras until it has strict guidelines in place and the technology eliminates the risk of racial bias, an ethics committee has recommended.

The Metropolitan Police has carried out ten trials of the controversial new technology in public spaces and has faced staunch opposition from civil rights groups.

In a report published yesterday, the mayor of London's ethics panel put forward five conditions for the use of live facial recognition technology, which uses special cameras or algorithms to scan live video footage against images of a "watch list" including wanted offenders. Among the five points, the panel called for evidence that "the technology will not generate gender or racial bias in policing operations", special training and accountability for officers using the technology and the development of strict guidelines for its use.

"The panel recommends that the MT does not conduct any further trials until the polie have fully reviewed the results of the independent evaluations and are confident they can meet the conditions set out in the final report," the authors said yesterday.

In a survey of 1,092 Londoners, 57 per cent felt it was acceptable to use the technology. Among black respondents this fell to 37 per cent. Most respondents felt the technology shoud be aimed at catching serious offenders such as terrorists rather than those committing "nuisance behaviour".

The Met said that it was expecting the results of two independent reviews in the coming weeks, which were likely to address the points raised.

Megan Goulding, a lawyer for the human rights group Liberty, said: Facial recognition is an inherently intrusive technology that breaches our privacy rights. It risks fundenmentally altering public spaces, forcing us to monitor where we go and who with, undermining freedom of expression."

(Daily Mail, dated 31st May 2019 author Ed Riley)

Full article [Option 1]:

Tech giants including Apple, Google and WhatsApp have urged Britain's spy agency to scrap controversial plans to eavesdrop on encrypted chat conversations.

The proposal by GCHQ has been condemned as a 'serious threat' to cyber security and 'fundamental human rights.'

More than 50 companies, civil society organisations and security experts have united to voice concern over the proposals.

They said that if it was implemented, 'it will undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people,' and 'increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused.'

The so called 'ghost protocol' was first mooted by two top intelligence officials in November last year.

Ian Levy, the technical director of the UKs national cyber security centre, and Crispin Robinson, head of cryptanalysis - or codebreaking - put forward the plan.

The technique would avoid breaking any encryption, but would instead require encrypted messaging services to effectively 'copy in' the message to a third party.

They insisted that it was no more intrusive than wiretapping non-encrypted communications.

Earlier this month, Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the UK lead for child protection, said tech firms should make a digital key for police to unlock encrypted messages in 'exceptional circumstances' such as child abuse or terror cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, he said: 'If I know and you know that somebody is abusing a child or sharing abusive imagery, then you surely give up your right to privacy.'

Mr Levy and Mr Robisnson said in November: 'In a world of encrypted services, a potential solution could be to go back a few decades.

'It's relatively easy for a service provider to silently add a law enforcement participant to a group chat or call.'

It stated that 'what we're outlining here is just to start discussion' and 'more detailed work is needed'.

But in an open letter, critics have now argued the proposal 'creates serious threats to digital security' and risks damaging the public's trust.

They said: 'If implemented, it will undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people, introduce potential unintentional vulnerabilities, and increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused.

'These cyber-security risks mean that users cannot trust that their communications are secure, as users would no longer be able to trust that they know who is on the other end of their communications, thereby posing threats to fundamental human rights, including privacy and free expression.

'Further, systems would be subject to new potential vulnerabilities and risks of abuse.

'Beyond undermining current security tools and the system for authenticating the communicants in an encrypted chat, GCHQ's ghost proposal could introduce significant additional security threats.

'There are also outstanding questions about how the proposal would be effectively implemented.

'By requiring an exceptional access mechanism like the ghost proposal, GCHQ and UK law enforcement officials would require messaging platforms to open the door to surveillance abuses that are not possible today.'

Responding to the open letter, Dr Levy said: 'We welcome this response to our request for thoughts on exceptional access to data - for example to stop terrorists.

'The hypothetical proposal was always intended as a starting point for discussion.

'It is pleasing to see support for the six principles and we welcome feedback on their practical application.

'We will continue to engage with interested parties and look forward to having an open discussion to reach the best solutions possible.'

(Guardian, dated 19th May 2019 author Kenan Malik)

Full article [Option 1]:

Sometimes, it is the very ordinariness of a scene that makes it terrifying. So it was with a clip from last week's BBC documentary on facial recognition technology. It shows the Metropolitan police trialling a facial recognition system on an east London street.

A man tries to avoid the cameras, covering his face by pulling up his fleece. He is stopped by the police and forced to have his photo taken. He is then fined £90 for "disorderly behaviour".

"What's your suspicion?" someone asks the police. "The fact that he's walked past clearly masking his face from recognition," replies one of the plainclothes police operating the system.

If you want to protect your privacy, you must have something to hide. And if you actually do something to protect your privacy, well, that's "disorderly behaviour".

There is considerable panic in the west about the Chinese tech firm Huawei acting as a Trojan horse for Beijing. But perhaps we should worry less about the tech company than about the social use of technology. Much has been written about Beijing's development of a dystopian surveillance state. It's not just in China, though, that what one observer has called "algorithmic governance" is beginning to take hold.

As the tech entrepreneur Maciej Ceglowski pointed out in testimony to a US Senate committee hearing this month: "Until recently, even people living in a police state could count on the fact that the authorities didn't have enough equipment or manpower to observe everyone, everywhere, and so enjoyed more freedom from monitoring than we do living in a free society today."

Britain has long been one of the most closely monitored societies in the world. There are at least 4.9 million CCTV cameras in Britain - one for every 14 people. Some estimates suggest that 20% of all CCTV cameras are in the UK.

Now Britain is at the forefront of the rollout of facial recognition technology. Police forces are using it to monitor shopping centres, music festivals, sports events and political demonstrations.

The technology is currently beset with myriad problems. It is inaccurate - according to the campaign group Big Brother Watch, in police trials"a staggering 95% of 'matches' wrongly identified innocent people" - and there is a major issue of racial bias in the algorithms.

The real problem, however, the technology writer Jamie Bartlett suggests, is not that it doesn't work, but, rather, that it may work very well. "Despite the problems," he argues, "I expect it will be very effective at tackling crime and keeping us safe. At what cost?"

In other words, how much do we treasure privacy? Are we all willing to be treated like that man on an east London street?

Nor is it just facial recognition technology that's the issue here. Almost without realising, we have created an entire infrastructure of surveillance. If you're reading this online, you're being tracked. If you bought a print version of the newspaper at a supermarket, your purchase was probably recorded. Every time you go shopping, use public transport, make a phone call, engage with social media, you're likely to have been tracked.

Surveillance is at the heart, too, of "smart cities". From Amsterdam to Singapore, from Dubai to Toronto, cities across the globe are embracing technology to collect data on citizens, ostensibly to improve public services and make urban spaces function better.

What smart cities also enable is a new form of policing. As the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said of the "integrated urban command centre" built in preparation for the 2016 Olympics and the World Cup, the system "allows us to have people looking into every corner of the city, 24 hours a day, seven days a week".

Buses that run on time and rubbish that is efficiently cleared are good things (though in most smart cities, and in Rio especially, neither actually happens). There is, however, more to the good life than an ordered city. Human flourishing, as Ceglowski pointed out to the US Senate, requires the existence of a sphere of life outside public scrutiny; not only within the intimacy of the home but also in semi-private spaces such as the workplace or the church or the pub. It's that kind of space shielded from scrutiny that increasingly is vanishing.

In a number of US cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland, there have been pushbacks against mass surveillance. Yet, as Ceglowski observed, one of the features of the "new world of ambient surveillance" is that "we cannot opt out of it, any more than we might opt out of automobile culture by refusing to drive".

That is possibly the most disturbing thought of all.

(Guardian, dated 21st May 2019 author Dylan Curran)

Full article [Option 1]:

Imagine this: you walk into work and the camera above the doors scans your face, opening them seamlessly without you lifting a finger. You sit down at your computer and it instantly unlocks. Oh, but you need to run to the pharmacist at lunch. You walk up to a camera, and your prescription is deposited in front of you. You go home from work, a camera blinks, and your door unlocks as your hand touches the handle. You look at your face in the mirror, and it tells you to moisturize. It's going to be a hot day tomorrow, so it recommends you wear sun-cream. It'll even order it for you (next-day delivery from Amazon of course). Sounds pretty good right?

Now imagine this: you walk down the street and a pair of policemen stare at you. Their body cameras flash red and they instantly pull their guns and tell you to drop to the ground, you're under arrest. You comply and after several days in jail, they let you know you were misidentified as a violent criminal on the loose due to the 1.3% margin of error. Regardless of your innocence, you're in the system. Now wherever you go, cameras that capture you will automatically increase the "danger score" of the area and alert police to watch out for you. Even worse, as you enter stores, the facial recognition system lets the staff know a recently arrested individual has entered the building. They stare suspiciously at you now. Doesn't sound so good? Facial recognition already has these problems with people of color.

As fantastical as either of those scenarios might seem, it's quite possible that this will be the future we're headed towards. Companies have a neverending appetite to use powerful new software to make their customer's life easier and governments persistently feel the need to misuse emerging technologies for the greater good.

The "benefits" of the technology are already being implemented by airlines, as seen by JetBlue Airways. Rather than scanning a boarding pass or handing over a passport, you simply stare into a camera and you're verified. The Department of Homeland Security kindly provides their database of citizens' faces to JetBlue. There's no opt-in, your face is just handed over. This does save time and optimize processes, but it raises the question: do you have the right to your own face? Who is responsible for the protection of this information? Can I even remove my face from this database and just go the old-fashioned way? We have no idea, and it's already in airports and being tested in law enforcement.

The downsides of the technology, however, are on full display in China. A reported 200m surveillance cameras around the country are doing everything from tracking shoppers in stores to preventing violent crime to catching jaywalkers. Virtually every citizen of China is in this massive facial database, and your whereabouts are tracked at every junction. Even more troubling, a new Chinese startup can identify citizens anywhere in mere seconds. We all know how little China respects privacy, but can we trust western countries to act any differently? As we've seen with the mass surveillance programs run by the NSA and the United Kingdom's GCHQ, evidently not. In the UK, a man was even recently fined for covering his face while walking past one of these facial cameras.

We humans have the incessant need to make things smoother, better and faster. This desire has helped drive the remarkable progress we have achieved as a society. However, we've reached the stage where our technological leaps and bounds no longer save us hours, or even minutes - they shave only seconds from our day-to-day tasks. The costs to our privacy are no longer so clearly outweighed by the benefits this technology can provide.

It's time to take a step back and ask some necessary questions. We need to discuss whether we actually need widespread facial recognition technology, what sensible legislation looks like and how to ensure law enforcement doesn't abuse this technology.

If we act now, I believe we can succeed in preventing technology companies from infiltrating every aspect of our lives. If we don't, though, I fear the worst. Will we live in a future where our location is logged in some unknown database wherever we go? Or a world where political dissidents in a dictatorship have zero chance of maintaining their anonymity. Will citizens walking the streets all around the planet glance at cameras, and nervously wonder if someone, somewhere, just watched their name flash up on a screen?

I hope not. But if we do, we will only have our own inaction and complacency to blame.

(Daily Mail, dated 28th May 2019 author James Pero)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 1,700 people people on a University of Colorado campus were unknowingly photographed as part of a facial recognition project funded by the U.S government.

The study, originally carried out between 2012 and 2013 has been highlighted by several recent reports and raises ethical questions about researchers' methods, particularly the lack of consents from the project's subjects.

Using a long-range surveillance camera to peer out of an office window at a campus in Colorado Springs, the study's author, Dr. Terrance Boult, captured more than 16,000 images of students, professors, and others during a period in 2012 and 2013.

The images, says Boult, formed the basis for a data set called 'Unconstrained College Students' which would be used to test the ability of a facial recognition algorithm to identify people in murky conditions -- many of the subjects swept up in the images were in less-than-ideal lighting and sometimes looking away or even down at their phones.

Feasibly, this type of data would be useful the U.S. military and intelligence in helping to design facial recognition that can be used in reconnaissance or even more acute domestic surveillance.

The database was made available to the public in 2016 but was eventually taken down this April according to the Denver Post.

While none of the people captured by the camera's recordings were named and entities using the database were required to sign a legal agreement saying that they would not release any photos according to the Colorado Springs Independent, the research has still given rise to ethical questions. 

'It's yet another area where we're seeing privacy intrusions that disturb us,' said Bernard Chao, a privacy expert at Denver University who was interview by the Denver Post.

The study by Boult is one many recent examples in which entities and corporations have used iamges of people to train facial recognition software without their consent.

In a report from NBC News, the outlet revealed that cloud-based photo company, Ever used millions of users' photos to train a facial recognition algorithm being licensed for use by one of its corporate arms, Ever AI.

Likewise, IBM used millions of photos sourced from photo-sharing website Flickr to train its own facial recognition software.

Ethical question over the methods used to train advanced facial recognition software seem to mirror an increasing skepticism about the systems as a whole.

Amazon recently killed an initiative to stop selling its facial recognition software, Rekognition, over concerns from some shareholders that it may be misused or sold to dubious governments while San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban its use by law enforcement and other public agencies citing concerns over privacy and first amendment rights.

###How facial recognition technology uses 80 nodal points to match real time images with previous photos

Facial recognition software works by matching real time images to a previous photograph of a person.

Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points across the eyes, nose, cheeky and mouth which distinguish one person from another.

A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline.

This produces a unique numerical code that can then be linked with a matching code gleaned from a previous photograph.

A facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.

Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people.

A different smart surveillance system can scan 2 billion faces within seconds has been revealed in China. The system connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets. The military is working on applying a similar version of this with AI to track people across the country.

(Guardian, dated 30th May 2019 author Veena Dubal)

Full article [Option 1]:

San Francisco's recent municipal ordinance banning the use of facial recognition technology by city and county agencies has received international attention. The first of its kind anywhere in the US, the law is a preemptive response to the proliferation of a technology that the city of San Francisco does not yet deploy but which is already in use elsewhere. Since the passage of the ordinance, a debate has erupted in cities and states around the country: should other localities follow San Francisco's example?

The answer is a resounding yes. The concerns that motivated the San Francisco ban are rooted not just in the potential inaccuracy of facial recognition technology, but in a long national history of politicized and racially-biased state surveillance.

Detractors who oppose the ordinance in the name of "public safety" acknowledge the technology's current limitations (recent studies have shown that facial recognition systems are alarmingly inaccurate in identifying racial minorities, women, and transgender people). But they argue that as machine-learning becomes less biased the technology could actually upend human discrimination. They - mainly corporate lobbyists and law enforcement representatives - maintain that this absolute ban (rather than the limited regulations advocated by Big Tech) is a step backwards for public safety because it leaves surveillance to people and not machines.

Based on my years of working as a civil rights advocate and attorney representing Muslim Americans in the aftermath of September 11th, I recognize that the debate's singular focus on the technology is a red herring. Even in an imaginary future where algorithmic discrimination does not exist, facial recognition software simply cannot de-bias the practice and impact of state surveillance. In fact, the public emphasis on curable algorithmic inaccuracies leaves the concerns that motivated the San Francisco ban historically and politically decontextualized.

This ordinance was crafted through the sustained advocacy of an intersectional grassroots coalition driven not just by concerns about hi-tech dystopia, but by a long record of overbroad surveillance and its deleterious impacts on economically and politically marginalized communities. As Matt Cagle, a leader in this coalition and an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, told me, "The driving force behind this historic law was a coalition of 26 organizations. Not coincidentally, these Bay Area groups represented those who have been most harmed by local government profiling and surveillance in our city: people of color, Muslim Americans, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the unhoused, and more."

Indeed, while San Francisco is known across the world as an "incubat[or] of dissent and individual liberties," the local police department - like many across the United States - has a decades-long, little-known history of nefarious surveillance activities.

A reported 83% of domestic intelligence gathering for J Edgar Hoover's notorious Counter Intelligence Program (commonly known as Cointelpro) took place in the Bay Area - much of it at the hands of local police. From the 1950s well into the 1970s, the information gathered through this covert state program - which, when discovered, shocked the conscience of America - was used to infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt the now-celebrated civil rights movement.

After Cointelpro was congressionally disbanded and procedural safeguards put in place, community members in the 1980s and early 1990s learned that some San Francisco police officers continued to surreptitiously spy - without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing - on individuals and groups based on their political activities. In at least one instance, information gathered by local police officers on law-abiding citizens was alleged to have been sold to foreign governments.

Despite the subsequent passage of additional local procedural safeguards, which limited intelligence-gathering on First-Amendment-protected activities to instances where reasonable suspicion of criminal activity could be articulated, in the years following September 11th, members of San Francisco's Muslim American community again found themselves under unjust, non-criminally-predicated surveillance.

These past and present chronicles of injustice highlight how face recognition systems - like other surveillance technology before it - can disproportionately harm people already historically subject to profiling and abuse, including immigrants, people of color, political activists, and the formerly incarcerated. And they demonstrate that even when legal procedures and oversight are thoughtfully put into place, these safeguards can both be rolled back (especially in times of hysteria) and violated.

As the debate about facial surveillance technologies and "public safety" continues to rage, policy makers (and corporate decision-makers) should deliberate not just over the technology itself, but on these shameful political histories. In doing so, they should remember (or be reminded) that more information gathering - while certainly lucrative and occasionally comforting - does not always create safer communities.

Even if face surveillance is 100% neutral and devoid of discriminatory tendencies, humans will determine when and where the surveillance takes place. Humans - with both implicit and explicit biases - will make the discretionary decisions about how to utilize the gathered data. And humans - often the most vulnerable - will be the ones disproportionately and unjustly impacted.

Amid the seemingly inevitable conquest of our everyday lives by new forms of technological surveillance, San Francisco's ban - and the diverse coalition-based movement that achieved it - proves that local democracy can still be leveraged to shift power- and decision-making into the hands of the people. The real, chilling histories and impacts of past surveillance on freedom of association, religion, and speech - and not imagined fears about information collected through machine-learning systems - motivated the broad coalition of community groups to push for the San Francisco face surveillance ban. Their example could - and should - spark a movement that spreads across the country.

Veena Dubal is an associate Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings

(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 18th May 2019 authors Julian Gewirtz and Moira Weigel)

Full article [Option 1]:

For years, American leaders said the internet would make China freer and more like the US. Today, they are more likely to worry about how Chinese money and power are reshaping American tech. Conventional strategic areas, like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, have received the most scrutiny. But this week the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) reached an agreement after an investigation of a different kind of target: the popular gay social networking app Grindr.

Grindr is based in West Hollywood and has more than 27 million users, including 3.3 million daily users. The Chinese gaming firm Beijing Kunlun Tech Company acquired it over two years, buying a 60% stake in January 2016 and the remaining 40% in January 2018. On its surface, the purchase seemed ordinary enough. Many American tech companies - from Twitter and Facebook to Tesla and Uber - have foreign funders and founders, and Chinese investors have been a major presence in Silicon Valley for years. Nonetheless, under pressure from CFIUS, Grindr's Chinese owners agreed this month to part with the company by June 2020.

How did a hookup app become a matter of national security interest? The CFIUS investigation, which was first reported in late March, evidently focused on the array of sensitive data Grindr collects about its users: location, sexual preferences, HIV status and explicit photographs that are exchanged while chatting. Even though Beijing Kunlun is a private company, the Chinese government can easily require it to turn over such data. On principle, the US government may want to protect its citizens from prying eyes. But they are particularly concerned about a subset of users: the Wall Street Journal reported that because a large number of military personnel or other US government employees may use Grindr, Trump administration officials believe the Chinese government could obtain Grindr user data to blackmail individuals who hold top-secret security clearances or decision-making power over issues pertaining to China's interests.

The case of Grindr might seem like a one-off oddity. On the contrary, it demonstrates how two of the biggest stories of our moment are colliding: the rise of the data economy, which sacrifices privacy to profits, and the escalation of US-China tensions, which pundits and politicians are already calling a new cold war. It also reveals the profound problems with that framework.

The first problem is descriptive. "The new cold war" does not constitute a very accurate or precise account of the challenges at hand. The data economy is just one example: the current US-China competition is taking place amid deep economic interconnection and the dispersal of all kinds of personal data among transnational private and government actors in ways that were technically impossible during the cold war. Transnational corporations that have amassed enormous amounts of wealth and power through commercial surveillance sit uneasily alongside the nation-states that still claim to govern them. This means that the bipolar, state-dominated "new cold war" paradigm cannot accurately reflect the varied networks connecting the US, China, and other countries, nor the dispersed technological domains that will be a central arena of this competition.

In this new era, ambiguities regarding sovereignty intersect with those concerning strategy. In an age of big data and machine learning - when photo editing and sharing apps can be used to train the kinds of vision recognition software deployed by military drones, for instance - who can say definitively what technology is or is not "strategic"? Private desires and everyday relations have become a site of geopolitical interest and potential conflict. An uneasy international intertwining of security, values and technology will increasingly be the norm. The grand US-China competition, usually spoken about in political or military terms, will enter into the most intimate lives of ordinary citizens.

The second problem with the "new cold war" framework is moral. Domestically, the idea of a cold war has often empowered conservative and even reactionary actors - from the moralizing demagoguery of the 1950s to the Reagan-era conservative revival. This current invocation poses many of the same risks.

Rhetoric about a group of compromised US government personnel who are singled out as a source of vulnerability due to their sexual activities powerfully echoes the Lavender Scare of the 1950s. That was the legislative effort to purge the US government of what a Senate subcommittee called "homosexuals and other moral perverts", devastating the careers and lives of thousands of American citizens.

"Perverts are vulnerable to interrogation by a skilled questioner," an influential Senate report declared. "The pervert is easy prey to the blackmailer … [E]spionage agents can use the same type of pressure to extort confidential information." In 2019, these ideas still have traction: "Think what a creative team of Chinese security forces could do with its access to Grindr's data," the Washington Post recently wrote, holding out the menace of "leak[ing] compromising photos of gay American generals" and China "send[ing] male honeypots to targets in the American national security apparatus."

Of course, the US government today is not seeking to purge gay employees. But the idea that they are uniquely prey to blackmail in a way that heterosexuals aren't also does not reflect the new world of intimate information being held transnationally and privately, in which many millions of Americans have left potentially embarrassing material in the hands of poorly regulated and poorly understood corporations. The special scrutiny paid to the supposed liabilities of gay men reflects lingering conservative ideas that homosexuality must always be a source of shame and danger. It is particularly ironic when two of the most powerful men in the world, Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos, have recently been compromised over heterosexual infidelities.

The risks posed by Beijing Kunlun's ownership of Grindr are real, centering on the possibility of covert Chinese government influence or expropriation of user data. As Chinese apps like TikTok become ubiquitous on the cellphones of American teenagers, the US government clearly needs to require greater transparency and disclosure from Chinese firms entering the US market. But the issue of how the globalized data economy exposes Americans to new risks extends far beyond the US-China competition, and it requires much more urgent and comprehensive action focusing on data protection than CFIUS actions against Chinese-owned apps.

These risks, however, are accompanied by potential negative impacts of the "new cold war" framing on our own society. Domestically, when framed in a civilizational "cold war" paradigm, concern about the power of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) can fuel racism and discrimination. Chinese Americans describe how these tensions have invaded their everyday lives, from accusations of dual allegiances to demands that they speak in English rather than Chinese. Now American men who have sex with men have evidence of the US government seeing their behavior on a dating app as posing a "national security" risk. This potential demonization of already marginalized groups as part of US-China "new cold war" rhetoric would be profoundly destructive.

American leaders must be able to address US-China tech competition without reprising past "scares" that damage our own society. Doing so will require Americans to interrogate our own biases. If Grindr users are perceived as uniquely at risk for blackmail, this reflects the persistence of homophobia in American culture. Critiques of "Chinese influence" blur the distinctions among the CCP, ordinary Chinese citizens and Chinese Americans, recalling a long history of racism and suspicion about Asian Americans' allegiances. The CCP itself makes this task more difficult, because it attempts to deliberately blur those same distinctions and is a profoundly culturally conservative force.

At the present, neo-authoritarian movements and their leaders are escalating homophobia, sexism and transphobia worldwide, from Xi Jinping's China to Viktor Orbán's Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil. Donald Trump's administration has shown that these forces remain powerful even in the US. Resisting the emerging paradigm of a "new cold war" while also responding to the CCP's increasing influence is thus also about shaping what kind of society the US will be - and living up to our own ideals of equality in love and before the law.

The Authors

Julian Gewirtz is academy scholar at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Moira Weigel is a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. They are two editors of the newly released China issue of Logic magazine

(1st June 2019)

(Birmingham Mail, dated 18th May 2019 authors Emma Munbodh and James Rodger)

Full article [option 1]:

We've all done it - but that doesn't make it right!

Logging onto a neighbour's wi-fi connection is actually a criminal offience, it has emerged, as new stats showed one third of Brits have apparently attempted to steal someone else's ­broadband.

The Mirror has reported that one their readers shared how the practice - which is known as "piggybacking" - has landed him in serious trouble.

Robert has already had problems with his neighbour after the pair clashed about a fence not long after he moved in 2018.

Robert thought the other guy was the neighbour from hell and solicitors had to get involved.

The fence drama was sorted, with Robert being in the right. And he hoped that was the end of it. But in February he was asked to ­attend a voluntary police interview in relation to a broadband use.

Robert was c­onfused as he did not have a wi-fi connection.

He was then interviewed and all became clear.

While Robert did not have any, he used to regularly log on to his neighbour's wi-fi on his mobile phone.

Somehow his neighbour found out about this and reported him.

Most readers will be thinking Robert will have received a little slap on the wrist - but you will be wrong. It seems the police are ­taking the matter seriously and he faces prosecution.

Using a neighbour's unsecured wi-fi without their knowledge is a ­criminal offence.

It could lead to criminal charges under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 or the Communications Act 2003. But many people do this without thinking and without ­realising the consequences.

One ­report found people aged between 35 and 44 are the most likely to piggyback off a ­neighbour's connection. And in London, the problem was worse, with 60% trying their luck.

But this is a serious ­offence and you should think twice about using your ­neighbour's connection.

(1st June 2019)

(This is Money, dated 17th May 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

Want to get into the head of what it takes to be a traffic police officer and how they operate?

That's what What Car? has done in an exclusive interview with a former traffic cop who has shone some light on the day-to-day demands of enforcing the law on our roads.

Shaun Cronin served with Dorset Police for 30 years - two-thirds of those in the traffic and operations division in cars and on motorcycles - and gave an insight into the mindset of those patrolling our roads in blues and twos.

The difference between getting a ticket and not can be down to sheer luck

While many motorists assume the police have to meet a routine quota of tickets administered to law-breaking drivers, Mr Cronin revealed that it usually came down to the discretion of the officer who pulls you over.

'It's a myth that police officers have a target. You're not there to tick a box,' he explained.

'Not everyone deserves a ticket and no traffic officer takes pleasure in booking someone.'

He went on to explain that a word of warning can have a bigger impact on individuals, and during his career he would be understanding with certain situation. 

'I might have stopped a driver with a defective light bulb, but if they were genuinely surprised to find it was blown, I'd have been the first to change it for them,' he explained.

What makes you look suspicious to traffic cops?

Many officers have an interest in cars and bikes themselves, and as a result develop a 'nose' for when a vehicle might not be roadworthy.

If your car is showing signs of damage, faults or blatant neglect, the chances are that you'll be pulled over.

Obviously, erratic and dangerous driving behaviour won't help your chances, we'd imagine.

What annoys traffic cops most?

It appears there's one motoring offence that winds up police officers, and it's one that remains fairly prevalent today.

'[Drivers] talking on their phone, whether holding it or hands free, but the worst was drivers texting,' Mr Cronin told the motoring magazine.

'You soon learned to spot them, even when they had it low down in their lap. Their body language would give it away.'

He added that cops were glad to see the recent increase in penalties for those caught using their phones while in control of a car and said it should be 'as socially unacceptable as drink driving'.

###The most common mistake made by drivers involved in crashes is...

Having attended countless accident scenes, the retired policeman explained that there was one recurring factor at the root of most collisions.

That is motorists driving too fast for and not paying enough attention. Note this is not the same as speeding, you can still be driving too fast and within the speed limit - it is all about reading the conditions, the traffic and considering what you are doing.

He explained: 'They'd say the other car just suddenly pulled out. The truth was, it was always there to be seen if only they'd been going slower and had looked.'  

The common issue witnessed frequently by coppers is impatience, especially when drivers are trying to overtake slower moving vehicles, such as HGVs.

How to be a better driver

Mr Cronin says there would be fewer road collisions if more drivers were polite and friendly rather than aggressive and unwilling to share the road equitably. 

'Also, where it's safe and you have a clear view, open up the road by relaxing your lane discipline and positioning the car so you have an even better view and can straighten out corners,' he went on to add.

Coppers are better than cameras

With police numbers dropping significantly in recent years - down by almost a quarter in the last seven years - due to the wider use of cameras for road enforcement, Mr Cronin said nothing can replace the effectiveness of an officer conversing with a driver.

Falling number of dedicated traffic officers in the UK

Back in 2017 the Press Association submitted a Freedom of Information request to all 45 police forces asking how many dedicated traffic officers they had compared with five and 10 years previous.

In 2017 there were just 2,643 dedicated road cops.

That's 24 per cent less than in 2012 (3,472) and a massive 30 per cent decline compared with 2007 (3,766). 

(1st June 2019)



(PC Mag, dated 16th May 2019 author Matthew Humphries)

Full article [Option 1]:

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has dismantled a complex, malware-using, global cybercrime operation. In the process, 10 individuals have been charged and more are facing prosecution.

Law enforcement cooperation between Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Ukraine, and the United States, with the support of Europol and Eurojust, identified and dismantled a cybercriminal network that relied on the GozNym malware in an attempt to steal millions of dollars from unwitting victims. The scammers had planned to steal an estimated $100 million from over 41,000 businesses and financial institutions.

The criminal operation was a complex and organized setup. The leader of the network is from Georgia, and leased access to the GozNym malware from a developer in Russia. Work was then carried out with the help of other cybercriminals recruited via Russian-speaking criminal forums to "crypt the malware," which allowed it to bypass detection by security software.

A number of email spammers were then recruited to distribute phishing emails to potential victims in an attempt to place the GozNym malware on their computers. The emails took the form of legitimate-looking business emails that the targeted institutions would regularly expect to receive. Clicking a link in these emails redirected the victim's computer to a site where the malware was downloaded and subsequently installed.

Clearly the operation was a success; it infected over 41,000 computer systems. Once infected, the aim was to collect online banking login credentials so as to access those accounts and siphon out the money they contained. Those funds would then be laundered using both US and foreign banks controlled by the network's members.

Through cooperation and multiple searches carried out across Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, law enforcement officials arrested 10 members of the network. All 10 have been charged by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh with conspiracy-more specifically, to infect victims' computers with malware in order to steal banking details, then to steal the money they contained, and finally to launder it.

The leader of the network and his technical assistant are both being prosecuted in Georgia. As for the hosting required to make the malware available, that was provided by the so-called "Avalanche network," which is known to have serviced more than 200 cybercriminals and provided 20 different types of malware for download. The administrator of this network is now facing prosecution in Ukraine, with a specific focus on his support for the GozNym-using cybercrime operation.

Europol points out that this operation is the perfect example of "cybercrime as a service" because it brought together all the different parts of the full service required to infect and steal the cash. More specifically, it involved the use of "bulletproof hosters, money mules networks, crypters, spammers, coders, organizers, and technical support."

(Independent (Ireland), dated 17th May 2019 author Ian Begley)

Full article [Option 1]:

 Fraud and cybercrime are costing Irish businesses and the State an estimated €3.5bn every year, according to some of the world's top experts in the field.

Dermot Shea, who is the Chief of Detectives with the NYPD, has said fraud on a global level is costing €3.7 trillion annually, a sum which is the equivalent to the combined GDP of the UK and Italy.

Chief Shea, whose parents are Irish, is in charge of the NYPD's 6,000-strong Detective Bureau which investigates all major crimes in the city, including Wall Street investigations.

In an interview with, the high-profile police officer said the law is often three times behind fraud and cyber criminals.

"Due to the rapid expansion of technology, criminals are finding new ways to scam businesses and individuals from their hard-earned money.

"It's becoming so prevalent that it's difficult to find anyone who hasn't been impacted in some shape or form.

"If you think you haven't been impacted by cyber-crime then you're just not aware of it.

"At times it seems we're three steps behind these criminals as our current laws can often be restrictive in trying to investigate their methods."

Mr Shea added that strong alliances with law enforcements and private sectors across the globe is essential to combat crimes such as these.

The Chief of Detectives will speak at the International Fraud Prevention Conference at the RDS today.

The conference, being opened by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, will focus on money laundering, insurance fraud and cybercrime.

Chief Shea will be joined by a list of expert speakers including former High Court President Nicholas Kearns, Barry Galvin, founder of the CAB, and international money laundering expert Deirdre Carwood, of Deloitte.

Interpol estimates the value of fraud for the year up to May 2018 was €3.7 trillion. Globally, the banks are losing $100bn a year as a result of fraud and fines for not adhering to anti-fraud and money laundering legislation.

Separately, $2 trillion is laundered each year by terrorist and criminal organisations with the estimate that just 1pc of this is intercepted by law enforcement.

So-called Romance fraud, where people using dating sites are hacked is, according to a recent CNN report, costing at least $143m a year.

(Dutch Review, dated 20th May 2019 author Aurora Signorazzi)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cyberbullying is a reality even in a safe - or so it's perceived - place like the Netherlands. The most affected age group, as shown in a report by CBS, includes people between 15 and 24 years old, and the frequency decreases with age.

Young people are the most active internet users, so the fact that they are more frequently a victim of cybercrime doesn't come as a surprise. There is no reported difference in the rates of cyberbullying between people with higher and lower education, or between rural and urban residents: online harassment mainly happens on social media platforms, equally accessible to all these people.

Somebody bullied me online; now what?

I, unfortunately, witnessed some people being bullied online - maybe not coincidentally, the victim was female and foreigner.

The first instinct might be that of exposing publicly the person and their behavior (e.g. by posting a screenshot of their private message in a group or even sending it to their contacts). The legality of such an outing - or doxxing - especially if to strangers whose actions you can't control, is yet to be determined (most likely on a case-to-case basis by the judge): the law is slow at adapting to new technologies. Thus, threading cautiously is probably the smartest choice, also given the very real threat of retaliation.

However, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't: 1) block this person 2) report them to the admin if the harassment has occurred in a group.

Report cybercrime and online discrimination

One sure (and safe) way of fighting online crime and harassment is to report it to the competent institutions. For the Netherlands, in instances of discriminating statements towards a group of people, it is possible to report to the internet discrimination hotline (MiND Nederland): If MiND believes that a particular statement is unlawful, it issues a request for the removal of that statement.

In more personal cases, it is always a good idea to contact the police. As described in a quite clear review about Cybercrime Legislation in the Netherlands, many forms of online harassment (cyberstalking, for example) fall under the same punishment as their real-life counterparts!

(Daily Mail, dated 22nd May 2019 author Melissa Van Brunnersum)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have arrested 22 suspects in an operation across five countries that dismantled one of Europe's top criminal groups behind drug trafficking and assassinations, the EU's police agency said Wednesday.

The operation code-named 'Icebreaker', which took place last week, led to the arrest of the 48-year-old Lithuanian ringleader in Spain and other suspects in Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Britain, Europol said.

The 'highly professional and dangerous' gang was 'involved in large-scale drug and cigarette trafficking, assassinations and money laundering' netting an estimated 680 million euros ($760 million) over the past two years, it said.

Around 450 police raided 40 properties, seizing 8 million euros in cash, diamonds, gold bars, jewellery and luxury vehicles, as well as hidden compartments used to smuggle drugs, Europol said in a statement.

The gang made most of its money by trafficking drugs and cigarettes into Britain and then smuggling the cash to Poland, where it was laundered in currency exchange offices and invested in property in Spain and other countries, said Europol.

The operation, which also involved Estonian police, took place on May 15-16 and was the 'biggest of its kind to date in Europe against such an organised crime group', the agency said.

The group used 'specialised encrypted communication devices' and countersurveillance techniques to try to stay a step ahead of police, Europol said.

HM Revenue and Customs led the operation in Britain, arresting three men in Coventry.

Arturs Nespors, 29, Alexksej Rybnikov, 42, and Marius Stancikas, 40, have been remanded in custody while a fourth man from Lithuania was detained on a European arrest warrant and is facing extradition to Lithuania.

(1st June 2019)


(Telegraph and Argus, dated 16th May 2019 author Vivien Mason)

Full article [Option 1]:

 WEST Yorkshire Police's crime recording arrangements have been graded "outstanding" at the force's first inspection by the Inspectorate.

A report released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) states West Yorkshire Police had put in place comprehensive crime recording practices which ensured that over 94 per cent of all crimes reported to it were recorded.

The Inspectorate noted that 'victims are at the forefront of the force's crime-recording arrangements" and commended officers and staff for their "hard work and commitment to crime recording'.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Phil Gormley said: "West Yorkshire Police should be congratulated on its approach to crime recording, which we have rated 'outstanding' in our most recent inspection. It is one of only two forces to receive this grade in this rolling programme.

"We previously inspected the force's crime recording arrangements in 2014 and were concerned to find an inconsistent and uneven approach to recording. We therefore provided the force with an extensive list of recommendations for improvement.

"Given these previous issues, it is very encouraging to see just how much the force has improved. Not only has it implemented the recommendations contained in our 2014 report, but it has also enacted its own initiatives designed to promote improvement.

"These initiatives have helped to ensure that the force now records almost all crime reported to it, in a quick and timely manner.

"I was also very impressed with the attitude to crime recording displayed by officers and staff throughout the force. The force displays an emphasis on and commitment to improved crime recording at all levels, with training programmes and the work of an accredited force crime registrar and his team being just two of the measures responsible for this cultural shift."

The force was rated 'good' at recording reported crime (94.6 per cent), reported violent crimes recorded (93.8 per cent), reported sex offences recorded (98.8 per cent), and audited 78 of 87 rape reports. The force was also rated 'good' in how efficiently its systems and processes support accurate crime recording.

In demonstrating the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime reporting the force was graded 'outstanding'.

An overall judgement of 'outstanding' was rated.

The Inspectorate identified the following specific improvements:

- Establishing a 'gold group', led by a Chief Officer, to sanction and oversee crime recording;

- Early identification of victims who may be vulnerable or at particular risk;

- Providing relevant personal development objectives for individual officers and staff; and

- Promoting good crime recording practices through the work of the force crime registrar team.

HMICFRS will continue to inspect crime recording practices in West Yorkshire Police at regular intervals.

(Manchester Evening News, dated 17th May 2019 author Neal Keeling)

Full article [Option 1]:

Greater Manchester Police has been told it needs to improve following a drop in performance.

The force was rated 'good' in 2016, but has been downgraded to 'requires improvement' following an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

GMP, which has lost 21 per cent of its workforce since 2010, was deemed 'outstanding' in terms of tackling serious and organised crime.

The government body said the force's performance had 'declined' since the previous inspection.

The force rejected that assertion.

A full inspection was due in 2017, but was postponed in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack.

The HMICFRS report concludes GMP 'requires improvement' in five areas:

- Preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour
- Investigating crime
- Protecting vulnerable people
- Meeting current demands and using resources
- Planning for the future

The force's tackling of serious and organised crime was deemed 'oustanding'. It was graded 'good' in three categories - fair treatment of the public; being ethical and lawful; and treating its workforce fairly.

n his report, HMICFRS inspector Phil Gormley said: "The force should improve how it tackles crime and anti-social behaviour.

"It doesn't have enough officers to carry out preventative activity, but is working to address this.

"The force should monitor how often it uses neighbourhood officers on other duties. This would ensure they have enough time to solve problems in their own wards."

The report says neighbourhood officers said they are 'frequently abstracted form their duties onto other jobs, resulting in less time problem solving'.

GMP recruited 50 more officers this year which was 'a positive step', it adds.

"The force should also improve how it investigates crime," the report reads.

"It doesn't always supervise investigations well enough.

"The force sometimes responds to high demand by downgrading incidents, resulting in delays.

"These delays can cause victims to disengage from the investigation, resulting in fewer positive outcomes."

HMICFRS says force needs to improve the way it protects vulnerable people.

Mr Gormley said concerns were expressed in 2017 regarding how GMP responded to the issue.

"I am disappointed that it hasn't fully addressed this," he added.

"I remain concerned that the force may not be adequately protecting people at risk."

The report adds: "The force doesn't have a clear process for deploying specialist investigators when interviewing vulnerable victims.

"This means vulnerable victims don't always get support right away."

It adds that this means evidence might be lost and victims put at risk.

The report adds: "In 2017 we recommended the force ask victims of domestic about their experience. It hasn't done this yet. "

"We recommend the force extends how it assesses vulnerable people at first point of contact.

"It always assesses people who call about sexual offences and hate crime. But it may not assess the vulnerability of other callers, particularly when its control room is dealing with high demand for service."

Inspectors discovered the force's public website displayed out of date information about neighbourhood surgeries and meetings for some areas.

GMP does not have enough accredited detectives, the report added, but there are plans to recruit more. In June 2018 there were 260 vacancies, which has since reduced to 150.

"The force plans to put 141 officers through a CID training programme in 2019/20.

Mr Gormley said: "I am satisfied with some of Greater Manchester Police's performance. But in some areas the force needs to make improvements.

"My overall assessment is that performance has declined since our last inspection."

A GMP spokesman said: "The force has considered the report and its findings.

"Whilst we accept some of these findings, there are others which we have challenged, in particular we do not agree that our performance has declined since the last report.

"We have made many improvements since the last report and we already have a plan in place to continue to make further improvements where we need to do so.

"The scale and complexity of the demands faced by GMP are amongst the most challenging in policing.

"We must try and meet these demands with considerably fewer resources than in the past and this inevitably means that we cannot offer the level of service we have previously or indeed that we would like to do now.

"Our staff are working hard, alongside partner agencies, to provide the best service we can to communities and we will continue to do so."

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 16th May 2019 authors Laura Donnelly and Patrick Scott)

Full article [Option 1]:

The NHS is breaking recruitment rules, with one in four new medics now coming from developing countries which are supposed to be protected by ethical codes, an investigation reveals.

The  Telegraph has uncovered evidence that the health service is targeting medics from such countries - despite strict rules which are supposed to protect the poorest parts of the world.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for International Development identifies 97 countries which "should not be actively recruited from" because they are in receipt of aid, and often suffering from shortages of medics.

They include Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

But NHS trusts have used agencies to recruit doctors from such countries, the investigation reveals.

It also shows that the number of doctors coming from such countries to work in the UK has doubled in the last two years.

In total, 27 per cent of all new medics joining the medical register last year came from countries on the "banned" list, figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) show.

The records show that last year 4,161 doctors registered to work in Britain from countries which should not be targeted for recruitment - a rise from 2,206 from the same countries in 2016.

In the last five years, there were more than 12,000 registrations from such locations.

The figures include doctors who chose to come to the UK without being actively recruited by the NHS.

But the trends prompted concern last night, amid evidence that trusts are using agencies who are flouting the rules.

The revelations come as health officials prepare to launch a global recruitment drive, in a bid to plug shortages of NHS staff across the country.

Richard Murray, chief executive of think tank the King's Fund, said: "The workforce shortages in the NHS mean it does need international recruitment but it needs to be done ethically - increases on this scale from these countries are going to bring the UK into disrepute. I think organisations are so desperate to get staff that they just aren't checking whether it is done ethically."

One company, Remedium Partners, says it has placed 900 permanent doctors from more than 60 countries into NHS jobs - and claims to have saved the NHS more than £100m.

But the firm is recruiting from countries which are not supposed to be targeted.

As well as supplying doctors from Nigeria and Myanmar, Remedium has run events - often described as information sessions - in Egypt and Bangladesh.

Its founders' pages on social media also say it plans to visit Pakistan and includes an appeal for doctors in Sri Lanka to get in touch and a testimonial from a Zimbabwean doctor, now working for the NHS.

Remedium - which boasts of its "unique global approach" - also recruits doctors from India, where four states are on the list, although the rest of the country is not.

NHS Employers, which represents trusts, keeps a list of recruitment agencies which adhere to this code and urges hospitals only to use agencies which appear on this list. Remedium, which is based in central London, does not appear on it. 

London North West Trust said it had recruited 47 doctors from India and seven from Nigeria using Remedium. It says it had not targeted areas in India which are covered by restrictions.  On social media, a doctor from Myanmar paid tribute to the company for ensuring that eight doctors from the country had gained work at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay. The trust said it had not targeted any countries listed in the national guidance, but said eight doctors from Myanmar had contacted it directly, and now begun work.

NHS sources said Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals, Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, and Croydon Health Services Trust have also used the firm. None would respond to queries about their use of agencies.

The Croydon trust said it had recruited doctors from India but not from the states subject to restrictions.

In publicity materials for Remedium, Dr Marvin Mugwindiri from Zimbabwe praised the company for "running around" to find him his first job in the UK. Dr Mugwindiri is understood to have started working as a junior doctor for Hillingdon Hospitals NHS trust in April of this year. The trust did not respond to queries.

In total, 27 per cent of all medics registering to work in the UK came from countries on the "banned" list.  In 2014, just 13 per cent of doctors starting work in Britain came from these countries.

In total, 12,554 doctors who joined the UK medical register in the last five years came from parts of the world which are currently supposed to be covered by the restrictions. More than 3,400 came from Pakistan, along with 1,995 from Nigeria, 1,775 from Egypt, 826 from Sri Lanka, 797 from Sudan, 444 from Bangladesh, 325 from Iraq and 312 from Myanmar, the figures show.

The data from the General Medical Council covers place of qualification, which is usually a person's country of origin.

Dave Howard, Marketing Director for Remedium, said: "The doctors we work with, who complete their Royal College examinations, are actively seeking opportunities within the UK. In a time where there is a chronic shortage of doctors and Trusts have struggled to fill specific vacancies, these medical professionals come to us to help them with their relocation to the NHS, as the next step in their career."

A spokesman for NHS Employers, which represents hospitals, said trusts and agencies are asked not to undertake direct or targeted recruitment from any countries on the list of developed countries, whch has remained unchanged for several years.

He said: "NHS Employers manages a list of commercial recruitment agencies that have committed to adhering to the UK Code of Practice. Remedium Partners are not currently included in this list."

Number of doctors who registered to work in UK between 2014 and 2018

Pakistan : 3413        
Nigeria : 1995        
Egypt : 1775        
Sri Lanka : 826        
Sudan : 797        
Bangladesh : 444        
Iraq : 325        
Myanmar : 312        
South Africa : 290        
Nepal : 166        
Jordan : 160

(1st June 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 16th May 2019 author Connor Boyd)

Full article [Option 1]:

England purchased more drugs on the dark web than any other country in the world except Finland, figures show.   

More than one in four recreational drug users admitted ordering substances on the encrypted network in the last 12 months.

It marks a four per cent jump in dark web purchases compared with 2018, according to the study looking at more than 120,000 substance-users worldwide.

The most popular drugs ordered on the dark net were MDMA, LSD and cannabis, followed by amphetamines such as speed and ADHD medication Adderall.

Although less common, large increases were seen in the purchase of psychedelic drugs including DMT, ketamine and 2-CB over the last five years, the Global Drug Survey found.

England came only second to Finland, where almost half - 45.2 per cent - of the drug-using population said they'd bought illegal substances from the dark web. 

Elsewhere, the number of purchases on the dark web plummeted from 18.1 per cent to 11.9 per cent in the US - following a crackdown on online drug dealers by the FBI.

Purchases also fell slightly in Australia, from 17.2 per cent to 14.9 per cent, and in New Zealand where numbers dropped from 2.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

The same survey also found England's MDMA users to be some of the world's biggest dosers, taking 40 per cent more on a single day of use than the global average.

Users in England take half a gram of MDMA powder - or 1.4 pills - compared to 0.3grams and one ecstasy pill globally.

But most consumers use the drug infrequently, with the average being seven days a year. In England, the average is 10 days per year.

The survey also found that England has the highest rate of people who have tried cocaine in the world.

In England, 74 per cent of participants reported having used cocaine at some point in their lives, compared with 43 per cent globally.

Use of the drug in the past year among people from England who responded went up from 43 per cent in 2018's survey to 64 per cent this year.


The dark web is part of the internet that isn't visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymising browser called Tor to be accessed.

Tor - short for The Onion Router - is a seething matrix of encrypted websites that allows users to surf beneath the everyday internet with complete anonymity.

It uses numerous layers of security and encryption to render users anonymous online.

Normally, file sharing and internet browsing activity can be tracked by law enforcement through each user's unique IP address that can be traced back to an individual computer.

The Tor network hides the IP address and the activity of the user.

Most of the Web's information is buried far down on dynamically generated sites, unable to be found or seen by traditional search engines - sites or pages don't exist until created as the result of a specific search.

An Internet search is like dragging a net across the surface of the sea - a great deal of information is caught, but a majority is deep and therefore missed.

Break down of the thirteen drugs that hospitalised male and female users in the last 12 months globally

Heroin : 13.6%
Methamphetamine : 3.2%
NPS : 3.2%
Synthetic Cannabis : 2.9%
ghbgbl : 2.7%
Alcohol : 1.7%
mdma: 1.2%
Cocaine : 1.1%
Amphetamine : 1.0%
LSD : 0.9%
Ketamine : 0.8%
Cannabis : 0.7%
Magic Mushrooms : 0.4%

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 16th May 2019 author Martin Bentham)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of people formally dealt with by the criminal justice system fell last year to the lowest level since 1970 despite police figures showing a six per cent rise in offending, official statistics revealed today.

The Ministry of Justice figures showed that the number of people dealt with by the justice system in England and Wales fell by three per cent in 2018.

The decline was made up of a two per cent drop in prosecutions and an 11 per cent fall in "out-of-court disposals", such as community punishments.

The statistics also revealed that nearly two-fifths of offenders now have long criminal records, up by 10 per cent on the figure a decade ago.

The disclosures will heighten concerns that cuts to police funding and other parts of the justice system are affecting the ability of law enforcers to bring criminals to court and to stop reoffending.

Among the exceptions to the trend were prosecutions for possession of weapons, which rose by four per cent during 2018 in response to the significant increase in knife offending nationwide.

Prosecutions for sex offences and fraud were also up over the year, but all other categories of offending fell.

The result was that the number of people taken to court fell to 1.38 million, marking a 16 per cent drop compared with the equivalent tally for 2008.

An analysis accompanying the figures said a nine per cent fall in people charged by police over the past year was one factor behind the phenomenon.

It also pointed out that police recorded crime rose by six per cent over the same period, with a total of 5.7 million offences, including fraud crimes, registered by forces during 2018. The conviction rate remained high at 87 per cent.

(1st June 2019)

(Wales Online, dated 14th May 2019 authors Margaret Davis and Kirsty Bosley)

Full article [Option 1]:

There are more than 180,000 offenders linked to serious and organised crime in the UK and law enforcement needs billions more in investment to keep up, the National Crime Agency has warned.

Director of the NCA Lynne Owens called the scale of organised crime "staggering" as she warned that the public would "feel the consequences" if funding is not boosted by £2.7billion over the next three years.

The estimated number of criminals, more than twice the strength of the British Army, is thought to be a conservative estimate as it only includes members of organised crime gangs and the worst paedophiles operating on the dark web.

An annual assessment by the NCA, published on Tuesday, found that organised crime costs the UK around £37bn per year.

Ms Owens said: "Serious and organised crime (SOC) in the UK is chronic and corrosive, its scale is truly staggering.

"It kills more people every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.

"SOC affects more UK citizens, more frequently than any other national security threat.

"And it costs the UK at least £37bn a year, equivalent to nearly £2,000 per family.

"We need significant further investment to keep pace with the growing scale and complexity.

"Enhancing our capabilities is critical to our national security.

"If we don't, the whole of UK law enforcement, and therefore the public, will feel the consequences."

As well as dealing with growing demand, the NCA would aim to boost digital forensics, covert surveillance and financial investigations with additional funding.

Ms Owens added: "Some will say we cannot afford to provide more investment, but I say we cannot afford not to.

"The organised criminals of today are indiscriminate, they care less about what types of crime they're involved in, as long as it makes them a profit.

"These groups are preying on the most vulnerable in society, including young children and the elderly, those most unable to protect themselves."

She went on: "The choice is stark.

"Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public."

The NCA's annual National Strategic Assessment (NSA) found that the number of county lines gangs has surged from 720 to more than 2,000 in around a year.

These are drug dealing networks that operate lucrative phone lines, delivering illegal substances from urban bases out into more rural areas.

They are known for forcing young and vulnerable people into crime. The NCA said that in some areas there are now crime gangs nearly solely made up of children and young people.

The 2019 NSA also found:

- Traditional organised crime gangs have broken down into networks of younger offenders who use the latest technology, as well as extreme violence, to carry out a range of different crimes
- Professionals such as accountants and solicitors are "increasingly facilitating crimes with their expertise"
- The use of the dark web and encryption to avoid detection have grown significantly, with an increase in cryptocurrencies being used to launder money

As well as organised crime, the NSA looked at child abuse, modern slavery and fraud.

It found that:

- There are nearly 2.9 million accounts registered on the worst child sexual abuse sites on the dark web worldwide, around 5% of which are offenders from the UK
- The number of referrals to the NCA from internet firms of suspected online child sexual abuse and exploitation have increased by seven times since 2013.
- Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery have increased by more than 80% since 2016.
- There were 3.6 million incidents of fraud reported in England and Wales in 2018, and financial losses from fraud rose by 32% between April and September 2018.

See also (uaware)

(BBC News, dated 14th May 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 14th May 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of Britons with a sexual interest in children may be seven times higher than previously thought, the head of the National Crime Agency has said.

Lynne Owens said the revelation came after investigators scoured through sites for paedophiles on the dark web, finding an estimated 144,000 accounts linked to British people.

Estimates previously had put the number of Britons with a sexual interest in children at around 20,000; one unpublished estimate, which law enforcement did not seek to rely on, put the number at 40,000 adults.

It may be that some individuals have more than one account but Owens, speaking at an event in central London on Tuesday, said that in her professional judgment the number of paedophiles was much higher than law enforcement and government had realised.

The NCA director general said: "I draw on two pieces of evidence. The first … is the 850% increase in referrals from industry since 2013. Then the second is this evidence we get from the dark web."

Some dark web sites require people to prove they have raped a child before they are allowed to enter.

She said that every month measures were taken to make sure 400 children were safe from paedophiles, and 500 people were arrested in connection with a sexual interest in children. "It brings huge demand. We want to get to the place that we can identify who the very dangerous contact offenders are."

Owens said the NCA and police had not been able to investigate all of the suspects even when the numbers were believed to be much lower, and did not have the resources to analyse all the accounts discovered on the dark web. She is calling for £2.7bn over three years to boost the fight against serious and organised crime.

Owens said preventative programmes warning children of the dangers were now aimed at four- to seven-year-olds whose parents gave them tablet computers, whereas previously they were aimed at those eight years and over.

Speaking as the NCA launched its annual threat assessment, she said technology companies "had to do much more".

Owens said: "Technology already exists to design out a lot of the preventable offending. Industry must block child abuse images upon detection, and do more to prevent online grooming.

"It must work with us to stop livestreaming of child abuse. It must do more to stop its platforms being used to advertise services, whether that be of people smugglers or to facilitate sexual exploitation.

"There is the need for nothing less than a revolution in the way that technology companies rise to this challenge."

Peter Wanless from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said technology companies should have a "mandatory" duty of care for children using the internet.

He said: "They need to step up and ensure fundamental child protection is designed into the online world.

"Things that our children come into contact with daily such as food, toys, clothes, are all expected to meet high safety standards that let us know children are safe to use them, and the same must apply to social networks."

(1st June 2019)

(Independent, dated 14th May 2019 author Tom Barnes)

Full article [Option 1]:

Tens of thousands of individuals accessing the most harmful categories of child abuse images through the dark web are in part fuelling the "truly staggering" level of serious and organised crime in the UK.

Top child abuse investigators have warned more than 144,000 web users in Britain are increasingly using the anonymisation technology to chase niche material while lowering the risk of detection.

Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the scale of serious and organised crime in the UK posed a "chronic and corrosive" threat to the country.

She called for a £2.7bn investment from the government to tackle the swelling numbers of people involved in organises crime and online child abuse.

"Enhancing our capabilities is critical to our national security. If we don't, the whole of UK law enforcement, and therefore the public, will feel the consequences," Ms Owens added.

"Some will say we cannot afford to provide more investment, but I say we cannot afford not to.

"The organised criminals of today are indiscriminate - they care less about what types of crime they're involved in, as long as it makes them a profit.

"These groups are preying on the most vulnerable in society, including young children and the elderly - those most unable to protect themselves."

In its annual report on serious and organised crime released on Tuesday, the NCA said the majority of child sexual abuse material existed on the open web.

However, it said its own research had found almost 2.9 million individuals worldwide were now accessing the most harmful materials available through the dark web.

Meanwhile, the NCA also said it had seen a 700 per cent increase in the number of reports of online child abuse and exploitation it received from internet firms.

The report also noted the number of county line chains across the country had rocketed from 720 to around 2,000 in little over a year.

The agency also said fraud cases had risen by 32 per cent between April and September 2018, with 3.6 million incidents reported across England and Wales in 2018.

It estimated at least 181,000 people were involved in either organised crime or dark web-based child sexual abuse.

Although the NCA says reports it receives involve male runners between the ages of 15 and 17, it also believes the number of cases involving teenage girls and vulnerable adults are under-reported.

The agency has called on the government to make more funding available for tackling serious and organised crime, which it says should be used to fund digital forensics, covert surveillance and financial investigations.

"The NCA must deliver others on a national basis, providing the right agencies with the right capabilities at the right time to deliver maximum impact," Ms Owens added.

"The choice is stark. Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public."

Security minister Ben Wallace said, said serious and organised crime was estimated to cost the UK at least £37bn each year.

"As the National Crime Agency set out, serious and organised crime is a fast-evolving and highly complex threat to our national security, impacting on our people, on our communities and on our businesses across the country," he added.

"Our SOC strategy published in November 2018 set out how we will mobilise the full force of the state to target and disrupt serious and organised crime.

"As criminals' use of technology evolves, so must our response. We continue to invest in the right capabilities and tools in law enforcement, across government and in partnership with the private sector."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: "These staggering figures show just what police are up against when it comes to fighting online child abuse. Officers need to have the right resources to rid the web of this terrible content.

"Child abuse and harmful content have spread through the dark web and social media platforms, so it's key that government gets on the front foot of this problem and introduce a tough regulator to hold platforms to account."

(1st June 2019)

(Observer, dated 12th May 2019 author Mark Townsend)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain risks losing the fight against organised crime unless police receive significant new resources to tackle the "chronic and corrosive" threat from such groups, the head of the National Crime Agency has warned.

In a chilling assessment, the NCA's director general, Lynne Owens, said the threat from organised crime groups was at unprecedented levels. "It is chronic and corrosive. The message needs to be heard by everyone."

She added: "People should understand that serious and organised crime kills more of our citizens every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined."

In a rare political intervention, the head of an agency often described as Britain's equivalent to the FBI reopened the debate on police funding, arguing that without significant investment the UK's forces would fall further behind the criminals exploiting encrypted communications technology and dark web anonymity.

"Against a backdrop of globalisation, extremism and technological advances, serious and organised crime is changing fast, and law enforcement needs significant new investment to help combat it," said Owens, ahead of this week's launch of the NCA's annual strategic assessment into the impact of organised crime.

Last year Whitehall's spending watchdog revealed the jobs of 44,000 police officers and staff had been lost since 2010, when the coalition government came to power, and that the Home Office had failed to even forecast the possible impact.

The writer Misha Glenny, who will chair a panel of senior officers at the NCA's report launch in London on Tuesday, said the austerity drive had allowed powerful crime syndicates to flourish in the UK.

Glenny, whose book McMafia documented the globalisation of crime after the break-up of the Soviet bloc, said that when it was published in 2008 organised crime was viewed as a global concern and its impact on most British citizens was minimal.

"In the past 10 years what is really striking is how this industry has grown inside the UK. Austerity has been absolutely critical in this, partly because of the reduction in police capacity but also because of the continuing increase in inequality. A lot of victims of organised crime tend to be people on the margins who don't have a voice. When you get an impoverishment of the population, which is what we have had over the last 10 years, you get an increase in desperation, and that opens up opportunities," added Glenny.

Transnational criminal networks, the exploitation of technological improvements and "old-style violence" is allowing serious crime gangs to "dominate communities", the NCA assessment will say this week.

"It will reveal the changing nature of organised crime and its wholesale undermining of the UK's economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions," said the NCA in a statement.

The assessment, described as the most comprehensive yet by the NCA, will also chart the rise of poly-criminality where organised groups operate in several illegal trades such as drugs, firearms and human trafficking. Last year the agency mapped 4,629 OCGs (organised crime groups) inside the UK with tens of thousands of members and says the threat has since continued to grow. One area of enduring concern remains the use of encrypted and anonymisation technology, the latter primarily on the dark web, that have eroded the ability of investigators to detect offenders.

On Saturday, the NCA celebrated the conclusion of an eight-year investigation by seizing £6m worth of assets, including an award-winning luxury hotel and a £100,000 Bentley, from alleged members of an international money-laundering group.

The assessment is also expected to warn that advances in technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the introduction of 5G, will present further potential opportunities for criminals.

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit will also be identified by the agency as an area for criminal exploitation. Last year the NCA raised concerns that crime groups would exploit "the design and implementation of a new UK customs system, or increased challenges for EU and UK law enforcement in locating and extraditing international fugitives, if the UK were to lose enforcement or intelligence-sharing tools".

The report will also document the latest developments on modern slavery and human trafficking, organised immigration crime, cyber-crime, money-laundering, drugs and guns. So-called "county lines" drug supply networks are still expected to affect all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

(Guardian, dated 14th May 2019 autor Vikram Dodd)

Full article [Option 1]:

The government needs to find an extra £2.7bn to tackle the growth in serious and organised crime that is causing "staggering" damage to the United Kingdom, according to the director general of the National Crime Agency.

Lynne Owens is due to make the direct challenge to ministers on Tuesday as she launches the agency's annual national strategic assessment mapping out dangers from cyber crime, child sexual exploitation, drugs and other serious and organised crime.

The NCA, which was set up by the Conservative government in 2013, says there are at least 181,000 people linked to serious and organised crime in the UK - twice the size of the British army.

There are 37,000 active organised criminals and 144,000 people in the UK "registered on the most harmful child sex abuse … dark web sites," the agency says, insisting its estimates are conservative and not scare tactics.

Owens is due to tell the launch event in central London: "Serious and organised crime in the UK is chronic and corrosive; its scale is truly staggering. It kills more people every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined. Serious and organised crime affects more UK citizens, more frequently than any other national security threat.

The agency estimates serious and organised crime costs the UK £37bn a year, equivalent to £2,000 for each family.

Owens is calling for an extra £650m to be given to the NCA and for £2.1bn to fund agencies such as the Border Force and go to police efforts fighting serious and organised crime.

She will say: "We need significant further investment to keep pace with the growing scale and complexity. Some will say we cannot afford to provide more investment, but I say we cannot afford not to."

The sum asked for is the equivalent to a half penny on income tax, but comes as other demands are being made to provide extra funding for the police and other key public services.

A full spending review is supposed to happen within months but there is increasing expectation the tumult caused by Brexit may mean it is postponed until after the UK has made a decision on its future in the EU.

Owens will say: "The choice is stark. Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public."

The assessment warns that Brexit could "impact the prevalence of bribery and corruption over the next five years, as UK companies potentially come into greater contact with corrupt markets".

Referrals for key crime types are increasing, with some of the rise accounted for by better reporting and increased awareness. Modern slavery referrals are up 80% since 2016, and about 2,000 county lines drug routes are in use compared with 720 a year earlier.

The NCA says some organised crime groups are made up purely of children and young people "adopting businesslike operating models rather than relying on identity or postcode".

The agency warns of corruption among public officials, especially at the border, and among professionals such as solicitors and accountants who do the bidding of those involved in serious and organised crime.

A Home Office spokesperson did not directly address the call for more money, but said: "We continue to invest in the right capabilities and tools in law enforcement, across government and in partnership with the private sector."

John Apter, who chairs the Police Federation, said government cuts to policing, of around 19%, had helped serious and organised crime flourish. "This is the reality of years of austerity where we have seen the number of police officers reduced by almost 22,000 as the number of organised criminals has increased; the NCA is therefore right to say considerable investment is needed," he said.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, accused the government of being in denial, adding: "If the Tories were genuine about tackling serious and organised crime, they would provide all the funding that's needed."
(1st June 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 8th May 2019 author Joe Pinkstone)

Full article [Option 1]:

A MailOnline investigation into how much personal information Alexa is recording and storing on its users has revealed the smart assistant eavesdrops on housemates' gossip, private conversations about insurance policies - and even the family dog.

Amazon insists Alexa can only be activated when the allocated 'wake word' is uttered - being Alexa, Computer or Echo.

The tech giant - along with Apple's Siri and, until recently, Google's Assistant - says it saves every single interaction a person has with the device to improve the service - with some 'unintentional' snippets also being recorded if it mistakes another noise for a 'wake word'.

However, evidence seen by MailOnline shows this cannot be the case, or the process is fundamentally flawed, as a host of sounds and conversations were recorded without a clear or legitimate wake word being uttered - some when there was not even a human nearby.
Smart assistants are now commonplace in many homes but users remain unaware of the treasure trove of private data they store - and that they can access it themselves to hear what has been recorded from their own everyday lives.  

A MailOnline investigation into these 'secret' archives has revealed an eerie snippets of users' friends, families and children being recorded while they were completely unaware -  and without a clear or legitimate wake word being uttered.

One user found his Alexa repeatedly activated to record the same guest in their house gossiping about work colleagues, while another was recorded in a private discussion about their insurance policy - and another about their dream job.

Bizarrely, in one household, Alexa seems to have developed an obsession with the family dog - waking up 13 times to record it barking.

In a worrying twist, this was often when there was no one in the house who could possibly have ordered it to activate.

You can find out what your device knows about you and what it has been listening to here and read on to see what we unearthed.


Any time audio is sent to the cloud, a visual indicator appears on the Echo device - a light ring on Amazon Echo will turn blue or a blue bar will appear on Echo Show. 

Amazon also says that voice recordings are kept until a customer chooses to delete them.

The recordings are used to increase the diversity with which Alexa is trained to help it better understand customer requests.

For example, differentiating between YouTube and U2 and using historical context, such as the Olympics, to know what the user is referring to.  

Amazon maintains the deice is not activated until the wake word is said: this can be configured to be Alexa, Echo or Computer.

It also records when the microphone button is manually pressed. 


Open the Alexa app which the devices are synced to or go to this link.

Select the icon in the top left corner - often dubbed the 'hamburger'

Press 'Settings' at the bottom of the menu

Select 'Alexa Account' located at the top of the menu

Press 'Alexa Privacy' at the bottom of the menu

In this section a range of options will appear in a different looking menu - select 'Review Voice History'

Here all the entries of all Alexa-enabled devices attached to an account will be listed in reverse order, with the most recent at the top.

To view all entries, select the 'All History' option from the drop down menu and scroll through the pages.

It will show all entries and those that it claims were recorded but not meant to be for Alexa are not transcribed, instead it reads 'Text not available - audio was not intended for Alexa'.

These can still be listened to by selecting the drop down arrow on the right hand side and pressing play - locate don the left.

For users who want to remove all trace of these recordings - pressing the 'Delete All recordings for All History' button will do so.

There is currently no way of saving the data yourself and taking it off Amazon's servers. 


Amazon devices have previously been activated when they're not wanted - meaning the devices could be listening.

Millions are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that their conversations are being heard.

Amazon devices rely on microphones listening out for a key word, which can be triggered by accident and without their owner's realisation.

The camera on the £119.99 ($129) Echo Spot, which doubles up as a 'smart alarm', will also probably be facing directly at the user's bed.

The device has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room - even if music is playing.

Last month a hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.

Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device. 


Amazon did not comment directly on the investigation when approached by MailOnline, but did send a comment via a spokesperson regarding the privacy settings of its voice recordings.

The firm claims customers have 'complete control' of their recordings and can delete them at any time.

While this is true in as much as users can delete their oral history relatively easily, it assumes they know of the archive's existence in the first place.

It remains to be seen what real benefit there is for Amazon in keeping this data.

The statement reads: 'Alexa is always getting smarter, which is only possible by training her with voice recordings to better understand requests, provide more accurate responses, and personalise the customer experience.

'Training Alexa with voice recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone.

'Customers have complete control over the voice recordings associated with their Alexa account. They can review, listen, and delete voice recordings one by one or all at once by visiting in the Alexa app or at'

Following the recent revelation that Amazon's recordings taken from Alexa are being listened to by human employees at the firm's headquarters, there is a heightened sensitivity towards the use of private audio clips.

It was also found the location of some users was available to these Amazon staff members.

The introduction of legislation and stricter guidelines may be the only thing that could stem the advance of big tech's snaking tendrils into our private lives.

But now they are already in our homes and handheld devices, it may be too late to eradicate them completely.

(1st June 2019)

(Newsmax, dated 7th May 2019 author Zoe Papadakis)

Full article [Option 1]:

uaware comment : As the internet is worldwide it allows European citizens to "check-out the opportunities" in the USA. Therefore, for-armed is for-warned !

Around 50 million Americans have tried online dating. It's so popular that by 2031 over 50% of couples are expected to meet via dating apps, according to dating website eHarmony. But there are still risks involved, and those can be higher or lower depending on where you live.

Researchers from conducted a survey to determine which of the states are safest and which are most dangerous in terms of online dating. They looked at recent stats on violent crime, cybercrime statistics, STD data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as sex education data.

Based on this data, the riskiest state for online dating is Alaska. According to the report, Anchorage is one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. and has a high rate of STDs. Rounding off the top five most dangerous states for online dating are Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Nevada.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the safest states are, in order, Vermont, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine and Utah. Each of these states scored low in cybercrime, violent crime and STDs, making them far less risky when it comes to online dating.

When it comes to emerging risks, researchers noted that catfishing was becoming an increasingly prominent danger in the online dating realm, with Americans reportedly having lost $230 million to catfishers in 2018 alone. Cheating was another factor that users need to keep in mind.

According to the report, around 22% of Tinder profiles are already in a committed romantic relationship. Researchers urged online dating users to be vigilant and to note any warning signs.

"There are some creeps, predators, and scammers out there," they noted.

The original source article - author Kristin Cooke

(1st June 2019)

(Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 7th May 2019 author Laura Drysdale)

Full article [Option 1]:

The dark web is being used by criminals for illicit activity. Recent court cases make it clear offenders can be identified, but Laura Drysdale explores the challenges of tackling the crime.

Today's technology has given crime an additional face - and one that is largely invisible. Criminals are carrying out serious and dangerous offences using the dark web, in the hope of evading capture.

One of three areas of the World Wide Web, it can only be reached through specialist anonymising browsers and though it is not used solely for illegitimate activity, this veil of secrecy presents opportunities for a criminal underworld.

Drugs dealers are selling their wares through the illicit marketplaces in operation there, where financial details, hacking software and violent weapons including grenades are also listed as being available to purchase. And police have warned that paedophiles too are using the dark web's hidden websites when accessing and sharing indecent images of children, to try to cover their tracks.

To find those responsible, law enforcement organisations across the globe are having to think - and operate - differently. But Vince O'Brien, of the National Crime Agency (NCA), says recent examples of prosecutions, including in Yorkshire, are evidence that criminals can and will be identified.

"People operating on the dark web are not beyond the reach of law enforcement," he says. "Even though criminality is enabled by technology, ultimately [with illegal marketplaces], there's a physical commodity moving and someone has had something delivered to an address. Although people are anonymous by technology, there are opportunities for us to deal with that."


Just last month, Leeds Crown Court heard how the dark web was used in the importing of one of the most addictive drugs in the world, as four members of a Leeds organised crime group were jailed for a total of more than 31 years.

The hearing was told the gang created a market for crystal meth in the region, with its leader using the dark web and his contacts to order and import the drug, paying in crypto currency to "preserve secrecy".

That hearing came just three months after the jailing of three men who ran a dark web business out of an industrial unit in Morley, selling potentially deadly drugs around the globe.

The trio, who were sentenced to prison for a total of 43 -and-a-half-years, sold the powerful opioid fentanyl, which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine over the dark web, under the business name 'UKBargins'.

NCA investigators identified that six British people from their customer list had died from issues related to fentanyl consumption, though it cannot be said with certainty that the drug they took was supplied by the gang.

"We are particularly concerned about things like fentanyl because that's an area where we have seen sales taking place," explains O'Brien, whose team have been involved in operations in Yorkshire.


Another worry is around people accessing the dark web for legitimate, legal purposes - people use it for whistleblowing and to communicate anonymously, particularly in repressed regimes where there are human rights issues - or "relatively low harm" activity, and being exposed to extremist material or high levels of criminality.

"It's a very different kind of criminality in terms of who can become involved and who can access it," O'Brien says. "It presents a very low barrier to enter both in terms of obtaining criminal services or becoming involved in supplying those services."

Though O'Brien's work focuses on drugs and firearms matters in particular, the sharing of indecent images of children on the dark web is another significant threat. "Offenders are able to access images and can become encouraged in their behaviour which may lead to people offending in real life," he says.

With the dark web, people can sit and share "thousands and millions" of images "which makes it more accessible," Emlyn Butterfield, a lecturer in Computer Forensics and Security at Leeds Beckett University, agrees. "And because it's more accessible, people might be more willing to access that with a bit of interest."

"We talk about the web and how it allows us to connect to people across the world which sounds like a great thing," he adds. "But actually that can mean there's a lot of depraved people sharing information now who didn't used to be able to connect."


Anonymity, or "perceived anonymity", makes tackling crime on the dark web more challenging, says Butterfield, who has eight years of experience working as a digital forensic analyst and expert witness on cases involving anything from terrorism to murder, computer misuse and indecent images of children. But it is by no means impossible.

"The dark web needs its own special browser. Google can't touch the sites and because it can't touch those kind of sites, it's a lot harder to find information about what's going on. The dark web is massive."

But, whilst it presents a different context for traditional techniques, he says the police and cyber industry have the skillset and technology to find those responsible for illegal activity.

There are people that monitor the dark web to flag up anything that appears like it may be criminal, he explains, and from there, they will begin to build packages of intelligence, inferring information from the likes of usage patterns, bitcoin logs and transactions, and usernames.

The use of 'honeypots' is another tactic. "Police might set up a website on the dark web, people sign up and start selling things or having conversations about things, or try and buy goods from the police officers themselves who are pretending to be criminals.

"At that point, they can back track it to a physical address because something needs to happen - some money needs to be exchanged, some details need to be exchanged and therefore they can try to identify the person at that point. If you leave that running long enough, those sites can capture lots and lots of people and can be a good way of doing that."

But the international scale of the dark web can be a challenge. "The difficulty is you don't know where people are," says Butterfield. "Because people are using various different systems to keep themselves relatively anonymous, you don't know what country they exist in. And because you don't know what country they exist in, then you don't know what door to knock on or who to talk to first."

It is why capabilities to tackle cyber crime are held both regionally and nationally as well as internationally. "That cross boundary work just in the UK never mind abroad is a real change in tactics," Butterfield says. "With the joint up thinking now that's occurring across regions and across countries, that is making identifying and prosecuting people more achievable."

Government funding

The Government says it has invested more than £150m since 2015 in the law enforcement response to cyber crime. It launched a new five year cyber security strategy the following year.

Security Minister Ben Wallace told The Yorkshire Post: "The cyber threats we face continue to grow in scale and sophistication.

"This is why the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021 is supported by £1.9bn of transformational investment, including for tackling cyber crime.

"In 2018-19 we are investing over £50m which will build law enforcement cyber capabilities and tackle organised crime online in methods such as a new crackdown on the dark web and establishing dedicated cyber units in every police force in England and Wales."

(1st June 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 7th May 2019 author Richard Spillett)

Full article [Option 1]:

A motorist who installed a jamming device on her car to avoid speeding fines has avoided a jail term.

The individual, 56, was spotted driving her BMW 135i on a country road but when cops tried to measure her speed they found their equipment was being jammed.

Police launched an investigation and when the individuals car was seized an examination revealed it was fitted with a Laser Pro Park device, which was connected to a Speed Cheetah.

When questioned about the device, the individual claimed it had been fitted to the vehicle to assist her when parking, Teesside Crown Court was told.

The individual, from the village of Appleton Wiske, North Yorkshire, denied perverting the course of justice but was convicted after a two day trial.

She avoided an immediate jail term but received a nine month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay £2,000 court costs.

The court heard how on the morning of the November 10 2017, she was driving her BMW 135i along the A170 near the village of Nawton, between Helmsley and Kirbymoorside.

The crew of a safety camera van from North Yorkshire Police's Traffic Bureau attempted to measure the speed of her vehicle four times, believing she was speeding.

However, due to interference being received from the vehicle - the safety camera was unable to determine her speed.

Following a two day hearing, a jury found her guilty of perverting the course of justice and using the jammer to avoid prosecution.

Passing sentence, Judge Bourne-Arton, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said her actions undermined the system of justice.

Traffic Constable Andrew Forth said: 'This is the seventh person to be successfully prosecuted in North Yorkshire for using a laser jammer device in an attempt to lift themselves above the law and protect themselves from a potential speeding prosecution.

'Using this equipment in this way puts other innocent, law abiding road users at risk by people believing that they can travel at speed with complete immunity from prosecution.

'As the result today shows, this will not be tolerated and myself and my colleagues at the North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau will ensure offenders are investigated and brought to justice.

'My advice to those who have these devices fitted to their vehicles, who think they are untouchable, is - remove it.

'This court result shows; if you are found to be using the device to pervert the course of justice, you face a criminal record and a very large fine.'

(1st June 2019)

(Mirror, dated 5th May 2019 author Martin Bagot)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 1,100 criminal doctors are free to carry on working despite some of them having convictions for sex, violence and drug offences.

A Mirror investigation found there are 1,136 medics who have amassed 1,259 criminal convictions but their governing body has decided against banning them.

The General Medical Council data as of February were released under Freedom of Information laws and include offending by GPs, surgeons and physicians.

Three doctors were caught with child pornography, six were convicted of kerb crawling and four were found guilty of sexual assault. Some 39 have been allowed to work despite assault convictions - including four for GBH.

Anthony Omo, director of fitness to practise at the GMC, said: "Any doctor who receives a custodial sentence is referred to a tribunal. We believe those who are found guilty of serious criminal offences - such as rape - should be struck off.

Since 2017 if we believe a tribunal's decision is not sufficient to protect the public we're able to appeal the decision."

Almost half of 548 doctors who had to plead for their jobs did not lose their licence. Of doctors who did, two were convicted of manslaughter, seven for rape and 14 for child sex abuse.

A total of 17 medics convicted of having illegal drugs and two who were found to have been smuggling or supplying them also kept their licence.

Norman Lamb, Lib Dem health spokesman, said: "The fact patients are not told a doctor may have committed a serious offence is deeply troubling."

In the UK, there are around 250,000 doctors.

Trainee doctors start on around £27,000 a year, GPs earn £55,000 while hospital consultants earn from £75,000.

(1st June 2019)

(This is Money, dated 4th May 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

The police forces in England and Wales that are most - and least - likely to cancel a speeding fine has been revealed.

There's a huge difference in the chances of being let off a speeding fine depending where in the country you've been caught, according to Home Office data.

For instance, three in five motorists are let off a fixed penalty notice (FPN) related to speeding by City of London, while drivers are pretty much banged to rights by North Wales police, according to a new report.

Analysis of government data covering the 12 months to the end of March 2018 was conducted by vehicle finance provider Moneybarn.

The figures not only highlighted which police forces have dished out the most FPNs for speeding during that period but also revealed the ones most and least likely to cancel them for one reason or another.

Exclusive data for This is Money showed the top 10 forces that ripped up speeding tickets more frequently and 10 who cancel fewer than four per cent of fines they issue for the offence of driving over the limit.

City of London was way out in front for the most commonly canceled speeding fines.

Some 62 per cent issued to motorists over 12 months were torn up, which may have been for a variety of reasons.

This includes:

- The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) had incorrect details about the nature, time or location of the alleged offence
- The alleged speeder wasn't driving when the offence took place
- The road signage for speed limits was missing or incorrect
- The speed measuring equipment had not been calibrated or was being misused 

Cambridgeshire police are the next most likely to revoke a speeding FPN, with just over 30 per cent being cancelled.

Manchester Metropolitan police tore up more than a quarter, while Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police also revoked more than 20 per cent of speeding tickets they issued.

Some police forces are not quite as forthcoming when it comes to cancelling speeding FPNs, the figures reveal.

North Wales police are least likely to let a driver off, with almost 99 per cent of speeding fines upheld.

Devon and Cornwall police is second in the table, revoking just 1.6 per cent of tickets, while Dyfed-Powys was third with just 1.8 per cent of intended prosecution notices for speeding being overlooked.

The minimum penalty for a speeding ticket in England and Wales is £100 and three points added to a driver's licence.

If you're caught by a camera, you will receive an NIP and Section 172 notice in the post.

You must return the Section 172 notice within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car.

After you've sent the Section 172 notice back and admitted you were at the wheel, you'll be sent a FPN requesting a payment of £100 or more, depending on the severity of the offence and punishment.

Last week, information released by forces in England and Wales identified the tolerances set for speed cameras in different regions, with most operating a 10 per cent plus 2mph threshold.

Motorists caught speeding by an officer will be handed a FPN on the spot or will have one issued in the post.

Moneybarn's stats also revealed which police forces handed out the most fines. 

Avon and Somerset issued the largest number of fixed penalty notices FPNs for speeding, with a staggering 199,337 brandished to motorists during the 12-month period - the equivalent of 548 issued each day.

The vast majority of drivers would have been caught by the 800 active speed cameras - both fixed and mobile - in the area rather than the 3,000 officers in its constabulary.

West Yorkshire and London Metropolitan follow in second and third place, with 174,796 and 135,430 FPNs issued for speeding.

Welsh police forces dominated list of areas where the lowest number of speeding fines were issued - though we now know that most of these are upheld.

Gwent police - which has just eight active speed cameras - issued the lowest, at just 242 speeding tickets.

Knowing that 96.7 per cent are upheld, by our calculations that means just eight drivers have their FPNs rebuffed.

Dyfed-Powys and North Wales also feature. It means you're least likely to be hit with a speeding fine in Wales, but if you are there's very little hope of squirming out of the fine and penalty points.

Police forces that cancel the most speeding fines
(Source: Moneybarn using Home Office statistics)

1. City of London - 62.6%
2. Cambridgeshire - 30.6%
3. Greater Manchester - 26.7%
4. London Metropolitan - 24.2%
5. Bedfordshire - 23.2%
6. Hertfordshire - 21.3%
7. Warwickshire - 17.9%
8. Northamptonshire - 15.0%
9. Avon and Somerset - 14.9%
10. West Midlands - 13.0%

Police forces that cancel the fewest speeding fines
(Source: Moneybarn using Home Office statistics)

1. North Wales - 1.3%
2. Devon & Cornwall - 1.6%
3. Dyfed-Powys - 1.8%
4. Wiltshire - 2.1%
5. Nottinghamshire - 2.1%
6. Cleveland - 3.3%
7. Gwent 3.3%
8. South Yorkshire - 3.3%
9. Surrey - 3.8%
10. Humberside 3.9%

The police forces issuing the most and least speeding fines (Apr 2017-Mar 2018)
(Source: Moneybarn using Home Office statistics)


1. Avon and Somerset : 199,337    
2. West Yorkshire : 174,796    
3. London Metropolitan : 135,430    
4. Thames Valley : 131,401    
5. Greater Manchester : 101,421    
6. Essex : 95,967    
7. Norfolk : 92,750    
8. Hampshire : 79,126    
9. Bedfordshire : 74,297    
10. Surrey : 74,163


1. Gwent : 242
2. Dyfed-Powys : 793
3. Wiltshire : 1,191
4. City of London : 3,888
5. Durham : 8,802
6. Derbyshire : 10,480
7. Cleveland : 11,308
8. Kent : 18,878
9. North Wales : 20,462
10. Gloucestershire : 21,727

(1st June 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd May 2019 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

A blitz is being launched on boyracers who have turned a suburban stretch of a London road into a racetrack driving at speeds of more than 100 mph.

Eight people have been killed on the A10 in north east London in the past two years, some in speeding-related accidents.

Police say young drivers travel in from the Home Counties to joyride and race each other along the 40mph road making life a misery for local residents.

The cars involved are often unlicensed or uninsured and, in some cases, are hired for the night.

There have been reports of boyracers using the A10 as a "dragstrip" for several years with claims that racers compete to see who can post the fastest time on a stretch between Carterhatch Lane and the M25 junction.

Now traffic police are deploying marked patrol cars and mobile speeding cameras along the A10 focusing on Saturday and Sunday nights in a two month campaign.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox, of the Roads and Transport Policing Command, said cars were routinely travelling along the A10 at speeds of more than 100mph.

He said: "The A10 has been experiencing reckless and dangerous drivers with a total disregard for themselves and other road users for some time. It must stop before there are any more fatalities or serious injuries. Therefore we are ramping up policing enforcement to deter such offending. 

"There is a joyriding element to this with young drivers coming in from the Home Counties. We will be targeting them with significant resources."

Det Supt Cox, who is leading the Vision Zero drive to eliminate roads detahs in London by 2041, added: "Every road death or serious injury is devastating for the victim's family and friends. It is not worth the risk. If you are involved in a collision the penalties will be severe: it could cost you your driver's licence, your job, your limbs or your life." 

The A10 runs through Hackney, Haringey and Enfield. There have been six fatal road collisions in Enfield and two in Haringey between April 2017 and March 2019.

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 2nd May 2019 author Martin Evans and Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

The public are becoming increasingly fed up and are losing confidence in 101 non emergency lines, a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has warned.

With callers in some areas being left on hold for 40 minutes, there has been a sharp drop in the use of the service across England and Wales over the past year.

Instead, callers are either simply hanging up or more worryingly are dialling 999 to report minor offences and more trivial matters.

Figures published by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) show that in 2018 there were just over 22 million calls made to the 101 number.

But that figure was down by almost 675,000 on the previous 12 months, a fall of three per cent.

At the same time, calls to 999, which are reserved for emergencies only, increased by almost half a million, a rise of five per cent.

The rise is thought to be putting a strain on 999 call handlers and resulting in longer waiting times for people reporting genuine emergencies.

The 101 system was introduced across the country in 2012 in a bid to make the police more accessible to local people.

Unlike 999 calls, the 101 system is not free, with people being charged 15p to speak to an operator.

But the system has had mixed success with many people complaining that the waiting times are unacceptable.

Matt Parr, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the figures suggested people were "losing confidence" in the 101 system.

He said: "We do our own survey of public perceptions and we think the reason 101 calls have been going down is because the public are getting fed up waiting for someone to answer it and so they call 999 instead, which they have more confidence in."

The HMIC inspection covered 14 force areas, with some performing worse than others when it came to maintaining confidence in the 101 system.

Calls to the non emergency line in Greater Manchester were down by almost 100,000 in the year to 2018, while at the same time there was an increase in 999 calls of more than 42,000.

In the West Midlands area, England's second largest force, calls to 101 were down almost 12 per cent, a drop of 178,422, while 999 calls were up almost 8,000 year on year.

Baroness Newlove, the victims' commissioner, who has demanded a review of the ailing service, said the public was being let down by 101.

She said: "The finding from HMICFRS very much echoes what I have been hearing from victims when I have been travelling around the country.  I have heard stories of victims hanging on for 40 minutes or longer before they get a response. Others have just given up or, out of frustration, they escalate to 999.

"Victims also tell me they use the line to report issues and then nothing happens. And yet they expected to pay for might seem to be a pointless exercise.

"I want to see the line properly resourced to offer a swift response, to be free of charge and that victims see follow up action.  Anything less and it is just window dressing."

Steve McCabe, a member of the work and pensions committee who has campaigned against the use of premium charge lines for public services, said: "We are constantly expected not to use 999 in non-emergencies and instead call 101, then it transpires that we are paying for the privilege of what is actually a rather poor service.

"It's shifting the balance in a key public service that I am not sure is the right approach. Charging for 101 is a step too far."

Tim Loughton, a former minister and senior member of the Home Affairs Committee, said the Government should take advantage of Brexit to abolish the charges including the 20 per cent VAT that was collected on 101 calls and provided to the Exchequer.

"Law abiding citizens should be encouraged to report crime not penalised financially for it and the fact that EU rules make levying VAT on top that just adds insult to injury and another bonus of Brexit meaning we can decide to abolish iniquitous charges and taxes ourselves," he said.

(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 2nd May 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, has hailed big falls in violent crime in London in the past year, with fights over drugs, predominantly cocaine, playing a key part in the rise in the number of stabbings and homicides in the capital.

She said double-digit reductions year-on-year for homicides and young people stabbed and injured were because of more officers on the streets, and a 30% year-on-year increase in stop and search.
Dick, comparing 2018-19 with the previous year, said the number of homicides were down 25% to 122, and knife injuries suffered by those under 25 were down 15% to 1,768.

It is a message she has been keen to get out for some time, but Dick and her advisers are aware that every time they try, their recitation of statistics and the message that London's streets are getting safer, risks being overshadowed by another tragedy that generates headlines.

The latest came on Wednesday evening in Hackney, east London. Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old child on an estate, which happened while he was with friends. Police believe he was involved in a dispute with another group of youths, resulting in the death of the teenager. During the incident, a 16-year-old was also stabbed but survived.

Dick said: "It appears that these boys were with a group of other boys, and possibly a girl, young people together, and there's some sort of confrontation with another group during which these two have been stabbed and sadly one of them has died.

"Each death is absolutely ghastly. Each young man stabbed is a horrible thing for them, their family, friends and community and for the person who did the stabbing. Often it wrecks their lives as well."

Six out of 10 killings in London in 2018-19 were stabbings. Ten victims were shot. Eighty-three homicide victims in London were male and 37 female. People from African-Caribbean backgrounds were disproportionately represented, making up 42% of homicide victims in the capital.

The commissioner said violent crime was falling in London after tough measures were brought in to tackle criminal finances, but most crucially resources, such as officer numbers in the worst-hit areas, had been boosted.

Dick, asked why serious violence had risen, said: "It is very complicated. There are a whole number of things going on at once. Undoubtedly, the drug markets are a big part of the problem.

"There is big demand, there is lots of money to be made and lots of fights going on between drug gangs. And they have been using modern communications and other methods to recruit, groom, exploit young people into that trade. And many of those young people have then got tangled up in violence and have been the victim, or the offender, or both.

"But there's a whole range of other social issues, no doubt, that's played into this.

"I believe we are suppressing the violence … Having officers in the areas where there has been, or where there is, intelligence there is likely to be serious violence. It is a very important tactic, a very important way to suppress violence in that area."

Dick said her officers were "continuously taking weapons off the street, continuously locking up the most violent people", and said at any time half of alleged gang members in London were in jail or under judicial restriction.

But Britain's most senior police officer added that big enforcement efforts achieved only "suppression" in the short term and long-term measures were needed.

Dick said: "I think the largest part of the reduction has come from massive enforcement efforts and those massive enforcement efforts have been helped by the public giving us information, coming out and helping us with weapons sweeps. I think we are making real progress."

Official figures released last week showed one-third of all knife crime in England and Wales took place in London.

Dick became commissioner in 2017 promising to bear down on violent crime, only to see it go up, driven by rising knife offences. She hailed £101m of seized assets from criminals, ranging from big-time criminals to medium-scale drug dealers.

In private, senior Met figures did not know the factors behind the rise in stabbings and homicides, though changes in the drug market caused by increased demand for cocaine and crack cocaine as well as increased supply in Colombia, the dominant producer, were key factors.

One senior police figure told the Guardian knife crime would fluctuate, with increases and falls occurring for years to come driven by a multitude of interlocking factors. Another said the Met and government theory that drug market changes were driving the rise in stabbing and killings was not borne out.

In truth, the police are one part of the temporary sticking plaster, able to suppress violence in the short term with certain tactics.

(1st June 2019)

(Guardian, dated 2nd May 2019 author Anonymous)

Full article [Option 1]:

There's a saying in the police. It's not sophisticated or clever, really, and it's been passed down from generation to generation of coppers; it's not new. "The job is fucked," they say. Only now, it doesn't feel as flippant as it used to.

I'm a police officer in the Metropolitan police, and have been since 2014. I have anxiety and PTSD. I am - and I cannot say this strongly enough - exhausted. I do not feel safe policing London's streets and, moreover, increasingly I do not feel that people in London are safe. Just last night, there was another double stabbing in east London, resulting in the death of a 15-year-old boy.

It's all well and good vaguely debating "cuts", but on the frontline of service, those things have real meaning. In the borough I am stationed in - much like other boroughs - where there is a population of about 250,000 people, there are on average 10 police officers for the entire area to respond to emergency calls per shift. Only two or three of them can drive on blue lights. Crucially, very few staff carry Tasers. With a big incident, such as a stabbing, it's not unusual to have all of those 10 officers at one crime scene, meaning there is no one else to attend further 999 calls.

I can expect, at the very least, to respond to at least two to three crimes involving knives a month, and that is being generous. Attackers have pulled knives on me. My colleagues - friends - have been stabbed in front of me. I've found myself many times kneeling on the pavement holding parts of bodies together. We are simply not equipped: most of the time when a violent crime comes in, it's only hope that we can depend on. That somehow we can verbally talk a person down from further attacks, or that we can physically overpower them. Or that, miraculously, an officer with a Taser turns up.

There has been, as evidenced by the recent and continuing knife-crime debate, a steep upturn in the amount of calls we attend that involve a blade or even a gun. I don't mind admitting I'm scared going out on these jobs. I realise it's part of my duty as a police officer, but the trouble is, I no longer feel we're in control.

The 20,000 frontline cuts don't even begin to cover the reality. Theresa May also sanctioned cuts to civilian staff, ambulance services, crisis teams, call handlers and the people we rely on for intelligence - such as knowing if someone has committed previous crimes, whether they involved a weapon and therefore how prepared we should be. Our duties are being stretched beyond our capabilities to include non-criminal matters regarding mental health and social services, because cuts have debilitated those sectors too.

While on-foot patrols are dangerously diminished, police officers are sent to help the mentally ill, often sitting for hours with people who are a danger to themselves. Should we try to section them, it can take even longer to locate a single bed, so we often end up at the other side of London, away from our borough. Frequently the person is then released an hour later, deemed to be fit, and we get another call from them the following night, at the same address, to deal with the same issue all over again. The system is broken.

As for our own mental health, there isn't really time to recover. You're expected to go straight out on to the next job, sometimes on the same night, even if a situation is debilitating. If you're lucky, you'll get an inspector or a sergeant who's half decent, and asks how you are. Often you think you're all right for a while. But it takes its toll eventually. I have PTSD from particular jobs - I get panicky, and I've had periods of intense flashbacks - but when I asked my GP about being referred for help, he said I had to go through occupational health. I've been waiting for more than six months.

On top of all this, numbers are dwindling because police officers no longer have faith. People who have been in the force for 20 years - just 10 years before they qualify for a pension - are leaving. We feel ignored and maltreated by the government, pushed to the brink of exhaustion and our mental capacities.

When I first joined the force, stop and search was something that we were told to avoid unless we were absolutely certain there was a proper and solid reason to conduct it. For example, smelling weed being smoked wouldn't be enough of a reason to search someone. Now, unofficial targets mean that if an officer hasn't performed a stop and search for, say, two weeks, they are being hauled in front of chief inspectors and bollocked. This change - pressure being put on us to meet certain numbers - is not about safety: it's about politics. And policing should never be politicised like that.

It feels like the organisation just doesn't care about the officers, the pressure they are being put under or, as a result, the public. Our normal shift pattern is six days on, four days off. Often that would be seven days, so that we can do training or follow up on crimes. We don't get that day now to follow up - instead we're making up teams in other boroughs. So the service that we're actually able to provide to the public, in terms of reporting your crime, is shocking. We have no faith in the government. Not many people have had the balls to stand up for the police and say that this is wrong; this is unacceptable; this is dangerous. That's what needs to happen now. But it won't, because of Brexit. Our annual leave is in lockdown because of the anticipation of a rise in violence after we leave the EU. For years, people inside and outside the force have been saying that policing is on the brink of collapse. The mood now is that we are no longer on the brink. We have gone over the edge. The job is f*****.

The anonymous writer is a police officer in the Metropolitan police.

(1st June 2019)

(Mirror, dated 1st May 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

We all know the importance of indicating on the road, but did you know you could be slapped with a £2,500 fine for failing to signal for pedestrians, too?

That's on top of nine points and a potential disqualification for leaving your fellow road users in harm's way.

According to a new report by Select Car Leasing, many drivers are confused about whether they're even supposed to signal for people on foot or not.

However, failing to indicate before manoeuvring not just leaves other road users at risk of an accident - but could also cost you your licence.

While there's no specific motoring offence for failing to signal your intentions to a pedestrian, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention in the event of an incident.

That's because the Highway Code states that, 'signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians'. It also says that 'signalling does not give you priority'.

"If you fail to indicate for a pedestrian, and it ends up with someone being hurt, you can be prosecuted, fined and even have your licence taken off you," explained James O'Malley, at Select Car Leasing.

"If a pedestrian is already half way across the road you're trying to turn in to, they have priority and you need to wait for them to cross."

And refusing to do so could cost you.

"Failing to do so may mean a motorist falls below the threshold of being a careful, competent driver and they could be hit with a 'driving without due care and attention' charge, or in rarer circumstances even 'dangerous driving'," added motoring lawyer Emma Patterson.

A driving without due care and attention charge could result in a fine of up to £2,500, depending on the nature of the incident.

When letting someone go could be just as dangerous

Emma added that flashing for someone to go could be equally as dangerous.

"In some ways, an over eagerness to signal can be just as bad as failing to signal," she added.

"You'll typically get a driver flashing their lights or physically indicating that it's okay for someone to make their manoeuvre.

"But you might then get a motorcyclist, who's filtering through traffic, oblivious to the signal and who's then put in harm's way. It's a scenario we deal with regularly."

A further report by Select Car Leasing found that many motorists were unaware that swearing at other road users could also land them with a fine.

Under the Crime and Disorder Act, both swearing and performing rude gestures, such as sticking your middle finger up whilst driving are classed as 'disorderly behaviour' .

f you're behind the wheel and get caught flipping someone off you could be slapped with a £1,000 fine, depending on the severity of the road rage.

Giving in to road rage can land drivers with a fine due to 'not being fully in control of a vehicle'.

And if road rage engulfs you whilst you're behind the wheel of vehicle designed to carry eight or more passengers, that fine will be increased to £2,500.

(1st June 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 1st May 2019 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Serious crimes are going unsolved and innocent people are being wrongly convicted due to a "crisis" in the forensic science industry in England and Wales, a damning report has found.

Lords on the Science and Technology Committee have warned that "justice will be in jeopardy" unless there is a radical overhaul in the quality and delivery of the service.

Forensic evidence, which can include everything from fingerprints to complex DNA profiles, constitutes a major part of modern criminal investigations and can be crucial to the success of a prosecution.

But seven years after the Forensic Science Service was privatised amid concerns over efficiency, the system has been described as being in complete crisis, with a lack of funding and an absence of leadership contributing to the problems.

In 2008 national spending on the forensic science service totalled £120 million, but last year that had fallen to just £50 million.

Lord Patel, the chair of the committee, said the issues Peers had identified meant it was "hard to have complete confidence that every criminal investigation was pursued with the correct degree of scrutiny".

As a result criminals including rapists and even killers, could be escaping justice due to flawed investigations and prosecutions.

Recent figures also suggested that two thirds of reported burglary investigations were now closed by the police without a suspect being identified, with a "lack of forensic opportunities" often being cited as the reason.

Lord Patel said problems with the forensic science industry was "driving down the ability for police forces to investigate offences such as burglary" while also making it harder to detect other crimes.

But the report also identified worrying problems in the way defendants were being prevented from challenging forensic evidence put before the courts.

Cuts in legal aid budgets means that suspects are not always able to afford to appoint experts to check forensic evidence is of the highest standard, risking miscarriages of justice.

The committee accused the Home Office and Ministry of justice of "abdicating responsibility" and showing no leadership over the problems.

And the report criticised the Government over an "embarrassing" delay in giving the Forensic Science Regulator statutory powers that were promised in 2012.

Lord Patel said: "Our forensic science provision has now reached breaking point and a complete overhaul is needed."

He added: "Unless these failings are recognised and changes made, public trust in forensic science evidence will continue to be lost and confidence in the justice system will be threatened. Crimes may go unsolved and the number of miscarriages of justice may increase."

(1st June 2019)

APRIL 2019

(Daily Mail, dated 30th April 2019 author Rob Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers caught not wearing a seat belt should be handed penalty points, says more than seven out of 10 people in a new survey.

The majority, 72 per cent, would back a law change meaning motorists would be issued with points - in some cases potentially losing their licence - for not being strapped in.

The ongoing issue of motorists failing to wear their safety belts was highlighted in the latest road casualty statistics, which showed that more than a quarter of the 787 people who died in crashes on Britain's roads in 2017 were not bucked up.

Road Safety Minister, Jesse Norman, said the Government was already looking into the introduction of brandishing penalty points to motorists found not wearing their belts.

Over previous years, the number of road deaths where occupants were not belted up averaged between 19 per cent and 22 per cent.

However, in 2017 that proportion increased to 27 per cent, suggesting that buckling up may have saved the lives of a quarter of people killed in cars in Britain that year.

This suggests the current penalty - a fine of up to £100 - isn't proving enough of a deterrent for those who drive without being correctly restrained in a vehicle.

The new survey of more than 2,000 people by insurer Direct Line found that three points on a licence would be an appropriate punishment to persuade motorists to wear their belts, according to 58 per cent of respondents.

Just under a third believed six points - the same punishment for using a mobile behind the wheel - would be more suitable.

Just one in seven respondents said the current system of no points should continue.

Jesse Norman said he welcomed the research, adding that the Government is 'actively looking at whether to introduce penalty points'.

In Britain, the fixed penalty for failing to wear a seat belt is £100 and offenders face a fine of up to £500 if a case goes to court.

Prince Philip was spoken to by police in January after being photographed driving without a seat belt.

Introducing three points for not wearing a seat belt - which is already the case in Northern Ireland - could see some offenders losing their licence.

This is because motorists can be disqualified from driving if they build up 12 or more points within three years.

A survey commissioned by road safety charity Brake earlier this year indicated that nearly half (49 per cent) of young drivers had been in a car with someone not wearing a seat belt in the previous 12 months.

Direct Line and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) called for a punishment of three penalty points to be introduced in Britain, greater enforcement of the seat belt law through intelligence-led measures and increased public perception of offenders being caught.

Pacts executive director David Davies said it was 'a shock' to discover the number of people killed while not wearing a seat belt, and accepted that the road safety community has 'taken its eye off the ball'.

Making the offence punishable with three penalty points would have 'no impact' on most drivers but would 'substantially reduce' the number of people killed or seriously injured each year, he added.

Gus Park, managing director of motor insurance at Direct Line, described the introduction of mandatory seat belt wearing 36 years ago as 'one of the most effective road safety measures in the history of motoring'.

He went on: 'It may not prevent collisions, but it can and does prevent death and serious injury.'

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School said it was 'fantastic' to see the public support a change to legislation to help curb the number of motorists travelling in a vehicle while not wearing a belt.

'Large fines and points can be a harsh penalty, but if that is what it takes to keep people safer on the roads then it is absolutely necessary,' he said.

'The good news is that the technology to enforce these regulations is also falling into place.

'The new so-called 'yellow vulture' speed cameras being rolled out around the country have extremely accurate LED technology that will be able to identify when people are not following regulations in addition to speed - such as not wearing seatbelts or using mobile phones.'

AA president Edmund King said: 'It is surprising that drivers haven't learnt lessons from the most high-profile and tragic car crash case of all-time, where Princess Diana, Dodi Fayad and driver Henri Paul all died without wearing seat belts.

'Bigger fines and penalty points for not wearing seat belts should be introduced as soon as possible to persuade drivers of the importance of belting up.'

(1st May 2019)

(BBC News, dated 30th April 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

Every drone and model aircraft owner in the UK could be charged £16.50 a year under plans by the aviation regulator.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is consulting on introducing a licence fee to cover the costs of operating the new drone registration scheme.

From November, drone owners would have to register their details on a database and drone flyers would complete a free online safety test.

But a drone membership organisation claimed the charge was "far too high".

The plans would affect anyone who owns a drone that weighs more than 250 grams (8oz).

Only those aged 18 would be able to register as the official drone owner. There would be no fee for "remote pilots" - those who fly the drones but are not registered owners.

The CAA has launched a consultation on the proposals, with a final decision expected by the regulator in July.

The number of drone users in the UK is unknown, but the CAA estimates 170,000 people will register.

New EU rules will mean each member state will have to hold a national register of drone users from next year.

A similar registration scheme in France is free, in the US costs $5 (£3.84) and in Ireland costs €5 (£4.31). But the CAA says these schemes are part, or wholly, subsidised by the taxpayer.

The government has provided funding for the development costs of the new drone registration scheme, but the CAA said it would have to recover the expense of running, maintaining and updating it.

The regulator said it was keeping the charge "as low as possible" and that it may increase or decrease in future years, depending on the number who register.

But the FVP UK Association, which represents 4,000 flyers, said it "strongly opposes" the charge, which it said was "far too high".

"Criminals aren't going to register, so the safe and compliant people are the ones listed on the database," the group's chief executive, Simon Dale, said.

He added that the group would be calling on members to write to their MPs, the aviation minister and the CAA to oppose the plans.

'Fee will deter people'

Carys Kaiser, a photographer from the Peak District who runs the Drone Lass blog, said the fee risked discouraging people from taking up the hobby.

"From a female perspective and an education point of view, drones are a brilliant tool for getting young women, girls and boys into STEM subjects," she said.

She welcomed the idea of a registration scheme, but said the CAA should focus on providing better guidance for drone operators.

She said: "The drone industry as a whole has always said that we need a registration process and an education programme that says 'this is where you can fly'.

"{But} when you read the rules online it's difficult to interpret."

Drone enthusiast Paul Jaggers, from Twickenham in west London, believes the cost of the licence is "extremely overpriced".

The 33-year-old, who runs a club in which members race around an indoor course, said the cost could put people off flying drones.

"If anything this fee will deter people. I think they are trying to make it not so popular because of the commercial opportunities.

"That air space is so valuable for the commercial drones, whether that's delivery, agriculture, or security, and it will be important for policing and any of the emergency services.

"By charging unjustifiable pricing they're trying to suppress it because otherwise it'll be chaos."

But Gemma Alcock, whose company SkyBound Rescuer advises emergency services on how they can best use drones for search and rescue operations and other forms of emergency response, welcomed the CAA's proposals.

"I think operator registration is vital for accountability, to hopefully deter drone operators from misuse.

"I understand and appreciate that in order for the CAA to develop and maintain this registration service, a fee from operators is needed and £16.50 is - in my eyes - a reasonable amount. I think it's a positive step forward."

Under the CAA's plans, a single owner would be able to register multiple drones.

Four of the largest drone associations, which represent 40,000 users between them, are understood to be exploring whether they are able to act as the registered operator for all of their members' drones and model aircraft.

The FVP UK Association says the move could help prevent people from the quitting the hobby.

"This would seem to meet the government's requirements and it would give the advantage of increasing the number of insured flyers, too, as all of our members are covered under our public liability insurance," the group said.

The Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Arpas UK), which represents the drone industry, welcomed the online safety tests for flyers and said it would consult members before responding to the proposals.

The proposals do not affect the CAA's existing charges for commercial operation permits.

A public consultation on the proposals closes on 7 June.

How other licence fees compare

- Fishing licence: £30 (trout and coarse) to £82 (salmon and sea trout) per annum
- Driving licence: 10-year renewal charge, £14 (first provisional licence, £34)
- Passport: £75.50 every 10 years
- Light aircraft pilot licence initial issue: £161
- Shotgun licence: Five-year renewal charge £49 (grant payment, £80)
- Other firearms licence: Grant payment £88 and five-year renewal charge of £62

(1st April 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 30th April 2019 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

A Scotland Yard unit tasked with fighting crime in the West End is at the centre of an inquiry into allegations of bullying, racism, drug use and perverting the course of justice.

Up to 11 officers face claims of wrongdoing stemming from an inquiry by a watchdog which was triggered by reports that an officer had sex with a woman at Charing Cross police station.

Most of the officers were on the Met's West End Zone Impact Team, formed in 2014 to tackle night-time crime and violence around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, which has now been  disbanded. The Independent Office for Police Conduct today announced that the scope of the original inquiry had "widened considerably".

It said analysis of phone messages between officers had uncovered evidence of a number of serious allegations involving the police team at Charing Cross. The allegations include:

- Violence towards women and taking advantage of vulnerable people.

- Perverting the course of justice by deleting messages relevant to a criminal investigation.

- Bullying and inappropriate behaviour towards other officers, including sending threatening and malicious messages.

- Racist, misogynistic and other discriminatory language and behaviour.

There were also allegations officers used drugs such as steroids and failed to report wrongdoing by other officers. The claims emerged from the IOPC inquiry launched last year into an allegation that an officer had sex with a vulnerable woman in a room  at Charing Cross police station - described in some reports as a cell.

Scotland Yard said today that two sergeants and nine constables were under investigation. A former constable was also under investigation.

The Met said four officers, three constables and a sergeant, were on restricted duties and one constable had been suspended.

The IOPC said today that the allegations related to officers "predominately from a unit known as the Impact Team" and a small number of other "officers primarily based at Charing Cross police station or West End Central". It added that the allegations revealed today did not apply to all officers. IOPC regional director, Sal Naseem, said: "These are very serious allegations and it is vital for public confidence that these are independently investigated.

"We are committed to using our enforcement powers to root out officers whose conduct undermines the public's confidence in policing and who should not be wearing the uniform.

"There is no indication that this is part of any wider teams within the station but our over-arching report will consider the wider culture and team.

"We would also like to hear from other officers at Charing Cross station, or the wider public, who may be able to  provide valuable information to our investigation." Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The Met takes all allegations of wrongdoing extremely seriously and is fully co-operating with the IOPC investigation.

"The inappropriate behaviours in this matter appear to have been displayed through text messages and the use of social media apps.

"While the large majority of staff are responsible in their use of social media, the Met has issued guidance to all staff around the expectation that they, and colleagues, maintain the professional standards expected of them as a member of the Met at all times.

"Officers and staff also have a duty to report, challenge and take action against colleagues where they believe those standards have fallen."

The force said the Impact Team was responsible for neighbourhood-based policing and problem-solving focused on the night-time economy around Leicester Square and Piccadilly.

The team was disbanded when Westminster police was restructured to became part of the Central West Basic Command Unit.

uaware comment

"People who serve in public office mirror the society they represent."

(1st May 2019)

(Guardian, dated 30th April 2019 author Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

Antisocial behaviour is being played down or ignored by the authorities despite blighting the lives of victims, according to a report.

People persistently targeted by perpetrators are left to suffer in silence amid shortcomings in the response by agencies including the police and councils, it has been claimed.

Publishing the findings, the victims' commissioner for England and Wales, Helen Newlove, said "depressingly little" had changed since her husband, Garry, was killed outside his home after confronting vandals in 2007.

She said: "It seems implausible that, 12 years later, here I am still raising the issue of antisocial behaviour. The feedback from victims is that, all too often, they feel they are being persistently targeted by their perpetrators, and yet ignored by those with the power to prevent and intervene. For many victims, their experience can be like living a nightmare."

Antisocial behaviour (ASB) is a blanket term for conduct that can cause harassment, alarm or distress. Examples listed on the website include vandalism, street drinking, prostitution-related activity, misuse of fireworks, and nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours.

Produced in partnership with the charity ASB Help and Nottingham Trent University, the report:

- Cites analysis suggesting street drinking or drunken behaviour is the most common form of ASB experienced or witnessed, followed by groups hanging around.

- Has found that a mechanism known as the community trigger - introduced to act as a safety net for ASB victims - is largely unknown, even among those working in frontline agencies;

- Says victims are passed from one agency to another, face lengthy delays when calling the 101 police non-emergency number, and often feel the needs of perpetrators are given more weight than their own;

- And warns that the cumulative effect of antisocial behaviour is often not taken into account, resulting in authorities failing to appreciate the scale of the impact on those affected.

The assessment says antisocial behaviour can cause immense distress and suffering, affecting victims' health, sleep, work and relationships, and leaving them feeling unsafe at home.

In one case cited in the report, a woman is said to have been subjected to "two years of hell" by a neighbour. She said: "Even now, I can't relax at all, I can't rest in that house. It's going to take many, many months, I think. I mean, the stress has been phenomenal."

Calling for systemic change, Lady Newlove said she found it "infuriating" to hear antisocial behaviour referred to as low-level crime.

"That description illustrates very neatly how ASB is often treated as a series of isolated incidents, rather than taking into account the cumulative effect that it has on its victims," she said.

Setting out her blueprint for improving the response, the commissioner called for those repeatedly affected by anti-social behaviour to be given the same entitlement to support as victims of other crimes. She also recommended a review of the 101 phone line to ensure it was "fit for purpose".

The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 37% of adult respondents experienced or witnessed antisocial behaviour in their local area last year - the highest proportion since data collection started in 2011-12.

Separate figures show about 1.4m incidents of antisocial behaviour were recorded by police in 2018, a 16% fall on the previous 12 months.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "Councils know people look to them to tackle the antisocial behaviour which can make a law-abiding resident's life hell or blight an entire neighbourhood.

"It's a role they take extremely seriously but one which is being made increasingly challenging as a result of losing 60p out of every £1 they had from government to spend on services in the past decade."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, The national police lead for antisocial behaviour, said: "We are working with local authorities and other agencies to effectively combat ASB and empower victims and communities."

He added that further long-term funding was needed as forces were "under increasing strain as they deal with rising crime, demand that is more complex and a raised terror threat with fewer officers".

A government spokesman said it was "committed to tackling antisocial behaviour and ensuring victims get the response they deserve".

He added: "That is why we reformed powers available to the police, local authorities and others to tackle antisocial behaviour and continue to keep them under review."

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 30th April 2019 author Steven Swinford)

Full article [Option 1]:

he US has threatened to withhold intelligence from Britain if it allows Chinese technology giant Huawei to help build its 5G network.

Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary for cyber at the US state department, said America will be forced to "reassess" its intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK.

He warned that the Chinese state could order Huawei to "undermine network security, to skim personal information, distribute cyber attacks and disrupt critical infrastructure".

He said: "What we really have here is a loaded gun. It is something that Western authorities who value human rights should think very carefully about, if they want to give that to an authoritarian regime with very different values about the use of data.

"Having potentially compromised equipment and software provided by those vendors in any part of that network is an unacceptable risk.

"If other countries allow untrusted  vendors to become the vendors for their 5G networks, we will have to reassess the ability for us to share information and be interconnected with them."

The Daily Telegraph revealed last week that Theresa May had given the green light to allowing Huawei to build "non core" parts of British 5G network.

The National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, pushed ahead with the plans despite objections from five Cabinet Ministers.

The US has barred Huawei from operating in federal networks. Mr Strayer said: " It's the US position that putting Huawei or other untrustworthy vendors in any part of the 5G telecommunications network is a risk.

"It's not just about the sharing of intelligence. It's about all the services we are providing across the Atlantic today that could be disrupte, not just the disruption, also the insertion of vulnerabilities and use of cyber-espionage."

Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, has ordered an official inquiry into the leak of details of the National Security Council's decision.

However, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted that the leak was "trivial" compared with the national security debate surrounding Huawei. "The whole story here is not about the leak," he said. "It is about whether or not we are getting into bed with the Chinese company Huawei against the advice of the US  and Australia who have decided not to.

"This is a fundemental issue of national security. Whether someone mentioned it in passing and leaked it is trivial by comparison."

He said that Cabinet ministers should not be expected to hand in their phones and added: "In this country, we have a principle that you are innocent until proven guilty. Making wide-spread investigations without evidence on specific figures seems wrong."

(1st May 2019)

(Independent, dated 29th April 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

Rape and domestic violence victims will be forced to give police access to their phones and social media accounts or face their cases being dropped.

New forms being handed out across England and Wales warn that if a complainant refuses to surrender their digital devices, or tries to prevent any personal information being shared, "it may not be possible for the investigation or prosecution to continue".

Police were warned that the "traumatising" intrusion might stop victims reporting sexual assault and abuse.

But all forces started using the forms earlier this year, as part of a strategy to improve the way potential evidence is shared between officers, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

The "national disclosure improvement plan" was sparked by public outrage over a series of rape cases that collapsed over newly discovered messages and photos in 2017.

While acquitted suspects have warned of miscarriages of justice, campaigners say the demands are causing complainants to drop cases.

Figures released last week show that only 1.7 per cent of reported rapes were prosecuted in 2018, and 40 per cent of cases were closed with the marker "evidential difficulties - victim does not support action".

The Victims Commissioner said victims of sexual violence were being re-traumatised by "routinely having their personal lives disproportionately investigated and disclosed in criminal trials".

"Whilst this form sets out the position from a police perspective, from the victim's perspective it is both complex and technical," Baroness Newlove added.

"Many victims will just not be in a position to fully understand the implications of signing over their personal data. It is a huge decision to take at any time, let alone when you are at your most vulnerable."

She called for victims to be offered free access to independent legal advice and for judges, rather than detectives or prosecutors, to decide what must be disclosed in disputes.

"Changing the paperwork might improve the efficiency of the process, but it does not deliver fairness for victims," Baroness Newlove said.

"This form is unlikely to do anything to help reverse the fall in prosecutions for rape and sexual violence. I am concerned it might have the opposite effect, with even fewer victims willing to pursue their cases through to trial."  

Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions, insisted that phones were not being seized "as a matter of course".

He told journalists that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not instruct police to probe devices on "a purely speculative basis [but] only when reasonable and proportionate".

Victims have already reported being verbally told that their attackers will not be caught if they do not hand over their phones, and police and prosecutors said the forms make the process clearer.

They give consent for police to download the contents of digital devices including phones, laptops, tablets and smartwatches, and to examine messages, call data, photographs, emails, internet browsing history, apps and social media accounts.

The victim may be investigated if evidence of a separate criminal offence is discovered, the form states.

"We recognise that only the reasonable lines of enquiry should be pursued to avoid unnecessary intrusion into the personal lives of individuals," the document adds, inviting victims to specify what data or time period they think is relevant.

Police officers fill in what information they will look for before obtaining a signature.

Katie Russell, of Rape Crisis, said that although the forms offer more clarity, "the gathering and storage of disproportionate volumes of complainants' data, and lack of consistency around how the relevance of evidence is determined - and by whom - remains a real concern".

Digital devices can be demanded from people reporting any crime, but officials admitted that the move is more likely for sexual offences because they are often committed with no witnesses or other evidence.

Depending how data is extracted, phones may be given back within hours or kept until the end of criminal proceedings months or years later.

During court cases, victims' communications and personal material may be passed to their attacker's defence team - even if there are protections against it being used in open court.

Mr Hill said the scandal had highlighted "longstanding" problems.

"We're not looking at individual cases, we are looking at a change in culture," he told journalists. "There are no quick fixes, systemic issues are in play here … but there is a real determination to solve the problem."

A 2017 report warned that defendants' right to a fair trial was being put in jeopardy by disclosure failures.

Defence lawyers claimed they have been fighting to get vital material and suggested that police budget cuts and an explosion of digital evidence were to blame.

Some senior officers have accused the CPS of "raising the bar" for evidence, slowing down investigations and draining resources amid rising violent crime.

A CPS spokesperson said: "Balancing our duty to both respect privacy and ensure all reasonable lines of inquiry are pursued is an important challenge. We understand that how personal data is used can be a source of anxiety and have developed the new forms to provide clear and consistent information on this.

"Mobile telephones should not be examined as a matter of course and we have made that very clear in our guidance to police and to prosecutors."

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave, the national lead for criminal justice, said 93,000 police officers and staff had been given new training and forces are now measuring performance on disclosure.

Mr Ephgrave admitted that he "wouldn't relish" handing his own phone over to officers and added: "Being subject to a significant sexual offence is an awful thing to happen and we don't wish to make it worse, but we want to pursue offenders."

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 29th April 2019 author Liz Hull)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police chief who admitted his force was failing to probe four in ten crimes has been criticised for overseeing a 50 per cent rise in highly-paid officers.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said last week that budget cuts and falling officer numbers had forced Greater Manchester Police to 'screen out' 43 per cent of cases

He said the chance of one of his officers investigating a bicycle or shed theft was 'almost non-existent' without witnesses or CCTV.

Mr Hopkins admitted feeling 'worried' that so many cases were being abandoned.

But figures published yesterday show that more than 1,260 officers on his force earned £50,000 or more over the past year, up by almost 450 on the previous 12 months. Fourteen members of staff were handed pay and pension packages of more than £100,000.

They include Mr Hopkins himself, who was paid £251,000 including pension payments of £46,000, his deputy Ian Pilling, who is on a package of £192,000, and eight assistant chief constables, whose salaries and pensions range from £118,000 to £153,000.

The force has just over 6,000 officers - 2,000 fewer than in 2010 - and, although it has cut its wage bill by more than £60million, the number of high earners has increased.

Crime campaigners said the situation was scandalous.

David Spencer, research director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, told The Sun on Sunday: 'It is a national scandal that police bigwigs are handing themselves massive pay hikes while deliberately failing in their duty to protect the public.

'The sort of crimes Greater Manchester Police are "screening out" are the ones that leave people feeling unsafe in their own homes.'

The Mail told last Wednesday how the force had dropped probes into 81 per cent of reported bike thefts and 79 per cent of muggings in the year to last August. A similar pattern was uncovered in other forces around the country.

Mr Hopkins admitted: 'If your life is in danger, you've been seriously hurt, we will still turn up ... if your shed's been broken into, your bike's stolen, your vehicle's broken into and there's no witnesses, there's no CCTV and there's no opportunity for forensics, we'll be screening that out really quickly.'

Police insisted the 'screening out' numbers included cases where a suspect had been charged or cautioned swiftly.

But critics said the failure to investigate certain offences was insulting to victims.

Baroness Newlove, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, said: 'It leaves victims feeling distressed and unsafe in their homes, which should be their place of sanctuary.'

Louise Haigh, Labour's policing spokesman, said: 'This is the scandal happening in every police force in the country - quietly dropping crimes because there simply aren't the resources to investigate.'

The Manchester force is due a £35.8million budget boost from the Home Office this year, which is expected to pay for more than 300 new officers.

(1st May 2019)

(Examiner Live, dated 28th April 2019 author Kristian Johnson)

Full article [Option 1]:

One in 23 people was a victim of violent crime in West Yorkshire last year

New figures released show 102,712 cases of violence against the person were recorded by the force in 2018 - which amounts to one in 23 people, or 280 incidents each day.

This is the highest number since records began in 2007.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson has argued the crime figures are partially down to better reporting of crime and more victims coming forward.

The rate of serious crimes involving knives or other sharp objects was also at its highest level for any single year since 2011.

Compared to 2017, the number of violence against the person offences recorded in 2018 is up by a third, and has tripled compared to 2007.

Crimes in West Yorkshire

Violent crimes : 102,172
Knife crimes : 2,715
People found to be in possession of a weapon : 2,314
Stalking and harrassment cases : 29,967
Sexual offence cases recorded : 8,564

People in the area are much more likely to experience violence than the national average, with 44 violence against the person offences per 1,000 people in West Yorkshire compared to 27 per 1,000 people across England and Wales.

The figures for 2018 include 39 homicides. There were also 29,214 cases involving violence that caused injury, a rise of 14 per cent compared to 2017, a record high, and 42,901 cases of violence without injury, a rise of 30 per cent, also a record high.

Last year, 2,715 serious offences in West Yorkshire involved a knife or sharp object. That was up 20 per cent from 2017, and up 106 per cent from April 2010 to March 2011 when the figures were first recorded.

The knife-crimes included eight homicides, eight attempted murders, and 45 rapes and sexual assaults.

There were also 1,199 assaults with injury or with intent to cause serious harm that involved knives or sharp objects, as well as 952 robberies and 503 threats to kill.

Overall, West Yorkshire Police recorded 2,314 possession of weapon offences in 2018, up 33 per cent compared to a year before, and a record number of offences recorded in a single year.

Stalking and harassment cases are at record levels, with 29,967 cases recorded in West Yorkshire in 2018. That is an increase of 59 per cent in just a year, although this may be in part due to changes in the law and better recording.

The number of sexual offences reported was also at record levels, with 8,564 cases recorded in 2018, up 10 per cent compared to a year before.

West Yorkshire also saw a record number of robberies (with 3,830 cases last year) and shoplifting incidents (18,714 cases).

Overall, there were 291,573 crimes recorded in West Yorkshire in 2018, up 12 per cent from 2017.

This works out as 126 crimes per 1,000 people living in the area, higher than the national average of 88 crimes per 1,000 people across England and Wales as a whole.

The figures are based on newly-published recorded crime figures for police forces across the country.

They showed, nationally, there was a 6 per cent increase in crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument, with a total of 40,829 offences in 2018.

This figure excludes Greater Manchester Police, as the force has changed their methodology after identifying an undercount of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument.

Homicides also rose by 6 per cent - or 12 per cent if the London and Manchester terrorist attacks are excluded.

Robbery was up by 11 per cent, while burglaries were down by 3 per cent.

Despite the rise in a number of crimes in the latest reported figures, West Yorkshire Police pointed to an almost 10 per cent reduction in theft from vehicles, alongside smaller reductions in other volume crime including burglary, wider theft offences, criminal damage and arson.

However, temporary deputy chief constable Russ Foster recognised the worrying trend.

He said: "It is also important to understand that two thirds of violent offences result in no physical injury to anyone, for example harassment now falls into the violent crime category.

"Nevertheless, despite a recently publicised national survey which showed violent crime had fallen consistently for some years.* I understand public concerns, which are often heightened by tragic, high profile incidents across the country.

"Our officers understand the impact of violent crime all too well, as they often bear the brunt of assaults from suspects and even sometimes from those they are trying to help.

"I really welcome the additional Government funding we are receiving to help us tackle the issue of serious violence and in particular knife crime. We are committed to working with our partners to develop a sustainable long term approach."

Today also saw the publication of the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which measures crime in a different way - by asking people whether they have experienced crime during the year.

That suggested the number of low-harm violent offences had not changed.

The survey - which includes crimes that may not have been reported to the police - suggested theft had risen by 8 per cent in 2018, and sexual assault by 0.7 per cent.

Alexa Bradley from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice said: "When we look at the overall level of crime, there has been no significant change over the last year.

"However, it is important to look at each crime type separately because the picture is very mixed. Even within crime types we have seen differences.

"Robbery and vehicle offences have increased whereas burglary has decreased. Lower-volume high-harm violence involving knives has risen, whereas offences involving firearms have decreased."

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 27th April 2019 author Steve Doughty)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of cannabis users arrested in major cities has plunged in a decade, analysis released yesterday revealed.

Recorded cannabis offences per 1,000 people fell by 77 per cent in Greater Manchester, 66 per cent in the West Midlands, and 59 per cent in London between 2008 and 2018.

News of the steep fall comes as police chiefs have been given the green light to stop arresting users.

One senior officer in the West Midlands has ended arrests because they 'criminalise lots of young people'.

Other cities also arrested fewer cannabis users. Since 2008, police recorded a 70 per cent drop in cannabis offences in Leicestershire and a 67 per cent drop in Cambridgeshire.

Only three of the 43 forces in England and Wales increased the number of cannabis arrests over the decade.

Overall, national crime figures showed that drug offences logged by police forces fell by 37 per cent, while crime of all kinds went up by 11.4 per cent over the period.

The startling drop in cannabis incidents prompted MPs to accuse police of effectively decriminalising cannabis without reference to the Government or to Parliament.

Lib-Dem MP Norman Lamb, a health minister under David Cameron's Coalition, told The Times: 'What we are witnessing is a de facto shift towards decriminalisation, but without any debate, without any role of government, without national oversight.

'This is police and Crime Commissioners exercising judgment when faced with almost impossible restrictions on resources.'

Critics claim police chiefs are undermining the law, which states that possession of cannabis is a serious offence leading to a maximum punishment of five years in jail, and of ignoring the links between cannabis, violence and knife crime.

Crime statistics released this week showed that knife crime has reached record levels, with an average of 112 offences every day. One police force logged a rise in knife attacks of a third in a single year.

The Mail reported on April 6 how West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson acknowledged that officers had been told to ignore cannabis users. He told MPs: 'We took some policy decisions about what we do about cannabis.

'My answer is, let's not give everyone a cannabis warning - it's disastrous for their life chances.'

Mr Thompson's force covers a region that has been called Britain's 'cannabis capital'. More cannabis plants are found there than anywhere else in the country, according to figures from the Home Office.

The National Police Chiefs Council, the police forces' umbrella body, has said its chief constables can decide for themselves on whether to arrest cannabis users.

Its spokesman on drugs, Cleveland Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin, said: 'There is strong evidence to suggest that recommending minor offenders for early intervention treatment instead of pursuing convictions can prevent re-offending and result in the best outcome for the user and the criminal justice system.'

(1st May 2019)

(Mirror, dated 27th April 2019 author Bradley Jolly)

Full Article [Option 1]:

 Passengers are causing severe delays to buses and trains by continuing to poo and vomit in them, transport bosses say.

Anti-social mess, including vomit, urine and blood, is being left on buses for staff to clean.

Transport for London (TfL) buses alone were reported as "soiled" a total of 14,632 times in 2018.

It classes a bus as having been soiled when passengers have left vomit, urine, blood or smashed glass behind.

Several bus routes had vehicles soiled on average more than twice per week.

But the worst month for such offences was October, in which there were 1,351 instances.

In December, buses were soiled 1,349 times and July saw 1,291 cases as England strung together a series of wins in the World Cup knockout stages.

The worst route was the number 25 bus between Ilford in east London and Holborn in the centre of the city.

John Murphy, regional officer of the Unite union, which represents cleaners on London buses, said: "If buses are soiled or fouled then that results in the bus being taken out of service which has the biggest impact on passengers who experience longer journeys and delays."

Tube trains also had to be delayed by at least two minutes on 801 separate occasions last year while staff cleaned up a "soiled car".

A cleaner on the District and Central lines, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he and his colleagues face difficult working conditions.

He added: "Sometimes it is very disgusting, especially on weekends and nights.

"From my own experience, once I even found a poo on the train and you have to clean it properly."

Some passengers "don't care about the cleaners", he added.

The Northern line was the worst affected underground route, with 221 of the incidents in 2018 happening on the route which stops at nightlife hotspots including Old Street and Camden Town.

This was followed by the Jubilee (113), Central (101) and Piccadilly (90) lines.

(1st May 2019)

(Independent, dated 25th April 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

A senior police officer has called for the government to change "outdated" protest laws amid a rise in threats against MPs.

In the wake of protests by the UK "yellow vests" and other Brexit-related groups stationed outside parliament, Metropolitan Police commander Adrian Usher said officers were struggling to enforce current laws.

"We need to move away from the language of 'peaceful protest' to talk about 'lawful protest'," he told parliament's Human Rights Committee.

"A protest being peaceful is only one of the attributes police would assign to a protest to make it lawful.

"We are absolutely in the business of facilitating lawful protest [but] where protest steps over into being unlawful, whether you consider it peaceful or not is a moot point.

"We will conduct a sober review of our tactics against recent protest but I think it's likely to say the legislation associated with policing protest is quite dated.

"Policing and protest has moved on and legislation should follow suit."

Mr Usher said police would support parliament if members wanted new laws "to better protect itself and its immediate environment", adding: "Recent protest has showed us that the law is dated and not effective."

The committee heard that MPs and peers were experiencing "skyrocketing" levels of abuse and death threats over Brexit and other political issues.

Recent months have seen a number of high profile incidents of abuse aimed at MPs, including the pro-Remain MP Anna Soubry who was confronted by "yellow vest" protesters outside parliament.

Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry said she was followed and verbally abused after leaving the House of Commons during protests by Leave Means Leave on what would have been Brexit day.

"I also had the experience of walking across Westminster Bridge and being abused," she added. "There were no police around whatsoever and I was really scared, it was the most frightened I've never been in my life."

Last week, a Brexit supporter was jailed for sending death threats and racist messages to MPs and protests on 29 March saw effigies of politicians dragged through the streets.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, a Labour MP and chair of a panel on parliamentary security, said the murder of Jo Cox was a "wake-up call" for her colleagues.

But he warned that politicians still do not report all threats they receive because they have developed a "high tolerance level".

"If we were anywhere else in other ways of life, I don't think we would accept the level we've got to," Sir Lindsay said, saying MPs' families and staff were also being targeted.

"We come here, we're elected and we begin to soak it up as being the norm as acceptable, when it's not acceptable."

Sir Lindsay raised fears that the worsening situation could be discouraging people from standing for political office in the UK.

Parliament's director of security, Eric Hepburn, told the committee that he had seen a "skyrocketing" number of abuse and threats reports from MPs in his two-and-a-half years in post.

"The sheer volume of online abuse we're now seeing is growing month-on-month, year-on-year," he added.

"It goes from physical assaults to threats to kill - we're seeing threats around hanging, shooting, stabbing, threats of assault including rape, and antisemitic, homophobic, misogynistic and racial abuse.

"Personal abuse regarding appearance is a common feature, harassment and intimidation of a personal nature. We're seeing stalking, we get fixated individuals and we get aggressive confrontation and filming."

Mr Hepburn said that while BAME politicians and women "get the lion's share" of abuse, but that all politicians are targeted with vitriol sparked by what is being debated in parliament, their views and press coverage.

He said incidents involving Ms Soubry was "a sign that things are changing" and warned: "My opinion is things are changing quite dramatically at the moment."

Human Rights Committee chair Harriet Harman said that MPs were committed to the right to demonstrate and freedom of speech.

"But none of us will or should forget the murder of Jo Cox, the killing of PC Keith Palmer and the attempted murder of Rosie Cooper," she added.

It comes after the police chief in charge of Brexit preparations called for protesters, politicians and the public to "be very careful about the language you are using so it doesn't end up with consequences that weren't intended".

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home secretary has spoken to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner regarding these protests and confirmed that the Home Office is on hand to discuss any support the force needs.

"We will continue to work closely with the police and will be considering any lessons we can learn from these events."

(1st May 2019)

(Guardian, dated 25th April 2019 author Vikram Dodd)

Full article [Option 1]:

Homicides are at a record high for the past decade, knife crime is rising and the proportion of offenders being charged has reached a record low, two sets of official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics said that in the year to December 2018, 732 lives were lost to homicide, compared with 690 the previous year. The figure is the highest number recorded since 2008. Homicide includes murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide.

The total covers both England and Wales, although in Wales homicides fell from 35 in 2017 to 27 in 2018.

Offences involving knives rose 6%, with police recording 40,829, the highest number the ONS has on record since 2011. This is up 16,884 on 2013-14

One-third of knife offences were in London and use of bladed weapons was concentrated in urban areas, the ONS said, but there were some signs the increase was slowing.

The ONS said all 43 forces had seen increases in violent offences, including an 11% rise in reported rapes, 46% in stalking, 11% for robbery, 12% in fraud and 8% for theft.

The ONS said the picture was mixed, with no significant change in overall crime and some apparent falls in certain offences.

Firearms offences fell 2% to 6,525 recorded incidents, burglary declined by 3% to 424,846 offences, and computer misuse dropped 28% to 976,000 offences, with fewer devices being infected by viruses, the ONS said.

Overall, crime year on year rose 2%, which the ONS said was not statistically significant.

In its commentary, the ONS said people in England and Wales were now less likely to experience any type of crime than in the mid-1990s. "The likelihood of being a victim of crime has fallen considerably over the long term," it said.

"Around 40 in 100 adults were estimated to have been a victim of crime in 1995. This was before the survey included fraud and computer misuse in its coverage. Based on crimes comparable with those measured in the 1995 survey, 15 in 100 adults were victims of crime in the year ending December 2018," the ONS added.

Alexa Bradley from the ONS centre for crime and justice said: "When we look at the overall level of crime, there has been no significant change over the last year.

"However, it is important to look at each crime type separately because the picture is very mixed. Even within crime types we have seen differences. Robbery and vehicle offences have increased, whereas burglary has decreased.

"Lower-volume, high-harm violence involving knives has risen, whereas offences involving firearms have decreased."

Crime has become a politically charged issue, with Labour and many in the police blaming government cuts for crime increasing as officer numbers have fallen. The complex figures and the morass of crime data allow different conclusions to be drawn, but what does emerge are rises in the most serious offences, some of which are at record levels.

The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said: "Today's statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low.

"Yet too many people are still falling victim to serious violence, which is why we will continue our urgent and unprecedented action to reverse this terrible trend.

"We have given police forces additional powers and have this year put more than £1bn extra into policing, including council tax, and £100m specifically for those areas worst affected by violent crime."

Separate Home Office figures show the proportion of crimes leading to charges or summons falling to 8.2% of the total volume of crimes. It is the joint lowest figure since recording began of those figures in 2002-3.

In more than 1m incidents, victims did not support action - 22% of offences in the year to December 2018.

For rape, just 1.7% of reported offences led to someone being charged or summonsed, and the figure compared to attacks is likely to be worse because academics and police believe only a fraction of offences are reported. In 40% of cases, rape victims did not support further action.

Ché Donald of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which was accused of shroud-waving by the government when it warned that cuts would lead to rising violence, said: "Despite the best efforts of our members, we have seen crime continue to increase, and the resultant demands placed on policing are unprecedented but unfortunately predictable.

"Crime across the board is going up. The only things that are not going up are police numbers, police pay and meaningful funding. The government should be investing in our police service so we can get on with tackling this highly concerning situation. These figures must shame them into action."

The Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs select committee, said: "Knife crime is now at record levels and this is a very disturbing increase in violent crime at the same time as the number of arrests is continuing to fall.

"The police are completely overstretched and crime prevention work is far too limited.

"The Home Office and government response on knife crime and other rising crimes is still far too weak and just doesn't match the scale of the problem."

(1st May 2019)

(Cornwall Live, dated 24th April 2019 author Gayle McDonald)

Full article [Option 1]:

Warning other drivers about a police speed trap is a criminal offence - as one man in Cornwall discovered today.

The driver was "waving frantically" at other motorists after passing a mobile speed camera on the A30 near Launceston.

But, unfortunately for him, one of the drivers he 'warned' happened to be a police officer in an unmarked car.

Posting on the Devon and Cornwall Police No Excuse Twitter page, an officer wrote: "Driving and waving frantically at our unmarked vehicle to 'warn' us of the camera van on the A30 is not the smartest move. The excuse was that he doesn't like speeders but he doesn't want them being 'caught' either! Driver reported for the offence."

The officer told Cornwall Live that the driver was reported for obstructing the police, which carries a maximum penalty of one month's imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £1,000.

The officer added: "On a serious note, that kind of behaviour not only hampers the good work that staff and officers do to reduce speeding motorists (one of the Fatal Five) but their actions are also reckless as it can result in other motorists slamming on their brakes & causing an accident."

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 24th April 2019 author Matt Oliver)

Full article [Option 1]:

GCHQ is to start sharing intelligence with British banks in an attempt to tackle fraud and cyber attacks.

The move is part of plans for the spy agency to work more closely with businesses, its director Jeremy Fleming will say today.

It is understood this could range from GCHQ helping prevent credit card and bank account fraud to alerting banks if they become targets of computer hackers. This information can be given to banks in real time thanks to the agency's 24-hour monitoring of online activity.

Last year it revealed it was preventing around ten serious cyber attacks every week - largely from hostile states.

Mr Fleming will say during a visit to Glasgow: 'This technological revolution is providing extraordinary opportunity, innovation and progress - but it's also exposing us to increasing complexity, uncertainty and risk.'

He will point to research which has found just 15 per cent of people know how to protect themselves online and say GCHQ will 'do more to take the burden of cyber security away from the individual'. He will add: 'We will share intelligence with banks to enable them to alert customers to threats in close to real time.'

The Daily Mail has called for greater protections for bank scam victims with its Stop The Bank Scammers campaign. According to UK Finance, which represents British banks, financial fraud cost £845million last year - a rise of 16 per cent compared to 2017.

But Mr Fleming believes GCHQ can pass on information quickly to banks which could help them thwart more cases of fraud.

He will add: 'We have made it simple for our analysts to share time-critical, secret information in a matter of seconds. With just one click, this can be shared and action taken.'

Mr Fleming's speech opens the two-day CyberUK 2019 conference, an annual gathering of cyber security experts.

It is expected to see cyber officials from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK discuss the biggest threats posed by online attackers. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the gathering was important for cooperation on cyber security matters.

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd April 2019 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Six in ten crimes are no longer fully investigated, one of Britain's top police officers has admitted, as he warned thefts are "screened out" if there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensics.

Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, one of Britain's biggest police forces, said about 600 offences a day, primarily thefts, were not being pursued because "we don't have enough officers."

He said budget cuts meant police had to prioritise more ruthlessly than ever after his force had lost  about 2,000 officers in the past decade, taking his numbers down to 6,200.

"We record about a 1,000 crimes-a-day. Around 60 per cent are screened out very early on, so there is a very basic investigation undertaken then about 60 per cent are screened out," Mr Hopkins told BBC Radio Manchester. The force sought to correct the figure almost 24 hours later to 43.4 per cent."

"We are having to target our resources to some of the more serious stuff like serious and organised crime, counter-terrorism. You just don't have the capacity to deal with some of these things.

"You could spend weeks investigating some things and you will never get an outcome because the solvability factors are just not there.

"If your life is in danger, you've been seriously hurt, we will still turn up. If there's an immediate threat we will be there and we will be there in numbers really quickly.

"But if your shed's been broken into, your bike's stolen, your vehicle's broken into and there's no witnesses, there's no CCTV and there's no opportunity for forensics, we'll be screening that out really quickly.

"Your likelihood of a police officer turning up to deal with that is almost non-existent and that's where the public have really started to feel it. That bit worries me."

The number of offences screened out by Greater Manchester within 24 hours of being reported has more than doubled since 2014 from 47,000 to more than 100,000, data obtained by The Daily Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws shows.

He is the first police chief publicly to quantify the trend, which saw an estimated two million offences "screened out" last year, according to the data.

A Telegraph analysis of 10 police forces including the Metropolitan Police and Manchester showed almost 500,000 offences were ditched within 24 hours of being reported, which if scaled up would equate to around two million.

Last year, the Metropolitan Police recorded almost 200,000 undetected crimes that were closed on the same day as they were recorded.

Of these, 77,976 were thefts, the most common "screened out" crime, which increased from 12,805 in 2015.

The largest increase in "screened out" crimes was in robbery offences. There were just 23 undetected robbery crimes that were completed in under one day in 2015, but this had soared to 6,256 in 2018.

Over the past four years there has also been an increase nationally in violent and sexual crimes closed within 24 hours.

Sex offences recorded and then closed within a day rose from 703 to 1,605 from 2015 to 2018, while offences of violence against the person closed within 24 hours more than quadrupled from 11,927 to 44,548 in the same period.

One of Mr Hopkins' senior officers, Supt Rick Jackson, said screening out crimes was "a necessary evil"?

Police in Greater Manchester did not find a suspect in more than nine out of 10 bicycle thefts, thefts from people or vehicle crimes and in more than eight out of 10 burglaries. Theft from the person includes bag snatchers and pickpockets but not muggings and robberies.

Data for the year March 2018 to February 2019 also shows that investigations into a quarter of violent and sexual offences were completed with no suspect identified.

The other outcomes, totalling more than four in every 10 recorded crimes, included everything from suspects sent to court to investigations that were not pursued because it was not in the public interest. The data did not include antisocial behaviour.

Simon Kempton, Operational Policing Lead, Police Federation of England Wales (PFEW), said screening out crimes was "deeply frustrating" but was a decision more chief constables were having to make.

"Our members are trying to meet growing demand with dwindling numbers and we simply cannot do everything we once could, or that the public expect us to do," he said.

The Home Office said police funding this financial year would rise by the greatest amount since 2010: "We recognise the impact crime has on victims and want offenders brought to justice. We are committed to ensuring police forces have the resources they need to carry out their vital work."

(Scottish Sun, dated 24th April 2019 author Molly Rose Pike)

Full article [Option 1]:

POLICE are failing to investigate half of reported crimes as forces across the country admit "screening out" incidents like muggings and bike thefts.

Thousands of cases are dropped - some within 24 hours - if an arrest is unlikely, according to new figures.

Police screen out more than 56 per cent of alleged offences within 24 hours, but with crimes such as bike thefts and muggings the rate can reach as high as 80 per cent.

Bosses claimed that funding cuts meant they had to shelve many non-violent crimes, according to the Daily Mail.

The number of cops in England and Wales is now at a 36-year-low - despite a rising tide of violent crime.

Wiltshire Police screen out more than 56 per cent of alleged offences within 24 hours, while Bedfordshire Police shelved 43 per cent.

Budget cuts to blame

In Cleveland it was 39.9 per cent and for Hampshire it was 34.6 per cent.

According to the Metropolitan Police, 37,960 crimes were screened out from a total of 115,747 since 2017.

GMP, the third largest force in the country, has lost around 2,000 frontline officers since the government's austerity drive was introduced in 2010.

GMP Chief constable Ian Hopkins has now openly revealed that a staggering 60 per cent of crimes reported to them cannot be fully investigated due to ongoing funding pressures.

Not enough Officers

Around 600 offences a day, including thefts from vehicles, cannot be investigated because "we don't have enough officers", he said.

"If your life is in danger, you've been seriously hurt, we will still turn up," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"If there's an immediate threat we will be there and we will be there in numbers.

"If your shed's been broken into, your bike's stolen, your vehicle's broken into and there's no witnesses, there's no CCTV and there's no opportunity for forensics, we'll be screening that out really quickly.

"Your likelihood of a police officer turning up to deal with that is almost non-existent and that's where the public have really started to feel it. That bit worries me."

Numbers falling fast

Greater Manchester Police are not the only force to feel the effects of a huge loss in funding.

Police numbers across England and Wales fell dramatically by over 20,000 between March 2010 and March 2018 to 122,000 - the lowest recorded number since the early 1980s.

Meanwhile violent crime has soared by 19 per cent in England and Wales over 2018, Home Office figures show.

The number of homicides - which includes manslaughter and murder - increased by 14 per cent, while overall crimes recorded by police went up by 7 per cent with a total of 5,723,182 offences recorded.

Stabbings have also rocketed in Lawless Britain, with the number of fatal knife homicides reaching 135 in 2018.

Theresa May's government continue to deny a link between falling police numbers and steady rise in crime.

Last month the PM insisted there was "no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers".

But even increases in council tax, such as that announced in Manchester in February which will pay for an extra 320 GMP police officers, will fail to bump up the forces to the numbers it needs.

The new additions will take the force's strength to about 6,570, compared with 8,219 in 2010.

"The stark reality is that due to years of central government cuts the police simply cannot investigate every crime and have to take difficult decisions about where best to focus their time and resources," said Greater Manchester Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes, whose portfolio includes policing.

"They - and I - wish this were not necessary but unfortunately it is."

Number of screened out crimes by area

Wiltshire Police : 53%
Great Manchester Police : 43%
Bedfordshire Police : 43%
Cleveland Police : 39.9%
Hampshire Police: 34.6%
Metropolitan Police : 32.8%
Devon and Cornwall Police : 8%
North Wales Police : 3%

(1st May 2019)

(The Times, dated 22nd April 2019 author Emma Yeomans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Instagram is helping drug pushers to provide "dial-a-deal" services by recommending local suppliers of cocaine and cannabis, a Times investigation has found.

Dozens of accounts linked to dealers in large cities included photographs of drugs on offer, mostly cannabis, as well as the location.

While being illegal, selling such drugs is also against Instagram's terms, but the dealers operate openly.

Interest in accounts of cannabis dealers led to recommendations for sellers of cocaine. Following a drug dealer's account on the social network or liking a post triggered suggestions to follow other dealers, sometimes in the same area.

Several accounts found using hashtags such as #brumweed and #mancdank featured offers such as "free shipping" and "bulk discounts".

A charity said the advertising of cannabis and cocaine on the picture app, which is owned by Facebook, could give young people a false sense of security about dangerous substances. Following cannabis dealers in Glasgow led to recommendations for accounts offering "prop" and "gucci", sland terms for purer than average cocaine. One account depicted Tony Montana, the drug-taking character in the film Scarface.

Cannabis dealers in Birmingham boasted "10/10" ratings and drugs "imported from Cali". One account in Manchester claimed to sell "literally anything" and displayed a price list.

Other drugs on offer included the prescription drugs Xanax and Viagra and what appeared to be a variant of the drug Rohypnol. Viewers of the accounts were invited to make contact via Instagram's direct messaging service or on encrypted messaging apps. Social media companies have come under fire for their failure to curb criminal activity. The recent government white paperon online harms is intended to bring in legislation to fine companies billions of pounds or prosecute senior executives if they fail to act.

According to Addaction, the drug, alcohol and mental health charity, most young people who buy drugs online use social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. Like Instagram, Snapchat says it prohibits such activity and invests heavily to prevent it.

The investigation found that dealers benefitted from Instagram's algorithm recommending accounts to users based on their browsing. The same algorithm has previously been crticised for recommending accounts glorifying self-harm to teenagers. Instagram banned the images in February after the father of Molly Russell, a British teenager, claimed that Instagram was partly responsible for her suicide, aged 14.

Karen Tyrell, of Addaction, said:" We are increasingly hearing about people buying drugs in this way, especially in our youth services. There's sometimes a sense of safety in buying something online instead of from a "traditional" street dealer. In reality the risks are largely the same. Drugs are often mis-sold and it's very hard to know what's in them. We've seen cases this year of very high-strength drug that are dangerous even in small amounts."

The National Police Chiefs Council was unavailable to comment.

Instagram said that it worked quickly to remove any content that violated its rules once alerted to it and was "continuing to invest in this area". It removed most of the accounts flagged by this newspaper.

Additional reporting by Adeola Eribake and Matthew Mulligan.

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd April 2019 authors Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

The father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has said he no longer remembers the name of his son's killers, ahead of the first official day of remembrance.

On the first Stephen Lawrence Day on Monday, Dr Neville Lawrence said he instead focuses on trying to stop further bloodshed amid concerns about the recent surge in violent crime.

The national day to commemorate the aspiring architect's life and legacy was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last year.

Mr Lawrence said: "I had hoped that my son's legacy would have been all around us in the buildings he would have designed as an architect but unfortunately he was snatched away from us.

"I wish a day in my son's memory was for more joyful reasons, but I am pleased and very proud that there is Stephen Lawrence day so people will always remember him and the tragedy of his death.

"With the level of violence on our streets at the moment I hope that Stephen's day will be used to talk about peace as well as to remember Stephen's life, which was cut too short.

"I don't think about my son's other killers being brought to justice any more. I am too busy trying to help the cause of reducing violence on our streets.

"Instead of being angry I try to use my energy to motivate children and tell them that the can achieve whatever they want to achieve."

His son Stephen, 18, was murdered on April 22, 1993 by a gang of racists in south east London as he waited for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks.

The original police investigation into his death was hampered by prejudice, incompetence and alleged corruption.

Two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of murder over his death in 2012 but the remaining three or four suspects have never been brought to justice.

Of his son's killers, Dr Lawrence said: "I sometimes can't even remember their names now. It has gone completely out of my mind.

"Sometimes people might think that you can never find peace in that kind of way.

"I am relaxed. I worry about normal things. I do not worry about these people. They will have to answer for what they have done sooner or later."

(1st May 2019)

(ZD Net, dated 22nd April 2019 author Catalin Cimpanu)

Full article [Option 1]:

The European Parliament voted last week to interconnect a series of border-control, migration, and law enforcement systems into a gigantic, biometrics-tracking, searchable database of EU and non-EU citizens.

This new database will be known as the Common Identity Repository (CIR) and is set to unify records on over 350 million people.

Per its design, CIR will aggregate both identity records (names, dates of birth, passport numbers, and other identification details) and biometrics (fingerprints and facial scans), and make its data available to all border and law enforcement authorities.

Its primary role will be to simplify the jobs of EU border and law enforcement officers who will be able to search a unified system much faster, rather than search through separate databases individually.

"The systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)," EU officials said last week.

CIR passed through the European Parliament last Monday, April 15, in two separate votes. The CIR rules for borders and visa checks were adopted by 511 to 123, and nine abstentions, while the CIR legislation for police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration was approved 510 to 130, and nine abstentions.

The European Parliament and the European Council promised "proper safeguards" to protect people's right to privacy and regulate officers' access to data.

EU to run one of the world's biggest biometrics databases

Ever since plans to create this shared biometrics database have been made public last year, privacy advocates have criticized the EU, calling CIR's creation as the "point of no return" in creating "a Big Brother centralised EU state database."

Once up and running, CIR will become one of the biggest people-tracking databases in the world, right behind the systems used by the Chinese government and India's Aadhar system.

In the US, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations run similar biometrics databases.

The database's existence can be easily justified by the necessity to give law enforcement better tools for tracking migrants and criminals; however, there's always the fear that the system will slowly be expanded to include and track people that are not the subject of any criminal investigations, such as tourist traveling across the EU space.

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 22nd April 2019 author Daily Mail Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of people killed or seriously injured on unlit motorways has almost doubled since some lights were turned off in 2010, a report has found.

The rise - which comes amid an overall drop in fatalities on motorways and A-roads - was said by critics to be the result of an energy-saving drive.

The AA said lighting was crucial to cutting the number of deaths on roads with a 70mph limit.

The motoring group's president Edmund King called for a 'full investigation into the real consequences of turning lights off', The Times reported.

Latest figures from Highways England showed there were 1,977 casualties on roads that were 'lit during darkness' in 2017, a drop of 18.4 per cent on 2010.

But on roads where street lights were not being used there was an 88.2 per cent rise in casualties from 93 to 175.

Around 35 miles of England's motorways and A-roads had lights switched off in a carbon reduction scheme, including sections of the M2, M5 and M6.

Highways England denied the switch-off had made roads more dangerous, saying it had a 'greater understanding of where night-time collisions occur' and could target lighting at these spots.

See also (uaware)

(The Times, dated 22nd April 2019 author Graeme Paton)

Full article [Option 1]:

(1st May 2019)

(Independent, dated 21st April 2019 author Emma Snaith)

Full article [Option 1]:

Using easily guessed passwords across multiple accounts is a major gap in the online security habits of British people, a government study has found.

The survey by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that many internet users did not know the best ways to protect themselves from cybercrime, with 42 per cent expecting to lose money to online fraud.

Only 15 per cent of the survey's 2,500 respondents said they knew "a great deal" about how to protect themselves from harmful activity online, while fewer than half of respondents said they do not always use a strong, separate password for their main email account.

The passwords "12345", "123456789" and "qwerty" were identified by researchers as the most commonly breached globally to access sensitive information.

The word "password" and "1111111" also made up the top five passwords accessed in global cyber breaches.

Ashley was revealed to be the most common name used in a password, followed by Michael, Daniel, Jessica and Charlie.

Liverpool was the most common Premier League football team used in a password, with Chelsea, Arsenal, "manutd" and Everton also making up the top five.

Blink 182 was the most frequently used music act, followed by 50 cent, Eminem, Metallica and Slipknot.

Superman was the most common fictional character used in a password with Naruto, Tigger, Pokemon and Batman also making up the top five. 

The NCSC survey also found that one in three British people rely to some extent on friends and family for help on cyber security with young people more likely to be privacy conscious.

Dr Ian Levy, NCSC's technical director, said: "We understand that cyber security can feel daunting to a lot of people, but the National Cyber Security Centre has published lots of easily applicable advice to make you much less vulnerable.

"Password re-use is a major risk that can be avoided - nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band.

"Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can't guess your password."

Troy Hunt, whose website Have I Been Pwned? allows people to check if they have an account that has been compromised in a data breach, also urged internet users to make better password decisions.

"Making good password choices is the single biggest control consumers have over their own personal security posture," he said.

Further information (uaware)

Liverpool or Chelsea as Passwords can't save you from fraud
(Bloomberg, dated 21st April 2019 author Michael Msika)
Full article [Option 1]:

GCHQ reveals most easily guessed log-ins as it warns millions of Britons how to avoid falling foul of Cyber attacks

(Daily Mail, dated 21st April 2019 author Brendan Carlin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cybercrime for dummies : cracking internet passwords is as easy as 123456
(Guardian, dated 21st April 2019 author Michael Savage)

Full article [Option 1]:

(1st May 2019)

(The Times, dated 20th April 2019 author Graeme Paton)

Full article [Option 1]:

A rising number of petrol stations are going out of business because police are refusing to investigate drive-off thefts, according to industry leaders.

Figures show that the cost of "bilking" incidents grew by a fifth in the last three months of 2018 following warnings that officers were too busy to track down offenders.

A new analysis shows that petrol stations lost an average of £420 per forecourt between October and December - a rise of 21.4 per cent from the previous three months.

It is feared that motorists are being emboldened into driving off without paying following reports in the autumn that at least eight police forces no longer investigate the crime.

The British Oil Security Syndicate, which compiles a quarterly forecourt crime index, said that the value of fuel thefts had increased faster because of the rising price of petrol and diesel, combined with the greater quantities being stolen by each offender. Its executive director, Kevin Eastwood, said: " Escellating fuel prices are clearly tempting more motorists to evade payment".

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailer Association, said that the scale of fuel theft was one of the major drivers of forecourts closing. He added: "When we speak out, the police 'victim blame' our business and claim we are bringing the problem upon ourselves by not forcing customers to pay at the pumps."

Simon Cole, the chief constable of Leicestershire police, has said that the industry could "design out bilking in 30 seconds" by installing pre-pay machines, forcing drivers to pay for fuel upfront. However, fuel retailers said that machines, which can cost up to £15,000, were too expensive for many small independent traders.

Industry figures show that the number of petrol stations has plummeted by more than 40 per cent since the end of the Nineties, from 14,000 to just over 8,000. Many of those that shut were independent rural traders - often also selling groceries - so motorists were left having to drive miles to the nearest big town, he said.

In a letter to the Petrol Retailers Association in October, Victoria Atkins, the Home Office minister, said police had a duty to investigate bilking. Many forecourts are having to track down offenders themselves by hiring investigators and writing to them to demand payment.

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 20th April 2019 author Connor Boyd)

Full article [Option 1]:

Five police officers are facing criminal charges and could lose their jobs for ramming moped yobs off their scooters as part of the Met's controversial new tactic, it has been revealed today.

Since the tough 'tactical contact' strategy was introduced in October 2017, eight separate incidents involving 10 officers were reported to the police watchdog.

Five of them are still under investigation and face charges such as actual bodily harm.

One case involves two officers who rammed a 14-year-old off a moped in Uxbridge, west London, in February 2018, causing him to break his leg.

The other three are being investigated for bashing a man off a stolen motorbike in Ealing, also west London, in March 2018

The cases are examined by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which will decide whether the officers should be referred to the Crown Prosecution to face criminal charges.

The news will raise fears among police that they will not be protected from legal action when tackling scooter gangs.

Scotland Yard introduced the controversial tactic as part of a clamdown on Lawless London's violent and prolific moped gangs.

The move was met with praise by the public and saw a 36 per cent drop in moped crime in the capital.    

Stephanie Holland, whose boyfriend Danny Pearce, 31, was stabbed to death for his £7,000 Rolex watch by a moped mugger in south-east London, criticised the decision to investigate the officers.

She told the Sun Online: 'If police officers are trying to prevent crime and they have evidence to see that someone is committing a crime, I don't think they should be investigated.

'If a criminal is doing something, I don't think the officer should be prosecuted because they are doing their job and that's a good thing. I don't have any sympathy for them.

'If someone is committing a crime that could harm someone else, then any sort of prevention is good and it doesn't matter about the consequences.'

Miss Holland revealed she's 'constantly on edge' and paranoid after the attack that claimed the life of her partner.

She said no-one should go through that, and police shouldn't be prevented from trying to stop other lives being taken. 

Ex-Met policeman Norman Brennan said the move could lead to officers deciding not to pursue moped thugs in fear of losing their jobs.

(1st May 2019)

(The Sun, dated 19th April 2019 author Martin Beckford)

Full article [Option 1]:

HALF of all police forces now have special units that try to close cases with a single phone call.

In some areas, one in three crime reports is now being dealt with on the phone so that officers do not have to go out to investigate.

Staff in call centres take details of incidents - including serious offences like burglary and assault - and if there are no suspects or obvious lines of inquiry, they will end the case.

Chiefs say the new tactic can help cut demand on over-stretched emergency response teams - but there are fears that victims are being let down.

Last night Harry Fletcher of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Victims of Crime told The Sun: "This is another example of victims of crime being ignored by the criminal justice system.

"It can't be right to dismiss victims in a single phone call and close many thousands of cases early."

Britain's biggest force, the Met, says it has "made the decision to investigate and resolve a bigger proportion of reported crime through a telephone call with the victim".

Its Telephone and Digital Investigation Unit now investigates 37 per cent of crime - but "the intention is to increase this to 42 per cent".

Scotland Yard is spending £9m annually on the unit, which employs some 200 people, and last year it handled 105,048 calls including burglary, GBH, robbery and car theft.

Lincolnshire Police has an Incident Resolution Team in its control room, made up of six PCs and a sergeant, that dealt with 15,580 crime calls in 2018.

The force said it estimated it cut demand by 36 per cent, by not sending officers out to incidents.

Dyfed-Powys Police said its Incident and Crime Assessment Team, staffed by 27 officers and civilians, dealt with 35 per cent of calls last year including dozens of burglaries and theft.


It also resolved car crashes and reports of suspicious activity without deploying response teams.

South Yorkshire Police has a Crime Support Hub that "effectively triages crime" by working out if a victim is vulnerable or if the offence can be solved, then closing down cases that do not "require secondary investigation".

Durham Constabulary has a Resolution Team that dealt with a quarter of theft and car crime cases last year.

The force said: "If there are no issues identified and there are no lines of enquiry then a member of the Resolution Team will contact the caller and deal accordingly."

West Yorkshire Police said its "relatively new" Force Crime Management Unit allows staff to "carry out a telephone investigation and determine whether the call is suitable for telephone resolution or allocation".

Hampshire Constabulary's Resolution Centre employs 71 people, cost £3.5m last year and handled 27,500 jobs, including thefts, assaults, burglaries and domestic incidents.

The force said: "It typically retains two thirds of the work it handles without onward tasking to another team. This equates to approximately 22,000 investigations annually which will not have required a frontline response."

The Sun Says

ANOTHER day, another sign that police chiefs have lost the plot.

Allowing eco toffs to run riot for the best part of a week is one thing.

But barely bothering to investigate crime is a step beyond even that dereliction of duty. What is the point of the plod if they're not trying to nick crooks?

The shock figures we reveal today, with almost one in three crimes meriting only a single phone call, are a damning indictment of policing.

Thieves and burglars aren't stupid. They'll know they won't be caught so they act with impunity.

It's no surprise that, with the police failing to pursue criminals, kids are mimicking them.

Sajid Javid has talked a fantastic game on cracking down on violent crime.

But there's still no sign that the virtue-signalling publicity stunts are coming to an end, nor is cash being diverted from politically correct hate speech investigations towards keeping the streets safe.

They still seem more interested in sick twitter jokes than your front room.

Top cops need to let frontline officers do what they went into the force to do Catch criminals.

(1st May 2019)

(Independent, dated 18th April 2019 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

A review of security at entertainment venues to protect the public in the wake of the Manchester attack must be launched by the government, the city's leaders have said.

The mother of one of the bombing's 22 victims has been leading a campaign to legally require metal detectors and bag searches at large venues.

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester mayor, gave his support to "Martyn's Law" after an independent review of the response to the May 2017 atrocity.

"At present, security arrangements are essentially voluntary and this can lead to confusion and variation," the former shadow home secretary said. 

"I believe there is a clear case for a thorough review of security measures at major sporting and entertainment event venues to establish clearly understood mandatory standards and I call on the government to initiate one. 

"We need to have clear minimum and mandatory standards at all venues so there is clarity for operators, and confidence for the public. Figen Murray has rightly highlighted this issue and her call for a change to the law needs to be taken seriously by the government."

Ms Murray is the mother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims murdered by a suicide bomber as they left an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

Isis supporter Salman Abedi was able to enter Manchester Arena's foyer carrying a bomb packed with metal shrapnel undetected, without going through security checks.

Ms Murray started a petition calling for mandatory measures at venues, which has so far received more than 13,600 signatures.

"We shouldn't have to wait for another terrible event to happen to start taking this issue seriously," she said.

"It's too late for me - I've lost my child - but I'm committed to doing all I can to stop other families having to go through the nightmare that we are."

But in February, the government issued a response refusing the demand.

"The government provides expert advice to venues on appropriate and proportionate security measures," the statement said. "Whilst we keep this matter under review there are no plans to mandate specific security measures."

A year ago, a report revealed that first aid-trained firefighters did not respond to the explosion for two hours because they wrongly believed a gunman was on the loose.

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, praised "individual acts of bravery and selflessness" by emergency services and the public but said communication failures delayed vital parts of the response and made a series of recommendations.

A progress report published on Thursday said improvements had been made to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Greater Manchester Police has enhanced its senior officer capacity and resilience during major incidents, the document said, and North West Ambulance Service has more stretchers to evacuate casualties and created dedicated incident notification channels.

Mental health trusts in the region are developing a joint plan "to improve provision of mental health services to support adults and children who experience trauma" as a result of the bombing.

Vodafone has also made a guarantee to the government that the failure of the National Mutual Aid Telephony system, which hampered the emergency response on the night of the attack, would not be repeated.

The Kerslake report also highlighted media intrusion into the lives of victims and their families, and Mr Burnham said he was "unconvinced" by training and guidance announced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

(1st May 2019)

(Reuters, dated 18th April 2019 author Vibhuti Sharma)

Full article [Option 1]:

India will likely surpass the United Kingdom to become the second-most targeted country for payment card fraud this year, a research firm said, highlighting inadequate defense against cyber crime at financial institutions in the country.

Over 3.2 million Indian payment card records were compromised and posted for sale in 2018, taking the country to the third position in the world in card frauds, Gemini Advisory said in a blog post.

In an attempt to make India a cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promoting the use of digital payments after replacing high-value currency notes to crack down on the black market economy.

But a rapidly growing middle class population opting to use cards for purchases and rising internet penetration make India an attractive target for cyber criminals, according to the report.

A combination of lucrative targets and insufficient defense measures make many Indian institutions attractive to hackers, the report said.

According to the Thales Data Threat Report, 52 percent of surveyed Indian companies reported a data breach in 2018, compared with a global average of 36 percent.

On the brighter side, 93 percent of surveyed Indian companies are increasing their security spending, the highest percentage that Thales found anywhere in the world.

(1st May 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 15th April 2019 author Asher McShane)

Full article [Option 1]:

Twenty nine men, women and children believed to be from Vietnam were found in the back of a van in Cornwall.

Police stopped the van on Friday morning on the M5 near Cullompton in Devon following reports the group of people were seen getting in the back of the vehicle after arriving on a boat.

Four men were charged with modern slavery offences after the discovery.

Frank Walliing, 72, from Colne, Jon Ransom, 63, from Kent, Keith Royston Plummer, 62, from Sheerness, and Glen Martin Bennett, 55, from Burnley, were charged with human trafficking and assisting unlawful immigration to a member state.

The men have been remanded in custody and will appear before Truro Magistrates on Monday.

Police were called just before 7.10am on Friday to Newlyn in Cornwall after receiving reports a group of people were seen getting into the back of a van.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "The van and another vehicle were stopped by officers on the M5 near J28 just after 9am in which 29 men, women and children were located, all believed to be Vietnamese; Police and partners continue to take care of those located in the van."

(Guardian, dated 14th April 2019 author Sarah March)

Full article [Option 1]:

Four men have been charged with modern slavery offences after 29 people believed to be from Vietnam were found in the back of a van that was stopped on the M5 in Devon.

Police stopped the vehicle on Friday morning near Cullompton after reports that a group of people were seen getting into the back of a van after arriving on a boat.

On Sunday, four men - Frank Walling, 72, from Colne, Jon Ransom, 63, from Kent, Keith Royston Plummer, 62, from Sheerness, and Glen Martin Bennett, 55, from Burnley - were charged with human trafficking and assisting unlawful immigration to a member state. They were remanded in custody and will appear at Truro magistrates court on Monday.

Devon and Cornwall police said: "The van and another vehicle were stopped by officers on the M5 near J28 just after 9am in which 29 men, women and children were located, all believed to be Vietnamese. Police and partners continue to take care of those located in the van."

The National Crime Agency, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and other relevant partner agencies have been informed and are assisting police.

A spokesman for Devon Children and Families Partnership said: "The UK government will decide what the next steps will be for these individuals. In the meantime, Devon and Cornwall agencies are supporting the group, and arrangements for temporary accommodation will be made if any of the individuals are under 18 years of age, pending further decision about their status."

A British Red Cross spokesperson said volunteers were supporting a number of people who were alleged victims of human trafficking. "We are providing them with practical and emotional support at a rest centre while the police conduct their investigations," they said.
(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 14th April 2019 author Dominic Nichols)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Home Secretary says industry should design products and services to foil criminals and make crime harder to commit.

The Home Secretary will call in a speech today for industry and businesses to do more in the fight against crime. He will say that intervening early in the design and manufacture of goods to make the final products harder to steal, can help reduce crime levels.

Sajid Javid will use the speech to set out his vision for protecting communities from crime. Speaking  in East London he will call for all parts of Government and industry to work together to prevent crime from being committed in the first place.

Mr Javid will argue for an intelligent and targeted use of design, data and technology, coupled with early intervention to transform the lives of young people at risk of being drawn into criminality.

Challenging industry to help, the Home Secretary is expected to say: "Crime is changing. And our response must change with it.  And just as technology can help us prevent crimes, so too can it aid and abet the criminals.

"So I ask myself what more can business do to help us?  Criminals are smart, but businesses need to get smarter.  Products and services must be designed to make crime harder to commit.

"The tech might be new, but the principle is not."

Police officer numbers have fallen by 20,000 in England and Wales since 2010, but the Home Office believes it has successfully lobbied the Treasury to secure extra police powers and resources to tackle crime.

The drop in Police numbers was partly due to the austerity measures brought in by the Conservative and coalition governments from 2010, in an attempt to reduce the deficit.

The Home Secretary will highlight Thatcham Research, a not-for-profit insurer funded research centre, that showed security standards for many new vehicles was poor and set out new industry security standards for car makers.

The Home Office says moped crime has been cut by 42 per cent in a year, thanks to the introduction of new anti-theft devices and tougher law enforcement measures. However, knife crime and 'county lines' drugs operations are still major concerns.

(1st May 2019)

(Mirror, dated 12th April 2019 author Mikey Smith and Ryan Hooper)

Full article [Option 1]:

So-called 'upskirting' becomes a specific criminal offence today, with police handed the power to arrest.

It's punishable by up to two years in custody - and perpetrators risk being placed on the sex offenders' register.

New police figures show the growing number of victims last year included a pensioner and schoolchildren as young as seven.

The data shows victims were targeted in shops, while at work, in the street and even at school during 2018, with only a handful of cases resulting in a criminal charge.

The vast majority of cases involved female victims and male perpetrators, according to data released by police forces under Freedom of Information laws.

Here's everything you need to know about the new law, and how it came to be.

What is upskirting?

The cruel and invasive craze involves perpetrators using cameras to take images or video up victims' clothing without their consent to see their genitals or underwear.

The new figures show more than half (25) of 43 police forces in England and Wales recorded allegations of upskirting during 2018, compared with just 15 forces in the two years previously.

The number of incidents also jumped, from 78 in between April 2015 and April 2017, to 94 for the whole of 2018.

The exact figure is likely to be much higher because the two largest forces - the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police - were among those who failed to reply with information.

How did the new law come to be passed?

The law - tabled by Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse - comes into force following a high-profile campaign lead by 27-year-old writer Gina Martin, who spent 18 months fighting to make the cruel craze a specific offence after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017.

Campaigners have long claimed the lack of a specific upskirting offence has also deterred victims from coming forward, while some police officers have previously been unsure of how to investigate any allegation.

Ms Martin, who worked with lawyer Ryan Whelan to lobby Government, said: "During the 18 months of campaigning undertaken, I received hundreds of messages and stories from those who had been upskirted.

"It was obvious that we didn't have the tools to adequately paint a picture of what a big problem upskirting is, so I'm delighted that the Press Association has taken on the challenge of obtaining the first official stats on reports of upskirting.

"The fact that reports are increasing shows that victims feel more empowered and emboldened to report what has happened to them than before the campaign, which is wonderful - this was just as important to Ryan Whelan and I as the law change.

"We hope that people continue to feel comfortable reporting upskirting under the new Voyeurism Act."

Who are the victims of upskirting?

The new figures suggested a huge variety in the people targeted and places they were targeted.

Essex Police said a suspect was charged with indecency after upskirt images of a child aged between seven and nine were discovered in his possession.

But another Essex case, involving images of a 70-year-old woman, ran into difficulties after the victim declined or was unable to identify the offender, despite a suspect being identified by police.

Avon and Somerset Police said two girls aged 13 were among those subjected to upskirting, while Northumbria Police said they had a report of a boy laying a mobile on the ground to film up a girl's skirt - both parties were under 16.

Leicestershire Constabulary said there were six upskirting incidents reported in 2018, with victims as young as 14. In this case, schoolgirls said their teacher had taken pictures up their skirts in the classroom. The teacher received a conditional discharge.

The Ministry of Justice said the new law introduced in England and Wales on Friday "bans the degrading practice to deter perpetrators, better protect victims, and bring more offenders to justice".

Previously, victims were forced to seek prosecution under existing harassment, voyeurism or indecency laws, but said loopholes meant it was often difficult to secure a conviction.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: "We have always been clear - there are no excuses for this behaviour and offenders should feel the full force of the law. From today, they will.

"By taking decisive action and working closely with Gina Martin and other campaigners, we have ensured more people are protected from this degrading and humiliating practice."

The campaign to criminalise upskirting was backed by the likes of TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Laura Whitmore, but received a temporary blow when veteran Conservative backbencher Sir Christopher Chope objected to a Private Member's Bill that would have seen the Bill make it swiftly onto the statute books.

(1st May 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 12th April 2019 author Jacob Jarvis)

Full article [Option 1]:

High-tech mobile phone detectors will be used by police in a bid to stop motorists using handsets at the wheel.

The new technology can determine how many cars on a stretch of road have phones being used without hands-free kits.

Hampshire and Thames Valley police forces are the first to be issued with the devices.
The roadside unit can spot a phone being used and will flash a mobile phone symbol at the vehicle from a sign, to advise the driver to stop using their mobile phone.

The technology can also enable police to identify hotspots where mobile phones are frequently used by motorists.

A spokesman for the two forces said: "The technology can detect when Bluetooth is being used but cannot detect if a passenger is using the phone, but the sign will still be activated reminding motorists of the distraction of a mobile phone whilst driving."

The new device will be first used on the A34 in Oxfordshire before being used across the Thames Valley and Hampshire areas.

The campaign is being supported by Kate Goldsmith who lost her daughter Aimee Goldsmith after a lorry driver crashed into the car she was a passenger.

He was using his mobile phone to change music whilst driving.

Ms Goldsmith's 11-year-old was killed along with her stepbrothers Josh Houghton, aged 11, Ethan Houghton, aged 13, and the brothers' mother Tracey Houghton, aged 45.

Ms Goldsmith said: "I am supporting this campaign and welcome any technology which can assist in educating people and stop them from using their mobile phones whilst driving.

"My daughter's death was completely avoidable.

"Please don't use your mobile phone whilst driving, it's not worth the risk."

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "Driving and using a handheld phone do not mix, it is an incredibly dangerous and distracting combination."

(1st May 2019)

(Guardian, dated 11th April 2019 author Gene Marks)

Full article [Option 1]:

Ransomware is a multibillion-dollar a year business and when you look at it from the aspect of the hacker you can certainly understand why. It's the first type of malware that actually generates revenue for the attacker. When a company gets hit by a ransomware attack they're forced to pay a "ransom" - anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars - to "unlock" the files that have been maliciously encrypted. Not doing so causes loss of data … and business.

After entering the small business's system, and after the owners understandably refused to pay the hackers' demand of $6,500, the virus deleted and overwrote all of the practice's medical records, bills and appointments, including backups. The impact, you can imagine, was devastating.

"We didn't even know who had an appointment in order to cancel them," one of the owners told the Star Tribune. "So what I did was just sort of sat in the office and saw whoever showed up. For the next couple of weeks." The doctors were forced to close their business on 1 April after patients were left without any of their medical histories.

This year has already seen a spike in ransomware attacks hitting large companies and government agencies. This month both the city of Albany, New York, and Genesee county, Michigan, were hit by attacks that crippled their public services. Arizona Beverages, one of the largest beverage suppliers in the US was hit by a similar attack in March that caused major disruptions to its operations. The aluminum maker Norsk Hydro was significantly hobbled by a ransomware attack on its systems. And it was reported that officials in Jackson county, Georgia, paid $400,000 to cyber-criminals this week to get rid of a ransomware infection and regain access to their IT systems.

These are the attacks that get advertised. There are countless others - assaults that hit small businesses like Brookside ENT & Hearing Services - that never make the news, but still have a devastating effect. "The reality is that many victims are paying ransom and successfully recovering as a result. Ransomware is a proven successful business model for attackers, complete with customer service to facilitate payments," a cybersecurity expert told the Star Tribune.

So what can a small business owner to protect oneself? There are three things I recommend.

For starters, make sure all of your security software is up to date, even if that means budgeting for your IT firm to come in monthly or monitor your systems remotely. This won't stop a new attack but once these companies become aware of a problem - and they are on top of things - you will be updated with the latest protections. While you're at it, ask your IT firm to train your people on how to best recognize malicious files and "phishing" website and how to otherwise be aware of potential problems.

Next, sign up for an online backup service. There are many good ones available at a minimal annual cost. With a good service all files are backed up from various devices and from your cloud-based systems to another location offsite. If your business is ever hit by an attack, you can wipe out your existing data and restore from your last good backup. You may lose a few hours or a day of work, but that's better than trusting whether a hacker will live up to their promises and un-encrypt your files even after paying them.

Finally, make sure you're running the most recent versions of all your operating systems. Hackers are notoriously looking for older systems that they can compromise, and if all of your devices are running the latest and greatest versions of Windows, Mac OS X and macOS then they may ignore you in lieu for another small business that's easier to infiltrate.

None of these actions will guarantee your business protection from a ransomware attack. But they will significantly reduce the odds. You don't want to lose money due to a ransomware attack. And you certainly don't want to lose your business because of one either.

uaware comment

It appears that this article was written for the US reader, hence no UK companies mentioned. It also implies that a small company can afford to have an IT company come in and rectify their computing woes. That may be required if a company's computer or computers are infected, but not neccessariy for day-to-day intrusion prevention.

A software security package from a reputable company can cost only £30 for up to ten devices. External hard disk drives can cost from £50 per unit to allow you to do regular back ups on site.

So how much are you business records, stock control and invoices worth ?

(1st May 2019)

(Guardian, dated 11th April 2019 author Julie Bindel)

Full article [Option 1]:

Shana Grice, one of the many women killed by a violent ex-partner, would probably be alive today were it not for widescale failures of police to act properly on incidents of stalking and domestic abuse. The complacency about male violence towards women across our criminal justice system is a major symptom of endemic, institutionalised misogyny within the police service.

When Grice called police on Michael Lane after he chased her down the street, snatched her phone and pulled her hair, it was Grice, not her abuser, who felt the long arm of the law. In the proud tradition of blaming women abused by men they once said yes to, the police decided Grice was lying because Lane showed a number of text messages from Grice that indicated they had been in a relationship. Lane had been reported to police in 2010 by a woman accusing him of harassment, but no action was taken. Following Grice's death in 2016, 11 more women came forward to accuse Lane of stalking and harassment.

It's not as if feminist campaigners, including survivors of the most extreme forms of male violence, haven't been telling police to buck up their ideas for decades. In 2005, my investigation on stalking murders showed that stalking and harassment when done by men to female ex-partners is a clear warning of homicide risk.

The Centre for Women's Justice recently submitted a super complaint logging some of the routine and widespread failures in the policing of rape and domestic violence. Dash, the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence model - the most widely used risk-assessment tool in the UK - highlights the risk factors, including coercive control, attempted strangulation, threats with knives, separation, sexual violence and stalking. What Dash can't do is eliminate the prejudicial views many police officers hold about female complainants in domestic and sexual violence cases.

As Davina James-Hanman, who advises police on domestic violence policy and practice, tells me, there is a tendency among criminal justice agencies to elevate acts of physical violence above other forms of abuse - but for most abused women, acts of physical violence are not frequent and are often low-level assaults. What indicates high risk is the abuser treating them with contempt, and as an object and a possession. Coercive control and stalking feature in almost all domestic homicides whereas previous incidents of physical violence only feature in about half.

Coercive control, which is always the backbone of stalking and harassment, became illegal in December 2015, but how many police forces have actually undergone training in the law? Karen Ingala Smith, founder of Counting Dead Women, says: "The most basic lesson of all, 'believe women', seems never to be learned. We should believe women when they report violence, and when they tell us that they are afraid for their lives. Women and girls who do speak out are routinely disbelieved."

Myths about false or malicious allegations; stereotypes of paranoid time-wasters, nagging wives, slags and harridans; victim-blaming notions about deserving and undeserving victims and risk-takers - these are all continually regurgitated. This is not a matter of one rogue police force, it is endemic and country-wide. Grice knew that Lane was a danger to her. Time and time again, I have heard of cases such as this where women have told police they will die unless the perpetrator is dealt with.

Until we tackle sexism in the police service, women like Shana Grice will die preventable deaths. As I found when producing a radio documentary alongside the formidable Jackie Malton, former Metropolitan police detective, sickening attitudes and behaviour prevail among many male officers towards both female colleagues and members of the public.

If a victim of stalking can be criminalised for "wasting police time", then the officers responsible should also face criminal proceedings for misconduct in public office. Until police face serious sanctions for conduct of this kind and those in charge are also held accountable, nothing will change. We will continue to see murders of women that could have been prevented.

It is telling that the number of women killed by men in the UK has remained fairly static for as long as statistics have been monitored, despite decades of feminist campaigning against bad practice. It is time to recognise that until police are held properly accountable for such catastrophic failures to protect vulnerable women, our morgues will still groan under the weight of such tragedies.

- Julie Bindel is a journalist and political activist, and a founder of Justice for Women

(Sky News, dated 10th April 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

Stalking and harassment offences are not being investigated by police consistently or effectively, a report has found.

A series of recommendations have been made on how Sussex Police can improve - a force that records the second-highest number of stalking offences in England and Wales.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published its findings after an inquiry was ordered following the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice.

It also called on the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) to ensure forces around the country make improvements.

Shana Grice reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to officers five times in six months but was fined for wasting police time. Lane was jailed for 25 years for her murder in March 2017.

In the last two years, reports of stalking and harassment have increased by more than 40% across England and Wales, HMICFRS said.

An average of two women are killed by a former or current partner every week across the country and stalking often escalates to murder, according to charities and campaigners.

In the report, inspectors said improvements had been made but more needed to be done.

The report raised concerns that there was no single definition for stalking adopted by police forces and government departments, adding: "As a result, police forces are not consistently identifying stalking, and are not protecting victims as a result."

HMICFRS concluded that police forces are not using powers under stalking laws to search perpetrators' homes - meaning stalking investigations are "not as thorough as they could be".

Meanwhile, victims of harassment are not being properly protected because injunctions are not being used.

There were also concerns over cases where victims were targeted online.

The report said: "We are concerned that Sussex Police's response to victims of stalking or harassment is not always as effective and consistent as it could be.

"This is because not all officers have received enhanced stalking training."

A training programme introduced after Miss Grice's murder to help staff better understand and identify stalking was "never fully completed" and most investigating officers had not received any training, according to the findings.

Not enough victims are being referred to specialised support services, the report added.

Lane's trial prompted widespread calls for action to ensure victims are taken seriously by police.

He pursued Miss Grice by fitting a tracker to her car, stole a house key to sneak into her room while she slept, and loitered outside her house. It later emerged 13 other women had reported him to police for stalking.

Singer Lily Allen, who was stalked for seven years, branded the case as an example of police "continuing to ignore" warning signs.

At Lane's sentencing, Mr Justice Nicholas Green said officers "jumped to conclusions" and "stereotyped" Miss Grice.

The force apologised for the way it handled the case - and on Tuesday, confirmed some officers would be facing disciplinary action over the death after the Independent of Police Conduct (IOPC) investigated 14 officers and staff.

The IOPC also said a police call handler from the force had been given "management advice" for failing to record Michelle Savage's reports of escalating violence by her ex-husband Craig in March last year, who shot her dead eight days later.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, who commissioned the report, said she hoped it would improve the force's response "dramatically" and scrutinise how other bodies were handling stalking.

It is the first time a commissioner has ordered HMICFRS to carry out such a report.

Inspector Wendy Williams said she was "encouraged" by the commitment from the force so far, but added: "Despite some cases being dealt with well, there were still more that could have been handled better."

Stalking and harassment is more common in Sussex than the national average, the report said. About 9% of crime in the county is harassment and 2% is stalking, compared with 2% and 0.1% nationally.

The force records the second-highest number of stalking offences in England and Wales, with a 98% increase in recorded crimes in the 12 months to 30 September, the report said.

During this time the force recorded 1,228 stalking offences, up from 621 in the previous 12 months, according to the findings.

The force was given three months to make improvements which include overhauling the risk assessment process, reminding officers of warrant powers under stalking laws and checking these are being used, making sure online crimes are being recorded correctly, and reviewing and improving training to make sure it is adequate.

The NPCC has been given up to six months to adopt a series of recommendations, including setting a definition of stalking to be used by all forces, ensuring crimes are properly recorded, reviewing the use of injunctions to protect harassment victims, and encouraging officers to make use of powers under stalking laws.

Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said: "The report acknowledges we have significantly improved our understanding of what stalking and harassment is, and what our response should be. It also sets out where there is even more work to do and we accept this."

He said officers were committed to continuing to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice and although the force's percentage average for charging perpetrators had "decreased", there were "numerous reasons" why victims may not support a prosecution.
(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 11th April 2019 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Organised crime gangs have been recruiting autistic teenage gamers to become the next generation of cyber-criminals, police have warned.

Gangsters operating online, have targeted the most vulnerable youngsters, exploiting their desire to fit into a virtual world that values their computing prowess.

By identifying teenagers who are willing to bend the rules and cheat at computer games, they are then able to draw them into increasing levels of criminality.

According to the latest research, more than 80 per cent of cyber-criminals have a background in computer gaming and the pastime can provide a fast track for those who graduate to hacking, fraud and other online offences.

Specialist detectives are now working with the gaming industry to identify the most at risk teenagers and are developing initiatives that will help steer them towards lucrative careers in the legitimate computing world.

The warnings come as the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) announced that every force in the country has now got its own dedicated cyber-crime unit.

Speaking at the official launch of the multi-million pound programme, Chief Constable Peter Goodman - who is the NPCC lead on cyber crime - said online offences could not be ignored simply because there was national concern about the knife crime epidemic.

He said: "We are all very concerned about knife crime but it should not be a case of either or.

"Cyber crime is a tier one national security risk, alongside terrorism so we have a responsibility to ensure that we have an effective law enforcement response.

"This is the new criminality, it is the new way that criminals are finding victims and the new way in which they are making a profit."

He said as well as investigating offences and helping victims, local cyber-crime teams would work to divert youngsters away from becoming involved in illegality on the web.

"When we look at this particular group of offenders and we look back into their history, 82 per cent are engaged in gaming as a pastime," he explained.

"In the gaming world they will develop their skills such as knocking competitors offline but I think doing that they are developing their skills where they can transition into becoming online criminals.

"They are not always aware that they what they are doing is criminal and is in breach of the computer misuse act."

Mr Goodman went on: "Many of the youngest cyber criminals are somewhere on the autistic spectrum, they find it very hard to have any credibility, any confidence, any traction in the real world.

"They live in quite an enclosed world which tends to be the bedroom in the housed they spend a lot of time online because they tend to be highly intelligent, highly technically proficient individuals and they are saying that almost all their self worth came through their ability to be sophisticated and successful at gaming.

"Part of that is about chucking other people and learning how to cheat and if you start to do those things you are already in computer misuse act territory.

"They gain a level of confidence and kudos from that so it is really easy to start taking the next steps into perhaps sending some malware to their school because they don't like the way they have been treated…then they might understand how they can use some of these skills to get some money.

"So we can see a very clear route for people who are going to find it quite difficult to take a normal route to success in society."

Mr Goodman said there was anecdotal evidence that these youngster were being targeted and exploited by organised crime groups and he said local cyber-crime teams would be looking to identify those most at risk.

"We are working with the gaming industry with a view ti understanding. These are very skilled, talented individuals that the UK needs in its economy. We are not saying do not develop your skills we are saying use them in a legitimate way.

"We are not saying, 'don't stop doing this, don't stop developing your skills, but stop committing crime."

(The Times, dated 12th April 2019 author Neil Johnston)

Full article [Option 1]:

Organised crime groups are using computer games to recruit teenagers to become the next generation of cybercriminals, police say.

Detectives believe that young people with autism are most at risk of being groomed by gangs online, with four in five cybercriminals now coming from a background in gaming.

As the National Police Chiefs Council announced that every police force now had a dedicated cybercrime unit after a multimillion-pound cash injection, the council's lead for cybercrime said that teenagers were turning to illegal hacking to win games. Peter Goodman, chief constable of Derbyshire police, said that they could be easily drawn into further criminality.

(National Crime Agency website)

Full article [Option 1]:

More and more teenagers and young people are getting involved in cyber crime. Many do it for fun without realising the consequences of their actions - but the penalties can be severe. Cyber crime isn't a victimless crime and is taken extremely seriously by law enforcement.

This article covers :

- What is cyber crime
- Consequences (Computer Misuse Act)
- Ways to use cyber skills positively
- Deterrants and alternative opportunities

(1st May 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th April 2019 uthor Olivia Tobin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Two robbers who disguised themselves as undercover police officers are targeting men in east London, Scotland Yard said.

The two men are said to have posed as plain clothes officers and showed a fake police badge to victims.

Officers said a man in his 50s was targeted on Bethnal Green Road, in Tower Hamlets, on April 5, at about 11.30pm.

The victim said two men approached him, said they were undercover Met officers and "flashed badges". They then stole money before running away.

Two days later, on April 7, a man in his 60s said two men had accosted him in London Fields at about 12.45am and claimed they were officers again.

The suspects then showed him ID before carrying out a search on the victim, police said.

They then told him they needed to see ID, and as he didn't have any in his possession, would need to take him back to his home to collect it.

Once they reached his address, they then stole number of items from the man, before running away again.

Detective Constable Alex Heaton, said: "While we don't want to cause unnecessary alarm, we are reminding the public to remain vigilant and asking anyone who believes they may have been victim of a similar theft to come forward.

"If you are approached by someone claiming to be a police officer and you are not sure if they are genuine or not, you can ring 101 and ask them to confirm their details.

"No undercover officer will ask you for bank details, nor should you ever give your PIN to anyone you don't know."

The first suspect is described as a black man with a slight beard. He was wearing a T-shirt with a red and blue motif on the front. The second suspect was a white man wearing a cap and glasses with a rucksack on his back.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 with reference 7910/05APR.

(1st May 2019)

(Independent, dated 9th April 2019 author Harry Cockburn)

Full article [Option 1]:

A judge ruled that a Turkish criminal should be allowed to stay in the UK, arguing his association with a London gang was evidence of his integration into British society.

Tolga Binbuga, 29, came to the UK when he was nine years old and although the rest of his family were granted British citizenship in 2010, he did not apply.

He has been convicted of various offences including robbery, assault and burglary. 

As a result, the Home Office has tried to deport him since 2014, but he lodged appeals to avoid leaving the country, with one judge ruling in 2016 that he should be allowed to remain in Britain because he could be regarded as a "homegrown criminal".

Judge Evan Ruth said in his First-tier Tribunal ruling: "It is a sad and unpleasant fact of life that in various parts of London 'gang culture' is an accepted and widespread part of life for many young people.

"According to the probation service report, the appellant is known to have previously associated with a gang called the 'Get Money Gang' in north London.

"It is clear from the report that the probation service accepted that the appellant conducted his previous offending behaviour always in the presence of other young persons.

"In my view, although it is a sad and unpleasant conclusion, the likely association of the appellant with this north London gang is a good example of his integration into one of the less savoury aspects of UK life."

However, Judge Ruth was said to have "erred in law" with his judgment.

When the case came before the Upper Tribunal, a higher court, the argument Binbuga had integrated as evidenced by his gang connections was dismissed.

Judge Alistair McGeachy said: "I simply cannot accept that being a member of a gang in north London can possibly be considered to be an example of social and cultural integration.

"There must be imported into the term 'social and cultural integration' the norms of British society. Indeed, I consider that being a member of a gang is the antithesis of being socially and culturally integrated in the UK."

Binbuga's appeal against the decision to deport him was dismissed last week at the Court of Appeal.

The Home Office has not said whether Binbuga has been deported yet.

(The Times, dated 10th April 2019 author John Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police once ranked CMG second on a list of 200 street gangs for their threat. The gang came to prominence in 2011 after the murder of Negus McClean, 15, who was chased by a "hunting posse" on bicycles. Four members of the gang were convicted of his murder. There is no suggestion Binbuga was involved.

Binbuga was jailed in 2014 for burgling a house in Enfield and stealing the key to a Mercedes plus electrical goods worth £3,000
(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 9th April 2019 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police force has become the first in the country to train firefighters as special constables in a bid to plug shortfalls in officer numbers in rural areas.

Seven members of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have just completed two months of legal and practical training and are ready to start work as police officers across the region.

Described as community responders, the firefighters will enjoy many of the powers of their warranted colleagues, including the ability to arrest suspects.

They will also retain their firefighting duties and will be available to attend blazes and other emergencies in their local communities.

The project, which has been funded by Devon and Cornwall Police, aims to bolster police presence and improve response times in rural locations in Devon.

Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, has agreed to fund the scheme for the first two years with the possibility of extending it further in the future.

Areas of Cornwall already operate Tri-Service Safety Officers, who combine the roles of a retained firefighter, an ambulance first responder and Police Community Service Officer.

Supporters of the scheme claim it will offer members of the public more reassurance and help reduce crime.

But critics have warned that it threatens to blur the lines between the emergency services and is simply an attempt to provide a quick fix solution to solve a long term funding crisis.

Devon and Cornwall Police has lost around 600 officers over the past decade, although it has started to recruit more numbers over the last couple of years.

The seven community responders will be based in the areas of Cullompton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Honiton, Okehampton, Newton Abbot and Totnes.

Kevin Pearce, who will be the community responder for Cullompton, said he had a lifelong interest in police work.

He said: "I think this pilot will be really beneficial - it will mean I can be more of a presence in the community and a face that people will recognise and can approach about both police and fire related incidents and we can help reach more people.

"Everyone that I've spoken to about the project seems excited about it. It's great to be able to enhance the presence of emergency services in communities where it's needed.

"I'm really looking forward to being at the forefront of this trial."

Chief Inspector Tom Holmes, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "This project provides an excellent opportunity for both police and fire to add additional officers into our communities who will be able to approach every issue from two points of view.

"Importantly they will also be able to answer calls for service and maintain fire cover in some of our most isolated communities."

But Dave Green, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) national officer, said: "Independence from the police is vital to ensure that communities know firefighters exist save lives, not to enforce the law.

"The FBU is strongly opposed to any measures which undermine the neutrality of fire and rescue services in the eyes of the public."

Mr Green said despite FBU concerns, Devon and Cornwall Police had decided to proceed with the programme.

He said while a decade of austerity had left both services chronically underfunded, the answer was not to introduce a scheme that eroded trust in firefighters.

He added: "We remain opposed to any attempt to turn firefighters into law enforcement, either in Devon and Somerset, or elsewhere in the country."

Simon Kempton, operational policing lead with the police federation, said the project was an attempt to "paper over the cracks" caused by cuts in funding.

He said: "If I was having a heart attack I would want a full trained and equipped paramedic attending the scene. Similarly if my house was on fire I would want a specialist who knows what they are doing.

"This just feels like an attempt to paper over the cracks and it just exposes how scant resources are in some rural areas."

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, said: "Community Responders and Tri Service Safety Officers are helping to make communities in Devon and Cornwall safer and are the fruition of many years of hard work, collaboration and innovation between the emergency services.

"They are a great addition to rural communities and importantly represent extra resource for blue light services. It's no surprise to me that our communities have welcomed them with open arms.

"Vitally they are not a replacement to full time sworn police officers, whose ranks we are also adding to with a further 85 being recruited this year, taking our numbers to the highest level since 2012."

(1st May 2019)

(BBC News, dated 8th April 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

A campaign has been launched to raise awareness of how to call 999 when you are too frightened to speak out loud.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog warns it is "not true" that a silent 999 call alone will automatically bring help.

Around 5,000 of the 20,000 silent 999 calls made daily are put through to an automated system.

Callers are then led through a series of prompts and asked to press 55 to confirm there is a genuine emergency.

The system has been in operation since 2002 but police say many callers don't understand, or use it correctly.

The system, called Silent Solution, filters out thousands of accidental or hoax silent 999 calls made daily - but it also could lead to genuine calls being terminated if the callers do not respond to the prompts.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct's campaign is being supported by the family of Kerry Power, 36, who was killed by her ex-partner in Plymouth, in December 2013.

She had made a silent 999 call but did not respond to the BT operator and so was transferred to Silent Solution.

As 55 was not pressed, the call was terminated and Devon and Cornwall Police were not notified of Kerry's call.

The IOPC is launching a poster campaign, backed by a how-to guide, aimed at "debunking the myth" that a silent 999 call alone will automatically bring help.

Regional director Catrin Evans said: "It is always best to actually speak to a police call handler if you can, even if by whispering, but if you are putting yourself or someone else in danger by making a sound, there is something you can do.

"Make yourself heard by coughing, tapping the handset or - once prompted by the automated system - by pressing 55."

Miss Power's family said in a statement: "Although she was not able to speak for the fear of alerting the intruder to her actions, she followed the advice given by a police officer during an earlier visit."

However, the family said she had not been told to press 55.

"A short while after the call, she was strangled," their statement added.

David Wilder, 44 at the time, was jailed for life over her death.

However, the subsequent investigation into the police response found Miss Power might have been wrongly advised by a police officer about when assistance would be sent.

Ms Evans said the inquiry identified a "lack of public awareness" about the method of alerting police that "could potentially save a life".

The Make Yourself Heard campaign is being backed by the charities Women's Aid and Welsh Women's Aid, and the National Police Chiefs' Council.

Lucy Hadley, from Women's Aid, said: "We need to look at all ways we can raise awareness and make the system work better for the people it's designed for, which are people in extreme distress and fear, and might not necessarily remember everything... on a poster or advertising campaign."

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 8th April 2019 author Bill Gardner)

Full article [Option 1]:

A departing police chief has used his farewell address to suggest his force no longer has the resources to "protect its citizens".

Jon Boutcher, chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, attacked government cuts as he announced he would be leaving after five years in the job.

It comes amid a row between police forces and ministers over whether reduced policing budgets are to blame for a rise in violent crime.

In a statement announcing his departure, Mr Boutcher claimed that Bedfordshire Police had been the worst-hit force in the country.

"Policing remains hugely underfunded and Bedfordshire Police provides the most profound example of this as a force with the most challenging and complex demands normally only faced by metropolitan forces such as the Met, West Midlands and the like, and yet the funding gap has still not been addressed," he said.

"I recognise recent efforts by the current Home Secretary and Policing Minister to reverse a long standing lack of police investment however I would remind everyone that it is the first responsibility of government to protect its citizens, policing must be properly funded.

"The consequences of previous budgetary decisions are now being felt by all of our communities. This must be addressed."

Mr Boutcher earned nearly £123,000 a year, and will be entitled to a healthy taxpayer-funded pension. Last year it was revealed that two thirds of chief constables received a total of at least £1.37million in pension contributions in the last two years - with some getting more than £40,000 a year.

In March 2017 Mr Boutcher publicly criticised a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary which rated his force as the worst in the country for keeping people safe and reducing crime. It identified "systemic failings", and deemed overall service provision "inadequate", a drop from the previous year's assessment of 'good'.

In response, Mr Boutcher claimed: "My officers cannot cope with the demand and no-one seems to be listening. Something is going to give. Things cannot go on as they are. My officers are exhausted.

"I can't tell you why they aren't listening. I can only assume it is political."

Violent crime has worsened markedly in Bedfordshire in recent years, increasing by 57% since 2010. In total, 10,947 violent crimes were recorded in Bedfordshire last year.

Home Office data, however, shows that the force had 1,148 officers last September, twelve more than the year before, the second consecutive annual rise. In December it was announced that Bedfordshire would be given an extra £8m of funding, allowing it to recruit 260 new officers.

Earlier this year Theresa May sparked a row with police leaders by dismissing a link between police numbers and a spike in violent crime, insisting there was "no direct correlation" between the two.

"What matters is how we ensure that police are responding to these criminal acts when they take place, that people are brought to justice," she said.

Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "It's been a pleasure and a privilege to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the outstanding Jon Boutcher over the last three years.

"We've stood together on funding and challenged criticism of the force. I know that whatever he's doing, wherever he is in the world, he'll continue to stand up publicly for Bedfordshire Police."

(1st May 2019)

(BBC News, dated 8th April 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

The case of the British woman facing jail in Dubai for calling her ex-husband's new wife a "horse" on Facebook is a stark reminder of the rules that can apply when you're abroad.

Londoner Laleh Shahravesh, 55, was arrested at a Dubai airport after flying there to attend her former husband's funeral.

She faces prosecution over two Facebook comments she posted on pictures of her husband remarrying in 2016.

This case might be on the extreme end, but it's worth knowing the local laws and customs before travelling.

In the past the government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office have encouraged people to do proper research.

It said celebrity holiday snaps are inspiring us to take trips further afield where there are often unusual rules in place.

Here are our top tips for staying safe.

Don't step on money in Thailand

The lese-majeste law is a very old rule which states that it's a serious offence to insult any image of the Thai royal family.

As the ruling monarch appears on the banknotes, it's actually a criminal act to step on it and you could end up in jail.

No chewing gum

Equally offensive in Thailand is throwing gum on the floor.

There's a £400 fine or possibly jail if you don't pay up.

It's a similar story in Singapore where, by law, chewing gum - all except the dental and nicotine kind - can't be bought or sold.

No swimming costumes in the city

In Barcelona, it was made illegal to wear swimwear anywhere in public away from the beach in 2011.

It was after local people campaigned that there were too many scantily-clad tourists walking around the city.

You could see yourself fined around £100 if you flout this rule.

Don't pee in the sea

Don't relieve yourself in the ocean in Portugal.

It's against the law and even though it's unclear how this can be enforced you should stick to the toilets.

Check your medicines

In Japan, due to strict anti-stimulant drug laws, something you've innocently packed to help with your cold could be banned.

Pseudoephedrine is in things like Sudafed and Vicks inhalers and they're prohibited in the country.

Be careful when you enter the country as you might be stopped and have them confiscated.

Budgie smugglers

If you're heading to France, make sure you leave your swim shorts at home - most swimming pools have a Speedo only rule.

It's apparently for hygiene reasons and although it doesn't carry a penalty, you won't be allowed in without them.

(Okay this isn't a law but it's still good to know!)

Stick to the rules and, hopefully, you won't be one of hundreds of Britons who are arrested abroad each year.

Recent stats suggest Spain, the United Arab Emirates, France, Thailand and the US are the top five places where the UK government provided help for the 829 people arrested in the year up to April 2017.

How to get help

If you do find yourself in trouble though you should ask that the local British embassy or consulate are notified (the local authorities must do this).

Ask family or friends to contact the local British consulate or the Global Casework team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London.

Staff there will do what they can to help you, but they can't get you out of jail or help pay for a lawyer.

They can, however, contact you in prison and inform your family and friends that you've been arrested.

"If you're taken the most important thing is that you don't sign a confession," says Radha Stirling the Founder and CEO of the campaign group, Detained in Dubai.

"What they will say is if you sign this we will let you out and they never do.

"It's often a fabricated charge, so don't sign anything that you don't understand or can't read - it's the most dangerous, it's the number one thing."


(1st May 2019)

(The Sun, dated 8th April 2019 author Charlotte Edwards)

Full article [Option 1]:

CYBER CRIME Facebook groups where members buy and sell the credit card numbers of fraud victims and share other online crime tips have been uncovered by a report.

A total of 74 groups have been found so far and they contain around 385,000 members.

Security researchers from Cisco's Talos Intelligence Group uncovered the groups which were buying, selling and trading stolen credit card information and identity information like photographic ID.

The group members were also providing each other with information about email phishing and other illegal activities.

Apparently the groups were quite easy to find so the researchers started referring to them as an "online criminal flea market".

They had names like 'Spam Professional' and 'Facebook hack (Phishing)' and could appear to any user if they searched those terms or words like 'CVV' or 'carding'.

One of the groups featured a user who was claiming to be selling a spam kit that delivered fake Apple invoices to Hotmail and Yahoo email users and once users clicked on the link in the email they'd be taken to a malicious website.

All of the 74 malicious groups have now been taken down.

The Talos researchers think some of the groups could have been on Facebook for up to eight years although a lot of them were created in 2018.

Facebook identified the accounts behind the cyber crime groups and blocked their ability to create any additional groups.

A spokesperson for the social media giant said: "These Groups violated our policies against spam and financial fraud and we removed them. We know we need to be more vigilant and we're investing heavily to fight this type of activity."

(1st May 2019)

(Guardian, dated 7th April 2019 author Sarah Boseley)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 900 drivers have reported potential cases of modern slavery involving workers at hand carwash services, using an app that makes it easy for people to sound the alarm if they have suspicions.

The Safe Car Wash app was launched last year. It gives users a checklist of questions to answer when visiting a hand carwash, including the price of the service (less than £6.70 is deemed suspicious), who takes the money, and whether the people washing cars look fearful. Depending on the answers, they may then be urged to make a report to the Modern Slavery helpline. The information collected by the app is shared anonymously with police and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority.

The app has been downloaded 8,225 times since it was launched by the Church of England and the Catholic Church. Between June and December last year, it was used more than 2,000 times. In 930 cases (41%), the user was told there was a high likelihood that individuals working at the hand carwash were subject to modern slavery and asked to call the helpline.

The results have been collated and analysed by the University of Nottingham's Rights Lab. In nearly half of reports (48%), workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots, even though many hand carwashes typically require their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

In 80% of cases, the carwash had a cash-only policy. Nearly one in 10, or 8%, of reports logged that minors were working on site, and 17% of users identified fearful workers.

The app asked drivers to look out for nearby caravans, containers, mattresses and bedding as evidence of workers living on site - 14% of users reported they had seen that. However, only 126 drivers (18%) then used the app to call the modern slavery helpline, which the Church said was disappointing, although it is possible they may have made contact later.

Dr Akilah Jardine, research associate at the Rights Lab, said: "Investigations and operations on hand car-wash activities have identified the sector as a high-risk area for labour exploitation. Though often operating in plain sight, a great challenge in tackling abuses is the lack of data on the size and scope of the industry and the nature and prevalence of labour exploitation."

Before 2004, hand carwashes were almost non-existent. Today, says the report, there are estimated to be 18,000, many of them run as legitimate businesses but some of them exploiting, forcing or threatening their workers. There have been reports of excessive working hours, the withholding of wages or pay below national minimum wage, and working without adequate protective safety gear and equipment.

The app, part of an anti-slavery project at the Church of England's Clewer Initiative backed by the Catholic church's Santa Marta Group, launched in October 2017 with the support of the prime minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Alastair Redfern, chair of the Clewer Initiative, said the research showed that the app "has made an excellent start towards mapping the extent of modern slavery and labour exploitation in hand carwashes and, crucially, raising public awareness of this issue.

"Sadly, the findings so far confirm what we already feared - that many carwashes do not protect their workers.

"Our conversations with colleagues from law enforcement suggest that the data from the Safe Car Wash app is providing another piece in the puzzle of how to combat this complex crime. We hope to continue to build on this progress."

In their foreword to the report, Redfern and Bishop Patrick Lynch, from the Santa Marta Group, said that in launching the app, "we were seeking to combat a phenomenon that Pope Francis calls the globalisation of indifference, where the laudable value of tolerance is twisted".

They continue: "Instead of looking out for our neighbour, finding common ground, and exploring our differences, we ignore them. This indifference fuels modern slavery, because as a society we have chosen to ignore the most vulnerable."

(1st May 2019)

(Liverpool Echo, dated 6th April 2019 author Lottie Gibbons)

Full article [Option 1]:

Drivers across the UK have been fined £1000 for missing a simple error on their driving licence.

The UK standard driving licence will feature photo of the driver on the front.

First issued in 1998, they're the only type of driving licence the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency currently issues.

However, a number of motorists are forgetting to renew their photocard licence when it expires.

GOV.UK explains that it is important that licences are renewed.

This is because appearances can change and it is important that photocard licences are updated every 10 years to ensure the police and other enforcement agencies have the best possible photograph.

This helps them correctly identify whether a driving licence is being used fraudulently and also prevents driving licence impersonation - stopping disqualified and perhaps dangerous drivers taking to the roads.

If you fail to renew your licence and supply a photo that is a recent and true likeness, you will be breaking the law and may have to pay a fine of up to £1,000.

Getting a new photocard will mean that a motorist's driving licence will contain the latest security features to protect them against fraud. It may also make things easier when they hire a car at home or abroad.

(1st May 2019)

(Daily Mail, dated 6th April 2019 author Faith Ridler)

Full article [Option 1]:

The middle classes are more likely to have taken class A drugs than their working class counterparts, a study has revealed.

Around one in ten of all adults surveyed admitted they had taken drugs like cocaine and ecstasy - with one in seven of those aged between 18 and 49 admitting the same.

Nine per cent of those from middle classes revealed they had tried class A drugs, in comparison to eight per cent of those from working classes, a YouGov poll of 1,730 adults showed.

And 20 per cent of all adults asked said they would consider trying class A drugs if they were legalised, the Telegraph reported.

It comes amid concerns that illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy are fuelling knife crime by drug gangs in Britain.

Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, recently accused middle class drug users of having 'blood on their hands' over a series of violent crimes.

She said: 'There are a whole group of middle-class people who will sit round happily and think about global warming and fair trade but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine.

'Well, there is. There's misery throughout the supply chain.'

It comes as the Thames Valley Police piloted a scheme where people caught with small amounts of drugs are not arrested but are instead encouraged to seek support.

Those caught are only prosecuted if they fail to engage with treatment and are caught again in possession of illegal substances.

(1st May 2019)

(Worcester News, dated 5th April 2019 author James Connell)

Full article [Option 1]:

 A SPECIALIST police team which targets organised crime gangs in Worcester has seized more than £50,000 in drugs and arrested 283 people in just six months.

The West Mercia team, formed in October last year, was set up to tackle those crimes which cause the most harm to the public in Worcestershire and Herefordshire including disrupting the organised crime gangs who commit acquisitive crime and deal class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine on our streets.

Inspector Jamie Francis, who leads the team, said: "The arrests are for a variety of offences and are as a result of proactive work and tasking requests from other policing departments.

"During this period the team have executed in excess of 50 warrants at addresses in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, seized class A and B drugs with values in excess of £50,000 and recovered over £200,000 worth of stolen vehicles."

The Local Policing Priorities Team is divided into two teams - north and south - and the south team, covering Herefordshire and Worcestershire, has at its disposal 20 uniformed officers and two sergeants under the command of inspector Francis.

He said: "The team was formed to tackle serious and organised crime and organised crime groups in support of West Mercia Police's Operation Protect.

When not tasked with other matters the team have responsibility for activity around recalls to prison, breach of bail arrests and locating and arresting those wanted on warrant."

This has seen the number of people wanted on warrant reduce by 70 per cent in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Inspector Francis said the aim of this work was to reduce demand on patrol officers, allowing them to respond to other calls and to remove the hidden risk posed by wanted people while also reducing rates of reoffending.

LPPT staff are licensed search officers which means they are regularly deployed to searches anywhere in the force area, again freeing up other officers.

The majority of the arrests (78) were as a result of warrants. Then team also made 53 drug or drink driving arrests, 43 in relation to drugs offences and 22 in relation to theft or fraud.

The results were announced after a police commander and a senior judge warned that the city is 'not a soft touch' when it comes to the war on drugs.

Judge Robert Juckes QC issued a stark warning in February as he jailed a cocaine dealer at Worcester Crown Court, telling dealers that come before him could expect to be jailed.

One of the focuses for police in Worcester is to sever supply lines of drugs from larger cities like Liverpool and Birmingham and disrupt the activities of so-called 'County Lines' drugs dealers.

This involves joint working between LPPT and Proactive CID which inspector Francis said was making 'a real impact'.

South Worcestershire police commander, Superintendent Damian Pettit, echoed the judge's words.

He said: "These strong sentences are evidence that individuals convicted of drugs offences will be firmly dealt with through the court system and the public can be reassured that we are all doing what we can to protect them from many forms of harm caused by the use and dealing of these substances.

"Worcester is not a soft touch and there will be no easy pickings for those involved in using or supplying drugs.

(1st May 2019)

(The Register, dated 5th April 2019 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

Newham Council has been fined £145,000 after an employee sent out a mass email containing an unredacted version of the police database that ranks people's likelihood of gang-related violence.

According to the UK's data protection watchdog, some 203 individuals' personal data was shared with 44 people, and screenshots of the info was eventually uploaded to social media and seen by rival gang members.

The Information Commissioner's Office said it was "unnecessary, unfair and excessive" to share the unredacted version with so many people and that the risks "should have been obvious".

The bungle happened on the 17 January when a Newham Council staffer sent an email with an unredacted version of the Gangs Matrix, which had been shared by the Met as part of efforts to tackle violence.

However, the breach meant the 44 recipients - who included members of the council, its Youth Offending Team, and external public agencies and a volunteer group that responds to gang-related crime - saw personal details on 203 people.

The data breach was investigated as part of the ICO's wider probe into the Gangs Violence Matrix, which was set up by the Metropolitan Police in 2012 in a bid to reduce gang-related crime.

The ICO has already slammed the Met for "multiple and serious" breaches related to the database and ordered it to ensure it complies with data protection laws. The watchdog has now moved on to look at the way other bodies, including councils, use the information.

The unredacted version contained data that wasn't in a redacted version, which was also sent to Newham. This included ethnicity, home addresses, Police National Computer ID and whether the individual was a prolific firearms offender or knife-carrier. Both versions had a person's nickname, date of birth and alleged associated gang.

The ICO found that between May and September 2017, rival gang members had obtained photographs of the unredacted version of the Newham Gangs Matrix through Snapchat. Fifty high-risk offenders were on these photographs.

The watchdog noted that some of the people in this group were victims of serious gang violence, including one murder that happened in Newham during 2017 - although it emphasised it was not possible to say if there was a causal connection between the incidents.

However, the ICO added that this demonstrates "the significant harm and distress that can be caused when this type of sensitive personal information is not kept secure".

The police force within Newham borough share updated versions of the Gangs Matrix with Newham council and its Youth Offenders Team. The ICO said that, in principle, this is "sensible and appropriate" information-sharing given the roles of those organisations.

The Met said that the point of providing the redacted version of the database was so that it could be shared with other partners.

However, in this case, a staffer within Newham shared both versions, having simply forwarded the email they received from the Met police with the January version of Newham Matrix.

In May and September, two people, who are members of rival gangs, told their probation officers that they had photographs of the Newham Gangs Matrix - obtained via Snapchat - that showed the personal data of at least 50 high-risk offenders. The Met was able to establish this was the unredacted copy of the January Newham database.

Moreover, the council didn't report the breach to the ICO, it waited until December 2017 to launch its own internal investigation, and then failed to produce a final report of the probe.

Newham was also unable to identify any written policy or guidance on the handling, storage or decision-making related to the Gangs Matrix data that it received, and had not taken a number of sensible security measures.

The commissioner concluded in a decision notice that Newham had been "grossly negligent" in its failure to comply with data protection laws, and handed it a £145,000 fine.

(1st May 2019)

(SKY News, dated 5th April 2019 author Lucia Binding)

Full article [Option 1]:

Airbnb has apologised to a family who discovered they were being livestreamed by a hidden camera at their accommodation in Ireland.

The Barkers, from New Zealand, had been staying at a property in Cork, southwest Ireland, when they found a camera concealed in the living room.

Mother-of-five Nealie Barker described the family's unexpected discovery as "very frightening".

She wrote on Facebook: "We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing. We were travelling with children.

"The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone, only after presented with our irrefutable proof."

Her husband Andrew, an IT consultant, found the camera live feed after trying to connect his phone to the WiFi.

Mrs Barker told Sky News: "We were all looking at ourselves on his phone, I had one of those horrible adrenaline rushes you get when you sense danger.

"We looked at one another mortified as the realisation of the situation sunk in."

She said the children became frightened after realising the host could see and maybe hear them.

"We felt an immediate violation of our privacy in a private residence we had paid to occupy."

And she added that "it was very frightening and the first time we've considered we could have potentially been in danger" during the trip.

Airbnb promised the Barkers that a thorough investigation would take place.

But after several weeks, the family received a message from the company saying they had exonerated the host and had "found no wrong-doing on his part".

She also said Airbnb had reinstated the listing shortly after the incident.

It was only when the family expressed their anger about the situation on social media that Airbnb offered them a refund and said they would reinvestigate the listing and host.

A spokesman for Airbnb told Sky News: "The safety and privacy of our community - both online and offline - is our priority.

"Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listings and we take reports of any violations extremely seriously.

"We have permanently removed this bad actor from our platform. Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves, and we have apologised to the family and fully refunded their stay.

"There have been more than 500 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare."

(1st May 2019)

(Hull daily Mail, dated 4th April 2019 author Michael Goodier and Paul Gallagher)

Full article [Option 1]:

UK officials last year investigated four cases of children whose organs were thought to have been harvested, according to shock figures revealing the scale of modern day slavery.

The National Crime Agency said it handled nearly 2,000 cases where children were unlawfully forced to work and more than 600 cases of child sexual exploitation during 2018, both figures increasing on the previous year.

Overall there were nearly 7,000 suspected cases of modern slavery with alarming rises in some areas of illegal exploitation.

Some 6,993 cases were referred to the Agency from police forces, councils, charities and other bodies last year - up from the 5,142 recorded in 2017, and 3,804 in 2016.

There were six cases of organ harvesting - four of which involved boys under the age of 18.

The total number of potential victims - including foreign nationals - reported to the authorities has risen by more than 80 per cent in two years.

There were 3,980 labour exploitation cases, 1,927 sexual exploitation, and 515 cases of domestic servitude.

In total 3,137 cases involved children - equivalent to 45 per cent of the total.

The National Crime Agency said that the increases were driven by the numbers referred for labour exploitation, which includes those exploited by 'county lines' gangs.

County lines refers to the practice of gangs forcing children as young as 12 into supplying drugs from large cities to rural areas.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of modern slavery or human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.

It is also the mechanism through which data is collected about victims, helping to build a clearer picture about the scope of the threat.

Child victims of labour exploitation

2017 : 1035
2018 : 1987

For the second consecutive year British citizens made up the largest nationality (1,625), with Albanians (947) and Vietnamese (702) second and third.

The number of British victims of modern slavery in 2018 was almost double the number from 2017, while the numbers of minors referred increased by 48 per cent.

Figures 'only a snapshot'

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.

"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.

"But 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."

County Lines

2017 : 561
2018 : 638

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 4th April 2019 author Natasha Bernal)

Full article [Option 1]:

New thermal imaging cameras designed to prevent drunk revellers from falling in canals and drowning at night are being installed by university towns.

Heat-sensitive cameras used by Bristol City Council and Bristol University in a test pilot last year helped save the lives of two people, researchers claimed.

The 5G-enabled cameras provide high resolution images of the canal and can detect changes in the water temperature when a person falls in.  Emergency services are automatically alerted when someone falls in.

Dimitra Simeonidou, director of the Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol, said the next step would be to introduce the cameras across the entire harbour and the city.

"It could eventually be able to send very high resolution images to ambulance staff as they move to the site, allowing them to see the state of the person they are rescuing," she said. "They are going to be able to give informed advice to other people who are trying to help."

The technology is designed to reduce accidental deaths in Bristol's waterways, which claimed the lives of six people in 2017. Other cities such as Manchester and York could follow Bristol's lead after expressing interest in the project. 

Cities have struggled to safeguard revellers in recent years. Alcohol contributed to at least 14 pc of all adult drowning deaths between 2014 and 2017, according to figures from the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS).

The alcohol-related death toll in counties with a university population is high. In Bristol, alcohol caused 63pc of alcohol-related drownings since 2014, compared to 67pc in Durham, 50pc in Manchester and 64pc in North Yorkshire.

Police in Durham introduced safety works in 2015 after three university students lost their lives on nights out, including fencing and lighting as well as breathalysers.

The deaths of 20-year old arts student Megan Roberts and 22-year guitar salesman Ben Clarkson triggered a coroner in York to issue a warning about the dangers of heavy drinking in 2014. Last year, the family of 42 year old Craig Batters who died after falling in the River Ouse in York warned people to keep away from rivers on nights out.

David Walker of the Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents urged more cities to consider using this type of technology.

"This offers a solution in an urban environment where there can be a rapid response. We feel very positive about the technology," he said.

The Bristol pilot, which started in October of last year, is part of a wider project by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department to roll out a 5G network in Bristol and connect traffic lights, police and emergency services to improve response time and safety in the city.

(1st May 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th April 2019 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Roads policing in London was criticised as a "postcode lottery" today as a report highlighted huge variations in people being caught for speeding, careless driving and using mobile phones across the capital.

RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, called on the Met to be more accountable for dealing with traffic offences, saying it has no coherent strategy for roads enforcement.

Its survey listed significant variations between boroughs after analysing police data for traffic offences in 2017.

Speeding counted for more than half of all traffic offences in London although there were major variations across boroughs.

In Ealing police recorded the most drivers caught breaking the 30mph limit - 8,535 - compared with 83 in Kensington and Chelsea. Hackney recorded 90 per cent of sanctions for motorists breaking 20mph limits.

Regarding careless driving, there were 20 times more sanctions in Westminster, with 202, than Richmond with 10.

Police also detected the largest number of cycle offences in Southwark, 833, while officers in the three boroughs of Bexley, Kingston and Richmond only detected one cycle offence in each in 2017.

More than 1,000 people were caught using a phone while driving in both Westminster and Ealing but fewer than 300 were stopped in six boroughs including Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Motorists caught driving with a mobile overall fell by 40 per cent in 2016-2017.

RoadPeace says some variations are explained by traffic volumes and the number of speed cameras but others could be due to how officers are deployed.

Spokeswoman Victoria Lebrec, who lost a leg after being run over by a skip lorry in 2014, said: "Traffic law enforcement should not be a postcode lottery. Victims should not be more at risk based on where they live."

Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, head of the Met's roads policing, said there would always be geographic variations in policing enforcement because officers were targeting areas with a greater risk of collisions and drivers who pose a greater risk to other road users.

He added: "There is still much to do to address the causes of collisions including dangerous road behaviour."

(1st May 2019)

(The Local, dated 4th April 2019 author Rory Mulholland)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Eiffel Tower surges up into the sky a stone's throw away, while below the River Seine sweeps majestically by: arriving in Bir-Hakeim station is arguably one of the most thrilling experiences you can have on the Paris metro. There are other, less pleasant, thrills to be had there - there's a fair, and growing, chance that someone will try to pickpocket you.

Bir-Hakeim is one of the stations in the French capital where you are most likely to be targeted by gangs of very young, mostly East European thieves who prey largely on tourists but are also happy to rob careless Parisians.

The problem has persisted for years, but in the first three months of 2019 there has been a massive rise - of 33 per cent according to police figures - in the recorded number of people who have had their bags or their pockets picked on the metro.

"I see it every single day, sometimes six or seven times," said Ayaz, who runs a shop inside the station that sells tourist fare such as Eiffel Tower keyrings.

"They have all sorts of techniques. They surround a person and then their hands are going into all his or her pockets and bags," he said.

"Or they hold out a metro map and beneath it they are stealing what they can. Or they jostle people on the escalator and do it that way," Ayaz said, adding that the perpetrators are often teenagers.

 With more than 20 million tourists visiting the Paris region every year, the gangs that haunt the city's extensive transport system have plenty of targets.

"Beware of pickpockets" say the announcements in various languages over the loudspeakers in the stations that serve the city's visitor highlights such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, or the Champs Elysées, where other gangs of pickpockets and other scammers are at work above ground.

Drivers on trains arriving in these stations who spot a pickpocket gang on the platform will often make their own announcements to warn passengers to hold on tight to their belongings.

And even the transport workers who regulate the numbers getting on to packed trains in the busiest stations will also sometimes warn commuters and tourists that thieves are also getting on board alongside legitimate travellers.

Transport police say that 90 percent of their interventions are to deal with what is termed "acquisitive" delinquance, meaning sneakily acquiring other people's property.

The authorities are hard pushed to explain the sudden 33 per cent rise. One unnamed officer's suggestion to a French newspaper that it was because police had to deal with "yellow vest' protestors is hardly credible, given that these protests take pace only one day a week, on Saturdays.

 When The Local visited Bir-Hakeim - which is on Line 6 on a stretch where the Metro emerges above ground to cross the Seine and provide magnificent views over Paris - there were no criminals to be seen.

But locals who use the line every day say they can spot the gangs - who dress as tourists and often carry tourist maps - a mile off and cling on to their phones and wallets as they avoid taking the same carriages as them.

Transport workers at the station said that the thieves were a daily curse, and that they regularly had to console passengers who had just fallen victim to them.

"Often the thieves will stand by the ticket machines and pretend to help people buy their tickets, but they just steal their money," said one RATP (Paris transport authority) worker who declined to give her name.

As she spoke an Asian tourist and her two small kids stood peering at a ticket machine a metre away, her purse in her hand and her handbag wide open: an almost perfect target for a predator.

The other standard scams include one gang member noisily dropping something as if by accident while the other members steal from distracted passengers, pickpocketing as they jostle people getting on or off a packed train, or grabbing a bag or phone from someone inside the train just as the train door is closing, and then leaping off.

The station workers at Bir-Hakeim, which is named after a World War II battle in Libya that pitched the Free French against the Germans, said that victims of Metro crime should always check at the ticket office to see if any of their belongings have been found.

Often thieves take only money and immediately discard the rest of the contents of a wallet or handbag.

Victims can also fill out an official police form they can get at the ticket counter, which RATP workers will then forward to police.

This is a relatively new scheme to make it easier and faster for victims to file a complaint which they might need for insurance purposes.

But there is little chance their complaint will lead to a conviction. Police say that more than half of the pickpockets they catch are minors and all they can do is quickly release them after bringing them to the station after registering their identity.

(The Local, dated 11th May 2018 author Oliver Gee)

Full article [Option 1]:

Unfortunately, tourists and indeed residents fall victim to thieves and pickpockets in Paris and it can ruin your day or even your trip to the French capital. But there simple things you can do to make it less likely to happen.

Pickpockets and petty thieves prey on unsuspecting tourists as well as residents, so half the battle is being aware.

But it's important not to be fearful. It's extremely rare for people to be physically hurt and anyone who is a victim of a theft is advised not to chase and try to recover items but go straight to the police station (Commissariat).

The worst that normally happens is that you'll be left with the annoying task of having to cancel bank cards or change email and personal banking passwords.

But there are simple things you can do to avoid the thieves.

Empty your wallet

There's no reason to have too much cash in your wallet. There are ATMs all over the place and it is always easy to get more cash or just leave some in your hotel safe.

Remember you can pay by card pretty much anywhere in Paris and around France.

And you don't need more than one bank card in there either, so consider leaving the extras in your hotel room.

Watch your bags in the bars

Many pubs and bars in the French capital, particularly those in touristy or trendy areas attract thieves. Don't leave your bag on the back of your chair or anything valuable in the pockets of your coat.

If pop outside for cigarette or go to the toilet then take your bag with you.

If you are sat at the bar don't leave your phone on the bar. You are asking to be the victim of a distraction theft. Many staff at pubs will warn you about all this or they will have notices advising customers. Take their advice.

Don't flash the cash

If you do happen to find yourself with a wallet full of cash (lucky you), then don't show it off. If you're making a purchase, be discreet, and don't let it be known that the wallet is full. You're attracting all the wrong kind of attention.

Don't wear your best jewellery

Yes, Paris is glitzy and glamorous, but that doesn't mean you should be wearing a diamond necklace while strolling around Montmartre. Save the bling for your evening at the Ritz, or even better, leave it at home. There's no quicker way to ruin a trip to Paris than having your diamonds stolen. Ask Kim Kardashian.

And that point. There have been some high profile snatch robberies on tourists after they had been shopping at Paris's top boutiques. This kind of incident is very rare and maybe hard to avoid but being aware of your surroundings and people will help.

Only use bags that zip up

Pickpockets love to see an open bag, especially if it's slung over the back shoulder of a woman on a crowded Metro. Don't let them get away with it! Use a bag that zips up and carry it over your shoulder at the front.

Cover your pin code

When getting cash out, cover your hand as you're putting in your PIN code. And it should go without saying, but pick a secure-looking ATM in a safe-looking area. Don't get cash out alone in a dark street.

Don't talk to people at ATMs

It's a fairly common scam in Paris. People, especially minors, will approach you while you're getting cash out. They typically do it right after you've entered your PIN code. Then, one or even two will distract you, perhaps with a piece of paper to block your view while the other enters the largest amount possible and nabs the cash. It might sound impossible, but they're very, very good at it. You might not even notice.

Keep wallets in front pockets

If you're a man who likes to keep his wallet in his back pocket, then get out of the habit in Paris. Thieves will press up against you in crowded places and you won't even notice that the wallet has been lifted.

Don't flash your phone on the Metro

Thieves, especially very young ones, love to grab a purse or a smartphone right out of their victims' hands, right before the doors close. So, if you absolutely have to sit by the doors, and if you absolutely have to use your phone, make sure you're holding it very tightly or it might just be the last Candy Crush game you play on it. And believe us, we learned this the hard way.

Be on guard on Line 9

Line 9, which runs from Boulogne in the west to Montreuil in the east, and passes through Trocadero and the Champs Elysées, is notorious for its resident pickpockets so be extra vigilant when travelling on this stretch of Metro.

Lin 2 through the Montmartre area can also be a spot for pickpockets and bag snatchers.

Don't allow yourself to get distracted

Another common scam in Paris is for a pair of thieves to approach you while asking for your help. Maybe they'll spill something on you, or ask for directions on a big map, or ask you to sign something. In all the confusion, one of them will be digging through your pockets. Learn to politely say "non merci" and move on.

Distraction methods can get even more extreme. They can include groups of youths having screaming matches, fainting spells, and fake fights. They will do whatever it needs to get your undivided attention.

So be aware for potential fake distractions. Again if they are going to happen it will most likely be on the Metro or at one of the tourist sites.

Don't draw attention to yourself

This might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised. Please don't go overboard with the tourist gear - don't have a big "I LOVE PARIS" T-shirt, don't have a huge map unfolded at all times, and don't have an enormous camera hanging around your neck. Be subtle, blend in with the locals, and discreetly use the map on your phone.

Don't take the ring

This one is very specific, but it's good to know. There's a common scam in Paris, usually around the Seine River, where a scam artist will approach you and pretend they just found a gold ring on the ground. They will pretend they don't want it, and try and sell it to you really cheaply. That ring is not gold. Don't buy it. Just say "non merci" and move on.

Don't take the string bracelet

Lastly, don't take the string bracelet that the guys try to give you in Montmartre, especially at the Sacre Coeur cathedral. They'll try and put the string bracelet on you before you've said you don't want it. Heck, they might even call it a friendship bracelet. But when they're done tying it up, they'll ask you for money. And good luck refusing, that bracelet is tied very tightly and you're unlikely to get it off without a knife or scissors. What to do instead? You guessed it. Say "non merci" and move on.

(1st May 2019)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th April 2019 authors Sarah Rendell and Anthony France)

Full article [Option 1]:

London Ambulance Service has issued a warning over hoax calls after figures showed pranksters cost it an estimated £606,347 in four years.

From the start of 2015 to January 31 this year, paramedics received 4,647 bogus call-outs of which 2,821 were attended by crews, a Freedom of Information request by the Standard reveals.

LAS said it costs the NHS an average £205.93 every time an ambulance arrives on scene to treat a potential patient. Just to answer each call at its Emergency Operations Centre is £5.47.

The capital's worst borough for the problem was Lambeth. Over the four years, 286 hoax calls in the borough and the ambulances that were dispatched left ambulance chiefs with an estimated bill of £39,249. Over the same period, Southwark had 270 false calls (costing £38,544), Tower Hamlets 254 (£31,249), Newham 242 (£30,565) and Lewisham 211 (£28,542).

Bogus calls add to the increasing financial pressure the NHS faces as it deals with real emergencies.

Anyone caught and arrested by  police could get a criminal record, a maximum £5,000 fine or a prison  sentence.

Paul Woodrow, London Ambulance Service director of operations, said: "We receive more than 5,000 calls a day and thankfully the number of these which are hoax calls is very low.  However, hoax calls divert resources away from genuine emergencies and can delay responses to patients who are seriously ill or injured.

"We work with the police to prosecute where possible and appropriate as this type of behaviour is not tolerated."

In 2008, unemployed David Mason - described as Britain's worst serial hoaxer - was jailed following a 40-year campaign of prank 999 calls which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer more than £1 million. Mason, then 57, contacted the police, fire and ambulance crews with false alarms about bomb scares, car accidents and fights just so he could witness the flashing blue lights of their vehicles.

During one 16-month period alone he made almost one hoax call a week, reporting injured children, elderly people who had suffered heart attacks and supposed assaults that had never happened.

Mason, of Bolton, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to 13 counts of causing a public nuisance.

(1st May 2019)

(The Times, dated 4th April 2019 author John Simpon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Rank and file police officers have called for a radical review of drug policies to free forces to tackle rising violent crime.

The Police Federation said that prohibition had failed. Members called for "an open and honest debate" on drug laws as stretched forces try to stem rising knife crime and murder rates.

The government began a public consultation on serious youth violence on Monday amid a continued epidemic of knife crime.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, told MPs last week that drugs were at the root of serious violence affecting young people.

Sergeant Simon Kempton, who speaks for the federation on drug matters, said: "Officers in the street are reluctant to say it but if I ask an officer if he wants to arrest for 20 of cocaine or investigate a burglary or knife attack, they would bite my arm off to deal with a burglar or take a weapon off the street.

"We need and honest and open debate based on results because prohibition has not worked. That's based on the assumption that prohibition is aimed at stopping people taking drugs."

He said that police numbers were falling while crack cocaine and heroin use in England rose 8.5% in four years to 2016, according to a Home Office report published last month. The report said that there were more than 5 users in every 1,000 people.

"That's despite prohibition for more than 100 years," Sergeant Kempton said. "If it's not working, we should at least examine whether there's something else we could be doing."

Elected police chiefs and chief constables have spoken of the need to soften legislation concerning cannabis use. The drug was legalised for medicinal purposes in November but few patients have been prescribed it.

Over the past few years, there has been a growth in clubs where cannabis users smoke and trade homegrown drugs. They operate openy despite the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs Council threatening to arrest members.

Official figures for recorded crime show that arrests for possession of cannabis have almost halved from 160,700 in the year to March 2010 to 82,026 last year. The figure for possession of other drugs fell from 36,453 to 26,997. Drug seizures have also fallen dramatically over the past decade.

Of the alternative options, Mr Kempton raised the Portuguese model, in which drugs remain illegal but if the amount is no more than a ten-day supply, the person is referred to health services. Portugal's rate of heroin use and HIV infection have shown sharp decreases. Drug deaths have declined and prisons are less crowded.

The Home Office has said that recreational use of cannabis remains illegal and that it is "harmful to individuals and society". A spokesman said:" Those using it should be in no doubt that if they are caught they face prosecution and a maximum jail term of of five years."

Illegal drug use in jails in England and Wales is "widespread", the Ministry of Justice admitted yesterday as a strategy to combat the problem was announced. Ministers said that the extent of the problem in the 122 jails had been worsened by so-called legal highs such as Spice. Latest figures how the percentage of positive random tests for illegal drugs, excluding new psychoactive substances, is at the highest level in 12 years. Justice Ministry figures show that drug finds rose from 10,666 in 2016-17 to 13,119 in 2017-18. As part of the proposed strategy to cut drug use in prisons, there will be more use of scanning along with metal detecting arches and wands. Rory Stewart, the prisons minister, said that the threat drugs posed had "never been greater".

(1st May 2019)

(Fox News, dated 2nd April 2019 author Associated Press)

Full article [Option 1]:

German government statistics show crime dropped in the country last year, including violent offenses.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said as he presented an annual crime report on Tuesday that "every crime is one too many, but objectively, this is the lowest level in decades."

Police agencies recorded more than 5.6 million cases in 2018, 3.6 percent fewer than in 2017. They included 185,377 violent crimes, a 1.9 percent decrease from the year before.

Despite the overall decline, the number of drug offenses recorded increased by 6.1% and 13.6 percent more involving dissemination of illegal pornography. Seehofer internet communication made both easier.

The overall case clearance rate of 57.7% was slightly higher than in 2017, when it was 57.1 percent. The clearance rate for solved murder and manslaughter cases was 96.1%.

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2019 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of drivers being caught speeding has soared by more than half a million during the past six years as cash strapped police forces increasingly resort to roadside cameras to raise revenue.

Last year 2,292,536 motorists - equating to four every minute - were detected breaking the speed limit on Britain's roads.

That figure is up a third on the same period six years ago when just over 1.7 million drivers were caught going too fast.

The sharp rise has been put down to the continued roll out of speed cameras across the country's road network.

In some force areas the number of drivers flashed for speeding has soared by more than 400 per cent.

Around half of those who are caught now pay to attend a speed awareness course rather than opting to accept points on their licence.

It is estimated that around a quarter of all British drivers have now been on a speed awareness course, and the schemes are believed to generate around £50 million annually for police forces.

While constabularies are not supposed to profit from the courses they are able to recoup a maximum of £45 per driver to cover administration costs.

The chances of being caught speeding varies widely across the country, with some force areas massively clamping down in recent years.

The Avon and Somerset force area recorded the most speeding motorists last year, successfully catching up with just under 200,000.

That figure was up from 38,654 in 2011-12, a staggering rise of 416 per cent over a six year period.

Bedfordshire recorded an even higher increase of 428 per cent, going from 14,060 in 2011-12 to 74,297 last year.

In both force areas 100 per cent of the drivers were caught as a result of speed cameras.

Essex Police was up 269 per cent over the same period going from 25,980 in 2011-12 to 95,967 last year.

Is your area a speeding hotspot?

uaware note : Enter a postcode in the articles tool to received speeding ticket data for that area.

Devon and Cornwall also recorded a 204 per cent increase in six years, going from just over 14,000 to almost 43,000 last year.

The other areas with the highest number of speeders last year were West Yorkshire with 174,796; the Metropolitan Police with 139,318, Thames Valley with 131,401 and Greater Manchester with 101,421.

Meanwhile the West Midlands area has recorded a 55 per cent drop in the number of speeders down from 78,087 in 2011-12 to 34,966 last year.

Cleveland also recorded a 46 per cent drop while Dorset was down 31 per cent and Sussex 29 per cent.

The figures were collated Dr Adam Snow, a lecturer in criminal law at Liverpool John Moores University following research commissioned by the RAC Foundation.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said the disparity between the figures in different force areas was often down to local policing priorities.

He said: "It is the job of police and crime commissioners, and chief constables, to target resources appropriately, recognising the issues of greatest local concern.

"Changes and variations in the numbers of offences detected will reflect not just driver behaviour but also the extent of enforcement activity in any one year."

The National Police Chiefs' Council has defended the use of speed awareness courses insisting they are designed to reduce the number of road casualties.

But the number of fatalities on the roads has remained relatively constant over the past six years going from 1,754 in 2012 to 1,793 last year.

Motoring groups insist speed awareness courses are more about generating revenue for forces at a time when budgets are under pressure and there is no evidence that they make the roads any safer.

(1st May 2019)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2019 author Charles Hymas)

Full article [Option 1]:

A 23-year-old woman sexually assaulted on a train to work, is today launching a campaign for all carriages to have CCTV. The communications executive was groped and assaulted on a packed commuter train on London's Central Line, as she travelled just after 8am on Tuesday, March 19.

She attempted to chase her attacker when she arrived at Liverpool Street station and to take a picture of him on her mobile phone, before reporting the incident to station staff and police.

The woman was shocked to be told that the Underground line is one of the few in the capital not to have CCTV on its carriages to provide police with film evidence to track down sex attackers.

A petition she is launching on the Government's official website, reads: "With no CCTV cameras in carriages on Central line trains, I am left without evidence against my perpetrator.

"To stop this from happening to anyone else who has, or ever will, travel on central line trains, I am campaigning for Transport for London to install CCTV to keep the public safe while they travel.

"This will both encourage more victims to report the crime with the knowledge that they have evidence, as well as hopefully, stop offenders from their predatory behaviour."

The woman has also written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan demanding action.

With 100 million passenger journeys a year, the Central Line is the busiest and longest line in London but will not have CCTV fully installed on its 85 trains until 2023 - after work to retrofit carriages begins next year.

Yet, according to statistics published by Transport for London, there are 289 reports of sex offences, almost one a day on the line - 40 per cent more than the Victoria Line, double those on the Northern Line and six times more than the Bakerloo Line.

Siwan Hayward, Director of Policing for Transport for London (TfL) said: "All our passengers have the right to travel without fear or intimidation and we're working closely the police to eliminate unwanted sexual behaviour from London's public transport.

"We know that for too long these crimes have gone unreported, but thanks to our Report It to Stop It campaign, the number of people reporting these disgusting crimes- with the confidence that action will be taken, is increasing.

"There is an extensive network of more than 77,000 CCTV cameras operating across London's transport network, with 3,000 police and police community support officers dedicated to catching offenders."

The BTP said: "Detectives are conducting a number of enquiries, including seizing any available CCTV evidence and collecting witness statements."

In 2015, TfL launched its Report It To Stop It campaign, after research found that while 10 per cent of passengers experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport in London, only one in 10 reported it.

(1st May 2019)

MARCH 2019

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

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

 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.
Learn more

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

 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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

 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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

 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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full Article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full Article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full Article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

 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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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)

Full article [Option 1]:

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 Ha